Thursday, January 8, 2015

Seek and See

There is no turning of the calendar quite like December to January.  Somehow we think this action will make us new persons, but it takes only one day to realize we are the same.  While this last year overflowed with God's presence and power in my life, some places remained a desert.  How is it we can know success in one area and simultaneously be so lame in another? 

Actually, I love the desert.  It calls me, so much so that I will even watch a movie for the sole purpose of the desert scenery!  There is something about the desolate winds, the fine sand, the barren rock, and the harsh plants which speak of adversity, perseverance, and character. 

And then there is this, "In the desert prepare the way for the Lord."  (Isa. 40:3)

I long for God to show up in my wasteland, for I know that He alone can transform it into beauty.  And yet, I have a big part in that coming about.  The way must be prepared.  I can think of no better way to prepare than through prayer.  What would happen if I devoted myself to private intentional prayer the way I devoted myself to diet and exercise over the last year?  Is it any wonder that we sometimes become useless in ministry or that we roller coaster with circumstantial happiness?   Effectiveness has direct bearing on my dependence and focus on the Lord.
Last night at youth group my husband gave this challenge:  Are you serious about God?  Is there evidence in your life to prove it?  New Year's resolutions are easy to say, but it takes devoted action and enduring sacrifice, forcing my will against my feelings, if they are to come to fruition.  A way of life, rather than just a resolution. 

It seems so basic, this command to "love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength."  (Mark 12:30)   Because the heart, soul, and mind, abstract areas of our lives, seem more spiritual, we often focus on that.  But the strength?  This can be hardest of all for it involves my physical world, my body.   Diet and exercise is very much a part of my physical world, but prayer?  Yes, this too requires all the strength of my body.

A vine cut off from its source bears no life.  This I know. 

Yet, how easy to wane in prayer, to slack off in passion, to neglect thanksgiving, or to shift my eyes away from the Lord.  Sometimes it takes a barrenness in the desert for me to realize my utter dependence on God.  How easy to believe the lie that I am the one causing the increase, that I am so important, or that no one else could do the ministry that I am doing.  (Ugh!  I shudder at all the me in that sentence!)

I ache for a fresh wave of God's presence to permeate my desolate lands.  However, if the presence of the Lord is to be evident, there must be a preparation.   My activity Saturday night has an effect on my Sunday morning worship.  My devotion to private communion with God has a direct bearing on fruitfulness.  He must increase and I decrease.  This is one of my goals for the year, to prepare the way for the Lord, because wherever He is, there I find sacred ground, land that cries out, "Glory!

"In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.  Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.  And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it.  For the mouth of the LORD has spoken."  (Isa. 40:3-5)

Often, the glory of the Lord is very present.  It is simply not recognized.  He can be right there in front of me, His presence very real, His blessing massive, but I don't see because I've failed to look upward.   

Lord Jesus, give me strength to seek and eyes to see!


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