Dreams and This Week’s Challenge

I started doing a devotional by a well known speaker the other day, and I thought I’d write a little bit about that today. In their devotional, it was centered on one thing: “God gives all of us dreams.” God does give all of us dreams. He plants
desires in our hearts.

Using the Word of God, we need to be wrestling with God to find out what He is calling us to do. He is calling each of us to do something, because we have a greater purpose. Each circumstance has a greater purpose. It is not about where we are in the moment, but it is about looking forward to where we can be. There is a balance between contentment and ambition that we need to be striking here. We need to learn to enjoy the seasons we are placed in. Right now, life may be very difficult… This may not be a life-long season. We are constantly meeting new challenges and we have to keep our goal in front of us at all times. God has called us to something. What that something is—-this is what we should be discovering. One thing I really want to learn is this.. I want to learn to live the dream despite the circumstances.

The concept itself is talking about God giving us dreams, but I think there is way more to the verse than simply God giving us dreams. It makes it look all happy and comfortable. But, what I got from the verse was something totally different.

Here is the verse in two different translation:

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. (KJV)

Where there is no word from God, people are uncontrolled, but those who obey what they have been taught are happy (NCV). –Proverb 29:18

Notice the difference.
Big difference, isn’t it?

Instead of “the vision”, we see what the verse actually means. This is why I thoroughly enjoy using the Bible resources within my reach.. I love to use http://www.biblegateway.com and http://www.youversion.com which both use a number of different translations to help me grasp the verse.

Without God’s guidance or the Word of God as our guide, we become uncontrolled people with messy lives. The verse itself takes about how we need God’s Word and guidance in our lives. We cannot lead ourselves. Without God’s guidance, law and order disappear. In one translation, it states that the people run wild without His guidance. We see it all around us. When people do not follow God, chaos erupts!

I am going to connect the dots as I wrestle with “dreams” and “God’s guidance” as my study continues. When we read God’s Word does He give us guidance for our lives? Yes! Does His guidance turn into revealing what He is calling us to do? Absolutely.

Without God’s vision for our lives, we will “run wild” as one translation states. I do not know about you, but living a chaotic life does not exactly thrill me. I like a calm life with as little drama or stress as possible. According to Proverbs 29:18, I can only have this by following the guidance of God. God’s guidance can only be heard when I combine two things: Time in the Word (Bible) and spend time in prayer—talking with and listening to my Abba Father.

My Challenge..

I want to seek His guidance for my life more and more. My time in the Word and Prayer are not always what they seem. I stumble and fall. I neglect my time with my Lord Jesus, just like everyone else. I have a resolution or challenge for myself this week: I want to spend 15 minutes daily in the Word and praying about what I am reading. This does not sound like a lot to most of you. Maybe, some are thinking “that’s it!”.

I am in this for the long haul, and it is about forming habits that have an eternal value. I am hoping to blog daily about what I am reading, contemplating, and wrestling with in my quiet time, but it will just depend on a variety of things. I am hoping to write something about what I am learning even if it is a quick paragraph about each day.. And if I fail to do it, I will admit it. It is about having accountability.

I invite anyone who is willing to join me in my challenge, as I grow in God’s Word and develop a more consistent prayer life. I firmly believe that committing to God’s Word for 15 minutes a day and spending time to pray and wrestle with what we are being taught will grow us leaps and bounds.

Sleep, Time, and the Good Shepherd

I haven’t blogged that much lately. Mostly, because I have not slept much lately. I miss my sleep. Sleep is a precious thing that I miss dearly, but I keep being remembered of Ecc. 3 where time is so valuable and used for different things. There are times and seasons for things in our lives. Evidently, there is a time to sleep and a time not to sleep… Not that the writer meant that there is a time to sleep. Sleep is a necessary part of being human. Not getting sleep is sheer torture.

I have had that sleep is the body’s way of healing itself. In some ways, I am sure the body does heal itself. I am a critic in many ways lately. Honestly, I think it is the lack of sleep… But I have always been a bit of a critic.

While I battle sleeplessness, muscle aches, and the pains that come from living with Fibromyalgia and not getting adequate sleep, God’s presence is very real to me. Even now, God’s presence is here and He is sustaining me. He is the One who holds me together, even when it should feel like I am falling apart.

In my Thursday class, we have been reading and rereading John 10 each week. Tonight, all I could think about is how Jesus Christ continues to be the good shepherd even amidst chaos and a busy life storm. Jesus may not remove the storm.

In John 17:15, Jesus’ prayer is not that we are taken out of the world but that we would be sanctified through God’s Word which is our truth. Jesus, my good shepherd, is many things to me especially when I am extremely fatigued and can’t sleep. Tonight as I reflected on John 10, I wrote this:

He does not run away. At times of great struggles, everyone seems to be running away from it all. They want to get as far away from the situation as possible. While they are running from it, Jesus is already there walking ahead and with His children as we walk through fire. Jesus knows our struggle before it happened! Jesus did not leave or forsake us! Jesus is the One who brings peace amidst the storm. It is something to be endured.. Even in hard times, we (I) can still hear His voice even more clearly in the midst of the trial. He deeply cares and treads the deep waters with us.. And, He leads us to pastures..

Jesus may choose not to remove my Fibromyalgia from me, but it’s all good as long as I have Him holding me tight. Even now, God is using me to be a light in a dark, hurting world of aches, pains, and frustration. This is a reality we have to endure, especially if we have chronic illnesses. It becomes our daily reality. Even though this kind of sets us apart from others, God is just using this as an opportunity to share Him and my faith with others. I can share what I am enduring and how I can know without a shadow of a doubt that God walks with me through this fire.

Isaiah 43:2 is my verse right now, as I continue to adjust and endure the new struggles that come my way. It is one we may not think of much unless we are in a rough uncomfortable place in our lives..

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” (Isaiah 43:2)

I think one lesson I am learning is… the promises of Christ and the Bible are eternal, but they also are sooo much more valuable when we experience them first hand. Life is hard. Time has a meaning for everything, but everything happens for a reason. We may think God’s timing stinks, but it doesn’t matter. His timing is perfect. We do not have to agree with what God does in our lives (because our opinion does not matter in comparison to God’s). God knows what He is doing. When we take assure in this, our faith will grow leaps and bounds..

Relieving Stress

Stress relieving is supposed to be a part of the process of life wherever it may find you. If you are like me, you like to bake. Baking, as a stress reliever, doesn’t necessarily mean eating all the goods yourself. Eating does not even figure into the equation for me. I just cook for the sake of cooking. And generally, that does mean consuming something so the food does not go bad.

Stress relievers have to be a part of my day if I want to have good days that are more enjoyable. On a rare occasion, stress relief is through writing homework assignments where I ramble on about what I feel I am being taught through various things. Maybe, it is writing about how God can use times of trials to gain me intimacy. Maybe, it is through this blog. Or, maybe the stress relief technique is doing something in a servitude like baking. I bake, and my family eats. This is the game I play. I bake, they eat. They are very good at their job, just like I am decent at my job of baking.

Today’s stress relief is through baking a delicious German Chocolate Cake as I type this out..Journaling is another stress relief. I need to decompress when the pain is feeling in control (not now, because my pain pill is in full effect). I had another bout of insomnia last night, and missed church as a result. Of course! These things happen, but still I have got to destress. It is Sunday. I volunteer tomorrow. Today is my time of destressing, so I can begin my week on a good note.

The whole purpose is the necessity of having activities that keep you sane and worry-free. It can be music, cooking (not necessarily eating), taking a walk, watching a movie for the thousand time, or or simply writing.

Whatever avenue you choose—involve God in it! God wants to be a part of everything we are doing. It gives Him pleasure. It is not so much about the task, as it is a part of the intimacy of us and God—and realizing how important the intimacy is. It is also a big part of realizing that God is bigger than everything. He is bigger than our plans. He is bigger than our health concerns. He is bigger than our frets about finding a job. He is bigger than all of it!

God gives us a variety of avenues to contemplate and live for Him, where stress does not have to be part of our equation. God is not a god of disorder (which I associate with stress), but He is the God of Peace!

My Future: In His Hands

My body is frequently attacking itself. I have fibromyalgia, so that’s just one of the things my body tends to do. It is very manageable except for I just go through moments where I hurt for a couple days then I can go on and do my normal routine again. Normally, it is only a once or twice a month type of routine of hurting for a couple days, not that it is all too predictable. I am lost in this world that I can’t understand. Who am I? I have changed over the last few months. Realistically, it has not been a willingness to change, but a mandatory change brought to me by my body. Mostly the changes come from the change of how I feel, resulting in what I am able to do.

I can no longer be defined by what I do as I could easily have done before. Oh, I am the girl that does this and that… That is no longer how I can be defined, because *doing* is not something that is easily done these days. Doing things requires energy. Depending on the day will determine how well a task is accomplished. While I know there is a life worth living out there, I struggle with this idea of who am I.

I am a child of the Most High God! This has not changed.

Therefore, I know He has a task before me. While writing for a class, I found this concept crossing my mind. God put seminary on my heart before I got diagnosed with fibromyalgia. God knew I was going to have this “thorn in my side”. I am the girl who always has a plan, and this is uncharted territory for my anyway. What is next for me? I graduate in December, and I do not have a plan. My life has been a mess for the past couple months, but it is still moving forward even if I do not know what is next. Seminary is still weighing on my heart very heavily, but I do not hold the future. I do not know what is next, or what God is choosing to do next in my life.

I sit here, waiting, praying, and asking for God to guide me in the next step of my life in whatever direction God is planning on taking me. This verse kinda hit me while I was praying earlier which states it all…. Jeremiah 33:2-3 says: “This is what the Lord says—the Lord who made the earth, who formed and established it, whose name is the Lord: 3 Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.”

I lack knowledge about many things.
This world and its craziness
Knowing how to live life right now
Oh yeah, and this little detail called the “future”.

But, I know what Jeremiah 29:11 says:
God knows the plans He has for me…
Plans for my welfare, hope, and a future..
He is not out to get me.
He is not trying to derail me.
But, God has the best in store for me and my life. It does not have to look picture perfect. God has a will for my life. He knows exactly what He is doing, and His will will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. I just do not know what those plans are.

Hold Each Other Up

In Exodus 17:12, it says: “Eventually, Moses’ hands felt heavy. So Aaron and Hur took a rock, put it under him, and he sat on it. Aaron held up one hand, and Hur held up the other. His hands remained steady until sunset.”

So many of us are tired. It may be emotionally, physically, or spiritually, but I love this picture of us holding each other up physically and spiritually. We should be there for each other, because it is the picture of the global Church coming together as One–caring for one another which may mean holding one’s arms up when they weak.

I see this scripture come to life in my own life, as I battle different things. As I battle the illness I face, I see the support of others and how it supports me as I win the battle against fibermyalgia.

Even when we get tired and could (and WANT to) give up, we need to have our friends right by our side to help us perservere and continue on. It may be through facebook or sitting with someone as they face trials. I am so thankful for my friends who support me and keep me going. One of my facebook group has been a God-send. It has kept me going when I may have given up. The people, there, inspire me. We are a family. It doesn’t matter how far away we really are from each other in distance either. We help each other and “hold each other” up just like they did in the bible verse they mentioned. I have to share what happened from Moses’ friends helping him hold his hands up (it was reaching up to praise God is what it symbolized..). There was a war going on, and their team won as a result of Moses AND his friends…. We too are HOLDING each other up and winning the war against Fibromyalgia and whatever else comes our way…

As I reflect on the passage, I want to ask:

How can I help support and hold another up? It may be through emotional or prayer support.. How can I be there for someone else to help them win the war they are facing, because we are all facing something?