It seems lately, my devotional-thought-life is made up of random bits of information (mostly quotes that seem to resonate), puzzle pieces of life's moments, meaningful lyrics to songs, and small threads of Scripture that the Lord leaves for me to tie together/put into place.
That has been true this week.
Well, actually, this week's "just-a-thought" began at the Thrive retreat a couple weeks back.
At this retreat, the Lord brought me a divine appointment.
It came in the form of an attendee who "happened" to walked through the door of my makeshift counseling office.
Unbeknownst to this tired and weary global worker, I had been praying specifically for her for a couple weeks, even though I didn't know her name.
God knew, though, and cared enough He put us together.
Here's the back story.
Thrive's office staff copied from their data base the anonymous prayer requests of the ladies who would be attending the upcoming retreat, so they could be very intentional and specific as they lifted up the women coming to Copper Mountain.
The CEO sent me the same list for the same purpose.
As I prayed over each request, one in particular jumped off the page.
This particular lady shared information that resonated with my background.
Even though she served in an undisclosed country (meaning she worked in a country where there is deep opposition to the Christian faith), there were commonalities shared from her life experiences that matched some of my life experiences.
I knew I didn't necessarily have helpful words for her, but maybe the fact of these shared experiences could be an encouragement to her.
So, I began praying each time I read over her request that somehow the Lord might seat us at the same meal-table, or put us together in some discussion group, or casual meet-up.
I knew He could do that.
I also knew I could not arrange it, because, remember I didn't even know her name.
But, as I said, God did.
Those who sign up for counseling are assigned by the lead counselor as she prays over each name...then, as the women arrive, those who hadn't signed up are given a second opportunity to do so.
This gal had not signed up.
She was offered an appointment upon arrival at the resort, but turned it down.
After she signed up for a massage and a pedicure, our lead counselor watched her as she turned to leave the room.
In the middle of the stairs, she stopped, turned around, and came back to the sign-up-table.
"Maybe I will take an appointment after all," she said.
So, I was next on the list - the only counselor who had a space left - the last available appointment on the final day of the retreat.
A God-incident? Yes!
What a great time we had sharing our stories together.
What a JOY to my HEART to see the Lord answer my prayer so sweetly.
What a relief to her HEART to have a counselor to whom she didn't have to explain EVERYTHING...because I got it.
And, when she left my room, together we had come up with some next steps and a way forward....we were both overwhelmingly encouraged.
OK. Here's the bit I have carried with me.
It's a puzzle piece that I believe we all (sometimes) unknowingly leave in the box without touching, or picking up, or examining how it fits into the overall picture of our lives.
As she shared, she straightened out her arm, hand at a right angle, saying, "I've come to realize I've been stiff-arming God. I don't completely trust Him in these situations of my life. They've been hard, and a part of me wants to trust Him, while another part of me, does this, telling Him to 'stay back.' I've been keeping the Lord at a distance; and, it's time to invite Him closer."
I do that, too, with pieces of my life.
Then, came the next little bit this week, in the form of a quote in a chapter of a book I'm reading.
In The Holy Wild, Mark Buchanan says this:
"If we [keep Jesus at a distance and] don’t trust His character, we can’t fully rest in Him. If we don’t fully REST in Him, we will never RISK for Him.”
("and faith is finally, this: resting so utterly in the character of God - the ultimate goodness of God - that you trust Him even when He seems untrustworthy..." Mark Buchanan)
And, I definitely want to be a risk-taker-for-Jesus, whatever He might ask of me....bold, available, willing to say "YES" all the way to the end.
Also, this week (meaningful lyrics in a song)....my friend, CJ (who led the worship at this retreat) sent me a link to this song by Casting Crowns. The words are powerful, true, and fitting to what I've just shared.
They summarize and speak practically to all the words I've written, but better....and shorter (smile).
Here's a link to the song, that include the lyrics: Jesus At a Distance.
PLEASE, take a listen. Please.
Sit with them.
Like my new friend serving Jesus globally, like myself, where might you be stiff-arming-Jesus, silently telling Him to back off...
As the lyrics do their convicting work, make a list, write out a prayer, lament your losses, remind yourself of who your God really is, and invite Him near.....then,
REST IN HIM THAT YOU MIGHT TURN AROUND AND RISK FOR HIM!
Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him!