Monthly Archives: July 2011

One Word: Six Months Later

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I jumped on this bandwagon a little late so it stands to reason that I would update late as well. Luckily, this is voluntary and not graded which means… I do what I want.

You may remember a post I wrote earlier this year called One Word. Instead of making New Year’s resolutions that I would undoubtedly give up on, I chose to focus on one word instead.  To be honest I haven’t been as diligent as I would have liked in keeping this theme at the forefront of my mind, but I am here to refresh my own memory, to reflect on the ways that I have been able to “behold” God’s goodness, and hopefully inspire a little more focus on the back half of this year.

A lot has happened in the last 6 months.  For starters, I got engaged which, I’ll be honest, I didn’t see coming. And while being betrothed to an incredible and Godly man would be a sufficient thing to behold and reason to count this year a success, it was what led up to the engagement that is what I am truly in awe of beholding.

I’m a bit over-analytical.  I think too much about too much. I’ll be the first to admit that I can be a real kill-joy.  My way of preparing for the unknown/future is to conjure up the worst possible case scenario and plan from there.  Because, in my poor little head, if I am prepared for the worst possible situation, then I will be all the more equipped to handle a potentially great scenario.

The tragedy of this kind of thinking is that a state of angst, worry, and fretting tend to smother any hope for a good situation completely. That and this kind of thinking demonstrates two things:

1. Little to no actual faith (exemplified through a mind at peace and a heart at rest) in a sovereign and holy God

2. A serious control issue

What I found to be God’s response to an unfortunate twit like me is this: He’ll prove Himself. Unwaveringly gracious and tirelessly patient, He will come down and make Himself undeniable.  He will reveal Himself to the doubter, worrier, and pathetic pansie (*pointing to myself*) and He’ll settle in close.  And when you’ve (me again) done everything you can to keep things clean and tidy and right where you want them, because you’re comfortable with never rearranging or changing anything, He’ll rearrange and change everything for you.

He’ll uncover all the desires of your heart that you didn’t have the strength to hold onto and shoved under the rug. He’ll dust them off, polish them up and remind you that He made it for you; He created such a treasure for you to experience.

For me, that was hope for a relationship, the dream of marriage.  And to make the giving-up of such hope a little easier, I put up road blocks and fortress walls. “Do Not Enter” signs hung on my heart.

Then Toby gently began to break them down.  He didn’t even ask to, he just started to chip away here and there. Layer by tender layer.  What scared me the most was not letting him in.  What scared me was the reaction of what he would find.

Instead of being disappointed or surprised or even deciding to walk away, he loved me more. He loved me intentionally, with grace and compassion; his mercy on my mess felt like the warmest and most welcome blanket.

So what did I behold? The love of Christ. Unconditional, non-judgemental, and completely accepting. Real love. Transcendent of accomplishment or right standing. God drew near, spoke sweetly to me and whispered “I want you.”

One of the biggest certainties I have in marrying Toby is this: his display of God’s love and pursuit of me makes me desire the Lord. Do I love and appreciate Toby? Of course.  But I need the Lord more.  And my genuine desire is that I encourage Toby, in my love, to press into Christ; to lean on Him and to know Him better.

Six months in to 2011 and God has done a miracle.

Bring on six more months.

 

 

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The NATOPS Manual & The Bible

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On a recent trip down to Pensacola to see the man (aka soon-to-be-husband), we went to lunch with his roommate, Ben and the roommate’s girlfriend,  Jenny (now affectionately referred to as “Benny”). Ben is in the process of becoming a Naval Aviator and Jenny recently earned her masters as a Nurse practitioner.  They’re an intelligent couple.

The four of us got to talking about ways that we try to keep Christ at the center of our relationship.  Benny asked us “What do you two do to make sure that your relationship is Christ focused and God honoring?” Toby and I looked at each other and each replied.  Our collective answer was that we encourage each other to make sure we are personally pursuing the Lord and our walk with Him as individuals.  Making sure that we each remember that He is our priority has made growing closer to one another a simpler and joyous adventure.  And as we seek Him separately, we have more to talk about and learn together.

We then reciprocated the question to Benny.

Jenny responded first and then Ben.  It was Ben’s response that captured my attention and has since stuck with me. His answer went something like this.

“I’m finding that I need to truly know and apply the Word to my life in every circumstance.  You know what has really shaped and taught me more about the importance of scripture in my life as of late? The NATOPS manual.”

He took a bite of his sandwich and I looked at Toby. I looked back at Ben.

“Can you explain that to me, please. I’m not sure I’m tracking.”

Ben went on. “NATOPS stands for “Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization.” In that manual resides everything we need to know in order to be pilots.  How the aircraft functions, what different controls do, how to use the controls, and most importantly what to do in various cases of emergency. If I don’t know the definition and application of what is in the manual, I will fall right out of the sky. It’s the same with the Bible. If I don’t make the effort to learn what it says and how it instructs me to live, then I will fail in this life. It is critical that I spend time studying God’s word so that I prepared and able to live as He has called me to.”

And with that, he took another bite.

Weeks later, I am still convicted and challenged to treat my Bible as more than a story book. It is an instructional manual; it is the believer’s “how-to” book and we must drink and eat of it often for it is our soul’s only source of sustenance.