Thursday, October 29, 2009

In All Things Give Thanks

This is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.
~1 John 5:14-15~

Today is Thankful Thursday. Our son is enduring an enormous challenge at USMC boot camp -- The Crucible. This trial-by-fire recreates battlefield stress including sleep and food deprivation while undergoing physically and mentally challenging tasks. It began at 0200 (2 a.m.) this morning.

At the completion of this exercise, 0800 (8 a.m.) on Saturday, October 31, he and his fellow recruits will be awarded the Eagle, Globe and Anchor and be called Marines for the first time since arriving on Parris Island, for our son 110 days ago.

I am thankful:
  1. That our son has found strength in relying on our heavenly Father.

  2. That he was able to call out to God when he was lonely and God was there for him.

  3. That God gathered our son into His arms when he was 6 years old and, even when our son ignored Him later on, the Lord never loosened His grip.

  4. That the Father's tender care of our son is not dependent on my emotional stability during trying times. He is always faithful to His Word.

  5. That God is wholly righteous and trustworthy.

  6. That His love for our son was proven on Calvary when God gave His Son as the perfect Sacrifice for sin and because our son believes in Jesus as his Savior, he is a child of the King.
Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.
~Colossians 4:2~
Read more about the journey at Coming Full Circle: From Military Daughter to Military Wife to Military Mom.

The Crucible (The official USMC headquarters definition):

The culmination of recruit training is the Crucible, an intense field training exercise designed to build unit cohesion, reinforce core values, and complete the transformation from recruit to Marine. The Crucible is the defining moment of the recruit training experience. As a right of passage, the 45 Concepts and Issues Crucible is a 54-hour ordeal that tests the mettle of every recruit (and DI). The physical and mental challenges are intensified by sleep and food deprivation.

The Crucible focuses on six major field events and is augmented by eleven challenging Warrior Stations. Throughout this rapid paced exercise, emphasis is placed on the importance of teamwork in overcoming adversity and adaptive problem solving. The teams of recruits, under the leadership of their drill instructor, succeed as a team. The experience pushes recruits to their limits and is a poignant culmination to the transformation process.

Lynn is hosting Thankful Thursday on her blog Spiritually Unequal Marriage. Visit her to read more posts on Thankfulness and to post your own.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I am hosting In Other Words today: True Peace

Peace is not an easy concept to grasp. It sounds like the ideal state for which to much so that the political fad of the day is brokering peace accords--agreements between nations to live, if not in harmony, at least without war. This very tenuous kind of peace depends upon the signers of the accord keeping their promises. While I am sure not all such accords are signed out of political expediency, this peace - "as the world gives" - is not lasting. It can be broken over the most trivial of events: a change of political office holder; a perceived slight or insult. The world gives a temporary peace.

The Woman's Study Bible ( 1995, Thomas Nelson Publishers) says this: much more than the absence of conflict; it is an objective reality that brings harmony to life. Those who have not experienced the new relationship with God are subject to His wrath (Romans 1:18; 8:7, 8). The relationship between God and His creation is restored through faith in Christ, dissolving all enmity. The result is peace.
This peace is not between people. It is a restoration of the relationship between Creator and creation. With peace established, joy follows because there is joy in the presence of the Lord.

Practical Application:

I must admit I have let circumstances overwhelm my sense of peace these past few months. It seems that worry is a great thief of peaceful living. No worry is harder to overcome than that for our children.

When our son left for USMC basic training, my peace seemed to shatter all around me, but that was really an illusion caused by me diverting my eyes from the One in whom is perfect peace and joy.

Evidently while I was ready for my children to move into their adult roles, I wasn't totally ready to relinquish my protective tether. As of this posting, our son has been at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot on Parris Island, South Carolina, for 108 days instead of the 89 days we expected.

He graduates at the end of next week, 3-1/2 weeks longer than is typical due to some medical issues that occurred right as he entered the final phase of training. To say I worried is a gross understatement. With communication limited to letter writing, the need to know how he was doing consumed my waking moments--made longer by sleeplessness, caused of course, by out-of-control fretting.

This preoccupation with circumstances not under my control caused me to become very ineffectual as a Christian in all aspects of my life. Tearing up every other minute was not a very good testament to my faith.

The turning point in my transformation from fear to trust was caused by two things: 1) Our son made an off-hand comment about how he was getting more letters from Dad than Mom; 2) In an effort to rectify that and to encourage him during the toughest week of boot camp, I have been collecting and handwriting for him, devotions that reveal the steadfast love of God in times of difficulty and testing. Each one I copied and mailed to him helped chip away at the icy fear around my heart.

I can't say that I'm basking in the warmth of God's peace as I write this--too much is still to come before our son returns home--but I am finding myself pausing to feel the heat of His love for increasingly longer periods.
Let us give His love full scope. Nothing happens by itself, and every sorrow, every trial is part of the plan of love, part of refining.
Love meant it.
Love sent it.
Love will bless it. ~Amy Carmichael (1867-1951), missionary to India

For Further Study:

My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, The Great Life
Back to the Bible Radio Program, Where Can I Find Peace?
Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Steps to Peace with God

Please leave a link to your blog post here.

Monday, October 26, 2009

I'm Hosting In Other Words - October 27, 2009

I'm hosting In Other Words on Tuesday, October 27, 2009. I would love for you to join us. Just read the quote and share your thoughts about it on your blog. Then come back and link to my page so others can enjoy your inspiration.

Text: "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful." John 14:27 NASB

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Beauty in Adversity

It was good for me to be afflicted. ~Psalm 119:71a

What a strange thing for the Psalmist to say... It is not natural for us to enjoy or find goodness in adversity, yet this Psalm is full of strange sayings such as these. Why did the Psalmist say it was good to be afflicted (Merriam-Webster: to be distressed so severely as to cause persistent suffering or anguish)?

What was his gain? The next half and following verse tells it:

That I may learn Your statutes.
The law of Your mouth is better to me
Than thousands of coins of gold or silver. ~Psalm 119:71b-72

Today I found my Streams in the Desert devotional while cleaning my office. Among all the useful items for research and writing, lay this little jewel mined by a woman who knew affliction. First published over 80 years ago, its truths reach through the generations to encourage and uplift because it is totally written about the Truth as God set it down.

Read this October 1 devotion based on the above verse:
It is a remarkable occurrence of nature that the most brilliant colors of plants are found on the highest mountains, in places that are the most exposed to the fiercest weather. The brightest lichens and mosses, as well as the most beautiful wildflowers, abound high upon the windswept, storm-ravaged peaks.

One of the finest arrays of living color I have ever seen was just above the great Saint Bernard Hospice near the ten-thousand-foot summit of Mont Cenis in the French Alps. The entire face of one expansive rock was covered with a strikingly vivid yellow lichen, which shone in the sunshine like a golden wall protecting an enchanted castle. Amid the loneliness and barrenness of that high altitude and exposed to the fiercest winds of the sky, this lichen exhibited glorious color it has never displayed in the shelter of the valley.

As I write these words, I have two specimens of the same type of lichen before me. One is from this Saint Bernard area, and the other is from the wall of a Scottish castle, which is surrounded by sycamore trees. The difference in their form and coloring is quite striking. The one grown amid the fierce storms of the mountain peak has a lovely yellow color of a primrose, a smooth texture, and a definite form and shape. But the one cultivated amid the warm air and soft showers of the lowland valley has a dull, rusty color, a rough texture, and an indistinct and broken shape.

Isn't it the same with a Christian who is afflicted, storm-tossed, and without comfort? Until the storms and difficulties allowed by God's providence beat upon a believer again and again, his character appears flawed and blurred. Yet the tiral actually clear away the clouds and shadows, perfect the form of his character, and bestow brightness and blessing to his life.

Amidst my list of blessings infinite
Stands this the foremost, that my heart has bled;

For all I bless You, most for the severe.

~Rev. Hugh Macmillan (1833-1903), Scottish minister and naturalist
We believers in America live a fairly soft, easy life. What kind of Christians does this lifestyle make? Are we dull, undefined examples of the blessings of God, living a mundane and unremarkable existence? Or have we grasped hold of the adversities, clawing apart the outer surface of suffering to find the depths of our Christ-molded soul, so it can sparkle with and for HIS GLORY?