Dwell in Me

Seeking God in the Every Day


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Relating to God in 3 Basic Steps

A couple weeks ago we went to Colorado with my family. I don’t know what it is about mountains that reminds me so of God’s majesty. But I mean, wow! Love.

  
Which leads me to Trinitarianism. This was one of the courses I took this summer (and school’s out for a couple of weeks now!). This class has changed the way I think about God on a level I can’t even fully articulate. Talk about a God who wants to be in relationship with us! During one of our classes, while we were discussing this God in three persons, one of my classmates asked, “When we think ‘God,’ then, are we thinking of the Father?” And my professor replied, “When we think of ‘God,’ we should be thinking of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. That is who God is.” 

This is, of course, the logical conclusion of Trinitarianism–but I hadn’t ever connected it that way. 

And it’s changed how I relate to him–a God who is deeply relational in himself, a God who made us for relationships because he made us in his image. 

So that brings us back to a question I asked a long time ago (just shortly before our little man was born): How can we be in a relationship with God? What does it involve and how do we do it? How do we keep our relationship with God growing and fresh, flowing and not ebbing too much?

I think the first thing we need to realize is, by his grace, he wants to be in relationship with us. He wants this deeply and has gone to extraordinary lengths to make it possible. 

We can’t make it to God because we are so flawed in our fallen state and fallen nature. But God knew this and so he came to us. He became flesh and joined together with us in our humanity and offered us a way back. 

So step one to relationship with God is and always will be belief in his Son. And this isn’t some emotional feeling but a mental decision to trust that Jesus indeed was and is who he declares himself to be in Scripture and that his work on our behalf on the cross and in the resurrection has secured forever a path to salvation and relationship with God. 

But then what? 

It’s easy to take that first step and then keep on living like nothing has really changed. Or even to change your life by the power of the Holy Spirit but without taking it to a relationship level. 

Relationships are challenging. They do require a certain amount of work. And although God will never leave us, we certainly can do a pretty good job of forgetting that he is there. 

So, step two and three in our relationship with God are prayer/worship and Bible study. I don’t know for sure which I would put as two and which as three because they seem to go hand-in-hand. Both are necessary. In my life I know I have gone through phases where I emphasized one and then the other, but I believe it’s important to strive to incorporate both of these into our daily lives. 

We pray and worship as a form of communication with God (and to give him the honor and glory he deserves). Ideally, we should be telling God about ourselves (even though he knows everything already) as well as praising him and honoring and glorifying him. Our prayers should be a way to connect to God as we connect to other people we know and love. We want to recognize his involvement in our lives and let him know our thoughts too. And I would encourage you to spend time in prayer even telling God your anger, fears, and doubts, as well as your triumphs and joys. He is a big God and he can handle hearing about our disappointments. The Psalms are full of raw emotion being poured out to God. Is there anything keeping you from pouring your heart out to him? I’d encourage you to address that and work on getting to a point of authenticity in your prayer life. 

Bible study, I believe, is important in helping us get to know God better. Who is God? What has he revealed to us about himself through his Word? Scripture is such a gift from God and we should want to know all we can from it. 

Imagine if you were hanging out with someone and all you ever did was tell them the goals you have, what you want or need, your preferences and dislikes… But you never once stopped to find out anything about that other person. Would that be a relationship? You may as well be talking to a goldfish. 

We can do the same in our relationship with God if we aren’t careful. And while this won’t change his love and care for us, it is far from ideal. I think we can do better. I think a relationship with God can be the most rewarding and meaningful relationship in our lives–if we let it. 

So, to recap, we have three major steps to help us as we are relating to God: we need  to put our faith in Jesus, pray/worship, and study the Bible. I hope at some point to talk a bit more about what prayer and worship might look like and about good methods I’ve tried for Bible study (and maybe some others I’ve heard about). I talked a bit in a recent post about what it means to put our faith in Jesus.   So, in a meandering sort of way, maybe we’ll end up with some kind of series on relationships after all. Haha 

Enjoy the remains of summer. I’m enjoying my little break, too. And in two weeks: Hebrew! I’m really stoked about it, and maybe just a little scared. 

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What Promises Are Mine?

What promises does God have for you?

A few questions in my Bible study this week–on chapters 15 and 16 in Genesis–asked me about the promises God has given me. One question asked, “What questions about His promises to you would you like to ask?”

You know my answer? “What are God’s promises specifically for me? What verses in the Bible are meant specifically for my life?”

I know there are so many promises in the Bible that are corporate–for the whole body of believers–and I know that many of them will apply in the next life. But what–if anything–has God promised specifically for me? Is it even reasonable to expect, hope for, desire, or want a promise specific to my life from God?

Chapter 15 opens with a rather distraught Abram (not yet renamed Abraham). God has promised him a “great reward,” to which the already wealthy Abram basically responds, “What’s the use, when a servant of my household is going to be my heir?” You see, Abram is convinced that he will not have any children. This is despite the fact that God told him in the beginning of chapter 12 that he would give the land to which he guides Abram to Abram’s descendants.

Can we really blame Abram in his doubts? The man is 86, after all, and his wife is still barren. But God has promised. And God, in his great mercy, repeats the promise to Abram several more times and with increasing specificity. He speaks to him here, in chapter 15, saying, “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir” (15:4). “And he [God] brought him [Abram] outside and said, ‘Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be'” (15:5).

What a promise. And now we see that Abram does believe God, “and He [God] counted it to him [Abram] as righteousness” (15:6).

The commentary for this week’s lesson talks about this, saying:

Romans tells us, ‘He [Abram] did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God’ (4:19-20). Abram recognized that, humanly speaking, what he was believing God for was impossible. It would take a miracle. The Scripture says, ‘He did not weaken in faith,’ but it does not say there was no tension, no battle going on as he struggled to hold on to his faith. He was open and honest with God. He asked Him how He was going to solve this. Then ‘the word of the LORD’ came to Abram in a vision.”

At the end of chapter 15, God adds to Abram’s confidence in the promise that his descendants will inherit the land currently occupied by the Canaanites by making a covenant with Abram. Traditionally a covenant is between two parties, both of whom have responsibilities to uphold in keeping their end of the bargain. But the funny thing about this covenant is that God is both parties. God makes and God keeps the covenant. Abram has no responsibility. The promise will be fulfilled on Abram’s behalf with no strings attached. I find this so freeing. You see, the promises God makes to Abram do not depend at all upon Abram’s behavior.

I think that is true of the promises God makes to any of us. He knows we are sinful people, that we falter, and that we are incapable of guaranteeing anything in our own power. So he doesn’t ask us to do that. God’s promises to us–God’s promises to me, whatever they may be–depend on God alone, not on my behavior, not on my actions, not on the amount of trust I have, or how fervently I believe.

If you know you have a promise from God, but it has not yet been fulfilled and you are waiting and wondering if you misheard or missed out, I want to encourage you that you won’t be the first to have doubts. You won’t be the first to try to help God along or take matters into your own hands, either, as we see Abram does in chapter 16, though doing so would be unwise. And I think it’s okay to ask God to clarify and ask God to bolster your faith. Because you know what faith is? It’s a gift from God.

And if you’re like me, wondering whether there are promises in his word for just you, wondering if you can claim as a promise an heir from your (and your spouse’s) very own body, as God promised Abram, or if that’s just too convenient–join me in asking God. He gives Abram clarification when he asks for it. He comforts Abram when he is in doubt and when he is distressed.

Our God is a great God. A God who loves all the people he has made and wants none to perish. A God who does not play tricks on us or deceive us in any way at any time. And a God with a plan and a path for each one of us. Sometimes the path takes us through difficult and dark and confusing places. And maybe we don’t get to know why. But I know where the path ends up and I’m going to follow it to my ultimate reward, with God’s gracious help.

And I’m going to be asking God to reveal to me the promises he has in mind specifically for me. And I pray that I will be content–even joyful–with whatever he reveals, even if it is not what I might have chosen for myself.


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It’s a Ping-Pong Ball Season

Lately I’ve been feeling like the ball in a ping pong game. I’ve been vacillating between so many things: trust and self-reliance, optimism and pessimism, excitement and fear . . .

For the most part, I’m doing much (so much!) better today than I was 6 months ago. But since the school year started, bringing with it the renewal of my responsibilities in my Bible study and other activities, I’ve been having a difficult time making my schedule work. And I’m just so tired. I think this tiredness opens a door to let the peace I held so securely all summer just drift away. I know I can take it back: it’s been offered to me and I just need to re-acknowledge it. But I am too tired to reach out and grab it. Or that’s how I feel.

Instead of feeling secure and patient in our waiting, I’ve been starting to feel overwhelmed. I’m excited to start treatment–and eager to fast forward through to December/January when we’ll begin significant medical interventions. But I’m also okay with waiting, not wanting to have to do all the things I need to do between now and actually getting started. Things like finding a new doctor or getting our finances in order. And I don’t want to be caught up in all of it again and lose sight of today, of the crispness in the air right now or even enjoying dinner and my favorite TV shows–not to mention post-season Cardinals baseball!–with my dear and wonderful husband.

And then I find that I can’t even imagine myself pregnant. What will it be like? I used to picture a round belly growing under my shirt, but now when I try I just see me. I’ve begun to look forward to things other than parenting–to the possibility of seminary or even to writing more. I’ve entertained notions I never entertained, like being actually employed somewhere full-time as a teacher or even in an office and enjoying it. Like having a career. Stuff I never really thought about wanting. It’s weird. So weird.

And then I have complete opposite moments. Moments of denial. How is that still coming up? But yesterday I was sitting and thinking that maybe this whole IF thing was a dream. Or maybe it’s just temporary and I’m going to wake up tomorrow and get pregnant like a normal person from now on. Other moments spent daydreaming decorating a nursery, maybe for two.

And then pinching myself, reminding myself to be present, to be here and to do what God wants me to do today.

We got some disappointing news last week. DH’s company isn’t actually going to cover our infertility treatments. It’s okay. I mean, we are blessed to have savings that we can use. Praise God. We are so grateful that this doesn’t mean we aren’t able to move forward. But it is a disappointment. Apparently insurance premiums are going up 8 percent just to keep the coverage we already have and adding infertility would cost an additional 10 percent on top of that for DH’s company. When they ran the numbers they came to the conclusion that they couldn’t afford it. I was more worried, but DH–who has a better handle on our financial situation anyway–reassured me last night. We can afford our treatments. And it’s okay. And God already knew this would happen. But, well, like the other people in his office who probably could also benefit from IF coverage (if 1 in 8 couples are affected, I’m sure we’re not the only ones), I think I’d just prefer not to have been told we’d be receiving coverage only to find out we aren’t.

I made appointments on Monday for us to check out two different REs in Houston. We’ll meet with the first one this Monday. The second one isn’t until November–and I may cancel that if we like the first doctor. So, we’re making concrete steps.

And I’m mostly optimistic, mostly trusting, and mostly excited–but still feeling a bit tossed from one end of the table to the other.


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Busy, Busy

*Baby pictured in post*

I had a little rhythm going and then it all got thrown off last week. First, because I was feeling a bit down. And don’t you know: it’s so much harder to do anything when you feel down. On the heels of my little pity party came the ragweed, which had me holed up in bed most of Friday and Saturday until I figured out it was allergies and took a Claritin on Saturday (Sudafed, my standby for colds, had behaved very poorly against my headache and stuffiness). So bullets today?

  • Saturday night, we (TCU) lost our season opener against LSU. We had a few friends over (including our godson, sporting DH’s TCU hat) and it was fun to be back in the swing of college football. Last season had me lamenting with a “couldn’t we at least have a good football season” post, but Saturday night we looked pretty good despite the loss. I’m cautiously optimistic this season will top last year’s. Well, and I really, really hope it does! We have season tickets this year (so excited) so we’ll be heading to Horned Frog country this weekend for our first home game. Yay!

Our Godson Rooting for TCU

  • On Sunday and Monday we labored. That’s what you’re supposed to do on Labor Day, right? When we bought our house last year we planned to turn the study into a little library with cabinets and bookshelves to the ceiling to house all of our books. (And we have a LOT of books.) Sunday and Monday, DH’s parents were over to help us hang wallpaper and do some painting and move some electrical outlets (two outlets will be behind cabinets and had to be moved up). We have had the cabinets in boxes in our living room since May, so I’m really excited we’re finally getting started putting things together. Hanging wallpaper wasn’t as bad as I feared it would be. It is going to be the backdrop of the bookshelves. DH and I finished painting the rest of the room last night–a deep, denimy blue. I love it! I’ve inserted a couple of pictures of our progress so far. Can’t wait to get it all finished!

One Piece Up

Painting the Library

The Wallpaper and Paint

  • Last week I had training to be a core group leader for my Bible study, and tomorrow the ladies will come for the first day. I’m so nervous and slightly overwhelmed and excited… and still a little wiped from the work we did this weekend.
  • Today is my 11th day completely gluten-free. It has not been as challenging as I expected–there’s always gluten-free pizza if I really am craving it. And we found the most delicious gluten-free whole grain tortilla chips on Sunday at our HEB. Yum! The hardest part is when we’re with others … but I did stand firm and turned down pasta salad and brownies the other day at a lunch with ladies in my Bible study (thankfully there were some gf options).

Hoping to get into the swing of things and back into my routine soon. I like routines.