Dwell in Me

Seeking God in the Every Day


3 Comments

Series on Pause

Guys–I’m taking a break from my “They Were Called” series. It’s not necessarily finished, but I know if I write a post on it today (and maybe even if I do it next week) it will be forced and not inspired and, well, that would be a waste. I’ve really enjoyed studying some of these men and women who were called to do great things. Some got to do what they wanted, some were called to better, some were called to different. But they were all called by God. And God equipped them to fulfill their callings, even if the equipping sometimes meant allowing trials and difficulties in their lives. Like Hannah, who wouldn’t have been motivated to give Samuel over to God if not for her infertility, I like to think that I am being used by God in some way while I wait. I have more people I want to write about–Abraham (and Sarah), Joseph, Elizabeth–but I can’t do it justice today. So please forgive this “pause” on my series. I have other things to write, other things I want to focus on right now. But I will come back to this, God willing.

If you missed one of the posts in the series, you can access them all here or individually:

Introduction: Working for My Calling

Episode 1: David Asked, “How Long, O Lord?”

Episode 2: Moses Looked to the Reward

Episode 3: Hannah Took It to the Lord

Episode 4: Noah Chose to Build

Episode 5: Jonah Liked His Way Better

Episode 6: Anna Proclaimed Christ

[And stay tuned for my next post to vote on a name for our new kitten.]

Advertisements


1 Comment

Anna Proclaimed Christ

I’ve been trying to write today and nothing is working. Does anyone else ever feel this way?

I wanted to come and write about Anna. I believe her calling was something she never would have expected or imagined–especially as a young woman. And I still do want to write about her because I think her story is especially powerful. I also think it’s important to lift up a woman who God used for his glory even though she probably did not get what she initially wanted in life. Even though she likely did not have children. Even though her husband died after only seven years of marriage. I don’t know what Anna wanted out of life. I can’t know that. But it’s not far fetched to think she would have expected to settle down with her husband for life or to have several children.

And I think it is important to be reminded that sometimes God’s plans are going to take us somewhere we never would have picked or somewhere we never thought we’d go. I don’t know if that’s what happened to Anna, but from my perspective, knowing what I know about who I am and how I feel while I’m waiting, it makes sense. 

So I wanted Anna to be part of my series. Part of my series about people who were called but who faced adversity getting to where God wanted them to be. But Anna doesn’t quite fit. And so this Monday is a post that doesn’t quite fit. And I just don’t feel up to rounding out the corners and smoothing it in and pretending it belongs where it doesn’t.

Apologies if that’s confusing for anyone . . .

So Anna: She was one of the first witnesses to proclaim Jesus as savior. She was in the temple when Mary and Joseph brought their 40-day-old baby to be presented, and she knew who he was when she saw him. We don’t know a lot about Anna. The Biblical account of her is only three verses long. It tells us a lot about her character, a little about her heritage, and next to nothing about the man she married or the children she may or may not have had. Anything outside of these verses is conjecture or inference, so take what I write with a grain of salt. Unlike David–whose life story could fill pages without any embellishment to the Biblical account–Anna’s moment in recorded history is just that: a moment.

And there [in the temple] was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was 84 [or, for 84 years, depending on how you translate the Greek]. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour [as Jesus was being presented], she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:36-38).

Apparently, many people take that last part–“to speak of him”–as an indication that she went around Jerusalem proclaiming the good news of the awaited Messiah’s birth. This would make her the first evangelist of the gospel–though more of a prophet of the Messiah than a recounting of what had been done, since Jesus was still an infant at the time.

Anna was very old–either 84 or over 100 depending on how you translate the verse–but apparently in good health. She could see, she could speak clearly, and she was able to move around well enough. And she offers this beautiful picture of a woman who walked closely enough with God as to recognize when she was in his presence. While Jesus was yet an infant, she recognized who he was.

She also offers us a model of devotion in the midst of tragedy.

Anna lost her husband after seven years of marriage–I personally think marriage without children–and she responded by dedicating herself wholly to God. As a young widow, she had every right to remarry. No one would have thought a thing about it if she’d found a new husband. I can imagine many friends and family members eagerly trying to connect her with this or that eligible bachelor.

We don’t know why she didn’t marry again. Did she not find the right man? Was she not sought after? Or did she know this was simply not God’s plan for her life? Either way, we see no sign of bitterness in Anna. No sign of grief. No sign of mourning. After up to 84 years as a widow, she has not only worked through any disappointment, but she has rooted herself in God, depending on him, trusting him, and giving herself completely to him.

I wonder how often she may have mediated on Isaiah 54:4-5:

Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more. For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.”

Either way, God had a plan for her life. And I can’t imagine that her life went as she may have imagined it. But I take comfort–and perhaps she did too–in knowing that God knew it all before hand. He wanted her to be where she was and when she was so she would know him. And he wants the same for me.

And he [God] made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:26-27).

Thanks be to God for loving me enough to put me in my circumstances and to draw me unto himself.

This is {kind of} episode 6 of my “They Were Called” series. If you want to follow along, I am posting on Mondays. For previous episodes, see:

Introduction: Working for My Calling

Episode 1: David Asked, “How Long, O Lord?”

Episode 2: Moses Looked to the Reward

Episode 3: Hannah Took It to the Lord

Episode 4: Noah Chose to Build

Episode 5: Jonah Liked His Way Better


4 Comments

Noah Chose to Build

So, yesterday was Monday, and instead of writing for my series, I spent the day in bed. The first stomach flu I’ve had in my married life struck early Sunday morning, and DH was a dear caretaker all day on Sunday (which, sadly, involved pulling the car over more times than either of us would like to count at short notice on our 5-hour drive home form Dallas). And Monday, while my stomach behaved better, a headache and serious lack of energy kept me away. Better late than never, I figure, so here goes:

~~~

God called Noah to a special purpose in a time when “the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). God saw how wicked man had become and determined that he would wipe all flesh from the earth—man and animals alike.

“But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD” (Genesis 6:8).

While God was filled with sorrow over the humans he had created, he found one man’s family worth sparing from destruction. Through Noah, God would offer salvation to the species he had created. It was an earthly salvation—a continuation of life—not the salvation that we would later be offered through God’s own son. But a salvation of sorts. And Noah and his ark make an interesting, though imperfect, analogy for Jesus and the cross.

Like Enoch before him, who “walked with God and was no more,” Noah also walked with God (Genesis 6:9). Sometime in their walks together, God let Noah in on his plan to wipe out the wicked while sparing Noah and his sons and their wives.

The plan involved a lot of work on Noah’s part. God provided the directions, but Noah had to make a choice to follow through. Presumably, if God told you to do something to save yourself and your family from certain death you’d be all ears, too. But don’t think Noah just happened to hear God. He made himself available to hear what God had to share with him.

That hits close to home for me. How often am I available to hear what God might want to tell me? How often am I open to hearing his call in my life or his words spoken to my heart? Oh sweet friends, I wish I were always open to hearing. Mostly I’m doing all the talking—and little listening.

So, God directs Noah to build a massive boat, an ark. And Noah does it. God tells Noah he is going to flood the whole earth at a time when rain has never fallen on the planet. The rains of the flood are the first rains from the heavens. Prior to the flood, the ground had been watered by a mist that sprang up from the ground (Genesis 2:5-6).

The Sunday school version of Noah and the Ark devotes at least one chapter to all the wicked people making fun of Noah while he works on this massive boat. Did this happen? Maybe. It’s not in the Bible. But we do know that Noah was preaching to the people in these days (2 Peter 2:5). And we know the people clearly weren’t interested, as we have no indication that any repented. Since he was building a massive floating vessel, it seems plausible that people would have thought Noah was off his rocker and told him so. But this is embellishment.

Either way, it seems clear the task was no picnic. While somehow providing for his entire family, Noah also builds the ark. He then stocks the ark with all of the animals in appropriate numbers (a pair of every unclean animal, seven pairs of all clean animals) and plenty of food for everyone to eat. It’s not clear how long it took Noah to build the ark, but in a time before sawmills and hardware stores, we can assume it took quite a while. Did Noah’s family help? Were they even supportive? We don’t know. But either way, Noah “did all that God commanded him” (Genesis 6:22).

Everybody got on board and God closed the door (Genesis 7:16).

And as the children’s song goes, “The rains came down and the floods came up.” All told, Noah and his family and the animals spent 40 days in the boat while it rained, an additional 150 days on the boat while “the waters prevailed upon the earth,” 40 more days after the ark struck land in the Ararat mountains, a few more weeks, then a couple more days and finally God told them they could get off the boat. Math has never been my strong suit, and I’m not familiar with the ins and outs of the Hebrew calendar, but based on what other people have calculated from the Genesis account, they were on that boat for 364-370 days. That’s a long time afloat.

Did the boat stink? Was everybody getting on each other’s nerves? Did they run out of their favorite snacks halfway through and have to subsist the remainder of the time on less appealing veggies? Did they tire of not knowing day from night for the gloom and rain those first 40 days?

Yet when Noah steps off the boat, he builds an altar to God. It’s the first thing he does.

Noah’s calling was straightforward, and surely God assisted in more than just directions (how else could he have gathered the animals?), but that doesn’t mean it was easy. He had to be available to listen to God. He had to devote serious time and energy to following God’s directions. And he had to choose to do God’s will at any cost. By building the ark, Noah showed that he was willing to leave his present behind him and move forward into a new, unpopulated world. He showed that he valued his relationship with God above any worldly possessions, and his family and their safety above his own leisure. Noah is in the line of Jesus because, well, how could he not have been? But without Noah’s obedience, the human race is lost long before Jesus’ birth.

Noah offers several reminders:

  1. We should strive always to walk with God, making ourselves available to hear his call and directions, even if (especially if) this means distancing ourselves from the world and its moral codes.
  2. God will give us choices, and when he asks us to do something we can choose to obey or not. Obedience is the better way, even when it’s challenging.
  3. God might have a bigger story in mind than we can see (It’s not all about me). Noah knew God planned to destroy all flesh except that which escaped on the ark. But we can’t know if Noah saw the big picture—God’s ultimate salvation of the world through his son. Without Noah’s obedience, was all lost for mankind?
  4. God equips the called. No one had built such a vessel before the ark. No one, as far as we know, had corralled animals in such a way. But God gave Noah the directions and the ability to accomplish what he asked him to do. God didn’t give Noah an impossible task—nothing is impossible for God and Noah walked with God.
  5. During and after the storm: Thanks be to God. Always.

In our callings, let us remember that whatever obstacles we face are not impossible to God. And if God has called us, he will make a way. Praise God! But we must continually listen to hear what God’s word is to us and what he has called us to do, lest we miss the blueprints.

This is episode 4 of my “They Were Called” series. If you want to follow along, I will usually be posting on Mondays. For previous episodes, see:

Introduction: Working for My Calling

Episode 1: David Asked, “How Long, O Lord?”

Episode 2: Moses Looked to the Reward

Episode 3: Hannah Took It to the Lord


4 Comments

Working for My Calling

I feel called to be a mother. It is the only vocation I’ve ever seriously considered (outside of being a world-famous novelist, of course). I am a freelance copyeditor. And I’m good at it. And I am in the process of quitting because it isn’t meaningful to me (among other reasons).

I yearn deeply for the day when I will be a parent.

I expected motherhood to happen when we wanted it to happen. (Not that this was a huge stretch; most people don’t deal with infertility.) I expected that since I feel called to be a mother, I would be a mother. In our first four years of marriage, I looked at every year as one more year of waiting until we decided to have children; one more year until I could get started on my “career.” There were a few things we chose to do first. I don’t regret that. I am so grateful for the time DH and I have had together, the time we still have together. And based on our diagnosis, there’s no reason to think that our outcome would have been any different if we’d started trying on our wedding night.

But since I felt called to have children, I thought it would be easy. And when we found out our diagnosis, I started questioning my calling. Had I misunderstood? Am I NOT supposed to be a mother after all? Why would I have this strong desire in my heart if it weren’t meant to be?

And then I wondered, if I’m not supposed to be a mother, then what? Maybe I needed to find a new calling to pursue.

But there is no new calling; not anything to replace motherhood. I have short-term callings, day-to-day things that I feel called to do in a moment or for a time, but these are not the same. That could change. God could tell me tomorrow that he does, in fact, have a different path laid out for me. But this is where I stand today.

And then it hit me. Who said achieving a calling would be easy?

I certainly don’t expect to churn out a novel without blood, sweat, tears, and soul pouring onto page. The successful businessman didn’t get where he is without working for it. My pastor didn’t wake up one day and start preaching to a church congregation without first facing any roadblocks or challenges. My husband didn’t get where he is in his career without working for it, or without running into a few dead ends.

Why should fulfilling my calling of becoming a mother be any different?

Some of the most famous people God called faced enormous adversity on the way to fulfilling their calling. I need to be reminded of their struggles. I’ll start with David. This will be my first blog series. We’ll see how it goes.