Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Psalm 23

I love to read. Especially over these last few years I have really connected with a few Christian authors that challenge my 'religious' opinions and remind me of how shallow my thinking can be. And yet I've noticed recently how easy it is for me to put these biblical scholars on a pedestal and hang onto their every word. However, I was reminded by a very wise friend that despite the wonderful Christian literature out there, nothing can ever compare to God's word, the Bible. Again, I remember that the bible is the actual LIVING word of God... Something that is moving, active and real, and when compared with the latest top selling Christian author, they fall short every time. After all, the bible has been BREATHED by God. He ordained it, so no matter who reads it, when they read it or where they read it, it is still completely relevant and meaningful. That's why I love it so much. There is always something beyond the surface, something more to be learned. You just can never get enough! With this thought in mind, I have really strived to put the bible at the top of my reading list. And I have also become more enthralled with additional books that are scripturally-based. I connect with authors who back up their challenges on words straight from the bible, as well as those who break apart the scriptures word by word, and shed light on the context and deeper meanings.
Which brings me to the purpose of tonight's blog... Just recently I heard a verse from the 23rd Psalm that resonated deeply in my heart based on some insecurities I was facing. It left me with a hunger to tap into the deeper meanings of the passage. Not long after that did the Lord lead me to the book, 'Traveling Light' by Max Lucado, which breaks apart the 23rd Psalm into promises surrounding the burdens we carry through life. Could it be more perfect!? Each chapter centers around a different piece of luggage we pick up as we travel on this earth, and Max uses Psalm 23 to remind us of the hope we have in the Lord. After reading each chapter, I took time to write down my own translation of the verse and what the Lord was saying to me through each promise.
Now that the book is finished and my chapter is complete, I would like to share my translation of Psalm 23 with you. Feel free to get out your bible and read along verse by verse with me...

Yahweh is the great I AM. Unchanging. Uncaused. Ungoverned.
I am defenseless and dirty, in need of grace, protection and love.
What I have in my Father is greater than what I do not have in my life.
He leads me and invites me to rest in His finished work.
He isn't behind me yelling "Go!", He is ahead of me bidding "Come", and He tells what I need to know, and gives what I need to have when the time comes.
In times of trouble, He doesn't give me hope by changing the problem, He restores my hope by giving me Himself.
He leads me up the narrow path of righteousness, where a steep winding hill leads to the cross and at the bottom I leave all of my sin and guilt.
He leads and blesses me in abundance not for my own recognition, but for His glory.
I am His, and follow Him to the top of the mountain by way of the valley. Even then, I never walk alone.
Because He is good, I keep my eyes fixed on Him, and I am given all of the strength and endurance that I need.
In the times when I am lost and lonely, it is then that He reminds me that He is near and He loves me with a perfect love. Love that can only come from Him.
He prepares breakfast for me and when I drink from His cup of forgiveness, my sin and shame are washed away.
He heals me of every disappointment.
He gives me more grace and hope than I could ever ask for or deserve.
His goodness and mercy pursue me every day.
And this world is not my 'forever' home. The best is yet to come.

Wow. How awesome is that!?
You can bet that I will be returning to this blog in the weeks and months ahead when I start picking up my burdens of loneliness, homesickness and worry, and I encourage you to do the same. It's the promises of my Jesus that keep me holding onto hope!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Caught in the Middle

Here I go again! :)
It's been another wild past couple of weeks... The Lord has blessed me with a great job this summer working at my dad's car business! Even though it's not technically in my career field, I've really enjoyed working with my parents and brother so far this summer... Picking up vehicles, running into town for parts, licensing, cleaning cars and weekly trips to the auction keep me stepping, but has also allowed for me to get some sweet hours (yes, they are very good to me! wink wink!) AND it's given me more time to spend with my family. I love it! But combining that with tutoring in the evenings, and planning for my move in September has made me quite busy!
Looking ahead to my last few months in Ontario, my mind also continues to be filled with thoughts about what is to come and what needs to be done in order for me to get there.
These days I feel like I'm caught in between two very different mindsets... Holding on and letting go...
I'm holding on to what I have and what I know. My family, my friends, my home, my car, my jobs, my life... It's all here. It's all I really need. And I love it.... Maybe a little too much. I've been looking ahead to the goodbye in a few months and I don't even know where to begin... It seems impossible. As a familiar song goes- How do you say goodbye to everything you've ever known? How do you let go of all that you've ever had?- I am so attached to this place because it's become a part of me... it's all I have ever known. It's who I am.
But at the same time, there is a new page turning... A fresh beginning, full of unknowns, full of firsts, full of new challenge, full of new joy. And I know it's time. I feel so compelled to go... To be what I have aspired to be for so long... And to turn my faith into action. After all, the boat wasn't made for the harbor. It's time that I go beyond what I think I am capable of, or what's 'safe' and allow the Lord to take me where I have never been before. It's time.
And yet it seems like every time I lean more towards one side, the other side is pulling me back. For instance, last night at youth we had the last TNL of the season. It was full of laughs and good talks and love and I left feeling a sense of loss because in my mind I know that it's the last TNL that I'll be at for a very long time. The youth, the worship, the crazy games, everything... I just have such a sense of belonging in that place, and to think it's the last time... It's hard to get my mind around.
But all of this to say that I get home from youth, and there is a message in my inbox from the van der Marks, telling me all the latest details about sending the crate to the mission, and plans about bringing my stuff to them, and my stomach flip flops... In a good way. There is so much excitement and joy in these days ahead. It's so awesome because the Lord is totally orchestrating everything and confirming this in my heart. I know without a doubt it's where He wants me and there is such joy in that. Knowing it's His will makes me confident to say that there is nothing else I'd rather be doing than be going to Haiti. It's where He has called me... It's the sweet spot!
So, it's a weird kind of balancing act going on in my heart to say the least... I appreciate your prayers in this!
But as I've been writing tonight, I have also been reminded about the few things I don't have to leave behind. First of all, I have my memories... Beautiful blessed memories! I organized a lot of photo albums on my computer a few days ago that I plan to take along with me when I leave, and I feel so thankful for the wonderful years I have had in Wainfleet. No matter what lies ahead, I will always have these wonderful memories to cherish and hold onto. And the Lord has promised more blessings ahead as I follow Him, so I know there are more memories to come! The second thing I am happy I won't have to leave behind is the sky. I know it sounds a little funny, but that is a big deal for me. You see, I have quite a love for the sky... There is just something about the way that the sunlight reflects off of the clouds on a summer day, or the way the colors blend to darkness in a sunset, or the way the sun dispels light into the world at dawn... I can't get enough of it! It's something about the sky that reminds me of my Creator... The Maker of the universe paints a picture for us, His children, every day and not one is the same. It's amazing! There is such beauty, glory, majesty and power that is reflected in the sky, and I connect with it... I look forward to seeing the sunset over the Carribean Sea in Haiti, which I have been told is quite breathtaking! You will be sure to see lots of pictures! ;)
Finally, I have hope knowing that my Jesus is always going to be right here beside me. No matter where I go or what I do or who I become, He promises to never leave or forsake me and that is such a comfort when every other security I know is being broken off. Even though everything else may change, I have peace knowing that the One who knows me, loves me, protects me, and guides me is with me every step. Every high and every low. He is faithful. He is unchanging. And He's got me.
I thank you for journeying through these days with me, even though I haven't 'officially' made my blog public! :) I know these are valuable lessons that I am processing and I want to remember them in the days to come. After all, this is only the beginning...