Thursday, March 26, 2009

Follow Me. *Updated with some rare and beautiful treasures*

The beautiful trees are disappearing more and more everyday as the rain and wind knock their blooms off. It looks like a snow shower came on the street where we took the pictures. I had to take more pictures of the trees since it will be a year before I get to see them again.
As I was thinking about that, I wondered what life will be like the next time I see them. Will I have been faithful to the Lord? Will I know His Word more? Will I be walking closer to Him? Will I have taught my boys to love God? Will I have loved the people God brought into my life? Will I be well/healed? Will I be pregnant? Will I be joyful? Will I have regret?
Life, as a Christian, is not really plannable (there is a new word for ya) and it is not a cake walk. Trials come. Faith is tested. Opposition is heightened. We are marked with the Holy Spirit... and also by an enemy.
Because we are still living in a fallen world as God continues to pour out His grace in order for all to come to know Him, we are not promised a problem-free life. This isn't a doom-and-gloom- woe-is-me post because, in reality, since I gave my life to Christ, the faucet of blessings has not stopped. My life has been CRAZY-blessed but I have also experienced much physical suffering.
I have wondered if God had chosen to show me my future (even with my trivial-compared-to-others trial), would I have still followed Him.

"Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."
Luke 9:23
God doesn't usually tell us our future. But he did tell Peter....
If you know the story of Peter in the Bible, you know that Peter denies Christ 3 times. He succumbs to fear and betrays Christ right before He is crucified. Peter is devastated by His actions.
BUT, one of my favorite stories in the Bible and such a picture of God's love is when Jesus (after resurrecting) goes to Peter. Peter is fishing. I am sure he is heartbroken over the death of Jesus and over his sin.
And then Jesus, in His resurrected body, goes to Peter...
(the Bible says at least 500 people saw Him after He resurrected!)
"Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus...
Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him... and jumped into the water."
John 21:4,7
What an awesome story! I remember crying the first time I read this. WOW. Can you imagine? What it must have felt like for Peter to see Christ again! And how Christ comes to Peter full of love and forgivess-- desiring a restored relationship. Christ did not come in anger but in love.
That is kind of how I felt when God forgave ME of my sin and how He came to ME to show ME His love and forgiveness. Such a great love, that your immediate, no-brainer response is reckless abandonment to follow Him. There is no thinking-just jumping in the water as fast as you can to get closer to Him.
Then, this is what Jesus told Peter about his future...
"The truth is, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked and go wherever you wanted to. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will direct you and take you where you don't want to go. Jesus said this to let him know what kind of death he would die to glorify God. Then Jesus told him,
"Follow me." "
John 21:18,19
How would you like to hear that?
or this...
"And the Lord said, "Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.
But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers."
Luke 22:31

I think I am trying to say that...
I want a heart that jumps out of the boat.
I don't need to know where we are going, I just have to be WITH CHRIST.
Nothing else matters. Just get me to Jesus.
I want a heart that says, "YES! I will follow you because You love me and have proven that love over and over and over to me... even when I betray you. I want to jump out of the boat leaving everything at the sight of my Savior.

Now, hardship comes to everyone- Christian or non-Christian. But, there is so much comfort in knowing God. Being filled with the fullness of God, having access to His wisdom, His throne room, His love, His strength, His peace, His redemption, His Word. That is while we are here!
Being made righteous and spending eternity with Him is the greater gift!
So, I pray for a heart to..
FOLLOW HIM-- no matter where He leads.
After all, He is our shepherd and holds us close to his heart.
"He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart."
Isaiah 40:11
and the Bible tells us where He is leading us...

"The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk through the dark valley of death, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You welcome me as a guest, anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever."
Psalm 23
May we jump out of the boat and RUN to Him because of His love and forgiveness.
I love the way Peter put it when Jesus asks him if he is going to leave and he says,
"Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, "Are you going to leave, too?
But Simon Peter answered Him,
"Lord, to whom shall we go?
You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
John 6:68,69

I found a rare and beautiful treasure in Reece's laughter when I walked in my bedroom this afternoon. Boys are crazy. Pause the music if you want to see 'bonding with daddy' at its finest.
(...its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.” Proverbs 24:4)
Here is another video of rare and beautiful treasures that I found in my entry way tonight before bed...
"You are the the only one I need,
I bow ALL of me at Your feet.
I worship You alone!"
Lake likes this one. ;)
God truly has given me more than I could have ever wanted. This song was in our wedding.
Lastly, here is a fun list that you can teach to your children so they can know more about God as they learn their ABC's. It is also great for us to meditate on Who God is!!!
Attributes of God
A - Almighty
B - Beautiful
C - Creator
D - Defender
E - Everlasting
F - Friend
G - Gracious
H - Holy
I - Incredible
J - Jesus
K - Kind
L - Loving
M - Magnificent
N - Never-ending
O - Omniscient
P - Powerful
Q - Quiets
R - Righteous
S - Savior
T - Truth
U - Unchanging
V - Victorious
W - Wonderful
X - eXalted
Y - Yahweh
Z - Zealous
Be blessed!!!


Noah's Mommy said...

Love Love the second video. Sooooo sweet. I can't wait to use the ABC thing for Noah.

Adrienne said...

Amen! So precious Steph. You have truly inspired me, as usual. Thank you for your words.

The Osborne Family said...

Thanks for the ABC's list of God's attributes! I will use these with my two! Please post any more cool ideas for teaching 2-3's about the Lord!

Carrie said...

I love how well you share the scripture with us and how it works in your life! I pray often for a heart that will easily follow Christ, because so often, I seem to try and be the one in control :)
Love the photos, you can just feel their energy!
I tried to take photos of the kids with the trees in bloom, thanks for your inspiration ;) Only wish we had a family shot.

Abby Davis said...

Love the two sweet videos! Too cute! I love the song 'You Alone' and I remember the solo from your beautiful wedding day!

HIS Child said...

Oh Steph,

Great videos! I needed a great big belly laugh today and I certainly got one watching Tim with the boys. Your heart is so blessed to live in the moment with those beautiful boys that the Lord has given to both of you. It touches my heart to see this precious ones come to know and love their Jesus. Way to go.
God bless your day.
Much love,