Deja Vu and Milestone Moments

You’re sitting on the side of the road in your car. It’s just broken down. As you sit and wait for the tow, you think of all the mess of your life of late. The list of complaints is probably long.

Then you remember the last time your car broke down. It almost feels like Deja-vu, as the same worries and fears flood your mind again. The stress subsides quickly however; you recall how God provided last time. You wake up to His presence.

Taking a step back, you praise the Lord for a reminder of His faithfulness. It’s amazing how He uses even unfortunate circumstances to point us (over and over!) to Himself.

We all have moments like this. Our Lord uses parallel circumstances to remind us of His character and to reinforce His work in us. “Deja-vu” moments can be spiritual milestones marking God-defining moments.

Two Biblical examples of such milestones come to mind.

1. David, the Chased


Shortly after encountering David early in 1 Samuel, we learn that he had to flee from the king he served. King Saul, fearful of David’s popularity and might, was intent on killing him. So began David’s ministry as a public figure elected by God. A number of Psalms outline David’s learning to rely on the Lord for his deliverance and future, though enemies persecuted him (See Psalms 7, 27, and 53 for example).

Eventually, David became king. He was referred to as “the man after God’s own heart”. His reign was marked by extreme prosperity and rampant popularity. Over time, David committed prideful, bold sin. His family found itself in turmoil in more than one circumstance.

Then, David was chased again. His own son, Absalom, had decided he would take the throne and kill David to gain rule over the kingdom.

On the run again, David was reminded of the difficulty of being personally persecuted and betrayed. In the parallel circumstance, God reinforced David’s need for reliance on God and God’s own reliability.

Psalm 3:3 highlights David’s choice to again trust in the Lord in his difficulty: “But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.”

2. Peter, The Fisher of Men


When Peter became a disciple of Jesus, he was a fisherman out on a boat, having poor luck. He obeyed Jesus’ strange command to let down the net on the other side of the boat. Catching an abundance immediately, Peter was amazed. He committed to following Jesus. Christ told Peter he would make him a “fisher of men” (Mark 1:17).

From then on, Peter was a disciple. He was zealous, even to a fault. Come Jesus’ shocking arrest, however, Peter did the very thing he swore he’d never do: he denied his Lord and Savior -three times! Ashamed, Peter continued to seek God in his failure. He was around to discover that Jesus was raised from the dead, for example.

One day after the resurrection, Peter had Deja-vu. Out fishing and having poor luck, a man showed up on shore. The man suggested exactly what Jesus had those years before: try the other side. Up came a ton of fish. John recognized what was happening, and as soon as he told Peter, the ever-excited disciple ran to Jesus (John 21.)

It was then that Jesus reinforced Peter’s calling, even charging Peter with being a shepherd for His human-flock.


For both these men, God used a “Deja-vu,” or parallel, experience, to reinforce truth about His own character and His work in their hearts.

As we encounter situations and circumstances, like sitting on the side of the road when our car breaks down (again,) we might find that God is reminding us that “the Lord plans our steps” (Proverbs 16:9).

We sometimes find ourselves “back” in moments that have proven to be significant in our spiritual development.

When there, we are blessed to remember who it is that guides us, and how surely He is at work in this world, regardless of all that tries to distract us from His glorious presence.

{This post was originally published on My Faith Radio}

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Memorizing the Mind of God- The Word Works Series

There’s always something to learn on Michele’s blog Living Our Days because Michele is a true learner. Writing frequent book reviews, commentary on Bible studies, and posts on lessons she’s learning, Michele is a sit-at-His-feet writer. Eager to plop down and dig in with her today!
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“I want to keep it handy in case I need it,” she said, matter-of-factly.

She wasn’t talking about a flashlight.

Not a package of tissues.

Not a cell phone – they hadn’t been invented in 1978.

She was talking about Isaiah 55.

I liked it,” she went on.  “So I memorized it.”

“Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.”

The words poured from her lips, because they were, indeed, handy, and although the pale yellow V.W. Rabbit continued on its way south down Route 1, I had been stopped in my tracks at the miracle of memorization.  My friend had captured for herself the treasure of thirteen verses of exquisite beauty and stunning promises — mountains and hills bursting into song and trees clapping their hands – all for the LORD’s glory and renown.

There is no way she could have known that my view of Scripture would be forever changed on that bumpy pot-holed ride, for I saw clearly that, in my friend’s mind, the Words of God were a banquet — all delightful — and she would have devoured them all given the time and opportunity.      

I decided to start in the Psalms, words of praise to fill a mouth that was unpracticed in the exaltation of a majestic God.  I knew that I was supposed to “appreciate His attributes” and “thank Him for His blessings” in prayer, but a dusty list of multi-syllabic theological adjectives caught in my throat and felt forced, unnatural.  However, borrowing the words of Psalm 103, thanksgiving pours from my heart even today, because God:

“. . . forgives all my iniquities, heals all my diseases, redeems my life from destruction, crowns me with loving kindness and tender mercies and satisfies my mouth with good things so that my youth is renewed like the eagle’s”

Tired and empty, I find that Psalm 63 frames my soul’s thirst “in a dry and thirsty land where no water is, to see [His] power and His glory. . .  because His lovingkindness is better than life.”

This is more than just having good theology or thinking God’s thoughts after Him.  Memorizing Scripture forces the mind to turn over the words, to consider their order, to linger over their meaning, and to recognize patterns and parallels.  This is allowing Truth to change the folds and creases of my gray matter so that my every thought is impacted.  Could this be what my wayward heart needs in order to stand with Paul in “bring[ing] every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ?” (II Corinthians 10:5)

When I go for a walk, it is not unusual for me to carry a few 3×5 cards in my pocket so that I can review verses that I am working on, because even my pocket isn’t near enough when my thoughts need adjusting, when my outlaw heart starts hammering itself an idol out of scraps and trinkets, or when I hear the hiss of lies about the basis of God’s love for me.  When this happens, the Truth that holds me in the faith is a reset button to “set my mind” on the things of the Spirit (Romans 8:5), on things above (Colossians 3:2).

Like any spiritual discipline, memorization creates space in my life for God. It heightens my awareness of His scandalous grace, deepens my listening to the voice of the God who has spoken into space and time, and puts my mind into a posture of intent to obey and to follow.

Living and powerful, His thoughts sift and winnow my own,

revealing motives that I would rather not see.

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Through Scripture, I am able to absorb the intimate vocabulary of worship, the raw expressions of lament, or the wisdom of instruction that sets me on a right path – not because I’m racking up points on an “Extreme Discipleship Scorecard,” but because in the process of memorizing Scripture, I find the true meaning of learning the Truth by heart.

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.

Bringing the Old Into the New

 

Living anew amongst old things is tough. Young people working in offices filled with pre-dominantly middle-aged adults know all about that. It’s hard to “be” the change when it seems nothing is changing around you.

But it’s also hard to have a set way and to adapt when newness comes along.

Middle-aged adults in offices struggle to work alongside young folks just starting out. It’s hard to feel like old news. It’s difficult to be set aside for the younger, fresher, and more exciting.

As the old adage goes, though: make new friends, but keep the old. Some are silver and the others gold.

All throughout Scripture God demonstrated the importance of unifying what has been with what is current –and even future.

Jesus referenced the Old Testament with respect and as if it had authority, even as He brought a new covenant into being.

We are charged with the care of the elderly and the widowed.

Jesus explained the important of bringing the old up to the new in Matthew 5:17:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

Something the Lord understands (as the creator of time itself) is that time builds on itself. History makes way for the future. The elderly must have existed for there to be the young.

Though newness in Christ, and in much of what He provides, is a blessing, we’re never to stop being grateful for all the long-past, well-loved gifts He’s given. We’re never to be fooled into thinking that the old, ill-fitted is worthless simply because it’s done it’s time.

About much more than just utilitarian value, our Lord places worth in fulfillment. That’s the Word He uses in reference to the melding of the new and the old covenants. It’s the word used to describe His relationship to the old prophecies.

Fulfilling is about bringing to completion that which was begun previously.

Young people in offices aren’t to destroy the foundation laid by older workers. Older workers aren’t to despise the youth.

As we set out in a new year, in new jobs, on new projects, with new friends and in new opportunities, the past isn’t to be forgotten. New good habits shouldn’t replace old good habits. New discoveries about the Lord shouldn’t push old truths aside.

That’s hard, too, isn’t it? We’re an all-or-nothing sort of people. In our pride, we place more value on things when they’ve come at the expense of something (or someone) else. My plan is only as good as how much better it is than his.

Humility. It takes humility to bring together the old and the new. Whether in the law, in relationship, at work, or in our faith, we can humble ourselves to give thanks for both.

Watch as He fulfills, step by passing step, making all the old new and all the new old until eternity is met.

This post is being shared on: #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus and #LifeGivingLinkup.


 

Not Getting Ahead of God

Photo from: leculentrelesdeuxchaises.wordpress.com

From where you are standing, there is much ahead. It might be a ton of busy, crazy, chaotic, and rewarding. Maybe the future is daunting. On the other hand, when you look ahead, you might see a whole bunch of nothing or vast space that could be filled with –who knows?

God does.

You want to be where He wants you to be. If you’re anything like me -and most everyone I know- getting where you should be is a priority.

It’s not always about “getting ahead” or “getting more,” but simply growing or following well. You know God has plans for you and sometimes it seems like a lot to keep up with. You don’t want to avoid the step He asks for next, so you prepare yourself as best you can for it.

The decisions you make at work are made with intentions for the future in mind. You choose to take classes, read books, and meet people now so that later you will be equipped for what you think (or dream) will happen. We want to be where God wants us to be, when He calls, without hesitation. It gets stressful, doesn’t it?

Worry is all about tomorrow.  Fear is most powerful in the future tense. God is in the present. And when the present turns into the future, He’ll be there too.

God is not 3 steps ahead of you, waiting for you to catch up. He is with you now.

Though it is wise to open your eyes to bigger picture or your life and to prepare yourself appropriately, the decisions you make now –including those about your future- should be made as He asks.

That future that you think you know too little about or too much about cannot separate you from the love of Christ. Neither can the present (Romans 8:38.) When the Psalmist said that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble,” He did mean that God is even present in our present life, concerns, and matters (Psalm 46:1.)

Paul testified to this truth in Acts 26:22, saying “To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great.Imagine speaking those words when you question what your future holds –or when others ask and you don’t know.

Speak this truth to yourself and to others as worry and planning and looking forward keep your eyes off of Him who is all the way up there –and also right here with you.

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkupIntentionally Pursuing,Titus2sday, and Thought-Provoking Thursday.