Remnant of Hope...tiny steps toward healing change!

Hadassah: “What hope, Mark? What hope is there?”
Mark: “ God always leaves a remnant.”
-      A Voice in the Wind, Mark of the Lion series; Francine Rivers

          n. a small remaining quantity of something
          adj. remaining

          My precious friend, Abby imbued me with a frame to fill with purpose for 2017. What I will embrace, engage in, be, believe, break free from, do daily, let go of, learn from, live by, give, and how I will grow. It sits at my desk as a daily reminder. My pastor touched on how women seek the ideal in every situation. In a biblical God given capacity it can be a treasure, but it also can be a hindrance that leads to sin. I had such a beautiful ideal for 2017. The start was filled with potholes that left me a bit bereft with a twisted ankle and need for a dark room and copious amounts of sugar. I felt aimless and without purpose. I knew there was more, but God’s more wasn’t matching with my ideal. It wasn’t fitting into what I had pictured.

          How many times has this happened in your life? Enthusiasm is replaced with a stale mediocrity. At times, I would rather be mediocre than walk in flames that leave ash in their wake. I remind myself that God works best out of the ashes. As Pastor Erwin McManus says, “don’t assume that because you are through with one battle you are reprieve from walking directly into another one (paraphrased)”. There is a reason we are to pray on the armor of God.

          I listened to a beautiful sermon by Timothy Keller this morning on the book of Ruth. There was so much meat in this sermon, but one of the points was that Ruth chose to follow God even if it led her into misery, destitution, and death. She did not seek a good life, but a great one.

 “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps”
     Proverbs 16:9 (NKJV)
“The heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps”
     Proverbs 16:9 (ESV)
“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”
     Proverbs 16:9 (NLT)
“The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”
Proverbs 16:9 (NASB)

          This verse has sat with me the last few months. It has popped up in podcasts, books, through friendships. I love to plan. I make lists that I often rewrite, more than once. I like a clear marked path; few interruptions or plot detours that throw me. However, this is the antithesis of how life truly is. The adage ‘the only constant thing is change’ is true. There is much change that needs to come. I am ready for it. I can no longer predict what this year will hold. I’m taking inventory, a mid-year renewal. I’m ready to walk into deeper waters, for change that is inevitable. Life is never boring. I appreciate our sweet Lord. He is mindful of what is best for us. We make grand plans, even for His kingdom. As Judah Smith says, “He is not surprised by this, but encourages us to take steps each day with Him (paraphrased)”. He is gentle with us, and knows what is for our good. The steps with Him may be contrary to what we had hoped or imagined. Yet, it is a life fully lived to walk beside Him.

          I recently re-watched The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe. It reminds me of Aslan playing with Susan and Lucy before the battle in this story. God’s character is such that He would take time to bring us joy, play with us, knowing what is ahead. There are, as Sara Groves sings, pockets of joy and stretches of sorrow. We live broken, and our wounds can direct our actions. As humans, we are characteristically self-preservers. Our God knew He would have to carefully remove stone idols we hold tightly to. I am ever in awe of the wonder of He who made us. His attention & understanding to what our hearts need. He is always more concerned with our character than our comfort. He takes us step by step, transforming our hearts moment by moment.

“He brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established by steps.” – Psalm 40:2 NKJV

          He establishes, sets up on a firm…permanent basis, our steps. Another definition of establish is, “achieve permanent acceptance or recognition for”. If we are following Jesus, we achieve permanent acceptance from Him; by Him. There is nothing that can separate us from His love (Romans 8: 35-39).

          And, we are part of His great plan…an intricate, deep, and wondrous plan!

 “That’s plain enough, isn’t it? You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all – irrespective of how we got here – in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day – a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.”

-         Ephesians 2: 19-22(MSG)


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