Sunday, September 19, 2010

8 Years Ago . . .

8 Years ago, I was 19 years old. I was in my 3rd year of college, working at a restaurant, and enjoying life as a college student. 8 years ago, on September 18th, my sister and I were home alone, my parents were in Stockton and my dad was on his way back home to Fresno. I wondered why he was coming home so late, but I went to bed anyway knowing he would be home soon. I was lying in bed, falling asleep. I remember waking up almost gasping for air, my heart pounding. I sat up in my bed and thought that was weird. Shortly after, I heard a knock at the door. I looked out to see an unfamiliar man in a white van. I thought it was one of my sister’s friends so I yelled to her to go answer the door, so she did. I looked out of my window at the van again and saw the word “Chaplin” on it. I ran down stairs to see what was going on. It was in fact a Chaplin, and he was there to deliver the terrible news.

My dad on his way home to Fresno, pulled over to the side of the road because of chest pain, had a heart attack, and died.

It was so unexpected and confusing that I actually called my dad’s cell phone to tell him some weird guy was here telling us he died. Shortly after I gulped, and realized this was real. I had to call my mom and tell her. Still not fully believing it, I called my mom and told her what was going on. She called Highway Patrol and a few minutes later, they were there (at my Grandma’s house in Stockton) to confirm the nightmare. My father, at the age of 50, had unexpectedly died of a heart attack. Our lives would NEVER be the same.

8 years ago our world was flipped upside down. My father was my mom’s best friend. He was my rock. I loved him, laughed with him, learned from him. He was a loving father who protected his daughters, defended his home, and loved us so much. We could not believe this had happened. No one could. I remember feeling so overwhelmed with peace and love during my dad’s funeral. His funeral was truly a celebration of his life. There were about 1,000 people who came to honor my dad and celebrate the legacy of love, laughter, and wisdom he passed on.

8 years ago my faith journey began. 8 years ago I began asking questions like “Who is God? If someone is in charge ‘up there’, who is it? What happens after death? Why do I have peace at my father’s funeral? Why do people keep telling me about Jesus? His death on the cross? What does that have to do with me?” I began seeking out Truth about Creation, death, life, salvation, Jesus. I had always believed there was one true God. I never bought into this whole “all ways are right”; it just never made sense logically.

A year or two later, I ran into my old boyfriend from high school (now my husband) and God used him to answer many of these questions. He helped me process through my thoughts on God and this longing in my heart to find the truth. It was then, after going through this horrible tragedy, and coming into contact with someone who not only had the right answers for me but lived them too, that I understood the gospel. A light went on, my eyes could see clearly who God is, what Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection meant for me, and how I can live in light of that!

I understood that the peace I felt when my dad died was God’s love. I understood that God used that horrible tragedy to teach me that I am not in control of my life or the days spent here on this earth. I understood through a tragic circumstance that this pain was meant to bring me to my knees, to surrender my way of life, and learn to live the life He had planned for me.

I can’t imagine where my life would be if God did not intervene. God was working in my life in a way I could not understand. Now I reflect on the love of both my earthly father and my heavenly father and I am incredibly thankful for the love I’ve received.

Although there are still days, like today, when I miss my father dearly, I have hope knowing that there is something greater for me. The thought of seeing my father again is so precious to me. But even more precious to me, is knowing the love of my Heavenly Father, spending all eternity with Jesus Christ my savior, and rejoicing in the hope of these things yet to come.

I know how much my earthly father loved me. But oh how much more does my Heavenly Father! It’s weird to think that 8 years ago was the worst day of my life, and yet still something to be thankful for.

8 years ago, I lost my earthly father . . . but gained a Heavenly Father.

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Scripture 16

Not by Bread Alone
“But he answered, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” (Matthew 4:4)

In keeping with the theme of “food” (my last scripture memory verse) I thought this one was perfect! A few years ago when we were living in Pleasanton, our pastor taught through all of the Red Letters (Jesus’ words he spoke). I can remember his teaching on Matthew 4, on Satan tempting Jesus three times, and each time Jesus response to the temptation was “It is written . . .” Powerful. Jesus weapon against Satan and temptation was The Word.

My mind has been a battlefield lately. Each new school year I struggle with how hard teaching is, dealing with kids’ behavior, the baggage they bring to school each day, exhaustion, etc. Each year I question if this truly is the job for me, is this where God wants me? How can I be useful when I’m always tired, constantly doubting, overwhelmed, etc.

Reading through this chapter in Matthew I’m reminded that I can’t let my thoughts or the enemy’s temptation win. I have to look at what is “written”. What does His word say about how I am supposed to live for Him? His kingdom? How am I supposed to be during trials? What about all my grumbling!!?!?!!

If I am not daily nourishing myself with His word, I just won’t know how to see past my current set of circumstances. I am left to my own thoughts and/or listening to the lies of the enemy. I have to renew my mind daily with what God says about me, who I am in Him, what I am to do in the midst of these trials. I need to seek comfort from the God of all comfort, seek wisdom from the Wise Counselor, seek refuge in the shadow of His wings.

I am not going to live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.

"How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" (Psalm 119:103)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Nothing More, Nothing Less

“And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:35-38)

This is just one of my favorite pieces of scripture. It shows so much about Jesus. He taught others, he proclaimed the gospel; he healed people of their diseases and afflictions. It shows his heart, when he looks out on crowds, he feels compassion. He sees them as harassed and helpless, sheep without a shepherd.

I have often asked of the LORD to help me to be like Him according to this scripture. I have asked Him to help me to do His work, for His kingdom, through His eyes- to teach and proclaim the gospel of the kingdom, to pray for healing for people with illness, to encourage those in affliction. To shepherd and have compassion on those who are harassed and helpless, who do not know the One True God, the Good Shepherd.

However, where I struggle is letting go of the work that is not mine. I am to pray for more laborers, not try to labor and do everything. I have to remember that in the scripture above, Jesus did not look out to the crowds and feel overwhelmed because there were too many sick people, or overwhelmed because there were too many who did not know the gospel, or too many sheep to shepherd! He felt compassion, he taught and proclaimed, he healed those he was supposed to, and what he could not do, he prayed for others to come and labor.

As I meditate on my scripture memory verse “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.” (John 4:34), I have to continue to ask for wisdom and discernment to what work I am to accomplish . . . to obey and do what He’s asked of me (and the freedom to say “no” to what he’s not asked of me), to feel compassion for others, but not to get overwhelmed and discouraged. He sustains me. He does not overwhelm me. His will is my food . . . Nothing more, nothing less.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Scripture 15

My Food
“Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.” (John 4:34)

My last two bible studies have referenced this scripture. I think the LORD is trying to teach me something?!?!?!

My current bible study said “Jesus time on earth was limited, but he never hurried”. In Charles E. Hummel’s Tyranny of the Urgent he talked about how we often let the “urgent” things in our life crowd out the “important”. He says “Jesus’ prayerful waiting for God’s instructions freed Him from the tyranny of the urgent. It gave Him a sense of direction, set a steady pace, and enabled Him to do every task assigned by the Father. Jesus worked hard, yet his life was never feverish, he always had time for people.”

I am reminded of how Jesus could have gone to many more towns, healed many more people, discipled 112 instead of just 12, and he didn’t. He only did the will of the Father. He drew back, stopped, paused, rested, retreated, prayed, obeyed, and worshipped. I am reminded that my sufficiency is in Christ. I am fulfilled by abiding and delighting in Him. I am reminded by this scripture that I am called to do the will of the Father. Nothing more . . . nothing less. That will be my nourishment.