Reflecting on the Mountain

20130323_095559Forty years had passed since the Isrealites left Egypt; forty years of wandering a route that should have taken about 11 days to travel. The promised land was ahead, but they couldn’t see it. I want to learn so I don’t wander around longer than necessary for God to do what He plans in my life.  I love how sweetly the LORD speaks to His people in Deuteronomy 1:6-7 when they are stuck, as a result of their own sin.  “The LORD our God spoke to us at Horeb: ‘You have stayed at this mountain long enough. Resume your journey and go…”.  He gently told them to move on from where they were stuck, and I believe there is truth in this for us today.  There is something better ahead, resume your journey.

As I look back at 2015, I wonder what mountain I’ve stayed at long enough. If I were to choose the mountain to turn from and leave, it would be the Mountain of Pain & Fatigue.  Oh how I would love to resume my life, turn my back and go on, but despite my best efforts I can’t heal myself.  It feels like I’ve been trying to leave for all of 2015, but that mountain is on my back and I’m carrying it with me.  Sometimes the reality of carrying the weight gets too heavy so I set it down, sit and focus on it. Looking at it makes me feel sad and see loss, but carrying it somehow makes me stronger so I pick it back up and journey on; searching, researching, making physical changes, going to doctors, taking medicine, pacing myself, walking and living.  If my health puzzle is not the mountain I’ve stayed at long enough (4 years now), then what is I wonder?  Sometimes we have to search below the obvious layers to identify where we are somehow stuck or stalled so we can resume our journey.  While I ponder I ask God to help me name my mountain, so He can sweetly whisper, ‘You’ve been at this mountain too long, it’s time to go and resume the journey I’ve called you to.’

God helps me remember that 2015 was a good year full of great memories with rich family time and a lot of letting go.  There were highs & lows; great joy in the midst of pain & suffering; success & failure; storms & calm; laughter & tears; progress & set backs; insight & overwhelming confusion; a couple more pieces to my health puzzle & tough treatment roads; great effort towards getting well without the desired result, but through it all God was in and with me teaching me about Himself, who He’s created me to be, His faithfulness, how to trust Him, put hope in His promises, live with joy, hold onto peace in the storm, love beyond myself, how to have patience no matter the circumstances and faith in His plan for my days.  I’ve learned, grown and changed in the process.  Here are some themes I can identify as I reflect through this past year: be faithful in the little things; walk worthy and walk well in all situations; honor God in my relationships; love others- it’s the people in my life who matter most; do challenging things; lean into hard circumstances & conversations; in my weakness, He is strong; even if healing doesn’t come, I will trust Him; be kind; Jesus is enough.  Of this I’m confident: God has been faithful through it all and will continue to be, no matter what comes my way.

So, what is the mountain I’ve spent far too much time at?  I’ll continue to ponder this question in my heart.  Can you name the mountain you’ve stayed at for far too long?  Here is the link to the message, ‘Can You Name Your Mountain’ by Steve Carter, revolving around this scripture from December 26/27 at Willow Creek Community Church, give it a listen:  https://willowcreek.tv/

Three days until 2016 and the start of reading through the Bible cover to cover. I can’t wait!  Will you join me at your own pace with your own plan?

XO, Michelle

Insights Gleaned from Reading Straight Through the Bible in 2015

2012-03-03_14-32-40_112I started 2015 with the goal to read the Bible straight through, cover to cover. When I began that goal I had no idea the impact it would have on my life, heart, soul, mind, relationships, perspective and circumstances. It was a seed planted in my heart from an article I read that took root and grew. I don’t share this for a pat on the back or to compare Bible reading plans, but to maybe plant a seed in Christian hearts that reading God’s word matters and has the power to transform a life regardless of the circumstances in which you find yourself. When I set out to read through the Bible, I decided it would be something I would restart every January 1 of the New Year. I often don’t follow through on New Year Resolutions, so this was simply a goal I set and met.

My excitement has been growing for January 1, 2016 to come so I can start the New Year reading straight through the Bible again. As I look forward, during this Advent season, I am spending time looking back at what God has taught me through His word this year. God has taken this seed and my obedience to sit with Him in a way that fits my current life circumstances and poured into me to the point where it overflows from my heart. He’s given me a deep rooted love for all of His word exactly how He’s given it even if I don’t completely understand what or why He is giving it; all I had to do was show up, listen, be obedient and trust He would teach me something, anything. I am somehow different, in a way that isn’t always easy to put my finger on, but I feel more peace, joy, content, calm, others focused, less selfish, with a deeper understanding of God and how deeply loved I am by Him. Here is some of what I’ve learned:

God loves us, all of us!

God is extremely patient with His people. I’ve really pondered why in I Corinthians 13 the first description of love is patience, “Love is patient…” So far I’ve decided that it is the root of all the other outward descriptions of love. If you are not patient, can you be kind, others focused, humble, generous, and forgiving?

Although I may not understand all of what is there, it is ALL important and significant or He wouldn’t have inspired the author to record it. Therefore I’ve concluded that every part of my life, my years, my days, my moments are important, inspired, purposed, planned and orchestrated by Him. If I seek Him, I can find him in even the most minute detail, circumstance and situation.

He is God, I am not, and I can trust Him with all of my circumstances.

I LOVE His word and can’t get enough of it. Sometimes I feel like I’m going to burst with excitement over what I learn.

He teaches me new things every time I reread a passage.

Genesis and Revelation are perfect book ends to His story of Love for us. It starts in a garden with the tree of life and ends in heaven with the tree of life.

He is intentional and purposeful and has eternity and His perfect plans in view. I have a limited, imperfect, human perspective, which He still cares about.

There are consequences for sin.

Living life for God requires sacrifice of selfish desires.

He knows all and it all matters to Him.

Although  Jesus’ earthly life is recorded in the New Testament, He is present from Genesis through Revelation.

His word is Truth and shows me how to live. Everything I need is in there.

My comfort and happiness in this life isn’t the main point of living, I’ve been created for eternity and somehow this life, and who God’s created me to be, matters for eternity.

Not much of this life will last for eternity, but God’s word will, so I best store it up in my heart because I’m taking it with me. I Peter 1:22-25

I am His and He cares deeply about me.

God hears our prayers. There is power in prayer, even if God doesn’t answer in the way I’ve asked.

Revelation is important and promises blessing to those who read it. Rev. 1:3

Jesus Christ loved us in Revelation 1:5, beautifully looks back to the cross according to David Guzik’s commentary. “The work of Jesus on the cross for us is God’s ultimate proof of His love for you. He may give additional proof, but He can give no greater proof. No wonder many believers are not secure in knowing the love of Jesus toward them- they look to their present circumstances to measure His love. Instead, they need to look back to the cross, settle the issue once for all and give praise to Jesus, to Him who loved us.” If this insight is the only blessing I receive from reading Revelation, it is a blessing indeed!

There are so many other insights I’ve learned from reading the Bible cover to cover in 2015. I’m anticipating what God will do in my heart, soul, mind and life as I repeat this process during 2016.

XO, Michelle