Saturday, January 21, 2012

insulated...

I've been cold for 2 days straight. Freezing cold, to the bone. So cold that my husband came home from work last night and surprised me with an electric blanket. I haven't used one of those since I was a girl growing up in the farmhouse. Brings back memories of fighting with my siblings on frigid days over who's turn it was to stand over the furnace vent. The best was to stand over it in a nightgown and trap the heat in all around. Well, 30+ years later I find myself living in a cold house again. It doesn't help that this house is large, there are hardwood floors and windows all throughout, and although there have been additions and remodels, it is still old and probably lacks proper insulation. It also doesn't help that it has been 11 degrees outside either. But despite the frigid temps of the season, I've felt insulated. Insulated by His grace and presence. And with this, suddenly all of my heart's desires and struggles don't seem as urgent or important as they've begun to melt down around me. Circumstances haven't changed, but His presence and my awareness of Him has. I've been buffered in His insulation.

My husband and I just watched a CATALYST Conference DVD. Some friends lent it to us a while ago and suggested we watch it, but we hadn't gotten around to it until last night. Perhaps we didn't make time or just got too tired or sucked into the "no-brainer" entertainment of American Pickers or Pawn Stars come night, but we finally sat down and got a chance to watch it. And it was good. We listened to messages of two dynamic speakers/pastors: Francis Chan and Judah Smith. I want to give credit where credit is due, but I'm afraid that the two messages are blurring together for me...but I still want to share what God's laid on my heart in the process. Just know that these next thoughts originated from these two anointed men.

While I've read the works of Francis Chan and have checked out a video or online clip of him here and there, I had never actually watched him deliver a message before. Once I got past his wild and passionately animated style of preaching (If I talked like that with my arms/hands, I'd have biceps and triceps of steel!) the words of his heart rang true and convicting.

Francis posed a question to the conference crowd of thousands, "What if we were to take an inventory of the prayers over the past month from everyone here? What prayers would we see repeated over and over again?" He goes on to tell a story about Moses (Exodus 33). How Moses had already walked with God...He'd already witnessed God's great miracles firsthand, and yet He wanted more. Even after all of that, Moses boldly asks God to, "show me Your glory." See, Moses was after more than what God could say or do. He desired what was beyond the miracles and promises...He wanted to know God. He wanted to know the essence of Him and what made God God. It was like Moses was saying, "God, I want to know who You are and what You're like, I want more of You."

I believe it was in Judah Smith's message that he talked about David, the heart barer and writer of the book of Psalms. The two messages are beginning to intermix, but one of them referenced David's earnest prayer in Psalm 27:4:

"One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek Him in His temple."

Out of all the things to be asking God, this was the ONE thing He desired...God's presence. To know Him. Is this your daily prayer and desire of your heart? If we inventoried your personal prayers over the past month, would this be the repeat one above all others? I have a lot of repeat prayers, but I can tell you this...this was not one of mine (and it should have been). Recently, my
struggles haven't changed, but I have...and it's because of His presence. My first and foremost prayer, above all other things should be just this. For His presence.
For more of Him.
And for my awareness and reverent acknowledgement of Him.
As believers He's given us His Holy Spirit. It's within...
but sometimes we are too distracted and too worried to take note and abide.

John 15:5 says, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing."

In order to know Him, I must spend time with Him and be fully present in reverence before Him. How can I really know Him apart from this? He must abide within, because apart from Him I can do nothing. Without His presence, what use am I to Him? I cannot bear fruit, be used by Him, or make Him known. We need Him first. We also need to rid ourselves of the distractions around us that beg for our attention and connive us into thinking that Jesus is not enough.

If you've had a taste of being fully present in His presence, if you've had a taste of Jesus in an up-close-and-personal kind of way, you understand that it is better than life itself. If you haven't had this before, you can. I beg you to try...seek it and seek Him. It's better than anything this world can offer...it's better than your favorite comfort food, the exotic vacation you've always dreamed of, or the designer purse you scored on the sale rack. It's better than the smell of newborn babies, your children's giggles or the heartiest belly laugh you could share with a best friend. And, it's available to EVERYONE. I wish it was like a plate of cookies I could pass around and give out, but it's not mine to give. It's His.
It's Him.

When you know God, you are not insulated against life's problems. But you can be insulated and covered in His grace, love and strength...and that will help you cope and get through the struggles. It'll equip you to live life abundantly and to see the world through a different lens. Like switching from black and white tv to color. Blind to brilliantly seeing. Lost to found. I've been craving, basking and bathing in Him lately. I don't want to lose this...I'm making David's prayer my own daily repeat because better IS one day in His courts. If you're feeling overwhelmed, in over your head, weary or burdened, you need not look any further than Jesus. He is more than enough.

He was the first thing in my thoughts this morning, before my feet left the warmth of my electric-blanketed bed. And this old song came to mind. Give me Jesus. I added it to my playlist this morning and it's been cycling on repeat like a hamster on a wheel.

It's a cold world out there and we need insulation. While an electric blanket works for the outside, there's only One who works for the inside. Jesus. Give me more of Him. We need more of Him. Go ahead, ask for it.

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