The Luxury of Lingering

My goal of recalibrating life is leading me to desire simplicity in everything. Last month the sermon series at my church concentrated on the subject of prayer. Prayer can be a complicated part of life mostly because of our personal understanding and expectations of it.

Too often prayer becomes a time of laying out a laundry list before the Lord of the needs we know we and those we love have. At least that has been my experience. And, in time, that can become cumbersome. In fact, in reading off our long lists we can become bored, at least that has been my experience. It begins to get repetitious. Unfortunately, it seems that I circle back to this problem time and time again. I go for a while praying the Scriptures, and then one morning I will lazily pick up my list and read it off. It will be a disconnected task that I try to complete in a short amount of time, just to get it done.

When we concentrate on a list we can lose sight of the relationship we are suppose to be living with the Lord. Our requests get made and we are ready to move on with our days. Does that ever happen with you? Maybe it’s just me, because I do know people who do just fine with a prayer list. I just know that I want the intimacy of a deeper relationship with Him and the list method does not seem to take me there.

As a part of our church services during the month of January we have been breaking into small groups to pray. One Sunday as I was joining a few people to pray it occurred to me that prayer is meant to be so much simpler than I often make it out to be.

That Sunday the sermon had been about the disciples asking Jesus to teach them to pray. Jesus turned to prayer often in His life, and it is obvious that His disciples had observed this and were interested in learning more.

Jesus saw the neediness of the people surrounding Him, He recognized the effects of sin on mankind, and although these were pressing issues He needed to share with His Father, I think that His time of prayer was more about abiding and finding restoration. Jesus simply wanted to linger with His Father. Sadly, that is not what prayer is for many of us.

But I am learning to linger with my Heavenly Father. And I am learning that in the lingering I receive luxuries of the Lord’s compassion. I am finding that I want to linger with Him more and more to know His heart in a deeper way. I think you too will feel a desire to abide with Him in that sweet spot, the place where He teaches you of His endless compassion for you. So please take time to use the following verses as places to linger. Before the verse is the topic they fall into and then before each verse I will share with you what it is that touches my heart about that verse, what makes me want to linger.

Love:

He loves me so much that he sings over me, he delights in me. I yearn for His song over me and His delight in me.

The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

His love is unfailing, no matter what. Unconditional and forever! I need that kind of love in my life.

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed.” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.”  Isaiah 54:10

His compassion never ends, His love is that great. He does not let us be consumed, (and some days it feels like the overwhelm could quite literally do just that.)

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumes, for his compassions never fail.”  Lamentation 3:22

Instruction

He promises to give us the instruction we need and to teach us the way. I know I need direction for my day, for my life. Life is complicated and confusing, but He sees it from beginning to end and knows the path He has for us. 

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Psalm 32:8

His Word lights the way, we need not stumble through the dark.

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Psalm 119:105

The Holy Spirit gives us truth for the way and helps us to know about the future.

“But when he the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” John 16:13

Nourishment

He meets our needs for all of life. Life, at times, can seem so empty and we can become so discontent. The Lord fills us and quenches our thirst.

“Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35

Grace

He promises us grace and mercy in our neediness. He wants us to call upon Him.

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

He promises us forgiveness and purification. I am realizing more and more the sin-sickness of my heart. But the Lord gives me hope in knowing He will forgive me and that I have righteousness through Jesus.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

He grants us eternal life through our faith in Jesus.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23

Encouragement

God is always available to us, He helps us in our times of trouble. I can always call on Him, I just need to choose to do so.

” God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1

We can find peace as we take our worries and anxieties to Him. I get caught in the quicksand of worry and anxiety all too often instead of knowing the peace the Lord promises.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:6-7

God is our salvation, our strength and defense. He is trustworthy. There is no need for fear. Fear ties me in knots and paralyzes me, I get stuck in it. But I have a Deliverer, He is showing me that, more and more, as I linger with Him.

“Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.”  Isaiah 12:2

Rest

In our overwhelm, He promises rest. Rest is something that He has most recently shown me in Psalm 23, but the verses below are verses I visit time and time again.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

He promises His presence, as well as to give us rest. I am finding the reality of His presence more and more as I remember to call on Him through the use of breath prayers. These little prayers are bringing me into connection with Him throughout my days.

“The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14

He is our Fortress, and Rock, our Resting Place of safety. This verse has been especially helpful just recently when I was struggling.

“Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” Psalm 62:1-2

In lingering, we are restored. As I continue on with recalibrating life, I am learning to linger with the Lord and receive from Him what He has for me. For me, it is much less about asking. It is more about learning to be with and take in His Word for me in those moments, receiving what I need to help me through the day. And daily I have been taking a breath prayer with me. Some of them have been:

“My Sweet Abba; Help me abide.”

“My Shepherd Guide, Restore my soul.”

“On Life’s rough terrain; Lord help me be surefooted.”

“Make my heart steadfast; Fully trusting in you.”

One day I just took the word “Fortress” with me because I felt shaken by what was ahead of me. So now it is in those times of fear or upset, I continue to call out to my Fortress. I need His help to trust and I need His protection (most recently in icy travel).

He has brought me to short passages or sections of Scripture that speak to my need and then have restored me as I linger there. It is from those portions of Scripture that I choose a word or find a breath prayer to take with me for the day.

Lingering with Him in the quiet or in His Word, He gives me just what I need for the day. Oftentimes the verse will remind me of requests I have and I will seek His help through deeper prayer. But the simplicity of lingering in these luxuries of His love has been a path to restoration. It is all a part of me recalibrating life.

Take time today to linger with Jesus and learn more of His love.

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Starting Anew

 

Happy New Year!

Isaiah 43:18-19 “Forget the former thing, do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing. Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” 

Our God is a God of renewal, restoration, and hope. This verse in Isaiah is a verse of renewed hope. The Lord wanted the Israelites to stop looking back at what was past, at what they left behind. The Israelites were in captivity when Isaiah wrote this and their minds were stuck on what had been. 

You know how that goes, when things go bad you think back to what the good old life was like before it all turned sour. When we get stuck or imprisoned in the problems of this life, we often wonder why God doesn’t change the situation. We may think why doesn’t He make it better according to what we think would be best. We may wonder why He ever allowed it to get this bad in the first place. We forget that no matter what, God has the best plan laid out.

Here we are at the beginning of a brand new year, we have set goals, and dreamed dreams of what we desire to take place. We think ahead to all of the possibilities, to what we want God to do in our lives.

We may have even taken time to look back over 2016. Just taking some moments to time review it in our minds. We may have smiled at our successes, remembering the people and things that brought us joy. Maybe we thought  about the things that went wrong, where we failed miserably, or about the goals that we didn’t meet.

We may have recognized and come to terms with how often failed to please God. Maybe we made poor choices, or didn’t even seek Him. We may  now realize how desperate we are to receive forgiveness and how we need the Lord’s wisdom in order to move forward.

The new year is a good time to take stock of all of that. It is a time to consider where the Lord is leading you. What opportunities is He making available to you?  Sometimes we realize the places we feel He is leading us are scary places that fill us with fear. A new job, a different town or state, a cut in our salary, or a crippling disease. Changes in life are often unexpected and frequently unwanted. We feel safe in the status quo. But we don’t learn trust when everything is going well. We often lose sight of God in times of self-sufficiency.

So,  in this new year, no matter what you are dealing with, remember the Lord will make a way when it seems impossible.

Isaiah 51:10 says,  “Was it not You who dried up the sea, the waters of the great deep,  who made the depths of the sea a pathway for the redeemed to cross over?” 

Yes, it was You Lord! You are the one who gives us hope, who leads us through the impossible, and You are the one who gives us victory.

The Lord is able to make a way through whatever place or predicament we are in. And what is so beautiful is that it doesn’t matter to Him how we got there. His love overcomes it all. We can start anew now in 2017, no matter what our past has been. He is with us to lead us, we must only seek Him, trust Him, and follow Him.

There are no guarantees that it will be easy, in fact, He often waits for us to step out in faith. The Israelites, led by Joshua, had to walk into the waters of the Jordan River before the waters parted. They had to get the soles of their feet wet in the flooding river before God parted the water (see Joshua 3). It is as if God was asking them,  do you trust Me enough to move forward before I clear the path?

God calls us, leads us, and equips us for what He has for us. He gives us feet for the path He puts us on. We need to look ahead and move forward with courage and expectation as we begin 2017 trusting that God has a perfect plan for us. All that He has for us comes out of his heart of unconditional love.

My prayer for us is this:

Lord, Help us to start anew in 2017 with steadfast faith in You, believing that You have the perfect plan and will make a way for us. Thank you Lord for Your unfailing love, thank You for Your amazing grace. Our hope is in You alone. Lead us and guide us, moment-by-moment, step-by-step, through 2017. And Lord, may all we do be for Your glory and honor. In Jesus holy name. Amen. 

May your new year be full of many blessimgs.

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