not a hard Master

“How very kind of the Lord, not merely to send us the necessities of life, but even such things as, on account of the weakness of our bodies, or the want of appetite, we might have desired!… We have indeed not served a hard Master.”

George Muller penned that statement after he witnessed God’s amazing provisions in his life.

I have come to a very still place in my soul; I neither awake with extreme excitement nor do I wrestle with discouragement.  I am content.  Perfectly content in the season of life I am in.  Each day brings new joy to me – as a mother, wife, church planter, and child of God.

There are days when I question God’s involvement in my life, but those days have become more frequently submitted to the days when I anticipate God’s involvement in my life.  This has been the result of being brought to the revelation that we do not serve a hard Master.  It is not a sacrifice to serve a God of such insurmountable love and grace.  When He took on my sin at the cross, He did so to gain the Father’s reward.  He saw me as a Reward – something worth giving His life for.  And yet, all too often I do not see my own cross in the same way.  I do not count it all joy when I face trials of various kinds.  Maybe it’s because I esteem my comfort above my God.  But serving God is not a burden, nor is it a sacrifice; this doesn’t mean it’s comfortable or easy, nor that it should be.  However, the way in which we carry our cross determines how we see God.  God is not a hard Master, and whatever I go through for the sake of Christ is not a sacrifice, but pure joy – Joy because of Whom I am living for!

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disillusionment

The words spoken by God to Job keep reverberating in the deepest part of my soul…

where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?   who shut in the sea with doors, when it burst forth and issued from the womb; when I made the clouds its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling band?      have you commanded the morning since your days began?        Have you entered the treasury of snow, or have you seen the treasury of hail?    can you lift up your voice to the clouds that an abundance of water may cover you?  Can you send out lightnings, that they may go, and say to you, ‘Here we are?’       who can pour out the bottles of heaven?      can you satisfy the appetite of the young lions?    who provides food for the raven, when its young ones cry to God and wander about for lack of food?   have you given the horse strength?   does the hawk fly by your wisdom?      does the eagle mount up at your command?   Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him?  He who rebukes God, let him answer it.

I’m silenced.  Somewhere along the way I lost sight of who God is and my own understandings of who I am.  Can I contend with the God who knit me together in a secret place?  How do I question He who knows the depths of my soul, better than I?  My own disillusionment is crushed by the weight of nothing less or more than the fact that God is God, and I am not.  And while the temptation lurks to question God as to why He’d bring me here to “die” – the only appropriate response to Him is utter silence brought upon by the humility that is caused when something small beholds that which is truly great.

 

Worth It

Last night I went to bed with my tear-stained cheeks and the thought in my head… just go to sleep – His mercies are new every morning… tomorrow the sun will rise.

This morning I dropped Ben off at work, followed by Belle, and I breathed in God’s new mercies… I AM going to have a good day today!  I commanded myself.  About this time I glanced at my mirror only to see the reflection of the dreaded authoritative flashing lights behind me.  I looked down at my speedometer and noticed that I was driving under the speed limit – maybe he’s pulling me over for driving too slow?

NOPE!

I failed to notice that I was in a school zone.  I needed God’s mercy in the biggest way, but instead I received a 4-point ticket with a double fine totaling $300.00.  It was the first time in my life that I cried in front of an officer.  I tried to mask it and took in deep breaths, but the sobs kept getting louder.

It’s not his job to ask my current financial situation; nor is it his job to know my Spiritual state and the fact that I’ve been through five months of brokenness, so I guess I didn’t feel the need to say anything to him.  Instead I just thanked him as politely as I could.

The tears accompanied me the whole way home as my thoughts quickly snowballed from one question to the next – I can’t afford groceries, how can I afford this ticket?  I never speed, how come the one time I accidentally speed I get stuck with a ticket?  God… where is YOUR mercy?

Genesis 15 marks the beginnings of Abram’s journey of faith.  God approaches him and says fear not Abram.  I am your shield and your very great reward.  Sometimes I think that we look for God to show us mercy through the world.  I wonder if I want my shield and reward to come through financial peace and a steady job.  Yet as God begins to take this man and refine his faith, He first lets him know who He is in His life.

And so it is true with me ­– God’s mercies are new every morning.  But that doesn’t mean that the morning holds no pain.  Sometimes the mercy of God strips us of ourselves so that we run behind His shield.  Sometimes the mercy of God rids us of worldly things so that we cling to the One True Reward – Jesus Christ.

By the end of today I felt completely drained… emptied… vacant of any “Camryn.”  And though I don’t see a way out right now, I know that I am hiding deep behind God.  I have wrapped myself in His hem and I am crying on His garment – LORD, please shield me!  I have nothing left and so I am learning to allow Him to be my exceedingly great Reward.  Days like these force me to echo the words of one of my favorite artists, Rita Springer… It’s gonna be worth it – He’s already worth it!

The Healing of Naaman

Lord, please heal me.

I think sometimes we don’t know just how broken we are until we are easily re-injured.

I had a friend who tore her ACL.  The doctors told her that she should avoid rigorous sports like snow skiing.  Against her doctor’s wishes, she decided to brave the mountain one day.  Her injury wasn’t fully healed and she tore her ACL again.  This sent her into another long six-month recovery program. Although that was bad, I’ve seen worse.  I knew a girl who didn’t let her knee injury fully recover before she decided to engage in her favorite pre-injury activities – she didn’t re-injure her bad knee, but instead, she injured her good knee.

Our hearts react in similar ways.  We think we are healed, but then something happens and we realize that we are far too easily injured.  What’s worse is that sometimes we don’t re-injure those same places in our hearts, but we end up injuring other places, places that were completely whole.

2 Kings 5, tells the history of a valiant warrior named Naaman.  Naaman had the favor of the LORD and was given victory in battle, which gave him the respect of the king.  He was brave and wonderful, even his name tells us so – Naaman means “pleasantness”.  However, Naaman didn’t have everything, he was a leper.  Imagine his life, a respected warrior and an outcast leper.

One day a little girl was taken captive by Naaman’s people and she told Naaman’s wife the sweetest thing: “I wish that my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria!  Then he would cure him of his leprosy.”  Can you imagine the faith of such a girl?  I think of my own little daughter and I wonder if she was taken captive would she have good wishes for the man who took her?  Naaman’s healing began that day with one little girl who wanted good things for her master.

Naaman went to the king of Israel to find this prophet.  When he arrived he found Elisha confirming the words of the little girl, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored to you and you will be clean.”  These words didn’t bring Naaman great happiness or hope, but rather they infuriated him, “Behold, I thought, ‘He will surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.’”

Naaman had his own ideas of what healing should look like.

I must admit – I am too much like Naaman.  Sometimes I just want God to come down in a glittery cloud and cure me.  I don’t want to go to the Jordan.  I don’t want to dip in the river.  I don’t want to hear about my cure from the mouth of a child.  I want something much more glorious – I want something much more magnificent.

Since being in Boulder, I’ve been made more aware of the broken pieces in my life.  I am forced to face them because I have very little here to comfort me.  Even my great days take incredible faith and dependence on God.  Yet I know, in the most unlikely city in the world, my healing rests in this land.  I want to just be comfortable again.  I want God to just wave His hand over me and make everything pleasant.  But, sometimes our healing isn’t that glamorous.

Sometimes God brings us to a place of humility to actively wait for His healing.  I emphasize the word actively, because I think that far too often we think that healing is a byproduct of us just being God’s children.  But more often than not, we are asked to “go and do” in order to receive the healing that God has for us.

Truth be told, I would love for God to tell me to go dip in my bed and sleep for seven nights and then I’ll be healed.  But instead, I’m instructed to open up my heart to Him and let Him bind up my broken heart.  And of course, to keep a disciplined mind and refuse to meditate on thoughts that lead me further into my own destruction.

After Naaman was healed in the river he says, “Behold, now, I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel.”  I wonder if Elisha was present during Naaman’s healing if Naaman would have even seen God in it.  I picture this valiant warrior, vulnerable and humble and ALONE, dipping into a river for his cure.  When he comes out of that river with new skin, he has no choice but to acknowledge the hand of God in it.

I am fully convinced that our healing usually lies in those intimate moments when we are alone with God.  We definitely get revelation and words of comfort from fellowship and other’s wisdom.  But genuine healing often comes when we just lay our hearts bare before the LORD in a quiet place… sometimes we need to dip ourselves in God’s healing rivers and allow Him and Him alone, to wash over us.

a joyous labor

I remember going into labor with Arrabelle.  There were moments throughout the labor where I wanted to quit, but I knew that there was only one way to end the pain… to go through more.

There are no words to describe the first time I embraced her.  I didn’t know I would love her as much as I did.  I really didn’t expect to be so overwhelmed.  I looked into her eyes and saw mostly Ben, and a little of me.  I was awestruck.  God gives us the freedom to create life – to make something miraculous from practically nothing.

I often feel like we most reflect God when we are creating.  The first thing we see in God’s character in the Bible is His amazing ability and passion to create.

Yesterday was tough in all ways.  It was one of those days I wished I was never called to plant a church.  I desperately wished Ben was the CEO of a major company, instead of a lowly church planter.  There were moments when I grew overwhelmed with the task of planting a church.

Today I received fresh vision for what it is we have been asked to do.  I thought back to the day when I brought Arrabelle into the world.  I alone know the sacrifice it took to get her here.  No one else bore the pain, no one else carried the cross of nine months of nausea.  And no one else got to sigh the relief of holding her for the first time, knowing… every moment of discomfort and pain was more than worth it!

As Church Planters, God calls us to carry the pain and discomfort of scrutiny, insecurity, financial hardship, disappointment and fear.  And yet, I know that in the midst of the journey, we are reflecting our Father in the most miraculous way – we are creating something from nothing.  God placed a tiny seed in our hearts and from that, we get to create.  At the end of the laborious journey, we will be able to physically embrace the fulfillment of what is now just a dream.

We get to create.  I feel humbled and overwhelmed that God would call me to bring His dreams to fruition.  I am thankful that I get to be the one to see His desires brought to life through my tiny hands.  The labor will be worth it and in the end, we will get to embrace those who God has given us, and we alone will know the tears that were wept to bring them into our arms.

obedience

two days ago my friend posted… Our job isn’t to get results; our job is to obey God’s voice.  i am so convicted when i read this.  why is this so hard?  why do we constantly struggle to get results, when all we are really asked to do is obey God.  i confess that my focus is usually on the results and not on my obedience.

abraham never saw the fulfillment of God’s promise to him – but it was fulfilled. i’m always challenged by this.  jim elliot was a missionary who was martyred on arrival.  he never saw the fruit of his journey – an entire tribe in love with Jesus.  he’s just one story, there are many more.  i’ve read stories of missionaries who gave up everything for what became the salvation of ONE person.  i’d be lying if i didn’t tell you that i struggle with this.  i don’t want that to be my story.  but the reality is, at the end of the day, praying for an entire city is not nearly as meaningful to me as praying for our 80-year old neighbor whose days are numbered.

our obedience is most pertinent in the daily grind of life.

as i prepare for Bible study tonight, i get anxious about who will show up.  i grow concerned that no one will come.  i worry about the results, because i am not completely convinced that our simple obedience is enough.  i worry that others are looking for results and i wrestle with that.  what if others think we failed?  i fear being marked a failure.

in the midst of these worries, i must take a deep breath and remember – my job is to obey God’s voice.  what He does with that is off me.

still not content

I sit here and write this as I watch my two daughters spin around their room in their play dresses.  I am constantly amazed by their naivety – especially during this most recent season, when the weight of the world has weighed heavier on me than it ever has before.  They have a room full of toys and we have never gone without a meal, so I guess now is a good time for me to repent for feeling sorry for myself.

Yesterday I walked through a store and saw at least fifteen outfits that I wish I could afford; to be honest, I just wished I could afford even one of them.  In these moments, I go back to when life was comfortable.  Ben and I have never had a lot of money.  We have never been able to just spend our paychecks on whatever we wanted in that moment – but we have always been able to buy those random desires… a shirt every once in a while or a cheap pair of jeans.  We don’t get to do that these days.  In fact, I can’t remember the last time I spent money on a cute shirt, just because I wanted it.

But as I watch my girls enjoy life, I am reminded that I really have everything I need, and so much more!  My children are full of joy and get to be kids.  They aren’t worried about what they are going to eat because God has always placed food in front of them – in front of us.  Sometimes I worry about how we are going to pay our bills, but we have always been able to pay them (even if it is only “barely”).

I am overwhelmed with gratitude for what God has provided and I know that all those things that I covet in the store are just stumbling blocks.  The enemy puts them in front of me to accuse God of not being a good and faithful God – I am sorry for believing that for even a second; because when I watch my girls play with carefree abandon, I know that God is a good God.  It may be years before I am able to afford to buy a new shirt just for the fun of it, but I will always be able to feed my family.

If only we lived our lives dwelling on the true treasures in life our lives would be so much richer.  When I cast my careless worries at the foot of the cross I get to live for the richer things in life – faith, family, and an eternal relationship with an amazing God!!!!

Breathe Him in… He is life… and He is good!