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Monday, August 22, 2016

Holy Ground

 Sometimes God shows up in unlikely places...
As I walked around the produce department at the local grocery store, my phone rang. It turned out to be a close friend of mine I haven't talked with in awhile, so I made my way over toward the clothing area so I could hear better. Just that morning, this friend had been on my mind, and I had been wanting to ask him for his advice about something...so I prayed. Now, here was God's answer...just a few short hours later. His timing is always right. 
 After catching up on our summer and sharing with each other what God had been up to...then I sought my friend's advice. He listened....then proceeded to speak life right into me. His words were given straight from the Savior...full of grace, hope, encouragement. He quoted Ecclesiastes 3...that "there is a time and a purpose for everything under heaven" and that this is a season of testing in my life. That this time of searching in the soul, of pressing through struggle, of striving to fight fear with faith...all this is a sign of God's favor. That, because God has something amazing up ahead, He's allowing this to occur so that I may be the stronger for what lies in the future. Only He knows. 
 As my friend spoke, I felt peace flood my heart. In that moment, that little clothing department suddenly became holy ground. God bridged the distance between Alaska and Washington state in one sacred encounter. And what I struggled to understand for weeks prior then became clear: God does not call those to His work who have it all together. He does not ask those to serve Him who are the strongest, the wisest, the richest, etc. He calls those who are weak, who lack understanding, who are poor in spirit...He calls those who need Him! And until we realize that no work is truly meaningful unless it generates further dependence on the One who brought us to such a time as this, then we have no reason to fulfill a purpose in this life. Because our own purpose leaves us empty, dry, dark...it leaves us dead. 
 There will be days when the load seems impossible to carry. And, quite frankly, apart from His life-giving strength, it is impossible to carry. Sometimes I think I can walk the chosen path well. But too often, I find myself failing more than succeeding. I find myself questioning and doubting more than believing. I find myself falling more than striding forward. Only His grace is enough. Only His strength can enable anyone...including me...to carry the load well. If He's called us to the task, it's up to Him to give what's needed to complete it. 
 My friend reminded me that God's ways will invite challenge from those who are spiritually blind to Him. There will be times when the fight seems more than one can bear. But if one is gazing at the Source of their strength...if one is determined to look to the Master in all things...yes...even the hard ones...victory can be the only result. God often refines His choicest vessels with the toughest tests. And the only thing He asks of us is to simply say: yes. Yes to all that may come - even the hard things. Yes to Him. 
 As I hung up the phone, tears welling up in my eyes, the words to a song came to my mind and I breathed them in my heart: 
    
"Thank You for the gift of friends
Who know everywhere I've been
And love me back home again...
Thank You."*

Yes, Lord....thank You for everything. Even the seasons of Your choosing that press us into further refining and make us more fit and holy for Your work! Thank You for showing up in unlikely places...even a clothing department in a local grocery store. 


*Taken from Jason Gray's "Thank You for Everything".