the sun and the sunset

When I give you no special guidance, stay where you are. Concentrate on doing your everyday tasks in awareness of My Presence with you. The Joy of My Presence will shine on you, as you do everything for Me. Thus you invite me into every aspect of your life. Through collaborating with Me in all things, you allow My Life to merge with yours. This is the secret not only of joyful living but also of victorious living. I designed you to depend on Me moment by moment, recognizing that apart from Me you can do nothing. Be thankful for quiet days, when nothing special seems to be happening. Instead of being bored by the lack of action, use times of routine to seek My Face. Although this is an invisible transaction, it speaks volumes in spiritual realms. Moreover, you are richly blessed when you walk trustingly with Me through the routines of your day.

Jesus Calling, April 13

This quote pretty much sums up all my thoughts, so if you prefer brevity, you should probably stop reading now. But if you don’t mind slightly cheesy metaphors and long-windedness, read on friends.

2015

This year has been a steady stream of moments connected in learning discipline and consistency. From the first time I understood the Good News of the Gospel – that moment where it really clicked – my faith was marked by many “aha! moments”. Specific times of realizing I don’t know it all… understanding what grace looks like… recognizing discipline. I would go to summer camp or a weekend retreat and leave with deep conviction, defining moments of new awareness when everything fell into place, marked my life for good, and I would never forget them. Like the summer of 2002, sitting in the gym at Louisiana Tech. I remember the song we were singing, who I was sitting next to, what I was wearing. I remember some of the exact thoughts I had. I remember the words of calling God spoke to me… telling me that my life would be committed to ministry and that my living for Him had to start then. John 15 will forever mean so much to me – Him as the vine, me as the branch, called to abide.

Those moments are not unlike a beautiful sunset. I’ve always loved to watch sunsets – I am guilty of pulling over on the side of the road to try and capture the beautiful colors. I remember specific sunsets, where I felt so aware of God’s amazing and wonderful talent and majesty on display and it literally took my breath away. I think those moments in my faith where God really spoke to me are sort of like sunsets – memorable and stunning, never to be forgotten. God’s intentionality on direct display.

But here lately my faith is less and less about those big aha! occasions, fewer sunset moments, and more about daily, constant choices. I still have much to learn, but the conviction and correction that used to come crashing in and stop me in my tracks is now much more like the sure and steady sun. It’s subtle, easier to ignore. Easier to resist. It’s there every day, but something we can get used to. I seem to be waiting, thinking that when I notice conviction and recognize change that should happen, I will wait for the sunset moment to really secure the lesson. I seem to be hesitating, thinking that when I feel emotional or overwhelmed – then I’ll know that this is for real and God wants me to be obedient.

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But more and more, those sunset moments don’t come. It seems that if I just sit around and wait, they may never come and I could resist change forever. Instead, God seems to be telling me that the sun is just as good and indeed, valuable. The sun is necessary for the sunset. The sun brings life, light, and consistency. Without the sun, we cannot appreciate or see the sunset.

Discipline and growth in Christ is a daily choice more and more. Our days are made of a thousand little choices. I can choose myself in this temporary moment or I can choose Jesus and His kingdom. Over, and over, and over again. The little choices seem too simple to feel important some days. Choosing to save instead of spend, rejoice instead of complain, get up and not be lazy. These choices all feel sort of small. They aren’t sunset moments. I often want to wait for those sunset times to really live for God.

But there is great joy in the daily surrender! Just like the sun rises every morning, those little choices in discipline build up a life of steadfast devotion that is in tune with the voice of the Father and grows in faithfulness consistently. Maybe fewer aha’s and more amen’s are what mature faith looks like. It doesn’t have to mean He’s stopped speaking to us, it just means we can recognize His voice in the whisper so He doesn’t have to raise His voice at us.

My whole life I’ve waited for the sunset moments to really grow. But today, I feel overwhelmingly thankful for the sunshine. The sun that brings warmth and growth, marks new morning mercies, and reminds me that this is the day the Lord has made, I can choose whether or not I will be glad in it.

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

Choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

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