Who is Your Anchor?

Sometimes I have to learn my lessons the hard way. This past week was one of those times.

I have struggled with change all of my life. I remember trying to make myself rearrange the furniture in my bedroom when I was in high school and having a hard time.

I have friends who embrace change. Who love the idea of trying something new. I am not like them. I love the familiar. I can watch old Cary Grant or Jimmy Stewart movies over and over. I’ve read some of my favorite books a dozen times. Give me the stability of the   familiar and I do just fine.

It seems rather funny to me to even be talking about this since the past few months have been nothing but a series of changes. My life has been FULL of change and yet I still try so hard to cling to the   familiar.

Through all the changes we have experienced over the past four months, I have felt tossed by the waves on many occasions.  But God gave me the gift of a good husband to share my journey and he’s been my anchor as the waves have crashed around me. No matter what we were facing, I could count on him staying the same. Being one who brought stability.

This past week, however, the anchor’s chains were severed. Or so I thought.

Change.  God brings it on purpose to keep us from getting too comfortable. He can use the most simple thing to get us back on course.  This week it was ridiculously simple.

I’d gone to church on Wednesday evening and it had been a great class.  I came home from class, walked in the front door and found that my husband had completely changed his appearance. While I was gone, Andrew had shaved Randy’s head. He looked like a stranger. I went to my room and closed the door. When I was faced with yet another change, I just shut down. I didn’t want to adjust    anymore.

Now I know… you’re laughing right now. It’s just a haircut! What’s the big deal?  But it was change.  And it was change in the one thing, the one person who had remained the same through all the adjustments of the past few months.  Now he had changed and it was completely unsettling.  I spent three days trying to have a normal relationship with him without looking at him.  You can guess how that went.

By Saturday morning I was feeling the stress  on our relationship and I’m sure he was too. Finally I felt God nudging me to find my husband and resolve this issue.  I can report that all is well now.

The lesson I learned was difficult but so important.   I had gradually allowed myself to put my trust in Randy to be my anchor. To be the one who brought stability and strength when I needed it.  While it is true that a strong marriage is important and God will use our mates to encourage us and help us grow, they are not meant to take on as much responsibility as we sometimes give them.

Randy isn’t meant to be my anchor. God is.

Randy isn’t unchangeable. God is.

God used a simple thing like a change in appearance to help me see that He is the only thing I can count on to never change. He is to be my anchor. My Rock.  He is the one I can run to when life gets hard. And He is the only one who can give me peace that passes understanding.

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

What Could You Endure for Five Seconds?

Years ago I had a pastor ask me this question. “Will all this matter in Eternity?” It was in response to an issue I was sharing with him that had me very frustrated at the time.  I won’t lie to you. His response sort of made me mad.

Of course it wouldn’t matter in Eternity, but it mattered NOW. And since I was living NOW it was NOW that I was concerned with.

Fast forward about 20 years and I find myself asking the same question of myself and my children at times. Today I can’t even remember what that conversation with my pastor was about.

Jesus said that today has enough troubles of its own so we shouldn’t worry about the future. But sometimes anything beyond the next hour is too much to think about. We can get bogged down in the cares of life and forget that this life isn’t all there is.

If I ask you to submit to excruciating pain for five seconds with the understanding that you would NEVER experience pain again for the rest of your life would you do it? Most people would because they immediately understand that they  are being given an incredible gift.  No pain forever?  I would absolutely do that!

The reason we can see the benefit of that trade is that we project our vision out beyond the five seconds to see what we gain in the long run.  The bigger picture of being pain-free would be worth five seconds.

Maybe the reason I have learned this lesson as well as I have, (and I’m still learning it in some areas), is that I have seven sons and had to choose each time to look past the difficulty of the process to the joy of holding that precious little bundle in my arms. If I hadn’t figured out how to project my vision to a place beyond the pain, I would have only had one child!

Now think about your life. Even if you live to be 100 your life is only a blip on Eternity’s radar. You can’t even measure 100 years against forever and ever and ever….

What you may be dealing with today may be the most challenging thing you’ve faced in your life.  But could you ask yourself that question, “Will this matter in Eternity?”  Yes, it matters now. Yes, you still have to deal with it. But you can choose to face it with the knowledge that it is temporary. It doesn’t have to defeat you.

I love the song that Hillsong United does called “Oceans.”  One part of the lyrics says,

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine.”

God calls us to keep our eyes above the waves.  Some waves are bigger than others but if we keep our eyes above them we will see God and not fear being overwhelmed by a tidal wave.

James 1:12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

Floridians for Four Months Now

On December 12, 2015 we left Iowa and drove 1400 miles to our new home in Florida. I can’t believe it’s been four months already! It seems like we just got here but the fact is, we are pretty well settled at this point.

Our household of 15 is still functioning pretty normally.  Of course by normal I mean that there have been some rough moments.  The iron sharpening iron concept is alive and well and we’ve had some sparks flying at times.

Over all, I think we have managed pretty well. That’s not to say that there aren’t still many opportunities for lessons in maturity for all of us. I think our biggest challenge has been communication. It seems like most of the issues we have had to deal with have been misunderstandings that could be cleared up by a simple conversation. The reason the conversations don’t happen sooner and avoid the conflict is because of assumptions and expectations that we tend to make. And those assumptions and expectations tend to be birthed out of selfish motives. So, our biggest hurdle to peaceful living is of course, our inability to die to self.

I’ve been praying daily that God would open my eyes to opportunities to serve my family. I have also asked for wisdom so that my words would be received as intended and would build up my family. God has been teaching me to be quiet more and listen more. I have spent more time in prayer in the last 4 months than I have ever done before.  So even though there are still some challenging things about living in a house with this many people, people with very definite opinions about how things should go, I am seeing God bring good from it in my daily life.

There are many times that I have had to surrender my expectations to God when things don’t go as I thought they would. After having my own home for 34 years, it’s hard not to overstep my place and try to make decisions that are now not mine to make. It’s not easy but it is getting easier. At times I feel my anxiety rising because I am being stretched and then I take a deep breath and ask myself,”is this an issue worth fussing about?” The answer is almost always, “no.” It’s not easy to step away and let it go but I keep asking for God’s help and He is faithful.

We have settled into a good church and I have tried to get connected even though it’s hard for me to move outside my comfort zone.  It would be easier to just sit in the back row on Sundays and slip out unnoticed but that isn’t the best way to build community. The thing that makes this a little easier for me is that I’ve already been through it once. I had a great community of friends in Ohio before I moved to Iowa and I saw God do an amazing thing as He built new connections for me in Iowa.  I know that if He did it before, He can do it again. But I can’t stay in my shell and expect anything good to happen. I have to trust Him as I move forward.

It’s still strange to be in Florida. Randy and I still say to each other regularly, “we live in Florida,” like we’re still trying to convince ourselves that it’s real!

I keep thinking of the words God gave to Isaiah.

Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert. ( Isaiah 43:19)

God certainly is doing a new thing in the Maxey family. We are all being changed.  The key for me is to remember that even though sometimes it feels like a wilderness and a very dry place, God is working. it’s kind of ironic when I look at how lush and green my surroundings are and how easy it is to get to water! It just proves that things aren’t always as they appear.

 

 

Believing is Seeing

Evidence. It’s what every fact, every decision, every conclusion is based on. Attorneys collect evidence to make their case before the judge and jury.  Doctors collect evidence before they make a diagnosis.

In many instances a photograph can be the proof that something happened. Maybe a picture of you shaking hands with a famous person is something you can pull out to prove that you actually met that person. It provides evidence.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what faith really is. Is it just blindly believing something because someone  told you it was true?  I don’t think so. I think its more than that. I think it requires you to trust the person telling you. I also think it requires a decision on your part to believe the evidence.

There are instances in our lives where we have the evidence right in front of us and still choose to be in denial about what we are seeing. There are other times when the evidence is something we can’t see but have to choose to believe anyway.

Remember the old polaroid cameras? You stood at the edge of the Grand Canyon and someone took your picture.  Then you all stood huddled together waiting for the photo to appear.  What picture were you expecting? Would you have believed that the picture was one of you standing in front of Niagara Falls? Of course not. You KNEW where you were when the picture was taken and you absolutely knew what would soon develop right before your eyes.

Perhaps that’s how we should think about faith. Imagine for a moment that issue you’ve been praying about. Imagine posing and having someone take a picture of what you believe God is going to do. Perhaps  it’s of you reconciled with a loved one. Or maybe it’s you in the job you’ve been asking God for. It could be a family member who has been very ill looking the picture of health.

Hebrews 1:11 says “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  Isn’t that what you are doing while you wait for that polaroid picture to develop? You are confident that the fully developed picture will be exactly what you expect it to be. Well, maybe not exactly. You might have hoped that your hair wouldn’t look THAT bad!

I believe God wants us to look with anticipation toward the things we have hoped for, just like we do with a photograph.  Perhaps it won’t develop in seconds as you watch. Maybe you remember when you had to send off your film and wait a week to find out if the pictures even developed.  God may make you wait. But He is as trustworthy at the end of the waiting whether it’s sixty seconds or twenty years.

Today I challenge you to look in a fresh way at that issue you’ve been praying for. Take a spiritual snap shot of what you are believing God to do and then trust Him as that answered prayer develops.

Remember, seeing isn’t believing. Believing is seeing.

 

Who Can You Trust?

Have you ever had an experience like this?

Someone you trust promises they will do a specific thing. You believe them because you trust them. Then time moves on and what they said they would do doesn’t happen.  You begin to doubt their word. If you let it go further, you begin to doubt their character. You start asking questions like, “will they ever come through with their promise?” And maybe you even start second guessing whether they even care about you. Maybe you aren’t important to them after all. Maybe they aren’t even who you ever believed them to be.

Not many of us actually go to this extreme in our thought process but you can see how it could go even further than what I described. We have to admit that we DO allow our expectations of what people will or won’t do go off in the wrong direction sometimes.

Perhaps after you get all bent out of shape because you decide the person must not love you anymore and therefore never intends to fulfill their promises to you, they suddenly come through and you feel ridiculous about what you were thinking. It sounds like something out of a movie where the wife is completely convinced that her husband has been cheating on her because he’s late getting home. When he walks in the door to find a hysterical wife, he says he’s stopped to pick up flowers for her.  She feels ridiculous for worrying needlessly.

It all sounds comical but isn’t that what we do to God all the time?  When we ask Him for something we need and He makes us wait we get impatient. Then we start wondering if He even heard us. Then if we aren’t careful we can begin to doubt that He even loves us. We allow doubt to creep in and cloud our thinking.

Yesterday, our pastor said, ” Why do we believe our doubts and doubt our beliefs?”  That’s a great question. Why is it so easy to allow doubt to come in when we are waiting on God to answer our prayers?

Doubt was introduced in the Garden when the serpent said to Eve, “Indeed, has God said…?”  If we allow doubt to guide our thinking we will surely lose the battle.

So when we pray and we are waiting for God to answer, what do we do?  We’ve all heard the advice to “stand on God’s promises” but what does that mean?  It means making a decision to believe God is who He says He is. If His character is trustworthy then what He says is also to be trusted.  You will find His promises in His Word. He has given them to us in writing so there can be no misunderstanding.

Now when the devil comes and says, “indeed, did God say?”  we can go straight to God’s word and find out exactly what He said.

When the devil tempted Jesus to doubt God, Jesus went right to the word and quoted it back to the devil.

If it worked for Jesus it will work for us.  Try it.

Psalm 33: 20-22

We wait in hope for the Lord;

he is our help and our shield.

In him our hearts rejoice,

for we trust in his holy name.

May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,

even as we put our hope in you.