Highlighter Worthy

My first few real Bibles (you know, the ones that have Jesus’ words in red and aren’t broken down into Bible stories instead of books…) bear the scars of an over eager highlighter hand and a juvenile view of what was meaningful enough to underscore with some neon yellow marker.

I remember coloring over large sections of Genesis and Leviticus thinking any verse with the words “Abraham” or “law” in it must be important and thus worthy of some highlighter love. This is not to say that family histories and Biblical statutes are not important, just that I was making the Pentateuch look more like Joseph’s technicolor dream coat than a thoughtfully underlined patchwork of spiritually significant passages.

I was thinking of my highlighting habits this morning after reading a person’s story that I really want to remember – and it happened to be in a genealogy. His name is Enoch and I want to be just like him when I grow up…

The genealogy recorded in Genesis 5 lists the first 10 generations from Adam to Noah:
· Adam
· Seth
· Enosh
· Cainan
· Mahalalel
· Jared
· Enoch
· Mehuselah
· Lamech
· Noah

These men’s years are recounted in a systematic breakdown by
1. years lived before first son
2. name of son
3. years lived after first son
4. total years lived

Example:
Enosh
1. 90 years – lived
2. Cainan – begot
3. 815 years – lived
4. 905 years – all the days of said person

Kinda boring. Then, six generations in of living and begetting, living and begetting, Enoch appears on the scene. His life starts out pretty normal. He lives 65 years and then begets Methuselah. But Enoch didn’t just resume living after begetting (I really like that word) his son.

Enoch “walked with God.” For 300 years he walked with God and then – boop – Enoch was no more “for God took him.” And the other generations keep right on living and begetting as usual.

While some people in the Hall of Faith, found in Hebrews 11, have whole books devoted to their story, Enoch’s story gets a mere 6 verses in the middle of a genealogy. But the simplicity of his life’s example makes a large statement about what matters to God.

Hebrews 11:5 retells Enoch’s story, saying: “By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, ‘and was not found, because God had taken him’ for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God.”

The man so pleased his Heavenly Father with his faith that God spared him a physical death.

That alone is awesome – for God to desire your presence in heaven so much He doesn’t wait until nature takes its course, but plucks you right off the Earth in an instant. Just wow.

But what I love about Enoch’s life the most (and what I covet for my own life) is that he was remembered for pleasing God. Enoch’s testimony, the evidence of his faith, was that he walked with the Lord and it pleased his Abba.

His Love Is Wide

At first I’m suspicious.  Wide isn’t the good path.  Our path should be narrow, tough, intentionally walked with care.

But, God’s love is wide.  His arms encompass us with a breadth we can’t comprehend or imagine.

It’s like He purposely juxtaposed the slimness of our journey – the narrow way we must traverse – with just how wide his love, grace, and mercy stretches around us.

He deals with our sin in the same way.  As far as the East is from the West…

Our Savior made a “narrow” choice to die on the cross for us in order to fling our transgressions away from us with such strength that they will never be seen again.

His love is wide.

His love is deep.

It covers us.

 

*This post was part of Five Minute Friday over at Tales From A Gypsy Mama.

The New Community

I’m beginning to realize that Christian community is quite the chameleon.  Community is a constantly evolving concept, changing just as much as its members.  On the most fundamental level, the Christian community encompasses all believers, however, the power of community lies less in numbers and more in intimately doing life with other Christ-followers.   In community, we walk these primitive roads together – carrying each other’s burdens, encouraging each other to press forward, simply, loving each other.

Leaving California meant leaving my community – a group of twenty-somethings trying to figure this life out together.  We succeeded.  We failed.  Together.  These women were my friends, my confidants, my bridesmaids, my cheering squad, my sounding board.  They still are those things, but, with 1300 miles between us, our community looks different.

Different is difficult for me.  I have become oh so aware that, as with many things in life, community has seasons.  One of my anxieties about moving to Idaho was the unknown community factor.  Who will our friends be? How will we plug-in outside of the youth group?  Will people like us?  How long will it take to develop the kind of community I had before?  Will it be the same?

I don’t have the answers (though, as far as I know, people like us…) and I’m beginning to realize that I don’t need the answers.  God is showing me how to appreciate this new season of community, to let it develop with no expectations.  He has already blown me away with what our community looks like.

No expectations looks like:

Here’s a basket full of notes and gift cards to welcome us to Coeur d’Alene and CBC.

A warm welcome extended by CBC members.

Oh, you’ve just arrived in town?  Come over for burgers!

We missed you at the church picnic.  Do you want to get coffee?

You like to hike? I’ll take you up Canfield Mountain on Saturday!

You need a couch? We have one that needs a home!

 And let us consider and give attentive, continuous care to watching over one another, studying how we may stir up (stimulate and incite) to love and helpful deeds and noble activities, not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together (as believers), as is the habit of some people, but admonishing (warning, urging, and encouraging) one another, and all the more faithfully as you see the day approaching.  {Hebrews 10:24-25, Amp}

Not only have Tim and I been adopted into a welcoming community during this new season, we now have an excellent example of how to extend community to others.

ON LETTING GOD DO HIS THING

Based on my perfectionist and overly studious tendencies, it’s not a major shocker that I was an obsessive note taker in school.  During lectures, in my textbooks, from a power point, I would be making notes.  Even though I’ve been out of school for four years and, thus, not pouring over textbooks and the like, I generally read for pleasure with a pencil in hand, making notes or underling quotes I like or find interesting.

Note taking has leaked into my devotional time as well.  My Bible is underlined and scribbled in – there’s even a smiley face and doodle or two.  Not only does this help me engage with what I’m reading, it also helps me recall what I learned when I run into it again.  And let me be honest, parts of the Bible can get a bit dry.  Sometimes I just need an external occupation to keep me interested and interacting with the words that I’m reading.

Regardless of my motivation for reading the Bible with pen in hand, I’ve always been blown away by how God has used those notes to meet me where I am.

He works in such timely and unexpected ways.  During the three hour solo time at high school summer camp (July. Lake Shasta. Houseboats!), I ran into some of my Bible scribblings.

A year ago when NewSong was at houseboats, I was at Hume Lake as a jr. high counselor with my old church.  It was a really difficult week for me.  My parents had just left for a month.  My boyfriend of a month was unreachable because Verizon cell reception is nil at Hume.  My worth as a leader was being rocked because of the abundance of peppy Hume staff.  I was feeling lonely, uncertain and way out of my comfort zone.

Already feeling discouraged, I sought refuge in the Psalms.  David’s honesty and ability to praise God amidst his struggles has always been encouraging – and I was feeling in need of some encouraging.  I decided to read a Psalm a day, beginning at Psalm 35.

Wednesday’s Psalm, in particular, gave me a sense of peace.  In Psalm 37, David says, “find rest in the Lord.  Do not fret.  It only causes harm.”  Not only was I being a major fret face, but I was fretting over misplaced priorities.  Pining after Tim and feeling inadequate as a leader were keeping me from serving selflessly.  After some initial resistance, I was able to start surrendering my desires for the future and move past some of my insecurities – at least put them aside while I was supposed to be pouring into students.

Psalm 37

Fast-forward 12 months and I’m at the park during solo time, following along with the devotion for Friday.  I flip open to Psalm 37 as directed.  A date was printed above it.  7.13.11.  Exactly one year after finding solace in those words at Hume Lake, God directed me to the same Psalm.

Though I was not dealing with the same type of fretfulness, God knew I needed to read David’s words again. That boyfriend from a year before was now my husband and we had spent many months in the ups and downs of a ministry job search.  I went in to the houseboats trip needing direction, confirmation, and peace about the most recent developments in Tim’s job hunt.

God spoke a specific exhortation and encouragement to my heart from Psalm 37.

Exhortation:

Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. (v.5)

In my efforts to be in the know and manipulate circumstances to fit how I envision things should go, I don’t always abide by this simple formula:

Commit. Trust. Let God do His thing.

Encouragement:

The steps of the godly are directed by the Lord.  He delights in every detail of their lives.  Though they stumble, they will not fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand. (vv. 23-24)

Even though I don’t always follow the aforementioned formula, God takes great pleasure in orchestrating every detail of my life.  I can certainly trip myself up, but He won’t let me fall.  My hand is held fast and firm in His own grip.

I am holding you by your right hand — I, the LORD your God. And I say to you, ‘Do not be afraid. I am here to help you. Isaiah 41:3

The Next Chapter

Image
Floating Boardwalk: Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

Curled up on my parent’s couch, I wonder if I’ve come full circle.  I’ve sat on this couch for years – watching Saturday morning cartoons with my siblings, stretching out to do homework, chatting with friends and family.  I celebrated the monumental and the trivial in this living room.  I mourned the loss of precious people in this living room.  I grew physically, emotionally, and spiritually in this living room.  I lived in this space with people I love.

It seems fitting that I would spend my last night living in this house sleeping on the couch.  Husband is on a twin in my old bedroom.  Most of our possessions were loaded onto a moving van this morning, the remainder packed tightly into Blueberry for our three day trek to Idaho.

This couch is a period, the punctuation concluding a fantastic chapter in my story.  Since my life is such a page turner (or so i’d like to think), i’m anxious to read what’s next.  A year ago, 6 months ago, heck, 2 months ago, I would not have guessed Idaho was part of the next chapter for me and Tim.

God has proven a trustworthy author thus far, so, in faith, the pages continue to turn.  A new chapter for Team Gardner begins tomorrow morning!

Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it’s the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

{Proverbs 19:21}