Can’t get enough of J.P.

Psalm 42 and Struggles according to John Piper:

“We honor the water from a mountain spring not only by the satisfied ‘ahhh’ after drinking our fill, but also by the unquenched longing to be satisfied while still climbing to it.” (Piper, Desiring God, 2003, p. 96)

Struggles are not dishonoring to Him. The fact that we are fighting for His goodness–that is honoring to Him.

I feel ya

The Prodigal Son

CRM 2012 LENT DEVOTIONAL: DAY 38

MEDITATION

It’s after midnight as I step out onto the wooden deck of my Minnesota home to absorb the beauty of a snow-covered backyard and evergreen trees in the ravine beyond. The snow glistens among the spruce branches as the light of a full moon illuminates everything; the ground seems to glow in a pure serenity. Suddenly, it all blends into a decade-old memory of my life in Russia and times when I would stand at my living room window with the lights out and gaze over snow-covered rooftops of 19th century buildings. At that very moment a longing sweeps over me to return to those Russian days when my children were young and most of what I had envisioned for my life was still in front of me. It’s a haunting nostalgia. Similar to what the prodigal son must have felt, I want to go back.

If I’m attentive, everything I experience in nature is calling me home. Even as a Christ-follower, it seems as though I am eating the pods that are being fed to swine. In some odd way, I feel alienated from the Father, as though I am squandering my inheritance. As all of nature groans in travail, something groans within me. There’s this sense that something is wrong with this world. Something is missing, even as I take in the beauty of this tranquil, snow-lit night. I’m exiled from home, and I feel the pain of this exile; a yearning for something that is just out of reach.
As I grow older, I discover more and more the insignificance of my life. When I was younger, it seemed that life would be so much fuller. Now, it all appears so small. The awareness of the brevity of my life invokes a longing for something more. Everything has a hint of pig-pod in it. My marriage isn’t quite right; I impart to my children things that aren’t quite right; I hide significant portions of myself from others. The good that I do is tainted by self-serving motives; I’m frustrated by my lack of spiritual growth; I am dissatisfied with my lack of depth.  There exists a heightened hunger and thirst for something that causes me to look back and, at the same time, pulls me forward.
All of us are prodigal sons and daughters. Our life-long nostalgia—our longing to be reunited with something in the universe from which we feel cut off, to be on the inside of some door which we have only seen from the outside—is no mere neurotic fancy; it is the truest index of our situation. This is what the Bible tells us is true about our situation in life. The beauty of nature that is just out of reach, the experience just behind the door, instills a yearning for something that this world cannot supply. Like the prodigal son, I have to come to my senses to return to the Father. He waits for me.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER

1. Like snow-covered trees and rooftops, what moments invoke an emotional pang within you for something more?

2. What life activities get in the way of you pursuing that yearning?

By Mark Cathey

Oh, how I’ve changed…

I think the child version of me would stand in awe of the young woman that I have become.

Backstory: I hated reading. I hated writing. I hated talking about myself, and I didn’t know how to express myself. Anxiety and fear crippled me, and an unshakable feeling that I did not fit into any foreseeable social bubble riddled my heart and mind at all times. ‘Insecurity’ was the name of the game. [Hopefully, I’m playing a new team these days.] In all honesty, I look back at my younger self and wonder, “Whoa! I needed someone [anyone] during that time. I needed strong and true Love.” I was drowning, and no one knew. No one knew my struggles, because I wasn’t known by anyone. But, He knew me then. And, He knew what was in store for my future…

I’ve grown. I hate to use the word “blossom,” but it honestly fits so well here that I cannot refrain. The LORD has used countless women [and men] to minister to me over the past 6 years. Women that probably do not even realize the magnitude of their influence; women whom I will forever admire and love. God has done a mighty work in me, and He is faithfully continuing that mighty work. Each and every day.

One notable change in me: My reading habits. I love to read these days. Truly! “Verily, verily, I say unto thee… I LOVE TO READ!” 😉 I learn so much from the prose of the great thinkers. I almost have the problem of reading too much… starting too many books at once and not finishing any one for an extended period of time. Oopsies. I think graduate school contributes to this less-than-attractive lack of discipline [too much reading for school alone!], but I really have no good excuse for my behavior. I act like a child on Christmas morning… eager to rip open the first pages and enjoy the blessings to be had. Hopefully my future husband won’t mind the chaotic page/book flipping. 😉 My favorite authors are the ‘old guys’. I also love the ‘new guys’ who write with the wisdom and reverence of the ‘old guys’. I’m not much of a fiction or fluff reader… I like the heavy, eat-in-small-bites kind of books. The ones that really make to think outside of your own box and enlighten you with the author’s learned knowledge/wisdom. Those are the cream of the crop to me. The absolute best. But, I have recently found an exception…

FBC hosted it’s annual book exchange last Sunday. LOVE THIS EVENT! People bring old or unwanted books for the FREE taking of others. I’ve received so many gems to adorn my multicolored [and pretty! lol] bookshelf from this community service project. I found many books by John Piper this year [LOVE his writings. Don’t know if I made that clear to you… I LOOOOOOVE his works of literature. 😉 ] and a title that I’ve been interested in for some time [“Having a Mary heart in a Martha World” by Joanna Weaver]. I also picked up a fluff title. Eek. I say ‘fluff’ because I usually avoid these topic-driven books that only lightly season their ideas with scripture. [I like scripture to be #1, not #2.] The book is “Fresh-Brewed Life: A Stirring Invitation to Wake Up Your Soul” by Nicole Johnson. See what I mean?…”A Stirring Invitation to Wake Up Your Soul”… mmk, we’ll see about that. 😉 I think the fact that the book continually relates itself to coffee is what hooked me initially. Honestly. [lol] I’m a coffee junky, and [what can I say!] I was simply intrigued…

One chapter down, and I am truly enjoying the book. Johnson talks about life [movies, books, lyrics, quotes from the ‘old guys’, etc.] and the scriptures. It’s one of those ‘God things,’ too. I have caught myself reading a section and then laughing out loud at the irony of the words on the pages before me too many times already. I keep finding myself saying to Him, “Really? You planned this perfectly. I needed this… my heart needed this. You love me so much… more than I ever assume. Thanks, Popa.” AND, there are countless references to COFFEE [and delish recipes to boot]. The allure of a cup of joe and the community that naturally gathers around it’s smells… warm, inviting, comforting…

Worth the read.

A bow on my finger

“Let God’s love daily engage your mind by devout meditations on it so that the affections of your heart may be drawn out to Him. When cast down in spirit, or in sore straits, plead His love in prayer, assured that it cannot deny anything good for you. Make God’s wondrous love to you the incentive of your obedience to Him—gratitude requires nothing less.” -A.W. Pink