Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The In's and Out's of Life

“Then He brought us out from there, that He might bring us in, to give us the land of which He swore to our fathers.“–Deut. 6:23

It was a Sunday night and the church was crowded. We were sitting on the second pew in the church – right up front. The invitation song had started. The service was almost over. My best friend was standing beside me, at the end of her rope, with her two young boys by her side. The boys had acted up during the church service and now during the final hymn they just couldn’t seem to stop.

She looked me square in the eyes with righteous indignation bubbling to the surface and said “Give me your belt!”. For goodness sake! I’m on the second pew – with most of the church behind me! I didn’t want to start undressing right there! “Now?” I asked, just hoping she would postpone the inevitable punishment these boys would get. “NOW!” she said, “Give me your belt!”

I gently eased my belt off, hoping no one would notice. She snatched it from my hand, grabbed up the two boys and out the back door they went. In a few minutes in she came back in, walked all the way back to her seat at the front of the church with my belt hanging by her side. Two sniffling little boys following with their heads down in embarrassment. She took them out so that she could bring them back in. They came back in willing to be what they should have been all along.

The story of Moses is one of being brought out and brought in.

He was brought out of the waters in a basket to be brought into the King of Egypt’s household and raised as an Egyptian.

He went out of the palace to see the treatment of the Israelite slaves by the Egyptians. To flee the murder of one of Egyptians he was brought in to Midian.

He was brought out of Midian to Mt. Horeb to hear from God out of midst of the burning bush. Then he was brought back into Egypt to help God set his people free.

He was brought out of Egypt with the Israelites and into the wilderness to be taught by God.

He was brought out of the wilderness, out of the Red Sea, and into the land of Shur.

With every move that God made in Moses life, there was a lesson for him to learn. Some took time, and the purpose wasn’t clear until years later. But with each move God made, Moses was being drawn closer to God and His will for Moses’ life.

Life is often like a long walk in the woods. You can’t always see what’s ahead because of all the twists, turns, hills, and valleys along the path. But we have to persevere. We have to follow the path God puts us on.

We often have to be brought out so we can be brought back in. It’s not always pleasant. Sometimes we have to give up family and friends. Sometimes we have to give up a job we love. Sometimes we’re asked to change our playmates and playthings. At times the change may come through a tragic event that God uses to cause us to move. But in the end, if we follow God’s leadership, He will always bring us in to something better.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Meet My Staff!

David fastened his sword to his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. And David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them.” So David took them off. – 1 Samuel 17:39

When my daughter was a little girl she had a favorite doll she would carry around with her. His name was Steve. Steve went to bed with her every night. Sometimes he would grace our dinner table with his presence. He never talked much, at least not to the rest of us. But Steve and my daughter would have some long conversations sometimes!

Steve went with her to the doctor’s office. He was there when she got her shots. He went to church with her. Steve and Gabby were always together! In fact, once while she was sleeping my son and I organized a birthday party for Steve complete with cake and juice! She was elated to find out it was Steve’s birthday!

My daughter depended on Steve. He was comforting to her. He was familiar. He was tried and true. When all the other toys had to be put away, it was Steve who was allowed to sit on her bed.

As a boy David found himself in the midst of a trial when he needed something tried and true. Coming up against a 9 foot tall giant was no small feat for a shepherd boy. Yet, David volunteered! What made him feel the courage to put his life on the line? What he possessed was tried and true.

David tried the armor that King Saul offered him and told him “, “I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them.” Instead, what he took with him to fight Goliath was his staff, and three stones. The stones were weapons, and we understand why they were necessary. But what was the purpose of the staff?

The staff was a symbol of his faith in God, and he’d tried God, and proven Him to be true. A staff was often carved to show the great events in a shepherd’s life. David’s most likely had a carving of when he killed a bear and a lion with his bare hands (1 Samuel 17:36-37). Having fought both a bear and a lion and found God’s strength to be sufficient for him, he didn’t fear a Philistine who was mocking God’s own people!

What have you carved into your staff? Have you carved into it “God healed me from cancer”? Have you engraved it with a marriage that God glued back together? Have you marked it with the steps of a wandering child that came back to his upbringing? Have you recorded a financial downfall that God pulled you through?

I don’t know about you, but my staff is covered in marks! And when Satan rears his ugly head and comes at me with his tiny little water pistol ready to put out my fire, he’s gonna find me standing! And I’ll raise my staff up in the air, and shout, “Satan, meet my staff!” I’ve tried God and He has been proven faithful and full of mercy and grace! Praise God that I don’t fight my battles alone!