He is like a tree planted by streams of water...

He is like a tree planted by streams of water...

Monday, January 9, 2017

2017: To Know God

Like many people, I tend to make resolutions, or commitments, or goals at the beginning of a new year. But 2017 seemed to sneak up on me unnoticed and pass by without fanfare. Perhaps because there's so much other fanfare going on in my life right now!

After two cycles of so-so jobs and unemployment (the former lasting a year), the Lord has graciously provided a wonderful job for hubby, and we have moved, from Houston TX to Arlington TX in the Dallas area, as of December 18th. We barely celebrated Christmas in the midst of all else. We are staying in temporary housing, provided by God's grace and by hubby's new company. We had my in-laws come down from Wyoming and stay nearby for a week and a bit, and now we're trying to start back into a school schedule, while comfortably (and sometimes not so comfortably) squashed in a house 1/3 the size of our home in Houston.

And I'm so thankful for it all!

We lived in the Dallas area for 10 years before moving to Houston. We missed it like crazy and are so thankful the Lord has allowed us to come back. For some reason only He knows, Houston was hard. Very hard.

Our new church is AMAZING. It's very BIG (something we've never been in before) and that is an adjustment, but in the four Sundays we've been there, we've run into people we know and love every time. The world of genuine Christians is small...and it's a blessing because they tend to congregate in the same places! So, even though we've never been to this church before, we already have old friends there. Praise God for His kindness!

I must say. Christians. I'm gently rebuked myself, but I've been on the receiving end of being new to a church many times, and very few times have we felt as warmly welcomed and loved as we have here...by STRANGERS. Last Sunday I was warmly greeted as I was about to enter the crowded worship center by a woman and her family as they were leaving the service before ours. She asked me if I was new (and I remind you, there are zillions of people here!) and told me about some ways she has learned to plug into this large church. She loved on me and spoke to me like I was an old friend and almost instantly took my cell number and invited our family over for a meal.
People, this is how it's done. New people need love and fellowship too. The love for Christ is evident in love for His people.

"And this commandment we have from him: 
Whoever loves God must also love his brother."
1 John 4:21

We've been at churches where we felt absolutely invisible. It's not a fun feeling.
I want to learn from this example myself...I know I can do better. It's so easy to get comfortable with whom you know and to forget to look for or even at new faces.

I digress.

The message we heard yesterday at church was about what true, saving faith looks like, with Abraham as our example; from Romans 4:16-23. But one thing that stood out to me was the point that being a believer with strong faith doesn't come from working hard on Christian behavior. It comes from knowing God's character and consequently loving Him. This overflows in love for those around us, especially love for other Christians. Hubby and I were talking about this after church, how the love for Christ is evident here because of the love we have seen even toward ourselves. I mean, just walking around the "campus"--I really don't like that word, but what else is it?--people make eye contact, smile, and say "good morning, how are you" or "Hi, I'm ____, can I help you?" These people aren't part of a welcome "ministry", they're just regular members. They don't "have" to show kindness to new people, they just are because they're full of the love of Christ. 

OK, I keep going back to that. But it's been overwhelming and wonderful, and it blesses this soul that has struggled with feeling out of place for a long time.

Anyway, I have been so refreshed by both kindness of God's people and the preaching of God's word. I was struck yesterday by the message of Romans 4:20-21:

"No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised." 

Abraham's faith was built on knowing God and His word. This is really my lifetime goal, to know Him and His word as well as I can...but seeing and experiencing the evidence of love for Jesus Christ in others has encouraged me even more in this pursuit. I want to pursue this like nothing else...not really as a new year resolution but as a daily decision. My faith has been weakened in the last several years, not because of circumstances but because my diligence in pursuit of knowing the Lord and walking in His presence and believing Him has diminished. I've confessed my sinful indifference to the Lord and ask for Him to hold me fast, keeping me close to Him and desiring Him like nothing else. I pray that I may hitherto be more useful for His kingdom and for encouraging and building up other believers.