Musings

I took the time today to sit in the sunshine. You know, I think every person should take at least 10 minutes of their day to be still in the sunshine. It does miracles. The cottonwood leaves have turned crisp and yellow and the breeze made them sing their brusque autumn melody. So different than the whispers of a summer’s wind through the trees. As I sat there I realized how there are so many things to be done. So many possibilities.

Lately, I have equated life as a painting. I used to be uncomfortable at the thought that I allow my emotions to spill out for the world to see. But I have come to the conclusion that I am not a clown because my emotions are painted on the outside of my heart. I will always be sensitive, and it’s a gift, not a curse. I’ve decided to explore it. I want to see what ‘painting’ is like without guilt. And it’s been amazing. I have been “me” and surprisingly enough, no one has cringed or sent me away! I have allowed myself to be what others might interpret as “dramatic”. I haven’t tried to constrain my interests, my passions, the way I relate to things. I haven’t tried to hide the “personal me” from anyone. I used to think I was shallow and naive for opening my heart. That I was ‘less’ than those who were quiet and had something deep inside them that needed sheltering. I wasn’t as complex because I revealed too much. Many people reserve their “personal”. It’s okay. But I am a wellspring. They draw quietly in intriguing abstract pen and ink, and I splash with untamed expression, using the entire color spectrum.

But with this passion of expression also comes the personality to conquer the world. And today as I sat there in the sunshine I realized I’ve been dabbling in so many paints I’ve been left with a muddy mess. I can’t possibly give 100% to one hundred things…

How to pursue it all? Sign Language, Natural health education, my own health, the lost, the elderly, the babies who are aborted, the needy in my church, my work at Aspen Wellspring, my Dad’s business, my home life, my blog and books I’m writing/publishing, my relationships? I’m not desperate but overwhelmed. There are so many ways to serve Jesus. So many doors of opportunity. So many little notes of encouragement that could be written. So many prayers that could be said. So many people a tract could be given to. Widows to be loved, elderly to be sung to, children to make memories with. Life is so short, and it only disappears faster, the older I become.

I stopped musing and patted Bonnie who came to lay next to me in the sunshine. I decided. I am obviously one little girl up against an entire world. I can’t do everything. But here is what I know I will do:

I am determined to be sensitive to God’s leading. When and how is up to Him. I will not take on anything He does not require and I will do whatever He asks. I will look for opportunities. I will be willing to be spent for others. Even if that “other” isn’t the imagined lost person I dream of helping, but Dad who needs my help that day at work. I will sacrifice. Even if He doesn’t ask me to go to Siberia, but if He asks that I give up watching a movie so I can spend that time for someone, or if it means not getting any computer time in so I can make dinner.

I am determined not to wait for others to lead me into service. I don’t need to wait for others to encourage me, to point out how I can join their ministry. And I don’t need to worry if anyone is following me into the battle. I’ll sound the cry if need be, but I’m going whether they follow or not.

I am determined to be faithful. Even if my “opportunities” prove lonely or un-glamorous. I might not even be front lines where I get “attacked” where others can applaud or sympathize with me. I’m ready to commit His will and stick to it.

I am determined not to be afraid of letting Him be Himself in me. He has given me a personality and I’m going to use it. Watch out! Personality is a gift! He fashioned me this way! Embracing Him in me is a wonderful, powerful security. It’s okay if I’ve got paint all over me. I have the Master Artist.

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Bushels and Blessings

I’ve mentioned before, in previous posts, that I worked at a place called “Bushels”. (A small local Mennonite store with a deli/bakery.) In this post, I’d like to give you just a little bit of back story as to how I actually ended up there and where the Lord took me in it.

I’ve grown up a very conservative Christian girl, to which I have never once regretted. That being said, my dad has never really been supportive of “women in the workforce”. As young women, our focus should be at home. Being “keepers at home” is one of the things listed to teach young women in Titus 2:4 and 5. It is important. But it also isn’t a sin for women to work outside the home either. My dad has always been very protective of his girls, as any good father should be, and I knew as a young girl growing up, that if I would ever work outside my home someday, it would have to be a very special job that met certain requirements. A safe environment being one of them. And somewhat conservative surroundings another. Because my heart was to both obey and respect my dad’s wishes, and I assumed therefore, that I would probably never have a “real job” anytime soon (other than our local housecleaning business). With a desire to please my dad, I asked the Lord one thing- that if He ever wanted me to get a job outside my normal home environment, that He would open the door in a way that my dad would be more excited about the idea than I even would be. With that being said, I was pretty sure I’d be jobless. 🙂 But those were my requirements and I held to them.

In the spring of 2013, I found my life changing unexpectedly, and began to pray about new things. Getting a job was one of them. I mentioned it to my dad and just continued to pray about it. I remember when “Bushels” was first brought to my mind. I thought to myself, “Aw, it is perfect. Conservative and safe.” I remember conniving at one point, to maybe get my dad to have the Mennonite family (who ran the store) over for dinner. Besides we were already somewhat acquainted, and had been meaning to have them over sometime anyways. It would be the perfect way in! But, the Lord never gave me peace to push for it. In fact, He told me to leave it alone and wait for His will and timing, whether that was Bushels or not. So I waited. About 3 months.

Unannounced to me, my dad went into the store early that May and while ordering deli meats & cheeses, had a conversation with the man who would later become my boss. Apparently, the fact that he (Mr. Jeremy) needed extra work here and there came into the conversation, and my dad mentioned that his daughter (which would be me) might be interested. My dad never told me and about a week later, I got a call. “If you are still interested in working part-time, let me know in the next few days.” What? I was never so surprised. So I quickly began to pray about it and consulted my dad. Honestly, at first I was a little nervous about the idea, but my dad had full confidence. And believe it or not, my dad was more excited about it than I was!

 When the Lord told me to wait, I waited, and He dropped the perfect job into my lap.

I asked the Lord that my dad would be supportive and excited about a job that met certain specific requirements, and He answered that request.

The Lord gave me Matthew 14:27– “But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid.” And there was peace.

So began my almost 2 year career at Bushels. And I learned so much. And more than just simple things like, how to slice the perfect thickness of a piece of Havarti cheese without it crumbling apart, or getting your pound of sliced meat down to the exact ounce on a deli scale, or how to make the perfect deli sandwich in less than 30 seconds, or how to make food labels and package cinnamon rolls efficiently. There were so many life lessons. Like, learning to be more confident in who I am as an individual person. I’ve always struggled with that. But I was no longer introduced or perceived by others as just “the youngest Bickish girl” – but instead, as “Lynea”. I could no longer hide behind my family. I didn’t have my outgoing and bold older sister leading the way! No, instead, I had to step out of my comfort zone. And while learning to be an individual outside your family circle seems a small thing, it actually made a big difference in how I carried myself as a person.

The Lord also gave me many different opportunities to witness and talk with people. It challenged what I believed and why I believed it; to be able to “give an answer for the hope that lieth within [me]” and to defend my faith for myself. I built relationships with many different people and learned how to reach out to them. It was a blessing and a joy. Although there were hard and lonely lessons too. Such as, realizing and learning to be okay with the fact that you are different than “the average Christian” or professing Mennonite and therefore rejected as the “outcast” of the group. Which, isn’t always fun. 🙂 But certainly worth it. (Please consider reading my previous post Outside the Camp.)

In the fall of 2014, the Lord began to close the door to the Bushels store. His timing, again, was perfect. I was tired and busy beyond belief, and my family was getting ready to move. It was time. And by December I gave my notice. Some things in life are only for a season, and Bushels was one of those. But it certainly was a blessing in many ways and I am thankful for everything the Lord taught me during that time and how He used it in my life.
The truth is, waiting on the Lord is a wonderful place to be. As young Christian women, let’s not settle for what the world tells us is normal! Let’s not settle for what even most “Christians” will criticize or shove down our throats! Who says you have to get a job in “the real world” by the time you are 18? Or go to a Christian or secular college? It’s okay to be different than the majority. It’s okay to stand alone, if need be. To stand against the strong tide of society. When He sets a standard for us, no matter how impossible it might seem at the time, we can trust Him to provide through it. Is it wrong to get a job as a single young girl? No. Is it wrong to go to college? No, it certainly isn’t. But when Christ sets a standard for us, it is wrong to endanger that standard by compromise. We don’t have to compromise! So many young girls I know are choosing to settle. Don’t! Whether that is a job opportunity you just can’t get peace about, or maybe a standard that has been somehow crossed in some way, or a decision that goes against your convictions, or maybe a young man that just isn’t His perfect will for your life and you know it; it isn’t worth settling for.Recently, I was asked to help fill in at Bushels again for several days during the month of April. Due to certain circumstances, they needed extra help. I was a little hesitant, and the long drive and long days certainly didn’t seem that worth it to me. But the Lord not only opened the door, but actually had to end up pushing me through it. I think He knew that He’d have to, because I wouldn’t have walked through it again willingly of my own accord. 🙂 And again, He proved faithful in regards to this little work place. He gave me one of the neatest opportunities to talk to one of the young Mennonite girls there that I used to work with. Just being able to share more of my faith with her, and actually watch her listen and consider what I had to say. It thrilled my soul and I came home smiling to myself, because I knew why He had wanted me to go back.

Psalms 27:14 says- “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” 

We can wait, because He abides faithful. We can stand against the normality of our modern culture, because He gives us the courage to. We can go on in His perfect will for our lives, because He is our strength.

This is me (on the far right) with some of the other girls there.

God Ordained Authority, Part Two

I would like to continue just a few thoughts on the subject of God ordained authority. If you have not already, please read my previous post on this subject as well, God Ordained Authority, Part One.

Last post, I stopped with the fact that, in trusting our authorities, we ultimately are trusting in the Lord.  God almost always chooses to use men, in one way or another, to perform His will for His people.

In Ezekiel 22:30 the Bible says- “And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.”

The Lord chose to use Joseph to provide through Egypt’s famine; Moses was called by God to lead the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; Caleb stood against the multitude; Joshua fought the battle of Jericho; Gideon smote the Midianites; Asa cried before the Lord and the Ethiopians fell; even rebellious Jonah eventually went and spared Nineveh their destruction. In Romans 10:14, we see where the Lord proclaims that He needs men to reach the lost. “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” God chooses to use ordinary men. The men of the Bible did not possess any “special power” because they were from that time period. The only difference was their faith.

Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.” (James 5:17-18)

God chooses to use our authorities in the same way. To say that my authority isn’t an “Elijah”, doesn’t hold water my friend. Just as He chose to use Jeremiah to prophesy to the people, He chooses to use our authorities to direct His will for our lives; whether that is through our fathers, a father-figure, our pastors, or maybe our husbands. It can honestly be a hard concept to swallow. But it’s Biblical. I’ve seen where too, the Lord has used my authority, even when he was wrong. Seriously wrong. I’ve learned that the Lord sees beyond this. In spite of my hopeless dread of a situation, His ways are still above it all. The Lord is still greater than any wrong authority. He can still turn a king’s heart. He turns the worst situations into blessings. I have no idea how He does it; but He does.

Prayer is such an importance here too. There have been many times I’ve honestly been tempted to just “tell my dad how it is”, but instead, chose to pray. And you know, the Lord heard. In giving it all to Him in prayer, it helped me to keep a right attitude and a submissive heart, while allowing the Lord to deal with my authority. I don’t have to say something, or let him know he’s wrong, or even tell him how I feel about it. I have a mediator. And I can trust the Lord with my authorities’ decisions.

I remember once, when my sister and I were helping someone in town for an extended period of time. This person seriously needed and appreciated our help, while she was still recovering from having had a new baby. We were happy to help. However, we received a call a few days earlier than expected. It was from my dad, saying how he wanted us to come home tomorrow. We both knew that we weren’t needed at home, nearly as much as we were needed in town. It was hard to submit to my dad in this, when I knew that another person was actually counting on us for help. How could we just “drop everything” and go? My authorities’ decision seemed wrong. And even worse, it felt selfish. So we just prayed. God knew. The next day, we went home as we were asked. And to the credit of an almighty, all knowing, and all sufficient Saviour, this person actually was ready for us to leave when we did. This was an answer to prayer. God provided a way, even when my authority was wrong.

Proverbs 4:1 says- “Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding.”

“Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life.” (Proverbs 4:13)

“Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not.” (Proverbs 8:33)

I would like to use the example of David for just a moment. David was a shepherd boy who became a mighty man of valor. God eventually made him king. Although he was strong, he also had a soft heart towards the Lord. He was an example of a godly man. Did he do everything right? No. Certainly not; but God did say that he was a man after His own heart. One thing that is admirable about David’s character is that he submitted himself to authority. And this wasn’t just to any authority; but to a selfish, violent, wicked, and ungodly ruler. To an authority that actually tried to kill him, more than once. When Saul disobeyed the Lord in sparing the best of the sheep and the oxen, God then rejected Saul as king. Incomplete obedience amounts to complete disobedience and the Lord sought to make David king in his stead. However, Saul wasn’t just willing to hand over the kingdom. (You can read more about this in I Samuel) David fled for his life, even down to hiding in caves, because Saul wanted to kill him. David was a threat to a kingdom Saul could not hold onto. Not only did David not retaliate towards Saul, but he still upheld him as his authority. When Saul eventually was killed in battle, David wept. David loved Saul and still upheld him as his king. In all rights, Saul wasn’t supposed to be in a place of authority over David. God had chosen David to be king, not Saul. What an example though. He submitted to someone who was not only selfishly hoarding what was rightfully his, but also to someone who tried to kill him over it. If this isn’t an example of a bad authority, I’m not sure what is. And God blessed David for it.

Hebrews 5:7-9 says- “Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;”

I am amazed by this verse. “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;” If Jesus had to learn obedience, how much more do we? No one is exempt from authority. And even Jesus Christ the Lord submitted Himself to the Father.

“For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” (John 6:38)

Jesus submitted His will to the Father, and He was GOD. Before Jesus went to the cross, in the garden of Gethsemane, we see Christ’s submission to the Father’s will. “And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed. Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22:40-42)

“…the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” (John 18:11)

Christ is our example. We are told to walk even as He walked. (I John 2:6) He is also our Lord, our Master. Matthew 10:24 says- “The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.”

Submission can be very humbling. It is letting go of our will and accepting the will of someone else. It requires death to self. This isn’t joyous; this isn’t fun. It also requires trust. And if you cannot trust your authority figure per se, you can still trust the LORD to work through that authority. His hand is not shortened that it cannot save. His ear is not heavy that it cannot hear. Jesus knows. And He makes a way. He gives the grace to bear. He gives the power and the ability to overcome. We can submit, even to an ungodly authority, because it is right; because He has supplied all we could ever need for victory!

God Ordained Authority, Part One

“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good.” (Romans 13:1-4)

Authority is ordained of God. As natural flesh controlled humans, we rebel against it. We would rather not answer to anyone for what we choose to do or not do. We want our own way and we resist the idea that we must be under a higher powder or authority. We are rebellious by nature. However, these “natural tendencies” aren’t exactly practical and most certainly not Biblical. As a citizen, we answer to the law. As an employee, you answer to an employer. As Christians, we answer to God. And as in churches, we answer to pastoral authority. A wife submits herself to her own husband. Children are commanded to obey their parents in the Lord, for this is right. And maybe reading that seems completely obvious to some, but I believe that it is actually very important to understand. Without God-given authority, chaos reigns. There would be confusion on every side. Like in the time of the Judges. Every man did what was right in his own eyes. But it was evil in the Lord’s sight. The Lord has built up certain chains of authority for good reason.

And while not all authority is practiced Biblically, authority is still a principle of God’s Word and is a righteous command.

All of the examples I just gave you, are good examples of authority and while I’m sure we might all benefit from discussing them, the chain of authority I would more specifically like to address is to daughters. Being her father’s child, a daughter is subject to her father’s authority. Also, this is the area I could probably relate to the best, being myself a daughter in my father’s house. The Lord has given me many opportunities to practice this principle, little to my enjoyment of the lessons at the time. J And it is my desire to hopefully encourage you, reader, and more specifically fellow “daughters”, in what the Lord has taught and continues to teach me in this important and certainly needed subject of Biblical authority.

Although liberal feminist women would heartily protest the idea of a woman being under subjection to any man, it is God’s divine plan for her as a woman of Godliness. And truly, it is a fulfilling and beautiful design. It is her place as a daughter to be accountable to her father, and when she is given away in marriage, by the father’s hand, it then becomes her place as her husband’s wife. The God-given responsibility to which the father held for his daughter is now placed upon her new husband. I don’t believe widowhood is necessarily an exception here either, although the chain of authority to which she would be accountable to could be different depending on the circumstances. (In I Timothy 5:16 you’ll find that churches are commanded to take care of the believing widows indeed and in James 1:27- “to visit the fatherless and widows”.)

When I read through my Bible, I find that it is the rare exception when a daughter was not actually living directly under her father’s roof. This is where Abraham’s servant found Isaac’s wife, Rebecca. She was serving from under her father’s roof. Rachel and Leah were both at home. And even Esther with her uncle Mordecai. And while some things change by culture, Biblical principles do not. Also, it wasn’t until these daughters were given away in marriage, that they left this God-given place of protection. And while there are exceptions, I believe it is under a father’s roof that a young girl finds the best place to practice such Biblical principles. However, regardless whether a daughter is living directly under her father’s physical roof or not, she is still subject to her father’s authority. In Deuteronomy 22 you’ll find that it was actually the father that was accountable for a daughter’s purity. When the young bride’s purity was questioned by the bridegroom, he went to the daughter’s father. Why? Because he was accountable for her.

“Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.”

(Hebrews 13:17)

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:1-3)

We are commanded to obey our authorities because it is right, but it helps to understand that we are also commanded this for our own good. “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil.” Father’s are in a place of authority for a daughter’s protection. It isn’t to destroy the “good works” we would choose to take part in, but the “evil”. And again, not all authority is practiced in Godliness. There are exceptions in certain situations and circumstances where it would be wrong or maybe unsafe to stay under a certain authority. But as I said, these are exceptions. I am not speaking to daughters of such exempt circumstances in particular, but to daughters in general. God has designed our father’s authority for our own good welfare. “That it may be well with thee.” He isn’t a vindictive chauvinistic God who enjoys seeing women beat into subjection, as some might imagine. As females, we are said to be the weaker vessels. I Peter 3:7 says- “…giving honour unto the wife as unto the weaker vessel”. We are more emotional, more vulnerable, more sensitive, and much more delicate. This isn’t a downgrade. It is how we were made. And there is a reason for it. As women, we were made to compliment a man. To be a “helpmeet”. This is what a man needs. The husband was commanded to honour his wife in this, not use it to his own advantage. God has given us godly protection in our fathers, our brothers, our pastors, and someday, in our husbands. Simply said, we need it.

I have been amazed, over and over again, how many times the Lord has used my dad for my own protection. Especially in the small things. And really, the small things can be just as important as what we might call the “big things.” Because it is the little foxes that spoil the vines. (Song of Solomon 2:15) Times where all my dad could tell me was- “I can’t explain why, but I don’t have peace about this.” And guess what? If not but a little while later, I was thankful that I listened. Was it always easy? No. Certainly not. But it was always right.

I remember one instance in particular. We were away from home at the time, traveling along with friends for a special church meeting. The opportunity presented itself for me and my sister to stay a few extra days with some of these friends to go up to Edmonton afterwards. I really wanted to stay. It sounded like such fun and what could be the harm in it? So, I asked dad. (Chain of authority) I was rather disappointed when he hardly took much thought to this “wonderful idea” and simply said “no”. I remember feeling both deflated and very frustrated. At least, if I was going to go through the trouble of asking, he could think about it. My flesh revolted and my rebellious heart felt uncared for, unappreciated, and unloved. What about me? What about what I wanted to do? Not to mention, that as a 21 year old “adult” this was somewhat embarrassing. Most of these friends going were even younger than I was. But the Lord rebuked me for my attitude. He reminded me that I was not my own. That my life was to be hid in Christ Jesus my Lord, that I was His servant, and not free to do what I considered my own good pleasure. To submit to His ordained authorities. And for good reason too. That very Sunday after we had come back, the Lord was working in our church at home, and the Lord used my sister to help lead one young lady to salvation in Christ. Amazing! And what was this worth? An extended trip with friends? My own desire to have fun? Definitely not. If we had stayed, I don’t know what might have been different. The Lord used my authority. Proverbs 12:15 says- “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.” Our ways, are not always the right way. Isaiah talks about His ways being higher than our ways. And His thoughts than our thoughts. When the Lord speaks through our authorities, we need to listen.

I would like to add here, that I am not advocating that girls never make decisions for themselves. I don’t think that would be balanced. There are many times my dad has let me decide things for myself. But again, it is still a chain of authority. Biblically my dad has the right and command to use this authority. And as a daughter, I am subject to obey it. Although Ephesians 6:4 says- “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” It isn’t an authority to be abused for selfish means. It shouldn’t be to provoke you to wrath, but in the admonition of the Lord. Yet still, even if a father’s authority is being used for selfish gain, I believe that the Lord sees this. He looks on with a righteous and perfect heart. HE is still just, even in injustice. Romans 12:19 says- “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”

Ultimately, in trusting our God-given authorities, we are trusting God.

It would seem easier to say we are only going to trust “God” on a subject matter, given who He is. Perfect. His justice is perfect. His love is perfect. His wisdom is perfect, and not to mention, all knowing. He is safe and never once fails. Trusting just Him, would seem easier. But, God works through our authorities. He chooses to use our fathers, our pastors, or eventually our husbands. He gives counsel through men. He chooses to use fallible men. And ultimately, we have to trust the Lord with the outcome. Romans 8:28 says- “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” When the Bible says “all things” I don’t see much room for exceptions. Do you? Not even through the decision our authorities make, which certainly do affect us. I have always been encouraged through the verse in Proverbs 21:1.

“The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.”

If the king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, how much more is my father’s heart? Especially if my earthly father is also a child of THEE King and seeks to do the Lord’s will as any good earthly father would. If the Lord turneth the king’s heart to do HIS will, how much more can the Lord turn my authorities’ heart to do HIS will? He most certainly can and we must trust the Lord in it.

To be continued….