End of a Chapter – A Devotion

End of a Chapter

Psalm 139:16-18 (NLT)

You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!

I love to read. I used to get lost in books. Now it seems like I don’t even have the time to glance at a magazine or even skim through the mail. Like trying to read a book on the beach, all the pages are caught up in the wind flipping fast and out of control. Just to settle down for a moment would be nice, but that does not seem to be the order of the day. Making a quick run to the grocery store, lost in my thoughts, I heard a verse in an old 80’s song. Yes, the 80’s were great. Though I cannot remember the artist or even the title, it said that a new beginning means something has to end. The Lord has been churning and burning in my heart lately. I know that change is coming. But if you will note, the changes in our life over the last three years have not been welcoming. In fact, cancer turned all whole existence upside down. Now in the stillness of clear scans and good bloodwork, dare I hope that this awful time is finally over? Could it be that the Lord is beginning to work out all the details for good just as He promised? Why this sudden inclination to make radical changes in my life? Those who have a relationship with Jesus Christ and understand how the Spirit of God works know that when God begins to stir on the inside of us, we will not be satisfied or at peace until He has His Way. With just two precious babies (ages 11 and 14) with birthdays just around the corner, I feel that my nest has been ruthlessly shaken. My favorite purpose in life is to be a mom. Not just a mother, but a mom who loves and nurtures her children into confident and conscious adults who love Jesus. Is that was is causing this rumbly in my tummy that is rattling my brain, shaking my senses and stirring in my spirit? It is the end of the chapter, perhaps the end of this book. It is time to move on. Lord, how I struggle with that…

Every day of my life was prerecorded by the Lord. He wrote down every moment according to His Plan and Purpose for my life long before I was even born. His Thoughts for me are precious. I strive to believe that but my own inability to fully obey and tendency to sin allows the enemy to plant seeds of worry and doubt that land lock my feet when He is calling me out upon the water. When God presses me to step out in faith, Jesus promises to catch me if I fall and His Spirit persisting on the inside of me, I have to move. Yet in my hesitation, I am reminded of so many promises that the Lord has given me along the way. God’s Love for me is overwhelming. The Gift of Life given to me by Jesus is incomprehensible. I must step out in faith to have all the things that the Lord has promised because frankly my human brain will never be able to wrap itself around a Creator who is always doing more than I could even think to ask for.

Mark 8:34-36 (NLT)

Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?  

Running into the local convenience store, I pass a man with a handful of lottery tickets. Grabbing what I need, I head to the checkout counter and the same man has returned to the store. He is at the counter with all of his scratch off tickets. As he goes through the stack, he hands the woman several winning tickets and she begins to cash them out. For a split second, I feel some envy rising up in my heart. Why is this man who clearly does not have much in this life and is recklessly squandering what is probably his kid’s grocery money on lottery tickets and cigarettes so lucky? The Holy Spirit is quick to hush my judgmental attitude. Then I hear the Lord ask me, “Did you play the lottery today?” Well no, I didn’t. “Then how can you be mad you didn’t win?” Ouch! No, the Lord was not telling me to play the lottery. The point is that if I choose not to use my faith in God to step out of my comfort zone, then how can I get mad when others are blessed and prospering but I am not?

If you want to follow Christ, you are going to have to get moving. He is not sitting on the sidelines but perpetually moving us closer to God where the Glorious Standard of Life that sin kept us from is ours for the asking. We must turn from our selfish ways, take up our cross and follow Jesus! When we call ourselves Christians but do not follow Christ that makes us imposters and liars because to be a true Christian means to follow Jesus. We must give up our old life to have the new life that we have been promised. Here’s a hint – there are times this will make us uncomfortable and upend our existence completely. It is not punishment but prosperity. Something has to die to give way to new life like a seed planted deep in fertile ground. Faith never leaves us where we were but takes us to the place God planned for us. If you think about faith as a tiny seed, it must be buried deep into the darkness of the earth. It will be pressed by the soil being plummeted on top of it and squeezed by its cramped conditions. It will die to itself feeling abandoned and alone but something is definitely happening down there. One day the seedling will break the surface as its roots go deep into the foundation of the world, it is growing. It will produce leaves then bud blossoms that will turn into fruit. Everything is according to God’s Plan even when we cannot see what He is doing. If we trust the Lord enough to die to our self, He will raise the standard of our life forever.

Ezekiel 17:22-24 (NLT)

“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will take a branch from the top of a tall cedar, and I will plant it on the top of Israel’s highest mountain. It will become a majestic cedar, sending forth its branches and producing seed. Birds of every sort will nest in it, finding shelter in the shade of its branches. And all the trees will know that it is I, the Lord, who cuts the tall tree down and makes the short tree grow tall. It is I who makes the green tree wither and gives the dead tree new life. I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will do what I said!”

 

Not sure if I ever read this verse before or if today the Lord decided to spotlight it for me, but this is a picture of what God is doing to change our life forever. Whatever our existence here on the earth, He can and will make it better. I believe the tallest branch are those who truly desire to live in the Presence of God and make it as far as they can on their own but keep reaching. He breaks them free of this ordinary life and plants them in His Presence. Suddenly, they prosper like never before growing new branches and producing many seeds. Seeds come from fruit (just saying). “And all the trees will know that it is I, the Lord, who cuts the tall tree down and makes the short tree grow tall…” He gives the dead tree new life. It is by faith that I discover new life. (Romans 1:17) God has promised to give me new life. (2 Corinthians 5:17) The question is am I willing to let go of this life that I am in complete control of and totally comfortable in that is better than I deserve and more than I asked for so that He can make me grow again. Will I subject my life to the painstaking process of prosperity once again or have I decided to settle for less than God’s Best?

I have seen the Lord work mighty miracles in our life. Not anything that can be called chance, but things that have made the people around us believe in God because nothing else can explain such an event. I know that God is real. I know the Love of Jesus Christ. He has saved me, healed me, delivered and set me free. There is no question in my mind that God is able to do more than I can think to ask for. This does not exempt me from wondering sometimes when things do not turn out as I expected them to. (Luke 7:20-23) John the Baptist had some questions in prison just before he was beheaded for following Jesus. It is not uncommon to wonder but we must keep our feet from wandering during that time. I must learn to live like Abraham who even when he could not see what God was doing or how the Promise of God would come true, he still believed. When his body grew old and it became humanly impossible, God gave Abraham a child and he became the father of many nations. I have to act by faith when nothing adds up in the natural. I must still believe that God is the one who can make something out of nothing and bring the dead back to life. It does not matter what I see but is all about what I know by faith! (Romans 4:16-17) This is confident hope born of deep roots in the Love and Knowledge of God that opens new chapters of life and prosperity for those who choose to believe. I want to be that person today. I have the Spirit of God in me who is intent my full acceptance of new life. I must learn to follow His Spirit when nothing else seems to make sense. (2 Corinthians 3:6)

Jeremiah 31:11-13 (NLT)

For the Lord has redeemed Israel from those too strong for them. They will come home and sing songs of joy on the heights of Jerusalem. They will be radiant because of the Lord’s good gifts—the abundant crops of grain, new wine, and olive oil, and the healthy flocks and herds.
Their life will be like a watered garden, and all their sorrows will be gone. The young women will dance for joy, and the men—old and young—will join in the celebration. I will turn their mourning into joy. I will comfort them and exchange their sorrow for rejoicing.

 

I wonder if this new chapter that is beginning in my life is the part of our story when God produces “abundant crops” from all the seeds of faith planted on this journey of the last three years. Is this the time when all of our sorrow are gone? Will we dance with joy through this season? Will it be the time our mourning is turned to joy? Will He exchange every sorrow for rejoicing? Well, I guess that really is up to me. Will I keep hanging on this life as I know it, or will I step out on faith to explore a new horizon? The beginning of something new means that something has to end. What if it is the ending of something that I love? I am redeemed. My old life held many things that I do not want in my life that will creep back in if I choose to remain there. Those who choose to allow the Lord to redeem their life will experience restoration, renewal and revival. I desperately want all those things. This chapter has left me dry and thirsty for more living water and less stagnancy. I am hungry for more of Him but must not be afraid to taste and see that the Lord is even better than I thought. His Goodness never runs out. His Mercy is fresh every morning. Grace ushers me to a new chapter giving me time to let go of the last. His Love is overwhelming almost too good to be true. God is calling me home. Day by day and hour by hour and moment by moment – He is drawing me close to His Side. It is in this place that only faith can take me I find that He is good…all the time…God is good. His Plan for me is perfection. In my undoing, He completes me.

2 Corinthians 3:8-9 (NLT)

Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God!

 

I really don’t know where this is going or where I will end up when God is done? I would invite you to come along but you have your own journey. Our expectancy should be the same – the Holy Spirit is giving us a brand new life. It will be better than we imagined. We should expect this from God every time a new beginning comes forcing us to leave our old life behind. I will tell you about it when I get there. Wherever we are going leads us closer to Him where God’s Glory will overtake us. I love that place in the Presence of God where joy and peace become our partners and the worries of life are far gone. Today, I say goodbye to the last chapter and by faith embrace the new…whatever it is … I am onboard Jesus if it leads me closer to You!

I Peter 1:23 (NLT)

For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God.

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