Emptied Pockets

It was a beautiful sunny morning here on the Northcoast.  Living so close to the ocean, you have to take advantage of those sunny mornings whenever possible.

So today, after dropping my kidlettes off at school,  I decided to take my morning run on the beach.

Because of the beautiful sunshine, there were plenty of fellow enthusiasts down enjoying the beach as well.

I discovered that there is one great problem with running on the beach.  Well, actually more than one, but I wanted to share one in particular.

You see, I have this problem of wanting  to stop and pick up “treasures” along the way.  Now you may be thinking, “I don’t really see a problem with that,” but really it defeats my purpose of being there and getting some good exercise by getting my heart rate up and going.

Today there was an abundance of “whole” sand dollars, which you don’t find everyday. At first I was so excited to see a whole one and I stopped to pick it up. Then I stopped for another and yet another and before you knew it, I had two whole pockets full, of them.

The problem was that I wasn’t even half way through my run yet and all the stopping and going was definitely putting a kink in my stride.

As I continued to run with my pockets full of “findings,” it wasn’t quite working for me.  They were heavy, akward and cumbersome. Also they were rubbing back in forth in my pocket and I’m sure that they were going to break if I continued on with them.

So after a big sigh, I decided I had to stop, empty my pockets (even though I didn’t want to) and continue on, keeping my focus on my purpose for being there.

Isn’t it the same way in our walk with the Lord?  We get our pockets full of stuff (the burdens and cares of this world), and they begin to weigh us down and fill our minds and permeate our being which in turn bogs us down.

I think by nature, we are all “stuff” collectors, but God wants us to give our stuff to Him. In our humanness, we try to figure things out on our own.  We try to come up with the solutions for all of life’s problems and sometimes even the solutions for others problems as well. But this is not God’s desire for us.

God wants us to cast all of our cares upon Him, because he cares for us.  He want’s to carry the bulk of our load and for us to be dependent on him for his strength to help us with our load.

God wants us to daily set our focus on following Him.  He wants us to empty our pockets and say, “God, here’s my stuff, I’m giving it to you because I trust you and know your way is the best.  I will keep my focus on you so that you can guide and direct me in the way I should go, I put my trust in you.  Help me to keep a steady pace and to run with endurance.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart,  and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.  Matthew 11:28-30

By the way a secondary problem of running on the beach is stopping to take pictures.  Today I stopped to take one of this lovely sand dollar for this post and a sneaker wave came up and got me and I had to do the second half of my run in sloshy wet running shoes. Enough said!

Focused Faith

As I once again read the familiar account of Noah in the book of Genesis, I am inspired by Noah’s high level of commitment to God.  Can you imagine living in his day and age and having the level of obedience Noah did?  I wonder what might have been going through Noah’s head when God gave him that task.  To me it would have seemed daunting.  To build a ship of those proportions, with what must have been such limited tools and resources at the time.  And yet Noah acted in perfect obedience and did what God had asked of him.

I really wholeheartedly respect Noah’s noble character.  He trusted God.  Maybe that’s why he “found favor” in God’s eyes, (ya think?).  He knew that God would not give him a task that he knew he couldn’t accomplish.  Noah concentrated on what God wanted him to do and he left the rest up to God.  Noah knew that in and of himself this job would have been impossible.  But he trusted God and he built, knowing with God all things are possible.  Noah didn’t look at his circumstances and complain, he simply obeyed.

I often times find myself with the faith more like that of Moses.  He gave God a list of excuses why he couldn’t do what God was calling him to do.  He had the big “I” syndrome.  I can totally relate.  The problem with the “I” syndrome is that it is “I” focused instead of God focused.  In and of ourselves we cannot do what God calls us to do, but when we trust and obey like Noah, great feats can be accomplished for God.

We must believe and trust that God will give us the necessary strength to do what he calls us to do.  The bible says in Hebrews 11:6, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.”  God want’s us to have the same level of faith and obedience today as that of Noah.  God is the same God, he never changes. He will never ask us to do something that he will not provide us with the resources for.   As with Noah, it is a matter of trust and obedience.  God is the master builder. When he calls, will we be found faithful to do what he asks of us?

God’s Masterpiece

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.  Ephesians 2:10

I recently attended a women’s conference where they had an artist up on stage and she began to paint.  At first the brush strokes seemed so random.  To the natural untrained eye, it just seemed at there were lines and strokes going every which way.  But as the picture began to take shape, it was really quite spectacular.  It was so amazing that such seemingly random strokes could eventually produce something so beautiful and exquisite.  In the end the painting was a portrait of our Savior hanging on the cross.  It was magnificent.  A beautiful masterpiece, a one of a kind work of art.

In the same way God is painting the picture of our lives.  We are his canvas and every brush stoke has it’s purpose.  Our canvas may have had many dings and scratches, it may have been a bit torn up, but when we become God’s children, we are given a fresh new start. When we yield ourselves to God, he can take a plain white canvas and turn it into something extraordinary and beautiful, something usable for him, showing his glory.

Old things have passed away, all things become new (2 Cor. 5:20).  It doesn’t mean those things from the past will magically disappear. But it does mean that God can take what is there, the good, the bad and the ugly and use it for his purposes.  God doesn’t make mistakes.  Bad things happen because of sin  in the world, and God allows and uses those things for his purposes (Romans 8:28).  We only see what is right in front of us right now, but God sees the whole picture, complete in it’s entirety and he declares it his masterpiece.

Yes, we are his Masterpiece.  We are created in his image (Genesis 1:27) with a divine purpose in mind. The word says he created my inmost being, and that he knit me together in my mother’s womb. . . and that we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13-14). We were not an afterthought.  He loves us and He chose us before the beginning of time to be conformed to the image of his son.  We have value in his sight.  We are called and he gives us right standing with himself through the death of his son (Romans 8:29-30).

He has a purpose and a plan for each of us. He made you, uniquely you.  And there is no single other person just like you.  Every single facet of our complex makeup is just the way the way our creator designed it.  He knows us so completely and can use our distinct personality and character traits for the purpose he has planned for us.  Our part is to yield to him so that we can be all he created us to be.  He loves you and you are a masterpiece in the making.  A beautiful creation being painted by the most famous artist ever, the original.