The Lord is SO good to me!
So, I just wanted to spend a sec talking about Him and how amazing He is - I just can't get enough of it. I wrote Him a note today, about how amazing He is and how much I love what He's doing, and for bringing me to Emory and the Salaita lab, and letting me study science, which I love so much. I thought He'd not care or take me somewhere I didn't want to go, but I found out how wrong I was - sometimes - being wrong is wonderful!
The Lord must be a passionate person and also, He's very cool
I love how the Lord spares no expense on the details. Just look at the things in science - some are huge, like planets, stars and galaxies. Others are small - tiny - molecules, molecular forces, bonds - molecules are simply amazing right down to their vibrational energy and atomic wave functions. I don't pretend to understand them in the slightest. I just get the joy of trying to wrap my head around it all.
Can you believe that God went to all the trouble to make even atoms amazing? And everything fits so well together. And most of us never even see this stuff. It's like treasure, hidden and buried, that we get to find! He spent all this time on things we never see or notice - isn't that cool? That just blows me away - it's like a master carpenter intricately carving not just the surface, but the *underside* of a table, that nobody sees.
Studying science, I feel like an excited kid hunting for shiny rocks on the beach and running to their parents and saying, "Look what I found!!" I love talking to God about things He made, marveling at and enjoying them with Him, and telling Him how cool I think what He made is and how cool He is for making it. It makes me so very happy. Studying science is like panning for gold. It might be hard, but you'll never know what you'll find! There are so many awesome things to see, it daily astonishes me. I'm like ... "WOW! Look at THIS interesting new fact! (!) And this! And this! And THIS!!"
Things the Lord is doing, a few small thoughts
I don't know what the Lord has in mind for stuff here at Emory, except, I get the feeling that it's going to be really surprising and just, great fun. He hints at this frequently to me. I'm so excited that I get to be a part of it! That's what makes following the Lord so exciting! Every day is just a miracle waiting to happen - you never know what He'll tell you, or what cool new fact about science He might show you, or person you'll meet or fun conversation you'll have - you just never know! It's an adventure - He's always got something up His sleeve.
I felt as if this week was going to be great, but hard, and that's exactly what it was. It was great, because the
Lord was in it and I had a lot of fun doing science! It was hard, because it was long and tiring, and I was fighting in prayer about a lot of things the Lord asked me to fight for. But, He kept me perfectly safe, happy and peaceful the whole week, even if I *did* panic a little yesterday.
Praying for all kinds of good things
I'm praying for lots of good things to happen everywhere - I feel as if it's part of my purpose in life! And not a small part either. Prayer is so important! It's the lynch pin of everything else. I don't pretend to understand it - I've just observed this fact and come to know it's true. Maybe the Lord will help me understand it later! That'd be pretty exciting.
Here are some of the things I'm praying for, besides just talking to God, and telling Him how cool He is:
1. For my parents
2. For my brother James to marry an amazing and godly lady at the right time
3. For James to be established firmly in the Lord's work, Word and will and to become a giant in technology
4. For all our family/relatives to be unified and in harmony
5. For lots of people at Emory everywhere - each Salaita lab member and for the Lord to teach them their science - for all the students everywhere and professors to have more peace and not be stressed.
6. For prayer requests people have given me to pray for, both at Emory and at church
7. For pastor Jeff, Ms. Brenda and Oak Hill - lots of things for them
8. For my Star Wars: Old Republic Online gamer friends - no, I haven't forgotten you guys! Connor, Keela, Zato, Krek, Vivek, Six... list goes on.
9. For John, that the Lord would give him a better job, teach him to wield the sword he carries, give him wisdom, show him what He wants him to pray about, and lead him every day to be the warrior of the Lord that he is in his current work place.
10. For Khalid and Meisa! So many things.
But what I really want God to answer most is...
I pray for all of these, but the majority of time I spend by far is praying for Khalid and Meisa - there's a long list - LONG - all the good things I can possibly think of and all the ones God's given me.
I feel like, at different seasons and times, certain things become central and God puts us places to pray for things important to Him, and it becomes part of my purpose in life to carry this out - and that is absolutely true right now for Khalid and Meisa! I love them unstintingly and, as cool as it would be for God to answer my other prayers, what I really want is for Him to answer these. I don't care about much else really. It's become very important to me - and if it happens - I'll be so happy, that I might die or explode, completely vaporizing Atwood altogether, and everyone will be sad, because even more construction will be necessary. Nothing else would make me happier in my entire LIFE! I'd break some new light speed barrier of happiness heretofore unreached. Maybe you don't believe me, but it's true. It's hard to explain.
Part of the reason for that is, I love them to death and want to see the Lord do good things for them, and the other is, that I've really never seen the Lord do anything like what I think He's getting ready to do - whatever that is - and I want to see it! I want to see it *very* much. Having the honor of participating in something God is doing is what I've prayed for my whole life. And I'm pretty sure Khalid and Meisa are part of it. Otherwise, why would He be telling me so often to keep praying for them? And He's given me a passion for this. God is up to something. I can feel it. It makes me want to dance around the building, I get so excited! It's also hard to be patient, but He's helping me with that. The important part about prayer is to be stubborn about it. I didn't realize until recently how important that was. It's just like the parable of the persistent widow, one of my all time favorites:
Luke 18:1-8, (NKJV) "Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, 2 saying: 'There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. 3 Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ 4 And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, 5 yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’”
6 Then the Lord said, 'Hear what the unjust judge said. 7 And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? 8 I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?'"
Galations 6:8-10, (NKJV) "8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith."
I really think that often times, we miss out on blessings in life, simply because we give up too quickly on them, stop praying for and fighting for the the things God has prepared for us - I don't understand it - but it seems to be the case. We need to take back what the enemy tries to steal. He'll steal away everything good from you if you let him.
John 10:9-11, "I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.''
There's also fighting for His will and plans on the earth. I don't really understand all these things. I feel as if, I'm just feeling my way slowly in life, and He's starting to give me a better understanding of things that used to be mere formless shapes to me. I look forward to His continual clarifications.
So, as I was saying, who knows what the Lord will do, if we pray and don't give up?
So, as of this year, I got to see how stubborn praying pays off and God did some things that were wild and crazy. I was like ... (!). "He wasn't kidding! He really meant what He said about being stubborn after all; imagine that!" Now, I've become obsessed. Because who knows? God could answer at any time! It's part of the adventure. Our prayers never die, either. They're always good seeds planted for later, even if we don't see them happen right away. He tells us to pray unceasingly (Eph. 6:18; Philippians 4:6). I try hard to accomplish this, but I've still got a long way to go. There's a chapter in Draw the Circle that talks about it. The small book Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence is all about that - it's so cool! I want to be like Brother Lawrence. On Thursday, I found myself praying for Khalid without even realizing it, while looking up proposal articles, and I was amazed, thinking, "Whoa. Excellent. Maybe I've reached some new level of ceaseless praying." I pray for that, that the Lord would bring me there. It's one of my life goals.
Wondering about why some prayers take longer than others to answer
I've wondered about why some prayers take longer to answer than others. I don't know. Sometimes, I think maybe it's because God's setting up pieces we can't see, like dominoes, and when the time is just right, everything falls into place in a more perfect way than we could ever have possibly imagined. If He were to do what we wanted and act immediately, it wouldn't be half as good; but we can't see the big picture, so it's harder for us to understand.
Sometimes, I think God is changing us, using our prayers to mold our will and desires to His, preparing us for the work He has for us.
And other times, I think it's because the enemy resists the Lord's work and we have to pray through, fight through, to take back enemy territory for the Lord - the Lord answers immediately - but He allows it to be delayed in this war with the enemy - like in the case of Daniel, chapter 10.
About this week and now
This week, God didn't want me to post anything about Him - He was very specific about this, I felt like. But now, that's no longer the case, and I post this! I feel as if He wants part of this chapter up from Draw the Circle I just read tonight. So here it is! May the Lord bring about exactly all the awesome He's planning - God's awesome is so, so much better than anything I could ever dream up.
Day 20, Draw the Circle: Go. Set. Ready.
You'll never be ready.
You'll never be ready to get married. You'll never be ready to have kids. You'll never be ready to start a business or go back to school or move to the mission field. You'll never be ready financially, emotionally, or spiritually. You'll never have enough faith, enough cash, or enough courage. And if you are looking for an excuse, you will always find one.
I never have been, and I'm sure I never will be, ready for anything God has called me to do. This doesn't mean I haven't prepared myself. I've worked hard getting an education, but I've come to terms with the fact that I'll never be ready for anything God has called me to. And that's OK. God doesn't call the qualified; He qualifies the called. (emphasis is mine)
If you wait until you're ready, you'll be waiting for the rest of your life.
The author of Hebrews writes, "By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going" (11:8).
Abraham didn't know the final destination, but it didn't keep him from taking the first step in the journey. What's the first step or next step you need to take in your journey? If you take the first step, God will reveal the second step. The problem is that most of us want the twenty-five-year plan before we're willing to step out in faith. We want to know exactly where we're going and exactly when we'll get there, but God doesn't operate that way. He gives us just enough revelation, just enough grace, just enough strength. Why? So we will live in daily dependence on Him. He doesn't want us to rely on the revelation; He wants us to rely on Him.
Without knowing where he was going, Abraham took the first step. And God honored it. There are moments in life when you need to quit a job, make a move, or end a dating relationship. And you need to take that step without knowing what the next step will be. Don't wait for more revelation; be obedient to the amount of revelation God has given you.
There is an old adage: ready, set, go. And I know it's predicated on the importance of preparation. But I think it's backward. You'll never be ready. You'll never be set. Sometimes you just need to go for it. The sequence of faith is this: Go. Set. Ready.
Some people spend their entire lives getting ready for what God wants them to do, but they never end up doing it because they never come to the realization that they'll never be ready. This is where so many of us get stuck. Our failure to act on what we know God is calling us to do not only breeds doubt and discouragement; it's a form of disobedience.
Nearly two thousand years ago, Jesus said, "Go." So why do we operate with this red-light mentality? Why are we waiting for the green light we've already been given? [...]
As Christ followers, we are called to take a why not approach to life. It's an approach to life that dares to dream. It's an an approach that's bent toward action. And it doesn't look for excuses not to do something. Don't get me wrong. It's awfully difficult to discern the will of God. Even after prayer and fasting, it usually entails making tough decisions. And I'm certainly not advocating a thoughtless or prayerless approach to decision making. We need to know that God is calling us to devote our lives to missions, take the internship offer, quit our job, or make the move. But I wonder if we're so afraid of doing the wrong thing that it keeps us from doing the right thing.
Get Off the Ship
My friend Dr. George Wood has an amazing painting in his office of an African man standing on a high hillside overlooking the ocean. There is a large steamship on the horizon and a smaller canoe coming toward the shoreline. In this instance, the story is worth a thousand paintings. It symbolizes the importance of going before we're set or ready.
In 1908, newly commissioned missionaries John and Jessie Perkins were on board a steamship rounding the coast of Liberia. They knew God had called them to Africa, but like Abraham, they didn't know exactly where God wanted them to go. So they purchased tickets and trusted that God would tell them where to get off. As the ship made its way around Garraway Point, they sensed the Holy Spirit was prompting them to get off the ship.
Unknown to the Perkines, there was a young man living in the region named Jasper Toe. He was a God-fearing man who practiced the religious rituals passed down by his ancestors, but he had never heard the name of Jesus. One night he looked into the night sky and prayed a simple prayer: "If there is a God in heaven, help me find You."
As Jasper stood under the stars, a voice he had never heard before spoke to him. "Go to Garraway beach. You will see a box on the water with smoke coming out of it. And from that box on the water will come some people in a small box. These people in this small box will tell you how to find Me."
Jasper Toe traveled seven days on foot to Garraway beach, arriving on Christmas Day, 1908. From the shore he saw a black box - a steamship - floating on the water with smoke coming out of it. And that is when John Perkins and his wife sensed the Holy Spirit saying, "Get off the ship here. This is where I want you to go."
When they went to the captain of the ship and asked him to let them get off the ship, he said, "I can't let you off the boat here. This is cannibal country. People go in there and never come back."
John Perkins insisted, "God wants us to get off the boat."
The captain brought the steamship to a halt, and the Perkinses were placed in a mammy chair that swung them over the side of the ship. They got into a canoe along with all of their belongings, and they rowed to shore in that little box. When they got to shore, Jasper Toe was waiting to welcome them. He motioned for them to follow him, and they did. They could not speak each other's language, but the Perkinses followed Jasper Toe all the way back to his village. They eventually learned the language of the people there. They started the first church in that village. And Jasper Toe was their first convert.
Those who knew Jasper Toe described him as one of the godliest men they had ever met. And his legacy is the hundreds of churches he helped to establish in the country of Liberia.
What if the Perkinses had ignored the prompting of the Holy Spirit? What if they had dismissed that God-idea as a bad idea? What if they had asked why instead of why not? What if they had decided to play it safe and stay on the ship?
I'm sure God could have intervened in another way. And I would like to think He would have. But who can calculate the opportunity costs when we ignore the promptings of the Spirit, thereby missing divine appointments? Faith is not faith until it is acted on.
Go. Set. Ready.
If you are looking for excuses, you will always find one.