There’s a well nearby. You’ve probably seen it. It’s in a dusty abandoned town. You wonder who used to live here and why they all left.

Many people have traveled by this well on their journeys through life, but either didn’t notice it, decided not to check it out, or tried it but left for some reason. It doesn’t appear that the well has been used in a long time. You are not even sure if the water is good. The top of the water looks unappetizing . . . . disgusting actually – covered in dust, dirt, germs, bugs and grime. Who would even want to use this well or drink its water? You dip your finger in to just taste it anyways as you realize how thirsty you are, but you only taste the stuff on top. Yuck. You’re not drinking that! But your thirst remains.

You decide to move on. . . . to find something more appealing . . . more appetizing . . . more eye-catching and tasty. You heard there was something better down the road. So you turn your back to the well and head off.

I urge you to come back.

Things are not always what they seem.

There is more to this well than the casual observer and wanderer will ever know.

Let me help you draw up the DEEP water from the well. That is where the best water resides – where the cooler, refreshing, life-giving water is. It is not tainted by the dirt, dust, germs or bugs on top of the water. Nothing has touched this deep water except the bucket and cisterns that are allowed to draw deep into it.

Are you that kind of cistern or vessel?

Are you ready to go deep?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Frustrations, Fun & God

Wow! Has it really been over 2 months since I last posted something? It's been on my "list of things to do" every day. . . . but as the summer months began and school let out for my 5 kids, it's been a whirlwind of activity here.

On top of planning for a missions trip, we've had Vacation Bible School, swim lessons, a retreat for my daughter, and a crazy adventure-of-a-vacation in the mountains - camping in torrential rain and wind (thank goodness for a laundry room and hairdryer!), living with deer and skunks on our campsite (the skunks would walk around under our feet - not caring we were there!), seeing a bear (from a distance and safely inside my car), touring underground caverns, and even a tubing trip on the river with a rope swing along the way! We definitely had some fun - but it didn't all go as planned. Isn't that just like life? :)

On the way home our precious 6 year old daughter wanted to pray for our trip. She was thanking God for all the fun and adventure we had (even when it didn't seem fun at the time) - and then she said "I had so much with you God on our camping trip!" :) Wow. I was humbled. Out of the mouth of babes. Many of us (adults & kids) on the trip were complaining about the weather, the heat, the complications . . . but were still trying to be thankful for the adventure it ended up being. However, my daughter reminded me of the most important truth . . . that through it all - the rain, the soaked tents and books (and a Bible!), the skunks, the bugs, the frustrations, the times of anger and sadness, and the times of laughter and joy - sharing memories, eating s'mores, and watching my 7 year old put away 3 hamburgers and 2 hotdogs in one meal . . . Through all of it - God was with us! And my daughter had "fun" with God during it all! I did too!

I do have to say that all throughout the trip I was frequently thanking God for taking care of us. We were almost rear-ended in a tunnel even before we left our city (the car missed us by less than a foot as it squealed and veered into the next lane!)! The rain stopped just as we arrived at the campground so we didn't have to set up in the rain. The next day (my mom's birthday!), the sun was out for awhile and the rain held off till near the end of our tubing trip (but we came back to a destroyed tent over our table and everything soaked in my parents' tent) - however, the rain stopped long enough for us to fix things and dry some things out. We ate s'mores under another tent we had - using our propane stove instead of a fire. And guess what? They were still just as yummy! And there was no rain when we had to tear everything down to leave! So . . yes . . .God is good - and I could see his hand of grace taking care of us all along the way!

But like my daughter said. . . God, I did have alot of fun WITH you throughout it all! The majestic mountains, beautiful wildlife, intricate and amazing sites in the caverns, beautiful waterfalls . . . it all constantly reminded me of our awesome Creator! What an imagination He had (and still has)! I am so thankful! He has created such beauty and glory and wonder all around us . . . if we just take the time to stop and look. We could have kept our eyes on the frustrations, but by looking at what God DID (and was doing) . . . for us . . . it made this "adventure" one I'll always remember . . . without too many feelings of frustration.

On the last morning, I met the woman who takes care of the camp showers and store. I wanted to keep to myself . . . my own thoughts . . . just take my shower and go back and pack up. But I couldn't get this nagging feeling that I was supposed to tell her something . . . just how wonderful she is - what a good heart she has - a "mother-hen" kind of heart - that she loves to take care of everyone and is really good at it. I started walking away, but then went back and interrupted her work. As I opened my mouth and just started saying what I felt God was showing me about her - it was beautiful to see her reaction . . . a sweet smile of gratitude - like a little girl being told she is beautiful. It opened up at least 30 minutes of conversation between us - listening to her stories of her family, her life, her eye that was mostly blind and how it happened, etc. Beneath what had seemed like a rough and well-worn exterior was the tender and compassionate heart of a woman who God loves. I was able to pray for her eye, but she quickly had to get back to work. I continue to pray for full healing for her eye (I wished it hadn't been our last day there). I may never know if God healed it that day -but I do know that I was able to share some of God's love on one of his most precious creations! I wouldn't trade that moment for all the sunny days in the world!

As our summer continues and winds to a close, I want to encourage you to do a few things.
#1. Thank God for all He is doing or has done for you! If you can't think of anything - start with His creations all around you (including people!).

#2. Pay attention to the fact that God is ALWAYS with you - in EVERY situation! He is there to laugh with you, to comfort you in your tears, to strengthen you when you are weak, to give rest for the weary. It doesn't mean our life plays out perfectly in all ways - but it does mean that we have a perfect Friend, Father, Comforter, Counselor, etc with us in all our imperfect situations and experiences. Enjoy being with Him. Practice being in His presence (paying attention to Him being there with you).

#3. Reach out to others around you! Love on them. Not out of selfish ambition, or pride - but out of true love. Love for God. When we love God - we can love His children (His creation) so much more! There is a reason that the Bible says that the greatest commandment is to love God 1st - then love others AS we love ourselves. When we love God and understand HIS love for us - we can truly love ourselves and then others. God sure does love you! AND he sure does love your neighbor, parents, siblings, co-worker, and yes - even your enemies! We are ALL made in God's image (EVERYONE!) - and He loves us all! So go share some of that love with others! Find the "gold" in someone around you and pull it out of them! Show them the "gold" that is inside of them. If you are having trouble with loving someone - ask God to show you how HE sees them (what the gold is). It will change you! Treat people according to their destiny (who God says they are)and not according to their history!

Have fun going deeper this summer!

L :)
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