Read: Deuteronomy 16:1-19:10
And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel. – Deut. 17:19
Wow! How quickly things can change! As many of you know, last year God issued me a challenge to write through the Bible in a year. And I’ll admit I have failed miserably in getting all the way through in a year’s time. BUT I’ve come SOOOO much farther than I’ve ever been before and learned so much more than I ever thought possible, but I still have not completed the task I was assigned. Specifically, getting it accomplished in a year. Yesterday God blessed me with a terrific birthday present for the website, pens with the name on them!
I sat by the door waiting for the UPS guy to get up to the porch with them, I was soooo excited! I ripped open the box grabbed the first pen and immediately put it to paper… nothing. It refused to write. I tried another one, nothing. It wouldn’t write either! “Oh you have GOT to be kidding me! I can’t give these away, people will hate them! They don’t work.” I grabbed another one out of the box, “Lord! Please! Why won’t these work!?!” This one tried to work. The ink started to flow and then stopped and then started again and then stopped again, “UGH! They are so inconsistent! None of them are writing the first time I go to write with them! What is the deal?”
“Really annoying isn’t it.” God says.
“YES! It’s driving me crazy! I don’t want people to not like their pen because it’s inconsistent. I mean this has my name on it!”
And He says, “Then how do you think I feel?”
“Yes Lord. I will do better at writing every day like You called me to.”
When I started writing for the Lord I fondly referred to myself as His pen. I wasn’t the author of these books, He was. I wasn’t the writer of this blog, He is. Yet as time progressed I became less and less reliable to do what He had called me to do. I was getting tired. Very tired to be honest. I have never, not ever been able to read through the Bible from cover to cover. I’m not really sure why, I just haven’t. Yet I am DETERMINED to make this happen. Period. God challenged me to do it and if there’s one thing about me you need to know it’s that I am STUBBORN. Just ask my husband or my parents. When I get my mind set on something there is very little that can stop me. This is one of those things. I don’t want for people to throw God’s pen away because it writes inconsistently. God is constant, so I need to be too. He has given me the mission of reading and writing through the Bible in a year and helping others do the same. I’ve seen the change that it’s made in my life, TREMENDOUS change! I want others to know the joy that comes from those daily intimate moments with God in His word and through writing about it in a simple little journal. It’s amazing to me how something so easy can make such a HUGE difference in a life. I want others to know the POWER of God’s word living and acting in their lives. The system that God has helped me create to help us on this journey is amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it! It’s something that is variable in depth where you can spend as little or as much time digging into it as you want. Knowing full well that the deeper down the rabbit hole you go the closer you get to God’s wonderland! He is so magnificent! I hope you can see that today. I pray that you can see that today, His glory, His marvelous love for you in wonderous ways. (Jennifer)
So after the conversation about the pens, I was convinced that writing daily was imperative for me and my schedule. I knew that it was something that I was supposed to protect in my life. So of course, what is the very thing that became next to impossible to get to today? My pen and paper! I retreated into my bedroom with my Bible and shut the door behind me for some really precious intimate time with Jesus. But I made a huge mistake; I brought my phone with me. So of course, it kept ringing and I kept answering it between paragraphs. Until finally the Holy Spirit says to me, “If you were being intimate with your husband in here right now would you be answering the phone?”
“Of course not!”
“Then why are you answering it now?”
Now I need to tell you, convicting conversations like this don’t happen between us very often. Usually they’re very different and very lovey toward each other. So when I get two in a row like this I realize just how much this means to Him. I’ve seen the difference consistent reading of the Word can make, I’ve lived it. I’ve preached it. And yet here I am, having fallen from it. I have allowed the business of life to get in the way of the romance of life. Intimate alone time with my Savior is PRECIOUS and yet I have forsaken that and that hurts Him. I could hear it in His voice. I mean, here He’s busting through walls to get me where I am and I’m not willing to spend 30 minutes reading His love letter to me every day? What kind of gratitude is that?
And yet, there is my Savior, loving me and cheering me on all the same. A couple of days ago I was jumping on the trampoline with Anna. She asked me to lay down on the trampoline with her and make a leaf angel. I told her “No, I don’t want to get leaves stuck in my hair.” And the moment the words were out of my mouth I could sense that the Holy Spirit was saying something to me, I just wasn’t exactly sure what until yesterday while I was reading Darrell Creswell’s blog. He mentioned Matthew 18:3-5, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one such child in my name receives Me”
I just kept staring at this picture. It’s PRECIOUS. Yet I knew that there was something in it that Jesus wanted me to find. As a teacher I have lived my life around children. They are some of the wisest beings on the planet! So this verse is tucked down deep into my heart because I KNOW that children have more to teach us than we have to teach them. So what did these two children have to teach me? I asked Him, “Lord, what are you trying to show me?”
“What do you see?”
“They’re so DIRTY.”
“Is that often a characteristic of children?”
“YES!” I laughed.
“Because they’re not afraid to get dirty.”
“Because it’s fun.”
“Do you think maybe that’s My message when I’m telling you to be more childlike in your faith? Don’t be afraid to get dirty. Go have fun then come wash in the water of the Word, that’s what Grace is all about.”
I get so afraid of doing things wrong, of messing them up, that I forget why I’m doing them in the first place; because they’re FUN! I LOVE writing! I LOVE my alone time with God! Yet so often I catch myself thinking it’s something that I HAVE to do instead of something that I GET to do. We are the FIRST generation to have God’s Word as accessible to us as it is. Being in the Word every day is a luxury that NO ONE before this time has EVER been able to indulge in. Not like this. Abraham was never been able to curl up in a comfy chair with a steamy mug of joe tickling his wiskers and scan the pages of a well worn Bible. Moses never had that, Sarah didn’t get that, and even the Disciples didn’t do that, only us. The printing press is a very recent commodity not to mention smart phones and the internet that put His word in our pockets at the touch of a screen. We are so spoiled and we forget that all too easily. I forget that all too often.
So today, after grappling with my hectic life to get to my desk and my computer to write something down, I open it up and my ever-changing background is a picture of my husband at the Tough Mudder he ran last June. And I just stare at it as my computer is booting up. In this picture he is at the top of a VERY difficult obstacle helping someone else get to the top. He is COVERED in mud from head to toe, he is absolutely exhausted, yet he’s not moving on to finish his own race, he has paused to help someone else accomplish the task that he has just tackled. And not on his lonesome either I might add. You see, that’s how difficult this obstacle is. You can’t really accomplish it by yourself. You have to have at least one person helping you. That’s kind of the point of this obstacle, actually the entire Tough Mudder race. It’s all about team work and helping the other runners get to the finish line together. The people ahead of you help you up, and then you help the people behind you and everyone finishes.
Staring at this picture of my Beloved today I was so struck by how perfectly it mimics the race of life and faith. We can’t do this on our own. We just can’t. No matter how much we try, no matter how much we want to, we can’t run this race alone. We NEED the people who have gone ahead of us to help us up. And the people behind us NEED our help to make it through the obstacles ahead of them. But together we ALL finish the race to win a prize that is imperishable and secure and VERY well worth the effort. We strive to enter into His rest; a promise for the centuries before us, for us, and for those after us. To enter into the rest is realizing that the work has been finished from the beginning.
“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God FINISHED his Work That He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had done.” Genesis 2:1-2
The work has been finished since the beginning. God set all the dominoes in place in six days. On the seventh, He tipped over the first one and sat down to watch them all fall into the PERFECT pattern that He created. How beautiful is that!?! The work is finished, and all we have to do is REST in knowing that the work is over. We have to rest in confidence knowing that our lives aren’t about what we do or don’t do, they’re about what GOD is DOING in them and through them. I used to think that we would sit up in heaven and chat about the things that WE did here on earth. Now I don’t think that’s what we’ll be doing at all. From heaven we will be able to see the big picture God created with the dominoes and we will stand in such absolute awe of it that all we will be able to talk about is what GOD did with us. Not the other way around. J
AS struck as I was with this picture of my husband helping others finish the race well I know I wanted to share it with you. So I went to my picture program and pulled up all the photos from that day. I found three video clips of Sean’s three attempts to scale the half pipe. I want you to watch them and notice, the “cloud of witness” surrounding the racers, cheering them on, urging them forward as they try their hardest to scale this insurmountable mountain. I also want you to note that this obstacle is within sight of the finish line and comes after about 12.5 miles of pure hell. These people are past the point of absolute exhaustion. They were “done” about ten miles ago, yet chose to keep running simply because they wanted to finish. Sheer determination is the ONLY thing that is keeping them going at this point. That, and the cheers of those surrounding them. These videos may be of my husband, the strikingly handsome man in the orange shirt, but place yourself in them when you watch them. Picture that mountain you’ve been trying to climb as the half pipe. Picture the people in your life as the people at the top trying to pull you up. God has surrounded you with a great cloud of witnesses, some you can see and hear and others you can’t. But know that they are ALL cheering for you as loudly as they possibly can. With every fiber of their being there are pulling for you, praying for you, doing everything they’re allowed to do to help you get past this obstacle.
I may not have met my goal of the entire Bible in one year. But that doesn’t mean I have to stop trying. Like Sean in this video, I made it farther than I’ve ever made it before and THAT IS an accomplishment. A huge one. Now it’s time for me to back up, take what I learned from the first attempts and do my best to make it all the way up this time. And if I don’t, there’s always next year. J
I’m going to be taking the next few days to pull together all the resources from the last year, pray and with the Holy Spirit create a more efficient plan of attack for this coming year of reading and writing. I would greatly appreciate your prayers in this as I am learning how absolutely critical this challenge is for ALL of us. Also, during this time I would like for you to very prayerfully consider joining me on this next attempt up the pipe. I can fully attest to the power of daily reading, even if I wasn’t successful in fully accomplishing the goal. I got close enough to know that it is a worthy goal to attain. And I would love to go through this TOGETHER with YOU. Let me know in the comments section if you’re in this with me. The reading plan is available in its entirety on the “Printables” page. It includes links to every single day’s readings! Together we can do this my friends!