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Archive for November, 2012

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When I was a little girl, I dreamed of being a famous actress, singer, ballerina, gymnast, writer, or painter. I longed to be on the stage, performing before adoring crowds. More than anything, I wanted to be a star.

I got a taste of fame when I moved to a small town in East Asia. In a city with just a handful of foreigners, a white girl standing in line at the post office was equivalent to a celebrity appearance. Strangers in the park asked to take pictures with me. A grandmother sitting next to me on the bus wanted to know if I had a boyfriend, then tried to set me up with her grandson. Giggling high school girls shyly asked, “What’s your name?” then ran away, embarrassed, before I could answer. And many people just stared, whispering, “wai guo ren! wai guo ren!” (foreigner! foreigner!) to each other as I walked past.

Reveling in the attention, I would play it up to the crowds, waving and smiling to the gawking old ladies, patiently talking to the students whose parents wanted them to practice their English. It was humorous to watch the double-takes that resulted from seeing a blue-eyed, curly-haired, freckled American among the massive crowds of Asian faces. Once a teenage boy plowed his bicycle into a tree because he was craning his neck for another look at the local sensation! (He wasn’t hurt, apparently, and his buddies thought it was hilarious.)

And then one of my life-long dreams became a reality – I got to be on TV! They needed some foreigners to be part of a New Year’s special program and I jumped at the chance. The makeup, the costumes, the live audience, the applause… I soaked it all in. I was finally a star.

But after months and years of having my every move scrutinized, I started to long for a day when I could just blend into the crowd. The whispers and comments and questions started to irritate me. I began to avoid anyone who approached me with requests for photos. The only escape into anonymity was on the coldest days of the harsh northeast winters. With a hat pulled low on my head, a scarf wrapped around my nose and mouth, and my head bent down into the wind – no one could tell that I was a foreigner!

Fame. It’s what I thought I wanted. But now that I had a taste of it, I discovered it wasn’t all that I thought it would be.

Why wasn’t I satisfied? Though I thought fame was what I wanted, I was really seeking the attention and admiration that went with it. But getting stared at in the street or being photographed by strangers didn’t satisfy my need for significance.

Fame won’t fill that void. Admiration and attention from others won’t fill it. But if I am secure in knowing WHO I am and WHOSE I am – a beloved daughter of the King, free and forgiven, destined for great things that He has prepared in advance for me to do – then it doesn’t matter if the crowds adore me or not!

What do you want? And will you be satisfied when you get it? Take an honest look at the motivation behind what you’re seeking. And ask the Lord to fill those needs with His perfection. Because nothing else will satisfy the way His love satisfies.

Going Vertical!
MJ

Psalm 90:14 says, “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”

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“You know how people say that you forget the pain of childbirth? Well, it’s not true!” Jennifer laughed. “I definitely remember it! And I didn’t think I would be able to bear it.”

Baby Libby cooed, and Jennifer continued, a smile in her voice. “But you know, I didn’t have the grace to go through labor the day before Libby was born. I didn’t even have the grace for it ten minutes before the labor started. But when the moment came, God gave me the strength to get through it. It was hard. It was painful. But I had the grace when I needed it.”

This secret of God’s dispensation of grace at just the right moment is something my friend Jennifer has experienced over and over again the last several years. Her first child, little Libby Anne Hope, was named in honor of Jennifer’s sister, who had died tragically in a car accident seven months earlier. Since then, Jennifer’s had four more children, some with special needs and medical complications. She’s walked through a young son’s chemotherapy treatments for cancer. She’s spent many many nights and days in the emergency room and intensive care unit of hospitals.

And she’ll be the first to say it hasn’t been easy. There have been times of anger, fear, hopelessness, feeling abandoned and forgotten by God. But through it all, she’s clung to God’s promise – “My grace is sufficient for you” (II Cor 12:8).

When I look at my future and start worrying about how I’ll be able to handle the hard things that are surely ahead, Jennifer’s words echo in my head. No, I don’t have the grace for the pain of childbirth yet. I don’t have the strength for caring for a sick child, or the fortitude to deal with the grief of a painful loss. Because I’m not there yet. I don’t have grace for tomorrow. I don’t have grace for next week. I don’t have grace for 5 minutes from now. Not yet. But I will. When I get there. And not before.

Whatever it is you’re facing, or worrying about, and wondering how on earth you can possibly get through, just know that when you get to that point, the grace will be there. Trust Him for TODAY. And leave tomorrow to His care.

Going Vertical!
MJ

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Matthew 6:34, NIV

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