Friday, September 19, 2008

Walking in Faith: My Final Chapter

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.~Col. 3:16

If you have stopped by from our blog Bible study "What Happens When Women Walk in Faith" written by Lysa TerKuerst and hosted by Lelia, my comment on that final chapter is posted below in my last entry. Yesterday I went to conference for parish nurses, a spiritual retreat to refresh and rejuvenate. It was indeed all about my walk of faith, the journey I have made as I have studied that book and learned with all of you in the Bible study. Let me share what occurred in the conference yesterday.
The conference topic was gratitude. The message was simplistic. I was starting to grow frustrated in that I was longing for something a little more deep, you know, Beth Moore deep or Elaine for the Journey deep. Plus I knew that within this conference each year we are given anywhere from 2-5 hours of silent time to spend on the beautiful camp ground worshiping and meditating on God. I was ready for this part of it. Then I heard His still small voice.."look at the simple things". I wanted deep. He wanted to remind me of the simple as I had begun to bypass these things each day.
It's easy to do isn't it? Such as waking up and being thankful for life and another day to love and serve? Seeing another person's suffering and realizing your own may not be so bad and praising God for it? Hearing that special song on the radio that reminds you of how much God loves you and how much He has carried you through? The simple things. Gratitude.
After lunch the time of silence began and I started my usual journey to a cross on top of a hill on that camp ground that I found the first year I went to this. It's my yearly pilgrimage where I go to study God's word and pray-rejuvenate. Yesterday was beautiful (in the 70's) and there was a cool, soft breeze. The road to this special place is long and high as you can see in these pictures. Half way up the hill it curves and goes even steeper. My thoughts immediately went to this Bible study we just competed from "What Happens When Women Walk in Faith". Our journey has been like this road-long tough, painful. As my walk weighed heavy on my joints and my muscles burned, I was reminded how this Bible study has weighed heavy on us at times and burned deep into our souls-has it not?

I was tired half way up this hill and got winded (thanks to those extra 15 pounds I am carrying along with my bag of Bible study supplies) and many of us came into this study weary of our own failures and found ourselves catching our breath from the spirits convictions as we journeyed along. The recent rains had dug out deep creases in the dirt road so I had to watch my step to avoid tripping or falling...is that not a representation of our life and our need to keep focused on Christ in every circumstance, in every situation? My carry bag weighted me down. It was only my Bible, a notebook, my journal and all my colorful pens but it seemed to grow in weight. What a true representation of the "baggage" we allow ourselves to carry and the impact it can have in us-weighing us down.
At the top of this hill you can go right to a wooded picnic area or go left and further walk up hill toward two other park-like retreat settings. My cross is to that left in a place called Walnut Point. There in the green foliage, is a simple wooded cross surrounded by seats, waiting and beckoning someone to come and sit in it's presence and see Jesus. The sun's light shone on it and it radiated. I walked the distance and there in the tree's I saw it...my destination. Do you see it? Do you have a destination? A plan? A motiviation? Does your walk of faith have a purpose? A goal? These simple pieces of wood some together to mean something so significant and it calls each of us daily to sit in it's shadow, to soak up it's radiance.
As I sat down to cool off from the walk and prepare my heart, I took out the camera and started taking pictures of myself with the cross-like my teenage girls would do. I hated the pictures...I hated the way I looked in them. My expression seems so hard and cold.
How ironic this place is called Walnut Point. Walnuts have a hard shell around them and God reminded me that I too have allowed this hard shell from my life choices to develop around me, and my heart. Like the walnuts, we need to be cracked opened and exposed and I have been doing that this past year but this journey of exposure and transformation is not nearly over..
So, for a short time, I stripped off my weight and I soaked in the radiance of the cross...

In our journey of faith we have to daily soak up His radiance and humble ourselves in obedience.
I than sat there contemplating this hard shell I have been working through, thankful of how much I have cracked through, acknowledging how much more work laid ahead of me. Bugs, like spiders and flies and mosquito's tried to distract me...kind of like sin does in my life. But I kept turning my gaze to the cross. The Lord then provided me with a beautiful butterfly to remind me of what lies ahead.

This walk of faith is like breaking through that tough cocoon of our life to be beautifully exposed and to be able to fly for Him. Are you ready to fly for Him? Are you ready to live out His calling for your life-omitting your self and fully relying on Him? Living in His motivation and not your own? It's tough but the outcome is so promising and so free!
I journeyed back down the hill, full of the simplicities that were around me and their mighty significance. Before returning to the retreat center I walked their labyrinth and prayerfully unloaded and gave God gratitude for this journey. Not just today's journey but our journey through our blog Bible study on walking in faith.
What are we made of? What are we taking on this faith journey? What are your motivations? What are God's motivations? I leave you with a thought from Alicia Britt Chole book "Anonymous" which I read in my Bible study this morning:
"Jesus saw clearly that honoring God's ways and living for man's awe were mutually incompatible life motivations."
What are we living for? Where are we going in this walk of faith? I sometimes struggle for man's approval and it has been part of what has created the resulting hardness and coldness that has encompassed my heart and soul in the past. In breaking free, I have come to see life differently and to seek a different kind of approval. God's approval. It requires walking in faith. It requires commitment. It requires humility and brokenness. But I want to radiate His presence. I want to fly for Him!! How about you?
In Him~Pamela (MrsJoeB)


8 comments:

Laura said...

It sounds like a very special time, Pamela. What a lovely opportunity to meet with God in His creation. I have learned that living a life of Gratitude is anything but simple. And it has changed the way I see the world. When I am constantly looking through that lens of thankfulness, life is so much more beautiful.
Blessings!

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

A beautiful day with Jesus. I'm so glad for your walk and the many ways that God spoke to your heart. No matter the road, when we live it for him and with him, we live it on purpose. Period.

No other accolades are needed, although our heart cries out for them, don't they? I know. And I'm pretty sure that my need for man's applause (that layer of temptation that alicia so beautifully writes about) will be my perfection in the end.

Thanks for sharing your journey and your pictures with us. I'd probably have given up with the first mosquito bite.

peace~elaine

Stonefox (otherwise known as Heidi) said...

Wonderful thoughts, Pamela. I want to fly too!

Jill said...

Pamela, I loved your words and needed to read them this morning. This walk of faith is a journey - one you described so well. Though you didn't like the pictures, I thought they were wonderful. I appreciate your honesty and encouragement. It is amazing how this book has brought us right where we need to be. I feel a bit at the crossroads myself - will I please the world or go where God is leading? It's not always an easy choice, yesterday I had a difficult conversation with my mom that's makes obedience to my heavenly Father seem even more difficult. She doesn't understand what it is He wants me to do and more than that can't fathom why I'd want to do it. It is hard, but like we've learned and you expressed we're here to radiate His glory. I will do that and pray my mom catches a glimpse of it as this all unfolds.

Mari said...

What an absolutely fabulous opportunity to worship God as we ended this study. Life has hit you with some tough blows during this study. I am so glad you got some alone time with The Father to talk to Him and let Him do some more work in your heart. I have seen the longing for Him and it is true and genuine. All His blessings to you my friend.

Also please stop by my blog. I have a present for you!

HIS Daughter said...

Pam,

Precious..I felt like I was there as well!
I want to give HIM everything and live my life for HIS glory in the way HE decides because whether I agree or not, HE IS Right and I am not.

I am called to serve for this time in an area where I cannot find another woman or women that are passionate about HIM.

I am being called to middle school and high school girls right after I said, "I'm glad I don't have to do that again."

I'm smiling, because I know to be grateful to pour whatever I can of HIM into their troubled lives.

I am grateful for you, Pam! You are a beautiful Sister with a heart just like your Father's!

Blessings,
Teri

Lelia Chealey said...

Wow Pamela that is so awesome. I loved the walnut analogy of ourselves. Seems like you had a great time of resting in God.
Thank you so much for the pictures. I think you & your cross are beautiful.
Blessings,
Lelia

swallowingamoose said...

AWESOME! ;o)

xo,
Heather