Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Porch Dwelling

If you've read some of my previous blogs, you know how much our dog, Kody, teaches me about going from an orphan to adopted and adored. He mirrors what happens to our hearts--born apart from God due to sin and therefore orphans surviving the best we can depending on our own strength and resources; what I call orphan living. However, as we come to Christ and grow in relationship with Him, we relax into being part of His family, being accepted and protected and waltzed through life on the arm of a King; the joys of Kingdom living!

Last summer we installed an invisible fence to keep Kody off of the highway that we live on. We've lost many cats to the road and did not want to lose him. We noticed how timid he was in the yard and really not very playful, but chocked it up to him being a puppy and maybe not having the energy since he was still growing. We also knew he did NOT like getting zapped when he would cross the fence and he made sure to stay VERY clear of the boundary. Over the winter, the fence stopped working and Kody came alive! He'd play fetch, run and terrorize the chickens, and overall seemed more playful. BUT he wouldn't stay in the yard, so we had to tie him up to make sure he stayed put. Realizing how this was cramping his style, we fixed the fence. Upon hearing the beep of the collar that warns him he is near the fence boundary, he ran to the porch out of fear of being harmed; we could not get him off. If he did come off, it was following right behind the person who had coaxed him off. His fear of the fence was keeping him prisoner to the porch. (Did I mention he probably has 2 acres to roam free if he so chose!?!)

As he is trusting us and following us further from the porch, he sees he is safe. He is still a bit reserved, but is making strides to overcome his fear. I kind of laugh, kind of sympathize with the poor little guy. But I realized I am not much different at times. I have fears that hold me captive...that keep me in safe places; "porch dwelling". Sometimes the older we get the more stuck we can become by just going through the routines that have worked for so many years and not really attempting anything new. Someone told me that FEAR could be an acronym for false evidence appearing real. Like Kody, thinking that the whole yard was out to get him because there are a few areas to avoid, I too can build a case against myself as to why I can't...and I stay in the small, safe places. This is not really living an adventure with God, trusting Him to take me to new or different places, nor is it advancing His kingdom...it is orphan thinking that I need to protect myself and stay safe...just exist.

Jesus came to set the captives free. To help porch dwellers like me experience freedom, risk, love, simply MORE. I am not under the yoke of slavery anymore, but have been given a new heart, a new life and He is redeeming those things that once held me captive. He has set boundaries in safe places (Ps. 16)--boundaries with unhealthy relationships, the stress of too much on my plate, fears like the unknown or the future (I can be a control freak wanting to know the next step in complete detail), or fear of public speaking (He has ever so gently led me step by step to an ever increasing public speaking ministry!), fear for my kids, fear from my own insecurities...All of these could hold me hostage and keep me porch dwelling and not really living.

It is a joy to see Kody in the yard chasing squirrels or just playing knowing he is safe from the true danger of the road. Just like a life hidden in God...there is much room to run, to try new things, to glorify Him in a new way, to experience LIFE to the full, to love others well with our eyes on Him to show us and all within His boundaries to keep us safe. He is the larger story where there is life---this is Kingdom dwelling...Seek, trust and obey Him and get off your porch and run free!

"I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free." (Ps. 119:32)

Trust the Wind

I was walking one very blustery morning along the North Shore and the wind was coming inoff Lake Superior. The mixture of rain/snow and wind made me wonder what I was doing outside! I wanted some much needed exercise and fresh air and was willing to pay the cost knowing I could warm up when I reached my destination, a cozy cabin, when I was done. I found myself sympathizing with the wild animals, birds in particular.

As I strolled along the road, I noticed my presence scared a bird out of an evergreen where it had been taking refuge. It flew up in a start and was carried off by the unrelentless wind that was cutting through the air like a sheet. I felt a bit guilty about disrupting the poor little thing on such a day...and God reminded me of His care of the sparrows. As I pondered this, I realized the bird trusted its God given instincts more than its own comfort. While it was forcibly pushed by the wind a quite a speed, perhaps in a direction it wasn't even expecting, it ended up in a new destination...perhaps even better than the first.

I got thinking how the Bible compares the Holy Spirit to the wind in John 3:8..."The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." Just like the bird, if we really trust God, we will "ride" the Holy Spirit wind and go where He is going--physically or deeper in our own hearts without regard to our comfort nor the destination.

Are you focused on the destination or your own comfort and missing the wind that would carry you? Oswald Chambers says that we tend to focus on the destination while God focuses on the process...He desires to carry us as we surrender to His Spirit and soar with Him, sheltered under His wings and warmed by His presence...draw near to Him today and FLY!!! Enjoy the journey and trust Him with the destination...