Monday, June 25, 2018

Look UP!

Even though I was sad to see our Moms Group semester come to a close (we take a break for summer), we had an amazing last meeting in May. We reflected on all the good things the Lord had done. We saw relationships built, marriages made stronger, women in the Word, better mommas, encouraged women, changed lives. To God be the glory! Great things HE has done.

I am equally excited about all that we have to look forward to for the new year. A new focus. New friendships. New truths to learn. New battles to fight. New babies. New tables to sit at. New struggles. New victories.

Our focus, for the next year will be "Look up!"

I shared with those moms that I have a hard time (or feel guilty) asking for help. It's so hard for me to admit I'm failing or to admit that I'm not enough. Motherhood brought on a whole new set of needs. It challenged  my identity. Took my time. These kid's survival depended on me. Challenged my marriage. Changed my schedule, wardrobe and number of times I washed my hair. Suddenly I had a hard time having a quiet time. And I still struggle daily with that feeling of not being enough vs. not wanting to admit that I'm not enough. I feel empty some days - but I hate to admit that. Anyone else?

But as I was scrolling through a social media feed last week, a graphic of this verse stopped me in my tracks.

This verse is hopeful! I can be filled! And yet it also made me wonder, "Would I ever be filled if I never admitted to that hunger or need?"

A familiar story of Elijah seemed to keep resurfacing in my life. I heard about it a women's conference, at Wednesday night prayer meeting, in a sermon by my dad...and so, I shared what I had learned and what I had heard.

Elijah was a prophet - which simply means he was seen, in his day, as an inspired teacher. He was respected by God's people. And he was a proclaimer of the will of God.

Then the Lord said to Elijah, "Go and live in the village of Zarephath, near the city of Sidon.
I have instructed a widow there to feed you." 
So he went to Zarephath. As he arrived at the gates of the village,
he saw a widow gathering sticks, and he asked her,
"Would you please bring me a little water in a cup?" 
As she was going to get it, he called to her, "Bring me a bite of bread, too."
But she said, "I swear by the Lord your God that I don't have a single piece of bread in the house.
And I only have a handful of flour left in the jar and a little cooking oil in the bottom of the jug. 
I was just gathering a few sticks to cook this last meal,
and then my son and I will die."
But Elijah said to her, "Don't be afraid! Go ahead and do just what you've said, 
but make a little bread for me first. Then use what's left to prepare a
meal for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says:
"There will always be flour and olive oil left in your containers until the time
when the Lord sends rain and the crops grow again!"
So she did as Elijah said, and she and Elijah and her family continued to eat
for many days. There was always enough flour and olive oil left in the containers,
just as the Lord had promised through Elijah."
I Kings 17:8-16, NLT

I am so thankful that God empties us so that HE can do the miraculous sustaining. 

As a mom, I can imagine her panic and fear. No one would have faulted her if  instead of obeying God she had said, "No, I am going to provide for my son's needs first." But her own efforts would have only sustained this family for a day. In her own efforts, she was lacking. She obeyed. And as a result, God kept sustaining. (for far longer than she could have ever managed on her own). 

In my emptiness, I must surrender. I must ask, "What is God asking me to do?
It may simply be that I need to admit that I am not enough! I wasn't made to be enough! If I was ever "enough" I would never need Jesus! 

It may be that I need to talk to my kids (and others) about how God is sustaining me. I think back to when I was growing up. I have always loved when my parents would tell stories of God supplying because they stepped out in faith. I never thought LESS of my parents and their lack of resources or knowledge...instead, I thought MORE of my God. 

Verse 24 of I Kings 17 tells us that this mother's faith was strengthened. In our emptiness, He can do the most miraculous things. Let's fill the void with HIM. And as a result, people will say, "That must be Jesus!!"

Next year, our mom's group is going to Look Up!  We are praying, expecting and hoping. We are looking up with our palms open, ready for the Lord to do the sustaining and filling. 

I look up to the mountains -- 
does my help come from there? 
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth! 

He will not let you stumble;
the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, He who watches over Israel
never slumbers or sleeps.

The Lord Himself watches over you!
The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day, 
nor the moon at night. 

The Lord keeps you from all harm and 
watches over your life. 
The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
both now and forever. 
Psalm 121, NLT

This Psalm of ascent was one that the Israelites would sing on their journey to Jerusalem. As they traveled, those mountains in front of them were the surest, firmest thing they could imagine. And so they pointed and asked, "Does my help come from there? those mountains?....My help comes from the Lord!"

This group of moms is going to look to Him. We are going to admit our emptiness. We are going to let him do the miraculous sustaining. And we are praying that our kids and others we come in contact with will come to this conclusion: "That must be Jesus!"

Each mom went home with a loaf pan and a bread mix. Each time they make muffins or bread for their children, I pray that they will be reminded of the sustaining that happened in I Kings 17 as a result of  a mom's faith.

Each loaf pan was tied up with a tag reminding them of our Scripture focus for next year - Psalm 121. I pray that they will read it, write it and maybe even memorize it as they go throughout their summer. 

I pray that they regularly get in the habit of  Looking UP!  And if they weren't sure how that should look practically, we encouraged them to try this 30 Day Word before World Challenge. In those empty moments, it is so easy to turn to my phone, social media, Netflix, a snack...many things other than the Word!

It's never too late to begin this challenge! Or to start it over again!

Let's do this! Let's Look Up! Let's watch God do the filling and sustaining! He made us to need Him!

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