Sunday, January 22, 2012

Ask, and Ye Shall Receive

Remember the other day when I wrote that I had started asking God to show me just how big and marvelous He is? And how He had begun responding the very next morning? Well, He didn't stop there.

God went on to remind me (and to make sure that I knew) that He has a plan for me. Oh man. I don't know why, but for some reason, when I asked God to show me how big He is, I wasn't expecting Him to begin right away. And this next thing will sound crazy, but I was also expecting Him to be more subtle. Crazy Emily, thinking like that.

This morning was probably the toughest Sunday morning I've had so far, for the sole reason that God was working in me and for me. My church has been doing a series called "Orange", and this week's sermon was titled "Pruning". In it, Pastor talked about how even though it's painful, God has to prune us so that we can bear better fruit, and also more of it. He talked about how it's during the difficult, painful, and unpleasant times of our lives that God is pruning us.

As soon as the sermon started, I knew that it was for me. I knew that God had masterminded this morning. He had allowed Sunday School to get out late, so that I would have to sit in the front during the service, so that I didn't have the option of "going to get some fresh air" a.k.a. running away once I realized what the message was. And even though it hurt, and it brought my pain right to the surface once again, I sat there, and I listened. I cried, and I recognized that God was reaching out to me yet again, showing me how Awesome, Magnificent, and Big He is, and also how much He cares for me. Even when I'm still struggling and trying to not feel anger towards Him.

So, here are the notes I took. They're not as good as listening to the actual sermon, but I'll see if I can post a link to it once it goes up on my church's website.

1. God's plan requires pruning.
       --hang onto Romans 8:28 "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." -ESV
           -->note: if you're working toward's His purpose, all things will come together for His good. If you're not, it may still feel like random bad things are happening to you.
       --The goal of the vinedresser (God) is not our comfort, but our fruit-bearing.
       --The pain is not just random pains, but God will allow your heart to break.

2. Surviving the Pain
       --here, Pastor referenced the story of Joseph in Genesis
       --I need to be SO convinced that God has a plan for me, and HOLD ON TO THAT so tightly, no matter what!
       --If God's plan for me includes pain, I need to pray to accept it and do my best to cooperate.
           --> When I'm against the pain and fighting it, I'm fighting with the sovereign God, and I will get nowhere.
       --God allowing me pain is NO REASON to turn away from Him and towards sin.
       --Only thing I can do is SURRENDER. Challenges won't cease, but patience and peace will increase.

3. Pruning is about Focus
     --“When one door closes another door opens, but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.”  -Alexander Graham Bell
     --1 Corinthians 12:18 "But as is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose." -ESV
          --> God placed me just as He pleased, and just where He pleased. He has a reason for all of this.

You know, I am a planner. I feel more secure when I have a plan and when I know exactly what is going on and everything involved. I know in my head that I need to start giving that up, and I'm trying to put it into practice. During the invitation, I talked (sobbed) to some of my sweet friends, and eventually said what is probably the first sensible thing I've said in ages.

I know that I'm a planner by nature, and I feel like I always need to have a solid plan. Often we ask God to reveal His plan to us, so that we might know how He is shaping us, or why He is shaping our circumstances in a certain way. But honestly, I am realizing that I really don't want to know "the Plan". 

Not only will it be too big for me to fathom, it would also put too much pressure on me, and I would be tempted to change the things that I didn't like. I would mess it up and feel horrible when I did. I am human, and it is not my place to know things like that. Even though I sometimes think that I want to.

Right now, my prayer is that God will shape my heart. I pray that He will help me to love Him more and better, and that He will continue to help me grow my faith. Because I need Him, so desperately, and He is the only one who can heal my heart and bring me through the trials that are yet to come.

Matthew 21:22 "And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith." -ESV

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