Pause, Reflect, Investigate, Discover

faithYesterday my devotional time was spent in Genesis chapters 1-7. Everything was going smoothly until I approached chapter 6. In chapter 6 of Genesis, specifically verses 5-8, the Word says this: “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord”

… Wait. What?

I immediately stopped. Just as when I read fiction, I analyze… and analyze… and then analyze just a little more. I paused there and reflected, read it again, read my footnotes, then opened Google. I came to an article on this chapter that attempted to satisfy my curiosities but didn’t quite cut it. So I emailed my pastor and Dustin to get their thoughts.

My questions were: 1)Was God taken aback by how destructive man had become? and 2) Did God alter His plan (sending a flood to destroy mankind) based on the free will choices man had made?

Now I know, because I’ve grown up hearing it since I can remember, that God’s word does not contradict itself. I know that God doesn’t make mistakes, and that His plan is perfectly planned from the beginning. He is the alpha and the omega. My head knows. But my worldly interpretation of the language I was reading was peaking my curiosities to say the least. My pastor recommended a book titled God’s Lesser Glory, which I promptly ordered. He even gave it a term, Open Theism. How could I have never heard of this before?

So now I have yet another book on my to read list. This one is at the top.

I wrestled with yesterday’s devotion much of the day. Internal turmoil brewing. Today, God brought me peace with the next chapters. I continued reading in Genesis. Beginning with chapter 8, I was still less than hopeful that I would find what I was looking for today. The light began to seep in as I read this in Chapter 8: “Then the Lord said in His heart, I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.”

I paused again. I initially read this and thought, Okay, here we go again, God is regretful that He sent the flood. I don’t mean to question the authoritative, Living Word of my God. But I think that the only real revelations and true knowledge come from curiosity, investigation, and discovery. So, I question.. I investigate… I discover. Today I discovered good news!

I read on. In Chapter 9, God reveals that He is good ALL the time. Chapter 9, verses 11, 12, & 13 say this: “Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth. And God said This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations. I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth.”

God knew that man’s heart had not changed. God knew mankind would continue to do evil things. Yet, He gave a promise that we would not be destroyed. Free will and God’s sovereign and omniscient power don’t contradict one another, simply because God is not human. My pastor gave me some words to ponder that makes this easier to grasp. He said (I’m paraphrasing) that the Bible is written in man’s language, not God’s. So when I read the words of man (Inspired by God) somethings are just going to simply get lost in translation. That’s probably why there are so many debates among so many people about this infallible Word.

I will continue in my pursuits to understand, knowing that I will not fully understand because that is not God’s intent. God’s intent is that I believe, that my blind faith is strengthened each time I open His Word to scrutinize and analyze. I was equipped with the gift of analyzing literature. I’m curious as to why it has taken me so long to realize that I can extend this gift to the Bible.

Thank you Father, today, for the gift of investigation and self discovery. Thank you for blind faith and belief. Thank you for being so hard to understand, that your Word causes me to pause and reflect and question and discover You more fully.

Provision

if only  sparrow  

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

I fought this move to Texas hard. I was sure my calling and gift from God was to teach. Even more specifically, I was certain that my purpose was to teach upper grade literature and writing. I had such passion for it. Still do. But it’s funny how life throws the most amazing curve balls just to mix things up and show me that I don’t know it all. Dustin was very persistent in his desire to follow where God was leading us. He was as certain that this was the move for us as I was that it was not. But, I followed. Begrudgingly, mind you.

I have always been aware of the passage from the Bible that speaks of God taking care of us and providing for us. I know in my head that He calls us to not worry. But my heart didn’t trust. My heart didn’t have faith. I love when God shows up to say “I told you so.”

This morning as I reflect on my failure to trust, I praise God for never leaving nor forsaking me. I praise God for His great provision. I was keenly aware last night as I drove home from parent orientation at school just how much more awesome His plan is than mine. I began immediately listing in my mind all the ways, He has provided.

1. Our house in MS sold within three weeks. (We said we wouldn’t go if it didn’t sell)

2. Our house in MS sold within days before we were scheduled to come to TX to look for houses. (We said we wouldn’t be able to look for homes if our house had not sold by the time we visited Houston)

3. The last remaining house available in the school zone we wanted was only available because the original buyers backed out.

4. The secretary at the school, when we toured, told us she was also from MS and was so kind to Reese. Reese walked away saying she had found her new Ms. Kimble. (Reese did not want to leave Ms. Kimble behind in MS)

5. Emerson and Reese have never once looked back. Their excitement has been relieving to say the least.

6. I was more persistent than I have ever been about obtaining a teaching position at Emerson and Reese’s school. I emailed, called, went by to hand deliver resumes, got my MS principal to write and email on my behalf. Not to appear overly confident or arrogant, but I had a great resume. I had what principals would look for in a reading teacher (so I thought). I was just bewildered why I wouldn’t at least get an interview. I believe I didn’t get it for a specific reason.

7. I became pregnant.

8. I increasingly became not just okay, but really comfortable with staying home. I have become a baker, a cleaner, an organizer, a writer, a reader, and unfortunately a shopper. My mornings in MS were rushed and chaotic to say the least. I was not pleasant with my children who always seemed to be slowing me down as we were trying to get to work and school. I gave so much of my time and heart to my students that I somehow forgot my main responsibility. Our mornings now are refreshing. They are calm. We read stories at breakfast and laugh and pray before leaving home. We sit together in car rider line and talk.

9. Emerson has always enjoyed reading. But she has flourished this summer and in just the few short weeks of being at school. She has a chapter book with her at all times (her favorite of course is the Gooney Bird series from Lois Lowry :)) She has two amazing teachers who are just the most perfect fit for her. I was upset that I wouldn’t be able to pick her teacher this year as I have in the past, being a teacher at her school. I was worried she wouldn’t get who she needed. Emerson needs just the right combination of structure and nurture or she gives up. She feels defeated easily. These two precious ladies, Ms. Hudspeth and Ms. Klenke, couldn’t have been a better fit. Emerson comes home telling me about all of Ms. Hudspeth’s books and how much she loves to read. And she always has funny stories about Ms. Klenke. Ms. Klenke is great for Emerson because Ms. Klenke loves humor. I have heard every night for two weeks how funny she is. I got a glimpse of her humor last night at parent night and Emerson was right. I love that Emerson has opportunities during the day to laugh with her teacher. I cry easily. I get emotional way too often. I’m hoping Ms. Klenke couldn’t see my tears of joy last night as she was presenting her curriculum. When she announced that one of the prizes for good behavior was for a student to “buy” the class a ten minute dance party, I almost lost it. Those are the kinds of teachers we need. Teachers who engage our children with heart and soul.

10. On to Reese and her teacher. For those of you who know my Reese, you know how tenderhearted she is. Ms. Stokes is the same way. She is nurturing, soft spoken, caring, and generous. Reese adores her. I was so worried that Reese would get a teacher who could possibly break her spirit. Reese doesn’t thrive under harsh discipline. She needs smiles and hugs. She got the best teacher for her. I also love that Ms. Stokes appreciates Reese’s southern accent. Ms. Stokes told me last night that Reese’s writing shows apparent signs of a Mississippi girl, being that first graders spell words phonetically.

11. Our church. I have never seen Emerson and Reese so excited on a Sunday morning. They adore the music, the teachings, and the people. Dustin and I searched for a long time, both in MS and in TX, but God knew where He wanted us.

It’s amazing to me that in spite of all of my stubbornness and unfaithfulness, that God still loves me enough to show me that His  way is best.