Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Drawing Near

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

Hebrews 4: 16  

Let us then 
with confidence 
draw near 
to the throne of grace,
that we may 
receive mercy 
and find grace
to help 
in time of need.

I decided to just go to bed last night because I could not come up with something to write about. I know that I struggle more to stay positive when I am tired. I was not doing very well at finding much that was positive or inspirational to say so I went to bed.  I'm not sure I've nailed it this morning although I don't feel nearly as discouraged as I did last night. I did go back and edit it way down because I was concerened that the lack of inspriation may have lead to long winded rambling. I hope something in it will be a nugget of hope for you on your journey today. At this point its after noon and it will just have to be good enough.

So God's mercies are new every morning and I am going to trust Him to be with me in this day. 
I need the Lord to help me move beyond my perceived lacks into a place of hope and possibility. I know better than most that one never knows what is around the next corner.  So I will wait with hope and anticpation.

My mom and aunt were here this past weekend and it was good to be able to help them work through the issues they were having with some of their new technology.  My mom had called earlier in the week and was having trouble with the set up of the gift she had gotten for my aunt. I told her, at that time put it back into the box and leave it alone till I can help you with it. Of course she could not wait and had to try to set it up on her own. Which meant by the time my youngest son Cai and I got to it, it was a big mess and she could not remember what she had done or how she had done it. We finally got it back to factory presets and started over to set it up correctly.  Now my sister and brother and I are getting my mother a similar gift for Christmas. My job on the gift is to make sure it gets set up and she learns to use it. My sister who knows my mom won't leave it alone and won't know what she's doing, decided the way to solve that problem is to have the gift sent to me. That will give my tech savy children and I  have a chance to get it set up and learn to use it so we can take it to her Christmas day.  I'm sure there must be a point in this somewhere... ok so... here it is... God can give us a nice new gift but we don't have a clue how to set it up and use it. We can be so excited by the possibility of this new thing and all that it will do that we rush in and try on our own to get it set up only to find out we don't possess the skills needed and find our selves stuck. I believe the help we need is probably very near, but we have to admit that we just don't understand this new gift and need help. Oh and a little patience might come in handy too.

This past Sunday I worked in the kitchen for our homeless feeding. We had some things that for what ever the reason did not go to plan. I am really good at finding a work around ways to do things. So the big problem we had was all the burners were taken up trying to boil potatoes and we still needed to cook corn and gravy. Generally the potatoes cook and you move them out of the way and have time for the the other items. The potatoes just would not cook. We were able to get gravy on the stove top but the corn was clearly not going to be able to be done according to that plan. That was an easy fix - we could cook it in the ovens but the ovens were all full keeping the Salisbury steak patties warm. So that required that we layer those patties to make room for the corn. I was a little discouraged at the end of the day because the potatoes cooked and cooked but never got soft enough to mash. So in the end the plan for having mashed potatoes had to be scrapped. Its still a mystery to me why they did not work. We've made mashed potatoes many times for meals and had no trouble. In reading on line to see if others have had potatoes that won't soften I found that that it is possible to get old potatoes that just won't cook.   I am good with the whole "when life gives you lemons - make lemon aid" kind of mentality.  Sometimes I get stuck - like with those potatoes and just can't find a work around.  Sometimes the thing we are trying to do is simply not going to work. Thats when I need people like Tonia the lead in the kitchen to say enough, stop. Its time to just throw out those old potatoes. I need people in my life who will help me to pronounce something dead and help me to move on
Ugggh agian I must be heading for a point in all of this I've gone from stories of new technology to potatoes in one post. I think there are times in our life when we need to realize that we need help particularly with something new. There are other times when we simply need to stop and conceed that something is not going to produce the results needed in the time that is allowed. In those things I have to look to the lead or the authority in that situation to call the "stop". I have to look to God in my own life to call the "stop" cause other wise I keep looking for the work around its just how he wired me.

Our verse today talks about aproaching the throne of grace with confidence. 
I have to go to the Lord with those places where I feel stuck. I need the Lord's help us to tell the difference between something that needs to be renewed and revived and something that needs to be buried because its dead.  I think sometimes it is part of having a high level of faith that it is very hard for me to give up. Dead is not dead because I believe in a God of resurrection power. I think however there are times that God says its time to let this thing go, let me take this from you and give you something that will work better for my plans and purposes for you. Let me send it to you with the help you will need to set it up and get it working in ways that will thrill and astound you. 

I remember now why I started to tell you the story of my mom being here this weekend. She was sitting on my couch and was reading me a little story that she has found on the new tech device,
about two frogs that fall in a bucket of cream.
"One day, two frogs were enjoying the day in the barn when they accidently fell into the farmer's bucket of cream, and they couldn't get out. The two frogs kept swimming around to keep from drowning, and every once in a while they would try to climb out, but this was becoming very tiring.

One frog kept saying, "This is useless, we should just give up." But the other frog just ignored the comment and kept swimming. Finally, the pessimistic frog gave up and drowned. The other frog was sad at the loss of his friend, but he wasn't going to give up. He kept swimming and swimming, and, finally, the cream turned into butter and the frog simply climbed out.

This story shows that even if we stumble and others try to pull us down, we got to keep on swimming because, eventually, the cream will turn into butter and we'll make it out of the pail."
--- Author Unknown
So my tendency is towards being like that frog who keeps swimming. I don't see an answer so I just keep doing what I can do till a solution presents it self. In the case of the frog it was to swim. To believe that the answer is in not giving up. That faith and hope are valuable and to believe that God is honored by my faith and stubborn tenasity.

Theres another inspriational story that I love.

Pushing Against The Rock ~ Author Unknown

There once was a man who was asleep one night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with light and the Saviour appeared to him.
The Lord told him He had a work for him to do, and showed him a large rock explaining that he was to push against the rock with all his might. This the man did, and for many days he toiled from sunup to sundown; his shoulder set squarely against the cold massive surface of the rock, pushing with all his might. Each night the man returned to his cabin sore and worn out, feeling his whole day had been spent in vain.
Seeing that the man showed signs of discouragement, Satan decided to enter the picture - placing thoughts in the man's mind, such as ``Why kill yourself over this?, you're never going to move it!'' or ``Boy, you've been at it a long time and you haven't even scratched the surface!'' etc. giving the man the impression the task was impossible and the man was an unworthy servant because he wasn't moving the massive stone.
These thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man and he started to ease up in his efforts. ``Why kill myself?'' he thought. ``I'll just put in my time putting forth just the minimum of effort and that will be good enough.'' And this he did or at least planned on doing until, one day, he decided to take his troubles to the Lord.
``Lord,'' he said, ``I have labored hard and long in Your service, putting forth all my strength to do that which You have asked of me. Yet after all this time, I have not even budged that rock even half a millimeter. What is wrong? Why am I failing?''
To this the Lord responded compassionately, ``My friend, when long ago I asked you to serve Me and you accepted, I told you to push against the rock with all your strength and that you have done. But never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. At least not by yourself. Your task was to push. And now you come to Me, your strength spent, thinking that you have failed, ready to quit. But is this really so? Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled; your back sinewed and brown. Your hands are calloused from constant pressure and your legs have become massive and hard. Through opposition you have grown much and your ability now far surpasses that which you used to have. Yet still, you haven't succeeded in moving the rock; and you come to Me now with a heavy heart and your strength spent. I, my friend will move the rock. Your calling was to be obedient and push, and to exercise your faith and trust in My wisdom, and this you have done.''

I guess my point in all my little stories today is that I don't always have a clue about what God is doing. Sometimes I just need to obey and keep doing what he's told me to do even when I feel like the guy with the rock that I am failing. God is building strength in me.
Sometimes like the frog I need to keep going and not give up.
Sometimes like my mom and the technology I need to remember to ask for help.
Sometimes like the potatoes - I just need to stop. That one is really hard for me.

I think what I am saying here in all my stories is that one size solution does not fit every problem and I don't always know which of these antidotes to apply to my situation unless I go to God and believe that he will help me sort out what he is doing at this time. The same is true for you.

Is Gods word to you - get some help with the new gift he's given you.
Is it don't give up - keep swimming like the frog
Is it you think you have failed to move the rock but the plan was always to build your muscle.
Or is God saying to you that those old potatoes are not going to cook - time to toss them out.

I realize I don't always know what God is doing. I look for help,  I can flail around in the cream like the frog, I can push and build spiritual muscle, and I can at times accept that what I'm trying to do just is not going to work. Unless I draw near to the Lord I won't know what He is saying to me now. 

So I go to him and I tell him.  I take those things that to me seem to not be working and I lay them before the Lord.  I can look back and see that there have been times when He has fixed what was broken, there have been times he has taken somethings away and replaced them with something new. There are times when he has inspired me to not give up, and other times when he has said enough, it is finished.  In the end we must each come to Him to really know what is His direction for us is in this moment. 

What is He saying to you?  He wants to speak to you, will you take the time to listen til you hear His voice.  Hebrews 4: 16  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace,
that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Dear Lord, 
Help us know what you are saying now.  Speak clearly to us Lord. You know what we need, so Lord we look to you. Grant us wisdom to know what inspriational stories apply to our particular situation today. Lord there are not always easy anwers to the things we face in life. Sometimes we need to do more than to slap a bandaid on somethings and stand there saying its all better now. Sometimes the boo boos in our life are bigger than what simple bandaids can fix. Lord you are the author and the finisher. You know the end from the beginning and you know all the chapters and the twists and turns the story will take.  So Lord I come to you. I can't always make sense of it all but I believe that you can.
I turn to you  - you know me better than I know myself. You know what I need and when I need it. 



1 comment:

  1. I want to thank you for your encouraging words of wisdom...Being open to making yourself bare before me and showing me examples of how to have faith in the midst of adversity...when I am down and out I know God sees and knows and most of all cares for me!!! I love you very much and pray for you too...


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