Monday, March 23, 2009
Oh how I love this picture! I post it almost every year... it's at a state park in Oklahoma, where we are headed tomorrow. My daughter took this photo a few years ago, the first year we went. I just love looking at it! I can just feel the spring breeze rustling through the tall trees, hear the birds and the sound of the water trickling... We've had such fun times there, where we've "camped" at different times in cabins and also RV's. My 12 year old told me yesterday that it is his most favorite place on earth. We are so blessed that we've been able to create memories there together, both as a family on trips alone, and in groups of 9 or more families. (In fact, it was there that we first filled out our adoption application at Thanksgiving. Last March, we imagined that we would be going back to the cabin this year with a baby girl in our arms. Isn't it funny how God works?)
Today as I looked at this picture again, I noticed something else I hadn't really focused on before: the rocks. I noticed them because of something I read this morning during my quiet time. I was in the midst of bringing some difficult things before the Lord. So many things are weighing heavily on my mind and heart. There are situations around the world and circumstances in the lives of those I love that I can't imagine how God will work out, but I know He will. There are individuals for whom I'm praying, for whom I ache so deeply and in whose lives I so earnestly want to see God glorified. I was reading something this morning that encouraged me to think about what God has done "thus far." I have a hard time doing this (in my fleshly nature), especially with certain people in mind, because I hate to hang my hat on how things are, even when things are good. Certain battles rage on in the lives of some of my loved ones, and it could go either way. Truly, God promises victory for those who trust in Him, but sometimes in this Genesis 3 world, that victory happens on the other side of eternity. Sometimes it seems I pray while holding my breath! A victorious walk with the Lord is such a day-by-day thing.
I was so glad to be directed to 1 Samuel 7:8 today. The Israelites were in the midst of a fierce battle with their ever-present foe. They asked the prophet Samuel to "not stop crying out to the Lord our God for us, that He may rescue us from the hand of the Philistines." He faithfully prayed. God's people won the battle. That battle. Afterward, Samuel took a stone and set it up not far from the battlefield, and named it "Ebenezer" which means "stone of help." I absolutely love verse 12, "Thus far the Lord helped us." Thus far. The ongoing struggle with the Philistines was hardly over. They had not conquered them forever. Their enemy had been around a long time, and would continue to be. But it was time to stop and thank God for the "thus far" victory.
And then keep praying.
Samuel knew it wasn't over forever, but that didn't keep him from publicly giving God the glory for what He had done thus far. Long after that, even generations later, God's people (who were still fighting the same enemy) could continue to look at that stone and remember the "thus far" deliverance and continue to trust God for the "what's to come." I have needed to do this, especially in the realm of mothering. So much of what we do as mothers is a work in progress, and all of it is so uncertain. All of our efforts are going toward a time that we will never see. Thankfully, God assured me through His Word this morning that it is a Phil. 1:6 work-in-progress. He started it and will see it through. But we are here for the "thus far," and can give Him glory for the fruit we do see, while praying for the bigger picture. I took time this morning to visualize every difficult situation that weighs so heavily on my heart, and to really see the people for whom I am praying. Across each scenario in my mind's eye, I mentally stamped the words "Do not stop crying out to the Lord our God for us..." I was convicted this morning that I need to redouble my prayer efforts in certain areas, for certain people, thanking God for the "thus far" victories... no matter how small.
Now, when I look at the above vacation photo, I see the stones. I see them one after another in the midst of the water, a succession of "thus fars." That's what this life is, really, this walk with God...this motherhood journey. I'm so thankful I'm not walking it alone!