hunger deeply

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Come quickly—
The Savior stands ready, forgiving

Drink freely—
His water is yours without cost

Rest abundantly—
In His peace, to the world, unknown

Love unreservedly—
For He, the Savior, loved us first

Abide safely—
Shadowed beneath the Almighty

Seek fervently—
He has promised a reward lies ahead

Hunger deeply—
In Him your soul shall be fully satisfied

a reflection on living

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Sophie Scholl was an ordinary girl: she grew up in a normal family, got an education, struggled to make sense of a torn-up world, and nurtured hopes and dreams in her heart. But there was more to her story. In the early 1940’s, she became a part of the White Rose, an anti-Nazi activist group that her older brother had co-founded. He had been insistent that she not know about the work, but once in confidence of the knowledge she was insistent that she would join.

The Nazis were baffled, angered, and intent on abolishing this “huge” undercover organization that was massively infiltrating Germany. They were oblivious to the handful of twenty-somethings right beneath their noses who were covertly responsible for the whole resistance themselves.

That was until on February 18, 1943 when discovery and arrest put an end to the secret operation. The executions that took place on February 22, 1943 put an end to her life. The legacy Sophie’s twenty-one years was one of heartfelt sacrifice and courageous dedication to principle.

“How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause? Such a fine, sunny day, and I have to go, but what does my death matter, if through us, thousands of people are awakened and stirred to action?”
-Sophie Scholl

*     *     *     *     *

Tragic stories of courage and unflinching dedication are heart-wrenching and incredibly inspiring. Heroes, as we think of them, appear to live in a world far beyond the scope of our own three meals a day, our struggle to get up with the alarm clock, our hours of work or home responsibilities, and our coffee with friends. And so, I sometimes wonder what it is that turns ordinary people into the stories of sacrifice and courage.

*     *     *     *     *

Before Sophie risked her life and died for it, she wrote these meaningful words in her journal:

“I want to share the sufferings of these days.
Sympathy becomes hollow if one feels no pain.”

-Sophie Scholl

It’s easy to wonder what situations and emotions I can share in suffering as if the opportunities are limited. I forget too easily that we live in a world that is bearing up under the curse of sin; even creation is groaning for the day of redemption. Some eras of history are perhaps more difficult or horrific than others, but every day is filled with people’s who heartache and pain is too difficult for them to bear alone.

With my church family this week, we were challenged to intentionally take the opportunities God has given us to share the joys and sorrows of others, in imitation of the way Jesus lives. Jesus did not shrink from pain. He didn’t shrink from understanding it, from interacting with people who were experiencing it, or from bearing it Himself.

Whatever life may hold, there is incredible value in being a person who will share in sufferings with others. God calls us to it–that very fact alone ought to be tremendous motivation.

“Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.” 
-Galatians 6:2

*     *     *     *     *

Do you see a connection between that journal entry and the way Sophie’s life ended when she was only twenty-one? That simple journal entry is the mindset of sacrifice and courage which ultimately exemplified itself in a huge way at the end of her life. In Sophie’s story we can glimpse again that big things start with a humble heart attitude. While we are tempted to want to do the brilliant things, we are most wise to seek out the selfless things.

Through compassion and humility, we are available for the Lord’s work–in imitation of Christ.

mindful of GOD

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I’ve spent a quiet morning gearing up for another busy week. It’s looking to be a week full of really good things- dear friends visiting, time with the church, fellowship over Scripture memory. And it will be busy.

This morning, I needed quiet to focus on the Lord. The Word has a lot to say about today, but it doesn’t really differentiate whether today will be busy or not. There are certain things that must remain staples through every season: hungering for the Lord, awaiting the day of Christ, taking care to encourage, and resist the devil. These are the things that really matter. All the other busyness that fills my days- those are the circumstances God thought were most perfect to help me learn “to live is Christ.”

How will I hunger and thirst for God, in what the psalmist calls a “dry and weary land”? It won’t happen by forgetting about Him through all the busyness. It’s seeking the Lord whole-heartedly again and again that will keep our hunger alive and growing. David Brainerd wrote words we could long to claim as our own: “Of late God has been pleased to keep my soul hungry, almost continually, so that I’ve been filled with a kind of pleasing pain. When I really enjoy God, I feel my desires of Him the more insatiable and my thirsting after holiness more unquenchable.” 

My life will not be characterized by “to live is Christ” if I am not mindful of the Lord through the busy days. I pray God will give us hearts that are mindful of God, are open wide to God, are longing for God. That is a heart God will satisfy with His goodness.

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” -Colossians 3:1-4

this ordinary day

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I wrote about it recently- the fact that our everyday living is the thing that propels us forward. As I’ve discussed it with others, I’ve found this idea resonates in a bigger way than I had expected. So many people need to feel the same need to make sense of ordinary repetition.

   *     *     *     *

I have a habit of placing the calendar date in the page margin of literature that especially speaks to me. It can be any kind of writing- Scripture, devotionals, fiction and non-fiction. After underlining or starring the passage, I simply write the date in the margin. Rarely, if ever, do I comment on the passage or my thought-process involved in noting it. Only the date- it helps me keep track of significant thoughts for the future, and perhaps helps call back the time-frame in which I particularly benefited from the idea.

Earlier this month, I looked up at my calendar and dated a verse in my Bible. “2.3.2017.” It was a random, uneventful Friday afternoon, but the thought process felt funny:

This Friday is no longer ordinary. Years from now someone might look back and wonder about the significance of the day. To me, it is only Friday afternoon. It is a special sort of ordinary. 

*     *     *     *

Of course, our longing is that today would not only be another day but a worthwhile day, or even a day of eternal significance. It will be. Live today well. Not so that it will live down in history, but because it will live down in the historical record managed by Your God. Live today well because because today matters. Today is the day to love truth. Today is the day to uphold God as supremely significant. Today is the day to love and encourage and serve. Today is the day to give up everything to gain Christ.

*     *     *     *

I long to see what God will do through today’s. Who will we serve? How will a Scripture passage dramatically impact the future of our lives?  Which souls will we see saved? Which prayers will we pray that we will one day know have been answered?

All of those huge blessings will take place during repetitious “today’s” where God’s children believed their Father and walked faithfully in obedience.

Today. This ordinary day matters.

again & again

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The world is a repetitive place. Life moves along in days, seasons, and years. Each day we get up, eat three meals, and go to bed again only to repeat it tomorrow. King Solomon recognized this: “The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises. The wind blows to the south and goes around to the north; around and around goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns. All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again.”  (Ecclesiastes 1:5-7)

At times it feels like we’re getting nowhere. Am I the only one who sometimes delays going to bed because that means everything will be undone again when I get up in the morning? Solomon called it all “Vanity of vanities.”

Naturally we are tempted to wish that life wasn’t all repetition. It sounds more inviting to have big events frequently, with only a little repetition thrown in to keep from getting overwhelmed. God had a different plan. The physical realm repeats itself as an indicator of the Spiritual.

But how do we run a race of life and not burn out: when we can never see the end, when it’s constantly repeating, when it feels as if we are continually set back where we started? We cannot strain ahead and know the completion. Only God is aware of our time-table. We may fear burnout but still must pour all energy into the here and now.

Rather than set us back, the repetition of life is what moves us forward. We must repeat godliness over and over until we die: then we will know that we have finished the race well, by God’s grace. 

God is working on my heart, teaching me to accept that small, daily faithfulness is what is truly important. It is the continual repetition that proves where a heart is at. The repetition of sin proves a heart enslaved to sin. The repetition of righteous proves a heart in love with God. If we give up after one try, we’ll find ourselves right back where we thought we had left. If we keep going, continually repeating what we already thought was done, we will find our hearts in a better place. Everyone wants final completion while what we need is continuing faithfulness. 

How long will the repetition last? It is impossible to say. So we strain ahead to the next moment and do it all again. It it eternity before our eyes and in our hearts.

“To those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.”
-Romans 2:7

Are we discouraged because life feels like “again and again and again”? Keep doing it faithfully. Keep doing it for the Lord. Keep doing it again. We can’t look at the big picture unless we look at the next step, and eventually the next step will take us into eternity.

perfectly compiled life

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Social media is the perfect place to find perfect looking lives. Sometimes it feels like every Instagram account records the life of an adventurer, heart filled with beautiful dreams while inhabiting the coziest coffee shops around. It can be hard not to look at social media sometimes without wanting a life like that. 

What if you had everything in your life going for you? Everything you owned assisted you in living the life you dream of. The people in your life always encouraged you, and your circumstances were particularly perfect for advancing you towards your goals. It would be as if having a trouble wasn’t possible. The perfectly compiled life. 

That’s where the world markets ambition to achieve our dreams: Get a job like this.  Go to these places. Buy…well, everything. Be this way, and do that.

Ambition is not the answer. The Apostle Paul actually took a different route, choosing contentment. We don’t need the same sort of ambition as the world, because God actually creates perfectly compiled lives for His children.

There is a paradox in the Christian life: We are following a King of whom the world is not worthy. This directly implies hardship from a daily cross. Simultaneously, we are gifted with perfectly compiled lives, made beautiful by God.

This paradox means that the way God compiles beautiful lives doesn’t necessarily look just like the perfect social media-lives. What kind of beautiful lives does God compile? They might include disappointed dreams, illness, broken relationships, difficult circumstances; those things hardly sound like part of a beautiful life.

One simple truth transforms everything: The God who did not spare His own Son for our sake will not withhold anything good from us. All things work together for good to those who love God. Lose the cliché in that, and get the incredible depth. God has designed every step of your life for good. It is as if every single thing in your life is hand selected to point you toward your deepest dream.

Here we have a new year, and who knows what it might be filled with? Perhaps picture perfect scenes, adventures, and good coffee. (Those are all lovely, legitimate things.)  Perhaps things we wish we could forget, times that will be retold with tears. Perhaps both the good and the hard. Either way, these things in 2017 will be perfectly compiled, all the things we need.

everybody’s busy

There’s one word that seems to pretty much describe almost anyone I talk with.

Busy.

Ask people how they’re doing, and they’ll probably tell you they’re busy. Or, if someone asks me first, I’ll take the honor of saying it to them instead.

face-701526_960_720If, however, you want the details of my busy, not just the bare-bones acknowledgment of it, I’d be much less likely to have an answer for you. Somehow the thoughtful question,”How are you?” has turned into meaning simply, “What has been happening?”

It seems busyness is an undeniable part of the lives that we live in America. But that doesn’t mean that any of us have to be overcome by busyness. Let’s not grumble because we hate being so busy, or just give in because we can’t seem to change things. There’s a better way to approach a busy life.

Overcome the busy epidemic by being thoughtfully busy about the things that matter. We don’t have to do what everyone else does “just because.” And busy won’t be so intimidating if we care about what we’re doing, and fill our time with things that matter.

Pursue deeper relationships with the people close to you by answering something other than “busy” when they inquire how you’re doing. Are you frazzled by all the busy? Do you feel invigorated by all that’s been going on? Go ahead and say so! There is a better answer than “busy” when someone inquires how you are doing.

Stop and think about all the things that are easily forgotten in God’s beautiful world. The person standing in line ahead of us in the grocery store (yes, I mean even the one holding up the line)–that person right there has a whole life that we don’t know anything about. But they love someone (hopefully!) and something matters to them deep in their heart, and they cry about something when they’re all alone (unless maybe they’ve been through so much hurt that they have forgotten how to cry). If you knew their story, you might cry, too.

And remember that grass grows up green out of little seeds buried in dirt, and somehow it pokes its tiny head up into the world, aiming straight for the sky because God told it to do that.

God didn’t make all this just so we could trample it down in order do all the things we have planned. Consider, feel–even enjoy–because God made a world and called it good.

Bless God no matter what circumstances hold. Sometimes the seasons of life and busyness are beautiful and sometimes they bring weariness we don’t want to face. No matter what we face, we should learn to look to the sky and bless God for it from our hearts. Busyness comes as a God appointed circumstance, meant to grow and refine us, not eat us up and dictate our lives.

Today even busyness can be beautiful.

 

if we talked

i think i want to talk
to you
‘cause you’re different
in a good way
you like stuff i don’t
you go places i don’t
you know things i don’t
you tell stories i don’t
you feel emotions
and i do too
if we talked
you could tell me
about you
if you told me what you love
why you’re sad
what makes you smile to yourself
who you miss
i would listen
we could learn
how similar we are
and different
maybe we could be friends
maybe
if we talked

a time for everything

I’ve got what feels like at least a hundred things stacked up on my to-do list.  There’s homework from my college classes to be completed before the fast approaching due dates. Housework catches my attention whenever I walk out of my room. I’ve got to stay on top of my writing every single day if I want to make my goal for the month. Leaves to rake, pumpkins to harvest, laundry to iron. You know those days where there’s so much to do that you cant even figure out where to start?

And then there’s little people knocking on my door.

“Amy, will you read to us?”

“Amy will you play with us?”

I sit down on the floor and take them in my lap.

“Do you know what it’s like to be a big person?” I ask.

They shake their heads. “No, but maybe one day we will.”

“When you’re a big person, you have so much to do…” I try to explain the to-do list.

“But do you really have to do all of that?”

“Well, yes.”

It’s time to send them away and get back to work.

But instead we read a book.  The seven year old sounds out the words. The four year old points out the pictures.  We give each other hugs. And laugh.

Long as the to-do list is, it will always wait for me.  Soon, the little people will be big people, though. No waiting around until my never ending to-do list is completed. We’ve got to play and laugh and read together while we have a chance. <3

changing

try
holding it all together
while
something’s happening,
changing.

still
clutching on to what i can,
asking,
can i keep it from
changing?

why
can’t it always be the same
rather
than all this constant
changing?

look
past the surface for, maybe,
deeper,
certain things are worth
changing.

see
something more than fear and find
meaning
in the midst of the
changing.

now
understanding comes, and i
embrace
the truth that i am
changing.

growing.

© 2013 amy nicole