Sunday, May 27, 2012

Blessed Assurance

There are moments in life that impact us so deeply we couldn't shake them if we tried. They are the very moments that compose our stories and shape us in profound ways. Some of these moments are beautiful and sweet, some are painful and biting, some are full of sentiment and simply evocative, some seem to have elements of all of the aforementioned. It seems like these moments, whether easy or hard to walk through, are evidence of God's work in life.

Earlier in the week I had a friend text me about how thankful she was for the blessed assurance she had in Christ during difficult times in her life. The phrase "blessed assurance" creates a seemingly, instant chain reaction in my mind. "Blessed Assurance" is not a mere phrase, but a hymn and not just any hymn to me. It is the hymn that for ten years has induced very real tears whenever I have heard it or tried to sing it.

When I was in seventh grade, my grandpa's health declined rapidly. He was becoming senile and started to neglect his Type 2 Diabetes. The three of us kids came home from school to find that our parents had rushed to Phoenix to see grandpa who had been placed in hospice care. We got a call later that evening that grandpa had gone home to Jesus, while grandma and his kids encircled him in prayer.

Grandpa 'Skip' was my first grandparent to pass away and his memorial service was the first time that I ever saw my older cousins cry. The whole family came together, all six of the Williams' kids were there. They shared different things about their father, and as the guests were able to share about my grandpa's life it was clear that God had used him to impact people with the gospel. As the service ended, my dad and his five siblings made their way to the front of the sanctuary; there, they sang the hymn "Blessed Assurance."

  1. Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
    Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
    Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
    Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
    • This is my story, this is my song,
      Praising my Savior all the day long;
      This is my story, this is my song,
      Praising my Savior all the day long.
  2. Perfect submission, perfect delight,
    Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
    Angels, descending, bring from above
    Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.
      • This is my story, this is my song,
        Praising my Savior all the day long;
        This is my story, this is my song,
        Praising my Savior all the day long.
  3. Perfect submission, all is at rest,
    I in my Savior am happy and blest,
    Watching and waiting, looking above,
    Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.
      • This was dad's story, this was dad's song,
        Praising his Savior all the day long;
        This was dad's story, this was dad's song,
        Praising his Savior all the day long.

On the last time through, in their beautiful voices, they rejoiced that this was their dad's story and this was dad's song. He praised his Savior all the day long. 

What a blessed assurance we had that day, and this day too, one day we will all be joined with our beautiful Savior. Oh even now we watch and wait, we look above, expecting and longing for our great Love! I doubt I will ever hear this song and not think back to this moment. Today as we sang this hymn in worship, I sang with a thankful heart for the truths I was proclaiming, and for the spiritual heritage that my grandpa left his six children, his grandchildren, and the many people who were gathered in attendance that day to celebrate his life.

Thank You, Lord, for the blessed assurance that we have in You. Thank You that as we live in the gospel, we live out of Your story and it becomes our own. Thank You for Your faithfulness through all generations! You are from everlasting to everlasting! May I be a woman who praises my Savior all the day long! I love you, Lord!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Fix my eyes

I am so thankful and excited about so many things in my life. We're on the cusp, I tell you! But I also feel dreadful and have questions without answers.

How does it happen? How do we plan and trust? How do we hope and hold our desires with an open hand? Surely, I don't know perfectly, but I will try to hope wholeheartedly. I will look to my sweet Savior; for the joy of my heart is the Maker of heaven and earth.

O Lord, my heart so desires to be freed from the cares of this earth, from the things that make life hard, the things that make me tired. Lord, help me! 

Lord, I am surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses who have gone before me! I want to throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and run! Run with perseverance this race marked out before me. I look to you Jesus, my eyes are fixed upon You, for to You I am running. You are the Author and Perfecter of my faith, in joy You endured the cross, scorning its shame and have sat down at the right hand of our Father. I consider You, for You willfully endured opposition and hate from Your rebellious creation. Lord, may I consider You -Your humility, Your love, Your sacrifice and submission to the Father's will-and not grow weary and lose heart. Rather, would I consider You and have my vision and heart refreshed. 

Thank You for being my Father and for disciplining me in love. Thank You that we can come to You. O Lord, strengthen my feeble arms and weak knees. In You, we have level paths for our feet, O that we may be healed and run after You!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

I don't understand

I don't understand soul patches...

There are plenty of things I don't understand, but soul patches are really bothering me tonight. So dear reader, I share this with you. I'm not saying that they're all bad, I just don't understand them. I never look at someone's clean shaven face (or bearded face) and think, "You know what would really enhance that? A soul patch!"

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Today is my cousin Christopher's 17th birthday! It is crazy how time flies. I remember being in the third grade and getting to miss school to go with my mom to meet my new cousin. It was one of the highlights of my childhood. He was one of the first babies that I ever cared for and babysat. Today he is a good foot taller than me and I am ever blessed by the young man that is growing in godliness before me. Last night I got to take him out to dinner and celebrate--it was such a sweet, fun time.

Over the course of the year I have had so many rich conversations with him about God, homework, ministry, dating and other things. He has asked me great questions. He has encouraged me with his kind words and heart. He has also asked me to make him a list of Bible verses to memorize. :)

I have loved getting to spend so much time with my two cousins this year. They are like extra little brothers. I love extra little brothers! I also need extra little brothers to eat my baked goods. I look forward to celebrating the other one's birthday next month.

Lord, thank You for Christopher's life and for his desire to honor You in all aspects of his life. I thank You for his integrity and pray that You would continue to grow him in Your truth and righteousness. I thank You for his friendship and for the ways I see you at work in his life. Thank You for allowing me to have an influence on him this year and for the lively conversations we have had. Lord, give him a heart of understanding for those around him and teach him to love and serve others, even as You did. May he be an oak of righteousness for the display of Your splendor. May he act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with You, O God. Use him in mighty ways to advance Your gospel and kingdom into the nations. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

We are the Family of God

In Tucson, our church building was a ranch house that had been converted. It was on a grapefruit orchard, surrounded by prickly pear and cholla. 'Twas perfect for epic games of hide n' seek, but the best part was that there was a wonderful swimming pool, complete with a Jacuzzi and diving board. I, in fact, learned to swim during a YMCA class in that pool, and a couple years later was baptized in it on an April morn in freezing water! In the summers we would have BBQ's in the back yard and swim. As the sun would set and the fruit bats would swoop over head, we would gather together with fully bellies and wet hair. We would pray, read the Good Book and sing songs that my dad played on his folk guitar.

As I think back, I am thankful for the memories, thankful for the truths that were so long ago imparted, thankful for the song lyrics that even now rise out of my heart, and thankful for the family of God.

I walked into my apartment with a full heart tonight. The first verse and chorus to a song that I learned on that patio came to mind. I've included the rest of the verses for ya.

Go make disciples of all men;
Go tell them my way is true.
Tell them the wonderful story
That they may be one in me, too.

We are the family of God,
Yes, we are the family of God;
And He's brought us together
To be one in Him
That we might bring life to the world.

Let them know life in the making.
Let them know peace from above.
Show them by your own example
Of love in the family of God.

We are the family of God,
Yes, we are the family of God;
And He's brought us together
To be one in Him
That we might bring life to the world.

Bigger and better is my love
That I have bestowed unto you.
And now it's for each one to share of,
That all things might now become new.

We are the family of God,
Yes, we are the family of God;
And He's brought us together
To be one in Him
That we might bring life to the world.

By Jon Byron 1976

Mom and Dad: I love you! Thank you for your faithfulness and realness. Thank you for passing on truths to me, that I so frequently find myself passing on to others. Thank you for living your faith before me so tangibly, for loving God and others, and for showing me love in the family of God.

O Lord, You alone are my Lord. You alone are worthy of our worship. How great You are! What grace is this that You bestow on us love and call us family! My heart rejoices that You created us in Your image and that You have sent Your Son to restore our relationship with You. You are so good to us. Lord, my heart longs for others to know You, even as I know You. Lord, use us for Your glory. May we run in the path of Your commands, for You have set our hearts free! I love You. You are my God, I seek You in earnest. My body longs for You, and how my soul does thirst! You give life, and make streams of abundance flow in the desert. Maranatha!