Graze: To feed on growing grasses.

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.

-Ps. 23:1-6

Growing up on a farm, I used to watch the cows, sheep & horses graze in the pasture. Each morning we would open the gate to the barnyard and they knew there was freedom from that small pen they were in. They also knew there was nice green grass beyond the barnyard. Once the gate was open, look out because those animals wanted to get where the tall, green grass grew – the pasture! They would take off sometimes even running up the old fenced lane that went up over the hill through the cornfield to the lush green pasture on the other side of the farm. There they would graze for a while then lay down and rest for a while then graze some more. They did this all day long. Come evening we would go over to the pasture’s edge and call the cows – 'come boss, 'come boss. They would gather at the pasture gate. Sometimes we would have to go round up a few stragglers and when all were accounted for, we’d open the lane gate and back over the hill they would go to the barnyard for the night. The next morning was the same routine, day after day.
What a life, huh?!

Oh that we could just graze and rest in shady green pastures all day long! But we can rest and graze in God’s green pastures and restore our souls . . . The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. (Ps. 23:1) I believe God wants us to slow down and “rest” and “graze” and “feed” on His Word. Life throws so many things our way and we are so busy – busy doing good things. But are we running on empty a good share of the time? Are we feeling stretched to extreme? Are we content with who we are in God’s divine providence? Slow down and take some time to just leisurely graze, rest a while, then graze and feed on the good things God has provided for you. Graze, rest, and enjoy the “shady green pastures” of God’s abundant love, grace, and mercy.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christ Birth is Bridge for the Broken

It is so easy to look out across a group of people scanning the crowd to see all, smiles and happy faces laughing and carrying on with not a care in the world.  And isn't that great when life is like that?  Sometimes as I observe, I wonder what is behind that smile, if I were to really know. I know - not my business, right? But I still look and watch people and sometimes wonder, do they ever come down off of that mountain top they have been on for years? Do they ever admit that they are going through a tough spot? That everything isn't always GREAT!?

Sometimes there are the mountain top times and then sometimes there are the valley times when life is just plain hard.  Hard decisions, hard relationships, hard situations, hard tragedies to face, just plain hard "stuff" that bring us down off of the mountain top. Many times this hard stuff brings us to our knees with a broken spirit in total despair.

Ps.51:17, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart" . . . 

The verse before this says, "For You (God) do not desire sacrifice . . . You do not delight in burnt offerings".  God didn't need the ceremonial sacrifices - He didn't need the lambs, cows, doves sacrificed. He didn't need meat!  Remember He owns the cattle on a thousand hills.  He just didn't need it!

The commentary says "What pleases God more than sacrifices is a humble heart that looks to Him when troubles crush and penitently pleads for mercy."  God wants us to come to Him in our brokenness and give that brokenness to him with a contrite heart - a heart that isn't afraid to admit, hey I'm struggling here! I need help! Forgive me!  Forgive my lack of faith, my failure, my frustration, my fake face (always smiling)!  My ceremonial sacrifices (which God doesn't even need) that I may have put so much faith in. Those are not what He wants - He wants my heart.  My humble heart and all that comes along with it.  That is who I really am.  I am what is IN my heart.  "Where your treasure is there also is your heart" (Luke 12:34)

It is when I humble myself, forget about trying to live in this perfect body, in this perfect little house with a perfect car in the driveway, with this perfect family, in this perfect neighborhood, in this perfect church where God loves us all and . . . .   Are you getting the idea?  Life is not 100% perfect 100% of the time 24-7!!! 

But as we face up to who we are in our heart of hearts and humble ourselves unto God - that is the sacrifice He wants.  Not our possessions, positions, past achievements!  He wants us to come in humbleness and give Him our hearts and let Him flow through us out to the rest of our world.  When we drop our guard and take off the mask that we so easily slap on as we walk out the front door, then God will show us "His world".  The world He was born into on that First Christmas Day! 

When we humble oursleves and look around us, we will see those that Christ came to earth to save.  The hurting, hungry, helpless, people that may need to know that we have been there also. Have you been thru some tough times that you have never shared with anyone?  Do you see someone else going through the same situation you have already come through?  Some of us have been wounded, hurt, broken, bruised, defeated . . . the good news is that God came to heal the brokenhearted.  Remember, what pleases God more than sacrifices is a humble heart that looks to Him when troubles crush and penitently pleads for mercy.  We can then, through God's abundant grace and mercy be healed and restored. It is then that we can turn around and be Jesus to those we meet every day at school, at the store, at the gas station, wherever God leads us. My daughter posted this quote on her blog (The Rustic Chick) and it really spoke to my heart.

Sheila Walsh said, "Our brokenness is a better bridge to others than our pretend wholeness will ever be." 

Through our brokenness we are able to reach so many other people that are going through some of the same brokenness we have gone through if we will stop and look around. We can pretend we are whole - holy and performing the ceremonial sacrifices (you know the ones that God didn't really need cuz He owns it all anyway!!) and we can say we are fine whenever we are asked and keep up the smiles, laughter and false pretense. But God knows if we have given Him our contrite heart and our bokenness.  He knows our story, where we have been.  And He knows who is out there that I can be a bridge for - who may need to know that I've been there and I understand what you are going through.  Can you be an encouragement to someone around you? Look around you during this Christmas Season.  Who and what do you see behind those smiles?  Is there someone you can reach out to, understand, and share Jesus with?  Is there someone that just needs to know that somebody else sees and understands what they are going through?  YOU could be that person!  

God, thank you for your gift to us.  The gift of Jesus, born so long ago.  Let me not forget the reason for this Christmas season as I celebrate!  The sacrifice of all sacrifices sent to us as a Babe in the manger.  I praise Your Name, Jesus, Name above ALL Names!  Now, help me to see this world that You came to earth to live and die for - through Your eyes. Open my eyes to see the brokenness and hurt that You came to heal.  Let me through my own brokenness be a bridge for others to cross that they may come to You in their own brokenness and give their heart to You and accept the greatest Christmas Gift ever!  In Your blessed Name - Jesus.

"Our brokenness is a better bridge to others than our pretend
wholeness will ever be." -Sheila Walsh

Bridge that first Christmas so long ago to this present time and place where you are right now - today!   
Drop your guard, remove your mask and be that bridge for others!
Merry Christmas to each of you! 

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