Water from a Deep Well

I really started knowing God for real my freshmen year at Cal Poly, back in 1996. I had attended church before that, but had no relationship with Him. Since then, I have loved drawing near to Him, worshipping, serving, reading His Word and learning.

I have been given the opportunity to take that knowledge of God to a different level than has been possible before, through beginning a M.Div program through Western Seminary (being able to attend seminary is one of the reasons we have moved to California).  This summer, I got to take introduction to Biblical Interpretation as well as a class called Learning to Love God and Others, which is an introductory class in Spiritual Formation (how we become more like Jesus). Both classes have been great, and deepened my desire to study more what it means to know God and make him known.

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Reading and applying and speaking the Bible accurately is a passion of mine. We do not know God except what He has revealed to us, and that revelation is most clear and accurate as found in His Word, the Bible. I believe that it is in knowing God that all of our human desires are met at their deepest levels. I read verses like Jeremiah 2:12-13 

“[12] Be appalled, O heavens, at this;
be shocked, be utterly desolate,
declares the LORD,
[13] for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

and wonder, how has God made himself to be this fountain of living waters? What does it mean to hew out cisterns for ourselves. I love the imagery of the poetry found here, and it speaks to my soul, inviting me to draw near.

I hear Jesus’ offer, “[37] On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. [38] Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:37-38). I interpret this to mean that God DOES have fullness for us found in Christ. I want that fullness, and I ask, where is it found? In Jesus Himself.

That is much of why I loved my Biblical Interpretation class. It was academic for sure, but for the purpose of hearing the promises of God in the Bible clearly and accurately.

The second class I took, Learning to Love God and Others, was FANTASTIC and what I believe I want to focus on more and more and more in life, how to move from a broken sinner, far from God in the experience of every day life, and moving towards someone who is mature in their faith, knowing what to do with your brokenness in light of the grace of God as seen in the cross.

We looked at how Christians have thought about spiritual formation and knowledge of God throughout church history. It was great and I want to study it more and more. We read 2 books that I want to HIGHLY recommend: Water from a Deep Well by Sitser and Christ Formed in You by Brian Hedges. I also recommend Practicing Affirmation by Sam Crabtree. The Christ Formed in You will probably form much of my discipleship with believers after they have gone through initial follow-up courses. It’s absolutely great!

I’m simply writing this to say, thank you to all who support us, who know us, who pray for us. I don’t know where a seminary degree will lead us, but I’m thankful for the opportunity to use the mind and heart God has given me, to be trained up in theology and practice of ministry, and to learn more about the God who made us.

PS. I’m taking Theology I this semester, I’ll let you know how it goes.

 

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Leaning into the Lord

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah (Psalm 62:5-8 ESV)

I am so thankful that God is my strength and my hope. No matter what I face, I have a refuge—security, hope, love. I love that I can lean in to him, and I will not fall because He is so strong and powerful. Yet He still personally knows and loves me such that I can “pour out my heart” before him. Amazing!

Now, I am not talking about the kind of “Lean in” described by Sheryl Sandberg and others—this is not about any social agenda or about placing my identity in something I control or can accomplish. In fact, I like to avoid the posturing that goes along with the dispute between “stay at home” and “working” moms, and I seek to support my friends, who all face varied challenges and stresses.

I do think, however, that leaning into the Lord is related to “leaning in” in other relational contexts. We absolutely need community, and should accept and embrace the support and help others can give. I have noticed this to be true particularly in the foster parent community we are getting to know here in Yolo County, CA, as we re-license for foster care here. It is a beautiful thing to admit our need for support and help and to find it in like-minded people. It has been great to jump right in and get to know people in this community right after moving to Davis. We are also in the process of deciding what church community here we want to plug into. It is a big decision, because a church family is important, helping one another pursue Christ and serving one another in love.

Yet God is the only one who can handle the full weight of our lives—nothing surprises him/nothing is too big for him/nothing is outside of the realm of his grace and mercy. In many things related to transitioning, I find that I occasionally hit that point where I lack the energy to keep pushing forward, and can feel tired and overwhelmed. Not depressed or wanting to give up, but just missing the known and simple things that come when you have been in a community for a while. When I feel like that, I am glad God is sovereign and that He is my refuge. Knowing that enables me to relax and enjoy the fun that is going on right now around me—the kids jumping in the sprinklers when they come on to water the grass at night; the laughter at Pippin jumping on a grasshopper and batting it around; the conversations with a UC Davis student that our kids already love; a good connection with a neighbor whose kids are close to my kids’ age; watching our kids play with their cousins; getting to know a believer in the Foster care classes who grew up half a world away, and is sharing about her culture and her faith.

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God is good, and I will have the strength to face each challenge that comes, because I have a refuge. So whatever happens with the next foster child we care for, whatever energy and time it takes to do the increasing amounts of legal work for Cru that is coming up for me this fall, whatever ministry challenges and joys arise as we serve with our new staff team, whatever studying for seminary classes entails for Jeremiah… We have a refuge. I shall not be shaken. I will worship the Lord!

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