Total Eclipse of the Heart

In looking forward to the solar eclipse tomorrow, I began praying for what lesson the Lord would have me to learn from this physical phenomenon.  Here it is:  God wants my whole heart.

Living in the Memphis area, I found out online that I could stay home and experience a 93% eclipse and I thought, “Great!  93% is awesome!  Why would I drive 3 ½ hours to get a total eclipse?  That is not worth the trouble!”

Well, read what Dan, an eclipse chaser, had to share on the Eclipse 2017 website in response to a woman who wanted to know if it was worth driving to get to totality, rather than staying at the 98%:

“I know you are not wanting to do the move, but there’s really no way I can in good conscience tell you that the experience of a 98% partial eclipse will be remotely comparable to being in the path. Seeing the corona, experiencing that last second extinguishing of the light, seeing stars in the middle of the day, and the overall impression of totality, are not things that it is possible to describe.

If you see a 98% partial eclipse, then the maximum coverage the Sun will get is about the same as what someone in the path will see about 2 minutes before totality. The crescent won’t shrink, you won’t see Baily’s Beads, it won’t get really really dark. The best I could say is that you will get a feeling of some eerieness of the light, and the temperature may drop a couple of degrees. Your shadows on the ground will get a bit sharper. The real thrill of a total eclipse, outside of totality itself, is those last 5-10 seconds when the Sun completely disappears. People literally lose it when they experience that, and that experience will not be yours even 5 miles outside the path. 98% sounds like a lot, but it’s kind of like being at a restaurant – if you’re just outside the door, it SMELLS really good… but only the folks INSIDE are actually eating. …

Totality is awe-inspiring – literally the most wonderful thing your eyes can see. I know it sounds like evangelizing, and I can’t make the decision for you, but I will tell you that if you go (and the weather is good), you will not in any way be disappointed.”

As a follower of Jesus Christ, I fear that I’m too often content with giving Jesus my 93%, or my 98%.  It is not worth the trouble, the loss of comfort, to give Him my all.  It reminds me of a song my kids learned when they were little that goes like this: “Do you have a whole heart, a half heart or no heart at all, to give to the King when you hear him call?”

If God is not Lord of ALL, He is not Lord AT all.

He doesn’t want to be one of many gods. He will not share His glory with another.  He wants it all and He deserves it all.

He wants my whole heart.  He wants to have full, total, preeminent significance, power and prominence in my life (type in “eclipse definition” in Google and check out the definition of eclipse).

He wants to eclipse my whole life.

Which reminds me of our ONE THING women’s retreat coming up September 22-23.  I’d love you to come!  Click here for more information.

TWIG

Love more than sacrifice

There are too numerous things to count that I’ve learned about God specifically through being a mom. One of the most breathtaking is the idea that God desires love more than sacrifice, and the knowledge of Him more than burnt offerings (Hosea 6:6).

 

I have trained my children to obey me. Ever since they could speak (or in my youngest son Daniel’s case, before they could speak), I have taught obedience as rule #1 in the Endraske house. The first Bible verse my kids learned was “Obey your parents in the Lord for this is right, Ephesians 6:1.” I taught them to obey promptly and fully, without complaining, arguing or questioning. (I’m not saying they did this … I’m merely saying this is what I taught them.)

Now that  my two oldest are young adults, I’m finding myself in a trap here. If I ask them to run an errand for me, or do a chore around  the house, or even say have lunch with me …. I don’t want them to do this out of a sense of obedience and/or sacrifice. I want them to WANT to. I want my kids to WANT to help, to serve, to give, and I especially want them to want to be with me, to love spending time with me, to value my relationship. And I fear that in all my drilling and discipline on obedience, they missed having the opportunity to choose to demonstrate their “just because” love for me, because it was all about doing as they were told. 

So, when I was recently asked by an unbeliever why God would create mankind when He knew that some would reject Him and suffer the eternal consequences of that choice, it reminded me of my life as a mom, and how I want my kids to want me.

When my kids were younger and they’d pester me to buy them something, or take them somewhere, I’d try to explain to them how they were stealing my joy of giving them a gift, that I wanted to give to them freely, and not under compulsion, being nagged and cajoled into giving them something.

I wonder if God ever feels like that. He loves us, with His incredible love. He demonstrates His love for us in that while we were still sinners, He sent Christ to die for us.  (Romans 5:8)  He does this as a free gift by His Grace through faith and even gifts us that faith in the first place, that none of us can boast or tell Him that He’s “got to give it to us” because it’s our wages due. (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 4:4-5)  Because, in fact, our due wages is death (Romans 6:23).

God Himself is a cheerful giver, a good Father who loves to give good gifts to His children (Matthew 7:11). If He forced us to love Him, if there were no alternative BUT to love Him, I wonder if that would limit the joy that He receives from our grateful hearts full of thanksgiving to Him for the blessed gift of faith and love.

To the only Worthy One, my Savior and Redeemer and Friend.

TWIG

Sometimes you can’t understand until you’re there

Today my amazing husband turns 47 years old. Where have the years gone?

20th anniversary – 2004

As I’m aging, I’m beginning to see that though I look older on the outside (only a very, very little bit older), on the inside I’m really the same person — just a little more experienced and wiser, hopefully. (Thank You, Lord!) But as a young person I really couldn’t understand that, even if someone explained it in the simplest of terms.

There are some things you just can’t understand until you’re there. When my kids were little, I had older women tell me repeatedly to enjoy these years because children grow up so quickly. Well, I couldn’t understand. I didn’t think they were growing up quickly. I couldn’t wait for them to sleep through the night, to talk, to be potty trained, to read. And now it’s gone in a flash. Those women were right! Where did my babies go?

It’s like that when I’m trying to explain my faith walk to someone who doesn’t know God. How do I explain how real God is to me? How can I explain how scriptures jump off the page when I read them? How can I explain that I literally hear verses echoing inside my mind at just the moment when I need them? How can I explain that I hear a small, persistent voice calling to me, saying, “This is the way, walk in it”? How can I make someone see something that they can’t see? How can I explain to someone something that was once so foreign to me, too, but now is as normal as taking my next step or my next breath?

God is real. He’s real. He sees me and He knows me and He cares for me and about me. He is with me wherever I go and whatever I do. He walks with me and He talks with me. Though I cannot see Him, I know Him and He has made me His own. His love is as real to me as the air that I breathe. I wish everyone could know Him like that.  Praying.

TWIG

 

5 Lessons I’m Learning during some Major, Major Yard Reconstruction

Four years ago, the last week of July, 2013, our family moved to a beautiful home on 2 acres of land.  We were looking to escape some of the hustle bustle of the subdivision neighborhood lifestyle, and hoping to enjoy a more peaceful life with a fruitful garden and backyard chickens.

“Before”

But, as is true in most things of life, nothing is without trials.  You can read more about our experience moving in my blog post titled “A Thorn in the Flesh” here.

Over the past four years, we have battled with our yard in a myriad of ways – fighting poison ivy, ticks, yellow jackets, mice, more poison ivy, more yellow jackets, more ticks, and more mice.  This summer we finally decided that our best bet was to do a major overhaul of the backyard.  This overhaul included hiring a landscaper to remove over 2 dozen trees, along with all the weeds and shrubbery, and lay thick green sod (still a work in progress), thereby turning our backyard from a “wilderness” into a “manicured lawn with abundant large trees.”

So, I was blown away when our women’s Sunday school class this morning’s lesson was from an essay by A.W. Tozer titled “The Hunger of the Wilderness!”  Here are a few lessons I’m learning through this yard reconstruction that were reinforced during our morning discussion:

  1. That beautiful backyard that we just spent thousands of dollars to create will naturally go right back into a wild forest if we don’t diligently keep back the weeds and bramble. In the same way, our hearts and minds can be drawn back to the world if we do not keep focused on the Lord.
  2. Weeds don’t need to be watered and fertilized, but lush, green grass does. If you want your backyard to look like a golf course, you have to put in the work.  2 Timothy 2 refers to Christians living like a soldier, an athlete and a farmer.  When I reflect on what these three professions have in common, I think that they all have a prize in mind that they’re working toward and they all have to remain diligent and steadfast in their work.  Are we fixing our eyes our Jesus with eternity in view?  Is He our greatest prize?  Are we growing weary of well doing?
  3. We have to dig out the weeds from the roots, rather than just using a “weed whacker” to chop the tops off of them. In getting bids on the backyard, I kept saying that I needed the poison ivy removed, not just chopped up and spread all over the yard!  Too often we are just treating the symptoms of our sin, rather than going after the roots.  Are we just “pruning our sin,” grooming it to look prettier on the outside, without ever getting to the true heart of the problem?
  4. With time, we can grow so accustomed to our weeds, that they start to look normal, maybe even pretty. When we first saw our newly transformed yard, we actually missed all the greenery of the weeds.  How often are our hearts like that?  We choose the comfort of our sin over the beauty of righteousness.

    “After”
  5. It can take days or weeks or even months and years of neglect for the weeds to come to the surface. If we’re not keeping our hearts with all diligence (Proverbs 4:23), and abiding in the living vine of Christ (John 15), we can wake up one day shocked at sins that we thought we’d conquered years before.  When that sin keeps returning, rather than losing heart, we can be thankful that it keeps us on our knees, that in our weakness we are forced to depend all the more deeply on Christ, our advocate and redeemer … which reminds me again of that “thorn in my flesh” that I originally wrote about 4 years ago.