Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Breakthrough, Part 2 or Wide-Open Spaces

One of my favorite songs as a single, young woman was "Wide Open Spaces" by the Dixie Chicks.  I love that group and personally think their politics shouldn't have brought them to a halt, because if all loud-mouths lost their careers, I'd be in big trouble.  But I digress. 

I discovered last year I still love the Dixie Chicks, even as an older, married Mom.  I often had them playing while I was cooking dinner in Italy.  (Here, we have English-speaking TV, so I'm back to watching the news or the Food Network).

That song meant so much to me because it was my life at the time.  I had lots of room, to run, to learn, to grow and especially, as Natalie Maines croons in the song,

Room to make a big mistake.

Mistakes are encouraged, or they should be, when you are young.  I remembered that last week when I was on the phone with a sweet young woman whose life I'm in awe of because she is remarkable in her faith.  She is at that point in her life - she can afford big mistakes.  She can grow and learn unfettered by responsibility and expectations.  Or so I told her because from my perspective, while I still have much to learn and some room to grow, my life has a center and she is in pursuit of hers.

What a WONDERFUL place to be in!!

I will admit, I'm a little envious.  I like to live vicariously through her because having a center means that, in many joyful ways, I am tied down.  I have a husband and kids who need me and that means I can't do what I want/when I want (at least all the time.)  I'd like to think I'm them-focused rather than me-focused.  Both seasons are good, unless you go off the edge of the cliff and pay no attention to how that affects others.

That's why, when God puts us in a wide-open space, we need to take advantage of it.  When He puts us in a season where anything is possible, where circumstances are consistently moving us out of our comfort zones, further and further away from what is comfortable or our innate abilities, we need to recognize we are there to learn.

And to make mistakes.

I was reading in Genesis the other day, fast-becoming one of my favorite books of the Bible.  Chock-full it is.  I have given up my Bible-in-a-year goal, after 5 failed attempts, and am now trying to read it in 90 days, from The Message translation.  It is both my Lenten-preparation and sacrifice as it will carry me through Easter.  Here's hoping I make it through, but again, I digress.

I came across something I'd never noticed before in Isaac's story.  You can find it in Genesis 26:19-25.  Isaac is in the middle of some business/financial disputes (as water was the currency back then) with his Canaanite neighbors; they were threatened by his enormous success.

(Success is a good thing - sometimes the Lord takes us by way of the clouds, not just the mud).

Well, Isaac is being forced farther and farther out.  He and his guys keep digging wells and losing them.  Finally, they come to Rehoboth or Rechovot in Hebrew.  I looked it up to make sure Eugene Peterson's translated meaning of that name was, well, kosher - and yep, he was right.  The English translated name of Rehoboth is:


Verse 22 calls it like it is: 'Because now ADONAI has made room for us, and we will be productive in the land.'

Right after reaching this wide-open space, God appeared to Isaac in person.  The Lord re-iterates the promise He made to Isaac's father Abraham, to bless him and grow him into a great nation.  I don't want you to miss the significance of this encounter, so I'm going to risk repeating myself.

It was only when Isaac was forced out of his comfortable place, when he was pushed out away from what he knew that he found the blessing and presence of the Lord.  He became productive when He moved into the space God had for him to fill.

God can enter your circumstances at any time and place, nothing holds Him back.  But there is something about hardship, about challenge that forces us to stop relying on ourselves and be open for an encounter with Him.  I wrote last week about breakthroughs, not breaking points, and this is along the same vein - we get pushed and prodded and uncomfortable (maybe even desperate) - THEN WE DISCOVER GOD (AND HIS BLESSINGS) ALREADY THERE.

He isn't punishing us.  He is moving us.  He is getting us to a place where He has room to work with and teach us.  We will have room to make mistakes and grow.  He is breaking you through yourself to make more room for Himself.

I'll leave you with a picture I took up on a hill while we lived in Italy.  It is the cover photo on my Facebook page, but it is a perfect visual for this topic.  It was a beautiful day, with some spotty showers in the east towards our house.  Off in the distance, right there for the taking - was God's Promise displayed in a rainbow.  I had to capture the moment.

It is a striking reminder where you or someone you know might be.  There might be rain, but you also might be in the middle of some wide-open beautiful space.  Be open to the growth God is waiting to show you.  Mistakes are good - even encouraged because His grace covers so much!!  And you can depend on Him because His Promise is ready for the taking, and He never goes back on His Promises.

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