Susan Rodgers

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Morning Warmth

This morning it was hard to talk myself into getting out of bed. Oooo, it’s so cold in the house today! I decided to layer up, go to the kitchen, and make a mug of hot water to drink to warm my insides. I also took my hot water bottle to fill with boiling water. (It’s now on my lap, bringing me warmth as I type.)

As I was waiting for the water to boil, I sort of paced around the kitchen with my hot drink in hand. I turned on some worship music and let my mind rest on the Lord. The room was already bright, but when the sun suddenly burst over the hill in the distance, the place became brilliant. Rays filtered through the palm trees in our back yard, making the light dance over me and on the floor. “Wow, Lord, You’re beautiful.”

What has brought me more warmth than the hot water this morning is the God’s Word. My eyes fell to the index cards I’d stuck on the microwave yesterday.

2 Peter 3:9
“The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some would understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

Revelation 21:5
“He Who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then He said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’”

Genesis 18:14
“Is ANYTHING too hard for the Lord?”

This morning, though, even the comfort of His promises to me pales in comparison to the simple awesome beauty of the Lord Himself. What a wonder it is that He knows me intimately and longs for me to know Him! This Universe-Creator God loves me. That thought brings a warmth in my spirit that makes me forget any physical cold. I also forget my selfish longings and just find peace in His Presence.

The balm of the Lord’s love is the best heat source of all!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Free Fallin'

A couple days ago Ben and I celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary. We went away for the weekend, leaving the kids with Charles and Kristen who nobly volunteered to do that. (Thanks, guys!)

We went hiking and saw a bunch of waterfalls. We also went to a place where people can jump into a gorge. Yep, I did it. It was about 200 feet of a free-fall. Wow, what a thrill. I lost my breath during the descent, only waiting for the rope attached to me to tighten and pull me into a swing. Oh, it was fun. And then as I swung back and forth I could see a beautiful waterfall—one not visible from where we stood up above. The pool at the bottom looked like something out of a movie. That, too, was breathtaking.

The Lord spoke to me through this experience, shedding light on so many analogies.

One humorous moment before I stepped off the edge, the people realized they’d nearly forgotten to disconnect me from the little safety rope. That would have been a short jump with possibly some whip-lash!

And the Lord is compelling me to disconnect from things holding me back from surrendering to all He wants to do in my life. Those things are keeping me from experiencing the thrill and beauty of all God has for me. I know I must cut away from them, and I’m striving to do that, but oh how scary it is!

It’s amazing how the Lord comes at us from all different directions when He’s trying to speak something to us, isn’t it? Right now in our ladies’ Bible study we are learning about Abraham and the Lord’s covenant with him. Yesterday’s homework, in light of the Lord’s requirement of circumcision, asked the following question:

“You and I may need to ‘put off’ or even figuratively ‘cut off’ something from our lives so we may bear much fruit. Is God speaking to you? If so, use this space to write your response to Him.”

The Holy Spirit once again has my number!

I don’t want to let fear hold me back. Fear of pain. Fear of the unknown. “The just will live by faith,” keeps coming back to my mind (Hebrews 10). It takes faith to cut off that safety rope that in reality is a chain, a bondage. It takes faith to surrender completely to the Lord and step off the edge of everything we know to be secure. But then God’s grace is always there. His faithful love never fails. He WILL catch us, carry us, and let us see beauty beyond our imagination. The Lord has promised abundant life.

So, let’s do it! Let’s cut loose of all that holds us back and free-fall into the exhilarating grace of God!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

I Choose Grace

Hey, I'm being encouraged by another cool song I have just gotta post. It is by Twila Paris...not sure of the title, but it's on her True North CD. (I can't find the case.)

All alone in my own self will
Old familiar story
So determined to try
Until I fail
You’ve been waiting
As I learn again
Straining to the pressure
And You offer me a better way
Hear me pray
Hear me say

I choose grace
I choose mercy
I choose love and all it means
I choose grace
‘Cause I need the power
And I need to walk in humility

Just how often
Have I let You down
And all the hope around me
Break a gentle heart
Along with mine
You keep holding out
Your arms again
Just the way You found me
And You carry me across another line
Hear me cry
No more pride

I choose grace (that’s what You’ve given to me)
I choose mercy (that’s why I need to be free)
I choose love and all it means
I choose grace (that’s what You’ve given to me)
‘Cause I need the power (that’s why I need to be free)
And I need to walk in humility

I am growing weary
Of this foolish independence
I reach out for grace
And I will reach out
To extend it
I will reach out
I will reach out
I will reach out

I choose grace (that’s what You’ve given to me)
I choose mercy (that’s why I need to be free)
I choose love and all it means
I choose grace (that’s what You’ve given to me)
‘Cause I need the power (that’s why I need to be free)
And I need to walk in humility

Teach me to walk in humility

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Whatever You Ask

Do you know the Steve Camp song “Whatever You Ask”?

I was in junior high when it came out, yet it still has an impact on me. Over the years I’ve written the words to the song in my journal many times as a prayer to the Lord. It is a prayer of surrender.

Yet I’m learning that willingness to obey is only part of the equation. I am learning how much I try to obey the Lord’s instructions with my own strength and not His. I can be pretty strong-willed, which has enabled me to do a lot with my own fierce resolve. (Pride, pride..."me do!")

But now the Lord is allowing me to face something that my will is not strong enough to fight. The wall is too high to scale. Frustration has resulted, and finally brokenness is setting in.

And God says, “Ah, now you’re getting where I want you to be.” I know He wants me to totally rely on His strength and not my own. I’m still learning how to do that. Learning how much I don’t do that.

Romans 9:16 comes back to me yet again:
“So then, it does not rely on human will or effort, but on God Who shows mercy.”

But still, the starting place is surrender. And the next step is to keep on surrendering when the going gets tough.

Lord, I see the things
You ask of me
Faithfulness, holiness,
And purity
I love Your truth
I long to show it to the world
For You

But Lord I need Your help
To understand
The other person that
I sometimes am
I never want
To live a day
That I can’t say to You

Lord, whatever You ask
I want to obey You
To let my life beat
With a servant’s heart
Lord, whatever You ask
I know that You
Can give me wisdom
And courage
To equal the task
Whatever You ask

There's so much
That steals away
The will to take the time
To serve or pray
And there are days
I don't take up Your cross
And follow You

But I have learned
That I can talk with You
You know everything
That I'm going through
If I just ask
I find You're right there
Providing me
With the strength I need

Lord, whatever You ask
I want to obey You
To let my life beat
With a servant’s heart
Lord, whatever
You ask I know that You
Can give me wisdom
And courage
To equal the task
Whatever You ask

(by Steve Camp)

Friday, June 09, 2006


What, really truly, does it look like to surrender to God?

Yeah, yeah, I could rattle off the answers you'd hear in church. Soul search time for me, though.

So, yes, I surrendered my will to God and moved to Africa. Seems like that was step one of a thousand in this surrender process. The more I get to know the Lord, the more I become aware of how UNsurrendered I am. I'm thankful He loves us anyway, and that whether we go to heaven isn't dependent upon our performance. Christ already took care of that one. AND I'm thankful that He can use us despite our flaws.

I am also aware, though, that the more I surrender to Him and His will, the more peace I have. The more He can use me for His purposes. It's "all good" (thx, Monica), when I surrender to Him. Even if the dying to my selfishness is downright excruciating. It's worth it in the end. And to NOT surrender in actuality is MORE painful.

So, Sooze. Good grief! Give it up! (I'm preaching to myself...)

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Not Moping

You wouldn’t believe how cold it is here right now. Really. It was 53 degrees (according to my digital clock) IN OUR BEDROOM when we got up this morning. No central heat in the homes around here. When Ben went running a couple mornings ago, he said there was frost all over the place.

Our guys get together on Wednesday mornings at 6:30 for prayer. We gals get together at 9:30 (“a.m. in the morning”). Today it’s all happening at our house, so Ben and I forced ourselves out of bed into our frigid room to get going. I put on SO many layers, including a knit hat from Mom and a big HPC sweatshirt from Danny.

In more effort to get warm I did lunges just now as I was waiting for the computer to connect to the Internet and download email (you also would be incredulous at how long it takes to do that).
It’s funny, though, and I even mentioned to Ben it is a bit of an adventure having to bundle up just to be warm in your own house. We huddle by the fireplace often.

Last night after supper Charles & Kristen and Ben & I watched the new Healing Place Church DVD (oh, it’s so good—thank you Ms Barbara!) by the fire. We ache to be there, yet we’re thrilled to be here. Does that make sense?

So, freezing weather, slow Internet, and homesick hearts I guess can sound like I’m moping, but instead it’s really alright. Cindy Stermer recently told me you can laugh or you can cry; might as well laugh. That’s what we’re doing, and God’s grace is big enough to sustain us when it gets REALLY hard.

Okay, I’ll share a verse I jotted on an index card today:

Psalm 34:18,19
“The Lord is near the brokenhearted;
He saves those crushed in spirit.
Many adversities come to the one who is righteous,
But the Lord delivers him from them all.”

Wow, He does this is so many ways. I think one of those ways is by helping us laugh. That joy unspeakable thing.

Nope. Not moping. Thanks, Lord!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Pulled Through a Knot

Ever had one of those weeks? Feeling like you’ve been pulled through a knot? Time for the rubber to meet the road. Time to apply the truth we know even though our emotions are everywhere else.

“Consider it great JOY, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2-4

What do you mean, Lord? I’ve cried a bucket of tears this week, and You tell me to consider it great joy?

He has His eyes on the outcome. I tend to look at the current pain. He is eliminating stuff from my heart that shouldn’t be there. I cry from the severing and the void left behind. He exposes my self-protective walls that are really prison walls, and I freak out as He nudges me to take steps to knock down those walls. They might keep out hurt, but they also hold hurt in. They also keep me from receiving love, much less giving it.

Another verse that comes to mind is, “Through suffering Christ learned obedience.” That one has always been an enigma to me. Jesus was born sinless! Yet the Father taught Jesus obedience by allowing suffering.

So, add that to the list of things I don’t understand about God’s ways. But didn’t He say in Isaiah that we can’t understand the way He thinks anyway? His ways to us are like the heavens over the earth.

Back to trusting Him.

So, Lord, I don’t understand WHY You have to use hurtful things to grow good fruit in us, but I choose to trust You anyway. I cling to You through this. I choose worship as I know I’ll find strength in Your Presence. With Your help I won’t turn to chocolate or flesh-feeders to mask the pain. I know the end product will be worth it all.

Hebrews 12 is a great encouragement during trials. (It’s worth looking it up if you’ve got a minute.) Verse 11 reads, “No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

And this morning I can testify that there is a fruit of peace beginning to grow inside me regarding the very things that still hurt so much. I know the Lord has His hand in all this. I trust Him through it, and I know He will sustain me.