A Hungry Spirit

Has it ever bothered you that you have to eat regularly? Would you like to be able to go without for longer – maybe get more done, not be interrupted, not have to think about what to eat and whether it’s good for you?

As much a foodie as I am, as much as I enjoy making good food (and eating it!), I get tired of having to think about it every day. There are days I wish we could go without and not suffer any consequence. It interrupts projects, capsizes moods, and reminds me of my need.

The daily-ness of hunger is humbling. And like all things humbling, once accepted it is a gift, but until then it’s bitter. I am a created being. I must eat. What I put in my body directly affects my well-being and my life.

Kimberley Mulder Hunger and Thirst (1)This goes for the spirit too. What I put in my spirit directly affects my well-being and my life. My spirit has need of spiritual food. In a daily manner, if not more often. I used to feel guilty for needing to read the Bible and pray daily because after a day or two (sometimes less) my attitude would devolve, my focus would dim, and life again looked grim. Goodness, I’d been a Christian for decades, shouldn’t I be able to go longer, using my memory?!

No. I can’t. No matter how long we travel with Jesus, we still need to eat daily. As we mature, we still have to feed our bodies daily, that never changes. It is the same for the soul. So, as a general rule, we need to treat our spirits as we do our bodies by feeding them nourishing food regularly.

But there are times when we must endure a strict diet, or even a lack, in order for God to show his provision and power.

Take Elijah as an example.

1 Kings 18 and 19 records that Elijah had just stood up to the priests of Baal, King Ahab and Queen Jezebel in a mighty spiritual battle that became very physical. The Israelites were suffering a devastating drought because they worshiped other gods. Elijah was the only prophet of God left, and he publicly challenged the king, queen, prophets of Baal (450 of them!), and Israelites to a showdown of sorts. They were to offer their sacrifice and call on Baal to ignite it, then he, alone, would do the same to his God.

It grew macabre as the priests stomped and called and cut themselves, hour after hour, but to no avail. Then Elijah additionally poured water all over his altar, bowed, and asked once that God show himself. Fire fell; the people bowed; the rain came; and Elijah ran faster than a chariot.

To carry out this call of God, Elijah had had to deny his body, even in its hungry state, and let the Spirit of God take care of him. In the intensity of the drama he was able to do this, but once alone, he doubted God’s care. It was as if he had faith enough to confront Ahab, to do this ludicrous, dangerous challenge, and to escape with his life, but then he couldn’t see how God would take care of him personally. Sure, God would glorify his name, he would startle the Israelites back to him, but would he take care of one lonely prophet? Death seemed the only option. He told God this, I daresay with anger and tears as he wrestled with his exhaustion, and then fell asleep.

Hunger and Thirst Kimberley MulderNow, God focuses all his dramatic might into personal, loving care. In tenderness and power, God had an angel bake bread for him, rouse him enough to eat it, then told him to sleep some more. Some of the most treasured moments of a Christian’s life happen when we have followed God into battle in faith, suffered and depleted ourselves, and then receive Jesus’ care in deeply personal ways.

Maybe you are in a mighty faith fight, sure of God’s call and provision for the call, but secretly doubtful that He cares as much for you, the servant, as he does the outcome of this call. You have depleted yourself, given up much personally, and are now come to the end, only to find yourself empty, unsure, and wanting to hide. Take heart, God sees you hiding in your hunger, and he comes now to meet YOU, to feed YOU. Like Elijah, cry your desperation, be honest, then rest. And there, you will meet your God caring for you.


2016-11-02 13.10.06Kimberley Mulder is a contemplative at heart who deeply enjoys the company of Jesus in the day-to-day of caring for her family of 5 (plus a dog and a cat), teaching English to immigrants, growing her garden, and writing. Currently, her walk with Jesus is taking her more deeply into writing as she leads a spiritual formation group at her church, runs her proofreading business, and shares on her blog Living a Mary Life in a Martha World.  She treasures the truth that God’s Word does not go back to him without accomplishing the purpose for which he sent it, and that that Word is embodied in our lives. (Isaiah 55:11)
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Peace is Our Home

A parent embodies home, or should, at least. We all began existence within our mother’s body, the womb our first home. Instinctively, children return to mom and dad for safety, sustenance, and support. Our houses may change, but our parents should always feel like home, that is, they were meant to. Sadly, too many of us have had parents that didn’t,  couldn’t, or wouldn’t be that sanctuary for us. Whether you had parents who incarnated shalom for you or not, the following is of imperative importance.  

Kimberley Mulder Character of GodWhat is often unknown, or ignored, is the fact that before we were in our mother’s womb, the creative, giving, life-ordaining mind of God purposed each of us. It is with our Father that we have our true beginning, our true place, our true home. Likewise, it is in God’s accepting, receiving, redeeming presence that we will again return home.

Homing pigeons illustrate homecoming beautifully. They have been used to carry messages from far or unreachable places since 3000 BC. They proclaimed the winner of the Olympics in ancient times, they carried important messages over hostile territory during many wars, including WWI and WWII, and were vital to the success of the Invasion of Normandy. They were used for these endeavors because of their incredible ability to always find home, even over hundreds of miles!

By placing their enclosures in one location and their food in another, homing pigeons have been trained to fly round-trip. Some have been trained to fly over a thousand miles, trusting their homing mechanism to guide them. The term “home in”, which means to focus with intent on something or someone, has its origins in these talented pigeons.

So what are our homing mechanisms? And what do we focus on with intent?

Character of GodOur spirits are our homing mechanisms. Our spirits were made to exist with the One who made them. They are like internal compasses turning us to our true north. However, they are broken, uncalibrated, and will point us in the wrong directions if left alone. Jesus came to recalibrate us, to reconcile us, to point us heavenward, and to bring us home.

Our true home, in the presence of God, enclosed by His infinite care, is the place of greatest peace. The more intently we focus on Him, the less lost we will be. We will be able to navigate through war and conflict, with persistence and endurance, over short and long distances, in storm and sunshine, knowing that He, our Peace, is our home.

There are fathers on this earth who provide a foundation of peace for their children. These are men who surrender to God, who are consistent and faithful to both God and family, whose children feel absolute certainty that they are cherished and loved. They partake of his peace by being in his presence in all situations.

How much more a foundation, then, is our Father’s peace! He is peace. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – three-in-one who has no division, no competition, no evil within, only wholeness, complete cooperation, and complete power over evil. From this absolute unity he offers us his peace. A peace that passes understanding, a fully confident, unafraid, perfect peace. He gives of himself. Jesus brought us peace as he united our belligerent, broken spirits to our forgiving, peaceful Father.

Much like homing pigeons brought to a foreign location and charged with carrying a message, we live on this earth as foreigners (Hebrews 11:13) and are charged with carrying the message of peace. We go, winging our way on winds of peace, offering the olive branch to those who might receive it. When Jesus sent out the seventy-two disciples in Luke 10:5-6, he told them, “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you.” Whether the people in our lives receive the message of peace or not, we return to our home, to the peace of God, to dwell there and be sent out again. Thus, it is vital to the peace of this world, that we live in the presence of peace daily. We, too, must become characterized by peace for our message  to be received.


2016-11-02 13.10.06Kimberley Mulder is a contemplative at heart who deeply enjoys the company of Jesus in the day-to-day of caring for her family of 5 (plus a dog and a cat), teaching English to immigrants, growing her garden, and writing. Currently, her walk with Jesus is taking her more deeply into writing as she leads a spiritual formation group at her church, and shares on her blog Living a Mary Life in a Martha World.  She treasures the truth that God’s Word does not go back to him without accomplishing the purpose for which he sent it, and that that Word is embodied in our lives. (Isaiah 55:11)

When Bitter Turns Sweet

Have you ever followed the Lord into risky, frightening territory, and as you did so seen Him do some massive, only-God-could-do-that, miracles? Maybe it was a change of career, or a move to a new place, or to do something entirely outside your comfort zone (like public speaking!). He opened opportunities for you as if they were paper-wrapped presents waiting for his eager hands rather than the mountain-moving challenge that they really were. Then as your trembling faith traipsed after this mighty One and you witnessed these marvels, your hope ballooned into an exuberant song for all to hear.

Kimberley Mulder bitternessWell, the Israelites had that experience when they were dramatically ushered away from their slave owner, Pharoah. Emaciated, oppressed, with all the scars of being slaves for generations, they marched out in darkness under the blackest, most haunting of wails – parents discovering their dead children. The wail alone would have haunted me for the rest of my life, but more immediate to them was the very accurate fear of pursuit. And pursuit came in thunderous rage.

They had followed the Lord with what hopeful faith they could under blood-stained lintels, through blackest wailing alleys, into a frigid and scorching desert on flimsy sandals with an earthly devil in pursuit. They were definitely outside their comfort zone, with their hope uneasy like a lump in the throat before the wave of tears. Then they saw the Red Sea. An obstacle as solid as a rock. The lumps in their throats cracked and their hope tore away from them.

How bitter they were! They wailed and railed against the Lord, “How could you do this to us? We followed you only to die here!” Bitterness flowed in torrents, flooded by their fear.

The Lord’s response is so calmly abrupt, it almost makes me laugh. “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.” (Ex. 15:15) He gives Moses the details, but really they just had to stop panicking, listen, and go. God was not making a mockery of them, rather, he was making good on his call: to be an example of his saving glory! (Ex. 15:4)

When He calls you out into risky territory, it is always to show His power and love.

They celebrated and worshiped and then God led them whooping into the wilderness of Shur – a funny little coincidence for us English speakers – for we often (and rightly) move ahead after these incredible experiences of God’s salvation with sure hearts.

But for three days they wandered without water. At this point humans often die. As their bodies shut down, their sure hope was evaporating with every breath. Their brains were befuddled by lack of water and by God’s strange leading. Having been slaves, they probably brought their feelings of worthlessness with them. And after seeing God’s might, they might have thought, “Who are we to be worthy of saving?”

Then, water! God has provided again! However, their joy evaporates instantly. What was provision is poison. A bitter trickle. A mockery. Here is your lifesaving water, but, ha, you can’t drink it. This time the grumble is not a torrent of terror, but a whisper of weakness: “What are we to drink?” Their last hope drains away. Finality settles in: Here I will die. I followed as far as I could, but it is finished.

bitterness Kimberley MulderThere was another time that someone said “It is finished.” When He said it, the world went black.

But what was finished? The mocking voice was finished. Its bitter power annulled by the sweet love of the cross. Because he who said “It is finished”, ended the rule of mockery and bitterness. Jesus endured the mockery, the shame, the scorn, the pain, the darkness right to the bitter end. And as he did so, the rule of mockery and bitterness ended.

Bitterness does not have the last word. Because infinite love bent into this bitter world and blessed it, there is sweet in the rescuing and the rising.

The Israelites discovered this in their sure wilderness. Moses cried out for mercy and God steeped a stick of hope in the stream of bitterness. His powerful love drives out all bitterness, and with it all fear. “Perfect love drives out all fear.” (1 John. 4:18)

Let his life steep in yours and you will find any streams of bitterness in your life being turned to sweet.

 


2016-11-02 13.10.06Kimberley Mulder is a contemplative at heart who deeply enjoys the company of Jesus in the day-to-day of caring for her family of 5 (plus a dog and a cat), teaching English to immigrants, growing her garden, and writing. Currently, her walk with Jesus is taking her more deeply into writing as she leads a spiritual formation group at her church, and shares on her blog Living a Mary Life in a Martha World.  She treasures the truth that God’s Word does not go back to him without accomplishing the purpose for which he sent it, and that that Word is embodied in our lives. (Isaiah 55:11)

Thrive!

Author: Kimberley Mulder

Thrive is such an invigorating, exciting word, bursting with promise and exuberance! Within it is abundance, life, fullness, robustness, and joy. We all want to thrive. If it could be bottled and sold it would make billions. The self-help industry has tried, but thriving is not for sale. Thriving is not owned or bought.

Thrive Kimberley MulderThriving is a state of being, a description of living. It is life with Jesus: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

Our culture has co-opted the phrase “having it to the full” to mean we must fill every nook and cranny of our lives with activity, experience, and stuff. Instead of it reflecting our being in Jesus it is now a grasping and striving. It was never meant to be something we achieve or accomplish. We can only thrive when we stop straining to do so. In American culture, stopping the strain is frowned upon as a sign of weakness, or, at best, impatiently tolerated. But stop we must to attend to the meal Jesus is offering our spirits.

Our spirits are born hungry, just as our bodies are. Just as the hungry person will eat almost anything to satisfy, we are tempted to put anything into our spirit to sate it.  The babe is given mother’s milk, slowly introduced to new foods and warned sternly away from those things that will injure or kill. Yet our spirits often lack that training, so we fill it with dissatisfying things much like a malnourished child.

A child given highly refined foods and lacking fresh produce is nourished but very poorly. His body is deceived into feeling full while still not getting what it needs. His body adapts the best it can, but he is unhealthy—so it is with our spirit.

A spiritual diet rich in deception will bloat and sicken the soul. Our spirits need to feed on truth, love, joy, peace, and hope. Our spirits need Jesus. “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” -John 6:35 “Man shall not live on bread alone but on every word that proceeds from the Father.”- Matthew 4:4

Kimberley Mulder ThriveFailure to thrive is a failure to grow. Like doctors and parents everywhere we affix the label “failure to thrive” to problems we cannot figure out the cause. It can strike terror into our hearts.

We may very well be living under that label, unsure of what is causing our “failure to thrive”. Sometimes we don’t even notice it until we stop long enough to take inventory of our feelings,  thoughts, and ways.

So, this January day, when the rivers of holiday busy-ness have run their course, and you find yourself on a lonely sandbar, consider whether you are thriving.

Have you been more irritable of late?

Have you noticed a “deadpan” feeling running through your days?

Take some time to notice and then walk into Jesus’ presence with it. As Lord of all, He knows if it stems from a spirit undernourishment, or a physical depletion, or both. It is okay, nay, necessary, to stop and say: “Lord, I am empty. I don’t even know what I need, but I ask you for it.”

He, the Bread of Life, desires to fill you.


2016-11-02 13.10.06Kimberley Mulder is a contemplative at heart who deeply enjoys the company of Jesus in the day-to-day of caring for her family of 5 (plus a dog and a cat), teaching English to immigrants, growing her garden, and writing. Currently, her walk with Jesus is taking her more deeply into writing as she leads a spiritual formation group at her church, and shares on her blog Living a Mary Life in a Martha World.  She treasures the truth that God’s Word does not go back to him without accomplishing the purpose for which he sent it, and that that Word is embodied in our lives. (Isaiah 55:11)