Guds løfter i angsten

Årets første snø daler fredfylt ute. Ikke et vindpust kan merkes. Verden er blitt lys og vakker.

Amerika har gått i dvalemodus.

Bilene som vanligvis suser forbi i ulovelig fart står parkert i veikanten utenfor husene. Bak persiennene dukker ansiktene opp fra tid til annen, og smil som uttrykker glede blandet med angst for glatte veier skimtes før før kalde føtter bærer dem tilbake til TV og matlaging.
I leiligheten vår er det varmt og rolig. Et kjølig pust treffer meg når jeg passerer ytterdøra. Vaktmesterens løfte om å isolere er enda ikke innfridd, og forhåpningene om at han kommer til å gjøre det før våren kommer er liten.
På stuebordet ligger bøker som bønnfaller meg om å gi dem litt oppmerksomhet før en intensiv uke med gresk oppfriskning begynner. Mannen min sitter ved skrivebordet, notater spredt rundt seg, og flere bøker enn noen kan ønske seg åpne på én gang. Han koser seg med de harde studiene, gjennomgang av språk ingen vet sikkert hvordan man uttaler lenger, og timesvis med lesing av bøker som man så vidt rekker å merke seg ved før neste bok krever oppmerksomheten.

Verden står stille i dag.

Men i hjertet mitt er det kaos. Som en sandstorm der hjemlengsel er i basketak med følelsen av å synke under uoverkommelige tårn av lekser – begge vil ha førsteplass i tankene mine, og ingen av dem gir opp. Angsten som har preget tiden i USA virker helt ubegrunnet, men kjemper likevel lystig videre mot all logikk. Hvordan kan jeg som kristen stadig slite så med angst? Angst for hverdagen, angst for de nye relasjonene jeg holder på å bygge, for fremtiden som virker så ukjent og mystisk, og for å ikke strekke til; angst i fredfylte øyeblikk der alt ligger tilrette for en rolig ettermiddag. Hvor er Gud midt oppi min utkjørte tilværelse? Han som lovet styrke for dagen som ligger foran (5 Mos. 33:25), har han glemt meg?

En varm tåre hopper som et perfekt steinkast på en blank innsjø nedover genseren min før den sprekker og synker inn i stoffet. Det kommer flere. De er ikke til å stoppe. Jeg er utslitt, og vårsemesteret har ikke begynt en gang. Jeg vil hjem. Bort fra det som er for stort og vanskelig, hjem til det trygge og kjente. Hjem til mamma og pappa.

“Gud er vår tilflukt og vår styrke, en hjelp i nød og alltid nær.” (Sal. 46:2) En venninne la ut et bilde på Instagram med denne påminnelsen, men jeg trenger mer. Jeg legger hodet bakover, lukker øynene og ransaker tankene. “Min nåde er nok for deg, for kraften fullendes i svakhet.” (2 Kor. 12:9) Hvor mange ganger har vel ikke dette verset dukket opp i det mylderet som er mitt liv. Stormen truer med å synke båten jeg er i. Jeg tørr ikke gi slipp på årene. Sammen med disiplene roper jeg ut til Jesus, “Mester, bryr du deg ikke om at vi går under?” (Mark. 4:38) I Markus evangeliet får disiplene en ufattelig opplevelse; “Stille! Vær rolig!” sa Jesus, og vinden la seg, og det ble blikk stille (Mark. 4:39).
Min storm raser videre.
Da han hadde beordret sjøen og det ble stille spurte Jesus disiplene, “Hvorfor er dere så redde? Har dere ennå ingen tro?” Hvor er min tro? Stoler jeg på denne Gud som jeg tilber? Har du ennå ingen tro, Mari?

Det er mye jeg kan se tilbake på. Mye som har skjedd, mye som er glemt. Men dette er sikkert; mitt liv står som et vitne om Guds storhet og barmhjertlighet. Gjennom prøvelser og i smerte der jeg har fått kjenne for sårbart og skrøpelig livet er har Gud vist sin nåde, han har dratt “meg opp av fordervelsens grav, opp av den dype gjørmen. Han satte mine føtter på fjell og gjorde skrittene faste.” (Sal. 40:3) Han bryr seg mer enn jeg noen gang kan forstå. Midt i min motløshet innser jeg for ørtende gang at han som skapte himmel og jord (1 Mos. 1:1; Jes. 40:28), han som skapte meg (Sal. 139), han vet alltid best. “For mine tanker er ikke deres tanker, og deres veier er ikke mine veier, sier Herren. Som himmelen er høyt over jorden, slik er mine veier høyt over deres veier og mine tanker høyt over deres tanker.” (Jes. 55:8-9)

Jeg kan stole på ham. Han har alt under kontroll, og ingenting kommer som en overraskelse på ham (Sal. 139:4; Jes. 40:28; Hebr. 4:13; 1 Joh. 3:20). V. Raymond Edman sa engang, “Never doubt in the dark what God has told you in the light.” Jeg trenger å huske løftene, jeg må huske det Gud har vist meg i lyse og lette dager.

Han har ikke sagt at veien kom til å bli lett. Det motsatte står klart med tydelige bokstaver i boka som er Guds Ord (Fil. 1:29; Matt. 10:38-39; Rom. 5:3-4).  Denne boka har sin egen historie der lidelsene Guds etterfølgere har fått erfare følger den som et ekko. Oversettelsene som kostet, trofastheten som krevde sin pris.
Gud kjenner selv til lidelsens vei. “Han som ikke sparte sin egen Sønn, men ga ham for oss alle, kan han gjøre noe annet enn å gi oss alt sammen med ham?” (Rom. 8:32) Jesus døde i mitt sted, slik at jeg kunne få fred med Gud (Ef. 2:16). Jesus er min fred (Ef. 2:14). Det er der jeg kan finne ro, hos ham som gav sitt eget liv for at jeg skulle få en relasjon til Gud. Det er i denne relasjonen jeg får frihet fra min angst. Dette er en jeg kan stole på. Min Gud som ikke kan lyve (4 Mos. 23:19), han er trofast til sine løfter (Sal. 145:13; Hebr. 10:23), og løftene er ikke gitt av en maktesløs hvem-som-helst, men den Levende, Virkekraftige, Treenige Gud i Bibelen, han som har all makt i himmel og på jord (Matt. 28:18; Sal. 136:12; Jer. 10:12). Det betyr ikke at angsten er borte. Jeg synes den er vanskelig og vond, men Gud er med meg, og hans løfter er mange og sanne. Han ser meg og han bryr seg. Det er han som gir meg hvile, og styrke nok for dagen foran. Jeg løfter øynene og ser til ham.

“Frykt ikke, for jeg er med deg,
vær ikke redd, for jeg er din Gud!
Jeg gjør deg sterk og hjelper deg
og holder deg oppe
med min rettferds høyre hånd.”
(Jes. 41:10)

Mens snøen fortsetter å dale, og verden står like stille som før, tviholder jeg på løftene. Jeg vet Gud er god. Han er min redning. Han er min fred.

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Being understood

I recently came across a sentence in a book which resonated with a deep longing in me: “the joy of being understood without having to explain.” In friendships, in marriage, with strangers, even towards myself, the necessity of explaining is ever present. The interpreter who would preform the battle on my behalf between what is expressed and what is actually meant can seem ever lacking. Even when the spoken languages are the same, most conversations are in need of further clarification for the desired message to be grasped correctly.

And then, once in a blue moon, you meet a person and have a conversation which produces such pure joy; words can go unsaid, and yet you feel perfectly understood. The joy of being understood without having to explain. We all long for it.

“Uniquely Me” by Alex Graham James

I am

a confusion of cultures.

Uniquely me.

I think this is good

because I can

understand

the traveller, sojourner, foreigner,

the homesickness

that comes.

I think this is also bad

because I cannot

be understood

by the person who has sown and grown in one place.

They know not

the real meaning of homesickness

that hits me

now and then.

Sometime I despair of

understanding them.

I am

an island

and

a United Nations.

Who can recognise either in me but God?

(As reproduced in Third Culture Kids by D. Pollock and R. Van Reken).

To some of us this longing might feel more urgent than for others, though it is just as real for us all. How precious it is then, that mysterious meeting when our longing is satisfied. The fragile moment of being vulnerable, yet welcomed as family, even by strangers. Be it a discussion of politics, religious affection, sharing of stories, a breathtaking view or the silent tears running down our cheeks. How we long to be understood! And how invaluable it is to seek to understand.

Can we learn from the One who became human, who lived and died and rose again for us so that we can be counted righteous and blameless before God? He entered a culture and a people distinctly different from His Father’s divine presence. He lived a life where He experienced the fullness of pain and suffering, as well as joys and everyday pleasures.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:15-16 (ESV)

Jesus understands. He sees, He feels, and He has gone through it all. His immense love is ever present in His welcoming embrace. Meet Him as a stranger, new friend or a brother, He is longing for you to see that every second with Him is meant to be one of those precious moments. He understands! Let your longing find its ultimate fulfilment in Him.

The Christian Virtue of Patience and Long Suffering

I came across a section in a book I´m reading on worldviews for my Bachelor´s Degree in Intercultural Understanding, and wanted to share it with you since I believe it beautifully expresses some insight into the Christian virtue of patience that easily gets lost in our day and time.

“One of the most difficult fruits of the Spirit that we as modern people need to cultivate is patience. We live our lives with constant hurry and stress. As children we associate patience with having to wait until our parents come home, the bus arrives, or the rain stops. We associate it with powerlessness, the inability to act, and a general state of passivity and dependence. As adults we associate it with waiting passively until someone in power decided to move on: we regard patience “as an oppressive word used by the powerful to keep the powerless under control” (McNeill, Morrison, and Nouwen inCompassion: A reflection on the Christian life). This is not what patience means in Scripture. Donald McNeill and his associates observe:

True patience is the opposite of a passive waiting in which we let things happen and allow others to make the decisions. Patience means to enter actively into the thick of life and to fully bear the suffering within and around us. Patience is the capacity to see, hear, touch, taste, and smell as fully as possible the inner and outer events of our lives. It is to enter our lives with open eyes, ears and hands so that we can really know what is happening. Patience is an extremely difficult discipline precisely because it counteracts our unreflexive impulse to flee or to fight.

Patience is a difficult virtue to incorporate into our way of living not only because it goes against our impulses but also because it radically challenges the fast pace of modern life and its concern for staying in control of one´s life. Patience involves learning to listen to and live under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It requires stopping and listening when someone in pain needs immediate attention. It requires searching for forgiveness without having to forget shameful memories. It is “a willingness to be influenced even when this requires giving up control and entering into unknown territory” (McNeill, Morrison, and Nouwen in Compassion: A reflection on the Christian life).

Patience concerns time. When we are impatient, we want things to change. Impatience betrays an inner restlessness. It is living by the external time rules by the clocks, watches, and calendars that dominate our lives. Patience and contemplation are time lived from within and experiences to the full. They are the antidote to the hurried, harried lives we too often live in our contemporary world.“

The text is found in Transforming Worldviews: An Anthropological Understanding of How People Change by Paul G. Hiebert

the continuation of a journey

The opening lines are always hard to think of. So I´ll just begin.

My goal with this blog is to give you a glimpse into my pursuit after God and after a godly and holy life; a process I know will take the rest of my life. I am a Christian, a newly married woman from Norway, and I am yearning for a fuller knowledge of God; for a greater knowledge of His love, and to experience its life-changing consequences.
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My hope is that through letting you come along on my continued journey with God, you will see more of Him, be challenged by His words, His love, His righteousness, majesty, justice, faithfulness, holiness, compassion, sovereignty, power and grace, and that He may use this to draw you closer to Himself. It is a challenge for me to let you into my life, because my immediate tendencies are to use this opportunity to exalt myself – along with Christ. But that is not an option. The Christian calling is one of self-humiliation and Christ exaltation. To Him alone be all the glory!
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My prayer for this journey, this blog, and for you who honour me by reading it is that of Paul in Colossians 1:9-10;
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And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.
This is my plea to God for my own life and for the lives of everyone I care about. It is in awe and eternal gratefulness that I recognize God´s amazing ability to change lives and make us more like Him through both the mundane and the exhilarating moments in life. Let´s join this journey together, and learn to recognize God´s loving hand in all areas of our lives as He works in and through us to shape and mould us into holy children of God.
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“For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” Romans 11:36

Who I am

Adventuring through life with God as my Shepherd. Safe and secure in His Sovereign embrace. He is leading and guiding me step by step as He reveals His love and grace in new measures.
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This blog will contain my musings as I embark on life as a newly wed, in a beautiful country up north, with the Word as my guide and God´s love as my driving force. A humble pursuit is a blog about everyday life and how God has granted us all things that pertain to life and godliness – through the knowledge of Him. Because of His unfathomable love, I long to make every effort to supplement my faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. Amazingly these qualities are already mine and increasing, as they help keep me from being ineffective or unfruitful in my knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
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This is my humble pursuit of holiness. I hope you will join me, and be blessed by the journey.
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“Yet He saved them for His name’s sake, that He might make known His mighty power” Ps.106:8.
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“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:3-11 ESV)

Picture by Caelen Weber Photography