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Now is the New Next

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in His word I put my hope."- Psalm 130:5

If you are a parent you have one. We all have one: Not a quiet place...It's pictures of our kids! Almost everywhere we go we are able to view those adorable shots which serve as a powerful reminder of how blessed we are. From living rooms and hallways in our homes to cell phones and office desks our precious little ones take center stage as they are captured at so many ages, places, celebrations, silly moments, and milestones throughout their lives. When it comes to the countless albums, frames, and computer files that we have collected over these sixteen years, with four kids, there is one particular picture that is my personal favorite and most cherished memory.

It is the pictures of holding each child in my arms for the very first time! From holding our oldest in the hospital room while in a suit (he was born on the same day as my college graduation) to sitting in a hotel chair in China holding our little princess as she slept in my arms after a long and emotional first day, there is something about those images that is so beyond words and brings me back to that miracle moment. As I look at those particular pictures I can still feel the deep emotions of joy pulsating throughout my entire being. As each little one was in my arms, three things were certain: 1) There was no other feeling that could compare with it; 2) There was no other place I would rather be; and 3) There was no thought as to what needed to happen NEXT in my day.

These favorite pictures remind me of how God's heart yearns for us to be found, be secured, and be at rest in His loving arms. There is no better place to be and no greater love to experience. The lesson for me to learn and live with each day is to find myself coming to the Heavenly Father just to be with Him and to be loved by Him. Deuteronomy 33:27 tells us, "The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms." The question that must be asked and answered then is this: If God wants nothing more than for us to abide with Him, walk with Him, and be satisfied by Him, why then are we always looking for the next thing to stir up our love, faith, identity, and hope? It seems that many get quite uncomfortable if they are not on the move, completing a task, reaching a spiritual milestone, or doing a good work. I have noticed that many Christians (of all ages and stages) will fill auditoriums for a conference or renowned speaker; will work through dozens of books on faith and spirituality; and will log countless service and missions hours, but when it comes to an intimate worship/prayer night, attendance can be sparse. It's not just the numbers that speak to this issue, but there also seems to be unfamiliarity and uneasiness for people when these nights don't rapidly move from song to song or prayer focus to prayer focus. It seems we have been so conditioned in our culture to be viewers and consumers that if there is not some action taking place or someone telling us what to do next, we feel lost and we feel as if nothing is happening. This type of need to constantly be stimulated and steered in a direction can easily cause us to lose the beautiful moment and life-giving essence that David (B.T.W.- a man after God's heart) speaks of in Psalm 16:15, "As for me, I will be vindicated and will see Your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing Your likeness."

As we have entered into this Year of NEW MERCIES as God's people, as the Body of Christ, and as a church family I want to encourage us that "NOW is the new NEXT". Just as people say that as age goes, forty is the new thirty and as color goes, pink is the new black, we need to get to a place where we are completely refreshed, recharged and radically empowered in God's loving arms. Just as I felt about holding each child for the first time and how those pictures remind me of that miracle moment, there is no doubt in my mind that God's heart loves nothing more than you being His. He is calling your name, waiting for you to enter His presence, and looking to be with you at all moments, in all places, and with all needs.

As we learn to live in the "NOW" here are some Scriptures on the blessed place of being in His presence:

Psalm 89:15- "Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim You, who walk in the light of Your presence, Lord."

Psalm 91:1- "Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty."

Isaiah 40:31- "But those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

Philippians 3:10- "I want to know Christ--yes, to know the power of His resurrection and participation in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death."

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