Thursday, February 14, 2013

Turning to Love

You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Turn and take your journey and go… - Deuteronomy 1:6-7

As I began reading and studying Deuteronomy, the verses above jumped off the pages at me. I asked God to show me from what “mountain” I needed to turn; to what or who did I need to fix my gaze upon, and where I was to “take my journey and go”.

The One who is always faithful revealed that the mountain I faced was a mountain called unbelief. Although I had believed God for big things like eternal salvation and healing my body when I was unwell, I faltered in my belief, not so much that He is able, because I do believe that:

He is able to do far more abundantly all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us – Ephesians 3:20

but, rather that He was perhaps too busy or maybe even unwilling to see to the “little” things that concern me. Over time, praying and waiting to see how He would work in certain circumstances, I became distracted and began to look outward for signs of His activity, rather than keeping my eyes fixed on Him, rather than listening for His still small voice to lead. I admit that I have seen little glimpses of a direction and run ahead thinking that this surely was the way, forgetting to keep my gaze set on Him with a heart of discernment. Looking outward and running ahead only caused me to feel anxious and as though I were wandering through the wilderness on my own with no GPS. I lacked joy and I didn’t know how to get to a place of peace and rest.

In 2012, I studied the Book of James thoroughly, three separate times. My first study was a group study using a workbook and DVDs. In the first DVD, we were encouraged that after spending several weeks in James, we would get our joy back. I was thrilled at the prospect of having that deep sense of joy I had lost. After completing the study, I was encouraged, but still lacked the joy I so desperately wanted to feel. A couple of months later I felt a strong desire to study James again, this time with only my Bible and a good commentary. As I worked through the book, from beginning to end, I began to memorize each verse. The words of James would fill my thoughts throughout the day and began to take hold as I applied them to situations and events in my life. Yet, I got to the end of the book and still did not have a joy surpassing all understanding. Towards the end of 2012, I studied James for the third time with my small group at church. For several weeks we took small portions and discussed how we could apply the truths to our lives. We wrapped up our study of James around the same time I began reading in Deuteronomy. I heard the voice of the Lord awakening my spirit to see that I had wandered to a mountain He never intended for me to climb. I simply needed to make a complete turn to Him and I would see all that He has led me through and taught me, but most importantly how He has loved me with an everlasting love, how He has carried me and has provided for me – spiritually, physically and emotionally. I sensed Him calling me to turn from the “mountain of unbelief” and fix my gaze upon Him, taking my journey wherever He leads.  

From there you will seek the Lord Your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul…you will return to the Lord your God and obey his voice. For the Lord your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you… - Deuteronomy 4:29-31

I am so thankful that He has a plan and purpose for my good and that He has continually wooed me, drawing me in to His word and restored my joy, not by changing circumstances, but by changing me.

I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. Again I will build you and you shall be rebuilt. Again you shall adorn yourself with tambourines and shall go forth in the dance of the merrymakers. – Jeremiah 31:3-4
Now that sounds like a reason to celebrate! And since it is Valentine's Day, what better way to celebrate than with some chocolatey goodness?
Flourless Chocolate Cake
1 Cup Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
1 Cup Coconut Oil
1 1/4 Cups Coconut Sugar
6 Eggs
1 Cup Cocoa Powder
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line the bottom of a 9-inch glass pie dish with parchment paper and oil the sides with coconut oil.
Combine chocolate chips and coconut oil in a pan over medium low heat. Stir occassionally until melted and well combined. Remove from heat and add sugar, mixing well. Add eggs, mixing well. Add cocoa and stir until just blended, smoothing out any lumps.
Pour into pie dish and bake 20-25 minutes. Be careful not to overbake, cake should be just firm in the center. Let cool for 10 minutes, then turn out on a cake plate to cool completely.
Chocolate Glaze
1/2 Cup Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
3 Tbsp Coconut Oil
1 Tbsp Coconut Milk
1 Tbsp Honey
1/4 tsp Vanilla
While cake is cooling, melt chocolate chips and coconut oil over medium low heat, stirring until well combined. Remove from heat and stir in coconut milk, honey and vanilla. Pour over cake, smoothing along top and sides.
Chill cake in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Then slice and serve with fresh raspberries for a truly decadent dessert!

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