"No matter where I am, your teachings fill me with songs." - Psalm 119:54 (CEV)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


I've noticed that I have a tendency to make myself look perfect.

It's probably because I'm a perfectionist.

I want everyone to see me as absolutely flawless.

The problem is, I'm not.

I have endless flaws,

Planted so deep within me I can't get them out on my own,

And letting God weed them out is a slow and painful process.

I've noticed that I've been portraying the way this challenge is changing my life as perfect, too,

Talking only about the joy God has allowed me to find in Him through it,

Yet never speaking of the joyless moments I have also found along the way,

The many, many times I have regressed yet again to my former state.

I decided today would be a good time to give a small example of that.

The last two weeks have been absolutely crazy.

I've had no time to do anything,

Or, at least, I perceive myself to have no time to do anything.

("Perceive" because, somehow, in the midst of all this, I still have twenty minutes to cut my nails.

I mean, really?  My nails?  When I don't have any time?  Really?

Anyway, I digress.)

That leads to the typical patterns that pop up in my life

When I'm buried in homework

Or unable to get alone time:

I make just as much time for God as I feel obligated to,

Yet never as much time as I need to.

I forget who God is

And my love turns to utter apathy.

I cease to care

And cease to care that I don't care.

And it




That I do this


And over

And over again.

Usually it only lasts a couple of days.

This time it lasted around two weeks.

I essentially forgot who God was

For two weeks.

Now, here's where the challenge comes in.

The whole two weeks, I'd been counting

But I'd found no joy in God.

Just because I'm counting doesn't mean I really care,

As it can easily become a duty and an obligation.

Just because I'm counting doesn't mean I have a good relationship with God,

Because I am very good at having tons of head knowledge yet a stone-cold heart.

Just because I'm counting doesn't mean I'm finding joy in God,

Because I have a great ability to read words yet have them mean nothing to me.

I am a sinful, fallen creature.

I am perfectly capable of screwing up completely on a daily basis,

And I do.

Every day.

Again, that shows my utter dependence on His mercy and grace.






At least not apart from Him.


So, the counting?

It's just a tool.

If He's using it to bring my heart closer to Him,

If my heart is responsive to that,

He can do amazing things with that tool.

If I am ignoring Him in my pride and arrogance,

If my heart is cold and lifeless,

And that tool doesn't work anymore,

That is not the tool's fault,

That is not God's fault,

It is my fault for failing to seek after Him as I ought,

Failing to love Him as I ought.

So, is the challenge good?

In a way, yes, as it was formed with the intention of helping me to know God more.

In another way, no, because it is imperfect, inspired by God's tiny nudges, yet brought into full formation by my weak and imperfect mind.

It is God who is Good,

God who is Perfect,

God who is Faithful

In drawing us unto Himself,

God who chooses to use imperfect tools

To bring His people back to Him.

And I've seen that this week, too,

Where, in my emptiness, in my apathy,

And in my brokenness over the lifeless state of my heart

He has brought the cure,

Brought it through a worship leader on the stage shouting out God's character,

Brought it through leading me to exactly what I needed to hear,

Brought it through blessing the time I finally made to just be with Him,

And the cure is this:

Seeing Him for who He is,

Loving Him,

And worshiping Him.

And, really, that was the whole point of the challenge.

When I go back to the ways that He, through this challenge, taught me to see Him,

Taught me to seek Him,

Taught me to love Him,

Taught me to worship Him,

I find Him,

And in Him I find joy,

And I keep counting

And I never want to stop.


Counting numbers 374-481 this week (I met my goal, and I'm still counting!):
  1. He causes staffs to not only sprout, but bud, blossom, and produce almonds (Numbers 17:1-8)
  2. He is the share and inheritance of those He chooses (Numbers 18:20)
  3. He promises to bring water from rock when those He chooses speak to it (Numbers 20:8)
  4. He punishes those who do not trust Him (Numbers 20:8-12)
  5. He punishes those who do not honor Him as holy (Numbers 20:8-12)
  6. He proves Himself Holy, in spite of what people do (Numbers 20:8-13)
  7. He hears those who cry out and sends angels to rescue them (Numbers 20:15-16)
  8. People die exactly when He says they will (Numbers 20:23-29)
  9. He gives people up to be destroyed by those who plead for the privilege (Numbers 21:2-3)
  10. He sends venomous snakes among those who speak against Him (Numbers 21:4-6)
  11. He listens to prayer (Numbers 21:7-8)
  12. He provides a way for those dying to live (Numbers 21:7-9)
  13. He gives water (Numbers 21:16-18)
  14. He tells people not to fear . . . and gives a reason (Numbers 21:34)
  15. He delivers kings along with their armies and lands into the hands of His people (Numbers 21:33-35)
  16. He protects those He blesses (Numbers 22:10-13)
  17. He tells people what to do (Numbers 22:20)
  18. He opens the mouths of donkeys (Numbers 22:28)
  19. He opens the eyes of people (Numbers 22:31)
  20. He allows people to see the unseen (Numbers 22:31)
  21. He sends His angels to oppose those whose paths are reckless before Him (Numbers 22:32)
  22. He gives words (Numbers 22:5)
  23. He is not human (Numbers 23:19)
  24. He does not lie (Numbers 23:19)
  25. He is not a human being (Numbers 23:19)
  26. He does not change His mind (Nubmers 23:19)
  27. He commands to bless (Numbers 23:20)
  28. His blessings cannot be changed (Numbers 23:20)
  29. His shout is among His people (Numbers 23:21)
  30. He gives His people the strength of a wild ox (Numbers 23:22)
  31. He does things so amazing that others say, “See what God has done!” (Numbers 23:23)
  32. He allows people to see clearly (Numbers 24:3)
  33. He allows people to hear His words (Numbers 24:4)
  34. He allows people to receive visions from Him (Numbers 24:4)
  35. He gives people knowledge from the Most High (Numbers 24:16)
  36. He is the Most High (Numbers 24:16)
  37. He opens the eyes of those who fall prostrate (Numbers 24:16)
  38. He crushes foreheads and skulls (Numbers 24:17)
  39. He conquers peoples (Numbers 24:18)
  40. He causes His people to grow strong (Numbers 24:18)
  41. He is zealous for his honor among his people (Numbers 25:11)
  42. He sees those who are as zealous for His honor as He Himself (Numbers 25:11)
  43. His people's zeal for His honor convinces Him to turn away His anger (Numbers 25:11)
  44. He decides not to put an end to people in His zeal (Numbers 25:11)
  45. He makes a covenant of peace with those zealous for His honor (Numbers 25:11-12)
  46. He makes a covenant of lasting priesthood with the line of one who is zealous for His honor (Numbers 25:13)
  47. He counts zeal for His honor as atonement (Numbers 25:13)
  48. He instructs His people to treat other peoples as enemies (Numbers 25:16-17)
  49. He instructs His people to kill their enemies (Numbers 25:16-17)
  50. He gives instructions for allotting lands (Numbers 25:52-56)
  51. His words prove to be true (Numbers 26:65)
  52. He knows what is right (Numbers 27:7)
  53. He carries out His promise to punish those who do not obey His commands to honor Him as Holy (Numbers 27:12-14)
  54. He gives breath to all living things (Numbers 27:16)
  55. He appoints leaders (Numbers 27:15-21)
  56. He instructs through people (Numbers 27:23)
  57. He commands people to take vengeance (Numbers 31:1-2)
  58. He subdues the land (Numbers 32:3-4)
  59. He honors and blesses those who follow Him wholeheartedly (Numbers 32:10-12)
  60. He commands that journeys be recorded (Numbers 33:2)
  61. He strikes down the firstborn children of His people's oppressors (Numbers 33:4)
  62. He commands His people to drive out the land's inhabitants (Numbers 33:51-52)
  63. He commands that carved images, cast idols, and high places be destroyed (Numbers 33:52)
  64. He gives His people land to possess (Numbers 33:53)
  65. He commands that people take possession of the land and settle in it (Numbers 33:53)
  66. He warns of what will happen if His commands are not obeyed (Numbers 33:55-56)
  67. He threatens (Numbers 33:55-56)
  68. He sets boundaries (Numbers 34:1-2)
  69. He commands that the land where His people live, the land where He dwells, not be defiled (Numbers 35:34)
  70. He increases the numbers of His people so that they are as numerous as the stars in the sky (Numbers 35:10)
  71. The land He gives is good (Deuteronomy 1:25)
  72. He fights for His people before their very eyes (Deuteronomy 1:30)
  73. He goes before His people (Deuteronomy 1:30)
  74. He carries His people (Deuteronomy 1:31)
  75. He carries His people as a father carries his son (Deuteronomy 1:31)
  76. He carries His people until they reach the place He wants them (Deuteronomy 1:31)
  77. He goes ahead of His people on their journey (Deuteronomy 1:33)
  78. He searches out places for His people to camp (Deuteronomy 1:33)
  79. He shows His people the way they should go (Deuteronomy 1:22)
  80. He gives the land He promised to those who follow Him wholeheartedly (Deuteronomy 1:36)
  81. He pays no attention to the weeping of those who have turned from Him (Deuteronomy 1:45)
  82. He turns a deaf ear to those who disobey Him (Deuteronomy 1:45)
  83. He blesses His people in the work of their hands (Deuteronomy 2:7)
  84. He watches over the journey of His people (Deuteronomy 2:7)
  85. He stays with His people for years (Deuteronomy 2:7)
  86. His people lack nothing (Deuteronomy 2:7)
  87. He gives His people all the towns He promised – not one is too strong for those He is with (Deuteronomy 2:36)
  88. He shows His servants hints of His greatness (Deuteronomy 3:24)
  89. He shows His servants hints of His strong hand (Deuteronomy 3:24)
  90. No other god in heaven or on earth can do works or deeds as mighty as His (Deuteronomy 3:24)
  91. He becomes very angry (Deuteronomy 3:26)
  92. He commands His people to speak about some matters (Deuteronomy 3:26)
  93. He destroys from among His people all who worship idols (Deuteronomy 4:3)
  94. He allows those who hold fast to Him to live (Deuteronomy 4:3-4)
  95. He is near His people when they pray to Him (Deuteronomy 4:7)
  96. He gives His people righteous decrees and laws (Deuteronomy 4:8)
  97. He makes His nation great (Deuteronomy 4:7-8)
  98. He wants His people to revere Him because He is worthy of reverence (Deuteronomy 4:10)
  99. He makes the mountain blaze with fire to the very heavens, with black clouds and deep darkness (Deuteronomy 4:11)
  100. He is a consuming fire, a jealous God (Deuteronomy 4:24)
  101. He can scatter the corrupt among the peoples, and only allow a few to survive (Deuteronomy 4:25-28)
  102. His people can find Him from any place, so long as they seek Him with all their heart and soul – He is always within reach (Deuteronomy 4:29)
  103. He is merciful and does not abandon or destroy His people (Deuteronomy 4:31)
  104. He does not forget the covenants He has made which He has confirmed by oath (Deuteronomy 4:31)
  105. He takes for Himself one nation out of another nation by testings, signs and wonders, war, a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and great and mighty deeds (Deuteronomy 4:34)
  106. He is God – besides Him there is no other (Deuteronomy 4:35)
  107. He makes His people hear His voice from heaven, that he may discipline them (Deuteronomy 4:36)
  108. He loves His people and rescues them by His Presence and great strength (Deuteronomy 4:37)

Counting 10,000 Reasons to worship Him:

<a href="http://maryschieferstein.blogspot.com/search/label/10000%20Reasons" target="_blank"><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-8zkGH23srZ8/T2i3Bun0O9I/AAAAAAAABSw/8giPvnJmCPI/s320/10000ReasonsButton.jpg" /></a>
Counting in community,

Also, linking up at A Holy Experience, walking with Him, sacrificing self and running back to the only One who's really worth it:

And if you have a minute to read some of the posts at the bottom of this one?  Leave a comment?  It's such a blessing!

Thank you for visiting.

God bless!



Sylvia R said...

Hey Mary,
Thanks for your transparency. He uses imperfect tools -- and imperfect people. Sometimes just keeping going when the heart seems dead is... faithfulness! Rejoicing that you had a breakthrough! And glad you kept on counting. Now you can slow down and go back and home in on one special thing about Him and just think about it and savor it. I want to do that, too.
God bless!

Mary said...

Thank you, Sylvia. He really does use imperfect things, imperfect people. I praise Him for all He's done, including teaching me to think on Him more, to savor Him more. It is a wondrous thing. I hope we can both do that more and more - that many others, too, will find joy in that.
God bless you, friend!

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