December 30, 2010

Destiny


Destiny
Where will you take me?
Today begins something new.
Mercies are here this morning.
Joy has come.
What was has been, the teacher.
What will be, the lessons learned.
Right or left?
This is the way.
Walk.

December 28, 2010

Longings

Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, 
And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. 
For the LORD is a God of justice; 
How blessed are all those who long for Him.  
Is. 30:18     
Longings. Rarely do we use the verb long in conversations with people or with God. We are uncomfortable with longing, to tell someone that we want something that we don’t have. We might tell God, but we squirm in our souls to be so direct to the God of the Universe. It isn't like he doesn't know what our longings are. The beauty of prayer is that we can express them without fear, laying them before a just and holy God.

I have the verse above written on an index card. Transferred from the pages of the Bible to get a daily glance, it sits jammed between a painting and a frame behind the magnifying mirror on my vanity.  Every day I read it, think about it for a minute and put it away for the day. But this morning it grips my heart and I am overwhelmed with longing.  I've read it and I want more of Him—the LORD---the One who longs to be gracious to me.

I don’t care anymore if it makes me odd or alien in this world. I long to love people. I want to serve people because God loves them and in an unexplainable way, I love them as well.  I have been gifted with compassion yet somehow this day, I stand in need of compassion.  And the LORD---Jehovah—The I Am That I Am---longs to have compassion on me.  How awesome is that! Will I allow Him to act with compassion on my life? Or will I kill my longings and continue on, reading the card day after day, never believing that the message is for me?

He alone knows how much I need his compassion to live in faith, to walk and serve in the world in His name. He knows the sin that so easily entangles me; the diversions of leisure that pull at me. He knows how little I know of what is mine in Christ Jesus; how small my faith is. He knows that I make life about me and not about Him.  He knows what would happen if that were turned upside-down.

Yet this day I long to be laid open by Him. I want to feel the weight that comes with knowing He knows it all.  He is just. He doesn’t have to be gracious to me. He chooses to GRACE me.

Lord, wait no longer. Grace me with your compassion, not only for me but for those you would love through me.  I long to hear your voice behind me saying, “This is the way, walk in it…” I long for you, for the blessing of your compassionate voice.  I long for ears to hear and a heart to understand. I long to be found by you as worthy to receive your compassion and one willing to take it as offered---a holy gift to one who has my heart open to receive. Here I am Lord, me, longing for you.

December 21, 2010

The Heart Letter

This post began its life as a Facebook message on the day that it commemorates. I hesitated putting it up on the blog because it is so personal.  It is my story.  I am not ashamed of it. I am overwhelmed by what God has done for me and what He will do for those who throw down their baggage and pack up Truth. Truth is much lighter to carry--really no burden at all. 

Almost 10 years later--once again on the Gulf of Mexico
Everybody remembers the bright clear day that was 9-11, 2001 and they should. I can’t believe it has been nine years since we witnessed those tragic attacks on America. If we have ever appreciated living where God has placed us, surely it was that day. I remember Rhonda calling and telling me we were taking the kids to the fair. I can say that I felt a twinge of guilt thinking about so many others suffering so far away from our little world of peace, but that guilt gave way to thankfulness for the freedom to go. This horrible day would not change that freedom that was ours. Maybe some others of us went too, out to ride the Scrambler and the Tilt-A-Whirl. I can only remember being “bossed” concerning it. (And since I was with Rhonda, I am sure it was armband night.) It was a beautiful evening and most of the county stayed home. We had the fair to ourselves---at least, compared to most armband nights.

Today is 9-22, and today, I am remembering another 9-22 only a little less than a year before the Trade Towers crashed to the ground---September 22, 2000. That day I consider to be the pivot point of my life; a day I would have literally not lived to experience had it not been for seven special friends. My life was a pile of rubble just like those buildings would be a year later. Ten years ago this day, God sent his Word and healed me.

I know our lives run in many directions ten years later. We are watching our girls become brides, and wives. Before we turn around Annie will make me Naomi’s Grandy. For some of us, our nests are emptying. For me, it is much harder than I thought it would be … (that’s another topic for another day).

But I felt it was really important to STOP for a moment TODAY and tell you that I remember what you did for me---each of you in different ways; all of you interceding. I remember and ten years later I am so very grateful. How can I begin to express gratitude to you for your part in saving of my life? 

Because of you, I know Jesus like I would have never known Him had I continued to serve Him on my own terms, unable to believe His love for me. Because of you, I feel. Before, you noticed, I never cried. Nothing moved out of my heart. All my emotions had been bottled up inside me, gnawing away at me, eating me alive. Because of you, I have the opportunity to love people; people like me that don’t have it all together. Because of you, I have had ten years to raise my children, and fix suppers for Jeff. I have had the opportunity to live in victory and defeat, in joy and pain. Because of you and the grace of God, I have lived.

I really don’t believe that the enemy could have taken my breath. God is, I believe, the One who gives and takes away when it comes to breathing. But I do believe my life could have followed a different path with a mind dulled by psychotic meds, isolated in the humiliation of the loss of sanity, unable to mother or love or praise or teach God’s Word. I could have breathed and I would not have lived. I would not be a woman that Jeff would want to lay next to each night. And I believe that could have been the story of my life without the courage of my friends.

You could have walked away from us—both Jeff and me. You did not. I am telling you that I would not have blamed you had that been your decision. How I thank God that He gave you the ability to “deal” with my crazy life spinning out of control and finding the courage to take me to lock down----and Destin.

You could have walked away from Annie and Bear and Luke; you loved them when I could not; you surrounded them with your children; and they found some security there with you and with their “brothers and sisters.” 

I know you have heard me say that I would not change the path I took or maybe, better said, the path God took me on. I say that because only on this side of freedom do I understand what Christ was holding out to me what I would not receive. I only wish that my path had not required so much sacrifice on your part. My prayer is that somehow when you see my life today, you realize that God used you to let me live, really live, that your interrupted lives saved mine.

So today, ten years after God loosed my chains and hid me in the shadow of his wings, I express to you my friends, my sisters my love and appreciation to each of you. Thank you for not giving up on me, for taking me to those hospitals and crying in the parking lot, for taking me to the beach (what were you thinking!), but mostly for staying in my life when the storm calmed and I had to put the pieces back together. 

I will never say I have made it---that I could never fall again. I don’t believe it will happen. As some of you may know, the motto of my life is “I am saved and being saved. I am healed and being healed.” I pray by the grace of God I live in that truth.

God has sure used up a lot of grace on me, so much grace.

So from your melodramatic mushy friend, I pray the fullness of GRACE will fill your lives to overflowing this day. Never is life perfect, nor are relationships. I am still learning how to do them. How I wish I knew how to be a better friend to each of you. Please accept my thank you for taking me like I am, for thinking I was worth keeping around, and celebrating with me today, a decade of redemption.

December 18, 2010

December Morning


The house is quiet this Saturday morning before Christmas. No boys whistling or rummaging through the refrigerator. No baby crying. Not yet. The sun is still deep in the southeast shining brightly trying hard to warm up this cold winter day. I sit on the deep couch with all it’s pillows and watch the long shadows fall from the pine trees onto the patch of green lawn--still green despite the frosty mornings that came with December.

The couch is in the music room. I really should change the name to something else. The piano moved to Annie’s house where she could daily bring it to life. It was hers anyway. The boys showed no interest. They have their own instruments. Bear strums on the guitar he got for Christmas last year and Luke plays the saxophone in the band.

But there is no sound this morning, no notes on instruments or voices from the television. I sit here alone and listen for the whisper, the Small Voice that only the heart hears. 

This is what I hear:
I love you my child. You have sought me and found me. I am glorified in you as you love me and as you love others in my name. You are loved and you are allowing me to love you. I know that it hasn’t always been this way. This day, let peace rule your heart for that is part of the holy purpose of the coming of Christ—the Prince of Peace. Have joy in this quiet moment in this noisy world. There is music in the room in which you sit but your ears will not hear it until the day when you will hear the angel’s sing. It’s coming. Wait for it but do not be idle. Live, love, be bold to know that I AM is with you. Celebrate the blessings. Oh, taste and see that I am good. Savor this moment. In quietness and trust is your strength.
Overwhelmed in wonder. Loved.

December 17, 2010

Darkness and Light

The other afternoon, it was partly cloudy. I came back to my bedroom on the south side of the house. The sun has begun creeping down for it's winter arc in the southern sky, and with the clouds, it seemed to be getting dark---and it was only 3:30. It just felt strange to me. About that time, my memory kicked in and I thought back to many years ago when I was on a mission trip in Poland at just this time of year.  It was pretty much dark by 4:00 because of the latitude of the city of Tarnow in Southern Poland where we were sharing gospel, not far from the infamous concentration camp known as Auschwitz.

Tarnow is far to the south of the city of Warsaw, the capital of Poland, that was pretty much destroyed during WWII when Hitler's armies rolled into the city and quarantined the Jews into what would become known as the Ghetto. Barricaded and guarded, the Jews of Warsaw began to live and die in a time in history that turns our stomachs and causes us to wonder how such Evil could kill so many in the horror that was the Holocaust. 




This is a picture of a manhole cover is not unlike the cover near the Warsaw Ghetto, the place of great misery where thousands and thousands of Jews lived after the invasion of the city by the Nazis. In the Ghetto, for a while, there was some hope of survival. Children, who were small enough to crawl through the tunnel system of the sewer, came through this very manhole to barter with non-Jewish Poles for arms and food. They did try to free themselves at one point but to no avail. Basically, the whole Jewish population of Poland, the largest in Europe at that time in history would die-----in the dark---- in the ghetto, on a train, or in a shower turned gas chamber.

.....and the light of a lamp
will shine in you no more,...  (the prophecy of the destruction of Babylon)
 (Revelation 18:23a ESV)

Can you imagine how dark it was inside that hole? It brings shivers to my soul. All throughout history there have been times of great darkness. Even in the present, we cannot know the power that darkness holds over the lives of peoples and nations. In Revelation 18 we see the great city go dark--it's lamps to shine no more. Darkness will come in the final days of judgment.

With the memory of that mission trip so many years ago, I am reminded of our responsibility---of my calling---to be a light in the world, to shine for the Light of the world. In some ways, as I have studied the Revelation, I have wanted to pray "bring it on, Lord!," but then I think of those who are living in darkness who do not have the mark of Christ upon their foreheads and I remember that God left me here upon the earth to share the hope of the gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ. 

I am praying this week for the great revival that is predicted to come before the end of days. It may be happening in other places in the world and we aren't aware. I pray it is but I want it to happen here where we live and I want to be a light for Jesus when it seems the sun is going down in the middle of the afternoon. We have nothing to fear but everything to gain in sharing our TESTIMONY of the goodness of God in our lives. Lord, help me be brave---courageous to do your will. I pray this for my fellow classmates in Bible Study that in their places of influence God will use them as lights in the darkness. We are a few small flames but together we are a blazing fire. This was how the Apostle Paul described his calling as he recounted his experience on the road to Damascus when Christ rocked his world.

The Lord to Paul:  But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ 
(Acts 26:16-18; ESV)

Into the darkness, I go---- a witness to the Light.

Unique: The Only One of its Kind

I read the other day an excerpt from a biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder. The author characterized her life as an adult as being pretty common and not much different from other women in the town where she resided in the Ozarks of Missouri. I didn’t read the whole book and I don’t know much about Laura apart from the children’s chapter books that she wrote that are loosely based on her life. Written in third person, Laura recorded her life as a pioneer girl with the details most likely embellished. What I do know about this lady who began her writing career in her sixties is this: Despite her “common-ness,” Laura Ingalls Wilder’s life was uniquely hers.

My life is uniquely mine. No one else has walked everyday of my life in my shoes. I think there is a way we slip away from grandeur of our Creator when we take people and throw them in the stereotypical cultural grouping of their time and place. Woven in our mother’s wombs, we are delivered into a time and place that define us in many ways, yet individually our experiences and the circumstances that shape our destiny can never be duplicated. Like our fingerprints, we alone are shaped into who we are and who we are becoming.

We are born and a certificate is made with the day, the time, our parent’s names. Our given name is typed out on a piece of paper, the first recording of our existence upon this earth. Before our body was formed our life began in the mind of God as recorded in the Bible:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…”  (Jeremiah 1:5a)

God knows. He knew. He is not surprised. He is not surprised that we have struggled at times----that we draw near and then pull away to walk in the way that seems right.  He allows the opportunity to live within the boundaries of life and to suffer the consequences of a world where Sin rules. He knows we will fall prey to the enemy’s destructive schemes. It is in this uncertain world that we look for and find the God we desperately need. The One who will ground us, an anchor in the midst of often storm ravaged lives.  

We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain…  (Hebrews 6:19a)

Only a person with an anchored soul dare enter behind the curtain to fall before God, undone, dropping to the knees before Holiness and finding hope in the unfailing promises of God.  Covered with the blood of Christ, those who receive the Way, the Truth, and Life enter into that Holy Place and find a Father who hears heart cries even when no sound is uttered. Behind the curtain, all of the rest of life falls away. One unique person takes the incredible opportunity to enter into the presence of an indescribable God and is transformed.

… since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh,   (Hebrews 10:19-20)

Is it not the heart’s desire to be known, to be sure and steadfast, filled with hope, confident? God wanted those heart desires met so He sent his Son to make the way and the Holy Spirit to lead us to the way.  What would have been hidden from us, a mystery that would leave us in the world without hope, has been revealed to us in the person of Jesus, His death and resurrection. The flesh of Son of God for the flesh of the sons of mankind allows for a behind the curtain pass to the heart of the Creator who loves us perfectly, individually---- uniquely.

…Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.   (Isaiah 43:1b)

With hope let us enter in.