Friday, April 28, 2017

Misery meets its Master

I've had to learn to let go.
As my physical abilities have wasted away I've been forced to let go of my capacity to run and lift heavy weight. I've had to let go of the body I could depend on the stamina I enjoyed and the vitality I thought would never end.
I've had to let go of the simple abilities I so casually took for granted. Jiggling baby nieces and nephews and giving toddles piggy back rides are all activities I performed without a second thought. But now I'm too weak. My back is in too much pain and I've had to learn to let go.
I've had to learn to let go of the dreams of what I believed my life "should" be. I've had to learn to let go of the milestones I've missed and the expectations I've failed to meet. I've had to learn to let go of my plans and release my fixation on the future.
In the saga that has been this struggle I've learned to let go of my reliance on steady by the world's standards. It hasn't been easy or comfortable, but my death grip on dependable has been released. I've had to let go of knowing what is to come. I've had to let go of my misery, my sorrow and my pain, learning to rest with open, empty hands.

In all of this learning to let go I've been learning that in my hands and in my heart there is only one thing that I should be holding. To be at peace, rest and entirely surrendered to God there is only one thing I can be holding onto. I can only be holding God. He is who my heart can behold no matter what my physical condition. Christ is who I can behold when babies weigh too much and toddlers tax my back.
God has taught me to let go of everything other than Himself. Be holding nothing but His Son. Grip nothing but His Spirit. And as I've put His lesson on beholding into practice I've learned the purpose and the principle behind the letting go. It is when I let go of all I am and behold of who God is that I am complete. I am strong. I am at peace. I am content. I am full of joy. Not because of what I have to hold but WHO I relentlessly Behold.

Misery meets its Master when it is the Master who I behold. 

Jeremiah 45:3-6

Monday, April 24, 2017

I miss you

I miss you. I don't even know your name or who you are. All I know is that I miss you. Your absence has left a void in my life. I want to pick up the phone and call you but I don't have a number to dial. I want to meet you in a park and take a walk before we head over to the local coffee shop. When I'm sad I want to feel your comfort. When I'm happy I want to share with you my joy. I want to do life with you.
Whoever you are.
I miss you so deeply that my heart aches. In the pit of my soul I pine for you. I haven't even read a single page of your life story yet I long to memorize every line. I yearn to listen to the tales of your past and hear about your dreams for the future. I crave your quirks and characteristics that make you, you.
There is a place in my life that only you can fill. It is a special space carved out for you and you alone. I know it is there because God put it there. He made me with you in mind. When He formed me in my innermost being He left a place for you to reside. In my heart He created a desire and that desire is you.
Over and over again I have told myself that I don't miss you. I have done my best to deny the aching hole in my heart by pretending it doesn't exist. I've asked God to fill my void with a different desire but He has yet to grant my request and I doubt He ever will because I was created to desire you and made to miss you.
You, even the absence of you, are part of God's plan for my life. By missing you I am learning to love and appreciate you. God has designed this desire in me for you and set aside this time for it to go unfulfilled for a purpose. In it He is showing me how to love you and fanning the flames of my devotion to you. God is showing me that my missing you isn't going away. It shouldn't go away because my desire is going to be fulfilled.
One day, some day soon, I will no longer need to miss you. This void inside of me will be filled to the overflowing with your love and companionship. I will pick up the phone and call you. We will go for walks and drink copious amounts of coffee. We will cry together, laugh together and pray together. Soon, very soon, I know you are going to walk into my life and take away my missing. In the blink of an eye, with a simple hello, you will sweep in and fulfill this God-given desire placed in me especially for you.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Part 2: Goose on the road

My second goose encounter occurred as I maneuvered my car up the exit ramp, off of one interstate and onto another four lane divided highway. I merged into the right lane and slowed down just enough to successfully navigate the slight curve ahead. I was traveling on a familiar stretch of road that is always well trafficked, especially at noon as it was on this fateful goose day.
As I rounded the curve I instinctively glanced to my left to check my blind spot in preparation for the upcoming merge but as my eyes glanced out my window something caught my eye. Rather, some bird caught my eye. Standing in the patch of grass between my incoming lane and the two interstate lanes I was about to meet there stood, stock still as a statue, seemingly oblivious to the busyness and danger whizzing past her, an enormous goose.
Interestingly enough this is the very same highway that just a few weeks earlier and a few miles up the road, I witnessed my first goose. That particular goose, possibly the very same silly goose, was attempting to actually cross the the interstate highway at three on a Saturday afternoon when the traffic was steady and heavy. That goose was nearly hit countless times in the short minute I witnessed its journey but miraculously made it to the shoulder on the road without harm.
Now the goose was back.
Watching this particular goose was different from the first. Goose number two wasn't trying to cross the interstate highway but, given her position between lanes of traffic, had already successfully dodged danger and made it to her safe spot on the grass. I missed that part of the goose's adventure. All I saw was a goose at peace and blissful rest. 
As God so often does in my animal encounters, He used that goose on the road to teach me a lesson. This particular goose on the road taught me about risk and rest God's way. God showed me that in order for the goose to get to its patch of peaceful rest it had to take a risk and cross the road. It had to face danger and dodge traffic.
But the goose took the risk and enjoyed rest on the other side. The goose made the journey, took the step of faith to cross the road, and was rewarded with a lush patch of soft green grass. God protected the goose as she traveled the pavement, carried her over the troubled highway and delivered her to a place of safety.
And so it is with me.
As I step out in faith and walk on God's path He protects me even when faced with the dangers of disappointments and defeat. When I am on the journey with God as my guide He will carry me through my troubles of illness, confusion and pain. He is able to see me through every situation and protect me on every road.
There have been times and trials in my life when I have looked more like the first goose on the highway than the second. I've dodged speedy semis that have been powered by hopelessness and escaped becoming the road kill of anxiety and worry. My spirit has taken journeys that have felt more dangerous than divine yet God has been there with me all the while. He never abandoned this goose on the road and He never will.
The second goose on the highway taught me that when I trust God and walk faithfully on His path He will set my feet on the glorious grass of His peace and rest.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Praying for ink

I am a pen in the hand of God. My life is His instrument, used to compose His promises. My heart is a canvas for Him to write His truth. God has given me life and breath for this very purpose: to make a mark of magnification on this world that will bring Him glory and honor.

...But what if this pen dries up?...What if the ink of illumination and inspiration runs out?... What if God doesn't pick up my life to be used as His writing instrument?... What if He leaves the pen of my heart sitting on His desk?...

Inside my anxious soul I worry. Without God's indwelling in my very thoughts, giving life to my words I will have nothing to say, not a syllable to share.
Without God I am an ink-less pen. Without the Holy Spirit I cannot write. Without Christ living inside of me and breathing His truth into my spirit I empty and dry. I offer His paper nothing without the presence of His Holy Spirit residing in my heart.
I need God to take up my spirit into His hands and give it meaning and purpose. I need The Almighty Lord to take my emptiness and fill it with His life.
I can't do it on my own. I can't even write veined attempts at encouragement without His presence in my pen. Without the Spirit of God taking over I can't put a word to paper that will bring His eternal throne glory and honor. I cannot magnify God without being moved by the Holy Spirit living inside of me.

So I'm asking God to renew His Spirit in me. I need an infusion of His Holy ink. I am drying up; I can feel it. The words that used to flow like a flood have dried up to a trickle. The pen that used to pour out words is only making faint marks and vague scribbles.
I need the Spirit to infuse the pen of my life with abundant life.
I need Holy ink that won't ever go dry.
I need Christ to take my heart and use it to write the timeless story of His saving grace.
I need God to pick me up off of His desk and restore to me His purpose for my life.
I cannot make myself a useful instrument for God by my own will and works. I cannot fill my own pen with ink. Only God has the capacity to make me full of His Spirit and all He requires that I ask Him. And so I will ask. Over and over again I will ask.

God, don't let this pen go dry. Pour into me Your endless, abundant ink in order that I may pour it out onto this world for the glory and honor of your Almighty name.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Waiting on God's front porch

I wanted to hear from God so I went to His door and knocked. But He didn't answer. No matter how hard I knocked or how many times I rang His door bell, He didn't come to the door.
I was so disappointed. I was so eager to hear His voice and listen as He spoke. But I heard nothing. No footsteps in the house, no call from the other side of the door saying, "Just a minute, I'll be right there!" Where had he gone? Was God ignoring me, I wondered? Did He have nothing new to say to me? My internal questioning and concern only lasted a moment. Certainly God was inside His house. He was always in His house.
Convinced that it wasn't God who had run off, I searched for a way to make Him hear me. I tried cymbals and gongs but He never came to the door. I tried pounding on the knocker with more force but the door remained shut. So I thought to myself, maybe He is speaking inside of the house but I just can't hear Him. So I silenced the noise in my life. I turned off the stereo and TV. I shut up my books and talking heads. But all I heard were crickets. No voice from God. No word from inside the house.
Were my ears plugged up or had God gone on vacation? Exasperated and confused, knuckles too sore to pound on His door one second longer, I looked up into the Heaven's and begged God to break the silence. I'm here, ready to listen! Please come and speak to your daughter! 
But God didn't come to the door and He didn't say a word.
In that silent state, torn between emotions of frustration and disappointment, standing on God's front porch, a new thought dawned on me. Maybe God wasn't speaking to me because He was too busy to speak to me. Maybe God wasn't speaking because He was busy preparing a special surprise for me on the other side of the door.
While I was standing on His porch, incessantly ringing the bell, God was busy at work on my behalf inside the house. He wasn't speaking because He was orchestrating His beautiful and wondrous plans, accomplishing tasks to bring about my future's surprises. While I was waiting, knocking and ringing, God was working.
So I decided to stop trying to make God's front door open and instead to simply rest on the front porch. I took up a seat and got comfortable, trusting that in the right time God would come to the door, open it wide and speak His words of welcome. I waited in glorious anticipation, knowing that when it was time for the big reveal He would break the silence. At just the perfect moment God would usher me in to come and see what He had been busy preparing on the other side of the threshold.
It was there, peacefully waiting on God in the stillness and serenity of His front porch, that I learned a lesson about His holy silence. God never goes silent as a matter of ignorance or an act of ignoring. God goes silent while He works His grandest plans and prepares His greatest reveals.

Dear friend, do you want to know how I can be so sure that God's silence is His time of surprise preparation? Well, I'll let you in on a little secret. While I was waiting on God's front porch I heard a little sound coming from the other side of the door. I heard shuffling and scurrying and the glorious movement of my graceful Lord. And then I heard the most amazing words whispered in God's sweet familiar voice. He said oh so softly, "Oh, I can't wait to see the look on her face when my beloved daughter sees all of this!" 
God's glorious surprises are always worth the wait.
And until then I'm enjoying His front porch.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Where I go when it storms

The thunder cracked and a bolt of lightening lit up the living room. I looked down and there she was, Molly, my scardy schnoodle.
Molly was born afraid of storms. Her fear became evident during the first storm she weathered as a member of the family. As the wind whipped and the rain fell our little schnoodle puppy was shaking like a leaf while her big, brave sister Pippy slept on the floor completely unaware that a meteorological disturbance was under way. Molly has grown up quite a bit since that first storm. She no longer chews flip-flops and she's completely house broken. She's even shed all of her puppy fur but she hasn't shed her puppy fear.
When storms come Molly is still just as fearful as she was during her first storm. She quivers, shivers and shakes. Unlike Marley of the best selling book "Marley and Me," Molly suffers from the form of fear that paralyzes and not the form that induces fits of destruction. Even in the worst of storms Molly has never destroyed couch cushions or chewed through wooden furniture. When Molly becomes fearful she goes completely silent and freezes, usually right underneath my feet while I'm cooking dinner.
Inevitably storms always seem to roll in at dinner time. The moment I see the dark clouds I know that my meal preparation is going to have a furry friend under foot. Fearful Molly always wants to be as close to human comfort as possible. She sits right on my toes as I stand at the counter, her little body practically glued to the side of my leg. Poor Molly gets stepped on countless times in every dinnertime storm but she doesn't let it deter her from planting herself as close to me as possible even when I'm moving around like a whirling dervish, tripping over her at every turn. Her kitchen presence during storms has caused me to take countless dangerous trips and near falls all while wielding a knife and cutting board.
Molly's unconquerable fear of storms and obtrusive presence in the kitchen used to frustrate me and produce in me exasperated sighs. When will she outgrow this? I would think to myself. At each rumble of thunder Molly's shaking fur would answer my question. Never.
Molly is three and showing no signs of overcoming her fear of storms. And that's okay by me because I'm no longer seeing her need to stand under my feet in fear as an annoyance. Now when I look down at my shaking schnoodle I have a new found compassion because I have a new vision.
You see, when I look down at Molly I see myself and my inner need to be comforted, protected and reassured by the steady and sure presence of my Master and Father God. When storms in my life come and the thunder shakes my foundation I run, just like Molly, to the feet of my Savior and Protector. I run to the foot of the cross. I take refuge from the wind and rain in His courage and strength. I plant myself underneath His feet and rely on Him to calm my anxious soul.
My Father God never loses patience with me while I cower underneath His cross. When I am fearful He does not push me aside or dismiss me as a burden. I am never in His way. He loves to have me at His feet. He cherishes the time I spend at the throne of His grace. He pours into me the strength I cannot gather on my own. He clams me with the peace I am powerless to produce. He loves me. Oh, how He loves me.
And so I will love on Molly when she comes to me in the storm, shaking in fear and overcome with distress. I will look down on her little worried face and have mercy on her even when she is in my way, causing me to nearly fall flat on the kitchen floor. I will stand as her courage and provide her my peace because that is just what Jesus did for me. That is just what Jesus does for me during every rumble of thunder, every crack of lightening and every battering wind. Because Christ stands strong through the storm I can rest assured in His presence and know that the sun will shine again.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Just the Savior I need

As I made my way down the elevator, through the tiled hallway and into the bright and inviting lobby I was met with a familiar, friendly aroma.
I hadn't been thinking about my favorite warm caffeinated beverage at six in the evening but the twenty four seven, freshly brewed pot in the hotel lobby beckoned me to come and fill up. So I did. The coffee was so hot I could barely pick up the insulated cup with my bare hands. Spotting a handy cardboard sleeve I reached for it, slipped it on my steaming cup and went on my way.
With the uneventful coffee fill up complete I continued on my intended journey out of the sliding glass doors and into the car. It wasn't until I was in the car, miles down the road and halfway through my coffee that I looked at the words imprinted on the hotel's complimentary cup sleeve. "COFFEE" it said in big bold letters, "just the thing you need." In that one simple, short statement I was overwhelmed by significance. The words were meant to be quirky and cute, the kind of statement that brings a faint smile to the face of the coffee sippers. But for this particular coffee drinker the words on the sleeve and the message they delivered were transformed before my very eyes, in my very hand.
When I looked at the cup, instead of seeing the word "COFFEE" I read the word "CHRIST." Instead of thinking about java and liquid energy, I saw visions of salvation and eternal life. From the cup that filled my car with the scent of freshly roasted beans I inhaled the aroma of grace and redemption.

Coffee, no matter how caffeine rich and invigorating, is not what I truly need. Even the best cup of coffee will only provide me temporary energy and life. Sooner or later the boost wanes and I end up back in the hotel lobby for another cup of "just what I need."
But Jesus gives me just what I need for eternity. The life-giving, soul-enriching, body-energizing life He gives doesn't need to be refilled. Jesus' salvation is sustaining, bought and paid for once and for all. On the cross, in His death and resurrection, Jesus Christ filled my cup with never ending life so that I would never have to fill it again. Jesus purchased for me just what I need all that I need. He  filled my cup, my life and my soul, to the overflowing. He provided me the sleeve of His mercy and gift of His abundant grace.

I like coffee, I may even go as far as to say I love coffee, but it isn't what I need, despite what the sleeve on my cup tells me. The perfect Son of God is truly all I will ever need. He is the infusion of eternal life that gives me everlasting vitality of the heart that does not crash and does not disappoint. Jesus Christ, He is just the Savior I need for now and for eternity.