Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Lithium-Hearted

 
The speedometer results are in.
My foot has lost all of its lead. I could blame it on my health and write it off as just a natural progression of my body's wasting. Or I could give credit to a coming of age. Either way, I'd grown quite accustomed to the will and ways of lead foot and driving sure feels different with out.
I was born with the lead in my foot but the heaviness went undiagnosed until age sixteen. Then one day my foot came in contact with the gas pedal of a Mitsubishi Montero. At that moment lead was discovered in my foot and the need for speed in my racing heart.
Throughout my teens and early twenties I found joy in having a lead foot. I embraced its density and weight. With pedal to the metal I took pleasure in beating ETAs and yellow lights.
Maneuvering winding roads with my heavy foot was a thrill. I took twists and turns with the confidence of a Nascar Driver, imagining myself behind the wheel of a fiery red turbo engine convertible.
Laying hard into my lead foot, I drove with power and zip. I drove fast.
By a miracle, and way too much grace from God, I never did receive a single speeding ticket in all of my lead footed driving days. The consequences for my law breaking actions behind the wheel could have easily resulted in countless moving violations... or worse. By speeding and indulging my lead foot my ride could have ended in fiery destruction.
Thankfully, God's grace and protection was upon me and now my lead-footed days are behind me.
But my lead trouble doesn't end at my extremities. It didn't start there, either. Long before age sixteen I was diagnosed with a crushing load of lead within my heart. This burden of sin I carried from birth weighed me down, tempting me at every twist to travel fast and exceed the limits of the law.
When I embraced the heaviness of my lead heart, I pushed every pedal to the metal. I raced through life with reckless abandon. I accelerated when every sign from God said to slow down. At curves I didn't let up and at yellow lights I sped up.
I was a lead hearted, law breaking sinner on the fast track for a fiery crash and a destiny of destruction and I deserved hell's eternal ticket.
But God, in the most unimaginable, undeserved, unmerited act of grace, spared me the eternal ticket I deserved. The ticket with my name on it - my sin on it - was paid for by God's one and only perfect Son. Not once did He ever push the limits of God's law and yet He gave His life blood to pay the eternal cost of my damning crimes. On the glorious Cross of Calvary, Jesus Christ, the blameless, spotless Lamb of God, willingly took upon Himself my guilty verdict and my eternal punishment.
But His work did not finish there because Jesus Christ rose again. At the empty tomb of His Son God claimed the final victory over my lead heart. He spared me sin's penalty and saved me from its very power. He removed my dark, black, rebellious, sinful heart of lead and renewed me with His heart of eternal, redeeming love.

Physical weakness cleansed my foot of its lead but only the sanctifying blood of Christ could cleanse it from my heart. Only the perfect Lamb of God could carry my heart of lead to the grave and raise it to new life with eternal lightness of His love and life. Only the Son of God could save me from myself with Himself. 

These days my driving style is more "lithium-footed" than it is lead-footed.
And, by the inexhaustible, life-saving, punishment-paying, never-ending, perfect grace of God, my heart is too.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

A teddy bear tale

It is one of my first childhood memories...
I was about three or four, and my most precious, treasured, teddy bear was lost. I'm sure at the time this teddy bear had a name although that detail escapes me now. What I do remember vividly is the garden green ribbon around the soft, fluffy white neck of my bear. His eyes were a little droopy and his nose was made of thread. I loved that bear and carried him with me everywhere.
Then, one fateful morning just a week before Valentine's day, my beloved bear went missing. I was devastated. At that young age, the loss of my cherished bear was the greatest I had ever known. I searched for him in the house but he was no where to be found. I retraced my steps back to the grocery store where I last remembered seeing him but a call to customer service resulted in more bad news. There had been no bear sighting. Teddy was gone.
With a distraught daughter at home, I remember my Dad did something unusual that chilly February night. He went shopping.
After hearing that teddy was last spotted at the grocery store Dad returned to conduct his own search. When he came up empty handed he refused to be defeated. Determined to bring home a bear he made a stop in the store's gift isle. With just a week to go before Valentine's Day the shelves were well stocked with red and pink packages. It was the perfect place to find a new perfect bear for a little girl. 
When he arrived home that evening, Dad walked through the door wearing a big smile, holding a big, eighteen inch tall balloon. The balloon was clear and decorated with a festive cupid scene complete with hearts and swirls. But inside the balloon was the true treasure. Sitting atop a bed of glittery red and white confetti was a soft, white fluffy bear with gentle eyes and a heart on each paw. Inside the balloon was my new teddy. 
In my four short years of life that was my first encounter with a stuffed animal inside of a balloon. To this day, I have yet to encounter a second. It was and always has been an incredible gift.
With my new bear to hug and hold onto the thoughts of my lost teddy faded away and into the distance. Captivated by the wonder of the gift I'd been given, what I lost became a memory.

My dear Valentine, this is just a glimmer of the beautiful love displayed by our Heavenly Father.
In our loss He comes to our side and satisfies us with His Son. Before the throne of God's grace He bestows the greatest treasure of His Son's Holy Spirit.
When a child cries out and calls on the name of Jesus Christ, the Heavenly Father does not delay. Swifter than a balloon floating down from heaven, He will come and lend His mighty aid. He will enter from on high and lift the burden of His precious child's frantic search. He ends the hunt at the foot of the Cross. In the gift of Christ He replaces sadness with His everlasting, eternal gladness.
Surrounded by the overwhelming glory of the Savior, captivated by His goodness and grace, every thought of loss fades away and even the most precious of teddies becomes a distant memory. Just simply being in the presence of Jesus Christ, that is truly the only "teddy" any of us will ever need.



Wednesday, February 7, 2018

New Sights


I blinked and fog covered my cornea. I closed my right eye, blinked a few times in the left and checked again. Still just clouds and fog. There was a misty haze in my left eye while the view from my right eye remained clear and bright.

The change in my eye sight shouldn't have surprised me. Just weeks ago I had a painful bubble appear on my eyelid. What good did I expect to proceed such a troubling ailment?  I suppose somewhere inside I held out hope that the strange bubble would burst and a miracle would occur. I would be restored to 20/20 vision, better than before. But, alas, my hopes were not fulfilled, at least not time.
Now I have a cloudy eye that is getting hazier, and harder to open, by the day.
I will admit that this is deterioration number two in the past month that has put the fear in me. Serious concerns overwhelm me when I consider losing the vision in an eye. Being blind, even in just one eye, scares me. Blind just sounds hard. When I hear that some is blind I immediately feel a heaviness for them. How difficult must it be to function in a world that depends so much on sight?
Now, blinking with a misty, hazy eye, I might soon be able to answer that question.

I know to some I might appear crazy allowing my body to deteriorate at such a rapid clip while continuing down the same road of treatments. To some this might appear to be plain foolishness. Or stupidity. Take your pick. I can certainly understand such reasoning. I understand the concern because I've had serious concerns, too. I've worried about the next deterioration and questioned if I'm on the right path. I've cried and been angry and experienced every emotion in between.
And then I blink; look up; and God is there. Without fail, as often as I turn to Him with my fears and concerns, He is there. He is always there and He is always offering me comfort and peace.

This is exactly what happened when I discovered the disrupted vision in my left eye. First I feared, then I blinked and there He was. God was in my presence and all around me. I didn't need sight to perceive His glory. His Holy Spirit overwhelmed me.

In that moment I stopped fearing the further loss of my sight. Why should I fear? What use have I for my eyes, anyhow? God doesn't require that I be my own vision. There will be no use for my eyes come heaven and God doesn't require them now. He can show me His way, His Son, and my Savior regardless of my eyes ability to see.
Fixated on the sight of Jesus Christ and captivated by His glory, I do not need to fear the lose of my left eye's sight. I do not even need to fear going entirely blind because God has supplied me the spiritual to see His perfect vision, the Lord Jesus Christ, and that is the only sight I will ever need. 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

It was perfect




Today was magical.
Today was a wonderful day that began at the Word and ended at the Cross. It was an ordinary day turned extraordinary by the sprinkling of God's marvelous presence. God dusted my life with His glory and dazzled me visions of His beauty. He spoke to me without words and comforted me with the sweetest of Heaven’s touch. 
From the very beginning of the day, God was there amazing me.
In an early morning text He stirred me with His faithfulness. With an old childhood journal entry He showed me the splendor of His precious Son, Jesus.
From the scriptures of old I received the Lord's encouragement to keep fighting the good fight of faith. From an old photograph I felt God's loving embrace. 
From the gift of an old rugged cross, I was wrapped in the peace of salvation and overwhelmed with Christ's amazing grace.   

Today, at every turn, God’s Holy Spirit was there to greet me and captivate me. His glory had me on the edge of my seat anticipating the next splendor to be revealed, praying that today would play on endless repeat.
Today was just right. In God's presence it was just as it should be. With God in control, today was a wonderful treasure and a magical delight. 
In the hands of God, today was perfect and, held in the grips of His grace, tomorrow will be too. 


Oh Lord, I pray that this beautiful reality of your presence be my every day magic from now and forever more. Bring on the dusting of your presence. Reach out your hand and make your glory shine! Oh Lord, thank you for your Spirit and for shedding it richly upon my life. 
Thank you for your presence. Thank you for today.

Friday, February 2, 2018

A closer walk with Thee

Since when has Phil been seeing his shadow at 7:00 AM? I always thought he made his winter predication at 8. I was sure of it. At 7:58 I prepared the proper channel so I wouldn't miss a single second of Punxsutawney news coverage. As the commercial break before 8:00 AM came to a close, I took my seat to watch Phil but the scene opened and Phil didn't appear. The local news began anew at 8:00 and no one mentioned a groundhog.
At the bottom of the screen, snippets of today's featured stories flashed across the blotter. "He sees his shadow! 6 more weeks of winter!" I had missed it. Punxsutawney Phil had already seen his shadow. His prediction was already old news.
In the great scheme of things, missing the very moment Phil made his Groundhog Day appearance isn't any great loss. The news stations will play clips of the celebration for the rest of the day. I will get my fill of Phil.
The truth is missing things is a familiar feeling for me now. In the past eight years I've missed a lot of things - celebrations, get-togethers, experiences. I've missed family vacations and birthday parties. I've missed more church services than I can count. I've missed opportunities and milestones.
Yet, at every miss, God has stepped in to fill the gap. In the presence of His glory everything I've missed becomes as meaningless as a Punxsutawney Phil winter weather prediction. 
At every miss God has stepped in and supplied me with the greatest gain: just a closer walk with Thee. 
In the presence of Christ there is nothing I miss. The sufficiency of His amazing grace supplies my every need. The bounty of His love is more than enough to satisfy me.
Consumed by the glory of His Holy Spirit, I have missed nothing and gained everything walking closer with THEE.