"I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write." ~St. Augustine

Saturday, December 9, 2017

The Loaves

"Fraud alert!" is never a good email subject line.  Right?

Usually these alerts amount to nothing.  Something I did has triggered the credit card or bank alert system. But, not yesterday.  

Yesterday 1,000 dollars was taken from my bank account.  After seeing the alert, I logged into our bank and my savings account sat there staring at me with 0.08 cents as it's balance.  Black and white.  8 cents. The money was gone!   

In the following micro seconds, while staring at the 8 cents,  I had a fervent stream of  deep fear and worry.... my daughter's help for college, travel to my brother's wedding this summer, the car breaks...  AH!  How?!  NO!?!  

And then almost immediately the phrase came into my mind... understand and remember the loaves...

Quiet and whispered...  remember the loaves, Stephanie.  

The phrase floated over my consciousness, as I sat staring at my empty bank account, and I could feel a peaceful invitation.  Actually, maybe a smiling, happy invitation:  Come in... You need never be afraid.  You can be unmoved.  You actually can trust Me right now, too.  

Recently, my son and I have been discussing this "loaves" phrase from Matthew 6: 50-52 " Take courage!  It is I.  Do not be afraid.  Then He climbed into the boat with them and the wind died down.  They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hard"

Directly after watching Jesus feed five thousand people, the disciples get into a boat and get caught in rocky, difficult weather and water.  They are afraid.  Jesus walks to them on the water and that freaks-them-out maybe more!  The minute He gets in the boat, the water calms.  This surprised and shocked them, too.  What?  Jesus can do miracles?  What?  He can walk on water?  ...and in His presence, the wind dies down?!  It is almost as if this was the first time they had seen Him do miracles.  But it wasn't!! They had already seen so much.  In fact, He had JUST fed five thousand mouths in front of their eyes.  (with twelve left over baskets of fish and loaves, I might add!) 

But, their hearts were hard and they hadn't taken it in.  They hadn't understood.  They weren't remembering.  They were walking into this new situation---rough, tough seas and the ghost of Jesus--- and they were not translating His previous work to their difficult-now.  

How often do I do this?  How often do I forget?  

Oh! How many thousands of loaves has He given me and others I love!?!  Oh... how many answered prayers has He heard and answered.  He has lavished His very Self on and in me.  Years and years of fresh, daily miracles:  His power shown forth in food and the elements.  In the midst of difficult and the hard He has been present.    

In that early morning moment in front of my empty bank account, I stopped.  I hear you, Lord.  Almost with a slight giggle myself, I said out loud:  I understand the loaves, Lord!  I will remember and not harden my heart.   And, I left it.  ...not physically, of course.  There are phone calls and emails to be written---follow-up needed.  But, I left it emotionally.   I really left it.  

The whole day I left it.  Because of the time zone issue, there was nothing to be done till evening.  But, I dropped it and moved on in my day with peace and joy.  

With the trust, there was an implicit assumption and understanding that it may mean the money was gone for good, never to be recovered.  Sometimes God says, "No" to our requests.  He doesn't always give us physical loaves, to be sure.  Jesus never promises that the boat isn't going to rock!! 

If the money is gone for good...  Jesus, You've got this and You are with me!  

If it can be recovered... Jesus, You've got this and You are with me!  

I need never worry.  

I do worry sometimes.  And, I do harden my heart.  I don't always hear or respond to His peace-filled invitations.  But...  

Today, I understood the loaves.  

*In the end, the situation was sorted by the bank.  The money was returned.  There was indeed theft and apparently someone in New York had my debit card (even though I have it in hand here in the UK).  The joys of this dark and clever criminal world we live in!  But, in truth, all is well.  By the end of the day... all bread was back in the basket!  And I have plenty.    ...but, actually, in truth, I had plenty and enough when the bank account showed 0.08 cents.   

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Can you just sit and wait, Stephanie?

photo source
It was 2 in the afternoon when the electricity went off.

Surprised, I got up and went in search of the landlady to let her know.

I had come away for a few days of quiet retreat with the Lord.  Staying in a tiny little cottage down the road from my house, I had been having a great time journaling and praying.  

Hardly even bothered about the electrics, I stuck my head out of the cottage and happened upon the landlady to let her know about the shut-down. She wasn't surprised; but apologetically explained that she would have it all sorted by 4----a few hours time.  No worries, right?  

The hours past quickly as I continued to worship, journal, read and pray.  I first realized the passing of time when I noticed the darkening of the room and I started to get a little cold (the heating is connected to the electrics).  I got up in order to start the kettle for a cup of tea.  ...no electricity.   Looking at the clock, it was now 5 PM...  and the daylight was quickly leaving.  My little cottage was starting to get dark and cold---and I just wanted a hot drink.  

So, slightly bothered now, I popped my head out of the cottage in search of the landlady.  She was no where to be found.  So, I ventured out...  finding the electricians hard at work by flashlight and lanterns.  Yes, darkness was indeed quickly descending.  

I politely asked them when they might be done working... and they assured me that it would only be another half hour at most.  As I turned away from them and began walking back to my dark cabin, I felt the strong urge to cry... sadness was welling up---hard and fast.  

Wow!  These strong emotions...for this relatively small thing, Lord...  What is this about, Father? I want to weep here.  What is really going on in my heart.  

I sat down and picked up my journal and with the trickle of light from the descending sun,  I wrote: "This is definitely not only about the electricity!" 

I spent the next few minutes crying and writing...  trying to articulate all the "small" and large things that have been frustrating lately.  ...the myriad of things that I am and have been waiting for.  

Waiting.  It is not an easy thing to do!  I am not a patient person.  ...and there is a lot of waiting and ambiguity in this life.  

The landlady said it would be working at 4:00... it was now nearly 6 PM.  I was cold, getting hungry, tired, and it was dark.  I was imminently loosing my the ability to do any journaling or reading.  

The next hour was spent in utter frustration.  In and out of the cottage, I went.  Making my annoyance known in small ways... I paced, I sighed.  I asked again--- when?  When will this be sorted?  I kept getting the same answer...  only a few more minutes.  Surely just 20 more minutes.  

The sadness I had been feeling slowly and steadily turned to anger.  Utter frustration.  

As I sat in the dark cabin... verses kept coming to my head, on after another.  Wait on the Lord.  Wait for the Lord continually (Hosea 12:6).  Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him (Psalm 37:7).  I wait for the Lord, my soul waits!  (Psalm 130:5)  

Just wait.  Can you just wait?  

Stephanie, wait on the Lord. 

At 7:15, I texted my husband:  Dark.  Cold.  Hungry.  Electricity is still out.  I am done.  I am so frustrated.  Waiting in the dark...  

He wrote back:  Do you want me to come get you?  

Clear as a sun-filled day, I knew in that instant the answer to that kind question from my husband...  
I knew.  I knew I needed to wait.  

I texted back...  I don't know.  ...No,  I think God is asking me to wait.  

He texted back...  Ok.  Wait it is.  Hmmmm...  Waiting in the dark.  Praying for you right now.  

Yep!  He knows.  My husband knows all the things we are waiting for.  

In that moment, I put my phone down.  I  walked over with distinct purpose and sat on the couch. With stubborn resolve... with a sorta-"fine, then!"-mild tantrum feeling, I sat down.

OK, Lord,  I am going to wait!!  I don't know how long, but here I am...  Here I am.  I am waiting.  Into the dark, I went and I sat. Hands on my knees, sitting with obstinate determination... I sat and chose to wait. In that moment I felt surrender.  

It was only seconds, hardly even a minute later...the lights came on.  

Just like that... as if with perfect comedic timing the Lord responded to my final surrender with: Good!  Well done.  Finally!  And, bam! the electricity came on.  

It was 7:30 PM and God had another life lessons for me...  Can you wait, Stephanie?  Just stop, sit down... be still and know that I am God.  Not the first time we have been here!  But, indeed, here we are again.   Just waiting.  

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