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

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

More Gardening Lessons

As I was sitting in the quiet of my prayer shed outside, the chatter of their talk broke into the silence and invaded. A friend had come into our garden/yard and, at our request, was explaining to my husband what to do with the myriad of plants we were meant to care for (and have NO idea what to do with !).

Slightly annoyed by the noise of this gardening lesson, I attempted to ignore the conversation and continue with my intercession. As the instructions continued, it quickly became clear that I wasn't going to be able to focus with them so close to my "quiet spot". Naturally, then, I began to listen in, my head still bowed in prayer... but my attention on the words coming from our neighbor-friend.

I could hear her voice, gentle and light in tone: Cut it back here. Trim this one. Yes, that needs to be pulled right out. No, that plant is not a weed-- that one is on purpose. That needs to be trimmed in the Autumn. ...This one you can cut right down to the ground. Has that one flowered yet? These two need to be separated or the one will take over the other. After you see that one flower, then you can cut it back. Don't cut it too far. OH! Cut, that one right down to the base...

The thought struck me, with a smile, that maybe this might be what it was like to hear a conversation within the Trinity. I began to wonder if that was what it might sound like as the Father, the Son and the Spirit conversed about their kids. Did they talk with each other in this manner? Did they talk about how to trim, and how far to cut? Did they rejoice over the "flowers" they had seen on "this one" in the early Spring? Did they discuss the plans and gently decide on the best "good" pruning that was necessary?

Or was this what it might sound like if God were speaking to me about my spiritual life... No, that is not a weed--- that one is on purpose!! Yes, you had flowers in this area of your life and now it is time to trim that back. Oh, my Stephanie, we need to cut that out! ...and pull that one right out!

Early this morning, I spoke with a few friends on the phone. Both these ladies have been growing and "flowering" much lately. Over the years, I have seen much growth and have gloried in the work that God has done in them. And interestingly enough, both of these ladies are right now feeling the trimming, the pruning, and the weeding that is deeply painful in their every day life. They are feeling the Father's good hand as He purges and re-shapes them. ...But it doesn't "feel" so good, that is for sure! Pruning hurts...

And, as a "beginner" gardener, I know it isn't fun to cut back those pretty bushes. It isn't pleasing or fun to cut a rose bush, only weeks ago fragrant and plentiful, ...to cut it back to its bare stump... leaving it pitiful looking and ugly. But, I am learning it is the very best thing I can do if I am to truly care for my garden.

"Just hack!" our Gardner friend said, when she was explaining the process.

Can I say this freely to God? Just hack, Lord. Hack away at the flowered stems, the fruited branches and the budded limbs. Just hack, Lord and pull and weed those places that are becoming overgrown and full of nasty roots that will kill. Yank. Pull. Trim. Shape. Hack.

Can we trust our Father to know when to leave the plant alone and when to trim "just enough to shape"... and when to just hack away?!

As I listened to the chatter of gardening instructions outside my prayer shed, I began again to pray for my friends I began to ask the Lord to water, to trim and to hack when necessary. I began to entrust these dear ones into His good, wise and loving hands. I remembered that it was He that planted them, has watered them, and He that continues to do all things necessary for their growth.

As I sat in my prayer shed, the beautiful chatter that broke into my solitude was exactly what the Father wanted to invade. Thank you, Father, for another gardening lesson today.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

You said

I needed to hear what the Father was saying to me. I needed time away. My daughter said, in a half-joking manner, "Mom, you need a spiritual retreat!" I truly cringe sometimes when she says things like that (true or not). A real part of me doesn't want her to grow up thinking her mom was weak... and, yet, well... I am weak. I know that. And, I suppose (though it pokes at my pride) her knowing my weakness it is not so bad--- especially when she knows the solution is a few days away with the Lord.

So, I went away for a two day spiritual retreat. It had been planned for months... time set aside this week for me. ...next week for my husband. In attempting to describe my time away, my sweet daughter told our neighbor I went on a vacation with God. ...a long weekend away with my Father! And, that is exactly what I did.

I slept a lot. I prayed a lot. I sat and thought. I wrote. I stared into space. I worshipped. I walked. I sat. I thought. I prayed. I just was ...all with Him.

It is amazing what comes bubblin' up from the soul when given space, time, and quiet. Often times when I take these retreats away, I start with a "review" of sorts. What has God been whispering lately? What are the themes? What is repeated in my journal these past few months? And, that is where I usually start. ...a good starting point, I find.

And then I attempt to talk with the Father about these things in more depth. I sit and think. I ask and pray. I listen and read. I write.

The few days were full... and sweet... and powerful.

One thing that seemed to happen about half way through my two day retreat, was a "chorus" of sorts that was streaming through my heart and mind of things--- True things--- God had said or has been saying to me for a long while now. Truths that I have heard for years. Truths I needed to hear again.

I wrote, "You said" at the top of my journal page... followed by two pages of Truth that He has spoken over me, in personal whispers from His Spirit and through His Word. The more I wrote down the Truth, the more Truth flowed. It was like fuel for a fire or water for thirst.

Our God is constantly speaking. His Word spoke creation into being, His Word became flesh, His Word is living and active, and His Word lives in me today. His Spirit leads me into all Truth and He desires Truth to reign in my inner being. This is One thing, one of the many things, He is constantly "at work" doing. He is speaking. ... speaking and repeating Himself, over and over again.

I am so glad He reminded me again of His Words of Truth and Life. I want to listen more to what He says. I need to hear what the Father has to say to me.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Wear your suffering, you Crowned One

In Kazakh culture, the meaning of your name has deep significance. Parents of an unborn child wrestle with name choice not based on the sound of the name (or whether they "like" or dislike a certain name), as was my experience in American culture, but on the meaning.

Before moving to Kazakhstan in 1997, I didn't even know my name had a meaning. I had never thought of it and it had never been a topic of conversation. I knew Stephanie was a name my parent's chose, last minute actually... and I knew my grandmother (who LOVED the orchestra) thought it sounded like the word "symphony". But, I didn't know that my name was a derivative of anything in particular... and never knew the word, "Stephanie" had any meaning associated with it.

After living in Asia a while, the meaning of names began to have deep significance for us. We very specifically named our son because of his name's meaning... not because of "liking" the name or how it sounded. It was a very distinct change in my husband and I. This difference is shown in the three years between our first child (her name not picked according to meaning) and our second child, this son, VERY much given a name because of it's meaning.

The other night at dinner, the topic of names came up in a group setting. Someone asked me the meaning of my name. I nonchalantly responded, "Stephanie means 'crowned one'". As the light-hearted conversation continued, a quick internal dialogue went on in my mind. In those few moments, I distinctly thought how very disconnected I felt from my name's meaning. Did I feel like a "crowned one"? Was I a "crowned one"? I simply felt no connection what-so-ever with the meaning of my name. It was a quick thought and not terribly deep.

Only a few short hours later, during a group worship time, I had a profound experience that has changed this tremendously. It was a significant time of worship and I felt God's presence greatly as I sang of His love. All of a sudden I had a picture in my mind that was so "true to life" it was like I was looking at a photograph in front of my face.

In simple words, I saw a picture of me with a crown on my head. The crown, though, was a crown of thorns. I was wearing a crown of thorns. Interestingly, though, in this mental picture I was standing tall, proudly displaying this crown as one would display one of gold and diamonds. The picture was not a sad one, or a pitiful sight. On the contrary, it was a picture of beauty and I wept when I saw it. I don't know how to describe it any differently than that... In this picture I was modeling, with poise and a posture of strength, a crown of thorns.

In that moment, my name and my heart seemed to connect deeply. I was a crowned one. But, my crown was one of suffering. ...past suffering. ...present suffering. and future suffering. These things, hard things, that I had suffered, was suffering and would suffer were my crown. A crown of thorns. And, it was beautiful. It wasn't a crown to be scorned. It was a crown to be valued and honored. The suffering in my life was to be worn with posture, pride and strength... because He, too, had worn a crown of suffering. And, He wore it beautifully.

There is a danger in "wearing" our sufferings in a victim mentality, or in an attempt to attract attention... or to gain love and compassion from others--- this wasn't what I saw in my worship picture. No, in fact, the message to my heart was that I was to learn to wear my suffering as a triumph and a trophy. I was to wear it as a part of the beauty that Father God had placed on my life, on my head. To see my suffering, all of life's suffering, through the Father's eyes... To see what God might mean by "beauty from ashes"(Isaiah 61). To see what Father can do with a "scorned thing" like a cross, or a crown of thorns... turning it into a thing to be revered, to be honored and to be worn with dignity.

So, I connect with my name that night... or the meaning of my name... more than I ever have. And, I want to learn to walk with grace, beauty, freedom, and pride in the suffering that is beauty in my life. Teach me, Jesus. ...for you did it well. You are the Crowned One and You wore a crown of thorns beautifully!

Friday, June 18, 2010

What you know might hurt ya

Sometimes simple words from our children can be so profound. ...and make you think.

In the car last night, on our way home, my sweet girl was verbally processing an activity she had just been at. To make a long story short, she had been involved in a friendly competition and her teammates, toward the end of the game, were encouraging each other to lie to the judges... so as to have a better chance to win. She herself had not lied; but, neither did she confront it. She was disappointed in her "standing by in silence". In fact, as she processed out loud, she was reminded of the lessons she had just learned at bible club. Apparently, they had just learned about lying-- including lying by remaining silent and letting other lie.

In agitation she said loudly, "It is hard when you know what is right!! We just learned about this and NOW I know it isn't right! They didn't know. I did. It is hard to know what is right... then you have all sorts of guilt when you don't do it!" Her outburst was full of frustration. She actually said, "It must be really hard when you get older, because then you know all sorts of stuff and you must have a lot of guilt!"

She was essentially saying, ... "AHH--Why did you tell me! If only I didn't know what was right. I just wish I didn't know that it was wrong to lie! That would be much easier!" Don't we all feel that way sometimes?

Sometimes I wish I just didn't know that it was wrong to... lie, gossip, [fill in the blank]

When you know truth and don't act on it... well, then your accountable! When you know what is right to do, and don't do it... just the act of not doing it (or doing it) is sin according to Scripture.

The Word tells us that those who are given more are accountable for more... So, my girl is right. She is "more accountable" in some way than those other girls who haven't been taught what is right and what is wrong. And, this can be a heavy burden. I feel it some times, too.

My husband is fond of saying that Christianity lived at anything less than 100% is just simply a miserable existence. When you live on the fence... or with less than your whole heart, well,... you are in for a world of hurt.

God wants our all. He wants all of me.

Love me, He says with ALL your heart... with ALL your mind and with ALL your soul.

So, my girl knew the pain last night of living less than fully devoted to Him,... and she felt it.

I do too, baby girl. Me, too... more often than I like to admit. And, the fact is, I do know. I know a lot. And what I know I am accountable to. What 'ya don't know, don't hurt 'ya... ...maybe?

But, for sure, what I do know will hurt sometimes!

"But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." (Luke 12:48)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Anger's covering

I was so angry. The circumstances don't really matter... but, all of a sudden, I found myself angrier than I have been in a long time. Shaking kind of mad... The kind of angry where tears come and they aren't from sadness. I was mad.

Now, 24 hours later, I am processing all the anger that rose from within. Where did it come from? Yes, the situation was legitimately frustrating. And, yes, maybe the injustice was worthy of anger... maybe. But, not that kind of anger that steams up my back, into my head... and yes, out of my mouth!

Now, as I look back it with 20-20 vision I can see where I may have gone wrong. The situation I had found myself in was not correctable. It was as it was. I couldn't have done anything different to make it less frustrating, or wrong. But, I do know that I could have experienced it differently. Had I put a little space, a small prayer, a simple/quick internal recognition of Father would have stamped out the anger, or dampened it. I know. It has "worked" before. It is amazing the "peace that surpasses understanding" that can guard my heart, my mind and my mouth when I pray.

In hindsight, I now clearly see that God gave me a little space. I can clearly see that moment I could have stopped and asked for His presence. He gave me a small moment, a space, to acknowledge Him as Lord --- Lord over the storm. I could have rested and had peace to cover the anger.

I have heard that a good definition of humility is "power under control". THAT is what I needed yesterday. The power of my anger, right or wrong, was not under control. I did not submit those feelings... even in an instant, or whispered prayer... to my Lord. I wasn't humble. In fact, much of the depth-anger that rose up was most certainly (I can see now) from place of pride. ...my rights had been violated! How dare you say that, do that, act that way to ME? ...No, I didn't have those thoughts. But, clearly, I was not humble and clearly my anger was not covered by His mercy, His peace, nor His Lordship.

Will I learn this Lord? I wonder sometimes when these things happen if I will ever take a step forward... and then He reminds me of His faithful love, His constant work, His grace. I am reminded of the fact that truly it has been a long time ... a really long time, since I was that angry. And, well... that is a step forward of sorts. I guess, I would prefer a leap. Perfection today, please!!

He gave me space yesterday, to accept the covering of His Presence. I didn't take it. I want to learn to submit, and respond to that invitation. Lord, teach me to cover all my emotions in You. Lord, teach me to invite you in and to humble myself, asking in all circumstances for Your help and Your Presence. Teach me to live under Your covering-peace, that which can guard my heart and my mind in Christ Jesus.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Be a bird... not a sheep

Photo Source
While studying Ancient Greece this school year, I have read many of Aesop's Fables to my children. Aesop wrote most of his stories about animals and all of them end with a moral--- quite profound, actually. One of the games I played with my kids while reading was a guessing game. I would ask them, "Okay, guess, what was the moral of this story?" At first they took the game very seriously and attempted to guess the moral. As time went on, though, they became a bit lazy in their guessing and it became a joke to simplify the "guess" to something like... "be a swan and not a raven" or "be an ant and not a frog" or "be an owl and not a grasshopper". They, of course, would laugh heartily at their hilarious humor! Not exactly helpful in the learning of profound morals... but it did make me laugh a time or two.

This morning while on my prayer walk, I had the distinct thought... "be a bird and not sheep". The thought made me chuckle. Walking past the sheep regularly now, I am always amazed at the constant bleating that comes from these fields. Sheep seem to be very noisy animals. They are constantly making noise. It is quite remarkable. I wouldn't have known that having never lived among or around sheep before. In my limited experience I would say that sheep and lambs are very vocal.

But, today, I noticed something different, something I had never really observed before. First off, the bleating sound carries really far. I could hear it from one field to the next and onto the next adjoining field, as well. It was loud and seemed to never stop... no matter how far I got from the field. The sound of sheep was inescapable.

Secondly, I noticed that the sounds they were making sounded very "human" like. I could almost put a word, or a sound-word, with each bleat and moan. Each one, very unique, sounded like a human cry of some sort. This one sounded like a "Why?!" and that one sounded like a "Woa (is me)". This one sounded like a "Oh!!" and that one sounded like a "Ah" or "Uh".

One would sound-off right after the other in a harmony of cries. And, they all were quite pitiful sounds really. Whimpering, whining, worrying cries bleat from these sheep... and this sad sound carried far from one field into the next... and onward.

As I listened to this symphony of sad-sheep-sound, I asked the Lord, "Is this what we sound like to you, Father?" After asking the question, my attention was quickly turned to another constant sound around our fields... bird song. Birds, too, are always vocalizing. The birds here seem to be constantly chatting and singing. In fact, I have some new baby sparrows living in my rafters... which I hear most mornings around sunrise (4:30 AM!). They chatter and sing at the rising of the sun. It is quite loud and wakes me most mornings. This sound, too, is inescapable! But, unlike the sheep, their sounds are much sweeter in tone. They seem to be saying nice things, gentle things, and even worshipful things. A bird song sounds like music... beautiful music. Where the bleating of the sheep sounds sad and carries a tone of discord, the bird's song is harmonious and uplifting.

As I walked the fields bombarded by this variety of sounds, I continued to ask the Lord for His insight. I began to think of Biblical verses describing sheep. Sheep are described as "lost and wandering" (Zech 10, Matt. 10), "harassed and helpless" (Matt. 9)... And, then I thought of Jesus' teaching to, "consider the ravens". These ravens, these sparrows, don't worry or sow. They just are fed by God. Is this why they sound happier in their song? Do the ravens, the sparrows, and the black birds sing a song of thankfulness and live a life trusting God's provision? Is this why they sound so beautiful?

Do I sound like the sheep? Does my voice, vocally or in my heart, sound whining, complaining, desperate and pitiful? Or do my cries, my life-song, my heart-voice sound like the birds? Are all my comings and goings... my toil, my roaming, my thoughts... are they all covered in the "Woa (is me)" sound of bleating or are they covered in the "hallelujah" sound coming from a bird?

Certainly, in a simple "Aesop's" world, I can paint this picture in my mind and I can suggest that the moral of the story would be... to be a bird not a sheep!

But, as I think through the complexities of our real world and stretch the analogy farther, I must say that when looking up the word "sheep" in the Bible... I found many more verses that related to God's deep love for sheep--- His sheep, than those that point to the stupidness, the harriedness and pitifulness of sheep. I found verses that remind me of God's response to the Israelites, when He heard their cries in Exodus 3 "The Lord said, "I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering." Scripture talks about God's people crying ot to Him. And over and over the Word speaks of Him hearing them in love. Time and time again God refers to His people, His sheep, as in need of a shepherd.

His knowledge of our sheep-ness (bleating and all) is always cloaked in His love, His mercy and His deep compassion. Over and over again in Scripture, God HEARS. He hears the cries of His people.

So, my heart desires to live as a bird... unworried, eating from His hand, and living life with a thankful voice and a worshipful heart! But, I know my tendency to live as a sheep... harassed, and complaining... bleating my way through the grass and whining my way to the watering hole. And, this is why I need a good Shepherd!! And, it is good to know He knows this, He knows me... and still loves me.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Difficult Decisions

Sometimes you just have to say "no". ...not because you want to. ...not because it feels right, but because you know it IS right.

And, sometimes that "no" will be misunderstood, judged, or cause pain and offense. Those are the hardest "nos" (and yeses, for that matter!) for me. The misunderstood ones... The judged ones... and the offensive ones. I like to please people and I love being pleasing to people.

C.S. Lewis writes, "The natural life in each of us is something self-centred, something that wants to be petted and admired..." I like to be admired and petted. And, often times, my world is all-about-me. When I am worrying about offending, rather than doing what is right... that is when I am being self-centered. I can call my "yeses" spiritual... and give them nice spiritual names like "service" and "sacrifice" and "sensitivity". But... if I am honest, my worry about offense or pain is not entirely (and not even a lot) about the other person... it is about me. I worry what they will think of me when I say no. And, if I say "no" I am pretty certain the thoughts won't be grand, or pleasing. Interestingly enough, many of my yeses that are motivated by this self-focused attitude often go undetected ... until I am exhausted, annoyed and spent (beyond God-given capacity) and then I wonder, "Why am I so tired?!"

Jesus said "no" a lot. He said "yes" often, too, of course. Good boundaries are not about saying "no" or about being un-busy. People who call selfishness "boundaries" are just selfish. That isn't it either. It isn't about a name-game... to convince ourselves or others. It isn't about calling our decisions by names other than they are... "service, sacrifices" or "boundaries and balance".

Good boundaries are about doing what God would have me do-- nothing more and nothing less. There is something in this idea that I need to learn, that I am desperate to learn...
Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working." Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son alsodoes." (John 5:17)
So, I have to see and hear My Father at work. May He train my eyes to see this!
I must listen and watch my Savior as He works. May He train my ears to hear!
I must know His voice and discern the movements of His Spirit. May He train my mind, my heart, my soul to interpret this movement!

Difficult decisions are made well after difficult lessons and training. I have so much to learn. What is the Father doing... what would He have me do to join Him?

Because... I know that sometimes you just have to say "no". It doesn't feel right. You don't want to, ...but you know it just IS right.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

God wants

What does God want? What are His desires?

God wants many things. Throughout Scripture we see God's will and desires for His people. We see Him want obedience. We see Him wanting His people to respond to Him, to worship Him, and to believe Him. We see Him calling His people and inviting them to be near Him. We see Him wanting for His kids many things: boldness, courage, joy, strength, trust, holiness, and steadfastness. God's will for His people is clearly laid out from Scripture's beginning right up to the end.

Today I was struck with one of God's desires for me. God's word spoke to my heart and told me what He wanted. In Psalm 51 it says that He desires truth in my innermost parts. (v.6) Deep down in that almost-untouchable me, He wants truth to reign. The Hebrew word for "innermost parts" means "the seat of the mind". More literally, this word means "the places covered by fat". He wants truth under my skin. ...my insides, my gut, the "deepest" parts of me. God wants truth to reign in those parts---the parts within me that I cannot see.

What does God want? My Father God wants truth to live deep down in those hidden recesses of me. ...within my gut, within my heart and mind. This is what He wants and this is what He is working on as He continues His sanctifying work within me.
Somewhere in the recesses, those inner parts, His Spirit moves and works and heals. What a blessing to know that He is living within and at work always. I can rest in that. I can trust Him and His continual work.

This surgery, of sorts, isn't without pain or labor. To get beneath my skin hurts. And, it seems that the work He does is somehow linked to the "work" we do. Sometimes it takes "work" on my part to submit to His work. My work is to seek Him as the only One who can heal. My work is to take Him in, to drink and eat His truth. My work is to invite and to "allow" Him in those deep parts. I have to allow Him to figuratively cut me open and get deep inside.

I don't think that this sweet verse describing God's desires for reigning truth within, are accidentally in the middle of a Psalm lamenting pain, humility, suffering, and confession of sin.

Surely, I was sinful at birth! ... the Psalmist says. Surely, I am a mess, Lord! In this Psalm, as in the heart-work of God, there is an opening up, a "diving in", and a deep trust which seems intricate in God's healing-gut work. David, in his words here, is relying... banking it all... on the unfailing love, the compassion, and the mercy of God! (v. 1) He is running to God, pouring out his heart and guts, and trusting that God Himself will forgive, cleanse, heal and restore. He is trusting that God alone can "teach wisdom" to those inner parts (v.6) and "create a pure heart" (v. 10). David is opening up and welcoming the hidden work of God within.

What does God want? He wants Truth to reign in my innermost being. I want this too, Father! O, Father in Heaven, Your kingdom come and Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven!

Monday, June 7, 2010

His continual work... even through pain

There is just no way around it... My parent's divorce was very hard on me.

There is really no nice way to say it-- it sucked! To this day, I still have wounds and scars from the painful experience... a ripping that is unnatural, wrong, and not-as-it-should-be. My journey in processing their divorce has been a long one. I have felt, thought and experienced many things along the long road ... and yes, there has been much healing I have found from my Heavenly Father. But, still it hurts.

One thing that has been harder for me these past few years has been the ability to understand. I just don't get it. As I have looked back at the situation, I find myself puzzled as to why they couldn't have just stuck it out. Why did the marriage have to end? Honestly, I have found it very difficult to sympathize and certainly have found it challenging to understand. Maybe I will never truly understand--- they say that we never really do understand unless we walk in that person's shoes. I have never walked in my mom or my dad's shoes. And, as hard as I have tried to "theoretically" walk, I will never walk that mile in their shoes--- not really.

But, the Lord is kind in His desire to keep us journeying toward Him, toward true wisdom, toward wholeness, and toward godliness and compassion. He doesn't let us alone. I love that about Him!

These recent few years, I have taken some steps in my understanding, or at least my compassion. When I have successfully put on my "adult hat" and honestly attempted to hear my mom's heart or my dad's heart, there has been much growth in my understanding. I have asked them hard questions and tried to listen. I try to get it. And, I think, by God's grace, I have come a bit closer to hearing their hearts. But, that, it seems, is still not enough. My God never stops part way. He wants full healing! He wants a heart that hears Him and wounds that are bound up and healed.

And so.... He has kindly given me a new friend here that is smack-dab in the middle of a divorce. This divorce--- as they all do--- just stinks. It is horrible. It is painful to watch. But, not only has He has give me a budding relationship with this new, sweet friend... but also a relationship with this friend's dear little girl. So, I get to watch the mom. And the daughter.

And, well, it has brought a freshness to the pain--- and new eyes to watch on and attempt to understand. Again, I don my "adult hat" (or try to!) and watch as this mom suffers. I watch as the little girl suffers. I now watch this mom's good and bad decisions, her frustrations, her confusion, and her pain with eyes-wide-open. And, I see God bringing some healing to my heart as I witness this fresh pain, this fresh suffering... such a picture of my world some 30 years ago.

Of course, I know that their divorce is not about me. Not in the least. But, I know that I have been allowed to watch from a very close distance ...and to learn. Maybe to understand. Most certainly to heal.

My Father's work in my heart is never finished. He is working hard to bring me to completion. I know deeply that this fresh pain... touching it so closely now today... is allowing old wounds to continue to air-out and heal. Sometimes you have to peel back those bandages to let it heal. Thank you God that You never stop... Your healing work is constant.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Asleep on the boat

Traveling around often on airplanes, trains, and automobiles I watch in awe my son's ability to sleep anywhere. Just yesterday, traveling from the train to the airport, he fell asleep in minutes of sitting down on the bus. We sat down. His head found my lap. His feet made their way comfortably part way up the window and he conked-out...head-back-mouth-open-deep, beautiful sleep. If it weren't for the noise of the bus, I am sure I would have heard snoring. He amazes me. He really can sleep anywhere.

Early in his life, it used to be a joke in our family. As we often traveled around the city on the metro in Turkey, we could almost predict that the moment I would sit down with him on my lap... he would be "out cold". He seems to have the wonderful gift of finding sound sleep on any form of transportation. Actually, this sleep was (and is) a big blessing. For my son transportation means one of two things... sleep or throwing up. There doesn't seem to be much in between. We are always glad to see him sleeping while we travel.

This last week we had the privilege of receiving some great teaching at a conference we attended. One of the passages that the speaker emphasised was in Mark 4, where we find Jesus asleep on a cushion at the stern of a boat. He was sound asleep while the others were afraid and experiencing a fierce "furious squall". (A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped - Mark 4:37). Sweet, deep, undisturbed sleep.

It reminds me of an airplane flight we once took, where the turbulence was so bad that people were literally screaming, throwing up, and praying all around me. I, too, was very afraid and feeling quite ill as we bounced around on the waves of air! Immediately when it started, I looked over at my family in the three seats next to me. And, my sweet family,... my husband, my daughter, and my son were sound asleep. Deep, lovely, sweet sleep. My son's head rested on my lap and he was unmoved, undisturbed. They missed the whole thing!

The speaker this past week mentioned, almost in passing, one possible reason for Jesus' deep sleep that day. He was tired, yes. But, more than that (I was VERY tired that infamous plane flight), Jesus was resting. He was truly resting. He was trusting. And, bigger than that, He was completely secure in who He was. He was secure in His sonship, the preacher said. This struck me as very significant.

Jesus knew who He was. He intimately knew the One who created the wind and the waves. He, Himself, was with the Father and together they had created, and that very day sustained, the wind, the waves, and those on the boat. He could rest in that. He knew. He was secure. He could trust and rest... and sleep right through a storm.

As a family, when we hit "bumps" in the road... when we experience turbulence (literally and figuratively)... when the "waves" are coming in our "boat", my kids instinctively look up at me and ask with one quick look--- "am I okay?". They are trusting me. They are relying on their sonship and my knowledge to assure them that they will be fine. When I answer them with security (security in the situation OR in our God), they just believe me. They trust my "yes, you are okay!" response. That is childlike faith, isn't it? True and deep trust. ...Mom, are we okay... Dad, is everything going to be fine?!... They ask us with their eyes and await our response that gives them security.

But, sometimes they just sleep through it. Sometimes they are so trusting and so able to rest that they can just sleep. They "sleep" through our problems often, you might say. And, what a joy that is! I love that my kids can fall asleep on the bus. I can hardly imagine sleeping with so much trust on a bus. If I sleep while traveling, it is always as if I am asleep with one eye opened. My sleep while on trains, plains and buses is never deep, never sound and not peaceful.

Is this true of my sleep while experiencing the storms of life, too?

Jesus just conked out. Was His head-back, mouth opened and was He snoring?! Jesus just knew He was okay. He knew and trusted. He was secure. He could close His eyes, lay His head in His Father's lap, and fall asleep right there on the boat. I love this picture. I love that the Son of God could fall asleep on that boat.

May I grow in my knowledge of You, my kind Father. May I grow in my trust and my security in You, my Father. May I learn to look to you, awaiting your secure response and trusting that "Yes! everything is going to be okay!" May I trust your words to me... ALL things will work out for good, I love you. Continue to teach me, Father, to sleep on the boat and to rest in my "sonship".
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