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

Friday, August 20, 2010

Remembering

Early in my marriage I was given many pieces of advice. Some of the horrid advice given was truly laughable... and some suggestions were gems, diamond-suggestions. One piece that I still use today was that whenever I was angry at my husband, or when he had hurt me in some way, I should take the time to make a list of the things about him that I loved, or things about him that were "his good qualities".

Whether the list be actual or mental, I still do this often. And, it always blesses my heart and softens me toward him; for, there are things about my husband that are true and beautiful. And, those things are not usually the points I am focusing on when I am angry... so it is always a good idea to purposefully remember.

It has been a hard week for me emotionally. Not that my Father in heaven has hurt me, exactly, ...nor am I particularly angry with Him. I don't feel angry. But, I do find myself a bit confused with Him, His world, and His plans. So, I sat still again today, seeking His face. As I sat with Him this afternoon, a very wonderful thing happened. It was as if He began to "make the list" for me. Reminding me. Whispering "his good qualities" into my heart, He spoke to me as I read today in Psalm 145. He reminded me of things that are true and beautiful about who He is.


And, it blessed me deeply.

The Lord, I read, is great and worthy of praise! (Psalm 145)

The Lord is compassionate... this helped me remember that He is tender toward my sadness and my confusion. He is tender toward my friends who are suffering. His eyes, if I could see them, would fill with tears as I shared my heart with Him.

The Lord is good... this reminded me that His very nature is lightness and goodness. When I don't understand why He is doing one thing or another, I can rest and rely on His simple goodness. I know His motives are good and His plans are good.

The Lord is faithful... this helped me remember that His plans are far reaching, eternal and beyond this world, (and my world and understanding). He is faithful through all time and is working to make all things right in His time.

The Lord is righteous... again this points to His motives. Compassion is empty without righteousness. Righteousness and goodness make the acts of love and tenderness pure and selfless. His kindness and compassion flow from a pure and righteous heart and being. He is set a part from me and right in all He does.

The Lord is near... this, I must say, was my favorite reminder today. He is near. My husband has been away working this week, but he hasn't been very far away geographically... almost around the corner. Because of work, I haven't heard from him much at all, but it has been sweet knowing he is near. Nearness is tenderness and compassion at it's best. A touch is what we all need. And, my Father is near me. And today He touched me.


Thank you for the list, today, Father. Thank you for reminding me again of who You are... My mouth will speak in praise to the Lord.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Rain and Sunshine

The sky, in this land I am living, is always moving and changing. Beautifully blue this morning, it is now raining. Raining hard. ... and I know that at any moment it could change.

As I watched the rain today I was reminded of a verse... where is that one? I can't remember where in the Word, but I know it says that God allows the sun and the rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous... or something like that. Rain and Sun. Both allowed. Both fall on those who worship Him and on those who do not.

I have had a hard time reconciling the rain and sunshine this week. The deep hardships of dear friends, the wars, the floods, and the sickness of the world are a confusing scene when the backdrop is my lovely children picking the apples on my garden's apple tree. How do the two live so intimately together? How can I be so sad, and the world be so ugly AND beautiful all at the same time?

I wash dishes and smile as I hear the playing of piano. My eight year old is creating and making the most beautiful music... and then moments later, only moments later, I am reminded of the sadness, the loss, the grief and I begin to cry. Tears and smiles. Rain and Sun. How are they to live together? Where is the harmony?

But, there is harmony, isn't there? I feel it. I sense it. And, I know it resides in a forever, ever Present, all-knowing, good and loving Father. My deep-within-gut seems to know something of peace that my heart is struggling with.

... finding myself annoyed at my emotional ups and downs, my fragile heart, my tenderness... and yet my gut feels that it is right. The ups and downs are reality. Life is both beautiful and ugly. ...together. Complex.

Is this how it is for Him to watch, to live among us, to walk with us? Is this what Father feels everyday, all day. Smiles and tears. Laughter and weeping. Sunshine and Rain.

I don't know. But it is what I am feeling today... watching the wild sky and wondering what will come next... the smile or the tears. Will the sunshine shine brilliantly or will the clouds let loose and pour out with force...
"He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous" (Matthew 5:45)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Equilibrium

"I can't think of anything worth saying... but I know I owe you my life" (Aaron Shust)

My equilibrium is off. Not physically, but spiritually and emotionally. I am out-of-sorts and unbalanced. I feel unstable and maybe a bit confused. I am tired and cranky. And, my thoughts are random and distracted.

"Dazed and confused. Calloused and bruised. My spirit is left wanting something more.." (Aaron Shust writes in his "Give Me Words to Speak") And, he sings words that seem to connect to my heart.

What words do I have?

I just read a quote by Blaise Pascal and a light bulb went off for me, "All human evil comes from a single cause, man's inability to sit still in a room. All men's miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone."

I think I need to sit still. I need the muddied waters of my soul, my mind, and my heart to settle down. I need to think. I need to feel. I think I just need to sit still.

Last night I had the opportunity to sit quietly in a room... alone. And, I just didn't take it. I turned on a movie and added to the noise, the imbalance, to the chaos that is my heart.

Why do I run from it? Why don't I take those sweet stolen moments the Father gives to me, those quiet moments... that I know will set me right, or in the least begin the process of "righting" my balance.

In part, I think I am trying to run from the pain, from the sadness that still lingers in my heart from this week's difficult and sad news. I think, in part, the outside noise drowns out the chaotic flow of thoughts and questions raging in my heart right now. ... this is easier, right?--- to live in the noise and the business of life, ignoring the presence of overwhelming questions and unanswerable issues of life.

But I know better. I really do. I know that I need to sit still and just think. I need to feel those hard feelings. I need to ask those difficult questions of my Father. I need to quiet down and let silence, solitude, and His Presence do a work that noise and activity will never accomplish.

...to set my equilibrium right. For, I am a bit off today.

"Give me words to speak, don't let my spirit sleep. Cuz I can't think of anything worth saying... but I know I owe you my life."

It often cheers my heart to think that since the Lord made me he can put me right, and keep me so to the end.
- Charles Spurgeon

Saturday, August 14, 2010

How can a touch not matter?

So, I wondered a few times this week... was all this energy worth it?
Already tired and emotionally strained... I wondered many times throughout the week, does this really matter?

Working at our church's summer club, an event that welcomes children from the community to come and hear about God, my body was tired and my patience was stretched.... does it matter, Lord? Is this worth my time and effort?

I only have to think that thought for a few short minutes before a screaming, "yes! it matters!" pierces my soul. ... and I remember...


25 years ago it mattered in my life. Tremendously. The future of my soul, and my life, was changed at one of these "youth" events! Did the workers then ever wonder if it mattered? I bet they did.

But their work, the silly events, the pizza and the sweets did matter. My life was touched and I was introduced to Truth... to my Father. And, my life has never been the same.

But still, tired and strained this week, I pulled myself out of bed and made my way to the church wondering, Is this really worth it?


And, then his little blue eyes looked up at me with intention and focus (he is only 5 years old). After hearing the story of Jesus on the cross from up front he turned to me and said, He died? His little face was distinctly touched by the news that Jesus died... and he was sad at the news.

Oh!, I said, but that is not the end of the story! ...keep listening! And then they shared about Jesus' resurrection and that He is alive today. And, his face changed instantly. He turned to me again, checking for understanding, and asked, "He is alive? Now?!" Yes, I told him, and He wants to be your friend, your mate!

After the story time, returning to our small groups, this little guy spent the next 5 minutes explaining, with keen excitement, to the other five year olds in our group, that Jesus died but now He was alive!!

Does this matter? Is this worth it?! How can this not matter? I don't wonder today. How can this moment, this touch, not mean more to our Father than any extra sleep for me!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Even if He doesn't

Even if He doesn't.

This is what my brothers, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego said to their king Nebuchadnezzar. The king asks them, with a sneer you can read in his words, "What god will be able to rescue you from my hand?"

And theses bold brothers answer Him, "If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." (Daniel 3)

Our God is able! If we get sick, our God is able! If we get lost, our God is able! If we get stuck, our God is able!


Our God is able to cure any cancer and heal all disease... My God is able to dispel depression and fix any marriage. My God is able to bring any soul to salvation and rescue any man from a lion's den! My God is able to rescue me from any king, any furnace, or any hand. This I know as sure as I know anything.

They told the king God was able. And then they pause and say...
But even if He doesn't

Even if He doesn't... He is still worthy of all my praise. He is still worthy of all my worship. He is still good. And, He is still in control. He is the Creator of the Heaven and the Earth. He sits on His throne and His faithfulness endures forever.

My God is able. Simply put... He can. And often, He does! But, sometimes He doesn't. And even if He doesn't, I will still worship Him.

Even if He didn't.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Flood of Tears

Tears finally came today. ...and they rushed out of my soul like a flood. Tears don't come easily to me--- not that I don't feel sad often enough to cry... I do, of course; but, I have never been very good at crying. So, when tears DO come, they flow like a torrent. Today I had a tsunami of tears. From my gut, from deep within, I wept.

I wept with my friend, who must sit up nights and watch her little one in a hospital bed, begging for our Father to heal. I wept with my friend, wondering what she must have felt as she stood before the gun... knowing she was next in line for death. I wept.

As I thought of this friend, dead now and in a white robe before Our Father's throne, I remembered what it says about those martyred for their faith. As I wept, my heart recalled:

"I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, "How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?" Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed." (Revelation 6)
And as I wept, I prayed. I prayed, "Avenge her blood, Lord!" "Avenge her!" my soul cried out to God. How do I put in words what my soul prayed this morning. ... The vengeance, or justice, that I was asking for was none other than the salvation of a nation. I was asking God to avenge her blood by doing that which her murderers hated so much... bring Your kingdom to that land, Father!! Pour out Your spirit and bring many to faith. Rip the nation from their hands, from the hands of darkness, and give the people Your light! My gut was calling out for justice and I believe the heart of my Father heard my cry.

Avenger her blood, O kind, just and merciful Father. May Your kingdom come in that land. Would You pour down and rip away that land from the enemy. Tear the people away from a lie and bring Your truth! Do this Father, I pray!!

Wait a little longer... he says. Just a little longer, He tells His people.


And now I walk through this day asking the Lord how I can live rightly. How do I live my life in a worthy manner, a life worthy of the calling for which she died? So that... I might, by His grace, sit up late at night watching a loved one sick in a hospital bed. Or, so that... I may face a gun and trust in Him alone.

The tears came and now, I feel an urgency in my soul to live my life with Him as my all, my only, and my hope.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Really, Lord?

Really? "Really, Lord?"... my soul sighed as I heard the third piece of devastating and difficult news today.

No tears have come. Not yet. Just a deep sadness sits in my gut. And a rumbling of emotion making its way up to the brink of overflow. My eyes begin to fill, my heart hurts ... And, then... well, then it is time to make lunch. Or, laundry to be done. Right?

Really, Lord? My heart says to my Father today. Not angry. Confused, yes. Overwhelmed, I guess. Frustrated? ... okay, maybe angry, too. I don't know.

But, certainly sad. I am sad. And, I want these "notices" of suffering to stop. Enough already!!

Was it enough to have my teenage friend struggle with a serious long term illness? Was it enough to hear about my little 6 year old friend diagnosed with leukemia?? Was it enough to hear about the baby that was born and didn't live through the night? No, now it was a martyr. A friend. CNN has a list and her name is on it. But, she isn't just a name to be sad over... sad enough as it is. She was my friend. She slept in my house and ate my scrambled eggs.

It is hard to understand how to grieve rightly. ...or what to feel. ...or what to say. ...or what can you do? ...

And, then to see God's hand amidst the pain makes it even more confusing. Yes, Father, already I have seen the provisions, the faithfulness, Your presence... and from my heart moments of worship have welled up from my deep. Already I can point to answers of prayer. But, why the pain, Father? It is hard to worship You and at the same time watch the pain and suffering. To see the pain and suffering right along side the provision is hard for my mind. It feels too complex. I don't know whether to be angry and confused with You, Father, or to worship and thank You... both are readily available.

So, I guess I will do both. As Job did... I will worship and I will question. I will raise my hands in praise and thanksgiving. I will place my hand over my mouth and I will cry in frustration.

For I know that You know where every lightening bolt will go, you know where the water will flow and you tell it when to start and stop... You know every day of our lives.

You know my teen friend, my 6 year old friend, my young mother-friend, and my martyred friend. You know them by name. You saw them rise out of bed and You have gone before them and are behind them. I know this all too well ..and I am sad, Lord. I don't get it. I am frustrated and yet, strangely led to worship, as well. I have seen, already, the provision... Your faithfulness, Your strength, and Your peace.
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