Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Wounds of a True Friend

As I gazed into my mirror this morning, curling iron in hand, I was reminded of a conversation I had with a straightforward second grader over ten years ago. I can still hear his soft spoken voice, although the words he spoke were anything but soft to my ears or my ego.

Each morning, I would read a short devotion to my class. I was right in the middle of the reading for this particular day, when out of the corner of my eye, I saw a hand shoot up, signaling to all that this youngster had something to say. And boy, did he!

Not wanting to deviate from the spiritual lesson I was sharing with these young hearts, I smiled at this student, assuring him I had seen his hand. Then, I did some hand talking of my own as I gave him the "hold that thought" sign. Instead of his hand going down, like I had hoped, his mouth started doing the talking for him.

"Teeeeeeeeeeeeacher, I have something to tell you!!!!"

"I know, honey. Can it please wait until after we finish our devotion?"

"No, Ma'am. You are gonna wanna hear about this!!!!"

"Ok. What do you want to tell me?"

"There is a gray hair sticking straight up on the top of your head. I can see it from way back here!"

He was right about one thing. If I did indeed have a gray hair standing straight up on the top of my head, I would definitely want to know about it. But me? Have a gray hair? No. This was where he had made his mistake.

"Thank you for sharing that with me, but I think you must be mistaken. You see, I don't have any gray hair yet, honey."

"Oh, yes you do!" The remark came from a student sitting on the opposite side of the classroom. "I see it, too!"

Within seconds, the room was flooded with eyewitness accounts of a gray hair spotting in our classroom. Unfortunately, all reports were linking my head with this bizarre sighting!

I immediately headed for the nearest mirror. And you know what I saw? Yep! A gray hair standing straight up on the top of my head. No wonder this boy had seen it. It was proudly proclaiming it's arrival in grand fashion. As it stood tall, reflecting every bit of light in that classroom, it wasn't any wonder it had caught their attention. After all, who could miss THAT?! Uhhhhhh, obviously me. Until this honest, straightforward little boy had so bluntly pointed it out to me, I had been totally oblivious to it.

Don't fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don't act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like. James 1:22-24, The Message

I had looked in my mirror that very morning and had failed to see what others could see so plainly. I wonder how many times I have looked at my reflection through the pages of God's word, only to be blinded to my own sins. How often has my pride kept me completely in the dark about my true spiritual condition, while those around me can spot my need for repentance a mile away?

The truth hurts and is never easy on our ears, our ego or our heart, and yet how we should covet the honest words of a faithful friend. The words of truth that bring confession, dropping us to our knees and into the hands of our forgiving God.

Nathan was that kind of friend to David. Thinking his sin of adultery with Bathsheba and the consequential prearranged murder of her husband on the battle field were well hidden and out of sight, Nathan confronted him with words that cut to the very heart of David. "You are that man!" David confessed. God forgave. Then, David continued his journey, pursuing the heart of God.

The truth hurts. There is no getting around that. But, truth also sets us free. The pain has a distinct purpose; to open our eyes to the real us, and our need for a real God.

Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend [to show rage or worthy purpose]. Proverbs 27:17 Amplified

When truth is given to us, we have a choice to make. We can resist it and in anger turn away from it. Or, like David, we can run to it, embrace it, be broken by it, and be all the closer to God for it.

Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. Proverbs 27:6

Monday, March 15, 2010

Pleasing by Believing

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Hebrews 11:6

One of my favorite songs is about a class of children with special needs. While their teacher taught them their ABC's, she also shared with them the love of Jesus. One day, she told them of His promise to come back and take them with Him to Heaven. Well, from that moment on, she couldn't keep them in their seats! They were always running to the windows, pressing their fingertips and noses against the windowpane, looking for Jesus. If He said He was coming, He WAS coming!

Oh, to have the faith of these children. How it must please our Father's heart when we take Him at His word. If He said it, He will do it. No if's, and's or but's about it. Today's verse reminds us that without faith it is impossible to please God. We have to believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

As I look into my own life, I have found the moments that have brought me the most pleasure are the ones where I was understood for who I am and I was taken at my word. On the flip side of that, I can also attest to the fact that some of my most frustrating and heartbreaking moments have been those when who I am was questioned or doubted.

We all long to be someone that others can believe in and count on. How much more God must desire this of each of His children. Can you imagine what kind of life you and I would be living at this very moment if we truly took the Lord at His Word?

When I was a child, I was told that faith is a lot like sitting on a chair. When we sit down, we do so in complete confidence that this piece of furniture won't let us down. We trust that it will support us and hold us up. Seldom do we give the chair a second thought, much less a thorough inspection! Yet, when it comes to placing our life into the hands of the creator of the universe, we hold back, questioning and doubting if He will be there to hold us up?

I once asked my class of first graders what they were thankful for. In the midst of the usual flood of responses such as my bike, my family, our dog; one answer stood high above the others. One little boy simply stated he was thankful God was real and not pretend.

Do you believe that He is real? Are you willing to relinquish the weight you are carrying and allow Him to support you and hold you up? Are you ready to run with me to the window of God's heart, leaving your own heartprint, as in eager anticipation, you look for all He has promised you?

It is the desire of my heart to please my God. What better way to do this than to believe He is WHO He says He is and to know and trust that He will DO what He says He will do.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Springing Forward

Have you ever wished you could go back and completely redo a certain episode or time in your life? Maybe, in anger, you spoke words that to this day, still separate you from someone you love. Maybe you let a golden opportunity pass you by and now you are haunted by what might have been. Maybe you took a path in life that has led you far away from your intended destination. Maybe you simply let time tick away without seizing the moment and making the most of each hour of each day. Maybe you chose what didn’t matter, in place of what did.

As much as we would love a "do over", the sad reality is this: what is done is done and we can't go back and undo it. We can only go forward. Yet, how many times have you and I gotten bogged down in the muddy mess of regret and guilt and found our self idling instead of moving on with our life?

When I opened my bathroom window this morning, I was surprised to discover these beautiful blossoms on our peach tree.

I am always delighted and amazed in springtime. Bare trees become clothed with beautifully fragrant blossoms. Birds, seemingly silent through the cold winter months, now chirp until their hearts are content. And most amazing of all, the metamorphosis of the butterfly begins. All of nature showcases the newness that comes with the warmth of the sun and the birth of yet another season of life.

Life goes on. No matter how cold the winter, no matter how deep the snow; Spring eventually comes. The cycle of life continues and I am so glad it does. It is a beautiful reminder of the new thing God wants to do in your life and mine.

Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.
Isaiah 43:18-19

Living in the past only accomplishes one thing...keeping us from living in the present. Don't get me wrong. Wisdom tells us to learn from the past, but it in no way would have us take up our residence there!

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13,14

Today, what is holding you a prisoner of the past? Don't you think it's time to let it go? Can you really afford to let it keep stealing your future? Forget those things that are behind and instead reach for what is still out in front of you. Open your heart and your life to receive the new thing God is waiting to and through you!

Our Heavenly Father has an amazing way of taking our messes and turning them into miracles. He can take the ugliness of our past and transform it into something breathtakingly beautiful. Just look at what God can do in the life of a caterpillar! He wants to do that and so much more in your life and mine! Yet, the choice is ours. We can either choose to Spring Forward or to Fall back.

Like this robin, who showed up in our yard this afternoon, I am ready to welcome Spring into my life. I, too, am ready to show up for the next season of my life. How about you?