Saturday, August 20, 2016

When We are Blind to What Matters Most~

As her words tumble into one conversation after another,
I know she isn't even aware she has said what she has said
and it makes my heart hurt,
for hers.

For without even thinking about it,
without even realizing it,
she has,
through the words she has spoken,
given me a window's view into her heart.

"What you say flows from what is in your heart."
~Luke 6:45

Words of prejudice.
Words of judgment.
Words of pride and arrogance.

Words that
make my stomach flip,
momentarily steal my breath,
and bring an uneasiness to my spirit.

Words that now have me writing words of my own.
Not because I want to.
Not because I am not guilty of this sometimes, too.
Not because I am one bit comfortable in doing so.
But, because God won't let me rest until I do.

Who are we to class everyone into a group
and then flippantly reply,
"a typical . . . "?

Who are we to use assumed financial success or assumed financial failure
as a measuring stick of someone's worth or value?

Who are we to somehow feel as though our hidden sins
are any less sinful than-the-can't-help-but-be-seen sins of others?

Who are we to ever think we are somehow more?

More saved.
More accepted.
More valuable.
More, period.

We are all the same.
We all struggle with the same kind of different - sin.

We are all despicable.
We are all vile.
We are all sinners.

And yet, the ones least likely to see this
are the ones who can't see their own shortcomings
for focusing on the shortcomings of those around them.

The only thing worse than being despicable
is not being able to see it.

The only thing worse than being prideful and arrogant
is not being able to see it.

The only thing worse than being a sinner
is not being able to see it.

until we see it,
until we are heart-breakingly, sin-confessingly, tear-producing repentingly aware of
our own need,
we won't cry out to our Saviour.

Until we can see
the truth of who we are,
we will not seek the one who is The Way, The Truth, and The Life.

Until we get our eyes off of them
and stare honestly at our self,
we will never see
what others around us can see
as they follow our words (and attitudes) through the window view into our heart.

We will never see us.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Not Highly Visible, Yet Extremely Necessary~

I marvel at his wisdom,
and his intentional choice of words.

The two combined always find me jotting down phrases
to ponder again and again,
long after his words have been spoken.

Most recently the phrase rolling around and around in my heart and mind is this:
"Not highly visible, yet extremely necessary."

We were in a staff meeting at the church where I am employed. The topic of discussion - the new heating and cooling system currently being installed.  It's been a lengthy, hot, process to say the least, especially since we have been without air conditioning the entire summer.

As the pastor launched into this subject, he asked our facilities manager to give a report on the progress, as well as the current work being done.

Pencil in hand, I knew there would be a gem waiting to be mined as this humble, wise man began to speak.

He explained all of the old system had been completely removed, and now workers were replacing the electrical system.

"It's not highly visible, yet extremely necessary."

I'm sure as he walked us further through the progress there were more gems spoken, but honestly, I never got beyond this one phrase to hear what else he was saying.

Over and over again these words replayed in my mind.

Over and over,
situation after situation,
circumstance after circumstance,
I could see where these words fit
into the puzzle pieces that are
coming together to reveal my life.

So many situations and times in my life
when it seemed,
at the time,
things weren't progressing as fast I thought they should,
or not even progressing at all,
now came into focus.

Moment after moment
of days, and weeks, and months
when it seemed,
at the time,
God was not responding,
not listening,
not answering,
flashed through my mind.

Not highly visible, yet extremely necessary.

Sitting around the table that morning,
I realized anew:
God is always at work.

Sometimes it's highly visible,
and sometimes it's not.

Sometimes it is more than obvious what God is doing,
and sometimes it is not one bit noticeable.

Sometimes we see the work of His hand,
and sometimes we don't.

Just because we don't see it,
doesn't mean
it isn't happening.

Just because it isn't highly visible,
doesn't mean what God is doing
isn't extremely necessary.

Just because we can't discern it
it doesn't mean
that God isn't working,
that progress isn't taking place,
that mountains aren't moving,
that prayers aren't being answered,
that miracles aren't in the making.

what we can't see,
is just as important as what we can.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

When We is Better Than Me~

I sit in the background,
just watching and observing,
and seeing more of myself than I would like to admit.

As my sister lives out her days
mothering her two children,
I can't help but catch glimpses of me in her 18 month old.

Knowing he desperately wants something,
but not at all sure of what it is,
he pushes away her attempts to
step in and help.

As he falls to the ground
in a puddle of frustration
she reaches down to
rub his back and bring comfort,
or take his hand
and gently help him back up,
only he will have none of it.

With tears streaming from his eyes
and cries that can be heard a mile away,
he slings his arm around
as if to say "No! No! No!"

Every one watching,
even his 9 year old brother,
can see he is refusing what he wants the most -
the ability to do what he cannot do on his own.

And, it is in this moment I see me:

Sitting in the middle of the floor of life,
not at all sure of what I want,
tears streaming down my face,
my cries of sorrow and frustration loud enough to be heard a mile away,
slinging my arm around
as if to say "No! No! No!"

And, I see those around me
and my precious Heavenly Father, too,
trying so desperately
to help,
to comfort,
to offer their assistance
in any form or any way that I might need,
and yet,
I refuse to
reach out and receive it.

And, I have a feeling,
as you are sitting in the background,
reading these words unfold upon your screen,
you might be seeing more of yourself than you would like to admit.

It's a common problem,
this need for independence that leaves us completely undone,
rolling miserably around in the middle of our completely dependent lives.

For how can we who were created
ever hope to do life alone
without our Creator?

How can we who have
need upon need,
hurt upon hurt,
frailty upon frailty,
ever hope to be
completely full,
completely healed,
completely whole
all. on. our. own?

As my sister scoops down
and picks up my nephew
in one quick move,
he eventually settles into the
comfort found in her embrace,
the strength undergirding his own,
the closeness of being held,
and peace returns.

Maybe it's time
I let others help me.

May it's time
I let God hold me.

Maybe it's time
you did, too.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

When Happiness Looks More Like Holiness~

Once upon a time my husband and I attended a memorial service for darling elderly couple.

The wife's health had started to fail first. Hip surgeries, along with dementia, had left her feeble and in a nursing home. Faithfully, her husband was at her side each and every day until he was stricken with an aggressive form of cancer. Within a few months, the love of her life was gone. In her weakened state of mind, her heart couldn't understand why he had stopped coming to visit her.

Not a day went by that she didn't ask for him by name, crying out until she was hoarse and could speak no more. Desperately longing for the man who had stolen her heart, she would grab the arm of a son or daughter sitting near her and spell out his name in the palm of their hand. His name was cradled by her final breath. Five weeks to the day of her husband's death, she passed away. His death came as an unexpected surprise. Hers did not. They had been Mr. and Mrs. for 64 years.

Marriage -

a union between a man and a wife.

two becoming one flesh,

sharing the same name,

the same bed,

the same life.

Today, my husband and I are celebrating fifteen years of marital bliss. A far cry from 64, but a good start none the less. On that memorable day when I said "I DO", I have to admit, the vision I had in mind was happily ever after {emphasis on happily}. Now, fifteen years later, I am starting to see God's vision is so far beyond this.

Within the marriage experience,{adventure, journey, roller coaster ride, whatever words you might choose to use!} God desires to make us more holy. Amazingly, one of the tools he uses is...

wait for it


For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 
~Ephesians 5:22

True biblical submission is not meant to be scary, demeaning, or degrading. God, himself, established this principle and designed it to be something for wives to embrace. After all, submission is not meant to place us "below" or "beneath" our husband. Beautifully, submission places us under; under the care, protection and leadership of our man. The husband is the one called by God to bear the responsibility of the family. We, as wives, get to “rest” in his authority.

But, as wonderful as resting in our man sounds, we know all too well that submitting does not come easily or naturally. Submission is a choice of the will. We have to intentionally choose to do it. I think God wired us that way on purpose.

It is in choosing to submit that we discover the inner strength of the Holy Spirit enabling us and empowering us to submit and do as He commands.

It is in choosing to submit that we develop trust both in our husband and in our God.

It is in choosing to submit that we are able to show our husband respect and draw him into a deeper love relationship with us.

It is in choosing to submit that our true God-graced beauty as a woman is showcased and revealed.

This is how the holy women of the past used to make themselves beautiful. 
They put their hope in God. And they followed the lead of their own husbands. 
~1 Peter 3:5, NIRV

As the memorial service drew to a close, the family showed a video of this special couple. It had been made four years earlier in honor of their 60th wedding anniversary. As I watched their journey through life together, I felt a longing in my heart. A longing to have what they had. A true, abiding love.

It was obvious from the photos (and from cherished moments in the company of this sweet couple) this wife had accepted and embraced the authority of her husband.

One look at him, looking at her, told you this groom only saw beautiful when he looked upon his bride.

In her husband and his leadership and guidance,
this dear, spiritually wise lady had found security, love and a restful abiding.

In his wife and her submissive, respectful, Christ-like demeanor,
this strong, independent, "self-made" man had found...

wait for it

...the Lord.

Wives, likewise, submit to your own husbands. 
Do this so that even if some of them refuse to believe the word, 
they may be won without a word by their wives’ way of life. 
After all, they will have observed the reverent and holy manner of your lives. 
~ 1 Peter 3:1-2, CEB


When I got married I never saw that coming. But, I should have. True marriage isn't about my husband making me happy (although he does!) It isn't about me making my husband happy (although it helps when I do!). It is about the two of us living our lives together in a way that glorifies God and makes God happy.

What could bring more happiness than that!?

(Thanking God especially day - on what would have been our 16th anniversary - and celebrating our marriage and the beautiful ways it drew me closer to my God and to my man.)