Tuesday, June 22, 2010

No Parking or Stopping

This afternoon, I found myself hidden, in a small patch of grass, mesmerized by the trees, the breeze, the heat & the deep hurt of a friend....of their deep hurt, and how I hurt because I know they hurt.  As I sat, I looked towards the road, and saw this common sign "No Parking or Stopping."

I see these signs all the time, we all do & are often frustrated with the thoughts of "why not," or "it'll just be a second," or "someone else is parked there....maybe I can get away with it too."  But today, as I looked at the sign, and thought about this woman, friend, co-worker.....I thought of how God often tells us that earth itself is a "No Parking or Stopping" zone.

Stay with me....it says in Philippians 3:20 that "...our citizenship is in heaven." Does this mean we're not made for this earth?  We're made for something else, right?  Heaven? To glorify God ultimately...but that earth, where our God has placed us, is just temporary, right?  We're not supposed to just stay here.  This isn't our end point.  We can't just stop, or park here on earth....we need to keep moving...especially when times get bad.  

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  SO we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:16)
I do not appreciate the knowledge that the troubles we endure here, is "achieving an eternal glory"....I want the beauty now...I want to stop, enjoy the roses, whatever. Yet the truth is, that God is and will use these times to make His glory seem even more beautiful to us once we are united with Him.  What we experience here, is temporary....it's something that will pass away, that we need to not stop at. We cannot allow these things to stop us....though we may want to...we need to remember the "No Parking" sign.  This is not the end.  There is more....Philippians 3:20 goes on to say "And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body."

These bodies, the ones we are wasting away in....the old, the fat, the frail, the weak, the worn down bodies that we are in...are only traveling clothes.  There is more to hope for, though right now it is hard to see.  It is painful to look for. But don't stop....keep going.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Never stop waiting for God

Well how do I begin to tell you just how amazed I am each day that I am alive, at the miraculous & strange ways in which our God works?  Most days it's mundane, some days slightly boring. But occasionally, and more often than I would admit to enjoy, I get an unusual & exciting adventure.  The last few days has been an occasion of that sort.

In the middle of a weekend night, I was startled with a call that my home had been broken into. Despite my prayers, my computer & external hard drives were stolen.  To some, this would merely mean a few lost papers, maybe some pictures or your running music.  To me....it was all the photos from my travels, the family pictures of my now lost mother, the memories of clients' babies & vows. The horror devastated me.  It was ironic in the ways that I had been telling people how my neighborhood was "just fine," and how I had just read about how in David's painful or frightened waiting he found ways to praise God.

I sat stunned, lost, robbed & unsure of the future. The Lord reminded me to trust Him & not in the things I had lost. It was an understood message, one I "knew" but didn't enjoy knowing.  But still, the praise was needed to Him.....so I thanked Him for keeping Lisa & I away from home that night because we were SAFE, I thanked Him for clean robbers because our home wasn't TRASHED, I thanked Him for grace because my clients were FORGIVING. All these things to be thankful for. Yes, I was angry at what had been done, but thankful for God's protection....I still had a home to sleep in.

My friends at church prayed for me. I'm sure many people did. For protection still, and also that something would turn up. Monday was the worst. It hit me that I would never see those photos again, that someone had been in my house, taken valuables from me, probably sold them, had probably watched me for a while & might be back. The Bible study I'm in helped to take away those thoughts that evening though.....through prayer & some late night fellowship I celebrated the people who surrounded me & the God who provided them.

Monday evening, my brother came back to my house so I did not have to be alone. He let me log-in online with his computer (since mine obviously was "out of service"). Trying to get online I realized that the thieves had also stolen my router. Dumb. I figured it out though, and went to Facebook to update some folks.  Right away, I saw that I had a friend request & an email from the same person who was unknown to me.  Opening the email, my disbelief was stretched.  A man told me that he had purchased a computer that weekend, and after he opened it up & looked around, he noticed that the "brand new" computer he bought was really some one else's....mine. He had found my computer! But the best was yet to come--he wanted to GIVE IT BACK!

Wait....what? Give it back? No questions asked?  He said he understood what it felt like to have things taken, and that he wanted me to have it back.  Tonight....I sit here, writing this story, as I sit in front of my previously stolen computer.

The last few months, the ponderings of what God requires of us....of me....has been on my mind.  And this story cannot hide the fact that this is God's love lived out in action.  This guy, innocently bought a computer, discovered there was something wrong and gave it back, without expecting anything in return, trusting God that this is what He would require of him. I think this is SUCH an awesome example.  Trusting in God, waiting on Him to provide, to protect, to restore & to renew a hope in His awesome love.

My life never ceases to amaze me....and neither does my God.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A little shift.

I think something has changed. Temporarily? It's possible. But changed? Definitely.  A friend asked me very cautiously, if since my mother's death I looked at dying differently. To that I had an emphatic response of "yes...I'm not afraid of it at all." I realize that as a believer, there's no reason to fear death, but sometimes it's not death you fear, but the unknown that surrounds it.  The unanswerable questions that after the fact won't matter anyway.

I remember that when my friend Julie passed away, I was soon after on a trip to Mexico.  There we visited Copper Canyon in Chihuahua.  There was one cliff that we saw, that had a large rock at the very tip.  My friends discovered that the rock--rocked. You could stand on the rock & it would sway on the tip of the cliff.  I wanted a picture out there, but decided I wasn't brave enough to stand on the edge, so I stayed on the "sturdy" rock in front.  Immediately after they took my picture though, I changed my mind & decided I couldn't be that close & not stand at the edge. I quickly turned around, walked right out onto the rock & posed for a picture. Yes, I was probably about 200+ feet above the bottom of the canyon, with not much below me...not ANYTHING below me...but I realized that death didn't frighten me. Why not live life & be a little daring?

This is not nearly as near to the story I just told, but last night as I drove away from my home, I spied a beautiful antique settee on the curb. I wondered, pondered & decided to drive on. Then I had a little twinge...why not turn around & see.  I turned a right and went around the block, pulled up in front of a quaint little house, walked up to the door & knocked. After a few minutes of curious knocking, a girl my age welcomed me with a big smile. I asked about the couch & she vibrantly answered "You like it? It's yours. Think it'll fit in your car?" Huh. See how easy that I was I thought? What did that hurt to ask?

That part of me ...that is sometimes timid & nervous, is changing. I'm growing bolder, braver....little by little. It's a good change, a welcomed change. I'm finding joy in this, and can't wait to see what else awaits!

Monday, June 07, 2010

Wait & Trust

Our faith has to be in the Lord, not in a desired outcome.

This can sometimes be a hard one for me to comprehend. Our faith has to be in the LORD, not in a desired OUTCOME.  Our faith cannot be in the thing we desire to gain, do or receive...our faith must be in the Lord himself: the Giver, the Teacher, the Ruler of our life.

I'm reading this book called "Sacred Waiting"....read it. In the second chapter, it talks about Abraham, and how throughout Abraham's story, he was spoken to by God.  God spoke directly to Abraham, and told him to leave his home, that his barren wife would have a child, that he would be the father of many nations & then one day God told Abraham that he would have to sacrifice the promised son.  These are all difficult things to comprehend. How do you know when it's the right time to leave home?  How long do you wait for a child?  How can you give up the dream you've held onto for years?  None of these things are easy, and none of these things should be done without God directing you. And if your faith is in the object of these questions....faith in your home, faith in your fertility, faith in a dream....then I believe our faith is misplaced.

When you drive a car, or wear a watch.  You trust that that machine will work.  Ultimately, you trust in the manufacturer of that machine. You trust that all the pieces were put together just right, even though you don't understand how valves, cranks, levers or batteries work together, you understand that the manufacturer & designer knows, and that according to them, if you turn on the watch, or drive the car, it should work.  Your faith is in the creator, not really the car itself.  In the same way....like Abraham, who left his home without knowing where God was calling him, but just left in faith that God would direct, we should allow our faith to only focus on God & to watch for His direction.  To jump into the water & keep our eyes on Him....not sitting around waiting for Him to move, but moving & allowing him to direct our movements.   

We may not know where God is leading us, but we still should follow.  We may believe that He is guiding us one way, but He may direct us somewhere different. Yet if in the change of direction we are following Christ, then how will we go astray?

Friday, June 04, 2010

Another test...

I don't know what to do.

Tonight was another test. Just how much will I be given to hold? The rain keeps pouring over the tear streaked face, too wet to remember what it feels like without tears.  The winds feel cold across my face, but I long for them, to feel something….anything.  How much Lord, must I suffer… how many deaths must I endure?  So many lives, full of hope, of courage, of grace & strength, suddenly taken away.  I realize that they live…in a time that I do not understand, hidden beyond my sight behind your great hands.  I understand this, and I yearn to join them.  I yearn to not be separated anymore from the people who have gone before me.  I hurt so much and ache for them. 

I sit here, and what I want, I cannot have. What I don't want, I have right now.  The things that made me happy have come and gone. And the things that supposedly will make me happy again, I cannot see through the cloudy eyes of tears. There is a restless spirit within my ambiguous desires and sedentary day. What to do with myself, my life...my pain, and everything that is wrapped up within the three, forming a cord that seems to cut off life to my heart.

When oh Lord, will you come?  When will you join with us again, joining us and the ones we love? 

This last death, though a relationship not as prominent as my mother, has hit me low….it is so soon after my mother’s death,  that I feel completely empty, void of anything, yet terribly in pain.  There is too much sadness Lord, too much grief. What is your purpose, and why to us? Where will the pain end, and to what extent must it reach?  I know there are no limits of your love, and you have limited death…for you will not be overcome by it.  Yet how come I cannot always see the limits of death, or feel the limitless reach of your grasp?  You need to touch me, to hold me, to comfort me, for I cannot live without your peace. Your grace is more than sufficient to hold the terrors that haunt me each day, but meet me now Lord, do not delay.  For my heart wanes for you & aches with tremors.