Monthly Archives: June 2014

For the Birds

Standard

Sitting in the morning sun, our cat was looking for breakfast.  She waited, busying herself with the daily grooming ritual:  lick paw, rub face, repeat.  Suddenly, she froze, mid-lick, as into her peripheral vision flew a plump little robin, landing on the grass.  The cat’s tail twitched once, her muscles tensed as she lowered herself one millimeter at a time, into full crouch position and waited, hidden by a post.  Lone little bird peered intently at the ground, distracted by the tantalizing wiggle of a worm.  A flash of furry haunches catapulted into the air.  I yelled, “Hey!” a split-second before breakfast was served.  And now the cat refuses to speak to me. 

I’m reminded of 1st Peter 5:8:

“ Be sober-minded; be watchful.  Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 

To be sober-minded means to guard your passions.  Pay attention.  Watch yourself.  Monitor and moderate your bents.  Doing what comes naturally, leads to death by natural causes.  Satan is an opportunist:  He is content to wait ever so patiently, pace silently and assess our boundaries; glancing sideways, making mental note of a loose rail, a widening entry.  He enters and waits for the lone bird, the distracted bird, the inattentive, happy little fat one, and strikes.  His conduct is deliberate, his aim singular: to swallow the swallow. 

I don’t want to be the lone bird, or the early bird, so focused on getting the worm that I ignore the early cat. I will stay with those who give raucous clamor when they see danger- and I’ll do the same for them, even though, chances are, we’ll find ourselves on the receiving end of, “Stop that annoying squawking, can’t you see I–”  And the lone feather descends. 

Stay alert, stay together, stay alive. 

Not for the Faint of Heart

Standard

During our morning prayer time at school, one little five-year-old said, “There was a big quake in a place called Chimpanz”.  Another little guy said, “Yeah-someone broke a plate, and then they waved”. It took me a minute to figure out they were speaking of the earthquake in Japan.  The broken plate was in reference to tectonic kind, and the wave was a threatened tsunami.  The children knew something was wrong, they just didn’t know exactly what, but this did not keep them from earnest prayer.    

Likewise, I do not need to know all details in order to pray.  I’m simply to obey the Lord who tells  me to “pray and not faint”.  To faint means to be spiritless-depressed, hopeless or despondent. I am not to pray with a “what’s the use” attitude, but with thanksgiving and tireless faith.  I used to think of prayer as nickels in a slot machine: Put in the prayer and let’s see what happens… oh shoot- two lemons and a cherry- no win this time.  Put in another nickel… try again.  But not one of our prayers is lost on God.  He credits all my prayers to that day, that moment, that split-second when He shouts, “Lazarus!  Come Forth!” Our dormant answers will come forth at the appointed time for His will to be done, as we continue to pray and not give up.  This is not to say God will always answer in the affirmative, but that is all His business and none of ours.  Ours is to pray; to pray, knowing we pack a loaded weapon -not a puny little squirt gun- but a scud-missile hitting spot-on, destroying strongholds, dissolving the superglue of Satan’s grip.  Pray without ceasing, which means “without intermission”.  Intercession without intermission.  We are called to this.  Until all hell breaks loose.   1 Thes. 5:17, 2 Cor. 10:5

Aside

On those rare occasions when John and I could get away, we’d farm our eight kids out to three or four different families.  Once, two of our boys were staying with a family whose father worked graveyard.  I explained this to our boys, adding they’d have to be very quiet as the dad slept during the day, because when it got dark, he went to work. One son thought about this and said, “You mean, he’s NOCTURNAL!?” 

I sometimes have to remind myself I serve the Eternal Nocturnal God.  He works nights.  When I can not see, when all is dark, when day has left me weary and weak, God works. 

In Exodus 14, it was night, and the Israelites were wrought with anxiety.  No longer in Egypt (thank God!), but neither in the promised land. They faced a certain watery death. And, as if that wasn’t stressful enough, a “strong east wind blew all night long.” 

I just hate picking sand out of my teeth.

But even more dreadful is finding myself in the land of in-between: that purgatory of Moved Out, but Not Moved In.  Obnoxious travel companions crawl out of the woodwork and attach themselves: Uncertainty, Fear, and Questions. 

But our Nocturnal God is working in the night, in the wind; to open a way for His Children.  The murky waters of the Red Sea parted, and the Israelites passed through.  He does no less for us. The dark and the storm are the tools He uses back in Exodus 14, and today, to make the No Way a Freeway for us.   

 

Exodus 12:30 “…in the night, the manna fell…”

Facing TIme with FaceTime

Standard

I am shocked by the detestable images that pop up on my computer screen.  For instance, just today while I was looking for a recipe, I accidentally hit the FaceTime button and up popped a hideous image of me at one hundred and thirty-five years old.  Oh. My. Gosh. Something must be done about the lighting in this kitchen.  Like let’s just put room- darkening drapes over every window.  And my head. 

 Growing old gracefully is overrated.  And also a lie.  No one has ever left fish in the nice, cool fridge for two weeks and then said, “This fish has grown old gracefully.”  No, they say, what the heck is this stinkin’ thing doing here?  Which is pretty much what I said to my computer screen today.  I mean, this just isn’t fair.  I’ve lost weight this year, and I have every right to expect to look like a famous movie star- so you can imagine my disappointment when the star I most resemble turns out to be Gollum.  Oh wait- I almost forgot that I’m writing something spiritual here.  Okay- well, the bad news is, I’m getting very old, the good news is, I’m dying.  And by that I mean, a new and improved me is on the way.  

1st Corinthians 15 says, we don’t know what we’ll look like because this body we have is like a seed and only when it’s put in the ground will our new body emerge.  Just like an acorn doesn’t much resemble the spreading, majestic oak tree, our body doesn’t much resemble what it will be- although parts of me do seem to be getting a jump-start on the spreading thing. The problem is, I’m like a baby in the womb who’s looking at the dark tunnel ahead and thinking, “I don’t wanna go through this- and besides, how can I be sure there’s life after birth?”  God knows this about us, and so He sent Jesus to prepare us.  Jesus said,  “Don’t let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God, and trust also in Me.  There’s more than enough room in my Father’s home.  If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to  prepare a place for you? When everything is ready I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me…”  John 14:1-3 (NLT)  

Which means, I can face time- and the changes that come with its passing, knowing that Jesus will be with me when I hear the call, “Laura, party of two, your table is ready…”

The Ungodly Council

Standard

My brain is hosting the council of ungodly nations this morning. In the kitchen, me and my coffeemaker were minding our own business, when suddenly into the gray matter they marched, taking their seats and beginning their final argument with an itemized list of my criminal acts.  Like I said, I was with the French press, who heard it all.  Wow.  What a list.  I deserve a life sentence without parole.  Move over Paul, I’m the new C.O.S.  (Chief of Sinners).  

So, I do the only think I know to do.  I plead guilty.  “Yes.  I know.  I did that.  And that, too.  Yes, you’re right, I have no basis for calling my self a Christian.  Yes, yes, I’m a hypocrite and a real jerk, and I hurt so-n-so back in 1983…” 

Agreeing saves so much time.  Attempting to parcel out, justify, or prove extenuating circumstances merely prolongs the trial. The Father of Lies tells the truth about my sins.  But- regarding his recommendation of the eternal death penalty- he errs.  As the Bible tells it, the Judge over all nations, brought the gavel down on my behalf (and yours).  The same gavel that struck the final blow nailing Jesus to the cross, simultaneously struck the Judge’s stand, pardoning and sealing my criminal record:  IT IS FINISHED. 

Psalm 43 says, “Vindicate me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation; rescue me from deceitful and wicked men.” 

He did.  

Now, we’re just gonna go enjoy a morning cup of coffee together.

Bound to Rebound

Standard

Years ago, while tucking my son Joey into bed, He asked, “Mommy, is God sleeping now?”  “No,” I said, “This is a great thing about God- He never sleeps. The Bible says, “He who watches over you neither slumbers or sleeps.”  To which Joey, incredulous, replied, “You mean- God’s a MOM!?”  

I was there when my son went to sleep, I was there when he came to the kitchen in the morning, and if he called out in the night, I soon appeared. Young minds write their own story about these things (my class of preschoolers think I live at school), and so I never slept in Joey’s Volume 1 of Moms.  

Once upon a time it was almost true. I was young. In the morning, I’d bound out of bed.  That was a long, long time ago.  Now most mornings when getting out of bed, I rebound- off the walls and doors.  The furniture deliberately sticks its feet out to trip me up along the very crooked path to the bathroom (old minds write their own story about these things). So I appreciate all the more the verse in Psalm 121, “He who watches you never slumbers or sleeps.”  “Never slumbers” means He is never groggy or drowsy, always at the ready. God does not slouch, head slumped, wearily in the chair across from mine, pinching the bridge of His nose with one hand, triple-shot of espresso in the other, straining to open His eyes, wincing if my prayers are a bit too loud.  I imagine the Bright and Morning Son walks around my bedroom, waiting, checking things out, nudging potential hazards (and furniture feet) out of the way, and humming a little tune to whisper me awake, just like Zep. 3:17 says,  “He joys over you with singing”. Once, I actually thought I felt Him tweak my toe.  

He who watches you never slumbers or sleeps.  He watches you, willing you to awaken to Him.  Stumble to Him if you must, but rise up and walk; He’s prepared something fresh for you today.   

Love Your Crazy Neighbor (As You Love Your Crazy Self)

Standard

 

Love God and your neighbor.  God’s easier to love.  He doesn’t mind if my friends park in front of His house, He’s never criticized me for having eight children, nor has He ever complained about the dandelion on my lawn (I think He likes them).  But my neighbors are another story.  I used to go out of my way to get out of their way.  Then one day, I realized how unhappy I must make them.  I mean, they don’t know Jesus- so this place is the closest they will get to heaven, and we’ve sort of ruined that for them.  I started studying their lives and realized they are like the guy in the Bible who had been stripped, beaten and left for dead- life does that, y’know.  Here they are, in need of First Aid, and I have a whole doctor bag full of healing things given by the Great Physician- the balm of kindness, for starters.  I owe them.  I have been given so much underserved grace, and yet here I am, parceling out no more than what others deserve, based on my faulty assessment.  God doesn’t ask me to heal, but to feel- to have compassion on those who focus on things like dandelions and parked cars because those are the only things they can seemingly control in an out-of-control world.  It’s been an interesting road with these neighbors- including a trip to the city council, and I’d like to say things got better, but they didn’t really.  Until last week.  Our house is sold and we are packing.  Two of our most unhappy neighbors came on separate days to say good-bye.  The first, with tears, apologized for himself and the neighborhood for “causing us so much trouble,” the second came and hugged me long and hard and said to us, “Thank you for being kind. You’ve taught us a lot.  I think we can be good neighbors now.” Wow. We’re so grateful for this, and told them so.  Now we can move on, knowing God who “began a good work, will carry it on to completion.” 

Lord, you went to the cross for those I cross the street to avoid.  Forgive me and give me a heart that yields when You say to me, “look after this one, and when I return I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.” Luke 10:35