Saturday, August 28, 2010

Through the years

I am smiling as I watch my nephew playing basketball down at the park; smiling because it is good to see him up here and because I realize I've been watching him do this for a very long time.

When he was first down there with a ball, he was all of six and struggling to t h r o w that ball high enough to skim the bottom of the net.

As the years went on and he grew, his shots got higher and better. He would spend hours down there playing with whoever happened along; he's even let me play a few games of "horse" with him. All that practice made him so good that he played competitively as well.

And this morning I see he still picks up a ball; he is still down there taking the shot and making the layup, still engaged, still practicing, still improving.
This reminds me of our own walk with the Lord and how, from practice through many years, we also grow in how we relate to God. Listen to the prayer requests of the primary set and you'll hear their hearts for their friends, grandma, or puppy; coming to God's throne fully confident they can ask for anything and that God will take care of it and that God understands their desire for that newest toy.
Listen to the needs of young adults for perspective and wisdom in decisions about their future and now the tone is much more serious, more than a puppy with a hurt paw is on the line.
Evesdrop on the prayers of adults and hear them asking God to protect their children and their decisions; hear them asking that their grandchildren be drawn to God and that they themselves will leave a faithful legacy for their children to follow.
I can't help but wonder when God sees us on our knees now if He remembers all the requests through the years, from the requests of a child's heart to the concerns we now carry. Does it please Him also to see us still "playing ball" with Him? Still looking to him to provide for our needs?
I'm reading a book about evangelism and how valuable each soul we encounter is to God and how He longs to have a relationship with His created ones. A relationship,not at encounter, not something we've dabbled in once, or occasionally, but a relationship that continues and grows.
So when you're with God today reflect for a moment how familiar a place this is; how comfortable the floor feels beneath your knees and your Bible in your hands. Relish in a God who has sustained you for years and will continue to do so because He's promised "I will be your God throughout your lifetime--until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you." (Isaiah 46:4)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Hey Gorgeous!

I am never more beautiful then when I am in downtown Chicago.

Why just yesterday the guy in line with me at McDonald's, addressed me as "Gorgeous"! (and then asked for a quarter...) And then there was Lester Cherry, the StreetWise vendor, who last week told me that I,"Beautiful", made him look good by standing there talking to him.

Bring on the paparazzi - I'll allow you to take my picture now!!

Funny, when I think I look good I'm invisible and when I'm stressed out and schlepping around in a crowd, I'm irresistible.

Sadly I'm only gorgeous when someone wants something from me; it's comical actually to see how quickly I become beautiful or brilliant when someone is trying to sell me something - suddenly I am the most desirable person on the planet! Until I say "no" and then, well then, not so much!

But there is One who doesn't try to con me by calling me "Beautiful" or "Gorgeous", instead He calls me by my name.

Now I did a random Goggle search for my maiden name and discovered that there is a evangelist who runs Jesus boot camps(?), a singer, a voice over actor, a partner in a law firm, and (my favorite)one who was the 1990 Miss Teen Texas with whom I share the same name!

So when God calls my name He's calling some pretty impressive people...right?

But not only is God is calling my name but He is also calling ME.

The One who knows all about me - the good, the bad, and the ugly - still calls to me saying "I have called you by your name for you are mine." (Isaiah 43:1) and then, even after He calls He continues to speak deep in my heart that I am His child. (Romans 8:16) HIS!

And that is far better than being called "Gorgeous" any day!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Renewing of Vows

Weddings are wonderful things; all that energy, passion, and young new love! There are doves and flowers and a lifetime of promise ahead. Blue sunny skies and flower- festooned smooth pathways stretch onward from the wedding gazebo - a marvelous future awaits!

I don't think you would be getting married if you didn't feel exactly that way. Although the statistic has long hovered around half of all marriages ending in divorce, my guess would be not a single couple starting down the aisle expected it would be them...

But more wonderful than weddings are a renewal of vows.

Do you know why?

Simply because this "bride" and "groom" are no longer young and starry eyed. They've been down the path and found it often strewn with thorns under stormy skies. They've gotten to the place where they understand how couples would call it quits and have seen it happen to ones they love. This couple is not so young and definitely not as naive about what is ahead because they've already walked quite a way on this road of marriage.

I read a comic where a couple was asked what their secret was for the advanced anniversary they were sharing and the reply was "Because we didn't split up." Not exactly an endorsement for a relationship...!

But a renewal of vows, now that is an endorsement, one that says "We have seen the worst of each other and still choose to be together."

Rob and I sang this weekend at a wedding vow renewal, the same song I sang at our wedding actually, and when we came to the stanza that said "I will be here, you can cry on my shoulder, when the mirror tells us we're older, I will hold you." the "bride" started laughing as they were already into the "older" part. Ah, and there is the beauty of it all.

But surprisingly this musing isn't about marriages but about another relationship. Vows made in younger, more naive days. A commitment made to Christ when the path ahead looked like nothing but blue skies and sunshine and when legs were strong and feet anxious to start.

That starting point may be both miles and decades ago now, but the question is this; if you had to do it all again would you? Would you start this relationship and on this journey of faith?
We are the bride of Christ; would you take this opportunity today to "renew your vows" and continue on this journey, loving one another, together?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

To all the invisible people

It’s been a hot sticky summer.
So since June my normal attire has been shorts, a tank top, and my long hair pulled up in a pony tail; but tonight, well tonight was going to be different. We were going out for a sunset lake cruise on a hundred year old wooden boat by invitation of friends renewing their wedding vows. This was going to be special.

I got my hair cut, wore it down, and even curled it to go along with a new dress and jewelry; I hardly recognized the reflection of the mirror! It felt good to look good for a change.
Coming downstairs I expect someone to notice and comment and… no one did.
After assuring my husband his shirt looked good, replying to my son mumbling about some computer something or another, and getting markers for my daughter and her friends; I left the house feeling like the invisible woman.

I’m not the first to feel invisible.

God has promised Abraham a son and being unable to conceive with Sarah, she gave him her servant Hagar to bear a son; and then Hagar gets pregnant and Sarah despises her and mistreats her until Hagar flees in desperation into the desert, alone and unwanted.

But God... (there's a whole world of study in those two words isn't there?) but God met her there in her invisibility; so much so that she gave God the name El-roi which means “the God who sees me” (Genesis 16:13) She knew she may be despised by Sarah but she was not inconsequential to the Maker of the universe. She was seen and cared for by God.

No matter how blind the eyes that surround you, He is, and always will be, the God who sees you.

Friday, August 13, 2010

As a Unified Force

World War II
A time I always picture in grainy black and white footage...
My son is writing a Young Authors Story for school about the conflict in the Pacific and so he has been looking at a lot of books about the battles.

The number of casualties is staggering.
2400 at Pearl Harbor
5000 Allied troops on D-Day
1300 at Okinawa
400,000 killed while in the service and over 620,000 wounded.
Over 16,000,000 troops deployed worldwide during WW II.
These numbers are astounding!

Footage from the documentary WWII in HD, show the continual crowded oppressive conditions and not just in the ships, jungles, and assault teams. At home there are thousands of people, women mostly, pouring into the factories that ran 24/7 churning out ships and ammunition and war supplies; everyone doing their part for the war effort.

What you don’t see are individuals, only a unified force. Each individual in that force had reason to complain; although separated by us from sixty years they are just like us. The same needs, hurts, desires, and weaknesses yet all that is put aside – all their individual rights surrendered to one great cause.

What if we, as the Body of Christ, had that same perspective? What if we realized that we, no matter where we are, are part of a unified force of hundreds of thousands that Christ has on the planet currently to capture the hearts of the world for Him?

We’re Americans and our culture indoctrinates us with the idea that it’s all about me. Individual rights are paramount. My needs and desires trump everything else. No wonder we’re so ineffective in reaching the lost.

What if we had that mentality that after the bombing of Pearl Harbor sent thousands to the recruit offices to join the battle?
What if we could put aside our comforts and personal expectations to be part of the Body that will go forward together to battle Satan for precious souls?
What if we could just wrap our minds around the fact that it’s bigger than us, our church, our city, our area and that we are involved in a fight that although the victory was secured over 2,000 years ago that there are still beachheads to be taken?

I know this is not the way I think, but what if I did? What if I could understand the scope of the war we are in and understand my contribution to it? What if we all did?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Getting from here to there

When you’re on the road and attempting to get from here to there, there are two ways to do it. You can get out a map and plot all the possible ways or you can input the data into a GPS unit and then let it direct you step by step.

The difficulty of using a GPS and being directed turn by turn is that you don’t have the entire picture; all you have is the single command on the screen. When you’ve reached the end of that direction then you’ll be given the next.

I like maps, cumbersome as they are with all that folding and refolding. I like sitting down with a map all spread out and charting out the path, seeing the distance between points and understanding the big picture.

On our vacation we relied totally on the GPS and it was uncomfortably strange not to have the atlas in the pocket alongside the door. We had to travel from point to point, step by step, turn by turn the entire way.

What if God spread out His map of our lives across the table of our understanding? What if we could see the route with every twist and turn? Would we want to, to know what was around the next corner?

We don’t have that choice.
The choice we do have however is to follow the direction we’ve been given.
God knows how to get us from where we are to where we are to be.
When we’re beset by traffic or construction on our path although we’d like to find an alternate route through the frustration or the pain, this is the road we’re to be on; this is what God has brought into the journey.

I do not like not having a map. I want the ability to look at all the choices and decide what path to take. I want to control which road I’m on so trusting someone else’s judgment is not a simple thing…

But the difference is that this is no GPS system getting me from here to there but this is a faithful God who is journeying with me every step of the way until I am safely home.

With that as the case now I can say -

I don’t need to have the plan in hand
I don’t need to have the end in sight
All I need to do is follow you, wherever you lead
And do what you ask me too.

- Steve Green

Monday, August 2, 2010

Thou preparest a table...

Ah, vacation! Both an exhilarating and exhausting time; a superb opportunity to see inspiring and historic sites and an endless array of tacky trinkets!

We are currently on vacation which means everything we need, or think we’ll need, is jammed into the car and hundreds of miles have already rolled under our wheels. We’ve finished one audio book, most of the snacks in the box, and, fortunately, seen not many of the two road trip undesirables: orange cones and red taillights!

Of all the things I love about vacation one of my favorite things is the places with the complimentary breakfast! Let me explain, although we’re on the road I’m still the one responsible for eating arrangements. Apparently I’m the only one who is ever famished as the rest of the family will have a morning bowl of cereal and then go until four until they realize that they getting a little hungry! So for me it is the same responsibilities at home without the convenience of my own kitchen, or even knowing where there’s a grocery store for bread and ice!

So it is with disproportional joy that I check into a hotel and see that they have a breakfast nook because I know that in the morning there will be a buffet prepared for me, and all I have to do is schlep down there (even in my pajamas!) and fill up a plate and of course a coffee cup! (Let’s not even bring up the difficulty of getting a good cup of coffee while on the road!)

A table has been prepared for me and all I have to do is partake. I don’t have to shop, or prepare, or clean up from it; no, a complimentary breakfast means that someone is taking care of both me and my responsibility for my family’s needs.

“Thou preparest a table before me” Psalms 23:5

“You open your hand to feed them and they are satisfied” Psalms 104: 28

“Your mercies are new every morning” Lamentations 3:23

“Morning by morning he wakens me and opens my understanding to his will.” Isaiah 50:11

Just as God provided manna for His children in the desert each morning, He prepares a complimentary table for me arrayed with everything I need for the day. I see before me His grace, His love, His presence, His strength and protection, wisdom, understanding, discernment, mercy and forgiveness. I have no reason to go into my day unprepared for each morning He lays out a buffet of all I need and then says “Now come and have some breakfast!” John 21:12