Sunday, March 27, 2011

Moments of joy in the morning

Psalm 30:5: “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (KJV)

Like the first rays of light on a new sunrise, so God’s love and comfort breathes new life into the darkness of our sorrows. No, it doesn’t mean that we will find immediate resolve to the problem, or that the pain will altogether disappear. No, sometimes it simply means that we aren’t crying constantly, but find an hour or two of blessed relief. Maybe it’s only a few moments when you first wake up in the morning and don’t remember right away your living hell.

But we must learn to cling to this verse and these blessings with all our might. You may be called to sit with this pain for what seems like an eternity. The joy may be only in moments at a time, but like a precious raindrop in a dessert starved for water, we must savor every one and remember it well until the next.

God is faithful. He will bring you through… in His time. Hang on.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Wall of If Onlys

Jeremiah 29:11-14 For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the Lord. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope. When you call out to me and come to me in prayer, I will hear your prayers. When you seek me in prayer and worship, you will find me available to you. If you seek me with all your heart and soul, I will make myself available to you,’ says the Lord.

I smash my fists against the Wall of “If Onlys”
The bricks of
… If only I had made this decision
… If only I hadn’t made that
… If only this hadn’t happened to me
… If only that had
… If only I didn’t have this in my life
… If only I did have this
… If only I had walked away
… If only I had chosen to

If only… If only… If only
Until my flesh is raw and bloody
And my head is bruised and bleeding
My body slumped and crumbled
Sobbing, brokenhearted
Gasping for breath as you only can when
Hope has been strangled by If Only
Like a dead dream tossed without a thought in some corner

The warmth of His presence
Awakens me, like Lazarus rising from the tomb
I scream ‘JESUS!!!!!”
How could You?
How could You let these things happen to me?
How could You stand by and heartlessly do NOTHING?!?!?!?
How could You let me down? Abandon me? Not care?
He gathers me up in His arms
Gently and tenderly, a bruised and tender rag doll
As if I were the most precious thing on earth

I sob as He rocks me slowly in Those arms of strength
“It’s not fair,”, I whimper, “I didn’t deserve this…”
He reaches for me, and I see His nail-pierced hand
Remembering, I am silent… my heart knows He knows my pain… He understands

“I love you with an everlasting love”, He whispers tenderly
“Someday all will be revealed, but for now I need you to have faith,
I need you to trust Me, to believe that I am working it all out for you
Even when it seems to make no sense – that I have a plan
Even when it seems to go against everything your eyes can see
And your mind can comprehend

He wipes away my tears
And collects each one like a precious jewel
His love surrounds… no, encompasses me
I bury my head in His chest, and breath… perhaps for the first time ever…
The sweetness of His righteousness fragrant and heady
And I choose Him… I choose to believe
In the safety of His arms
In the bizarre logic of belief in what I cannot see or comprehend
I rest… and find my peace
I focus on Christ, and on the blessings
As the Wall of What Ifs comes crumbing down

Friday, March 25, 2011

Broken Heart... Broken Dreams

Proverbs 3:5: Trust in the LORD with all your heart. And do not lean on your own understanding.

Into every woman’s life comes a broken heart at some point on the path. For some the path is littered by the rubble, and for others it is blessedly infrequent. Caused by many factors, it can be a long-expected tragedy, or it can suddenly appear out of nowhere, no announcement, no preparation… one moment you’re fine and the next you can’t even breath. All you can do is cry and cry and cry… and then cry some more, gasping for air and reeling from the agonizing pain. Or sometimes it just leaves you numb, dead stone cold numb…

Hopes and dreams lie shattered around your feet like blood-soaked bomb shrapnel, and as you drop to your knees you cry out to God. Maybe you can’t even speak. Maybe all that escapes is a groan that only the Holy Spirit can decipher. Maybe it’s nothing more than the choked whisper of the name of Jesus. Prayers you thought were answered are tossed away in confusion, and plans you thought were from the sanctioned center of God’s will have now turned to ashes.

There is no way out. You must go through it. There is no immediate relief, no easy answers, no escape, except perhaps to sleep, and even then the dreams haunt you and taunt you until there is no sanctuary… just pain and sorrow. And you just don’t think you can go through this one more time…

It is in this darkest hour, when there is nothing left of you, that you must remember that God is still God, no matter what. Our understanding is limited, but God is limitless. Through the tears we must seek His face and believe He loves us, and that His heart is breaking as well. We must look past ourselves into His sovereignty, His majesty, and His Lordship, and know that He is God. And know that He is in control. And know someday He will turn these ashes into beauty.

We are not called to an easy walk when we follow Christ. It won’t always make sense, and it may require us to walk through the valley of the shadow of death – including death to self and all our hopes and dreams and desires – put on the altar, sacrificed. We may never know on this side of Heaven the answer to the WHY that we cry out to him over and over. But we must try and find our rest, our peace, the mending and filling of our crushed heart, in Christ alone, our only hope. He loves us with a love that will never abandon us, never leave us… hold fast to this truth. Hold on, even if it’s one minute at a time… hold onto Jesus.

A segment of an old poem called “After Awhile” by Veronica A. Shoffstall:

…And you learn that you really can endure, that you really are strong and you really do have worth and you learn and you learn, with every good-bye you learn.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Feeling sheepish?

John 10:27 10:27 My sheep listen to my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

Sometimes the days just plod along, one after the other, flowing into mindless, mundane madness. Nothing fantastic, nothing horrific… just basically nothing. It’s easy to begin to wonder what in the world God has put you on earth for – to yawn??? Like sheep on a hillside, we just go along, following the rest of the herd, doing the “dailies”, practically numb to the routine.

Well, take a look at this video. When I saw it, it made me think of the amazing possibilities life can have in store for us when we just listen intently to the Great Shepherd and follow His leading. Imagine how long this took, and then think of the fact that the sheep had no idea of the big picture, they were just all about following their Master’s voice. It’s a wonderful visual reminder of how God may be moving us into places we don’t currently understand, and we may not even agree with right now, but He knows why He’s putting you in THAT exact spot at THIS specific moment in time. He is moving you into places where you will be used for His bigger picture, part of His magnificent overall plan.

Listen to His voice today, and light up your world for His glory!


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

With Pen in Hand...

Romans 12:12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

I have a thing about writing instruments, always have. I have always loved the new box of crayons with their brilliant little bright heads peeking up out of the box, fragrant with the promise of creativity and art dreams. Of course, ink markers are wonderful as well, and any kind of colored pencils. But pens, ah, here is where the heart beats faster – when you open a journal page and have the perfect pen, it’s a little bit of heaven. The pen cradles into your hand like a custom fit, the smooth ink flows and practically writes the words itself, smooth and neat and precise.

Awhile back my mom happened to give me a pen, and it was love at first write. Fantastic! I was inspired, and the ink went right to my head. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t a new life form, but it was a darned good writing pen. Since then, every time I’m in Staples, I get more of this brand of pen. I can’t get enough of these bad boys, I now have a stash in my purse, on my home desk, in my briefcase, there’s everywhere!!! So the other day, I opened up a new batch of babies with far too much excitement (seriously, I obviously need a life here), and pulled a few out, tossed them in my purse, and happily went about my business. Later in the day, I rooted around in the endless pit that is said purse, grabbed one, and begin to write. Three letters, then a skip, one more word, then another skip. What?!?!!? What?!!? My trusted pen was skipping and missing all over the place. I pulled out a second – no!!!! Say it’s not so – same problem!!!! It was frustrating for this crazy pen-lover. I guess they had been sitting around awhile and the ink had begun drying up for lack of use.

Well, it got me to thinking… am I like this pen in my Christian walk? Stay with me here, I’m not over the edge… seriously, is my consistency in my relationship with Christ, and my day-to-day life in Him, as hit or miss as this pen? You know, I can still “look good” on the outside – shiny bright, lookin’ all kinds of happy and obedient, tossing off all the standard-issue “Christianese” words that make me look more holy than a little girl in her patent leather MaryJanes and new hat at Easter! But that doesn’t mean anything if my interior isn’t right – my heart, my thoughts, my attitude, my daily reliable time meeting with my Father in prayer and the reading of His word. Is my walk fresh and new each day, or have I become complacent and allowed my faith to sit on the shelf and dry up like the ink in my pen?

My life, much like everyone else, is crazy busy, and I struggle to set aside time each day to be with my Savior. Or maybe I’ll squeeze in a few moments to read at the end of the day, then try not to fall asleep. I have every good intention of getting up early to spend time with Him first, and next thing I know I’m praying haphazardly as I negotiate my way through my morning commute. 2 Samuel 22:26 tells us to show ourselves faithful. Romans 12:12 exhorts us to “be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” And in Revelation 2:10 we are called to be faithful.

I want my daily living to be an unswerving, smooth, regular relationship with my God. Not blotchy, or spotty, or with patches of barely-there-ness. When the book of my life is opened when I am laid to rest and go to meet my Father, I want page after page to read the solidly-inked story of a life well-lived and wholly dedicated to Him.

May I be reminded of this every time I pick up a pen from now on!