Category Archives: Diary

Breaking My Addiction to Order

control-freak-quote

I’ve recently realized that I am addicted to order.  I so badly want things to be neat, tidy, and under control.  There’s nothing I hate so much as the feeling of chaos, that I am just bouncing around in life like a pinball; the feeling that I am powerless over a downward spiral of negative events .

Order Or Chaos Directions On A Signpost

And when I experience these feelings, what do I often do?  I turn my fear and anger inward.  I inflict hatred upon myself.

Creating order is my way of coping.  If something goes wrong, I immediately start asking myself, “What can I do?  How can I batten down that thing that’s flapping in the wind?” I want to be like the  Dutch boy who stuck his finger in the dike.  I so strongly believe that I need to do something to stave off chaos.

dutch-boy

It doesn’t seem like a bad plan.  But it only works until the next thing goes wrong.  It makes me angry at myself, because I can’t fix things to create the order I crave.  It places my confidence in my own efforts, and not in God.

I’ve come to realize that this pattern of thinking is a stronghold of Satan in my heart.

So I’m deciding to break down this stronghold.  It’s a familiar battle.  I’ve known for years that something is wrong, and I’ve tried to address it.   I’ve seen Christian professionals who taught me more healthy ways of thinking.  I’ve taken medications that made things not bother me so much.  I’ve learned may truths as a Christian that have been effective, and have given me peace.

But I haven’t been able to correct the root of the problem.  And that is what I am battling now.  As I’ve mentioned before, I am reading this great book, “Spiritual Discovery,” and it is helping me more than anything  ever has to identify what attitudes in me are causing the dysfunction.  I feel like I am rooting out Satan where he has been hunkered down in a slimy pit of lies, a fortified hidey hole that I haven’t been able to uncover.

In Psalms 51:6 David says to God, “Behold,  you desire truth in the inmost parts.”

This verse that resonates with me.  I’ve got to root out what I’m feeling and identify the lies.  I have to find truths that combat the deeply seated false beliefs.

What lies am I discovering?

The lie that the world should be orderly.  I live in a fallen world, full of sin and weakness.  I can’t expect it to be otherwise.

The lie that God is not in control, or that he doesn’t care enough about me to do something in my life.

The lie that everything is in a downward spiral.

The lie that chaos has the upper hand, and that God isn’t working his good and perfect will on the earth.

The lie that what seems to be failure couldn’t be a part of God’s plan.

The lie that I need perfection and order.  It’s the same thing as craving material things.  Orderliness never lasts.  It’s a terrible thing to need, because I can never be satisfied for long.

And now that I’ve identified the lies, the next step is to pinpoint the truths will be effective weapons against these untruths.

The truth that God is vastly good.

God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.  John 1:5b

The truth that there is hope.  God is holding my hand through the raging waters.  He will not let go because He is committed to me, because He dotes on me. He is my lifeline. He is my helper. And by His strength He will drag me out of the suction of the currents.

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“he pulled me from the surging water. . .He led me to a place of safety; he rescued me because he delights in me.” (Ps 18:16b, 19)

“If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” (Ps 139:10)

“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire” (Ps 40:2)

The truth that God’s whole direction here on earth for all time was and is to reach out to me, to sacrifice for me, to make a way for me to come into his arms.

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will. Eph 1:4-5

The truth that there will be a heaven that is order and perfection.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.  Rev 21:4

The truth that weakness can actually work in my favor.  That I actually need weakness to empty me of myself so I can be filled with HIM and transformed.

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.  II Cor 4:16-17

For when I am weak, then I am strong.  II Cor 12:10

I’m telling you, these truths are hard to remember sometimes!  But I want to learn to listen to God and the truths he’s trying to tell me.  I want to hear his song.

The song Joseph heard when he told his brothers, “you meant it for harm, but God meant it for good.”  The song Joshua heard when he knew he could take the promise land.  The song David heard when he faced Goliath.  The song Jesus heard in the Garden that carried him forward.

The song I begin to recognize when I’m thankful.

The song that sings, “Trust.  You are in my loving arms.  I will keep you from harm.  My hand holds you tight through the waters that sweep.  My goodness surrounds you.  My army is there.  Sshhhh, my beloved.  Be quiet.  Know that I am weaving the thread of my will through your life.”

Ah, that’s the key — finding that thread of his will in my life.   But as I said, it’s so tough to do.   The other day Ken and I were driving back from Atlanta and I was trying to find the Auburn football game on the radio.  I painstakingly switched through static, oldies, commercials, sports talk, whiny country music, pulsing R&B.   I finally found a broadcast of the game, but after 30 minutes, we got out of range.

radio-dial

That’s what it feels like to me when I try to tune into God’s will.  I have to be patient and still and sift through a lot of voices in my head until I can hear his voice.  And then through the course of the day the voice gets obscured, and I have to wrestle all over again to hear it.

But when I do, it’s so powerful.   I feel like am a part of something huge and beautiful and meaningful.

All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.  Ps 139:16

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  Eph 2:10

From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.  God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.  Acts 17:26-27

I’m learning that faith isn’t just believing.  It’s hearing God’s voice.  It’s knowing God.  It’s tuning into his will.  It’s a deep and vibrant connection to God’s very heart.

I’m learning that the cure for my addiction to order is to find God’s better order.

And now, as my day draws to a close and the recollection of challenges I faced are like specters tormenting me,  and I feel engulfed by worry and fear and emotion, I force myself to stop and listen. I remember who God is.  I remember hope.  I remember the heroes of faith.  I remember the love that’s like a waterfall.  I remember that HIS will will carry me along and sustain me through the scariest times.

And I feel better.

When my spirit faints within me, you know my way!  Ps 142:3a

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.  Isa 42:61

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Filed under Diary, Relationship with God, Things I Am Learning, Uncategorized

Miracles I’m Not Taking for Granted

I decided yesterday was one of the high points of my life.

First, out of the blue, my old friend Kristen Kopp showed up to worship with us at the North River Church service.  That was such an awesome surprise.  I hadn’t seen her in a long time.

Then, at church, we showed part of a video that I helped put together.

Video

I can’t describe how gratified I was to finally see this video.  Over the past few years I’ve tried at least twice before to put together a promotional video for the church, and it always didn’t quite come together in the end.  Then we started working on this video, and Michael, the brother who filmed it, loaded the footage in his computer and then his computer broke in a car crash.  The video got put on hold.  And then when Michael did get his computer fixed, and had time to edit the video, we used too much copyrighted footage, and YouTube wouldn’t support it.  So I didn’t get to see it.

So this past Friday Michael uploaded the video to Google docs and I saw the video at last.  He did such an awesome job.  I teared up and my throat welled with emotion.  I thought, “This is something awesome that I was a part of, that I used my talents to help create.’  It was immensely gratifying. And it was even more special because for so long I’d felt sad and frustrated because I hadn’t been able to get a video done.  And then it was even more moving, because we were actually able to show at least part of the video to a large group of people.  We achieved our objective!

Another thing that made the day a high point was that we had a baptism that was an unbelievably good surprise for me.  It was Courtland, one of the Tuskegee students who has been studying the Bible.

Courtland baptism courtland

With all the low points our church has been through in the last year, I can’t describe how encouraging it was to have this baptism at the North River service.  It was like a huge confirmation:  God is working!!

After church, our North River friends put on a wonderful lunch for us, and tons of people who have been involved in our ministry were there.  It was over-the-top encouraging.

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And one person who was at the lunch was Ashley Nutt, a sister I LOVE who I helped study the Bible with, and is now at medical school in Philadelphia.

Ashley on the left. (Sorry my camera wasn't set right and it's blurry.)

Ashley on the left. (Sorry my camera wasn’t set right and it’s blurry.)

It was great to see Ashley and hear her talk about how well she is doing.  But my heart soared as she related to me how wonderful our ministry is to her.  She said that no other ministry she’s been in has such a sense of family and dedication.  She was so passionate about the great spirit that defines our group that I felt lifted up and restored, again, because I felt like we’ve been through so much in the past year.

Finally, I went to the wedding shower for my son and his fiancee, Elizabeth.  It was one of the most lovely showers I have ever attended.

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The women went over and above to make it an outstanding event.

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But even more special to me, was to be able to celebrate at this tangible reminder that my son, Max actually is getting married to an awesome young woman.  I’ve talked before about how amazingly God has worked in Max’s life to bring him to this point.  So my heart was already full because of that.  But also, Max and Elizabeth have had some tough trials on the road to getting everything ready to have a marriage together, especially in the last week or so.  It was absolutely refreshing to be with loved ones and rejoice in all the good things they have.  God is good.

So, all in all, it was an incredible day.

But what made it incredible wasn’t just that awesome things happened.  It was that I very much recognized that each one of these things was a miracle.  Each occurrence could have gone a very different way.

And that recognition of miracles, after the struggles and lowliness of heart I’ve experienced, was especially poignant.

So the scripture in Mark for today is:

When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ standing where it does not belong—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the housetop go down or enter the house to take anything out. Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that this will not take place in winter, because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again.

“If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them. At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.

“But in those days, following that distress, ‘the sun will be darkened,and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky,and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’

“At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.”  Mark 13:14-26

It’s a long passage.  But Jesus was saying that grueling, frightening times were coming, but then at the end, Jesus will come back and, with great fanfare, and gather us and transport us to be with him in heaven.

None of us know how many struggles we’re going to have to go through before the end comes.  But there will be struggles.

That’s what makes the miracles that happen along the way especially awesome.

And my message today, is that we need to see the miracles that are happening, and not take them for granted.

Jeff Hickman preached yesterday that we should exult in the miracle of our salvation.  He quoted Titus 3:3-5a

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. . .

He pointed out that we CANNOT take our salvation for granted.  We would be in such a mess without it.

The same is true for our lives.  God gives us so many things, at just the right time, that are wonderful.

Let’s recognize these things.  The days are dark.  The very fact that so many things have gone right is a miracle!

And if you are at a low point, waiting and wishing for something you desperately need to turn out for the good, keep holding on and remembering what God has already done.  Something good is coming!

Today I am utterly thankful for the ways God has worked.  Life is a series of miracles.  I don’t take them for granted.

 

 

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Filed under Abundance/Greatness of God, Diary, Faith, Gratitude, Mark, Miracles

How I’m Keeping Watch

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert ! You do not know when that time will come.  It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.

“Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn.  If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping.  What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’ ”  Mar 13:32-37

As I get older, I find that it gets more difficult to stay alert.  I feel dull.  I don’t have the same energy level.

For instance, yesterday a young sister, Misha, told me the story of the time in her life when she was studying the Bible.  One night her apartment was broken into, and she was so upset.  Her friend who was studying the Bible with her, whom she hadn’t known long, came right over and supported her for several hours.  It made such a difference in Misha’s life that someone she didn’t even know that well would care so much about her.

As I heard this story, I thought, “That’s what we need to do.  I want to do that.  But I feel tired and dull.  These days I often let those kinds of opportunities to love and serve my friends slip through my fingers because I am not alert.”

So how do we stay alert when life is so distracting, and our energy levels wane?  I think one major way is to pray.  For the last few days I have REALLY been praying.  I’ve felt like my kids needed extra prayer — there’s a lot going on in their lives — so I decided that I wasn’t going to eat or drink anything but water in the mornings until I had a great focused prayer time.  It has made such a difference.

I am remembering that the best time in prayer is after the first 15 or 20 minutes, when I’ve gone through all of my prayer requests for everyone.  Then I start to be more quiet and listen to God.  Then my heart starts to remember what is really important to God.  (And it’s not my agenda!)  Then I find peace and inspiration.  I have a better perspective on life and my day to come.  I’m even re-energized!

Here’s one story for today.  I am far from perfect, but I did prayerfully consider what I should do this week.  One thing that came to mind is that Ken and I need to visit his nephew, who is now stationed at Fort Benning.  It took a little bit of being intentional and reaching out, but the result was that last night we took the nephew and his new wife out to dinner.  We had such a wonderful time!!  We saw their lovely new apartment.  We got to know them both, and really enjoyed finding out what great people they are.

It reminded me of how important it is to get out of my routine and make the effort to do the extra things.

That’s what watching and being alert is to me.  It’s praying and keeping my eyes open for opportunities, then praying some more to have the energy and means to take those opportunities!

What does the word “watch” mean literally, in the Greek?  It means to “be awake.”  To me, life is a constant battle of trying to stay awake.  I just keep on wanting to curl up somewhere and get comfortable and check out.  Especially when it’s cold and rainy outside!

Let’s pray, and  allow God to “wake us up” every morning.  He has so many great things to teach us, so many great opportunities for us to take.

The Sovereign LORD has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.  Isa 50:4

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Filed under Balance, Diary, Mark, Prayer, Things I Am Learning

Visiting Connie

elderly couple

The leaders sent some of the Pharisees and some of Herod’s followers to Jesus. They wanted to trap him into saying the wrong thing. When they came to him, they said, “Teacher, we know that you tell the truth. You don’t favor individuals because of who they are. Rather, you teach the way of God truthfully. Is it right to pay taxes to the emperor or not? Should we pay taxes or not?”Jesus recognized their hypocrisy, so he asked them, “Why do you test me? Bring me a coin so that I can look at it.” They brought a coin. He said to them, “Whose face and name is this?” They told him, “The emperor’s.” Jesus said to them, “Give the emperor what belongs to the emperor, and give God what belongs to God.” They were surprised at his reply.  Mark 12:13-17

The Pope has been in the States this week. The news is full of stories of what he is doing, and how he talked to Congress about issues like immigration and climate change.

This story from Mark 12 about Jesus makes me wonder what Jesus would have done, given the same platform.

Because Jesus was also asked to get involved in politics.  He was tasked with providing an answer to the question of paying taxes to the government.  He was shown a coin with the face of an emperor on it.  To the Jews, a coin with a face on it was blatant idolatry.  Of course Jesus would need to speak out against it.

Yet Jesus amazes them by not standing against idolatry, not jumping into the political controversy.

What does he tell them instead?  Give God what belongs to God.

This week I finally went and visited Connie*, an elderly woman who lives a few streets away, in my neighborhood.  I’ve known Connie for almost 6 years, or at least I’ve seen her and her husband, Robert, as they walked, and I’ve said, “Hello” to them.

Before we knew their names, Ken and I would call Robert and Connie, the “wizened couple.”  A couple of mornings or so a week, we would wake up at 5:30 in the morning and go jogging down the broad tree lined sidewalk of our subdivision.  Every time we went out, no matter how cold, we saw this ancient couple hobbling along.  The wife was tiny and wiry, with a puff of white hair.  The husband was tall and bent over.  Often, at some point, the wife would get out ahead, working her way up the hill, which was pretty steep.  The husband would be some distance behind, shuffling along.  In the winter they wore hoodies, with the hoods cinched around their faces.

Ken and I would jog past them, calling out a greeting and reining in our dog Buddy, who would sometimes try to run up to them to sneak in a sniff.  And then after we had run our route and were on the on the way back, we’d come upon the wizened couple again, only this time they were not alone. They would be talking and walking with Mary, a fellow neighbor, a mother of teens, who ran long distances with her little terrier in the very early morning.   Mary always ended her workout by strolling and visiting with the older couple.  Often there would be a group of people talking to them.  I called it the “Five Thirty Club,” because it was so wild to me that all these people who were out walking would cluster and talk and carry on in the dark before dawn.  Sometimes Ken and I would stop for a brief chat, but mostly we were on a schedule, and we said, “Have a nice day,” and ran on.

And then, one morning, we stopped seeing Robert and Connie.  We did run into Mary.  She said Robert’s health was failing.  Since Connie no longer drove, Mary herself was taking Robert to many of his medical appointments.  I told Mary we would pray, and we did.

A few weeks later, Mary texted me to tell me that Robert was in hospice. I meant to go visit him.  But other things seemed to fill my schedule.

A couple of weeks ago I saw Connie out walking again, with two of the members of the Five Thirty Club.  One of them dropped back and told us that Robert had passed.  She mentioned how much Connie would like a visit.  I put it on my list of things to do, but didn’t get to it.  The next week I saw the women again.  “I’m going to come visit you,” I called to Connie as they walked by.  “She could love that,” her friend said emphatically.

So this past Wednesday morning I made time to go visit Connie.  We had such a great talk.  She told me all kinds of things about the people in her life.  One of the most amazing things she told me was how her friends went with her when she got with her preacher to make funeral arrangements.  “What family members are these?” the pastor asked, about the three neighbor women who accompanied her.   You see, Robert and Connie didn’t have any children, but the women in her neighborhood took care of them like they were family.  The pastor couldn’t believe that these women were there for her in such a close way.

What a great example of loving your neighbor!

So as I think of Jesus, and the way he answered the Pharisees who were trying to trap him, it reminds me of what he said in Luke 9:60

“Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

Jesus just wanted people to go and do the work of God.  He wanted them to “give to God what belongs to God.”

Thus, as it is so easy for me to get caught up in all kinds of issues, and affairs, I am learning to DO God’s work of caring for others more.

This is so hard for me.  I can easily put it off until tomorrow and write blogs and newsletters, do yard work, house work, and so on.

But this week I went and visited Connie.  It wasn’t that much, not nearly as much as the neighborhood women did for her.

But I think it’s what Jesus would have done.

*(The names were changed in this blog.)

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A Letter to My Friends

Friends, I just want to say that God is awesome.  I think a lot about what I would like to do with the rest of my life.  I think of so many things that would be good — businesses to start, goals to achieve.

But my heart really is to reflect and communicate the awesomeness of God to everyone.

Every day is worthwhile because of what God puts into it.  It’s like God is writing a beautiful story with each one of our lives, and each day is a page.  Yes, there are trials and hardships.  Things go wrong.  We mess up.  But there are also amazing things occurring.

Here are a few of those things in my life lately.   We had a wonderful impromptu women’s time last night.  It was great to see how each woman is growing through God.  One sister who has had some challenges shared a victory she had.  Another woman who has been visiting church said that the time was so encouraging because she has never before had friends she could talk to.

On Saturday I found out about a couple I know who got baptized last week.  My heart was thrilled and amazed.

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This morning I prayed with a young woman I studied the Bible with over three years ago.  She’s not a Christian yet, but it is miraculous to see how far she’s come.  She is now studying the Bible with sisters in New York.

Sunday after church Marge and I had lunch with a mature sister.  It was so good.  We opened up our hearts to one another about what we’ve been going through.  We could uniquely relate to each other.  We talked about verses and spiritual principles that make us thrive through our difficulties.  It was so good.  Afterwards, the sister insisted on paying for the lunch.

I could go on and on.  The blessings things are there.  All we have to do is acknowledge them.

You know, one thing I’ve been doing lately is listening to the Bible in the car.  I get Bible CDs from the library.  I love listening to Genesis.  There are so many inspiring lessons and applications I can think of as I hear the stories.

Something that I am remembering as I listen is that God works over long periods of time.  God made promises to Abraham, but it took years until Sarah was actually pregnant.  And then God told Abraham that his descendants would be taken to captivity for 400 years, before they would be brought out and given the promised land.  God does have great plans.  But we have to go through challenging times on the way to attaining them.

Here is another way I’ve been growing.  I am learning to VALUE LEARNING.   There’s this new book out by Jessica Lahey called, “The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed.”   An an article about the book, Rachel Simmons of “TIME” magazine says about young women in particular, “They’ve been so protected from mistakes, usually by their parents, that they fear failure, avoid risk and value image over learning.

“Failing well is a skill,”  Simmons writes.  “Letting girls do it gives them critical practice coping with a negative experience. It also gives them the opportunity to develop a kind of confidence and resilience that can only be forged in times of challenge.”

I HAVE to learn to value the process of learning, with the mistakes and failures along the way and stop just wanting everything to be neat and perfect.  As I was praying for all of you this morning, I realized that each of you is in a state of learning.  You may be going through some things, but that is necessary to where you need to go.

Oh, there’s so much more that I’ve thinking about lately that I want to share with you.  I’ve been reading “Geisha of Gion,” by Miniko Isasaki, about a Japanese geisha in the 60’s and 70’s.  She was not a prostitute, she was a highly educated entertainer and companion.  One thing that impressed me about her culture was the importance they give to maintaining relationships.  Every day the women of the geisha house would make visits and call on people.  Their life was built on a network of relationships they had to maintain.

So, the Spirit prompted me as I was praying, I can do this too!  Why do I need to set appointments with people like this huge thing that’s going to happen?  Why not just touch base with them and say, “I’d like to drop by and visit for a few minutes?”  And that is what I did.  I texted a friend and asked if it was a good time to drop by and pray together.  It was, and we had the most encouraging time!

Okay, I have to stop, I’m running out of time.  But one more thing.  I was praying this week, and this came to me.  I need to stop worrying so much, and striving so much, and just seek His kingdom.  I am only a child kneeling before God.  I need to trust Him to take care of things, while I bask in his presence and delight in life.  In other words, in the end, I can only worry about myself and my relationship with God, and that I am right with Him.  I sing in the shadow of his wings.

Just as the early disciples did.  They rejoiced and felt RICH even though they were being persecuted.  No matter what they went through, they were still full of patience and kindness.  I’ve leave you with this most awesome verse, II Cor 6:4-10:

Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

Here are recent pictures chronicling some of the blessings God gives.  I love each one of you.

Kim on her birthday

Kim on her birthday

Pictures I took from the car

Pictures I took from the car

Clouds

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The Blessings in Finishing Last

But many who are first will be last, and the last first.  Mark 10:31

I so badly want to be first.  I want to be the Super Me, good at everything.

I realized this especially as I went on a short vacation this past weekend and spent time with family.

I wanted so much to serve everyone, say meaningful things to them, let them know how special they are.

I wanted so much to transform each moment into something golden, to savor the time.

But the reality was that I had several physical challenges.  I was tired.  I had a sore throat.  Some of the time my IBS was acting up.

How could I be Super Me when I was just trying to stay engaged, when the zing of energy and inspiration wasn’t there?

So I stayed in constant interaction with God.  Hour by hour, situation by situation, I laid my requests before God and responded to His promptings.  And He gave me direction.  He helped me to play with my granddaughter even when I longed to veg on the couch. He helped me to get out of bed and pray in the morning before everyone got up, to give and help when I was tired, to take the initiative, to say encouraging words.

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I guess I wasn’t Super Me at all.  I was Christ living through me.

And now I realize something really cool.  My plan is to do all kinds of awesome things for God and become an increasingly spiritual great person.

God’s plan is that I go through challenges that make me feel weak, even to the point where I can’t do the things I want to do, and I rely on Him more.

So at some point I will cross the finish line and receive eternal life.  But I’m not going to sprint all the way there with my wonderful deeds.

Nope.  I’m going to wallow towards the goal through the swamp of my challenges, pulling one foot out of the mud, and then another.

feet in mud

Not first, but last.

How do I make peace with being in the swamp when everything in me screams that I’m failing if I’m not running full tilt?

How do I like myself when I don’t even FEEL like running?

Because it isn’t that I don’t like being stuck in the swamp, it’s that I don’t like the version of me who gets stuck in the swamp.

Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.”  Romans 12:3

I need to be honest with myself.   I’m not Super Me.  I’m just a regular person with strengths and weaknesses.

And I don’t like the weaknesses.  I don’t like feeling useless and unproductive.

Coming home from vacation, I realized that I wanted it to be a succession of perfect memories

Instead I captured only glimpses, the peace on the beach with the wind blowing and the waves breaking cool against my legs, the beauty of sunflowers in the field, the laughter in my heart as my granddaughter tells me she’s having the time of her life.

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Maybe I am the same way.  I only experience  glimpses of the Super Me in my ordinary human life.

And that has to be enough.

Even before I went on vacation, I wasn’t feeling good.  I was super tired and foggy headed.  My IBS acted up.   Each day was one long series of pushing through.

And then, late in a listless afternoon, I listened to beautiful music.

It was amazing.  I had a deep sense of meaning and connection.  My heart felt restored.

“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength,”  Isa 30:15

I remembered that quietness can be just as meaningful as activity.

You know, it occurs to me that when Jesus said the first would be last, that didn’t mean that the people who are last won’t receive as many blessings as those who are first.  They ALL receive 100 fold, now and in the life to come!

I think if I’m not running on all cylinders, it’s a sign that I’m not doing things right, that I’m not in sync with God.

But I’m realizing that I can find God just as much in being last, as I can in being first.

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Filed under Diary, Humility, Mark, Peace, Self Worth

A Friend A Day #10 — Sweet as Honey

honey

This is one of those days.

A day when I wake up feeling bleak.  When I feel discouraged because the moods came back on me yesterday.

That’s when it’s good to remember this story I read about David in II Samuel 23:

Once again there was a battle between the Philistines and Israel. David went down with his men to fight against the Philistines, and he became exhausted.  And Ishbi-Benob, one of the descendants of Rapha, whose bronze spearhead weighed three hundred shekels and who was armed with a new sword, said he would kill David.  But Abishai son of Zeruiah came to David’s rescue; he struck the Philistine down and killed him.

I’ve been blogging about David’s faith and boldness.  But this story is about a time when David got tired, and he didn’t have the energy to fight anymore.

Even David hit the wall at times.

And when that happened, God reached down and made a way for victory to still be achieved.

Today, since I can’t rely on my own strength and initiative, I will have to rely on God, to make my day work out so that victory is still achieved.

And the same thing is true of the people in my life.  I can be a positive force in their lives to some extent.  But there’s a wall.  I can’t get them where they need to go.

What I CAN do is bring them through prayer into God’s presence, His beautiful powerful radiance, where EVERYTHING is possible.

God is so good.  His presence is so sweet.

How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!  Ps 119:103

And it’s always available to me. 

Yes, I have the moods.  But I am so thankful that this week I also had sparks of energy and motivation.  I blogged, “Why not assume action?”

And I took action. 

I invited Alan and Yesenia over to dinner on the spur of the moment and we ate stir fry and talked about Mars colonization and our ideas to make the world a better place, and had a great visit.  

I took my computer to the coffee shop to do some of my work from there.  I saw three women there visiting and having coffee, who were still in their workout clothes.  I asked them where they worked out, and we had a good conversation!  I made some new friends!

I mentioned to Ken that there was a classical guitar concert we could go to, and so we went.  Ken brought along one of the young campus students from Brazil, who plays the guitar.  It was his birthday, so I made him some brownies.  It was nice to get out and enjoy the music, and the company.  We hoped to make some friends among the Auburn Guitar Society, but it was crowded and it didn’t happen. 

The only thing we were able to do was have a nice chat with the freshman girl sitting next to us, who was there because of her music appreciation class.  She told us how she is from Macon, and coming to Auburn is her dream come true.  She wants to get a degree in speech pathology.  All of the guitar music in the concert sounded the same to her.  So before she left, we invited her to church.  She appreciated the invite and asked about the church. 

The rest is in God’s hands.

I’m taking action as I can, but whether I do a lot or hit a wall, it is still God who will bring victory.

Know also that wisdom is like honey for you: If you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.  Prov. 24:14

Proverbs says the same thing in chapter 23: 17-18 — “Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord.  There is surely a future hope for you,  and your hope will not be cut off.”

My hope will not be cut off.  If I am WISE , I know God, and value the right things.  And in knowing God, I know that there is something better coming, the reward for those who earnestly seek Him.

It is just in focusing on the wrong things that I lose hope.

When you sit down with a ruler . . .  Do not crave his delicacies,  for that food is deceptive. Prov 23: 1, 3

Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust your own cleverness.  Prov. 23:4

God is the source of goodness itself.  He has the treasure upon treasure.

But who is wise?  Who can see that?

I was reading Luke 14.  It has great illustrations of focusing on God, and not valuing the wrong things.  Jesus encourages his disciples to take the most humble seat at a wedding banquet, For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

And I’ve read it so many times, but I read it again — “Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: ‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.”

Who will see that God is so much more important than anything else?

In Luke 14, most did not.

Jesus told the story:  “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’  But they all alike began to make excuses.”

I’m inviting people to the banquet, and few seem to see what I am offering.

I am offering HOPE.

I am offering the God who will swoop in and rescue us when we hit the wall.

And by ourselves, we all hit this wall, over and over again.

That is why we need the sweet presence and goodness of God.

He will give us comfort and inspiration.

He will set us on the path to true victory.

So let me do what is counter intuitive.  Let me go out and just do what I can, even though it doesn’t feel effective.  Let me hit the walls and get tired, and feel like I am failing.  Let me only invite the girl sitting next to me.

God will succor me and build His kingdom.

But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed.  Luke 14:13

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Filed under A Friend A Day, Diary, Hope