Enjoy the transformation

I got a little frustrated. Summer’s almost over and I haven’t finished nearly as much as I wanted to. Me and Jesus had a talk.

His message was simple; enjoy the transformation.

Hah. Now there’s an idea.

I walked out to the garden with new eyes. Yep, that projects not finished, but look at those flowers I transplanted a couple of months ago. They’re doing so well. And what about that bush? It’s growing like crazy.

The perspective changed my whole experience. Instead of seeing what wasn’t done, I was enjoying what was.

That led me to look at other areas of my life; work, relationships, my home, everything, really. I spent some time just celebrating the good stuff. What fun.

It’s not that there isn’t more I want. There always is, of course. More I want for myself and for the people I love. But if I only look at what I don’t have, then how can I enjoy what’s here and now?

My garden reminded me of this simple lesson. Perhaps it’ll remind you, too.

Take a look around. What do you see? What can you celebrate? And when you do, how does that feel?

It’s nice, isn’t it?

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Union with Christ – a poem

Oh sweet rain, cool, insistent
insist upon me
soak into me
melt the outer shell of my heart
bring forth the fruit you know has been buried within, silent, dead for so long
Oh, sweet, sweet rain, be insistent upon me

Oh tiny spring rising up through broken rocks
rise up in me
rise up in me
find the path
wash away the filth
rise up,
rise up in me
oh sweet, sweet cool spring

Oh winding brook
flow from me
flow from me
now hidden
now revealed
a gathering place for timid deer
tiny birds
children drawn to the laughter of water on rock
clearing away autumn leaves to cup into their tiny hands
sweet, sweet cool water
flowing from me

And oh when we gather
my brook
your stream
the river slides gently, lazy into the sea
the rocking, singing ocean
you and me

oh, sweet rain,
soak into my soul
rise through my brokenness
wash away the filth
cascade my heart into the world
let me satisfy the thirsty, the timid, the tiny
gather me into your body
let me rest forever in the peace of your arms

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Posted in Random Reflections | 4 Comments

Truth and Reconciliation

Of course I’ve seen the news from Ferguson, Missouri. Of course I know the names of the people involved, but it would be a mistake to think this is the story.

If the anger and rage we’ve seen in Ferguson, New York, Chicago and South Florida has anything to teach us, it’s this; we have a problem.

The questions of who’s right, who’s wrong, who should go to jail and who shouldn’t only fuels the fires of our rage, judgment and confusion. Appropriate condemnation and punishment of the guilty will not solve this problem. We need something more.

As I was reading the stories and praying for real peace for our streets, and our hearts, I thought of Nelson Mandela and the truth and reconciliation commission. Perhaps this is something we need.

In my imagination, I saw small, deeply lined Cambodian man standing in a crowded room speaking his story of the trauma he and his family experienced at the hands of the Khmer Rouge.

In those days, I was listening to the stories of Afghan women and the trauma’s that they had experienced at the hands of neighbors and strangers. I understood the power of telling the story.

We, followers of Jesus Christ have received the ministry of reconciliation. It’s not all we’ve received, but it’s definitely ours. Perhaps, it’s time for us to bring this ministry forth.

Mandela and others found the way for South Africa; honor victims (and for us, they’re on both sides, aren’t they?) with the opportunity to tell their stories. Grant amnesty so that all can listen without demanding punishment or launching defense. Tell the truth so that our children and our children’s children will know who we are, what we’ve done and why. And finally, seek the societal changes that will help us move into a healthier future.

Perhaps this isn’t the path forward for us. Perhaps you have a better idea. I’d love to hear it.

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What’s in your hands?

Personally, I’m into the good stuff. Let’s just ignore the bad. So, yeah, I can practice thanksgiving with the best of them. I’m a grateful woman.

Looks great, doesn’t it? Of course it does. Everyone loves the joyful!

And I think God is pleased. I think God hears my thanks and smiles.

The bad stuff; the sorrow, the disappointments – let’s just put all that aside. Dwelling on them leads to nothing good, just bitterness and complaining and who wants that! Besides, isn’t complaining a sin?

Ok, let’s just forget about the prophets; Jeremiah and David and Job and, oops, Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Let’s forget about Paul’s little half-phrase; ‘the fellowship of his suffering’. Because, after all, sorrow and pain are so hard to hold. They tear the palms of my hands and fill my gut with anguish.

And if I do hold them, it’s only to make sense – God allowed this so that I would see or learn or share or whatever constitutes a reasonable justification for the untimely death of my child or the brutality of my disease or the devastation of my marriage. And if I cannot find such neat rational, what am I to do with these hideous scars?

Ah, Jesus. Sorrow and joy. Love and pain. Death and resurrection. Mingled. Flowing down through the common human experience of sorrow and joy and love and pain and death and resurrection.

Ah, Jesus, who holds both eternally in his own scarred hands, invites me to hold both in mine, as well.

And so, I’m learning to do this – to be both a woman of joy and a woman of sorrow. I hold, with Christ’ help, my life and in holding the fullness of my life, I share myself with the world. I say; look, these are my scars and here’s a trophy and this is a bouquet of God’s glory. This is who I am, for good and for bad. This is the walk I am on.

When I share in this way, I invite you to see me and in so doing, I welcome you, the full you, with all your scars and trophies and bouquets. And together with walk with Christ who also carries scars and trophies and bouquets.

Tell me, what’s in your hands?

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Impertinence or trust?

Ahct! I did it again! Locked my keys in my car. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done that. Once, at a train station on a workday afternoon. I called and my friend’s retired husband and he rescued me. Another time, at a diner after an evening at the theater. I called the same friend. And now, I’ve done it again. Who do you think I’m going to call?

I’ll admit, it embarrasses the daylights out of me that I’ve once again locked my keys in my car. And again, my car is running. Of course, I should take care of myself. I should put a hide a key in the wheel well except that, considering where I live, my car would be gone in a matter of days.

Perhaps I should get better insurance coverage so I can call a stranger for help.

But I don’t have any of those things. Instead, I have a friend and my friend has a copy of my car key. So who do you think I call?

My friend laughs at me. She loves me despite my random carelessness. Once, I needed a jump and didn’t call. Both she and her husband were so disappointed. “We would’ve come.” And today, they do. They drive 40 minutes through the rain to let me into my car.

Whenever I read the parable of the man who pounded on his neighbor’s door in the middle of the night, I think of my friends and my car key. This, Jesus says, is how I should pray. It’s not impertinence. It’s trust.

I’ll admit, I’m embarrassed to call my friends again, but I’m not ashamed. I’m not afraid they’ll think less of me, get frustrated or refuse to help me unless there’s no way they can. I know that my friends love me despite my random carelessness and for that, I’m immensely grateful.

I suppose, in truth, I’m still learning this about God. How about you?

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When the plow blade snaps

Every missionary knows there are times when the ground is too hard. The blade snaps against centuries old rock and the shoulder that pushes the plow screams in pain. We shut our eyes against the sweat from our brow, ignore the mosquito at our neck and collapse onto the barren earth.

Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is the essence of foolishness, but giving up is just cowardice.

I’m not talking about the times when Christ calls us to a different field. I’m talking about those brutally hard days when we know that we are exactly where we belong with the people we absolutely belong with; our children, our coworkers, our partners and friends.

When wisdom tells us; this is our field, then courage and perseverance must drive us back to our feet.

These are the days we walk by faith.

We look across the rocky barrenness and dream of green.

Maybe we give up plowing and focus on picking up rocks. Maybe we dig irrigation trenches. Maybe we abandon our field for a few hours, find some helpers and return. The point isn’t to go back to the same plow; to do things in the same old ways and expect different results.

The point is to find the courage and perseverance to keep working our field – to walk by faith in the rocky barrenness.

The prophet, Jeremiah tumbled over his plow. For that matter, so did Jesus. Each got up again.

Are you living in a rocky, barren place? God bless you, my brother, my sister. Don’t give up. Please. Don’t turn around. I can’t tell you I know how you feel. I can’t tell you I’ve tasted your sweat or felt the rough weight of your rocks.

All I can tell you is this; there’s glory in getting up. There’s deep honor in faithfulness. There’s celebration in perseverance. And it doesn’t matter if your field ever grows. It only matters how you live in it.

Posted in Facing the Enemy | Tagged , | 4 Comments