Thursday, July 24, 2014

Go Back to the Beginning

These are God’s words to me for this summer—go back to the beginning.

In the past, I’ve heard, Sue, don’t initiate. Hard words for an extrovert who loves hospitality.

Others have shared their words—do the next thing.

But for me, for summer 2014, my compass points to go back to the beginning.

Right away I knew what God was saying. Not spend your quiet times in Genesis … “In the beginning” … or in John … “In the beginning was the Word”. Rather, go back to the first building blocks of our relationship. Review, ponder, and wonder again over the blessing of my adoption as a child of God. Be enthralled with how God created me and his purposes for me—the basics, the beginning.

It wasn’t an analgesic to cover up what I wish was.

It is an opportunity to listen and be reminded of my true identity and calling.                                         It is a trust that God knows me and has my days numbered.                                                                   It is a time to rest in the green pastures by the still waters.                                                                     It is preparing for the next, making room for more.                                                                                 It is yielding to being instead of doing.                                                                                                   It is the serenity of abiding.                                                                                                                       It is digging deeper into the good soil of truth.                                                                                         It is defining obedience for me this summer.

Go back to the beginning. There is still more to be captured—more beauty, more depth, more reality to the living Word.

What about you … what is directing your time with God this summer? What words are written in neon for you?

“But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.” Psalm 131:2

“even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,” Ephesians 1:4 and 5

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Curve Balls

“Have you ever heard of anything so bizarre?” 

Sadly, yes. 

Her question pleaded for understanding in the midst of the bride-napping of their daughter—their daughter invited to dinner by the boy’s parents and never returned.

Although I never heard of that particular curve ball, I cease to be amazed by Satan’s creativity; he has the curve ball mastered.

Last night, Yu Darvish's eephus pitch - a curve ball - in the All-Star game made national news. Most of the curve balls sent our way don't make national news, but they confuse and lead astray like last nights pitch.

Early last month, my cousin penned these words …
“About a year ago I dodged this bullet. But another shot has been fired and I'm not fast enough to duck this time. The infection in my right foot has progressed to the point where the IV antibiotics are no longer affective and the infection could threaten my life. So Monday morning, June 9th, I am going to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center to have my right lower leg amputated at about mid shin ... I'm not ashamed to say that I'm a bit of an emotional train wreck about the whole thing. I've seen it coming but you really just can't prepare yourself for something like this. Sometimes life throws you nasty curve balls. I'll just have to adjust my swing.”

He is in the midst of adjusting his swing.

I’ve mentioned my friend Kara previously. Her mommy days were seriously interrupted two years ago with the diagnosis of breast cancer. Her battle continues. Kara knows hard and knows grace; she shares her story at giving the gift of life to thousands while treading the valley of death.

Other good friends continue swinging at curve balls pitched to them. One longs to see their adult prodigal walk up their driveway; another’s daughter experienced a stroke 3 years ago and recently marital struggles have escalated. (You heard of these friends before. I know they appreciate prayers.)

The curve balls keep coming.

Space stops me from sharing Caleb's story, Nate's story, Katie's story, Faith's story, and, and, and ...

This morning as I walked with Lexie, our Golden Retriever, in the forest behind our home, I was awed by the delicate, beautiful Columbine, amidst the tall grasses framed by the charred trees. The aroma of fire from over a year ago still stronger than the sweet smell of the flowers. 

Through this crazy, wild, lovely picture, God reminded, it takes a very dark canvas to showcase beauty.

Paul did not deny his hard when he wrote from prison, “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body.” Philippians 1:20

My friends don’t live in shame. They desire Christ to be exalted in their circumstances. In many ways, he already is. I am honored to walk with these people.

They are plugging their heads into sockets of scripture, like the Philippians verse above or Isaiah 61 and letting truth flow.

"To care is to be present to those who suffer, and to stay present, even when nothing can be done to change their situation." Henri Nouwen, A Spirituality of Caregiving. I hear my responsibility in these words and I am challenged. I want to stay present with my friends. I want to trust God with them.

My friend Sally Breedlove***, author of Choosing Rest shared a prayer of one of her friends, “Lord, let my life be a platform where the beauty of Jesus is revealed.” Sally testifies, she wanted God’s presence more than she wanted her problems fixed. (Chapter 4) Those could also be the words of my friends.

Curve balls resemble ashes.

They do not surprise God. He uses them as a platform to fashion beauty. 

I want to see beauty now. I tire of ashes. 

Each of these stories challenge my desires, my thoughts of right, my hopes, my faith. Hard threatens to consume. BIG threats but not big enough to consume. God is bigger!

What are the scriptures that give life as you experience curve balls? Let’s encourage each other.

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”                                                         Romans 12:12

*** Sally Breedlove is coming to Colorado Springs to speak at a Sabbath-Living Retreat this spring. Stay tuned for more details!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Woo the True You

Bill has been wooing me for over 40 years.

Earlier this month I finished two-thirds of the certificate course I’ve been taking on-line.

In one of the last lectures, John’s words, “Woo the true you,” captured my attention. 

The rhyming of the words, the truth of the statement, and the affirmation of what is already my practice caused me to stop and think again of how important that is. Thank you, John Lynch.

According to Wikipedia to woo or wooing is a term for courtship, the pursuit of a romantic relationship.

I would not describe God’s relationship with me as courting or romantic. But I would describe it as a love relationship. So perhaps the verb, woo, is appropriate. 

Who is the true me that needs wooing?

I John 3:1 is one of many scriptures that answer. “What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it—we’re called children of God! That’s who we really are.” The Message.

The true me … marvelously loved, child of God. 

Do you ever have days when you don’t feel marvelously loved? Like the time when you were passed over for the job opportunity, the one that fit you so well. Or the day the feared diagnosis was confirmed.

Circumstances don’t dictate truth! Truth dictates truth!

But circumstances often create feelings. That’s when I need to allow God to woo me, to bring me back to truth.

I need reminders. I need wooing.
Holding my special leather journal while sharing at a retreat.

So I run for my journal—the special leather journal—that contains all the important stuff, like the scriptures recorded on the very first pages telling me of God’s love for me. Once again I allow God to woo me.

Psalm 41:11, “By this I know that you delight in me: my enemy will not shout in triumph over me.” My enemy, Satan, does not want me knowing God’s love, his delight, his wooing. 

And sometimes, just sometimes, I’m my own worst enemy. Satan shouts and reminds me of lies that are so easy to believe, like I’m not good enough. God's voice is more often whispers.

The enemy’s shouts are my warning to remind myself AGAIN of truth, to allow God to whisper to my heart, to woo me.

Last winter while reading Brennan Manning’s last book, The Furious Longing of God, I experienced God’s wooing. It was one of those wonderful days. He opened the chapter I was reading with these words …

“I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me.”                                                                                                    Song of Solomon 7:10