Thursday, May 28, 2015

Roars and Whispers

I Kings 19:9-12

Evidently Elijah experienced a memory lapse. Forgotten are God’s miraculous provisions; forgotten are God’s wondrous ways; forgotten are the great victories. One person caused him to run. The roar was deafening. A cave seemed the best protection.

Do you identify?

I do. Oh how often I try to shield myself, to hunt for caves when the roars roar. 

The bad news: the big, the hard, the fearful roars of life overwhelm the wonders, delights, and victories. And I run to a cave.

The good news: God knows where my caves are. He does not hesitate to initiate toward me and communicate with me. 

“The word of the Lord came to him, (Elijah)” I Kings 19:9. The word of the Lord is a repeated theme in the story of Elijah. (17:2, 17:5, 17:8, 17:14, 17:16, 17:24, 18:1, 18:31, 18:36, 19:9) I couldn’t help but notice. In many of the cases God started the conversation.

The word of the Lord is a repeated theme for me as well. 

Like Elijah, God’s words come in a low whisper, more accurately translated from the Hebrew ‘the sound of gentle quietness’. The sound that is so opposite of the wind, the earthquake, and the fire. The gentle quietness created the atmosphere for Elijah to hear.

The roars of proverbial winds, earthquakes, and fires framed my story and set the stage for my ability to hear, in gentle quietness. It is good.

An upstairs bedroom was the setting for my first gentle quietness. It was there that I responded to His invitation to join His family. Then it was my dorm room and the realization that my prayers were punctuating the ceiling; it was a conversation not memorized words. I had stepped out of my cave.

The word of the Lord came to me in John 1:12. The scriptures began speaking to my soul.

The roars of life continue …. And so does my initiating God.  

I sometimes run for caves. I’m finding God is always there first.

The word of the Lord comes in an atmosphere of gentle quietness.

Jesus invites me in the midst of my roaring reality to quietness. I exhale. Quietness rejuvenates.

"Come to me all who labor, and are heavy laden,
                                                                and I will give you rest."
Matthew 11:28

What things are roaring in your life at the moment? What do your caves look like? How are you experiencing the word of the Lord coming to you? Where are your places that gentle quietness is most easily heard? What word from the Lord is encouraging you today?

One more week on Elijah ... the new assignment ... God continues his purpose for Elijah.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

"It is ENOUGH!"

The rain battering my windows, the thunder, the small pellets of hail ended the sleep for that night. (Yes, it is May in Colorado.)

Rubbing away what the sand man deposited, I reached for the extra pillows creating a comfy nest to read in, unusual for me.

Reaching for my morning book, I turn to the story of Elijah. He's been roaming around my mind for the past month.

Elijah, the prophet and mighty warrior, a contemporary of bad King Ahab, was God's instrument to strike down the prophets of Baal.

Something changed; the fearless turns fearful.
Elijah, now afraid, running for his life, begging to die. "It is ENOUGH;" (I Kings 19:4) I almost see the shaking fist, the defiant look, the trembling, the tears; and hear his angry voice.                          Elijah is a mess!

I've had enough! I bet you've said that at some point? I know I have.

I don't care; I give up; I'm just going to grin and bear it.
As I remember my words were more like these, but they could have been It is ENOUGH! I don't recall verbalizing them, but I heard them in my head and in my heart. It was a hard time; I was on the hunt for a broom tree.

Broom trees in wildernesses I guess are good places to lick your wounds.

The story continues ... turns in a new direction, to an encouraging path. I was hooked. The proverbial light bulb was shining and becoming brighter.

Even in the midst of his wilderness, Elijah knew God was there. And He was. As Elijah slept (my guess is rather fitfully), God through an angel initiated toward him. It reminded me of Joseph in Matthew 1; he too was traveling a great hard and God initiated toward him while he slept.

My thoughts bounced back to my story. As I wallowed in my hard, not expecting God to show up, God initiated to me. My friend Kathy and Milt, a counselor by occupation, were the angels God used. 

Elijah's angel provided food to nourish him twice knowing his next steps would be physically taxing. Interesting, I Kings records, "And he ... went in the strength of the food ..." (verse 8). The food was enough for his journey to Horeb.

Kathy opened a window of hope for me. Milt provided enough for me too to start the trek on a new encouraging path.

"The last and greatest lesson that the soul has to learn is the fact that God and God alone, is enough for all its needs. This is the lesson that all His dealings with us are meant to teach; and this is the crowning discovery of our whole Christian life, God is enough!"                                                 Hannah Whitall Smith, The God of All Comfort, p. 241.

And, that's not all! The story continues. It gets even better ... next week Earthquakes, Fires, and Whispers. 

What are your "it is enough" words? Where are your broom trees? What would help you use broom trees as a trigger to look for the God who initiates? How have you experienced God providing enough for you?

"And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God." I Kings 19:8 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

A Journey of Loss

We sat around our dining room table sharing our stories.

Like you, I've walked this path before. Although the time line remains the same, the understanding deepens. This time I recognized a new theme, trust and un-trust.

As I talked through my story of trust or un-trust, Lisa and Joyce listened well. I paused.

Joyce, sitting to my left softly spoke, the journey of loss is hard, isn't it? Perhaps not as much a question as a statement.

The tears surfaced uninvited. Her words gently pressed on the hurt of loss--a hurt I didn't realize still hurt.

Buried underneath the trust, un-trust issue loomed something bigger, something more significant, something if not aware of can never be healed.

The issue of loss.

My friend, Bill Thrall, says, "Experience is not the best teacher, evaluating your experiences is the best teacher."

As my journey of evaluation began, I remembered ...

I was in first or second grade. Winters in NJ call for hats and scarves and Mom had prepared me well. I had a new green hat and scarf set monogrammed with my name. I loved it. But on my walk home from school that day, a big boy (maybe my first experience with bullying) came up behind me, snatched the hat, and threw it over the tall privacy fence. It was gone with no hope of reclaiming.

As a young child that was pretty traumatic. But more than the incident itself, the loss of my new hat with my name on it, pictures far more significant losses in my adult life all of which had my name on them. With the loss of my hat came the loss of a piece of my identity.

My evaluation continued by listing several losses of my life. They began to fall into categories ...
  •   Some were natural, normal, even expected. 
  •   Some even resulted from times of celebration. This thought surprised me.
  •   Some were hard, very hard; some not so.
As my list grew, patterns emerged as well.

Difficult losses went counter to my values. The perceived or real loss of a friendship is a heavy cross. Friendship is a high value for me.

But the pattern that seemed to be the golden thread through my story were the losses that threatened my identity. Not my child-of-God identity, but the identity you saw and the identity I was living because of the current "hat" I was wearing.

Certain triggers emerged too. My humanity is alive and well!

The evaluation, the patterns, the triggers pointed to an unhappy truth, I get so comfortable with my temporary hats, they become more important to me than my true identity. So when one is snatched or even slowly slides off, the trauma of loss is great.

So I'm learning:

Loss is real and loss is hard.
I am human. I feel the effects of loss.

As I was evaluating, Forever Reign came on in the background.

"Nothing compares to your embrace.
Light of the world forever reign.
Oh, I'm running to your love; the riches of your love will always be enough."

In the process of remembering, evaluating, and seeing my places of temptation, God reminded, I need to RUN to the reality of His love. I want my true experience ... even in the midst of loss ... to be that the riches of His love will be enough.

And so I run. And I ask, Just for today, what does it look like to trust your love for me?

"I am my beloved's, and his desire is for me."
Song of Solomon 7:10

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Mom, Me, and Treasured Moments

Me and Mom, February 2015
We sat on her bed that winter evening knitting together. Mom a cabled hat for
my sister creating the pattern as she went. Me a sock religiously following my printed pattern. I don't think I'll ever have her natural knitting abilities.

Memories flooded back. I was about 8 years old (I think). Mom sat on my bed that evening. We weren't knitting but we were reading together - one of my favorite detective series, Nancy Drew. It is a good memory, Mom and me enjoying and doing together. 

Mom and I still love a good thriller.

Knitting, or reading, or sewing, or scouting, I have many Mom and me treasured moments.

Mom is in her tenth decade now. What a gift that we are still creating Mom and me moments. In February it was knitting together; last week it was shopping together for new valences for Mom's living room. And it was trying out a new (to us) Chinese restaurant - just Mom and me. (I wish I snapped a shot of our dinners, we needed a take-home box.)
I never did catch on to Bridge which Mom still plays regularly.

Our history informs our current realities. Our best times are being together creating new moments and re-living old memories. 

Thank you Mom for many many treasured moments and many many treasured memories. I am blessed. 
Mom and me last week.

"Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
She looks well to the ways of her household,
Her children rise up and call her blessed;"
excerpts from Proverbs 31 (Italics mine)