Owl's Head Lighthouse, Owl's Head, ME

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Anything Less.....

Buckling my seat belt, I knew that I would once again be facing fears that could destroy the peace He gives. Irrational fears. If you have never had them then you may not understand.

Interstate travel and driving through mountains are just two of the circumstances in which Satan delights in drawing me toward fear. Terror is the only word that could describe the feelings that overwhelm at the worst points. Hands hold arm rest and door with grips of death, and tears often leak out of eyes that I am too afraid to close.

This trip was supposed to be for fun, but the dread in my heart prevented me from any joyful anticipation. I took a breath as my husband drove onto the interstate on-ramp. Then I closed my eyes and asked the Lord for a special measure of grace to help me get through the next couple of days.

Immediately, I received the answering gift. Very clearly I felt the conviction that can only come from the Spirit. I knew that He wanted me to give Him the fear. A slow breath out and I said, "Take it Lord. It is too much."

The still, small voice gave me the words that would carry me over the next 1400 miles.

"Anything less is not to trust."

The words were as clear as if my husband had spoken them to me. I think I may have responded with something akin to "Excuse me?" Then again.

"Anything less is not to trust."

I sat in awe at the Saviour taking the time to communicate with one of his weakest servants. But I gave it to Him. And then I began with, "But Lord, my husband drives so fast..." Then the response.

"You are given a job perfect for you each day. Today your job is to ride. You have no control over what the driver does. Accept your job. Anything less is not to trust."

I will not say that there were no moments of fear, but He gave me that grace for which I had asked. Each time my heart would begin to turn, I would be reminded, "Anything less is not to trust." Several times I think I said, "Yes, Lord. I know that already!" But He was there the whole way. I cannot communicate how thankful I am to Him for that.

If you have ever dealt with fears, you will know how wonderful was the gift I was given. We do not know what is coming at us as we continue down the road of life, but He offers peace if we will just give the fear to Him.

Fears of the unknown, fear of abandonment, fear of failure, fear of loss. All these can so corrupt our minds that we are unable to be used by Him who made us. The fears we feel victimized by are actually sin that we have not given to Him. Our job each day is to trust Him---with our families, our lives, our health, our jobs and yes, our fears. If we enter that job without peace than we are not trusting.

Anything less is not too trust.

"And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

We love him, because He first loved us
." I John 4:16-19

I do not know why those were the words He chose to give me, but I know that I will never forget them or the precious gift of His presence and His peace. He will give us the peace we ask for, but not until we let go of the fears that stand in the way of our receiving.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Gold of Age

They limped down over the hill to come for a visit. Hand in hand they approached. We welcomed. Hugs given. Uttered, "Won't you come in and sit down?" For it was by their generosity that we were even in that place.

For most of my life I had looked up to these people, sometimes feared them and on occasion even disliked them. They had always been full of life and vitality. They were the ones that seemed to be able to do anything and everything.

She, a special lady, gifted in so many ways, but who had known suffering. She sang in church and endeavored to teach the rest of us to do so too. No meal could be complete without her touch. They both would serve tirelessly. Gardening, hunting, crafting, entertaining.....all things that this woman excelled at. Perhaps that is why so many felt threatened by her. Our own egos stepped on by one who could do more than we.

Her husband, a carpenter, volunteered many hours to help build what needed building. She worked at his side as his most indispensable tool. For as long as I have known them they have given---given to the church, given to the community, given to charities, given to the Lord......given to me.

She struggles today for a word to describe the weather or to say hello and good-bye. Her eyes shine with the frustration of so many losses. Her loss of independence, loss of communication, loss of health, loss of loved ones. Yet, not once does she complain. She smiles and looks to him for the words she cannot use. Nods as he reads her thoughts and shares them with us.

These who have so impacted me and others, suffer with the increasing effects of age. Behind a stammered hello I can see the years, the stories. A book could be written, no doubt, to pay homage to another who has changed the world around her. Most likely, that will not happen. They have, however, left their marks on the hearts of those whom they have touched over many years.

May we not forget that behind each shut-in's window or in rooms of nursing homes or hospitals, there are tremendous stories of life that we would do well to hear. The silver hair that stands behind us in the grocery line is a person with a story. May we value them. May we share the Lord with them. They will not come to us. We must go looking. Looking for the gold ones who have gone before us. Some may be able to share stories and others may have lost that ability, but they need to know that they are not forgotten.

They have been through the paths that we have yet to tread. The fires have done their work, and they have come out as gold. Treasure the gold. It will not last forever. Tomorrow may be too late to glean one more bit of wisdom---one more gem. Mine it today while they are here with us. Let us learn from these so that we may one day be able to be that to another.

"But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold." Job 23:10

"Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised." Prov. 31:30

"Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it." Prov. 3:27

"The fining pot is for silver, and fhe furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts." Prov. 17:3

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Every Good Gift

The kids run, crazy and loud, and the dog barks because the kids are running. In the midst of chaos we sip coffee and tea and talk of life--the good and the bad. A child runs through laughing, arms loaded with toys. Another comes crying from a bump on the head---a result of a new game involving checker throwing. He moves on. We go back to talking. Our souls refreshed by simply being with another who understands.

Husband says the bill for the car is more than expected. Somehow, having another to share that makes it more okay. Phone calls, more children running, Caladryl cream applied to skin rashes, lunches made.

We bow our heads over sandwiches and thank God for the chance to share and feel and bond with another who understands. Amens said in unison, for each prays the same prayer.

Gifts given by the Father are so many and so varied. Yet the gift of a true friend is special. He knew we would need those to encourage us along the way. He is our truest Friend, but because He loves us, He allows us those who we can hug and love here. Those who will listen to our fears and pains and empathize and who will also share in our joys.

Life goes on, but short little times taken to encourage another, encourages ourselves. We part knowing we are stronger and more ready to do the job given to us by our Heavenly Father. Thank-you, Lord for the gift of friendship.

"Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend." (Prov. 27:17)

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." (James 1:17)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Child's Refuge

Cruel laughter rang in the air. I knelt to help my daughter who lay on her side in the dirt after being dragged by an excited dog. The tears running down her cheeks had less to do with physical pain than with humiliation. For the children that we have been struggling to reach for nearly two years laughed with the intention of causing pain.

Since moving to this place we have seen our community as a mission field that the Lord has led us to. All of the difficulties of dealing with the unsaved are realized as we try to show Christ's love to the children that surround us. While our children are far from perfect, they frequently are left bruised and battered from the confrontations with others.

"She's lying, Mommy" and "They said if we don't do what the want, they are going to tell on us" are complaints that I field daily. Repeated reminders to the visiting children to please respect the property and feelings of others results in nothing but more blatant violations. To them, I have become a symbol of what they do not want to hear. They have never been taught respect and they resent it in my children. Anger at me, seen as an unwanted authority figure, is taken out on my children.

These things cause a deep rooted response in this mother. Had the offenses been dealt to me, I would naturally drop my head and hide, but from the perspective of a mother, I lift my head and feel very much like a mother bear protecting her cubs. The thought that I would like to pick up the cruel ones and toss them away passes through my mind (I can relate to that bear).

So the constant battle rages on. The desire to show Christ's love and the need to protect the tender shoots that we are cultivating. How do we do both? Can we love the others and shield our own?

The thoughts continue to swirl, but one thing I do know. God has given me these children of mine. He expects us to guard and protect them. My first ministry is to those within my home. If I lose them, what joy will there be in reaching others? So we will continue to set up as many boundaries from the world as we are able. Many times we have spent family time discussing the need to be kind and share Jesus with those around us. My children are burdened for the other children and frequently pray for their salvation.

But as a mother, am I doing my job if I fail to ensure them a safe haven where they can be free from abuse? No, we must never return cruelty for cruelty, but they must have a safety zone---a place of escape---as we all do. Someday they will not have me there to provide that shelter, and I pray that they will realize that our Lord provides that place of refuge within His sheltering arms. Until then, I must show them what a refuge can be.

For those who choose to follow Christ, a hostile world is to be expected. He promised that. My children must remember that, as I must. But He has also promised us a Comforter (Jn. 14:16). We are not alone.

"The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee; for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee." Psalms 9:9, 10

"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Soldier's Lot

He stood tall among the men. Boots laced high. The uniform he wore was colored to blend with sand. Badges decorated his chest. He was ready to head to where he had been before. Knowing the dangers and toils ahead, he stood ready to take his place and fulfill his call.

Hat in hand, he stood surrounded by men who had been where he now stood. Men who were there to pray. To lift up this one who would soon face the battle again. With heads bowed, each one placed the life and testimony of this man into the hands of the One Who had already prepared his way.

Close by, a woman and her children wept silently as they sensed the moments fleeing. They knew that the time left with the one they loved was measured in minutes. Soon he would be gone again, and they would be left to carry on without his strength. Bravely they accepted their lot.

The room was filled with others who also knew this pain. Most had learned the art of trust more than the average. So with heads bowed, each in the room committed the man and his family up to the Most High.

I stood in awe of these people. Not one perfect, but each one exhibiting strength greater than they think they are capable. Emotional goodbyes, extended absences and the difficulties of carrying on alone have resulted in a stoic stance. Such is the life of those who choose to love one who has given his life in service to country.

Always the unspoken knowledge that the dangers ahead may take the one they love forever. But most do not speak of it, for that would open doors that must remain closed for life to continue.

In spite of these things, this group counts themselves blessed, for they have met the One Who knows the future. They have chosen a life of faith and have committed their love and their fears into the arms of a loving, all-powerful God. A God Who goes before the one they love and who stays with them as their strength.

What of myself? I am called to be a soldier of the Lord. But so often the sacrifices required seem too great, and I go AWOL. Instead of meeting the mission He has for me, I avoid it at all cost. If these individuals would give so much for our country, how can I give less to the One Who gave His all for me.

I have heard these men praise God for the opportunity to minister in countries that do not allow regular missions. Can I not minister within the country that I now live? With relatively minor sacrifices required, I balk at the simplest mission.

"Tell them of Me."

Simple, but oh so difficult if we do not lay ourselves down at the feet of Him first. Our fear of being disliked or thought to be "unloving" or "unaccepting" holds our tongues in check. Yet He hung naked and bleeding for all the world to see. Can I not pick up the cross He has laid out for me, and submitting to His plan, carry it down the path to the place where He will say, "Well done thou good and faithful servant."?

"And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." Matthew 10:37-39

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

This One Woman

Movement caught my eye through the sheer curtains covering my front picture window. A young woman, walking quickly, moved down the street as though she had somewhere to go. I made a mental note that I didn't remember seeing her before, and I walked to the door to look out. She carried several bags, including a duffel. In the 90 something degree heat, it would have been a miserable way for anyone to walk.

There was something about her that made me look more closely than I probably would have. She was obviously pregnant. I looked at my husband. We both silently acknowledged that pregnant women do not load their belongings into a few bags, hang them over their shoulders and go for brisk walks down side streets in the middle of very hot summer days in Tennessee. They don't, unless they have something they are trying to get away from and are hiking to the bus stop.

I wish I could say that I rushed out the door and went to see if there was a need I could meet. I could have offered a ride, or a cold drink, or maybe, just maybe, the story of One who could meet all of her needs. Those are the things that I wish I had done.

Instead, I watched her as she disappeared down the street, and I felt sad. Sad that this one woman had to be in that situation. Sad that I felt unqualified to place myself in the middle of.....the middle of what? I don't know. I didn't ask.

Everything here is my own conjecture. I don't really know what the situation was for this woman. The only way I could have known for sure would have been to walk out and talk to her---something I did not do. So, while I can pray for her in a very generic way, I can't pray for her specific needs or by her name. I trust the Lord is very aware of those things, and so I pray for a nameless woman walking down the street on a very hot day, and for the future of the baby that she carries.

Anything else is impossible unless the Lord brings me back into contact with her again. Now I pray that she will come in contact with another Christian who will do what I did not. That she will have the chance to experience the never-ending, all-encompassing love that I kept from her today. That, in spite of me, she will be able to spend eternity in Heaven. Then I pray that next time, I will take advantage of the opportunity to share His love with one more person.

"Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand.......For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me."

"Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?"

"And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

Matthew 25:34-40

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Disappearing Dreams

"We profess to be strangers and pilgrims, seeking after a country of our own, yet we settle down in the most un-stranger-like fashion, exactly as if we were quite at home and meant to stay as long as we could. I don't wonder apostolic miracles have died. Apostolic living certainly has."
— Amy Carmichael

I read the above words and immediately knew the truth in them. They resonated within my heart and I said, "Yes, Lord." For sometimes the Lord takes from us what we cling to on this earth. He did with me.

To settle down was just exactly what I wanted in this world. Like most women, I longed for the home, white picket fence and all. And for awhile, I thought that I had it. But the truth of the matter is that it had me.

There was no time or energy left for thinking on Him or furthering His work. My life revolved around keeping alive the dream that I had spun. I truly felt that if I lost that dream, I would be a failure. Life would have no meaning. I suppose from the earthly glasses I was looking through, that might be the case.

I am so blessed to have a gracious God who saw me grasping at shallow dreams, and rescued me from them. The dreams I had spun became more and more of nightmare quality. Yet it only caused me to cling more tightly to the illusion.

By that time, I had tuned out the whisperings of the Holy Spirit for so long that I was deaf to them. The Lord needed to reach me through "the outside" for I was no longer a vessel He could reach from within. I don't mean to limit His power, for it is limitless, but He will not force us from within. We always have a choice. I had made mine. He could have left me there.

One by one He pried my stiff fingers from around the dreams I clung to. He knew that what I held onto was garbage compared to the beautiful, fulfilling life He wanted to give to me. In my stubbornness and pride, I grasped, even as my dreams fell away.

Pain. He allowed me to feel the agonizing pain that comes from losing nearly all of your worldly possessions. More than the possessions, though, the pain came from the loss of dreams long dreamed.

Left with little that those around would consider of value, I was faced with the crux of the issue.

"Now child, with these other distractions removed, what will you do with Me?"

We always have a choice. Maybe not about our circumstances, but always about where we place our trust. Who we will serve.

I look at my little rented home, and at the rusty old van that we ride in, and I say "Thank-you, Lord. Thank-you for not giving up on me. Thank-you for reminding me that I am but a pilgrim on this earth. I'm only camping. My dream home will come later. Use me now, even today, Lord Jesus. Change me, teach me, use me. I am yours."

"But in a great house there are not only vessels gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth: and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work." (II Tim. 2:20, 21)

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Light

The lighthouse beckoned me. It's light shone from high above the harbour. People from many miles away could see and appreciate the guiding influence it offered. Many, too many, had grown so accustomed to it's presence that little heed was paid. Nevertheless, it continued to shine it's faithful beacon regardless of other's indifference.

I knew that I must go to it. What others ignored, I craved. Something in that lonely tower spoke to my lonely heart. It's significance in my life became overpowering. Other things fell to the wayside as my focus increasingly centered on reaching the light.

Friends scoffed as I left the things I had loved, to plan for my trek. Hobbies and activities, that previously had brought what amounted to joy to my life, began to seem useless and mundane. It was the light I needed.

On that day, I set out, determined to reach my goal before dark. Carrying my supplies on my back, I hiked. It was a long, rocky road, for the light stood atop a rocky mound on the opposite shore. Travel was through the woods, and many treacherous paths I trode before reaching the bottom of the hill that would lead to that light.

The path became increasingly steep, and my feet continually slipped on the rocks over which I climbed. Over and over, I stopped to check for wounds or to catch my breath. It did not seem possible that my goal should be so hard to attain. Yet I knew I must press on.

Night descended as I climbed. My small flashlight lit but one dim step at a time. I knew when I reached the light that I would be alright. So I continued. My supplies weighed heavily, and my body began to ache under it. Hunger wreaked havoc with me, but my goal forced me on. My intensity increased as I climbed.

With almost a frenzied drive I pulled myself up over the last boulder to see the object of my heart's desire. The lighthouse stood, strong and true. The light swivelled and cast its reflection over the water. It turned, and the land around me was bathed in brilliance. I stood in wonder at the beauty I had searched for for so long.

The tower lights were not the only ones I saw. Surprised, I noticed the door to the cottage at the base was open and a warm comforting glow emanated from within. I walked to it. I was so hungry and tired. Maybe there was food here.

As I stepped forward I was astounded that the light began to increase. It seemed the very air was lit around me. A sound came to my ears---music? The glorious harmonies rose to a crescendo as the light became too brilliant for my eyes. I knelt on the stony ground. I looked down at myself and despaired to see the state I was in. I was covered with filth from head to toe. My clothes were ragged and worn. My shoes were falling apart. Wounds festered all over my body.

How had this happened? How had I not known of my condition? Yet as the light shown so bright I saw myself as I never had before. Weeping began to convulse my frame. The wounds and the weariness that I had before ignored, threatened to overwhelm. Crushed, I lay prostrate.

"Come to me." I heard the words, and I obeyed. Crawling at first, but knowing I must complete my journey. I saw the hand offered, and I reached out. Tentatively, I held onto the scarred hand, and it lifted me up.

I looked up and I knew that I was gazing on the Light my soul had so longed for. My supplies fell away and I wept in His arms.

The life I had known, dimmed, and I welcomed the life now offered. For the longing that had overshadowed me for so long was met here, in this place.

I knew that I had been led here. That this...."was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." (Jn. 1:9)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

How Will They Know?

Knocking on the door, we never knew who we would find on the other side. Personal evangelism was the class. Ed Sealy, the teacher. Fredericton, N.B was the place that each year became the target of a freshman class, zealous to wave yet another white hanky. For that was how we celebrated each and every person that we saw come to Jesus.

It was all part of the assignment, and we went at it happily, if nervously. I was the more outspoken one of our group and enjoyed it immensely when the visits resulted in debates over this or that doctrine. I could hold my own there.
But I was totally unprepared for what was behind one door on a Saturday afternoon in 1991.

Tentative knocking resulted in sounds of children. The door cracked, and the face of a dark-eyed girl, who we learned was but 13, looked at us with questions. Soon one or two other faces peeked out around the older girl.

"Are your parents at home?" asked this trio of Bible students.

"No, I'm actually just babysitting" she responded shyly.

Apparently we did not appear very frightening, and the girl continued to talk with us. We explained that we were there to tell them about Jesus. Had she heard of Him?

"No, but you can come in if you want."

The girl, Elizabeth, called the other children. "These girls are here to tell us about Jesus." Our audience immediately gathered around to hear what these strangers had to tell. Four children in all. Three had dark hair and eyes and olive complexions. Elizabeth was the older sister. Then one boy and one girl.

The fourth member of the group stood out from the others. His red hair and freckled nose immediately labeled him as a visitor in the mix. When asked he said, "Oh, I don't live here. I'm just visiting." His total lack of self awareness charmed us almost immediately. While the others were shy and quiet, this one spoke with abandon.

We sat in a group in that front room and talked of Jesus. Who He was. That He came as a baby and lived on the same earth on which we now live. We explained that He was different from us, because He was God. That He had come to earth because He loved us and wanted to help us out of our sin. And yes, that each one of us had sinned.

Each of those four children thought carefully and responded with sins they knew they had committed. They needed no prompting. They understood. And they sat, listening in wonder as they heard the story of the One Who loved them enough to give His all.

One by one, those four knelt down beside kitchen chairs and asked Jesus to forgive them for their sin and thanked Him for loving them that much. By that time, we three were in amazement at the readiness and pure faith of these children.

That was not the end though. If it had been, I probably would not be writing of it now. For after we prayed, these children began asking questions. Soaking in the truths of God's Word like sponges. I don't remember everything they asked. In fact, I only remember one question.

His name was Benji--that red-headed, freckled boy of seven. He looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, "What about those people who are in jail and can't hear what Jesus did? How will they know?"

I do not know why the Lord placed me in that home on that day nearly 20 years ago. Without doubt, there were many more that would have been better equipped to deal with the situation. But I have never forgotten Benji.

I do not know his last name, for he said he needed to go soon after asking me that question. I think I told him that it was the job of all of us who do know about Jesus to make sure that we tell everyone else...even those in jail.

I watched him run up the street. I prayed that he would come into contact with more Christians who could help him. I prayed that that boy would be a servant of God. At seemingly strange times, the Holy Spirit has brought to my mind a little boy with red hair, and I understood. "Pray for Benji."

Nine years later I held my newborn son in my arms. My husband and I had talked of this day. "His name is Benjamin" I said.

He turned ten years old yesterday--my Benjamin. Someday I hope to introduce him to another Benjamin...Benji. Because I believe that God had a special future for Benji. I pray for him still. And I pray for me....that I won't forget the question of a little boy who shouldn't have known about the spiritual needs of prisoners, but who changed my life forever with his simple question, "How will they know?"

"How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?" (Rom. 10:14)

"Say not ye, 'There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest?' Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest." (Jn. 4:35)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

It Will Be Worth It All

The cool, dark room is a refuge from the heat, light and noise of my world. I enter to let my soul rest. I escape here, knowing that I am being pursued by the rising head of self-pity. It can be relentless. It's presence threatens to destroy the soul peace He gives.

The day to celebrate our Nation's Independence. One in which we have trained ourselves to expect gatherings, cookouts, beaches, parades. I see the pictures and stories of others who are enjoying these, and the talons of my enemy reach ever closer.

Stories of coastal visits reach me, and I begin to succumb. For that is the place in this world that I would most like to be. The sea and its surrounding coastline has always spoken to me in a way unlike any other. The connection is soul deep.

Sounds of sea birds in their constant struggle for supremacy. The crash of waves beating the coastline---relentless since the beginning of time. The briney smell of sea and sand linger in my mind. The horizon of blue painted forever on the walls of my memory. These things are what I miss, and what I find myself longing for today.

I ask my Lord to help my weakness. I am needed here, and I cannot retreat into any depths of self-indulgence. "Lord, be my all. I need you."

Gently, He turns my mind to another place. He shows me the beauty which awaits those who long after Him in this life. The beauty for which this world can only be a foretaste.

"And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea." Rev. 21:1

"And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse; but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him; And they shall see his face;...." Rev. 22:1-4a

Could it be that the blue horizon, which has beckoned so many, is actually beckoning us toward Him. The part of us that responds to the beauty He has provided is responding to our need of Him. He tells us that He speaks through Creation. By following His call, we enter a path to greater connection and beauty than we have ever known.

My call is not to abandon the beauty, but to follow it to where it leads---to the One Who created it. He alone can fill the aching hole inside us. Were we able to follow the horizon to it's end, we would find the greatest treasure of all---a "glimpse of His dear face". With our eyes fixed assuredly on that goal, our trials of this life will surely "seem so small", and we will say with the hymn writer, "It will be worth it all." (Rushton, Esther, When We See Christ)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Songs From The Barn

I close my eyes; the breeze blowing my hair; the sun warming my face. I think of years ago--summers on the farm. The wind blowing tall grasses in the fields. The smell of honeysuckle pervading the senses. Apple trees sporting hundreds of miniature fruits. Grass freshly mown.

The white farmhouse and red barn, a perfect picture of the American dream. Flag waving from the entry of the covered porch welcomed all to come on in. Ice cold tea in the 1940's refrigerator available to any and all.

The hand pump still mounted on the counter over the kitchen sink, though no longer connected to a water source. The wood cookstove, cold and silent, in that warm time of year.

Windows stood open. Screen door slamming as children ran in and out. The smell of summer everywhere.

The barn, though empty of animals, still smelled of occupants long since gone. Children loved the cool dark of that place. Games of hiding and seeking could go on for hours. Cookouts in that barn. Family gathered together. Tables strung together. Food that spoke of plenty.

Family that went through hard times, but that came together to celebrate the season and each other.

We never left there without music. Grammie at the piano, or with the accordion in that barn. Music was a part of that life. Singing together was our due. Never realizing then that she gave us a gift for life.

For us, the farm is gone now. We miss those days. Some of the family, too, have graduated to a new life---one far better.

The pictures remain vivid in our minds. Little things bring to mind that season of life. Sometimes, the past can seem more vibrant than the todays. We sorrow. We laugh. But as much as we would like to, we can't go back.

One thing that has not changed is the music passed on to us in that time. Grammie spoke to us of songs in the night. Back then we could not understand the need. Today, older and more worn, we do. We have each had those songs. Songs that brought comfort or cheer. Songs that encouraged us on. She knew then, what we did not. That with life comes suffering. But that in spite of what might come, we could go on singing the songs.

The songs that were born from that time in the old, red barn.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Words Wielded

Little hurts rain down like hail against my sensitive nature. The things that happen when you live with and around people....especially around those you love. Each thoughtless word hits and stings. I react. I always do.

I return the missiles with more of my own. Words. My best friends, and my worst enemies. Language has always been an easy sword for me to wield. But I often become confused on which side I am fighting.

Words of love and life have been given to me in His Word. He commanded me to spread them. I do.......until I receive the first stinging wound. Then, instead of peace or love or truth, I spread hate, hurt and the lies of His enemy without thought of the damage being done.

Feelings of self-pity, insecurity and discouragement rise to the surface when triggered by the words or actions of those I love. I make them pay for their offense. I hurt them because I want to hurt them....for one brief moment. Then the Spirit lays His hand on my shoulder.

I feel it there, and I don't want to look. I know He sees, and I am ashamed. I go through the arguments in my mind of why I am right. Justifying my cruelty by my own hurts.

And He shows me once again that there are more hurts to lay down at His feet. He died for those too. My arguments that felt so strong, fall as ash around me.

Naked truth lies before me. I can face it or turn away and pick back up my offense. I wish the decision came easily, but it doesn't. I reach toward the offense, wanting to hold onto the pain that has long been my companion. Easier by far than giving it over to my Life Giver.

I feel His love and I know that I am wrong. I must leave it before Him.

I am frustrated by my repeated failures. I know that each little victory will lead to more. Each moment spent with Him and in His Word will bring me closer to the place, the mission, he has for me.

Humility first. Apologies. Hugs. Learning to lay it all down. Accepting that my human response is almost always wrong. That praying for wisdom once a day is not enough. It takes prayer, "without ceasing" and "giving thanks always."

"Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell....Therewith bless we God, even the Father: and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be." (James 3:5,6,9,10)

"Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you: let him shew out of a good conversation his words with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth, not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits....." (James 3:13-17)