Friday, February 25, 2005
Honestly, I am not a compassionate person. The practical side of me says don’t waste time feeling pitiful, do something logical and move on. This morning, I think I experienced compassion and it hurt.
An EMT vehicle came on our street. I watched prayerfully as they stopped in front of our dear grandparently neighbors house. My heart ached with compassion as I considered the flood of emotions that must be occurring inside their house. “Oh, God, what can I do?” He answered: wait. Our truly compassionate neighbor arrived on the scene. Without hesitation he went to their house. His report indicated that it was the husband but not too serious. “What now, God?” Keep watching and wait. Minutes passed then the kind grandfather was brought out on a stretcher. There seemed to be no urgency. But what now?
As the emergency response team pulled away, God said, “Now go.” A daughter had arrived. I went prepared to drive the wife or make phone calls. All she seemed to need right now was a hug and to know I was praying. I’ve spoken to this precious couple in small bits of conversation from time to time. Today, a hug and a prayer provided a sense of God’s peace to me and hopefully to her.
It was from God – had to be. You see, I’m not compassionate. Hugging is not in my personality. But with the help of those God has brought in my life over the past year, I’m learning to respond with compassion. A hug: a practical expression that goes beyond logic.
It reminds me of a hug I received on October 24, 1995 when I was going into labor far too early for my son to survive. The nurse’s name was Jamie. When she hugged me it was as if God himself was holding me. I hope God used my arms for His hug today.
If you are a hugger, keep hugging. If not, learn to hug. Your arms may deliver God’s comfort.
Monday, February 21, 2005
1 Kings 17:13
Elijah said to her, "Don't be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son.
The drought had outlasted the food supply. The widow was gathering sticks for the small fire that would be used to prepare one last meal for her and her son before they would accept death from starvation. This was all she had. “Only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug” she told Elijah when he asked for a piece of bread. Elijah had the audacity to ask her to give to him first before feeding her son and herself. He promised that God would provide all she needed if he would feed him first.
Dilemma: A small meal that may provide life for a little longer or believe this man and survive the drought. What would you do?
You have the same dilemma. Each day, God asks for just a piece of bread. He is fully in control even when you think it is up to you to provide for your family, your employer, your ministry and yourself.
What are your remaining resources? Will you insist on using them to prolong your life as seems logical, hoping that more resources will show up before the benefit of your efforts die out? Or will you first give from what you have and watch the illogical happen?
God’s ways do not always make sense to us. Fortunately, he is God and we are not. What seems like only a handful of flour can provide nourishment to change lives. Keep reading in 1 Kings 17 to see how Elijah later impacted the widow and her son.
Don’t get caught up in the material application of this story. We each have a handful of flour in many different forms. For some it may be material possessions. For others it may be time and ability. It often seems safe and logical to take care of ourselves first. The key is not in the giving. It is in the listening and trusting. Do you give out of obedience to God or out of pride? If it were a life and death risk, would you give?
What will you do with the flour you have remaining?
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
Then God told him, "I will be with you. And this will serve as proof that I have sent you: When you have brought the Israelites out of Egypt, you will return here to worship God at this very mountain."
How many times have you said “if God will tell me what to do, I will do it?” Did you really mean “if God will give me proof that it is from him, I will do it”?
Here’s the scenario: The thought comes to mind to go out of your house and stand in the middle of the street. For some reason you sense there is a man that needs you. That’s an odd thought that has nothing to do with anything you are reading or doing at the time. You look out several windows in the house and see no one. Is it from God? You continue to ponder. If God would give you just a bit of proof that the thought came from him, you would run out there. Right? What kind of proof could he give you before you move? He could physically and supernaturally lift your body up and move you there himself but that wouldn’t require much faith. You are in your robe. This can’t be from God.
Another scenario: While going about your daily routine, a pregnant mother on bed rest, whom you hardly know at all, comes to mind. The thought is to make a nursery set for her. Some people can be pretty picky about the nursery decorations, especially for their first child. Why should you spend the time and risk giving something that may not be well received?
Both of these scenarios have happened. The first scenario involved a friend. He did not respond to the thought to go stand in the middle of the street and regrets it to this day. A few minutes after ignoring the thought, he heard the diesel truck of his neighbor start up. He would have been able to see the neighbor from the middle of the street. Nearly a year later, he went to meet this neighbor to discover that the man he would have seen had been struggling through a situation that he had experienced years before. The friendship seemed natural. Unfortunately, the man was moving in just a couple weeks. What opportunity was lost because he wanted proof before acting?
The second scenario involves a women at our church while I was on bed rest. It was a large church and we had moved to this town just six months before I went on bed rest. This wonderful lady acted on her thoughts and I was able to give her the proof that it was from God. This was my third pregnancy. The first was an early miscarriage. The second, a stillbirth in the second trimester. I had received several gifts but was not emotionally able to remove the tags from any of them. Even though I was very far along in the pregnancy, we had not prepared the nursery. When I received her gift, I cried. It was God telling me that this child would live.
What thoughts is God giving you? Will you step out on faith or miss the opportunity waiting for proof that it is from God? Will you trust him to handle it even if you are wrong? Don’t let the fear of how you appear (that would be pride) keep you from the thrill of participating in God’s divine nature.
Tuesday, February 08, 2005
2 Then God said, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about."
12 "Do not lay a hand on the boy," he said. "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son."
Sometimes we “hear” God’s instructions then we take over control. Have you ever done that? Perhaps you hear God give opposite instructions and you think you must have misunderstood. What do you do? Will people think you are wishy washy? Will they lose respect for your “spirituality”?
I have been in groups that get guidance from God then seem to drive that guidance as if it is the infinite god. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity.” I have used that scripture often to end a struggling “ministry”. It’s hardly a ministry when it causes more grief than life.
According to Genesis 22, we aren’t ending something God instructed us to do. We are avoiding killing God’s promise as He provides the alternatives. The key is to keep listening.
God’s plans are too big for him to give us the goal and let us get there on our own. He gives us just what we need to know at the time. Our submission is proven in our ability to let Him make each decision along the way.
Monday, February 07, 2005
"Seek first to understand, then to be understood." Stephen R. Covey
My husband “encouraged” me with this statement some time ago. It hit me so strong that it bounces back in my face quite often.
I know I am guilty of wanting to make my perspective clear first: determined to make those listening get my point. Only to become frustrated when they don’t “get it” or worse - being misunderstood!
Here’s what God is teaching me through this simple statement (minus all the individual details of the lessons):
*My perspective does not reveal the entire picture.
*Someone else’s perspective most likely will enhance my perspective.
*Understanding another perspective provides the ability to relate my perspective to their understanding and visa versa.
*Being open to accepting another perspective does not require rejecting my own perspective.
*My perspective can be broadened without being junked.
*In the big scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter if someone misunderstands my point. If it is from God and they need to understand it, He’ll take care of it for His glory, not mine.
*Life is actually fun when I shut up and just listen without even attempting to “enlighten” the other person.
Ok, clarification time. I’m not talking about absolute truths. I do believe in absolute truths. However, I am discovering that there are a lot fewer absolutes than we sometimes think. Even with absolute truths, I can only plant the seed and may get to water it. I can’t make it grow.
Friday, February 04, 2005
I went on a Spiritual Formation Retreat last weekend. Seems God is trying to tell me that I have eaten enough and slept enough. It’s time to come out of the cocoon. Hmm, what will I be? A beautiful gentle flowing butterfly that makes people stop and admire the beauty of God’s creation in me? Or an annoying moth frantically fluttering toward the Light hanging on to those who are as transparent as I’d like to be.
The entire retreat was an encounter with God holding up a mirror I wasn’t sure I wanted to look into. Who am I? The Tin Woodsman from the original story of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz? (written by L. Frank Baum in 1899) I’d never heard of the book that inspired the movie. I’ve never been a fan of Oz but I think I’d like the book.
What keeps me from sharing myself – being authentic? Is authentic something I can become or is it a lifetime process?
Sunday evening brought another amazing encounter with God. This time it involved some of my authentic self (alone in my car) shouting commands at satan. Whew, that was pretty cool. God’s power in me is exciting while at the same time a little frightening. What could God do through me if I truly allowed Him to – if I was truly authentic all the time? What could He do through His Body if we all were authentic all the time? The thought is mind-boggling!
Here’s what I think would happen:
1) Christ followers would unite (no more denominations)
2) Seekers would believe because they would see Christ rather than individuals in the unity. They wouldn’t wonder why there are three churches within a mile of each other – or side by side!
3) There would be a significant chasm between believers and unbelievers
4) And maybe, just maybe, Christ would answer the call of believers today as stated in Revelation 22:20 “Amen, Come Lord Jesus.”
PROCLAIM the good news; HEAL the sick and oppressed; BRING JUSTICE
~ Luke 4:16-20