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Do what? Do SOMETHING!

May 1, 2015

Once I was called from the audience unexpectedly to sing in a quartet. It had been a while since I had done four part harmony so I wasn’t totally confident.  But I was game. Never had sung with these folks but they were good musicians and, more importantly, good sports.

One of the group was also playing the piano. I wasn’t sure which part I was to sing. Probably alto since I had heard the pianist sing by herself previously and I thought she would qualify as a soprano and that’s a good part for someone also playing the piano.

 

So the song commenced and I headed toward the alto notes. Trouble is, the microphone at the piano was not turned up so those of us at the podium couldn’t hear the lead line and that made the concept of harmony a bit difficult. I kept sliding toward the tenor notes – he didn’t need my help, trust me.

After a bit of wobbling or warbling, I decided that if we couldn’t hear the melody line, the audience might not be able to hear it either. And I knew this much, if a part was missing it shouldn’t be the melody. So I abandoned the alto attempt and picked up the soprano to carry it for the home stretch.

I have never wanted to hear the recording of that song. People said kind things but …

 grimace

I wasn’t sure what my role was – if I was doing too much or too little. I didn’t have enough information to feel confident about what my role was. The only thing I was confident about was someone needed to do something to address the obvious need.

I felt much the same way when I gave away my flip flops last week.

flip flops

As I walked into a travel plaza on the Florida turnpike I saw her yelling at a young man who was obviously walking away from her and the little boy next to her. “We are homeless!!! You DO get that, don’t you? We are homeless!!”

I walked into the restroom praying for direction and wisdom.  As I came out she came in, heading to the big handicapped stall at the far end and pushing a child’s car seat – and a back pack along with several pillowcases filled with stuff. She was crying and the little boy looked resolutely calm.

I walked by, asking Jesus to be perfectly clear to me about my role in this unfolding drama.

 

I was aware of His nearness but was unsettled about any specific response on my part. So I did the wisest thing I knew to do – I found The Dietz and asked him what he thought. He came through with the wisest of questions.  “What do you think you are being prompted to do?”

“Well, … SOMETHING!” That’s all I knew.

I didn’t know my role. And this was waaaay worse than the mangled quartet gig, I promise!

 

I didn’t know the specifics of the something. Only a vague general direction.

  • Echo Jesus.

  • Leave the scent of Heaven.

  • Be an ambassador of reconciliation.

  • Point toward hope.

So I found myself knocking on the door of the big handicapped stall at the far end of the travel plaza bathroom.

[Insert conversation about much chaos and drama and loss and heartbreak and accusations and brokenness.]

“I don’t know what You want me to do, Lord. Let Your Spirit move my heart and my thoughts.”

So, Becky, start with what you do know:

  • She had been left behind by an abusive person.

  • She had bruises on her neck and moved as if in pain.

  • She and her little boy had no shoes on.

  • She was sad and afraid.

  • She had sores all over her face and she said her mom was asking her to be drug tested before she would send money to help her.

  • She said she had no money.

  • She said they hadn’t eaten that day.

 

Oh, and a couple other things I did know: whatever I did, it would not be perfect (I’m not Jesus) and I wouldn’t be able to fix it completely.

I didn’t know enough. I didn’t have enough.

Now, Becky, start with what you do have:

I remembered Peter’s words to the lame beggar long ago, “I don’t have silver or gold. But what I do have, I will give to you.”

  • I could give her something for lunch and some food to carry with her for supper.

  • I could put some flip flops from the gas station store on those little boy feet. (No adult flip flops in the store.)

  • I could get in my suitcase and give her a pair of my flip flops.

  • I could urge her to take the help her mom was offering her (“Report the abuse. Go to the hospital to be treated and drug tested. Then I will send you money to come home.”)

And …

  • I could promise her that nothing she had done, no mistake, no bad decision, no regret was too big for Jesus to deal with – His love for her is greater than anything. He wants to walk with her on this hard road.

As I lay down to sleep safe at home in my clean bed next to my loving husband that night, I still had the same lingering, throbbing uncertainty. Did I do what He put me there to do? Did my momentary ministry, my lunch box offering fulfill my role?

I’m thinking that Oswald Chamber’s words fit the situation:

the fact that I do not know is what it means to walk with Jesus.

It’s doubtful that I’ll ever cross paths again with this young woman and her son. But I’m continuing to pray for rescue for Morgan and Jaden. I know from where their plight originates and who delights in such brokenness. I know Who offers healing and restoration. Please pray with me for redeeming grace to invade their story.

And pray that I will get better at quickly and clearly knowing my role in chaotic situations like this. That all of us – people of the Cross –will know our role (for short term or long term involvement) in bringing to pass “on earth as it is in Heaven.”

We can do SOMETHING to make this world more like HOME.

helping hand

I’ve seen enough to know

April 29, 2015
tags: , ,

The Lord is my light and my salvation

Whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the strength of my life

Of whom shall I be afraid?

“I’m not really afraid of anything anymore. I’ve seen enough to know that’s no need to fear.”

I wish I had been the one to say that. I wish my heart overflowed with that as a matter of course. Effortless assurance.

Automatic trust.

Habitual peace.

Constant confidence.

And I have seen enough to know. Fear is unnecessary.

But right now I still seem to have occasional hiccups, a spasm in my trust muscle. There is an interruption in my breathe in – breathe out rhythms.

I’m asking Jesus to help strengthen me there so that I will believe deeper and sooner and more thoroughly – without even a hint of hesitation. I’m asking Him to help me remember what I’ve seen.

I’ve seen enough to know. And remembering what I’ve seen is like holding my breath for ten seconds or taking ten sips of water without breathing in between or plugging my ears and — who comes up with these hiccup antidotes? 

 

Remembering resets my breathing, gets it back in sync. Remembering brings the fear factor back under the control of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit.

Remembering from Psalm 27:2, 3, 12, 13 …

When the wicked come against me … they stumbled

                I remember His radical extraction from a perilous place.

Though an army encamp against me, though war arise …

                I remember when the odds were not in my favor and He chose to send a flood of deliverance.

…the will of my adversaries … false witnesses… breathe out violence

                  I when it seemed like the villains way outnumbered the heroes.

I would have lost hope unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living

 

I have seen enough to know: there is no need to fear.

What have you seen?

“The Perfect Wisdom of Our God” puts it beautifully.

Repurposing

April 27, 2015

Repurposing is a process. There is still some tweaking to be done here.

I’ve been quiet here for a while. A long while.

I’ve been in “do no harm” mode as far as this conversation spot goes. I encountered some circumstances that made me hesitate to have you at my kitchen table to chat because I wasn’t confident of what you’d find there or what my influence would be. (I’m sure that some of that story will spill over into our future conversations as time goes on.)

But, I think the dust has settled enough and I’m steady enough now to invite you to join me and make yourself at home again. You’ll find a few changes as I repurpose this blog.

I started to write because I felt a responsibility to pass along to others what has been entrusted to me. I also wrote so that my children and grandchildren (and friends) would know some of the history of God’s provision for me and my family. I was basically writing for the benefit of those I cared about.

Now, while I still think those are good reasons (and they will still be part of what you find here), I am realizing that I need to write for my own good, too. I need to write so that I will not forget …

  • what He has given me,
  • where He has brought me from,
  • what He has taught me,
  • who He has brought to me to urge me onward.

It’s good for me to process by writing. Setting it down with “pen and ink” helps His work in me to soak in deeper. Seeing the print helps me hold on to what He is. Putting words in place helps me get it – and keep it.

I need to remember who He is and what He says.

I want to remember who I am and why.

I must remember the truth about the past to keep me focused on the truth about the future.

So, I’m repurposing this part of my life.

Now I’m going to write

  • so that I stay familiar with His ways,
  • so that I stay at ease with His unfolding work,
  • so that I am at home with Him.

And I’d love it if you want to join me.

Just make yourself at home.

Group Hugs and Abiding Hope

January 22, 2013

Sibling relationships are complex from the minute the older child is presented with the precious little bundle that “the stork brought.” (Says nobody ever anymore.)

found on Pinterst - original source unknown

found on Pinterst – original source unknown

This relational complexity only multiplies as siblings grow up; the more shared history, the more multi-faceted the relationships are. And, let’s be straightforward – family connections are not simple. Sometimes they are well-tended and bring great encouragement. And sometimes they are neglected and, well, difficult. When I read the story of brothers in Genesis this morning, my mind didn’t settle on psychological theory or inter-relational principles, though.

What I read brought me to HOPE.

It caused me to rest in a strong, redemptive hope. How I needed the reinforcement of the story of Joseph and the way he tested his brothers!

The brothers had given words of family comradeship. But Joseph was wise not to take their seeming familial care at face value. They had come and gone from Joseph’s Egyptian kingdom once already – and they had kept their word, by returning with his younger brother. But his shared history with them had been filled with deep treachery and cold-hearted betrayal which he could not dismiss without overwhelming evidence. He was wise to withhold judgment until He could watch their lives to see if they had the capacity to give and receive costly love.

He needed to see if they could treat the treasure of forgiveness with respect.

And when he tested them, what did he see?!? It was more than a bond initiated by hunger or long journey. Their response to this orchestrated crisis was more than a get-out-of trouble scheme. More than a we’re-good-guys-now charade. More than a group hug under duress.

He saw the very men who had brought heart breaking deception to their father and abandoned him to slave traders react with a mighty reversal of response. In the heat of the testing, they showed compassion for their father and “Take me, not him” loyalty for their brother.

 

Something had turned them right side out. Rather, SOMEONE had turned them right side out. Just as Joseph was a different man than the man who had come in chains to Egypt – because of God’s powerful and loving transformation. The brothers were different now. God had been transforming them, too.

As Joseph pursued the exploration of their character, he had hope that God would have done this transformation in his brothers. So when he had evidence that this heart work had been done by God, he embraced God’s work – and his brothers.

“Do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you….But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. You shall… be near me … I will provide for you … ” Genesis 45:5-11

 

God didn’t give us this narrative just so we’d have a grand story to tell children at bedtime. This slice of historic reality has been preserved for us, in a grown-up world, to reinforce our hope. Seeing this demonstration of God at work in complex relationships (And not just about sibling relationships.) brings our focus back to who our God is.

He redeems, restores, renews, rebuilds, reconciles.

He transforms affections, converts intentions, exchanges motivations.

I’m asking God to turn my heart towards deep, abiding hope so that I am ready to embrace the heart work that He is bringing to pass.

See that?

January 14, 2013

I know we’re a couple of weeks into the new year, but I often lag behind a little; I process slowly and sometimes I give myself some extra process time to filter my thoughts before I post. Just trying to use this medium wisely.

 

Like most of us, as I turn the calendar to a new January I think about what things I want to carry into the new year, what things I want to leave behind, what things I want more of and what things I hope to have less of.  As I started my goal of reading through the Bible again, I found words that captured the core of what I’m hoping will be true when I’ve used up the gift of time called 2013.

 

The story of the Hagar is familiar to me – the conflict and drama when Abram’s wife Sarai decided to use her as a surrogate to produce a family heir. But as I read the account in Genesis 16 of how God found her and rescued her when she ran away, her response almost startled me – almost like it was a new discovery.

 

She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”

 

That part of Scripture made me ask myself: Do I really see Him? Do I clearly and quickly see the times that He shows me that He is seeing me? How much of His interaction in my world am I missing?

I’m asking Him to make this year different in that regard. I want to remember better that He is seeing me. But also, I’m asking Him to open my eyes so that I see Him while He is seeing me.

 

I’m thinking that will make for a really, really good year, whatever the other details turn out to be.

 Do you see the One who sees you?

 

 

PS – I’m not usually one to read old sermons but I was curious to see what had been written about Hagar’s well so I Googled it and found a message by Spurgeon that was truly good! (I know, it’s Spurgeon; so what did I expect?) It’s worth the few minutes it takes to read; You can find it here. You’ll encounter things like:

 

“The Lord has heard your affliction.” … you have not cried unto the Lord. But your deep sorrow has cried to Him! … Grief has an eloquent voice when Mercy is the listener. Woe has a plea which Goodness cannot resist.

… it is the deed of the good Shepherd to find a lost sheep! Surely this is that great Shepherd of the sheep who goes after His sheep until He finds it! He has come far into the waste[land] after her and He rested not until He found her.

… she had, in her impatience, deliberately … left the abode of the chosen family. It was almost the only spot under Heaven where the Lord God was known. She,…had enjoyed the light of the knowledge of the true God for a while. But now she had turned her back on it.

… deliberately left the ways of God and the people of God …vow that they will have nothing to do with God, or with His people— They do not, indeed, care what becomes of them—they would flee from the Presence of God, Himself, if they could. Friends, relatives, good men and the circle of blessing they would quit and roam in a wilderness,… they are prepared to defy the universe to subdue them!

While she was there, in the moment of her desperation, she was found by [Him]. He had come on purpose to seek her out and find her and He had not failed in His search, as, indeed, He never does. This was the last thing she thought of. She … had not thought that God, Himself, would come after her! What was there about her that Jehovah should come out of His place to seek her? Yet He came in unexpected Grace, as He is known to do.

Play your position: a poetic reminder

November 25, 2012

Every once in a while this poem crosses my path and I am reminded to “Play my position.” and that does not include determining outcomes. My position includes trusting, persevering, dying to self, and decreasing so that He is always increasing. Outcomes are his department.

My orders are to fight;

Then if I bleed, or fail,

Or strongly win, what matters it?

God only doth prevail.

The servant craveth naught

Except to serve with might.

I was not told to win or lose,

My orders are to fight.

 

by Ethelwyn Wetherald

(This is a good time to give a plug for Pilgrim’s Progress in any form – book, film, group study.)

I am not skilled to understand

November 12, 2012

Finding myself at a point where I cannot fully comprehend or explain why God does what He does is not a new state of being for me. And the longer I experience life here, the more familiar I become with that condition. I’m glad for that, actually. Because, though there is much I don’t know, there is one thing I do know – to the core of my being: Jesus, God Incarnate, is (because of His immeasurable mercy) my Savior. And that overshadows all the things I don’t understand.

I want to share something that underscored that comforting truth for me. I invite you to savor the words of these timeless lyrics:

I am not skilled to understand

What God has willed, what God has planned

I only know at His right hand

Stands one who is my Savior

I take Him at His word and deed

Christ died to save me; this I read

And in my heart I find a need

Of Him to be my savior

That He would leave His place on high

And come for sinful man to die

You count it strange, so once did I

Before I knew my Savior

My Savior loves, my Savior lives, My Savior’s always there for me

My God He was, my God He is, My God He’s always gonna be (Aaron Shust)

Yes, living, dying, let me bring

My strength, my solace from this spring

That He who lives to be my King

Once died to be my Savior

That He would leave His place on high

And come for sinful man to die

You count it strange, so once did I

Before I knew my Savior  Dora Greenwell (1873)

My Savior loves, my Savior lives, My Savior’s always there for me

My God He was, my God He is, My God He’s always gonna be (Aaron Shust)

When we sang this yesterday strong peace poured into my heart, not because I understand every reality but because I KNOW my Savior and He is more real than anything else. He is more precious than anything in this temporary world. “You think it strange, so once did I – before I knew my Savior.”

Then as I was preparing this blog, I found that there is another verse:

And oh, that He fulfilled may see

The travail of His soul in me,

And with His work contented be,

As I with my dear Savior! Dora Greenwell (1873)

Now, those are deep words! That His travail (His exertion, His labor of love, His suffering) would continue to be displayed in me?!? And that the enduring faith of His people would bring Him pleasure?!? Amazing thought that, as just as we are contented in what He has done for us, He would be contented with how His continued work is displayed in us. WOW!

I am not skilled to understand.

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