Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A bit of Daniel

"And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, which do not see or hear or know; and the God Who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified."  Daniel 5:23b NKJB

This was a hard day.

With all the glorious monsoons (and one building today) all of my symptoms are kicked up a notch (or 2 or 3).  I awakened with my dreaded enemy, the headache, already well established.  So all of my muscles decided to declare mutiny and join my head.  I felt like I had a bad case of the flu and wanted to crawl under my covers and hibernate. I felt so befuddled it was hard to find words or the energy even for a shower.

But, alas, I had a doc appt , which, having already cancelled once, I had to go to today.  God bless my sil, she drove me as I would have been a menace on the road.  I downed some strong pain medication and an hour later was able to go.  My reaction when the meds kick in is always one of great relief.  They sometimes don't take the pain away, but they make it bearable.

On the way we saw the glorious monsoon clouds puffing and the winds starting to rise and the pouring collapse of a cloud over the mountains - a grey curtain of rain blotting out features in the landscape, gigantic bolts of lightning flashing through the black clouds.  It's one of my favorite things here - it's so enormous and wild with power it's awe-inspiring

After a long visit with my doc, a handful of new Rxs and orders for my yearly mammogram, I left - and while we were out we went to a local restaurant to eat.  We always say grace even when we are out - but today we forgot.

I wasn't able to do my quiet time or Bible reading this morning, so when we got home, I began to read - obviously I am now in the book of Daniel.  I prayed beforehand, asking Him to give me something to share with you - and instead He shared something with me.

I read the verse above and the Holy Spirit Spotlight hit me between the eyes.

I had spent my day praising the gods of wind and rain, the god of medicine and pain relief, even praising the food in the restaurant..

But I had not taken even a second to glorify the God Who holds my breath in His hands and owns all my ways.

So I stopped right then and glorified Him , repenting of giving the glory that belongs to Him to another, and meditating on how often I do it.

How many times have I listened to a song, or seen a movie, or read a book, or watched tv, or enjoyed a storm and never given Him a thought?  I think of all the kids, "good Christian kids" (among which are a cherished niece and nephew) who fall prey to secular music about the things forbidden to them by God - and they fill their minds and hearts with it. I see their standards corroding and satan's siren song wooing them inch by inch - the same way my heart is wooed.  And my heart breaks for them, for the needless sorrows and health problems and separation from the One Who holds their breath in His hands and owns all their ways.

And He owns my CI - one of those things included in the"all" as in "...owns all my ways".  And I ask myself, how often do I glorify Him in my CI, or bow before His ways in my life without that moment of whiny complaint :"My head hurts - groan- snivel -gripe"

I'm not advocating a cement-fortified upper lip here, I'm simply saying - mostly for myself - it's time to lay those hurts at His feet and thank Him for the medicine that helps, the storms that make the day glorious, the music or things that soothe and bring joy and laughter. Because He gives, along with the CI, ways to get through the day, small things to delight the soul, gigantic storms to revel "safely" in His magnificent power - a power so great the Word tell us we see but "the edges of His ways", the tiniest portion.  I think of the giant storms - the monsoons (tiny compared to the hurricanes now hitting the south - or the strength of a tornado) and it boggles the mind that this is His power carefully controlled - not yet unleashed in the inconceivable amounts judgement of this earth will require.

And that doesn't even begin the list of things that should drop me face down before Him each day - things like eyes that see, ears that hear, muscles and limbs that respond to my commands, the awesome envelope containing my flesh and blood I call "skin" - it would take all day to name them all.

To my shame, I rarely name any of them.

So, my Lord and King, I ask you to give me a heart so thankful that I glorify You every day.  Give me eyes that see each gift You slip into my days to give me joy - and a heart to see the Giver behind them.  Cause my ears to hear Your slightest whisper - and grant me a will that hastens to obey. Keep me close to You, Papa, don't let me slide away one inch at a time - give me a heart like Your servant Daniel's - faithful and true


Sunday, August 19, 2012

A little disobedience goes a long way

To all the heartbreaking sadness of the week I add 2 youngsters, ages 10 and 6, swept away over a waterfall at Yosemite while their parents watched helplessly - during a retreat @ a family camp.  One child's body is yet to be found, please include them in your prayers. The mother was injured trying to save her sons.

All of this put me into a rage @Adam.  (see the poem on the poetry page).  I've been meditating on this for a while now, thinking through the scenario and its aftermath.

Eve sinned too, yes.  But Eve was deceived. I don't think she tried to evade responsibility, as many seem to think.  She merely stated what happened: the serpent deceived her and she ate.  Why do I think this?  Because even though her pain was increased in childbirth, it wasn't a curse.

Adam, on the other hand, had the whole earth cursed for his sake - thorns, thistles, drought, marauding insects, and the biggie, death.  Why was he cursed?  Because he tried to point the finger at Eve ("The woman You gave me...") and, incidentally, at God.

But Adam went one further than disobedience.  Adam went into full blown idolatry.

He saw Eve, "his woman".  He saw she was naked - the implications of the Hebrew are that Adam and Eve were clothed with light, like their Father.  Without that clothing Adam knew she would die.  So now the question is, do I choose to love God more than Eve and obey?  Or do I choose to put Eve before God?

We know his choice.

Adam doesn't even pretend he didn't sin, he just tries to shift the blame, something Cain picked up to follow in dad's footsteps.

It boggles the mind to think of all the repercussions.  In one fell swoop, Adam unleashes sin in all its infamous forms - and the very next generation begins the manifestation : murder, lies, evasion, jealousy, and all beginning, again, with disobedience.

Cain knew that all sacrifices to God must include the shedding of blood: that was the consequence of sin, as God killed an animal to provide them with clothing.  He had to shed blood to "cover" their sin. So without shedding of blood there is no remission of sin.  Cain knew this.

But Cain was a farmer.  His produce fed everyone - remember, this was before the flood so all - even animals - were vegetarians (which explains how Noah could have lions and sheep on the boat and enough food for everyone without slaughtering any other animals to feed the lions - but I digress) So Cain, proud of supplying all the food for his family, didn't mess with that untidy blood spilling, he just brought the best of his harvest, soooo much better than a dead sheep.

And better than that dumb Able, who raised sheep  which, yes, provided clothing too, but what good was clothing without food?  Cain's stuff was much more important than Able's stuff, wasn't it?, in this case, it wasn't.  Without shedding of blood the sacrifice couldn't be acceptable. Once again, disobedience enters the picture.  Cain wanted to be accepted on his own terms.  Wasn't he as good as Able? (so here comes "Mom always liked you best.")  The problem was that his eyes weren't on God as much as they were on Able.  He wasn't sacrificing, he was showing off.

And God shot him down.

So instead of repenting, he got mad at Able- because at least he knew enough not to get mad at God, or blame Him like his dad , Adam did.  And envy did what it always does: it kills.  It colors situations and insinuates evil motives into the most innocent of occurrences.  And Cain did, literally, what envy always does in the heart. He killed that uppity Able.

While I was contemplating these beginnings of "the pride of life" that is so rampant in our culture, I stopped a moment to consider the One Who created these children, to love and nurture them, teach and guide them, and how heartbroken (understatement) He was, watching satan's evil permeate the hearts of His kids. Cain's cry of "unfair!" echoes down through the centuries, as satan begins to poison the heart of man against his Creator, camouflaging his own sinister attacks as being God's fault.

satan made Cain feel "less than" by his disobedience - and when God told him he would be accepted if he simply did it right, even warning him about satan waiting to devour him, Cain heard none of it. To him, it was a slap in the face.  His produce was perfect.  He was so proud of it.  That was a part of himself he brought to God, and God wouldn't take it.

Evil God.,

I find it really interesting that part of Cain's punishment was that he could never grown anything again - which, finally, broke through his sullen, silent rebelliousness against God as he cries "This is more than I can bear!"

Poor me.  Poor, poor me.

And the evil one has been so successful with this strategy that God is never thought of when abundance and mercy are overflowing - only when something horrific happens do we say "How could a merciful God allow this to happen?"

It happens because mankind has said, over and over, "Don't tell me what I can and can't do - who made you God?"

So God stepped back and said ,"Go for it."

And wept.

As the result of all this, dear Grandfather Adam opened the door for our CI as well.  And as I contemplated in anger all of the pain and sorrow and anguish he unleashed with his one act of disobedience, my Papa gently tapped me on the shoulder to show me my own - waaaaaaaaaaay more than one act of disobedience - and the pain I have caused others.

God says "I desire obedience more than sacrifice" - to clue us in.  His laws are meant to protect us, not hem us in or be a killjoy.  He wants us to have true joy, not satan's sated imitation.  He wants us to be unburdened by memories that make us cringe with guilt, embarrassment, anguish.  He wants us undeceived and in love with Him - not trying to see how much we can get away with.  He wants us filled with true peace, not simply an absence of discomfort.

He has given us free will - and taken His hands off, giving us the privilege of truly choosing which way we will go.

CI doesn't negate that gift of choice. From deep in the morass of CI, we can still choose - choose to honor Him from the midst of pain or restricted movement or solitary confinement.

I know this is not a simple thing.  And I am grateful that Blood was spilled for me to not only cover my sin, but wash it away - an incredibly amazing gift that could only be born of a Great Love.  A speaker at a women's retreat once said "We have noooo idea Who we are dealing with ."

And it's true - a Being so immeasurably powerful beyond our conception, Who created our immense Milky
Way - one of the tiniest in the solar system - and knows every single solitary star by name, and has placed them "just so."

But He knows our names too - and has placed us "just so," including our CI.  He asks us to trust, to endure, to bless, and to return the love He lavishes upon us - by being obedient.

As of old, we are given the choice to obey and live, or disobey - and die a little every time.

"Choose this day whom you will serve:  but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Rough Week

I was hit with sorrow after sorrow this week.

3 deaths from cancer, after heroic struggles, leaving behind the carnage of broken hearts and jagged craters of pain.

Then a premature baby, whose life we measured in hours instead of decades - the third such loss for the empty-armed, devastated parents.

Then the sudden blindside of a fatal heart attack.

And then a 6 year old boy on vacation with his family, wading with his Grampa - he stepped off of an unseen ledge and was swept away in a heartbeat.  They have searched 40 miles downstream and still have not found him.  An anticipated holiday with family gone excruciatingly awry. Heartbreak. Grief. Guilt. Please pray for this family.

"When I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me..."

All I could do was crawl into my Papa's lap - and weep against His shoulder.

And deep in my spirit I knew.

He was weeping with me.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

I'm tired of this!

"I'm tired of this!" I said to my Lord, "tired of the pain and the canceling of plans and the doctor's offices and no energy to do anything - not chores, not even fun stuff! I'm sick of it!!!"

"Poop!" I thought,"My head is killing me, I'm cranky and peevish and I want to quit.  I've had it."

And what did my Lord say to me?


He waited. And waited.  And waited until my tantrum was over and I was silent.

In the deep peace of His silence, He brought these words to me: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect (Amplified: "builds a tent over you") in weakness" 2Cor 12:9

And it is.

His grace shelters me - like a tent - quiets me, protects me.

Is God big enough for my tantrums?

Yes, He is - and what's more, He loves me through them.  His tenderness has pitched a tent over me and kept me through 24 years and counting of illness, and 15 more before that.

He knows what my spirit needs to cause me to seek Him - to seek Him in my tantrums as well as my praise.

And He knows what your spirit needs as well.

Trust Him.