Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Give It Up

I am trusting God for my words today.  It seems that all morning, the same message keeps flying at me in powerful bursts.  My Bible, my music, my reading....all of it one sum shouting of release.  Give.  It.  Up.

I think I am trying to live a surrendered life, but the truth is there are still so many areas that are wrapped tightly in selfish pursuit.

I desire so many things.  I want a lovely home.  I want a closet that reflects my eye for pretty things. I want my children to be adorable and have lovely bedrooms.  I want my garden to be perfect, and my creek bank to look like a mountain retreat.  I want to bust through the kitchen wall and make bigger windows.  I want our family to actually go on a nice vacation since we have not gone at all in years.

I want a gym membership so I can be thinner and more active.  I want to have coffee dates with girlfriends and keep a spotless car.  I want a little dog to join our family.  I want a daughter with red hair and blue eyes like her brothers.  I want my husband to be whole and completely healthy.  I want to see the world.  I want to write books, travel the world, and tell beautiful stories.  I want to upgrade my phone.  I want my boys to be violinists.  I want to learn ballet and dance on stage just once.  I want to swim everyday.  I want a home espresso machine and a new gas stove.

It is endless.

I think you get it. My wants can consume me, if I am to be honest.  I don't really realize that I am giving them so much attention, but quietly they fill my thoughts and my online boards. I am lured by the lovely.  I plan parties that I never have.  I make plans for decorations I do not own.  I scheme out renovation plans like it is my life's work.  I scour online and in stores for the new furniture we will soon purchase.  I look at paint chips and fabric swatches with great passion.

But, I read my Bible.  I teach my children.  I am faithful to my church.  I support world missions with a passion.  I pray a lot.  I go to conferences and read book upon book.  I love others and genuinely try to help others in my path.  I know scripture by heart.  I have two degrees from Bible college.  I write about my faith.

But, I still want.  I am human, and I want. I am restless. I am full of thoughts and ideas.  The list is very long.

Jesus tells us to "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."  Matt 11:29-30

But I am learning of Him.  However, I am learning of Him and living on earth.  I am straddled between two cliffs suspended over treacherous ground.  I am pulled towards the way of life that seems lovely here.  I find no fault in being a good home-keeper, mother, and wife.

But Jesus says, "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell  all that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me." Matthew 19:21

But I don't have much.  I have worked really hard to have the little that I possess.  It is my job to build my home, love my husband, and nurture our children.  Scripture is full of teaching on being a wise woman, a Proverbs 31 woman.  I can do both.

But Jesus says, "And everyone that  hath forsaken houses or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life."  Matthew 19:28

My head is spinning.  I am not certain where this leaves me.  I am definitely straddled between the cliffs of God's promise and Earth's great pull.   Hanging between things that are not bad, and a life that few could understand.

I am trying to take it all in and put lovely words to it.  But there are not words exactly.  It is a faith issue, a question of belief and surrender.  I make another cup of coffee and read a bit more this morning...and I stumble across these words written by Jennie Allen found at A Holy Experience

It is as if everything I have said I believe is all of a sudden and miraculously real to me... heaven, God in me, freedom from bondage, my purpose here. And because it is real, I am living as if it is real. And living that way costs me something—costs me everything.
So we start to consider our priorities and realize we value things like comfort and people’s opinions and happiness.
Then God says to die and sell everything we own and hate this life.
And we say okay.We start thinking things like, Should we sell our new house? Or we have an empty bed—let’s fill it with a child who needs a home and let’s invite our neighbors to Easter dinner.
And then the people around us start saying things like, “Don’t do it for the wrong reasons”—like the love of adventure or for our own glory. And we say, “Ok, thanks for the heads-up.”
Then we have people who are praying the same prayers and thinking the same thoughts, and something is happening—not a feeling or love of adventure or desire for glory but something within us that is from God, a call to more: to die—to live.My heart is bleeding and I can’t make it stop.
So we are praying and willing and dreaming of living for heaven instead of the American dream, and it is changing everything. And I am strangely okay with that.
I am speechless.  Her words are my words because they flow from the heart of Jesus.   And I am strangely okay with that too.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Root or Wither

"And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away."
Matthew 13:6

I used to love moving.  I could pack a house and move anywhere with record speed.  I didn't mind the challenges of new places and new faces.  I loved the excitement of anything new.  Even after marrying and having children, I was always up for the idea of heading out on a new adventure.  However, I married a man that had never moved one time in his entire life.  When we married, I had already had 11 different U.S. addresses, and had done short term work in a handful of foreign countries.  He had lived in the same home of his birth until we moved into our own place after our wedding.  I had a sort of gypsy soul, I guess.  He was more like an unmovable rock. But, I loved my wandering ways. I thought it was a great way to be, maybe even better, than those long-term addressees.   I thought it gave me anthropological star stickers or something.  I loved all kinds of people and places, so why would I ever want to stay in one place for very long?

But, I began to realize that the people that loved me most and were most reliable in my life, were the ones that I had known for many years.  The memories that were the sweetest were the ones that took time and seasons to create.  The people that stood out most beautifully were those that had invested years in their work,  and in their cities.  When I was withering, I looked for these stoic folks for rescue.  As I grew a bit older, I started to see the value in sticking around.  New is nice, but it only lasts for a little bit.  Time tests and tries and produces the fruits necessary for a deeply lived life.

I am learning the beauty in a soul that stands firm in it's place, becomes reliable to it's people, and shines like a beacon to those around it.  I am seeing the value of rooting.  As a gardener, I know that a plant will only last if it eventually makes good roots, otherwise it fades after a season and the beauty was short-lived.  God tells us over and over that we can know Believers by their fruit.  But a tree can only bear fruit if its roots are established.  That takes time. They have to root or they wither.  

Root or wither seems like a question that I will have to answer many times.  Rooting is hard work.  It has challenges of strength and durability.  It pushes through layers and layers of dirt. It branches out underground to find every requirement to truly bear the intended fruit.  It absolutely takes years of cycling through seasons.  One stroll through an orchard, and it is very clear which trees have the best fruit. 

I have withered in many places.  I have attempted  many things with guns-a-blazin'.  However, once the blaze died down I had to decide if I were going to stick around in the embers and really gain the long-term flame, or put the blaze out and move on.  So often, I was content to extinguish.  The blaze flashed and danced in wild abandonment, but it didn't last.  Where was the fruit in that?  It was nothing but a black residue filled ash.

The parable of the Sower (Matthew 13: 1-9) has so many truths, but today the truth that grasps me most is the need for roots.  Roots in my life that take time are the surest route to bearing fruit.  I have to push through the layers of dirt in and around me to find the solid ground on which to build.   I have to stick around long enough to get there, and then when the other pieces of the puzzle come together in God's perfect timing, there will be some fruit. And another beautiful truth is that a well-established plant can be transplanted successfully, but move it too soon and failure will ensue.  I can enjoy the prospects of breaking new ground, but first I have to root.

First, I have to root.  

Monday, July 13, 2015

Just The Word

After my early morning walk, I settled in with my Bible and coffee.  I am reading the book of Matthew, and I have really been asking God for a renewed passion for His Word.  One thing I am doing more frequently, is putting down the electronics and pulling my actual Bible off of the shelf.  Call me antiquated, but I love feeling the pages between my fingers and the sound they make as they turn. I get some strange happiness from underlining and highlighting with actual ink vessels rather than the touch of my fingertip.  Perhaps, it makes me feel closer to the text.  

But I digress....

Matthew is quite full of Christ's actual spoken words.  I get a thrill reading these red letters and understanding that these were the words my Savior spoke.  If I really focus on each phrase and sentence, I feel as though I am gem mining and locating treasures hidden beneath the letters.

One such treasure really grasped my mind this morning.  In Matthew chapter 8 beginning in verse 5 is the story of the Centurion and his servant's healing.  This little bit of gold takes place in only 9 verses, but I found it priceless.  I read and re-read and thought about some pretty fantastic things.  

I was moved that this man felt compelled to beseech  Jesus.  Beseech is a pretty forceful word.  The basic definition indicates that beseech is to make an urgent appeal.  This man was urgently, single mindedly beseeching Christ for help.  I was immediately reminded how I felt when I went from doctor to doctor pleading for information, referrals, and help to solve the mysteries of my husband's disease.  I know beseeching in a deeply personal way.  I can clearly recall the times that Kevin and I held hands and besought our God for help, comfort, and wisdom.  I know beseeching, and I know that this man was in a desperate state to find help. 

But he wasn't searching for his wife, his child, or any relative.  He was desperately looking for help on behalf of his servant.  This pierced my heart.  I find it beautiful that this man was so concerned about his employee.  I think it speaks volumes of his character and love.   I couldn't help but look introspectively and question my own willingness to desperately look for divine help for another person that wasn't in my immediate family.  Have I besought Christ on the behalf of another that has only limited ties to me?  Does my heart long to find help for others outside of my circle? 

And then, when the man found Jesus-the one he was desperate to find, He was satisfied to rely only on words.  His humble thoughts to Christ follow:
"I am not worthy that You should come under my roof; but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed."
He basically said to just give him a word.  He only needed a word!  He knew that the power before Him was The Most High.  He trusted that just being in His presence was enough.  His faith sent him beseeching, and his faith became sight and reassured Him that the Word was enough.

And, The Word was enough.  

Is the Word enough for me?  Is my faith strong enough to enjoy the richness of the Word?  Do I share the desperation for the Word of my Savior with this Centurion?  Will Jesus look me full in the face and say these words that he spoke that day?
"I have not found so great a faith, no, not one in Israel."

The Word was enough. Jesus assures this believer that truly this man had found what he was desperately seeking.  He shares a few more moments with this man and gives him answered hope.
"Go your way; and as you have believed, so be it done unto you."
And, Matthew tells us that the servant was healed in the selfsame hour.  The selfsame hour that The Word spoke, the blessing was granted.

Oh God, I pray that your Word will always be the first thing I seek.  I pray for a similar faith found in my fellow believer, The Centurion.  I pray that I would know in deeper, truer ways the power of Your Word, and that I will be compelled to ever dive deeper. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

June Jewels

Oh the joy that comes with summer fun
with all its warmth and glow.
The sites to see, the stars to count
the time to just let go.

The sparkle of the fire fly
the freckles on the face.
The browning skin and bluing creek
endless time and space.

Later nights and back porch lights
and time to have a swim.
Little boys with dirty toes 
ready to go again.

Gardens green and blooming trees
lizards and snakes and bees.
The warm sunshine and cozy mud
welcomes all of these.

Oh the joy of summer love
the smiles and delights.
It all starts with jewels of June
and warm summer nights.

                                      Leah Broach

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