Saturday, December 30, 2017

A really long list

Two days, folks.  Do you have your resolutions ready?

Is it even worth making resolutions this year with so many still left over from 2017?  Is it like making a wish list for Christmas?  Maybe I’ll get it, probably I won’t?

We tend to look at these waning days of the year and resolve what we want to do –  or need to do – in this coming year.

Again, we confront the reality:

If things are going to be different,
          something has to change.

And so, we set out with an overweight backpack crammed full of really nice resolutions and coordinating intentions, until there are three baking sheets of proverbial -- or actual -- chocolate chip cookies 12 inches away from me an hour before supper.  And who is to know?

That's why January 17 was established as National Ditch Day for New Year Resolutions.   Most resolutions, no matter how noble, possess a very short expiration date.

A true resolution is not just a desire to do, but the courage and audacity-- not just  to walk away from, but-- to run toward something different, deeper, or that which seems a stretch.

If things are going to be different,
      something has to change.
And that would be me.  

It is far too easy to blame others, my ever-shifting circumstances, 
or my self-excavated ruts, 
as I scamper like a mole 
from one muddy tunnel to 
                     yet another,
leading to dead ends, 
or even worse, 
right back to where I started.

Change doesn't just suddenly arrive on the doorstep one morning like a package from Federal Express . It starts with little tiny choices, one incredibly small step at a time, each one layering and building on the previous one.  You are going to have to work at it, sweat with it, and learn to trust God in it.

The story of real change comes to a sudden halt on about the second day of effort with one of three iconic exclamations: The first speed bump is gasping "I can't do this."  The dazzling showstopper is the audible cry, "What in the world was I thinking?"  And the final nail in the coffin of all resolutions, one size fits all,
               "It doesn't matter."

The whole desire to be different, to do differently, to be a better person, to be changed,
                       is wired into us
       by the God of new life, 
new nature, 
new heart, 
new vision.

The  basic truth of all Scripture is                "you can change."
Things don't have to be this way.

You are not defined by your past,
      nor your present situation,
nor your failures,
nor your really really bad choices, 
nor your selfishness,
nor by what others think of you.

But you are distinguished and designed and redeemed by God,
      Who loves you more 
                than you can know.

So we can fail even with 
every good endeavor, 
every good intention, 
every good resolution,
                  and God still loves us.
His love is not based on our performance,
                         but on His grace.

That is why Jesus came, 
because we can't do it 
on our own.
God never intended us to.

I cannot know what is ahead in this new year.   I cannot even fathom what will happen in the next minute or two.  But God meets me in my deepest need, a really dark place, 
and even surrounded by
what appears to be
barbed wire barricades.

What appears to be
     immovable in our sight,
is not just removable,
but always redeemable
             through God's grace.

He redeems a miry bog of trouble and despair,
"transforming the valley of trouble
       into the door of hope."
(Hosea 2.15)
We are looking for exit signs
when God is trying to lead us       through, 
not just to a better place, 
but to His redeeming
            right where I am.

I cannot do it
     through a list of resolutions,
nor by a mantra 
                  of religious rules,
nor by means of a prescribed list 
            of impossible behaviors, 
but by His whisper to 
               "Come, follow Me.”

The newness of the new year 
is not determined
by what I resolve,
     but to what God is calling me:

                  To Himself.


I make all things new.

                Revelation 21. 5

Friday, December 29, 2017

Something Better

(The posting today is in honor of my mom.  Today would have been her 98th birthday.)

From the time my mom was very small, it was obvious that she had been granted an incredible talent in music. She was a child prodigy on the violin.  My grandmother was a piano teacher.  She recognized her giftedness, and taught her as much as she could. There was no money for lessons.  Actually, there was very little money at all in those days.

Even as a very little girl, mom played at church.  She won contests as local fairs.  Once, when she was about five years old, she won a pony which they had to sell, because they needed the money to buy a stove. 

They lived meagerly in an apartment above a small grocery, behind a mattress factory. But she was destined for something big.  Everyone knew it, but that path looked pretty bleak.  Her father died, after a long disabling as a result of a stroke, when she was just a teenager.  There was no money to go to college to study music. 

But with the urging of her hardworking mother to not to give up, Mom found a job at a radio station in Fort Worth, Texas, during the graveyard shift from 4 to 8 in the morning, a time slot when it appeared no one listened.  And as Mom did throughout her life, she took a lemon and made a lemonade, turning a lowly invisible job into something spectacular.   

She called herself Cowgirl Bessie and played her violin – well, now, fiddle -- on live radio.  It became a very popular show, and it granted her time to both play and perform.  She finished up work in the morning in time to go to her classes at Texas Christian University.

She graduated, and then performed as a member of the Houston Symphony Orchestra, taught music as a professor at Southwestern Theological Seminary, and continued her radio show.   

She met a wonderful man who was an airman on a nearby base.  They were engaged hours before the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. They married, and then, less than a year later, he was shot down over Germany, and she became a young war widow. Life was not turning out as she expected.

One day, she received a phone call from a man who heard her on the radio.  He offered her a steady job as a performer with an even bigger radio show produced in a church building in another city.  But mom’s sights were set higher than going to a sleepy southern city like Nashville.  New York is where you went to become a celebrity.  She turned him down.  The man’s name was Ernest Tubb, that little radio show was the Grand Ol’ Opry, produced in a creaky old church, now known as the Ryman Auditorium.

Mom took the next step in pursuing her music by getting a Master’s degree from Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester, a long long way from home.  Afterwards, she arrived in New York City and started working as a regular on early television on a show called the All-Girl Orchestra, produced by NBC.  She was achieving her dreams.

She married a research scientist, had two children, and continued her career. My widowed grandmother moved up from Texas to help with the household and kids.  And when dad’s job took him to faraway Chicago, she chose to move too, to give up her career, and see what God had up His sleeve.  Two more sons were born. 

But just as it appeared that her ambitions were narrowing, God enlarged her vision.  She went from pursuing achievements to seeking God’s appointments.  And she found that she had not “given up” anything at all.

It was what God was doing through her music.   She became aware of what I call “proximate.”  What  God placed on her path, who God put on her path, and how God could use her in situations right in front of her.   It was not about abilities, but about availability. 
God had something much more profound in mind.   It was no longer just about the stage, but all about relationships .   God gave her a new story.

And she began to see and realize that there was not just a connection  between faith and work, but a seamless weaving of the two.  As Os Guiness says, “Living before the Audience of One transforms all our endeavors.” 
Times were hard when I was in high school, and my dad was out of work. Mom stepped to the plate to help make ends meet and began teaching violin to students from the high school across the street.  We awoke every morning, not to an alarm, but to beginning violinists scratching away.  

Mom encouraged students not just in music, but in life.  It was a rare morning that we did not find at least a couple of students sleeping on our living room couch with nowhere else to go.  Almost always, we had students sharing our supper, or going through the fridge for leftovers.   It was not about music.  It was about relationships.  It was how she lived out the gospel.  No matter what God gave her to do.

And in her spare time, she gave violin lessons to her 96 year old friend Electa Santacrocci, who had outlived four husbands and who once mentioned to mom, “I always wanted to learn how to play the violin.”  Not about ability, but about availability.  Mom taught her for free a couple of times a week.  And when Electa died, mom and her pianist not only played at her funeral,  they were the only ones there.

Mom had not reached a dead end in her musical career, but simply a change in direction and a change of heart, pointing others not to herself and how great she was, but doing all work – no matter what it was – with great excellence to point others to God. 
In her later years, she played her violin at nursing homes, for the elderly and veterans, and at other small hidden venues.   Nurses often remarked about unresponsive patients tapping their feet to the music, and even singing along to the old tunes.  It was not Carnegie Hall, but she brought joy to people who were mostly forgotten.

Because there is God, because you are made in His image, it is not that your work matters, but YOU matter.  All work for the common good has dignity.  No. Matter. What.

When your significance is in Christ, rather than in your work, it changes how you see God, how you see others, how you see yourself, how you see your work, and how you see the work of others.

Mom ALWAYS spoke to the “invisible” people around her and thanked them for their work, be it a cashier at the grocery, the busboy at Old Country buffet, or those who cleaned bathrooms at the airport.    But she could also sense the invisible desperation and loneliness of even those who ran in high society.  People were the same to her, as we used to say, whether the queen of England or a maid at a motel.

When you know your significance, your dignity, is not in what you do, but who you are in Christ, and because you were created in the image of God, you can serve God in every workplace, in every endeavor and bring Him glory in anything you do.  There are no small tasks.  There is nothing insignificant.

A heart changed by Jesus responds to life with more than a different worldview. 
My mom has been gone for thirteen years now.  And when she passed away, among some random papers, I did not find her name in a program from Carnegie Hall, but I found a scrap of paper on which she had jotted:  “I always wanted to be famous, but I think better things happened because I’m not.”

Sunday, December 24, 2017

With us

With all of the splendor,
the lights,
the programs,
the concerts,
the giftedness,
the real Christmas story can be condensed into two simple words:
                                 with us.

The good news of the gospel did not just suddenly appear, but seamlessly woven throughout the Old Testament, from the beginning of time itself.  Written eight hundred years before the birth of Christ, the prophet Isaiah promised:  

 a young woman shall conceive
                   and bear a son,
and shall call his name
which means
                   God is with us.

                            Isaiah 7. 14

Amidst the suffering and pain in this world,
right in the thick of this messy broken world,
                    Jesus was born.

"We sometimes wonder why God doesn't just end suffering.  But we know that whatever the reason, it isn't one of indifference or remoteness.  God so hates suffering and evil that He was willing to come into it and become enmeshed in it," said Tim Keller in a Christmas sermon in 2001.

With us.

And the Word became flesh
     and dwelt among us,
full of grace and truth;
we have beheld His glory...
                            John 1. 14

Please make sure that your little ones know
    --and even the bigger ones around you--
that the Christmas story is not just another "story"
      but the truth about Jesus
who came to change the world,
one life at a time,
         oh, so precious in His sight.

And the angel said to them,
"Be not afraid;
for behold,
I bring you good news of great joy
    which will come to all the people;
for to you is born this day in the city of David
a Savior,  
         who is Christ the Lord.

                        Luke 2. 10-11

Be not afraid.
He has come.
            God with us.

Friday, December 22, 2017

A place for the tree

Somehow impossibly this month, the house was decorated, gifts were purchased, and (shocker), our Christmas cards were actually mailed BEFORE Christmas.

I have been buried alive by some editing work that had to be finished before the end of the year.  Far too many important things were pushed to the sidelines, including Nightlytea,  to accommodate this act of restoration.  A long long story is woven in that adventure.  But yesterday afternoon, the last line was edited, submitted, and tied with a bow. I'm ready to enjoy Christmas.

Last evening, over long-simmering soup made by my gracious husband, there was talk of Christmas trees -- what fits and where to put them.  Coming from New York City, where every square inch of living space multi-tasks, one of our daughters remarked, "You always have to move something to have room for the tree."  In her tiny urban apartment, she had to adjust and rearrange to accommodate even her tiny prelit tree, which stands proudly this season on her windowsill.

In all that reorienting, the light greets her in the darkness of the evening. And it shines brightly through the window, uncontained. Light of any sort in every grace and kindness pushes back the shadows and gloom.

Our daughter's words kept echoing through my thoughts as I made dough for the family gingerbread creations to commence construction this evening.

"You always have to move something to have room for the tree."

When Christ dwells in us, He is not relegated to the back room.  He is not a guest, but He lives in our midst. And that changes everything.  He doesn't just redecorate. He lives here.  He makes all things new.  The love of Christ moves the furniture around, removes what we have been stumbling over, redeems all things, and the Light of the world incredibly dwells with us. 

As in the Christmas story, there was no room in the Inn for the savior.  What do I need to reorient, adjust and move, not for a tree in my living room, but make room for Him in my heart and in my life?

 "For lo,
            I come
    and I will dwell in the midst of you," says the LORD.

                                         Zechariah 2. 10

And nothing will ever be the same.

Getting ready for Christmas
             is just a reminder,
not for a season,
          nor an event,
but Immanuel,
                    God with us.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Big Rocks and an Altered Landscape

No matter where we lived,
     no matter the climate,
              or how short the growing season,
      no matter how many rocks,
                                 big or small,
my grandmother worked the soil
              and created beauty in its place.

She shouldn't have done it,
     such a vast amount of energy expended
     at her advanced age.
She shouldn't have been able to do it,
     struggling with rheumatoid arthritis
     for forty-five years.
She did not walk;
                  she hobbled.
When we even insinuated
           for her to sit down,
she would give us a look that
       would cause an army to surrender.

This pioneer-strong woman did not wake up
      a-moaning and a-groaning every morning
      with arthritic knees and stiff hands,
   saying, "O my LORD,
        how am I going to face today?"     
But she welcomed each dawn
     with a prayer and an attitude,
"Ok, LORD,
what do we conquer today?"
She followed Him
                     into His day for her.

She didn't see big rocks blocking her way,
   or even the need to maneuver around them,
         or pretend they weren't there,
but she embraced her difficulties as they came
                               and let Him redeem them.
They weren't a hazard to her,
           nor a hardship,
    nor a "Woe is me!"
        but instead,
                 "Wow, what can I do with that?"

She knew that her strength was too limited
               and challenges too overwhelming
      to carry along a burden of anxious thoughts,
                                or the chains of despair,
         those things that siphon one's strength
               and stifle the very breath out of creativity.
She saw the big rocks of life with different eyes,
          because she knew what God can do.

She also knew as she hobbled along
          that everyone struggles with something,
     hers just a little more obvious than others.
The difference is
        what you let God do with it.

Create beauty.
Let God redeem the hard stuff.

Ah Lord GOD!
It is You
    who made the heavens and the earth
by Your great power
and by Your outstretched arm!
Nothing is too hard for You...

                        Jeremiah 32.17 

(This poem was originally posted  on NightlyTea on February 13, 2014)

Saturday, November 11, 2017

What am I supposed to be doing?

Some time ago,  I had HUGE misgivings and second thoughts about a major decision, finding myself uneasy and looking for an exit sign.  What am I doing HERE?  Did I not listen closely enough?  Did I get my signals crossed?

Show me what to do, O LORD. Give me Your peace, or give me Your direction.   

I sat silently before Him.  But I still held tightly to the self-made dilemma in my lap.  Waiting and listening for Him, my death-grip began to loosen.   My excuses began to melt in His Presence, my justifications crumbled, and my cobbled-together escape plans evaporated into thin air. 

I moved from asking “why and how and where” to asking what God would have me to do in this.  I don’t even have to know His purposes or His reasons why.  Just to follow Him into it.  The true sense of the word “obey” in both Hebrew and Greek means “to hearken and to heed.”  Bags packed and shoes tied. To listen expectantly for and be ready to respond. In God’s eyes, responding to Him is not an impersonal doing, but the most intimate form of being.

Being in the center of God’s will
     does not mean
that I am always right,
or I am never wrong,
                   but that God redeems.
No crumbs left over.
Nothing random at all.

“God has you where you are for a reason.  He has given you success this week for a reason.  He has sent hardship into your life this week for a reason.  In everything, the invisible hand of providence is lovingly directing your life – behind the scenes – down to the smallest detail,” says Kevin DeYoung in his awesome book Just Do Something.

I am aware that I am to seek God in this, not just an answer.   The decision will not suddenly arrive with a thud on the front porch like a package from Federal Express. 

God’s desire is for relationship in all and above all.

God reassures me that He can work even in this.  Even if I made a mistake, He can redeem, if I seek Him in it.   He rises above my wrongdoings, my sin, my blunders, my likes and dislikes, my desire to avoid risk, my need to be right, even above my discomfort.  He is never restrained by time.  He has all the time in the world, because He created it.

I want to rewind and start again.  God wants to redeem and use it for His glory.

And maybe that decision was not a mistake at all, but God purposed it to bring me into a new understanding in my relationship with Him.  Whatever brings me closer to God is fully and completely within His will.  Even in mystery.  Even in this.

This week as I was re-reading The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom for the billionth time, it appeared that a short passage was written in BOLD, enlarged and capitalized with my name on it, jumping off the page and into my heart.  Standing in line in the Ravensbruck concentration camp, Corrie was full of fear, fully aware that she was carrying a small Bible in a pouch hanging around her neck.  Prison guards were inspecting each and every inmate.  What was she to do?

“And all the while I had the incredible feeling that it didn’t matter, that this was not my business, but God’s.  That all I had to do was walk straight ahead.” (The Hiding Place, page 193.)

And that is what Corrie did.  Each and every prisoner was inspected head to toe – in front of her and behind her.  When it came to her turn, the guard just screamed at her to move along and not hold up the line.

And so, God impressed in my heart that this mystery may not be mine to know His purposes.  I have only to be faithful to Him and walk straight ahead.  He’s got this.

What am I supposed to be doing?
        Trust Me.

But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases,
His mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
       great is Your faithfulness.

                          Lamentations 3: 21-23

Friday, November 10, 2017

And oh, the familiar

There are many mornings, particularly at the beginning of the week, when I am up well before dawn for appointments and meetings.  The house is dark as if huge black sheets are draped over the windows.

I silently inch my way across the bedroom floor and into the kitchen like a blind person who does not see but knows, who is sensitive to stumbling blocks beyond my sight, those things that have the potential to trip me up.  The obstacles are invisible to my eyes, but I know they are there, the chairs, the table, the countertop.  I am not seeking an exit, a way out from this darkness, but a way through to the light switch.  I can find it in the dark, because I know where it is, and how to get there.  I have been here many times before. 

That which is familiar is visible even in the deepest darkness.
I remember this.
I have seen it before.
I know what lies before me,
      like a map already memorized.
I still have a strength and vision
          that is not mine.

I often encourage young people to keep a chronicle of God's faithfulness to them.  You know, those divine appointments, doors already opened, the mountain pass through impossible places, glimpses of His grace, the awe of God's fingerprints, the intricate layers of His provision, the "I can't wait to tell Mom about this!" kind of encounters. Verses claimed.  Prayers that have changed the trajectory of my life. You know, those supernatural things that I boast, "I'll never forget!" 

But unless they are written down, they fade from our memory.  And they do not remain to encourage those who come behind us.  Of all the things passed on to the next generation, I would have loved to know specific ways God was working in my grandparents and great grand parents, even those family members I will not even meet until the other side of life.

By keeping the faithfulness of God engraved in my heart, by walking daily with Him, when the crises emerge, when the storms overwhelm, when I am weak, when I am in a very very dark place, I remember not just the stories, but I recall that which God has trained in me: 
          What did I do before? 
          How did I trust God through it?

Those stories equip me for the next time life is tough... and for when life is harder still.

Do not be afraid of sudden panic,
or of the storms of the wicked,
                    when it comes;
for the LORD will be your confidence
        and will keep your foot
                from being caught.

                                Proverbs 3. 25

The lights in our basement, when we lived in Cincinnati, were controlled by a main switch at the top of the stairs.  Inevitably in the course of the day, one of the girls would be doing something in the basement, and someone upstairs would innocently switch off the lights, plunging the lower level in total darkness.  Instead of being paralyzed by it, I told the girls, "Wait just a second for your eyes to adjust.  And then, if you walk towards any available light, you will find your way out."  Light comes through the cracks in the exit door.  But only if you are seeking it.

Darkness can send me into a panic...
or I can use that trigger to remember:
             how to trust God through this.
He may not pluck me out of this wilderness,
             but deliver me through.
God provides and delivers in unexpected ways
            and always in multiple layers,
   touching more lives than I can know.
He never works in singular outcomes.

You've been here before,
        keep walking with Me.

Fear not, for I am with you;
be not afraid,
               for I am your God.;
I will strengthen you,
I will help you,
I will uphold you with
         My victorious right hand.

                            Isaiah 41. 10

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

It is not just halloween today, not the wearing of disguises, but the taking off of masks

Today is not just halloween day, but the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation.  It was the simple action of one man, convicted by what he saw around him.  For the love of God, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany.  He had no idea the impact of that simple act of obeying what God had placed in his heart.

None of us have any idea the incredible way God redeems even a single baby step of obedience, even in whatever we face today.

What stood out to me, when I looked up the contents of those papers nailed to that old church door, was that these words were not of violence against the church. These theses were not a manifesto to scream "rebel" or "revolt."

But repent.

The very first of Luther's theses states:  "When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, 'Repent,' He willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance."

There was, in the established church at that time, the practice of indulgences, whereby a sinner could simply buy his way out of his transgression by basically purchasing a "get out of purgatory free" card. Just throw a money at the church for your guilt.

And 500 years ago today, on October 31, 1517, Luther's cry for personal repentance was what started the Reformation.  No more covering up sin.  No more disguises.  No more masks. But what does the Word of God say about it?

The sound of that hammer on that Wittenberg door still resounds in the hearts of all believers, right at the core of what we believe.

God always redeems a repentant heart.  Repentance is where the redeeming begins.

Repentance does not mean saying, "Oh sorry, God," and going about your merry way.  But repenting is speaking the three hardest words ever, "I was wrong."  The word repentance literally means "turning around and going in a different direction."

What is even harder than admitting and confessing, whether a wrong heart or wrongdoing, is realizing that God's forgiveness is already there.  He already has that covered through the death of His Son Jesus.  If there was any other way to forgiveness, Jesus would not have had to die. for. you. You cannot make up for your wrongdoing. You don't have to. Jesus has already been there.  No more guilt.  No more shame.

Sola scriptura.
Sola fida.
Sola gratia.

By scripture alone,
by faith alone,
by grace alone.

That is the core of Reformation teaching.

I don't have to nail anything to a church door, because my sins were nailed on the cross.

And so, as revealed in Scripture, our relationship with God is based not just on a heart of repentance, but on God's heart of forgiveness.

Make sure your children know what this day signifies for every one of us:
               In Christ alone my hope is found.

 The LORD is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
...He does not deal with us
              according to our sins,
nor requite us
              according to our iniquities.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so great is His steadfast love
              toward those who fear Him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does He remove our transgressions from us.
                                         Psalm 103. 8, 10-12

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

From here to there and even now

In the margins of my Bible are written dates and places and names, when I have claimed a verse or two for someone, for a impossible situation, for a seeking of God in this.  Sometimes I have seen how God has answered, sometimes I have not yet.  Some things now, some things later, some things belong to eternity.

This morning as I noticed a number of dates next to a particular verse in Jeremiah.  It was like a parade of our many moves as a nomadic family, a variety of dates and places.

But what stood out to me was not the memory of moving yet again, but God's faithfulness, even in what we could not understand at the time, even into what only appeared as wilderness, even then, even there.  His steps were revealed in unexpected ways and in the most unlikely of places.  And God changed us through them.

I cannot know what is ahead, even today, but I can know Who is with me.  Be not afraid. Don't miss out on the wonder.  God is faithful.  I can stake my life on that.

...that the LORD your God
       may show us the way we should go,
and the thing that we should do.
                                Jeremiah 42. 3

Am I willing to follow God into this?
Am I listening for Him,
    am I listening to Him?
Never ignore
        the power of the supernatural.
God is at work in you
    and extraordinarily around you,
His purposes deeper
                than you can ever know.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Excuse me, but there is a dead body on your living room floor

A slight break would occur usually in the early afternoon, after the extended rush hours of the morning and before the next tsunami wave crashed through her schedule.  It was not a noticeable gap in her day, not even a predictable or reliable pocket of time.  It was almost imperceptible, easily missed if she hadn't been listening for it.

If you have ever driven a car with stick-shift, there is a reluctant moment between the release of one gear and the engaging of the next.  That was the momentary gift she was looking for.

My mom was a master of those snatches of time.  She taught violin lessons to high schoolers in the early morning darkness before the school day, during their study halls, and then again, after school into the evening hours. It was a grueling schedule for her, to say the least, but you know, sometimes you just have to roll with what is needful.  Sometimes, life is just hard.  She was tired, and half-empty cups of cold coffee decorated our home.

As a result, it was not an unlikely sight to come into our house and see my mom prone and unmoving on the floor, right in the middle of the living room in the middle of the day.  Dead asleep, barely breathing, unaware of anything going on around her, even the dogs racing around her stirred up no response at all.

"I'm taking a nap," she once explained to me.  "Why don't you just lay down on your bed?" I asked.  She looked at me with a bit of shock in her eyes.  "Oh, I would get too comfortable.  I just need ten minutes on the floor, and I'm good to go."

And seriously, she would become comatose for ten minutes, awaken refreshed without an alarm, and proceed energized into the rest of her day and sometimes deep into the night.  It was quite simply "a power nap."

It is not unusual for any one of us for our load to become heavier through the day.  

But what if we treated our own languishing souls in the middle of unworkable situations and among impossible people, not with a power nap, but ten minutes of prayer?  Laying not on the floor to sleep, but laying out our troubled hearts and heavy burdens and stormy circumstances before the LORD?  Right at my desk, right at the counter, right while I am mopping up someone else's mess.

The truth is that we spend a lot more time stressing out than praying about it.

When I am anxious and overwhelmed, I don't know what to do, but God Almighty does.  As God's Word says in 2 Chronicles 20.12:
                      "For we are powerless against this great multitude
                                                        that is coming against us.
                      We do not know what to do,
                                             but our eyes are upon You."

I can hurtle through my day, or I can listen to God's way in this, and pray my way through. How can I think differently about this? 

A little power prayer in the middle of the day. 

Weary?  God invented something even better than a power nap. seemed to me a wearisome task,
      until I went into the sanctuary of God...

                                           Psalm 73. 16-17

As my friend Brad used to say,
    "Stop. drop, and pray."

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

What is next stands on the shoulders of what has been

I have been through hard places
           and rugged terrain.
I found His strength.
I will find it again.
And because the ways I have traveled before,
      I can have no fear.
Even in the wilderness,
     I find His grace.
His faithfulness rises out of the very ground.
Not that "it will work out,"
             but God works it,
    that which He has already
                               intricately designed.
I have seen the impossible.
Guide me,
    O Thou great Jehovah.
We look back some day
                       and laugh.
We can look ahead even now
    and without even seeing the outcome,
delight in Him.
Heading straight into His glory,
   that point of letting go,
even on the most obscure street,
                       His way revealed,
His footprints yet unseen.