Monday, November 25, 2013

Glory...

     Saturday was a precious day spent with family. My home was full and so was my heart. We celebrated my youngest daughter's birthday surrounded by her grandparents, aunt, uncles, and new cousin. We ate food, watched football, did a puzzle, and played with the baby. I was an active participant and an onlooker at the same time. I was taking it in far too aware that life is short and at any time one of those dear ones may not be here for a birthday celebration. Far too aware because of the Bible that was placed in my hand when my brother arrived... grandpa's Bible.

     I asked him for it a month ago but he forgot. I have plenty of Bibles but none of them are grandpa's Bible. Grandpa's Bible is worn, duct taped, underlined, with notes scribbled inside. It's weathered all the storms that grandpa weathered before he died nine years ago.  In many ways it is a journal of his walk with God. I plan to use it for Advent with the kids. I want them to see the scribbles, the duct tape, and the underlining. I want them to know that he got up with the sunrise to kneel, to pray, and to read the Word. I want a visual illustration of a life long friendship. They have their own Bibles and they have their own time spent alone with God each day.  However, I want them to see the years and the mileage in these worn pages. I want them to see the beauty and the richness of a life lived for Christ that has affected generations.  As I attempt to live out my faith I want them to know of others who did too. I want them to see the life in the worn pages because that is what life has felt like for me this year...worn. Worn, weathered, full, and messy.

     They need to know that faith isn't wrapped up in some neat little package. Real faith wrestles with God. Real faith is messy... messy like duct taped Bibles. I can't give them that by simply showing them a Bible or teaching them how to read it. I have to let them see me living my messy life and wrestling with God through  the hard questions. I need to bring them alongside of me on my journey with God in the good times and in the trials. I need to recount His faithfulness to us. Grandpa was good at this. He had a story for every thing and every story lead back to God and how God had been faithful. Isn't this how God is glorified? Isn't it in our sharing His faithfulness and living out our messy faith rather than giving pat answers wrapped in neat packages?

     In the front flap of the Bible written in shaky handwriting are the words, "God's purpose for our lives is His own glory."  Isn't that what we long to see, God's glory? I want to see it like Moses saw it in Exodus thirty three when he was hidden in the cleft of a rock and covered by the hand of God as God passed by. Even then Moses only got to see His back. I wonder...do I need some extravagant event like Moses to see God's glory? Isn't it all around me? Do I miss it in the worn and the weary moments? Or are those the very  moments when I am hidden in the cleft of the rock and covered by His hand as He passes by?

     I've been pondering this for about a week now. I've picked up that passage in Exodus and put it down time and time again. I let it go and then there were the words about God's glory written in grandpa's Bible...they brought me right back to it. This is what I realized: I have seen His glory in a thousand little ways but I have seen it most in the worn and weary. I didn't know it at the time because I wanted Him to show up big and bright. He decided to cover me and pass by. It's in the worn and the weary when I am not operating in my own strength, that God is glorified. When less of me can be seen God's glory shines brighter.

     The things we wrestle with, our trials, and our pain... all these things are the very things that God can use to show us His glory. Even then it's only a glimpse of what's to come. It's just His back as He passes by while we are hidden and we are covered.

    




Monday, November 11, 2013

Stop and Love...

     "I look at the life of my Savior, who stopped for one. So I keep stopping and loving one person at a time." These words from Katie Davis in her book Kisses from Katie, have been at the forefront of my mind lately. I have been thinking about what it means to stop and love one person at a time. In today's busy world just stopping is difficult. Jesus was busier than I am, and yet there are countless examples in the Bible of Him stopping to love just one. He stopped for Zaccheus. He stopped for the woman about to be stoned. He stopped for the man lowered through the ceiling that needed to be healed. He stopped sleeping to calm a storm. He stopped to heal the lepers. He stopped to heal a blind man. These are only a few examples of times that He stopped there are many others!

     I think stopping is the hard part. Stopping requires me to cease what I was doing. It requires me to set my agenda aside. Stopping takes the focus off of me and requires me to focus on the one person in front of me. Then of course there is loving. Loving the person that you stopped for can mean many things. At the very least it is giving them your undivided attention...undivided attention in a world full of distractions!  What does that look like? Undivided attention requires listening with more than your ears. It's being fully engaged so that you are able to see past the surface and into the heart of the person in front of you.  This kind of attention means that regardless of who this one person is that I am stopping to love, I see them with God's eyes. I see them through the eyes of love because that is how God sees me.

     This is a tall order. God places people in front of us daily. Some of those people are "regulars" like our spouses, children, and co workers. Sometimes they are the ones that are hardest to stop for because we are so used to them being around that we take them for granted. How well are we loving them? Do we take the time to really hear what they have to say? Do we take an interest in what they are saying or are our minds elsewhere?  What about the people God sends our way who aren't "regulars"?  When we spend time with them do they walk away feeling loved?  When they are sharing their thoughts and feelings with us, do we make them feel that they are the only one in the room because we are so focused on stopping to love them that nothing can distract us?

   I am convicted by the thought that God who has to take care of a whole world full of people, is never too busy to make time for me. When I come to Him I have His undivided attention and His love. He never says He is too busy or asks me to come back later. I know He is this way with everyone and yet manages to make each one of us who know Him feel like the apple of His eye. Those words from Katie Davis have grabbed a hold of me and I am praying that God will help me to be like Him.  I want to stop as He does and love one person at a time.