Saturday, May 30, 2015

Beat Up...

      "The world will always beat you up, but God will always heal you." I found these words rolling off the tip of my tongue after I cleaned up a watch today. Have you ever said something out loud, heard what you just said, and wondered where it came from? Yeah, it was one of those moments. My mind keeps thinking on those words. They were spoken to someone else but I know they are very much for me.

     It all started last night when I heard someone honk their horn several times in our driveway. I looked out the window and saw that it was my husband honking. He wanted one of the kids to move their bike out of the middle of the driveway so he could pull in. Both girls were outside. The child who owned the bike just stood there like she was frozen in place, while the other one ran to move the bike out of the way. I would soon find out why.

      One of them had been riding that bike all over the yard, skidded down a steep hill, rolled with the bike, and hit the pavement. She came into the house blood dripping down her knee, running down her arm, and a giant lump that was quickly turning purple on her chin. The lump was so big it made her face look longer! After running for wet paper towels and ice, emptying the band aid box, all the while silently pleading with God that she had not broken her jaw, things calmed down and I began to assess the situation.  She could talk. She was asking for food and was able to chew it. She was able to yawn. All of her teeth were accounted for and still seemed in alignment. We were now completely out of band aids and sterile guaze and I desperately needed chocolate! Time to run to the store.

      My ride to the store provided me with plenty of time to talk to God. It had been a long week. It was one of those weeks where every time we received a blessing from God, something discouraging would happen to follow it. I felt beat up by the cares of this life both physical and financial. I began scrutinizing and questioning every decision we had been making in every area of our lives recently. Until I realized that this bike accident had nothing to do with any of that. We just simply needed God's protection. You see, we have been at a place of really resting in God in recent months. We have been content with where He has us right now even though it may not be right where we would like to be. This contentment, this resting in Him, has been our greatest blessing! What better way to rob us of our greatest blessing than to flood our hearts and minds with fears, financial worries, doubts, frustrations, and physical suffering?  This way we can be so distracted by feeling tired, worried, and frustrated, that we won't be content with God's plans for our lives or with where He has us right now. This is just one of the ways that Satan uses the difficulties of this life (world) to beat us up. However, God is right there ready to heal our wandering minds and anxious hearts, just like I was right there waiting for my daughter with bandages and peroxide. We just have to let Him.

      His healing doesn't always take on the form we want and it doesn't always come in the timing that we want it to. Yet God is still at work on the inside healing our hearts and making us new. This reminds me of how much my girl dislikes the painful sting of peroxide. The cleansing it offers is part of the healing process but it's painful. God's healing processes in our lives are often no less painful because He heals and cleanses from the inside out! We tend to be people who like to stick a band aid on things and call it healed, all the while ignoring the dirt in the wound it's covering. Dirt if left in a wound untreated will cause infection. Infection in one part of the body if left untreated, can spread through out and eventually take a person's life. There are so many parallels between the physical and the spiritual life!

     I was washing the face of my daughter's watch this morning. It's her favorite watch because it has a world map as the back ground. She says it reminds her of her dream to travel the world someday. The watch took quite a beating and its face was dirty and scratched up just like its owner's! I cleaned it as best as I could but I knew she was still upset that it was scratched up. After handing it to her I said, " I can't do anything about the scratches, but maybe it could be a reminder to you when you travel the world... the world will always beat you up but God will always heal you."  In my heart I pray it will always be so, that she will always run to God and let Him heal her.  I know that if she does...He always will.

     For the record, the thought of her traveling the world someday has always been difficult for me. But the same God who rolled down the hill on a bike and hit the pavement with the child who refuses to wear a helmet...will be traveling with her. She couldn't be held in better hands! 
 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Already There...

     There are moments in life when we can honestly say we are certain that God was already there. We are sure that He had to have gone ahead of us and protected us in some way. There are also moments in life when we need to be reminded that He is already there...that He has been there at the end from the very beginning. The moments I have found myself in recently have me thinking about this quite a bit.

     I first started to consider this after a very unusual night at food pantry. I had asked a man in line if he wanted prayer, and I thought that he had responded with the words "I pray." So I said,"That's great that you pray!" He shook his head no and motioned for me to come closer to him. I did. Then he said, "Give me your hand." I thought nothing of it at the time because often the guests at food pantry want to hold hands when we pray. I gave him my hand. The instant I held his hand I felt this overwhelming sense of peace and safety. I felt the most safe that I have ever felt in my life. It was such an unusual feeling of safety that I was conscious of it. At precisely that moment the man brought my hand up, snarled at me, and said "I bite!".  I thought he was joking with me so I laughed a little and said, "It's okay that you bite. I'll pray for you anyway." He shook his head no, so I went back to where I had been standing. Twice more, he walked past me that night snarled, acted like he was going to bite, and said "I bite!".   By the third time I no longer believed he was joking, and I was certain he had a demon. I still felt safe.

    That feeling of safety bothered me the whole way home and I asked God a lot of questions. What is wrong with me that I thought he was joking and didn't discern right away what was going on? Why did I feel safe when I should have been freaked out? Why didn't he bite me? What is it you want me to see that I'm missing?  I wrestled with those questions on my own, and with a friend who is much older and wiser than me. A few times during the night God woke me up and brought various things to my attention. One of the things that He said to me was, "I was already there at the end of your day, from the beginning."  That overwhelming feeling of peace and safety was because God was already there. He knew this was going to happen. He went before me, He covered me, and He protected me. I spent the next few days marveling at this. Every time I thought about it I felt so loved, so held, and so thankful.

     In the week that followed, I faced quite a bit of uncertainty. I took a loved one for an MRI.  I prayed hard that nothing would show up on it. We're still waiting for the results. My heart was burdened by another person I love who is contemplating walking away from God completely. As the week wore on and the burdens piled up, my mind was drawn to God who is already there at the ending. I couldn't help but wonder what the endings for all of these stories playing out in the lives of those I love are going to look like. I couldn't help but wonder why we have to go through them at all, if God knows the end from the beginning.

     At the week's end,  I sat on the porch with my aunt watching the kids play. There was a hornet buzzing around us and she wanted to throw something at it to make it go away. I reminded her that we didn't want to make it mad since I'm allergic. Eventually it flew away and we sat there enjoying the sunshine. I happened to look up during our conversation. I was looking at the clouds and enjoying the blue sky...when I saw directly above the chair I was sitting in...a large hornet's nest. I had been concerned about one hornet and there was a whole nest a few feet above my head! God had already been there. I was safe. I was covered. I was held.

     We're not guaranteed a life free of trials, pain, or sorrow. We may never fully understand why God allows certain things to happen to us or to those we love. I truly don't believe that there is anything in this life that we will face without Him, if we are His. He is already there at the end, from the beginning. Another words, He has gone ahead of us. He knows what we are going to face before we face it and He will see us through if we'll let Him. I don't know about you, but right now there are things that I worry about and wonder how they are going to end. Will they end well or will there be more heartache? All I can see before my eyes is one hornet.  I am learning that I don't need to know that answer. God hasn't lost sight of the whole hornet's nest!  I don't need to worry about how things are going to turn out.  All I need to know is that God's already there!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Eighty...

   Eleven years ago my husband met a very interesting man at a men's prayer breakfast. They had a great conversation and bonded over their mutual love of golf! I remember my husband saying that he felt strongly that God wanted him to get to know this person. I thought nothing of it at the time.

    Eventually they would spend more time together. Often after golfing, they would come back to the house and have something to eat. It was during one of these times that I jokingly told this new found friend that if he continued showing up for meals we'd have to make him a relative. Of course he thought that was funny and was soon known as "Uncle Erich" to the kids. In that moment, none of us knew exactly what that would look like, or what shape this relationship would take in our lives. God knew.

     As time went by and we shared life together God took the words I spoke in jest, and truly made us family. Erich has been a cozy spot for my youngest to fall asleep on. He's been a play mate for both girls since the oldest was a 5 year old and the youngest was a 1 year old. I've caught him on all fours playing with the kids. Just a week ago he participated in a "photo shoot" in our back yard with my oldest as the photographer! I must say, he looked especially handsome pretending to pick flowers off of my forsythia bushes! To the kids, he is the giver of stuffed monkeys, a practical joker, a playmate, and a friend. If you ask the youngest she'll tell you "He's a little wild" and "He makes the best corn!" Erich is an important part of every holiday. In the beginning, our families would say, "Be sure to invite Erich."  Now, it goes without saying. Erich is as permanent a fixture at Thanksgiving dinner as the turkey on the table! None of us can imagine a holiday without him, nor do we want to.

   Today Erich turned eighty. In recent conversations he has asked me not to pray that he makes it to one hundred! I really enjoy my conversations with Erich. We can start out talking about what's wrong with the world and always end up in the same spot, looking forward to being with our Savior. Other than my grandparents, I don't think I have met anyone else in recent years who truly can't wait to spend eternity with Christ. That's the beauty of Erich. He is able to live his life here on earth with eternity ever present in his mind. He doesn't get stuck on the here and now. He knows the best is yet to come and he gets great joy out of picturing it.

     When we first met Erich, we had no idea that the best was yet to come. We thought we had simply made a new friend, when in fact we had unknowingly discovered a missing branch in our family tree. Yet God knew. That's the thing about God...He's always looking to grow a family. Who is He looking to add to yours? Will you make room?  With God there is always room for one more at the dinner table and the best is always yet to come.  I am so thankful that we have had these eleven years together and can celebrate this milestone of a birthday. Most of all, I am thankful for Erich.