Friday, October 29, 2010
I was touched. Even though at least one of those things is probably still a few years off, and one of them ain't never gonna happen.
But those insurance companies sure are wise. They want their insurees to be taking really good care of themselves because they know one thing:
Preventative care costs way less than curative care.
It's why my dental plan totally covers routine cleanings twice a year. They'd rather foot the bill for that than for a root canal down the road.
And isn't there wisdom at preventing what can be headed off at the pass--rather than trying to clean up shrapnel from a situation that eventually blows up?
I happen to believe that the Word of God is perfect...sacred...God-breathed. The inherent and infallible utterance of Almighty God. But afford me a moment of referring to the Bible as a Preventative Care Manual. If you think nothing more of it, at least consider its ability to steer us away from that which will be costly down the road.
Proverbs is full of references to our words--nagging, gossip, slander--and when we yield to the truth spoken about the effect of words, we can actually head off broken friendships and relationships.
Proverbs also speaks to the snare of debt--by avoiding it now, we are kept safe from financial obligation down the road.
Proverbs, once again, warns the simple youth from being enticed by the wayward woman. I don't even think this one requires further explanation of the disaster that can be avoided by heeding this.
And yet, for many--Believers included!--this book gathers dust on a shelf. We forego the small investment of being in the Word daily, and then wonder why we end up with such costly catastrophes later down the road.
Our God can redeem even our disasters and bring healing in the devastated places in our lives. But He longs to see us sidestep the traps that will lead to long-term effects of sin. A little preventative care of being daily in prayer and in the Word is our insurance of being kept safe from certain pitfalls.
Sure, it'll cost a bit of time each day.
But better that than what it could cost down the road if we don't.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
The process is a rough one for that tough cut of meat, though.
Someone dear to me, whose heart is already more tender than most, is going through a "one-thing-after-another" onslaught of trial and testing. And, understandably, she's weary of being hit over and over again. But she still longs for the glory of God in it all. And yesterday she saw one of the ways in which He is faithfully working: Her heart is tendering all the more.
It stinks to get hit from every side. And in the midst of it, we can easily wonder what good could possibly come from it all. But our redeeming God uses every hit, every blow as a tool to tender our hearts. Because it's when our hearts are most tendered toward the things of God that He can most do a mighty work.
Monday, October 25, 2010
What joy for a parent to see her children choosing the things of God--even when nobody's making them do so! Denise has sown and sown and sown into her three lovely children for years now.
And today was her day to reap a little bit!
I knew there was a gas station within about a mile. I also knew there was a cheaper one about 3 or 4 miles down the road. And I'm a girl who loves to save money.
But it seemed like a gamble. Should I trust that there was enough to get me further down the road? Or would I find myself stuck on the roadside, knowing full well that I'd driven right past what could have remedied the situation?
Sometimes we take similar gambles. Ever been on a path of trouble, only to wonder how much further you can go without everything falling apart? "I bet I can go a bit further without any problem," we think. And maybe it will be fine for a bit longer.
But maybe it won't.
I chose not to chance it, and began to head toward the closer gas station. And right when I pulled into the station, the car began to shake. I did make it to the pump, but there's no way I would have made it much further without a problem. I would have ended up stuck on the side of the road.
We may think we can keep heading down the road without trouble, but we just might be wrong. And catastrophe might be much closer than we even realize. Oh, that we would pull over from perilous paths and seek refuge in our God--before things fall apart.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
You were faithful to preserve my life at my birth when the cord was wrapped around my neck three times and things were precarious.
You were faithful to protect me when I was a toddler and I wandered out of the house and was found unharmed on the corner of our street and Golden State Boulevard, the busiest street in town.
You were faithful in guarding my heart through the break-up of my family, and for pressing into my parents' hearts the need to deal with one another kindly and graciously.
You were faithful to bring redemption when Dad remarried an awesome woman who knows and loves You. And it spilled over onto us all. And I gained a sister.
You were faithful to draw me to You in my Sunday School class as a 6-year old. I remember everything about the moment when I prayed to receive You. You were faithful to forgive my sins--past, present, and future--and to grant me salvation.
You were faithful to command your angels concerning us to guard us when we were face to face with someone who intended to harm us.
You were faithful to comfort me with Your presence when I was terrified to sleep at night for pretty much all of 4th grade. YOU were there with me, and I knew it. It's what helped me through.
You were faithful to bring my best friend Kelly into my life. I feel like words are insufficient to describe the way that You've used her in my life.
You were faithful when I hurt a friend in junior high and suffered for three straight years for it. It shaped a lot of who I am and how I treat people now.
You were faithful when I was an idiot as a freshman. I ran barreling down a boy-crazy path and You ran along with me, establishing a mighty protection around me. It is nothing short of a God-ordained miracle that I came out as unscathed as I did--especially since I didn't even really care to be kept safe. Your protection of me was even annoying to me at the time. But I am so thankful you spared me of nearly all of what I would not want to have to look back on now!
You were faithful to welcome your prodigal daughter home on November 1, 1992. I knew You and was saved years before, but this became the day when I took Your hand and said, "I'm ready to walk with You."
You were faithful to protect me again as a young single woman, even though I found Your protection to be annoying once again. I wanted to date and find "The One" but sensed Your hand blocking my efforts. Those things weren't what You held for me quite yet. But instead, all that time You were faithfully keeping me for what You really did have in mind for me. And in the meantime You gave me the most rich, wonderful, fun, blessed single years I ever could have imagined.
You were faithful to provide that mixer. As well as a glimpse into Your heart and Your plans for me.
You were faithful to order my steps to Mount Hermon. And then to Boston.
You were faithful to lead me to Justin--and him to me. And finally there was this big "Oh! I finally get why You kept me from what I thought I wanted!" moment.
You were faithful in leading us to Atlanta. I won't lie--I didn't really want to go. But You've had things for us in store here--all for Your glory.
You were faithful in providing our son, the one for whom we prayed. What a tremendous gift, Lord.
You were faithful in making a way for me to be home for our family.
You were faithful to receive our second son in Heaven--we'll meet him one day.
You were faithful in giving us a daughter--an unexpected blessing. And again, what a tremendous gift.
And You are faithful now. In the season I'm currently in, You are sovereign, good, glorious and holy.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
So I tried to slow down, but there was a car right behind him who also didn't let me in.
At this point I was off the official road and in the breakdown lane, driving over pieces of shredded tire, frantically hoping car #3 would let me in.
He didn't. He seemed equally as unaware of the fact that I was completely off the road and now headed for a ditch.
But finally I was able to get over. I slipped into the lane and breathed a sigh of relief.
And you know, I really don't think anyone was purposefully keeping me out. I just think that as long as they had a secure spot in the lane, they weren't really mindful of someone who didn't. Even if that someone was headed for danger.
I can relate. It is really, really easy for me to sit back and delight in the fact that I have found salvation through Jesus Christ. I'm in--and that can never be taken away from me. But I'm also prone to disregard those who aren't in Christ. I mean, my hope is sure and I know the One who gives me hope and a future. And I can totally "Kumbaya" on that all day long. I can sit in my chair at church, happy as a clam to be there--and not give a second thought to who ISN'T taking up a spot. Someone who is bumping along in life--and heading for a ditch. Someone who needs Jesus.
Thankfully, my family and I are part of a church that challenges us to consider those who aren't yet in the room on a Sunday morning. But I confess I have a long way to go--Do you, too? Because just like the drivers who didn't let me in, I really don't think we don't WANT people to come to know Christ. It's just that as long as you and I have found our spot in the lane, we can completely miss those who haven't--and are in peril right beside us.
Lord, I don't like to dwell on the fate of those who don't know You, but Your Word is clear on the matter. That should rend my heart and spur me on to action! I have found salvation in you. But it's been by Your grace, and due in part to the people who weren't so comfortable in their own salvation that they forgot about someone like me. Open my eyes to truly see people who need You.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
She tried to quit many times, but found the addiction had quite a grip on her. Finally, when she was in her forties, she gave up smoking--and as her concerned daughter, I couldn't have been happier.
You can imagine, then, how incredulous (read: peeved) I was when my mom told me she still has a cigarette now and then.
I could not understand. I mean, why (why, oh why) would you dare to dabble in something that once had such a hold on you--something you fought so hard to stand up under?
I know why. I get it now. Because I do it myself.
Not with cigarettes--I've never touched one of those foul things in my life. But I have my own way of returning to my broken chains.
I get too close to the things from which I've been delivered. I forget the weight of the things I used to wear. And once I'm close enough to the things that used to hold me, it's not long before I'm bending down to slip my hands back into the ties that once held them. And before I know it, my feet are wearing the shackles again, and I'm yielded to a yoke of sin.
Bound. And once again wearing burdens I was never meant to wear--all because I bent to touch my broken chains.
Anyone else guilty of getting too close to their broken chains?
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Because even while I think there's something sacred about Room 5 where my grandpa took his last breath here on earth, I know that soon thereafter, his name sticker was pulled off and another put in its place.
We're all passing through.
The thing is, some are passing through with pencils in hand. The stories of their lives will mean something while they're here, and maybe for a generation or two after that. But over time, names are forgotten and stories aren't passed down anymore.
Almost as if that person is erased.
But what is done for the Kingdom is written in indelible marker. The prayers said, the money given, the Word spoken. It's all scripted in something that never fades, even when memory does.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
"Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8).
"The eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him" (2 Chronicles 16:9).
Two sets of eyes searching with different motives and two very different purposes.
One's our adversary.
The other is our Advocate.
And both of their eyes are searching.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
"A wife and mom," I replied.
Trev snorted and said, "No, that's not really anything. What do you REALLY want to be?"
He couldn't believe that's really what I want to do. But he's not the only one. Ever had someone not get your passion for something? Like the whole wife-and-mom thing--ever felt like people begin speaking a little more slowly for ya when they find out that's "all" you do?
Maybe these things wouldn't mean much on a resume'--but I think there is something sacred about blowing bubbles, folding laundry, unloading the dishwasher, reading your kiddos their favorite stories for the umpteenth time, cutting the crust off PB&J sandwiches, and letting your spouse have the fluffier pillow. I'm not saying I always appreciate getting to do these things. I'm like every other wife and mom who gets grumpy and ungrateful, overwhelmed and depleted. But at the heart of it, I am truly happiest when I can focus on my family.
It may mean that nobody outside a 10-mile radius will know your name. And people may pity you or think you're missing out by being "just a wife and mom." But I doubt at the end of our lives God will say, "I'd love to hand you out a "Well-done-good-and-faithful-servant" badge, but I can't. Because you were just a wife and mom." I think it'll be something more along the lines of "What you did unto the least of these, you did unto Me."
Saturday, October 9, 2010
But what a legacy he has left. I truly have never met a man who so "got" the fact that this world was for a short time, but his home was waiting in Heaven. All my life I have heard my Grandpa speak toward Heaven and proclaim His trust in the Savior who was preparing a place for him there.
Because this isn't all there is. Heaven's waiting.
We went out to California to see Grandpa not even two weeks ago. We knew time was short. When we were all in the room, he was pretty much unresponsive--Mostly, I think, because his body just couldn't respond. But when I had a moment alone to say my goodbyes, I began to speak John 14:2-3 over him, and this man who was tremendously weak and withered and barely over 100 pounds, used every ounce of energy to sit up, his eyes opened wide and he gasped--then he sank back down. It was the only response his broken body would afford him, but it was the most beautiful thing. And it didn't even surprise me that he mustered up a response to the Word of God. Not to anything else, but to the Word of God.
This is my heritage. And my children's. And their children's.
And on a day when we're mindful of goodbyes, we praise the eternal God. For in Him it goes on...and on...and on...
Thursday, October 7, 2010
One of my favorites is the one when he is trying to unlock his wife's car door from inside, but she keeps lifting the handle at the same time he presses the unlock button and they offset each other. And it happens over, and over, and over!
I thought of this one this week when I was caught in the same tug-of-war with my son. It'll about drive you batty to watch someone try to get into the car knowing you're trying to let them into the car, only what they're doing is only managing to delay the process!
A few months ago I wrote a similar post ("Click, Click, Click") about how my computer wasn't going quickly enough for me, and how I actually slowed the process by clicking on a million things just trying to make it do something.
When God brings the same lesson back around more than once, I consider it cause to sit up and pay attention. I'm just sitting here wondering if there is something the Lord is trying to accomplish--and in trying to "help God along" in the process, I am actually doing anything but. Now, Sarai tried to help God along by encouraging her husband to have a child with her maidservant. I'm not doing anything at all along those lines. But what if I am grabbing at some door handle somewhere when there's a God who just wants to let me into the car?
Please pray with me that Heavenly Father will bring to mind any way in which we're grabbing at door handles in our lives.
Father, You are sovereign and able and good. If there is any way in which I am trying to "help You along" or speed things up, bring them to my mind today and remind me that You are plenty faithful. Strengthen us to be still and to trust You enough to let go.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Ah, first love.
I can blink and we right back there. That season of life doesn't seem so long ago...but then again, it does.
I mean, I have to laugh at the idea of Justin and me leaning against the Tilt-a-Whirl, arms tightly wrapped around each other with the smell of fried food enveloping us. Because even though we were there together--and had a blast--there wasn't time to stop and gaze into each other's eyes. We were too busy trying to get our kids from ride to ride and from food booth to petting zoo.
And yet all the while, the love of my life was right beside me.
"I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. You don't tolerate wicked men, you have discerned the false apostles among you. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary" says the Lord to his church in Revelations 2.
Well, surely they have His favor for doing all of that!
"Yet this I hold against you; You have forsaken your first love."
They had forgotten where they'd been. They'd failed to remember the heights from which they had fallen. They had forgotten the love they had for the God that saved them.
Can't we all relate to this complacency of heart? In the chaos of life, we forget to stop and gaze into the face of our first love. We don't take the time to sink into waiting arms, nor drink in every detail of their character and countenance. Distracted by a million current things competing for our attention, we even forget what they've done.
Lord, You have called us to repent and do the things we did when our love for you was new. Help us to recount the things from which you have redeemed us, and to bask in our love for the One who did it all. Forgive us for forgetting.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
But I was flipping through and saw a chart that showed the lineage leading to Christ, and a name caught my eye:
Wait, Ruth's husband Boaz?
But that was kind of a fluke thing--because Ruth already had a life elsewhere--including a husband. But then he died.
I cannot imagine losing a spouse. Makes me shudder to think. My own stepmother lost her husband to cancer when he was only 34.
In both cases, God had redemption in mind.
Ruth found favor with Boaz as he saw her service and devotion. They married, gave birth to Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David. As in David-and-Goliath-David, who grew to be King David, whose descendant was the King of Kings--JESUS.
Ruth ended up in the lineup.
After losing her husband, my stepmother worked with my dad, a divorcee' -- and they dated and eventually married. And as a result, a man and his two children began to go to church with their new family. And in a little Sunday School class, a six-year old girl gave her life to Christ. And while I know I'll never impact the world the way Jesus did (trust me, I dare not even draw the comparison), I want to spend my life impacting the world as much as I can with the truth Jesus brought.
Margaret Ruth (yes, that's my stepmom's name) ended up in a lineup--being part of something significant. God brought redemption through her loss, and if it only stopped here (which I don't believe for one second it will), her part in the lineup meant everything to a little girl in a Sunday School class, who is now a grown woman grateful for the grace God has given.
Ruth was positioned for the beautiful purposes of Mighty God.
Margaret Ruth was, too.
Friday, October 1, 2010
Okay, so maybe you didn't try to pull off turning in the words from "War and Peace" as your own college essay...
But maybe you pat yourself on the back for raising such flawlessly behaved children.
And maybe you looked at your last paycheck and thought of how you earned every penny.
And maybe you think back to the last time God used you and think, "I really rocked that."
No, YOU did not.
I was reading in Joshua 24 today, when God's people were being reminded of what He had done on their behalf.
The I parts and the YOU DID NOT parts seemed to jump off the page.
I took your father Abraham, led him to Canaan, and gave Him many descendants.
I gave Isaac to Abraham, and Jacob and Esau to Isaac.
I assigned them their land.
I sent Moses and Aaron, and I brought my people out of their affliction in Egypt.
I parted the sea and protected you from the Egyptians who pursued you.
You saw with your own eyes what I did to the Egyptians.
I brought you to your land.
Thought the Amorites fought against you, I gave them into your hands.
I destroyed them before you and I gave you possession of their land.
I would not listen to those chosen to curse you, so you ended up being blessed over and over again and I delivered you out of his hand.
I gave your enemies into your hands.
I sent the hornet ahead of you to drive them all out.
YOU DID NOT do it with your own sword and bow.
I gave you the land on which YOU DID NOT toil and cities YOU DID NOT build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive goves that YOU DID NOT plant.
WE DO NOT.
So maybe that pride over our earnings should be "Lord, thank You for providing this job and strengthening my hands to work." And perhaps we need to get on our knees and thank Him for His mercies and the way He has graciously strengthened us to raise up our children. And maybe it's time to acknowledge that if good has come, it is because our good God has been at work in and through us, and in and through our circumstances.
Because He does.
We do not.