Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Dust of Our Father's Feet

All of these pictures were taken on the same day within just a few minutes of each other, all from my back deck. It amazes me that the sky looked so different every time I moved my camera from one part of it to another. A devotion came to mind that I have read many times, it is my favorite. In "My Utmost for His Highest" Oswald Chambers asked this question, "What do you see in your clouds?" He goes on to say this, "Clouds are those sorrows or sufferings or providences, within or without our personal lives which seem to dispute the rule of God. It is by those very clouds that the Spirit of God is teaching us how to walk by faith. If there were no clouds, we should have no faith. 'The clouds are but the dust of our Father's feet.' The clouds are a sign that He is there." (July 29th., pg. 211)

As I took these pictures, that question kept going through my mind until I said it out loud, "What do I see in my clouds?" The answer came quickly, "I see God!" I see His beauty and His grace poured out to me; I see the dust of His feet being stirred by the wind in the sky. I think I understand Oswald's figurative use of the clouds as an example of sorrows or sufferings, because with the clouds come the storms of life. They bring the winds of change and the cold of winter. But I can't help smile when I see the clouds rolling over the hills toward my back deck. I can't help but to run for my camera, because I have learned through the years that the clouds create the most beautiful sunsets. The clouds truly are a sign that He is there!

The Setting of the Sun

Let the rain come crashing down,
And darkness fill the sky.
And storm clouds crash with thunderous voice,
And lightning strikes flash by.

Let the wind with all its might,
Blow and bend the trees.
And waves well up with caps of white,
Upon the deepest seas.

I will not be shaken,
As the storm beats on the land.
Contented in the knowing,
My Father’s in command.

When the darkness passes,
And gale winds cease to blow.
Birds come out from hiding,
And blue skies start to show.

When earth declares His majesty,
Before the setting sun.
And rays of brilliant color,
Announce the day is done.

In awe I’ll see His glory,
Beholding such a sight.
Watching my dear Father,
As He’s turning out the light.

Whispering – “Good night.”

(He who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar – the Lord Almighty is his name. Jeremiah 31:35)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Turn-around

About seven years ago my family and I moved into a house in the country at the end of a road. I thought how wonderful it would be to not have cars constantly driving past our house like they did in the middle of town. Well, what I didn’t realize was that the end of the road is the place all the lost cars end up to turn around! Since our driveway picked up where the road left off, it became the natural “turn-around.”

Most lost travelers would realize their error and quickly make a U-turn, others however, decided to follow the driveway all the way around the house and not waste their opportunity to answer this question, “Does it really go all the way around? Why, yes it does! Just like the GPS system said.” What GPS neglected to tell them was that I like to park my car around back and bring my groceries in through the back door. Neither did it happen to mention that I often sit on the back deck in my pajamas and have my coffee while I write (today about them). Imagine both our surprise! Usually, in embarrassment, they throw it into reverse and as quickly as possible, try to back out the way they came in; avoiding the dog and the Rainbird sprinklers on the edge of the driveway as they weave up the hill. Others have actually rolled down their windows to ask me for directions! In my head I asked this question, “You do see I am in my pajamas don’t you?” But I try to be polite and tell them nicely how to get to their destination.

The worst times were those in the middle of the night. One time we had two cars pull in and all the way around to the back of the house, just to discover my car in their way. Apparently the party they had been attending was over and they were confused about where to go next – so here they were. With their stereos blasting, they stepped out of their cars to discuss the dilemma with each other; right next to our bedroom window. After a bit of loud talking and a bit of cursing, they got back in the cars and attempted to back out in complete darkness. I laid in bed debating whether to get my flashlights and runway flags out and taxi them out of the yard, or to let out our German Shepherd. Before I could choose either, they had successfully turned themselves around and drove away.

We posted signs on the fence letting people know this was private property and not a turn-around; some cared, some didn’t. These kinds of adventures went on for seven years, until we decided to put in a gate. Now the lost people turn around in the dirt and gravel on our neighbor's property (sorry neighbor). All has been quiet and uneventful on this side of the gate ever since. No one can get through without a code or remote control; I am feeling safe in my pajamas!

Today as I walked around my driveway, spending time with the Lord in prayer, the gate caught my attention (Unfortunately I have an attention deficit disorder when walking in the yard and praying at the same time – easily distracted!). I started thinking about this question, “What if I am the one at the end of the road in some lost person’s life?” Not someone just lost in their car, but someone spiritually lost. In a way, I hold within my possession the code to enter through the gate. I have a relationship with the One who is the only true Gate to life, the only way through to heaven, and to God. What if I am the one or you are the one whom God has placed at the turn-around? The one He has given the directions to point them the right way on the road of life; to point them in His direction. Would we be annoyed or pestered by their untimely arrivals, or their requests for directions? What if we were in our pajamas?

I hope I would look beyond all the inconvenience to what is more important – that they are lost. I hope I would patiently show them the love of Jesus by my actions, and share with them the code that will lead them through the gate that will really turn their lives around. It is nice not being bothered anymore by unexpected cars coming down the drive, but I’m going to try my hardest to live my life in expectation of God bringing the lost people my way, so I can have the privilege of helping them turn-around. To have a small part in them making it safely to the destination God has waiting for them; to make it through the Gate to Him.

As I continue my walk with Him today, my prayer will now include this: “Lord, help me to be aware of those people you bring into my life who are lost and needing help, give me the desire and courage to point them to you. I pray that you will always find me with a willing heart and happily waiting right here where you have placed me on the end of the road - at the turn-around." Amen

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Wedding

Can the wedding really be over? It doesn't seem possible. How can the fruit of so much planning and preparation be over so quickly once it is unpacked into the church and hall, and set up. Centerpieces and bows, table cloths and candles, given enough thought over months of preparation that they could almost have  personalities and lives of their own. Now they sit in boxes waiting to be put away. Yards of tulle and bows shoved into bags, all tangled together - it will make me sad to throw them away. It seems like an awful lot of work for just one day, and it would be, if it were not my son's wedding day.

With the exception of the day he asked Jesus into his heart, this is the most important day of his life. That is why it will always be one of the most important in mine. That is why the bags of tulle and bows sit on my couch; the refuse of the few short hours when they made their one and only debut. That is why I would make them all again, even knowing how quickly they would be taken down and stuffed into bags. I feel this way because of what I saw on that day.

As I stood to watch the bride begin her entry up the aisle. I saw my son's face. His sparkling blue eyes fixed on her; he never looked away. In those few moments as I watched him take her hand from her father's and hold it tight in his, I knew. I knew, I saw, and I felt his love for her; it was in his eyes, his smile, his embrace. I had lost my son to another woman, and it was OK. It is the way life should be. I tried so hard not to cry, but a couple tears escaped down my cheek. I am not trying now, as I share this with you. They are tears of sadness mixed with tears of joy. The sadness of saying goodby to my little boy, and the joy of meeting the man he has become. It is God's plan and His plans for us are good.

The picture above is the bride and groom having their first dance, may it be the first of many throughout their lives together. And may those eyes so fixed on each other that day, never lose their focus, but always see the other with the love of a bride and groom; serving each other with gladness. Now, may this mom attend to some bags of tulle and bows with a thankful heart that God has increased my boarders - remembering that for every boy I "lose" I gain a daughter!

Preparing for the Wedding

Preparing for the wedding,
Tying up the bows;
Ironing white covers,
On the seats in rows.

To make it all look perfect,
For that special day;
When flower girls strow petals,
As floor length dresses sway.

It’s here before we know it,
As church seats fill with guest;
Ushers show the way,
All dressed up in their best.

Every little detail,
Planned throughout the year;
Resides within this room,
As wedding vows draw near.

All eyes are on the entrance,
Looking for the bride;
To step onto the aisle,
Her father by her side.

Both moms then stand and turn,
The guests know to arise;
To watch the bride’s grand entrance,
As tears swell in their eyes.

She’s never been more lovely,
As she is right now, this day;
In flowing gown, and flowers,
White runner leads her way.

Then all the eyes change focus,
To the one who reaches out;
And takes her from her father,
Determined, with no doubt.

They stand and face the preacher,
He describes their life to be;
How two become one flesh today,
Not “You” or “I,” but “We.”

He speaks of coming sacrifice,
Of laying down each life.
To give the other all they have,
And choose to work through strife.

Though this day seems special,
There’s one that matters more.
That future day they choose to stay,
And not walk out the door.

To serve the other’s needs,
Demanding not their own.
In selfless acts of kindness,
As seeds of love are sown.

We send them off with blessings,
No longer bride and groom.
They leave us now as man and wife,
Their normal lives resume.

All the preparations,
Are neatly packed away;
As memories now take the place,
Of plans held yesterday.

Viewing all the details,
From the other side;
I’m reminded of another day,
Another waiting bride.

When heaven’s clouds are opened,
And trumpets Sound the call;
Announcing Christ is coming back,
To gather up us all.

Those who are preparing,
For that sacred wedding day;
With oil lamps still burning,
He’ll take His bride away.

It’s not the dress she’s wearing,
That will matter most to Him;
But a garment white with righteousness,
When He saved her from her sin.

Nor will He even notice,
The fancy details made;
As He looks within her heart,
At things that cannot fade.

Has she prepared her life for Him,
Has her focus been the groom?
Has she emptied out her heart,
And given Him the room?

The wedding day gets closer,
The time is drawing near;
Will He find His bride is waiting,
For her true love to appear?

Or will she be distracted,
With all the little things;
Like dresses, bows, and flowers,
And pretty diamond rings?

The only thing that matters,
When she hears the trumpet blast;
Is knowing that she’s ready,
To go with Him at last.

Revelations: 19:6-9

6Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
7Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.
8Fine linen, bright and clean,
was given her to wear.”
(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)
9Then the angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”

Friday, September 11, 2009

Christ - The Solid Rock

A song has been going through my mind lately and slipping through my lips, “Solid Rock” It is an old hymn I learned when I was a small child. The first stanza goes like this – “My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.” The chorus goes, “On Christ, the Solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand, All other ground is sinking sand.”

I posted something last week that I struggled over sharing. I struggled because it required of me to bare my heart about a situation that felt emotionally like sinking sand. I struggled to the point that I ended up removing the post all together. I tucked my feelings back into the privacy of my own life where they were safe and unexposed and posted something else. By doing that, I was left feeling a little guilty. After all, I started this blog so I could share my faith and journey with you, as we walk together along these pages.

Those words in the song, “all other ground” kept jumping out at me through the week, until they landed in this question, “what is all other ground?” So I asked God, and in answering, He brought to my mind that particular post; my reason for writing it, and my reason for removing it. He showed me that they belong to the “all other ground” in my life. The sinking sand of insecurities, feeling out of control, and my limited understanding of what He was doing in my life and someone else’s life through difficult situations, were all part of the “other ground.”

I was reminded once again what the “all” in this song really means. It has nothing to do with my preconceived notions of what sinking sand might be, or even what I view as “ground.” It is the anything and everything in my life that I stand my thinking and reasoning upon; a concept, a feeling, “all” things that are not Him. He is the only Solid Rock, everything else in life can be moved or shaken. When I am sinking in a problem, a sickness, a loss, He is the One who rises up in the situation. Like the song goes on to say, “His Oath, His covenant, His blood, Support me in the whelming flood; When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay.” On Christ the Solid Rock I stand [because] all other ground is sinking sand!

I’m so glad William B. Bradbury decided to share his heart with us the day he wrote this song. It has traveled through many churches between the pages of hymnals. Its melody was planted in the soul of a child as its words sang their truth throughout a lifetime. The author warns us though, that we are not to even trust in the “sweetest frame,” but instead, to wholly lean on Jesus’ name.