To Know

If there was a book by whose reading we would come upon beauty and candor, and know of brave deeds of nerve and audacity, and of covenants–covenants bearing on us–would we not with eager hand press to the next page, and then to another, and finally to the end?

If there was a plan to engage us in virtue and in blessing, and cause us to perceive the source of all that is good, and to know His name is Jesus, would that be something to neglect? If we would come to know of the holy and of the righteous, would those be themes to brush aside? ………..and in place take up tatters and ruin?

The Hot Flame of Calling and of Gifts

Most of us have heard accounts of inventors, politicians, and book writers, among others, who despite repeated failures and agonizing vexation continued with their dabblings, their strivings, their speeches, their art . . .until finally the edgy, splintery pieces came together, and a starry thing of glorious success exploded into being. Sterling examples are President Lincoln who is perhaps the epitome of the person who scratches and claws through repeated adversity, but who rises to the top, along with Thomas Edison who, despite his startling inventions, has multiple failures to his credit. Take a look here at an astounding list of 100 famous book rejections. These accounts make for inspirational reading, and are unsurpassed fodder for motivational speeches and for casting vision by the leader who would urge forward his camp.

20140814-untitled (91 of 187)

Think, though, of the actual living through these trying processes when most working days of such men were struck through with failure, and with dark and dank frustration. Likely, cracks were snickered behind hands held to mouths, jests were whispered against turned backs, eyes were rolled, and muted conversations questioned the sense of the projects; and sometime along the way came an alteration to the old saw, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” and now the words bandied about were, “If at first you don’t succeed, stop; don’t make a fool of yourself.”

20140814-untitled (92 of 187)

Know, however, that within such men of success a creative spark burns that refuses to extinguish itself, and when the flame flickers and through the inky night threatens to die, its keeper bends low, coaxes and feeds fuel, and the heat remains.

Such is true with men and women who are called by God to do His work. I understand that when we take on Christ we are each to be a witness of this great salvation and to spread the Word of the Gospel and of this abundant life. Beyond that, though, there are others who have additional deep callings, and upon whom God has placed gifts, and within whom God has implanted vision. I speak to you today.

No matter how many times you have failed, the call remains. Despite your confusion, your frustration, your wondering, the call remains. Despite taunting, whispering campaigns, discouragement, your own wrong choices, your laziness, your misjudgment, despite those who look sideways at you and mutter, “A man’s gift will make room for him,” and you know you have the gift, but where is the room? . . .despite these, you are called and God says He will not take back that calling; it is without repentance.

“You can’t sing,” she is told. “You can’t write,” the critics say. “Your mind is too simple, your gifts too small, you cannot sculpt, the light bulb will not burn, your speeches are too shallow, your connections non-existent, you’ve made too many blunders, you have not enough money . . . Perhaps you were never called.”

20140814-untitled (86 of 187)

But we sing on, we write, we preach, we sketch on toothy paper, for beating hard within the breast of “the called” is the flame of God, hot and irresistible.

 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. Verse 29 of Romans 11

Note: This was first published in 2015. So timely, I decided to post it once more. May its message speak to each of us.

Too Short

Life is too short to be small.

…….too scenic to muddy an eye

……………too melodic to mute an ear

Awake then my senses.

……….of scarlett and sunshine bathe my eyes

…………….of crickets and rain splatters rush my ears

For short. Life is too short.

Footwashing Rebellion

Then cometh He (Jesus) to Simon Peter . . .. Peter saith unto Him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me.

St. John 18 7-8 (portions)

Not sure I’ve ever told anyone before, but frankly, I’ve never cared too much for foot washing services in our church. (She says, shielding her head as she runs!) Do you? Or do you even have such ordinances in your church? We do in ours, as we follow the example Jesus left for us. And, of course, when the opportunity is offered I dunk my feet (that I’ve scrubbed at home to be sure they were clean–imagine that!) as do my sisters who are lined up on chairs, feet bared, with basins spread before us.

I’ve considered the matter, and have concluded an issue of pride to be involved. A kind of reverse pride than what you may be thinking, for it does not trouble me to wash the feet of the others. Rather, the edgy part is when my feet are dipped into the water, and a person is kneeling before me, and lovingly bathing my feet. Makes me uncomfortable. You see, I know myself rather well. I’m aware of my shortcomings, my sins; my far less than perfect ways. I feel unworthy, so lacking, so undeserving.

Can you imagine Peter, that roughshod, loose-mouthed fisherman as Jesus approaches from across the room and says, “Peter I want to wash your feet.”

Can you imagine it?

Jesus wanting to kneel before Peter who would in a short time say he didn’t even know Jesus. Wash his feet! Jesus kneeling at your place, saying, I want to wash your feet. “Oh, Jesus, no! You cannot wash my feet.”

So in reckoning with this issue, I’ve decided I lack in humility. People do so much for Jerry and me, and I try to be gracious and grateful and appreciative. But I see that I want to push back a bit. I’m not totally comfortable with appearing–actually being–needy. I find it challenging to be more on the receiving side of things than on the giving. I’m understanding that I prefer to feel capable and effective.

Like yesterday when Winston started barking loudly–as he is much too prone to do–and I peered out the front deck window and there was Brother Patrick Garrett going about the business of shoveling off snow and ice remnants. He had removed the covers from our two wood racks that were nearly empty of wood. “What are you doing here?”

Then at the end of the deck popped up the grinning head of Brother Andrew Chavez.

“What’s going on?” And then I saw that a pickup truck was parked at the end of the deck, and those two men, and two little Chavez boys were pitching up and stacking firewood.

Also, Andrew, my youngest son, a couple of days before had called to check on us when he learned of our furnace problem. A few weeks ago he had taken my camera that needed repairs to a shop in San Diego, and when we talked he told me it was ready to be picked up. I wanted to know the charge, and we got into a little wrangle about it, for he wanted to pay, and I didn’t want him to.

“Mom, you’re being rude.”

“Rude?”

“Yes, you’re rude to God when someone wants to do something for you, and you resist.” I said no more.

Look at these people, these dear people. I feel hypocritical, for I know that surely I am not worthy of such sacrifice, such love.

And so I said thanks and cried and offered up. Two cups of hot chocolate. Two cups of coffee–one black, one with cream and sugar. That’s it.

My feet were washed. Lovingly. Undeserved. Unmerited. Cleansed.

The human mind cannot fully discern the ways of God, indeed one who would claim to grasp even a small understanding of His existence would likely be viewed with a quizzical eye. It would be as the foolishness of one lifting a grain of sand from an ocean floor, analyzing that speck and claiming then to have full understanding of the seas of the world.  Profoundly did Isaiah note in 55:9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

From my WIP Dream Shards

Nobility of Repentance

How rich the words on the tongue, “I was wrong.”

Apologize to the one or many you may have hurt.

Regret.

Despair.

The absolute end. The bottom.

It may be we had to sink into an inky cave of sorrow and distress before we could do it. Our tongue thickened when we thought of it, our mouth dried into an autumn thorny residue when we set to scrabble out the words: “It is I. I deserve the blame. I am responsible. I am sorry.” Our lives never exist alone; we cannot say, “leave my children out of this, hold your hand over their eyes, stop up their ears–or my parents, or my siblings. Not my husband. Not my wife.” No matter how close or how distant, our blood couples us . . .and our vows. How bitter the conscience of one who knows he fueled the turmoil. How rich the words on his tongue, “I was wrong.”

What a righteous role model is David of the Old Testament. When the prophet Nathan famously told him of the rich man and of the one ewe lamb David thought he was only hearing the account of an arrogant, ill-mannered individual. He was angered, and spoke of punishment for the man. No doubt Nathan’s eyes reflected the pity in his heart for this righteous man who incredibly had fallen into sexual sin, and whose hands were dirtied with murderous blood. Nevertheless, he looked directly at David and spoke the harrowing words, “Thou art the man.”  

Nathan then listed David’s sins, and immediately, offering no excuses, nor blame on others, with nothing but a repentant attitude, David affirmed, “I have sinned against God.”  Indeed, he was the man.

And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. II Samuel 12:7

Bible KJV

When that blessed moment comes–the minute God helps us to recognize our wrongdoing–let us not hesitate to say Yes to His call, Yes to His love, Yes to repentance–noble, majestic repentance.

My other blog is here.

Just a Shaky, Muddy Frame

Too well do I know my lack of godly qualities. If you were in my company for any length of time, you would no doubt agree with my assessment, having observed less than sterling attitudes and actions. However, since in quite limited ways are you able to examine my soul and mind—my very thoughts and intents—it is next to impossible for you to know me as I know myself. While I am fearfully in touch with my own struggles, my doubts and failures, it brings me no joy to acknowledge such shortcomings.

It’s good for me to say these things, though. And, it’s good for you to hear of my sad state, for while every man and woman struggles—indeed sins—satan would have all of us believe we are the only ones who with such regularity and skill falter and fail. He smears guilt on our psyche and gloatingly sneers, “God can’t love you. You won’t be saved. You’re bound for hell. Look at you. You’re nothing but a sinner.” Not at all is this true.

This morning I want to remind you that God knows—really knows—us. And despite His knowledge of every secret sin, He continues to love us, His mercy still flows, His grace abounds. Oh, happy thought, blessed thought; comfort divine.

David had a unique understanding of this truth—David, the “man after God’s own heart,” David, the king who committed unspeakable sin. In his 103rd Psalm, verses 13-14, moved by the Holy Ghost, David eloquently writes:

“Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.”

Oh, my God, how beautiful, how glorious! God knows us, looks on us fondly, even pities us. He understands our frame, recalls that of mere dust has been made lowly man. You?…yep! You’re just dust…and I?…the same…muddy, shaky, a pitiful frame.

______________________

Reposted from Feb. 2, 2006