The Distance

If one must go further to the meet, let it be me.

And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Matthew 5:41

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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.

Last Year’s Seed

(Anyone may read this piece, and I hope you are blessed by it, but I wrote these words with one person in mind. You will know who you are.)

It was a few weeks ago that I noted it. I wish I had gone straight to the house, picked up my camera and returned to photograph the fledgling. But I did not, so I’ll just have to tell you how it looked. Growing within the tiny cracks formed by slabs of rugged wood and aged bricks was what appeared to be viable, healthy greenery, and not at all resembling  any weed with which I was familiar. I bent low, thinking, That surely resembles a plant that flowers–a Marigold, to be exact. It was so tiny, though, so insignificant that I walked on, at the moment paying little lasting attention. The plant, though, was not hindered by my ignorance of its being, nor did it shutter itself for lack of companionship, nor for the understanding that its spot was not a carefully prepared flower garden with plentiful fertilizer and abundant water. Rather the plant struggled about in the paltry dirt source and continued to push up stems and leaves, and though I could not see the activity, somewhere deep within its system, bright, fragrant flowers were forming. I began watering the little fella, for I finally understood that indeed growing within our back yard was a healthy, progressive, insistent Marigold plant. There are no other such plants in our gardens. Last year, however, I had a pot full of the beautiful little yellow and gold flowers.

DSC_4145One day not long ago, I photographed this beauty. I then sat down on the step where it grows and cried, as I do now. I cry for you who as this moment know you are a scattered, neglected seed. You know you should be tended, but you are not. You should be watered, and fed, but often you are not. You should be cultivated.

But God made you to produce, to blossom, to bring forth new life. And so you will.

No doubt my little seed came from last summer’s healthy flower pot. At summer’s end, the once beautiful group faded, the golden leaves brittled into brownness, and then fell to the earth. Beat about with rain, and sleet, and covered with snow, the seed settled into a sandy crevice between stone and wood. He survived cold. He endured neglect. He coped with booted heel that walked over his tenuous spot. Perhaps he shivered. Perhaps he gasped in thirst. And had there been thinking abilities, he might have wondered if he could actually make it by himself.

But that scattered, unrecognized seed was far from extinction. It made no difference to him that for most of the spring no human being even knew of his existence. It was of no consequence that I tended other flowers, that I groomed their beds, fed them, talked to them, and showed them off. No, for that seed in my back yard bulged with life, and NOTHING would keep him from doing what God destined him to do.

And you, a human being called of God to live for Him, to blossom and to share your talents and abilities will find a way to do so. For you bulge with life, with passion, and with purpose. Such traits are given of God, and can be destroyed by no man.

DSC_4148Buds which have not yet opened depend on you, on your growth, on your development.

So, I challenge you, my friend. Be as strong, as brave, as beautiful as the Marigold plant that blooms at this moment in my back yard. He let nothing deter him. Neither neglect, disdain, nor ignorance kept him buried in a grave. He shot forth, his every talent and ability used to its maximum capacity. And so will you, somehow, some way. It’s in your blood. It is your DNA. It is your salvation.

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In Consideration of Eternity

“Jerry is dead,” he told me, then a few minutes into the conversation my son Michael began crying. Jerry was his beloved neighbor, and during the night, just hours after Michael had visited with him, he unexpectedly died. Mike was devastated. As far as we know, Jerry had not made preparation to meet his God.

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“I’m so upset.” Michael could hardly speak for crying. “Maybe I should run through the streets of Lake Havasu reminding people to get ready to meet God.” But no, we agreed, that would be unlikely to effect anyone’s salvation.

Over the last few hours I’ve considered the conversation at length: It has caught anew my regard of eternity. It has caused me again to think of Scripture, God’s holy word; its infallibility, its verity, its absolute judgment, its happy message, and its grim reminder.

20150210-untitled (11 of 12)Eternity is sure. Where will I be? Where will Bill, our next door neighbor, spend eternity? Your friends, family, neighbors? . . .mine? where?

…it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.

Hebrews 9:27

 

 

The Burden of Another

Would that within the church each of us had someone to whom we could go and to whom we could express our doubts, our fears, our questions, our disappointments, our hurts–all of it, a real “gut-spilling”–and be assured that person would not unfairly judge us, nor tattle on us, but also would guide us and instruct us, and if we were wrong, who would tell us so. Surely there are a few such ones, although I suspect there to be a wide and dangerous dearth of such people.

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Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

Tricky

I know these situations call for extreme carefulness and wisdom of the highest sort, for it must be acknowledged that sometimes when a person approaches another because of trouble in his life, he/she may adamantly reject the advice that is offered, or even take offense at the suggestions. Yet, I believe we must take the risk . . . if we are to fulfill the law of Christ. For we must remember what burdened is, how it looks, how it may act, how ugly it may have become. A truly burdened person may virtually in some ways have lost touch with reality and may be unable to recognize viable solutions. In a funk. Disconnected.

20140329-untitled (669 of 751)Brave

Courage and a mantle of bravery are required of a pastor who sees one under his care who is floundering and who instead of ignoring the situation or of excusing himself by saying I will pray approaches the person and offers help. (Certainly there are times when prayer is the sole answer, and we must have the wisdom to discern the difference.)

Pain

Very recently I was approached by a person who pointed out a flaw in me that had hurt that person. I was stunned for I had no idea my actions/words had resulted in that effect, and certainly it was not deliberate. Yet I suffered and felt deep pain. But I respect that person, and I am thankful he/she felt comfortable with telling me of their hurt and that they felt comfortable enough to reveal their questions. I will help them bear their burden (wishing I could do more.) I will be more careful with my own actions and with my own words. Thereby we fulfill the law of Christ.

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So what can we do? A couple of things come to mind. One is that I look around at my own life. Is there order? Am I progressing? Am I growing in Christ? Are relationships within my family and within my circle of friends healthy? Do I even have friends? Real ones? If I see a serious deep issue here, may I find someone to whom I can “spill my guts” and from whom I anticipate direction. May I determine to take no offense at what is offered me.

Second is that I look within myself to discern whether another human being who is in pain, who is floundering, can feel comfortable with coming to me for help, for direction, for healing.

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The pictures? Taken from a high seat in a double-decker bus last Spring as we toured Rome.

To Be a Christian

To be, not merely to seem.

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Today, I want to be a Christian. Not only do I want to appear so to you, but from the deepest fountain of my mind and from the widest river of my soul may I embody the mind of Christ. May I radiate His love as I move about my home and as I walk the streets of my village. May a wisp of the Holy and a fragrance of the Divine entangle me today. 20140718-untitled (234 of 284)                                                        To be, not merely to seem.      

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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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

Of Light

The words and the concept burned within me as I went about my routine activities this morning. Not being sure of the exact reference, I opened my Bible to its beginning pages, and found the verse in mind to be the 4th one of Genesis chapter 1.

And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

Confusion lurks inside darkness, indistinct barriers and thorny walls, unknown ways, perhaps of chasm or of buried embers. Danger nudges against me, and I peer through the black, then with my hands tear aside the inky grit and film. Stock still now, for I find my unlit efforts to be in vain, I turn my head to search the light. A glint flares tiny in the distance, and to that point I make my way.

God knew the perils of the dark. And did He create the earth “without form, and void” with “darkness (being) upon the face of the deep,” or as some think was there a cataclysm between verses 1 and 2 . . .so that He must now separate dark from light? I don’t know. I know little except that my verse today is that God said the light was good.

I need light today. I need light in my spirit, and in my emotions; I need light in my everyday walk about the earth, in my decisions, in my ambitions, and in my dreams. And as darkness lay on the face of the deep, no line drawn between earth and sky, no hinge to connect the two, and as God spoke: “Let there be light,” and there sprang light, a separation, a divine intervention, let such be so in every facet of my being. Today and forever.

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