Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Love With Me

(picture from www.pegor.com)
With one foot here in the reality we see and one in the heavenlies, unseen by carnal eyes, knowing where my allegiance is pledged, I daily dance between the two. I note that I’m heavier here on Earth, literally. There are burdens here weightier than gravity itself. It’s so liberating to exhale on the other side and allow the heaviness to lift, setting it free.

I yearn to discover what it’s like to mentally and spiritually live there continuously, whilst walking here among the mortals, without being accused of being so heavenly minded that I’m no earthly good.

Do I even know anyone, personally, who honestly revels in this freedom? (Please take the minute to comment below if you are one of those people and tell me how you do it!)

One of my sister writers (Donna Martin) made mention that our worth isn’t determined by our I.Q., but by what we allow to grow in our hearts. If we approach life through what our hearts can embrace versus what our minds can conceive and understand, how different will our lives look?

Yes, I’ll admit I’d like to understand everything. But what if everything isn’t meant to be understood? Or what if everything isn’t meant to be understood….yet?  I ponder so many what ifs…. We will always enjoy mystery.

I find simple things so mesmerizing. A baby’s smile, ripples on water, dancing leaves, sunshine reflecting off most anything, harmonies, delicate flower petals, sometimes it’s nothing in particular that can hypnotize me, demanding an almost trance-like attention, as if I’m being teleported to another dimension. Is it merely the ADHD? Or is it deep calling out to deep? Does a part of me leave Earth for a glimpse of heaven?

I suppose it’s the part of me that’s probably buried in everyone, whether they know it or not, that longs to be part of something bigger, that allows me to connect with God and His splendor; His peace and the awareness that there’s more to life than what I see with my eyes.

Today, I ponder wonder itself. And I marvel over everything wonderful in my life. The divine entwined with the tangible; the known with the unknown and the accepted with the rejected, all within my grasp….

Just how powerful am I? How marvelous and wonder-filled is my existence? As surely as God loves me, His love resounds within me and boldly breaks out of me like an avalanche, toppling over everything in its way – until it reaches you. What will you do with it? Will you let me love you with this tender, yet passionate love? Will you surrender to it and embrace it? Or will you run from it; hide from it? Will you deny it? Yes, it’s overwhelming, but don’t be alarmed. When my inhibitions fade, and I’m no longer afraid to open up, I’m vulnerable, too.

Will you be vulnerable with me? Or leave things broken, just as they are?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

My Arrogant Way

(photo from eldermatthews.blogspot.com)
Have you ever been told, “It’s my way or the highway…”? Okay, perhaps you weren’t told those words, but it was made clear to you that this is how the other person felt. Perhaps you were even the person behind those words.

Am I alone in this? I think I can compromise when it’s necessary, but, I often want things my way; or – worse yet, the way I think things should be. I’m going to go out there on a limb and guess that a whole new world of possibilities will open up for me once I get it through my thick skull that my way isn’t always the only correct way, and that my perspective isn’t always the only correct perspective.

My world view is just that; mine. It’s come to my attention that I don’t see things the way everyone else does. I see them through my own, very unique perspective. It’s the only perspective that I can actually see through, unless I borrow your glasses.

I imagine that if I lived during the days of Noah, I’d be one in the crowd mocking him for his efforts. If God didn’t speak the mission to me, I wouldn’t get it.

Because God speaks to me the way He does, it’s wrong for me to presume He’ll speak to you in the exact same way. He knows how to reach me; how to soften my heart to the point where I’ll hear what He’s saying – to me.

When He speaks to you, He’ll choose whatever methods He knows will touch your heart. For me to criticize your choices without hearing what He’s spoken to you, is hurtful and even sinful. I have no place in your conversation with God, unless I’m invited into it, by both parties.

I’ll admit it; I can be quick to judge. If it’s any consolation, God’s working with me on this. And, just so you know, it’s not pleasant. But, it’s necessary. I’ll be a better woman for it. I’ll be much easier to put up with when I get these control issues in check.

True; there’s a biblical way of doing things. But, as we all know, we all see what’s written in God’s Word from our own perspective. We see it as it was taught to us or as we arrogantly presume what it means. If we haven’t prayed over it for ourselves, we truly have no idea what God wants to personally convey to us through it. His love might look different to you than it does to me; it may function differently in your life than it does mine.

However, God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33), this we know. So why are we all so confused? God seeks a humble people (James 4:10). When our lofty knowledge or our ego gets in the way, confusion is bound to ensue. (Proverbs 3:5-6) He alone knows what He will speak to you. He may send others our way to confirm His Word, and to teach us His Word, but it’s up to us to pursue Him; to pursue His heart. (Isaiah 48:17)

This takes us to the sin of pride, doesn’t it? My pride tells me that my way is the right way. Being humble before God allows me to seek HIS way. And it’s His loving kindness that draws us to repentance and to seek His face; His heart; His ways. (Romans 2:4)

Father, in Jesus’ Name I beseech Thee to have Thine own way in my heart, my soul, my mind – and my life; by the power of Your Holy Spirit, I yield myself to Thee and repent of my selfishness and arrogance. Amen and amen.

“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” – 1 Corinthians 14:33 (KJV)

“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up.” – James 4:10 (KJV) 

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not to thine own understanding. In all they ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” – Proverbs 3:5-6 (KJV) 

“Thus saith the LORD, they Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the LORD they God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shoudest go.” – Isaiah 48:17 (KJV) 

“Or despises thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” – Romans 2:4 (KJV)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

State of the Union Address

(picture from grandhaventribune.com)
Here in America, we regularly sit in front of our televisions or other internet accessing devices, to watch the leader of our great country expound on the state of affairs under his control. We call this the State of the Union Address.

Here in the Williams’ household, my husband and I occasionally sit down and discuss the state of our union. This fall we’ll celebrate thirty-seven years of a terrific marriage and, no doubt, this educational discussion plays a role in that longevity.

But let’s expand further. Every relationship we’re in is a union. What’s the state of those unions? Some are in disrepair and in much need of an overhaul. But, where do we start?

It’s hard to work on any relationship when only one of the parties in the union is aware that there are problems; perhaps impossible. One spouse doesn’t make the marriage work. There are plenty of marriages where one spouse (or perhaps both) is “putting up with” the other without saying a word. So, in name, the marriage exists, but the relationship is not “working”. In order for it to work well for both parties, information on the state of affairs needs to be communicated back and forth.

The same is true about all relationships, be it parent/child, boss/employee or friend to friend. In order for both parties to benefit fully from the relationship, it needs to work for both of them. Now, in a boss/employee relationship if the boss is getting what he’s paying for and the employee is content with what he’s being paid, in essence it’s working for both of them. Perhaps that’s all the relationship necessary. However, the more disclosure there is about what’s expected from each party, the more satisfactory the relationship will be.

In many relationships, we assume what’s expected of us; and we assume the other party knows what we expect from them. Not so. We all know what happens when we assume. Yet, we continue to do it.

This may be a lame example, but, if I assume Dave expects me to put his clean laundry away for him, I might be surprised to discover that it annoys him completely that I mix his socks with his underwear. We can avoid that frustration by discussing the issue. He can put his own clothes away, or I can learn his little idiosyncrasies. But without communication, a simple frustration can eventually lead to a big argument.

The same goes for all of our friendships. If we value our friends, we owe it to ourselves and to them to explore a state of the union address when necessary. We may be burdening ourselves down needlessly. We may be imagining offense where there is none. Or we may be the source of another’s exaggerated frustrations.

Now, unlike our president’s state of the union address, where there is no intelligent exchange of ideas, simply a rendition of what’s on the paper or teleprompter before the most powerful man in American politics [ahem], we can actually benefit by our commitment to the exchange of ideas about how things sit within our relationships. One person can never have absolute say over the union if the other is to feel valued.

One of my favorite scriptures comes from an Old Testament book: “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD:” ~ Isaiah 1:18 (KJV) Our Creator goes on to say, “though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

Even in His omnipotence and in His mercy, while pouring out elaborate grace on us, He invites us to reason together with Him. By example, He teaches us to reason with each other.

Who came to mind? What relationship in your life seems one-sided? Pray over the idea of exploring a state of the union exchange with that person, entering the conversation with grace and instruction from God. Divine insight goes a long ways.

This state of the union address is simply a conversation addressing the state of your union.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Let's Get Dirty

(photo from beechwoodcross.blogspot.com
There’s a lot to ponder in the parable of the sower, sometimes called the parable of the soils. Here, a seed of faith is planted in soil we find in three different conditions; weedy, rocky soil; shallow soil and good soil.

If the soil is in bad shape, the Good Gardener works on the soil before He expects the seed to grow and produce.

The soil of our lives may be fertile and ready to receive, it might be shallow and dusty or perhaps rocky, weedy and all around in crummy shape. The condition of the soil could be because of curses declared, or repeated bad choices on our part, or because of the sinfulness of others. Whatever the case, the Gardener has His work cut out for Him. And, it won’t be easy, at least, not looking at the task through our human eyes. But, what gardener doesn’t love a good challenge?

As for us, in general, it’s anything but painless. Most of the things in my life worth having are worth fighting for. Whether it’s a healthy body, a great marriage, safe children or strong faith, the battles waged must be well-fought; the ground taken, well-maintained.

The enemy of our soul often comes against the things we hold dear; our families, our health, our finances – all in an effort to defeat the object of God’s affections.

When our Good Gardener gets to work in our lives, He may need to saturate us with His living water to break up the hardened clay to make it moveable. He may need to pull up weeds; not merely mowing them down, but securing the roots to prevent regrowth. He may need to remove rocks and boulders and even out the ground. He may need to add fertilizer and plow it in deep, turning the dirt over time and time again. Not that I imagine actual soil feeling the pain of intrusion or wincing at the pulling out of weeds and mourning the loss of the rocks it tried to hide under, but when the soil represents our lives, there is plenty of pain and wincing and mourning as God gets to work on His repairs, but He works in communion with us.

As soon as the property is handed over to the Great Gardener, He gets to work. Most likely, He’s been secretly planning long before the property was yielded to Him.

He doesn’t expect what we give Him to be in perfect condition as soon as it’s handed over. Our lives can take a lifetime to look as they were intended. The longer we wait to hand over the rights to our lives, the more futile our struggles become; the more hopeless life looks, the more we struggle with giving up altogether, and the angrier we project ourselves.

Don’t you love before and after pictures? What do you say we let Him get to work today?

“For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them. Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.” – Matthew 13:17-18 (KJV)

(The entire parable is found in several places within scripture. Read all of the Matthew chapter 13 for more insight, especially verses 1-23. Verses 24-58 share other related parables.)

Friday, July 11, 2014

Throwing Stones

(photo from atlantayogamovement.org)
When things don’t make sense, it’s sometimes hard not to come up with a billion or two critical words to sum up the situation; for those of us on the more verbose end of the spectrum. You pithy people can probably sum things up in a brief negative sentence.

But, why are we so quick to jump into the deep end of negativity, simply because something doesn’t make sense to us? Does everything have to make sense to us? Is it not remotely possible that God speaks differently to others than He speaks to us? What is it about the human mind that makes us so quick to assume, and so often to assume incorrectly?

Many of us have been saturated with a lifetime of criticism, words that flew off the offenders lips so quickly, they couldn’t possibly have had time to analyze what they were saying or whether the words were necessary or even accurate. There will always be something critical to say about most every situation, if you want to live that way. Biting our tongues can be a bloody battle, especially if your tongue is as unruly as mine can be.

Remember when you were young and your mother said, repeatedly, “If you can’t find something nice to say, don’t say anything at all”? She didn’t make that up on her own; all of our mothers said it. And their advice, unsolicited though it may have been, will probably serve us well in most situations.

If we take a few seconds to run those words by our Father before we let them slither between our lips, we can save a lot of broken hearts and spirits and do far more good in the world around us, than if we selfishly insist on blurting out all the negative thoughts that pass through our brains. We can raise confident, happy children and turn the hearts of the bitter people on our path in a new direction. We can more openly talk to our friends and we can contribute solutions to the problems around us, rather than merely heap fuel onto the already blazing piles of trouble that appear at every turn.

Before we can speak, we first think. But, too often, we don’t give the thought process enough micro-seconds of time to function, so it can protect the speech process from harmful actions. Or am I the only one guilty of this?

Do you have any suggestions for those of us who engage our mouths before, or without engaging our brains? Most of us are guilty of this, whether we recognize it or not. Maybe we don’t stick around long enough to see the hurt in the eyes of those we offend, but whether we acknowledge the wounds or not – they’re there. We can create wounds even when the target of our negativity isn’t within earshot.

Our tongues are powerful, indeed. Our words can be as deadly as a car with a drunk driver behind the wheel. Sometimes harsh words might be appropriate, but those harsh worlds should be well-considered before they’re spoken, too.

Often we’re critical for no good reason, other times we’re critical because we just don’t understand what we’re criticizing.

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ’ and having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.” – 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 KJV

First, look for the good.