Monday, March 30, 2015

He Knew Me: An Easter Allegory

He knew me. I mean really knew me. Knew everything that I had done or failed to do. Yet, I found myself wrapped in His warm embrace. I closed my eyes and rested, being filled up with His love.
He covered my tattered rags with His woolen robe, the color of blood. I breathed in his scent. Fresh and woodsy. And my skin had changed. It was clean. Cleaner than if I’d bathed in a cool mountain spring.

I glanced up, but he was already a distance away. His skin was covered in what used to cover me, a thick oily substance, black as tar.

His stride was determined. He didn’t turn back. A cedar tree blocked my view. And, then he was gone.

I scanned the horizon. But, all I could see were the trees that surrounded this lonely valley.

Then I spotted him. Climbing up a mountain. At the top stood a lone tree with two branches, one on each side. I rubbed my eyes. No, it wasn’t a tree. And, those weren't branches. It was a cross.

Dark clouds rolled in and covered the valley. Lightening crashed. I jumped a little and pulled the robe on tighter.

He was gone again. Oh, no. He was somehow fastened to the cross. Streams of red flowed down from his outstretched hands and feet.

I heard Him cry out. Then, fall limp. No. Don’t die. I. love. You.

The sky went black.

Thick darkness covered the valley.

I huddled against a nearby rock, trembling and weeping. Exhaustion overtook me.

When I awoke, there was a light. But, not the sun. It came from within the mountain. A circle of light, as from a cave. Or tomb.

A silhouette. His. He was alive. I cried, but not from sorrow. Joy. My Savior. My King. Please come back. Please take me home.

The sun peeked over the horizon. But, He was no longer there. Don’t leave me. I don’t want to be alone.

A voice. Not outside but within. Deep in my heart. “You’ll never be alone again. I will come back. Soon. Remember. You are mine. And, you have work to do.”

Friday, March 27, 2015

When Plans Fail: {Treasures of the Heart}

Who doesn't like a nice  steaming cup of green tea, the perfect way to de-stress and relax on a trying day?

Yeah that was what I was thinking at the time, when I put the kettle on. 

It was a particularly trying day. One of those days where my body is on autopilot. Knowing where things should be and collecting them to make a hot cup of tea for Bright Girl and me, English style. With a spot of milk. And, a drizzle of honey.

The teacup was hot in my hands, so I blew a little to cool it. When I took a sip, something wasn't right. It tasted strange. I placed my cup on the table to cool some more and went into the kitchen.

Have you ever noticed how a carton of half & half is the same size and shape as a carton of egg whites?

When I went to put away the milk and honey, lo and behold, it was not milk, but eggs that I'd grabbed from the refrigerator and poured into my tea.

"Don't drink the tea," I bellowed from the kitchen.

"Why not?" Bright Girl held her teacup near her lips, about to sip.

I held up the egg whites. "I thought this was milk."

"Aw, mom."

My sentiments exactly. I was looking forward to my cup of tea.

You know the old saying, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger? 

So, it didn't kill me to drink a few teaspoons of raw egg. If anything, a little protein might have been good for me. But, it was not what I was expecting.

A ruined cup of tea is a little disappointment in the mighty sea of life's unexpected outcomes to be sure.

But, something even more unexpected then eggy tea happened. 

I laughed.

My daughter lifted an eyebrow, trying to remain seriously disappointed herself, but couldn't help but break out into a grin.

That was so unlike me. 

When things don't go right, I tend to quietly fume or spend the rest of the day spiraling into mournful preoccupation with all the imperfections of living.

But, joy?

Why joy?

Because I was looking forward to the memories.

This would one day be a funny story in the collection of this mama's many cooking blunders.

We can have joy when we know something good will come out of the bad.

But, we have to be willing to let go of our expectations. 

Sometimes, we have to let our dreams die so new ones can live.

die vb. 1. decease, perish, expire, go, pass away 2. decrease, diminish, fade, sink, decline, wither, wane, fail ant. flourish, grow.

All disappointments are little deaths. Even when our dreams come true, it's never quite how we imagined.

But, there is hope.

If we believe the Lord can create life out of the darkness of our little deaths, then we can have joy.

It is hope that gives joy in all circumstances. Maybe not right away, but it will come. As a gift. From the Giver of all things good and right and true.

All the bad, wrong, messed things in life will one day be made right.

And it will be glorious.

Our precious memories of living out the love and light of Christ are treasures. We can hold on to them in hope, so when the darkness comes, nothing can put out their flame.

"But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart."  (Luke 2:19)

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Words of Life

A few years back, I tried asking one of my children to give up watching T.V. with me
for Lent

I don't think she got it.

By the time Easter came, she was just glad it was over. Still, I wanted our family to be a little slice of the church. To do Lent together as we do life together. 

Then by the grace of God, the idea came to me. What if, this year, we all gave up something that really needs to be given up and add something we all know we need to add.

We all have something in common, living in a house of strong personalities. We raise our voices a little too much. Add to that strong emotions and a loud voice becomes yelling.

Something subtracted, something added...hmmm...

How about subtracting the yelling and adding the praying for self and for the one(s) trying our patience. 

Words are powerful. They can build up or tear down.

We need each other's words. The good ones. The true ones. The holy ones.

"1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning." (John 1:1-2)

God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, the mysterious Trinity, worked together in perfect unity to build up our world before filling it with life.

"1In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was 
hovering over the waters.
3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light." (Genesis 1:1-3) 

In the beginning, the holy hovering words of God shot out across the world. Creating. Shedding Light. Giving Life.

Words build up, stone by stone, line by line, precept by precept.

Christ isn’t expecting churches, whether in your home or under a steeple, to be perfect. 

He alone is perfect.

Yet, He offers us grace. Because He took the nails for us, His blood washes away our sin. 

When we believe, the ever-grabbing-for-more part of us, loosens its grip on its little stake in life and turns to grasp the nail-marked hand of the One who ever-loves-us-eternally. 

We can lean on Him because we need His help. We must come to Him in weakness and rely on His strength to free us from words that hurt to speak words that heal.

May we be grace-carriers. Broken, yet bright beacons of His shining glory, loving and serving the ones He came to save.

This is how we glorify and lift up Christ. And speak words of light, love, and grace. 

"Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is 
the Son of God." 
(1 John 5:5)