Saturday, September 27, 2014
And as I sat there contemplating, I realized that although my view was wonderful, I had no idea what it was like for the rest of the group as they traveled on to the other side of the bend. They were all gone. I saw them turn into and around the bend, but I would never see or experience what other sights and sounds there might be because I was content with just sitting at the the dock waiting for their return. And I contemplated further, as God brought to mind that this is, in fact, the way many of us who call ourselves followers and believers of Christ, live our lives.
We are mesmerized by the things that stand right in front of us. We are taken aback by the here and now. We get so excited about the things we see God doing on our behalf, that we cannot possibly fathom that He would do even more. So we are easily content and fail to believe that God may have more in store. In our short-sightedness, we become complacent and basically put God in a box, as if He was limited or too small to accomplish more with our lives. We're okay with our current view. We're fine with warming up a pew. Dare we dream of more? Dare we ask for more? How futile is our way of thinking! And how limited our mindset.
The God who created man out of dust and gave him life with just one breath, that same God is the God who loves us most of all. Let's get over the reason why He loves us. Set aside the fact that we are not worthy. Let's get to the part when we accept His love for us and welcome His lavishing of mercy and grace upon us. Maybe then we can begin to fathom that He has so much more for us than we know or imagine. Maybe then we will be willing enough to trust Him with every aspect of our lives. Maybe then we will anticipate more from God. And we'd be willing to dream of more in Him and ask for more through Him. Maybe then we'd get up from the bench or the pew and anticipate what awaits around the bend. And in faith we will follow Him right into and around that bend.
1 Corinthians 2:9, But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”—
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Autumn used to be my most favorite of the seasons. I'd look forward to the change in color scheme and cooler temps. I'd anticipate long walks that would cue me in to the wonder of the changes taking place. The changes were so prominent, that even the trees changed their attire, as if there was something special to prepare for. I loved it!
And then things in life happened. Broken relationships. Rejection. Betrayal. Abandonment. Loneliness. Why'd they all came in Autumn? Still I looked for the joy I once felt compelled by with the Autumn breeze, but it wasn't enough. I cried myself to sleep, as the nights grew cooler and colder. The whirlwind of broken emotions felt much stronger than any Autumn windy night could ever muster.
There was nothing to prepare for, yet I braced myself for the uncertainty of tomorrow. Winter would soon arrive. And with it would come cold nights. That I knew. Although it'd be cold, nothing could be worse than the disappointment that came with Autumn.
So I no longer look forward to the season. Life will do that to us sometimes. Like the little girl inside staring back at my now grown up friend, as she combs her fingers through her now thinning hair. It's cancer, her new reality. She's too young I think, and her children depend on her. Why must it be this kind of Autumn for her too? It's just not fair!
And the brother who feels too burdened to face the day, so he dives into fantasy world; Internet games and distractions. It sure beats loneliness in Autumn.
Truly, seasons come and seasons go, and some dreams get shattered along the way. And we too, change because we have to. Our faith is tested, many times it waivers. We are made weak by life's disillusions. We are made to feel humbled and vulnerable with every unexpected trial. And they don't consider the times or seasons. We are not alerted in advance. It's all just part of life.
But life is beautiful.... It really is. There is a certain and deeper kind of beauty in the pain felt in Autumn or any time of year. I know it sounds strange. In fact, it is rather peculiar. But I am just beginning to grasp it. You see, I used to hide from anything in life that seemed painful. I used to think it was my job to avoid all forms of hardship. So I'd make my daily list of do's and don'ts and resolutions for the year, as if I could control what time would bring. And up until recently, I hated to have to suffer. If I'm honest, I'd say I still don't like it when someone I care for is hurting.
But I've learned that just like there is beauty and meaning and purpose in those favorite Autumn days when all seems just right. There is also something very special and important taking place when we accept the pain, and we walk through it with our heads high up. We don't run from it, and although we don't like it, we take steps toward it and as if approaching a storm that we must endure. We walk through it. You see there is always a way through it.
It may sound sort of cliche, but it's true. I've learned to be okay with sorrow and pain and suffering. I've learned that those too, are part of this beautiful life God has intended for us. And I've learned that He uses those most trying times to reveal His true self and glory to us.
It's been a year since she got the prognosis. It was breast cancer. And from afar I have witnessed my friend walking through it. With her head above the water, I've seen her do it. And now a year later, Autumn is again here. I suspect she will welcome it with high hopes. I probably would too. Yet, while she might see it as a season of joy, I know of some one else who is facing her worst nightmare. And so I pray.
I pray for Autumn rains and Autumn winds. I pray for lovely afternoons with sunlight on trees dressed in an array of colors. I pray for cool nights that keep us close and morning dew that make us feel alive. But mostly, I pray that my friend will walk through it this Autumn. With the season's change and in His loving kindness and His merciful grace, may she brace herself for the beauty of pain.
Ecclesiastes 3:1, "To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven"
Saturday, September 13, 2014
I met Deanna back in the year 2000 while I was living in Puerto Rico for a short period of time. While it was totally unexpected to me, it was definitely fate and a preconceived engagement in God's plan that we'd meet. Also, unknown to me or her was the fact that we'd only be friends here on earth for just about two years. What you gotta know is that I met Deanna about six months before she'd find out that she was terminally ill. Scleroderma.... after months of testings, they had drawn their conclusion.
Most people I know have never heard of scleroderma. So why was it that I knew exactly what it was? Well, many years prior to meeting Deanna I had watched a very sad movie about a young woman who had it and died from it. It was for me, one of those movies that I would not soon forget. And it would turn out to be a movie that God used to allow me the understanding for my friend during this most terminal time. And so when she informed me of the illness, my spirit grew cold and my heart sank. I knew she would die. And she did. Sooner than I thought. Actually, within a period of about 9 months she went from being a vibrant 36 year old to what looked like the body of an elderly person barely able to move. It still breaks my heart when I remember.
And still there is so much joy I claim to be mine because of how endearing our short lived relationship was. I believe God used me to be a "mile marker" for Deanna in her spiritual walk and when she needed it most. You see, when we met, Deanna was a young Christian. She had tons of questions and although we didn't see it at the time, God appointed me to provide her with not just answers, but a calming reassurance that she was on the right path. She'd call me and ask to meet because she needed to know what God's perspective would be on mundane things like job opportunities and marital strife. We'd laugh about questions like "is drinking champagne with your husband" a bad thing? She was like a young child being overtly curious about the questions to life.
And God knew that. He knew she'd need answers quick. He knew what laid ahead for her. And that she'd need direction. That's what mile markers do. They provide perspective on our journeys and road trips. They are those numbers you see on the roads that read something like Mile 300. They let us know how far we've come and how much we still need to travel. They can bring discouragement when we realize we're not even close to where we need to be. However, on our spiritual walk/run, mile markers can be very encouraging because they always point us to Him. And we're encouraged by, "Look how far you've come!" or "You're on the right path!" and "Keep moving, you're almost there!"
Ever notice that either you are drawn to some people or they are drawn to you for spiritual guidance? I hope so. I know I witness it a lot. I have found others who look to me to know that they're going the right way. And I know I've looked to others for that assurance that I'm doing the right thing. Yes, as believers we are all on this same path, and it looks like some of us are at mile marker 300 while others are at mile marker 100. Nevertheless, we look to each other for some sort of perspective. Don't dismiss it! It's not that we are to be comparing ourselves with someone else's spiritual maturity or status (per say). It is instead, that we should count on one another to affirm that we are on the right path and that we can hold each other accountable to stay the course. Better yet, to encourage one another that although we're not there yet, "Look how far you've come! and Keep moving, you're almost there!"
Deanna beat me there. I started this path long before her, and though she looked to me for perspective, she beat me to the finish line. And I'm still traveling. Still walking. Sometimes running. But always moving. And if I stop for a moment, let it be to serve as a mile marker.
You see, while on this path, we are not finished until we cross the finish line into our Father's presence and embrace. There is always more road to travel, more room to grow, more faith to gain, more love to learn, and more grace to impart.