Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Political gladness instead of madness

Be glad, earth and sky!

Roar, sea, and every creature in you;
 be glad, fields, and everything in you!

The trees in the woods will shout for joy
 when the LORD comes to rule the earth.

He will rule the peoples of the world

with justice and fairness. (Psalm 96:11-13 GNT)

A friend last night told me that I don't like contention, particularly political contention. She didn't think I would enjoy a political discussion over dinner, which I might have been invited to if I enjoyed contention.

On one hand, she's right. All the dirt hurling back and forth, back and forth, is ugly. Why dwell in mud when you can operate in a pasture? Yet, I know that we need to have people who are willing to enter into the political messhall so that they can get attention by throwing food too. If they fight for the good, then the fight is necessary. However . . .

But, what I didn't tell my friend (I wasn't fast enough in my mind which is another reason why I don't like politics!) is the sentiment of the above verses. All politics will disappoint, be ugly, be villainous; no ruler, be it Obama or Romney, will make people happy. Our governmental systems can aim for justice and fairness, but they will be off the mark continually due to our human nature. Why do we put our confidence in man and not trust in the Lord? Why do we get ugly as Christians by assuming that a man can save our nation? Why do we spew hatred and violence which is often the result of political contention whether we aim for this or not? A political discussion can only be moderated if we choose to be moderate about both sides -- and, that is so rare. We put our interests first over unity.

Politics will always divide. Yet, this is the world we live in. If one feels called to enter into the political contentiousness, I hope one can do so with the above verses in mind, the eternal perspective, that God will ultimately be in control. Our political contributions will melt away. He will rise up no matter the debate and only He will rule "with justice and fairness" for which everything will be glad instead of being mad.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Fruit seed to finales

Trusting in the Fruits

We belong to a generation that wants to see the results of our work.  We want to be productive and see with our own eyes what we have made.  But that is not the way of God's Kingdom.  Often our witness for God does not lead to tangible results.  Jesus himself died as a failure on a cross.  There was no success there to be proud of.  Still, the fruitfulness of Jesus' life is beyond any human measure.  As faithful witnesses of Jesus we have to trust that our lives too will be fruitful, even though we cannot see their fruit.  The fruit of our lives may be visible only to those who live after us.

What is important is how well we love.  God will make our love fruitful, whether we see that fruitfulness or not.

- Henri J. M. Nouwen  

The above is from the wise Henri Nouwen; his passage relates quite well to my feeling in last post, and, I'm sure, all of ours as we struggle with impatience. 

However, yesterday, I tasted immediate fruit. Quite enjoyable. I sat at a Compassion International table all day, waiting for sponsors to get that soul tap. I waited, smiling and talking to an old man about tomatoes (really listening to a man about his tomatoes). I didn't feel uncomfortable or hurried. And, it was delightful to use my experience with CI to talk to others and answer their questions. For once, I was immediately well-suited to a job! That doesn't happen very often! At the end of the day, eight (possibly nine) sponsors, women, came forward and around the world, children will be encouraged in daily and spiritual life. Thank you, God, for letting me be there at the time these fruits were gathered. I did nothing but show up to a work already started. More fruits will follow for these children and sponsors. 

Thank you, Lord, for fruits and the entire process from seed to reap to pie to sustenance. Amen.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

August earliness

"In this day's labors or trials say, "The LORD God will help me." Go forth boldly. Set your face like a flint and resolve that no faintness or shamefacedness shall come near you. If God helps, who can hinder? If you are sure of omnipotent aid, what can be too heavy for you? Begin the day joyously, and let no shade of doubt come between thee and the eternal sunshine."

Charles Spurgeon admonishes so early in the morning as I wake up in a distraught August state.

I learned last night that the board at my school is not taking any action to help struggling learners. They received a message to "be in the Lord" this season without needing to change anything. But, their students still attend, so there's no reason for rush (a skeptical outlook). I heard last night a fellow, trusted colleague compare us to autistic people as we pray erroneously to God -- in stilted language with barriers (others laughed). I reacted emotionally, in front of a group.

I am shamefaced and disappointed, feeling like a failure. Charles Spurgeon reminds me, as an individual with her mission pitted against a group and their mission, that God will help. I am carrying too much, feeling like it's all my load. I'm supposed to quit clutching and avoid grief, skepticism, unforgiveness -- bad fruit not reflecting a solid trust.

Father, let me rest in Your knowledge without being deterred from the path you have set me on. Allow me to walk in peace, knowing you are with me and will help me, even in the delays and the disruptions and the rejections. Help me to have the guidance of your Holy Spirit which comforts me even in distress. Help me not to react in dismay which doesn't account for the hope in you. Help those struggling children find help. I know you care and that you want good action from those responsible. Thank you that I can hand off to you when I am incapable. Amen.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Prayers, not so easy

"We are not here to prove that God answers prayer, but to be living trophies of God’s grace . . . . When prayer seems to be unanswered, beware of trying to place the blame on someone else. That is always a trap of Satan. When you seem to have no answer, there is always a reason— God uses these times to give you deep personal instruction, and it is not for anyone else but you." Oswald Chamber

Prayers. Yesterday, I begged for my son, for all kids with developmental disabilities. I prayed for coverage, for full force grace duing this school year, for a break, for goodness, for kind people. Mid-way through my prayer I thought, "What if my prayer goes unanswered like many have seemed to before? Can my faith handle the disappointment of feeling ignored, feeling like God doesn't involve, feeling alone in it all, watching my son sputter, watching the tide roll over him?" So, I stopped begging and prayed for the grace to be able to let my son learn lessons even if the situtation was difficult on him. I prayed that my son could love God and keep on going, being faith adaptable and not so dependent upon answered prayers that life magically smooths itself. We still live in this rumpled, rumbling life. There will be issues. After I prayed that, I continued begging again.

However, I like what Chambers says above =>  "We are not here to prove that God answers prayer, but to be living trophies of God's grace. . . .  When you seem to have no answer, there is always a reason."

Yesterday at church, our pastor said that there's one side of the ledger in which we keep reasons, grievances, lists of times and places where God doesn't seem active or alive. The shootings, the sicknesses, the pain, the seemingly unanswered prayers. However, there is another side of the ledger to acknowledge -- one that shows His loving activity in the small things, in the help that comes, the smile that is given, the things that align to truly give you encouragement or aid, the gentle movement towards a fuller Christ life in which you become freer from certain strongholds.

Acknowledgement -- a theme. Grace can be stared at and mirrored.


Saturday, August 04, 2012

Leaning and believing

O Lord of hosts, blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is
                the man who trusts in You [leaning and believing on You, committing all and
                confidently looking to You, and that without fear or misgiving]! (Psalm 84:12 AMP)

A good verse for an early morning fearfest when a teacher frets about her oversized class, and lack of compensatory pay. When mothers talk about their sons' growth all week, and again, I look upward and ask, "Why not my son? Why one more big thing on him?" When I start a business, and I worry about my one client and the clients who will come. Will I know enough? Will they come? Will I help the nonverbal young man turn a corner? Who else should I serve? Why doesn't my school pick up this mission to help struggling learners? My mind and heart are in a knot, around and around it goes, tightening.

The above verse does not apply right now. But, it should. But, how? How does a person trust in God, leaning and believing, committing all in confidence without fear or misgiving? There are battles to be fought, steep grades to go up, huge challenges of worry and action.

"Looking to You" perhaps is the answer. "Looking to God." Not looking at the fear, trusting God in the hard stuff, in the battles, in the advocacy, in the shadows, in the Light. Help me to do so, O God!  Thank you for the blessings, but the long nights are tough. May perspective be illuminated and good choices made. Amen.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Body Hope

The body says, "It is finished!"
And, sulks like a pony-tailed girl
refusing to budge against a doorframe.

Or, crosses arms like an old woman
mad at the intruder who ate all
of her hot bread prepared for church.

The body creaks, "I can't any longer!"
And it slumps like a boy who went
to bat and swung, swung, swung out.

Or, staggers like the old guy who
thinks he can make it from his
wheelchair to the bathroom alone.

Sometimes the body can rejoice
with climbing a mountain path
or riding a bike with no hands

Or casually walking down grocery
store aisles without one care, or
dancing with convulsing kids.

It's a wait in a freeway line,
though. When cars move one at
a time, speed up, slow down, honk.

The destination, a hospital bed, or
at home, when the body has one
last final whisper before arrival.

The body, transformed, renewed,
breaks cocoon and zooms into
countries, dances into ballrooms,

Swings into luminous matter,
runs toward all-eternal wholeness
enters and, upon a Christmas finally come,

Squeals off rheumatoid complaint,
shoe-shuffles, hip-hops, sashays
everlastingly to mountain holiday songs.

TWW 8/3/12

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Running fully

William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, as he was interviewed near the close of his life. This is what he said: “God had all there was of me. There have been others who had greater plans, greater talents and greater opportunities than I; but from the day I got a vision of what God could do, I made up my mind God would have all there was of William Booth.” 

What would it take for God to have all of a person? We can see the example of Mr. Booth above and a few others we've heard about. But, what about in our own lives? I should probably ask, "What percentage am I at now? How can I make it higher? What does this truly look like anyway?" At times, the quest for a greater percentage seems to be another excuse to wallow in guilt. How do I go beyond the need for guilt, goodness, purpose, comfort, control, false humility, peace, distraction, and give all to God? Do I even want to or am I content serving him as I do now? Right now, there are flashes of intense giving and goodness, but what would it mean to serve God fully? I'm sure it would look like much more.

I remember the codependency class taken at church in which we examined the ill-effects of the savior complex, the need to fix, the desire to control God or others through actions. At times if I "gave fully to God" the codependency tendencies might be unleashed despite my sincerity. One must be rational and proceed with caution.

Yet to be used fully. A bumpy road. Sacrifice. Conflict. A full outpouring of resources.

A better question might be: what prevents me from fully being used by God? Today, right now. Can I admit that some of these things might not be purposeful -- they might be time-wasting -- they might reek of vanity and smooth highways? Sins?

Father, help me to give more of myself daily. I know that I can't be like William Booth or Mother Teresa; I know that daily life as a mother, wife, teacher looks a certain way. However, help me to cast off restraints that prevent me from running fully and joyfully in your service to make this world a better place -- to show you -- to become more like you. Help petty mindgames explode into rain which waters and grows.  Amen.