Saturday, December 31, 2016

Seeing the Eternal While Stuck in Time

Here we are on the brink of 2017. I have spent some time reflecting on the whole of the past year. Looking at a glance it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. “Good, be gone!” is my mantra “Let’s get on to better things”. Then I realize that things don't just begin and end with a calendar date. My issues are still with me. Tomorrow is another day in time with a new number attached to it. So with that epiphany I again look back to see the specifics of my life's circumstances.

I see a hard year filled with loss, sorrow, confusion, disappointment and broken relationships.  Along side of these I have also seen healing, growth, joy, new friendships made and old friendships strengthened.  Looking at the whole I see the necessity, maybe not clear in the details, but in the whole of it all. Sometimes we have to look away from time to see an eternal perspective.

God has placed time inside eternity and us inside time. Eternity is a continuum, a nonspacial order in which beginning and end cannot be discovered in our human understanding.

 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” Gen1:1
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the ending, says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” Rev 1:8

These two scriptures together tell me that in Christ the heavens and earth were created. The only beginning is Christ. The only ending is Christ.

He is not bound by time Psa 93:2
He is not dictated to by time Psa 31:15
He is not competing with time Psa 75:2
Time is a gift for us Eccl 3:1 – 11

So, am I making resolutions? No, I see folly there, setting myself up to fail. Am I looking more at goals to advance toward? That sounds better and more doable.

My main goal is to slow down. This one is hard but I think now more will be accomplished at a slower rate. This means no more five minute writing. I realize my inexperience.

I have a goal of reading to completion 6 books. Anyone who knows me knows the struggle I have with completing a task.

Cutting down dramatically the social media, an addiction for me. Realizing I can be alone and content will be a task.

Okay, 3 goals that I am setting my sights on. I don't have to view the past year with any other perspective than an eternal one. That is my hope. He will work things out in His eternal plan while working in time through me.

Was it a hard year? Oh yes! But all these things have brought me to a different place. It is all His plan to bring me to a hopeful place, where time is not my only view.

Happy  New Year to all.

Friday, December 16, 2016

FMF Friday with Kate Motaung
The word is "Now"

It Is Always Now

Everyone's eyes are on Jesus, the Christ-child in the manger. And so they should be. He is the reason we celebrate Christmas. But I want to veer a little and look into the eyes of Mary, His mother. I would like to follow her to the stable and then to the cross. Jesus was divine and birthed through her, but she was fully human. Carrying the divine doesn't make you divine.

We don't know an awful lot before the Angel of the Lord approached her. We know she was promised to a man, Joseph, and and angel came and told her what the Lord was going to do. She wasn't really asked if she was up for this. She asked a few questions, and then said "May it be done according to your word." Do you know what she did next? She went to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, who was pregnant. I would probably do something like that. Find the closest person you can trust with a secret, at least before you really have to deal with it. Her visit just confirmed what she had heard. She did the right thing and she did it at the right time. It was her "now".

And the Lord dealt with Joseph and provided a way to Bethlehem to a stable and eight days later He was circumcised and went to the temple to present Him to the Lord. It was there that Simeon, a righteous and devout man prophesied to Mary.

"Behold, the Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed--and a sword will pierce even your own soul- to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.

And that's where I thought, 'what is she thinking about this'? She had already paid a price for carrying this child. Her life had been in danger of a stoning and the Lord delivered her. Herod had wanted to kill Him and they were warned and traveled another way. Now what? And would she ever have peace? Surely her soul had begun to feel a piercing. What thoughts did she have that needed to be revealed. She knew He was her Savior also, yet did she realize the depravity of her own heart? Can we humanize her for a moment?

Have you ever lost your child in a crowd? I have. My son was three and we were at a parade in Boston and there were thousands of people. I lost sight of him for a good 7 or 8 minutes. Do you know what ran through my mind? I was frantic! Thank God I found him and no harm was done.  Mary lost sight of Jesus when Jesus was twelve. It was crowded.  What went through her mind? And it wasn't a few minutes. It was three days! He was found in the temple teaching, and all He said was "Don't you know I must be about my Father's business"? I guess that was a "now" moment. 

What of the wedding at Cana when they ran out of wine and she told Jesus. "Woman, what does that have to do with us"?  It must have been conflicting. Who likes a reprimand from your child? What does one say, I'm your mother? She could've gotten "I'm your Lord"! She quickly told the servants to listen to what He said. And He did turn the water into wine.

I love this one. It was reported to Him, "Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wishing to see you." But He answered and said to them, "My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it". Lk 8:20, 21. Really? Do you think any of her human emotions got in the way of that one? It doesn't record her response, but I'm sure it pierced her. A "now" moment.

The real piercing came at the cross as she watched in agony his executors pierce His side and water and blood spilled onto the ground. What were her thoughts? Could she forgive them as was His plea to her from on that cross?

I think about what God has birthed in me. I have salvation, that means Christ is in me. I have children, I have things I believe God has put on my heart to pursue, I have issues that need repenting of, areas to turn around and go in a different direction, what is my "now" moment. Yes, I will feel it and it is necessary.

Every moment is a "now" moment. There may not be another day, another time, another opportunity. All I have is now. 

Anything God births in you must come to the place where it pierces your very soul. Only then when every strength is gone and you let it die, can resurrection take place. And when there is resurrection, the invisible becomes visible.

Hope cannot be measured by our proclamation of its reality, nor by the depths of our human rationale when we no longer see it.  It is only measured by the love from which hope springs forth.

"For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord". Rom 8:38, 39.

Friday, December 9, 2016

FMF with Kate Motaung
//The word is Joy

Joy and grief

Joy…I don't always understand it. I get happy, elated, enjoying for a moment of time. These are feelings, emotions people have. But joy? Hmm, haven't noticed it on me lately and no one has told me they can see it either.

To skip the details and fast forward to last week, I didn't want to do Christmas this year. A whole lot of grief topped with a tragedy sealed it. Dread of epic proportions set in like mortar between brick as a fortress was being built around me. Scripture, Bible studies, counseling, friends, humor and prayers were keeping my head above the layers but I was quickly losing sight of any hope, even in the midst of confessing it.

Then one day I bought an ornament, and another day I bought a handmade wreath from a second-hand store. The next day I went to a garden nursery and purchased six tiny glass angels for my clients I care for. As I walked around looking at all the things I would like to buy but can't my grief just silently ran from my eyes as I approached the register. It really had nothing to do with the decorations. Everything the season represents just dissolved into despair. As much as I know and believe, I couldn't bring it to the surface of my thinking.

Later I went home and opened the Bible. “The light shines in darkness and the darkness did not understand it” Jn 1:5. Immediately I thought, doesn’t darkness disappear at the entrance of light? What is there to understand? I continued “…there was the true light which coming into the world enlightens every man. He was in the world and the world was made through Him and the world did not know Him. He came to His own and those who were his own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him to them He gave the right to become the sons of God, even to them that believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God”, Jn 1:9-13.//

As I thought about light and dark I thought about joy and grief. I realized the antithesis of each. I saw that we live in a dark world and even though I have the light of Christ inside me I still have the choice to walk in that which I have received rather than let darkness consume me. Darkness will always try to oppose light just as grief will try to overshadow joy. “The joy of the Lord is your strength”, Neh 8:10.

Things haven't changed. The tragedy can't be reversed. There are unresolved issues and hurt feelings. There are losses, broken relationships and words that can’t be taken back. I cannot control the responses of others or circumstances. I can only relinquish that control over to Christ and receive His light.

I have turned a corner. I am in a different place than yesterday. I sense a new strength, I don't call it a  happy, elated feeling. I call it joy.

“Light shines on the righteous and joy on the upright in heart”. Psa 97:11

I think I will do Christmas and celebrate Christ, the light of the world.

Friday, December 2, 2016

FMF with Kate Motaung
Word is "crave"

//Crave vs Hope

I'm eating popcorn right now. Yeah, I was craving it. During my pregnancies I craved oranges. I would sometimes eat four at at a time. My understanding has always been that a craving signified a vitamin deficiency and a pregnancy warrants a good excuse. Who is going to argue with a hungry mommy-to-be?

Having long passed the "baby" era I wonder what vitamins I am lacking in the licorice and chocolate. And does this only happens to me (please tell me no), after I binge on the sweet I want the salt, or vice versa.

Thinking about it now I see how I have mistakenly confused craving with hoping more times than I care to admit. How often has frustration, anger, boredom or stress led me to reach for something temporal.  When it doesn't satisfy it exhausts and weakens me and hope can become an elusive illusion.//

A craving is an appetite and repeatedly needs filling. Hope is an anchor, firm and secure, "Heb 6:19. As an anchor steadies the ship, hope holds me tight when life and trials want to consume me.

As I fill what I perceive to be deficiencies in my experience, Christ is my hope. The cravings will come as long as I live. New ones will always replace old ones. In my walk I am to " out my salvation with fear and trembling." The Amplified version says ". .using serious caution and critical self evaluation to avoid anything that might offend God or discredit the name of Christ." This is a continual process.

Do I have big issues? Oh yes! Do I have cravings? Oh yes! Do I have hope? You bet I do! And I thank God for his mercies and His holding power in the midst of all.