Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gift of Forgiveness

                How do you forgive someone who doesn’t ask?  How do you keep moving, when you feel stuck in the waiting;  when you’re walking forward so slowly, but looking back still watching for the conclusion to catch up and just be done already.   They probably didn’t even realize that the words chosen would affect your soul.  Was it simply a thoughtless neglect that made the action seem so severe?  So often the things we say reach further than the longest of miles.  It’s as if our words become a tree, with its branches reaching places we didn’t imagine.  So much further than just where we placed them, they branch out, growing wider and further than we meant.  But there they go, never the less what the intentions were.  We can’t take them back, just like we can’t ungrow a tree.  But maybe we can train them?  Bind them to something sturdier than ourselves?  Surely the tree will bend and collapse beneath its’ own weight if left to itself.    It will fall in a strong wind, and the branches will be scattered.  Breaking others in its’ path, it will damage what it touches.  Then there will be repair work to do. 
               The repairs are forgiveness.  It is a binding of the wounds inflicted to allow healing, but everywhere there was a break there will now be a weakness.  Every time the wind blows in the same direction, there will be an effort to not break again; an effort to not remember the first break in an attempt to stay whole in the present.  The repairs are continual.  The binding will need to be replaced to maintain the strength.  It is an action taken again and again.  Forgiveness is choosing to know that alone the branch can break, but when bound in the One who created it, it becomes stronger.   Forgiveness is an active choosing to let the binding hold us together when the wind picks up.  An active choosing to give up what we feel is our right, and to place it in the hands of the One who will hold accountable.  Does the tree tell the wind not to blow?  No, it develops roots to help it stand.  Does the branch demand the wind to repair what was broken?  No, the branch holds tightly to the binding and borrows its strength in the storm.
                Forgiveness is a choice first, and then a repetitive action.  A giving up of our perceived rights to allow the Repairer and Forgiver to work His will.  A decision, and then an action each time the wind blows to lean into the binding for strength.  It is a will, and then an action to reinforce the binding again and again with a re-submersion into the medicine chest of The Creator ~ His Word.  Forgiveness is not a feeling; instead it is a repetitive response.  It is a choice made again and again to respond internally and be held by the Binding, instead of reacting outwardly and being broken by the storm.  It is a remembering of who holds us together and then choosing Him.  It is a choice to forgive the wind for doing what it does, and a releasing of our attempts to hold it accountable.  It is a letting go and a trusting in the binding that holds us together.  Forgiveness?  It is an action we take for ourselves, and then by grace we give it to another.  It is a merciful gift we receive so that we can share.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Lessons from my Child

For several years and through several children, my husband and I have had many conversations on the topic of truthfulness. Specifically, being truthful with our children, so that they can trust what we say to be true. When we say we’re going to do something, even as small as reading a book at bedtime, we do everything in our power to stick to what we said. I can recall a few nights when we've been tempted to put them to bed quickly because of the hour, only to have one of them remind us that earlier in the day, when busy with some chore or task, one of us had said we would read to them at bedtime. Then after a long afternoon where time slips by, we suddenly realize it’s an hour or more past bedtime and they are still up.  We try to be speedy about the bedtime prep and just tuck them in with a quick prayer. It’s then, when they look at us and remind us of our words, that we realize it’s one of those moments that can build trust or break it. We try to never break it.

It may seem small, the little untruths that make things easier, but there is One truth we want them to believe so much, that we make every effort to build their trust in us so that they will believe us when we tell them. The One truth is of course, the existence of their loving Father. A Father so full of grace and mercy that He will never forsake them or leave them. A Father so true, that where ever they go, whatever they do, He will be right there with them. A Father so trustworthy, that without even a thought, they can lean on Him and be held. A Father so perfect, that they will be able to trust Him without even consciously making a decision to do so, because to not trust Him wouldn’t even occur to them. That is the One truth we want so badly for them to believe, that we will sacrifice time, sleep, money, all to have them trust us enough to believe us when we tell them.

The conversation on trust and truth has often circled around to childhood traditions like the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and of course, Santa Claus. We have struggled with how our children will view us, when after years of playing this folly, they discover these characters do not exist. Would our children still believe that Jesus is real and alive, and longing for a home in their hearts? Would they question the countless bible stories we’ve read all their lives? Would they believe the One truth that will ultimately save them?  To handle this untruth, we decided that as soon as one of them questioned the existence of these traditional play characters of childhood, we would sit that child down and share the secret. By our third child we felt this was going pretty well. We answered her honestly when she asked if the tooth fairy really came and left money for her little brother. She took it like a trooper. Not at all upset with us, she instead enjoyed the little conspiracy she had with us, that little brother still wasn’t part of. It made her more grown up, more important to be trusted with this little secret. I however, was sad BECAUSE she was a little more grown up and a little less my little girl. I rolled it over in my mind the rest of the morning, how our next conversation would be about Jesus, and that no matter how grown up she got, He would always be the same. He would always exist. He would always be real, and He should never be a secret. Jesus should be shared.

After lunch that same day, my young lady and I sat outside in our hammock, holding hands and swinging under the shade trees. We started to talk about our savior, and I asked her if she understood that although the tooth fairy, the Easter Bunny and Santa did not exist, that Jesus did. She looked up at me, and put out her arms as if she was trying to encompass the trees above us, the fields around us, the birds eating from the feeder, and the garden beside us. She looked me in the eye, and in her still childish voice said, “Of course I know, who else but Him could have made all this?” I knew, she knew.

We had taken something so simple and perfect, and made it hard.  We had taken a truth so special, and thought it was something only we could teach her.  We had forgotten that the Truth loves her more than we as her parents are capable of.  The Truth had already sought her, pursued her, indwelled her and made her His, and we were so busy trying to earn her trust, we missed it. “For the kingdom of God belongs to such as these”, (Mark 10:14).

This is the lesson I learned from my child today. I’m so glad I listened.

**Romans 1:20 “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made,”.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Sleep in Peace

    I woke this morning to my husband lying on his side, head resting on one arm, looking at me.  I stretched out; waiting to come fully awake then asked why he was watching me.  “How do you do that?” he asked.  “Sleep so soundly, without worry keeping you up, fall asleep as if you have no fear, then sleep all night like one of the kids.”  I had no answer.  I have always been able to sleep easily.  Anywhere really.  Not the restless tossing and turning of many adults, but the deep slumber that hears nothing.  We have always laughed how I’m like a baby in the car.  I’m asleep before the end of the block, rocked to oblivion by the motion of a moving car.  I’ve never been able to keep my husband company on a long drive, I’m too busy sleeping.  I don’t usually drive on trips because I fear I could just as easily fall into a slumber in the driver’s seat as the passenger’s.  Aside from the periodic times in my life when I’ve dreamed incessantly, and felt as if I lived two lives for a time, one in the day and the other in the night, I’ve woken early, well rested, and ready to do anything.  The hallmarks of a morning person I suppose.
    I never answered the question though, how do I sleep in this kind of peace.  It was too early to think deeply and the coffee pot was kicking, making that awesome brewing noise that wakes you up before you even smell what it’s making for you.  Shrugging out of the covers and leaving my bed for the day, I all but forgot his question.  Already I was mapping my day, planning the breakfast and lunch menu’s, mentally listing the business calls I needed to make, ordering the chore line up for the crew of 4 kids we call ours but really borrowed from God.  I stood in front of the coffee pot, willing it to finish so I could pour a cup without burning my hand, wondering if I went really fast, could I poor just the one cup without it finishing it’s brewing.  How much mess would it make and would it be worth the clean up?  No, I decided with not a little chagrin, I just waited the interminable 30 seconds more!  Finally, with cup in hand I headed to the chair.  You know the ’chair’. The one you long for when you’re away from home?  The chair that may have seen better days, but fits your deriair like no other.  The one you sit in for that first cup of coffee with your bible in your lap just glad for a new day.  The one you wish you could stay in a little longer, but the rest of the world (or at least your house), knows where you are at that moment if no other for the rest of the day, and they come to find you before you feel finished.  Yes, that’s the chair.  Bible opened, coffee in hand, I read through my daily psalm, and started the first Chapter of Daniel.
     At times throughout this day, I’ve briefly thought about my man’s question to me.  How do I sleep like that?  But even more, it’s made me wonder, why do I not feel the stress that I should be feeling right now?  I’m very aware of the fiery arrows of the enemy bombarding me from all sides.  I note the stress in my husband from a job he detests, but can’t leave.  I note the turmoil in my family right now in the form of a wayward sister.  I note nephews in foster care, and a mother and father who retired years back, but now face the possibility of raising two boys.  I note memories of anger, resentment, disappointment and dysfunction, but with it all, I don’t feel the stress I would expect.  Why?  Am I numb to so much?  Am I hardened to the feelings of others?  Without much of a time lapse, I realize that it’s ‘no’ to both.  I’m not numb; I feel real sorrow for the pain of others.  I even feel sorrow for pain that I see some inflicting on themselves.  But what I realize is that I’m living a habit now.  When I feel that sorrow, I pray through it.  I lift up the person in pain to God and I leave them right at the feet of His cross.  I pray so much that I don’t have to stop what I’m doing to do it.  I pray a conversation with my God so often that I don’t realize I’ve begun to pray, I just find that I am.  God has answered my prayers in the peace He gives me.  I know His love is greater than mine, and since God loves those I lift up to Him, then nothing outside of His will can touch them.  They still have free choice as I do, but I know that what God wants for them is far greater than what I could even dream of wanting for them.  In that, I know peace.  In that peace I send my kids out into the world, in that peace I tell my husband I love him when he leaves in the morning, in that peace I speak love to my mother, and in that peace I know God is with them even as He is with me.  In that peace, I lay down to sleep.  Nothing here can separate me from His great love, not jobs, not money, not broken families, not the pain and the suffering that comes with loving other imperfect people completely, and not the great sorrows I witness in this world. In that peace I rest, I live, I love and I pray.
    I look back with the 20/20 vision that comes with viewing the past and I clearly see the hands of God guiding, protecting, leading and saving me.  I know that while I prayed, He was outfitting me with His armor, and shielding me from the arrows of the enemy.  I was not aware He was doing that, but when I look at myself I see the dents where the arrows hit, yet didn’t reach me completely.  I was touched enough to know to pray, but protected enough to hold onto His peace.
    Tonight, I know I will sleep in peace.  I know who gives it to me, and now that I’m aware of it, I will pray in thankfulness for this gift I received that I didn’t even know to ask for.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Grace and mercy received? Regifting encouraged!

If you have ever been interested in sharing what God has done for you, through speaking or writing, I would strongly encourage you to visit the website and consider attending this conference!  It is a great opportunity to hear and connect with other christian women who are sharing the gifts from God they have received.  Prayerfully consider attending!