Saturday, March 19, 2011

How to Get Rich -- QUICK!!

But to the tribe of Levi, Moses had given no inheritance; the Lord, the God of Israel, is their inheritance, as he promised them.  (Joshua 13:33)

My father died, some would say, penniless -- yeah, penniless.  No "reading of the will," no "I bequeath," just "how are we supposed to pay for this?"  Ironically, my father sold life insurance for most of his life.  My father prepared for nothing but his trip to heaven after his death.  There was no inheritance.  That is, unless you count every Sunday in church, the years of Christian school education, the thousands of times I sat red-faced and holding his hand as we said grace (in public or not -- didn't matter), the bedtime prayers, the twice-weekly drives to church for youth group, Pioneer girls, etc....  He was laying out my inheritance right before my eyes from the time I was born!  Without him, I can say with assurance, I would not have the relationship with my Lord and Savior that I have today!

Reading this verse in Joshua the other day, the first thought that came to mind was, "No inheritance?  Really?  Only the best inheritance!" 

Let my prayer always be, more than riches, and land, and health, and earthly success, I keep in my sights on the inheritance my Heavenly Father has for me, and work tirelessly toward such end!  Let me daily fall prostrate before my God, overwhelmingly thankful He is my inheritance!  

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Frittering Away Our Time

The day dawned quietly – well, it really hadn’t “dawned” at all; we were up at 5 AM to make an apple fritter run. Scott thought I was nuts. “You have to get them when they’re still warm, and before they’re all sold out! Believe you me, later, when you’re biting into warm, doughy but slightly gooey, apple-y goodness... I will be yo daddy!”

It’d been twenty years since I’d been there – multiple cell phones and the world wide web ago. I’d done my homework, though – double checked my coordinates, loaded up on fuel (my credit checked out, so I managed get a full tank) and stocked up on provisions: water, plenty of cash, and an appetite. We were Lancaster County bound, destination: Kreiders market! This was not our usual Lancaster trip – not our typical schmying around the local tourist traps – B&B’s, outlets, buffets. This was backwoods, Lancaster County life: Roots Farmers Market, resident quilters, and APPLE FRITTERS!

The road began to bend, the skies widened ahead of us, and the smell of farms (you know what I’m saying) rose up, carried on the dewy, crisp morning breezes. My stomach grumbled, calling for pastry plunder, the Kreider cache, glazed gold, baked booty. But I digress.

When what to my hungering eyes should appear…a sign – the unmistakable green logo, the peaked storefront reminiscent of HoJo days. I smelled apples; my heart leapt with anticipation. “There it is! Right there, right there! Turn, turn, turn!”

“Manheim Grill?  But… Kreider Commons?  They lease it out?  But…  We came all this… The website said…  Really?”

My stomach grumbled. All I smelled was fertilizer.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

An Alternate Ending

It’s possible we are living in “the end times,” the final days of earth’s existence as we know it. The Bible speaks of wars and rumors of wars, false prophets, and natural disasters; we've seen these events escalating in our lifetime. Recently, maybe as a result, I have heard many young people asking, “If there really is a God, why do so many people suffer?” I think the significance of this is important because 1) as parents, allowing your child to “decide for himself” what religion he follows is foolish, and 2) these young adults are truly looking for answers within the existence of a loving, safe God.  Praise God! (They are not asking, “If there really is an Allah,” or “If there really is a Buddha…”)

The times I have relied on my relationship with Jesus are incalculable. My parents gave that to me – making sure I was in church every Sunday, making sure I had a Christian education, giving me something to hold onto in times of wealth as well as times of want. Why would a parent “impose” on their child the importance of good manners or successful study habits, but be reluctant to share their belief system because it’s a “personal choice?” Isn’t bathing a personal choice? Know any parents reluctant to instill good hygiene?

There are those suffering in prison, simply because they believe in Jesus. They don’t receive proper food or medical care; they are not allowed to have the Bible. They must rely on passages of Scripture they have memorized, the knowledge that there are those of us praying and working for their release, and the presence of the Holy Spirit. Even in times of darkest despair, God is with us. And although that doesn’t explain suffering from a worldly point of view, it does provide comfort. To know that God will mete out justice for those deserving of punishment and mercy, to know that God is in control and knows what He’s doing far beyond anything we can imagine, to know He loves us all and will care for us in ways we never dreamed if we simply honor and trust Him… those are the answers we truly wish to hear, aren’t they? I can’t explain why seven children would perish in a fire, I can’t explain why families would find their homes washed away by a tsunami; what good would it do if I could? Would it be enough? Would it make the suffering of those any less? Aren’t those young adults really looking to know they will be OK?

I have to trust that God’s reasons are as large as the universe He holds. I know He is a sovereign, loving and just God, immutable and faithful, wise and mighty. He is not some grandfatherly benefactor, easily dishing out the "good goods" to those He created. God’s blessings come with a responsibility, a cost if you will – the cost of Christ’s blood, shed to restore us into fellowship with Him, and consequentially, belief in and commitment to Jesus as Savior and Lord. And while that may not “make you OK” by so many of the world’s standards, and it may not fully answer all the "whys," it most certainly changes your life, your role, and the way you view it all.  Honestly, if it all goes to pieces tomorrow, what have you lost?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Hair's a Bit of Advice

Just the other day I was sitting in the hair salon, waiting for my color to “set.” There is virtually nothing as maddening to me as just sitting, so I picked up a magazine. In the “Letters” column, a reader had asked about her boyfriend’s aloofness – “He doesn’t ask about my day, or say kind things to me…”

“Oh, Girlfriend,” I thought, “take back your life, wish him the best, and move on before it’s too late.” This, of course, was the sage whisper of the Ghost of Christmas Past, and Easter Past, and Monday Past, and Tuesday Past, and so forth and so on. No offense intended, but that old saying about “teaching a pig to sing…?” It’s true. What a miserable life we are willing to lead simply for the sake of making things as we wish them to be.

My reverie was ended by the ringing of a kitchen timer, or in this case, a salon timer. I joined the World’s Best Stylist at the sink and we resumed our previous chatter. I love Marlene. She does exactly what I ask without a bunch of crap; she is talented and professional. I don’t have to listen to drama about her sister-in-law who “never chips-in as much as we do for my in-laws’ anniversary gift.” No whining about others “who don’t pull their weight around here,” or how “OMG, I got sooo drunk the other night…” None of that. Marlene is a great conversationalist, and she is one of the most intelligent, positive women I know. We talk about our problems, sure, but she’s not the type to be burdened by them, nor am I – anymore.

In fact, as I left the salon I was still smiling. We’d had a good time. Besides that, I had to appreciate how much my life has changed. For years I gravitated toward needy dysfunctional relationships – not because I genuinely wanted to help, or even could help, but because I wanted so desperately to be wanted. Once I began to measure my worth through God’s eyes, I began to seek out healthier, happier relationships. As a result, I am healthier and happier, and so are the people with whom I relate! Relinquishing my ridiculous efforts to be important in the lives of those around me, and instead, making Jesus supreme in my life has brought me true intimacy, perfect joy, and genuine acceptance.