Friday, November 4, 2011

Choosing Freedom

As a child, I don't remember talking about feelings very much.  Talking about feelings made you vulnerable, and in our house, vulnerable was never something you wanted to be.  I remember writing.  Writing helped me put on paper all the thoughts swirling around in my head -- things I thought I'd never be able to speak out loud. 

As the story of my parents unfolded, I realized the more I heard, the less I knew. It was a story shrouded in vague answers and circumvented truths.  I grew up choosing sides.  My mother knitted Christmas stockings, and baked cupcakes for homeroom; my mother talked to the old folks at the nursing home.  My mother would cry as dinner dried out in the oven, waiting for Dad to come home.  I chose Mom's side.

Two years ago this month, my father stepped into glory.  His death has done more for me spiritually than any other single event in my life, and I doubt he'd mind my saying that.

Truthfully, I expected his death to release me from bondage, a bondage I had known since childhood -- the bondage of a little girl trying so desperately to win her father's affection through any means possible.  It didn't.  My father's death did not release me from anything, but Jesus did.

I write to you now, ashamed -- ashamed to say that all my years in Christian school, in Christian counselling, attending a Christian church...  I spent them all in bondage because I chose bondage!  I went to my father's bedside shortly before he died.  I wanted to tell him how God had blessed me with a wonderful husband, a fantastic family and a rich life.  I wanted him to make his last days with his family count for more than a cheap suit on Sunday morning and aloofness by Sunday night.  I wanted him to give me some heirloom of wisdom or hope that I could carry with me when he was gone.  I wanted to be there for him as he lay dying; to walk him to the throne room of his Heavenly Father.  All my expectations of a Hallmark moment left me sitting in my truck crying, hyperventilating and banging my fist on the steering wheel.  Bound by my ego, bound by my expectations, and bound by the idea that I was somehow less than I could be, because my father would never live up to those expectations.

At his memorial service, I sat there with the assurance my father was happily in heaven.  I listened as others testified what a blessing my father had been to them.  I listened as others spoke of the father I never knew.  And then, I did know...

My father's testimony may not have included me or others of his family, and though he hae to answer for that, it does not mean he had no testimony at all.  Others tell me he had a heart for God.  I find comfort in that, for I often worried if he had a heart at all.  I am not his judge.  I was never promised a champion for a father; I've never been entitled to a "Dad."  But when I pray to my Heavenly Father I know the One who answers exceeds all my expectations, has lovingly and wisely created me, and today directs my paths.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Got Any Spare Change?

Matthew 2:19-23
19 After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”
21 So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23 and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.

So when, exactly, did God change His mind?  If Jesus was prophesied as a Nazarene, why the extra step, a false alarm to rise and return to Israel?

1 Samuel 15:29
He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a human being, that he should change his mind.

If God does not change His mind, if God was not outsmarted by Herod's son ascending the throne after him, what was this?

Isaiah 55:8-9
8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

I don't presume to know the mind of God; all I can attest is what I have experienced personally, or what God has provided all of us in the Scriptures.  I do know God has "geared me up," so to speak, to face one event, and has led me onto an entirely different path.  Is this because of choices I made in the interim?  Perhaps.  Is this because the actions of others have had some impact on how things developed?  I'm not sure.  Was it some sort of heavenly test? a dry run?  I can't say.  But the way in which I meet each calling, and the disappointment, confusion or relief I experience when things turn out differently than I expect, change me, change who I am, and change my relationship with my Heavenly Father. 

God has called us to be faithful.  To pray.  To boldly approach His throne.  To ask that it may be given.  To seek and know Him.