Saturday, March 1, 2014

Where He Leads Me, I Will Follow

I tend to be pretty focused. My ex-husband often told me how unobservant I was. My intense concentration on whatever was important to me at the moment, pulled me away from details like stop signs and idiot lights on the dashboard. Thanks to www., I can now chase rabbits and engage in ADD-like behavior until my fingers fall off! Welcome to my rabbit hole...

Definition>Pastor's website>Seeker-Sensitive churches>Crystal Cathedral>"I Know the Lord Will Make a Way For Me." And then I started thinking about my upbringing...

Things were pretty black and white at the Chambers'. I interpreted everything in terms of right and wrong. Even family. When Mom's family visited on holidays I loved being around them; the house came alive with their boisterous ways. They smoked and drank, cussed and laughed, and told wild stories. But they were wrong. In January when the cigarette butts had all been flushed, the beer cans sent to the trash, and the house returned to its usual monochromatic inclinations, we were clean again.

Dad had been raised much more conservatively -- church going, Sunday resting, Commandment observing, conservatively dressing, and right. Folks always look at me in disbelief when I tell how when I was around 13 or so, my dad shut off M*A*S*H and sent us all to bed because Hawkeye Pierce used the word "hell," and he wasn't talking about eternal damnation.

I never really understood the compulsion to be good; after all, wrong seemed like so much more fun! I was never strong enough to be a good Christian, to get everything right; after all, wrong came naturally! But I know now, it is only because of God's grace I can even begin to get it right. And it's that grace that I should demonstrate to others. I don't always feel innately compelled to be good. But I do have such a love and respect for God and what He wants me to become, that I try to obey. And I trust Him to help me in my struggle, and forgive me when I fail. As I should forgive others. I know I don't have the strength to show grace, to be all God has planned, to forgive, to be right. But God's strength is perfect, and mine for the asking.

Who wants to hear their spouse say, "I try so hard, each day, to be faithful and honoring." Faithfulness, commitment, honor and obedience originate with love. God did not give us this life to work at rules and judgment, right and wrong. This life is about love; love for God and love for others. Anything less is wrong.

I still possess quite a bit of that boisterous, fun-loving nature that I admired so greatly in my youth. But I've also come to learn that quiet times in worship and Bible study develop my love for God and unfold the map He has drawn for the rest of my life -- the map that will lead me in the paths of righteousness and joy!
But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. ~ Acts 20:24

Friday, February 28, 2014

Prayers For Morris

Have you ever had one of those moments when your mind goes completely blank? Before you know it, the pressure from all those thoughts just clamoring to get back in makes you feel dizzy, and sick to your stomach, and short of breath.

A couple of weeks ago, I arrived home just as the sky was beginning to darken with the twilight. The weather was balmy, and in my haste for Springtime, I had cranked up the radio and down the windows. My neighbor and his son were standing out front, obviously rushing Spring as well. As I exited my truck, we exchanged our usual greeting -- but something was different this time. You see, it usually goes like this:

"Good evening, Neighbor!"
"Hey, Morris! How ya doin'?"
"I'm blessed. How are you?"
"Blessed also!" [Begin small talk, if so led.]

But this evening, Morris was moving toward me, looking as if something was on his mind. Now, our neighborhood is fairly close knit. We try to keep one another abreast of events nearby -- mischief or burglaries, move-ins, move-outs, neighbors who are ill, or are now alone. A bit morose, I guess, now that I see it in print, but we do look out for one another.

Then, he began to speak. He was ill. This grand, strong man whose booming voice I have heard through the party wall for the last twenty years. This father, husband, and friend whose mirthful, easy-going, and sometimes ornery nature bring life to the home next door. This man who has stood hour after hour, melting over glowing charcoal on the most sweltering days, preparing food for anyone who wishes to eat. This man was ill. It would mean surgery, a hospital stay or two, and who knows what.

The tears began to flow. I tried to hold back. Was he afraid? My crying wouldn't help. Was he still processing? Tears would be a terrible complication. With each of his words, the answers became obvious, and we approached the point where there were no more facts to report. The message was delivered. He no longer had to struggle to keep his voice level, to remain methodical. The message was received. And it was my turn to speak.

When, I'm not sure, but all the thoughts that had so recently escaped, slowly began funneling their way back inside my mind. My head became a whirlpool of questions and fears, assurances and rationalizations, things I should say and things I shouldn't. What words could possibly convey what I wished for him without betraying what I feared? Support, sympathy, hope, confederacy, health. What could I say that would be personal and honest, and come from the depths of my heart?

Before one question was answered, the words fell out, "Morris, I am so sorry to hear this. I love you, and I will pray for you."

For all its lack of profundity and originality, it was honest, supportive, and truly came from the depths of my heart. But no empty words here...I am praying for Morris' complete restoration. I hope you will, too.