Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hurricanes, Floods, Tornadoes, Fires... What a year!

I was reading this passage in Joel (1:4-5). "What the chewing locust left, the swarming locust has eaten;What the swarming locust left, the crawling locust has eaten; And what the crawling locust left, the consuming locust has eaten. Awake, you drunkards, and weep"

I couldn't help but wonder about the weather here in the U.S. this year. We have had one disaster after another. We had so much snow over the winter. Here in the North I dug out 17 inches in one storm alone. But in the Rockies, storm after storm pelted the mountains. Then the snow never really melted... and the rains came... and with it flooding.

Tornadoes are not unusual for the Midwest but storm after storm hit populated areas. That's unusual and very sad. Then came the heat. Days, months in some places baking in triple digit heat. Many ranchers lost their shirts as well as their cattle. Then came hurricane season, more wind, more rain, more lives disrupted. Then fires in Texas and elsewhere, where the heat never let up. What is going on? I really don't know but after a year like this one Joel is beginning to have new meaning to me.

Twenty years ago our lives looked like this year's weather. We had one thing after another go wrong until we ended the year homeless and drifting. We asked the question, "If God was trying to change our direction, what would He have to do to get our attention?" Our conclusion was that He would have to get pretty drastic. With new eyes then we looked at our situation and asked God what His plan was for our lives right then. He totally changed our direction. I'm thinking we as a country... maybe globally could use a direction change. Why do we do what we do? What is the point of our lives? If God were trying to get our attention what would He have to do to get it? This passage in Joel concludes with this plea, "WAKE UP!"

I'm not thinking of God bringing on disasters to punish us... but I believe He won't step in to protect where He is not welcome. I believe God has been our protector much more than we know.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

I will put my laws into their hearts

I am still reading Hebrews. I am pondering Hebrews 8:10 where it says, "I will put my laws into their hearts." That sounds amazing and scary to me at the same time. I have a picture of a referee constantly calling,"foul!" It's not a pretty picture.

What exactly does it mean to have you put your laws into my heart God? (listening) Gosh, I have a picture of a defib planted under my skin and set up to give me a jolt when my heart is failing. Wow, that sounds a lot different than having a law in my brain that never lets me sleep nights because I can't measure up to it.

There is a difference between having compassion and acting compassionately. Acting on what I think I should do rather than simply responding naturally to what I see is exhausting! Far too often I think, I'm trying to follow God instead of letting Him make me into a follower. I'm thinking it's all about giving permission rather than trying to be the one that makes it happen. Wow, that sounds more doable. God I open my heart to you please plant within it your laws and help me to move in it with ease.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Practice not failure!

I am reading a book called radical by David Platt. I've only just started it but it is speaking deeply to my heart. It is a call to really listen to the words of Jesus, commit to believe them and obey them letting go of the American dream to live radically for Jesus.I am so hungry for real fellowship and purpose in my faith. I too have been lulled to sleep and I want to wake up ! there is a crisis going on in the world.the are hundreds of thousands starving, millions homeless, countless many enslaved.there are millions of children orphaned and we argue about the color of the carpet! Geez for what we spend to heat our cushy church building for one month, we could send 30 children to school in Africa for a year!

I want to start today, this week. But where do I start?(listening)hmmmmm the sense I have is to start first by reading the speed with a commitment to believe what I read and a commitment to do what I am convicted to do.

Ok so I've been reading Hebrews. Chapter 5 verse 14 has me pondering."Who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. Exactly how do you practice that?(listening) wow I have a picture in my head of all the messy relationships I have had, many I would call"failed"relationships. I have a knack for messy. But the picture is of how those encounters are "practice" they are how I have acquired discernment. Wow you mean they were for a purpose? Practicing relationship has been a painful process for me. It's amazing to think it was positive, a working toward the goal. It's so a huge comfort to think of my"failures"relationally as some kind of positive success. I am successfully learning how not to relate that is practice not failure. W00t!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Bees and being subject to Slavery

I've been reading Hebrews this morning. This passage caught my eye, "Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives." Hebrews 14-15 NAS Is that talking only about dying? God, how are we "all our lives" subject to slavery over our fear of dying? (Listening) Hmmm, I have a complicated picture. We do bees, that is my husband does bees. I would wager to say that he is a bee whisperer. Though he does get stung sometimes, even when he lifts the lid and messes with the inside of the hives they mostly leave him alone. I love honey but bees not so much. They don't like me either. They will go out of their way to sting me.

We have just finished harvesting our honey for the year. My husband got into the hives, pulled out frames dripping with fresh honey and then left the pile of frame boxes close to the hives. My kids came later to pick them up. Needless to say they were surrounded by bees wishing to take back their prize. Bees know if you are afraid. Basically, if you are calm, they are calm (present company excepted) I watched as two young women danced a dance, picking up boxes, blowing bees out, putting them in the car. Always being very calm and never getting stung.

For me, my fear of bees is a fear of death. Not that I am allergic to them and face real danger, but I am terrified of being stung. Where does that come from? I'm not really sure but it controls me. I'm thinking I am a slave to my fear. I'm also thinking that for me it feels like death.

There are a lot of things that feel like death. Exposing anything that I feel shame about feels like death and as I am gaining an understanding of God's amazing grace. I am less afraid over all. And without fear to drive my decisions I am way more free. It's amazing!

The thing is satan does a lot to convince us that life is death and death is life. Doing the right thing often feels like dying does it not? As a general rule I have found that when I run from what I fear, I'm running away from life.

Monday, September 12, 2011

9/11 in Memory

Years ago people would say, "Do you remember where you were when John F. Kennedy was shot?" The violent loss of our president was a huge violation of the American people and we all remembered. I was tiny at the time but I still remember. I remember the gaunt look on all the adult faces in my sphere. Something unthinkable had happened and the loss was palpable. But no one said, "I was doing God's bidding."

Now people ask, Do you remember where you were when the twin towers came down. I remember. My husband was away on business and unable to get home, his flight canceled because of the attacks. I was stuck at home at a time when home felt very unsafe.

My world echoed the insanity of the attacks of that day as people I cared for deeply justified cruelty in the name of God. My life has been etched with the pain of my own 9/11. I felt like I had experiential empathy for the myriads of people affected by this ravishing.

I remember saying to those who served a god I do not know. "Look at the pain in your wake... is this authored by your god? Grace is soft. Not soft like letting you get away with anything. But soft like down comforter. My God doesn't let me get away with anything... but even in revealing my many faults He is gentle and kind and honoring of who I am. His people do not always follow suit.

The worst thing of all both in my 9/11 and America's is that God was given credit for the destruction. I want to give God credit for many things that happen that day. There are many stories of people who didn't make it to work on time. People who got down before the tower collapsed. People who lost their lives saving many more. People who kept a plane from reaching the capital. People who were just missed by debris, people who ... The loss was huge but the lack of loss was a miracle.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The art of compassion

It's cooling down here. The mornings have that crisp taste of Autumn. The birds are flying in huge clusters. The leaves have just a hint of color. I love the fall. Last week we harvested our honey W00t! Next week we start to gather the wood that will heat us through the winter. Seasons bring change but it is slow and predictable to some extent. We could have a snow storm any day here but it won't really start to linger until Christmas. That feels almost as dependable as the sun coming up every day. The weather is untamed but the seasons will change eventually.

I think about our life seasons. I am watching several people dear to me start to enter their closing season. I believe this life is limited and harsh. Like winters in the north. There are many times when getting out into the elements is unattractive if not unthinkable. I believe that God is good and leaving this life will only be gain if we will receive God's intention for us. I believe there is way more of everything awesome in this world like color and light and music. But the transition is frightening to us all, isn't it?

I think that our life seasons were meant to move slowly, predictably, but they don't always. I watch as families try to cope but are often impatient with new frailties and this kind of change. When we are in pain or if we are just failing physically our worlds shrink there is less that is important but the things that are important become very important.

Compassion in the midst of this season is huge. I remember a time when I hadn't the strength to wash my own hair. Having to have it washed by another is humiliating. I remember the humiliation of my grandmother as I helped bath her in her last days. It couldn't be helped but I didn't then understand what I could do to make it easier.

Compassion is an art I want to learn.