Sunday, August 30, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Last time I wrote about how speedy time is and how hard it is to slow it down. Well,
that is only half the story. Time is also exasperatingly slow! Slow? Yes! Time creeps like the slow-motion mechanics of a never-in-a-hurry turtle. Think it doesn't? Think it only goes too fast and you never have enough of it to get everything done on time? Well, think again.
Remember the summer you were 6 and you were waiting for Christmas? Time creeps. How about 10 miles down the road on a 3-day car trip to Grandma's house--"Are we there yet?" Time creeps. Have you ever had a migraine? Time creeps. Remember the last hour of every spring-fever school day in high school? Time creeps. What about standing in line at your favorite ride at Disneyland? Time creeps. Let's see . . . pregnant and past your due date? Time CREEPS. Ever been in a waiting room, hawk-eyeing the door for the surgeon to bring what you pray will be good news? Time stands still.
Time also creeps when we're waiting for God's timing to coincide with our actual circumstance! It can be so utterly maddening to be not only waiting, but wondering what the holdup is. It's not like He can't intervene, it's not like He doesn't have the resources, it's not like He is stuck in traffic! But oh how the time creeps and crawls on it's unperturbed belly while we stand frantically still, stuck . . . and waiting.
Why DO You have to be so calm about everything? I have everything under control. Can't You see how dire the situation is down here? Yes, baby, I see how dire it feels. I'm sorry it's so hard for you. What are You doing? ARE You doing ANYthing? I'm training you for good purposes I have for you. I don't remember signing up for this class--can I take singing lessons instead? No. But HOW much longer do I have to wait? I'm so tired of this!! Hang in there Sweetie, I'm right here with you. ARE WE THERE YET? It won't be long!
Well, "won't be long" from God's perspective and "won't be long" from ours do not necessarily feel the same. But while we're waiting for God to make something happen or for Him to deliver us to our destination, more important than how slow the time FEELS, is our faith in our Father's compassion for us when it's hard. The temptation is always to believe the lie that God doesn't notice our predicament or care about how we feel. That ugly, insidious thought is one we must not incorporate into our thinking . If we do, there will be a horrible, hollow distance in our minds between us and God. He doesn't want that. He wants us to settle in to Him, to trust Him when He says there is something good going on, and to experience Him in close quarters while we wait.
" I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD."
Psalm 27:13-14 NIV
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Life does move fast. Life is filled with change and challenge, the unexpected, the unwanted and the uncalled-for. But life is also filled with joy and laughter, dreams and fulfillments, pursuits and triumphs, the tried and true, the glorious, the counted-upon. It IS a bit of a jumble, priceless treasures thrown in the same blender with hideous gargoyles and almost worse, meaningless junk. It's hard to make sense of what is going by so fast.
I see this so often as a mother. It is all too easy to get caught up in the daily demands and details of raising children whether it's diapers or caps and gowns, kindergarten enrollment or college applications, broken toys or broken hearts, "Mom, we lost the game," or "Mom, I've lost my way," trips to the store or trips to the emergency room . . .
I'm so thankful that I learned from my own mother how to savor a moment, how to just enjoy the moment that IS, how to collect moments like jewels to be prized and admired and passed down as heirlooms. I am too often aware of how fast it's going, how quickly my kids are growing, how soon they'll be out and on their own, and I want to yell, "Stop the boat!" But in life, as in motherhood, I can't stop the boat any more than I could stop the process of labor in the delivery room when I hit that inevitable moment when I wanted to say, "I changed my mind, I DON'T WANT TO DO THIS!" Too late honey, the only way out is through!
That's right. The only way out is through. And the only way to keep up with time as it speeds relentlessly at its own breakneck pace, is to make a point to stop and notice. Collect the heirloom of the twinkle in her eye when she makes the whole family laugh with her dry wit, freeze frame the passion he wears when he performs on stage like the showman he is, capture and save the crazy, scary-deep love that gets you through an argument that tests your connectedness.
Time speeds by completely beyond our control, but it still has to happen one moment at a time. Choose to notice the eternal in the split second, the everlasting in the fleeting. Never spend time, always redeem it. Collect, compile, concentrate and catalog each glimmer of always in the speeding droplets of this vanishing-vapor life.
Psalm 90:12 NIV
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
I am new to the blogosphere, both as a writer and as a reader. For the last several years I had heard about blogs, and had known of their benefits, but until recently I had not been in the habit of reading blogs. I had been encouraged by small business consultants to start a blog of my own--they said it would be good for business. Well, I wasn't about to start writing something strictly as a sales technique--that's just not how I'm wired, but I WAS intrigued with the blog as a vehicle for communication.
Once I finally zeroed in on what my message was, and what I really wanted to write about, I jumped in wholeheartedly to begin writing Up the Sunbeam. Writing my own blog led me to reading other blogs, and as you probably know from the ones you follow, one blog leads to an exponentially increasing number of other blogs. They're like potato chips--you can't eat just one!
I have been so blessed by so many of the blogs I've chased from one link to another. However, at times I have also been intimidated. Some of what I read was just SO GOOD! And there was SO MUCH that was SO GOOD! How could my little posts on my fledgling blogspot compete or hold up against such a flood of wonderful writing and wise words and great photography.
Old insecurities that probably hearken back to middle-school-mean-girls reared their ugly heads (what IS it about middle school girls, anyway?). For a split second--well, maybe a few not so split seconds--I thought maybe it wasn't worth it. After all, I don't have the college degree I should have gotten. Nor do I have an impressive career as an author or head of a powerful women's ministry. "I don't have," "I haven't done," " I'm not enough" . . . you get the idea . . .
And then I read about the honey bee.
Did you know that a female honey bee goes through a whole series of jobs before she gets to go out and become a honey-maker? She is in turn a housekeeper, nursemaid, construction worker, grocer, undertaker, guard, and finally, after 21 days she becomes a forager commissioned with the task of collecting pollen and nectar. An average worker bee (once she goes out to gather nectar) flies the equivalent of 160 miles, collecting nectar from 36,000 flowers to produce only 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey--in her whole life! All that work, literally working herself to death, to produce only a drop of honey! It takes an average of 556 bees, flying the equivalent of 3 times around the globe, visiting 2,000,000 flowers to make just one pound of golden sticky sweetness!!
Okay, so what does that have to do with my insecurities about my blog and its place in the blogosphere? And what does any of that have to do with you? It tells me that my credentials matter less than my experience, and titles and pieces of paper are less important than my diligence to do the variety of tasks God has given me to do. It tells me that my words, my pictures and all God gives me to do, and be, and create, all go together to form my drop of honey. My drop of honey matters, even if it is only a drop. YOUR drop of honey matters!! The drops of honey produced by each of our lives combine to be of great blessing to the world.
Proverbs 16:24 NIV
I pray that my drop of honey sweetens your life today. I pray that it brings nourishment to your soul. I pray that it makes you smack your lips and lick your fingers with the luscious taste of God's goodness. I pray for you, that you would not withhold your drop of honey from the world, and that nothing would intimidate you from collecting nectar from every flower God grows.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Grace is not our native language. In our development from infancy onward, it's clear that we are neither graceful nor gracious at birth. Our first attempts at moving our ungainly, head-heavy bodies from one place to another are clumsy and peppered with tumbles and crash landings--no, we are NOT naturally graceful. When my daughter was little, I saw in her pediatrician's office a poster listing the "Toddler Rules of Possession":
1. If I like it, it's mine.
2. If it's in my hand, it's mine.
3. If I can take it from you, it's mine.
4. If I had it a little while ago, it's mine.
5. If it's mine, it must NEVER appear to be yours in anyway.
6. If I'm doing or building something, all the pieces are mine.
7. If it looks just like mine, it is mine.
8. If I saw it first, it's mine.
9. If you are playing with something and you put it down, it automatically becomes mine.
10. If it's broken, it's yours.
I laughed out loud that day and that list still pops into my head frequently--it's amazing how often even adults revert to their innner toddler. In addition to being hilarious, these "rules" are entirely recognizable traits which also illustrate my point that grace is not natural to the human heart. We are born in a state that says, "Get mine, get more, get it right now!" We are NOT naturally gracious.
Maybe our unfamiliarity with grace, gracefulness, and graciousness explains why we are so dull-witted and skeptical about trusting the truth of God's grace. While we are created in His image, we often act as though He is created in our image. We fall into projecting our nature onto Him, thus diminishing Him to a really big, powerful human with a stingy, snotty attitude that looks like the one that is too often in the mirror.
Oh, that we would see Him clearly!
One of the most anguish-producing, gut-wrenching, life-emptying lies the enemy tells, is that we have to work to please God. This lie constantly questions whether grace is really free and perpetually needles us with the feeling that God probably isn't pleased with us . . . after all, He knows us, doesn't He? So how could He be pleased when we're so flawed and prone to imperfection?
God indeed knows our flaws and imperfections, He knows how and why we're broken. Way back at the beginning of our deadly dance with sin, God's Creator-Father's heart was broken and on the ultimate supernatural scale He went into superhero mode and put His rescue plan in motion!!
This brings up an obvious question:
"What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?" Romans 6:1-2 NIV
No, we cannot go on sinning, just because there is a remedy, and we DO have a call to be holy that compels us to obedience and service (remember The Beauty of Balance?). BUT, we must not respond to this call because we think He will be mad at us if we fail--that is a false motivation and will lead us to a begrudging and unhealthy and frightened view of who God is. Instead we have to TRUST that like a line from an old Ray Hildebrand song says, "His grace isn't cheap, but it's free." When we really settle down in that truth and TRUST HIM, we can respond to His call out of a deeply grateful heart. When we are grateful to the One who held back nothing to come to our rescue, we will freely obey Him because we LOVE HIM! We don't work in order to please Him, we obey and serve because it delights Him!
Who doesn't want to do what delights someone they love? How could we not love Someone who poured out limitless quantities of His own blood to overflowingly exceed our sin? How could we not love Someone who enables us to live in the glorious knowledge that God is permanently pleased with us. How could we do anything other than look for ways to show Him how much we love Him and how thankful we are for His superabundant grace?!
Grace is not our native language, but thankfully, it is the only language He speaks! Trust Him!
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
"Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise."
A fountain . . . a constant, gushing, rushing flow of water under enough pressure to launch it high into the air, making the beautiful arcing patterns we so enjoy watching. What is known, but isn't so easily noticed, is that the flow of a fountain is made up of millions of individual drops, all directed by the design of the fountain.
Blessing. I like blessings! Blessings never ceasing? Yes, please! I am so conditioned by my very BLESSED Western culture, and by the desires of my own flesh, to want a constant, gushing, rushing flow of blessings. Whether they be spiritual, physical, financial, emotional, personal, I love to be in a state of obvious blessing. Sometimes, especially right now in this time of recession, I am tempted to FEEL that the flow has been interrupted, that maybe something is wrong on the Fountain end of things.
NOT SO! C. S. Lewis, in the letter from which Up the Sunbeam got its name, talked about some of the things that can prevent us from noticing and properly experiencing God in the blessings He gives, both great and small. He points to "inattention" as one obstacle, and describes another obstacle as our tendency to enjoy the blessing but to "ignore the smell of Deity that hangs about it." He goes on to say, "A third obstacle is greed. Instead of saying 'This also is Thou,' one may say the fatal word Encore."
OUCH!! Shame on my greedy self! A fatal word indeed. The flow is NOT interrupted. There is NOTHING wrong with the Fountain! He has just shifted my perspective so I can notice His blessings drop by drop. When I notice each blessing and rightly inhale the scent of Divine love it brings to my senses, then my heart, like the hymn says, is tuned to grace, and I am compelled to sing "songs of loudest praise."
Psalm 87:7 NIV
I am reminded of one of my all-time favorite scenes and movie quotes, from the 1967 production of the Lerner & Leowe musical, Camelot. In the final scene, King Arthur, devasted at what appears to be the death of Camelot and his dreams with it, faces a battle he doesn't want to fight. Moments before dawn when the battle will surely begin, a young boy emerges from the fog who wants to fight at his side--he still believes in Camelot! Arthur, with his hope renewed, knights the lad, but tells him he must fight for Camelot in a different way; he tells him to go back to his home and tell people about Camelot, to keep the dream alive wherever he goes. As the boy runs to do the King's bidding, Arthur's friend, aging King Pellinore asks, "Who was that?" Arthur replies, "One of what we all are, Pelli--less than a drop in the great blue motion of the sunlit sea, but it seems some of the drops sparkle, Pelli! Some of them do sparkle!"
I too have a message, given to me not by King Arthur, but by the King of Kings, and His is not a dying dream but a living one. He has commissioned me to take it wherever I go--to bless the world with His love. Father, let me sparkle for You and Your Kingdom! Let me be more passionate about being a blessing than about getting one! Remove the word "encore" from my spiritual vocabulary and replace it with "This also is Thou." Help me to know You as the "Fount of every blessing" and consistently sing with songs of loudest praise,