Hello all, I am coming to you from the blue chair (still in my nightgown for those of you Domestic Engineers who need a breath of fresh air.. smile...) and am enjoying my three munchkins napping in their warm beds, two slightly bigger munchkins out riding their bikes in 20 MPH winds.....this should be interesting, and even have my sweet Hubby tucked in his bed who came home from work sick. The chicken tortellini stew is in the crock pot and I am listening to Cary Schmidt playing "It is Well," beautifully on CD. And for right now, all IS well.
This week has been so full and my thoughts are this way and that, so I apologize ahead of time.... Sunday morning we had a sweet Missionary woman in who gave her testimony of struggling with Ovarian cancer in stage 2. She was just the funniest sweetest thing. She looked the picture of "togetherness" reading her notes, smiling and speaking to each and every heart. Almost every single verse she read I had memorized (as the woman sitting next to me who heard me recite them with her out loud can attest..) because they all dealt with fear, anxiety, or trust. Yep got them all filled away for daily reference. The woman sitting next to me probably thought that I was a walking (or sitting) Bible Concordance, but trust me, those are the only ones I know by heart!!!
Then Sunday evening I received a copy of Caleb Thompson's book "The Embrace of Grace," and cannot put it down. In fact it is so deep, so heartfelt, I KNOW I will have to read it again to soak all of it in. I even took it to Macy's Tuesday when I got my hair done to read while I waited to look like Shirley Temple. Well I got to telling my stylist about the book, and Caleb's testimony. (BTW if you need an update on Joshua and Caleb go to www.remembermybonds2.com) She was just awestruck what had happened to him and his brother, and that he would write such a book 5 years into a cruel Prison sentence. It was a wonderful witnessing tool, and even the stylist next to her heard and asked me to come talk to her. She is the girl who normally cuts my hair and I have been reaching out to her each visit. She is recently struggling with ovarian issues and now some Colon problems. She is younger than I, would love to have children and the sweetest girl. She has had one ovary removed and now risks losing the other. As she congratulated me on our upcoming 6th blessing, my heart was pricked with pain for her. She went on to tell me that she thinks "God is doing this to me to get back at me for the way I have been." she faintly smiled trying to make light of the whole thing. So here I am, smelling like a skunk, wrapped like an old lady with this plastic bag on my head to boot, and I reach out and tell her, "Surely you know God loves you more than that?" She nodded. We had a small conversation lasting a few seconds with our eyes each telling the other that there was more to this life that this. She knowing and me confirming.
This Missionary wife, this book, my hair stylist and the, sweet but sad, passing into heaven of a 14 year old girl Josie after a long struggle with Cystic Fibrosis has sobered me and made me look at how I view God.
I make no bones about the fact that I was raised with a wrong view of who God really is. And frankly, unless you are in a balanced Christian environment I fear you also might have the same struggles I have from time to time.
We say that God is loving, forgiving, generous with mercy........we say that but we act a very different way. We almost fear telling God how we really feel. When I first happened on the blog Bring the Rain I was amazed, literally stunned at the relationship between Angie Smith and the Lord. She spoke of car rides where she angrily cried out to God asking Him why He had taken her daughter away from her, and such. I at first was offended truthfully, but was so curious I just kept reading, and I am glad I did. And I am also glad that she didn't care what anyone thought about her either!
Psalm 77 is the chapter that I have claimed regarding our need for a house. It says "Waiting on God for a House, December 6, 2007" above it. I have read it and re-read it and re-read it. I have read it sad, mad, frustrated, impatient and the like! And inevitably I read it thankful for David's transparency. Read verse 2, he says or rather admits, that "my soul refused to be comforted." Have you been there? I have. How about verse 3, "I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah." This verse has brought me so much comfort. Not only does David say that he "remembered God" and still "was troubled," but he goes on to say that he complained, was totally overwhelmed and THEN has the audacity to leave a great big SELAH at the end! So he says, "Stop and think about what was just written....ponder this fact.....I.AM.FRUSTRATED!!!" Yes there is humor everywhere, folks.
In verse 4 he is so troubled that he cannot speak, which has happened to me on occasion. For me not to speak you know that I am feelin some serious trouble. Verse 7 David, the MAN AFTER GOD'S OWN HEART, asks if God will cast him off forever, and never treat him favorably again! We continue with verse 8, "Is his mercy clean gone for ever? Doth his promise fail for evermore?" Then in verse 10 he begins to exercise his will. "This is my infirmity (FYI that word means "anguish"): but I WILL remember......." In the midst of the unknown, David girds up his mind and makes himself remember all that the Lord has done and taught him.
He proceeds (go and glean from it yourself..) to remind HIMSELF of all the Lord's great works to him and the Children of Israel. He redeemed them. He created the earth and made bounds for the seas. He led His people as a Shepherd.
My point in all of this (yes there is one I think if I can find it in my jumbled mess here...) is that David was not afraid to tell the Lord how he felt. Are you? Why do we hide how we feel from Him as if He doesn't know? Friends David was a man "after God's own heart." And I think the depth of his relationship with God came from his transparency and humility. In "The Embrace of Grace," Caleb writes, "How foolish to let our pride refuse to admit weakness, wearing a pasteboard smile and displaying counterfeit strength, when an honest admission of weakness would qualify us for divine power and place us in the position to fulfill God's will." Wow. Because David was willing to admit his weakness he now ministers to you and I. How many times have we neglected to admit our weaknesses and in doing so missed our opportunity to minister grace to someone else?
I long for a relationship like David had with the Lord himself. For a relationship like Caleb Thompson has with Him. For a relationship like that Missionary wife has. And all three were honest with the Lord in their times of trial. They emptied themselves out in front of not only the Lord, but were transparent with those around them so that they could minister to them, with the grace that God gave them through their trial.