Unfaithful

Hosea 4:12

“A spirit of prostitution leads them astray; they are unfaithful to their God.”

 

It’s cool today, with clouds overhead.  Late fall brings a stillness that can’t be ignored.  It’s like it’s so unique to the season cycle that it screams “listen to me!”.

We experience that season cycle in our lives as well.  And when stillness comes,   I can only ignore his whispers for so long.  Those early morning whispers.  They are strong but quietly spoken.  I can shelve them, discount them, rationalize around them.  But he is a persistent lover.  He doesn’t give up on even the smallest of things in our lives.

I love the story of Hosea because he pursued his continually unfaithful wife just like God pursues us.  We “whore” ourselves everyday to so many things, yet he continues to find us dirtied in the streets, picks us up, takes us home and loves us like we never left.  When I am wildly aware of my brokeness, I am able to be wildly aware of his chasings.  I still struggle to understand why he loves so much.  How he can’t discount us as mistakes and just start over.  Finally sign the divorce papers and move on.

In the book of Jeremiah we see a cycle.  God describes the great dissasters that will come upon his people.  However, there is always a “but”.  And that “but” is always followed by a call to repentance.  There’s an “out” from the wrath.  We deserve that described desctruction when we are turned from him.  But when we turn back, when our eyes lift slowing from floor to face, we start to see it.  His eyes, deep in love with what he created.  Deep in love with restoring what is broken.  And when he does…we break ourselves all over again.  And just like Hosea, he keeps coming to find us, bloodied and bruised on the streets, wondering how we ended up there again.  It’s almost as if the more times he finds us, the more deeply we know him.  The more we see who he is and why he keeps doing it.  I am unfaithful and I am filled with gratitude that there is one who is faithful.

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The Old Farmer

Quiet , the old farmer rises.  That narrow planked floor creaks wide and bends low as he reaches for those old, worn out overalls.  There was a lot to do today.  The land had finally been released from its frozen sleep and there were a hundred and forty acres of open canvas to paint with soy beans, corn and beats.  But he could’t avoid the fact that something pulling at him.  Something stronger than the demands of the field.  Something tougher than the need to sow.  It was a deep…raw ache.  Something so familiar, yet indiscribable.  But he has been around long enough to know that he needed to pay attention to it.

As we walk this path with Christ, we discover new things, we see old things in new light.  We learn that the only way to get more of Christ and less of us is to make more room for HIM.  When our plans, wants, pleasures, fixations and selfishness are alive and well they take up room.  They trespass on the real estate that Christ rightfully purchased.  I am amazed by the foundational strength of my selfishness.  It takes no work, no focus for it to constantly reign strong.  It’s my default mode of operating.  I can’t help it.  When I am not intentionally selfless, I close off more and more room in my life and the more I close the less of Christ I get to experience.

I am paying attention to that deep raw ache today and it’s stripping more of my selfishness away each moment I remain awake to it.  John 3:30 tells us that “He must become greater; I must become less”.  This continually emptying of self is a cost of the renewing of our minds in the pursuit of becoming more like Jesus.

Quest he sits.  The day is fading.  His feet pressed hard on that old, narrow planked floor as he looks back upon the day.  As he slowing releases his feet from floor, the resistance on the planks softens and he realizes that the day he spent walking slowly through the field, simply listening was what was needed to remove that raw ache.  The work that needed to be done was not in the field that day, it was in his soul.  Deep inside, God needed to remove some more of his self planted weeds.  HE was reclaiming HIS real estate.  He was preparing HIS soil for HIS soil for HIS sowing.

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Dry, Forgetful, Remembering

Isaiah 58:11 

“The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”

The earth is dry here.  The trees are thin and tall.  Mountains stand firm and wide, powerful in there stillness.  Since we arrived here my soul has acquired some of that dryness.  Maybe it’s a product of being here in the high dessert.  Maybe it’s aftershock of being transplanted to such a different place.  Or maybe it’s due to the cyclic questioning I can’t seem to turn off.  The why’s, the what for’s, the how come’s.  But there is a winding river through this city that somehow satisfies dryness.  The dryness doesn’t disappear, it’s not completely quenched, yet that constant moisture, that flow of beauty through the dessert brings the needed satisfaction.

You are that river to my soul

I have such a thankful heart for what you are doing, but it has it’s moments when the enemy comes to rob that thankfullness using doubt and fear.  The complete change of our lives was like an earthquake.  It came abruptly, it had instant impact and it created a definitive, uneraseable mark on us.  But it was an act of God.  Something that needed to happen to move us forward in his plans.  Some days I feel the calm after the storm.  Other days seem to be experienced as if things have always been like this, like there was no change.  And the rest are aftershocks where the ground just will not stay still.  Yet my feet are planted on you, not the ground that is so unstable.

You are that river to my soul

I offend wonder how Abraham felt when he was told to “go”.  He didn’t argue, he went.  He listened and did what he was told.  And oddly enough that’s what we did.  We heard, we stayed open and we followed the voice of our Shepard with simplicity and rejected all potentials of fear and doubt.  I have to admit, it felt good.  Not prideful, but like we actually did something well, together and that you were pleased with our obedience.  And I think you were.  We felt the smile you had on our response, our collective response.

But I forgot

I forgot 1 Peter 5:8 “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

But I forgot

I forgot Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

But I forgot

I forgot that when we step into what you want us to do, when we obey completely and go with you in your plans that we are targets.  That we are threats to your enemy, our enemy.  That he focuses on those who follow you.  Then he slips just enough truth in that our guards can go down and we get vulnerable.  But he usually doesn’t strike right away.  He’s strategic and plans his attacks well.

Vulnerable and uprooted I left my heart unguarded.  Not realizing what was happening.  And so it happened.  The bomb went off.  The leaking fuel line finally caught on fire.

But now I remember

I remember I John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

But now I remember

I remember 2 Thessalonians 3:3 ”But  the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.”

But now I remember

I remember Malachi 3:6 “For I, the LORD, do not change”

But now I remember

I remember Exodus 14:14 “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

I remember when we confess, we are forgiven.  When we repent, we change lives.  I remember that you are faithful through all things, always.  I remember that you never change.  I remember that you will fight for your children, we must simply get out of your way.  Consequences exist after every action.  That can’t be changed.  The wounds we give each other do not disappear, but they heal and produce experiences so we can share and grow together as your bride.

I remember that you do not waste anything, any joys, any pains, any sins, any hurts.  I remember that I need you to save me from myself every moment of every day.  My brokenness doesn’t ever leave, so I need to be saved from myself everyday.

Now I remember

 

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Seeing The Giver

If I quiet myself long enough, I can hear the heal strike and toes dance off the pavement.  Heart pounds after a half mile or so and my body and mind finally start to get into a rhythm.

I loved it.

Fresh air, long strides, tired legs.

Soft Inhale, hard exhale.  The release of chemicals.

Running just felt good.  It was something I did for over 14 years.  Then one day I got tired of it.  Running was a chore.  It was boring.

Good gifts cannot be fully experienced without first seeing the giver.

But there are moments, more than I want to admit to, that I want to run.  My chest tenses up, thoughts run wild and all I want is to feel better.  I think we all do this, some are just more obvious or more aware of it than others.  Ever had those moments of wanting to keep eating when you are obviously not hungry?  There is a reason why a huge bowl of ice cream looks better on a day that things didn’t go so well.

Or you can’t stop thinking of “things” you want to buy, when they are not needed, but just greeded?

There is a slow, powerful, low torque engine that sits in us all…it tries to drive us.  It wants us to go to anything we can to soothe, to feel calm, to feel relaxed, feel at peace…anywhere except where we are supposed to go.

We get new clothes, go out to eat, buy a bigger house, search for a higher paying job.  There is always something more.

Good gifts cannot be fully experienced without first seeing the giver.

There is nothing wrong with new jeans, a new house, a fancy dinner.  But the question we have to ask is, are we sitting in our source of peace, or are we playing a continual game of musical chairs?

Where we keep walking until it gets to intense and we have to sit on a chair, any chair, whatever chair is closest, whichever chair is softest.

Our creator has given so much to us to provide pleasure.  Sunrises, steak cooked perfectly, healthy touch, mountain air, quiet lakes that beg to be fished, new homes, clothes that fit just right, coffee and a sunrise.

He wants us to have those things.

But we have to be embedded in the giver before we open the gifts.  If we don’t we miss their true value and we spend our lives openening the next one, the next one, the next one, looking for that comfort we crave.  Eyes obsessed on wrapped packages don’t have time to look up to see who wrapped it.  That comfort, peace and goodness we were designed to have.

I wonder why the gift opened quite quickly breaks its promise to satisfy.  Why the box in front of me holds pain, hurt.

It’s because I ran past the giver.

Good gifts cannot be fully experienced without first seeing the giver.

When we miss the giver, the gift can’t be fully experienced.  The value is lost.

God’s word tells us that he is the vine, and that we are the branches.

Branches that ignore the vine die.

The vine provides what the branches need to be healthy, to produce good grapes, to operate as designed.

I have found lately that I enjoy a good run.  What I discovered is that I saw running as an act, a chore, a thing I needed to do.  When really, having strong legs, hips that work and shoes to protect my feet are a gift, something I have been gifted by the good giver.  With those thoughts, a run now is seen as a good gift, not a chore.

Some of the best gifts he has ever given me where when all else was stripped away.  Maybe he does that because I am easily distracted?  Maybe because the more that surrounds me the harder is is to focus.  And these gifts have nothing to do with what we have.  It’s more to do with how we think.

Can you imagine a sunrise on the slums of Mexico. As families awake to search the trash hills for food, the giver gives a visual promise to them that he is with them.

What a stark contrast between beauty in the sunrise and sickness in the hills.  Gifts like that are hard to miss.  There isn’t much to get in the way.

Good gifts cannot be fully experienced without first seeing the giver.

 

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Sleeping Bag

 

When I was a little boy, no more than seven, my Dad would play a game with me.  The purpose was for me to be completely blind; for me not to know what was inches before my eyes and my ever-curious fingertips.  While nearly clueless, I always new I was safe.  I always doubted which room I was in, which level of the house I was occupying, which direction I was facing. Was I high in the air, or centimeters from that cool linoleum coated laundry room floor?

Tall, strong, and no longer bearded like Grizzly Adams, he would take my old yellow, cotton-piled, Crayola Crayon sleeping bag and put me inside.  I can still hear that clanky, loose zipper go from baritone to soprano in less than a second.  I was a tight ball of anticipation with all my weight centered on that lower seam that was meant for squirming over-tired toes after a long campfire, not 60 pounds of condensed, giggling boy.  I remember the strength that came from his biceps as he would raise me from that violently bright green carpet we had in our long, narrow living room overlooking a pine tree that seems to never stop growing.  His muscles only got a break as rested before he readjusted the bag on his right shoulder and continued walking.

I’m not sure if he made the adventure up, if his Dad did it with him when he was little, or if it was simply something he stumbled upon during a long Sunday afternoon as I became bored and he became desperate to not go insane.

Daniel 6:23

The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.

I knew I was safe.  That he who held my small frame over those dark-brown stairs was trustworthy.  Would I bump my arse on that hard entry tile in the basement?  Maybe, but he would never leave or give up on me.  He was appropriately aggressive through my laughter as we bounced along and quickly tender if I turned needy.  He was the stability in my unknown.  Partners in my excitement, comforter in my fear.

Every time I allow fear into my day.

Every time I let my mind play in a pool of anxiousness.

Every time I let stress lace my thoughts.

Every time I doubt.

Every single time…all I am really doing is forcefully proclaiming “I do not trust you.”

When what lives there is invaded, it has to leave and can’t return until what invaded has been evicted.

What a peace trusting in the trustworthy brings.  It allows us to be awake to every moment of experience.  The tough, the easy.  The enjoyable, the painful.  It lets us live life, not cower in an emotional corner locked by recycled thoughts.

That peace allowed me to enjoy not knowing which room I was in, which floor I was on, which direction I was facing.  I was able to fully enter in and experience each movement of that sleeping bag adventure.

Each small scary moment.

Each “stomach-drop” with the fast up and down of the bag.

Each time the light allowed in through those stitches changed shades providing small clues to where I was.

I had an innate trust in that recently shaven man.  I didn’t question.  I didn’t doubt.  I wasn’t anxious.  I trusted and trusted fully.

What then…what gets in the way between us and God?

Maybe…just maybe it has to do with our thinking

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But Not Today…

There she was, pulled hard from all she knew.  Eyes closed, mouth unevenly stretched wide and tongue curled with all her strength.  Her eyes were locked tight, almost as if she was protecting herself.  As if she was fearful of what her eyes and mind would reveal.  It was instinctual.

Her moment-old, tiny back was pressed against that warm blanket, nurses around her attempting security.  But nothing about her body said secure.  The two most telling signs?  The first.  That thin tear, fallen from her right eye, now stuck between chubby cheek and swollen eyelid.  The second.  Those four fingers.  Pure newborn-white, yet flame red at the knuckles, holding tightly.  That warn blanket didn’t comfort, but my hand did.  That sin-stained, earthly hand.  That hand that only held purity because of who made it, not because of its actions.

Her tiny left chest provided a foundation for that sin-stained hand; strong but so inexperienced.  Those little fingers anchored hard into my flesh, holding on to what seemed like the only thing familiar.  It was as if each finger was crying “Daddy, stay…stay”.  Even as I write these words, I can feel the strength that exploded from each finger the moment she found my hand.  She hadn’t seen me yet, but she knew.  Deep within, a design rarely stripped this bare, she knew.  She knew what to hold on to.

Joy, gifts, and gratefulness were ever-present that day.

They were so big, so evident, I don’t think I could have missed them if I tried.

But not today.

Today isn’t exploding with joy, gifts and gratefulness everywhere I look.  But they are there, they never leave.

Joy, gifts, and gratefulness.

It takes more to see them today.  Son angry, violent, needing restraint.  Wife ill and tired.  Lay-offs looming.  Shoulder irritated from lifting.  Diabetic A1C higher than it should be.  Saving account holds less than planned.  Diagnostic tests all around, but co-pays are high.  Brother is busy and distant.  Mice in the garage.

But they are there, they never leave.  Joy, gifts, and gratefulness.  They don’t flee when moments or days challenge, they just take more discipline to see.  Or maybe it’s when we relaxed and let go of the fear and anxiety that we can clearly see.

As I restrain son that fights, I remember HIS dedication and patience.  As she weakens in the evening I remember how HE served.  As I make ready the resume, I remember HIS providence.  As I test blood sugar I remember HIS promise of a new body.  As shoulder tightens, I remember HIS perseverance.

Today. This moment.

I choose to see the moon setting; a muted red, wearing a cap of thin dark cloud.  Today I choose to capture the treasure of daughters happy to play.  Today I choose to hold onto the promise of a new body.  Today I choose to see the living creation of the deer I spot to my right.  Today I choose to see the eclectic colors of the fall leaves, the smell of oak-wood burning in neighbors yard.  Today I choose to hear the intensity of my dog smell whatever is in front of his nose.  Today, this moment, is a choice I have.  Today I choose to take joy that I, me, Jeremy, could be the man who held my son.  That I could be the man who served my wife, laughed with daughters playing, sat in awe of fawn starring, and who was mesmerized by nose smelling.

John 8:12

Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”

 

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Like Each Dancing Breath

James 4:14

How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.

 

It was a cool, crisp, early mountain morning. The rich, deep smell of coffee brewed made it’s way into the bedroom gently nudging him awake.  He rolled over to his left, his right hand rubbing his eyes wanting to stay between the familiar sheets, yet excited for the hike ahead.  He rises, feet plant themselves on the hard, cold wooden floor.  His palms pressing against the mattress help him rise as he makes his way to the kitchen to pour a cup of what woke him.  Once in hand he savors, as the liquid crosses over this lower lip.

Today is the day.

The Glacier George trail in Colorado.  A 9.6 mile trail, 1,600 feet above sea level, awaits his 5’10′ stride.  It’s a mild 50 degree September morning.  Just glimpses of his breath dance before him as he enters the wilderness through that old creaky front cabin door.  He welcomes in the fresh air with a deep breath that fills his lungs full.  The crackle of the deep orange, brown and wine red leaves grab his attention.  His first discovery, first gift opened.   It felt deep, like there was more to it than a simple crackle.  Something oddly simple, ordinary, yet truly meaningful.  But as his steps continued on, that deepness faded, like each dancing breath that exited his nose.As he slowly moved on his mind flashes back to the first time his boots grabbed this ground.

She glowed as he walked behind her.  He was looking at the ground, but couldn’t keep his eyes from wondering north.  She was captivating.  Gorgeous.  Lively.  Fierce.  Dedicated.  And she was his.  Somehow, someway, he convinced her that “they” were a good idea.  Both knew they were nothing without their shared Christ compass.  With that to guide the, it seemed to work.

His daydream was interrupted as his head shifted quickly to the right and his breathing stopped with a short inhale.  There were three deer, right before him.  They stare.  He stares back.  Their breath dances too.  What seemed like minutes was seconds and they turned and ran to the north.  It felt deep, like there was more to it than three deer.  Something oddly simple, ordinary, yet truly meaningful.  But as his steps continued on, that deepness faded, like each dancing breath that exited his nose.  He readjusts his pack straps, resets is shoulders and continues on into the warm morning sun.  But as his steps continued on that deepness faded.

His mind raced back to her.  It’s as if each time his boots met that dirt trail, he felt her, deeper and deeper.  He missed her more and more.  The memories that he hadn’t rested on for years seemed more vibrant, brighter than when he actually lived them.  As he looked up slowly into the sky the sun forced close his eyes.

Memories.

How many did he miss?  Did he pay enough attention?  The way the tip of her nose moved up and down only slightly as she spoke.  The occasional click-clack of her jaw when she ate.  He wondered how many other small treasures he didn’t discover.  Did he love well enough, hard enough, long enough?  Was he patient enough?  His head slowly dropped south and he continued on.

How he missed her.  Everything in his life seemed to slip by so quickly, like a flat souled shoe on black ice.  It was as if someone had cause the years to pass at an accelerated rate.  But he was here now.  He was “awake” to this moment.

The smell of the cool, dry woods was intoxicating.  While longing for the years to be recovered, relived somehow, at a slower pace, he had experienced enough to know that all he had now was this moment, and any loosened memories that came with it.  What a gift.  A unique, one of a kind gift from the one who made him who orchestrated those days.  No one else would ever get that same gift.  It would be meaningless to anyone else but him.  It was his and his alone.  Finely crafted and eloquently presented just for him.

He paused.  He enjoyed his dancing breath once again and walked on.  Slowly he absorbs his surroundings, trying not to miss a single gift as he passes.  What an amazing gifter he has.  So much investment, so much time, so much knowledge of who will receive it.  The word “perfect” doesn’t satisfy as description.

He remembers all those years ago, how God taught him thankfulness, gratitude, trust, perspective…how to live rightly.

So many years not lived that way.  Were they wasted?  Were they marked off as useless?  He doesn’t think so.  How would he have what he has now if that road was not walked, those soul-bruises not suffered, the consequences choices made not felt?  How would he know true gratefulness, true life, without first experiencing the absence of it?

Nothing is wasted, not a moment.  Some of the most precious gifts arise through the tainted, mold covered stank of choices.  The most beautiful flowers he ever witnessed were found in the dirtied manure pile behind that old red barn.

You can’t find trust unless you realize you need to look for it.

You can’t decide to live until you realize you haven’t been living.

You can’t choose gratitude, your key to constant joy, until you realize you were not grateful.


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Seeing Innocence

Really? See innocence?

When your boss explodes at you once again?  When the woman at the checkout lane sneers at you as you pull your checkbook out instead of a debit card?

Really?

As your spouse throws accusations, pushing a wall of ice in between you?

Really? See innocence?

Why?  It’s so much easier to get angry, embittered, cold, isolated.

But all that those actions grow are a deepening mental focus on you.  How you were wronged.  How they are bad.  How they have affected you.  How they “made” you feel.  Can someone really “make” you feel a certain way?  They can ignite emotion, but I’m pretty sure we decide how we feel and decide to keep feeling a specific way.  Allot of times our emotions are like a car crash.  They make you nausious, miserable, sad…yet sometimes it’s nearly impossible to look away.

The truth is, the cashier may really have sneared at you.  She may have been irriated beyond all else. 

She simply may have had gas.

But does it matter?  Did you do anything wrong by using a checkbook?  No.  But the human temptation, our path of least resistance is to fixate and become angry or severely irritated that “she sneered at me!”

Or, she may have been on the verge of tears because her husband hit her again last night and it was a year ago she said she couldn’t do it anymore…ft you just interpreted her face as a sneer…not as the beginning of an emotional avalanche.

Seeing innocence in others may even be considered selfish.  When we see the innocence, we don’t get bound in the shackles of assumption.  Regardless of what really was going on, we have a choice, and it’s all ours.  We can walk through a situation assuming and be consumed or figure out if we wronged her or not and move on.  A sincere apology, regardless of the reaction is really all we can do.

It’s hard to see innocence.  The initial second we experience any situation our toes are ready to land on that loose rock, sending us falling into a valley of mentally crafted anger, rage, irritation or the like.

John 8:2-11 says, ” At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.  In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”  They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”  Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

 “No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

The men who brought her saw a law breaker; a whore. 

Jesus, wrapping her in his raw tenderness, saw a child of God searching for intimacy, love, acceptance; someone who would cherish her…for her. 

I think her search finally ended when she lifted her head, moving her sand-salted hair from her eyes, to finally see the one she was brought to.

He looked past everything.  He saw her innocence.

I wonder how many fights, strained relationships, random “checkout clerk” episodes we could avoid if we lived like this.

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P.Q.R.S.T

Every time your heart beats, there’s a specific, mathematical pattern that takes place.

P.Q.R.S.T

Five stages, that when orchestrated in that specific pattern, sustain life your life.  The blood pumps.  The P starts it all off in the upper right corner of your heart.  It travels south, almost as if gaining momentum for what is to come; the Q.R.S.  The Q.R.S stimulates the middle road headed south. The T wave is last.  A resting stage in anticipation of the pattern to happen again and again until the last breadth exhales.  The P last roughly 0.15 seconds, the Q.R.S is less than 0.10 seconds and the T is completely finished in 0.4 seconds.

Our heart completes this pattern over 100,000 times in a single day.  36,500,000 times a year.  A person who lives 85 years? 3,102,500,000 times.

Pattern is important.

It’s when this mathematical, electrical pattern is changed that chaos comes.  Anything from feeling chronically tired to dying within a few seconds of a pain in your chest.

Pattern is important.

2 Samuel 11:1 says, “ Then it happened in the spring, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him and all Israel, and they destroyed the sons of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David stayed at Jerusalem.”

David stayed.  Kings were to go.  David left the pattern.  We need patterns to be healthy.  We are designed to have them.  I think that’s why, after most vacations, we crave coming home, going back to work, school, soccer practice…the things we usually do.

Pattern is important.

2 Samuel goes on to say in verses 2 and 3, “Now when evening came David arose from his bed and walked around on the roof of the king’s house, and from the roof he saw a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful in appearance. So David sent and inquired about the woman. David sent messengers and took her, and when she came to him, he lay with her…”

David was supposed to be with his men.  If David followed the pattern given to him, he would not have been up that night, bored, walking on his roof.  He would have been with his army, focused on what everyone else was focused on: the ensuing battle.

Pattern is important.

But we can’t always be in our pattern, not 100% of the time.  We do vary, our heart does fudge some of its math from time to time, mostly unnoticed, yet sometimes it does have lethal consequences.

I wonder, if I were more aware of the amour that surrounds me when I’m within my pattern, would I be more aware of it’s absence when I’m not in my pattern?  More aware of my risk to deafening my ears to that roaring lion waiting to pounce?

I notice a difference in my thinking when I am out of my pattern.  It feels off.  Almost as if I am a bit lost.  Not crazy, but off.  I think that’s why I crave my patterns so much.  God gives us comfort in the familiar.  That’s why that old, stained, dusty couch you always laid on in your basement growing up brings such emotional warmth.  Not because it was nice, but because it was familiar.  He also gives stability and comfort when all patterns have dissipated.  When jobs are lost, marriages are thinned to a single strand.  When your kids walk farther and faster away, when illness strikes quick.

When I am awake to Christ and all that He is, I seem to do much better when my pattern is adjusted.  I feel less off, less lost.  I no longer feel like I have been removed from the stable home I have.  It’s just that the weather outside that’s gotten rough.  I’m still on that old, stained, dusty couch.

Mark 4:37-40 tells us that, “A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.  Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown? He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.  He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

They weren’t awake.  They were asleep to the proven truth that Jesus HAD THEM, regardless of what was going on.  They forgot the couch.  When I get in moods of doubt or fear that I will not have what I ”need”, I am simply asleep to truth.  I am not awake to that fact that He ALWAYS provides.

The goal isn’t to live each day as the previews was lived, keep the same job, or same home.

The pattern I need to always stay in is being awake to His providing, His life giving presence each second I am blessed with breathe.

Pattern is important.

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Those People

Pride…

It’s like wearing shoes that are too big.  You may think they fit…but they don’t.  Others may encourage us to keep wearing them. They sure look nice.

Daddy’s fancy shoes make us feel pretty grown-up…pretty special.

But we can’t walk too long before we trip, stumble and scrape our faces.

“Those people…”

We have HIM.  We have been redeemed.  We are HIS.

But are we really any different than “the others”.  Do we not have the same heart beat, the same blood that pumps every 860 milliseconds?  The same creator?  The same design?

Is not the only difference between “us” and “them” the knowledge of Christ?  The work of HIM who removed that satanic finger pointing us straight in the face.  That accusatory finger that blurs everything that is before us?

We aren’t any different.  Some of us just have the awareness of who made us…whose we are. Who we belong to.

We are transformed when we accept Him, when we accept what he did for us.  But we don’t “get better”…we simply get free…we get released. We don’t get less sick, we get perspective on our illness.  We finally understand the diagnosis.  That “lump” is finally explained.

It almost seems like we who known Him, we who call ourselves Christ followers need to continually convince ourselves that we are still sick.

“Those people”

Redemption isn’t perfection, it isn’t complete healing…it’s becoming awake to the rest of the story.

Matthew 7:5 says, “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Even when we remove that pressure treated 2×4, it’s still in our hand, and as humans we  jab it back in our eye every day.  We can’t help it.

Food, drink, sex, anger, jealously, pride…it’s a universal fit.

It has the same root.  A desire to “fill”… to “complete” … to “satisfy”.

Yet, satisfaction, pure satisfaction comes only in the awareness of what is offered to us…a release from the accusations.

God heals areas of our lives, but without that continued retinal irritation, we will forget our condition.

We will forget the diagnosis.

And then we become “those people” who try and help “the others”.

The momentary clarity we get when we are completely still is our only relief from that self inserted separation…until we get distracted.  Then we loose it.

That wood stuffed eye is a necessity to never forgetting our condition…our need for Christ.

Jesus, never remove every splinter, please, lest I forget why you came.

 

 

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