Oh, Lord, help me to forgive! Sometimes I think I have, but I have only fooled myself--and only myself. I harbor self-righteousness and indignation (and victimhood) as jewels, forgetting the truth that these "jewels" are weights that will drown me in my own bile. Lift me up. Shake me until the jewels tumble away. Open my eyes to see your boundless mercies so that I may share them with those who have grieved me. Soften me and mold me into a more perfect image of you. In your name, Jesus, I ask these things. Amen
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
These passages can seem so monotonous and irrelevant. I mean, who cares how many people there are in a tribe or family from thousands of years ago? Well... God does.
In the first chapter we see that every firstborn belongs to God. God is sovereign. He is mighty and to be served. This is an unavoidable fact. There is simply no getting around it. But God is also merciful and Good. So a count is taken of every firstborn in all Israel. A count is also taken of the Levites. These numbers match up nearly to perfection, which is pretty awesome because the Lord is going to take those Levites' service in place of all the firstborns of the whole nation. He preserves the family unit by leaving firstborns at home and taking an entire family unit to serve as a family!
But God isn't just nearly perfect. He is actually perfect. So the small discrepancy must be addressed. God's merciful solution is to take a ransom of money to be paid to the Levites to make up the difference. Now since the Levites can't earn a living by working a trade, other families provide through God's mercy.
In the next chapter we see another example of God's holiness and mercy folded into one. All the detail that goes into wrapping all the holy items in porpoise skin and blue cloth might seem tedious. But as we read on, we are reminded that most everyone would die for coming into contact with such holy perfection. All this preparation is to show protection and mercy for those men charged with carrying the holy items during their moves!
It is not God's will that these men should die, but God's greatness is once again so undeniable, such a fact of life that there is no getting around the truth that our frail bodies just can't sustain His greatness. So He guards us.
What amazing demonstrations we can see in these insomniac-curing passages of God's nature and character. May He be praised!
Sunday, July 24, 2011
So, I shared that if the year so far for me were to have a theme, it would be ‘waiting.’ I can’t believe how much waiting I have done! I also shared that I am not a good waiter. I don’t do limbo well. I am the one who grabs an idea and wants it fully implemented before sunup.
My husband is the waiter. He ponders, prays, discusses, sets aside and waits. It drives me crazy!
But now, not by my own will, I am becoming a waiter. I can even do so with some semblance of peace. I can back-burner things. I can trust for the right timing. I can let things simmer. Hmmm…I wonder if this year of waiting will improve my results in the kitchen, too? That would be a cool by-product, huh?
I am also learning that I can be productive while I wait. Waiting doesn’t always mean doing nothing. So, now while all the big things are back-burnered, I can get out of myself and do something. Not something that furthers my personal goal. Not something that will end the agony of waiting. I do things that have nothing to do (that I can tell) with my problems or my future. We have dinner with friends. We play games, go on walks, serve in the church, read books and pray for others. How cool it is to NOT obsess about me, and see what I can do today.
I am gaining peace and faith each and every day as I learn to wait. The verses from Matt 6 are a comfort, as is the one that says my grace is sufficient. That’s a good one! I always pray for others to be blessed abundantly. Overflowing. Shaken and pressed down to make even more fit. But recently the word, ‘enough,’ floats through my mind. Jesus is enough. I need no more.
I can rest in that ‘enough.’ My problems aren’t solved. I don’t know what tomorrow brings. I have no idea what life will look like 12 months or 5 years from now. And that is ok because I have Jesus. It is enough. What a novel-to-me-but-old-as-time concept!
Friday, July 22, 2011
As I was praying tonight, I struck on the idea of waiting, and it occurred to me that waiting seems to be my personal 2011 theme. I have been waiting for one thing or another (or twelve) all year long. I am not generally a very good waiter. But I am in awe that the Lord has abided with me so closely this year in a way that has sustained me through all the waiting.
It seems that almost every aspect of our lives has shifted, been put on hold or ended altogether. Waiting to see the results and what comes next is what I do these days.
I never forget this stressors-indicator test I studied in high school for a class through church. It had a list of life changes: job change, residence change, new marriage, ended marriage, death of someone close, illness, new baby, etc. You get the idea. Basically big changes are stressful, even if they are also blessings. Humans, as a generalization, don’t adjust to changes very well, so when there are several major changes in a 12 month period, the stress from dealing with them begins to seep into all aspects of life.
I can’t check every box of the stressors test, but I have quite a few. And I can see how my fuse is shorter, resulting in my either crying, sulking or yelling far too easily. Little things seem more difficult to handle than the big things.
And so I wait. I wait for God’s timing and God’s will and God’s molding of me. I want to be better. I want to serve. I want people to see me and know I am in love with Jesus. I am not there yet. I am so flawed. I get overwhelmed by how much further I have to go. But then I breathe and remember that His grace is sufficient for today. And I wait for tomorrow.
Sunday, July 17, 2011
I had a very bad dream last night. I caused an accident in a tunnel. While very real during the dream, awake I see that some details were unclear. Sometimes the accident was with cars, other times bicycles. It also wasn’t clear if anyone actually died. Unchanged was that it was me at fault and I was trying to move on, but no one else was willing to forgive me.
Next was some occasion for a gathering of people, akin to picking teams for sports in elementary school, and I was left unchosen. One guy was at least not unfriendly, while all the ladies wouldn’t even stand in my vicinity. I couldn’t figure out why people were acting as they were, and so innocent in my mind that I assumed I had just been gone a while and would have to do a little work to reconnect after the absence. I was told by the one in charge that I may need to consider the lasting impact of the accident I caused. I was shocked. In my mind, that was ancient history. I couldn’t believe that was still a problem with anyone—much less everyone!
On the way home we drove through the tunnel. I had no actual memory of the accident. So while in the tunnel, I tried to imagine what had happened based on accounts from others. I felt badly that this was still fresh in the minds of others, while it only existed in my mind as a vague concept. I didn’t know what to do. I could see I caused harm. I realized I would never be accepted again by anyone who knew about the accident. I knew I needed to leave everything I had ever known and live somewhere else as a stranger.