Now what? I know a lot of people in or near crisis. It’s not hard to be one of them. A few of us are designing a college-wide retreat to speak back to the spirit of fear that pervades. We are using Parker Palmer‘s work, believing against all odds that such gatherings can make a difference. The challenge in times like these is to keep caring, to remain warm and open in direct opposition to all the invitations to shut down, stop caring that keep coming at us from every direction.
When I realized that I’d spent more than a few hours on hold with TMobile; had paid more than three reconnection fees and had made more than a few good old college tries to get my billing address updated in the past 13 months, I realized it would be cheaper to pay the disconnection fee than to stay with them a moment longer. So I unplugged. Here I am now using a wifi outlet near home and loving the freedom. If ya’ll don’t watch out even the pre-paid phone service I have with them will be discontinued.
It’s been a long, hard stretch. I guess it’s not a stretch if it isn’t hard. It’s been different in kind and duration from previous seasons in my life. Tearful at work and at home, God is polishing and preparing me for His life in me to move to the next level. I can hear the shackles falling off even now, for she whom the Lord sets free is free indeed.
Regarding Hosea 6 Matthew Henry reminds us, “The returns of the favor of God are secured to us as firmly as the return of the morning after a dark night.” Later on in the same commentary he also acknowledges that, “the word of God will be death either of the sin or of the sinner.” I take comfort in both and ask You, Lord, to set up Your kingdom in me, for I know that even wild oats sown must come to harvest and that now, it’s harvest time (MSG).
Oswald Chambers’ devotional today brings further comfort:
The words of the Lord hurt and offend until there is nothing left to be hurt or offended.
With all God has poured into me in the spiritual and natural realms I remained speechless and dumbfounded. The elder had shown nothing but concern for me in our previous conversations. Yes, I had thought it a bit odd that she brought me pantyhose and kept volunteering to exchange them for the correct size when she didn’t see me sporting them after a couple weeks. But I just laid that to the charge of generational differences. We live, after all, in a dessert and I rarely wear skirts above my knees so I don’t see the point of wearing stockings even if they’d give my uneven skin a bit more polish. The same can be said for make-up and you’d be hard-pressed to remember a time when I was found sporting anything beyond lipstick and that rarely.
So when she made that remark about all those Hispanics lined up for immunizations at some grocery store or other and that she was now debating about paying her taxes as a result, I was caught off guard. The only thing that came to mind after sharing Christ Jesus’ command that we love one another was the great festival my husband and I had seen on a recent furniture-hunting expedition to the East Side. It had been similarly wall to wall Latinos enjoying the games and getting their kids’ shots. She said she’d only been joking and turned away.
What I might have said was, yes, isn’t it wonderful what great care Latinos take of their children! Or, after more than a decade of being a practitioner of the NCBI model, I could have pulled a Columbo and asked her what exactly she was getting at, the better to hear her into action. I might even have invited her to tea so I could have the chance to dust off more than 14 years of my Re-evaluation Counseling Art of Listening skills. But no, I became a smiling deer in the headlights, and stood there, blinking.
I wonder this morning at her motivation. Was she inspired to make the comment because she saw me sitting with my husband and thought perhaps he was only a love interest and therefore she had time to stop the presses, derail the union? Or, was this part of Jesus’ plan to answer the tearful prayer offered up on the way home after church while listening to the gift He’s given Whitney Houston, that I more effectively give to others what He’s given to me?
Or, is it His way of allowing me to understand better and to live what Oswald Chambers discusses about reconciliation in today’s devotional?
“First be reconciled to thy brother . . .” Our Lord’s direction is simple, “first be reconciled.” Go back the way you came, go the way indicated to you by the conviction given at the altar; have an attitude of mind and a temper of soul to the one who has something against you that makes reconciliation as natural as breathing.
Whatever the reason, I accept this challenge as a call to go up higher in my daily walk and talk as an ambassador for Christ.
When God directs, a word released will hit its target. This was part of Pastor’s Heart of a Champion message at today’s 10:45 a.m. service. And, as target, I am living proof. God’s word hit its mark. I get to remember that when the lock’s on the inside, it’s up to me when I walk out of whatever prison I find myself in.
I’ve been thinking a lot about being vs doing lately and Pastor reminded us that the battle is the Lord’s. While waiting on the Lord to make His move we need simply:
- Show up and believe in God.
- Hold on to our faith.
- Refuse to operate out of fear.
- Go deeper in conviction and confidence and…
- Listen to God’s directions.
Like Benaiah, the man Yahweh built, we too were made for precisely this moment. Our DNA is that of Jesus – the Champion.
“Sometimes, you’ve gotta faith your way out”. ~ Clinton House, Sr.
And, as Oswald Chambers reminds us, “God does not ask us to do things that are naturally easy for us – He only asks us to do the things that we are perfectly fit to do through His grace, and that is where the cross we must bear will always come.”
A plausible answer to the question, Do we have free will or destiny?, was given in a movie I saw this evening, The Answer Man. Jeff Daniels played the misanthropic auteur who gave the sage response: “Free will moving us toward or away from purpose.” Is that what I come up against more than half the time I sit down to blog? Free will? What if it’s moving me both toward and away from purpose at all times?
What if I was supposed to fight to keep my puppy? Or to get him back once the couple who says they are going to adopt him do? If the purpose is to glorify God, does it matter what the actual outcome is as long as He gets the glory? It’s not always crystal clear what that might look like in any given situation, after all.
It was a refreshing perspective to consider though, when Daniels’ character, sweet-talking a woman who, together with her son, were the answer to every one of his questions said:
God can’t wait to fall in love with the world all over again each day through your eyes.
Imagine. If I really believed that, how would I live? Maybe I’ll sit in silence next year instead of daily blogging. Maybe I’ll write that book this NaNoWriMo. Maybe I’ll invite the 098 sections to take up the NaNoWriMo challenge to complete our collaborative textbook chapters…