Tuesday, February 28, 2006

God is...

"How would you finish this sentence: God is...?" The question was asked of me during the morning session at a youth summer camp I was helping to lead. "A king," I thought. "Of course. A king." But it didn't fit. "A father?" I tried again. I knew they were true, but that's not what God is to ME. "God...is...a..." I tried to think of any possible answer that would get me through a Sunday School class, but what my mouth said surprised me. "Thunderstorm." God's a what?! What on earth are you talking about? Then again...

I used to hate thunderstorms. They terrified me. But as I grew older, watching them on our front porch became one of my favorite pastimes. They're so fascinating, so powerful, so...big. The smell in the air lets you know they're coming, but it's hard to say when or how big they'll be. Then the sky will flash, and though you can't hear anything yet, you know it's on its way. Then the rain starts to fall, and the drops are so big and make a loud pelting noise, leaving large, wet circles on the pavement. The bolts of lightning streak across the sky, and you can trace them, though they're often gone as soon as they appear. And when they're gone, the image of them is still burned in your head. Then the cracking noise shakes everything inside of you, and you feel like, if only for a brief moment, you ARE part of that storm. The wind throws everything around, the rain creates warm rivers where water doesn't normally flow, the sky lights up even where the lightning is not striking, and the air shakes with the sound of the splitting sky.

The more I thought about it, the more convinced I was that, to me, God really is a thunderstorm. I can't predict what He'll do or how big it'll be, but when He moves the image of it is firmly seared in my mind. The power that He wields in my life overwhelms me, but somehow it makes me feel like I'm intimately involved in what He does. He moves things around without me ever seeing His hand, and the places that I never thought could hold the blessings He pours out start rapidly flowing with His grace.

I was supposed to spend the rest of the day writing a Bible study for the kids, but instead I wrote this:

As I mounted the wave, I wanted so badly to see the beauty that surrounded me: the power in the sky, the vastness of the ocean, the way the wind - something I can't even describe because I can't see it - how it could change any and every aspect of my surroundings. I wanted so badly to look at these things, to see them, to awe at them, but instead of awe I showed fear. I can honestly say my courage melted away. I moved like a drunk man as if I had no hope, no direction, no joy. Left. Right. Left. Right. How faithless I must've looked. I cried in fear, as if I had no rescue, as if I didn't (couldn't) trust you...as if you weren't who you said you were. I'll admit (shamefully) that I was shocked when I couldn't hear them anymore - when the wind and the waves and the rain and the yells and the breaking of the ship...when it all just stopped. When, after the screams and groans and cries, everything whispered, "Why did you doubt?"

We're supposed to get some thunderstorms this week. I'm pretty excited about that.

"At this my heart pounds and leaps from its place. Listen! Listen to the roar of his voice, to the rumbling that comes from his mouth. He unleashes his lightning beneath the whole heaven and sends it to the ends of the earth. After that comes the sound of his roar; he thunders with his majestic voice. When his voice resounds, he holds nothing back. God's voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding."

~Job 37:1-5~

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Claire R. Wauer (June 26, 1916-February 12, 2006)

I miss them.
I never knew them smooth.
I never saw them young.
But I felt them - wrinkled and aged and short and sweet.
I remember
how they kissed life,
how they kissed time,
how they kissed me.

I miss them.
I never knew them clear.
I never saw them unsunken.
But I looked into them – dark and circled and bright and stern.
I remember
how they watched life,
how they watched time,
how they watched me.

I miss them.
I never knew them soft.
I never saw them unspotted.
But I touched them – rough and brown and strong and careful.
I remember
how they held life,
how they held time,
how they held me.

I miss you.
One time you called me your great-granddaughter
One time you said “goodbye” while I was talking
But you loved me – talking and playing and smiling and kissing.
I remember
how life loved you,
how time loved you,
how I loved you.

Your kisses, your eyes, your hands, your love
I remember them all.
I miss them all.
I miss you, Gram.

To read my sisters' tributes to Grandma:

Thursday, February 16, 2006

"Now show me your glory."

He found himself in a place with steep, sharp, craggy rocks on every side. It was cold, it was damp, the air was stagnant and he was pinned. His eyes were covered so that he could not see through the only place that led to the open air. But instead of panic or frustration or anger, he found beauty in that moment.

He understood the nature of his confinement. He was not covered as discipline for disobedience; not because he needed to learn patience or even dependence. No, God had covered him in that place for one purpose: protection from Himself. God was about to be amazing, was about to speak His own name, and that cleft was Moses' only hope for survival. The full goodness of God, the fullness of His glory, was about to pass by the mountain where he stood, and Moses knew that goodness was too much for him.

"No one may see me and live," the LORD said.

God is so good. Too good. When God reveals His goodness, His faithfulness, His very Presence, it is too much for us. When we ask God to move in our lives, do we expect to be able to stand out in the open air and watch Him go by? What is it about God that makes us think the mountaintop is a safe place to meet Him? Moses knew that God was with Him, and he patiently waited in the side of that mountain until the LORD removed His hand and led him out. Sometimes He places us in the tight spots because He's about to be amazing. Sometimes we're safer when we can't move.

~Exodus 33:12-23~

Stuck between a rock and a hard place,
I found that the hard place was Your hand.