Tuesday, December 18, 2012

7 Minutes with Falling Water

This morning I had 7 extra minutes after I finished my run.  The outside track at my gym is incredibly beautiful (a pond with a fountain, trees, picnic tables, etc.), and the rocks and waterfalls beckoned me, so with 7 minutes to spare I took the invitation and climbed the small mountain to sit on one of the boulders and just be.

7 minutes in that quiet - no kids, no people, no laundry, no e-mails, no Christmas even.  I sat mesmerized by the movement for a few moments, and then something struck me and, true to form, the Lord taught me truth.

The water at the very top of the falls seemed perfectly still.  I mean, perfectly still.  I couldn't see it move at all.  Really the only way I knew it was moving was because the waterfall had to be coming from somewhere.  After the water passed from the top pool that seemed so still, so calm, it fell down a number of feet, hitting many rocks along the way, until it churned white foam into another pool.  And then it flowed dutifully through that calm but flowing pool over some more rocks, dropping quickly into the pool below.

The stillness led to chaos, which led to stillness. Sounds familiar.  Hello, my life.

When we visited Virginia a couple of years ago I took Nate by the home where I grew up.  My parents have since moved to a different house, and I had not had the chance say my goodbyes to my home of 24 years.  We pulled up to the curb and stepped out so I could walk the streets where I had drawn so many hopscotches, ridden my big wheels, shoveled the snow, and [memory] and [memory] after [memory] (they do tend to accumulate after 2.5 decades).  As we stood there in the night looking at the lights inside, the cat in the window, the cars in the driveway, I just started to cry.  Sure, I think a part of me was just getting gushy (I'm a hopeless sentimentalist), but I think the biggest part was saying goodbye, not to the house, but to what that house represented for me - that simple phase of my life.  It was now officially over.  My life no longer consisted of roller skates and handstands in the yard, but my sister's cancer, my homesickness from living so far from family, my sleep deprivation from being a new mom.  Life had gone from being so simple, so still, to what felt like a freefall.

We've had some easy times since then.  We've had some crazy times since then.  More easy times.  More chaos.  Never that same stillness I had as a child. 

I thought about these things and how well they were reflected in those waterfalls, and I dwelt on these words:

Deep calls to deep
    in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
    have swept over me.

By day the Lord directs his love,
    at night his song is with me—
    a prayer to the God of my life.
               ~ Psalm 42:7-8  

"That's my life!" I thought as I watched the water flow.  Stillness. Madness. Stillness. Madness. And all along the Lord has directed His love to me.  Even when all of the waves and breakers felt like they were sweeping me away, His song has been with me.

After my 7 minutes were up and I walked down the stony path to leave, I watched the water fall over the rocks, and a the very bottom, I saw something breathtakingly beautiful - stillness again.  At the very end of the water's journey, it smoothed out one last time, and so it remained.  

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
             ~Revelation 21:3-4

I'm not sure how many different falls there were, how many different pools, how many fierce rapids, or how many eddies.  What I can tell you is how still the water was at the top, how very busy it was in the middle, and how still it ended.

And so, in 7 minutes this morning, God reminded me of Hope, of Peace, and of my future after this madness is done.


Monday, October 29, 2012

The Rock Higher than I

I need something to rest me feet on.  At this moment they aren't so much exhausted as they are shaky, unsure.  I need something strong and secure.  I need a rock.

My husband has been in emergency room for the last 7.5 hours, and since we have two small children I wasn't able to go with him.  All that I know about his visit is what he sends me through texts, and since he has a scientific background AND he's hearing the doctor's words first-hand, I'm sensing there's a disconnect between what he intends to communicate through his texts and what I read.  

I hate that I can't be there with him.  I hate that I don't know what's really going on.  More than that I hate that even if I was sitting right beside him and knew exactly what was happening, there's nothing I can do to fix it.  He is out of my control.  Today, that truth stings.

I've said that ever since we started dating.  "He belongs to you, Lord.  Our marriage belongs to you.  Our kids belong to you.  Our life, our possessions, our future - they are all yours."  But when I'm actually faced with that reality, I'm finding it much harder to keep my knees from buckling beneath me.  

As I searched for words this morning while I prayed for my husband who may or may not be very sick I just kept asking the Lord to lift me above this and put my feet on something of which I can be sure.  I needed Him to put me on the safe and strong higher ground.

   Hear my cry, O God;
Attend to my prayer. 
   From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. 
   For You have been a shelter for me,
A strong tower from the enemy. 
   I will abide in Your tabernacle forever;
I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. 
                      ~Psalm 61:1-4

"Lead me to the rock that is higher than I." Good gracious, I love that.

I love that God is our rock.  There are so many wonderful word pictures for our Savior, but today this is the picture to which I cling, because today I need that strength. I need that security. I need to know that what I'm standing on is immovable, despite the winds and the waves and the rising waters.  

As each moment passed during my day, as each hour  moved on to the next, anxiety begged me to let it take over.  It tried to choke me with fear and stifle me with the unknowns, but God, in His good, good grace, reminded me of the rock on which I stand.

I don't know what tomorrow holds.  Honestly, I'm not even sure how today is going to turn out.  But I do know God is good.  I know that He is strong and mighty.  I know He is far, far above this storm.  I know that I can plant my feet on Him.  He is a sure and steady anchor.  He is my rock. And He is far higher than I.

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.

      On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
      All other ground is sinking sand;
      All other ground is sinking sand.
When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

      On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
      All other ground is sinking sand;
      All other ground is sinking sand.
His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.

      On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
      All other ground is sinking sand;
      All other ground is sinking sand.
When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

      On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
      All other ground is sinking sand;
      All other ground is sinking sand.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012


I've always loved the word "Maranatha".  It has such a beautiful flow to it, and it just sounds so rich.  I've never really been able to use it, though.  I've never liked what it means.

"Come, O Lord."

I've never quite been ready to say that.  I like my life.  I always have.  Sure, there have been super hard parts - things I would much, much rather do without.  There were days in junior high that I thought I'd be better off dead.  I have a lot of memories I wish I didn't have.  I've cried more tears than I hope to ever cry again.  I've held people in pain both in their hearts and in their bodies.  But none of it has ever been bad enough that I would wish for this life to end and the New Life to begin.

I know I should want that.  I know my hope should be in the soon return of Christ, but I just have too much to look forward to.

I wanted to get married.  I wanted to have kids.  I want to see my kids grow up.  I want to see my family members come to know the Lord.

But finally today I said "Maranatha" and I meant it.

My friends hurt.  They hurt in ways people should never have to hurt.  They hurt in ways that I have lived my whole life dreading that I, myself, would hurt, and there is nothing I can do to fix it.  Why?  Because this world is broken.  That's just the way it is.  And until Christ comes again, this world can never be right. 

I'm out of tears tonight.  My prayers are starting to repeat themselves.  I still can't fix the pain in my dear friends' hearts.  And more than ever before in my life, my heart yearns for things to be right.

Come, O Lord.  Maranatha.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Stubborn Mule in the Grip of Grace

"God, give me grace!"

I pray this prayer at minimum 57 times a day regarding my children.  Another tantrum, another injury, another early morning after another bad night.  My kids require so much more grace than I ever knew I would need and oh-so-much more than have to give.  Which is a good thing, I suppose.  It keeps me drinking from the Well, that's for sure.

As I go through my day pleading each moment for another rain of tenderness toward my children, it's easy to get caught dwelling on, well, why they're demanding so much grace in the first place (i.e. another tantrum, another injury, getting up way too early again).  When I feel like I'm reaching the end of my grace rope, my tendency is to pray away the things that are driving me nuts.

"Lord, remove this stubbornness in his heart!" "God, his recklessness will be the death of me...or him...or both! How do I make him more cautious?!"

But what if, instead of asking God to graciously remove the things in my kids that I don't like, I ask him to get a grip on those things and never let go.

I think every parent has dreams for his or her children.  We imagine what their personalities will be, who they'll marry, the careers they'll have, how self-sufficient they'll be (nursing moms dwell on this a lot).  We look at our children's strengths and wonder how God will use his creativity, or her gentleness, or his natural leadership.  It's not hard to imagine God using a friendly disposition or a love for learning to His glory.  It's another matter, however, when all we feel like we see are tears over hurt feelings and selfish swiping of toys.

One day recently, as I sat on the edge of the tub after disciplining my son again (my place of refuge when I need a minute to recoup), I was praying a prayer of exasperation that is all too common these days, "God, he is so stubborn!" In that moment I remembered my prayer for my boys that morning. "Lord, make them men who know how to persevere.  Who don't give up just because things are hard, but who will push through knowing that their goal and their hope are worth it."

Suddenly, I felt and knew this truth: Perseverance is stubbornness in the grip of God's grace.


My mommy world was shaken and a whole new horizon was opened. 

That same stubbornness that I just had to discipline my son for could be the answer to my morning prayer for my boys if only he would let God get a  hold of his stubborn heart.

Even the darkest things I see in my kids (and in myself, now that you mention it) can be used to the honor and glory of God.  He doesn't have to take things away from their personality to make them effective for His name.  All that needs to happen is that they humble themselves before the Lord, and the grip of His grace will shape them into effective ministers for His glory.

So, Lord, take a hold of my son's stubbornness and build him into a man who perseveres.  Grab my son's recklessness and turn it into a fearlessness for your Truth.  Help me to see the ways that you have uniquely gifted my children to show your glory to this world, and make me a minister of your grace to them, helping shape them into the men you have designed them to be.

- Is your son cocky? Imagine the advantages of sharing the Gospel with such confidence.
- Is your daughter a know-it-all? The Lord could use some assertive truth-tellers.
- Is your son a tantrum thrower? I'll bet God could use such passion.
- Is your daughter bossy? The church needs people with vision and organization.
- Are your kids whiners?  God desperately wants people to be vocal about injustice.

What do you see in your children that drives you nuts?  What makes you say, "God, give me grace!" What could that trait become in the grip of God's grace?  Let's pray that the sinfulness we see in our children's hearts will be transformed into mighty tools for the Kingdom of God.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Potty Training the Disciples

On the mommy side of things potty training is tough. And messy. And exasperating at times. Since I've been doing my business in the commode for quite some time now, it's beyond me how something so simple (and so sanitary) just isn't clicking for my 2-year-old. How could he not know how to do it? And when he does do it, why does he not keep doing it? Why doesn't he get it?!

I had a moment the other day that I'm sure any mother of a potty trained toddler has experienced. I asked him if he had to potty. He said yes. He sat on the potty. Nothing happened. He left the bathroom. He cleared out the linen closet. He closed the door. He opened the door. He said, "all wet in there." We changed his underwear. Again.

After he went on his merry way I sat in the bathroom feeling so frustrated, just asking the Lord to give me the grace to love my son well. I knew he wasn't trying to pee everywhere but the toilet. I knew he wanted to do what mommy was asking him to. But something just wasn't computing for him, and I was left following him around with paper towels, a spray bottle, and a headache.

But, as is often the case, God gave me so much more than the grace I was asking for. He gave me a clue.

In Bible study we have been working our way through the gospel of John. It has been so refreshing just to look at the Jesus that we claim to know, to study his words and his actions, and to discuss what they show us about the Christ that came as the Savior of the world. Keeping a pretty rapid pace, I've been able to notice some things that have either escaped my attention before, or that I just didn't realize the significance of. One of those things is the faith of the disciples. John's stated purpose for writing that book is found in John 20:31. "These things are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you might have life in His name." Everything that is included in the book is intended to solidify faith in who Jesus was and what He came to do. But the disciples just.didn't.get it.

It's amazing to me how often they would say to each other, "What does he mean?" or "We don't know what he's talking about." And Jesus says to them (more than once), "Do you still not understand?" How is it possible that, after He recently fed five thousand people, they still ask, "How are we going to feed them all?" How can they not get it?!

And then there's me. How can I read the Bible, do the studies, talk about it, teach about it, sing songs with my sons about it, and still not get it?

As I sat there on the edge of the bathtub, sighing about another puddle to clean, asking that God would help me be gracious as my son learned what was right, I became very, very aware of Christ's patience with his chosen disciples and the Lord's continued grace toward me. And I was so grateful for the verses that we read this week:  

Then Jesus’ disciples said, “Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.” “You believe at last!" Jesus answered.

They got it! They finally, truly got it! Since I am eagerly awaiting that day when I know my son really gets it, I have a small sense of the delight that must have brought to Jesus.

After all, I'm just cleaning up tiny messes of a two-year-old. He was cleaning up the sin of the entire world. Praise God for His grace during the training period.