Monday, March 11, 2019
Dwelling in Your shelter, resting in Your shadow.
Is it real? Is it possible? Or are those just words printed on ancient pages spoken long ago by a clever king?
“He who dwells in the shelter of the most high will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”
When the hard days roll 'round, we've got to have something we hold on to.
So i say to myself, ---- “donna, where are you dwelling?”
It's a simple, hugely important question. Where are you dwelling ? Mentally?
I've learned that where i'm dwelling physically doesn't matter nearly as much as where i'm dwelling mentally......... spiritually.........emotionally.
Took me years to get that piece settled in my bones.
Truth is, where i'm dwelling physically can even end up being a distraction from where I need to be dwelling mentally.
Remove all the wonderfulness of being in a comfortable place. Go through the personal “fire” of letting go of all that you thought mattered so much. Lay down the house, the stuff, the familiar wonderfulness of all you've nested up around you -------- lay it all down and go to an uncomfortable, unfamiliar place and if we let Him ----- He will show us Himself in ways we might never have seen Him in that nest of comfortable.
That laying down can happen in about a million different ways. No one way is more powerful or important than the other. What's important is that we allow it to come to us.
Look around you and you'll find so many souls who have refused to lay down their life.
They will not consider it ----- because maybe it makes absolutely no sense to them. That's only because they haven't yet let themselves feel the touch of His hand or heard His still small voice saying, “Come away with me.”
It's ok. It's not that they are bad or even selfish. It's mostly that they don't know how to get from where they are to the place He can take them. It's that they don't know how and they haven't been brought to the place where they “let go” and “let Him” do what only He can do.
And maybe they're wildly afraid of even considering it.
I wasted so many years pointing my fingers at others. If you're one of those dear souls I pointed at ---- you likely never knew it ---- I was a closet pointer. Pointing at others with a criticalness that only reflected my own ugly heart of frustration towards myself. I knew I couldn't get from where I was “dwelling” to where I wanted to be -------- so I pointed at others who weren't there yet either.
What an exhausting, ugly way of half-living.
Then the good One began reworking me from the inside out. He began pulling my “nest” apart long before He moved me out of the home where I perched. Abba began shifting my thoughts. I asked Him to. I profoundly remember sitting on my front porch with a blanket wrapped around me on a cold winter morning and saying, “Fix me Lord. I'm not who you call me to be, i'm not who I want to be. I'm not who my family needs me to be, i'm wasting time on lesser things, when surely You had more in mind.” Nothing actually happened in that moment, but something began to move. I kept knocking and asking for help from Him.
I had to come to the end of myself. My ways.
I was “dwelling” in places that were consuming me.
Imagine that. We people can live in a type of symbiotic existence with our mental/emotional nests of comfort. It supplies us with a place to lay our thoughts ------ while we provide it (un-alive as it is) with our devoted presence.
My mental, emotional, and physical energies were focused on levels of living that spoke more of “this world” than they did of “the shelter of the Most High”.
There are three types of souls reading this.
Those who get it, because the same Daddy-God has opened their eyes to it.
Those who have no idea what i'm talking about and probably haven't even read this far.
And those who are aching over the realization that they no longer want to remain in the mental/emotional/physical nest they've worked so hard to create around them.
The first group ---- i'm hugging you on your good (albeit hard) journey.
The second group ---- i'm literally praying for you as I pen these words ---- you've got a storm coming that will scoot you towards the next group. I pray you make it all the way to the the first group.
The third group ----- oh don't feel alone in the Holy shift. If you'll hang in there for the climb, you're about to get to step into places you never imagined possible. Places of freedom (and loss), where you can breathe deeply and lay many things down. A place where you understand more, have less confusion, where you'll see and you'll care, you'll no longer judge and compare. But it's not an easy climb. Moving is always hard. Always.
“The one who dwells in the shelter of the most High, will rest in the shadow of the Almighty”--- eat every morsel of those words.
We simply can not dwell in God's shelter and remain in our own place. We've got to be willing to let Him move us w-h-e-r-e-v-e-r He wants to.
Over and over again I hear people say things like, “Oh I love God with all my heart ---- but I could never go.............. and do...............” and I get it. Who chooses to free-fall into the unknown? I'd guess a very small percentage of people would choose it. But, many of us just knew we couldn't live without it.
----- we are living a half-faith-life if we can say with one breath, “I love the Lord with all my heart” ----- and then insist on having it our (human-self) way. The two pieces can never fit side-by-side. The two pieces can exist in the same life ------- but they are not connected. It produces a divided way of living.
That's the painful reality.
It's what so many people who have stepped away from the church say they have seen. Seeing the church say one thing ----- but living another thing. And oh God help us all ----- haven't we Christians done it so poorly. I have. But may it not be so now.
If I want to “dwell in the shelter of the most High”, I must not insist on living in another shelter (one that i've created and one i can manage). My emotional, mental, spiritual dwelling must be in the place He is found.
And oh the goodness that when ---- I move to that shelter ------ I can breathe “in the shadow of the Almighty”.
Is this making sense?
I'm not talking about the physical place we lay our heads down and call our home.
I'm talking about the mental place we let our thoughts lay down in.
We can live in a palace and our mental/emotional thoughts dwell in the gutter. Likewise, we can live in a dirt-floor-room and our mental/emotional thoughts dwell in a sanctuary.
We people too often think that if a person is living in a fine mansion, then they are “doing well”. But that's only the physical appearance of things. They might actually be the “poor” that are in need of the most. The other side of that coin tries to tell us the person living in a hut with no modern luxuries is “in need”. But again, that's only the physical appearance of things. They might actually be “dwelling in the shelter of the most High”. It all depends on where their heart and mind are centered.
Jesus never owned a home on this earth ------ and yet He was and is the King. His mind was centered solely on the Father. Jesus dwelled in the shelter of the Most High.
God speaks this soundly to my soul.
I've had to learn it over and over again.
I was willing to care for the one without food or water or shelter ---- because I could easily “see” their “need”.
But I was brutally blind to the one living in opulent wealth who was grievously poor in heart. So wrong donna.
Last Sunday we went up on the side of a mountain in Kenya to speak at a remote church. The old me would have been troubled over their obvious “needs”. It's hard work to resist that old-self. But God let me see something precious --- it was a reminder again.
There was a beautiful little girl running around with an old, worn baby-doll held tightly to her back. It was ragged and dirty. She held it to her back as if she was a Kenyan-momma. I watched her for so long. She was happy. Bouncing about with a worn doll on her back, wearing a torn dress, and I thought to myself of the challenges I knew she would have to face in the years ahead living on this mountainside.
My thoughts wanted to “dwell” in the wrong places ----- places that were not “in the shelter of the most High”. My mind began its old way of thinking. “donna, the least you can do is buy this precious little girl a new doll. You need to send one back up this mountain to her. She needs a new dress too........ and then............”
But i've learned .....
So I grabbed those thoughts and held them up to the One who adores her most.
And He whispered so sweetly to my heart, “She is thrilled with her tattered baby-doll. Someone loved her enough to give her a doll they were able to provide for her. Look at her eyes. They sparkle. She has no idea you are watching her. I'm letting you SEE her. Stop looking with wrong eyes. If you try and make 'things' better, according to your standards ------- then you will silently convey that how she is living is not good enough and how her hard-working parents have provided for her is not sufficient. And you'll teach her to define poverty wrongly. Truth is, she sparkles. She is not actually poor in My eyes. Remember how many other children you've seen surrounded by too many dolls and things of that sort who were not sparkling at all. They were pouting over wanting even more. See with My eyes donna, those who have so much are so often the poor. This little darling will have needs all her life, and you have your part in helping her, but it has nothing to do with the ragged, torn doll she happily carries on her back. Do the part I, God, call you to do. Stop letting your thoughts 'dwell' in the wrong places ---- 'Dwell in the shelter where I am, rest in My shadow there.' Follow MY lead. I will guide you. You can not do My work ---- your way. It won't work. But dwell close to Me and I will give you rest as you do My work My way.”
The only way to live from the place of His shelter, and rest in the place of peace found in His shadow ------------ is to turn my eyes always to what He says matters most to Him.
The world will not understand it. The world will even be critical of it. But the One who is our Shelter will let us rest in His shadow ----------- even as we put our hands to the work needed in this broken world again and again and again.
But this world Lord........ in this world.......
When babies are being slaughtered inside the womb --------- we must stay focused on the One who always reaches for them.
When babies are rejected out of the womb (abortion) and lay crying in their struggle to live (surviving abortion)-------- I must stay focused on the One who hears their cry and gathers them up in His good arms.
When 'little'-power-hungry-people pass laws that feed a fallen world ----- I must not focus on them (the people or the laws), I must focus on the One who sees it all and will deal with those who are corrupt.
When a “preacher” says things that are NOT in God's Word ----- I must stay steady in saying what is in line with God's heart (and His Word).
When eyes are diverted and focused on lesser things ---- (I must remember my own tendency to do the same) ------ and choose carefully to see with His eyes what my distracted-eyes will miss.
When criticisms and/or accusations come------ I must remember ----- I have a Defender who says, “Get in My shadow daughter, i'll handle this MY WAY.”
“The one who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”
Wednesday, February 27, 2019
I've always loved the image of an older person walking with a young toddler. Neither of them are rushing. The former has learned the value of slowing down. The latter has not yet learned how to go quickly.
Let yourself picture it. They're both looking down, they each have a feebleness to their gait. When one looks at the other, they each smile. They neither really focus on where they are going, but they both are just enjoying not being alone. Melts me as I picture it.
Their pace is perfectly matched yet from two different perspectives. And in their slow walk together the young one has a chance to learn. The elder one feels the gift of being needed.They bring much to each other. They laugh and look and bend down low to see something that would have been missed if either had been in a hurry.
It's been just such a walk that i've experienced. Left alone, I would have only seen a troublesome pebble. But walking beside the One who was willing to keep a slower pace, Holy moments have shown up and i've learned.... I can better see the diamond in the rough.... i've learned.
It's not that i've been trying to become holy. Just as the toddler walking with the elder-one is not trying to become an old sage. Nor is the elder trying to become young again like the toddler. It's simply that by spending time together on an unhurried path, they will see and learn things they would have missed if they'd been walking alone.
Most all my life, regardless of my age, i've felt like a “toddler”. It's not that I feel perpetually 2 years old, it's only that I embrace the sense of “there's so much I don't know, there's so much still to learn”. Somehow my heart and mind have a propensity to look for the wiser, older, kinder, stronger, slower paced, sparkling “teachers”. Some might be bored senseless over it, but there's nothing more entertaining or intriguing than wise words and timeless stories told by someone who has lived well and out lasted life's storms. To say it's fascinating is an understatement.
In retrospect, there are also few conversations sadder than those with an old person who has not lived well, not learned much, and left a trail of void in their wake. So to be clear, not all older people can be counted as wise. The overflow of their life will determine how much they should be heard. Another way to say it is, look at the result of their choices in life before listening to their stories and trying to learn from their example. Perhaps that seems obvious, but, it's worth clarifying. Because there are too many people who think they earn a badge simply because they've lived several decades. And we're surrounded by a world of young people who have been wounded by older people who were not good to them. Sadly, there are those images in their minds of being the toddler walking beside the older person being drug along in rushed, harsh ways ------ there were no gentle moments of kind-paced-living. Those are some of the most wounded adults around us. When an older person is harsh with a child, it breaks much.
That being said ------- when we find a wonderful old soul who has lived well, we are wise to scoot up our chairs and listen close. Wisdom compels us to walk at their pace for as long as they will let us.
I'm thinking it's part of the Maker's plan. After all, He is the One who decided we would be born as babies and grow towards being old. He could have chosen the opposite. We could have been born wrinkly and old only to progress towards youth. Certainly if that had been the course of life, we would appreciate the health and energy of youth much more. But why is it that all too often we don't embrace the pace and wisdom of the wise elderly souls among us? Do we? Perhaps you do. I hope so. Still, it's fair to say, that all too often they seem to be swept to the side, and viewed through rushed lenses and can't-you-go-faster sort of ways.
Did you catch that last sentence? Too often we view the elderly through “rushed lenses”. The very mannerisms that wound a toddler will also wound the older souls.
Sitting in the airport is one of the best places to “see” things a bit more clearly. Perhaps it can happen because we don't actually know the people we're watching. If we'll try, we have a chance to see much about them without knowing any of the details of their life. The way they interact, the look on their faces, the way they sit. And i've learned something in my non-judgmental observations. It's the toddlers and the elderly that are the-most-beautiful-people. Certainly, there are many kind-souls found among the people in between the young and the old. But casual observations have repeatedly conveyed to me ----- the one's who know they have no control over their setting, are the one's who are the gentlest and kindest. The toddler being held in her daddy's arms is not rushing or worried, she's holding her stuffed animal and looking at the passing faces. She's literally looking to see if anyone sees her. When she notices my smiling eyes are on her, she smiles the-most-peace-filled-response. Her good daddy didn't know his girl was scattering gifts as they rushed to their gate. I needed her precious smile. She gave it with perfection.
Just after them came two old people in wheelchairs being pushed along by airport attendants. It was a him and her duo with flowing robes and a red dot painted on their foreheads. I instantly knew they believed differently than me in their souls, but still I was watching for something. They were quiet in their wheelchair procession. Again, just like the little girl being carried by here daddy, these two were also being cared for by others. They didn't have to rush or worry ----- someone else was doing the work for them. That's a major factor not to be overlooked. Still, as their loaded down wheelchairs passed in front of my gate, the lady turned her kind face in my direction and gave me a smile that was a faint whisper of my sweet grandmother's sparkle. My responding smile brought a broad smile across her aged skin and right there ---- in the wild rush of people ---- she and I felt the touch of “goodness”.
And nothing that happened the rest of that day was as beautiful as those two “touches”.
If I had looked for a smile from the 40 something year old lady sitting across from me, I would possibly still be waiting. Oh i'm not slamming her. It's just that, somehow too many of us get off the good course in the years between learning-to-walk and no-longer-able-to. We lose something so valuable.
Maybe it's only me...... maybe i'm the only one who notices all that I seem to inherently overlook. If so, then this writing is only of value in that now you all know ---- i'm finally seeing what you've known all along.
But the sharing of it can still be of value I hope. Because as I walk down the street in most any place, it's always the little and the old that seem to know the most. There are no words exchanged usually, only a nod, a smile, and a kindness given. The world misses it so often. I've missed it for too long.
When lonely is stalking about, it'll be the little carefree toddler (who is being cared for by loving parents) who, without a word, reaches clear through the wall of lonely and shifts things.
When worry is breathing down a tired backbone, it'll be the elderly soul (who has lived well and passed through much) who, without even an ounce of power, can give a short string of solid-rock words that strengthen marrow and broaden shoulders. Sometimes they can do it with just a nod and a knowing look. It's an amazing gift from “the One who rides across the heavens to help us, across the skies in majestic splendor”. (Deut. 33:26) And catch this --- whether they know He is using them or not --- HE still will. (If God could make a donkey talk.......... He can flow through anyone.)
Then I sit in the quiet and ponder --- studying it --- as if i'm preparing for a final exam not on my calendar. And i see something tucked inside of value to my soul.
It's a whispering from the Good One. He will speak to His children who are still enough to remember who HE is and all that they are not.
It comes like a blanket on a cold windy day. As He lays it on my shivering shoulders, He whispers to my heart ------
The ones who are carried well, respond well.
It's the ones willing to be carried well that are willing to respond well.
It's the ones who let Me, God, carry them, that will always be able to respond well.
It's the ones who know they can not do 'it', the one's who know they need My help, the one's who rely on me to carry them ----- they are the one's who are able to respond well.
They show up, they hold on, they sit where I tell them to and trust Me to get them to the right places --- they rest in My shadow, tucked under My wing ----- they have eyes to see and a smile to give because they know they are carried by the One who knows the way.” (Psalm 91:1&4)
Oh good Lord.
It's so very true.
You are ever willing to carry me as if i'm a toddler in your good-Daddy arms. You will carry me the full distance, I need only to stop squirming and worrying and fretting. Too often i've forced you to sit me down in my unruly lack of trust or refusal to let you h-o-l-d m-e. Oh God i'm seeing. I'm learning, The picture of the smiling toddler in her good-daddy's arms IS the picture You desire for You and me. Always.
You know the way.
And I can look around at all that we pass ---- giving to others a spark of the goodness that comes from being held by You.
And the elderly ones being pushed along in the wheelchairs, glowing over the knowing that others have the work of getting them to their gates ----- that's suppose to be “us” too isn't it Lord?
You are willing to let me rest while your walk with me through the hills and valleys of this life. You will do the work, I only need to remain in the seat you give me. I'm not doing “nothing”, but i'm not doing it all. You are. I can rest in Your presence. I can not rest apart from it. It's the lovely picture of “Be still and know that I AM GOD.” (Psalm 46:10)
Whether I like the chair where you've placed me or not is where so often the s-t-r-u-g-g-l-e begins.
As if I know something more than you do.
The toddler doesn't question --- she's not asking her daddy if he's sure he knows what he's doing. She actually won't even notice if he messes up. She just rides along in his arms.
Forgive me for being a squirming one.
To trust that You will carry me is either a truth in my life or not ----- and I need to quit faking it if it is not. Likewise, I need to rest in it if it is the Truth. I cause so many problems with my squirming thoughts.
We grown-up kids seem to think we are able to do something of value.
But if we're not being carried by the Good-Daddy-God ----- we're destined to mess up whatever we think we can do. Mess up in the sense of ---- it'll only be base-line acceptable at best. But it won't be touched by the Holy One who will bring the excellence – the goodness – the i-never-imagined-that-was-possible essence to whatever we're putting hand to.
It'll be sufficient, maybe, but it won't be what it could have been.
The toddler's smile went to a secret place in my soul, as did the elderly ladies.
They trusted that they were being c-a-r-r-i-e-d, they were not worried over the details, they were able to see and do much from their cared-for-perch.
Oh Father ---- whether i'm cooking dinner, teaching a class, praying on my knees or scrubbing something clean ----- no matter what i'm putting my hands to ------ please Lord ----- help me to remember this lesson from you ------- You are willing to carry me, You are willing to carry us all ---- and You know the way, You know the best way, we need only to be still in your arms and let the world around us see in our eyes ------- and receive in our smile ------ we are held and YOU ARE GOOD....... always.......
Friday, October 26, 2018
It's 16 days before we board a flight with our last remaining things and fly back home to America. This flight is profoundly different that all other flights before it. This time ------ we're going home.
Going home doesn't mean we stop working. It doesn't mean we're finished. Retirement isn't a word in our personal vocabulary. So what does it mean?
It means our borders are expanding in a new direction. One that will let us be present for family and friends as well as be more available for those needing renewal and rebooting. We're so thankful to know we already have 3 missionary couples lined up for soul-care beginning in December. Makes my heart gush.
5 ½ years ago my eyes could not stop leaking......... moving to the mission field was no small thing. It opened flood gates of tears.
Now 5 ½ years later my heart is gushing over the fullness of all that has taken place and all that is still to come. I know much is ahead. How can I be so sure? Because I also know that what has happened these last few years did not come as a result of me. It came from the One who is ever able; the One who knows what is needed and can deliver with perfection. Without a doubt ---- HE still knows the way forward and there's peace that He is writing the script.
I'm doing the steady work of processing it all out carefully. That's my part. I'm not trying to lean into the GOD-part. His part is huge.
Mine is simply this: Pray, listen, remember,
prepare, focus, respond,
It's my heart's desire (and my job under Him) to encourage. This I know. Oh what peace comes in just knowing.
Encourage the dear Kenyan's through teaching truth and fostering healthy upward growth.
Encourage girls who aren't quite sure why they were born and what the world says to them.
Encourage ladies who have been wounded but they still want to love others and live loved.
Encourage couples who are brave enough to say “Yes” to each other and the path of being His servants in hard places.
Encourage parents to help their children grow-up-in-God, because they will face a hard world on their own someday.
Encourage through writing..... for those who want it on pages.
My heart is gushing for sure. It's intimidating, but in a good way. Years ago it would have doubled me over and sent me to a corner. But oh, i've been taught so much in the midst of flames that burn off what's fluffy and soft. There's more to learn (there'll always be more to learn). Still i'm so thankful for the hard courses the Teacher has guided me through thus far.
Today i'm able to click pause for a few hours and remember. Glance again at what is my part:
Pray, listen, remember, prepare, focus, respond, praise Him!
I wish I could show it in the circle/cycle way it rests inside me. It's basically a wheel image. Where “praise Him” appears to be at the end, it's actually not. It's always followed by “pray”. It is ever on repeat. It speaks of constant movement even if i'm sitting still. It's an internal motion that's good.
To pray is to acknowledge, “I need You Lord! (in everything), and so i'm coming to you over all things.”
To listen is the still that's needed inside and outside, the proving that “it's not my activity that makes things happen rightly, it will be Your guidance that leads me forward”. It requires self-control and heart-ears-opened. It's shutting out the noise of world and self, and connecting to the wonder of that still-small-voice. It's the whisper of the faithful One inside us.
To remember is the faith building part. It's the living-out of Psalm 77:11-12, “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your might deeds.” Remembering the parting and closing of the Red Sea... remembering the burning bush moment... remembering a baby born to a virgin destined for a cross... remembering the veil torn from top to bottom... remembering that a donkey spoke (and even he could speak truth)... remembering an ark and a rainbow and an empty tomb. Remembering the touch of His robe brought her healing... There's so much to remember that builds faith. And I also remember all He has done in my personal life. I remember who I was, who I am still capable of being, and who He invites me to be in His hands. I remember the dark nights i've pleaded with Him and the sureness of the coming sunrise. I remember the innumerable times there has been no way forward unless He does what only He is able to do ----- and He does it. I remember the moments I knew “death” was in front of me, and He stepped between us. I remember and it breathes courage in. Remembering is also a quiet, still time before the good One. Oh the value of being still with Him.
I'm remembering, as I prepare for these 16 days ahead. I'm remembering His faithfulness over these past 5 ½ years.
I'll never be able to share it all. It's a miracle really.
I'm moving back home, but i'm ever-changed.
Steve and I have 16 more sleeps on this side of the world before we board a plane (on my birthday no less) and feel again the sensation of a lift-off that others on the plane won't be feeling. And mostly all I can do in moments like that is sit in quiet amazement.
I look at my journal entries, going all the way back to 16 days before we left home and felt the lift-off that would carry us to life in Kenya. I remember well those days and I want to go back and hug that lady who penned out her heart. She was leaning into the wind of obedience and giving it all she had. But good-grief, she was so aware of her sorrow and need. She was honest with ink. Imagine it. She knew she was obeying the One who made her, yet she still felt profoundly weak. Think of a person preparing to run a triathlon who's also hooked up to IV fluids. I remember how i'd cry out to God saying, “You do know YOU are the One who has to do this. You are aware that I can not do this. You realize this is all YOU, right Lord?” (It's in my journal.... it was real.) And He again was faithful.
16 days before we departed for Kenya, I was helping my daughter and sister make pretty little pink and brown burlap flowers for Maggie's wedding which would take place 5 days before we departed. Sitting at my dear sister's dining room table we laughed and worked (and sometimes cried) out all the details of planning a wedding and moving to Kenya. It was a lovely time. It was a gut-wrenching time. And now I sit 16 days before departing from Kenya and flying back home.... 10 days of intense teaching is complete (10 more teaching days will begin next week), final exam given this morning, we'll go visit a woefully sick little girl today and carry desperately needed things to her and her family in a slum nearby. If we had never come, we would have missed so much that is in His heart.
And --- we'll return home changed.
We've seen and smelled and heard and felt much that could never let a person stay the same.
I've been held in the arms of strong Kenyan women who have scars. I thought I was suppose to hold them in my arms..... but they were so quick to hold me. I've seen strong American women care so deeply for them and for me, and do the best they could to reach for us all. The flow of His heart through them, it's overwhelmed me body and soul. I've had Kenyan ladies inspire me and American ladies compel me forward. I've watched Kenyan girls flounder in the grip of cruelty, and found courage to enter the arena with them. They don't necessarily want to be “rescued”, they really just want to be able to believe they are loved and they can rise above. THAT is a miracle to see.
Heaven is the place of rescue.
Heaven will come for everyone who carries Christ inside them.
Facing the realness of a hard world makes us know --- we can not rescue anyone really. But we can carry His love to them. It's no small thing. It's the right way.
Love God – Love others.
It's the stepping stones that lead to the moment of relief. The moment of release. The moment when we will, in Christ, step out of this broken world and into His HOME. That's the place of rescue.
But that can only happen --- true “rescue” can only come ---- after HIS LOVE has entered in and they are able to see that nothing can separate them from His love. WE CAN rise above whatever surrounds us because HE HAS entered into that place with us.
It is in the remembering, we are compelled to prepare (for what is next)...... to focus (on that assignment)........respond (in the way He guides)....... and praise Him again and again, because we know it's all His.
His journey (being lived out in us).
His plan (being worked out through us).
His heart (being guided in our own).
And His love (that brings the Light).
Without His love --- darkness overwhelms. Mansion or slum, in wealth or poverty --- without the entrance of His love, darkness keeps the light shut out.
I've learned so much (in a hard classroom) these 5 ½ years. Perhaps, this reality is at the top of the long list. It's been learned at a deeper place found only in the guts of a heart that's been broken and restored.
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.............”(1 Cor. 13:1-2)
This restored heart is gushing over the joy of what's ahead.
HE authors it all.
Aren't we all so thankful for that?
Friday, October 12, 2018
How can He possibly be so attentive and caring? While He sits enthroned in the heavenlies, is praised without end by creation, commands the angel armies ----- He still gives focused care to His soul-carrying little ones. Little ones....... that's us friend.
It seems the older I get the better i'm able to grasp just how infinitely tiny I am. So little. When we stand beside the great oceans, we feel our smallness (and don't we love that feeling). When we look at the massive size of the mountains, we know. We are specs in a massive universe.
The Camino De Santiago is a path often called The Way of St. James. It stretches from the western corner of France all the way across the country of Spain ending at the far western town of Fisterra. Ages ago most people believed Fisterra, Spain to the the edge of the world. They thought if you sailed past Fisterra's immense ocean horizon, you would fall off the world. Remembering history class helps us put it in place. Columbus believed the world was round while most everyone else thought it to be flat. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Steve and I have just completed the 29 day journey of biking (and on the biggest hills, walking) the Camino De Santiago. I've never felt so tiny and needy in all my life. Everyday we prayed as the sun came up, literally saying, “Father we need you again. We're so needy of You.” Our fifty-something- selves felt overwhelmed at the daily task of biking another 20+ miles day after day after day. Muscles we didn't remember we had came alive again ----- and they ached as they woke up. It was a struggle to put away the wish for comfortable and familiar. But for almost 2 decades we had wanted to travel this path the apostle James had carved out on his missionary journey to a very pagan people. The goodness of God and the teaching of Jesus had never crossed those huge mountains and flat plains. All they had were other lesser gods, created by people in an effort to reach for something greater. When James arrived, they had never heard the Truth, they did not know the Way, they had no hope for the future. To walk (bike) that ancient path was an experience I will likely spend the rest of my days processing.
It is the "smallest" i've ever felt. It was right.
Every morning we asked for His help. We knew we couldn't cover the ground in front of us if He did not go before us. Every evening we asked for His help. We knew we wouldn't find a place to lay our heads if He didn't provide. Every night we asked for His help. We knew our sleep would only come if He gave us the gift of rest. We knew we could not do the Camino if God did not do it through us.
I looked at other pilgrims, the term used for everyone traversing the Way, and wondered if they too knew their inability, or was it just me that felt so profoundly unable? At least 2 dozen times I wanted to turn in my mountain bike and get a bus to the airport. Not kidding. But inside me there was this urging, like an invitation, “Come, do this with Me”. It was yet another experience of knowing that if I did not do this, I would have to answer for it when I stood before Him on that great judgement day. So I talked long with the Father. We talked through all the reasons why I wanted to give up. He spoke so clearly to my heart. Here's a sampling of some of our talks during the 500+ miles I peddled across Spain.
Me: Now God, you know there are about a hundred other things I need to be doing right now...
Abba: None of those things will please me as much as you spending these miles with me.
Me: But God, don't you think people are going to think i'm indulging in a month long sabbatical?
Abba: If they do, that's between me and them. Focus on what I think donna. I'm your Defender.
Me: But God, what about our wonderful supporters? People who give so generously every month so we can obey Your call and serve others?
Abba: Those supporters give because I, God, stir their hearts to do so. Their support is about Me and what I'm doing through you, it's not about you and what you think you're doing for Me. They are giving to Me ----- not you.
Me: But what if we get hurt doing this Lord? You know there are so many things that could mess-us-up on this journey...
Abba: Do you trust me or not?
Me: I want to do this Abba, I really do. But i'd rather have a bunch of friends with us. It would feel so much safer and we'd all have so much fun.
Abba: I'm jealous for you.
Me: Will you use this journey?
Abba: I already am.
Me: Did James know all the ways you would use his obedience?
Abba: He didn't know then. He knows now.
Me: Is it right that I feel so immensely small and useless?
Abba: I've been waiting patiently for you to feel this way. I can use a tiny daughter.
And so it went, on and on, day after day. I'd speak out my heart (no hiding allowed), and He would respond. Scripture flooded my mind. I'd cry and the wind would dry my cheeks. He'd guide the direction of my eyes to notice the little things that He never misses; things He adores. The old couple, each with a cane, walking slowly holding hands. The bird that flew beside me stopping on fence posts to wait for me to catch up and as I passed it would sing so loudly.
The millions of dandelions e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e. Over and over again I'd be walking my bike up a mountain (cause this little-girl can NOT pedal straight up), looking down (so the sweat wouldn't keep sliding into my eyes) and there would be another bright dandelion, smiling up at me. The times the wind was at my back, almost as if there were wings pushing me onward. The times the wind was in my face, pushing the pesky flies away. Do you know how hard it is to bike uphill with flies attacking your eyes and nose?... maybe you do. I didn't. I do now. But when strong winds come, flies can't stay. (there's another whole blog in that sentence)
Every thought i've had about the transitioning from Kenya back to home in the States, well, we sorted it out on that long bike ride.
Every hurt i've wrestled with while living in Kenya........ we set right and laid down at the foot of the cross.
Every concern i've had about “are You sure about this change in ministry?”, I cried it out to Him and He reassured me again that, it's His, not mine. His words to my heart were, “Well of course you feel unsure, since it's not your idea, not your plan, and you know you can't do it.
It's mine, my plan, and I will do it. You just obey me daughter...”.
And the Savior soothes the soul He knows, and strengthens the weak knees He made.
Imagine it..... He doesn't despise our weakness. He glows IN IT.
This morning this tiny-Light-carrier sat with His words again. Steve brought my morning cup of wake-up and read these Oswald Chambers words to me. And these are the words we ruminated over together.
~from October 12 – My Utmost for His Highest
“Enoch walked with God...” Genesis 5:24 (imagine our hearts, we just finish a 532 mile journey and this scripture preaches to us more than ever before)
“The true rest of a person's spiritual life and character is not what he does in the extraordinary moments of life, but what he does during the ordinary times when there is nothing tremendous or exciting happening. A person's worth is revealed in his attitude toward the ordinary things of life when he is not under the spotlight (see John 1:35-37). It is painful work to get in step with God and to keep pace with Him --- it means getting your second wind spiritually. In learning to walk with God, there is always the difficulty of getting into His stride, but once we have done so, the only characteristic that exhibits itself is the very life of God Himself. The individual person is merged into a personal oneness with God, and God's stride and His power alone are exhibited.
It is difficult to get into stride with God, because as soon as we start walking with Him we find that His pace has surpassed us before we have even taken three steps. He has different ways of doing things, and we have to be trained and disciplined in His ways. It was said of Jesus – “He will not fail nor be discouraged...” (Isaiah 42:4) because He never worked from His own individual standpoint, but always worked from the standpoint of His Father. And we must learn to do the same. Spiritual truth is learned through the atmosphere that surrounds us, not through intellectual reasoning. It is God's Spirit that changes the atmosphere of our way of looking at things, and then things begin to be possible which before were impossible. Getting into God's stride means nothing less than oneness with Him. It takes a long time to get there, but keep at it. Don't give up because the pain is intense right now--- get on with it, and before long you will find that you have a new vision and a new purpose.
Oh dear one, along The Way these words lived. If “i” thought I could do anything (within my human self), it became almost laughable at how quickly the impossible-wall overwhelmed me. But if I kept my internal and external focus on the pace of my Father walking beside me, before I could even grasp the size of the mountain in front of me, it would be behind me. I felt almost giddy over the sense of being carried.
Even though my feet took every step or pedaled every inch ----- so often at day's end I wondered if i'd actually done it.
And I knew --- we were traveling at His pace. My job was to show up, be honest with Him, and then l-i-s-t-e-n. Now then, it's ok if you might be thinking i'm a bit wacky. I'd likely agree with you. But still --- I want you to have this, to know this, to journey far with the One who adores you completely (battle-scars and all, imperfections wash away beside Him). To travel the distance of your numbered days with the One who wants to carry you. You probably won't need to walk across a country, or bike to the sea. You can journey the distance right where you are. But for sure, you'll have to put sole to soil and press yourself to obey ------ and then it'll come to you too. The joy of watching the Holy Words come alive ---- when you see it happen, when, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” “...He rides across the heavens to help you and on the clouds in his majesty.” “Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord... He is your shield and helper (your Ezer).” ~from Deuteronomy 31:8, 33:26-29
There's so much more to share and in time, at the right pace, the pace of the One i've settled down into. I hope i'm able to put it rightly in words that can honor Him and encourage you. In the mean time, this tiny-daughter is moving forward, peaceful in front of the mountain, secure on the shoreline of mighty waters. She knows the One who's in charge. His robes have become her blanket.
And step......... step.......... step.........
Saturday, April 14, 2018
(Warning: This sharing is raw and “uncensored” in ways I usually censor myself. I'm angry today. I've been angry for a while now. I've stayed quiet. I'll be quiet again tomorrow. I won't enter into debates and if ugly comments are left in postings I will delete them. For most of my life i've hesitated to speak strongly. People pleasers don't like to ruffle feathers on other birds. Today, anger is overriding my southern-genteel-ways. I will not discuss these words with those who think their political opinions matter more than they actually do. I'm simply stating the anger that's boiling over inside me and trying to do it in an appropriate place --- not in anybody's face. So, you might not want to read this sharing. It might make you angry with me. If you do read, and if it does make you angry ---- i'm sorry. This is not personal. It's just the raw me. Proof again of just how much I need God's help.)
The Holy Words shake me. Shake me.
They can comfort. They can reassure. They can guide or bring clarity or correct me hard.
But oh sometimes they shake me just as surely as if the ground moved under my feet.
It happened again, and it's kept a strong vibration shaking in my soul. That means it's time to try and ink it out on paper. It helps to bring heart to paper and see the clear contrast between what felt like muddled ink inside me sitting rightly in front of me. Doesn't mean it is “right” when it comes out - but only that it's no longer a blur inside. Sometimes comprehending/facing the wrongs of this world can sit better when they come out and are exposed. Maybe, we can better figure what to do with them when they are in front of us rather than hiding out inside us.
I read it in the book of Judges. “In those days, Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” Over and over again those words come throughout the pages of Judges. And the words trail after a telling of some terrible thing someone did that “seemed right in their own eyes”.
And it vibrates still because we live in that same-same world today ------- don't we?
If you're fortunate enough to live in a place where the agonies of many aren't physically in front of you every day, then you might have just quirked your face a bit at that last sentence. Implying that we live in the same-same days of Judges..... what is she talking about?
People might think they “know” a thing when they read it in the paper or watch it on the news reports. In truth, we may know of it, we may have become aware, but we do not actually KNOW a thing simply because we've been told about it. Sadly, some people believe they know something after reading it on Facebook or other social media outlets. If you know me well, you know, I do not eat from the media troughs (social or network); I do not believe something just because a reporter or facebooker says it. Wisdom might tell us to learn more about a thing, but we should not act as if we know anything prematurely. And a news report is not a good teacher.
When I read the words in Judges, “In those days, the people had no king and they did what seemed right in their own eyes”, I shutter. Always before, those words have seemed somehow far away from me. Distant words spoken concerning another place, another time. But, I cringe, because I know they are as true today as they were when Samuel penned them. It happens so often, we've perhaps become numb to it. People doing “their own thing” at the cost of others, and getting away with horrific offenses that are too often ignored, tolerated. Oh i'm angry today.
Why am I so angry? …......
- Because of the little girl who was walking home from school when two unknown men did what seemed “right” in their own eyes. They brutally beat her, raped her, and threw her broken body into the bushes. I'm f-u-r-i-o-u-s. The news will tell nothing of her. The men are free.
- Because of the monstrous actions of a dictator in Syria who gave orders to attack innocent people through chemical terrorism. He knew he was biting the cubs in an attempt to provoke the mama bear. Remember the bullies on the playground – they always provoked the weaker, in hopes to get attention and feel powerful. Assad is nothing more than that. He apparently did what seemed right in his own eyes. It's a warpage of the mind. Pictures released show the horrific suffering of those dear children. But since it's not us and ours, we somehow --- move on --- because we don't know what to do, right? But oh i'm so angry at those who are far from the war zone but have the audacity to criticize those who are trying to do something to stop the suffering.
- Because of the lady I met on the street this week whose nose had been cut from her face and knife scars surrounded her right eye. Someone, somewhere, long ago, did what seemed right in their own eyes. And she now wears a cloth tied around her face to try and protect the open sinus cavities her nose should be covering. Today i'm wrestling with so much anger.
- Because of the hard working donkey I looked at last week with open wounds running down it spine. The hard man with the kiboko (stick) bearing down on this poor animal's back was doing what seemed right in his own eyes, but the donkey suffered terribly under the stupidity of that man. So much anger.......
- Because when I take a few minutes to try and read about my countries response to the use of chemical warfare in Syria, and find that the UK and France have aligned with the leadership of my country, I also have to wade through soooooo manyyyyyyy peoplessssss opinionssssss on what THEY think the President should have done. I'm furiously angry today. People are hell-bent on giving advice and criticizing leaders, because people want what seems right in their own eyes, and they think leadership should comply. Never mind that the President has advisors and input from many who know much more than the average news-reading-joe on the street. And regardless of what people say about a President ---- if he prays to GOD before making his decisions ---- we are a fortunate country under him. Our beautiful America was in a mess before Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama, or Trump took office. These great men have worked to do the best they could to lead the most powerful country in the world in a horrifically fallen world. It's so embarrassing when people open their mouths to speak about what they do not know. Acting as if they know more and could do a better job than the one who is seeking God and trying to manage the position GOD has allowed them to hold. Do I agree with every decision every President has made? No. But oh I tremble to imagine what a mess I would have made of things if I had been the one bearing the weight on my shoulders that each of these men has born. I am furious with the critics. All of them!
- Because when a person chooses to walk into a school with a gun and they CHOOSE to kill others, anger erupts in all sorts of directions rather than at the wrongness of one person taking the lives of others. I am NOT a politically driven person and honestly, I avoid those who are. Why? Because I have seen with my own sad eyes how the politically opinionated talker will step right over the dead person in front of them to argue their political point. They will overlook the agony of the wounded one even while they use it for a platform supporting their OPINION! Oh i'm so angry at the person who cares more about their opinion than they do about the bleeding soul in front of them. Shoot me with your words if you must --- but here's a real truth ----- guns have the potential to do good or bring harm. It's all determined by the hand of the one holding them. And if a hand is bent on hurting other people ----- if the person intends to kill another ---- I personally would rather they be holding a gun in my face than a knife or a can of gasoline and a match. There. I've said it! Guns are much more merciful than hot paraffin poured on skin and lit with fire. And yes, i'm furiously ANGRY that a woman has been tortured and burned over 90% of her body by her muslim husband over the past 10 years. She's now being protected and cared for by another Kenyan woman. But the story is so horrific that the caregiver is needing counseling...... oh GOD. I'm so angry that the mouth-moving-opinionated-gabbers are still spouting off their judgements while quiet caregivers are loving the wounded and doing the hard work.
- I'm angry that months ago when someone asked me about yet another shooting in America, that before I could open my mouth to respond, an opinionated dominator shut out my response while she declared her disgust of our President and anger against guns. I stayed silent until she walked away. And the lady who had asked my opinion looked me in the eye and said, “I agree with you dear, guns don't kill, people do.” And I had not even opened my mouth. But I'm guessing the opinionated woman felt good about herself because she dominated the conversation. I'm also guessing she has never been chased by a person holding a knife threatening to carve her up after raping her. I despise knives. Always have. When I was 17 years old I was that girl chased by a crazy man with a knife. Thankfully, I got away. I've hated knives since that day. But I do not think knives should be outlawed. I believe the key of good or bad is found in the heart of the person holding the gun – knife – bat – fire – stone – etc. I'm so tired of the opinions of the masses muddling up the support of the leaders who ARE TRYING to do good! And my last word on this is ----- I was also the woman who had two men trying to enter her home to do God only knows what ---- but when I cocked my gun and held it up, they got in their truck and left. I never had to fire that gun, and i'm thankful for that. But just showing that I, a defenseless woman, had something I would use to defend myself and my children was all that was needed to end the terror of that day. Guns CAN do good in the hands of a good-hearted person. They CAN protect. They did that day.
I bet the “haters” of President Trump would sit down and finally be silent ----- if they had to endure one term of a dictator like Syria's Bashar al-Assad. I bet words would change dramatically if those with such strong opinions were the ones holding a dying child while its body writhed in agony and it foamed at the mouth because a dictator had unleashed chemical bombs. And one week later when the airstrikes began as American, United Kingdom, and French forces bombed and destroyed the known storage facilities of future chemical attacks, I bet they would be thankful to see a powerful force standing against what had destroyed that innocent, precious child.
I THANK GOD for a President who will stand toe to toe with a monster in Syria and say ----- we will use our power and strength to stop you from killing innocent people!!!! and yes, i'm a mother who has a son preparing to enter into those places where protection is needed against monsters who terrorize.
Until those who have such domineering opinions have suffered and learned and truly KNOW what they are talking about ---- they have NO right to speak.
Until they have served in the places where monsters destroy innocence and something bigger than them was needed to come to their rescue ------ they have no voice against those who are trying to do the best they can to help.
Until we've literally felt the weight on our shoulders ----- we should NOT be telling someone else how they should carry it.
So, today is a very different kind of post than any i've ever written before. Because today i'm “reaching for the Robe” of healing --- needing help to process out and lay down the intense anger I feel over being in a world where people do not honor the KING of KINGS, and instead they just do what seems right in their own eyes. (And sometimes they talk about what seems right in their own eyes.) I'm sick of hearing their opinions --------- in a world where we need to roll up our sleeves and DO GOOD!
Suffering always comes, when people do not honor the King.
Suffering always comes when people just do what is right in their own eyes.
People do not know the way of goodness.
The King knows the way.
God is the King.
We must follow Him.
And pray for those who carry great weight on their shoulders. God will put great weight on the shoulders He knows can carry it.
(Opinionators around them are like knats and fleas.)
Thank you President Trump for trying.
Thank you President Obama for trying.
Thank you Presidents Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan, Carter, Lincoln, Truman, etc. ----- I believe you tried to do what was right for the country and in God's eyes. You were not perfect; none of you were perfect. But not one of you did only what seemed right in your own eyes!!! You each tried to lead our great country with many advisors around you. Some of you were brave and strong enough to lead her from your knees; under the guidance of the King.
President Trump said yesterday, “We look forward to the day when we can bring our warriors home... We pray that God will bring comfort to those suffering in Syria. We pray that God will guide the whole region toward a future of dignity and of peace. And we pray that God will continue to watch over and bless the United States of America.”
President Trump reminds me of Peter in the Bible. He talks too much sometimes. He says the wrong things sometimes. He is far from perfect for sure. (But, remind me now, exactly how many of the opinion-mongers are perfect?)
Still, President Trump is clear about this. He speaks with the One who is above all things and is brave enough to follow His lead.
I'm praying for President Trump as he leads the most powerful military force in the world against a powerful evil that will not be stopped with mere words. Evil feeds on the fodder of opinions, but it is never stopped by them.
Weeks ago, we sat by a lake in the Great Rift Valley, and felt the earth vibrate under us. We could see the vibrations rippling on the water.
The earth was moving under our feet.
When people choose to do what seems right in their own eyes--------------- all the earth trembles.
Our only hope for a better world is if our opinions can be made subject to the heart of the King and we work together for what is good, for what honors God, and helps others.
Please ----- could we just stop doing what WE think is right ----- stop talking about what WE think others should or should not do ------ could we please just DO GOOD and follow the Good King.
Tuesday, January 30, 2018
(Warning! If you knowingly or unknowingly have an ongoing love-affair with the need to look young, be young, act like your younger than you are ---- this post isn't for you. :)
But if you're willing to embrace the aging process as God allows it to unfold ---- this post will hopefully bless your socks off. It has mine. Years ago I began asking God to allow me to “grow old gracefully” – this post is a partial sharing of His response to my prayer.)
Growing old is suppose to be a beautiful thing. It's the result of having lived many years and still having something to give, to do, to share.
But good grief how this world has twisted our view of growing old.
I'm slowly approaching almost 6 decades of living. I'm getting “older”. Period.
But IF i've chosen to live well and love much – older won't be the focus - outflow will be.
Here's to sharing with you, what Abba has whispered to me about growing better (older).
It's not about getting older. It's about increased OUTFLOW.
Sitting on our mountain porch in December under wintry, grey, stick-like trees, it came so clear.
Those tall oak trees stood brave and bear around me. The picture of winter.
As a child I always thought they looked naked and cold.
As a grown woman joyfully living in the autumn of my life, I see them with better eyes.
You see, those tall trees have lived long enough to reach high above every man-made thing around them.
They remember what it was to be a tree in the spring, with sap rising, leaves budding, bark stretching, and birds nesting.
They remember what the heat of summer felt like on their wide green leaves. The rains washed them clean and the sun dried them well. They remember the sounds of children under their shady branches and treehouses built on their strong limbs.
Then came the shocking beauty of their autumn. When the leaves they had grown began to sparkle with colors most extraordinary. No longer were they like every other tree in a coat of green. Now they were unique in their own personal coat of color. And they found their color looked even better beside the other colors around them. Red is pretty alone, yes. But put it beside a bit of yellow and a splash of orange and all together they become astounding! Exactly how it should be with us people.
Fall leaves speak so loudly, if we'll listen.
They say to us, “I've lived well, I've grown. I have memories. And now, I get to bless everyone who walks near me. I'm not longing for spring, i'm celebrating the colors of autumn. I've had lots of sunshine days and soaking rains and i've stored it up so I can give this blast of color. My leaves can not hold it all in, they burst with the joy of living. The richness of the colors only speaks out of all i've seen and learned.” The autumn tree says to the autumn soul, “You have so much to give. Do it with color and joy and life. Bust out of the confines of youth. Share boldly of the richness that life has brought you.”
Next will be the winter. And in the winter of our lives, our leaves will fade in color, and fly. For the first and only time ----- our leaves will do something they've never ever been able to do before. They FLY.
It should be true for us as well. In our winter ---- we should be able to do a new thing, something we've never done before. We should ever be learning and growing and producing. When we stop --- we are no longer actually l-i-v-i-n-g.
The wind will pluck leaves from our limbs and they will fly. It's beautiful really. The Windmaker takes what we can offer and carries it to wherever He wishes. And we, like that winter tree, are not left naked and cold --- instead we are unashamed and eager as we hide nothing and hold everything high. Look at that winter tree. Nothing conceals its long, strong branches as they bravely hold every limb as high as possible, reaching upward always. They are the picture of bare-bold-worship! They are not focused on trying to look pretty. They care nothing about hiding themselves in the folds of many leaves. They know fully what they're made of and they are singularly focused on what is above them. Amazing inspiration drips from their grey branches.
When we enter our winter years, what will “fly” from us? What will the Windmaker be able to carry from us to the world around us? There is a final flight scheduled for us. Will the Windmaker find us having given all, hiding nothing, and boldly showing our reach for Him?
The worldly way will twist this beautiful imagery and distract us from seeing it. The worldly way says we must try and stay young, look young; it says if we're not young then we're not valuable. It says use this cream to remove dark spots, and this cream to minimize aging, have this treatment to plump up tired lines, and this procedure to take 10 years off your face.
But oh that's not the Father's plan.
Take care of ourselves? Yes! Do the best we can with what we have? Yes! But oh, could we please be real about what's real, and not waste time or money on trying to be something we are not (were never suppose to be).
The leafy tree reminds us to embrace the season we are in. Enjoy the new life of spring. Love the warmth of summer. Indulge in the copious colors of autumn. And then be brave in the bare-bold-worship of winter.
There are many ways nature whispers the secret joys of age to us. Can you think of others?
Look at the mountains. Formed from upheavals of volcanic earth activity, their “spring” is steep with sharp ridges. Millions of years pass until the “winter” of their development finds them softened in steepness and covered in green. The beautiful Appalachian mountains are the picture of this. The soil has finally tempered and has become a fertile place for new life to grow. The mountain's “winter” is its most life-giving season.
One more? How about the dainty dandelion flower. It's a fascinating little circle of sunshine yellow. Since i've just written a book entitled “Dandelion: A Warrior Beside Him”, i've taken much time to ponder this little jewel. It teaches so much in its silent presence. It too has a four season life span; it all occurs in less than a month.
Its spring season bursts with a bloom of yellow joy. In this season its stem is usually shorter, holding it closer to the ground.
Then summer finds it closing itself up looking almost as if it has not bloomed at all.
In the autumn of its living the stem grows long, sometimes increasing by several inches. Imagine the work that is taking place in that little flower during its summer and autumn stages.
But then finally comes its winter, when the closed up bloom opens itself wide forming a full round ball of seeds prepared to fly. It fascinates me that the round puff-ball even looks a bit grey, like the grey hair of us in our winter.
Compare the grey puff ball to its much younger version, the yellow flower. While the flower is a beautiful blast of color, it does not yet have the ability to produce the hundreds of seeds the grey-haired puff ball is able to give. The grey puff ball would be woefully amiss if it struggled over its loss of youthful color; what a waste of focus that would be. For indeed, the yellow flower was destined to close itself up so that in the end the ultimate purpose of its existence could be fully known. It must die to its youth in order to produce what is needed. New-life coming from new seeds.
It's a breathtaking reminder, that the grey puff ball sits perfectly still until the wind touches it, grabbing hold of its ready seeds and carrying them at will to the places of its choice. If not the wind, then a bird will indulge in the meal it provides and even still then, it will be carried on wings to many other places. And sweet is the picture when a child eagerly plucks the round seed head and “helps” the wind do its job. However it comes about, the end result is the same.
The seeds are carried.
The dandelion in its winter is able to doing something new, something it's never done before. It releases all it has left to give and life is multiplied.
One dandelion flower obediently living out its seasons of life will produce well over 100 seeds. More than one hundred new blooms will come because the one lived as it should have.
Can we people say as much?
Does the tiny dandelion do its work of living-and-giving better than we soul carriers?
If you're young, may this sharing encourage you to live each season exactly as it should be.
Don't strain ahead trying to grow into another season before it's time to be there. And someday when you're old, don't pine away over the loss of your youth. Each season has a wonderfully important purpose. Perhaps the winter season is the one of most intense value; it is the one where multiplication should be exponential if you've lived your other seasons well. If we can know this in our youth, we can set ourselves up for a most beautiful winter.
If your older, may this sharing encourage you to embrace the wintry gift of multiplication. When there should be nothing hindering our exposed worship with a life raised high and nothing limiting the wind from carrying us. If we've lived well, loved much, and grown in good ways, we now have the chance to fly as the Windmaker carries us wherever He chooses. Perhaps you'll multiply goodness in the generations after you as they live out what you showed them. Or maybe you'll multiply your love of God and Savior as you're legacy travels far. Maybe your life-work will extend to places and people you never knew and in ways you never imagined possible.
It's the very essence of the words, “........to Him who is able to do far more ----- abundantly beyond ------- all that we hope for or imagine, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory.......... to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” (from Ephesians 3:20-21)
There is more to give. More to do. More to share. More...........................
Notice how we can see further in the forest when the winter trees stand brave and bare. If we will be brave, bare winter trees, perhaps those younger than us can grow stronger beside us. Isn't it the way of the great forests.
J. C. Penney said,
“I may be losing my ability to see in my old age, but my vision is better than ever before.”
(Being on the other side of the world from them, i miss my mom and dad so much. Writing helps. And in writing this, i'm so very thankful for the way they are living their winter. They inspire. If you don't know them -- i wish you could. If you do, when you see them next -- give them an extra hug from their autumn-tree-daughter.)