Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Twas the day after Christmas when what did i spy...

I spy a child.... do you?

Pen on paper, coffee in mug, i sat at the kitchen table making lists. One list for things i needed to restock after a wonderful two days of feasting together. The other list of names -- people to contact --- special people who make a difference in my life because of the way they pray. Pondering the lists, i took a long, slow drink of my wonderfully warm flavored coffee and thoughtfully gazed out the window.
Looking across the table, through the curtains, beside the lighted pencil tree sitting atop the cabinet and just over the ceramic head of the tiny Santa my dear Mother-in-law painted years ago ----- i held my breath when i saw her looking back at me.
So stunned by the tiny one standing still beside the path leading out of our sideyard --- i closed my eyes, counted to ten, and opened them again to see if she was still there.
She was...
Or was it a he...
I couldn't tell if it was a boy or girl --- it didn't matter. Why was this child standing alone, in the rain?... in wood?
Steve and i had just finished our time of reading, and had navigated our way from the office where we sometimes read to the kitchen for a bit of breakfast. Oddly enough, even after such a peaceful Christmas day followed by a restful night's sleep, i had awakened feeling a bit edgy. Anxious over what needed to be accomplished in the shortened 3 day week, i was eager to get the morning started -- list making always seems to organize the week. Sitting at the table, rolling off names on one list and edibles on the other ---- my mind was a whirl of activity.
Moments earlier...
While pouring my coffee and putting biscuits in the oven, familiar words had been rolling off my tongue. Just weeks before, reading Brennan Manning's "The Wisdom of Tenderness" had led me to adopt a new daily practice. He tells of a lady who once visited him, anguished over her false self-perception and sense of guilt from sins of days long past. While ministering to the lady, Mr. Manning had suggested she consider repeating this simple phrase... "Abba... i belong to you". With the additional guidance to say the words aloud and with a distinct breathing pattern. Breathe in when saying "Abba", breathe out while saying "i belong to you". I tried it even as i was reading his instructions to her. Oddly -- it is quite difficult to speak aloud while breathing in --- hence, "Abba" comes forth with a whispered sort of sound. "I belong to you" comes out easily in comparison. Breathing in ABBA softly --- while pressing air into the world around me declaring that I belong to Him -- it's a beautiful, clarifying, grounding sort of way to feel His nearness. So each morning as i wake --- i find myself whispering this truth to myself. (Thank you Brennan Manning!)

"Abba... i belong to you..." had just rolled off my tongue a dozen or more times when my mind averted its focus to task mode and i wielded my paper and pen.

These details matter. For it was a human distraction to get work started that drew me from what mattered more.  Organization and list making are great practices ---- but not when they come at the expense of compartmentalizing Abba.
So ---- He trumped my distracted self ---- and captured my attention.
look closely to the right of the pine tree, just under the limb

The little one standing alone by the pathway, appeared to be frozen stiff, not moving, not breathing. Standing less than 3 feet tall, the tiny dark figure looked as if it was holding its frail arms in front of itself, staring at me. i was captivated. The image was so powerful i jumped up out of my chair and ran to the window, hoping to see more clearly. Just as my mouth opened to call for Steve ---- i saw the tree limb blow in the breeze ---- moving her frail arms and revealing her tiny body as a black tree-trunk.
i was frozen inside.
i knew instinctively --- the image of the child was not simply a fluke.
Lists didn't matter --- my heart had been stirred profoundly.

Nothing weird happened, no voices spoke. But i felt the gentlest touch to my soul, reminding me of what needed to be remembered...

"dear donna, you're ready aren't you? Ready to tackle the tasks and get something accomplished these next few days (months, years), you'll feel better about yourself if you can check off some tasks on your list of "to-dos". But pause and remember, just moments ago you sincerely declared to Me, that you belonged to Me --- you are mine. So i want you to focus on what matters most to me. Lists are nice, details can be important, after all, i'm the One who gave Noah specifics on the ark, he had plenty of lists and details when i was finished with my orders to him. 
But most important of all, is that you focus on what matters ---- to ME. 
Accomplishing things may matter to you ---- but if the things you accomplish do not matter to me ---- why give them so much of your time? ...why give them any of your time?
Do what matters to me donna --- it's what will last. 

And remember, you'll better know what matters to me, if you spend time with me. I'll pour my heart into your heart --- as you sit with me, read about me, talk to me, watch for me. And right now, in front of your eyes, i'm reminding you of something that matters very, very much to me."
"The little ones who are out in the cold, who don't sit at fine tables covered with food, who don't sip warm drinks or have safe walls around them. They matter to Me donna."
"Don't feel badly because you do have these things. BUT always focus on using what I have given to you to accomplish the things that matter to me. 
Focus on using what I have given you to accomplish what matters to Me... 
The little ones matter ---- to Me. 
Focus donna, on my list --- not yours."

In his book, "Who I Am in Christ", Neil Anderson writes, " -->
It is not what you do that determines who you are
but it is who you are that determines what you do.
  (if you're like me ---- you might need to read it again ---- slowly...)

Romans 12:2 – "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world – but be transformed by the renewing of your mind..."

©2012 Donna Taylor/Reaching for the Robe

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

When Jesus breathed His first earth-air...

painting by Hannah Renae Joiner (

Shoppers and shooters and holidays and lay-offs and presents and pain with feasts on tables and a red-suited sleigh-driver...
madness ---- sheer madness surrounds.

Last week a walking nightmare stepped into an elementary school --- a cold heart carried guns.
In the moments next, nothing mattered more than saving little souls and trying to survive.

As minutes ticked off on the clock, billions of breathers went about their routines 'round the world ---- but in a 1st grade classroom, the plans changed quickly from reviewing new spelling words to hiding in closets and cabinets.
My beautiful daughter was trying on wedding dresses, twirling in front of lights and mirrors --- when the monster we'd all feared lurked under our childhood beds walked into a classroom, and red love flowed from little ones.
When we heard the news of evil's arrival at Sandy Hook --- Maggie and i ended our day and drove home with sick stomachs.

Since then --- news media has hammered out words turning the terror into drama. People with good hearts have struggled with how to react, what to think, who to blame, what to do now. Before the little ones were even laid to rest, arguments erupted ---- gun control vs. mental health issues, personality disorders vs. protection of children.
Madness flowed full force as tears came from pain and created rivers of anger.
We humans react so poorly.
When gut-level grief is in order ---- we all too often gush forth with opinions and attitudes that have nothing to do with comfort and presence.

Weeks ago, as the Christmas season drew near, i shared time with hurting hearts and wounded souls. Emails, phone calls, sit-down together times, produced a flood of words from a world of aching saints. There are SO MANY among us who carry smiling faces and pray their shaking knees will hold them up for the performance required of them in this world gone mad. None of us wants to give into the shattering inside --- so we get up, dust ourselves off, move ahead, and hope for the best.
We feel our need.
Some of us admit it.
(There are those though who wear painted masks so well with pacifiers of medications or materialism -- they can no longer even name the need that gnaws at them.)

Regardless though ---- this time of year --- we celebrate the God-child's birth with twinkling lights and big-bowed packages.

When baby Jesus came, when He arrived into Mary's arms, do we suppose He knew there would be stable animals, unsanitary mangers, and the need to run from soldiers even before His legs could walk? Do we think, as we gaze at the glowing Christmas tree, that the Savior wrapped in swaddling clothes might not have known the fullness of the passion that was soon to come upon him?
Our Christ's arrival came after 400 years of silence --- no prophet spoke a word, no angel of God revealed a glimpse during the 400 years before the angel's visits to Mary, Elizabeth, Zechariah, and then Joseph.
Four centuries of silence.
Then the beginning ... that would lead to red-love flowing for all us little ones...

As i've sat with so many wounded during these past weeks ---- i've also rejoiced over the goodness of His red-love flowing to us.
Sadness, depression, down-trodden gloom is not the right response.
But twinkling lights surrounding festive parties filled with overflowing tables feeding needy souls ---- not the right response either.

When Jesus breathed His first earth-air, 
He began the journey that would take Him to the cross.

In Bethlehem...
Angels sang to shepherds, "Glory to God ... Peace on earth..." the Savior has arrived. (Luke 2:14)
"Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ (the Messiah) the Lord." (Luke 2:11)
Celebration for mankind was in order.
But the God-child knew --- His journey to the cross had begun.

The cross.
The place of greatest suffering -- where flesh was torn and hell's gates were opened.
Why would i dare speak of the cross ---- at CHRISTMAS time?

Why have i failed to focus on the magnitude of the Gift that came when the babe was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in that manger???

The gift to the earth came that Christmas morn. But the baby lying in the manger knew the gift would be fully handed to mankind when His red-love flowed at the cross.

In the delivering of the Gift, the Giver knew the price it would cost.
The passion of the cross, the suffering of the Savior, the arrival of the God-child, the skin covered presence of Peace.

Suffering and Goodness --- Pain and Joy ---- it all flows together --- and can cause beauty to rise from ashes, the oil of joy to wrap around our mourning, and a garment of praise to cover the chill of despair. (Isaiah 61:3)

This Christmas i'm pondering the Cross as i look at our "tree"(the twinkling, ribbon wrapped one).
Next Easter i'm purposing to remember the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, willing to breathe earth-air and give red-love on the "tree"(the heavy, splintered, bloodstained one).

It's a massive mix-up of sorts i suppose ----- but then again ---- it just might bring more clarity -- in the madness of this world.

(Hannah is selling copies of her painting- proceeds of these prints will be sent to The Sandy Hook Elementary School Victims Relief Fund, which will provide counseling to survivors, pay for funeral expenses for victims, create a scholarship fund for the school's students and fund a memorial.
Contact with any questions)

©2012 Donna Taylor/Reaching for the Robe

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

13 Years and 13 Chapters

For the first 17 years of his life, he was the his father's favorite.
Then he was sold, for 20 pieces of silver, by his own brothers.
For the next 13 years of his life, he was a slave and a prisoner.
Joseph knew what it felt like to be on top, then hit the bottom, but rise to the top once again.
He lived to be 110 years old --- and during the 80 years after his years of slavery and imprisonment --- Joseph was a living testimony to God's ability to take what men meant for harm and transform it into great good. 

From the moment he was born, Joseph's father made no bones about it --- Joseph was his favorite son. Perhaps he felt estranged from his other brothers during those years of childhood, but if so, it apparently did not alter him. After all, when he had dreams predicting his brothers would bow down to him, he was not shy about sharing them. His brothers "hated him all the more". Even his father "rebuked" him over his second dream where the sun and moon and eleven stars bowed down to him, depicting the father, mother and brothers bowing down to him. He could have kept the dreams to himself. He didn't. The jealously in his brothers grew.
(Genesis 37:5-10) 

Even as a child, when hearing the story of Joseph and his relationship with his brothers, i felt a bit sorry for the brothers and wondered if Joseph carried arrogance on his shoulders along with the special coat his father had given him. But then the story continued... and everything changed...

Why has my soul been so fixated on these 13 chapters? It's not by choice. If i could choose i'd rather spend my time dreaming over the animals walking two-by-two into the ark or the beautiful love story of Ruth and Boaz. But interestingly, the trials and triumphs of Joseph have breezed through my thoughts for weeks now.
It may be because i'm captivated by the steadfastness of this man under fire.
Seriously -- his brothers threw him into a dried up well and debated how to kill him. He heard them, oh how it must have hurt. We can read the 13 chapters in less than an hour; a lifetime of take-a-deep-breath moments are packed within those 447 verses. It's a quick read, but a gruelingly long journey.

I do not know of one person in my life who has endured the kind of rejection, injustice, false accusations, and loneliness this man faced. And he did it with so much courage and perseverance.
He suffered --- silently.

It's a sort of wake-me-up and smack-me-good story.
It convicts me in healthy ways ---- there is much to be learned from Joseph's forgiving, selflessness. Even when he was given charge over Egypt and had the authority to wreak havoc in his brother's lives --- he did not. He chose the good path regardless of how he had himself been treated.

Living in a society where horns are blown if the person driving the car in front of us moves too slowly or too quickly, where complaints are waged if someone does not cater to our wishes, where tempers rage and words fly if our expectations are overlooked or ignored. Living in a "world" where we get what we want or we sound off about it ----- yes, i'm captivated by the persevering steadfastness of Joseph's goodness under fire.

Joseph is not alone, there are many of his sort even today.
There is a gentleness in the air that's mixed with a charge of powerfulness surrounding the unselfish and gracious souls among us. But their "power" will not be used to get their own way --- it will only be used to strengthen their perseverance and intensify their care for others. It's a beautiful thing to see, it can take your breath away with its simple, sincere goodness.
Joseph is the Biblical picture of this unselfish, persevering, powerful, presence.
I know a modern day Joseph as well --- but she goes by another name. She wakes up each day with praises on her lips and an eagerness to give and do for others. The room lights up with her; she walks with kindness and care. It's always a challenge to try and serve her or do for her --- because she honestly never thinks about what she wants or needs. She is so busy with the outflow of goodness to others, she doesn't even seem to notice her own needs. She has been hurt, she knows what rejection and persecution and grief feel like, but she uses those memories to minister to those hurting in front of her now. I've never once heard her major on the minors --- she makes the world better --- she overflows with love. She memorizes scriptures and then focuses on living them. I've heard her whisper scripture to herself, under her breath, reminding herself, keeping her thoughts and actions in check.

So what is the common factor between Jacob's son Joseph and this modern day lady of God?

They both have known what it felt like to be loved by some, persecuted deeply by others, cling to God's ways, and overflow with God-sized goodness to others --- regardless of how life treated them.

In contrast, I read something else in those 13 chapters. When the brothers are sitting around the dried up well, having just thrown Joseph down in it, they are debating over what to do with him. Joseph's brother Judah hatches the idea to sell him to a passing caravan. Judah's plan is agreed upon and they sell their brother for 20 silver coins. Judah could have spoken "for" his brother, he could have joined with Reuben and saved Joseph. But instead he spoke "against' him and Joseph went from being the favorite son to slavery in moments. In the very next chapter of Genesis, there appears to be an odd rabbit trail turn. We go from telling the story of Joseph to suddenly revealing the demise of Judah. Judah separates from his brothers, goes to another land, marries a pagan woman, has mean-hearted sons, and engages in sex with what he believed to be a prostitute but was in fact his own daughter-in-law. Astonishing, disgusting, why is this inappropriate chapter placed here in Genesis. Perhaps it is so we won't miss the direct connection between Judah selling his brother into slavery and Judah's overflow of bad "fruit" in his personal life.  

God will not be mocked -----

It took 13 years for Joseph to navigate the treacherous path between the bottom of the pit and the honor of wearing Pharaoh's signet ring.
Five words made all the difference,
"The Lord was with Joseph"... (Gen. 39:2, 39:21)

Did it look like the Lord was with Joseph? Did it feel like the Lord was with him?
The external evidence was obviously weak, but internally Joseph surely must have felt God's goodness flowing in him.
Still, if someone were judging God's nearness by the appearance of Joseph's circumstances ---- they would have missed Him all together.

Oh how comforting it should be to us, what a life-line it is for me, to read in black and white print on age-old pages that lead down ancient paths ----  
"The Lord was with Joseph, 
and he prospered... 
he showed him kindness... 
and granted him favor...".

The grand finale of Joseph's story comes next ---- and it shimmers of grace and forgiveness, goodness and GODness.
It's found in Chapter 50.
Joseph's father, Jacob, had died and selfishly his brother's think of themselves -- again. They become afraid that Joseph, all these many years later (93 years to be exact), would retaliate against them for the wrongs they committed against him. So they send Joseph a message  ----- asking once again for mercy -- they knew how wrong they had been.
Joseph's response to his brothers ---
"Don't be afraid... You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done..."

It took 13 years to recover from the pit.
It took 13 chapters and 93 years for Joseph's story to travel from the pit to the great revelation.

What men intend for harm ---- God will use for good!
And so...
when we are harmed by men, we are wisest of all, if we keep our eyes firmly set on the Lord and watch, wait, anticipate how HE will use it for good.

That's the captivating quality of Joseph.
That's the beauty of my friend.
They endure well the ugliness of this world and give us all the chance to see GOD's handiwork in and around them --- and we are blessed and strengthened and encouraged.

Oh yes --- i'm learning... slowly... but surely...and watching diligently.
“Paul never glamorized the gospel. It is not success, but sacrifice. It’s not a glamorous gospel, but a bloody one–a gory gospel, and a sacrificial gospel. Five minutes inside eternity and we will wish that we had sacrificed more, wept more, grieved more, loved and prayed more, and given more.” -Leonard Ravenhill

©2012 Donna Taylor/Reaching for the Robe

Friday, November 16, 2012

Did you know? Do you remember? He is madly in Love with you...

 "God... help... me"
"God... help"
"... (sigh)..."

Ever been there?

When what is whirling around you and what is churning within you leaves you lost for words and all that comes out --- is a plea.

Thankfully, we have many seasons in our life when the sun is shining and the birds are singing --- when all is right in our world.
But if we are truthful --- if we dare to be honest -- if we are normal -- we also have valley walks.

What a comfort it was to me to hear one of our teachers at Missionary Training International explain the common path prayers can take when we are at our end and fully emptied of self. His breathing out whisper of "God -- help -- me..." prayer resonated in my soul and i couldn't help but look around me to see if anyone else was touched as deeply. I knew it would surely show in their eyes.
I'm normally, as long as life isn't pressing in on me with sandpaper, i'm normally a cup half full, sun is rising, life is good sort of person. It's a pleasure to me to take what i have and make it the absolute best it can be --- for everyone.
I don't get too impressed by shopping extravaganzas or designer dream homes. Oh i see the beauty and fun of that world --- but i don't find peace and fulfillment in those arenas. Instead, i love best of all seeing the simple multiplied into the priceless.

But when walking through life's valleys ---- sometimes simple becomes shattered and multiplication seems mind-boggling.
I've melted down and poured into the marrow of my bones ---- "yay, though i walk through the valley of the shadow of death, i will fear NO evil, for you, God, are with me -- your rod and your staff they comfort me... YOU prepare a table before me --- even in the presence of my enemies --- and there, sitting there, even with enemies looking on -- YOU LORD anoint my head with oil -- and there even after i've walked through the valley --- my cup will overflow Lord, because of YOU..."

i've come to understand that valley walks are not "bad". I wouldn't say they are "good" either. They are just a different route, not a preferable route, but sometimes a necessary one.
For years, i falsely believed that if i was not "up" i would be disappointing my Abba. I somehow believed that only when i was glowing with His joy would He be pleased with me. Then as valley walks were laid in front of me, i pondered, why?
Oh the comfort that came with scriptures reminding me --- "what man meant for harm, God uses for good..." and "all things (valleys walks included) all things work together for GOOD for those who love the Lord and are called to His purposes..."
So good can be found on the other side of the valley ---- sometimes good can begin seeping into us in the middle of the valley's dark places. Because His rod and His staff ---- HE is never apart from us.

Recently i actually envisioned myself walking along a shadowy, dark valley with God walking beside me --- He was knitting a shawl partially draped on my shoulders. The shawl was beginning to warm me, it wasn't finished yet, so i could still feel the chill of the valley floor, but He was beside me, making the very thing that would eventually shelter me completely during valley walks. The image is seared in my mind. Avoiding the valley is of NO value. But seeing the care and cover of my Savior in the midst of the valley is priceless. And remembering that not only is He with me there, but also He is working (knitting) all things together --- for my good. Without Him, i would be cold and lost in the dangerous life-draining valley. But with Him, i can feel cared for and covered, no matter what the valley canyons reveal.

Several weeks ago, i found myself suddenly in a valley place. I was startled by it. When we go from mountain top to valley floor quickly, it's a jolt. It didn't literally take my breath away, but figuratively it certainly did.
And something happened to me in the impact that i had never experienced before.
I began feeling as if --- God was toying with me. I began to wonder --- can i really trust Him. I looked around me at all the people smiling and talking and enjoying life --- and i felt suddenly "out", alone, and forgotten. It was a horrible LIE. But for a few hours one day the lies seemed true. I tried to "take those thoughts captive" (i've done that so many times before). I tried to recite my scriptures (they are a home for my heart usually). I tried to cinch up the belt of truth and pull the sword of the Spirit. But if i'm truly honest -- i went down under the attack.
My dear Steve knew -- i told him --- and he poured truth and prayers over me in earnest.
For the first time EVER in my life --- i moaned... inside... as never before.
And all that could finally come out of me were the words ---- "" --- "God...please help"--- "GOD" --- and then finally "(silent moans to Him)"...

If you've never been "there" --- in a valley like that --- you might have the tendency to look down on me. You might think to yourself, she---- has no business --- serving God in Africa.
If those are your thoughts --- God bless you mightily and strengthen you greatly for the valley walk ahead.
No one escapes the valley.
But, if you have been "there" --- if that valley or one very much like it -- is a place you have left your footprints or your knee prints --- then you know --- what it feels like to sense the Savior beside you knitting a shawl to cover your cold weariness.

As the attack passed --- and the sun came up --- my cup began to overflow in ways it had never done so before. My eyes had seen my Savior in a way i'd never seen Him before. I knew for sure, it mattered little to Him HOW i journeyed. It mattered most to Him that i keep moving forward WITH HIM whether my path led to pristine mountain tops or dark valleys.
GOD was not dependent on me (my smiles or good attitude or clever whit or depth of knowledge) and what's more, God's opinion of me was not altered by my moaning ------ I was completely dependent on HIM ---- and this pleased Him.
Would Abba love this daughter more if i smiled at Him and glowed happiness or would He love me less if i wept beside Him moaning with sad weariness?
The answer ----- His love doesn't change NO MATTER how i might change.

Oh it's in the valley walks --- the fertilizer is often times so deep.
Rains wash fertile soil from mountain tops --- to valley floors.
In the valley ---- all that we walk (or crawl) through --- can be used to grow us stronger.

I've come out of that valley ---- changed.
Nothing could be sweeter than the "shawl", the cover, that rests on my shoulders. It reminds me --- He is with me... it doesn't matter how good i am or how weak i might feel ---- HE IS WITH ME.

Gone are the thoughts of wrestling with Him at the valley entrance.
I'll willingly step into those valleys, because He covers me, He is with me, strength will come through perseverance in the valley, and at the far side of the valley i'm guaranteed a holy Hope.
Suffering/tribulation produces perseverance produces character produces HOPE. (Romans 5:3-5)

Two nights ago, my oldest son, Michael called to me from another room in our home, "Mom, come in here, listen to this song, i know you'll love it."

How beautiful it is to be "fed" by your own children.
He played the song --- i wiped my eyes --- Steve sat with us --- we were silent afterwards.
i was held by the words in the chorus:

"I know you wish you could see me
That's the way it has to be
Someday you'll understand,
don't you lose your faith in me
I know you wish you could hear me
Sometimes it's so hard to do
But every morning sunrise says
I'm madly in love with you."

We do "see" our Father in so many things He places around us. I write so often about "seeing" Him in nature, smiles, children, mountains, kittens, flowers.
But during those valley walks ---- oh how we wish we could really, skin on His Spirit, lay my head in His robed lap SEE HIM.
But we rest in the hope --- that someday we will and then we will be able to understand.
Until then ----
may we encourage each other -- whether we are on the mountain tops or trudging through hard, fertile valleys --- we will not lose our faith in HIM --- we will hear it in every sunrise --- Abba is madly in love with you.

thank you Steve --- for prayerfully speaking words of truth and life over me
thank you Michael --- for knowing my heart and what it needed to hear
thank you Kathy --- for your words of love
thank you GOD --- for ... this beautiful shawl on my shoulders

(the name of the song is "Madly in Love with You" by Sean McConnell --- bless yourself by listening to it today --- big love to Sean McConnell for using his talent so well -- fruit overflowing)

©2012 Donna Taylor/Reaching for the Robe

Monday, October 29, 2012

Was Solomon right?... Is life meaningless?

This morning was a "come to Jesus" sunrise for this cracked clay vessel.
After 3 weeks of intensive Missions training and a week of mountain top moments ---- the valley was inevitable. Can't have mountains without valleys surrounding them...
In a world gone mad --- some people can't get out of the valleys, that's called "depression". Then there are those who try to stay on the mountain tops, that's sometimes called "drug addicts". Yes, sadly, we can even be addicts of the mountain top, which leads us to refuse the valley, learning, growing times. It's a mixed up painful world ---- we are NOT HOME YET!

But for me --- it was neither depression or drug remedied.
It was just a shadowy valley that missed the mountain top breezes.

Some would say i'm a bit nutty for admitting that -- saying it right out loud -- and sharing it with the many who bless me by reading my ramblings.
But i don't think so at all. Why? Well --- God urges me to be truthful on all accounts. Truthful on the mountain tops and truthful in the valley. His Word has much to say about the truth ---
"The truth shall set you free..." John 8:32
"Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment." Proverbs 12:9
"A truthful witness saves lives..." Proverbs 14:25

I remember when i was a little girl, sadly, truth was far from my lips most of the time. God bless my parents and siblings, they know this to be true. But then God... He changed me so completely, that now truth is a holy passion.
Truth is not the same as exposing.
Truth should not be used to hurt others or bring too much attention to self.
Truth, in God's hands, and spoken with Godly purposes will expose lies. But, much more importantly, it will bring attention to what is right and good and faithful and upright.
Truth will draw our hearts to the One who lives in the Light.
It will expose the one who lives in the dark, the deceiver, the one who wants all the shadows to hold us in a bondage of shame or fear or pretense or striving.

So, i'm passionate about truth. God is seen brilliantly in Truth. And of all the things we can see on this old earth --- the only things worth looking for are the things that reflect the Good One.
If you've seen the darkness closely enough ---- you know the sweetness of when the Light shines.

In my quest to read the Bible through again --- this time reading in the Message translation --- my assignment this morning was Ecclesiastes. I had been dreading it -- sad, but true. Already feeling on the glum side, how could i possibly look forward to reading Solomon's rantings on "life is meaningless". I've read it before, several times, in several translations --- it's never been "pleasant" or easy for me. So this morning, i made my coffee stronger than normal, pulled out my favorite quilt, and before the sun rose, i dug into Solomon view's on life.
With highlighter in hand, i was quite certain it would remain capped.
i rolled through chapter after chapter --- and the sun began to rise outside my windows.
It was an obedience to read ---- met by the sun's obedience to rise.
And my highlighter's cap came off ---- as i read:

"Crying is better than laughing. It blotches the face but it scours the heart." 7:3
"A good reputation is better than a fat bank account..." 7:1
"Endings are better than beginnings. Sticking to it is better than standing out." 7:8
"...Make the most of what God gives, both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it, accepting what's given and delighting in the work. It's God's gift!" 5:20
"On a good day, enjoy yourself; On a bad day, examine your conscience. God arranges for both kinds of days so that we won't take anything for granted." 7:14
"I did spot one ray of light in this murk: God made men and women true and upright; we're the ones who've made a mess of things." 7:29
And that was just the beginning...

By the time i'd covered (and highlighted) through Chapter 12 verse 14 --- the sun had illuminated all that had been dark outside my window.  Likewise, the Son had brightened the shadowy areas inside my cracked, clay, life-filled vessel.  Here's the sweetness of how it left me this morning: Chapter 12 verses 10 - 14

 " Besides being wise himself, the Quester (teacher, preacher, Solomon) also taught others knowledge. He weighed, examined, and arranged many proverbs. The Quester did his best to find the right words and write the plain truth.
 The words of the wise prod us to live well.
They’re like nails hammered home, holding life together.
They are given by God, the one Shepherd.
But regarding anything beyond this, dear friend, go easy. There’s no end to the publishing of books, and constant study wears you out so you’re no good for anything else. The last and final word is this:
Fear God.
Do what he tells you.
And that’s it. Eventually God will bring everything that we do out into the open and judge it according to its hidden intent, whether it’s good or evil."
The final word ----- 
Fear God.
Do what he tells you.

On days when all feels right and light in my world --- 
when the mountain top is breezy and warm...
On days when all feels wrong and dark ---
when the valley is murky and lonely...
The final word remains the same; the step by step instructions are unaltered.

Fear God ----- Do what HE tells you.

It's a matter of will and obedience ---- not preference or desire.

My dear Mama Glover us to say ---- "don't worry about the small things donna ann, just say to yourself and always remember --- this too shall pass..."
I'm thinking she knew something the Quester knew...
Fear God ---- and do what He tells you.
It's a mighty secret to knowing success this side of Heaven.

(Photos taken by Maggie in St. Mary's, GA.)

©2012 Donna Taylor/Reaching for the Robe

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

With all Creation i sing -- Praise to the King of Kings

Driving on a grey, yellow lined, asphalt ribbon guarded by walls of massive, silent trees it all began to feel overwhelmingly Holy.

Sometimes we look for those moments, right? We are almost expectant of them during those quiet times with Bibles in our laps or prayers on our lips --- looking for that holy wind, fire etched, that will make "normal" matter or painful bearable.

Then there are those surprising times when... it arrives completely unexpectedly...

Steve and i were driving from Mammoth Springs to Old Faithful Geyser park in Yellowstone. For two days we had taken in God's showcases in northwestern Wyoming. We were spoiled rotten over it all.
With the cool wind blowing around us under the deep-sea-blue sky, surrounded by tall green-limbed red-trunked Ponderosa Pines ---- we were like children in church, certain we were in a place that deserved our respect and reverence; in a place that silently spoke of power and majesty and ----- grace.
Why would i say grace? Because, we were being given something much greater than what we knew ourselves to be deserving of.

And two thoughts struck me:
Everything around me had been made by the Creator (excluding the road under us and the car carrying us)
All this great creation was visibly worshipping the One who had created it.
The handiwork of God and the worshipping of God was boldly displayed all around me --- and my soul was resonating with it all
"High heavens, sing! God has done it.
Deep earth, shout! And you mountains sing!
A forest choir of oaks and pines and cedars!
God has redeemed. God's glory is on display..." Isaiah 44:23 (the Message)

God made the trees ---
they stood tall and unashamed as they held their many arms up, reaching towards the One who created them, and pouring all their attention in His direction. They worship well --- silently --- unwaveringly even as they bend with the wind.
They are models of worship ---- we people could learn much from them.
No comments from the many who observe them can alter the focus of their adoration. None of their limbs turn inward or downward --- no matter the angle a witness  takes view of them will their armlike limbs be found doing anything other than lifting upwards and reaching for the Heavens.
As the clarity of their worship registered in my distracted human mind ---- i realized --- i was surrounded by soul-less beings that do a much better job of worshiping than the soul-filled daughter observing them. My shame was touched by grace and i felt completely loved in the midst of the great host of worshiping woods.
God made the mountains ---
those mighty warrior like, immovable monuments, each one sloping upwards to a peak that pointed Heavenward. They had been placed by God and designed by Him to majestically lean upward. If we want to see the mountains peak, we simply MUST raise our eyes towards Heaven. Those mountains spoke of elite power and unalterable devotion. They worshipped in silent authority, just as they have for millions of years. They will remain diligently pointing Heavenward in their silent worship until their maker chooses otherwise.

I remained silent -- sharing none of this with my Steve --- we rode on to the land of geysers. Walking for hours among the water spouts ---- we sat and watched Old Faithful diligently do his best to reach the blue of the sky with the waters he had gathered deep below him. We walked on to Grand Geyser and sat waiting for the show of spewing water and steamy release. It came at the predicted time, shooting water so high into the sky it looked like diamonds falling back to the ground in the light of the evening sun. We were awed, silent --- like those little children again --- knowing we were in the presence of Greatness. Scientific minds around us spoke of the geological details, our hearts knew the truth of the matter. God and only God controlled the heated cracks below us that held back molten magma and sent showers of water and steam instead.

Later that evening as we drove back through the winding roads leading us out of the park i thanked God for the great teachers of worship i had witnessed that day. The geysers did not care if we were there or not ---- they did one thing and they did it with purpose. They reached as high as they could and pointed everyone's eyes UP. They worshipped with all their strength and would not be hindered or distracted by anything or anyone.
They were beautiful and spectacular ---- even those who do not know the Father, were still moved to look Heavenward when the geysers reached for Him.

The trees, the mountains, the geysers, the birds, even the elk and buffalo ---- everything made by God seemed oblivious to the men who gawked at them. They each had a visible reminder pointing towards the One who made them.  The trees reached upwards, the mountains pointed Heavenward, the geysers raised their waters to Him, the birds sang for Him, and the elk and buffalo even sported antlers and horns that pointed upwards. They all seemed to do it much better than we soul-bearers do. With our arms hanging down and our eyes gazing at each other or the ground --- nothing about us points or reaches upward in a moment by moment sort of way visible way.
Soul-less --- they praise.
Soul-filled --- we have much to learn.

The rocks around us were silent. Nothing about the rocks reached Heavenward. But i remembered full well the scriptures ---

“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” Luke 19:40

"If they keep quiet..."... we are the "they" ----

may we learn from the soul-less ones around us as our Lord teaches us to worship Him.

I'm learning Lord --- I'm listening ---- may i not be concerned with what those passing nearby might think, but may i hold my hands high to you just as surely as the great ponderosa pines and may i reach to you fully with all that is within me just as surely as the powerful geysers. May my soul reach upwards just as surely as the elks antlers and may my songs be for you alone just as sweetly as the bird's.
Thank you for teaching us, even with the soul-less reminders.

For as long as i'm breathing --- may the stones remain silent...

"Holy, Holy, Holy
Is the Lord God Almighty
Who was, and is, and is to come
With all creation I sing
Praise to the King of Kings
You are my everything
And I will adore You."
(Revelation Song)

©2012 Donna Taylor/Reaching for the Robe

Thursday, October 4, 2012

When Scariness is Laced with SACRED

Perched on a bar no more the 3 feet off the ground, little Eden shouts to here mom in a voice nearing panic, "You've got me, right momma? You won't let me fall, will you?"
Her loving mom, Sarah, is right beside her, with hands less than an inch away. But Eden, she's afraid. She's unsure. She knows she could fall from this height, she feels out of control.

Mom gives Eden the chance to go beyond what she is comfortable with and experience what she hopes she can do. But mom is never far away, she won't let her daughter fall. Eden isn't quite sure, but momma knows --- she is in the space between her precious daughter and the hard ground.
Sarah is trying to help Eden get her balance on the thin, blue bar. So she grabs her only when she must. Eden sits on the thin playground railing --- her tiny 5 year old self, testing her ability to find balance on this unnatural bar beneath her. Straining to steady herself, she stiffens in fear, and screams for help, desperate to avoid a fall. But Sarah's voice remains calm and her hand remains present, she won't let her little one fall.

Perched 30 feet from the playground is another daughter, sitting beside a fire-ring, Bible in hand and laptop in her lap --- squealing just a loudly as little Eden, but in silent sort of grown up ways. Her eyes are closed, her cries are unheard by anyone other than her Father. But just as surely as Eden shouts loudly of her fear of falling, this grown up daughter squirms at her lack of ability to maintain balance on this seemingly thin rail called faith. So she cries out to her Father in almost identical ways.
"You've got me, right Daddy? You won't let me fall... will you?" It's an intense moment when the grown up daughter "hears" the parallel pleas  ---- Eden's on the playground and her own sitting silently in her grownup chair. She wonders if anyone realizes her own cries are much louder than little Eden's --- we grownups have learned how to mask our cries for help --- not a good thing to have achieved.
And in the vibrating madness of that silence, comes the soul deep  whispers from her very present Father God, "I'm as close to you as Sarah is to her precious Eden. I'm closer even still. I'm just letting you feel the stretch of this new balance, but my hands are under you. My presence is nearer than you can imagine."

"It's a scariness that has a sacredness laced with it."

"It will help you balance well at even higher heights if I allow you to grow in your confidence at this level.
Not confidence in yourself,
but confidence that I am with you,
you are mine, 
and I will see you through."

"So take a deep breath daughter. Try and relax, remembering you and I are together.
It's easier to balance when you relax."

"No matter how high you climb or how low you choose to stay, I will be with you. Just as surely as Sarah stays near to her dear Eden, so it is with Me and you daughter. If need be, Sarah would give her life to protect her little one.
I know this well...
I already have...
so come on, let's climb.

©2012 Donna Taylor/Reaching for the Robe

Saturday, September 22, 2012

For Travel Info.... Call...

The sign read "Travel Info Call 511"...
Steve and i are on Highway 24 W sliding through Tennessee on our way to Colorado for 3 weeks of intensive missionary training. We left at 5 this morning and will drive until dark-thirty tonight. The plan is to arrive in Denver by Sunday evening, just in time for church with a dear friend.

We know the "plan" for the next three weeks; for these 21 days, it feels really good to "know". But i giggle to myself, Steve can't hear my chuckles over the music we have blaring in the car. Nothing like some serious,hard core praise music vibrating through your ears and landing on your heart, when you're on this "road".
Why would i giggle?
The sign ---
it says for travel info i can just call 511 and supposedly they have some answers for their callers.
So i chuckle at what they might say if i were to call --- and ask --- about the "road" we are traveling these days.

The past 18 months of our lives have required a completely different type of "map". We have a road Atlas we've used for years. It's reliable and accurate, but it is of no value while navigating the paths we find ourselves on these days.

As we trek along this paved path in front of us, there are so many exits that veer off the main path. Cars come and go, they have come from different places and are headed in different directions. We must stay the course for the road we are on --- even if we do not have the complete "atlas answers" that would take us from here to where we will eventually land. We're on Ambiguity Avenue.

I sometimes wonder if this is Abba's scenic byway.

Speed limit is 70 on this highway --- but it surely feels like we are moving 100mph most days. And then some moments seem to crawl by so slowly. Usually when we move the most slowly, the roadway has narrowed because of "construction". Oh how i know this to be true. Major construction slows everything down.
Sometimes however, we slow to almost a stand still because of an accident ahead. Flashing, whirling lights warn that someone is injured; life for the rest of us slows down, life for the one lying on the roadway has fully stopped. Mistakes on this fast-moving snake-like paved path can cause big delays; mistakes here can completely alter everything. But with patience and perseverance, most will pass through smoothly, steadfast on their course.

Mile markers remind you of how far you have come.
Guardrails force us to stay on course,marking those places that immanent danger would swallow us alive if we ventured too far in their direction.
Signs help so much. They let you know when traffic is merging with you, or when there will be a sudden shift in lanes, or how far it will be to the next rest stop, or where a safe place to lay our heads to rest can be found.

But over it all, two overarching visuals remain. The sky seems to stand still in its greatness overhead and the horizon continually beckons.
The blue skies above us might allow dark clouds to roll under them and even dump buckets of rain on us, but the sky never leaves, it remains, it will not be moved. That same mother-hen-blue-winged guardian may warm us with yellow rays or cool us under the shade of a passing white puffy cloud. But no matter what happens under her ----- she is unalterably present and immovable. Always prepared to deliver needed gifts in raindrops or sunshine or starlight --- this Ambiguity Avenue will not take us out from under her blue wing.
She whispers to us at the horizon line ahead --- she says, "keep steady on Abba's path, He is with you where you now, He will be found when you arrive there as well. Don't veer from this course, don't be enticed by attractive exits, don't get sleepy at the wheel -- remain steadfast in your pursuit of the horizon He has drawn before you. Don't get discouraged at the long distance ahead of you. It all will come together for you --- that line where blue skies touch horizons --- you'll know when you've arrived --- and all the journeying days it took to get there --- will come clear with purpose in a blink of your eye."

Kenya is coming.
Mockingbird Road will be in the rearview mirror.
I'll make a new nest in Kitale.
But the wings of my Father are sky blue underneath and they stretch all the way from here to there.

"He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart." Psalm 91:4 

©2012 Donna Taylor/Reaching for the Robe 

Friday, August 31, 2012

Between Heaven and Earth --- High up in the Blue


Two Taylor men did something quite odd recently. Some would say it was insanely foolish; some might refer to it as "living-out-loud". Each has their own thoughts but --- logically it was a fantastically nutty thing to do.

The father-son duo, along with my nephew, drove two hours to don harnesses, ride 14,500 feet into the sky, slide open the metal door of a plane, and jump. Reaching speeds of 120mph during the free-fall, they screamed like little boys while gravity did her job.  It was a lifetime-dream of Steve's; it was a milestone for Peter.

The One who made the sky, the One who created gravity, the One who gave men the ability to make planes and fly them, the One who placed the desire inside (some) people to jump from a plane and slide through the wind ---- that One, held it all together.
With little effort at all, He could have stormed the skies or crushed the plane. Struggling health could have held them to the ground or winds could have carried them away. Parachutes could have deployed wrongly, hearts could have stopped beating permanently.

He has complete control.

We forget sometimes. We think that because we are blessed to see morning after morning after morning... ---- that it will be so again tomorrow. We dully allow our minds to be lulled into thinking sunrises are normal and sunsets expected.
Oh God --- forgive us for forgetting.

But on that day, we were not overlooking the bigness of El Roi (the God who sees us). As if tiny people would even dare to "overlook" the Great One.

As Steve, Peter, and Mitchell willingly jumped from a bullet shaped object 14,500 feet into the huge blue sky ------ something Holy was happening, something spiritual was taking place.

The imagery was unmistakable, the words came clear. Steve was experiencing physically what we both are experiencing spiritually.
We are doing the illogical.
We have jumped.
We are free-falling --- waiting on the parachute to open and glide us down safely.

I was sitting at the feet of the Robed One that day just as vividly as if i had been sitting in a summer time, small town church revival. Dare i say --- perhaps even more so. God holds "church" wherever He likes --- He is not limited by the walls built by men.

Our youngest son Peter, has been maneuvering through waters navigated by most young men these days. Rapids, with boulders lurking at the shorelines. Falls, with raging, paralyzing drops and currents that sweep trees down like toothpicks, dashing them into careless boys who find themselves in deep waters. He is learning --- God is His teacher. He loves God and wants to wake up to Him at a deeper level. So Peter listens to the Teacher, but sometimes the Teacher has to get his attention in firm Teacher like ways.
On this day when he would fall through the sky back to the ground, we wondered how it might rest in his soul. These types of experiences can speak loudly for many years.

Peter and my dad. Papa had two grandsons jumping out of a plane that day - he wasn't about to miss it.

As the expert tandem guides were readying the parachutes, Steve noticed on young man pausing, kneeling, gripping the chutes with both hands and pulling them close to his chest. With closed eyes, he moved his lips. Covered in tattoos, with quarter sized ear gauges and piercings glimmering silver where only skin was expected, he could have been an imposing presence. But when he turned his eyes towards us, we knew. He knows our Abba -- gentleness swirled with confidence in his gaze. I thanked God for His bigness, for letting me feel Him in the young man's presence, for sending His "colorful" sentinel to pray over the guardians of gravity.
Names were called out pairing novice jumpers with experienced tandem guides.

As Peter's name was called the sentinel raised his hand --- they were to jump together into the blue.

Look closely at his right forearm --- Jesus is there.

Steve and Mitchell were also paired with experienced guides. All was well.

I talked with Abba, much. I wasn't afraid --- just attentive. Excited for them, enjoying their boy-like eagerness to explore the un-normal.

They received their instructions, tightened harnesses, and trekked up the hill to the runway. Plane engines came alive, they climbed inside. Within seconds rocks flew backwards in the wind gusts from the propellers and their feet left the ground.

How oddly familiar it felt to me. As we prepare for the launch to Kenya --- it's very much the same.

- We receive our instructions, but we don't fully understand.
- We need to be "harnessed in", it would be deadly to jump if not harnessed to the One who knows what He is doing.
- We willingly walk to the thing that will lift us off of what we have always known. But we do not walk alone. The Expert is with us.
- We sense the illogical reality of what we are doing --- but the compulsion to continue rules us.
- We sit quietly during many of the details, we can't fly the plane, we have little actual "control".
- We realize few are truly "with us" --- they have not been called/told to board the plane and jump in this particular way.
- But we sense that those whose feet will remain here on this ground -- are praying for us diligently, and in that way we are not "alone".
- We do not have to jump ---- we could refuse. But what a sad choice that would be --- much would be missed.
- The harness that constrains us is intensely important. It needs to be tight, almost painfully so. For it will hold us securely to the only One who knows how to land us where we need to be.
- Straining against or arguing with the Expert on our back will not stop the jump, it will only lessen the beauty of the experience.
- The ride will be like nothing we had imagined before it began.
- The One on our back might be scary looking, but He is solid and sure.
- After the free-fall, comes a painful jerk ---- but then a slow ride will bring views never seen before.
- When you jump ---- only ONE is near.
- Many who choose not to jump, won't care to hear about it -- you will want to share, but will feel rejected sometimes. It's ok, there are many who are looking skyward, watching the One on your back.
- The view is so vast from so high up --- it would be easy to get lost and land in many dangerous places. But the One directing the chute's sky-path, knows exactly where He wants to put you down.
- When you land --- people care. And sometimes they even celebrate, because you have finally arrived.

Steve was the first one out of the plane, then Peter, and then Mitchell.
Before Peter jumped, the colorfully tattooed young man securely tied to his back, placed his hands just above Peter's broad shoulders and silently prayed. He had asked permission first -- his words to Peter were, "Dude, don't freak out if you look back and i'm praying over you, it's just something between me and God, it's what i do to carry you through. You down with that?" "Yes sir", "Awight man, let's do this". More was given to Peter that day, than a jump from the plane. He got to see God in another --- he got to feel God near.
All three had the ride of their life --- and seemed to keep "flying" for hours afterwards.
No broken bones, no bruised knees, no regrets.

No regrets.

I wonder sometimes ---- if we stay too firmly "planted" in what is familiar and comfortable and safe and manageable ------------ will regrets sneak in during the 11th hour of our breathing.
"Everyman dies, not every man really lives." -William Wallace
Since God is the Giver of Life, doesn't it seem that He should be the One who defines it?

Later that same night, Steve showed me a torn, worn piece of paper. He had carried it deep in his pocket when he had jumped from the plane. On the paper, he had written ---


we do this to enrich our lives

and to cast ourselves

into ----- your ----- arms..."

"And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them." Mark 10:16

©2012 Donna Taylor/Reaching for the Robe

Friday, August 17, 2012

Remove your sandals... this is Holy Ground

Mt. Horeb

Moses was busy doing what he was suppose to be doing, he was caring for his father-in-law's flocks. Then God --- put a burning bush before him.

It was up on the mountain, Mt. Horeb (also called Mt. Sinai), the same mountain where Moses would later receive the Ten Commandments.
Moses saw the bush. 
The verse jumped off the page at me as i read through this old, old story again last week.  
Moses SAW the bush. 
I wonder, were there other flock tenders out that day? Was anyone else given the chance to see the burning bush or was it hidden from all others except Moses' eyes?

"Moses saw..."
The fullness of the verses read: "There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in the flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought,  'I will go over and see this strange sight -- why the bush does not burn up.' When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush..." Exodus 3: 2-4a

First -- Moses saw ----
Next -- Moses thought ---
Then -- Moses went over to look ---

Moses was not passive, he was not complacent; Moses was active and attentive. We children of God would do well to make note of that.

After God called from within the bush --- the first thing God told Moses to do --- "Take off your sandals -- you are on Holy Ground... "(v.5). God clarified for Moses who it was that was speaking to him --- "I am the God of your father..." (v.6) and what did Moses do?
He hid his face --- because he was afraid to look at God. (v.6)

Oh my soul --- how these long ago written words have vibrated inside me for 7 days now.

How many burning bushes have gone unnoticed?
How many of us have a "burning bush" of sorts in our life, that we are either too busy to notice or too focused to stop and have thought over. How many of us are so time restrained that we would dismiss the thought of going over to look at it even if we did have eyes to see it. So attentive to the clock and the schedule the tasks and the plans, that we miss the burning bushes of our lives. And then how many of us ---- don't want to see those unsettling burning bushes?

Not for a second am i being critical or negative. I'm carefully using the pronoun "us" here. I believe God has opened my eyes to understand --- Moses was no more "special" than any one else. He was broken enough though --- to be in the desert tending the sheep and goats that belonged to another man -- so he was in a position to "see" what another might have missed. He was willing to pause, think, and go look. And he was obediently humble. He took off his shoes and hid his face ---- for he understood, he was on Holy Ground and the Holy One was in front of him.

Moses was not watching for a burning bush in his life. In no way does scripture lead us to interpret Moses was waiting for a great "call". Moses was doing the thing that was in front of him ---- obediently. But he was willing to notice when the bush burst into flames, and yet did not burn up. Moses was watchful but not expectant. Then when it was before him, he was curious enough to approach and stunned enough to listen.

All this captures me.
To be positioned to "see".
To be willing to approach and listen.
And then ---- to obey...

Moses words --- "Here I am..."
For those of you who have heard the specifics of my personal call to full time service in Kenya -- you know -- it was while singing an old hymn that my mouth refused to follow the guidance of my mind. The words were in front of me on the hymnal page, but the words that came out of my mouth were different. The words of the song were, "Here I am Lord, is it I Lord?" However, my mouth sang words in response to God's call saying, "Here I am Lord, it is I Lord..." I'll never forget the other-worldly feeling of trying to make my mouth sing one thing and listening to it repeatedly sing the response God was asking for.
How moving for me to read Moses response to God calling out to him. "Here I am..."

Then immediately -- God began giving instructions to Moses.
-- Do not come any closer Moses. (v.5)
-- Take off your sandals Moses (v.5) --- you are on Holy Ground.
-- Then after clarifying exactly who was speaking to him ---
God told Moses to GO... (v.10)

And the conversation that followed was much like this:
God - Go
Moses - But who am i that i should go?
God - I will be with you.
Moses - Who should i tell them sent me?
God - "I am that I am" has sent you, the God of our fathers.
Moses - But what if they do not believe me? What if they say "the Lord did not appear to you..."
God - Show them your staff, it will become a snake, then return to being a staff -- then show them your hand in your cloak, sick, and then healed. Then if they still do not believe, pour water from the Nile onto the ground and i will turn the water into blood.
Moses - But I do not speak well.
God - I will give you words you say.
Moses - Please send someone else...
God - ... then the Lord's anger began to burn against Moses, but still He said, what about your brother Aaron? He will go with you and speak.

Five times, Moses questioned the word "Go..." --- he had his excuses ready...
But God was relentless. He had chosen His servant, and had given His orders.

Moses was/is one of the "greats" in the Bible, yet in reality he was just a simple shepherd tending someone else's sheep. He was humble and unsure of himself. He knew he was ill-fitted for what was being asked of him. He knew he needed help...
Moses is my close brother these days.

I did not realize it until reading this passage again and again --- that God had stirred me with the same words Moses had used --- "Here I am Lord..."
I knew the day i was sitting in a Bible study class with my friend Carolyn, that all my world was changing even as i sat perfectly still. A burning bush was in front of me --- no one else in the room saw it --- but i did (i believe Carolyn knew it was before me as well). I saw and I timidly approached it. And the God of our Fathers spoke to my heart just as surely as He spoke to Moses' those many years ago. 

I cried --- crocodile tears.
I will confess, they were terrified tears.
Almost hard to breathe tears.
Hide my face tears.

But almost immediately --- God reminded me -- I was on Holy Ground. And on Holy Ground reverence is necessary.
So later that same day --- i began "removing my sandals". For about 545 days now i've been removing more than just my sandals.
I've been removing/laying down my house, my car, my furniture, my friends, my pets, my favorite restaurants, my creature comforts, my kitchen, my flowers, my normal, my family, my precious children, my front porch, my world...
And the conversations between God and me have been such an echo of Moses' words. Unintentional, but almost exact ---
"But Lord, who am i to go ..."
"But Lord, why would they listen to me..."
"But Lord, i do not speak well..."
"Oh Lord, could i please nominate another, someone much better suited for this calling..."

Then i've gone further that Moses did -- I've whined to the One who created and gave me everything good in my life and i've said --- "But Lord, will i really be able to keep breathing day in and day out so far away from "home"? 
And His response ---- 
"you are not home yet. You've never been home. You're just comfortable in the box i've allowed you to live in. But now i've called you out of what is comfortable and onto the path that will carry you closer to home. Home is ahead."
 "follow Me --- remove your sandals --- this is Holy Ground."

Was it easy for Moses? No -- Not for a day after his eye caught sight of his burning bush.
Did it seem impossible for Moses? Surely -- everyday --- but then there was always God with Him.
Was Moses perfect? Never --- he messed up big at the rock and it cost him much.
Did Moses need help? Always, from God, from his brother, from his wife -- even from his father-in-law Jethro.

Climbing Mt. Horeb was no small feat. Moses did it several times during his years of Holy Ground servanthood. It was a challenging, difficult climb.
Would it have been easier to have just "not seen" the burning bush and kept right on tending Jethro's flocks for the rest of his life.
But then ---  what would it have felt like, on the day he drew his last breath here, then breathed in the air of Heaven and heard God ask --- "son, why did you ignore the burning bush i placed before you? you were created to lead men and women out of bondage not tend flocks of goats in a field."

Easy = less
Comfortable = Easy
A burning bush > Comfortable
Obedience > A burning bush
Peace = Obedience
Surrender > Peace
Savior > Surrender
Home = Savior
Holy Ground is the path where the Savior walks with us, barefooted, together ---- it leads to HOME.

©2012 Donna Taylor/Reaching for the Robe