Thursday, April 24, 2014

God's Hand on the Skein... Part 2

Years ago, long before i knew her, she suffered. You can't tell it by listening to her energetic words or looking into her sparkling eyes. She doesn't ruminate over what was. She had loved and been hurt and suffered marks from the hurting. She had bravely stood against the injustice of bigger muscles being used in ways all wrong. And in time, she had forgiven it and laid it down ----- laid it down at the foot of the Cross --- where Holy blood spilled to cover all that should not have been.
i love her.

Never telling details. Never re-digesting the pain. But always perched and ready to hold a hurting heart tenderly because she knows the difference tenderness can make.
She has a room in her house ----- a small special room --- where she sits with Yahweh and talks and listens and learns and is made new, often.

She's tiny beside me --- my eyes look down towards her when we're talking --- but my heart, it sees her by looking up. I can tell her anything. She's never judged me one time --- not when i was being petty or self-condemning or weak or fearful. She just gets this tender strong look in her eye and helps lift me back up. She has seen me break over the pain of Kenyan sisters. She amazes me. She didn't shrink away from their pain. She used her own pain in years past to enable her to scoot up close beside them. What the enemy had intended for harm ---- she allowed GOD to use for good. And she loves deeply, unselfishly, unconditionally, completely.

She's one of three ladies i lean into when the winds blow too hard inside.

Months ago i wrote of skeins and knots and gentle hands straightening tangled yarn. If you haven't read it yet, you can click here to read it now.
She makes me feel so loved --- not only does she read what i write, but she often messages me in some special way. Those of us who write understand --- when we bare our innards, we feel a bit exposed. Words of affirmation and encouragement matter.

Two days after reading "God has His hand on the Skein of me..." ---- she sent deeper thoughts to me ---- i've rolled them around for several months now --- asked then if i could someday share --- and so finally... here's the next "chapter" inspired by insights from my dear warrior friend.

The Skein Part 2 - 

It seems my dear friend had been knitting a blanket. When she was forced to pause from her work to untangle one of those knots that emerged from the center of her chosen skein, she laid down needles, straightened what was a mess, and resumed her work. 
Knitting away, working on a knew pattern, she was eager to see if the blanket would emerge as she had imagined it would be. But as it formed in her lap ----- she didn't like the look of it. She said, "It was too porous. my hard work was producing something that looked more like a decorative doily rather than a cozy blanket."

She could have become angry and frustrated over the unwanted results. She could have tucked blanket, needles, skein and all in a corner cabinet and walked away. She could have literally thrown it all away -- refusing to spend anymore time on the unsightly outcome.
She laid her needles down and gently pulled the string of yarn ----- slowly unwinding the blanket she had just created moments before.
She ----- "left the old behind ----- and started afresh --- using the same yarn she had used before".

Sounds familiar... "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on..."

Lovely indeed. The yarn itself was not ruined. Only the way in which it had been used was producing an unwanted, useless, undesirable result. 
Noticing the faint kinks in the string of yarn laid out before her, she could see "it had seen some storms but it was still strong, pliable, and usable".

Oh how like me...
maybe like you as well...
We get wounded in this world don't we? We sometimes get "used" and twisted and formed into something we don't want to be. Didn't ask for it - wouldn't have chosen it - but find ourselves all porous and unable to keep even the slightest chill at bay. 
Those are the moments when the deceiver puts an evil megaphone to our ear and shouts in to our weakest places --- "look at you, you're useless, you'll never be enough, you'll never be what the others are, you're no good for anything ---- why keep trying..."

Oh dear God! Thank you for saving us from the lying accuser. Thank you for your words... for your WORD --- you say, "You did not choose me, but I, God, chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit -- fruit that will last..." 

You take the porous blanket we are disappointed in ---- 
and you gently pull the cord of yarn, 
unwinding us, 
even to our core. 
You see what can be, if we will only lay ourselves in your hands and accept the knitting needles you choose to us. Struggling = knots.
..."though i walk through the valley of the shadow of death... i will not fear... for You are with me... your rod and your staff, they comfort me..." 
...and a staff can look like a knitting needle sometimes.

You don't lie to us, acting as if all is well, when knots are all inside us.
You don't leave us.
You come to us. 
You touch all the holes we wearily carry ---- and you begin working your plans with the yarn that has been so poorly used by lesser hands.

Mary Magdelene was surely a beauty on the outside; but inside she was a used, porous blanket that could neither shield her soul from the chilling wind nor offer good comfort to another. She had been deemed guilty and bad, evil and adulterous. Men were preparing to stone her. That's what they do to those of us who don't measure up. 
But not You. 
Lord, You saw "her". 
You saw the strands of yarn that had been so wrongly used. You knew that even she didn't see value in the skein of yarn holding her in a poorly made blanket of bondage. No one saw the great value ---- but You did. And you stepped towards her.

No matter where we are... or how we look... or what we've become... You are always stepping towards us.

And if we will lay ourselves down in your hands, You will begin reworking us. 
Remaking us. 
Redeeming us.
... You begin unwinding us --- oh Lord, we do live wound up tightly don't we.
And then when we feel ourselves lying helpless, unable, surrendered... 
that's when you know we are ready to begin becoming what you've seen us as all along
You use your great staff and you knit us together in new ways. You, know what is need and we've f-i-n-a-l-l-y realized we do NOT.

My dear friend ended her note to me with these perfect words... 

..."this time the weave is stronger and the stitch more beautiful! Just like what Jesus does with us!"

(My dearest Sandra... it's taken me a whole year to finally share the rest of the story of the yarn. i wrote the first part in April before we moved to Kenya... and now the second part finally comes. Thank you for the many ways you've helped our Abba rework and redeem the yarn that holds me together. You are beauty among us.)

©2014 Donna Taylor/Reaching for the Robe

Friday, April 18, 2014

Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I...

We sat in safari chairs under acacia trees at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro as he read,  

"Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.

Let me dwell in your tent forever! Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings!" 

... and we laughed together over the clarity and consistency of our Abba.

I've been silent for long now. Not because of anything ominous; no struggling with words or life or living. Just doing more listening than typing... listening is good.
Too many use words too carelessly.
Too many think their words are more important than they actually are.
Too many have wounded with careless words.
My dear Uncle Harold passed away recently, he's resting now, finally HOME. I've thought, what words would He share now if he could? We can be sure he would waste no words, they would all be rich.

As my Steve and i sat reading our morning devotions together, we were guided to the scripture above found in Psalm 61 verses 1-4. Most every morning, together, we read a devotion, a chapter from a book we are studying, some scripture, etc. It helps us begin the day ---- well. Sarah Young's devotional "Jesus Calling" is a favorite of ours. We know our sons and our daughter will also read it each day -- it's a special connection we have with them... no matter where we open our eyes. With April 15ths devotional, Mrs. Young shared words from Psalm 61. "Lead me to the rock that is higher than I". 
Sitting at the base of the tallest mountain in Africa (and the tallest free-standing mountain in the world) imagine how intimately near we felt God's presence as we read the words from a devotion she had penned for millions. But for us, it was deeply moving as we sat watching the sunrise on Kilimanjaro.
"Lead me to the rock that is higher than I". 

He made that great mountain.
He didn't have to share it with us.
But He chose to... and in those moments we felt His goodness and power and love and prescence.
Kilimanjaro sat in front of us. His Words lay in our hands. We laughed like kids playing on a playground before us.

To sit at the base of Kilimanjaro is to be reminded of ones tininess. 
Like ants at a picnic. 
Like goby fish in the ocean. 
... it's wise to remember just how small we are.
Takes the load off our shoulders of thinking there's much we could actually do.

But when the Maker of the mountain, the picnic Provider, the One who fills the ocean --- when HE touches our tininess... therein lies the difference. 

It's life-changing and jerk-the-rug-from-under-my-feet humbling! If the One who makes the great mountains touches us ------ everything changes.
On my best day living, i'm still tiny.
If i could combine everyone of my BEST days out of a whole lifetime and pack them into one good solid hour ---- that one hour would be worthless still if the Maker of the hour didn't touch the minutes. 
Conversely, we could take all my most rotten moments and pack them into one grueling hour and it would be a 3600 second nightmare. But... let Abba touch it... and what had seemed horrible without Him would be used for good in His hands and eternal differences would flow.

I recently read a short blog written by an lady i am distantly acquainted with. Of all she wrote in her blog, one sentence walked away with me. She said, "I'm not one to over-spiritualize everything..." And i knew there was something for me to learn because her words sat side-ways inside me. I'd never thought about "over-spiritualizing" anything. That alone shows you my ignorance.  But i was intrigued by the unhealthiness or healthiness (depending on your personal view) of over-spiritualization. So i read more... and pondered it. 

Over-spiritualizing means we apply scriptural interpretation that exceeds its intended meaning or we over-compensate an event or action with implications that God orchestrated it in our lives.
The more i read, the more i realized i needed to sit quietly asking God to teach me His will on this controversial matter of over-spiritualizing.

Here's my "kindergarten level" view ...
----when i was a young believer (which in some ways feels like just last year - even though i've been His girl for 40 years now), i did not "see" God in anything --- except on Sunday morning when we "met with Him" at church. I wasn't looking for Him anywhere else. My little girl thinking was, He had His place and He lived there...
----when i grew a bit older, i began to see God as the ONLY real Truth. I wanted more of Him in my life because of what i saw in the world. I grew in the knowing that I needed a Savior near. Not just on Sunday, not just for a holy-high now and then. I wanted a Good Shepherd everyday in the field with me.
----when i gave birth to children i knew God had to help me. He simply had to move in my life or i would ruin theirs. Period. I knew i needed more of God and less of me, i knew THEY needed more of God's goodness and less of my flailing attempts at goodness. 
----when i grew still older i grew deeper in my desire for more of Him and less of me. I'd lived long enough with myself and i'd tasted enough of Him --- that i knew... i knew... His ways worked. I'd try hard (on my own) and end up hurting everyone around me. Then, usually in desperation I'd surrender to God and just do what He said to do ----- and good flowed. Those good things were defined and produced by Him, not me.
So the more i learned of God, the more i wanted His ways. The more i read His Word, the more i looked for Him around me, in me, with me.  I never once thought of it as over-spiritualizing. I still don't. God IS in the world around me. I don't want to miss it, overlook it, ignore it, or let other things block my view. It's where i am today. Wanting more of God around me "His kingdom come... His will be done..."

"Lead me to the rock that is higher than I" ---- it means i don't want to stumble around on the little rocks. I want to climb higher on the Rock --- the one that saves me from the predator-filled fields below. From the Rock i can see farther, and have a better birds-eye-view of the world around me. 
from the Rock ---- i won't over-spiritualize --- foolishly saying, "Ah, see that cheetah has killed a gazelle and therefore I believe God is saying... blah... blah... blah." As though, there were some deep spiritual meaning in the fact that instinctively cheetahs eat gazelles. 

Each event is not to become a force-feeding of the divine.

It troubled me deeply to think of over-spiritualizing life around me. So i sat with God and asked for help.
Then as i prayed through the matter, what began to trouble me much more, was the thought of missing God in the millions of gifts He gives. Imagine standing before Him someday (we all will before we step into eternity), and having no awareness of the endless daily gifts He had offered. All the whispered goodnesses, all the tender treasures.... missed. To realize all those God-moments had been overlooked and consequently all the THANK YOUs were never spoken. Makes me shiver at the thought.

So, i've firmly decided, may i be found in the clan of kids always looking for the movements (the real movements) of my Daddy-God!  And may i be drawn to them ---- not frightened by them. May i scoot my chair closer --- not shrink back. May i shrug off the negative glances from those "too cool" to humbly seek and see His face. May i be the tiny goby fish that swims with abandonment in my Father's ocean and thank Him, thank Him, thank Him at every gulp of His goodness.

Elephants roam about in the low-lands all day, but when night approaches, they head for higher ground.
Giraffes do the same.
Elephants are the strongest ----- giraffes are the tallest.
But they know neither their strength nor their sight will keep them safe from harm.

Our refuge is found on higher ground. Our safe hiding place is found above the low-lands.
We have a Father who not only made the "Rock" but is also willing to lead us to it.
He WILL lead us to the high place, where we can dwell in His tent and rest under His wing.
But we've got to be willing to listen, watch, see Him and obey.

No overspiritualing allowed ------- but seeing Him in all His daily gifts ---- yes, i'll have a double portion of that please.

...and at the end of my days, if the words are spoken over me, "she just talked about God too much...", then i'll just have to grin... and bear it... all the way HOME. :)

©2014 Donna Taylor/Reaching for the Robe