Category Archives: Sacrifice

Monday Morning Meditation- Promise

God. Never. Breaks. A. Promise.

Ever.

He can’t.  He’s not human.  Humans break promises all of the time.  God never does.  Which is why we can rely fully and totally on His promises.

While I was considering what was on my mind about God and his promises my mind went to Abraham.  “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.” (Rom 4:18-21)

Against all odds, poor decisions, and time, God still delivered on his promise to Abraham, even when it looked like it couldn’t possibly happen.  Even when the world could look at the circumstances and say, “Nope. Ain’t gonna happen.”  Sarah bore Abraham a son in their (very) old age.  Abraham did become the father of the many hundreds of millions.  Even when God told him to sacrifice his son, he still had hope and trusted in the promise.  Else, he wouldn’t have journeyed up the mountain.

Sometimes in my life I forget that God never breaks promises.  He ALWAYS delivers.  Just not always when I THINK he should.  And that’s the hard part. Waiting.  Trusting.  Hoping.  Faith in God’s promises.  That he WILL deliver, at the exact moment he intends to.

Lord, help me to trust and to hold on just a little longer while waiting for you to do what  you promised.

Tender (the first day of the “Just Write!” campaign)

Mary Kathryn Tyson, of Beauty for Ashes, decided she needed help getting un-stuck in her blog writing. She decided to start a month long campaign called “Just Write!” (named by moi) in which she will do stream-of-consciousness writing on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. Wednesday is a bible study of the book of Romans that we are engaged in until the bitter end. And Friday is devoted to Gypsy Mama’s stream-of-consciousness writing “Five Minute Friday”.

So, I am participating in this campaign because I am reluctant to write. I am sure that God wants me to write. But I just can’t get past myself. I was excited when I read MK’s proposal hoping that this would spark a lifelong habit of blogging. Everyday that she does this she will give us a one-word prompt and we “Just Write!for five minutes without editing (note: editing for grammar errors is okay, just don’t do a total rewrite). We are not trying to craft masterpieces here, we are attempting to “Just Write!” and get the creative juices flowing. MK has offered to allow us to write in her comments section, or to put a link in her comments if we have our own blog to write in.

Day 1: Tender

GO!

Sweet softness of light and mercy,

Your love shines gently on my soul.

Sweet softness of light and mercy,

Your life fills my heart’s hole.

Sweet softness of light and mercy,

Prompt me with you tenderness.

Sweet softness of light and mercy,

Touch me with your tender caress.

Sweet softness of light and mercy,

Bring me into your light.

Sweet softness of light and mercy,

Help me through to the end of this fight.

Sweet softness of light and mercy,

Help me understand the mysteries of the deep.

Sweet softness of light and mercy,

Let me know the sweetness of your sleep.

Sweet softness of light and mercy,

Bring me into your dwelling place.

Sweet softness of light and mercy,

Let me know the beauty of your face.

Sweet softness of light and mercy,

Fill me from my head to my toes.

Sweet softness of light and mercy,

Lead my heart so my head follows.

STOP!

So there you have it, five minutes of stream-of-consciousness writing.

Feel free to add your own in my comments, to put a link in my comments, or just leave a note letting me know you were here and what you think about my efforts.

Who would attend my funeral? Some thoughts on friendship.

Don’t worry, I am not planning my death or anything crazy like that.

In It’s a Wonderful Life, we spend the first two acts getting to know George Bailey.  He grows up in a small town of no real consequence.  He has loving parents, and a brother, he is friendly, loyal, honorable, part of a local community, and is bent on seeing the world.  But, life takes some twists and turns he did not expect.  Instead of traveling the world, he marries, takes over a business he does not want (his father’s Savings and Loan), has a few kids, builds homes for others, and does his darndest to keep the local baddie at bay.  He has some friends and life is okay.  Until something terrible happens, and he effectively wishes he were dead, or had never been born.  The third act of the movies shows us what life would be like in his small town had he never been born.  Life is ugly without him in Bedford Falls.  A measuring stick was held up to his life when the townsfolk started to show up to help him out of his crisis.  George needed that angel to show him that alternate reality to help George to understand what his life has meant to others.  George definitely made a difference and it showed.

Sometimes I lie awake at night and wonder if I died, who would show up at my funeral?  How would I be eulogized? What would people say to those closest to me in an attempt to comfort them?  I used to have a morbid fascination with this idea because for a time I felt that no one would show up.   I felt lonely and afraid that I would die alone and unnoticed.  I struggled with invisibility (and often still do) and felt disconnected.  I really wanted connections in my life so people would show up at my funeral.  Initially, my motives were selfish.  I wanted people to care about me enough to care about  my death.

God does not like selfishness.  He likes selflessness.

Forging lifelong friendships is a long and difficult process fraught with danger and pain.  There were some relationships that were toxic, some that just ended, and some that kept going.  The friendships that kept going were eventually based on a mutual exchange of time, trust, and energy.  At some point, this process became less about what I could get from others, and became more about what I could give.  A bowl of soup here, a friendly and kind word there, a much needed moment of free childcare, some empathetic tears, a hug, a kiss, a little cash, trusted advice, helped others to know their worth to me.  And I receive these things in return and can feel my worth to those people.  The Holy Spirit gives us energy to maintain relationships with others because He desires an exchange of love between Him, us, and others, above all things.  Relationships matter.  Jesus said that the world would know us by our “love for one another” and that “no love greater is this; that he would lay his life down for his friends”.   Having friends is not really about what you can get from others, it’s about what you can give to others.  It’s about offering yourself, your gifts, your wisdom, your time, and your energy to other’s benefit.  The more you pour out, the more is poured into you.

I have many people that I love dearly outside of my little family.  Let’s cross that out; these people are my family.  I rejoice that these people are my brothers and my sisters.  They really care about me, and I really care about them.

To quote Clarence the angel, “…no man is a failure who has friends.”

Would love to hear your thoughts here….

Hold on, just a little longer.

Thief

by Third Day

I am a thief, I am a murderer,
Walking up this lonely hill.
What have I done? I don’t remember.
No one knows just how I feel;
And I know that my time is coming soon.

It’s been so long, oh, such a long time,
Since I’ve lived with peace and rest.
Now I am here, in my destination,
I guess things work for the best;
And I know that my time is coming soon.

Who is this man? This man beside me,
That they call the King of the Jews.
No, they don’t believe, that He’s the Messiah,
But, somehow I know that it’s true.

They laugh at Him in mockery,
They beat Him till he bleeds,
They nail Him to the rugged cross,
And they raise Him, yeah, they raise Him up next to me.

My time has come, and I’m slowly fading,
But I deserve what I receive.
Jesus, when You are in Your kingdom,
Could You please, please remember me.
Well He looks at me still holding on,
And the tears fall from His eyes,
And He says I tell the truth,
Today, yeah, you will live with Me in paradise, woah yeah.

And I know that my time, yes my time, is coming soon, woah yeah.
And I know that my time, yes my time, is coming soon, woah yeah, yeah
And I know that paradise, paradise is coming soon.

I was listening to this song the other day while I was driving…somewhere (can’t remember).  I have listened to this song a thousand times and sung along with tears in my eyes all choked up (which makes me singing this song not pretty to listen to).  And usually, I reside in the place of the thief when I dwell in this song for the few minutes that it plays.  From the perspective of the this thief, I feel the weight of my sin and understand the price that I must pay.  And at the end of the song, I feel hope in the redemptive power of Jesus’ death there next to him (me) on the cross.

This is all good.

But that other day (the one where I can’t remember where I was going in my car), when the last verse was being sung I had a waking dream.  A brilliant flash of understanding that I had never experienced before.  It was blinding.

And, I felt like I had been delivered a roundhouse kick to the chest.  I couldn’t breathe because of the depth of what I saw and understood in that brief moment.

Jesus/God was gracious enough to hang on that cross long enough for this one last person to be saved while He was still here on earth.

WOW.  And I cried, hard.

He could have chosen to give in to death a bit sooner and end his suffering.  Who would have blamed him?  From what I  have heard, death on a cross is an agonizingly slow death of suffocation.  If it had been me up there I would have prayed for a swift death.  But Jesus/God chose to go just a little bit farther for that one last person He could touch while he still breathed.

His example has taught me a crucial lesson: When others look at me they are supposed to see Christ in me.  When I am open and there Christ can flow through me.  Being human, I am required again and again to die to myself because I am not God and therefore not perfect, but the thief in the song saw a beacon of hope in Jesus as He hung there dying and I need to be a beacon of hope in my relationships so that others may see Him.  I need to hold on just a little longer.

What are the ways that you and I can hold on just a little longer?

Tower of Babel- The destruction process

Genesis 11

The Tower of Babel

1 At one time all the people of the world spoke the same language and used the same words. 2 As the people migrated to the east, they found a plain in the land of Babylonia and settled there.

3 They began saying to each other, “Let’s make bricks and harden them with fire.” (In this region bricks were used instead of stone, and tar was used for mortar.) 4 Then they said, “Come, let’s build a great city for ourselves with a tower that reaches into the sky. This will make us famous and keep us from being scattered all over the world.”

5 But the Lord came down to look at the city and the tower the people were building. 6 “Look!” he said. “The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them! 7Come, let’s go down and confuse the people with different languages. Then they won’t be able to understand each other.”

8 In that way, the Lord scattered them all over the world, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why the city was called Babel, because that is where the Lord confused the people with different languages. In this way he scattered them all over the world.

I wanted to write some prosy thing about this process, but I just don’t have it in me.  Instead, I am going to share the email I sent to someone who is sort of counseling me at the moment.  Here goes:

Phew.  This has been a tough week.  Still reeling from the smashed tower and wondering what to do next, the day after the last image I sent you (which would have been Wednesday) I sat down again and asked the Lord to revel himself to me.  This is what I got:

Part 1- No other Gods before me.
The scripture is Exodus 20:2-17.  The purple squiggly on top is Sovereign God.  The bottom left hand corner spiral is the Holy Spirit.  As the colors spiral inward the Holy Spirit is infusing himself with me.  I am in the center in the red.  I am not sure if the red represents anger/rage, or my heart, maybe both.  If you notice the majority of the spiral is in blue and moves to purple then to red.  All of the words of the scripture are moving inward from the HS into the center.  I felt that God was making clear that I am putting something before him.  But I really did not want to know what.

Part 2- Ouch! That hurts!
I met with someone I look up to on Thursday because I wanted to express some hurt and anger about some things that had happened.  I had something I was holding onto for the past 5 years that was still hurting me.  I wanted to be able to let go, but God wasn’t letting me let go.  So, I finally (after much goading from a friend) met with this person.  She told me she thought I had an attitude problem, an anger problem, and she I was held back from going forward in leadership because of this.  She said that I can have my opinions, and even feel anger, but she said that I am not very honoring in my approach to expressing my anger.  This, of course, hurt me and my ego.  I also felt frustrated because I only really feel anger is when I feel an injustice has been served to  me.  For a couple of days I felt distraught, anger, frustration, and more anger.  And I really did not want to ask God about this because I was sure I wasn’t going to like what I heard.

Part 3- The dream
Right before I woke up Saturday morning I had a most vivid dream.  Usually there are 3 signs that the dream was from God: 1. It was vivid, 2. It stays with me all day, 3. I can still remember it the next day.  Here is how the dream went: My husband was carrying our child because I could not after a certain part of the pregnancy.  We were in a hotel room that was more like an apartment.  It was time to deliver the baby, but it had to be done by c-section and I was the only one there to do the procedure.  I felt a little panicked, rushed, but confident that I could handle a dangerous procedure on my own.  I was rushing around to get the room ready putting out towels to soak the inevitable flow of blood and for the baby.  I was also changing my clothes into something more appropriate for handling surgery.  As I was removing my stockings, my husband said that he was waiting for someone to arrive.  He had called on another nurse, someone more qualified to handle the surgery.  I was very upset with him and threw a little temper tantrum.  I said, “I can’t believe you called someone else!!”  He said that someone who was qualified for this needed to be there to handle “multiple points of infection”.  I immediately awoke from this dream in a panic.  I knew almost immediately this was from God.

Part 4- The Revelation
Yesterday, I sat down and wrote out some thoughts I was having because I felt like the faith issue that you talked with me about, and the anger issue were related.  The dream was key to making that connection, but I still didn’t know why.  And, I was feeling angry with God.  So I wrote out a few things that I was feeling including the dream.  The first question I posed to myself was “What are the correlations?” between the anger issue and the faith issue.  Then I wrote out the possibilities which are:
  • I feel angry that I cannot just “handle” things myself.
  • God is saying he is “qualified” to handle things, and I am not.
  • I feel angry at injustices
  • Sometimes the lack of blessing feels like an injustice, especially when I feel that I have done what is required of me.
  • I feel angry at God.
  • I feel mistrustful of others.
  • I feel misunderstood.
  • What is the root of this?
  • I have an “I can (and now I think “must” is part of this) take care of myself” attitude.  That doesn’t jive with God.  I feel I have, and continue to be, treated unfairly, and unjustly by others.
  • Am I my own God (in this area)?
Then I wrote: Why do I care about injustice and fairness towards myself?  To the point of expressing anger?  Why do I feel God has treated my unjustly?  I feel I don’t deserve what has happened to me and angry at God for not stopping it.   Which is ridiculous since a deep understanding of pain makes me more sympathetic (and empathetic) toward others pain.  I believe this but find it difficult to accept.  Is this where “be the exclamation point, not the question mark” comes in?

So, yesterday afternoon, I sat down with my sister and we talked about why we want so badly to be heard.  We agreed it was because we weren’t heard as children, or as adults in our younger years.  I am driven to keep making my point until I feel I have been heard, which leads others to believe that I am trying to “get my way”, which is not my usual intention.  Then I began to wonder if, as Christians, we have a “right’ to be heard.  Meaning: Do others really need to hear my thoughts and opinions?  My sister felt that in some situations it was important to be understood.  But, perhaps in most situations it was not so important to be heard by others.  Then she came up with this scripture, “Let no evil talk come out of your mouth, but only what is good for giving necessary teaching, and for grace to those who give ear.” Ephesians 4:29.  Then I found the rest of that chapter “And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.  Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:30, 31.

Part 5- The Conclusion
Obviously, I need to rely solely on the Holy Spirit to guide my words when I feel strongly about something, which, somewhere deep inside of me, makes me unhappy.  So I am coming to grips the full meaning of this revelation.  I expect that I will be fully on board with this soon enough.  So here is my conclusions on this matter:
  • It takes faith to trust that God is fully capable of handling whatever comes my way.
  • I need to rely on Him for revelation on how to handle a situation
  • I am not God in my life.  Only He must be.
  • My words must be tempered with love, honoring, cherishing, encouraging, full of grace.
  • Since I am woman of strong opinion and passion, I must go to Him EVERY SINGLE TIME I have a struggle to temper my reactions before I speak or do anything.

So there you have it.  Like I said: Phew!

Rapunzel

What a chore.  Day after day, I drag this hair around.  Why do I bother?  Hair this long is burdensome and gets in the way.  Constantly having to step over my hair, brushing and binding it up into a manageable bundle, and the constant washing is, well, a chore.  Yet, there is something about this hair that I just can’t let go.  Maybe it’s the way the sunlight glints off of it with hints of gold.  Maybe it’s the way the slightest rustle releases the scent of lilac.  A blessing and curse, my hair is to me.

The other day, I thought I heard a voice.  I thought I heard someone call my name “Rapunzel”.  The voice was soft and alluring.  Perhaps it was just a dream.  My captor came again to visit me here in my tower.  She had put me here a while ago when I stumbled and lost my way in the woods.  My hair was shorter then, just to my waist.  After my captor had put me in the tower, she tried to cut my hair to make it more manageable.  But, it always grew back.  Eventually she just gave up, and it grew and grew.  Now, I struggle day in and day out with this hair.  But, back to the voice.

The voice came calling again today. Confident and strong, “Rapunzel” it said.  This time I felt compelled to take a look outside.  After I had stumbled  my way over to the window, tripping on my hair (yet again) I peeked over the sill to the ground below.  And there he was, a prince.  He looked especially dashing in his emerald blue tunic reflecting gently off of his blonde hair. “Rapunzel”, he said with a smile on his face.  With that smile a memory comes rushing in from the dark corners of  my mind.  Years ago a man, with this same smile, came to me in my days before the tower.  He told me that my strength would be tested in days to come and that I feel alone.  He also told me that I would not be alone, his spirit would be with me.  His spirit would give me strength to get through the dark time, but there was a requirement.  When the dark time came, I needed to let my hair grow no matter how long it got.

And now, here he was at the foot of my captivity with a smile on his face, calling my name.  “Rapunzel” he said, “Let down your hair”.  Now, how in the world was I going to do that?  The hair was everywhere!  “Rapunzel, Rapunzel.  Let down your hair”.  I looked over the side of my tower, hesitating.  And there he stood with a kind smile on his face.  “Rapunzel, sweet Rapunzel.  Let down your hair.”  With a sigh, I begin the onerous task of gathering my hair to throw it over the side, down to the prince.  After a moment, the prince took a solid grip on hair and started to climb.  Hand over hand, step by step, he made his way slowly to the top until he reached my window.

I looked at him for a moment, wondering what this was all about.  “Why are you here?”, I asked the prince.  “To rescue you, of course.”, said he.  His answer caused me some concern since there was no way out of here.  No locked door that could be broken, or stairs that came after to lead the way out.  How would he accomplish such a task?  From somewhere in his cloak the prince produced a sharp blade.  With a slight twinkle in his eyes, he reached around to the nape of my neck and sliced my hair clean from my head.  Needless to say, I was more than a little shocked and bewildered.  So many questions ran through my head.  He had asked me to grow my hair so long ago, and now he cuts it off?  And how is this going to help me get out of this place?

The prince set about braiding the hair into a rope.  He then tied it around a study pole and threw the hair-rope over the side.  He proceeded to climb down.  Dumbfounded, I couldn’t move.  It was that easy.  Throw the hair over the side like a rope, and climb down.  Then I would be free from my captivity.  “Rapunzel”, said the prince, “Don’t just stand there.  Climb down with me.”  Happy to comply, I ran over and grabbed a hold of that hair that I had hated so much, blessing it as I climbed down.

This little fable I have spun off of the real story of Rapunzel, bring into focus the need for obedience, even when we don’t understand.  At the beginning of my walk with the Lord, He asked me to grow my hair long.  I really didn’t understand the need for this.  Over time the Lord revealed to me that the length of my hair would serve as a symbol to me of my need for obedience, much like Samson.  Surely, there have been times when I wished to be free of this burden and wanted to rebel.  Perversely, this caused me to want to cut off all of my hair.  Thankfully I have not.  Obedience is difficult in the face other people’s opinions, circumstances, our own pain and lack of understanding.  Yet, obedience to God’s plan brings life, fruit, and rescue in our dark times.  The bible is full of scriptures about obedience such as:

Genesis 22:18
and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.

Deuteronomy 5:33
Walk in obedience to all that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.

1 Kings 2:3
and observe what the LORD your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go.

1 Peter 1:22
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.

2 John 1:6
And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.

Has there ever been a time when  you were called to obedience, even when you didn’t understand why?