Posts Tagged ‘Faith’

The early spring sky flamed a watercolor wash of late afternoon hues and in the distance my attention riveted on wave after wave of vector lines racing across the sky. Some way, somehow the instinct God placed in each of these creatures whispered, “Time to go!” And the snow geese head north ‘til next Fall.

Pear Blossoms
I pulled in the driveway, opened the car door, and heard more honking. Again perfect vectors of these beautiful creatures winging their way north bound. What a beautiful sight! Winter is over and Spring is here. A changing of the flock. Robins have made their yearly appearance here in East Texas and the Meadow Larks aren’t far behind. While white pelicans with their flashy orange bills wait their turn to skim into settle on our Texas lakes and ponds.

As I pondered this mystery of our Creator God, more bands of geese filled the heavens from horizon to horizon. I marveled at the order of their flight. How they all share the responsibility of the journey, and how they care for one another.
How I long to be attentive to every word the Spirit of God whispers to my heart. But I’m afraid I’m more like a homing pigeon than a soaring goose. I cling to my turf, or anything else I deem belongs to me, with tightly clutched fingers arguing mine.
What are you grasping with hand-clenched-vengeance today? Don’t you know, it’s going to hurt when God pulls your fingers off. So we’d be much better to hold everything He gives with open hands.

Remember when God told Abraham to go to a land He would show him? Abraham obeyed. Remember when God told Moses to go to Pharaoh and tell him “Let My people go?” Moses obeyed. Remember when God told Samuel to anoint Jesse’s youngest son to be King of Israel? Samuel obeyed. All of these commands required faith on the part of the one God gave instructions to and it sometimes meant difficult times when they obeyed. But God’s instructions are always right and best.
Sometime after our daughter died, God called me to become involved with GriefShare, and my first words were: No. I’m grieving enough for everyone. I sure don’t want to be around more grieving people. Absolutely not. Not me.
But God said to me, “Time to go.” Like He said to the geese, “There is a new flock I’m assigning to your care.”

And I grumbled, “I don’t want a new flock. I just want Michelle back.”
God didn’t zap me. He guided me. Patiently.

Wish I could say I soared like a goose, eager to meet this new challenge, equipped with His wind beneath my wings. But I waddled like a pigeon, clucking and complaining about this new assignment, doubting my ability to do the job He assigned. I languished in longing for the comfort of solitude. Hiding out on the days grief overwhelmed me. But those times were gone. I tried to pretend I could hold onto both worlds, but when God calls you to leave, He means now and forever.

Elk Meadows 1
Fifteen years later, I’m thankful He resettled me with GriefShare. Thankful God removed me from my solitary place of grief and pain and sorrow, so His purposes for me and those I’ve shared these past years with could be accomplished.
Has God recently plucked you up and moved you out of your comfort zone and deposited you in a place requiring painful stretching? A place you don’t much like? And try as you might, you just don’t have the ability or energy to waddle, much less soar.

Stormy skies
Whether the necessary change comes from a job transfer, or job loss, divorce, or failing health, perhaps even death of a loved one, that’s all right, remember, we’re like pigeons and they don’t soar. Not yet! We plod forward, one step at a time, in the path God places in front of us. And day by day, as we follow where He leads, we find He still has a purpose and plan for our lives, regardless of age or station in life.
And as we are faithful to obey, He is always faithful to provide comfort and help and encouragement, so we in turn can comfort and encourage the individuals He places in our new flock.
Remember there is coming a day when we will all shed our pigeon-winged-earth-suits. An appointed day when He will carry us home. No more pain. No more sorrow. No more death. And no more tears!

And we will rise up with eagle wings to travel with Him along those spectacular high places. Forever.

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired.

His understanding is inscrutable.

He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power.

Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary” (Isaiah 40: 28-31 NAS).

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Words were on my tongue, out my mouth, and scorching the air between us like flames from a blow-torch. Why did I react like that? My heart twisted between anger and shame. Richard sat red faced, but silent. His hands played the clasp-release game with the steering wheel.

He wheeled the car to a stop at the curb. I threw the door open,DSCF2348 and in a silent huff, picked up my Bible, pasted a sanctimonious smile on my face, and marched into sanctuary.

Ack! My mother’s words echoed in my ears—your actions speak so loud, I can’t hear what you’re saying.

I wish I could tell you that’s the only time my ungodly actions out-screamed respect for my husband and trust in God. But it’s not.

The next terrifying thought as I entered that holy place, Did anyone see us flinging torches at one another? And the stirring in my conscience said, “Yes. God did.”

And like the Spirit always does when He has my attention, the next thing through my mind was the fact the disagreement ignited the night before and escalated this morning—when I had disobey God and gone to bed angry. Because I know I’m twice as livid when I wake up.

Good thing I wasn’t playing baseball. Strike one—going to bed angry the night before. Strike two— fighting with my husband on the way to worship God. One more strike and I’d be out. But God doesn’t act like we do. He uses the scriptures we hide in our hearts to bring us to repentance.

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1 NAS). Ouch! I had imagestirred a hornet’s nest for sure. There wasn’t a gentle bone in my body when I lashed out at my husband. We might as well have turned around and gone home.

“Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity” (Ephesians 4:26-27 NAS).

Opportunity? When I rolled over and refused to speak to him Saturday night. I chose to give the devil access to my heart’s super highway with a full tank of gas and a pedal shoved to the floorboard.

And if you’d asked me at another time and place, I would have counseled, “Never go to bed angry.”

But I did.

I knew what God’s Word said. Yet, my arrogance and pride allowed sin to fester and take me where I knew I shouldn’t go, and produced a situation that chipped at our marriage. Worse still, those selfish choices could have destroyed our testimony of loving Jesus and each other to anyone watching.

The sad part of this confession is we all repeat similar scenes over and over again. My husband and I have been married thirty-eight years and I’m sure if we could see emotional battle scars we’ve inflicted on each other and on our children, we’d be on our faces, horrified.file4611347287108

But God sees those wounds we’ve imposed and refused to repented of. He sees the wounds inflicted on us, as well as the slice-and-dice wounds we’ve not yet perpetrated.

And He still loves us. And waits for us to come to the end of our foolishness and run to Him for forgiveness and cleansing. However, He warns, in the same manner we forgive others, He will forgive us.

“For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions” (Matthew 6:14-15 NAS).

The first time I read and understood this passage, truth and fear stabbed my heart. “Father.” I cried. “I can never remember all the times I’ve been angry and hurt others. Or the times I’ve been angry and unforgiving with Richard. What can I do?”

Immediately a high school dean I had unloaded on over a situation with my son a year or so before came to mind. My mind argued, but I was right and he was wrong. That still small voice whispered, “Your words were angry and ugly and you haven’t forgiven him.”

I vowed to forgive him and promised if God would bring him across my path I would apologize and ask his forgiveness. That same evening as I pulled into the church parking lot the high school dean and his wife parked beside me. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I didn’t even know they attended our church. A parade of excuses lined up and marched soldier straight through my brain.

DSC09455-BAnd the still small voice asked, “Well?”

With trembling hands and a terrified heart I stuttered an apology, confessed my anger, and asked the dean to forgive me. The weight lifted, was cast behind my Lord’s back, into the depth of the sea, never to be remembered by Him again.

But I remember, and every so often I ask God to remind me of anything I need to ask His and another person’s forgiveness for. And He is always prompt and faithful to shine His truth into the dark places of my heart.

How about you? Do people know you’re a believer by the way you DSC_5394handle business? How about the way you dress and your lifestyle? Your actions and reactions? Are the places you frequent consistent with your faith? Do books you read, TV and movies you watch honor God or the devil?

Do you struggle aligning your actions with your words and your faith in God? You’re not alone. We’re all in this battle together. Like me, do you have side-roads of unforgiveness and anger or resentment and bitterness, barricading your heart? Roads that will drag you down Satan’s detour to destruction?

“…from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water?” (James 3:10-11 NAS).

Our lives are to be a beacon of light that points others to Jesus. But we are instructed to forgive—seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-22 NAS).

Forgiveness is a choice. The minute we choose to forgive someone, if we’re a child of the King, it’s done. But forgiveness is also a life-sentence. We must unconditionally forgive them all, over and over again, ‘til Jesus comes.

Life in the here and now is a war zone, a battle to overcome the lusts of our flesh, the pride of our eyes, and the deceitfulness of our hearts. Our goal is for our actions, our words, and our testimony to match and give glory to our Lord God Almighty.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God” (Revelation 2:7 NAS).

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“Mama, I sure do miss you and wish I’d said ‘I love you’ more often.”
I’m sure each one of you reading this post feel the same way if your mother isn’t with you this Mother’s Day. But a blogging friend of mine sent a post this morning from “Home’s Cool,” 2009 08 04 206_edited-1entitled “What Would Your Mother Do?” And as I wrote a comment to her post it triggered memories. Memories I’d like to share, hoping we will guard our hearts every moment of every day. Because the Word tells us what comes out of the mouth comes from the heart.

My Mama had a beautiful voice and she loved to sing. And in the spring and summer, when the windows were opened, I could hear her singing a block from home. So could the neighbors. It was no secret Mama loved Jesus.

She also loved to cook and give parties. The proverbial DSCF2942hostess with the mostest, (Be sure to read my December 2012 blog entitled The Invitation.) Mama was kind enough to passIMG_2368 041 her cooking genes and her recipes on to me, her grandson, and her granddaughters. TopThought we might incorporate some of Christine Nickels’ recipes in future blogs, maybe even publish Nana’s Cook Book.

Like everyone else, our family was far from perfect. But there were fun times with Mama and Daddy. And times she made certain I memorized God’s Word. And those words, hidden in my heart, saved my life for eternity.

Alzheimer’s began its attack on Mama’s mind before her great IMG_1574 202grandchildren were born, but she had years to pour her love IMG_1564 210onto her grandchildren, and pour she did! Mama said grandchildren were her reward for having children and she loved them “to the moon and back.”

In the final days of her battle with that dreaded disease Mama was hospitalized. We lived in Texas at the time, so my visits were by phone with her nurse. One evening her nurse related Mama had been groaning all day. She had given her medicine, but the sounds continued.

I asked the lady if she was familiar with the old hymns. She replied, “My daddy’s a Baptist pastor.” We laughed and I asked her to lean close to Mama and listen to what she was saying. I waited while she checked.

In a few moments she returned to the phone. “You won’t believe this.” Excitement spilled from her lips. “Your Mama’s singing! Amazing Grace! She’s not groaning, she’s singing!” And we wept, long distance, together.

Alzheimer’s robbed Mama’s memory of her family and her life, but this thief couldn’t steal eternal melodies imprinted in her heart.
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And I find myself weeping as I write today. Not tears of pain and grief this time, but tears of thankfulness and joy. Joy in knowing what was in Mama’s heart her last days here on earth. Joy2009 08 04 148 in knowing she’s with our Lord Jesus. And thankfulness for the Mama God chose for me and knowing His promises are true—we will all be together again. Forever.

What is being imprinted in your heart that will last for eternity? Giving thanks or murmuring? Joy or sorrow? Truth or lies?

“My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your sight; keep them in the midst of your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and health to all their whole body. Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:20-23 NAS).

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