Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Bound Weight

I am getting ready to move.
For months, I have been making decisions about items in my home.
Is this necessary?
Do I love it?
Even if I do love it, can I live without it?
On the other hand; even if I don't love it,
does it serve my family's needs?
And sometimes the things that go and the things that stay surprise me.
The time is getting nearer, and the homeyness of here is fading.

The crocheted blankets in clashing colors?
They stay.
Grandma made them with love, and we are keeping them.
We'll get rid of the nice new one with no purpose, instead.
The glass canisters I love?
Some of them are given away, even though I love them.
I am a book fiend,
but have managed to let go of a few cubic feet of them.
Whoops -- I dropped a plate.
One less thing to pack.
I crammed too many papers through my shredder at once,
and it finally gave up serving me after so many years of abuse.
At least I don't have to pack it now.
The curtains I just bought for the windows?
Leave them.
They were bought for this place, to serve these windows.
The air conditioners we couldn't function without?
Our tenants won't be able to function without them, either.

I find myself happily tossing or giving away
things I have had for many years.
But some of them are harder.
Goodbye, Christmas cards.
Goodbye, welcome lights.
Goodbye, homemade starter from scratch.

You see, some things won't keep for the journey.
They were made to be used here and now,
and not saved up for future meals.
Non-perishables can come, if they are necessary.
But the perishables will all be left behind.
Shipping charges go by weight and distance.
And we really only want to give weight allowance to things that matter.
It's a long trip.

As I pack, and as I sort, I keep thinking,
"Throw off the weight and the sin that entangles."
And I wonder what that weighed?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

I Was Unaware

The drive to church this morning felt like fall.
The sun was shining on the falling leaves
that flashed in the sunlight.
They blew across the road,
and caught all of our attention while we visited outside.
The children chased them,
and I watched them
and thought about how the wind blows where it wills,
and we see its effects.
We see two leaves from the same tree
lifted and swirled in different directions.
And I went into the church knowing it was our last morning there.
Some of our newer friends came in and said,
"We brought a gift for you."
Smiling thanks, and thinking how sweet it was to do,
when she told me, "It's all gluten-free so Isaiah can eat it,"
I broke down and cried.
Because it wasn't just sweet.
It was loving and thoughtful and tailored to us specifically.
And I cried a lot more through the rest of the day.
Because I look at these people,
and I met them in different places,
and I see how the Lord arranged each meeting.
And I was unaware
when I sat next to a girl in my new school
who kept talking about her new Gameboy
that she would be so dear to me
and I would cry to leave her.
And I didn't know when I saw a man
standing in the back of a crowded auditorium in Southern California,
in an army green jacket
that we would serve three churches together on the opposite coast
and he would marry my sister.
And I don't know the next time we will all be together
but they are mine, and I am theirs,
and the communion of saints grows large to me.
And twenty-four years ago,
when my Dad obeyed the Lord's call and moved us here,
it was all loss to me.
It was the time of falling leaves
and soon-to-be cold.
I did not own a coat.
We did not know the gain in store for us.
The friends transformed to family by the blood of Jesus Christ.
The marriages and births -- union and life.
It felt like loss and separation.
I did not love it when I arrived.
"But I am so grateful you came," my friend said.
"I am so grateful, too."
We don't know what gain He has in store
for saying yes when He asks us.
The losses loom large and seem unbearable sometimes.
But what we lose to Him is gain.
We have a choice.
And I shudder to think what we would have missed out on
had we closed our hands and said no.
No, it is too cold there.
No, I don't own a coat.
No, I don't want these friends.
No, I don't need that blessing.
"Surely the Lord is in this place," Jacob said, "and I knew it not."

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Tell Every Trembler

"God has been faithful to you.
Tell it to your children. 
Tell them God will save sinners when they come to Him, 
for He saved you... 
Tell them He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins 
if we confess them to Him, 
and to save us from all unrighteousness, 
for He forgave you. 
Tell every trembler you meet with 
that Jesus will in no wise cast out any that come to Him.
Tell all seekers that if they seek, they will find, 
and that to everyone who knocks, 
the door of mercy will be opened. 
Tell the most despondent and despairing 
that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, 
even the very chief..."
(C.H. Spurgeon, The Practice of Praise)

Sometimes the trembler I meet with is the one in my mirror.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

In The Multitude of My Anxieties

"Unless the Lord had been my help,
my soul would soon have settled in silence.
If I say, 'My foot slips,'
Your mercy, O Lord, will hold me up.
In the multitude of my anxieties within me,
Your comforts delight my soul."
~Psalm 94:17-19

As a child, I loved flying.
In fact, I loved it until September 11, 2001.
My anxiety increased with each trip taken after that.
In 2010 I stopped flying
when the Obama administration
instituted its new security measures against even innocent American citizens.
Since then, I have taken some long car drives,
and even a long train trip (which I recommend heartily).

But earlier this month, we were asked to come out
and be introduced to the church.
It was an internal wrestling match for me.
I intended to send my husband alone, and stay behind.
I am that courageous.

Some of you fly without anxiety, I suppose.
Perhaps being irradiated in the name of security doesn't bother you.
Perhaps being pulled out for additional screening
every time you've flown (save one) since 2003 doesn't disturb you.
But it has disturbed me.
Maybe you don't mind surly blue-shirts who question your clothing choices,
look suspiciously at your glasses,
yell at you for not knowing where to stand,
and make your children cry.
But I have minded.

I suppose the turmoil was because I felt I ought to do it,
and had no intention of doing it, regardless.
But I love Jesus, and I want to please Him.
In distress, I prayed about it in spite of my determination.
And after praying about it,
I opened up my Chequebook of Faith devotional and read this:

"'Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, 
and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out' 
(Deuteronomy 28:6)
...I have a good deal of work to do within my own soul; 
oh for a blessing upon it all, 
the blessing of the Lord Jesus, who has promised to abide with me.
I must also go out.
Timidity makes me wish that I could stay within doors, 
and never go into the sinful world again.
But I must go out in my calling,
and I must go out that I may be helpful to my brethren,
and useful to the ungodly...
Oh for a blessing upon my going out this day!
Lord, let me go where Thou leadest,
on Thy errands, under Thy command,
and in the power of Thy Spirit."

I flipped through a book by Oswald Chambers that same day,
one I had not looked at in years.
Its title?
So Send I You.
"The stamp of the saint 
is that you can waive your own rights and obey the Lord Jesus."
I told my husband I would go with him.
Knowing me as he does, he had not insisted.

These anxieties are thorns to me.
Painful, irritating limitations.
Messengers of Satan to torment me.
They slow me, and hurt me.
Handicap me.
And as with Paul, who begged the Lord to remove his thorn,
the Lord answers,
"My grace is all you need.
My power works best in weakness."
They hold me down, and make me weak,
but when I lean on Him to walk through them,
they give me power.

Having opted for a pat down instead of being scanned,
and having encountered a very polite and respectful agent
who did not yell at me or act irritated with me,
I walked through the airport toward our gate.
We weren't in a hurry.

As I looked around,
my eyes fell to rest on a display set up on the way to my gate.
"The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in."
(Psalm 121:8)
There was a Bible open in the display case.
Two verses were highlighted in it.
They happen to be significant ones to me.
"He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord,
'He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him will I trust.'"
(Psalm 91:1,2)

And He did preserve our going out and our coming in.
Thank You, Father:
in the multitude of my anxieties within me,
Your comforts delight my soul.