29 July, 2017

Hall Light

Years ago, when we had small children bath time and bedtime became a ritual.  We would bathe our children and bundle them in towels to dry them off.  I can still remember that fresh, sweet child-scent and feel those soft, soft pajamas.  Often, bedtime included a last snack and reading a book together...or two.  For our Sarah, those moments also included a stuffed animal we creatively named 'puppy'.   So, after long days at work, Ray and I would each pair off with a child and go through this routine.  We then, after the reading would tuck them in and creep out of their rooms in great hope that there would not be one last request.  It seemed to me that just as I would get to my room to relax and do other mom things I would hear one last, sing-song voice...Hall light!  Ahh, yes, my little girl needed the hall light.  Even after the moments of snuggle, the tuck-in, the sweet prayers, the reassurance of love, the kiss.....Hall light would cry out.  She was scared and oh, the light!

We find a similar story in Matthew.  The guys are all tucked away in a boat, crossing the large lake.  These guys were professional fisherman and they knew the water, they knew the surroundings, they were comfortable in their place and in their abilities.  They had a guest with them that night and He was certainly comfortable, asleep in fact.  He was so very confident in the ability of the fisherman and the handling of the craft that He could sleep.  Do you remember the story?
Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him.  Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping.  The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”
 Matthew 8:23-27
He'd been with these guys for a while at this point.  They'd walked many roads together and lived with him and they'd seen many miracles and healings.  They were on an intimate journey with this man.  And, they had come to believe that this self-professed Christ was God and actually, they'd given their lives to that fact.  Yet on this night, the waves came and they came hard.  The boat shook and pitched and waves poured over the bow...fear arrived.  Jesus slept.

How could one sleep in such weather?  John Claypool, well-known and much-beloved theologian, suggests that perhaps, Jesus was confident in what these fishermen had inside of themselves.  Could it be that Jesus knew what was planted inside each of these men and trusted that they would rely on their innermost faith in Him being God.  How beautiful that in our belief in Him, that deposit has been made in each of us.  He knows what power is planted inside us.  But do we?  Or are we just like the fishermen?

They woke him, so very scared, crying out.  Help us, don't abandon us, don't leave us alone but save us!  We live this same type of experience many days of our lives, don't we?  Things happen, we lose jobs, we lose hope, we try and try but fail.  And we cry out; we cry out in our fear....our fear of, 'what now?  What will happen next?  What are my next steps?  How can I fix this?"
It's all fear....it's our crying out to a mother or father...Hall Light!!!

But fear will never have the last word.  So, continuing the story, Jesus woke and asked why they feared.  No answer came, it seems.  He then, calmly, stilled the sea.  At which the fishermen pondered, what kind of man is this?

I believe we often ask the same question, "What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!"  Even after He has calmed the seas of our fearful hearts, we still cannot understand.  Do we need to redefine our definition of this God/Man?  Is it possible that our understanding of Him is askew?  Or, is it possible we have an understanding of Him but do not allow His true nature to govern our lives?

Isn't it true that upon our belief as Christ-followers, Jesus planted inside each of us trust and faith to rely on the fact that He is GOD. Isn't that what He pours into our hearts?  He is not one to lead us into harm or fear or pain.  Nor does he condemn or shake His finger at us.  He is ONLY Love, mercy, and grace.  He is only there to save us, calm us, comfort us and turn on our hall light.  And as He lives inside of each of us, we have His strength, His Oneness with God...we have Him.

Indeed, what kind of Man is this?

15 July, 2017

Say the Word

Today, I sit and stare at this computer screen.  I've made a commitment to write every two weeks this summer; however, the words seem to have stopped but I've been going and going.  A twelve-hour car ride, hotels, flights, new life starting, old life ending, going and going.  I have a really bad feeling that the God I say I love, serve and follow has been running to catch-up to me...I remind myself, He's leading...remember?  Invite Him on this summer journey...and sit back and follow.  I get so wrapped up in my next to-do that I often run ahead and run all day and then collapse into a heap of weariness.  That's where I've been the last few days.

But even so...there He stands waiting, urging, listening.  How can the God of the universe be so available?

"When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”

Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”

The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.  Matthew 8:5-8

This Roman soldier came to the man named Jesus and immediately calls him LORD.  Was he a believer?  Did Jesus' reputation proceed Him as he entered this town?  In the soldier's great worry and busyness was He looking and expecting a savior?  Can I live in that manner? Today, I want to be looking and expecting my Savior to intersect my life and plans.

Their dialogue continues and almost immediately, the centurion is humbling himself, "I do not deserve to have you come under my roof".  How often do I act in the exact opposite manner?  I talk to my God, and act as though I deserve His favor or deserve that my prayers would be answered in my best judgement!  In those times, am I praying to God or to my Lord?  Isn't there a difference in these words?  A Chinese student once asked this very question, "Ms. Kathy, what is the meaning of the God and the Lord?  Are they the same meaning?"

I ask you today, in your life.  Do you seek and serve God or do you seek and serve your Lord?  Is there a difference?  I ponder that question today.

Then lastly, "say the word".  I love this phrase and I'll be using it in the coming days in my prayers.  Say the word, Lord and your will be done.  This soldier simply believed.  He took initiative and approached Jesus.  He named him the proper name, LORD; therefore, realizing his own humanity and need was humbled.  Humbled his own achievement and success to the One above all.

Say the word, Lord and help me follow you instead of following my busy summer to-to list.  Say the word, Lord so that I can hear your voice.

I want to approach you, acknowledge you and call you LORD.  I want to recognize my need and humble myself.  I want to trust you to heal all in my life so that I can live, say the word.

Am I expecting the Savior in my world today?  Just say the word, Lord and give me ears to hear.

01 July, 2017

Hide and Seek

As a little girl, I remember many games of Hide-and-Seek.  The goal was to hide well and not be found...at least not be the first one found!  I had a friend who hid SO well that there were times that she literally could not be found!  For most of us, we hid but we all were eventually found...that's what made it fun! We WANTED to be found. 

But, you know the person who is IT in Hide-and-Seek?  The person who has to find everyone?  I never liked being IT.  There was too much pressure to find everyone!  The IT must be tenacious when the seeking gets tough.  Weren't you always annoyed with the kid that gave up while you were in your hiding place?

And somehow, after we'd hidden so well and the seeker couldn't find us we'd then blame the seeker.  'You didn't look hard enough!  You gave up on me!  You got tired and quit!  I wasn't important enough for you to keep looking!'

Real life is so much like this children's game.  We like to hide but we want to be found.  And in some cases, we want to be found out.  For if we're found someone has cared enough to look, to seek for us.  Even when the hiding place is so good and so difficult to find...we cry out...'find me'.  What a paradox!

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you...Matthew 7:7-12

Let's look at three key words:

Ask - this implies an actual request...Speaking and then receiving.
Seek - this implies looking.  Eyes seek and eyes get opened to find.
Knock - is an action. Hands knock and doors open.

These three words are action words.  They do not lie dormant but they provide a path to real life healing and wholeness.  These three small actions allow me to communicate with the God of the universe in great honesty.  For nothing I will ever ask will be 'too much'.  He will never be surprised by what I seek or even where I'm looking.  He even knows I will knock on wrong doors again and again.  And, it is in these actions that I am able to actively grow and trust.

So even as these verses teach me the joy in 'seeking', I confess that most times, in this real game of Life Hide-and-Seek, I am one who is hiding.  Many times I don't actively seek because I'm fearful of answers and hiding seems easier.  So hide I do and I can hide really well!

You remember, the 'it' in Hide-and-Seek?   I can still hear kids screaming, "He's it....watch out Kathy!  He's going to see you....He's it"!!  Well, yes indeed, He's IT.... the true IT in this life game is only God.  He is the Seeker.  He is our pursuer.  He is the One who is tenaciously searching for our hiding places.  He asks us to be found, He seeks us out, He knocks and knocks.  He has modeled these three action words for us.  For when I let myself be found by Him the stress in my life somehow dissolves, the worries cease, the laughter flows and Joy floods in.

Lastly, I have to understand the personality of the One I seek and Who is seeking me.  My definition of Him must be correct and clear.  For any distortion creates a god that is just like me...imperfect, unholy, flawed, damaged and deeply lost.  The One who seeks for us is thoroughly unconditional love and unconditional forgiveness.

Often times our thoughts have been wrong about the Seeker.  He will not give us stone when we ask for bread.  He will not give us a snake when we ask for fish.  He is not some wizard behind a curtain toying with us.  
Let's not put our human personalities and frailties on Him.  He is the King that left His throne to
come engage in our Hide-and-Seek.  He will NEVER stop looking for us.  He will never fail to hear our asks, lead our seeking and answer our knocks!

Do we dare be found?

Blog Archive