Creative, Not Reactive

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Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him.
(Psalm 37:7)

One night in a dream I heard, “Creation, not reaction.”

Then, “It is the nature of God to create, not react.”

My first reaction to crisis is to want do something. I need to feel useful.

And maybe a little bit less out of control.

Frequently my running around trying to fix things or trying to solicit help, or at least sympathy, has just complicated matters.

Until we experienced a natural disaster via our son and family when they became homeless after a flood, we probably would have reacted the same way as many well-meaning folk who felt a need to “do something.”

Some of the truckloads of used clothing and household goods they worked so hard to gather and ship to the beleaguered areas ended up in a landfill. Where does a town put this all low priority stuff when buildings have been destroyed?  Where does the manpower to sort and distribute come from when every available person is shovelling knee-deep mud out of the kitchen or dragging mattresses saturated with sewage to the street? What seemed like a good idea ended up adding to the pain of loss.

I was very impressed by the Mennonite aid agency. After the big name rescue agencies left and the cameras and talking heads moved on to another story the Mennonites erected a building they could work from. They knew from experience that restoration was a long term commitment. Their actions were well thought out. They had a creative long term plan.

In matters of immediate threat to life rescue is essential. But I find when I feel pressured to react to hypothetical crisis (“If this doesn’t happen soon it could be really bad,”) the sense of urgency often comes from a source other than God. Sometimes the hardest action to take is to wait on God.

God chooses when to move. He does not react to the enemy’s attacks that goad us into rash reactions to his terrorist threats. God is in charge of the timetable, not the one who comes to steal, kill and destroy.

His answers are creative and sometimes even shockingly counter-intuitive. Who sends a choir and marching band to meet an army hell-bent on your destruction? Who arranges for a prisoner accused of sexual assault to save an entire country from starvation? Who defends a people from genoide by setting up an orphan girl with an enemy king (a situation which in other times and places would have been called fraternizing)?

When our prayers are more about worrying at God (because he doesn’t seem to be taking the situation seriously enough) we are tempted to start dictating what he needs to do. Praying “precise prayers” without precise understanding of his intentions is trying to micromanage the Creator of the Universe. Good luck with that.

Jesus is never stops interceeding for us. With joy. How is he praying in your crisis?

Can you drop the frantic unproductive busyness, clear the noisy fearful voices from your head and wait patiently for the voice of peace to whisper to your heart? What is he wanting to create in you in the midst of all this? What is he wanting to create in your sphere of influence through you?

Be still. Wait.

This is going to be good.

Love-a-ly

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“What a love-a-ly day! We are going to have a beautiful day today, Nana!” my little granddaughter said as she ran down the trail down to the lake. “Look! Look! Look!”

Soon other children joined her to watch a flock of birds swooping over the turquoise water.

“That’s so amazing! Wahoo!!”

I love the way children greet the morning with enthusiasm. They teach me the joy of wonder.

Yes! It’s here! A new day! And it’s beautiful. Wahoo!

Thank you, Lord.

Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven;
To His feet thy tribute bring.

Ransomed,
healed,
restored,
forgiven,

Evermore His praises sing:
Praise Him, praise Him, alleluia!
Praise the everlasting King.

A Way of Seeing

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This way of seeing our Father in everything makes life one long thanksgiving and gives a rest of heart, and, more than that, a gayety of spirit, that is unspeakable.

– Hannah Whitall Smith

 

Photography as art is a way of seeing. A photographer’s outlook is revealed in the way she or he chooses to frame a photo, and which aspect of the scene before them they choose to focus upon. The position they take when capturing an image influences what others will see later.

Sometimes, when I am aware of being in deep shadow in my life I realize I need to get up and change my perspective before I will perceive the light. Intentional focus on aspects for which to be thankful and offering praise for blessings past, present and future is a way of changing the angle and re-framing circumstances. Yes, there is shadow, but ah, the light!

“On another occasion, Jesus spoke to the crowds again.

Jesus: I am the light that shines through the cosmos; if you walk with Me, you will thrive in the nourishing light that gives life and will not know darkness.”

(John 8:12 The Voice)

Trust Me

 

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I have encountered enough narcissistic and sociopathic personalities in my lifetime that if a charming new acquaintance says, “Trust me,” I’m pretty sure I should do just the opposite.

In this time in history the Lord seems to be exposing hidden corruption in formerly trusted institutions. Whether revelations involve government, media, medicine, education, religion, or even dark family secrets mouldering away in too many basements, it is easy to become jaded.

When the foundations are crumbling, what can we do?

We are facing a national and international crisis of trust. Who do we believe? Who is not secretly self-serving? This is not limited to individuals who lack empathy. Special interest groups and even entire countries seem to be following a me-first narcissistic agenda.

Many people are shouting, “You’ve got to do something!” Few people have helpful suggestions.

As I face situations all around me which I cannot possibly fix and am tempted to go into over-responsible eldest child overdrive I hear my heavenly Father’s voice.

Trust Me.

I do, Lord. Mostly. I wish I could trust you more. I just don’t know how.

Grace.

Grace?

Grace not only allows you to see who I am, it reveals who I am not. My Grace trumps the world’s expectations.

I pondered this. My past experience taught me to expect punishment, criticism, disapproval, disappointment, nasty surprises, betrayal.

Then I watch the little grandchildren I have been caring for. They are so sweet. I don’t have to be fashionably attractive, or legally vetted, or financially well-endowed, or Good Housekeeping-approved to earn a genuine spontaneous hug. They trust me.

I make mistakes, and accidentally step on toes or forget which coloured bowl they prefer, but I adore them and would never intentionally do anything to harm them. They know that. They trust me to protect them, nurture them and have their best interests at heart. They take me at my word and don’t question my motives.

Jesus said, “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!” (Luke 11:13)

Our Father in heaven is not like the authority figures who have let us down. Not even close. A lot of the process of learning to regain child-like trust involves letting go of lies we have been believed about God.

A song from my childhood has been playing in my head this week.

“‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus
Just to take Him at His word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
Just to know, “Thus saith the Lord.”

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er!
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
O for grace to trust Him more!” 

-Louisa M. R. Stead

Here’s the thing. Babies don’t trust parents because they have read a resume or done a performance evaluation or run a background check. Babies trust because they have no options. Becoming like a child is simply resting and letting God be who he is – someone who knows and loves every hair, every cell, every heartbeat.

Unlike our own parents he will never drop us on our heads or use us to serve his unmet needs. He will not place responsibilities upon us that are too heavy for our level of maturity, nor will he enable learned helplessness by restricting our freedom to grow.

I hear him say, “So you’re out of options. I’m not. Trust me.”

IMG_0224But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Luke 18: 16,17 NIV)

On his lap. It’s the best place to be.