Dancing Upon Injustice

IMG_0497 Dancing on Iinjustice ch

Some friends invited me to join them for a week of thanksgiving and worship as they pray for a young dad with an aggressive form of cancer. For two evenings I sat at the back painting. This is just a cell phone shot of a quick painting but I’m posting it here as an invitation to pray for Jarrett, and any others you know of with life-threatening illnesses. It’s a painted prayer I call “Dancing Upon Injustice” because there is nothing just about cancer.

Originally I painted a night sky but the band started singing, “Open the floodgates of heaven…” and I started adding  waterfalls and eddies and sparkles of light. There is a place where cancer does not exist and we pray that God’s will would be done on earth as it is in heaven. I’ve never seen a worship dancer with army boots, but I think they should be standard issue, so I added those too.

Pray for Jarrett and his family.

Move

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I love ideas. I love to think about ideas. I love to read about ideas and discuss ideas.

Someone asked me once, “Why do you have to ask so many questions? Why can’t you just have faith?”

She was not a thinker. She was a doer, the kind that hates sitting still. Sometimes when I saw her running in circles to meet commitments I would be tempted to ask, “What were you thinking?”

So here we were, one of us stuck in theory without experience and the other in practice without aforethought, both lobbing civil little incendiaries over the fence when we perchanced to have tea. We could have been good friends, but we weren’t because we failed to bless each other for our differing strengths and we both became rather defensive. Alas. She passed away before I realized my error.

Lately I am realizing that a lot of the annoyances that crop up in my life are actually sent by the One who is motivating me to work out the things he has been teaching me. An obvious example of this occurs when people pray for patience. We make jokes about it. What follows is often an opportunity to work out the patience He already placed in them.

I love watching kids do this so naturally. My youngest grandsons have watched very few superhero movies. They have only to sit on the couch in front of Netflix long enough to grasp the premise and they are leaping from the furniture putting theory into practice. The next viewing is merely for the purpose of refining identity. Theirs is a world of potential, rapidly becoming reality.

Can I admit I also loathe exercise that goes nowhere? I would a thousand times rather hike in the woods, or turn dirt in a garden than ride a stationary bike that doesn’t progress an inch after 23 minutes of sweaty effort (the length of time it takes to watch a renovation show with the commercials fast-forwarded). I joined a gym and forced myself to go religiously. One day I woke up and realized I didn’t have to go that day because I had double pneumonia. I rejoiced. When having pneumonia seems like a much more pleasant prospect than grinding through a circle of exercise devices you know you really hate it and need to find a better way to work out.

Some of us need more prodding to get off the couch than little kids with towels tied around their necks and this week, although I protested loudly, the prodding made me put some things I have been thinking about into practice. I recognize the necessity of these circumstances and that the exercise is actually taking me somewhere. I may be getting to the point where I can consider it a joy when confronted by various trials. Maybe. There is a time to hear, and a time to do. It’s time to do.

Have done, then, with impurity and every other evil which touches the lives of others, and humbly accept the message that God has sown in your hearts, and which can save your souls. Don’t I beg you, only hear the message, but put it into practice; otherwise you are merely deluding yourselves. The man who simply hears and does nothing about it is like a man catching the reflection of his own face in a mirror. He sees himself, it is true, but he goes on with whatever he was doing without the slightest recollection of what sort of person he saw in the mirror. But the man who looks into the perfect mirror of God’s law, the law of liberty (or freedom), and makes a habit of so doing, is not the man who sees and forgets. He puts that law into practice and he wins true happiness. (James 1:21-25 Phillips)

I Went to a Marvelous Party

party paper

Erupt with thanks to the Eternal, for He is good
and His loyal love lasts forever.
Let all those redeemed by the Eternal—
those rescued from times of deep trouble—join in giving thanks.
(Psalm 107:1,2)

Shortly after our son-in-law was miraculously healed from a disease that seemed would certainly end in death (story told here) another man was in the ICU in our town in a similar state. My daughter asked me to pray for him and I became friends with his wife on Facebook. What a remarkable woman of faith. Her steadfastness and willingness to trust God through set-back after set-back, and to be transparently honest about their journey was deeply inspiring. Their story is amazing. Their answer took longer in arriving than ours and he faced death more than once. At one point the doctors told him he probably had six days at most to live.

But God…!

Last night they threw a party to celebrate his healing. Staff in the hospitals are also calling him the “Miracle Man” — the same nickname the staff at the hospital that treated our son-in-law gave him. Along with many others who prayed for them I was invited to the celebration. It was the first time we met face to face, but I felt such joy for them and such praise for the goodness of God. There was feasting and music and dancing —  clog dancing! Such happiness!

We are told that we overcome the enemy of our souls by the Blood of the Lamb and by the telling of our stories, and these wonderful people were doing just that.

Do you have a story worthy of a party to celebrate God? Do you have reason to be thankful? Tell me about it.

Swamped

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I’m swamped.

I’ve heard this expression a lot lately.

I’d like to help you, but I’m swamped because …

I’m mired down in this project that has had one delay after another.

I want to move on, but I get bogged down in old memories.

I can’t take on anything new. I’m still slogging through the consequences of the last disappointment.

I’m stuck – too far in to turn back, and too tired to move forward.

 

I may have said some of these things myself. We’re finally finishing up a renovation project that was costly and didn’t really make any visual improvements. We had a mild water problem to deal with that had gone on for years (the consequence of living downhill from people who also get rained on). After delays and interruptions the sheet rock is back up, the walls primed and painted and the furniture moved back in, but it’s not like those dramatic reveals on the renovation shows on TV. After all that work it looks very much the same as it did six months ago. But now the foundation is dry and solid and that nagging worry about what nastiness might be growing out of sight is gone. We can now put our efforts toward something more exciting.

Sometimes we need to deal with stuff in our lives that we have been ignoring for a long time. After a while we get bogged down, and whether it’s somebody else’s mess or our own that is swamping us, we need to deal with the soggy secret problems that other people may not see, but keep us from moving forward.

Thank God we are not alone.

A few years back I had to give up the facade of being “just fine thank you” and deal with stagnant emotions that had collected in the low spots in my life. God was faithful and kind, and although it took longer than I wanted it to, it was such a relief to reach solid ground.  I can say, “He reached down and drew me from the deep, dark hole where I was stranded, mired in the muck and clay.” The end result may not look very much different to observers, but I have a greater appreciation for the Holy Spirit, the paraclete, the One who comes along side, and because He is showing me how He sees me, I have a more solid foundation.

If the swamp is where you are, take heart. There is hope. It may take time but the Lord can pull you out if it. You will run on solid ground.

David understood. He wrote about it in  Psalm 40. Some excerpts:

I waited a long time for the Eternal;
He finally knelt down to hear me.

He listened to my weak and whispered cry.

He reached down and drew me
from the deep, dark hole where I was stranded, mired in the muck and clay.

With a gentle hand, He pulled me out
To set me down safely on a warm rock;
He held me until I was steady enough to continue the journey again.

 As if that were not enough,
because of Him my mind is clearing up.

Now I have a new song to sing—
a song of praise to the One who saved me…

 

You have done so many wonderful things,
had so many tender thoughts toward us, Eternal my God,
that go on and on, ever-increasing.
Who can compare with You?…

Please, Eternal One, don’t hold back Your kind ways from me.

I need Your strong love and truth
to stand watch over me and keep me from harm.
Right now I can’t see because I am surrounded by troubles;
my sins and shortcomings have caught up to me,
so I am swimming in darkness.
Like the hairs on my head, there are too many to count,
so my heart deserts me.

O Eternal One, please rescue me.
O Eternal One, hurry; I need Your help…

But may all who look for You discover true joy and happiness in You;

May those who cherish how You save them
always say, “O Eternal One, You are great and are first in our hearts.”

Meanwhile, I am empty and need so much,
but I know the Lord is thinking of me.
You are my help; only You can save me, my True God.
Please hurry.

The Voice (VOICE)