I Waited and Waited for God

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I waited

and waited

and waited some more;

patiently,
knowing that God would come through for me.

Then, at last, he bent down and listened to my cry.
He stooped down to lift me out of danger,
from the desolate pit I was in,
out of the muddy waters I had fallen into.

Now he’s lifted me up into a firm, secure place,
and steadied me while I walk along his ascending path.

A new song for a new day rises up in me
every time I think about how he breaks through for me!
Ecstatic praise pours out of my mouth until
everyone hears how God has set me free.
Many will see his miracles; they’ll stand in awe of God,
and fall in love with him!

(Psalm 40:1-3 The Passion Translation)

 

 

It was no one’s fault. Doctors get sick, equipment breaks, the critical displaces the urgent. It just happened to take a long time between symptoms showing up and getting the results of a biopsy. Months actually. The first time I was told I might have cancer I was sick with worry and too distracted to concentrate on work a lot of the time. This time I was more patient. I’ve had the experience of seeing the Lord come through for me. We went for walks together and talked about something else.

Today I finally got the report. Benign.

I still need healing for an underlying problem that, although I have tried and tried, I can’t fix myself. So even though it has been the source a lot of rejection in my life, I continue to come to God, just as I am. My only plea is that Jesus’ blood was shed for me.

He’s good with that.

When truth’s pillars are destroyed

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Lord, don’t you hear
What my well-meaning friends keep saying to me:

“Run away while you can!
Fly away like a bird to hide in the mountains for safety,
For your enemies have prepared a trap for you!
They plan to destroy you with their slander and deceitful lies.
Can’t you see them hiding
In their place of darkness and shadows?
They’re set against you and all those who live upright lives.”

But don’t they know, Lord, that I have made you
My only Hiding Place?
Don’t they know that I always trust in you?

What can the righteous accomplish
When truth’s pillars are destroyed and law and order collapse?

Yet the Eternal One is never shaken –
He is still found in his temple of holiness
Reigning as Lord and King over all.

He is closely watching everything that happens.
And with a glance, his eyes examine every heart
for his heavenly rule will prevail over all…

(from Psalm 11 The Passion Translation)

His law is love.

 

Making Disciples

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Stealth Mission

“Grandma! Come play with us! Come on! There’s room!” said my little grandson.
“What are you playing?”
“Super guys!” said his cousin. “Look! We climb up onto the roof like this then we jump to the other building like this.” He demonstrated by jumping from the bed to an upholstered bench against the wall.
“Grandma doesn’t jump from roof tops as well as she used to, honey.”
“You can do it, Grandma!” shouted the oldest. He could gain remarkable height jumping on that bed.
“No, sweetie. I’ll just watch you.”
“You can do it!” chimed in the younger one, the cape on his superman jammies flying behind him as he too leapt across the gorge.
“Here. We’ll help you.”

Apparently superhero powers are transferable. My two adorable progeny jumped off the bench, put their hands on my arm and my tummy and imparted the super-anointing so I could join them on the top of the building. Who knew it was that easy?

“Okay, now you’re Supergrandma!!”

They climbed back up on the king sized bed, pulled me up with them, and helped me stand there above the city streets on the top of the building. I felt their mighty little steadying hands on my butt, encouraging it to rise higher as well. I didn’t try to leap to the next building when they next took flight, but I did do a a couple of knee bend warm-up bounces as my contribution to saving the world. Give me a minute. I’ll get there.

Later that day my mentors took me on a stealth mission through the dormant lilac grove in the park. We were a dynamic trio, we were. I felt tremendously honoured to be included.

Now as I understand it, the common standard for superhero status requires that one must have a unique super power, something extremely rare instigated by a highly unusual accident or spontaneous mutation of DNA in the hopeful monster sense. I have always assumed superheros are, for that reason, lone stars.

Nay, not so, according to my grandsons. Give them time for a ten second impartation service and you can receive the same abilities they have received and join them in the fight against the evil foe.

I’ve met and read about some people who I consider to be heroes of the faith. Some of them have followed the same path as the disciples of Jesus when he told them, “As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.”

My grandmother used to take me to revival meetings where a traveling evangelist (often dressed with flare) stood on a stage and told astonishing stories about how God used him in Africa or Asia or South America or a town in the southern States we had never heard of. The deaf heard, the bent straightened and angels with swords of fire stood guard outside their guest hut. Sometimes these men gave us ample opportunity to support their “Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show” ministries, but you know, I can’t recall any one of those guys offering to support the missions or giftedness of lovers of Jesus in the audience.

Since I was merely a girl no one ever suggested that Jesus would call me to do anything special. (Although one did suggest I should aspire to becoming a pastor’s wife someday. He actually told me which seminaries he thought provided the best hunting grounds for women seeking that position. Apparently job competition details are not usually announced in Christian Classifieds.)

I’ve noticed a change lately. In the past few years I have met a few people who remind me of my little grandsons’ demonstration of encouragement. You won’t find this new breed in TV studios or on platforms or making available slick promotional pamphlets with detachable donation envelopes. You will find them in the check-out line at Walmart, in the seat beside you on the plane, in the ice cream shop, on a beach in California, working in the back of an ambulance, or walking anonymously down main street. They are obeying the Lord with both boldness and stealth.

The reason they remind me of my grandsons is because not only are they using the gifts God gave them to tell people about God’s love and to make new disciples, they encourage others in the Body of Christ to come on up and leap tall buildings with them.

Making disciples -it’s not just for professionals anymore.

Neither is being one.

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:6,7)

Cease Striving

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I kept hearing this song in my sleep the night before last. It came after a dream in which I saw a pack of big black dogs running up behind me. I was frightened by them, but I then I realized they were army-trained rescue dogs.

Those animals which scared me, and caused others in the dream to prepare to defend themselves against the pack, were not against us; they were for us. They were the dogs of war and had been released on our behalf. They were on our side. I was told not to distract them, to be still, stand back and let them get to work. Then the song began to play over and over.

When I awoke and looked at the lyrics of the old hymn I realized “Be Still My Soul” repeats the sentiments found in Psalm 46. “Be still and know that I am God” can also be translated as “Cease striving and know that I am God.” Those words are found embedded in a psalm that is about fear in the midst of war and tumult in the earth.

Be Still, My Soul

Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.

(Author: Catharine Amalia Dorothea von Schlegel, 1752,
Translated by: Jane Borthwick, 1855)

 

Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;

Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
The holy dwelling places of the Most High.

God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.

The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered;
He raised His voice, the earth melted.

The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
Who has wrought desolations in the earth.

He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariots with fire.

“Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.

(NASB)

God’s answers to our pleas for help don’t always look like what we expect. You can pray and ask God to do something, but you can’t tell him how to do it. An intercessor is called to stand in the gap without standing in the way.

Baptizing Babies in the Birdbath

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Baptizing Babies in the Birdbath

We were baptizing babies in the birdbath,
me and Beats,
plastic pouty babies
with hard dimpled bellies
and yes or no eyes.

I baptize thee, Betsy Ann Wetsy
(in my most Godly voice)
I baptize thee
in the name of the Father,
(pouring water over sculpted hair)
and of the Son,
(swishing clicky head in basin)
and of the Holy Ghost,
(pressuring bad bubble spirits out of
off-center hole in bum)

There.

Having fulfilled requirements
for all our grandparent’s denominations
I held Betsy by rigid foot
and rained blessings
on the sidewalk.

Um, said Beats.

Um.

You blasphemed.
You said Holy Ghost.
You committed the unpardonable sin.

Um.

My life for yours, Betsy.
You take that kind of risk sometimes
for babies you love
when you don’t know all the rules.

When I was a child it was easy to believe that God was angry with me for doing something I didn’t know was wrong. I don’t know where the idea came from, but I know that it was strong enough to leave me fearful that come the great judgment day I would be rejected for failing to keep all the rules and having unconfessed sin in my life (because I didn’t know it was a sin.)

This poem seems light-hearted, but it is about a real experience. I was about five-years old. Beatrix and I had just come from enduring another sermon we didn’t understand. (My grandson defines a sermon as “when people talk about God but don’t let you ask questions.”) All we picked up was that there was an “unpardonable sin.”

For years I didn’t have the heart to tell Mom and Dad that all their efforts to send me to Sunday School and Bible clubs and camps were in vain because I was already damned.

It took a long time before I realized that Jesus is the perfect image of the Father. He absolutely loves children – and adults. He doesn’t set them up for failure. He didn’t come to condemn, but to rescue us and restore our relationship with a loving Father.

I needed to let go of the lie that God is angry and capricious and impossible to please before I could see his eyes of love for me. It wasn’t easy; I struggled to let go of the only security I had known – keeping rules and striving to be good enough. But setting out on a journey to search for the real God has been so worth it. He healed my heart, took away my fear, and created in me a place to hold on to his love.

I decided to post this poem today because I know there are others who, for whatever reason, have the same picture of God – and you are tired and depressed and ready to let go. You’ve tried about as hard as you can try. You’ve gone through rituals and attempts to meet man-made requirements but are still afraid it’s not good enough.

I met someone who was old and ill. He was busy “covering all the bases,” going through all sorts of religious rituals and donating to several denominations. I saw in him the same old familiar fear. What if I am too bad for God to accept me?

I told him all God required of him was to let Jesus do what he came to do – love him just as he was. He found it hard, but the last time I visited him he sang, with steady voice, an old Kris Kristofferson song.

Why me Lord what have I ever done
To deserve even one of the pleasures I’ve known
Tell me, Lord, what did I ever do
That was worthy of you or the kindness you’ve shown

Lord help me, Jesus, I’ve wasted it so
Help me Jesus I know what I am
But now that I know that I’ve needed you so
Help me, Jesus, my soul’s in your hand.

I believe Jesus heard him.

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