Unspent Joy

Greet the Dawn
Greet the Dawn

Morning Prayer:

How long will we wait here alone?

Return, O Eternal One, with mercy.

Rescue Your servants with compassion.

With every sun’s rising, surprise us with Your love,

satisfy us with Your kindness.

Then we will sing with joy and celebrate every day we are alive.

You have spent many days afflicting us with pain and sorrow;

now match those with years of unspent joy.

Let Your work of love be on display for all Your servants;

let Your children see Your majesty.

And then let the beauty and grace of the Lord—our God—rest upon us

and bring success to all we do;

yes, bring success to all we do.

(Psalm 90:13-19)

Transcendent

Day's End
Day’s End

Well here it is past midnight, again.

It’s time to let go of this day, but I don’t want to let go. I want to squeeze more out of it.

Hey, God! I still have questions! I don’t understand what your plans are in regards to this flood thing. My kid’s house has a big old “UNINHABITABLE” sign slapped on it now after 8 feet of sewage-contaminated river water swamped everything they worked so hard for and has left nothing but a mess and a huge mortgage. What now? This waiting, waiting, waiting is getting a little hard on the nerves, not just for them (and us) but for everyone in their town. I know you promised to never leave your children destitute or begging for bread, but I’m watching my grandkids having to let go of their beds, their bikes, their books, their clothes -everything that is familiar. I’m watching my son and daughter-in-law who are the hardest-working, most giving people I know, just standing by, unable to do any more work, feeling exhausted and discouraged with nothing left to give and no home to go home to.

This is hard Lord. I would appreciate some answers about now.

And as I try to figure out  how to help them -and can’t do it- I am reminded that God promises to give peace that passes understanding. God is not logical. Neither is he illogical. He is supra-logical, transcendent. He cares about our minds enough to protect them with his peace, but his peace requires a bit of letting go of our own right to understand.

Don’t worry over anything whatever; tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer, and the peace of God which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6,7)

Elisabeth Elliot wrote, “Waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty, to carry within oneself the unanswered question, lifting the heart to God about it whenever it intrudes upon one’s thoughts.”

To tell you the truth, I would be rather disappointed in a God who is no smarter than I am.  The most intellectually wealthy folks on earth (and I’ve known a few) have trouble squeezing their brains through the eye of the needle as much as any rich man’s stuff-laden camel. Brains are not enough. In fact our heads tend to get stuck in narrow places or throw our balance off when they become too big. Unless we are willing to jettison not only some of our stuff but our need to comprehend the eternal repercussions of any event right now, or at least submit that need to the One who can see the whole big, B-I-G picture, there is no peace.

The peace that passes understanding leaves our understanding in the dust.

You have brought me through so many tough, tight places, Lord. I will remember and honour you by trusting you and going to bed now -in peace.

July Sunset
July Sunset

P.S. It will be interesting to see how you get us out of this one.

Baubles

Jerusalem Shop
Jerusalem Shop

I saw a bumper sticker once that said: He who dies with the most toys wins.

Ha!

We are part owners of a house, still partially under water, and not covered by insurance with an “act of God clause”, that is tagged “no entry.” That’s not a good sign.

We we also spent the weekend with some of our grandchildren, a daughter and son and our son-in-love who doctors gave a 0% chance of survival to just this spring. As we sat in the shade of the house (because our big shade tree blew over in a sudden micro-burst storm last summer) watching the children laughing as they played around the little inflatable swimming pool, I felt tremendous joy. Shade trees, houses, baubles? It all pales in comparison to life. It pales even more compared to eternal life in Christ.

Baubles
Baubles

 Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity. (1 John 2:15-17 Msg)

More Baubles
More Baubles

God is still good.

Enjoy the Ride

Spinny
Spinny

If I let them my anxious thoughts will spin out of control so fast they become a blur like a ride at the West Edmonton Mall. So many conflicting what-ifs cry out for attention it’s like standing at that point of ultimate cacophony where the music of multiple amusements collide -and then a roller coaster thunders overhead. Some people enjoy that kind of atmosphere. I guess I’ve become a country girl.

I need to remind myself, when anxious thoughts begin to multiply, that I can stop and choose to think differently.

I tell myself, “Self? Self! Don’t be hard-hearted, remember and give thanks for all the grace that has brought us safe this far.”

And there has been so much grace! That’s why I chose Charis as a pen name. It is Greek for grace.

The great thing about impossible situations is that we know that we have no way to wriggle out of the problem ourselves, so when the Lord answers with power and provision and peace beyond anything we could muster, we cannot take credit. To God alone be glory.

God is creative and not reactive and none of the things that grab us and try to shake the peace out of us cause him the least concern. He IS  peace. And he promises his peace to those who will take refuge in him.

And since that peace comes in the middle of crazy circumstances and not necessarily in relief from them, we may even learn to enjoy the ride.

flood watersThe voice of the Lord is over the waters;
    the God of glory thunders,
    the Lord thunders over the mighty waters.
 The voice of the Lord is powerful;
    the voice of the Lord is majestic.

 The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
    the Lord is enthroned as King forever.
 The Lord gives strength to his people;
    the Lord blesses his people with peace.

 (Psalm 29:3,4,10,11)
The way of the rainbow
The way of the rainbow

Don’t Look to the Right or to the Left

In the dream I was walking through a parting of the earth like the parting of the sea. It looked like the Hollywood telling of the story of the crossing of the sea, with Charlton Heston presenting a younger and more confident Moses than the hesitant, speech-impaired fellow the Bible describes. In my dream the walls on either side of the path were not made of water but of flying rocks and dirt blown about by some amazing force.

I heard, “Don’t look around. Keep you eyes on the path. Keep going.”

“What’s happening?” I asked.

I heard, “I’m moving heaven and earth for you.”

These past few months have felt like we are walking a narrow path with crises flinging boulders and sandstorms all around our heads. It’s so easy to be distracted by circumstances that could make us panic. I have found that God usually does not answer “why” -especially as that question often comes with a whine that demands He explain Himself. He does answer “what” though, as in “What do you want me to see? What are you trying to show me about Yourself that I haven’t known before?”

He is showing me levels of love and faithfulness deeper than I had imagined.

So today as we walk through another crisis in our family and see aerial photos of our son and daughter-in-love and grandchildrens’ home and workplace and school and entire community under water, and we are cut off from each other because of broken infrastructure in this part of the world, we praise the God who is faithful, who walks through every trial with us, the loving Father who is moving heaven and earth to get His church to the place where he wants us to be. We are learning to trust  Him no matter what, to walk by faith and not by sight, and to rest in his love whether waiting for waters to go down or shovelling mud –because he is still good.

This song by Jenn Johnson has meant so much to me lately. It reminds me not to look to the left or to the right, but to keep my eyes and ears focused on my Saviour, my good Shepherd who says, “This is the way.”

Keep your eyes on the path. This is going to be good.

More Powerful Than the The Thunder of Mighty Rivers

STORM CLOUDS black rock tos creek

The waters have risen, O Eternal One;
    the sound of pounding waves is deafening.
    The waters have roared with power.
More powerful than the thunder of mighty rivers,
    more powerful than the mighty waves in the ocean
    is the Eternal on high!

 Your teachings are true;
    Your decrees sure.
    Sacredness adorns Your house, O Eternal One, forevermore.

(Psalm 93:3-5 The Voice)

Swept Away

When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.

(Isaiah 43:2)

The Jordan River
The Jordan River

The day started yesterday with a call for help from a friend with a flooded basement. It ended with a call from my son who let me know he and his family had escaped  from High River, Alberta, which is now under water, and finally making contact with my brother who is trapped in his home near the edge of the raging Cougar Creek in Canmore, Alberta. His wife and our elderly father are on the other side of the washed out TransCanada Highway.

Our daughter also called. She and her family are caught on the other side of washed-out roads and are not sure how to get home.

I am in Alberta visiting another son and family, watching news reports of submerged towns and washed-out highways, and realizing my husband is on the other side of the Continental divide -and a lot of missing asphalt. I have no idea how or when I can get home.

We live in a land-locked place at high elevation, one of the least-likely places in the world to flood, or so you would think.

But the rains came down.

We are thankful that so far we know of no loss of life, although one person is missing from my son’s neighbourhood and we pray for her. The loss of property and damage is tremendous though. Some of that property, like the property in Canmore, was very expensive. My brother was musing about a property’s value if that property has been mostly swept away, as some of the lots on his street have been.

Can we ever really say we own anything?

That’s the thought I am left with this morning. How much of our time and energy and focus is spent on things which can be swept away?

Sometimes I think that God, in His mercy, shakes us up so we will not settle on foundations that can be swept away. In the light of eternity how trivial wood and plaster and paint on a patch of grass seem.

The message I hear in my heart today is: Don’t settle. There is a much firmer foundation available to you.

So as the children’s song says,”So build your life on the Lord Jesus Christ and the blessings will come down.”