Friday, March 8, 2013

Oh, Were You Talking To Me?

Isaiah 30:19-22 (The Message) Oh yes, people of Zion, citizens of Jerusalem, your time of tears is over. Cry for help and you’ll find it’s grace and more grace. The moment he hears, he’ll answer. Just as the Master kept you alive during the hard times, he’ll keep your teacher alive and present among you. Your teacher will be right there, local and on the job, urging you on whenever you wander left or right: “This is the right road. Walk down this road.”

My dog Cooper came to us from a rescue organization. Their mission is to take on dogs that are unwanted or are surrendered by owners that are unable to care for them, address any health issues, and then find them new homes. The new owners are carefully chosen. As a perspective owner you are interviewed, submit to an inspection of your home, and then sign a contract pledging to care for the dog.

But as for the dog...well you get what you get. The dogs often bring an unknown history. Sometimes these dogs live in your home for awhile before quirky behaviors are surfaced.

Cooper has selective hearing syndrome.

Recently he began to ignore the command, "Come". I got louder. I was softer. I yelled. I whistled. I clapped. I stomped my feet. Nothing. Zero. Zip. Nada. In frustration I turned to the Internet for some answers because I am not the Dog Whisperer!

One site put it plainly. Call your dog once, then once more. If he does not come, get the leash and go out and get him. Do not call him again...

He heard you the first time.

I could not help but think about the above verse from Isaiah."Cry for help...the moment he hears he will answer." What a promise! What a comfort. God hears us when we cry for help. No need to yell, or to stamp our feet. In our deepest need he will show us the way to go. He hears us the first time.

grace and peace...

Monday, March 4, 2013

Lessons From The Broom Tree

I Kings 19: 3-7
When Elijah saw how things were, he ran for dear life to Beersheba, far in the south of Judah. He left his young servant there and then went on into the desert another day’s journey. He came to a lone broom bush and collapsed in its shade, wanting in the worst way to be done with it all—to just die: “Enough of this, God! Take my life—I’m ready to join my ancestors in the grave!” Exhausted, he fell asleep under the lone broom bush. Suddenly an angel shook him awake and said, ‘Get up and eat!’

He looked around and, to his surprise; right by his head was a loaf of bread baked on some coals and a jug of water. He ate the meal and went back to sleep. The angel of God came back, shook him awake again, and said, “Get up and eat some more—you’ve got a long journey ahead of you.”

For the second time in two years I had lost my job. It disappeared as the result of a dreaded word that is meant to be “it’s not your fault” word..."restructuring". Truthfully it was not kind at all.

As I walked into the quiet house, I found myself thinking about Elijah and the broom tree. What lessons could I learn from his experience?

1) We all need a broom tree once in awhile.

“He came to a lone broom bush and collapsed in its shade.” Elijah found a place where he felt safe. The broom tree can be our “safe” place to rest and recover. In difficult times, we need a sanctuary.

2) We may be exhausted. Take time to rest.

Elijah literally ran for his life and collapsed in the shade of a broom tree. Like Elijah, we can crawl under the broom tree to rest. There we can take the time to heal and be gentle with ourselves.

3) We may feel really terrible. This too is temporary.

We are told that Elijah wanted “in the worst way to be done with it all” (v. 3) Loss in our own lives, including job loss can take a healthy bite out of our self esteem. In difficulty many of us are just ready for it to be over! As we continue to read the story of Elijah, we learn that this time of trouble passed for him. Our troubles will pass as well.

4) We are free to lament! God can take it.

Elijah told God exactly like it was – “Enough of this God”, he said. As Elijah, we can began a conversation with God and pour out our troubles to him. Weep, wail, and cry out! Often we think we must “suck it up” and not show how we really feel. Elijah was frank about his feelings.

5) We may be afraid.

When disaster strikes, we have a lot in common with Elijah. While most of the time we are not running for our lives, nonetheless, we may still be scared. Like Elijah, can we sit in sorrow and be quiet in fear? Can we welcome fear as we do joy? Can we acknowledge the presence of fear without demanding that it be gone? Are we able to welcome grief as an an affliction that draws us closer to God?

6) We will find provision.

Elijah awoke to find the food that he needed. Likewise, we can trust God to supply our every need. Elijah asked God to let him die, but instead was given food and water. He received so much more than he asked for. We also can experience the miracle of waking up and finding that our needs have been met.

As with Elijah we too can learn the lessons of the broom tree. We can know for certain that our God will provide for us when we are facing dark and difficult times.

grace and peace...

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Give It Up

Come to me...Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. (Matthew 11 selected verses)

This morning I sat in my favorite chair, nestled in my daily devotions. Cooper our golden retriever came silently padding into the room. Causally he stood in front of me with a wad of paper towels protruding from his jowls. Gently I motioned to him to lay whatever it was in my lap. He deposited his prize which had been fished out of the trash. I smiled.

He rarely searches for treasure in the trash. He rarely takes what isn't his. And he almost never gives anything up that easily. But today he did...and I was amazed.

Lent is usually a season where I am encouraged to let go in order to make space for something new. This Lent is no exception. Trouble is that I don't usually surrender anything as easily as Cooper did this morning. When Jesus said, "Come to me", he didn't say, "Get your act together and then come."

He simply said, "Come."

Today I find Lent beckoning me to come and let go of whatever smelly thing I insist on carrying. No retribution. No harsh words. No accusations. Just come.

grace and peace...