Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Seek First

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33

On Mother’s Day our pastor told a story about a little boy who just loved his kindergarten teacher. One day when his mom was volunteering at his school he fell and hurt his knee. In tears he headed toward the spot where both his mother and teacher were standing. The pastor left the child’s final destination as a question to illustrate his point about mothers and children. He left me with a different thought.
Picture the scene in your own life. You’ve “fallen.” You’re hurt, frightened or disappointed. Where do you run? Do you have an image in your head? Okay.

Now, picture your choice. Is it God? If it isn’t what is it? Picture God standing right beside the thing or the person you chose as your comfort zone. He’s waiting, arms open. Did you run right on by? Did you even glance His way?

What about a little while later? Everything in this world fades. Nothing is forever except for God’s love. If you ran to a person, they may well let you down, maybe not every time but at some point. If you ran to a thing it will certainly let you down. Do you doubt that? Ask any addict you know, they’ll tell you. Things are never enough.  People, even the best of them, and things, even really good things, are temporary solutions, temporary comforts.
God is eternal, ever-present, mighty to save. Think about this, He provided all those other comforts, friends, coffee, chocolate, books, movies, etc.  He is fine with us reaching for people and even for things as long as they come second to Him. He didn’t say seek me only. He said, seek me first.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Hairy Question

Indeed the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Luke 12:7

A few weeks ago I was listening to one of my favorite radio stations and heard the DJs two men and a woman, talking about a survey that the woman had read. The question asked was this, “If you could have perfect hair for the rest of your life, perfect hair, but you had to give up ten IQ points, would you do it?” My first thought was, uh, YES! All of my life I’ve had baby fine hair, the natural color of which is best described as mousy brown. Add to that the fact that my nearest and dearest friends were/are Greek and Italian with the accompanying big fat beautiful, flowing, darkly luxurious hair. Can see why I have hair issues? My IQ is pretty decent.  So, yes, I would trade.
The next day I was telling two of my friends about it. Mostly, to get their reaction. They both have really nice hair. Their reactions were very different. One said yes, strange because to me, she has great hair. The other said no and I was quick to point out that she doesn’t need the trade. She was quick to tell me her hair woes. Awe gee, cry me a river. I did not feel sorry for her and her thick hair. A few days later both women’s answers would factor into my thinking.

While attempting to “style” my hair I thought about that conversation. I thought of my two friends. I thought about how we see ourselves. My one friend said she wouldn’t make the trade but it wasn’t because she’s content with her hair, it was because she didn’t want to give up her IQ points. The other one, without concern for her IQ, said yes, she’d trade. That made me wonder, what wouldn’t I trade for better hair? Tons of things came to mind. Hair, as it turns out, isn’t nearly as important as I let myself think it is.

That took me into deeper introspection. What is that important? Important enough to make bargains and deals? Not much. When I thought about the “things” in my life I came back more and more to people. I’m a people person so relationships are important to me. That brought me to the Truth.
As long as I have the love of God, the presence of the Trinity, in my life then I have everything I need. Oh, I want things, don’t misunderstand, I’m not ready to live off the land, just me and Jesus. I like being comfortable, living indoors, eating on a regular basis, books, music, etc. The detail that really made my breath catch was the idea of giving up people. I did however realize that no matter how heartbreakingly terrifying it is to think of being without certain people in my life, the one thing I absolutely cannot consider losing is my relationship with Jesus. Life flows from Him, everything I have, do, say or am, is because He is gracious.

Hair, whatever! The oddest thing, I’m fairly sure my hair has not improved. I’m a middle-aged woman so that is extremely unlikely and yet, it looks okay. I’m okay with it. Somehow after all this IQ business and would you, wouldn’t you conversations, the truth is it just doesn’t matter. The truth is, only one thing does really matter and that is Jesus.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

No Fear

Be strong and courageous; do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9b

There are many Scripture that reference God’s love and care for us. We are encouraged as we read the Word, that we are not alone, we do not have to worry or have fear, that God is for us which means no one can come against us, and on and on. Now let me ask you this? Are you ever afraid? I know I am and sometimes it’s over stupid, ridiculous, they don’t much matter things.

Today I saw something that made me think, made me proud and gave me a moment of awe. This morning in church I looked up and saw a very familiar face in the worship team. It was the face of the mother of one of my former students, a boy I dearly love. She is an amazingly sweet and thoughtful woman, the mother of two boys, one a second grader full of energy and a lot of his own sweetness and her older son, my former student who fits under the label of “special needs.” He has special needs, sure, but he also has Mom’s sweetness unless you make him mad. He’s a great guy with a lot of personality. He also has a body that is not always his friend.
This morning I watched as his mother very sincerely sang the words, “I never, ever have to be afraid.” That made me think. It made me think about the fact that in the last year her older son has been in the hospital more than he’s been out. We haven’t seen him much at school and we have missed him. We have prayed for him and had great concern for him. Didn’t his mother have reason to be afraid then? Wasn’t she in fact concerned?

I know this mom. She loves her boys in a huge and obvious way. That is where the pride and awe come in. I was in awe of the fact that she clearly loves the Lord even more than she loves those boys and because of that love while her human heart might be beating a bit faster than it should and she may wake up at night stricken by terror of what might be happening to her child, she can find peace because the God who loves her never stops loving her or her son. She knows that while she may feel fear (and I don’t know if she has, we haven’t talked about it) she doesn’t actually have to be afraid. That is where the pride part comes in.

I was proud to know her, proud to be a part of her life and her son’s life and prouder still to be her sister in Christ. She is another example to me of how well God provides for His people. He has provided strength, energy and hope to that family and in doing so provided many more people with an example of faith and hope in light of what just does not look or feel good. What might, in fact, be quite terrible.
The people of the worship team do not live charmed lives. I know the lady I’ve described so I know a bit of what she’s been through but what about the woman next to her? Or the man behind her? I don’t know them. I see them praising God, singing “I never have to be afraid” and I wonder if at that very moment the enemy is trying to frighten any one of them.

My friend could choose fear as her constant companion. She has plenty of reason. She’s raising two boys in today’s crazy world and if that isn’t enough, one of them needs quite a bit more care than the average kid. She could choose fear and self-pity and very few people would blame her, but she doesn’t. She chooses Christ and He chooses her right back.
Followers of Christ do not live charmed lives with no problems, illnesses or stress. We have difficulties, illnesses, disappointments and setbacks. We also have a God who cannot be defeated.  That allows us to cope. The joy of the Lord is our strength. (Nehemiah 8:10) We never have to be afraid because we know who wins, no matter how things look or how they feel we have no reason to fear. Our God reigns and we show the world that He does when we behave in a way that illustrates our trust in Him. When we sing His praise when anyone who knows us, also knows our challenges we declare our faith. Our God reigns. He loves us and we never have to be afraid.