Tuesday, September 15, 2009

When Getting Older is a Good Thing

OK ... I'll admit it ... I am turning 43 this year~ and it is a good thing! Before I go on to explain why let me, in all honesty, put a disclaimer in: I am not talking physically! Physically, getting older is ... well literally a pain! What I am referring to is spiritually and emotionally. For years, birthdays and Christmases have been difficult for me because they bring with them the question of ... "What do you want?" What do I want? At 42 very little. In a life time where I have had so much of what I have wanted ... I have found myself letting go of the need to want more. Only recently have I started to see where this might be leading though ... altruism.

Altruism comes from the Italian word altrui which means others ... and is defined as:

1. Loving others as oneself. 2. Behavior that promotes the survival chances of others at a cost to ones own. 3. Self-sacrifice for the benefit of others

What is this going to look like in my life as I continue to grow? I am not sure. I do know that surfing various blogs, especially Katie's blog has opened my eyes and heart to this desire to do something that would make a difference. I do know that it feels right. How could it not? A dear friend of mine recently made the comment that we, as believers here in America, tend to forget that the body of Christ is worldwide. What is our part in this worldwide body? What is my part? Can we sit and do nothing when our brothers and sisters in Christ are starving in the far reaches of this planet? What does it mean for each of us? I don't know. God does. Let Him awaken in you the altruistic spirit that He has created ... let Him nurture it and reveal truths to it that will make doing nothing impossible.

The more I have pondered it, the more I am convinced that we were created for altruism. It fits. It heals. It gives us meaning and purpose. In surfing about it, I can a cross a medical article that revealed scientific findings that, "Altruistic (other-regarding) emotions and behaviors are associated with greater well-being, health, and longevity." We are made for it.

Like I said earlier, I really don't know what this will look like in my life. I do know that God is blessing me with a desire to do something to help. I do know that the desire has grown since its planting. I do know it is right. Which leads me to my verse for the next two weeks:

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.
Proverbs 31:8 (New International Version)

May we all seek to be part of the "whole" body of Christ and in doing so willingly embrace the responsibility of it.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

When it Rains it Pours ... Sometimes...

If you happen to live in Surprise, we had a surprise storm this afternoon. It was HUGE! The trees were whipping around as if some unseen gardener was trying to yank them out of the ground like they were weeds, the drops were the size of quarters, and the thunder was loud enough to make a grown woman jump! It was impressive. It was unexpected. Looking out the window that faces the north side of town, I wondered just how wet I was going to get in a few minutes when I had to leave for skit practice and decided that I should leave a little earlier than normal. (After all people in Arizona often are rain driving challenged and this was a lot of rain!) So I grabbed my keys and headed out. The storm was just as impressive from inside my car. The sound of the drops pounding on my car overpowered the music that had been crystal clear when I was in the garage, the street was filled with rivers of racing water, and the trees lining both sides of my street were swaying back and forth as the wind enticed them to dance. Then I got to Waddell and Bullard, which is a mere three fourths of a mile away from my house. Sitting at the light, I realized that the air around me was rather quiet, the drops a mere drizzle, and the sky blue with a few white clouds. It was bizzare. I turned in disbelief to look down the street to the area of my house, only to find that there was a huge ... isolated ... dark cloud cell that was dumping an obviously large amount of rain right over my neighborhood. With every eighth of a mile driven the skies cleared, the rain faded, and the wind calmed. Pretty soon it was if it had never even sprinkled. It was strange, and I couldn't help but see the correlation to our lives.

You see, all I could see was the storm that was all around me. I assumed that it was far reaching, and even ajusted my schedule to accomodate it. How many times do we find ourselves in a life storm that feels all-surrounding, all-devestating, and all-consuming ... feelings that are confirmed by all the visual evidence aroud us? How many times do we focus on the severity of the storm? How many times do we simply believe what we see? If you are anything like me ... often. Sometimes though, what appears to be a major life storm, is simple an isolated downpour. A simple short-lived moment ... maybe an intense short-lived moment... but a short-lived moment none the less. Sometimes we take on the role of the weatherman ... trying to identify and define the weather ... instead of simply resting in the assurances and promises of the one who controls the storms. In doing so, we tend to make the storm more powerful than it really is.

So, if you missed this storm ... and it was actually pretty small ... I am sure there is another one right one the horizon. When it gets here ... let's just enjoy the rain! The Lord has everything in control.


Monday, September 7, 2009

When the Wrong Word is Right

Today at church we sang You Are. I love that song. I know that song. We have been singing it for years, but for some reason today I came up with the wrong lyrics. The song goes:

I will lay my life down to lift You up
Throwing down my crowns
To see Your face
I will lose myself to be found in You
Taking up my cross I will live again

I sang:

I will lay my life down to lift You up
Throwing down my crowns
To see Your face
I will lose myself to be bound in You
Taking up my cross I will live again

Did you find my mistake? One simple word that changed the whole concept of the song for me. I replaced found with bound. I knew it was wrong the minute the word left my mouth ... but it took me a few minutes to get that it was really right.

You see I am found in Christ because I have accepted Him as my Savior. I am indwelt. Being found in Him is nothing that I have done. That belongs to God alone. I do not daily lay my life down to be found in Him. Change that word though to bound, however, and it all seems to make sense. You see it is not God that changes. I do. I pull away from God when I try to create my own future, fix things, control things, follow things, worship things, etc. Why? Because He is not there? Not in me? No ... because I am not bound to Him. By laying down my life ... the right to control, to follow, to worship what ever the idol is that is calling my name ... I can then, and only then, bind myself to Him in mind ... in spirit ... in heart ... in self. It goes against everything that we are to do so. To lay down independence and take up dependence. To give up what we believe to be our rights to bind ourselves to the One that calls us His. It involves surrender, and I have so much to surrender.

Lord, may I awake daily with the knowledge that I am Yours, and choose to lay down my life and bind myself to You and Your Will.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

When Words Are Not Enough

The world these days seems to be tilting off its axis more than it normally does. Have you noticed? It is just crazy out there. Every where around me people's lives are falling prey to economic problems, health problems, marital problems, you name it .... it is happening. My family and I are not immune. We have battled all of the above, most lately in the economic ring ... (with a few million other people!) It is enough to make one, in the words of my dear husband, "Want to crawl under a table and just go to sleep." We have been fretting over come changes that are happening at his work ... fretting is less than worrying ... but time consuming and thought consuming none the less. In fact up to yesterday it all seemed so big and daunting.

Then I got a text yesterday from one of my dearest of dear friends announcing that her husband, who is the only person who works outside the house ... I say it that way because I will stand and testify that my dear friend works endlessly at home with her kids ... especially because I know that eventually she will find her way to this post and will perhaps smile at the moment of recognition and truth just before she is summoned out of her comfortable chair to go solve dolly problems for the youngest and algebra problems for the oldest. :) My concerns over things that have not yet come to pass suddenly felt so trivial and the blessing that my husband has a job suddenly became so much clearer. Perspective. Perspective.What a mighty and convicting truth. So, I spent a little time mulling over their problem. Concerned and a little freaked out for them. You might even come to the conclusion that I transferred my anxiety to their situation ... and you would be right.

Then I got to work today and found the person that I work with in tears. Her sister had called just hours before to tell her that her, my friend's sister's, husband had just up and died. Fell on the floor with a thud and died. (Side note: He was a Christian, so He is home and worshiping the King of Kings.) She has no one. She had 3 kids, two sons and a daughter. Her daughter died. Her son died. She is estranged from the other son. Then two days ago she lost her job ... was laid off. Then... her husband died. I had no words. What words would be enough? All I could do was pray and claim some of God's promises over her. Perspective shift once again. It could be so much worse.

Thinking about this poor woman through out the day, I came to the conclusion that her story is a little like Job's. I have been praying that she too would come to respond to it all with the same faith as him. Then I realized that the Bible verse that I had gotten from another friend's e-mail and had claimed as my next memory verse was one that was meant to be passed on. A word given me to give to her. It is:

And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD is his treasure.

Isaiah 33:6 (King James Version)

Knowledge and wisdom will be what keeps us stable in our times. But what where and how do we get the knowledge and wisdom? From only one place ... from studying God's word - from living God's word - from breathing His word and writing it on our hearts. (Thank you Beth for laying out the challenge ... how important it is to learn what God has to say!) If we stay in the shadow of the cross and study the Word ... then we will find stability in our times. BUT it gives us an even more amazing assurance ... it adds that we will also have the strength of salvation. We will get our strength from our Lord and Savior. I can't imagine finding the strength to survive all that loss any other way. And the reward in all this? The fear of the Lord will be his treasure. We will be so awe struck by His faithfulness that fearing and respecting Him will be not a burden ... but a treasure. Oh how I pray that the Lord would be might to save for this suffering soul who has endured so much loss! How I pray that the beauty He can and will make from devastation will bring her to a place of love and respect for her ABBA Father. That she will let go and heal in His mighty hands.


P.S. Even with all her loss ... there are places in this world where that would be considered minimal trials to bear. It is all a matter of perspective.