Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Wilson...

Back to comparing my widowhood with the movie Castaway.  It's time to address Wilson.  For a long, long time I didn't think there was a Wilson comparison. How very wrong I was!

In Castaway, Chuck is isolated and alone on his island. He desperately needs companionship. Widowhood is very much like that island isolation.  One moment you are in a world with your life's companion a purpose, a destination. Next moment you are plunging into an unwelcoming sea of despair. After floating aimlessly through that stormy sea, you find yourself shipwrecked on a foreign piece of soil. Alone.  You struggle with that alone-ness. Enter Wilson.  Wilson supplied the connection that Chuck so desperately needs --- Companionship through the mundane tasks of survival. Someone to talk to. A sounding board, a presence.  A substitute for the real thing. The need not to be alone is so intense that Wilson is a comfort and a bond with the substitute becomes "real" for Chuck.

What is the real thing, anyway? I think that when you are in a place of vulnerability it is easy to be duped. Flattery is powerful; it can sweep you away or suck you in. Elaine Chan and Jaideep Sengupta at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and published in the Journal of Marketing Research conducted a study which explored our susceptibility to flattery.  The bottomline is that we can be manipulated.  Chuck's Wilson was just a soccer ball; that was all that was available to meet Chuck's need for companionship.  The Wilsons that the widow meets are far more animated and seemingly better able to fill that need. A widow's Wilson will be a man like those mentioned in Psalm 12:2 - "They speak falsehood to one another; With flattering lips and with a double heart they speak."

In that fragile state of aloneness, disconnected from the spouse we loved so much we are prime targets for smooth-talkers with empty promises. It is easy to forget that our best interests are not at the heart of some men. There are men who merely look at a woman as an object to be obtained. Romans 16:18, "For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting." 

Even if she realizes that Wilson is not the real deal, the attachment is still present and the hurt of letting go is sincere and deeply felt. Just as Chuck grieved when Wilson became untethered and floating away in the waves, so the widow will grieve when she chooses life over maintaining the connection. I find it fascinating that the whale awakens Chuck to the fact that Wilson has been set adrift. The whale always seems to be a Watchful Eye, representative of God's Hand. It is like God said, "I allowed this fake companion in your life for a time to comfort you. However, he must go so that you can be free to heal."

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Oh captivate my mind

Captivating my thoughts
How to seize them? How to stop them
From overwhelming my soul?
Whatsoever is true…
You are gone, you are never coming home,
I’m alone and lost without you
He is with me, He upholds me
You are with Him
Whatever is noble
Move forward, press on toward the prize
That upward call
Noble things, doing what is good
Let my heart be full of compassion
And my eyes well up with love
But whatever is true hits…
And part of that truth is
That I am so alone without you
Whatever is pure
A child’s hand in mine
Whatever is lovely
The beauty of His creation
Whatever is admirable
Being salt and light, being used for His purposes
Whatever is true
My love is in the grave
And I do this on my own
Whether I want to or not
...I don’t, I don’t, I don’t...


But I do

Monday, May 21, 2018

Heart full...

Gratitude. My heart is warm and full with gratitude. The Father knows His plans for us and He places us where He wants us to be, for His purposes. Sometimes we kick and scream because we have our own purposes, our own plans, our own crazy ideas of what we want/need. Last year, I never imagined myself where I am right now. I had different visions of what my future, both near and distant, would hold. Yet here I was today, walking through side roads and main streets in downtown Akron with 9 yr old boys and girls taking turns holding my hands- not because they had to, but because, even if it wasn't "cool," they wanted to. Last year, I didn't know these children - in January, I was new to them. And yet, here I am - loving them, praying for them, and be so blessed by their love for me.
In Genesis we are told how God created this amazing world. He made man and we are told He specifically put him in the Garden. He gave him a job, a purpose. God was directly involved with where Adam was and what he was to do. He puts us where we need to be and where we are needed. When Pat died, I wondered what my purpose was -- sometimes I still wonder. I've always been very much happy with being the "helpmeet" for my spouse. I've definitely been in that "scorched place" that Isaiah 58:11 talks about." And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail." Sometimes I've wandered there on my own, stupidly going off the path I should've stuck to. Proverbs 16:9 "The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps." Like a stubborn sheep I've gone astray, and He has used events, circumstances, mistakes, and failures to herd me back toward the way I should be on.
Anyway, sitting in my reading group this morning, getting my kids excited about animal emotions, showing my 6th graders how they can strengthen their brains and build up the less dominant side (and seeing them have fun with it), and then walking the streets of Akron today surrounded by excited children... I know that right now, in this moment in my life, I'm where I'm supposed to be and I'm grateful.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

God sends those quail...

This morning as I was getting ready for church, I was thinking over situations in my life and those of my loved ones for which I am praying. I then thought about how the Lord had provided truly HUGE answers to prayer and how in the midst of those particular needs I had felt despaired, desperately needy, and frantic. In the midst of the storms, I cried, prayed, struggled with acceptance of non-instant gratification and the possibility that the answer would not be what I desired and vowing, with tears, to trust Him anyway. Standing now where I'm looking backward at those needs and how the Lord has answered prayer, I can just mouth a  big breathy, blown-away "WOW!" I want to bottle this. I want to carve it into my very skin and bones so that I don't ever forget that God answers prayer. I want to remember this so that the next time "troubles come in armies" that I will *not* freak out. That I will *not* try to rely on my self. Funny thing about us humans, though, we do forget and the next struggle that comes, we start whining and worrying. In Psalm 77:11-12 David says, "I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”

The 77s song, "God Sends Quail,"
You fail
You try half-hearted and fail
One foot drags behind you
One foot tripping in front of you
You fail
You spit out manna, God sends quails

That's how the Israelites were. God delivers them mightily.  Get a little further down the road.  Wail and moan about the first "problem" they confront. Forget about the God who just set your free. Wait! He hears your whining and answers again.  What? Something else upsets you? Wail, whine, throw in some disobedience...and forget your gratitude.  God sends quail.  That's right, God sends quail. So, why, why, why don't we remember and trust?

When I went to church today, my pastor was preaching on Exodus 17 and the church's need to be a praying church. He asked, "Will we look to God or look to ourselves?" which is exactly what I had been pondering this morning. Reading the passage about the battle with the Amalekites and how when Moses' arms were lifted upward in supplication that the Israelites prevailed, so Aaron and Hur came alongside him to keep his arms lifted. The Lord was with them, they won. My eyes zoomed in on verse 14a, "Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it."  AND there it was, summing up what was on my mind this morning.  Baby, write this down!  Not only do I need to commit to memory what the Lord has done, but I need to share it with my prayer partners.

Note to self: Next time - and there usually is a next time (John 16:33 " In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world") - pull out those memories, talk about the things He has done in mighty ways, and instead of despair, instead of frantically trying to figure it out in a self-reliant way, TRUST. Cast those anxieties on Him, trust (can't say it enough), and obey. I definitely have some answer to prayer that are amazing to remind myself what a mighty God I serve and that He definitely does NOT give a stone when I ask for bread.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

A dog returns to his vomit...

"As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness." Proverbs 26:11

"For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning.

For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: "A dog returns to his own vomit," and, "a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire."  2 Peter 2:20-22

A fool lacks moral fiber and discipline. A fool lacks integrity, that "doing what is right even when no one is looking." (Completely forgetting that the Lord is indeed looking). God does not want us to be fools.  He provides us the Holy Spirit to teach us, to guide us in the way of righteousness.  It is a sickening thought to think of a dog returning to eat what he just barfed up. Going back into sin, failing to repent and repeat the same sins - these things should be as repulsive to us as the thought of eating vomit. Being overcome with sin, being unrepentant and unholy, leads to a worse end than the beginning. That should worry us! 

The Father has set a lavish feast before us - why eat vomit?  He's washed us and clothed us in Christ, why go roll in the mud?



Monday, February 12, 2018

God Sends Quails



You fail
You try half-hearted and fail
One foot drags behind you
One foot tripping in front of you

You fail
You spit out manna, God sends quails
Dry bones pile up behind you
More wet mirages in front of you

You can't go back
You can't go back

You failed
You sunk like Jonah to the whale
Big mouths follow behind you
Still small voice swallowed up by you

You failed
You picked the right time to fail
Got your past behind you
Got your future in front of you

You can't go back
You can go on


Sunday, February 11, 2018

The lie that people comfort each other with...

The lie that people comfort each other with:  God will not give you more than you can handle.
This is absolutely false, faulty theology turned into tragic mythology - one of the clever ways the enemy takes a nugget of Scripture, strips away what it really says, and twists it.  God will most certainly give you more than you can bear...why? Because He doesn't want you to bear it. He wants you to recognize your need for HIM and that Christ's power is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor 12:9-10).  The twisted scripture where this myth that God won't allow trials that are more than you can "handle" comes from is 1 Corinthians 10:13 "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it." That's it folks - He will not allow you to be TEMPTED TO SIN beyond what you can withstand. You are always left with a choice: to sin OR not to sin.  However, when it comes to struggles, trials, persecutions.  In 2 Corinthians 1:8b  the Apostle Paul reports, "We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself."  It was THE LORD who delivered Paul and his companions from each and every difficulty. In the next verse, Paul tells us, "Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead." Why? To show us that He is with us - that HE is in control. Next verse: "He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and He will deliver us again. On Him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us."  It goes on to say that this will cause many to GIVE THANKS to Him for His gracious favor. 

How conveniently  the scripture has been reworked into foxhole Christianity mythology from God always providing a way out of temptation, a way to refrain from sinning!  Humans want excuses to sin, we want to blame something/someone, we don't want to take responsibility. 

I could pour out here a huge offering of scripture to the believer about how God uses struggles/trials to perfect us, to lead us closer to Him, to remember our first love should be for Him, to build godly character, etc.  But to the unbeliever or the "casual" believer who "believes in God" but doesn't have a life committed to Him (even the demons believe and shudder), God uses these things to show your need for a relationship with Him. He alone can give peace. He says, "Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."  He wants to make you more than a conqueror - not just for today's overwhelming troubles - but for tomorrow's. If you have believed and shared that lie, that God won't give you more than you can handle and if you are feeling overwhelmed, perplexed, exhausted, confused...  don't stop at the realization that false comfort was just a pretty story.  Go to the One who conquered death, loves you and badly wants you to draw near to Him. THERE IS HOPE. He will deliver you if you submit yourself to Him.  There are really only two choices in this world. You are going to serve someone or something:  Choose God or Choose Sin.

Romans 8:31-39
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?  Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.