Saturday, September 27, 2014

A Crazy Week... A New Day...

This has been a fractured week... I'm sure others know what I'm talking about. A week where almost nothing I planned actually happened. A week where new opportunities arose that I wasn't always sure I wanted to welcome. A week where I knew I was clinging close to my Beloved Lord and SAvior at one point in the day and knew just as surely a few hours later that I was deliberately trying to sing "I'll do it my way" . A week where I ran to Scripture, climbed in, and breathed deeply of His fragrance. And a week where I ran to sin and inhaled deeply of it's suffocating fumes. A week of intense memories, some of which made me incredibly sad and some of which made me feel incredibly thankful.
A week where I got to hold my sister's first living grandchild which was overwhelming, partly because of the promise of new life as this little one is the tip of a long, sometimes wondrous, sometimes torturous family history and yet by God's grace, she is here and her life is an unwritten page that holds great promise.
And partly because it makes me so acutely aware of what this little one's mother and siblings have endured to get to this place in their lives as adults. And partly because my sister wasn't here to hold this precious child (and might not have been able to hold her even if she was still living here on earth because of her enduring mental illness - something for which I thank God that she is now freed from).
So this week has been a combination of multiple journeys down half-buried roads as I've conversed with various people whom I love dearly and who, for one reason or another, I have failed and/or been estranged from.
In the midst of this, because I feel God has led me to do it, I have started visiting with a neighbor down the street every Friday afternoon. A man of God who is still preaching well into his twilight years.
This is the fourth time we've visited and each time we revisit the same memories of his youth and his years in the ministry. And at times I have wondered if my visits were a good thing or an interruption as he still goes and is active and has things to do. Until yesterday when he casually mentioned that he almost stopped by my house yesterday morning to let me know he'd be home in the afternoon and my heart leaped a little bit b/c his comment confirmed that God is in our little weekly confabs.... Even though my conversation is not all uplifting by any means. (I'm afraid I talked about the biggest thing on my mind right now - the one rat that evades our trap and still lives in our hydrangea bushes (horrible creature!) and, um, a neighbor who could win the curmudgeon award of the year. Yeah. That would be gossip... So, no, my visits are not saintly and my conversation not always uplifting....)
But God is in it somehow... always in the warp and woof of our see-sawing selves... grieving but loving us when we descend to talking about rats (animal and human) and cheering us on when we draw near to Him, abandoning ourselves to His love, His goodness, and His ability to take all the tangled threads of our lives and use them for our good and His glory.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Truth Just... Is

     I've been angry with God.
     I'm not proud of that fact; just acknowledging that it exists.
     I'm reading the book, C. S. Lewis and Mere Christianity.  I'm not reading it because it's about C. S. Lewis - I confess that Lewis and I have barely a nodding acquaintance... ha!  (Translation: Lewis's writings are waaaaayyy over my pointed little head!)  
     I'm reading it because it's written by Paul McCusker, the same man who wrote many of the radio dramas for Focus on the Family, which happens to be one of my favorite things to listen to in the car right now.  (Seriously beats the heck out of talk radio, which can be crazy, and audio books, which can be monotonous).
     In the McCusker book, the author writes about Lewis's take on human pain and suffering - a very real issue during WWII when bombs were falling and people were dying right and left.   Lewis taught what most orthodox Christians believe: that pain has benefits for the Christian, conforming us to the image of Christ being among them.  But he adds  that pain is called pain for a reason - the reason being that it hurts!  And he admits that he would gladly crawl through sewers in order to avoid suffering.
    Wow!  Me, too!  I could easily become a sewer rat in order to avoid suffering!
     But Lewis goes on to conclude that how we feel as we go through the bad stuff doesn't affect the truth one iota. If we come through it with flying colors, testifying to an amazing peace through it all, that's great.  If, however,  we come through it like a whipped animal, riddled with doubts and anger, that's okay too in this regard:  neither stance changes what is.
     This is the deal: however our suffering pans out, whatever we feel or however we react during the trial - our experiences neither validate nor change the  truth. Truth just is.  Our exceptionally good experiences in the midst of suffering don't prove that God's word is true. By the same token, our exceptionally bad experiences during trials don't  make the Bible's teaching on trials go bust and break into a million pieces.
 Pain hurts and our experiences down here are not always palatable, to put it mildly.  Theology is not a spiritual bottle of Mercurochrome. (For those who aren't old enough to remember what that is, back in my childhood it was, quite simply, the miracle medicine that my grandmother used on us kids as if our appendages were peeling fence posts and Mercurochrome was the best paint money could buy.)
     Sometimes we get angry.  And sometimes that anger comes to rest on  God Himself.   As I said, I've been there.  There is never an excuse for being angry with God - He doesn't owe us anything.  And, yet, He understands that we are but dust.  In  the form of Jesus, He walked this earth, experienced pain and suffering, and knows exactly how fragile our psyches are, how twisted our thinking can become in the midst of suffering.
    Instead of ditching us when we pin our angst on Him, He takes the wild, heartbreaking ride of suffering and anger right along with us.  Whether we feel it or not, He keeps His promise never to leave us and to ultimately bring good out of it for us - if not here where we can see it, then in Heaven where we'll never see anything else.
   As Dr. Charles Stanley says, when we drag our tortured hearts to God and say something like, "God I can't stand You!" He just hugs us a little closer and continues to love us.
   And that, regardless of how we feel in any given moment, day, or year, is the truth.