Thursday, August 01, 2019

Days. And the End of those days.

There are specific verses in the scriptures that cause me to ponder and contemplate.

But there is a certain category of verses that stops me in my tracks without fail. Here is one example:
"So David rested with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David." 1 Kings 2.10
I have recently finished reading in 2 Samuel of all the mighty exploits of King David along with many trials and difficulties. Pages and pages. A long, full, accomplished life. It's taken me several days to read about all he did.

Similarly I read of Moses, or Joshua. Or Solomon, Paul.

And it is always the same.
"So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord." Deuteronomy 34.5
"Now it came to pass after these things that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died... And they buried him within the border of his inheritance..." Joshua 24.29
Such verses never fail to give me pause. I stop short. I actually gasp - every time. It somehow catches me by surprise.

Not the fact of it. Rather the instant finality of it. All these pages telling of all their full-of-life deeds come crashing to a standstill with one word.

A man's entire life, his whole existence, his "being" STOPS. And no matter how it is prefaced, I find it to be abrupt; it is instant. It is a blink of an eye -- they are here and then...not.

That first verse quoted above gives an important perspective and piece of knowledge. David rested "with his fathers". This simple phrase clues us in: this has gone on for generations. This is not unique to David.

We all know that. At least I think we all know that. But how to grapple with such knowledge. What to do?

We can ignore it, push it aside, pretend it isn't so. And live in continuous "surprise".
We can fill our lives with "doing", grab for all the gusto we can, stack up the accomplishments.
We can savor each moment, commit it all to memory, build memorials and fill photo albums.
We can exercise, use anti-aging creams, try to stretch the moments and make them last.
We can spend our lives on religion, sacrifice for the good of others, gain accolades of sainthood.
We can imagine that this life alone is worth living for along with all of its pain and sorrow, sin and failure, suffering and brokenness.

No matter. In the end, it will be the same for each one of us. One moment here, the next...not.

However greatly you live your life; whatever degree of wealth, fame, success you amass; no matter how much you are loved when you are gone -- there is nothing to be done about the finality of life here in this world. It is an end appointed to all. There will be one simple summation: he died.

One man has overcome death. Only One man. And He is willing to share that victory over death with anyone who will ask and accept.

It seemed only right to tell you once again. He is the answer for the question: what to do?

Every time I stop short, gasp, and recall our days and the brevity of those days and the end of those days, I myself remember His great gift of eternal life. And I give thanks all over again.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Never Ending Love Story

If romance and sexual intrigue become a source of fulfillment in your life, will your focus be on you or others?

Would you be fulfilled in providing sexual intrigue even if you stopped experiencing the thrill?

Will you feel a void when romance eludes you day after day?

How sad when the source of one's fulfillment is anything other than eternal, never-changing, and absolute faithful Love Himself.

My Savior. My Jesus.

The Lover of my soul forever.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Settled

transition - the process or period of changing from one state or condition to another

It's been a good while since I've written here. A nudge from a dear friend today caused me to check the date on my last post. Time to get at it again, is basically what she said to me. We need friends in our lives, don't we? Good friends, at any rate.

So, what's with the random dictionary entry at the top?

My most recent post was October 2018. Eight months ago.

There's one question I hear routinely from folks these days, "Are you all settled now?"

Well, uh, yes. Well, sort of. Yes, it's certainly home. Uh, no - I mean - we don't have routines. We've not established tenure yet. Um, I think we are. Well, there are some bins I've not even opened yet. And undone things. But we're here.

So the answer should be, "I can't quite tell."

Here's why. We are still transitioning. The change of home was just part of it. The "I'm done with the daily rhythm of schooling" doesn't tell it all.

What looms large in my soul is the quest for a label for this season. I know what I'm transitioning from, but what am I transitioning into? Is it this busyness? Is this the next big thing? What is this busyness about? Is it adding up to a big chunk of Something with a familiar label?

Day by day, one step here and then another till I feel like I'm running. As soon as one idea comes and begins to have fruition another tide of vision rushes in and overtakes the last.

So are we still transitioning? Or is this the plan, the thing I am to be accomplishing? I don't see a blueprint before me. I don't see the whole picture. So I take a step, hoping it is in the right direction, wanting it to add up to something somewhere someday.

This isn't like motherhood, with a schedule to determine and fruit to monitor and success to measure.

That's because the move itself wasn't the culmination of transition. It was just one wave of the process. Is this still the process, or is this the thing, the fruition of that transition?

I'm rambling, dear reader. My thoughts, my sentences, seem as fragmented as my actions. Self-written, compelled, moved without my moving them. "Lord, is this You? I hope so, Lord! My time is running quickly and I want it to be all used for You."

Self discipline is not my forte. I am motivated by passion - readily motivated by passion. Motherhood was a passion with built in constraint. I liked that. I loved that. It suited me perfectly, or so it seemed.

But here I am, without a blueprint, full of vision and passion but without built-in constraint because I don't know the end goal. I don't know the thing. It doesn't have a label. I feel like I am pioneering without a clear picture, a bit of that unknown adventure that is exhilarating and unsettling in turn. In fact, so unknown I'm unsure as to whether we're still transitioning or if we've arrived.

So, are we all settled now?

Settled in Him. Absolutely, totally. And I'm wondering if that will be the answer from here on in.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Wives and Mothers and Time

You have 24 hours each day. We all do. For those who are Christians, there is a realization that all of those 24 hours belong to Him. But how He wants us spend those 24 hours is dependent upon commitment, responsibility, and promise.

If you are a wife or mother, many of those hours are, in large measure, spoken for. They are already spoken for because of relationship. We are our husband's teammate and helper. We are our children's nurturer and provider. Fulfillment of these things requires time, energy, and creative use of resources. So everyday a portion of time, energy, and creativity is already "given".

I recall an important lesson in my life. It was an especially busy season with many demands from relationships and community outside the home. I wanted to be willing to stretch myself and sacrifice more, to give of my time and energy until it hurt. But when was it too much? The clamor to do more, go more, and be more for so many others was deafening and confusing, overwhelming me night and day, day and night.

Until He spoke clearly to me. "You cannot sacrifice something that is not yours to give."

"What? I'm wondering about giving of my time and my energy, Lord. That's what I'm wondering about. I want to serve better and live sacrificially."

"I know. But you cannot sacrifice something that is not yours to give."

Gently He helped me see that my best time and energy had already been promised when I made a covenant to my husband and ensuing family. That time and energy was not mine to sacrifice to anyone or anything else. Any sacrifice was to come from the overflow, the extra, the remaining time and energy that I could freely call mine to use.

There is no certain clear formula given. What you have to give may change from day to day, season to season. Some days and weeks there is plenty of overflow. Some seasons there is little or none. That is how living by principle works - no hard and fast list of rules, only application of simple truth. Am I meeting his needs, serving his vision? Have the family needs been met, needs beyond food and clothing even? Have I read that story, helped establish routine chores, created order and peace? Is this home a refuge for them, a shelter?

It is a day by day sorting, a week by week "reality check", a willingness to take stock and determine when I need to say "no" and when I am free to say "yes". Always a plan for keeping the main thing the main thing.

It's a delicate balance, but one to work toward keeping; guard your time for them before you give your time to other.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

James, A Worthy Teacher

James tells us to consider trouble to be an opportunity for joy. Great joy, I might add.

I don't know about you, but if trouble really is an opportunity it's one I have often enough, even I might say, with great regularity. It seems a daily routine, these sundry assaults and aggravations; often times petty and often enough, they appear monumental.

I'm feeling the weight of trial and testing even now, in these early morning hours. My heart is heavily burdened and the day has barely begun.

And so as I read James' opening sentence, "This letter is from James, a slave of God and the Lord Jesus Christ," I am deeply moved. He has no identity crisis. It is clear to him. He is a slave. Servant. One who is "devoted to another to the disregard of one's own interest." (Strong's definition)

Then James, a man wholly devoted to God's service, with his very next breath as it were, exhorts me to find trouble to be an opportunity -- an opportunity, as I well know from many years of previous reading, to learn endurance which leads to perfection.

I can read no further. I am brought to my knees. The weight of this burden humbles me. And His promise humbles me further. He wants me to find great joy even here, in this moment. What a wonderful Father.

"Lord, right here in the midst of this struggle, let me be pressed and tried and proven. Let me find You here. Let me be quick to learn and not dull and slow of mind and spirit. Let me be molded readily and not resist Your Spirit, but yield to Your Holy work in my life. Let me wholly embrace with joy - no, with great joy - Your faithfulness to lead me in Your ways and teach me. As Your servant, let me be devoted to Your interests with no regard to my own. Make me, shape me, mold me. I am Yours. And so very gladly so."

We've been singing a song as of late. It is a powerful declaration from one who is in a difficult place. I love it because its truth is for everyone. James' exhortation to find opportunity is not wasted on one single person. We all have opportunity daily; we all experience trials, troubles, testings. But truly He is in that place with us. Therefore it becomes opportunity for joy. He is there, bringing purpose.

"...here in the middle is the place where You promise to be.
As I walk through the valley, let Your love rise above every fear.
Like the sun shaping the shadow, in my weakness Your glory appears.
Not for a minute was I forsaken. The Lord is in this place."        (taken from "Here Again" by Elevation Worship)

He is in this place at this moment, here with me this morning. In this moment of testing and trouble, He is here. It is His moment if I am His servant. James knew this truth. And James knew great joy in the midst of trouble.