Category Archives: Grace
I really don’t have time to write today. But I must. I feel compelled to write. A different place than I was a few days ago when I didn’t want to write, but forced myself to sit down at the keyboard and type out a brief poem.
I feel compelled today because I am grieving. Grieving over the reaction to the killing of Osama Bin Laden. The celebrating in the streets. The Facebook pictures of Bin Laden. The comments on twitter.
I’m grieving because, celebrating the death of one created by God–regardless of what we think of that person’s life–doesn’t seem like the right response. Ever. I know he orchestrated the deaths of many, including the attacks on 9/11/2001 and gloated with his despise of Americans. I know that he is credited as the leader of Al Qaeda, a terrorist organization. I know he plotted the killing of friends and family members of many.
I get the knee-jerk reaction. Of “finally.” And, “what a relief.” But, celebrating death by public gathering, flag-waving, and shouting in the streets is beyond my understanding.
I find myself searching God for an answer. A proper response. I turn inward. I look upward. I seek God’s face in silence. You know the righteous. You are the judge of all. Forgive us our transgressions.
The response I sense in those quiet moments with God are these. Just love. Love deeply. Leave the rest to Me.
I’m joining Gypsy Mama today for Five Minute Friday. Just sit down and write for five minutes–no more–then post! It doesn’t need to be perfect.
Here you go:
Love Not Fear
We walked briskly from the restaurant through the Park, sun close to setting. My friend by my side, walking toward the theater for a night of sweet voices at the theater. The homeless men who lived in the Park seemed to be settling in to their usually places. But one younger man approached us. “Hello Ladies” he said. Voice chipper, almost giddy. But his eyes and his clothes told a story of struggle. Of long days and nights without shelter or the chance to give his clothes a good scrubbing.
I glanced up, smiled, and met his eyes. “Well hello! How are you?” I said as we continued to walk.
My friend looked down. Then, she grabbed my arm and said, “You’re friendly…?”
I knew the unspoken words at the end of her sentence, “. . . to them.” To the homeless men and women and teens and children on our streets. To those who dig through the garbage cans to find food. And who urinate behind buildings, or anywhere they can find a little privacy. To those who might be mentally ill or just lost and alone. To those who shiver at night not just from the cold, but from the loneliness.
I sensed fear in her voice, not arrogance. And, I understood. We fear those we don’t understand. I don’t know why. We just do. If you met me, you would know that I fear, just like my friend. That I fear too much. I fear what I don’t know.
But, we should respond with love, not fear. So, next time when you feel that quick flash of fear come over you when you meet someone who is different or who you don’t understand, remind yourself:
Love not fear. . . Love not fear.
The alarm sounds and I reach over to find my husband still sleeping. “Wake up, you leave today. . . I miss you already.” We linger, holding that one last hug before we set the day in motion. I pray, “God, cover him as he travels this week,” and I rest in his arms another minute.
We stumble around in the morning light. Our usual morning routine disrupted by this early morning flight. Two showers. Breakfast. Last minute packing. Snacks. Passport. Hanging clothes. Book. We are ungraceful and the clock says it is time to leave–well past the time to leave. Forgotten items send us scurrying. And the peaceful moments we savored just before we slid out of bed become a distant memory.
We head out the door later than planned. And rain–torrential–slows our pace further. Traffic. Brake lights. A bumper-to-bumper parade going nowhere. I note that we missed every light. Why is it when I’m late that the lights are all red? And why not bring up more negative things to pile on to the morning stress. . .
Why is it that, when things are what they are–things I can’t change–I make them worse? I thrive on the negative and create more stress. Instead of savoring the last hour I get to spend with my loving husband, I squander it with my ugly side. Why don’t I just shrug things off and laugh about them? And then I think:
“All that makes Him precious and dear to the Father has been transferred to me. His excellency and glory are seen as if they were mine; and I receive the love, and the fellowship, and the glory, as if I had earned them all.” –Horatius Bonar, The Everlasting Righteousness.
This morning I haven’t earned them all, that’s for sure. I’m grateful I don’t have to. And, I’m certain the way I’m behaving isn’t what Bonar was talking about with respect to the things that make Christ precious and dear to the Father. I imagine God, in a parental stance, arms folded, saying those things parents say to children when they over react–those things I’ve said to my only children so many times.
Yet, I am loved by the Father, even when I am clothed in the ugly. In my tattered “clothes,” I feel ashamed. Deep sadness for this foolishness. Deeper sadness that I haven’t poured out Christ’s love on my husband.
I breathe in God’s grace and forgiveness. The words spill out, “I’m so sorry. I wanted to take you to the airport so that I could spend this last hour with you. . . . And now, look what I’ve done. . . . Please forgive me.” I see a glimmer of God’s grace and mercy and love trickle down on us. We travel in silence the rest of the way to the airport.
We remain wounded by the morning, but I know we will heal like we have so many times before. We say our good-byes and I-love-yous, and I slowly pull away from the curb, reminding myself that “All that makes Him precious and dear to the Father has been transferred to me [and my husband].”
My tattered clothes remain, but the gift of the Father’s love and the promise of the cross, is transforming me one tiny thread at a time.
I wondered into the sanctuary and sat silently, anticipating worship. I glanced around as others filed in, bundled in their coats and hats. Layers of clothing. We had been warned: no heat in the sanctuary. The furnace had gone out. So, as we prepared for worship, we kept on our hats and gloves and coats.
Just before worship began, the musicians showed up, bundled up, just like us. I smiled–my favorite musician was playing today. Trent. Young father, husband, and friend and mentor to my son. But the fact that I know Trent is not why he is my favorite musician at church. (Well, maybe that helps a little!)
When Trent plays worship music, he displays joy. I can’t describe it, really. I watch him and it is as if he were dancing before God. The pure joy he expresses when he plays is raw and real. Despite the fact that his fingers must be freezing, he plays the banjo and mandolin with passion.
I look at him and I think — I want what he has. A big grin comes to my face. You can’t help but smile when you see him. His face and his movement express Christ’s joy.
Even when he isn’t playing music his eyes and smile reflect Christ. The way he connects with the person he is talking to. The genuine warmth and sincerity of his words. His compassion, kindness, gentleness. I think of his friendship with my son and what that friendship means to him. I think, as a mom, how I value that friendship for my son. How grateful I am that God brought Trent into my son’s life.
He is a gentle soul clothed with the love of Christ.
And, so as I worship Christ today, I think of Trent and what it means to live our faith and reflect Christ. Truly reflect Christ. To have His light shine through us.
I remember Paul’s letter to the Colossians:
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts . . . And be thankful.” Colossians 3:12-15
I read that verse again. And I realize that allowing the peace of Christ to rule in my heart that will allow me to fully reflect him — not just my effort to display compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. To “clothe” myself with these things requires first that I seek Christ’s face–seek a relationship with Him. He will clothe me in genuine, God-inspired compassion, kindness and humility. He will help me to display gentleness and patience and show me how to forgive fully. He will show me how to love completely.
And so, I turn toward Christ in this season of Epiphany.
I welcomed 2011 in a little differently this year, as my friend and fellow blogger, Galen Pearl, suggested. I sat down and wrote a letter to say goodbye to 2010 — all the things it gave me–grace, peace, sadness, joy, and much more. And, I wrote a letter welcoming in 2011. I wrote a letter of hopes and dreams. Of anticipation and intentions.
It felt great.
And, as Galen suggested, I picked a word for the year. Galen suggests picking a verb and posting it in places where you will see it — on your computer, by the mirror, on the dash of your car. I picked the word live — as in “live every day to its fullest.”
I picked live not because I’m not productive or happy or can’t pull myself out of bed in the morning. Rather, I picked live because I find that I am often driven by my fears and the “what ifs,” which stop me from living fully. My hope is that by choosing this word and by praying and being mindful about living fully, that I will trust more, take more chances, love more deeply. That I will live for the possibilities of what God has in store for me than by the fears that hold me back.
I wrote two posts in 2010 on how I let fear and “what ifs” shape my life in negative ways. How these fears and this inner dialog of fear move me away from Christ. But, that trusting God to write my life story — a story of hope and grace and joy rather than fear and shame — moves me toward Him.
This year, I want to write the story God has planned for me. I want to live a life of hope and grace and joy. I want to trust Him to fill me and guide me. I want to rest in His arms and seek His face. I want to move toward Christ, not away.
I want to live. And, I want God to write the story of what it means to live. And, I want to see the story that emerges when I trust Him. So, welcome 2011. I’m ready!
Forgive my ‘what ifs’ –those that take the pen from your hand, that make me the editor in chief and relegate you to proofreader.
You write the story of my life. You provide hope and peace.
You imagined the story of life and the story of all things You placed in this universe.
You give life, hope, love, grace.
You are the author of all.
Let me see and hear the ‘what ifs’ You want me to imagine and to live out. Open my eyes and my heart to the possibilities You imagine.
Let me live every day as You desire.
Thank you Galen Pearl for your encouragement. Thank you for the word of the year.