Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What Love Does

The Lord has been convicting and comforting me with this scene from one of our recent spring hikes. On this particular day, I had wanted to beat the rain and search for wildflowers. All had proceeded according to plan until we reached the last fourth of the hike. At that point, the wind began gusting, dark clouds rolled in, and rain drops began pelting us. There was nowhere to go but forward - so forward we went! While hustling along, I turned to see how my oldest and youngest sons were coming along. My heart melted as soon as I beheld the sight that was waiting for me.

I came home and shared with my Facebook friends: "Well, it did rain on us. And this is what Love does..." Such a beautiful visual of how the Lord walks with us, loving and protecting us, every step of the way. I cannot tell you how many times this picture has popped into my mind since then - probably on a daily basis. It is comforting to dwell on the reality of the Lord walking with me through life's storms in this very way.

As is often the case, the Lord has continued to draw more and more out of this incident for me as the days have gone on. He has used one detail of the picture in particular to speak to me:  Levi's reaction to the unpleasant rain that is falling around him. You'll notice that his hands cover his ears, his eyes are cast down, and his head is bent. The more I study the picture, the more I cannot deny that I am looking at myself. How many times I do this!

Too often I find myself in this same exact posture as I walk through life. I clap my hands over my ears, rushing on, hoping the storm will soon end. The problem with this is that it is symbolic of me not listening to Him. Each situation has the potential to do such good in my life if I will just get over myself and open my ears to what He is saying to me.

My lowered eyes speak to me of my sometimes stubborn refusal to see what He has placed in front of me. Lately, I have been surprised to find myself grieving concerning things I thought I had dealt with to a greater degree than I have. I am now realizing that I most likely formed protective walls around pieces of my mind and heart rather than fully absorb the pain and accept what He had allowed to pass through His fingers and into my life. I guess it was just easier to do that than let my eyes drink in the reality of the present at the time.

I see a head that is bent under the weight of all that I carry in my heart. The sadness... the denial... the all-encompassing fear. As I trudge on, I can almost hear myself saying, "I don't like this! I don't want to do this! This isn't the life I dreamed for myself. Please, when is it going to stop?" Sadly enough, I find that I do this when the storm hasn't even arrived yet! I have a mindset that expects and dreads the tough things that must surely be coming my way. How this must hurt my Savior!

Father... what to say on days like this when I am faced with my own inadequacies? Thank You for my weaknesses. They really do make my life a stage that showcases Your incomprehensible strength. Forgive me for not practicing often enough what You so graciously teach me. The things I carry are too heavy for me, I know this. Please help me to lay them down and walk unhindered in Your love. Free me to see, hear, and feel all You desire for Me. Help me to embrace each and every step. You know how the enemy attempts to fill my mind - help me to refute his lies, searching for and finding Your Truth. You know what You are doing and I can tust You. Thank You for the assurance that You do walk beside me just like this, loving Me and showing concern for my welfare. You are so faithful to me, Your dearly loved daughter. In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

Monday, April 2, 2012


Wow! We are really just days away from Good Friday and Easter. It seemed to come so fast this year. I couldn't stand the thought of my blues carrying over into this Passion Week, which prompted me to petition the Lord for some help. I did not want to gloss over what this week is all about without really feeling it. I asked that He help me even more to see Him everywhere. That I have eyes to see and ears to hear. As a result, I have been intentional about not missing a thing. If something bothers me, I have been digging deep to find something in it to thank Him for. It's amazing how this one thing has helped.

Truly, it seems that I've been seeing Him everywhere I look and in everything I do. Just today we were poking holes in an orange to make a pomander ball and I kept thinking how Christ was pierced for our transgressions. This was what I wanted when I asked Him for help: a renewed awareness of the sacrifice He made. I want to remember. I didn't want this week to be like all of the others.

Little did I know how different this week would be. It seems that I have been granted a reprieve from the fog that had descended. My eyes are seeing. Praise God, my stopped up ears are hearing. I guess that perspective really is everything.

I've two special things to share about the first few days of this week. The first concerns my precious Levi. Usually a day doesn't go by without the cold finger of fear tapping on my shoulder concerning him. It's pretty relentless and exhausting. There is always lots for me to talk about with the Lord when it comes to him. Being ultra aware of the meaning of this week caused me to dwell on the fact that Levi is not at that point mentally. I wondered if he ever would be. I had one of those honest times of prayer where I laid this particular fear of mine before the Lord. I begged Him to give Levi an awareness of the Gospel. "Cause him to understand, Lord," I begged. As soon as the words left my mouth, I was horrified as a new thought pummeled me. "What if he gains the ability to comprehend the salvation message, but rejects it? Then it would have been better if he hadn't grasped it in the first place! I thought, "What are you praying? You can't pray stuff like that casually!" Oh, Lord, please let him embrace You! Let him understand, but more importantly, draw Him to yourself through Your Spirit. Cause Him to love you deeply." I was so relieved to have "caught" that and covered it in prayer. 

The very next morning found me sitting in on Levi's Sunday school class because of an impending transition that is to be made. I was able to observe him in this place where servants give of themselves each week to teach little ones about the love of God. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Levi sat for what seemed to me a lengthy amount of time for a lesson. The teacher held up pictures and walked the kids through parts of the Easter story. Levi sat. They listened to the rest of the story on a CD.... and still Levi sat twisting his lip as he often does. And then something happened that made my heart jump in my chest. The voice on the CD said, "And then the soldiers took Jesus and nailed Him to a cross." Immediately, my somber faced little boy, with much sadness, uttered one quiet word: "NOoooo."

No what??? No, I don't want to sit here anymore? ... No, I don't like that? ...No, I don't want to listen to this anymore? Or maybe it was, "No. They shouldn't do that bad thing to Jesus. He is nice. He loves me.... and I love Him." Just maybe awareness is dawning. Jesus is an everyday part of our lives, but we never know how much of it Levi is understanding. It is such a burden to carry the weight of your child's eternity around in your heart. And with Levi it's different because there is so much that I don't know. But I can be sure that God knows! And I think that this little instance was kind of like a reassuring hug from Him reminding me He loves Levi, His strength is unlimited, and He is capable of working in his mind and heart.

The second instance occurred during a hike with my daughter today. We had a wonderful time, but as we drew near the last fourth of the hike we encountered a trail closed sign. We had to turn back and return a different way that we had never walked before. Surprisingly, I wasn't grumbly about the change and took the opportunity to keep my eyes peeled for whatever He might show me. It wasn't long before we came upon the flower pictured above. Just one of them. It is a Large-Flowered Trillium and it was a love gift to me today.

I had just been thinking about this flower a few days ago and had hoped that I would come across one soon. You see, this particular flower is perfect for Passion Week as it always makes me think about Christ. It is a dazzling white, reminiscant of His purity and the cleansing of our sins. Additionally, it always makes me think of the Trinity because it has three petals. I heard His whisper as I paused to admire and photograph it: "A gift for you along this detour that you find yourself on." And suddenly I could see a small glimpse of the bigger picture. "Daughter, you become discouraged when things don't go as you would choose. You wonder why you have to go along the way I lay out before you instead of the way you would go. If you had finished this hike the way you planned, you never would have come upon this flower that you've been longing to see. And so it is with many of your prayers. There are things that you ask of me that cannot be found along the paths that you would tread, but only along the way that I lead you in. Yes, the way can sometimes seem long and scary, but I am always with You.  Let this remind you that detours often contain wonderful surprises. Look for beauty in all of your circumstances because it is there to be seen if you really look for it. 

I don't think that I'll ever look at another detour the same. I hear You, Lord. Yes, I'll look for the beauty. I'll obey You in this thing. You amaze me with Your wisdom - it's too much for me to even comprehend. Thank You for a renewed sense of hope this week. Please use me to bring Your hope to someone else this week. In the Saving Name of Jesus I pray, Amen.