Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Strong Tower

The name of the LORD is a strong tower;

the righteous run to it and are safe.

Proverbs 18:10

I'm a very visual person. This can be a blessing or a curse. If I'm trying to picture how I want something to look, it's great. If you give me "too much information", well, I could be scarred for life! My Papa knows this about me so sometimes He answers my questions in wonderful visual ways.

Just this week I was remembering one of these answers He gave to me in July of 2007. We were living in a camping trailer as we tried to finish the house we were building. It was pretty stressful. I don’t like moving even when I’m looking forward to it. Nothing was convenient. No shower, no laundry, no stove, no privacy. It had to have been the windiest July on record. I couldn’t even barbeque because the flame would blow out. I had tried really hard to be organized so things would run smoothly in this transition time and yet it seemed like I was daily rummaging through boxes looking for the one thing that we absolutely needed. My husband was under a lot of pressure to get the house completed and get back to work.

I was playing a favorite CD and trying to encourage myself. I found myself singing enthusiastically to a song based on Proverbs 18:10: “The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run to it and are safe.” I prayed, “Lord, how do I run to your name? How is your name a ‘strong tower’? I really want to be safe right now from so many different things. Discouragement. Frustration. Impatience. Anger.”

No sooner had that prayer formulated in my heart than one of my girls came running toward me yelling, “Mom!! He’s trying to hit me!” As soon as she called out, “Mom!” her little tormentor slowed down and by the time she reached me he was actually off and running in the other direction.

I laughed out loud! Probably not the reaction the kids were looking for, but God had answered my prayer. I saw in living colour that when I call on His name and I’m running toward Him the enemy knows he’s already been defeated.

I think I often call for help, all the while cringing and huddling with my hands over my head as though I'm still expecting the enemy to strike. It helps me to visualize myself running with confidence toward my Papa while my enemy backs off because he knows he has no chance of succeeding. Seeing with the eyes of faith what is really happening in a difficult time makes all the difference in our posture.

The trailer didn’t get any bigger and it was weeks before things got a little more convenient, but I found myself a little more peaceful as I “ran into the strong tower” calling out, “Father! Abba! I need you!”

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ow, Charlie, That Really Hurt!

So, it's been three weeks since I've written a post. Did I start with a bang and then abandon my reader? No. I stepped in a landmine and was injured. I was beginning to heal when I stepped into another one! The pieces are starting to mend. Just barely. But I'm risking communication. You see, one of my biggest fears in life is being misunderstood. It's something I think about every time I make a post. Chances are good that someone won't understand my point as I intended it. Risk.

Does my writing do anyone any good if I'm not vulnerable? Given enough time, my hunger for more of God and His life bubbles to the surface and I can't resist the call and so I risk again. His call is for me to encourage His followers. Like fresh water there has to be something coming in and going out. I've got to be vulnerable and give in order to be alive. Ironically, my last post was about trusting and leaping and soaring. Sometimes when we leap it feels like we crash rather than soar. I'm hoping that this recent crash will just be an opportunity for the Divine Physician to put me back together in a better way. I want to say with Joseph, "What you meant for evil, God meant for good." (Gen. 50:20) He takes all of our pain, if we'll give it to Him, and makes something beautiful and strong out of it, something that reveals His glory.

As for the landmine, it was of the verbal sort. Someone had built a case on a misunderstanding and let me have it. I was shaken! Doesn't happen to me very often, I guess. I tried to look for the value and learn something from it. It definitely made me grateful for my grace-filled friends whose love covers a multitude of my flaws and give me the benefit of the doubt until proven guilty.

The second landmine was someone who meant well and may have been speaking the truth, but the effect was lost in the lack of apparent love. Condemnation and accusation are a poor substitute for a word "fitly spoken." (Proverbs 25:11) What could have been a neat and helpful touch of the scalpel became more like carnage.

Communication is tough. Most of us fit into two categories: Forget it, too Risky or I Don't Mind Saying it Like it Is! Healthy communication is such an important part of relationships. The book of Proverbs is full of good advice on communication. I'm not about to write a grand dissertation on communication, but I'll mention a few tidbits I've picked up along the way.

My friend Jody always says, "If you're looking forward to saying it, you're not the person meant to carry the message." That one's caught me a few times!

Ephesians 4:15 tells us to speak the truth in love. Honestly, when someone or something bothers me, love isn't the primary emotion. "Speak the truth in irritation" doesn't accomplish the same thing at all! Often when we want to change people it's because they bug us not because we love them! In all the "one another's" of scripture not once does it say "fix one another". There are a few verses about correcting one another but they come with lots of caveats to be humble and loving. There are far more verses about loving and praying for one another. There's a place for healthy communication and there's also a place for trusting that God is at work in that person's life too, just like He is in ours. Sometimes we're a really slow work in progress.

I heard Francis Chan talk about how we're all parts of the Body of Christ, but we don't want to be the appendix: it doesn't do much and it has the potential to blow up and make us sick! I really like that analogy. However appendices can and do blow. When we suffer from the fallout Christ said we're supposed to forgive them AND pray for their happiness and blessing (Luke 6:28).

"Some people make cutting remarks,
but the words of the wise bring healing
Prov 12:18