Wednesday, January 23, 2013

An Autographed Original

Someone posted this silly picture on Facebook recently:

My first thought was that it would be sooooo cool to have a copy of the Bible with God's signature on it!  What would it look like?  Or would it be autographed by Moses, David, Matthew...?  A variety a scripts and scrawls?

The thoughts were barely formed before I heard the whisper, "I've autographed your heart."

Which choked me up immediately...  My heart.  Signed by God?  The God that made the northern lights and wove the delicate lace of the snow flakes.  The God who pulls children onto His lap and raises the dead.  The God who sets the captives free.  His signature on my heart?

I vaguely remembered a verse that said something like that...

  "You are a letter written not with ink 
but with the Spirit of the living God. 
You are a letter written not on tablets made out of stone
 but on human hearts".

But isn't my heart "deceitful above all things and desperately wicked"?  I used to think that was talking about me. There's certainly enough evidence to prove the point.  I don't know how it was that a little girl would know that verse so well without knowing the rest of the story...

The part where we cry out, 

"O Lord, if you heal me, I will be truly healed;
 if you save me, I will be truly saved."

And He responds, 

"I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean...
I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. 
 I will take out your stony, stubborn heart 
and give you a tender, responsive heart.  
And I will put my Spirit in you..."

Tender.  Responsive.  Filled with His Spirit!  Given when we ask that He would heal and save us.  An extravagant grace that takes your breath away. 

On that new heart He's writing a letter.  It's a story of redemption   The story of a deceitful and wicked heart that is made new and chooses love.  It's so extraordinary that there is no question that this "great power is from God, not from ourselves."  

That letter He's writing on your heart is precious.  I need to read gives me hope.  With trepidation I share the letter He's writing on my's a love letter, a promise that He makes all things new, makes all things possible.

That tender, responsive heart, filled with His Spirit...  A gift.  

An autographed original.

2 Corinthians 3:3 NIRV; Jeremiah 17:9 KJV
Jeremiah 17:14 NLT; Ezekiel 36:25 NLT
2 Corinthians 4:7 NLT

Monday, January 7, 2013

That Stuff on the Wall

"I need some of that stuff on the wall."

Mystified, I glanced animal posters, a string of Christmas lights, the skin of a long-dead critter, an adorable baby picture, and...cooties, definitely cooties.  

Not enlightened, I had to ask, "What stuff on the wall, Buddy?"

"You  know, the stuff you need all the time.  The letters you put on the wall."

I'm somewhat strangled by emotion.  Laughter and tears can be felt at the same time.  Intensely.

The "stuff" I "need...all the time."  It appears that I have modelled failure...often?  I know immediately to what stuff on the wall he refers.

Those letters I have stencilled on the wall in the hub of my home where they are needed often and desperately.  G...R...A...C...E.  Grace.

His cry for grace pierces my heart.  I burrow through tangled covers to wrap my arms around the sweating, heaving chest because I absolutely cannot refuse this cry for grace.  Impossible to be anything other than entreated.

"So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him..."

Indeed.   Why do I hesitate?  Frantically, foolishly, trying to remove stains with my own filthy hands.  Desperately trying to undo what's been done.  Justify.  Defy.  Clarify.  Who did what and when.  You.  Me.  Us.

What has been done cannot often be undone.  There is only one glorious cure.  Grace.  His divine presence entering the mess we've made.  Empowering the wronged to forgive.  Granting the guilty the privilege of standing free of shame.  All to be made beautiful.  Even that which cannot be undone.

Those letters have marked that spot for much more than a year, but it was only today that I recognized the irony of the fact that the "time out" bench has sat beneath those letters all this while.  The spot in which one sits to catch one's breath, to breathe deeply before any more words explode.  The spot to think for a moment before anything else thoughtless erupts into the atmosphere.  The spot one only gets sent to when it's too late.  When the damage has been done.

Except for grace.

"So let us boldly approach the throne of grace.  

Then we will receive mercy.

We will find grace to help us when we need it."

Boldly approach...receive...grace...we need.

Come and sit with me a while?  Let's stay long enough.  Long enough to soak up so much grace that all shame and distress is washed away.  Long enough that grace begins to run over and wash the chip off the shoulder.  Long enough to be filled to overflowing with grace for that one who feels like a thorn in my side, a pebble in your shoe, the spark to our fuse.  Long enough to worship.

Let's rest a while under the writing on the wall.

Because we all "need some of that stuff on the wall."

Matthew 7:11 NLT
Hebrews 4:16 NIRV

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Coming Out

I didn't mean not to tell you.  In the beginning it just didn't seem like a big deal.

When it became a big deal I couldn't figure out how to casually mention it.  It would have been awkward to suddenly shout into the blogosphere that I felt like I was dying! No one likes a drama queen.  Or a hypochondriac.

I didn't want to worry anyone.  Honestly.

Sometimes we need to process a bit before sharing. This is true.

Besides, the internet is rife with "too much information"!  VERY true.

Then the medication made my brain so foggy I was sure nothing I could write would have made sense anyway (though I've enjoyed a few blogs that I'm pretty sure were written in a chemically-induced haze).  I hated feeling so dull and inarticulate!

It was just awkward!

It took over everything until really there was nothing else I could have written about.

Little threads of pride were woven through the strands of common sense.

I missed you.

One day I found myself with a fresh wind of hope but I didn't know how to go about sharing it as I'd been so reticent.  How could I explain without explaining?  But if I don't share...well, you know, I'm quite sure I might burst.

"My purpose in writing is to encourage you..."  Ah, yes.  And how can one encourage unless they've been in need of it themselves?  Hope isn't hope unless it's what you're hanging on to when there's little reason to hope.

How do you get yourself out of a tangle once tangled?

Apologizing is almost always an excellent place to start.

I'm sorry, truly sorry, that I've been awkward...and prideful...I really didn't set out to exclude you.  I'm sorry that I haven't invited you to share my burdens.  So now I will share the struggle.  Without acknowledging the struggle, the encouragement really is quite meaningless.

I've been unwell for a couple of months now.  Many trips to outpatients, clinics, and specialists, poking, prodding, jabbing, stabbing and scanning have lead the reassuring news that I'm not at risk of dying imminently.  Organs are malfunctioning, but I don't really need them any more anyway.  I would prefer to keep them, but not if they keep this up!

I apologize for not telling you about...

~ The incredible peace that prevails even when you're panicking.  Isn't that a contradiction?  Oh, no!  The body is crying out for relief, but the spirit is anchored in the Love of the Father.  This is the promised peace that passes understanding and it's very real.

~ The day, the very worst day of almost unbearable pain, when four couples came and gathered around me and they prayed for me and for each member of our family and it's never been quite as bad since.  They wrapped us in love, physically manifesting the love Jesus has for the hurting.  I long for instant miracles, but I mark that day as the day something changed, slowly but definitely.

~  The good news that the change was enough to avoid having surgery just days before Christmas.  It wouldn't have been the end of the world, but I count it a blessing!

~  The way I was able to shop just enough and to know that we had all we needed.  Christmas was simple, but more than enough.

~  That Jesus was born into awkward and He invites us to be unafraid.

~  That there are things I don't understand about God.  I truly don't.  But this I know, no-word-of-a-lie, look-you-in-the-eye, truth:  He is good.  He is very, very good.  We can trust Him.  Even when we don't understand.

There's more, much more.  Maybe now that I've come out in the open about it, I'll be able to share.

For now, please pray for the healing to be complete!  I long to get back in the saddle!  I've got places to go, people to meet, kids to raise, and blogs to write!

I resolve to be vulnerable.

Love and blessings,

Happy New Year!