Sunday, April 14, 2013

Where the Grass is Greener

We sat across from each other over coffee and crumpled, crumby napkins, catching up.

She told me how long her evenings had been with her hubby working extra hours.

I tried to feel compassionate but was mostly wondering how she could complain...after all she has three solid days of solitude every week. What I wouldn't give for that!  I'm certain if I had 21 blessed hours of peace and quiet I could leap over tall buildings in a single bound.

I felt horrible immediately.  If we had to pick challenges, I'd keep mine over hers any day.  Yet there I was peering over the fence at her presumably greener grass.  Because we have that kind of friendship, I confessed.  She 'fessed up too.  Apparently she'd been thinking my grass was looking pretty sweet.

The seductive allure of that emerald green grass on the other side of the fence.

I heard a message last summer about longing for your neighbor's greener grass, and how our own would be greener if we'd take care of the weeds.  My head assented to the sound logic, but my heart was heavy.  I know better than anyone else just how weedy my lawn is and how hard I've worked to eradicate all the nasties.  How many times I've been certain that I finally annihilated one only to find it as hardy as a wretched dandelion.  Exhausting.

There is, however, a place where the grass is green beyond my wildest dreams.

This green meadow is not of my own making.  It's a place discovered while following the Shepherd.

When I follow Him I have everything I need.  He lets me rest in those green meadows.  There He renews my strength.

He leads me in the paths of righteousness.  He wants to.  He's a shepherd.  He leads me into righteousness--it's not the result of my own efforts.

The key to greener pastures is not in seeking weeds, but in seeking the Shepherd.  If you see a weed, by all means, ask the Shepherd how He wants you to deal with it.  Otherwise, let's keep our eyes on the Shepherd and our ears tuned to His voice and follow.  If you feel lost, find His voice in a favorite Psalm or begin to worship, giving thanks in all things.  This will lead to pastures so green you'll never long for the turf on the other side of the fence again.

The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He guides me along right path,
bringing honour to his name.

My cup overflows with blessings.

Psalm 23:1-3, 5b NLT

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Dance on Your Disappointment

Monday we stood on the dusty roadside of a mountain pass peering under the open hood of our van.  Acrid, too hot scent stinging our noses.  An irregular knocking filling our ears.  Only one set of eyes knew what they were seeing, but five hearts were sinking.  We were supposed to be off on an adventure, having a change, a rest.  The only wise choice was to turn around and try to get back to the nearest town.

Naturally, there were tears and questions.  The little one leaned against me with a small sob and said, "We've had a lot of disappointments lately, Mommy."  I knew she was thinking of the Big Disappointment which was now about six weeks past but still fresh in our hearts.  Then she asked how I could bear this one.  The simple answer was, "I know He loves me."  Deeper than that, I had an epiphany right there in that melting mountain pass--I'd claimed Hope Territory in the time of the Big Disappointment.

We'd gone more than three months with mom, the heart and soul of the family, out of commission.  Quiet Christmas sans turkey dinner, limping along through the basics, postponing holidays, and continually praying for healing.  Into the fourth month and there was a cancellation, they would take me in for surgery.  Hope rose.  Only to be crushed after hours of waiting.  I'd have to be bumped to another day...a month away.  We cried together, feeling quite like we'd been taken out at the knees.  The long struggle had worn on us all.

I'd been sixteen hours without food, water or medication while waiting for my surgery.  With all those needs finally met, I slipped into the blessed relief of sleep while my family cuddled together with a movie.  A few hours later I returned to cognizance with one urgent thought, "You need to dance on this disappointment."

What a silly idea!  And not because, as my curly-haired family frequently tells me, I dance like a white woman.   Physically, I was no condition to dance and who dances anyway when they haven't got a clue how they're going to get through another month of this?  But I know that Voice and I've learned it's worth listening to...

So I found the song that said what I needed to say and I played it.  On repeat.  Loud enough to saturate my senses. And I sang and sang and twirled around as best I could until hope rose.  I sang and twirled some more until I was bursting with hope.  When I finally flopped down breathless I still didn't know anything, but I knew that I knew that I knew that God loves me and that nothing is impossible for Him.  I knew that as long as I could dance on my disappointment, thereby declaring my confidence in His goodness, He would make something glorious out of this whole big mess.  For me and for my family.

Navigating disappointment isn't easy.  It's important to be honest and process our sadness.  But we can't live there.  Disappointment pulls with a tremendous gravitational force, trying to hold us down.  Self pity encourages us to put down roots in that place.  Disappointment is a place to go through.

We can, in fact, be "perplexed, but not in despair...cast down, but not destroyed."  Whether your setback is great or small, I encourage you to dance.  Dance on your disappointment. 

Dance.  As though your life depends on it.

What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord,
who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem
When they walk through the Valley of Weeping
it will become a place of refreshing springs.
The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings.
They will continue to grow stronger, 
and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem.
Psalm 84:5-7
2 Corinthians 4:8-10