Monday, May 5, 2014

The Weight of Glory and Pianos

I’ve been thinking about Glory today.

God's glory specifically. The Bible talks about the glory of God and how awesome it is. But it also speaks of our role in it. We are called to glorify Him. To bring Him glory.
We cry out,
“Not to us, Lord, not to us
but to your name be the glory,
because of your love and faithfulness.” Psalm 115: 1

The Hebrew word for glory is Kabod and it implies weight or heaviness. 
Psalm 24:8 says
“Who is this King of glory?
    The Lord strong and mighty,
    the Lord mighty in battle.”

It is hinting at His strength and power. But do we really see the connection?
A very intangible idea, Glory, defined by something we experience everyday, weight.

How can we understand it?

I was thinking about pianos.

I have had three pianos in my home over the past few years and I can tell you that they are the definition of HEAVY. Moving a piano must first be done with respect to the size and value of the instrument. Every move must be thought through in advance. You must plan carefully what you will do in conjunction with the many others you have wisely recruited to help you move this behemoth.
 If you don’t you will pay the price.

And the chiropractor.

Then the time comes when everyone moves in concert with the agreed upon plan. They work together and the giant is relocated. The music can begin.

So, I think God's glory or the weight of His person,
His reputation,
His essence,
is also a thing to be treated with respect. 

We, as His people, must consider His greatness before we move on His behalf.

Stop and think it through. Seek His plan. Is our move in ministry His will or our impatience to get things done? Our struggle to move His hand?

We must weigh our actions and attempt to foresee the implications. If God has called us, He has a specific plan. Steps are laid out in His time and Wisdom. We must seek the strategy He has already thought through.

And we must remember to work in tandem with others in the body in order to make the most progress with the least difficulty. It may seem easier to just go and do it ourself but that is almost never His plan. He calls us “members of the Body” for a specific reason; we need each other to work His will, to His glory.

Because isn’t that what we are striving for? To bring Him glory?
To make His name great?

Come let us glorify His name together. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Just One More Story

He walks with a heavy step now. Feet clad in thick boots.
He hurries in from work,
from college
from Academy.
He was riding the motorcycle or driving the giant truck.
He has been out… late.
With friends.
With “the” girl.
He is a man now.
I look at him, his deep voice telling me stories of people I have never met: his friends, coworkers. His excitement as he talks about plans for his future job, wife, family.

And sometimes I think. Who are you?
I am living with a strange man whom I hardly know.

Where is my little boy?
Where is my baby boy?

The first time I heard “it’s a boy” was just a few minutes ago wasn’t it? The sweet tiny creature who looked at me for the first time like he was looking into my soul; like we had known each other for forever. We cuddled together like sleeping puppies. Inseparable. I knew every breath, every sound. In a crowded room his eyes looked for mine every time. I got the slippery bath time hugs. I shared each new taste each new touch with him.

And it was my hand he let go of when he walked away from me with those first few steps.

I held his dimpled fingers across the street, his first lost tooth, his gum in church, his dripping swim trunks. I oooh’ed and ah’ed over his castles and diving board jumps. I held on when he tried to ride on two wobbly wheels and he never knew when I let go and watched him coast away.

He built Legos, car tracks, rubber bugs, tents, and clubhouses. He made volcanoes and alien masks. He laughed until I thought the walls would burst with the joy of being a boy. Brothers were sent down stairs in laundry baskets and shot at with bb’s, spit wads, Nerf darts, and dirty socks. I insisted, “If you get scared or need anything call me I will come” as he drove away for his first night away from home.

If I could, I would like one thing:
I want one day back.
I want the last day he was still my little boy.

The last time he came to me with tears and a skinned knee.  The last day that I tucked him in at night and listened to him pray. The last time I held his sleepy head on my shoulder and rubbed his little back. The last time he cuddled on my lap for one more story. The last time he tore down the hall to open Christmas gifts.

Oh I want that day back.
Because I would treasure every minute. I would hold him a little longer. I would read another story or two. I would give him an extra cookie and a glass of chocolate milk. I would think about how swiftly the days pass and I would linger at the edge of sunset watching him reach higher and higher as he jumps and plays; knowing this tender sweet, immeasurable gift of a little boy is only mine for a short while.

And I would treasure it all the more. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


As a girl I had a thing for trees. Their strength, dignity and steadfastness drew me to love them. When I was 8 we once again moved  to a place that had many old trees still standing amid the apartments and city-ness. Often I would grab a book and somehow make my way 10, 12 even 15 feet up these trees. I would then snuggle down in a barky crotch of branches and read away the day.
One day I was just goofing around in a very big fellow, not really thinking, just swinging around from trunk to branch when my grip slipped, my legs failed and I began to fall. About 8 feet. Straight down.

I landed flat on my back.
 I remember lying there looking up at the benign branches thinking,
“I will never ever breathe again”
When suddenly I gasped and sucked in air, only to realize I was still alive but
my… everything… hurt.
A lot.
I rolled over gasping in breaths of crunchy leaves and knowing I was not going to tell anyone about this. Thankfully no one was around and I could just be still and wait for the pain to leave while I concentrated on breathing again.

Have you ever been there?
Maybe you didn’t fall out of a tree but you know that feeling. The pain covering you like a wave and the very life breath sucked out of you. Perhaps for you it was a more grown up injury, a car accident or an illness. Maybe it wasn’t your health at all but your heart that was wounded.
Sucker punched.
You know the feeling.
You just can’t breathe.

I have had some tough times in my life; from the minute I was born the odds were not in my favor. As a child I lived through divorced parents, family strife, moving every year (or more often). I felt unwanted, forgotten, discounted. I heard and saw some tough things. As I matured and grew older I realized it really was pretty rotten. I went to counseling. I cried and I moaned to people about the terrible things I had to live through. But I kept on living. I kept on moving through life, having some pretty good times too, adding amazing new people to my life. Good memories began to happen. I had come to know Jesus in my young adult years and I would find some comfort from my faith but I couldn't let myself be really happy. I kept going back to the sadness. I just knew that no one understood pain like I did. No one. I had this relationship with God that was strange. I learned as much as I could about Him but it just couldn't penetrate the hurt. I could tell anyone who He was and how he saved me but I still couldn't understand the painful memories.

Finally one day I fell out of the tree.

I knew things in my life were wrong. Not just bad but wrong. Relationships were speeding out of control and I was caving in under it all. The family I had built, the marriage I had worked so hard for, all came loose around me. My life was unalterably changed. The damage had been done. Life as I knew it was over.

As I sat on the folding chair in the empty church building my marriage, my family and my life began to slide out of my grasp. My grip slipped, my legs failed and I began to fall.
About 100 feet.
Straight down.

As I opened my eyes the next morning I couldn’t breathe. The pain came in like a flame, searing me.  I lay there looking up at the ceiling thinking,
“I will never ever breathe again”
When suddenly I gasped and sucked in air, only to realize I was still alive but
my… everything… hurt.
More than anything ever hurt before.
I really didn't care if I did ever breathe again. It hurt too much. 

I used to think I knew pain and I was the best martyr in the world. But then it all came together as the insufficient way I knew God was colliding with the first real true pain I had ever known.

The God I had allowed in my life when I was younger, crying for myself, was one who loved and was powerful in a distant divorced dad kind of way. I knew about Him. And He took care of my needs but He was a voice on the phone. He was a check in the mail. I could get angry with Him. I could distance myself from Him.

 But when my life was blown out of my hands like sand. When I knew I could never breathe again. When the pain crushed my wisdom, my soul. I opened my eyes to find Him near. As I had done before I wanted to hide and keep the shame and fear contained. But He pursued me like a hound from Heaven. He gathered me up until His arms became solid beneath my head and His touch wiped my tears, His breath breathed inside my lungs. He became so tangible I thought some nights that I was crazy to feel the Creator of the Universe rocking me to sleep.

 I certainly am no Job. I did not live through even half of his calamity. But I understand his incredulity as he finally sees his pain for what it is; when he finally sees His God. And He cries out,
                        “I admit I once lived by rumors of you; 
                        now I have it all firsthand—from my own eyes and ears!
                        I’m sorry—forgive me. I’ll never do that again, I promise!
                        I’ll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor.” Job 42:1-6 The Message

 For those of you who have fallen. I pray you will let Him catch you up in healing and be your breath. The real Father Daughter relationship I have now with God could never ever have existed without the fall. And in breaths of humility I am now living the end of the book and looking one day to say God blessed the latter part of my life more than the former. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Shopping Carts

So, it is raining.
I have been driving since 8:30 this morning; it is almost 5 and I am not done yet. I pulled into the grocery store parking lot and hesitate to get out of the car. I am tired.
Body tired.
Brain tired.
Heart tired
Spirit tired.

I sit looking out through the rain drops at the cars and people shuffling by. The radio is softly playing. I ease the volume up. Hoping it will overcome the fear that screams at my mind.

“He is
for me.
Loves like a hurricane.
I am a tree.
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy…” *

My mind slips along on the tender words as I gaze out of the spattered windshield.

I see him. He is old. I can’t see his face but I can see that he is slow, baggy denims and a jacket. Ball cap pulled down against the web-like threads of rain. He approaches the stand where people return their shopping cart when they cannot walk it the extra steps back to the store.

When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,”

While I am filling with the words of this song I am watching this man. The worries are shut off now and life is unfolding in front of me.

He grabs a cart. It is linked to another. But he doesn’t pull them apart. He drags them both aside and places them outside to the right of the stand. He reaches back in for two more, pulls them out and sets them to the side with the first two, careful to keep them from rolling away. I frown in wonder. Why? I see as he turns around that he is not a store employee. He is an old man, anyone’s dad, uncle, grandfather.
Why is he doing this?
He reaches for the third time into the mash of abandoned dripping carts. He pulls out a smaller one and sets it to the right.

“how great Your affections are for me.”

Uninterrupted the lyrics trickle out of the speakers.

He has the small cart secured to the side and returns to the other larger ones that he removed to the right. He begins to slowly replace them into the stand. Careful to link them all together and to insure they are safely tucked in and out of traffic. He takes his small cart and begins to steadily walk into the store. Considerably more damp than when he began.
Meticulous. Intentional. Difficult…

Why go out of your way to do something so inconvenient? In the rain? Surely no one would fault someone for being quick, maybe even a little careless in getting a silly shopping cart out. Leave it where it is. So what if it’s in the way of others. So what if you have made a jumble that someone else will have to clean up. Don’t worry about details. Do what gets you what you need.



I am puzzling by this tableau I just witnessed. When my attention turns back to the radio and I am caressed by these words:

“Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If grace is an ocean, we're all sinking.”

What is His Grace other than Deliberate Intentional Difficult Love.

Details that seem to not matter at all, matter to God. Love that is too good to be true is irrefutable by His small touch in the tender places.
Did it cost Him?
Was it inconvenient and messy?

Are you kidding?

Is love ever easy?

God held my heart for just a moment and kissed these words on it,
“I will take the time and difficulty it takes to love you”

He has loved us this way from the beginning of God. He is worthy of my trust of this love. The grace He gives is moving all the shopping carts it takes to get to me then peacefully putting everything back the way it should be.

How I long to be able to love like that. 

*David Crowder Band - How He Loves