Friday, September 30, 2011

Oh To Be Carried

Early in the morning of September 20th, Bob Johnson slipped away to the promised presence of the One that had brought him new life many years before.  Bob was the father of the Poet I have lived with for 30 plus years.  And he has been like a father to this fatherless girl.  I have heard many times the story of the night so long ago when the darkness in Bob's life had grown so large that it was suffocating him and he sought to bring all to an end.  In the process, Bob found instead redemption.  His life and that of his family would be forever changed.  Oh how he loved to tell that story.  

Bob and Verla were married just a few months shy of 60 years.  They were utterly committed to each other and so very in love.  How fitting that his last words to her on Monday night were "I love you."

We walked through last week first facing the shock of the unexpected event, then making funeral arrangements including the fact that his son, my husband, would be doing the funeral service, and then those challenging hours of saying a formal goodbye.  I found myself strangely silent in my attempts at prayer but found solace in the fact that I was seeking and did feel God's presence even if not in the form of words.  
I looked around and saw Verla's heart aching at the thought of never sharing morning coffee with the love of her life.  I saw a poet son who had never known such ache in his sensitive and gentle heart.  I saw a daughter/granddaughter all grown up but feeling much like a lost little girl.  And I saw a son/grandson who grieved over the loss of the grandfather who truly understood him.  And there were others all with shattered hearts held carefully in their hands. What does one do with such abundance of sadness?  I'm a fixer.  I wanted, I needed to fix it.  And yet, there was no fix. 

I found exhaustion waiting for me when we arrived home last weekend.  Sleep did not bring rest and days did not bring accomplishments.  Tonight the Poet observed, "Well, you always take on everybody else's pain."  Ooooh Yeah.  I forget to remember to be aware of that.  

I was called to be present, to encourage. The discovery that I have again taken fixing on as a profession brings with it the need for prayer and confession.  I am reminded that the only way I was called to carry others is to bring them in word to the throne of grace. True carrying can only be done by the One whose arms were big enough, wide enough, strong enough to carry the whole world.  How could I think I could gather them all up in a basket like scattered laundry?  How could I imagine to be a fixer when I am myself in need of being carried?     

Comfort can be felt.  Hope can be known.  Strength can be realized as I allow those wide as a cross arms to carry both me and those I love.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Light of Your Face

We all have a tendency to fill our days, our weeks with stuff.  We are a stuff filled culture.  Whether it is items purchased from a store or the scratchings on our calendar, or the overflow on our plates, we usually opt for more.  Sometimes abundance is good and sometimes its, well, too much.

I have been dealing with abundance on my calendar lately.  My business is moving in some new directions.  These are good directions that I believe are God directed.  But my problem is the overflow in my head. I drag around with me unresolved piles of previous adventures, unsorted boxes of former ideas, and unchecked items on calendar days already passed.  The burden of trying to carry all the excess of the former along with the present creates a weight that soon demands so much attention that my focus becomes skewed and the result is to be overwhelmed.

"Overwhelmed!?", I cry out to God.  "You promised that Your yoke would be easy.  You promised to help us, to give us strength.  What's the deal with this?"  And then the answer comes, as it always does if we look for it, in the Scriptures.  This week I am working on memorizing Psalm 25:4,5.  Now, I have to tell you that memorizing scripture was not easy for me when I was young and had a pliable brain.  Now that I'm past my prime, its a task not taken on lightly!  Who knows how long it will take me to permanently plant these verses into my head.  But I'm determined!  "Show me Your ways, oh Lord, teach me Your paths; guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are my God, my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long."  This has been my prayer, that God would show me His ways as I stumble my way through boxes of former days and packages just arriving of the future.

So, with that prayer on my heart, I was delighted today when I found this verse which reiterates my request, "Send forth Your light and Your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to Your holy mountain, to the place where You dwell."  Psalm 43:3  This verse led me to pray all the more for God to show me His truth for my tasks and abundantly filled days.  And, as if in answer to that request, I read on and found these words studded with jewels.  "It was not by their sword that they won the land, nor did their arm bring them victory; it was Your right hand, Your arm, and the light of Your face, for You loved them."  Psalm 44:3

How cool is that?!  We don't have to figure all this out by ourselves.  We don't have to do it all by our own strength.  Not only will God help us with His mighty right arm, but He will bless us, no overwhelm us, with the light of His gracious loving holy face.  Why?  Because He loves us!