Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Don't even try it! I'm not herdable!

I ate dinner with two friends that I haven't seen since high school! Wow, that was wild! Talk about going back in time! We had a blast in our time travel!

As we were leaving Michelle was telling us about her brother's dog that is now living with her mother. She told us that it was a breed that was embredded to herd. Thus, being that the dog tries to herd everything in her path, she's afraid for her mom. Her mom's older. Feebler. She's afraid the dog (in her herding attempt) will try to herd her and hurt her by causing her to fall down.

In my crazy way of thinking, I loved the visual!

I loved it!

I told her that I've had a few people in my life trying to "herd" me too. And now, after hearing about her dog, I've finally figured out the name for it. I told her that next time someone tried to herd me astray and make me fall that I was going to know exactly what they're doing and tell them, "I am not herdable! Not get ouf of the way and leave me alone!"

Hilarious! I think Michelle thought I was crazy. But like I said, I've had a blast with the visual!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

How are your fillings?

On my facebook's status this morning I posted, "How are your fillings? And I do mean fillings... I don't mean feelings. What are you filling up with? And how's that working for ya?"

The thing of it is, we like to share our fillings! We like to fill others up with the same fillings that we're filled up with until the other person is soon filled with the same fillings that we are so that they're feeling the same things that we do.

After posting my status, it didn't take long for my day to provide me a prime example...

Thankfully, this morning it happened to be my husband's actions that illustrated the point so perfectly. It just as easily could have been (and too often has been) me. We've all done it. We all do it. Daily! Here's an example of what I mean.

My husband woke in a good mood. We were readying for church. He was singing. He had his praise music on. He was anticipating the day. But soon, something happened that quickly irritated him. Did I say irritated? The man was beyond irrate! NOT happy! NOT happy! NOT at all happy! Shall we say: Fuming!

So... being that he was quickly 'filling' with fury... he wanted to share.

I thought, "No thank you, I'm happy with my fillings! Yours doesn't look so appealing! Doesn't look fun! I don't want to be filled (and thus feel) what you're feeling. Thank you though. Maybe some other time."

I tried to discourage his fillings and fill him with what I was filled with. I was still in my good mood. He wasn't having it. The ire within him was rising. He was still filling with aggravation. He didn't have room for mine.


Knowing that I couldn't hang around him too long while he spilled without having his fillings spilling over into mine, I left the area! I went to the sweet haven of my bathroom to finish painting the face and dooing the hair for church that was to start in a little while.

I tried again in a few minutes.

He did too.

I wondered (seriously!) if I even wanted to ride with him to church. I was afraid I'd be filled with fury after listening to his by the time we got there if I did. Instead, we both knew that the other didn't want to hear it. I kept my mouth shut in my happy. He kept his shut in his mad.

The funny thing about fillings... is that once it starts filling up with whatever it's filling up with, it looks for similar fillings to add to the filling. In other words, in his irrateness, he looked for other things to get mad about. Any mad would do. He went back and brought up yesterday's... and then found things to borrow from tomorrow's. He was mad again about things done in the past, and was madder about what would possibly happen that hadn't happened yet.

That's the crazy thing about fillings!

Fillings rarely make sense!

Church helped. He got away from the object of his anger and was surrounded with happy people. It honestly worked for a while.


We went out to eat after church. And while ordering we got a phone call. Totally different incident. But similar, in that what he had previously planned was (as earlier) quickly changed, and he became furious again. I told him that once he realizes that he has absolutely no control over almost everything, he'll be miserable. There is freedom once you figure that out and quit trying to.

It didn't help.

Again, he sponged up yesteryear's aggravations and anticipated the future ones.

I tried hard for a while. I was happy. Seriously so! I kept telling him and I literally held up my hand, "Nope. I don't want to hear it. Let's don't talk negative. We've got so much to be thankful for. Don't ruin our lunch."

Well. Fury doesn't like to be thank-full. It doesn't have room for it! It's already fury-full! And it surely doesn't want to be told to exchange its fury for thank! I know this. But still, I was trying.

I finally began getting a bit irate myself. I told him. "Do not pour your fillings into me. If you've got ugly fillings (feelings!) please keep them to yourself. I don't want 'em! I don't want to be filled to feel bad!"

Of course by this time, he'd poured so much of his fillings into mine whether I wanted him to or not, that I was filling up with what he was. Not anger toward the things that he was angry about, but angered toward and at him!

And I'll be dog! After I was fuming with my fillings of fury, he was all happy then! He'd accomplished what he'd wanted to... to get me filled to feel like he was!


I sat there for a few minutes silently steaming. Not talking at all. (I hate to do that in public!) Sitting there in my silent 'filled up' moment, I knew I had a choice. I decided not to stay there. To let it go. To fill myself with love again. For, after all, our subject matter in class was: Love is patient. It's kind. It doesn't boast. It keeps no record of wrongs................ I kept remembering what was said.

Finally, both feeling better by the time I left, I told him in the car on our drive home. "You know, the bible tells us that from the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. Sometimes we have great need to just shut up! Sometimes it's quite embarrassing what our mouths are revealing that our hearts are filled with!"

We're vessels. "Jars of clay." Skinbags (as I like to call 'em). Containers. We're made to fill up. We're made to hold. We're made to contain. We're filler-uppers. We can't help it. Every day that we live we're filling up (and spilling out) with something.

How's your jar? What's your vessel containing? What's your skinbag holding? What's in your inside that bleeds to show out? What do you daily and constantly fill it with? What are filled up on? And how much does the fuel that you chose to put inside you cost you?

How are your fillings feeling? How's it working for ya? And dude, how's it affecting others around you?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Let's love 'em to death!

"God help us to weave a tapestry of love and not hate in our children, a spirit of tolerance and caring, a dedication to freedom for all and not just some. God help us to sow seeds of peace and justice in our children's hearts today." ~ Marian Wright Edelman

I do believe that that's so much of the key! We need to LOVE our children!!!! And LOVE 'em to death!!! To the death of their doubts, and fears, and insecurities, and inadequacies, and shame! To the death to their thinking that they're not enough, and never will be! To the death to their feeling that they don't measure up, and that no amount of striving will fill its measure to get them to be! To the death to feeling that they'll never win their parent's approval! To the death of feeling unloved, even when they're unlovable.... or do horrid things of sin, because we're all fallible!

The list is endless! But I think what our children need most is for us as parents to love 'em! To totally love 'em to death!!!!.... so that they can live!

Friday, May 21, 2010

He's my son

He's My Son
By: Mark Schultz

I'm down on my knees again tonight
I'm hoping this prayer will turn out right
See there is a boy that needs Your help
I've done all that I can do myself

His mother is tired
I'm sure You can understand
Each night as he sleeps
She goes in to hold his hand

And she tries
Not to cry
As the tears
fill her eyes

Can You hear me?
Am I getting through tonight?
Can You see him?
Can You make him feel all right?

If You can hear me
Let me take his place somehow
See, he's not just anyone
He's my son

Sometimes late at night I watch him sleep
I dream of the boy he'd like to be
I try to be strong and see him through
But God who he needs right now is You

Let him grow old
Live life without this fear
What would I be
Living without him here

He's so tired
And he's scared
Let him know
That You'e there


Can You hear me?
Can You see him?
Please don't leave him
He's my son

Susan wants to be made well.

A friend wrote to me. Here's what he said. "Susan is a Godly woman. She has lung cancer. Stage 4. Doctors refuse to operate. Please pray for a healing."

I wrote back:

I will pray..........

Father, have mercy! Susan wants to be made well.  Jesus, I pray that You will heal her in Your mercy, through Your grace, in Your power, for Your Name's Sake and for Your Glory.  "In Your Name, Jesus," I ask. And Jesus, You said Yourself, "I tell you the Truth, My Father will give you whatever you ask in My name... so that the Son [so that You!!] may bring glory to the Father." 

Jesus, today bring Your Father Glory!

You said, "You may ask Me any-thing in My Name, and I will do it."  Here's an "any-thing," Lord, we're asking You an "any-thing." YOU SAID that You would do the "any-thing" that we asked You to. 

You said, "Don't you believe Me..... [Don't you] believe Me when I say..... [Don't you believe Me] or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves." 

I do believe You.  I do believe You when You "say."  I believe what You've said! 

I believe, too, because of the evidence of those miracles then, and all the evidence I've been shown before and that I've seen since. And after asking Philip if surely he could believe because of the evidence of the miracles that he had seen You perform, Jesus, You then said, "I tell you the truth, any-one who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing.  He will do even greater things than these, because I Am going to the Father.  And I will do what-ever you ask in My Name, so that" You may bring glory to Your Father. 

Ah, Jesus, YOU said, "I tell you the truth!" 

"I tell you the truth...." is it true or is not? 

You said it was true.  I believe Your Truth.  I believe what You've said.  I believe Your word!  I believe what You've spoken.  I believe just because You said so! I believe the Words You've had written in Holy Writ to share with me today.  God breathed. God inspired. The Word that is Alive and Active!  It lives!  It acts!  It does! It is sent forth to accomplish it's purpose. It always accomplishes what it was sent forth to do. It's never said in vain. It never comes back void. You are Truth. And You said, "I tell you the truth!"

Lord, I used to get stuck on the "greater things than these" part of that verse. Asking You so many times about the "greater things than these."  Telling You that I don't see the "greater things than these" that You promised. Asking You, "Where are the greater things than these" that You were talking about? 

But now, my eyes constantly wonder at the "what I have been doing"....  Those "miracles themselves" that You called "evidence."  Why are we not seeing the same things that You had been doing like You said we would? How can we get to the "greater things than these" if we've not yet done the "what [You] had been doing"?

I pray to You today, Lord God Almighty, what Habakkuk prayed to You in his year:  "LORD, I have heard of Your fame; I stand in awe of Your deeds, O LORD.  Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy." 

I remind of You of what is written of You in Psalm 77:14 - "You ARE the God Who performs miracles; You display Your power among the peoples."

It does not say, You were the God who performed (as in used to, but does not anymore); but that YOU ARE the God Who PERFORMS miracles.  "Performs" - as in STILL DOES!  It's part of Who You Are!  It's What You Do! It's like when Moses asked for You to show him Your glory, You said, "I'll show you My goodness."  Because that's how we see Your Glory - through Your goodness - through what You've done!  

And always the "why?" behind the reason You do it is "so that the people will know that You are God and that there is no other." 

Display Your power among the peoples today!  DISPLAY Your power, Your Wonders, Your Deeds, Your Glory, Your Fame.... so that the people may know!  It's for YOUR NAME's sake I ask!  For: Your Name!  For: Your Glory!...... and because You say so in Your Word, and You are Truth.  I'm asking You to heal Susan, to make her well;  because You said I could ask You, and You said You would do it if I did. I'm asking You based on what You said.  And I'm believing You, because You said it!  I'm asking in Your Name, Jesus. Amen.

"Let this be written for a future generation,
that a people not yet created may praise the LORD;
"The LORD looked down from His sanctuary on high,
from heaven He viewed the earth,
to hear the groans of the prisoners
and release of those condemned to death.""

[kvj= "To hear the groaning of the prisoner;
to loose those that are appointed to death."]
So the name of the LORD will be declared in Zion and His praise in Jerusalem
when the peoples and the kingdoms assemble to worship the LORD."
~ Ps. 102:19-22 ~

"Praise the LORD, O my soul;
all my inmost being,
praise His holy name.
Praise the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all His benefits -
Who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from the pit
[kjv= "Who redeemeth life from destruction"]
and crowns you with love and compassion,
Who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagles." 
~ Ps 103:1-5 ~

"Yes, LORD, walking in the ways of Your laws,
we wait for You;
Your name and renown are the desire of our hearts."
[kjv="the desire of [our] soul [is] to Thy Name,
and to the remembrance of Thee."]
~ Isa. 26:8 ~

Thursday, May 20, 2010

If the two "me"s could talk!

I got an email from a friend. She wrote:

"Never in my life have i been more excited about what I "do." ....... If you were to take May 20, 2004 and compare it to May 20, 2010, I would say that a huge change has taken place. When I look at myself in the mirror now, I still haven't acomplished many of the same things that I wanted to then. Yet, my whole life is different. Even what I want and why I want it is different. That is ecouraging."

Isn't it amazing how different we can become because of Jesus!!! If the two "me"s (the one that I "Was" and the one that I'm "Becoming") could stand facing each other today to talk I can't even image what they would have to say to one another. Could they even relate enough to carry on a conversation? What would the Becoming say to the Was? Would Was even stand there to listen to Becoming? Could Becoming convince Was that Was didn't have to stay there where Was was? Would Was shake her head in sorrow to dare to even dream to become Become? Could Become see past the place where Was was, or would she be too repulsed at where Was was to hear her? Would Was even find an appealing interest in Becoming?.... ONLY God can take a Was to Becoming!!!!!!!! Oh my, there would be NO hope without Him!

My Is can remember my Was once standing and staring at myself in my bathroom mirror and asking the face that stared back at her: "Who are you? I don't even know who you are! And I don't like you at all!"

I remember getting an invitation to my 25th year high school reunion. I wrote to a friend then, "Twenty five years??????????? Can you even imagine the life that's gone on in between all those years on that time-line??? Who was that girl anyway 25 years ago? I don't know if I would recognize her? Well, maybe her laugh, but she would have never guessed who she'd be, who she'd become, what she'd do, where she'd go. You never could have told her then."

I also remember crying buckets after reading the invitation. I cried over the where-I-had-been years since I'd left there... and the I-would-nevers things that I had done and places I had never thought I'd go...... all in an effort of looking for life and love in all the wrong places. Man, at how far Christ has brought me! I do hate all the wasted time, the time I lived in vain, all the time that I chose to focus my eyes on another attraction, yet all the while sacrificing so much for a miraged attraction that never would produce what it falsely offered.

I've a long way to go..... but I'm further than I used to be! I like my Is better than my Was... and I have even greater hopes for my Becoming because of the improvement between my Is compared to what I once Was!

It's as the song sings:

He's still working on me,
to make me what I ought to be.
It took him just a week to make the moon and the stars.....

Thankfully we have a God Who Is, Who Was, and Is To Come! And thankfully, He can handle me in all of mine!

Just as long as He's working.... my Becoming looks looks better and better all the time!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A badge of honor once redeemed

Miraculously, God can bring good from any bad! And He's always wanting to and willing and able if we'll let Him! He's the Redeemer that came to Save! Or the Savior that came to Redeem! Both! And either way... miraculous!

He's the bringer of beauty from ashes... gladness from mourning.... a garment of praise from a spirit of despair! He can make anything a planting of His for the Display of His Splendor! There's nothing that Jesus hasn't overcome. "In Me you may have peace! In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!"
A friend wrote to me after the rape of her daughter, "Ugh! I hate the shame of rape! HATE it! HATE it! I want her healed!"

ARGH! I hate it too!

I hate lots of things that have gone on that I wish had not! LOTS! LOTS! We live in a crooked world, and just get knocked crooked a whole lot of times on the paths of our journey. We choose crooked, or crooked chooses us..... either way, we often end up knocked crooked and having to deal with it. Fair or not, it's the fallen world that we live in. Torn ligaments are painful to walk on after the tear; broken bones need healing, wounds need tending, hearts need mending, bruises HURT because there's been bleeding underneath the skin..... (just to name a few!).

Isn't it amazing how many wounds there are that can't be seen to the naked eye, yet causes the one wounded to hobble or to walk handicapped or funny-looking without obvious reasons to the person observing them?

Some wear a frown and a furrowed brow. Some snarl and growl. Some bite and hit. Some smile, wearing the disguise, yet carrying inside them an: I'm-crying-inside-but-nobody-knows-it-but-me heart. Some lick their wounds and nurse it their entire lifetime, rocking its sorrow and singing the tune of its blues. Some laugh, but it's fake and loud in its attempt to cover. Some dare another person to get close to it, and snap in attempts to bite them if they try to. Some dress the wounds while constantly picking the scab to make it bleed. Some run like crazy, bursting it open again and again at their crazed incited accident-waiting-to-happen lunacy.

Few, only a few (out of so very many), will take it to The Great Physician Himself and allow Him to wash it and clean it, stitch it and sew it, anoint it and dress it, bandage it and tend to it until its completely and totally healed... leaving the "few" to wear it as a testimony to the King! The scar still shines (after healed) as its 'Purple Heart Medallion,' its medal of honor pin, testifying to a soldier wounded in battle by the hands of the enemy, but outstanding in honor for the soldier's valor, his combat in the fight, his bravery to do what must be done for victory to come. Oh, these "few" may walk with their limp, but(!) they'll walk with their heads held high, with security in their steps, with joy in their hearts, peace in their minds, and smiles on their faces that bear the marks of a resurrected life because of the one they left behind and chose not to swim in for the rest of their days appointed on this earth. They'll choose to live for the next life, and not die daily in their this one.

I know this girl that was horrible and shamefully taken advantage of in the ugliest and unacceptable of ways. It'll be hard, it'll be a battle, but she'll wear her badge, her "purple heart," to display and honor her King. She'll fight for freedom that's never free and find it. Because she'll walk with her Savior and allow Him to ransom, redeem, and restore it. She'll have a choice and I know which she'll chose. "Oh death, where is your sting?"

I will be all over this in prayer!! I'm sure satan thinks he's won, but he hasn't, and he won't! I'll pray! and I'll ask the mightiest warriors I know to join me in prayer! Through Him she WILL beat this thing! May she hang on tight for the duration of the fight. Battles are never fun! We often find ourselves wounded in the battle, we may bleed, we may hurt, we may cry, we may feel defeated, we may feel we've lost one round...but the war's not over yet! Warning (as if you did not already know), it's a fight! Fighting's never fun! Battles are often long... but the victory's been won! May she be strong in HIM! May she totally find her strength in GOD, for no man (person) can be our strength, nor give us the strength we need. We're to Be Strong IN His mighty power! He had the power to raise Jesus Christ from the dead, and He tells us (Eph 1) that that same power that raised Him up lives inside us! He gives us the strength we need, because the strength we need is within us. HIM! He is in us!!! We can't win this alone, but we CAN win this with God! It might seem impossible, we might not can figure out the how-in-the-world how to(?) ... but we must believe Him when He says, "With men it is impossible, but with God all things are possible." And that: "ALL things work together for good for those that love the Lord." Either it's true or it's not, and He says it's true! He is Truth! Do we believe Him?

This YUCK will be a testimony to God one day, with her telling others what He can do. God will redeem and use it to His glory. The enemy will hate he ever messed with this girl! I believe that!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

We're suffering from out-of-state pollen!

On Monday night one of the inmates walked into the room coughing. Actually, I think all of the girls were coughing. They've been coughing for months! But the first thing that that one particular girl said on this particular night after battling her bout was this, "We're suffering from out-of-state pollen."

"What?" I asked her.

She answered. "There is no way that Alabama can have this much pollen. It's too much for anybody. I think the wind is blowing pollen in from other states around us. There is no way that all of this pollen is just ours alone."

I loved it! I got so tickled. I laughed so hard.

I told her, "That's so awesome. I'm so gonna remember that. That's going to be my new statement about everything........." And it has been. I've been saying it constantly since.

We were discussing "generational sin." Of course, my answer to that (after her shared observation) was, "It's all out-of-state pollen! We have no room for a past generation's sin. Let's simple uninvite it back out of our lives! It was their sin... why allow them to influence it into our own and find ourselves in their same bondage?"

I was at my mom's on Thursday. She was talking to me about someone else complaining to her about another someone. I told her, "It's out of state pollen, mama! Tell her you've got enough pollen in your own world. You don't need anybody else's. She needs to keep her own pollen to herself. No more shared pollen from her house to yours!"


Yesterday my husband (Tim) was telling me about a guy that called. The conversation between them had been depressing. He was overwrought with fear over the economy. So.. he begin worrying about the security of the job that he has. And with all of his worrying, he tried to get my husband into his bandwagon to worry with him and to worry about his. I told Tim, "Yep. Another wave of out-of-state pollen! Don't need it! Not interested! Refuse it! Refute it! Don't let it envade!"

Another friend was talking to me. She was mad at the whole world. [This person didn't do that. Another person did this. Another had the audacity to say...... This girl was supposed to come, but failed to. But he came... and can you believe he brought ___ with him! ] She had no control over anybody. It was killing her! My diagnosis (again!): Out-of-state pollen!!! She could have been happier, but nope. She was borrowing problems over things that she really didn't have to have problems over. She was breathing it. Allowing it to cloud her sinuses. Make her sick. Make her cough. Make her miserable.

My interest was piqued..... I found an interesting article. Here's what I found: "In a new study, University of Missouri researchers have found that flowers use specific pollen proteins to ''communicate'' whether they would accept or reject the pollen grains required for fertilisation. When pollen grains arrive, the pollen (the male part of the flower) ‘communicates’ with the pistil (the female part of the flower), where molecules take the place of words and allow the pollen to identify itself to the pistil." All this, and then, the pistil decides whether to accept (or reject!) the pollen grains that have come to invade after hearing (by their strange way of communicating) what they've had to say.

Hmmm.... yep! We have the option to accept or reject too! We have enough pollen in our own world.... without borrowing the pollen of another's worlds. When pollen comes, do the smart thing and send it forth on its way without allowing it to stay.... to cloud your thinking, make your head hurt, make you cough it out on others all around you.

Hopefully point made... and nuff said..... (even if said in such a silly way)!

Friday, May 14, 2010

My whole body hurt.

I drove home heavy tonight. Burdened. Troubled. Weighed down. Sad. Oppressed... over the hard in this world.

I had been trying to keep the tears at bay all day, when mostly the dam begged to burst. Finally, alone in my car I could let the rivers flow. I could cry buckets. But even then, I felt like I didn't have time to. I'd be home in a minute. I'd greet all those there that love me. I didn't want to explain the redness of my eyes or the washed away make-up. (So sad, but true.)

I hurt for the world. I hurt for everybody. I hurt for the hurting. I hurt for the hard. I hurt for the evil. I hurt for what so often seems the unfairness of a lot of things. I hurt for those that try so hard.... and it so often doesn't (ever!, it seems!) turn out right. I hurt for the offended. I hurt for the offenders. I hurt for the sick that are pleading for a healing. I hurt for the mistreated, the downtrodden, the distressed, the abused. I hurt all over for everybody!

I was reminded of Psalm 77...

"I cried out to God for help;
I cried out to God to hear me...
I remembered You, O God, and I groaned;
I mused, and my spirit grew faint.
You kept my eyes from closing;
I was too troubled to speak.
I thought about the former days,
the years of long ago;...
Then I thought, "To this I will appeal;
the years of the right hand of the Most High."
I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
yes, I will remember Your miracles of long ago.
I will mediate on all Your works
and consider all Your mighty deeds..
Your ways, O God, are holy.
What god is so great as our God?
You are the God Who performs miracles;
You display Your power among the peoples..."

"LORD, I have heard of Your fame;
I stand in awe of Your deeds, O LORD.
Renew them in our day,
in our time make them known:..."
Hab 3:2

There's so much hurting, Lord. So many sick that need healing. So many people in the dark that need to see You. So many scared and lonely and sad that need to see You see them! So many others that need to know You hear... that You're there.... that You care. I know that You, Lord God, are a God of wonder! A God who not only performed, but that still performs miracles! I have, indeed, heard of Your fame! I do stand in awe of the deeds that You've done! I am humbled at Your love, Your mercy, Your patience, Your grace.

Please, Lord... tonight I'm praying for a little girl named Faith. For You to heal what no man can! For You to do what is impossible to man. For You to show Your Glory.... Your "who is like God" wonder, to a world that so often is susceptible and doesn't believe!

I ask You to shower Lisa with an overwhelmation of You! I ask that You let her know You're there... that You love her... that You aren't ashamed of her... that You went to extremes to send Your Son to die and be risen to save her....

Help Jennifer, Father. Make it obvious where You want her. What You want her to do. Where You want her to go. Guide her. Lead her. Show her. Give her wisdom in the decisions she makes and the road that she takes.

Be with, Mitzi, God. She needs Your tenderness, Your compassion, Your help. May she see evidence of You all over her world. May she be awed by the "withness" of You wherever she goes. May she see the help of Your hand all around her. May Your might and Your love and Your assistance and Your Presence be known!

There are so many more. But tonight, especially extend Your mercy and compassion to these four. May we again (in their lives) be awed by Your deeds! May Your glory be renown everywhere we bother to look!

In Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Looking through the pane of PAIN... And seeing: Jesus

I wrote to a friend. A new one. Because of something he said. He has Muscular Sclerosis and was sharing just a tad of his story in an effort to let others see a bit of what the journey is like at the very beginning of this disease. I liked him immediately. He was humorous. Sweet. Honest. He didn't sugar-coat, glamorize, what He was going through. He called it his " journey to that dark." He's legally blind now, because of MS. He wrote, "Even though it might be a path to no more light in the world around me, I really have to thank God for somehow allowing me to keep a sense of humor about it."


You like him too?

I think that what he called "a path to no more light in the world around me" is actually the very road that takes us to the real light inside another world that's more real than this one will ever be. Most of us can relate how going through the darkness of anything often brings us to the Greater Light on the other side of it. We see God more clearly when done. We learn to prioritize. Perspectives. What's most important. What life is really all about. What really matters. What doesn't............ yada yada yada.... Mostly and foremost, when we see God there, know Him in that place, show Him to others, and bask in the warmth of His pleasure even in the turmoil, that's a Light that can't be explained or defined. His beauty radiates brilliantly in darkness. But only if we let it.

I was drawn to this new friend for lots of reasons. I'll list two:

One) A favorite teacher of my children's, a sister of ours in Christ, and a fellow church family member also has MS. She recently retired from her teaching job, but still goes to the school to assist. She's precious! She loves much! And thus, is much loved! We've watched her suffer through this disease, and we've seen Jesus shine magnificently through her in it.

Two) My uncle had Muscular Dystrophy. Though these two diseases are different, in some ways they are very similar. Neither one pleasant. Both hard. Both frustrating. Both unfair and cruel and mean. One thing about my uncle though, he touched so many people's lives in the chair where he sat. And then, he touched even more in the iron lung that his body was put to lie in - in order to help keep him breathing for as long as it did. He lived with my grandparents until the day he died. Every day the milk-man (yes, it was a LONG time ago) would come by to bring the milk and Uncle Joe would talk to him about Jesus (just as he did every person that visited!). One day, the milk man came, and didn't see Uncle Joe in the iron bed, so he looked at my grandmother and asked, "Where's little Joe?" Grandmother simply said, "He's gone." The man shook his head and turned to go with tears (that he had no control over and couldn't stop no matter the will power) streaming down his face... not even being able to vocalize a word to them as he walked out the door. My uncle made a difference (a HUGE one!) to SO MANY in the skin that he lived in for as long as he did; for he didn't live there long or alone, Jesus lived inside his skin with him. And it showed so brightly that people couldn't fail to miss Him there.

My new friend ended his note saying this, "... loosing one's sight tends to have a few bumps in the road. Next time you see me smile, because I might be a little grumpy but I can tell you I'm smiling a little myself. NO matter how bad it gets just remember everyone has something they are trying to hide, and for once I don't have to pretend I'm not seeing it."

It's that "everyone has something they are trying to hide" that got me.

He's right, you know? We all have things that we try to hide. Handicaps of some sort that we're trying to overcome. We all have things that cripple us, frustrate us, aggravate us, embarrass us, and that leaves us feeling as if we're lacking. Sometimes things that we deem reason enough to give us seasonal permission to "shake our fists" at God in fits of anger from time to time from our pure dislike of it. Things that we would change and get over if God would only choose to let us! We don't have the power to, but we know He does! And we don't have a clue why He won't do it. Our feelings are hurt because He doesn't.

For some reason, God loves us despite our acts of ugly. And when we allow Him to (though He might not heal us from the thing that we've begged Him for) He goes and changes us in it (when we cooperate with Him and let Him)... He grows us, strengthens us, gives our eyes sight to see things that we hadn't seen before, He helps our ears to hear, and He heals our hearts and our deeper hurts. And then, God will go and use that very thing (that we think such a burden) to help others to see Jesus through us as well. It's amazing how He does it. It's in our weakness, that He makes us strong.

Amazingly to me, He will even use our very wickedness of sin and rebellion that grieved Him so (after we've repented and turned from it) to help others! To encourage them, give them hope, and draw them to Him! Why not sweep it under the rug and hide it and be told never to mention it again (as He throws as far as the East is from the West and washes it whiter than snow)? Why does God use that old-evil-bleached-white-detestable-sin as the very thing to build our testimonies around? There we go - showing the ugly of what we've done and where we've been while God uses it to show Himself to others in! What kind of God would let us show Him through the skin of our sin - and be able to show it in such a way that the only thing left to be seen is Beautiful? Him! Just Him.

Why does He do that? Do you know what I mean? Show up out loud to others through the ugly He's redeemed?

He uses the "foolish things" and the "weak things" instead of the wise and the mighty! Oh, how I love it and how I am awed by it when I see Him doing that in others! Yet all the while often fighting His want to do that in me.

He uses "the foolish things of this world to confound the wise" and "the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty." What man would choose to use "foolish" things, "weak" things, like that to show his glory in? No man would. But God does.

Thinking of the passages that contain that verse I can't help but put it here. Look very carefully at what He is saying while you read this, for it says much more than I've ever realized that it did before.

".. the foolish thing [that has its source in] God is wiser than men,
and the weak thing [that springs] from God is stronger than men.
For [simply] consider your own call, brethren;
not many [of you were considered to be] wise
according to human estimates and standards,
not many influential and powerful,
not many of high and noble birth.
[No] for God selected (deliberately chose)
what in the world is foolish to put the wise to shame,
and what the world calls weak to put the strong to shame.
And God also selected (deliberately chose)
what in the world is lowborn and insignificant and branded and treated with contempt,
even the things that are nothing,
that He might depose and bring to nothing the things that are,
So that no mortal man should [have pretense for glorying and] boast in the presence of God."
1 Corinthians 1:25-... (Amplified Version)

He "deliberately chose" to do it that way! To me that is our Lord's way of letting
us share with Him in His sufferings... and Jesus' way of allowing us to be a glimpse (or some sort of a mild reflection) of the same picture of Who He was when He walked this earth... and who He still is today as He continues to walk. To me it's His way of Him showing up again in the picture that He shows us of Himself in Isaiah 53. It's Him living it out again in our bodies through our lives. Watch and see Jesus in these Scriptures. But as you see Jesus, also see Jesus again in the picture lived out in you. See if you can see a picture of Jesus' body (as described in this picture) again in yours. In other words, does your skin (in some ways) look like the skin that He describes here?

"For He shall grow up before him as a tender plant,
and as a root out of a dry ground:
He hath no form nor comeliness;
and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.
He was despised
and rejected
and forsaken by men
a Man of sorrows and pains, and acquainted with grief and sickness;
and like One from Whom men hide their faces.
He was despised,
and we did not appreciate His worth
or have any esteem for Him.
Surely He has borne our griefs (sicknesses, weaknesses, and distresses)
and carried our sorrows and pains [of punishment],
yet we [ignorantly] considered Him stricken, smitten, and afflicted by God [as if with leprosy].
..... and by His wounds we were healed."
[These verses quoted are from both the KJV and The Amplified Version]"we live in Him and He (lives) in us because He has given us of His Spirit" (1 John 4:13). And just as Jesus once was born as a baby and lived in the skin of a man named Jesus, He still lives in human skins... this time in me! this time in you! this time in us! Jesus lived then and NOW lives still having: "no form nor comeliness," "no beauty that we should desire Him," "a man of sorrows and pains, acquainted with grief and sickness" "one whom men hide their faces" from, His "worth" not appreciated nor esteemed,.... "yet we [ignorantly] consider Him stricken, smitten, and afflicted by God," BUT "by His wounds we are healed."

I don't know that I know how to say what seems so obvious for me to see. But now, as Christians, as children reborn again of God and His Spirit; we're told that

Can you see what I see? Can you see what I'm trying to say? That Jesus Himself shows up again in our skins! Again - having no "beauty" that would draw all eyes and men to us. Again - "a man of sorrows and pains".. sometimes in such forms that men "hide their faces" and won't look at us. Again - His worth not being appreciated nor esteemed. Again - with people ignorantly considering us "stricken, smitten, and afflicted by God." WHILE it is often through those very "wounds" that others are healed when finally their eyes are unveiled to see the beauty beneath the disguise of its grief-stricken uncomely skin!

Finally, we are at a place when others aren't falsely drawn to our "wisdom according to human standards, nor our "influential and powerful" positions, nor our "high and noble births", nor our "beauty"......

NO! Instead, He uses the "foolish things" of this world in order to show the world Jesus!

The chapter continues (in the NTL), and remember that as you see Jesus, see Jesus again put to live inside the case of your skin.

"And we thought His troubles were a punishment from God,
a punishment for His own sins
He was pierced for our rebellion,
crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed...
He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet He never said a word.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers,
He did not open his mouth.
Unjustly condemned, He was led away.
No one cared that He died without descendants, that His life was cut short in midstream.
But He was struck down for the rebellion of My people.
He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone.
But He was buried like a criminal;...
But it was the Lord's good plan to crush Him and cause Him grief.
when His life is made an offering for sin,
He will have many descendants.
He will enjoy a long life,
and the Lord's good plan will prosper in His hands.
When He sees all that is accomplished by His anguish,
He will be satisfied.
And because His experience, My righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous,
for He will bear all their sins.
I will give Him the honors of a victorious soldier,
because He exposed Himself to death.
He was counted among rebels.
He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels."

Have you ever felt your "troubles" some sort of "punishment" from God? Have you ever felt "pierced," "crushed," "beaten," "whipped," "oppressed and treated harshly"? Have you ever felt you were "unjustly condemned," like "no one really cared," that your "life was cut short in midstream," "struck down," and felt like you were "buried like a criminal" in your suffering skin? Have you ever really considered that it could possibly be "the Lord's good plan to crush and cause you grief" giving you an opportunity to give your life as "an offering for sin" for Him so that others might "be made whole"? so that others might "be healed"? and so that others living in their "rebellion" might see Jesus again (this time in your skin) and turn from their sin and be saved because of the Jesus that they saw in you?

Could it be that it was "the Lord's good plan" to give you "many [spiritual] descendants" through your "anguish", and that because of your "experience" you - God's "righteous servant"- will make it possible for "many to be counted righteous" because Jesus lived His story again in a man with your name and because you "interceded for rebels" on account of offering Him your life (laying your life down for His) and letting Him live again in yours?

We are told to:
"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith,
who for the joy set before Him endured the cross,
scorning its shame,
and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God,
Consider Him
who endured such opposition from sinful men,
so that you
will not grow weary and lose heart."
Hebrews 12:2,3

Shall we not "fix" our eyes on Jesus and consider Him and what He has done so that we won't grow weary and loose heart in our own sufferings when we're plagued with it too? And in our realizing that because of the joy set before Jesus He was able to endure the cross and the shame, and so He lay His life down in order to save, can not we do the same? We're told that we too are called to "share" in those sufferings as He did, so that we could also share in His glory.

"Now if we are children
then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ,
if indeed we share in His sufferings
in order that
we may also share in His glory.
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing
with the glory that will be revealed in us."
Romans 8:17,18

"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you,
which comes upon you for your testing,
as though some strange thing were happening to you;
but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ,
keep on rejoicing,
so that
also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation."
1 Peter 4:12,13

"Do not blush or be ashamed then, to testify to and for our Lord,
nor of me, a prisoner for His sake,
but [(join) with me (and)] take your share of the suffering
[to which the preaching] of the Gospel [may expose you, and do it] in the power of God." -
2 Timothy 1:8,9 (AMP)

"join with me in suffering for the gospel,
by the power of God, Who has saved us and called us to a holy life -
not because of anything that we've done BUT BECAUSE OF HIS OWN PURPOSE and grace.
... And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher
2 Timothy 1:8-12a. (NIV)

Paul said that he was a prisoner for our Lord's sake. Could you maybe (in a sense) say the same? Would you be willing to be? Paul tells us to
join him in that. He encourages us to take our own share of the suffering, because we were called to a holy life as well. Annd because we, too, were called to a purpose. Paul said that he "was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher;" but do we realize that it was mostly from that place in his prison cell that he heralded and apostled and taught the most? He said that that was WHY he was suffering! He was arrested and beaten and put in prison for who he represented and for teaching the good news. Could it be that your "skin prisons" (of whatever particular issues you have) is the very place that God wants you?.... Could it be that it is from that very "cell" that God plans to use you to herald His message? to disciple others? and to teach about Him? What those people that put Paul into prison and meant as an evil thing, God meant for good! Just as Joseph said about his imprisonment in Genesis 50:20, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives."" And it was such as so all over again in Paul's life. Paul went on to say this about his imprisonment:

"Now I want you to know, brothers,
that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel."
Philippians 1:12

Has "what has happened to" you "served to advance" the gospel in your life? Could it - if you'd let it? God not only can, but He wants to do the same thing with us in our lives. He wants to use whatever kind of suffering that has fallen upon us to "serve to advance the gospel"- just as it did for Paul and Joseph and even more so for His Son Jesus. And in all those "foolish things" or "weak things" of the world He shows Himself strong, He displays His splendor, and He Alone gets all of the glory!

I think He often just looks at us with longing eyes that asks, "Will you just let Me use this here? Will you trust Me and let Me use this thing? Will you let Me be encased in this suffering of yours and let Me use this "prison cell" to shine the Light of my glory?....., in order to advance the gospel? in order to save others? Of course, the enemy wants to bring evil to you by causing you to suffer. His whole being is bent toward finding ways to "steal, kill, and destroy" you. And you're blaming Me. But what he means for evil, I intend to use it for good! Will you let Me? Will you just let Me? Will you give Me this thing here and let Me do something with it? And will you let Me bring Life and meaning to it..... for you? and for others? For SO MANY OTHERS - that still don't know Me yet? For all the lost souls.... so that I can show them Jesus... not in the form of some great "beauty" or "nobility" or "wise" or "strong" thing.... I want to show them Me through your weakness. I CAN be your strength there and show My beauty in you and through you --- if only you'll let Me. I can bring and show beauty through these ashes. Will you let this pain be the window pane to frame and show Jesus?"

Paul continues to say:

that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ,
WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO ME WILL turn out for my deliverance.
I will eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed,
but will have sufficient courage
so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain."
Philippians 1:19-21

Will we let "what has happened to" us turn out for our own deliverance? And then turn out to be the very thing that God uses to help deliver others? Basically, it all boils down to what Jesus said to us in Matthew 16:25,

"For whoever wants to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for Me will find it."

As His sanctuaries, as the temples for Christ, our bodies are the dwelling place for God in the physical world that we live in. He is the designer of each temple. He constructs and molds and makes and shapes them each in order to display His glory alone to the utmost. He constructs our temples (the vehicles He uses to carry Himself in) and constitutes our missions, giving us a purpose and an audience to take and show to Him to. So why do we often strike to fight the hand that makes Beautiful and then takes Beautiful to a dark world that doesn't know Him to show it? We're all guilty of it at times.... until we can see that Jesus has need of me. Jesus has need of you! He has need of us both. Very different. But much alike. Both wearing the skin of our Savior.... in all the different sorts and ways that He comes in.

I have seen Jesus shining His Light in so many vases... in so many different cases of skins. I've seen Him in the sick and in the dying and in so many with poor health and disabilities. I've seen Him in the paralytics, the blind man, the deaf, the mute, the man with Parkinson's, the woman with Muscular Sclerosis, my uncle with Muscular Dystrophy, the child with cancer, and the heart diseased. I've seen Him in the addicts that have overcome alcohol, drugs, obesity, shopping, tobacco, pornography, adultery, abuse, gossip, mad, mean, bitterness, hatred, rage, vengeance and lying. I've seen Him in the loved ones left broken after destruction of storms, tornados, hurricanes, bombs, guns, wrecks, and all sorts of accidents have swallowed their loved ones in death. And I've seen Him in men who's gone to prison for things that they chose to do wrong and also in men who went to prison for things that they didn't mean to. I call every bit of that: God using the foolish things of this world to confound the wise and then to change the world. For it's often through those very things (sickness... hurts... sorrows) that helps people to finally see past the skin and see only the IN (that contains Jesus). Though it might have been there before, the wonder of Him was hidden until then.... people just couldn't see past the package He was contained in to see Him before tragedy happened. But when the package loses it's worldly appeal by it's beauty... the IN shines out and the Light shines through and the form of Jesus is seen in me... and in you...... and in all of the other vases containing His Light that have been broken in order to see it.

I hope that any who read this is able to read my heart in what I've said. Mostly I pray that you could hear God's... because what I say doesn't even really matter, but what He says does. He really is able to take our broken and shatter lives... and if we let Him work in it, one day others will be looking through our "stained glass" to see only Jesus. Broken made beautiful and displayed for the world to see! A foolish thing made Right... and used for Glory!

May you live your life shining the Bright of His Glory through every vessel and vein of your skin!... and may you allow others to look through the pane of your pain and see Jesus!

I leave you with a question: Is He knocking on the door of your pain... asking to use this as a pane to show Him to someone else that hasn't seen Him before? Will you let Him make something beautiful from something that man deems useless? Will you let Him use this as a window that reveals and shines Him? A Light from the dark? A Display of His Splendor? As a way for others to look inside you and see the resurrected Savior looking back at them? Jesus wants to use it... will you allow Him to?