Saturday, October 8, 2016

the timeline of a life of impact

I recently read someone say that one of the reasons that we don't do the really courageous things is because we are afraid of death.  (really loose translation from a small portion of a book called The Supernatural Ways of Royalty by Bill Johnson and Kris Vallotton)

If you are a Christian, you believe, at least in your mind, that this life is not the end of your life, and hopefully that what you do in this life contributes to God's bigger picture and plan for mankind.

But each of us...especially in the United States...we want a nice house and white picket fence, 2.5 kids and dog....and to live happily ever after.

Or something like that.

Our picture of a life of success is all about us.  And not about anyone else.  Certainly, not really even for Christians, about God.  It's kind of more about God and how He makes MY life better.

And i'm not even entirely dampening all of that...God cares about people and loves people and wants good things for us....no good thing does He withhold from them who walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11).   So if i have a point, my point is not that we're all bad for wanting to have nice things.

My mind and heart have been wrestling around with these concepts, about not being afraid of death, or not allowing an unknown fear of death to keep me from doing the things that my heart wants to do.  It's not just exactly a fear of my heart beat ceasing, but also the fear of death of my own image of my self's importance.  Many of the things we think we should do but don't do, we don't do because we're afraid of what we imagine another person or persons might say or think about us when we do it, When we do something out of the ordinary that reveals that we have passions and vulnerabilities that are outside of the accepted picture of success.

Moses wrote a psalm (did you know this?  i did not realize this).  It's Psalm 90.  I've been reading it for a couple of days...no it's not that long, and i don't read that slow.....i just have needed to soak in it or something.  I have probably read this chapter of the Bible many times in the past - and just sort of skimmed over it.  It's honestly a little confusing.  But i read something different this time.  Moses recounts the amazingness and power and scariness of God and then He says, "teach us to number our days." And he talks about how short our lives really are.  And how when we're gone, we're really gone.  Like a blade of grass that withers and dies.

Now this sounds depressing, right?  But i don't think it is.

Think about this.  Moses spent the first 40 years of his life being someone he wasn't and then running away from Pharoah.  He spent the second 40 years of his life watching sheep.  He didn't lead the Israelites out of Egypt until he was EIGHTY.  And that's the beginning of the only part of Moses' life that most people take any notice of.

What i'm thinking is that maybe when Moses was 80-something, and he was in the middle of the desert with a million recently freed slaves, he started to see the importance of a non-normal life, given over to God.  And he started to see that a life that counts for God is not about the 40 or 80 or 90 years that one person might be on this earth.  It is about the contribution of one's life to the plan of God and the lives that will come after.

The ironic other side of this lesson i am learning or trying to learn is that He's not interested in our age as much as we are.

Looking at a few important life timelines...

Paul, the Apostle - finally stopped persecuting Christians when he was roughly 34 years old.  And in my mind i think that he just started being the Apostle Paul after that.  But he didn't.  It was 15-17 more years before he really started rockin' things.  All of those letters we call the Epistles that we read and take instruction and encouragement from...he didn't get started writing those until he was almost 50, and he didn't really get to writing until he was in his 60s, i.e., right before he gave his life for telling people about Jesus.

Moses - he only started to catch on at age 40....he got started rocking things at age 80....and followed God for 40 more years.

Corrie ten boom - she was an unmarried woman, living in her father's home and working in her father's business until the age of 52 when she and her family were taken into a concentration camp.  After the concentration camp, Corrie spent her time and life devoted to the healing of the hearts of former Nazis, and she didn't write her life-changing book The Hiding Place until she was 79.  She continued to write and to minister for more than ten years after that, before she died.

Pick someone whose life impacted and inspired you and google their life's timeline.  You might be surprised to find that they weren't born as a hero.  They were born just like you, as a helpless baby, and becoming the person you admire did not happen like magic.  These people are not the super heroes in the comics, just born with amazing abilities.  These are people who struggled and had sorrow and who God had great patience with to mold them and form them into the person whose life's impact is still impacting you long beyond their earthly death.

Back to my point...if i have one....i think Moses, when he wrote and prayed that prayer, was getting hold of the idea that his life is a contribution...  "establish the work of our hands," he prayed.  Loose translation:   please let the work of my hands mean something to the work of God.  Let my hands do what is important to God.  Because this life is short, and i want it to mean something to my Creator and His plan, not mine.

Friday, June 17, 2016

that Thursday

It has been a couple of weeks now, since one of several groups of violent storms that came to my area of the world, bringing flooding and winds and electric poles broken in two, and other wind, rain, and lightning-born natural demonstrations of destruction, began at approximately 5pm, just as work let out, on a day that has come to be referred to in conversation, as "that Thursday."

 Everybody has a story about that Thursday And everybody who's hearing those stories, knows which Thursday that Thursday was, because they have a story too...as do I...

That Thursday was not, as you might expect, a dark and stormy night. Not at all. I was in the office all day, but i remember it to be a cool and sunny day. Imagine that. Our area had been weathering and recovering from the effects of very generous rainfall for more than a month, and since the weather had been so nice for a couple of days, I was caught completely by surprise when the sky turned dark at about 4:30 on that Thursday.

And then it really was a dark and stormy - evening, i guess.

Now, please understand.  This is East Texas, where the rains don't always come, but when they come, they don't come lightly.  They generally come with lightning and tornado watches, or possibly with hurricanes.

I have driven in weather.  I have driven in pounding rain, in the dark, down the same narrow, winding, hilly roads through the woods, over and over again.  And i am pretty good at it by now.  To be honest, my only real concern is generally the less than exemplary actions of the drivers with whom i share those narrow roads in the rain.  People get crazy when there's water on the road.  I don't know why.

Because of this, when i got off work, and it was pounding rain, at 5:00 pm on that Thursday, I waited in my car, in the employee parking garage, for a few minutes, thinking i would let the people who are in too big of a hurry to notice the rain, get on their way.  But when i entered the roadway, i knew immediately that this had not done me as much good as i hoped.  This is because ... well, it was that Thursday.

Somehow, in the few minutes it had been raining, the roads were already collecting dangerously large ponds of water, and the water was moving, like a rushing river.  The wind blew hard, horizontally from the left, and then, in seconds, it changed direction and blew hard horizontally from the right, changing the direction of the rushing river roadways and making the lanes and everything else very hard to see.  The ditches were more than overflowing, most people were not moving fast, and the sky was just stinking scary.

Let me tell you something.  I got scared.

Stinking scared.

"Turn around.  Don't drown." they always tell you.  But i was afraid to turn anywhere.  If i stop, i might not go again, and if i turn off this road, i can't tell where the bottom is.  No way, i'm not turning around.

That evening, driving home, i prayed a scripture more earnestly than i have ever even considered that scripture.  I prayed, "Yea though i walk through the valley of the shadow of death, i will fear no evil..."  And i was pretty sure i really was driving through the valley of the shadow of death.

It occurred to me later, and a little bit at the moment, that my prayer and my heart were definitely not in sync.  While i was saying the words, "...i will fear no evil..." i was fearing a whole lot of evil.

I made it home.  I didn't flood my car...or myself, as i had imagined a hundred times during my drive.

When i got out of the car, i was shaking.  I sort of stumbled into my house, so thankful for my house.  And a few minutes later, as i stopped to be thankful for making it home safely, i just burst into tears. I cried for a long time, and it was a few days before i was willing to drive again.

And i've thought about that day a lot, largely because i was so fearful.  I'm not accustomed to being fearful.   Fear requires way too much unpleasant mental energy.  I don't like it.  Ever since i was a little girl, and i was afraid of some imaginary creature under my bed, i would face it.  I remember turning my head down (with my feet safely under the covers of course) the side of bed to where i could look under my my bed and yell at whatever was down there...satisfying my mind that i was safe.  I don't like fear.  I don't like scary movies.  I just don't do it.

Jump ahead to today, when in my reading, I came to the source of my prayer from that Thursday:  Psalm 23.

And as i read it, i realized why it might be really helpful for me to remember this Psalm from the beginning instead of the middle.  It starts with the words, "The Lord is my Shepherd.  I shall not want."

Doesn't that make you feel more at ease than "..though i walk through the valley of the shadow of death?"

It does me.

The Lord is my shepherd,
shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Monday, March 14, 2016

It's Monday! And i'm a mealworm farmer!

Ta-da!

Here they are!  My actual mealworms, possibly a bit larger than actual size, depending on your resolution.

I picked up my mealworm farm starter kit this morning, kept the little guys (and girls) with me at my desk all day (don't tell my co-workers), and even took them with me to Bible study, where i used them for my own little show and tell.  Finally, i'm home, and so are they.

I was a little concerned that handling these guys would kind of creep me out, but it turns out, they're not that creepy.

No.  Really.

Anyway, it's late.  I REALLY need to go to bed.  But i will leave you with this.

A loose paraphrase of Luke 9:51ish through 54ish.

Recently, the disciples had been given power by Jesus to heal sick people and to rid them of demons, and they had been out practicing, per Jesus' instructions.  But now they're back together, and Jesus has decided to go on a journey, and the disciples are with him.  While on the journey, Jesus is hoping to get some overnight lodging in a town along the way, but the people in the town, said, "nope."  They're not happy about this particular journey Jesus is taking, and they don't want to help.  Well, the disciples, they're just barely baptized in this new power Jesus has given them, and they offer to "call down fire from heaven" buah ah ah, and consume these people who would turn Jesus away.  But Jesus is UNhappy with the disciples about this proposal.  "You do not know what spirit you are of," He says.  [That is not why I came.]  "[I] did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them." 

Jesus also said, in another place, that to know Him is to know the Father.  God is not looking to destroy you for your mistakes, for your rejection of Him, or for anything else.  He volunteered to sacrifice Himself, His Son, so that you, no matter who you are, your life could be saved.