Sunday, July 26, 2015

IMAGINE

Just imagine ~ you are given two choices. The choice you make will span the rest of your life. There will be no going back, no do-overs. God holds out both hands, looks you in the eye and says, "Choose. I will honor and bless it."

The first hand opens. Inside it rests the dream life, the one you always wanted but never thought possible. This will look different for everyone. For me, it's a rustic but comfortable estate on the northern coast, surrounded by water and pine trees and flowers. Wildlife abounds. All my loved ones live within walking distance. We are healthy, energetic, strong. Our pets can run free. We have the means to do whatever we please. Travel, entertain, you name it. They are all at our fingertips, and money isn't even an issue to be considered.

The one catch ~ that hand, it has to be all about you. The blessings will pour down upon you like rich spring rains. But they stop there. You do not possess the power to extend them to others. What you are given, you must keep for yourself.

God opens His other hand. The inside doesn't look so attractive. In fact, there is service, hard work, and a fair share of heart ache. You look closer. Doors you didn't know existed open wide. These doors lead to places and people ~ hungry, hurting, lost, empty. You possess the power to walk through those doors. You have resources to feed, minister to, encourage, and love on the countless people huddled inside that other hand.

"Go ahead. Choose. Which hand do you want? I will honor your request."

You look at the first hand again. It looks so appealing! Everything you ever dreamed of for this life, it's right there! It couldn't be a more idyllic picture. Really? All this could be mine?

Your eyes wander back to the second hand. You see the faces. People, young and old, hopeless in their condition. Not knowing which way to turn. You realize, choosing this hand means you give up that other life of comfort and ease.

Your mind latches onto the first hand. Oh, how nice it would be to sit by the water, read a good book, play with the dogs, and invite your friends over for a meal worthy of a magazine cover.

But your heart, it is drawn to the other hand. So many people, in such desperate need. While they tug on your heartstrings, you can't help but think of the hard work the second hand holds. It certainly would be a far cry from the comfortable first hand God showed you.

Your decision is clear. There's no turning back. You made your choice. But you remember his words and his promises. He will honor and bless it...

We don't live in a world that demands one extreme or another. But this visual got me thinking. Which hand would I choose? Honestly? I am grateful I don't have to make that decision. But everyday, I do make a choice. Does my life move in the direction of the first hand, or the second? Am I more consumed with myself and my own comfort and desires in this fleeting life? Or am I learning what it means to set my self aside and put others first?

I know what Jesus would do. May I find myself following his example! I don't want to look back one day and be filled with regrets. I want to have peace that I gave myself to him and to others in increasing measure. I want to make a difference. I want to get to that place where I would grab hold of the second hand if he ever asked me to choose.

How about you? Which hand are you most drawn to? I don't believe God wants to guilt us into changing our lives. I think he wants to grow us into people who live with greater purpose and joy, people who will have a positive impact on the people and the world around us. That he can use us to bless others? Just imagine!

"We know that we have been created for greater things, not just to be a number in the world, not just to go for diplomas or degrees, this work and that work. We have been created in order to love and be loved." ~Mother Teresa

Thursday, July 23, 2015

MOUNTAIN TRAILS

My feet recline on this comfy, old couch. But in my mind, the same feet are moving, finding their way onto a trail. Mountainous terrain dwell under the umbrella of stark blue sky. Thunderclouds off in the distance build momentum, chock-full of promise. The scent of pine fills my nostrils, and I breathe in deep. The higher elevation and clean air demand it. I hear the roar of a waterfall around the bend. And these feet, they cannot wait to feel the icy wet shock hit them. One foot in front of the other, always on the lookout for some form of wildlife.

I feel wildly free myself. No walls to confine me. Surrounded, swallowed up by His jaw-dropping creative work. I can almost taste it. Every sense in me is coming alive.

The mountain treks I have taken, still so fresh in my mind, they hold a healing element. Calming, cathartic, liberating.

There's a holiness to them, too. Nothing humbles a soul like being at the mercy of God, smack in the middle of His powerful creation. One wrong move, and the path that seems so benign sends you reeling hundreds of feet. A warm summer day meets with a sudden, unexpected shift in the air. Lightning, torrential rains, hail, even snow appear out of nowhere. The bear, mountain lion, and rattler ~ all look so regal and beautiful from a distance. But a close encounter can be a deadly one.

I wiggle my toes, bringing my mind back to this couch and the four walls surrounding me. Ah, safe and sound.

But I have to wonder. What am I missing? Is it really so safe to play it safe ~ and only reminisce about my trail days? What if I am missing out on holy ground, that humbling awe of God in the midst of His most breathtaking splendor?

I don't have answers. This couch, it can be holy ground, too. Any place we experience God in some shape or fashion ~ that is holy ground.

The question lingering in my mind is like cold water on my face ~ what would it be like to take to the trails again? How would it be different this time around? What part of God would I experience that I just don't encounter on this comfy, old couch?

I look out my window. The mountains off in the distance, they beckon me! I sigh in wonder if I'll ever find my feet back on the trail.

And this couch? It no longer feels so comfortable.

"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn." ~John Muir


Friday, July 3, 2015

A RAINBOW

It hung from a cloud in the sky near our home. One big, puffy cloud with others scattered on the horizon to the west. No rain. Not even a hint of moisture in the air. Just that brilliant array of colors pouring down from that cloud, all pumped with glorious color as the sun bid farewell for the day.

My heart leapt with indescribable excitement. Capturing the image on my phone, I sent a hurried and emotionally charged text to my kids who were over five hundred miles away.

Their response made me tear up. "There's a rainbow on TV...Right when you sent this there was a rainbow on TV on the movie we're watching..." Followed by a photo of a rainbow. "First thing I see when I opened Instagram," my daughter added.

I was blown away.

What is so significant about simultaneous rainbow sightings? Let's begin with the rarity of a random rainbow making its way across our local evening sky.

But, there's more. The plea I had made in prayer minutes before, Lord, if I am misunderstanding what I believe to be Your calling on my life, will you please tell me? If I'm not on the right path, will you please SHOW me?!" 

I was feeling very battle weary. Vitriol on Facebook had me scratching my head in discouragement. I was lamenting over some of the messages I'd received. Head stuffy and body lethargic from a summer cold. Feeling completely misunderstood, labeled, judged.

MUCH like the people I feel called to love on, support, and serve. Wow...it was just a glimpse. But I am beginning to really get a feel for their journey. Those who have been misunderstood. Labeled. Judged. Mistreated. Discriminated against.

That rainbow? And the other two appearing to my kids at the exact time, over five hundred miles away, at exactly the same moment in time (8:14, to be exact!)? I believe they were answers to this woman's plea ~ SHOW me! I want to get this one right!

A rainbow of all things!! As Facebook is overtaken by countless profile pics photo-shopped with rainbow colors to represent their support for a community of people who are rejoicing ~ finally feeling seen, heard, acknowledged.

How utterly fitting it seems. In my cries for direction and affirmation, I saw a rainbow. Dangling from a cloud. And what I heard in my spirit was this ~ Stay the course, my child. Stay the course.

I know. This is just one girl's experience. I know all the theological arguments and I never claim to have all the answers. But I know the One who does. And what I do have, is a love for people in the gay community, and for their families and friends.

Radical, eye-popping, hand-clapping love I did not...could not...manufacture on my own.

YOU are loved! And this woman of faith is here to proclaim ~ GOD LOVES YOU TOO!

May I never forget that colorful reminder.