...running the course God sets before us, no matter the cost, no matter the task, to the end, for His glory

Monday, March 28, 2011

Soaring or Wallowing? It's a Choice

"There is an eagle in me that wants to soar, and there is a hippopotamus in me that wants to wallow in the mud."
 -Carl Sandburg

I don't know much about Carl Sandburg, besides that he is a poet, but I sure do like this quote.

I really don't know that much about eagles or hippopotamus..es? (hippopotomii?)  I do now know however (or have learned in the last few moments) that I did not previously know how to spell one hippopotamus, much less the plural form.  Hmmm.....I guess I haven't written much about them before.

But, back to the quote.  I so identify.  I completely understand what Mr. Sandburg means.  However, I think there is another option that he left out- the "eaglpotamus". You will have to use your imagination because google images did not have a picture of this one! But I have one in me which is trying to both soar and wallow AT THE SAME TIME.  Gravity really make this impossible- I mean, think of eagle's wings trying to lift a hippopotamus' behind.  Ain't happenin' sister.

As I pictured the contradiction of the eagle and hippopotamus in my own and apparently Carl's hearts, I began to look at some Scripture a little differently:

For momentary, light affliction is producing in us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
II Corinthians 4:17-18
Wallowing hippo: looks at temporal
Soaring eagle:  looks at eternal

Do not lie, to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him.
Colossians 3:9-10
Wallowing hippo: puts on old self
Soaring eagle: puts on new self

Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed with me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence.
Psalm 42: 5
Wallowing hippo: despairs and is disturbed
Soaring eagle: hopes and praises

Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
Proverbs 3:7
Wallowing hippo: thinks he is wise
Soaring eagle: fears the Lord and turns away from evil

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.  For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.
Galatians 5:16-17a
Wallowing hippo: walks by the flesh
Soaring eagle:  walks (or flies) by the Spirit

So, it is a choice.

Will I wallow or will I soar?

Yes, I have both the wallower and the soarer inside of me. And there are too many times I choose to wallow instead of soar.

Makes me think of Romans 7: 
For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.
Romans 7:15

Oh, wretched wallower that I am!
Why would I stay in the mud when I could soar through the skies?

Probably because it takes more effort to soar than wallow.  In fact, that is probably the only thing that wallowing has going for it.  It takes NO effort.  It IS inertia.  It IS the status quo.  It IS staying where you are with no effort to move or grow or change.

He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay;
And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.
And He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God;
Many will see and fear,
And will trust in the Lord.
Psalms 40:1-3

Hallelujah!  I don't have to stay in the mud!  And I don't have to pull myself up out of it.

God will BRING ME out of the miry clay!

So the next time you read Isaiah 40:28-31, think of the hippo and the eagle.

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is an eternal God,
the creator of the whole earth.
He does not get tired or weary;
there is no limit to his wisdom.

(Encouragement for the hippo in me:)
He gives strength to those who are tired;
to the ones who lack power, he gives renewed energy.
Even youths get tired and weary;
even strong young men clumsily stumble.

(Encouragement for the eagle in me:)
But those who wait for the Lord’s help find renewed strength;
they rise up as if they had eagles’ wings.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms

Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;

Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

We sang this old hymn Sunday.

It was so wonderful to sing the old words.  I love contemporary worship songs as well, but it warms my heart to sing a song written in 1887 and feel the fellowship of trusting God with Believers who lived over a hundred years before me.  It was written by Anthony J. Showalter and Elisha Hoffman as they reflected on the verse Deut. 33:27: "The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms."

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Leaning seems to me to be the opposite of striving.  Of doing.  Of toiling.  Of laboring.  Of fighting. Of contending.  Of working.

Leaning is a picture of resting.  Of surrendering.  Of waiting.  Of reclining.  Of trusting.

Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Am I dreading something?
Am I fearing anything?
Am I aware of the closeness of my Savior?
He is close enough for me to lean.  To lean on Him.  To lean on His everlasting arms.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, 
 And do not lean on your own understanding.
Prov 3:5

Should I lean on myself? On my own understanding?

Not if I am trusting.  Trusting in the Lord with my whole heart is the only way I will have the faith to lean on Him and wait patiently for Him to move as He so chooses.

So I will choose to lean.

Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Much-Tried Path

He who would glorify his God must set his account upon meeting with many trials. No man can be illustrious before the Lord unless his conflicts be many. If then, yours be a much-tried path, rejoice in it, because you will the better show forth the all-sufficient grace of God. As for His failing you, never dream of it—hate the thought. The God who has been sufficient until now, should be trusted to the end.         -Charles Spurgeon

The much-tried path.

The one with trials.  With conflicts.  With difficulties.

But I am mistaken if I just focus on the path.

It is not actually about the path.

For the path is just a canvas.  A place for God to have the opportunity to paint a masterpiece.

A masterpiece for a display of His Grace.  His Sufficiency.  His Supply.  His indefatigable resources.

So praise you Father for this much-tried path You have allowed me to be on.  To walk on, to stumble on, and occasionally even trip on.  The one where You pick me up and comfort me and point me in the right direction again.

And then send me on my way.  Still on the same much-tried path.  But not alone.

Never, ever alone.

"Be content with what you have, for he has said, 

'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'"

Hebrews 13:5

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Ouch! That Hurts!

God has been teaching me a lot of things lately.
About Himself.
About myself.

And some have been painful to learn.  Maybe. Just maybe it is because.  I.  Learn. Slow.

And as I have "been in school" with Jesus, I have been looking for Scripture to light the way.  One I have been visiting often this month is:
All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.           ~Hebrews 12:11

So I guess it is all right if it doesn't seem joyful right now.  Because someday.....

That brings me to my daughter Grace.

She is a lovely girl.  And lives up to her name by being graceful.

But her teeth. Her teeth seemed to have a mind of their own.

Not her baby teeth.  Her baby teeth were perfectly straight.  But the permanent teeth. The ones that matter.  The ones you get to live with forever.

Before braces!
Oy veh.

Her kind and soft hearted brothers referred to her eye teeth as "the fangs".  (My girls are tough!)

So we did what every red-blooded, loving, American parent with an extra (ahem) $5000.00 does.  We got braces.  We paid for them by the month of course.  For months and months and months.  But we got braces.

And they made a huge difference.  But they also reaffirmed in Grace's mind the old adage, "No pain, no gain."
During braces.

Braces hurt. Alot.

They make your gums ache.  They tear up the inside of your mouth.  And every time you finally get used to the way things feel, it is time for another appointment.  The orthodontist changes your wire and your rubber bands.  And it starts aching all over again.

But it begins to feel worth it as you see "the fangs" descend and take their rightful place in your mouth. Teeth straighten.  Your bite lines up.

And then THE BIG DAY comes.  The braces come off!  Great celebration occurs and it usually involves chewing ice, eating popcorn, sticky, hard candy, and bubble gum.  Which of course you never indulged in while your braces were on because you realized what a sacrifice your parents were making and would never jeopardize that!  Ever.  (When people were looking anyway.)

No braces!
But, back to THE BIG DAY, besides running your tongue over your now-smooth teeth repeatedly or stealing glances at the mirror, the other thing that happens is that sweet feeling of assurance that all the pain and trouble and motrin were worth it after all.

You SEE the fruit of the braces.  Straight teeth.

What does that have to do with Hebrews 12:11?  Please don't think I am trying to trivialize Scripture, but as I was thinking about the analogy of "Braces" I came up with the ROV (Revised Orthodontic Version) of Hebrews 12:11:
"All braces for the moment seems not to be joyful, but painful; yet to those whose teeth have been trained by them, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of straight teeth."
Like I said, I am not trying to trivialize Scripture.  I value It WAY too much to do that.  But it helps me get my mind around and physically picture what is happening in my own life spiritually.  Because my spiritual "teeth" have been getting straightened.

If pieces of metal and wires and rubber bands can do such drastic things to teeth, just think how much more God can use circumstances in our lives to drastically change our hearts!

Difficult circumstances can:

  • hurt, just like braces.
  • take some getting used to, just like braces.
  • cause major changes, just like braces.
  • be expensive, just like braces.
  • take time to accomplish the desired outcome, just like braces.
  • be better endured when you know that the gain is worth the pain, Just Like Braces.
We put a lot of hope and trust in to our orthodontist.  We would have never trusted him with our daughter and her mouth and our money if we did not believe he would fix the issues.

How much more with God.

In 2 Corinthians 1 Paul speaks of he and Timothy going through afflictions, suffering, more affliction, excessive burdens, and despairing of even life.

I think Paul's difficult circumstances beat mine.  As a matter of fact, his pretty much rule.

But he hoped and trusted in the God that was ruling and transforming  and MOVING his life.
...we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead;  Who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on Whom we have set our hope.  ~2Corinthians 1:9,10
So on whom or on what have I set my hope?

Myself and my good intentions?  My family to do what they are supposed to do?  My friends to see and meet my needs?  My finances to cover my requirements?  My circumstance to work out?  My plans to succeed?

Instead I need to remember He on Whom I have set my hope and let all those things above simply be my braces setting my crooked heart straight and moving my resistant heart closer to Him!  It may feel painful for the moment.  It may even ache.  It may take a long time.

But in the end.  Oh in the end.  The blessed, blessed fruit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. ~Galatians 5:22,23

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Thoughts on the Spurs Silver Dancers

Last Sunday I had the rare opportunity to go to a Spurs game.

Let me set the stage:

George Gervin in knee socks!

  • I LOVE the Spurs.
  • I RARELY get to go to a game.
  • I did not become a Spurs fan once they started winning championships. No sir. I have been a  Spurs fan since they played at Hemisphere arena.  Can anyone say "George Gervin"?
  • On many levels, I think David Robinson is the greatest. athlete. and. gentleman. ever.
  • Though not usually prone to being a big mascot fan (something about grown men running around in stuffed furry costumes always sort of gave me the creeps), but I really enjoy the Spurs Coyote. 

I love me some Spurs.

Go! Spurs! Go!

Okay, so with that in mind, let me tell you about Sunday.  We are so excited to go to the game.  I mean, what a season the Spurs are having!  And the last game they had played against the Heat was amazing!  

Um.  Sunday?  Not so much.

The Spurs came to the game, but apparently left their knowledge of how to actually play basketball at home.

22 straight wins at home.  And we go to the game where that amazing streak ends.


But all of the above is just extra, because that is not the point of this blog.

At the end of the very embarrassing first quarter of non-basketball playing, the Spurs Silver Dancers come out on the court.

Excuse me?  Are you kidding me?  

First of all- where did they get those outfits?  And who let them out of the locker room looking like that?

Second of all- some of their dance moves-  um-   I just can't come up with the words.  At least not ones I think are appropriate to write.

Do you remember in "Father of the Bride Two" with Steve Martin when he has having an 
argument with the females in his family and asks, "Why am I the only feminist here?"

That is how I felt on Sunday night.

Why am I the only feminist here?

I am a stay-at-home, progeny-producing, let-my-husband-lead-the-familying, homeschooling girl.  Not exactly a good candidate for Gloria Steinem.  

But why, in an age when supposedly we want women to be valued for more than their body do we sit idly by while women FLAUNT THEIR BODY as if that is the only asset that matters?  Is this the respect that the women's movement promised?  Was this the result they expected?

So, back to the game.

So these, .....um, ......hmmm, ......what to call them?.......,"dancers" come out and the two men I am with, my son and my husband, because they are REAL men, and GOOD men, looked straight down.

Actually you really needed to use the "this plane is going to crash so assume the crash position" type of looking down because the girls were on the court and the big screen and just everywhere and it was a little hard to get away from them.

And I was mad.

I mean, actually, I was already mad because the Spurs had played a horrible first quarter, and it was against the Lakers (and I hate the Lakers), and their was an obnoxious Lakers fan RIGHT next to us, and just when it seemed it couldn't get any worse....

THEY pranced out on the floor. 

If you think about it, if those "dancers" walked out of the arena in those outfits and down the street and stood on the corner waiting for, say, the walk sign to turn green, they might just be detained by a police officer for possible "illegal activity".....just saying.

And then they started to dance.  Okay.  STOP DANCING LIKE THAT.  Oh, I am sorry. Did I yell?


It was just awful.  And I cringed every single time they pranced back out there through that whole miserable game.

The first game the Spurs lost after 22 straight wins at home!

Oh, sorry, got off topic again.

Later, after talking to a friend about the Silver Dancers she related that her family stopped going to games because of those Dancers!

That makes me think.  I don't want to sit idly by any more.

So, my first attempt at not sitting idly by is to write this post.  Impressive. I know.

Okay, possibly more action will be required.  I think I will write a letter to the Spurs and at least let them know how un-family-friendly their dancers are. Maybe they actually think all the fans like "dancers" like that?

Maybe I will send all the "dancers" black t-shirts that can be put on next time, since apparently none of them can afford to BUY A SHIRT to wear in front of thousands of fans.

I just might have to do more.

I am still thinking about it.  What to do. What to do?

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Little of THIS

Sometimes I read something and it almost feels like the scales are falling off my eyes.  That is one reason I love words so much.  Revelation is communicated in words.

I was on another Mom's blog the other day and that exact thing happened. I don't have the exact quote, but the main point of the writer was that the Lord loved her so much and that He desired relationship with her so much.  And so He had given her the relationship that she was writing about to accomplish that goal.

Wait a minute.  You mean it isn't ultimately about the earthly whatever is happening?  It is actually about us and the Lord?

Ah. Wow.  It is the THIS of life.  THIS is what He uses to draw us.  Whatever is happening.  Whoever is there.  Whenever it occurs.  We get so caught up in the what, that we forget the WHY.  The WHY of the THIS.

As in, "THIS is what I have for you My child.  And it is so you will know Me better."

THIS.  THIS can mean lots of things.

As I pondered THIS I started thinking about some things:
  • First, what a privilege that the God of the universe desires a relationship with me.  
  • Second, if God loves me so much that He desires a relationship with me and is willing to use anything to have a deeper relationship with me, then
    • what is the THIS He using in my life?
    • and I am learning from it and drawing near to Him or I am rather becoming confused and frustrated and drawing away from Him?
So what is He using in my life?  What is He using in yours?  If I can look at everything in my life as simply a means of deepening my relationship with my Father, wouldn't that transform and redeem EVERY situation? Every THIS?

This deepest of deep relationships has always been God's heartcry.
"you will be My people, and I will be your God." (Ezekiel 36:28) 
Over and over in the Old Testament God states that His desire is for His people to identify with Him and follow Him with their whole heart.

But honestly, some of the places He calls me, I am not sure I want to go.  Sometimes it is hard to see how where He is leading me will accomplish this goal.  The way looks hard, and difficult, and even potentially painful.

Dale Tagett asks on The Truth Project, " What if I really believed, what I really believed was really real?"

What if I really believed that everything in my life would draw me closer to my Lord and that everything and everyone in my life were simply catalysts toward a deeper and more intimate relationship with my Heavenly Father?

Is there anything I wouldn't endure?

Is there anyone I wouldn't love on?

Is there anywhere I wouldn't go?

If I really, really believed it?  Really?

THIS relationship, THIS circumstance, THIS shortfall, THIS struggle, THIS sickness, THIS heartbreak.

All of THIS is available to draw me nearer.

And therefore, all of THIS is completely and absolutely worth it.  It is not to be avoided.  It is not to be pushed away.

Instead I could look at any and all of THIS as a door.  With Jesus on the other side.  Calling me to go higher up and further in.

John 10:9,10:  I am the door. If anyone enters through mehe will be saved, and will come in and go out, and find pasture.  I have come so that they may have lifeand may have it abundantly.