Tuesday, December 27, 2011

"God"-iva Moments in my Macaroni Life!

I love that title! It's where I live.  I can imagine it splashed across a book at Barnes and Noble. Maybe one that Barbara Johnson would have written.  I want to share just such a moment.  It happened on my birthday during a chapel class at my childrens' Christian school last year.  Miss Rosalind had been teaching the kids all of the different names for God: Jehovah Shalom, Jehovah Nissi, and the one for this particular day, Jehovah Jireh--God provides.  She asked what does God provide for them?  Little Lacy said He gave her a puppy.  Brian said predictably He provides our parents and our teachers. Others dutifully added houses and clothes.  I was proud when my daughter said that He offers us grace and love.  From the back of the room, I enthusiastically raised my hand.  A bit surprised, Miss Rosalind called on me.  "What does God provide you, Mrs. Fish?"  "Raspberries,"  I proclaimed, and as my hand was coming down, I added, "and chocolate!" 

Satisfied with my originality, I headed upstairs to attempt to work on the school newsletter at the computer.  The wonderful mom who had created it had moved away.  With fear and trembling I desperately tried to recall her instructions.  After a grueling hour, I still had not formatted one text box.  The printer was offline and it had taken twenty minutes to hunt down the password to the PTA account.   I felt so incompetent and frustrated.  And very alone.  So many times I felt that I carried the school's existence on my shoulders (my control problem rears its head!).  If I couldn't create the newsletter, then I feared several past donors would dry up and blow away.  The phone rang.  Not the rescue call I'd hoped for.  My husband voicing some frustration at me for something I'd forgotten to do.  More failure.  And frustration.  I was definitely done with the computer.

My friend Mary Ann called next to see where I wanted to go for my birthday lunch.  She offerred to take me to Cheeves, the town's ultimate tuxedo and lace establishment.   Looking down at my faded shorts, my flip flops and my failing heart, I squeezed out, "if I go anywhere, I'd be more at home in Cracker Barrel."  You can find me somewhere by the old waxed lips and Bonanza reruns.  Minutes later, I found her and pulled my chair up to the table, wondering if I could make it through ordering without wiping my eyes.  She wished me happy birthday and added, "oh, I found this walking through Macy's this morning and thought of you."  Then she reached into her purse and put something onto the table.  Stunned, I looked down and saw a Godiva raspberry chocolate candy bar! 

I laughed out loud and shared with her my Jehovah Jireh moment.  My heart melted, warmed by Abba's sense of humor and perfect timing.  He truly reached down and took hold of me! (Psalm 18) and "provided" the best birthday present ever--I truly am known and loved by My Creator.  The next week I shared with the kids how He came through for me in the midst of my ache--my macaroni life.  I don't know if they remembered my story past lunch, but I've never forgotten.  Even today, He still makes me laugh.  May He bring you many more raspberry chocolate Kisses!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Wardrobe's Wide Open

"To know Him as he is, is to come home."--John Eldredge, Beautiful Outlaw

Something happens in my throat when I read that word, "home."  My eyes fill.  My throat tightens.  Why do we long for home?  I think of the faith walkers in the book of Hebrews who "were longing for a better country, a heavenly one," (Heb. 11:16).  C.S. Lewis concluded, "maybe we were made for another  world."  What if this other world arrives before the coffin closes?  What if it's just beyond the wardrobe door?  Lucy kept her eyes open and peered into another realm.  She believes Aslan exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him (Heb. 11:6).  Why don't we press beyond the fur coats?  They soothe us with their softness.  They lull us to sleep by their warmth. 

What drives you to tiptoe past what you can't see?  What unseen thing are you craning your neck to discover?  What propels you into the unknown?  For me, Tozer accurately describes this yearning with his phrase "children of the burning heart."  --much like the Emmaus disciples who pondered, "weren't our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road?" (Luke 24:32).  Curiously, Jesus played hide and seek with their hearts.  He "acted as if" he had dinner plans somewhere else.  They had to beg him to stay.  Why Lord do you seem to tease?  John Eldredge jokes in Beautiful Outlaw, what kind of God spends his resurrection day playing tricks on his friends??  I'd understand better if Jesus grabbed a megaphone or a TV camera and shouted, "It's really me!! I have returned!  No worries!" 

Has He ever brushed so close to you, you felt His fur on your cheek?  only to run away again?  Did you know it was Him?  Too often I demand He shout into my pain.  I want real answers written on a wall.  What if instead He shimmers in silence?  What if He really is playful as Eldredge suggests?  A few months ago the wardrobe door flew open on its hinges, and Jesus handed me a glimpse into  another world.  Two weeks before school started my twelve year old son let out a wail as he collapsed on our couch.  In his world learning he couldn't be with his friends as he entered middle school was devastating.  I had made a grievous mistake.  I read the map wrong on the school website.  The city built a new school at the edge of town and drew the boundary lines to include our home in that catchment area.  Only I missed it.  For months we were under the impression that he would be at the old school closest to our home with all his friends from his former school, from church and all his sports teams.  No.  And even my crying in front of administrators fell on deaf ears.  As a mom, I felt I had failed my son.  I had worked so hard to be sure I had gotten it right.  My words, "I want to get this right" that I spoke numerous times to the counselor echoed back to me in my head.

You know, I think in life I work terribly hard to "get it right."   Even as I write this, I'm agonizing over following good writing rules. I've broken them all: too many "be" verbs, passive voices, and negative wording.  I can get constipated emotionally and become paralyzed with the fear of being wrong.  Maybe in this boundary situation Aslan called me into the realm of the invisible where "right" is not something I do but it is something in Him I already am.

As I ached for my son and my need to fix the unfixable, Jesus flashed on my mind the principal verse from Beth Moore's Inheritance study.  I rehearsed this verse weekly for six months (the study isn't that long but I decided to take it twice!):  "The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places, indeed I have a beautiful inheritance," (Psalm 16:6).  Whoosh--what was that??  Narnian snow fluttered past my cheek.  Oh.  Jesus.  "How could I have missed you?  You're in this?" I asked.  "Of course I AM, " He whispered.  "I have drawn these boundary lines.  You never got it wrong.  I know what I'm up to.  Trust Me.  Your son is My beautiful inheritance."  Then I realized over the past several months there were countless opportunities for Yahweh to reveal the truth to us--numerous conversations, friends admitting they knew I was wrong but assumed we had worked something out, so they kept quiet.  And so did He.  He veiled Himself on my Emmaus road. 

I hesistantly told my son the divine whisper in Psalm 16:6.  In our family we call this a "God sighting."  My son believed it too.  I asked him if he wanted me to pursue a transfer with another administrator.  "No Mom, it's OK."  That night during our prayer time he prayed, "God thank you for helping me get used to the idea of going to the new school.  And thank you for giving Mom a God sighting."  My heart exploded.  I was so proud of him.  Maybe I was "right" after all.  Maybe . . . it's even bigger than that.  God had stretched my boundary lines past the walls of this world.  Together my son and I saw Him who is invisible! (Heb. 11:27).  And I laughed outloud as He disappeared from my sight again (Luke 24:31). 

Lord, I will follow your game of hide and seek.  Like Lucy, the Voice I like best in the world is calling my name.  Help me push past the false fur of the world for the richness of Your mane.  You draw all my boundary lines even those that look like they're on the other side of the cliff.  Help me trust You in the unseen.

 Sometimes Elaine the best form of transportation is a leap of faith.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What is Joy?

One morning recently as I watched steam curl upward from my pumpkin spice coffee, I queried the Lord.  "What is joy?"  I wondered.  He whispered,

Joy is what you were made for--
Joy is where I AM, joy is who I AM.
It lifts you to where you belong
   in front of My shining face, My glorious smile.

Joy is movement bursting forth,
Joy is the song of the stars,
   pulsing My presence to the world.

Joy is beyond--
   the feeling of My lifegiving fountain
   pouring out your fingertips,
   effervescing fizz, bubbling over.

Joy is being fully satisfied--
   a quiet, solid rest
   that slows the restlessness, leaving all that is quaking  . . . still.
A knowing deep in the soul
that I have made all things right.

Joy is the dance You and I do together
  anywhere . . . anytime,
  lost in love.

"Wilderness and desert will sing joyously, the badlands will celebrate and flower--
Like the crocus in spring, bursting into blossom,
a symphony of song and color. . . .
God's resplendent glory, fully on display.  God awesome.  God majestic.

Energize the limp hands, strengthen rubbery knees.  Tell fearful souls,
'Courage!  Take heart!  God is here, right here, on his way to put things right
And redress all wrongs.  He's on his way! He'll save you!"  Isaiah 35:1-4 (MSG)

I would love to know how you define joy!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

                 Gathering Prayer

Give me a candle of the Spirit, O God
as I go down into the deep of my own being.

Show me the hidden things.  Take me down
into the spring of my life, and
tell me my nature and my name.

Give me freedom to grow so that I
may become my true self--
the fulfillment of the seed which
You planted in me at my making.

Out of the Deep I cry unto Thee, O God.  Amen.

George Appleton

Rock On Sister!

Have you ever waited on God for something so long that you've wanted to give up? Are there places in your life where you've boxed up your hope like last year's christmas decorations? A good friend once told me, "you've had arrows in your heart so long, you've decorated them." She was right. Glitter is my friend.

I'm always amazed at my ability to pretend. Pretend the heartache isn't real, the longing doesn't matter, the weariness is normal. John Eldredge asks, "Does the king in exile pretend he is happy there?"

I love what God showed Linda Dillow about waiting in Satisfy My Thirsty Soul. She wondered with me what God meant in the verse,"I will watch expectantly for the Lord, I will wait for the God of my salvation" (Micah 7:7). It seemed contradictory to her. "Watch expectantly" creates the image of standing on tiptoes, peering through the window anticipating daddy's return from war. Yet "wait patiently" seems slow, unending, twirling your thumbs. She asked Jesus how do these two go together? He whispered to her heart: "Rock" and showed her a picture of a rocking chair.

As we rock forward, we lean looking ahead in to the future. Expecting. We confidently anticipate God is working and will show His power.  Knowing He will.  Then we rock backward.  Resting.  Remembering how Abba has been faithful in the past.  Patient. Together, these two rhythms of life soothe and comfort my anxious, doubtful heart.   Hmmm, maybe I need to pull that old glider out of storage . . . .

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

May I take Your order, Lord?

I've done some more reflecting on what it means to wait on God.  Have you ever thought about the fact that "wait" has two meanings?  We can wait patiently or we can wait on a customer in a restaurant.  So "wait" also connotates ministering or serving another.  Bob Sorge explains in Secrets of the Secret Place that one of the greatest incentives for waiting on God is found in Psalm 104:4, "who makes His ministers . . . a flame of fire."

He writes, "the original word for ministers (Hebrew, sharat) speaks of someone who waits on, who serves, ministers, attends.  So sharat hints of intimacy, referring to those servants who serve in closest proximity to the king.  And here's what God does with His ministers who wait on Him:  He makes them a flame of fire!  He ignites them with the passions of His heart and enflames them with zeal for His face and for His kingdom.  God's enflaming zeal empowers us to wait on Him."  Abba so desires us to be with Him and to minister to Him especially when our hearts are squeezed.   

 If I marry the two meanings of the word "wait," then attending to the Lord would mean serving Him what I'm waiting for--.  "Here's your stagnant water with a side of weary fries, Sir."  Can I really enter Abba's throneroom with all my questions? my resignation? all my-WHERE ARE YOU LORD?!"  Really? How does that minister to You?  Can THAT stink be the perfume I pour at your feet?  I thought that it should at least smell holy.  Aren't I supposed to leave all my distractions at the door?  Will You actually set this stained polyester uniform on fire? 

Moses marched into God's throneroom, waiting on an answer.  Moses wanted to know who would go with him into the promised land.  He couldn't imagine going without the I AM.  By himself, he wasn't enough.  Amazingly, Yahweh's verbal reassurance wasn't enough either.  Moses wanted to see God's glory.  Moses cried, "HOW will anyone know You are pleased with me? . . .NOW show me Your glory" and You responded, "there is a place NEAR ME where you may stand on a Rock" Exodus 33: 16,18,21 (emphasis mine).  Moses desperately needed to know God was with him in the middle of an overwhelming rebellion (the golden calf nightmare), and the subsequent call to the promised land.  He needed reassurance that he wouldn't fall out of God's favor.  Real, present, experiential reassurance.   He refused to take a step unless someone was with him.  And he wasn't satisfied with angelic hosts.  So Abba says, "come over here. Yes you.  under My arm, right near me, you bold rascal.  I will do the very thing you have asked.  I will show you who I AM and when My goodness gets too intense, I've got that covered too.  I AM pleased with you  and I know you by name" Ex. 33:17, 21-22 (emphasis and paraphrase mine). 

Wow.  I know there is so much more in this entire passage that is beyond my scope, but I am struck at God's intimate response.  A paragraph ago He told Moses He might destroy the people for their idolatry.  Like when as a parent you tell your kids, "if Mommy doesn't leave the room now, she's going to do something she regrets!"  God's ready to foster the whole lot and start over with Moses.  Several times the Lord calls them"your people Moses that you brought up from Egypt," (Ex. 32:7, 33:1) and Moses very pointedly reminds Him, "no these insolent teenagers are Your people" (Ex. 32:11, 33:13b, 15-16).  Much like a game of hot potato, they seem to toss the Israelites back and forth:  "you take them, they're yours; no, they're not, you deal with them, I'm done!"  After this tug-of-war, Yahweh responds to Moses and promises His presence with him (and them?).  Moses declares, "NOW show me Your glory."  And God says,"Yes" and pulls him close to a "place near (Him)."

Wrestle and "wait" on Him in His throneroom.  Tell Him your feelings, your fears, the "very things" you desire.  Serve Him your longings.  Pull out that dust-covered dream out from under your bed.  I wish I could pass you a steaming cup of coffee and hear your heart on my back porch.  I believe that in the process of pouring out your aching heart, you are ministering to the Lord.  He longs to speak with you face-to-face, as He speaks with a friend (Ex. 33:11).  The enemy would have you believe that you're selfish for declaring your needs, wants and desires.  That's a lie.  If it matters to you, it matters to God.  He leans in very close when He hears us say, "now DO something God!"  After all, you're coming to Him, not Oprah, the TV, or the refrigerator.

I believe our questions will become consumed in His holy fire.  Our tears become "liquid prayers," and are set on fire in the face of His Presence.  Polyester does burn!   Sometimes we get answers; other times we majestically get---Him.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Abba's Lap

I really don't know how to begin.  To be honest this post is really more for me than for you.  I want to put into black and white one of the most amazing encounters with Jesus and Father God I''ve ever had.  It was during the Captivating Retreat last October at Frontier Ranch outside of Denver.  A number of times they sent us off to answer a question in God's presence.  This was the longest, hardest question I've ever asked.  And yet, my lips hadn't formed the words.  I knew He had shown me, "who fathers the drops of dew" the year before.  He became safe and good, but I heard the Father's voice more like a faint echo bouncing off canyon walls.  Significant, powerful, yes.  But thin.  I honestly wasn't sure if the echo wasn't my own.  In this vision, Abba Father was unmistakeable.  Front and center.  My Isaiah 6 moment.  The train of His robe filled the temple.

Behold He comes . . . .I see you Jesus riding on a horse straight for me--like Aragorn--I'm in a white gown with gold trim.  You extend your hand and grandly pull me on with you, my royal gown swirling behind.
       "Let Me take you to the Father.  You'll like Him too.  He's really kind.
        I promise.  He's full of laughter, smiles and tickles.  And crowns.  Lots of them. 
        And sparkles.  He won't make you work.  You can rest.  Run and play little rabbit.
        He's the King I tell you-from The Quiltmaker's Gift," Jesus whispers.

        "You are fuzzy, Elaine.  Like the lambs I hold close to my heart.  Soft.
          Remember you are that soft spot.  Come child.  Climb into my lap.
          I will never hurt you.  I promise.  I am not angry with you.
          I never was.
          Believe Me, Child.  Right here.  In this place.  I am not angry," Abba pleads.

I've never really climbed in your lap, Abba, I lament.

          "I know.  And I've waited.  Waited for you to know I AM safe.  I am the Father of
          the night dew.  There is nothing harsh about Me.  Nothing abrasive.  I'm sorry your father
          doesn't know who I am or how to love.  It's not what I planned for you."

What did you plan?

          "Soft.  And "when she landed the little rabbit came down soft" (from The Velveteen Rabbit).  In your fall, I will stay.   Right here-wiping away your dirt with My tears.  Never shaming.  Nor should-ing."

I have no answer Dad to all the should's.  There must be something wrong with me.
Remember--"I'm right, you're wrong.  You stink," he sarcastically joked.

           "Elaine, let's put to death now and forever that there has been anything
            wrong with you.  Let Me be your happy thought.  I'm not upset with you.  I AM
            safe.  I have no sharp edges.  I don't have to be carefully kept.  And I don't
            break easily.  If praise is like perfume, I'll lavish Mine on you.  Elaine, you smell
            good.  You never stunk.  And I don't either.  I receive you and breathe you in. 
            Elaine, I pour My love on you.  Like oil upon your feet, like wine for you to drink,
            like water from My heart.  Don't you get it??  I loved you FIRST!  Now let Me.
            I'll pour My love on you, and My love is neverending.  Do cool waters ever cease
            to flow?  Come up higher My beloved.  You've become My soul's delight.  Here with
            you I find My life.  Sit.  I am running after you!  Sit with Me here and let Me hold you.
            I never left you.  I want to hold you for a long time, Elaine.

            You've become My joy and My song.  Proclaim it.  From the roof!  I've made you to
             be a mouthpiece. Don't let the enemy steal what I have put in you.  I will guide you.
             I wanted this deeper healing for you.  I wanted you to know Me as Papa, as Daddy.
             You don't have to perform, but I sure love watching you twirl!  I can't keep My eyes
             off you!"

I am undone.

My Together-Life Exploded

I knew when I left the room, I was going to wail.  But I tried holding it in.  Just keep breathing . . . I knew it wasn't going to be enough.  It was too quiet.  And I knew I couldn't hold it in.  It wasn't time to be silent.  It was coming faster than I could handle.  So I had to head where I heard noise.  Sound was coming from the air conditioning unit downstairs by the bathrooms.  But the women's was full.  So I found myself in the men's bathroom.  funny.  The last time I was held by my earthly father was when I was throwing up-in a bathroom.  The irony of being in a man's domain.  I had to lean over the sink-the pressure against my stomach felt like it was holding me together--as my heart and my gut fell completely apart. 

The tears started flowing, my breath started getting heavy and then the pain broke out of its cage in the core of my being.  Explosions of grief.  For some reason I turned on the faucet.  Maybe I wanted to drown out the sound of my sobbing.  Wails over and over, like the tide coming in--crashing on the shore of my together-life.  My hands went numb, tingling; they felt like they were trying to leave my body.  Then my feet turned off, like I was paralyzed.  And I hear Jesus announce, "let's go.  Let's do this thing."  I've been waiting my whole life.

How many people have spoken over me that when they look into my soul they see weeping and more weeping.  The singing prophet three weeks ago said, "it is good.  It's OK to cry it out, for the joy of the Lord is your strength."  Through the earthquake that was my form, I heard, "I forgive you Elaine for being human.  I forgive you for not making him stop.  I forgive you for not giving her strength."  A memory flashed of a note with fried egg eyes I'd drawn as a very small child.  My mother wrote, "Dear Santa, I'm giving you my blankie because I want to be a big girl and not a baby.  Will you give me Tippee Tumbles instead? It's fun to be a big girl and not a baby."  In that moment I traded my innocence for self-protection and control.  And I didn't even know.

That was the only security I had.  And you took it away.  But God says, "Elaine, I've got you covered.  With My security blanket all over you--My feather wings of refuge.  I'm over and around and underneath."  So I vowed as a child I will never be a baby again.  Why can't I even say the name?  Sanguines are supposed to use "baby" with affectionate tones.  I can't get the word out of my mouth.  I wonder if this is why two of my children can't stand babies?  And now my mother declares at 72, "I want to be the baby and have others take care of me."  At 72! Who is the parent?  did she feel jealous of my needs? did my needs expose her lack?  that she didn't have enough to give?  She still gets amazed when she sees a picture of Steve and I at 6 and 4.  She says with surprise, "I really was a mother, wasn't I?"  Huh?  is that because she's seen herself as the child her whole married life?

I croaked out the words, "I get to be the baby.  I GET to be the baby!!  I was never made to carry you-to labor with you.  God will birth you.  I release you to Him."  Sob, sob.  Then a pretty girl with long black hair and pure blue eyes came in to my ashes there in the bathroom.  She stroked my back and held my hair.  Washing my feet with her presence, she gently said, "You're not alone. Are you going to be OK?"  I nodded looking up at her, hair wet, face streaked with black and salt, stomach still heaving.  "He's here," she whispered.  "Let it out."  A transcendent moment-then she was gone.  I haven't seen her since.

As she first touched me, I felt hot liquid rising in my throat.  I realy felt like I might release my lunch--years of memories of never having enough.  Starving for more and feeling guilty.  Hold on God.  Hold me.  Your heavenly Father wants to hold you for a long time," you've said through others over and over.  I 'm watching my tears fall into the sink, then soaking my face, drenching it with the cool water, splashing it onto me.  Hearing its continual noise I'm reminded that cool waters from distant sources never cease to flow.  The water from the faucet splashes against the sink, mixing with my tears.  Some I notice are round and perfect, just like dew drops.  Smile.  There you are again, Lord. 

Again I forgive myself for being a human doing.  I kept hearing, "work, work harder.  Get it right.  He still yells.  She still makes mistakes.  Fix it.  Faster!  Make them hear.  Make them change!"  Then He showed me.  He made me a human "dew"-ing.  And dew simply arrives from Him.  It doesn't orchestrate its being.  It comes in the mystery of night, when conditions are just right.  And it shows the freshness and favor of the King!  I simply am.  I reflect.  I sparkle.  I don't move.  I stay in His embrace.  I watched the sink droplets get heavier and heavier, and run down to the larger pool away from the emptiness to join Abba's river flow.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Deep calls unto Deep

"The woman said, Sir how are you going to get this living water?. . . . Jesus said, Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again.  Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst--not ever.  The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life." John 4:13-14 (the MSG)

Then spring up O well within me!!  Remember that crazy kid song? I can see the motions and hear the "gusha, gusha, gush" part in my head even now.  Is Jesus really serious when he says we won't ever thirst spiritually??  So if I do experience dryness, is it real?  Is it really who I am in the spirit?  It may not be who I am, but it sure is where I live--often.  In the "shallow place where everyone lives," as Jill Briscoe says.  So how do I get to the "deep place where nobody goes?" to keep using her words.  

How do you get there?  I have always loved the psalmist's cry: "deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me" (Ps. 42:8).  Did you know the word for "calls" (qara) means "to cry out, to proclaim, to name."  If I were to summarize the definition it could sound like:  to shout loudly for a long time to get God's attention to help with a chronic, critical need and get Him to do something very specific!!  Right now I'm crying out for my beloved neighbor Phil who's laying in ICU struggling against the machines keeping him alive.  God, do you hear??  Have I got your attention?  I want another chance.  Another chance to tell him about You.

Did you know that God shouts at us to get our attention too?  Unfortunately though, "when He called, no one answered, when He spoke, no one listened" (Is. 66:4).  Oh God.  How did I miss you?  How many times did you tell me to walk across the street and bring Phil a cup of cold water.  Oh, I guess I did that, but did I whisper the name Jesus to his heart? I have to be honest God.  I didn't want to look foolish.  I remembered a tiny sting of rejection from him before.  And I didn't want to go there again.  Now I'd give anything for a chance to go to that deep place where I didn't go.  Forgive me, Father.

Again with the Psalmist in the same chapter I'm echoing his words, "I'm on a diet of tears, tears for breakfast, tears for supper" (Ps. 42:3 MSG).  I'm so sorry Abba.  Regret tears at my soul.  Did the woman at the well regret her choices?  She didn't know any better.  I did.  Do I deserve to be filled?  to have Your living water spill into my crusty, cardboard cup?  I am amazed again how unlike us You are.  "Before they shout loudly to get My attention I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear" (paraphrase mine, Is. 65:24).  I don't think we know what pure grace is until we need it. 

Do I get to the deep places of living water by admitting my failure?  by being painfully honest with You?  What a backwards God.  Going back to the scorching afternoon well, I listen in again to Your words:  "It's who you are and the way you live that count before God.  Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth.  That's the kind of people the Father is out looking for:  those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship.  God is sheer being itself--Spirit.  Those who worship must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration" (Jn. 4:23-24 MSG). 

If it's true God that I can't give You anything I haven't owned, then I own my failure.  I own my fear.  my fear of man.  As my tears flow, I pour myself into Your fountain of endless life that courses through my being, and I cry out for You to wash off the stains of my brokenness.  Thank You for hearing me even before I called and responding before a word was on my lips.  Thank You for receiving my true self and redeeming my broken heart.

What are you crying out for?  a loved one? a job? health?  peace?  Know that He has heard your cry long before you uttered the words.  And He truly wants to know all of your heart.  The good.  The bad. and the ugly.  He will meet you right there.  I promise.  And He calls that true worship.  Oh, and please pray for Phil and his family.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Fountain of Joy

 Have you ever gone digging under your bed for something?   Maybe you don't consider that good storage space, but in our house it's prize real estate for beloved sweatshirts, Marine Corps stuff, ancient bible study workbooks and those treasured high school class pictures that come rolled up in a tube.  I was on a hunt the other day for who knows what now, and I came across a journal I wrote in high school english class.  Rereading it reminded me in a fresh way that I have always enjoyed writing, sculpting words to paint pictures in my mind.

But I stumbled on something unexpected.  A poem. Called "Fountain of Joy."  It caught my breath because I don't remember who I was back in high school.  Yeah, I remember goofing around with Karen and Maria in a fabric store, not paying any attention while watching Plano football games, and our Millard Fillmore AP History club.  But my soul?  I probably would have told you even then that I'm on this planet because I'm a good listener and here to help people.  The reality was that I had no problem telling people what to do with their lives.  Now I'd call it controlling and arrogant wrapped up in a smile and a hug. 

So who was I?  (Funny, I ask the same question at 46.)  Reading this poem was like uncovering the dusty pages of a fairy tale and reading a beautiful story of a princess set free and then coming to the end and finding out the heroine was me all along. 

Fountain of Joy
Myriad colors etched with care 'cross the sky
softly wave goodbye to the moon and his companions.
The paint splashes on me, and awakening
I absorb the freshness of the new day,
thankful to be alive!

With God's truth in my soul, and His hand gently leading me,
each day is a new beginning.
Joy inexpressible overflows from my inner well,
spilling its radiance on those around,
as a spring gushes forth sweet water
to quench the earth's desire.

The glory of God's creation makes me stand in awe,
and feel special, just to be--

This worn out soul needed to be reminded of who I really am.  Why I'm really here.  The beauty I had long forgot.  So many times since high school I've wondered if anyone "saw" me.  The Avatar way.  My favorite line in that wild movie happened when they would greet each other saying, "I SEE you."  In to you.  Who you are.  All of you.  And I like it.

And here I was looking at a mirror of myself.  It was as if God was shouting, "I see you!  I always have.  And there was a time when you saw too.  Don't forget Elaine.  Oh please don't forget. I will remind you again and again.  For as long as it takes." 

Is it coincidence that my favorite entry in the devotional "Come Away My Beloved," is Turn Your Face Toward the Sunrise?  Or that me and my kids have always said "God's painting" when the sun rises and sets?  That He put our home facing east on a lake? That my favorite part in Narnia is when Aslan breathes on the icy statues?  That I have craved to know a gentle God?  and finally that when I asked God to reveal to me a picture of 'my greatness,' He flashed an image of a forceful fountain shooting into a starry sky onto my mind's eye. 

But honestly what touched me most, were the references to "joy" and "sweet."  Not this avatar, no way.  Really?  Seems like I fight so hard to grasp these, but they're just out of reach.  Then I remembered what others have prayed over me in recent years:  "Father let the sweetness in this family line break out," and "It is good. It's OK to cry it out.  For the joy of the Lord is your strength."  What's my first daughter's middle name? Joy.

Thank you Abba, that You are like that good friend who gently whispers my song back to me when I have forgotten.  Its been dust covered far too long.  Blow Your fresh Spirit of life on me!  Revive this ancient statue.