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.