Once Again

Disappointment permeates the hope I had. I’ve been on this path a long time. You’d think I would have learned something by now. But I’ve done it again.

I say that I believe God is sovereign and in charge of everything that happens to me and in my world. I say that God Almighty is good and doing good even when I can’t see the good or understand how it is good. I say God knows everything, and that He is wiser than I will ever be.

Yet, I am sad today because my plan did not work out. Oh Holy God, you know that I call myself your follower, but you and I both know I really want to be your leader. Actually, I just want you to execute my plan for life in the time frame I laid out for you.

The same issue- did it again. Know it is wrong- did it again. Know I am not omniscient – but did it again anyway. It is ridiculous; I continue to fall into the same pot hole! Forgive me Lord for always wanting to be in control. Please help me to ask for your will and then actually wait patiently in anticipation of seeing what you will do.

Disgusted with myself, my mind wanders to the memory of that kindergarten skate night years ago…

Squeals of delight join the thump of skates and shoes dropping on the floor,as I notice the roller rink is crowded with children.

A DJ plays rock music illustrated by strobe colored lights.

Fourth and fifth graders move with confidence onto the wooden oval.

Second and third graders assume favorite positions in the snack bar, game area, or roller rink.

Kindergarten and first graders quickly segregate into two groups: experienced skaters ready for competition and novice skaters clutching parents’ hands with eyes wide with fear and excitement.

A new song begins and the circle is is filled with skaters dancing on wheels.

The inner core of bodies move like race cars gyrating as they glide while the outer edge slows with children barely balancing on their rollers.

My little girl tackles the rink with me holding her hand and walking beside her in sneakers. Though her snail’s page is almost imperceptible, she dismisses me from the floor after one loop. Confidently understanding the process, she begins another gradual circuit.

As I watch the near-miss and actual collisions happening, Mattye comes to my side. Her eyes are filled with the same wonder as the other kindergarteners.

Although she only turned five in June, Mattye stands a head taller than the others and weighs double the pounds of my little girl.

She has the appearance of a bully, but possesses the opposite personality.

Her words are soft and spoken with an occasional lisp,” Will you help me… skate?” Looking around the adults, I don’t see her parents.

We step into the arena, and Mattye’s feet shuffle in a rough skating form. Quickly, she falls toward the right, that leg suddenly ejecting. I steady her, so she is once again vertical.

The shifting feet begin again, and we move 18 inches forward. Then her left foot takes off in airborne flight.

I adjust my weight to counter hers, and she stays up. Softly she whispers as she glances my way, “Sor-ry.”

We begin again, and she falls. Still again, and she falls. Once again, and she falls. Her feet seem to be moving in fast-forward speed in totally different directions.

Slowly I explain what to do again. But she makes the same mistake. I am tired, a muscle in my back hurts, my arms tingle with the strain, and I want to go sit down.

But, when I look at Mattye

Her golden-brown curls circling cherub cheeks

Mouth pursed in concentration

Blue eyes pleading with no other grown up to help

Wanting to skate, but afraid with each fall I will let go

or worse- give up on her.

I cannot NOT help her!

That’s when I see the resemblance, Lord!

She looks like me– we share the desire to glide gracefully, but in reality we are unable to stand erect much less glide without a helping hand.

Mattye’s issue is only one of balance and experience skating. My problem is harder to correct. I ask for your help, and then rush into doing what I think.

Do my legs seem to be motorized when I fall into trusting myself instead of trusting you, God of the Universe?

Your strong hand holds me up to keep me from busting myself. I hear your instructions in my head and even study the book. But when I choose to rush ahead and fix things, I plummet with greater impact affecting those around me.

But you, Holy God, you never let me fall or fail completely. Being with my every step, you prop me up by your power and love to take another step.

Thank you Heavenly Father,

for loving the unsuccessful and slow to learn

for allowing me to choose my way but proving to me your way is better

for not giving up on me -even when I do.

When the next control issue pops up in my life, please help me stand looking confidently to you and waiting for you to show me what I should do.

“The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.” Psalm 37:23,24

“For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear, I will help you.” Isaiah 41:10

“I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.” Psalm 63:8

Love, More than Skin-Deep

The date on the calendar is illustrated with profuse flowers, chocolates, and expensive dinner dates. Yet, many couples celebrating their love cherish little beyond individual needs or ambitions. A small minority have commitment that will carry through dashed dreams or great financial need. But there are a few:

Once a year it happened. Charles sang,”Let me Call you Sweetheart, I’m in Love with You” to Jean. The day arrived without fanfare, but it did not exit without the statement being made.

Charles came home from work on time and sat in his chair. With no announcement he would begin the song. Jean would hear the beginning words, drop the ladle, set down the pan, and quickly walk to the den to see her husband’s face.

Slightly off key in his low cow-calling voice, Charles would sing their song again loudly to Jean. His eyes looking up to catch hers over the two younger boys playing with trucks on the floor, past the teenage boy asking when supper would be ready. Ignoring the two girls arguing in the kitchen over who set the table and who opened the can of peas. Finally, over the black dog nudging his hand, the cornflower blue eyes would find hers.

Charles would smile his wide grin holding her eyes with his as he finished the song. Her navy blue eyes glistening with tears, Jean would smile back at him. Then, slowly turning and wiping her hands on her apron, Jean would walk back into the kitchen.

Without extra words, that valentine ritual confirmed the deep bond of love between the man and woman. No extra money for a dinner at a restaurant. No fresh flowers and no chocolates were given. No reprieve from feeding and raising children. No special gift other than the thought of remembrance and a song sung with a smile.

Perhaps the best Valentine’s Day gift of all is to sing a love song when you are not a singer; to express deep love and commitment to another in midst of the circumstances.

My love would look at me awkwardly, so would our children if I broke into a song proclaiming my feelings for them. In fact, I can’t remember when I last sang my deepest affection out loud.

Remembering Charles and Jean, I wonder if I have placed emphasis on surface level actions. Am I looking for and giving the wrong gifts to the ones I love?

Holy One, you are the originator of this deep emotion, love. I have to admit, I still don’t understand why you would want to have a fickle human adopted into your family. Yet, I believe you do, or you would not have sent your only son to take my punishment. In accepting your most costly gift, I long to be more like my Giver. Help me, Lord to express delight and commitment to you and my other loves.

I admit when life is busy or depressing, I don’t listen for your encouragement that you still love me. That you have a plan for me. That you like me and think I am special. That you are walking beside me and will not leave me whatever happens. Instead, I hear my own fears and questions.

Dear God, are you singing your song of love and commitment to me, and I haven’t been listening? Please help me to interrupt my constant motion and listen for your tune.

In the squawk of a BlueJay

Chirp of the Robins

Squeak of the fan motor

Bubbling of the pond fountain

Rustle of the Mimosa tree seeds in the breeze

Laughter of the children next door

Are you singing your love to me though the world you created? Help me to listen and respond back to you with devotion. May I bring a sparkle to your eyes because I radiate and sing your love back to you and those around me?

“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in His love He will no longer rebuke you, But will rejoice over you with singing.” Zeph 3:17

“By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me…” Psalm 42:8

“You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” Psalm 32:7

“…Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Eph. 5:19b,20

So here I go…it could be a hum or a whistle. May I start with you and then go to the other cherished gifts you have given me….

“Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father, There is no shadow of turning with Thee; Thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not; As Thou has been Thou forever wilt be. Great is Thy faithfulness!…” ***

***Song by T.O.Chisholm and William M. Runyan

Alternate Reality

Please help me, Holy God. My whole world has changed overnight!

The future I had already pictured in my mind is dashed. People are horribly sick with many dying. The economy that I trusted and thought was unstoppable is bludgeoned. Good people walk around with haunted faces wondering what they will do without a job. Children peep out behind their parents warily looking about for the danger that is keeping them inside. Although I am still living in the same world, everything is different… I feel like I am sinking in quicksand.

But you, My Lord, are the same. You do not change. You are all powerful. You have the ability to be present anywhere while we are stuck to one place in one time period.

You, Perfect One, know all things. You are The Creator and Designer of humans and the world. You understand intricacies that our scientists have not discovered. There is no end to your knowledge or the reach of your hand.

Almighty God, as my feet struggle to support my weight on this shifting sand, I come to you asking for light on this depressing path.

What I do know is that you are Holy and Just. Your personal quality of holiness means you cannot have anything to do with people who do wrong, and I have done many things I know are wrong. But I confess those wrong things to you, so my condition will change from sinful to godly.

I come before you asking for help in the Messiah’s name claiming my status as your child because of Jesus Christ’s payment for my wrongs. Please help me, Father, to look up to you for the help and hope I need.

“The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand.” Psalm 37:23,24 NLT

“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock, and gave me a firm place to stand. ” Psalm 40:2 NIV

Thank you Lord, that you are always faithful and never forget your promises!