Monday, August 25, 2014

Meditation Monday: Introduction

"Make me understand the way of Your precepts; So shall I meditate on Your wonderful works." 
~ Psalm 119:27 NKJV

Mondays are tough.

But they're awesome.

Monday is the most common day for heart attacks. If you don't like your job, it can be tough to get out of bed on Mondays.

At the same time, Monday is a day full of possibilities, where our strength's been recovered by the weekend.

It's a busy day. An exciting day. A day where we can be overwhelmed, yet thankful for the fresh start.

My posts tend to be long (I'm naturally wordy). But for the month of September, I'm going to try to make this series brief. A verse to think on. To meditate on. A few thoughts. That's it. I hope to keep them under 250 words.

Because we're busy.

And our busyness (at least for me) tends to make us push aside God.

But if we just take the time, we find that God can help us get through the crazy hours, the crazy days, the crazy weeks.

We find that, by keeping God in focus, by thinking about His Word, we start to realize how great He is, and how He's powerful enough to handle any of our problems, even when we're overwhelmed by them. We begin to understand that He's got it all covered, and as He did "impossible" things in the past, so He can work those same things today, if it's His will, and if it's for our best.

Why Monday? Well, I think we could all use a little encouragement on Mondays.

So let's focus on Him. Focus on His Word. And see what He wants to teach us.



Thursday, August 21, 2014

Better

Let me tell you about one of the times* I failed to make Resident Assistant at my college.

You see, my college had several hoops you had to jump through to make the cut. First, because it is a Christian college, we had two Bible tests to pass. Of course, because I can skunk an elephant at his own game, I passed those.

Then was a super long, dreadfully boring and probably kind of useless application to fill out (I wonder how much they actually used any of the info they asked for in their decision, and how much they just wanted to see who'd be willing to sit the tortuous hours to fill it out).

Me being me (by which I mean I usually don't know when to quit) of course spent who knows how long filling it out, then rereading it and reworking it until I got sick of it and decided it was good enough.**

Then came the fun part. If you filled out the application, and weren't judged to be totally inadequate for the job, they put you through the ringer.

Also known as RA Qualifying.

During this period, you had a weekend of going through little skits and probably looking like a complete idiot while two RAs who had survived the gauntlet and a Resident Director told you what you did wrong and how you could fix it. Then on to the pilgrimage, a week of traipsing from your dorm to another dorm where you and your wanna-be-RA partner pretty much took over each night for the RAs on that hall and did their job for them (I bet the RAs loved that week).

Of course, this all happened in January/February and when you go to school in the foothills, you count yourself blessed if the sun shines on you during the winter. So the little jaunts could be literally feats of strength and skill and trying not to slip and fall on the sidewalks.***

And then the grand finale, the part all the little wanna-bes wait for: the choosing.

The honor of being chosen. The glory of being chosen.

Or the soul-crunching numbness when, despite the long hours, the isolation to get your studies done while your friends go to the movies because you have to be somewhere later, the treks through sleet, snow, wind, bitter bone-throbbing cold, everything, you find out... That. You.

Weren't.

No amount of fru-fru little things they say ("You shouldn't feel sad" "It wasn't God's will" "You were great, there were just too many" "You just need to work on X. And Y. And Z. Definitely Z.") makes any bit of the huge gaping wound in your being feel any better. It's like trying to fill in the dent on the right passenger door of your car with mayonnaise.

It's hard to make someone feel awesome about themselves when they've just been rejected.

To be honest, I'm not sure if you should try.

After all, a lot of times, we love ourselves a whole lot more than we love them.

We get uncomfortable. We see our life going awesome, and we don't want to wallow in their misery. So we say things like, "There's something else." "God has something even better in store." "You didn't really want to be an RA anyway. Who wants to put up with bratty freshmen who think it's perpetual summer camp?"

And those things are true. There is something else, something better. God does have a better plan. Does anyone really like putting up with bratty freshman, or D, E, PQ123?****

But at the time, when the rejection is at its most cutting, salt-in-open-wound burningness, not a lot of that helps.

We're sinful beings, after all. And while we might like to pretend such assurances comfort us, they often don't.

Because often, if the rejection is severe enough (a job you really wanted, a boy you really cared about, a close friend throwing your relationship in the trash and stomping on it with industrial rubber boots, etc.) that rejection can feel like a letter of doom from the world.

And sometimes, if we're honest, it feels like a rejection from God as well.


"When my father and my mother forsake me, 
Then the Lord will take care of me." ~ Psalm 27:10, NKJV

"He heals the brokenhearted
And binds up their wounds." ~ Psalm 147:3

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you...thoughts of peace and not of evil, 
to give you a future and a hope." ~ Jeremiah 29:11

"All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me 
I will by no means cast out." ~ John 6:37


Those verses do not describe a god who rejects, or is heartless, or who couldn't give an old french fry about his people.

Instead, they describe a God Who is kind, Who loves us even when those who are closest to us slam the door in our faces. A God Who, even though He is letting us go through something incredibly painful, has major plans to heal us that He will follow through on. A God Who urges us to run to Him with the pain, the sorrow, the bitterness, so He can heal us.

Oh, crud. Now I'm going to tell you some of those same "fru-fru" things.


God has something better.

He has a better plan.

He is using this pain to make you into a stronger, more Christ-like woman than you ever thought you could be.

And you'll find out that, just maybe, once the glittery "oooooooooooo, ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh" factor is gone, you're glad you didn't get that boy/promotion/opportunity/whatever.

Because God had something better in store.

The pain might still be there (hey, no one likes being rejected), but it's easier to bear.

Because you know God's always looking out for you, caring for you, loving you.



So I pray that, for me as well as all of you out there, when rejection looms again, when we feel that everything and everyone is against us, that we can all say:

"This is my comfort in my affliction,
For Your word has given me life." ~ Psalm 119:50





*Yeah, exactly, I'm about as stubborn as a bulldog with a steak between his teeth.
**Paradox time! Even though I tend to jump into things (such as making a cake without bothering to make sure I read the recipe), I'm anal when it comes to details (I can point out practically every spelling or plot error in a book). Of course, when it comes to my grammar, anything goes!
***Okay, so I admit, I'm probably making fair use of hyperbole.
****Sorry, I can't stand when people only use X, Y, and Z as alternate options.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Freefalling

Time for a Sunny Saga!

Sunny: cheeky little bird
If you read this post, you probably remember I have two pet birds. Today I'm going to tell you a little more about Sunny.

Sunny is quite spunky. We found him one day inside the fence of the pool, crawling along on the stones and trying to eat grass seeds (by the way, stones are worthless for keeping weeds down). After a futile search for his owner, my parents let us keep him. He eventually became my bird and my responsibility (eventually my other bird came into the picture, but that wasn't until later).

That was about sixteen years ago. He's still hopping along, being a regular nuisance. And since cockatiels can live to be thirty, he promises to be a pain-in-the-tail-feathers for quite a bit more (think carefully before you get a bird from the parrot family).

The average age is fifteen years, so technically he's already pushing it. But for being an old dude, he's still rather sprightly. I take both birds out to feed them dinner at night, and when I put them away, he's always ready to fly right back to his cage for the millet sprig I've put in it.

There's only one problem. Take another look at the picture above. Notice anything missing?

Sunny is an amputee.*

As you can imagine, flying doesn't end so well for him.

But almost every night without fail, he tries to fly again and again. And the times I can't catch him or get him to his cage in time, he ends up in a close encounter with my hard wood floor (fortunately, these times are VERY rare). You'd think he'd learn, but he doesn't. He thinks he can get back to his cage all by himself, without relying on me to put him back.**

But then again, we constantly try to go through life without relying on God. We try to stop sinning on our own, quit addictions on our own, build churches and organizations on our own. Sure, we'll say we rely on God, but if we did, would we have so many fundraisers? Think about it. George Muller wasn't exactly running around England holding bazaars or bake sales every weekend.***


Think about Sarah. God had promised her and Abraham that they'd have a son. But Sarah knew she was old. And she was kind of tired of waiting. After all, she was already seventy-something. God couldn't have meant she'd have a child. But she did have a young maid, Hagar. Maybe that was it. God was going to use Hagar as her surrogate.

So Sarah, confident she knew what God was up to, decided to "help" Him with the process. She told Abraham to go sleep with her maid. After all, Hagar could easily have a son for her.

Just keep reading Genesis 16. And then Genesis 21:1-21. You'll see how well that worked out for them.

Sarah's scheme for an son ended up causing a fracture in her family. The question of who was Abraham's heir is something that the descendants of Ismael and Isaac have fought over for centuries.

All this confusion, all this pain, at least partly because someone thought she could do it without God.

The problem is, we're powerless to do anything right without God. Sure, it may seem like it's working for a little bit, just like Sunny can stay aloft for a moment with his one wing. But sooner or later, we're going to hit that hard, cold floor.

Or at least, we would if God didn't catch us first.

God's way more merciful than any of us deserve.

Many times, instead of letting us live with the consequences of our actions, He mercifully lessens the blow.

Instead of giving up on Sarah, He still gave her Isaac.

Instead of giving up on Abraham for giving in to his wife, He made him the father of two nations.

But notice it wasn't until thirteen years after Ismael was born that God came again and told Abraham he'd have a son by Sarah. Was that wait a consequence of his and Sarah's sin? I think it was. Is the unrest going on in the Middle East today a consequence of their faithlessness in God? I'm not sure, though I suspect so.****

There are always consequences to our actions.

Trust in God. Rely on Him. Don't be crazy enough to think you can do it alone.



*The picture of him in the other post is an old picture. He lost his right wing in July of 2011.
**Don't be too hard on him. After all, look at the size of his head. God didn't give birds much in the brains department.
***Of course, I'm not saying we shouldn't do anything. But think about it. George Muller prayed when he had a need, confident God would fulfill it if He wanted the orphan houses to stay open. What if some of these projects we're desperately trying to keep going aren't part of God's perfect plan?
****I am not saying the Arab nations should never have come into existence. They are a precious people that God loves. But the truth is, a lot of strife is happening between these two nations over who was truly Abraham's heir, something that may not have happened if Sarah hadn't used Hagar the way she did.