Tuesday, August 31, 2010

He had nothing. Nothing but faith.

This year I've been reading through the Bible, cover to cover.  It started when I was inspired by others who were following the "read the Bible in 90 days" plan.  The idea of reading through so quickly and consistently seemed great... I thought it would all flow together and mean so much more by reading larger chunks of scripture.  And I had a great start.  In no time at all, it seemed, I had read Genesis through Deuteronomy.  But, I slowed way down when I got to I and II Samuel.  Then the printout that showed how much I should read each day was slid into a drawer so not to remind me that I had fallen from the 90 day plan!  But, I kept reading... and enjoying stories of old.

One night, alone with Victor, I was reading out loud about when Solomon took over the kingdom of Israel following King David's death.  There's no gentle way to discuss this... there were a lot of killings of David's enemies.  One enemy after another was put to death.  And there was such action!  So, my 11 year old boy was really enjoying Bible story time!  He had a play sword in hand, raised it up and called out, "Kill him!"  Oh dear... like I said, there's no gentle way about that passage of scripture.  Sometimes there's just not a gentle way about life... it gets messy... people get hurt... we don't like it.  But above all of the circumstances, there is a God who is ordering each breath and heart beat, who has a redeeming love for mankind, a God who is sovereign.

There have been many times I have questioned why dark times hit in life.  Was this God's will?  I have often times wondered, "Really?  Why does life have to hurt so much?  Why does everything seem so hard?"  And I  longed to be on someone else's path... mine was too painful... and I, sadly, focused on what I had lost or what I never had.

Then last week I had made my way to I Kings chapter 17.  It is simply amazing how that one chapter spoke to me.  Elijah lived at a time when prophets were many times killed by the king because the king didn't like the message from God that the prophet delivered!  We don't know about Elijah's upbringing, that I can tell, but we read that he served the Lord, the God of Israel.  I liked that verse.  I think of myself as a person who serves the Lord.  I have prayed many times, "God, take my life and use me to make a difference in others' lives.  Show me how to live for you."  So, I was eager to read about Elijah's experience! 

Elijah gave King Ahab a message that there would be no rain for a few years.  And God sent Elijah to a ravine next to a stream to hide out... to keep Elijah safe... and sent birds to take him food.  Here is where I wonder.  Was Elijah raised in a God-fearing home?  Did they worship God together?  How many people in Israel were there living for God?  Did they encourage each other?  Just a couple of generations back, weren't most people in Israel following God?  How come so many turned to follow false gods?  God had promised to bless them and give them peace in the land if they would stay true to Him and follow his commands.  Why would they trade that blessing for a curse?

But, back to Elijah... There he was, following God, sent out by a stream in a ravine.  He didn't have a mattress.  Or a house.  Or animals.  He had nothing but his faith, some water and food brought by birds.  What did he do during the day?  Did he get impatient?  Did he care about material things?  He had nothing!  Nothing but faith.  And I felt a stirring in my heart.  Many times in my life I felt like I had "nothing".  Dreams were broken.  Hope was nearly non-existent.  Although I could look into the eyes of my beautiful children, my heart was crushed by dark times.  There was a time I felt my faith slipping.  And God sent a stirring inside my heart just when I needed it and people joined beside me on my path to help get me through... But, I didn't like it.  Not one bit.  So, I sat staring at page 410, taking in that Elijah served the Lord.  And he had nothing.  And the water dried up, so God sent him to a widow and worked a miracle of provision so that they would eat daily and their needs were met.

I have no idea if I am articulating what went on in my heart last week good enough... I guess I am finding peace in contentment yet again.  Giving my dreams and goals to God, knowing that He will help me on the path that I am on.  Knowing that if I have nothing in the worlds eyes, I have faith.  In the end, that is all that matters.  And when I feel myself slip into self pity, when I look at my path and wish that I had a different one... I can remember Elijah.  Did it ever occur to him that he had nothing?  Did he want a home or animals?  Did he have a sore back when he woke up?  What mattered to him?   Well, I do know the answer to that... to him what mattered was to serve the Lord, the God of Israel.

And, so, to finish this post of my musings, I keep hearing Rebecca St. James' singing in my head, "At the end of the day, You alone will remain".  No matter what our different paths are, in the end, He will remain.  That's all that truly matters. 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Something beautiful

When I can take a bit of time (usually for me that translates to... a lot of time... it's the "technology" that trips me up...) I will get a music list on here and have some of my favorite songs.  One that I would pick to put on it first would be Something Beautiful by the Newsboys...

Recently I've had two "something beautiful"s.  The first is my youngest child turning 11. 

I love his innocence.  I love his wit.  I love his determination.  I love the beauty in his eyes.

Okay, so that is really a "nerd"  photo opp... But, I do love his eyes!

Happy Birthday, my dear one.  Sometimes I still get the "so full my heart could burst" moments with him... but, as he matures and grows more independent, those change to "mom is very proud".  My heart could still burst, but the strong emotion changes a bit.  I don't really know how to articulate it... But, a few years back Victor had a red, shiny heart.  It was small and plastic.  He kept it in his pocket.  A few times a week he would come up to me and hand it over, saying, "Mom, here's my heart... You keep it for me."  And I would keep it in my pocket, treasuring the feel of it.  Sometimes he would come back and ask, "Can I have my heart back?"  Other times I would find him and say, "Hey, Victor, here's your heart!"  It was something beautiful.

Although I think I may have mentioned it in a previous year's birthday... a few years ago when I would drop him off at school each morning, he would get out, shut the door and look for eye contact, holding up his hands in sign language, signing "I love you".  I signed back to him.  That was something beautiful.  Then he would turn, run a few steps and stop and look back once more and sometimes sign it again.  One day I noticed that he would sign and run off and not stop and look back for me.  My heart lurched.  And then the day came when he stopped signing, but he would shut the door, look for my eyes and wave.  This past year he began grabbing his backpack, opening the door with a quick, "Bye, mom!" and out he went, without looking back... very often.  Sometimes he will stop and look for my eyes.  Something beautiful.  I know he will continue to grow up... I hope that these memories are etched into his soul like they are in mine.  I hope some day he will have these times with his own child and know it is something beautiful.

And my other something beautiful today was prayer day at church.  The dimly lit sanctuary.  The glow behind the cross.  Sitting so quietly without distraction.  Pouring my heart out to my God.  Knowing that in all my life, He has been there and is faithful.  Giving to God, yet once again, my life... offering it up for His purpose, not exactly knowing how that will play out... but knowing full well that I am called to honesty, integrity and to pour out His love through me and my life choices... and that when I make mistakes, He will turn them into something useful.  Something beautiful.