How Surrender is Clearly Revealed in a Murky Pool

Yesterday, I went out to the pool to do the usual maintenance and was stopped in my tracks. I walked along the edge of the pool, staring into a turquoise, murky mess with skimmers clogged with leaves. It’s summer. What in the world?

I could not see the bottom of the pool. It had rained the day before with two heavy downpours accompanied by strong winds. I was seeing the results. The chemicals in the pool hadn’t been able to compensate for the detritus that the rain had brought. I had my work cut out for me.

On another front, I had been dealing with a situation that was complex and needed a quick resolution if a large, unexpected expense was to be avoided.  In my eagerness to restore equilibrium I could only see what was apparent to anyone. There needed to be a change and quickly. I could only see one resolution. The one of my own making.

I learned two things {again} from those examples given to me yesterday.

            1. There are times I have to address an issue immediately when the solution is obvious.

            2. There are times when I have to sit, be still, turn it over and let the Lord handle it.

He gives us a brain, He gives us ability, and He gives us the proper tools.  It’s what we do with these that can make all the difference.

In the first instance I took the most likely action that would restore the pool to its usual state of sparkling blue clarity; trusting that the mixture of the chemical treatment and physically addressing the removal of leaves, etc. would quickly resolve the murk.

On the second issue, I spent the entire day turning possibilities over and over in my head. I tried to reach the likeliest outcomes from every angle I could perceive and the damage control that would be required to minimize the expense that would be incurred in each instance. My minimalist conversation with the Lord was one-sided and rather short.

“Lord, how in the world can You provide something so good and take away a portion of that provision at the same time?”

I think you can see where I’m going with this. It goes back to the one word that keeps staring back at me when I look at my blog. Surrender.

The murky pool was the object lesson. The one thing was showing me what I needed for the other. There are times when we cannot see clearly; the whole picture is murky and complex. On the surface, we see a little, but the deeper we go the more difficult it becomes. The solution becomes more elusive. 

“The Worst Case Scenario” kept my thoughts occupied. Instead of turning to God and laying out my case to Him and trusting Him for the best solution I kept wanting to do something. I didn’t want to wait. I wanted it wrapped up and tied in a bow solved.

What strength have I left, that I should wait and hope? And what is ahead of me, that I should be patient? Job 6:11

Then He did something that brought my consuming thoughts to an abrupt halt by resolving the issue that was really out of my hands from the beginning. 

This morning, I am fully amazed, not at His provision, but at my dullness and density. Like looking at the murky water and not seeing the bottom, I could not see the solution, but He could.

It was His action that was needed to take care of the problem-not my dithering about. I was not able to change one thing about that situation. His grand resolution showed me that my self-reliance interferes with my ability to surrender.

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. Exodus 14:14

Again.

#BeautifulDeep

Last August, sitting at the table on the last night of the Declare Conference I heard Eryn Hall announce that the tickets would shortly be on sale for this year’s conference and that the theme would be “Beautiful Deep”.  My heart skipped a beat. I wanted to go straight to my computer and log on and order my ticket. 

But I didn’t.

Something, Someone said: “wait”. So I did. Time passed.

Later, I read that there were only 4 tickets left. And I tried, but they were gone already.

I resigned myself to the fact that I would not be attending this year.

And then- there was this conversation on FB regarding the wait list and that everyone would be notified in the order they were on the wait list when a ticket came available. Still I hesitated to put my name on the list. I wanted to be sure that I was not taking a spot that was meant for someone else, perhaps someone who had not been and was just starting down the road of blogging her faith to the world.

So….

I posted something to the effect: “if you get to the end of the wait list and find that there is a ticket available I would like to come; but I don’t want to keep anyone else from the opportunity.”

The week before the conference I got an email. There was a ticket available if I still wanted one. I bought it! And I’m so glad I did.

 beautifuldeepweb

Here’s why:

In the scorching hot heat of this Texas summer that melts our very bones it was like a spring rain.

Texas style.

There was a torrential downpour of words that kept pointing me back to my purpose, to our purpose in Christ.

I heard Words of Life, Beautiful Words, Wonderful Words, Wonderful Words of Life.

They are the ethos of that old hymn I grew up singing. Such great treasure troves of wisdom were delivered to us.

“Your life’s purpose is to give God Glory.”

“The world is always telling us who we aren’t, God tells us who we are.”

“If Jesus is not in the heart of it, may I be so bold, you are wasting your time.”

“Plant deep the things of God into deep places of your heart.”

“Sometimes, just because you are good at something, it may not be what you are made for.”

“We were made to swim in deep water in a life that requires Jesus; where life doesn’t make sense without Him.”

“Using someone else’s voice is exhausting; using your own is effortless.”

“A heart willing to hear ‘no’ can be trusted with a ‘yes’.”

“Do the work of an evangelist-speak Truth and Life. Fulfill you ministry. We are Digital Evangelists. It all matters!”

“Never publish unless you read a post aloud before you post.”

“When He interrupts it’s a good thing-always.”

“You can only be where you are; if you wait until you are where you want to be you will miss a lot.”

And, finally, I think this one thing is just now sinking in-deep: “Sometimes, it’s the dream you never intended to birth….” 

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, oh Lord, my strength, and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14

I am in a season of waiting, meditating on His Word, and for the first time in a long time I am content to dream of what might be.

Poetry from out of Nowhere


DECEMBER DESPAIR AND THE HOPE HE BRINGS

Somewhere in the world tonight 

A mother’s lost her baby  

A husband’s lost his wife 

A child has lost her brother

A young man has lost his life

 

How can it be? 

These things that cause such grief?

 

I pray You, Lord, look down and see our poverty 

I pray You, Lord, reach down and relieve our helpless misery 

 

Our hope, it seems, 

Is in wishing for what is not and what never could be 

How unrealistic and heavy this vision sits

 

 It burdens our hearts and blinds our sight 

It keeps us far from morning’s light

 

Where Hope springs-

Alive 

Eternal 

Abiding 

Through all this pain

In Love’s Strong Hand 

Our souls’ best hope resides in You 

 

We cannot know the fullness of Your own great plan

Yet, fully know the comfort in Your nail-scarred hand 

 

We all may grieve a loss today 

But the ransom’s paid 

We are redeemed

 Our time on earth is brief. 

 

Lord. 

You are faithful

You hold us close

 

When all we see is dark, unending night 

When we question all that is, 

All that You are, 

All we’ve ever known and thought-

 

When we only know our spirits will soon depart

 And all our plans will come to naught*

 

When finding only dark despair, 

We grieve and grieve in the depths of sorrow 

Until we see at last

You are the Strength of our heart 

Our Refuge and our Hope, our Portion Forever**

*Psalm 146:4  **Psalm 73:26

 

Where do I start?

I have been watching the news with increasing concern…

No. Wait, that’s not right, let me try again.

I have been watching the news with increasing alarm over the past few months.

And that’s not right either.

I have been watching the news with increasing certainty that we are truly in the last days.

Maybe it’s because the past 20 years have seen the internet become part and parcel of our lives and the news, wherever it is, or wherever it’s from, or wherever it’s going is instant. No lag time. No news that reads… “three days ago this happened in…” Now it’s instantaneous. We see the news as it’s happening.

All the time.

There are earthquakes, volcanoes erupting, tsunamis, drought, floods, landslides, mudslides, hailstorms with hail the size of grapefruit, tornadoes where we’ve never seen tornadoes, killer diseases whose names we’ve never heard before today and general mayhem in the form of little wars that turn into big wars that seem to be more like bulldozers running flat out over the land, people, creatures, nature without regard for any life at all.

Do these things touch you? They touch me to my core and my heart hurts. I shake my head, look up to the heavens and say “Lord, what do I pray for? It’s all beyond me. There’s so much happening, where do I start?”

And you know what? Those things I mentioned, He knows. He knew about them when the words were written in Scripture long, long ago. Before whole countries were devastated by earthquakes, before volcanoes erupting changed the ecosystem in a flash, before disease and death wiped out major portions of some countries’ populations. Before ISIS began showing just how little they value life in the name of their prophet, before Boko Haran decimated the structure of the land where they live and broke the lives of so many in the name of their god because they could. Before Hitler set his holocaust in motion. Before even the Knights Templar and those who followed them to the Holy Land wreaked havoc in the name of the god they served.

My soul is tired. My body is tired. My heart is weary beyond description.

All these things. So many things.

Lord, Look down upon our poverty.

Lord, reach down and help us in our misery.

We are poor and miserable. We have always been poor and miserable. But there wasn’t always a mirror around to reflect it back to us so instantly. There is now.

There are so many Things happening.

We pray, we send money, clothes, food, water. Some of us even wade into those ravaged areas and do our best to help with the gifts He’s given us to use. But it’s not enough.

It is never enough. It will never be enough.

We are woefully unprepared. Just as we were woefully unprepared for the Holocaust. There were a few, who saw the writing on the wall as it happened.

But not enough.

“There is no way to peace along the way of safety. For peace must be dared. It is itself the great venture and can never be safe. Peace is the opposite of security. To demand guarantees is to want to protect oneself. Peace means giving oneself completely to God’s commandment. Wanting no security, but in faith and obedience, laying the destiny of the nations in the hand of almighty God. Not trying to direct it for selfish purposes. Battles are won not with weapons, but with God. They are won when the way leads to the cross.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

This world is broken.

When you hear of war and rumors of ward, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Mark 13:7

Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven. Luke 21:10-11

There is still hope.

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we mingle have hope. Romans 15:4

There is still time to tell the world about the Blood of Christ that has provided the way for us to have peace. The end is near, but because these are the early skirmishes in this war against evil there is still time to show them Jesus.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

Life IS Hard. Don’t be Afraid of the World

There are times when I wake up and I start reading all the email {insert coffee here} that came in overnight- well, truthfully reading essentials and trashing what I can and leaving some unopened for later when it’s convenient to read. Then there are the times I wake up, start reading the email and it’s just TMI {even with coffee}.

More than I can take in and process. It’s not that I don’t want to know what’s on sale at my favorite shopping spots on the web; it’s not that I don’t want to read a friend’s latest blog post; it’s not that I don’t want to know what’s been dug up by archaeologists and how that relates to scripture and history repeating itself. It’s just information overload. Those days I’m doing good to be breathing and vertical.

Those days I begin to think that having the slate wiped is not such a bad thing. All the way back to Tabula Rasa – the blank slate waiting to be written upon. For new things never thought before, never learned, never believed to be carved upon my heart and mind.  An in real life do-over. {how’s that for weird?}

However, can we un-have an experience, an emotion, a touch, a vision, an overheard conversation? Of course, we can’t. So we bumble along, a jumble of thoughts, memories, emotions, beliefs, likes, dislikes hoping that we don’t make a mess of it along the way.

Yet, we are here for a reason.  Jesus, in praying for the disciples and for future believers, says in John 17:18 “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.”

We have been sent. Right into the thick of it. Scary thought. Right?

 He also tells us: “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” John 14:27b.

I don’t know about you, but when someone tells me not to be afraid or troubled that’s about the time I start being troubled and afraid. Because, by the very way it is spoken, it implies that there are going to be troubling and fearful things we will encounter out there in the world.

The truth of it is that some days we will shut down whether from TMI or from the things at hand. Life is hard. And it doesn’t matter if you live in a pup-tent or a palace- the news of what’s going on in the world can send us over the edge of reason. 

The good news of it all is that Jesus told us that it will be hard, that we will suffer, that the world will hate us because it hates Him. He gave us fair warning of what we will face as His followers.  He knew what we would be facing whether in first century Christianity or in twenty-first century.  We are not alone and we are not blank slates.  “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26

So, we open our email, we trash the irrelevant, we answer the important, we save the ones we want to read later. And, we get on with the day.  We have much to learn about not being alone, troubled and afraid. He has much to teach us.

May all we hear and see and read and reach today remind us that He is with us and this is a life lesson He is teaching us.                

 Are you ready? School is about to start for another day.

Dear reader, thanks for reading my early morning rambling thoughts today.  What’s rambling about in your corner of the world this morning?