Monday, October 29, 2012

It Started with a Bug . . .

I agreed to pick our son up from school.  My husband was relieved not to have to get him, since he had an appointment that he’d had to rearrange several times before and he really didn’t want to have to do it again. 


Our schedules are crazy these days, we have two children in two different schools, in opposite  directions from each other, starting and getting out at different times.  My husband is self-employed and hasn’t worked an eight-to-five job in over ten years (well actually I don’t think he’s ever worked just eight to five). 


This means that every day, we have to discuss who’s picking up who when.  It can be a little nuts!  My husband has been a bit overwhelmed with work lately and I was glad I could make his life just a little bit easier.


I hopped in my car and headed down the road.  It was just a regular old day.

While driving, I noticed a bug crawling on my side of the window.  At first, I wasn’t concerned but then I began to think, “What if it starts flying around in the car or maybe even crawls on me!  Yikes.  I have to get it out of my car NOW!”  So I tried to roll down my window to flick it out but it was raining and I didn’t want to get wet.  I was so focused on trying to get the bug out of my car that I forgot about everything else, including the fact that I was driving a car. (Never a good thing - I’m sure you can see where this is going) 


The jolt, as my car hit the curb, brought me back to reality!  Oh no!  How could I have been so stupid?! 


There was a very discernible listing to my right side and I could feel the kerthump, kerthump of my tire as it hobbled down the street.  I pulled off to the side of the road, put my head on the steering wheel and gave myself a verbal lashing.  “Really, Kristi, a bug!  You just HAD to get a tiny little bug out of your car!!!”


Then I realized I had to call my husband. . .  Can I just say, “UGH!” 


Do I really have to tell him what I did, I wondered.  I picked up my phone, tried to act nonchalant and said as calmly as if I was calling to tell him I would pick up his dry cleaning, “Honey, I’ve got a flat tire.”  (Hoping he wouldn’t ask any further questions.) 


 “What!  How did you get a flat tire???”  (Okay, that wasn’t going to work, I guess I’ll just have to come clean. Oh, brother!)


“Well, you see there was this BUG . . .“ 


Why do I do stupid things like that?  Why do I allow a little thing like a bug to distract me?  Even though it started out as a small little distraction, the repercussions of my inattentiveness were not simple by any shape of the imagination (or cheap I might add). 


I’ve noticed that it doesn’t take much in my spiritual life, either to get me distracted with the temporary instead of the eternal.  Doubt. . .  Busyness . . . Discouragement. . .  Worry. . . Control. . . Self-preservation.  Even good things like . . . Family. . .   Ministry. . . Friendships . . .  


And I hear my Heavenly Father gently saying to me, “Why do you allow such a small insignificant thing like busyness to distract you from Me?”


The repercussions of my lack of spiritual focus can be monumental as well!  My choices can cause a fellow believer to become disillusioned in their faith and walk away.  They can cause my heart to turn away from God.  They can be very costly choices that I so quickly make without thinking of who will be hurt or how they will affect me and the ones I love.


But I’m encouraged by the words of Paul in Philippians, Yet, my brothers, I do not consider myself to have “arrived”, spiritually, nor do I consider myself already perfect.  But I keep going on, grasping ever more firmly that purpose for which Christ grasped me.  Brothers, I do not consider myself to have fully grasped it even now.  But I do concentrate on this; I leave the past behind and with hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead I go straight for the goal – my reward the honor of being called by God in Christ.       Philippians 3:12-14 (Phillips)


It’s never too late for me to throw off past mistakes and “keep going on, grasping ever more firmly that purpose for which Christ grasped me.”  And it isn’t for you either.


These verses give me hope that through His strength I can put that “bug” behind me, realign my focus and be even that more on guard for those things that tempt me to shift me eyes from my true journey.


What about you, my friend, do you have a “bug” in your life that has derailed you and caused you to lose your focus?  Remember, it’s never too late to turn back to your forgiving Savior and “grasp the purpose for which Christ has grasped you!”


Sunday, October 21, 2012


We’d planned this day weeks ago - a trip to the city of our state capital to watch the Michigan State Spartans take on the Iowa Hawkeyes. 

We are fortunate to have friends who have season tickets and we usually go at least once during the football season.  The usual plan is to tailgate before the game and then head into the stadium to watch our Spartans win! (At least we hope that will be the case.)


But this day was like none other we’d ever experienced at the Spartan Stadium.  The skies were a dull gray, it was raining buckets and the temperature was knocking on the door of forty degrees!  We had foregone the idea of tailgating (which made me extremely happy) and opted for a warm dry restaurant to eat breakfast and leisurely discuss the upcoming game.


Much to my heart’s delight, it decided to quit raining about half way through the first quarter of the game but the bitter cold did not diminish in the least.  As the game wound on it seemed to get colder by the second and by the last quarter of the game it began to pour. 


(I have a question.  Why do we put ourselves through such misery just to watch a bunch of guys run around on a field and chase a ball?  It’s nuts?!)


I had a poncho on but it began to rain so hard that it was soon soaked and the water began to seep into my clothing.   Before long my jeans were so wet that I felt like I could wring them out.  I couldn’t feel my feet any longer and I began to long for home, like I’ve never longed for it before.  I wanted a hot shower and dry clothes, like a starving dog wants a bone.  It seemed like ages since I’d left that warm beautiful dry place called home.
I began to fantasize about what it would be like to get out of my wet clothes and into a hot shower.  I imagined putting on my nice dry sweat pants and comfy sweatshirt and curling up with a blanket on the couch with a steaming cup of my favorite tea.  Oh, how I longed for home but it was many hours before I actually got there.


I often find myself longing for my heavenly home, like I longed for my physical home.  Do you? 

I long for my true home . . .

   . . . when I struggle in my relationship with God.

               . . . when fear has its powerful hold on my life and won’t seem to let go.

               . . . when I see evil people prospering and godly people struggling.

               . . . when a friend betrays me.

               . . . when the pain is too difficult to bear.

               . . . when I see a vibrant young father, struck down with cancer.


And I imagine what it will be like to no longer struggle with sin and self-centeredness.  I wonder what it will be like to see my Savior face to face, to touch his nail-scarred hands, to feel His arms of protection around me.  I fantasize about seeing loved ones who have gone before me and I anxiously await the day when there will be no more sorrow and no more tears.  I long to go home. . .

I’m not the only one who is longing for home.

Paul speaks of this longing in Romans 8:20-23 (NLT)  But with eager hope, creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.  For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.  And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering.  We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us.


One day, heaven will be our reality.  One day, we will step into the arms of Jesus.  One day, all the things we have been longing for will come true and so much more.  I can’t wait, can you?


Thursday, October 11, 2012


Having lived in California for a good part of my life, I’d never experienced a true autumn season.  So my first year in Michigan, I was enraptured by the stunning color of the fall trees.  I collected leaves, like I collected rocks as a child.   My dorm room was full of them!  They were all so uniquely different that I just couldn’t help myself.  I decided that fall was my absolute favorite season of all.  But once I experienced a Michigan winter I realized that the glory of the fall was just a precursor to months and months of barrenness. 
 It was and is so bittersweet. . . 

So breathtakingly beautiful and so pitifully sad!   Brilliant, vibrant leaves cascading slowly to the ground, leaving only barren trees in their wake.  

I’ve noticed that not just fall is bittersweet but much of life as well . . .  

The first steps of a toddler.  Knowing it’s the beginning of the end. 
Departing an old well-loved home and setting up a new one. 
The joy of adoptive parents in what they have been given and profound sorrow for the one who gave it. 
Tearful goodbyes of old friends and great joy in discovering new ones. 
The heart swell of pride as a child goes off to college “all grown up” and the vast emptiness they leave behind. 

Such a jumble of emotions.  Bittersweet. 

I can’t help but wonder if Jesus experienced this same "bittersweetness" as he prepared to leave this world and go to His Father.  Did he have that same mix of emotions as he looked at his disciples “all grown up” and ready to face the world?  Did he ache for them, knowing the suffering they were to experience? Did He wish it away but at the same time knew it had to be?  Was he excited that they were soon to receive the Holy Spirit that would empower them to do great things for the kingdom? 

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.  And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere – in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  

After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him.  Acts 1:8-9 

Life is bittersweet there’s no getting around it  . . .  

The question is, what will we do with it?  Will we squander it away mourning over what we don’t have?  Will we allow the hurt caused by someone we love to keep us from the purpose God has called us to?  Will we sit around waiting until life is only sweet and not bitter before we start living?   

Or will we embrace the bitter and the sweet of life and live it to the fullest? 


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Flirting with Doubt

Have you ever pleaded with God over and over again to answer your prayer?  Or felt such desperation in your soul, that you prayed all night long begging God to hear your prayer?  But deep down, did you really expect God to hear you? 


In my reading of Acts this week, I came upon a very familiar story.  Peter is captured by Herod’s henchmen and thrown in jail.  James, John’s brother was killed just days before his capture and the people are thrilled!  Herod, seeking continued approval had turned his attention towards Peter and now Peter was sitting in jail surrounded by sixteen soldiers, all appointed to guard one unarmed man.

It’s the middle of the night and Peter is awakened by a brilliant light filling his jail cell.  He sees an angel but he’s really not sure if he is awake or dreaming.  He follows the angel past guard after guard, gate after gate and soon finds himself alone and very much awake standing in an alley outside the prison gates.

Meanwhile, the believers all gathered at Mary’s house to pray and intercede for Peter.  To say that they were concerned for Peter’s welfare would be stating it mildly.  They were terrified at what Herod might do to Peter, their pastor and friend.  He had just executed another member of their community and they were sure he wouldn’t hesitate to do the same to Peter.  They knew how heavily surrounded he was and in their heart of hearts they secretly wondered if God would hear their prayers.  Look what happens next . . .


"While they were praying earnestly for Peter, Mary’s servant girl interrupted them to tell them that Peter was at the door knocking. Look at what happens next . . . “You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.” But Peter kept knocking and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished.” Acts 12.15-16


As I read this passage, I couldn’t help but cringe inside at all the times I’ve prayed, never really expecting God to hear my prayer.  Because, deep down in my heart of hearts maybe I thought it was too impossible.   Or maybe, I questioned whether it really was God’s will or not or maybe I just simply did not believe that my prayers would really make a difference.  Whatever the reason at the root is DOUBT.  Doubt that God is who He says He is.  Doubt that God hears my prayers.  Doubt that He is great enough for my problems. 

Doubt, doubt, doubt.

James 1.5-7 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  But when you ask, you MUST believe and NOT DOUBT, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”

The more I read the words of Jesus and his followers, the more apparent it is that following Him is an ALL or NOTHING venture.  Having one foot in the world and one foot in heaven just doesn’t work.  Opening the door to doubt, even just a little crack, will leave us unstable and easily swayed.  

Lord, teach me to have a faith that doesn’t flirt with doubt.  I want all that you have for me.  Teach me what it looks like to walk the road of faith.  Open my heart to see You for who You really are so that I might know You better and trust You more.  Amen