Sunday, June 30, 2013

Comfort's Primal Call

I decided this summer to read the Hiding Place again.  I’d read this book a couple of times before but this time in reading it I found precious gems of Truth that I had never seen before. 


For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Hiding Place, it is the story of Corrie TenBoom and her family who were taken captive during World War II in Holland for sheltering Jews. 


As I perused this book again new truths came to light that caught me by surprise and took my breath away.


. . . As the rest of the world grew stranger, one thing became increasingly clear.  And that was the reason the two of us (Corrie and Betsie, her sister) were here.  As for us, from morning until lights-out, whenever we were not in ranks for roll call, our Bible was the center of an ever-widening circle of help and hope.  Like waifs clustered around a blazing fire, we gathered about it, holding out our hearts to its warmth and light.  The blacker the night around us grew, the brighter and truer and more beautiful burned the word of God.


“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? . . . Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”


I would look about us as Betsie read, watching the light leap from face to face.  More than conquerors . . . It was not a wish.  It was a fact.  We knew it, we experienced it minute by minute – poor, hated, hungry.  We are more than conquerors.  Not “we shall be.”  We are!  Life in Ravensbruck took place on two separate levels, mutually impossible.  One, the observable, external life, grew every day more horrible.  The other, the life we lived with God, grew daily better, truth upon truth, glory upon glory.


Did you catch it? . . . We ARE more than conquerors.  Not “we shall be.”  We ARE!


The LORD rescues the godly; He is their fortress in times of trouble.  The LORD helps them, rescuing them from the wicked.  He saves them, and they find shelter in Him.  Psalm 37.39-40


As I look at these verses through Corrie’s lens I realize that my understanding has been incredibly distorted due to my overwhelming need for comfort.


Corrie and Betsie’s life in the prison camp was filled with unspeakable horror.  And there is something deep within me that cries, "Why God, Why?  Why do you allow such godly people to suffer and die in such revolting conditions?  They followed you.  They gave you everything and yet look how You rewarded them!"


And it's almost as if I can hear Corrie saying . . . "God was with me every step of the way.  He WAS my fortress in times of tribulation.  He WAS saving me and I DID find shelter in Him.


I’m ashamed at how easily I slide into a faith that is only concerned about my comfort and not God’s ways.


LORD, rescue and save me from myself!  From my foolish desires, from my own need for comfort.  Teach me to follow you with my WHOLE heart.  Your love is never conditional – may my love for You never be conditional either.


Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Least of These . . .

But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.  Matthew 19.30 


I was nervous and apprehensive. . .


I’d never worked with these people before.  What if I didn’t do the right thing?  What if they didn’t like me?  What if I couldn’t understand what they were saying?  What if I messed up?  A thousand questions were running through my head as I questioned my sanity in committing to a whole week at camp!


It had started out as a gentle nudge but in the last few years it had become a big push and I'd finally decided to take the plunge.  I had heard about this camp and the opportunity to serve there for a number of years before I ever considered that God would want me to get involved. 

As the hour of their arrival approached, I began to wonder if God really knew what He was doing.  You see this was a very special camp designed to give developmentally and physically disabled adults an opportunity get away from their normal routine and enjoy the special activities that only a camp can give.  It also would give their care-givers a much needed break.


Unfortunately for me, I have never had the privilege of getting acquainted with a developmentally disabled adult.  I’ve had a few interactions here and there but never the opportunity to really get to know them.  So I was really unsure how the week would go and whether I would be ready for it.


I will never forget the first night . . .


It was unforgettable!  There was a pure unadulterated JOY as they lifted their voices in praise to God!  I began to weep as I listened to the most beautiful singing I had ever heard in my life.  None of them could carry a tune but it didn’t matter - it was heaven just the same.  Their praise was an expression of their simple, unquestioning faith and it was breathtaking!

All week long, these very special men and women taught me what it looked like to love unconditionally, to praise God from a pure heart, and to pursue what really matters in life.  I thought I was going there to be a help to them but it turned out to be just the opposite.  They helped me to love better, to stop and enjoy the simple, to let go and enjoy all that God has for me.


Then Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, “Let the children come to me.  Don’t stop them!  For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.  I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”   Luke 18.16-17


Lord, thank you for bringing these special people into my life to help me see You more clearly, to love You more fully and to praise You unreservedly!  Amen.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Two Sides . . .

I saw a car the other day that looked normal but as it turned the corner, I was caught by surprise – the whole passenger side was completely smashed in! 


And it got me thinking . . . there’s a lot of things in life with two sides.


There are two sides to a coin . . . two sides to a story . . . two sides to a book.  Even Star Wars has two sides . . . the good side and the dark side.


People have sides too!  There’s our good side that we parade around for all to see and there’s our dark side that we hide and cover up hoping no one will ever get a glimpse of.


There is a story in Matthew where a young man comes to Jesus wanting to know how he can have eternal life and Jesus tells him he must obey the commandments.  Look at the man’s response . . .  


“I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied.  (It’s as if this young man is saying, "Look can you see my good side?)


“What else must I do?” (He asks.)


Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow me.”  (With laser like precision Jesus goes after the dark side of his heart.  How do we know that?  Because of the young man's response.)


But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. (Matthew 19:20-22)


Showing off our good side and concealing our dark side is second nature.  But as this young man found, you can’t hide your dark side from God.


Jesus is in the business of changing EVERY PART of us – the good, the bad and the ugly.  This process of change can be terrifying, excruciating and seemingly unbearable at times but it’s in the struggle and the pain that the true beauty is uncovered. 


Remember . . .  stuff that takes no real effort isn’t worth much, it’s the hard and difficult that has value in the end.


Will you stop trying to hide the dark side of your heart?   


Remember . . . He made their hearts, so He understands everything they do.  (Psalm 33.15) 
Who better to work on You than the One who formed you and understands everything about you?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Beauty Isn't Just Skin Deep

Can I just say . . . I hate getting my picture taken.  I’m NEVER photogenic! 

My sister on the other hand is ALWAYS photogenic!  It doesn’t matter if she’s just gotten out of bed or been in a rainstorm, she still looks gorgeous.  I, on the other hand, can fix my hair, put on makeup and still look frumpy. 


For that reason, I’m reluctant to get my picture taken and even more so when I have to dish out good money for one.  I reason that I can take just as good a picture on my phone as a professional can take – well maybe, not just as good but it’ll do.  So I choose to stick with my snapshots which are easy, convenient and “good enough”.

When I found out recently that  I needed to get some professional photos, I cringed.  Could I lose forty pounds in two days and get a face lift?  Hmmm, probably NOT!  Then I remembered . . . there is Photoshop!


Even knowing that, I still showed up at the studio with knots in my stomach.  But before my time was up I was astounded at the giftedness of my photographer. She made me look beautiful! She had the right equipment, the expertise and the “eye” for the perfect shot.


Just like my photographer used her skill and expertise to make me beautiful on the outside, God is at work making me beautiful on the inside.  He is using His skill and expertise to shape and form me to look like Him. 


To be honest, rarely do I jump up and down with excitement over what He is doing.  It’s often hard and painful.  I find myself frequently asking, “Did you really need to do that?  Couldn’t you find an easier way to change me?” 

What God is doing in me isn't as easy a fix as it is on Photoshop.  It doesn't happen with the click of a button or with one decision.  It's a process - it takes time, energy and perseverence.


Just like I avoid getting my picture taken, I duck and hide to evade God’s work in my life.  I opt for the easy, the convenient and the “good enough” philosophy instead. 


But Hebrews 12.5-7 says, “And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children?  He said,  ‘My child, don’t make light of the LORD’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you.  For the LORD disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as His child.’  As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children.  Whoever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father?”


Taking pictures my way is easy and cheap but they’re never stellar.   Trying to fix myself never works either.  I need to stop ducking and hiding and embrace the work God is doing in my life.