Wednesday, February 11, 2015

give me boldness

Peter and the other apostles had been warned, with many threatenings, not to teach in Jesus' name. Immediately they got together with their companions to pray. I would think they would pray for God to overthrow this evil political system and grant them freedom to teach about Jesus. God is a God of justice and freedom. They could have prayed for fairness and peace - for their path of public ministry to be smooth and glorious. They carried a glorious message about the lovely Son of God! Their prayers shock me and accuse me. I am far too obsessed with the easy life. They prayed for boldness. They remembered how the rulers were gathered together against Jesus - and yet it was "to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done." They fully accepted their current circumstances as part of God's plan. Were they more valuable than Jesus, whom God allowed to suffer as part of His plan? No, they did not even consider that. They reminded themselves of God's ways, of His power over all things, and committed themselves to His plan. And prayed for boldness to speak in Jesus' name in the face of danger, suffering, and death. That's the faith I want. The faith to accept negative circumstances as part of God's plan and trust that He will not require me to suffer more than is necessary to accomplish His plan. I want to be so committed to His plan in my life that avoiding pain or suffering is not my first prayer - instead praying for boldness and strength and endurance - trusting that God has the other details sorted out.

Monday, February 9, 2015

a Nova Scotian Psalm

O God, your love for me is higher than the Bay of Fundy tides;
It stretches out before me and endures like a Nova Scotia Summer evening.
Your mercies are fir trees - green and alive in every season;
Growing together, thick - my days a forest of your love.
Your ways are the crashing ocean waves on the rocks of Peggy's Cove;
Beautiful and dangerous; peaceful and powerful - spraying my face.
Your steadfastness is as certain as the changing seasons;
You provide for me as surely as you paint the leaves each September.
Your love for me runs pure and sweet like the sap of the maple tree;
In the Spring, after a frosty night, I am certain of it's flowing goodness.
Your goodness to me is exquisite and varied, as the evening sky;
When I notice, it takes my breath away with its expanse and detail.
You, O God, are the soul-stirring view from the Cabot Trail;
One glimpse of you leaves me changed forever.

Monday, January 19, 2015

more to be desired

I plot and I save
I scrimp and I plan
I anticipate
I long.
I fly hundreds of miles
To enjoy Your creation
To relax
To spend quality time
To soak up some rays
To de-stress

I enjoy and relish
I linger and exhale
My muscles lose their tension
And toes wiggle in the sand
Sun shining bright
Bathing my soul in peace and tranquility
I experience all I've been missing out on
It is enjoyable
It ends
I return to my life

I realize
A light shines in my awareness
This tangible is all peripheral
You give true joy
Lasting joy
One glimpse of You is more peaceful
More powerful
More to be desired
Than a week of sun in the dead of winter
And glimpses of You can happen anywhere

King David said it best:
"Whom have I in heaven but You?
And earth has nothing I desire besides You"
Psalm 73:25

Sunday, December 21, 2014

to my teenage daughter

Oh tender heart, aching longing heart
Strings drawn taut
Full to overflowing, spilling up past
Throat pulled tight and flowing salty down cheeks
Love hurts
Heart strings, like apron strings, tied tightly round our babies
No longer babies
Long arms and legs dangling, exploring
Finding difficult things
Come back to the cradle
Let me wrap you in flannelette
Keep you warm and safe forever
It cannot be
The tearing sounds like blasting away rock
Like the birthing pains that first ushered you in to change my world forever
This heaving, aching labour feels as if it will break my heart in two
The glimpses of the beauty ahead
Unique and amazing adult
Daughter and friend more lovely than even baby-you
Give strength to persevere, perspire through
To gird up the muscles of my heart
And anticipate this birthing

Thursday, December 18, 2014

what do you want?

Two weeks ago I had a date with God. He told me to ask him for things.

Stuff. Just ask, then get. Materialism. Consumerism. Hoarding. Shopping therapy. Clutter. Keeping up with the Joneses. Wastefulness. Greed. More. - all things I worried might happen if I became too focused on asking God for things.

What did happen: security. Peace. Desire for better gifts. Real gifts. Realization. That the best gift - the only gift I really want is God. Closeness. Intimacy. Understanding. Knowledge. Revelation. Presence. "This is Eternal life...."

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

not the virgin-birth you always thought

Virgin - pure, clean, spotless, unused, pristine, untouched...

This word is used as an adjective for many things, but none so well known as the Virgin Mary. The Holy mother.

Mary - chosen of God, obedient, good. Some would even say perfect. However, I believe she was chosen, as a virgin, not because this somehow made her worthy, holy. But because it was a powerful symbol to the culture of that day - and has continued to be so for centuries. The virgin- birth was both a miracle to prove/signify the diety of Jesus, and a symbol of the purity of God. This symbol was so powerful because of the beliefs about women in that time - not the other way around. The way we sometimes look at things, you'd think Jesus was virgin-born because it's the right way to do it.

In this age of rape-culture and awareness of the oppression of women, I think it needs to be said that Mary's virginity made her no more worthy to be the mother of Jesus than her being born in that century did. When a woman is raped or chooses to have sex, she does not become used or dirty or defiled. Just like a man doesn't become these things. And God choosing a virgin-birth for His Son - His greatest gift humanity has ever seen - is about the powerful symbol and miracle this would be readily recognised as - not a statement on the purity of virgins.

I just thought this needed to be said at this time of year, to this powerful generation of question-askers and advocates-for-those-wronged. I'm proud of this new generation who refuse to accept without question things that should be questioned.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

ask, as a command

" It's been a long time since we had a tea-date," He whispered as I half-dozed between hitting "snooze" and the alarm going off. And I realized He was right. I had not made a date with God in a terribly long time. I hadn't meant to ignore him - life just gets in the way sometimes. It was a Thursday so no chance to carve out any time today, but Friday morning could still be reserved. "Ok," I said as I turned off the alarm, "I'll see you tomorrow morning." All day, I found myself thinking about that date. And I tried to prepare the way I might for a planned date with my husband. I began to anticipate with joy the planned time with God.

In the morning, after driving the kids to school and picking up a tea at Tim Hortons, I hurried home, found my slippers and pulled up to the table with a Bible. I paused. I had no idea where I should read. I started talking out loud to God as I thumbed through the pages. I told Him how I had missed our time together - how I had gotten distracted with busyness. Glancing down, I saw the Bible was open to John 15. "Oh, boring, I thought, almost without realizing - "the vine, the branches, abide...nothing new here."  Still I began to skim through, then read more carefully. I read right through to the end of chapter 16. When I stopped, I realized two phrases stood out - they stood out because they were repeated. Each appears in chapter 15 and again in 16. Isn't it cool how God has wired our brain to notice - even identify with things that we have seen before?

The first phrase that caught my attention was, "..that your joy may be full." In chapter 15:11, Jesus is telling them why He has urged them to obey his commands - so that His joy may be in them, and their joy may be full. Easy enough - obey His commands for full joy. Here, His command seems to be to love one another. I already knew this was one of the main themes of John 15. However, in chapter 16:24, it follows, "Ask and you will receive.." Here, Jesus seems to be saying that one of the keys to full joy is asking for things. "Interesting," I thought, but I hadn't quite grasped it yet - and God knew it. He drew my attention to the next repeated phrase - "whatever you ask the Father in my name, He may (will) give you." In chapter 16, this is right before the "joy" phrase. Jesus has just talked with his disciples about his leaving - how they will have sorrow, but it is necessary so that the Holy Spirit will come. He comforts them by looking forward to the day when they will be together again - on the other side of that sorrow. Then He reminds them that anything they ask will be given. It seems He admonished them a little, saying, "Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full." There it was! A command. Is God telling me He wants me to ask for things? I had always been taught a healthy (I thought) fear of selfish prayers that were nothing more than shopping lists for God. I was starting to see a bit of error there, though. Coupled with sayings like, "God helps those who help themselves," and "All we can do is pray," we are on dangerous ground   Jesus knew self-sufficiency would be one of the biggest joy-stealers his disciples would face after He left. They would struggle to go to God without Jesus, as a physical person, there to see, touch. Connecting with God via the Holy Spirit requires training our spiritual muscles. Lights were beginning to come on in my head - wow, "ask" as a command. But I still hadn't checked out the other reference for that 2nd phrase - the one about God giving us whatever we ask. I flipped back to chapter 15:16,17. It says, "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in my name He may give you.  These things I command you, that you love one another." I always thought the command, here was to love one another, but it says "these things" so what are the commands? If verse 17 is saying that He commands these things to help us love one another, then verse 16 must be the commands. That would mean Jesus was commanding his disciples to 1. bear fruit, 2. keep that fruit, and 3. ask for things. I was overwhelmed. I asked God what He wanted me to ask for, reminding Him that it is He who gives me the desires of my heart. Then I felt very strongly what I should ask. So I did. And it's the biggest physical thing I have ever purposefully asked of God. I guess I'll write about it when it happens.

I should just say that I was reading a New King James Version for this. And when I looked this up in a couple of other versions to write about it, I noticed that none of the others I checked has "command" as a plural in 15:16,  however, since it was really just confirmation of what God had already shown me in chapter 16, I wouldn't be bothered if only the version I "happened" to be reading puts it this way.