Catching the EAC!

The bible is clear that we are called to be “in” the world, but not “of” the world. That’s pretty confusing. It’s like saying we are supposed to be in the pool, but not wet. We are supposed to go to school, but not be in class. It’s like we should be married to our spouse, but not committed. That seems to go against all other instruction in the bible!

In Romans 12:2, we are admonished to not conform to this world, yet here we are, living smack dab in the middle of it. We are encouraged to go against the flow, yet, in the world we live in, going against the flow can be very dangerous! I was recently approached and asked to place a political sign in my yard and I declined because I do not want to be targeted by the extremist who may not agree with or support the message on the sign. There are several neighbors who I believe would be offended or mad if I placed a sign in my yard opposing their political opinion. God speed to those who are willing to place political signs in their yard, when I grow up, I hope I can be more like them, but for now, I will stay out of the political spotlight as far as my neighborhood goes. My political views will be voiced on my ballot.  But I digress . . .

1 John 2:15-17 says, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world; the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abides for ever.”

Clearly, anything that represents the world is not of God. Recently, someone said that if God doesn’t judge this world very harshly, He owes Sodom and Gomorrah an apology. Obviously, God owe’s no one an apology, but we can understand the thought process behind that statement. We are living in a felony world that makes Sodom and Gomorrah look like a misdemeanor. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life is NOT of the Father, but is of the world – the world which is our primary residence. The world which we live in, but are commanded not to love.

We are told in James 4:4 that friendship with the world is enmity with God! “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

Again, this is all very confusing and makes one question why God would place us in a world that hates Him. Isn’t that like placing our children on a busy highway during rush hour? There’s no escaping the horrible fact that being of this world results in enmity with, and separation from, our Father and ultimately, that means death and eternal separation from Him.

Eternal separation from God was not His intention when He created planet earth. That ending was not His plan. His plan was for us to love Him completely and enjoy Him eternally. Sadly, sin entered the world, and separated us from our loving Father who created a perfect world for us, a world that was well suited for our every need. Sin not only separated us from our Father, but it caused the world to be the arch-enemy of God. Yet here we are, stuck in a world that hates God, does not glorify Him, and with which we are forbidden to conform.

So, how are we supposed to exist in this world without conforming, without “passing away with the world”, rather living in a manner that is pleasing and acceptable to Him so we can abide in Him forever?

Have you seen the movie “Finding Nemo“? Think back to the scene where Nemo’s dad, Marlin, and Dory survive a very deadly encounter with a huge amount of poisonous jelly fish. Not only did they survive, but they found themselves travelling with the sea turtles through the East Australian Current. Remember that scene? Nemo’s dad, Marlin, wakes up on the back of Crush, a sea turtle, and they are in the East Australian Current, also known as the EAC. If you don’t remember the scene, here it is.

https://video.disney.com/watch/catching-the-eac-4bb39d25a179ea8833003b15

The EAC is IN the ocean, but not OF it. The EAC current goes in a completely different direction than the typical current of the ocean. It travels at a different rate of speed than the ocean’s current. The EAC is a different temperature, and even a different color than the surrounding ocean. The EAC is IN the ocean, but it enjoys its own current, and it exists and travels through the ocean, yet goes against the flow!

We need to find the EAC in our lives, we need to travel in a radically different direction than the world, we need to travel at a different rate of speed than the world. Our temperature must be drastically different from the current (pun intended) temperature of the world. We need to be light, not darkness in this world, thus a completely different color than the world.

As hard as it is to “take on the jellies” of the world we live in, we must take them on, and we must find our rest on the back of Jesus in a current that is starkly opposite to the current of the world. Existing on the back of Jesus is the only way to exist in this world and not be of it.

So, there ya have it. We are stuck in this world where we are misfits, where we are commanded not to fit in or be comfortable. But the good news is that God provides a current that leads us directly to Him.  The current is Jesus.  We have only to fight the jellies, and land on the back of the One whose current is different, better, and eternal.

 Lord, please help me to go against the flow.  Give me the clarity of mind to be able to distinguish between Your current and the current of the world that hates You.  I love You and want to cling to your back on the heavenly current You lay before me.  I know You know the plans You have for me, and I want to follow that plan.  Lead me. Equip me to follow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Don’t Love What You Did . . . But I Love You!

Tony was about 3 or 4 years old and laying on the living room couch enjoying his grape juice in a sippy cup. All was well in his world, and when his world was good, mine was good!

Gary and I moved into our first home the year before Tony was born. It was brand new, and we had the joy of picking out the carpet, tile, appliances, and even the color of the paint. My father-in-law once said that I was going to wear the carpet out with the constant vacuuming. It was a happy time for us, we loved our new home, and we loved being new parents and the joys that parenting Tony and Vinny brought us each day.

On this particular day, Tony was tuned in to the Ninja Turtles movie, dressed in his Ninja Turtle jammies.  He was happy and content. Baby brother Vinny was napping in the other room, and Tony had full command of the house, TV, and me. It’s amazing how a peaceful scene such as this can go drastically south in a fraction of a second.

I asked Tony to sit up and drink his juice. He ignored me. I asked again. He turned his little shoulder so that his back would be completely to me. I reached down and picked him up and sat him on the couch in what I considered appropriate drinking posture. That sweet little boy turned his face to me and gave me a look that I will never forget. His
expression screamed of injustice, disbelief, and anger all in one little glance! Then he pulled the sippy cup full of grape juice from his lips, and threw it across the living room and into the wall!

While the sippy cup was flying and spiraling through the air, grape juice was spraying all over my new Gun Powder Blue carpet. Upon impact with the wall, the sippy cup lid came off and an explosion of purple juice covered my beautiful mauve colored wall.  As I remember, this all happened in super-slow-motion followed by deafening silence.

I grabbed Tony under his little arms and picked him up. He started screaming bloody murder, but it didn’t faze me for one second. I hauled his little screaming self down the hall and into his room. I tossed him down on his bed and told him to stay there. I went back to the living room and began soaking up the grape juice from my carpet. Tony was
still screaming bloody murder, so I marched back in to his room, turned him over and swatted him on his little behind. I left again and continued cleaning, and he was still screaming, and I mean SCREAMING! I went back into Tony’s room and turned him over and swatted him again! I left him laying there on his bed and went to finish cleaning my walls and carpet.

As I was cleaning and thinking about what I could use to cover up the stain on the walls, the stain of my own sin suddenly came to my mind and I was overwhelmed with shame. I thought about all the times in my life when I threw my proverbial sippy cup and stained the walls and carpet of my life, and the walls and carpet of those around me. I
remembered hurtful things I had said and done over the years and marveled at the fact that when I deserved to be thrown down and swatted, my heavenly Father loved me and held me and covered the stain of my sin with His own blood. I realized how unlike my Father I am, and how I long to be more like Him.

By now, the screaming coming from Tony’s room had been replaced with quiet whimpering. I went down the hall and opened his door. He looked at me with the most defeated look I’d ever seen. He was expecting to be swatted again, and didn’t even care. I walked over to his bed, and sat down next to him. He sat up and snuggled into my
arms, still whimpering and hiccupping from his screaming and crying. I held him close and ran my fingers through his now sweaty hair and I said this to him: “I love you Tony! I’m so sorry I lost my temper with you! I’m so sorry I swatted you and threw you on your bed! I love you so much! I was wrong to behave that way! No matter what you did or do, I should never behave that way! Will you please forgive me?” Tony looked in my eyes and using his best big grown-up voice, he said this: “I forgive you, Mommy! I don’t love what you did . . . but I love you!!”

My little guy heard those same words from me a time or two, and was now using my own words on me! If only I would learn to use God’s words rather than defaulting to my own sinful words and ways.

Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for loving me even when I disappoint you, thank you for forgiving me when I deserve a swat.  Thank you, Lord, for covering the stain of my sin with your blood. Please help me to act and react more like you.  I love you!

Blowing Smoke and Going Nowhere

One of the loveliest places I have ever visited is a little town called Talkeetna.  Talkeetna is in Alaska.  My husband and I arrived in Talkeetna by bus along with many other tourists who, like us, were enjoying a week in Denali National Park.  Our bus wasn’t one of the new ones with all the bells and whistles, it was just an old mediocre tour bus in a convoy of a dozen other buses.  The ride on the bus was uneventful to be sure, but the destinations were filled with the wonder of God’s glorious creation and creatures. In Talkeetna, we even saw a triple rainbow, so bright and full of promise!

The buses dropped us off at a train station where they waited for us as we toured Talkeetna.  The majority of the trains coming and going through the station were cargo trains.  There was a passenger train or two, but the train that caught my eye, and the eye of a certain little 5-year-old boy was a big black steam locomotive!  That locomotive came into the train station at a near crawl, chug-chug-chugging as the conductor steered it to a spot right in front of the crowd waiting to board the buses for the rest of the tour.

The crowd was silent, watching in awe as the huge coal eating train loudly spat black smoke and steam in every direction.  With what seemed like a thunderous deep sigh, the huge train came to a halt right in front of us.  All was quiet.  That is until the little 5-year-old boy let out the loudest, shrillest, most terrifying scream I have ever heard!

All eyes turned immediately to the little boy who was frantically trying to get away from his mother!  His heels were dug into the dirt in an effort to keep his mother from dragging him away from the huge locomotive to the buses. More than anything, that little boy wanted to ride on that monstrous locomotive! He had his little heart set on riding on the big black train, and nothing else would do!

My first thought was “Someone needs a time out!” Then I realized that maybe I was the one who needed a time out! How like that little boy am I, digging my heels in against God’s pull in my life, thinking that I know what I need better than God!

That little boy wanted a ride on the big black locomotive, yet his mother was taking him in a direction he didn’t understand and didn’t want to go. In his childish perspective, he thought he knew what was best for him. He thought he knew what he needed to be happy.  He thought he knew better than his mom.  Clearly, in his mind, a ride on the locomotive was what he needed to be happy!

Little did he know his mother had made marvelous plans for him at the other end of the bus ride!  She was taking him on a steam boat cruise where he would see reindeer and a bush pilot taking off from, and landing on the river, right next to him!  He’d see sled dogs and a real Athabascan Indian tribe village!  He’d get to taste smoked salmon and touch the skins of wolves, bear and caribou!  The bus was going to take him to a little boy’s dream!  Yet he wanted to ride the train! The big, loud, coal burning, smoke spitting train, and the train was going nowhere.

The triple rainbow brightened as the child screamed louder and louder.  “Trust me, my child, I know the thoughts that I think toward you, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jer 29:11)

Oswald Chambers said “It is not a question of right and wrong, but a question of God taking you by a way which in the meantime you do not understand, and it is only by going through the confusion that you will get at what God wants.”

Like the little boy in Talkeetna, we may dig our heels in for a time, and even scream and cry when God pulls us in a direction we don’t understand.  But we must  turn away from that which is luring us away from God’s plan for our lives! We need to let Him take us by the hand, get on the bus and trust Him to take us where He wants!  Mile after mile, some easy, some difficult, the Lord will bring us closer and closer to where He wants us to be! And I promise, we will never regret the ride with the Lord!

Lord, Jesus, be the director of my steps, lead me and guide me in the way I should go.  Help me to distinguish between my desires and Your will, and give me the strength and fortitude to always choose Your will! Help me to trust You even when the way is not clear to me, help me to remember that You have the best plan, and the best route for my life. Thank You for holding tightly to me when I dig my heels in and try to go in a direction that is not best for me. Thank you for being the best Father.  I love you, Lord!

Just Do It!

          When my sons were 3 and 4, we moved to Apple Valley. It was a very hard move for the boys, and soon after, my youngest son, Vinny, developed a very bad stutter. Sometimes, he stuttered so badly that I couldn’t understand what he was trying to say. Sometimes, Tony would have to interpret for me. I don’t know how Tony could understand his brother, but he could, and he would let me know what Vinny was trying to say. Sometimes, especially if Tony wasn’t around to interpret, Vinny would get so frustrated with his stuttering that he’d dissolve into tears and stop trying. It wasn’t that I wasn’t listening to him, it was just that I couldn’t understand what he was saying to me.  Vinny would cry and retreat to his room and clean it, he’d put everything in perfect order in his closet and on his shelves. Gary and I knew that since he couldn’t control how words came from his lips, he wanted to control something, anything, so he put other areas of his little life in perfect, controlled order.

          One day, after I put the boys down for their naps, I began to weep with frustration over not being able to help Vinny. I had tried everything, including speech therapy and oral desensitization, but that little guy still could not stop stuttering, and spent much of his time silently cleaning and ordering his room. Gary and I were beside ourselves with worry and a deep sadness.

          On that particular day, Vinny was exhausted from trying to tell me something. He started crying in frustration, and was now sleeping soundly. Desperate for help and support, I went next door to my friend’s house. I poured my broken heart out to her, and she said, “Have you prayed?” I said “Of course I’ve prayed, Gary and I have been praying about this for months!” She said “I know you’re ‘praying’, but have you really prayed? Have you been talking to God the way you are talking to me? Have you poured your heart out to Him and asked Him to help your son?” I thought about it and realized that, no, I hadn’t.

          How many times do we say “I’m praying about this or that” or “I’m praying for you!” to someone, but really, we just have positive or sympathetic thoughts for them, or about their situation.  Then when we wonder why God didn’t answer our prayer, He wonders, “What prayer?”

          I love to pray. That’s not to say I’m good at it or do it enough. It’s a discipline; it has to be something we decide to do, then do it. I often fall asleep praying, and I used to think that was terrible. Then I remembered that God is my Father, and He loves it when I fall asleep in His arms, and that’s OK. I certainly would not be offended if my child fell asleep in my arms while telling me about his joys and sorrows!

          When I realized that I had not actually really prayed about Vinny’s stuttering problem, I was so surprised! I thought I had been praying for months! What I had been doing, though, was thinking, emoting, sharing my feelings, wringing my hands, and saying that I was praying. I would venture to say that most of my friends and family were doing the same, sincerely worrying about Vinny, and sincerely offering me their love and compassion and promises to pray. But did it end there? Too often, I think it does end there.

          Not long ago, I was discouraged to the point of not wanting to share my prayer requests with my friends and family because I felt it went nowhere. It began with me sharing my heartfelt concern, followed by a heartfelt response and promise to pray, and then, sadly, that was the end.

          Back at my neighbors, I confessed that I had not been praying as I should.  I had been complaining, and worrying and carrying the burden of this problem without ever really seeking help from God! I’d been running around saying “Oh my burden’s so heavy, it’s so heavy, I can’t take it! My poor aching back carrying this heavy weight!” I was announcing to the world my heartfelt concern, but never actually took it to the Throne! I just talked about it!

          I thanked my friend and told her that I needed to leave. It was time for me to pray, to make an appointment at the feet of Jesus and seek His help. That’s exactly what I did. I went home and checked on the boys, and they were still sleeping soundly. I got on my knees in my bedroom and I prayed like I had never prayed before!

          God met me there, and I felt His presence, I felt Him wrap His arms around me and say “I’ve been wondering when you were going to talk to me about this! It blesses me when you trust me with your concerns! What concerns you, concerns me. What breaks your heart, breaks mine. What brings you joy, brings me joy! You underestimate my great love for you, and for Vinny.”

          After that wonderful time with Jesus, I called Gary and told him what had happened, I told him about the terrible morning Vinny had and how he cried himself to sleep. I told him how I went next door and faced the truth of my “faux faith”, and how I thought I’d been praying, but in reality I’d only been thinking and worrying and wringing my hands. I told him how I came home and prayed for Vinny.

          On the other end of the phone, I could hear Gary was emotional, and struggling to speak, he cleared his throat and said “I was sitting at my desk wringing my hands and worrying about Vinny this morning when God very clearly spoke to me and said “Why are you carrying this alone? Why have you not asked Me to help? Don’t you know I love Vinny even more than you do? Why are you leaving Me out of this? Ask Me.”

          Gary locked his office door and got on his knees and starting praying to God at precisely the same moment that I was on my knees praying! Here we were, two broken-hearted parents in two different cities, on our knees separately together enjoying the full attention of the Maker of the Universe on behalf of our sleeping son.

          I felt like I was floating around the kitchen as I baked cookies in preparation of Tony and Vinny waking up from their nap. A few minutes later, the dogs trotted through the kitchen – this meant their boys couldn’t be far behind them. Sure enough, there came Tony and Vinny, smiling and rubbing their sleepy eyes, each trying to be the first one to get a hug and a cookie from me. They sat at the counter with their milk and warm cookies, and my sweet Vinny looked at me, and without even a hint of a stutter, said “Mom, I had the best dream ever!”

          I marveled as he, stutter free, told me his dream. He dreamed of jumping on the trampoline all the way up to heaven and there were angels and angel dogs and he was soaring through the clouds with them! Then mid story, he realized he wasn’t stuttering! He stopped telling me about his dream, and looked at me with his big blue surprised eyes open wide and said “Hear me? Hear me?”

          So my friends, don’t just talk about praying, don’t just tell your friends and family that you will be praying for them.

JUST DO IT!

Give Me a Sign, Lord!

Spring cleaning started early this year at my house. When I pulled out a box of old photos (and by “old photos” I mean “slides”) from the attic, I found an old picture of me.  I was at the top of a black diamond ski run at Badger Pass in Yosemite posing for a selfie with a sign that said “DANGER!  DO NOT GO BEYOND THIS POINT!”  Finding that picture sure brought back some memories. . . . .

Standing on that mountaintop, I felt like I could conquer the world!  I decided to disregard the sign, and go my own way.  I skied beyond the sign with a grand plan of skiing down the backside of the mountain, then back around to the front. It didn’t quite turn out as I had planned.

The terrain was rugged. There were no carefully cleared and maintained runs on the backside of Badger Pass. It was wild — wild and scary and steep.  About halfway down the mountain (head over heels half the time), I realized that it was a bad idea.  I took off my skis and tried to hike back up.  The snow was too deep and, without my skis on, I sunk nearly to my waist with every step. I had no choice but to put my skis back on and go down.

It began to snow. Soon it was a blizzard.  The blizzard turned into a white-out.  A white-out is when the ground and sky and everything in between are white.  This terrible blizzard dropped 9 feet of snow. There was no shelter, nowhere to go, no “sign” to follow, no way out.

“A SIGN!” I said to myself, “Yes, that’s the answer; leave a sign for rescuers to see!”  Laying my skis on the snow in the shape of an “X,” I hoped a rescue helicopter would see them and come help me.  Within 2 minutes, my skis were buried.  I stuck them in the snow so they formed a big standing “X,” but that too was overcome with snow and of no use.  There was nothing more to do.  Tired and freezing, I just wanted to sit down and go to sleep. I didn’t care if I died out there, I couldn’t go on, and it was getting dark fast.  The white-out was turning into a black-out.

There was a huge fallen tree nearby that I thought could provide shelter.  With frozen hands, I placed pine branches over the fallen tree to form a cave like lean-to and covered the branches with packed snow to make a solid shelter.  I stood my skis up against the fallen tree in case someone was looking for me, and went inside my little shelter. Never had I felt so tired and lethargic, and my arms and legs felt like limbs of lead.  Now settled in my snow cave, I became very warm and comfortable – too comfortable.  I took off my jacket, my beanie, boots and gloves, and ate some snow. “Someone will find me,” I thought.  “I just have to stay awake and listen for the search party.” Exhaustion, dehydration, and hypothermia set in, and soon I fell into a very deep and dangerous sleep.

“Was someone calling my name?” I tried to get up, but I couldn’t move my arms or legs. I heard it again — someone was calling my name!  I tried to answer but my throat was too dry and I was so weak that I couldn’t produce much more than a croak. I kept trying to respond, croaking and coughing, and finally I heard the words I’ll never forget, “We hear you! Keep calling! We’re coming!”

Before long, I heard the rescue party digging and they pulled me out of the snow cave, which was now buried beneath nine feet of fresh snow.  They wrapped me in blankets and gave me water and a Snickers Bar.  They found me!  They rescued me!  When I came out of the snow cave I was surprised that the sky was full of bright shining stars and a full moon, and the snow had stopped falling! “Of course it stopped snowing,” I thought to myself.  “All the snow in heaven’s store-house fell last night!”

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:1-4

How often I ask God to give me a sign, to direct my path and give me wisdom and guidance — a spiritual road map to help me find the way through a storm. How often I accuse God of not showing up when I need Him, of not answering my prayers, or not giving me a sign when I need it.  Then I remember my night on Badger Pass, and the sign that I ignored. Then humbly I ask God to guide my steps, guard my heart, and lead me in the way He desires for me to go.  In His loving way, He reminds me (again) that the roadblocks, signs, and detours are for my own good, and I need to trust Him, and obey Him. Those times when I think God didn’t show up, the reality is, I walked on without Him.  I need to heed the signs, not take selfies with them!

Have you ever felt like you needed a sign from God? Have you ever pushed your way beyond the sign to go your own way? Have you ever taken a selfie as you walk right past God’s instruction?  If so, you’re in good company, and we have a loving Shepherd who will pursue us when we fail to hear His voice.  He will recognize our croaking voice when we call His name, and He will say, “I hear you! Keep calling! I’m coming!”

 “But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep.  My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand . . . ” John 10:26-28

Lord, forgive me for too often asking You to guide me and then going my own way.  Thank you Father, for pursuing me even in my disobedience and disregard for You. Thank You for finding me!  Thank You for rescuing me!

The Green Rake

I used to raise peacocks. And, well, when you have peacocks, you have peacock poop.  And when you have peacock poop, you have to clean up the peacock coop.  And on this particular day, the poopy coop duty was mine.  So I got my brand new big green rake, and went into the peacock coop to scoop the poop.

The coop was very large, about 900 square feet.  There were a couple of nice creosote trees in there, some big rocks the birds liked to stand on, and a little pool for the peacocks to enjoy.  There were 8 peacocks in there, including two who we named He-Pea and She-Pea who were the mommy and daddy of all the others.  He-Pea ruled the roost, and She-Pea loved him and always stayed as close to him as she could.  They were a match made in heaven.  Until . . . . . the green rake came along.

My green rake was made of plastic, with a wooden handle.  It was a very bright green and very wide at the bottom. When I raked with it, I could rake a large area.  I was raking away, gathering the peacock poop into a pile when I noticed He-Pea was acting peculiar.  He left She-Pea, and was walking very near my rake, even prancing a little.  His little head was bobbing up and down and he was making a strange sound.  He would square off toward the green rake and puff his chest out. Then suddenly, with a loud swoooooooosh he threw open his big tail into a beautiful, giant, colorful fan!  His fanned tail was about 6 feet across at the widest point, and boasted of some of the most brilliant colors God created! Once He-Pea’s tail was up and fanned, he brought it down over his head almost like a hood, and then he began to shake it.  The sound of his shaking tail was like the sound of the wind blowing through crisp, dead leaves in the trees, rattling until they find their way to the ground below.  It was impressive to be sure, but why in the world was he acting this way toward my green rake? I’d only seen him behave that way toward his beloved She-Pea!

I glanced over to where She-Pea was, near the rocks.  She looked unimpressed, even disgusted. I looked back at He-Pea, and saw him again puffing out his chest and, wait, was he flirting with my rake?  He was!  He-Pea was putting on a show trying to impress my green rake!  He-Pea mistook the color and shape of the rake for another peacock, and he was doing his best to impress the new arrival!

I used my rake to try to push him away, but he just kept it up, dancing and prancing and showing off his grand tail!  I have been known to talk to myself now and then, and I often talk to my pets, so I said to He-Pea, “What in the world do you think you’re doing?  This rake has nothing for you! Do you really think this rake can make you happy? Do you think this rake can make you feel good?  Do you think this rake will snuggle with you in your nest and take care of your babies?  Are you out of your pea-brain?”  Then I continued and told him, “Look at your beloved She-Pea watching you act like a bird-brain!  With She-Pea you have the real deal, the love of your life, your beloved, your soul-pea, how foolish of you to take your eyes off of your beloved for even a moment to look at this green rake!”

Then it hit me.  How often am I distracted by something appealing or tempting to me? How easily are my eyes drawn away from my beloved Jesus and focused on a green rake?  Anything, and I mean anything, that takes your eyes off of Jesus is a lie!  It cannot make you happy or fulfill you. Anything that takes your eyes of Jesus is nothing but a green rake. And we all know what my green rake was used for . . . . .

Lord Jesus, Thank you for making me your beloved! Help me to keep my eyes on You and You alone!

I Got Subwoofers!

Have you ever heard of subwoofers? Subwoofers “enhance the sound system” according to Yahoo. Subwoofers help you hear the “boom boom boom”. Subwoofers help with volume, clarity and even background noise reduction.

Why would one need a subwoofer? Obviously, to enhance the sound that one is choosing to listen to. Kid’s sometimes put them in their trunk so everyone within a 5 mile radius can hear what they’re listening to while they’re driving.

On a spiritual level, a subwoofer would be the Holy Spirit, the one who comes along side us and gives us spiritual volume, clarity, and even background noise reduction. Or Jesus, the one who intercedes for us, who makes sense of our mumbling and presents it to God clearly and beautifully.

But why do we need someone to “come along side” or to “intercede” for us? We need that because in and of ourselves, we are inadequate. We need “enhancing”, we need someone who is able to give us clarity, understanding and spiritual volume; we need someone who can come along side us and drown out the background noise of the world, so we can more clearly hear God’s voice in our lives!

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I love that word “through”. Christ is the door “through” which we must walk in order to benefit from His enhancing. When we walk through that door, a transformation takes place and our ears are opened, the spiritual volume is turned up and we hear Jesus, and only Jesus. We walk through that door and we are plugged into the most powerful subwoofer of all time!

When I was the Dean of Students of a private school, we hosted exchange students from many different countries. Sometimes speaking to them was difficult because they couldn’t always comprehend what I was saying. English-speaking students frequently tended to think the exchange students were dumb because they didn’t understand. They were not dumb, they were probably smarter than some of us, they may have spoken 2 or 3 languages compared to my one, but they didn’t fully comprehend everything we said. They needed someone to come along side them, and translate for them.

I totally empathize with the exchange students. I have 85% hearing loss in one ear, and 55% in the other. I also have tinnitus. I sometimes feel  like I don’t hear a thing. I have managed, by continually asking “Say that again?” or just smiling and nodding when I don’t have a clue what someone said. Sometimes, if I can’t hear someone speaking to me, I cup my ear, trying desperately to funnel their words into my ear. When all else fails, I read lips.

Sometimes, when someone is talking to me, I hear sounds, usually just a bunch of consonants, so I add my own vowels to try to make sense of the sounds. I probably have a 50% success rate with that, which means a 50% failure rate as well. My family laughed at me more than once when I responded to a comment or question the way I THOUGHT I heard it. For example, after we watched a movie one night, Gary looked at me and said “Why are we still up?” I answered “No, but there’s Diet Pepsi. Do you want me to get you some?” It’s humiliating and frustrating beyond words.  It reminds me of that scene in Sleepless in Seattle where Meg Ryan sits next to a lady on the plane who says “I hate flying, don’t you?” and Meg says “Yes, and I just told the biggest one!”

Recently, I was fitted with my own personal little pea-sized subwoofers. When they were placed in my ears I heard clearly for the first time in many years. I was overwhelmed! I actually started sobbing, I couldn’t believe what I had been missing! The Doctor handed me a tissue and said “Welcome back!” And to top it off, now that I can hear, I am not so focused on the tinnitus, and barely notice it. Similarly, when our ears are opened spiritually we are not focused on the sounds of the world, we are focused on Jesus, and as we allow Him to turn up our spiritual volume, we hear Him say, “Welcome back!”

How’s your hearing, spiritually speaking? How’s your comprehension? Are you missing something? Do you need someone to come and turn up the volume? Are you reading lips and adding vowel sounds to the consonants to make up words? Do you need a subwoofer? I’d like to recommend a great subwoofer, His name is Jesus! And He loves you! He wants to come along side you and bring clarity and understanding to  your life!

“Blessed are those who HEAR the word of God and keep it.” What a blessing! What an honor! What a responsibility!