Sunday, April 27, 2014

Packing Ponderings

I wander around my increasingly empty home and talk to myself as my words echo on plain walls. Marks are clear where pictures used to hang and empty nails remind me of faces and drawings that I love. I linger in a room and remember my son who lounged here and studied and chatted with friends and played endless hours of xbox or play station (never really knew which it was). 

I touch the freshly painted walls in what was for a short time, our new guest room, vacated by another son just a few short months ago. I sigh. What a blessing to have lived here, to have laughed and cried, to have watched my sons grow into young men, to know that God refined and shaped me in these walls. 

I pack a box and go downstairs for the tenth time, to get more newspaper, or the packing tape or to find just the right object to fit in the space left beside a dozen books. It is a puzzle, to get everything in so that no space is left and objects won't bounce around.

I learned this from my father and mother, who packed, unpacked, repacked and packed again as they went from village to mission center, to USA and back again. Packing boxes, suitcases and the car were common occurrences. I laugh out loud as I remember my Mom, poised with her shoe to capture any escaping cockroaches or spiders that hitched a ride in her packed boxes.

An example of my dad's excellent packing skills!
This jeep held all 9 of us Duberts and our stuff!
Moving is a good discipline. It is forcing me to sort through everything and evaluate. Do I really need this? How long has it been since I used that? What to do with the accumulation of stuff? Two large plastic bags follow me to every room. One for trash, the other to give away. Then there are the miscellaneous odd furniture pieces that will go on the front lawn for free. A couple items for Craig's list to find a good home.

But mostly, the home itself must go. And where is that buyer? That one who is willing to commit to care for these old plaster walls and hardwood floors? I pray for that person as I go from one project to another, preparing for our immanent departure.

I take a moment to open the first Bible I truly studied and loved. In its pages I find a faded notebook page with the ponderings of a teenager written on it.

Lord, you did answer the longing of my teenage heart. You have been faithful. I realize that You have and are still fulfilling my dreams. Some dreams are different (I don't know six languages - only made it to four, and some of those not very well). Some are fulfilled differently than I imagined (I don't have a career in singing, but I live in house full of songs). And my true desire has evolved to be simply YOU! The first part of that verse is " O my people, trust him at all times." Once again, I trust this home and my dreams to  you. Amen

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Delighting in God

Psalm 37:4 says "Delight yourself in the Lord." What does that mean? How do I do that?

What would it look like to delight in God today?

The best comparison I can make is what it's like to delight in my children. I rejoice in their gifts, talents and accomplishments. I enjoy hearing them tell stories and I laugh at their jokes. I relish their reports of what's going on in their lives, even the small, mundane stuff. I find pleasure in just being around them and marveling at the persons they are becoming.

So, I guess delighting in God means, among other things, just being around him and enjoying him. So, I settle into my chair and I quiet myself to spend some quality time with him.

Here I am, Lord. It's just you and me. I have set aside this day to be with you. 

Delighting in God also means watching him work and do what he does best, appreciating his creativity and talents. So I look around to pay attention to him and his works.

You are so creative, God. You made the man or woman who is playing the beautiful, haunting violin solo I hear. You gave humankind the ability to make beautiful music. You created the sunshine I see out the window today. You even created the village tribes who made the crude spears, string bags and boar tusk necklaces that adorn the walls of the room I sit in. You gave me new eyes to see the small things around me as gifts from your generous and talented hand.

Delighting in God also means hearing his heart and desires, listening to his voice and allowing him to speak.

What's on your heart, Lord? What are your desires? I know from Scripture that you desire that all would be saved. That the ends of the earth would hear the message of good news. That people will follow you. That they will know how much you love them. That they are set free from addiction and sin.

His voice interrupts my recitation of scripture.
Right now, my heart is for you, my child; for your success and fulfillment, for you to know me as I know you, for you to delight in me and take pleasure in me. Let me satisfy you and give you true intimacy. Run this race with me, take my hand and let's gallop across meadows (for I ride on the winds to come to your aid!) dance, jump, soar, fall on the grass, laugh and sing together. This is fun! Fun! Not so serious, so intense! Enjoy! Seek me every day even more. Don't rely so much on your good organizational and packing skills. Trust me for each day. Ask me "What should I do today?" and I'll help sell the house and sort the stuff and schedule the appointments and visits. Invite me into the process. Let me guide this adventure, this wild ride of exhilaration, speed, and excitement! Watch me work!
But Lord, that is your heart for me. What about for others? For the world?
I'm all about you today, child, for you have given your day and your attention to me.
I love you Jesus so very much. Even as I seek to delight in you, you are already delighting in me! 

"I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness." (Isaiah 61:10) Now it's your turn. Take some time today and delight in God.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Wind of the Spirit

I lay on my bed in Schreiber Lodge (at the church prayer retreat) and gazed out the window as the dawn lit the sky. All I could see were the silhouetted branches of tall trees intertwined and enmeshed in each other. As I continued to look, the trees began to sway gently. What force was strong enough to move those massive trunks?

John 3:8 describes the wind. "The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound (or see the signs of it) but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."

I have been born of the Holy Spirit. So what are the sounds, effects and signs of the him in my life? Can someone watching me hear his voice? See his signs? His fruit? 

"Walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh." For me, this means things like fantasizing about someone other than my husband, putting my children in place of God, desperately wanting my girlfriend's spiritual gift, wishing ill of an abusive man, seeking recognition for my talents, drinking too much of that fine wine, and creating division by hanging out with only those people I like (Galatians 5:16-23).

In contrast, "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control". Keep in step with the Spirit, sow to please the Spirit (Galatians 6:7-8), do not quench the Spirit (I Thessalonians 5:19) are all actions of my will that I can choose to put into practice. 

I headed off to breakfast. As I reached for a banana, I wondered why these qualities are called fruit? Maybe because fruit is sweet, it tastes good, it is a direct result of the DNA in the seed, it depends on good soil and growing conditions and it takes time - sometimes a long time - to grow. To keep to the analogy, I must stay close to my source - the Spirit - in order to bear his fruit. I must let him make me into his image so that my fruit will look like his fruit. I must create good soil in which the fruit can grow and thrive. And I must be patient to let the fruit grow.

Back in my private room, I decided to do some cultivating of joy and peace. I spent time with the Spirit and in his presence, I chose to rejoice even though my phone was dead, the fridge leaked, there was little interest in the house, the weather was still cold and dreary, our final service at our beloved church was at hand and my future was uncertain. I was at peace because my God is in control.

Though [joy and peace] are intangible, their company is quite beneficial. They can relieve the thirst of our soul. Joy is radiantly lovely. Her contagious laugher lifts you up and lightens your mood. Peace is quieter than joy but equally attractive. Her serenity calms you as you feel fully understood yet totally accepted. The longer you walk with these lovely companions, the better your awareness of Me - the One who ultimately satisfies your soul thirst. - Sarah Young from Dear Jesus.

How about you? What wind of the Spirit can others see in you today? How can you cultivate the fruit that is lacking?