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All posts for the month October, 2012

Callused

Published October 31, 2012 by Dawn

“Mom!”

The terror in his voice gripped my heart like a vice.

“Mom! He’s dead!”

I swung my legs off the arm of the couch and bolted upright as every vertebrae in my back reminded me I can no longer move that fast. But the piercing anguish in his voice compelled me to force myself into motion. I ran for him, and stood there dumbfounded as my son cradled a dead kitten in his arms, tears streaming down his face. And all I could think at that moment was, “Get this thing out of my house!”

I said it with such authority, he ran for the door, panicking with every step, wondering at my reaction. I could see that he was distraught, but all I could think about was the germs and disease he was no doubt touching. “Put him down and go wash your hands!”

Tears streaming down his face, he placed the kitten gently on the ground. “But mom, he was just alive. Why is he dead? How could he have died so quickly? Look at his mouth!” I did, and I saw my son’s vain attempt to wipe small white things out of the kitten’s mouth. He was so sure that was what killed the cat. I was so sure that was very unsanitary. “Go in and wash your hands with soap. Scrub with Dawn dish liquid until your sister has sung the ABCs twice.”

I stared down at the cat, utterly lost in my disgust. And then I felt it. A twinge. Guilt. How callused have I become? Here is death right in front of me and I am thinking about germs. Here is a sweet, cuddly, innocent kitten and I am cringing at dirt. Like a knife, the truth cut me wide open and I became all at once ashamed of myself. And very proud of my son. One of us understands love. And one of us desperately needs to be taught.

Remembering the Beginning

Published October 31, 2012 by Dawn

The Honeymoon Phase

You know how it is: two people fall in love and get married, and then shuffle off to an exotic beach for a week or two. The only thing they intend to do while on the honeymoon is consummate their marriage and enjoy each other. No other worries are allowed to enter into the sacred time of togetherness.

I’ve never had a real honeymoon, not in the sense that others have. But in my relationship with God, there was definitely a honeymoon phase. A time when I was allowed to get so enraptured with my love for him that nothing else in the world mattered as much as my relationship with God. I wish I could say that it lasted forever, but I can’t. But while it lasted, it was so sweet.

I could feel his eyes on me. I could feel him smiling at me and loving me. The only thing I wanted to do was bask in his presence and enjoy his attention and affection. The God of the universe, the creator of everything, was looking at me and loving me. I needed someone to love me, and He did! That fact alone was worth everything the world had or could ever offer.

The only clear memory I have of that time was enforcing a bed time. I had to get my kids in bed by eight every night so I could spend time in prayer and worship with my heart’s desire. God was so faithful, too. He spoiled me in that time. His presence enveloped me every night, and I sat beneath his tender gaze and poured all the love inside of me out before Him. All the love I hadn’t been able to give to anyone else, I finally poured out at the feet of my Lord.

It felt so good to pour out all that I had been holding in so long. I’m not talking about love in general. I loved my family and my kids. I’m talking about that special love you save for  someone who just seems to complete you. There is a special love inside of us for that special relationship. I hadn’t been in any special relationships, so this love had been shut in for an eternity, it seemed.

When I came into relationship with God, I was able, finally, to pour it all out! There was such freedom! Because as I poured forth that dammed up love, I was able to be poured into. And I was. God poured his love into me unceasingly. I was overwhelmed by Him. My love was being consumed by God, and He was flooding me with love in return. For the first time in my life, I felt full. All the empty spaces were filled and I was overflowing with an unquenchable love. Springs of living water? Absolutely.

My dry, parched heart was filled. The ache of emptiness subsided. The pain of loneliness dissipated. To say that I was content is a great understatement. I was overcome with joy! To think, I was thirsty until I found this fresh spring and drank til my heart’s content. The last thing I wanted to do was get up and walk away. This spring of love coming from my God was my source of nourishment and strength. This love was all I ever really wanted in life.

 

Identity Crisis

Published October 30, 2012 by Dawn

Have you ever had an identity crisis? You aren’t really sure who you are, or who you should be? You act like one person when you are around people you want to impress, but you know deep down that that person is not you? Have you ever had to peel off your mask to get real with God in prayer? I humbly believe we all suffer from this sort of crisis at some point in our lives. I mean, come on, the teenage years happen to even the best of us. Many of us still struggle with who we are well into our adult lives. Isn’t it refreshing to know this isn’t just our own unique issue? What ‘s even more refreshing is knowing that people in the Bible that God used mightily sometimes suffered from the same thing.

The most important thing to remember about people in the bible is that they were just people. Just people, like you and me. And if they were just like you and me, they definitely had their share of problems, especially if they were like me! Take a look at Moses. Moses is the perfect example of someone having an identity crisis. He was doomed from birth. His Hebrew mother puts him in a basket and sends him down the river because the Egyptians were killing off all the baby boys. Pharaoh’s daughter finds him, allows him to be nursed for a few years by his real mother and then takes him home to the palace to grow up as an Egyptian. Moses was born a slave but raised as a prince. Obviously he knew all along he was a Hebrew, because Exodus 2:11 tells us that one day, he goes out to watch his “own people” work and gets angry when he sees an Egyptian beating a Hebrew slave. He gets so angry he kills the slave driver, and when Pharaoh finds out what happened, Moses has to flee for his life. Now, when he leaves Egypt, he goes to Midian, and even there, he can’t figure out exactly who he is. See, there’s some girls watering their sheep at a well, and these shepherds come along and start giving them grief. Moses comes to the rescue, waters their sheep and sends them home early. Their father asks why they came back so early and here it is, they say, “An Egyptian rescued us from the shepherds.” Can’t you just see it? Moses trying to impress the ladies, making them believe he’s this heroic Egyptian prince. They’d never fall for him if they knew he was a Hebrew slave, right? If they knew he was a slave, they’d know he was poor with nothing to offer them. So he tells them he’s from royalty. So the bible says that Moses was gone from Egypt for forty years. So it’s highly probable that Moses struggled maintaining this façade for four long decades. Then, one day, he’s in the desert with his sheep and he sees this curious thing. A bush on fire, but it’s not burning up! He gets closer to check things out and the bush starts speaking to him. “Moses! Moses!” I’m sure he was just a little freaked out at this point, but he stammers, “Here I am.”

The greatest thing about this story is that no matter who Moses pretended to be, God knew just who he was. Even better than that, God loved him in spite of it all. Moses didn’t have to impress God. So, this is how Exodus 3 starts out, but if you skim down to verse 11, you will see that Moses eventually figured it all out. He also realized that who he was didn’t matter. Moses asks God “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh?” God’s response? “I will be with you.” All God asked Moses to do was be who he was and do what God asks. He didn’t have to make a big name for himself, he didn’t have to prove himself to God. He just had to know who he was in God, and know that God was going with him. Period. Moses, at some point in those forty years, figured out who he was, though because he declared “Here I am” when the bush started talking. If he hadn’t figured out who he really was, he would have been like, “Who? You talkin’ to me?” But that’s not what he said. He said, “Here I am!” Clearly, there is hope for those of us who don’t know who we are. It may take a while, and some one-on-one time with God, but we will eventually know who we are, as well as who we are in Christ.

Faith in Troubling Times

Published October 28, 2012 by Dawn

I am sharing this Bible study from my personal collection because of the way it touches me again and again, every time I read it.

“I got up this morning at 4:30, prayed and took a shower so I could spend some time in the word and focused on God before work. I prayed that God would direct my attention to scripture that would speak into my life at this moment and of course, he did.

I began reading at Genesis 22, the chapter where God tells Abraham to take his son Isaac and offer him as a burnt offering to God. So many problems with this situation: First, Isaac was Abraham’s only son. Well, almost. You see, right before all this happened, if you look at Genesis 21, you will see that Sarah ordered Hagai, her maidservant, who had earlier bore a child for Abraham (at Sarah’s request), to leave their camp. Abraham, torn between his love for his first child and his love for his wife, sought God and God told him to go ahead and send them away. Therefore, Isaac was the only child Abraham had after he parted with Ishmael.

Let’s stop right here. What I am seeing is Abraham being asked to part with someone very dear to him. After all, Ishmael was fifteen years old, and so for fifteen years, he was the hope of Abraham. He was the heir, the seed to continue Abraham’s family lineage. God had promised to make Abraham a great nation and long before Isaac arrived, Ishmael appeared to be the answer.

 

I had to look into this further. So I flipped back a few chapters to where that all began. In Genesis 16, Sarah was so desperate for Abraham to have children, she took matters into her own hands. She offered her maidservant to Abraham because she saw that she could not have kids. Hagai became pregnant and Abraham had a son. The problem I see here is that Sarah took matters into her own hands. She didn’t trust that God’s promise could work out any other way, so she took control of the situation. After Hagai had the child, problems between the two women intensified. Both were jealous; Sarah was jealous because Hagai had a son by Abraham, and Hagai was jealous that Abraham loved Sarah. Things simmered for fifteen long years, until Sarah found out she was pregnant. Then they began to boil. When Isaac was weaned, the volcano exploded. Sarah grew angry at Ishmael and demanded Hagai take her son and go. The only problem was that Ishmael was half-brother to Isaac and son of Abraham. Sarah’s control issues had come back to bite her. Ouch!!

 

Okay, so fast-forward to chapter 22, and see that God told Abraham to take Isaac up to the top of a mountain and sacrifice him. The problem: God didn’t tell him which mountain, just that he would tell him when he got there. Also, Isaac was Abraham’s only son and therefore, his last hope. God had told Abraham that he would make Abraham the father of many nations, and then turned around and told him to sacrifice his only son. I can imagine that Abraham was really confused.

I know the journey must have been an emotional one for  Abraham. He was the only one who knew the real reason why they were traveling up an unknown mountain to sacrifice to God. It was a confusing one to everyone else. Where’s the lamb?

Isaac asked his father as they walked up the mountain, “I see the firewood and the fire, but where’s the lamb?” I imagine Abraham had a lump in his throat at that point and had to fight back tears as he looked at his young son. Not knowing what else to say,  he said, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” At that moment, Abraham spoke redemption for Isaac and provision from God! How awesome is that? I never noticed it before. Abraham held fast to a glimmer of hope, that God would take care of this situation. He was willing to give up the most important thing in his life for God, and yet he held tight to God’s promise even when things didn’t make sense. He’s my inspiration.

As I envision Abraham setting up the altar, I can see tears streaming down his face. Isaac couldn’t understand. Why was he crying? But then, as Abraham began to bind up his only son, I imagine that they were both crying, as Abraham finally had to admit why they had come without the lamb. It’s not in scripture what was said, but as I imagine this happening in real life, Isaac would not have just submitted himself to death without having some questions answered. Why, Father? What are you doing? Don’t you love me? Isn’t there any other way? Is this really necessary? No Father, not my life! Don’t ask me for my life! I can’t imagine there was a whole lot for Abraham to say. He was doing the will of God, despite his own will. It hurt him. Deeply. Not only was he sacrificing his son, he was doing it knowing he had to go back and tell his wife, whom he dearly loved, what had happened to their son. Their son whom they waited an entire lifetime to have. Isaac was given to them when they were both past their prime. He was their hope and promise.

 

Then God, seeing Abraham’s devotion and faith in the unseen, finally came through.

After Abraham did everything he knew he was supposed to do even when it didn’t make a whole lot of sense, God stepped in and gave back what he was sacrificing and provided. Abraham was able to take back his son and offer God’s provision instead.”

I cannot claim to know how God works, but I know that He is faithful and He is good to His people and honor them when they trust Him. Thank you, Lord, for this truth.

Blue Skies

Published October 27, 2012 by Dawn

Today was quite a struggle. I wasn’t very far along in my day before feelings of frustration and aggravation inspired some major dysfunction in my head and heart. To add to the inner gloom, the sky was filled with storm clouds so that I could not see the sun. I was weary and the day was dreary. And it wasn’t even eight in the morning.

I looked up at the Lord in utter despair and for a moment, glimpsed a beautiful blue beyond the clouds. At that moment, I realized that even beyond the darkest rain clouds, the sky way up there is still the brightest blue. The clouds are temporary, but that blue, it’s an eternal thing. The sky has always been and always will be blue. Nothing can change that.

I realized in that moment the stability of God. No matter what circumstance cloud my perception of Him, he always has been and always will be good. I may have bad days, but He is unchanging.