September Sunset

September Sunset

 

The sunsets of late have been spectacular as September makes her exit in style. Her departure comes as God bids me to end my old testament. It’s human nature to want to stay in the familiar, albeit painful, past; but staying there keeps me from writing my new story.

The lesson this week has been for me to put away the old songs and stories that no longer apply to my heart. I’ve been mired in the muddy mess of my childhood for over five decades, and God is ready for me to move on. He brought cleansing tears that opened my eyes and cleared my heart last night. I saw myself in the role a victim and began sinking into that muddy water that almost drowned me as a child.

My old story is my old story. It explains and enlightens, but it isn’t who I am anymore. Satan continues to dredge up past hurt, and I continue to find those in my path who will repeat old patterns. God made it clear that the difference between my old and new story is the fact that I had no choice as a child. I do have a choice now. I must make the conscious decision to learn from and leave my past behind me.

September has always been an important month in my life. School started in September, and I loved going to school. The summer before my first September in school, I almost drowned in the muddy water in Lake Hickory, and I’ve been struggling to get out ever since. My journey almost ended that summer, but school offered an escape. I still remember the thrill of walking home from school with my sister Linda my first week of school. I was only five and small for my age, so my teachers made quite a fuss over me. My sister and I had matching red plaid kilts, and I still remember how much I loved wearing mine. I was a big girl, and I was going to school! I also remember wearing the kilt my sister wore six years later in seventh grade.  I’m still wearing a kilt woven five decades ago, and it’s even more inappropriate than the hand-me-down one I wore in seventh grade. I’m ready for a change!

Kilt or no kilt, that same feeling of excitement accompanied me to school every fall for fifty years. A big part of my decision to go into teaching was my love for school and for fall. I got a new beginning every year, and I could escape the outside world within the walls of my safe haven. School was always place of escape for me, and September has been a time of endings and beginnings. It’s fitting for God to use this month as a backdrop for the change He has in mind for my heart.

Fall is a time of dying, and death accompanies both endings and beginnings. The victim in me died last night, and I know God will use her death as an important transition to His transformation. It’s time for a new story, one that is rooted in the past but routed in Christ’s precious love.

What She Sought

A whore barters for what she wants,

Ending up with a battered soul.

A playmate plays to lose her pain,

Ending with a broken spirit.

A mistress loves behind closed doors,

Ending up with an empty heart.

A bride waits for her loving groom,

Ending up with a cherished heart.

A traveler shares her story.

Ending up with a kindred heart.

Each found

What she sought.

Soul bought.

Spirit broken.

Heart emptied.

Heart held.

Heart shared.

 

 

 

Selfishness is a Sieve

Water in a SieveTrying to satisfy selfish desires is like trying to fill a sieve with water. God used Lillyann to make that point last week. She was in a huff about the water in the water table being dirty because there were some tiny leaves in it. When we didn’t empty and refill it, she took matters into her own hands. She picked up a shark-shaped sieve and set out to fill the table. Refusing to heed our cries to get a bucket, she left a trail of water on the ground with each trip. She was going to do things her way, and I can relate 🙂

Trying to make selfish people happy is as futile as Lilly’s attempts to fill her water table. It won’t work no matter how hard I try. I’ve spent most of my life trying to fix and satisfy; I’ve gotten the same results and felt the same frustration Lilly did during her little mission. Seeing her carrying that sieve back and forth made me realize I need to let go of my way of loving and go with God’s plan.

Servants in the world’s kingdom spend a lifetime trying to satisfy selfish people. That leaves them and those they’re trying to please miserable. In God’s kingdom, servants love, listen, and let God transform hearts. If I choose the latter, my heart and the hearts of those I love and serve will grow nearer to God. Holiness is a beautiful maturity that simply means I am ripe and ready to be God’s servant. That means letting Christ’s precious love be the model for all the love in my life. It also means saying goodbye to pleasing and appeasing and hello to healthy, holy helping.

Proverbs 19:21 says it best.

“You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.” NLT

 

Tummy or Heart ??

Lilly and Mylah have an ongoing debate that reflects religious debates found in the world. Lilly pointed to her chest one day and said that God was in her heart. Mylah pointed at her round little belly and said God was in her tummy. I don’t believe she meant to start a debate, but she did. Lilly jumped in to say that God was not in her tummy; He was in her heart!!

Mylah defended her beliefs, as only a two-year-old can, and insisted God was in her tummy, not her heart!  I told the girls they were both right. God was in our hearts, tummies, feet, arms, heads, and anywhere else He wanted to be. They settled down to dinner, but the argument resurfaced several times during the next few days.

I kept Mylah on Thursday and Friday, and she revisited the subject as we settled into bed on Thursday evening. She likes to play with my hair while she’s drifting off to sleep, and she was twisting and turning it with vigor after we read her new library book. I detached myself from her grip, turned off the light, and snuggled next to her. She said quietly, “God IS in my tummy.” I told her I knew He was, and she said she wanted Him to stay there. She was looking for an ally in the debate with her older sister. I told her again that God could be anywhere He wanted to be, and she drifted off to sleep.

Christians in this world are just like Lilly and Mylah when it comes to details, doctrines, and denominations. I’m right; you’re wrong. I know God better than you do. God’s on my side! God is this! God is that! The girls little arguent was cute, but similar exchanges between adults are not so endearing. They irritate and leave me wondering, “What ever happened to love one another?” If we would put as much effort into loving God and loving our neighbors as we do into arguing about Him, the world would see a new dynamic that would make them to want a loving relationship with God instead of a place to hide from His fighting children.

The trouble with doctrines and denominations is that they replace relationship. I am amazed at the venom and violence that grow from the lines we draw around God. I suppose it’s human nature to want to corner the market on God, but Christ came to change our nature. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we allowed God to be who and where He wants rather than who and where we want Him? Conflict over creeds will exist as long as there are two churches standing in this world.  Heaven is a place of unity and peace, and I do wish the same were true of the body of Christ.

God is love, and walking in His kingdom is about loving one another in a way that makes the world see the disciples Jesus describes in John 13:35.

Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” (The Message)

Love changes everything if given the chance 🙂