That Sweet By and By

Happily ever after used to be my battle cry.

I was sure I would see Jesus in that sweet by and by.

I couldn’t seem to find my dreams no matter how I tried,

So I began to drown inside the ocean I had cried.

 

Jesus never seemed to tire as He caught each falling tear.

I know He wished I’d let go of my paralyzing fear.

He made sure that the way to Him was always crystal clear,

But I put up my obstacles and would not let Him steer.

 

He bid me trust and promised that He’d never told a lie,

His precious love so much more than simply pie in the sky.

I loved Him more than anything and said that I would try,

But wondered if I had been wrong when I began to die.

 

I gave up the steering wheel and prepared myself to veer.

I let go of everything but decided to stay near.

His sweet loving word of comfort was all my heart could hear.

He showed me miles of faces, and I saw those I held dear.

 

Some were here and some in heaven, but all were filled with cheer,

When they saw I realized their love would always be near.

That sweet by and by is not in the sky; it’s always here.

The love I sought, already bought, by Someone very dear.

Desires

The truth be told,

A heart on hold

Is not what God desires.

 

He knows that love

Like that above

Is all my heart requires.

 

My will persists.

My soul insists.

So what I want transpires.

 

I get my way!

I have my say!

His voice gently retires.

 

I find myself

Upon the shelf

In a world that admires.

 

Beautiful stone

Cold and alone

Warmed by the glowing fires.

 

Suddenly real

Loving the feel

Of all my heart’s desires.

 

I start to cry

But don’t know why.

My aching heart inquires.

 

God hears my plea

And rescues me.

Beautiful change transpires.

 

Love chases fear

As He draws near

Giving me His desires.

Swimming in the Kingdom

I’ve been afraid of the water for almost sixty years; so when my granddaughter Lilly asked me yesterday why I didn’t like to swim, I decided it was time to be honest with her. I had skirted the issue before when she had noticed my reluctance to get into the water, but I was ready to tell her the truth. I told her that I almost drowned when I was her age, and that made me afraid of water. She said, “Didn’t you know how to swim Gigi?”

I told her I didn’t know how to swim at the time but I did learn later. She wanted details, so I told her that my father threw me into the deep end of a pool a few years after I almost drowned. He was determined to get me to swim, and he was tired of waiting. Sink or swim is an effective method because fear is a powerful motivator. I was already afraid of the water, so it made sense to use that fear to help me learn to swim. Lilly was sad that I didn’t like to swim because she’s a little fish who loves the water, but now she understood why Gigi stayed near the edge and always had a noodle near by. She offered to help me swim better. Her sweet offer makes me want to swim better because it comes from her heart.

God knows I am a visual learner, so He used the image of a country club pool to help me understand my struggle with the water and my search for community. I don’t belong to a country club; but there is one near my sister’s home, and she is a member. Club members may bring visitors as long as they don’t overstay their welcome, and I’ve gone with her a few times. I don’t recall a time when I ever felt unwelcome, but I was definitely unwelcome at the pool in my dream.

In the first dream, I was swimming happily with a dear friend who was a member of the club. It was a beautiful image of how I would so love to feel in the water, but the sweet moment was cut short by an angry voice screaming from the side of the pool. I saw a man pacing back and forth, telling me that I did not pay dues and should not be in the pool. I was rattled by his rage and started treading water so I wouldn’t sink.

His wife has a different concern. She is yelling instructions because I was not treading water the proper way. I tried to follow her instructions, but fear got the best of me when I noticed all the angry faces and heard loud voices screaming for me to get out of the pool! I stopped treading water and started sinking. Now, this was a familiar feeling.

I found strange comfort in sinking, but loving hands lifted me to the surface. A calm presence guided me to the safety of the side. I was clinging to concrete, coughing water, and wailing like a two-year-old. When I stop sobbing, I noticed a man kneeling in front of me. He looked down with loving eyes, and I realized I knew Him. He was the same man who had been on the pier fifty-eight years ago when daddy pulled me out of the lake. He looked over my head and said, “This all belongs to My Father, and I’ve already paid your dues. So enjoy it.” The dream ended abruptly, and I woke wondering what it all meant.

This morning, the dream picked up where it left off last week. The kneeling man was bidding me to look behind me. I thought He meant the country club belonged to His Father, so I expected to see the same scene I had seen before going under the water. I knew the man was Christ and imagined He meant He would help me deal with the angry mob, but He had something much different in mind. His sweet, loving presence made me forget about the danger of letting go and gave me the courage to turn around. I saw an image I could not have imagined on my own.

Crystal clear water stretched as far as I could see in every direction. The beautiful body of water was filled with people of all sizes, shapes, and colors. They were swimming, floating, talking, walking, or simply sitting. There were no paddle boards, boats, tubes, noodles, or floatation devices. There were no sides to this pool, and the temperature was perfect.

Everyone, including me, was suspended in water that felt like a warm, loving embrace. I moved and felt the sensation of freedom. I dove under the water and saw legs all around me. There was no kicking, thrashing, or splashing because they was no need to struggle or impress in this pool. Fear wasn’t present in this body or in mine because I was connected to Love that flowed through the water and each of us.

When I came to the surface, I looked around and noticed Christ laughing and clapping His hands with delight. He had been waiting fifty-eight years to watch me swim. He was loving every moment, and so was I. Everyone smiled at me, and I couldn’t help but smile back. Such a different scene than the one at the other pool. This was kingdom community at its best.

When I awoke from the dream, I was as rested as I’ve ever been. I smiled when I realized it was morning, and my very first thought was Psalm 51:12.

“Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
And sustain me with a willing spirit. “(NASB)

There is joy in His salvation, and love is His kingdom. His Holy Spirit will sustain me with a willing spirit if I will simply let go of my fears and swim with the heart of one who trusts His love to keep me afloat.

 

 

Following in Faith

I’m the world’s worst when it comes to directions. I get lost easily and panic when I find myself in unfamiliar surroundings. Today is Epiphany, so it’s fitting that God would bid me to head home in a different direction. He knows how hard it is for me to change direction, and we both know it’s because I let fear get the best of me. Matthew 2 has been in my path for the past few weeks, but it took on new meaning yesterday.

“On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.” (NRSV)

2015 was filled with changes in direction that left me reeling and feeling lost. The problem, as always, was in trying to find my way instead of yielding to God’s. The Magi traveled a great distance to see the Messiah; whether they were from Prussia or some other exotic location, their journey was a long and difficult one filled with the unfamiliar.

When God warned them not to go back to Herod, they willingly changed direction. I’m not sure I would have been brave enough to do what they did. They knew the importance of pleasing the ruler of the region, but they listened to God and ignored Herod. It was customary to bring gifts and show respect for kings when traveling to or through their kingdoms, so they were doing much more than changing their travel plans. They risked insulting the reigning king because they knew Christ was a new kind of king. Some folks are insulted when you change direction, and that has been the most difficult lesson of late. I worry far too much about what others think, and that gets in God’s way. Following God may mean disappointing others, and that’s more uncomfortable than heading down an unknown road.

If the Wise Men had ignored God’s warning and done what was expected of them, God would have found another way to protect His Son. He didn’t need them, and He doesn’t need me to carry out His plans. He lets me participate so I’ll learn and grow nearer to Him. I don’t always listen, so I miss important lessons. I prefer the safety of the familiar, but God’s lesson this week has been that safety is only an illusion. The safest road is the one He is on even though it is seldom the most familiar. Faith is trusting God even when others insist they know what I should do. Epiphany is seeing the light of Christ’s precious love and having the courage to follow it in faith.