Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Consider the Lilies

Alright, this is going to sound strange, so I'm going to come right out and say it.

I realized yesterday morning that I have been envious of flowers.

Goodness gracious me. You'll only read that sort of thing here.

Yesterday was a holiday, in case you forgot to celebrate. I celebrated by sleeping in (woohoo), drinking Kona Vanilla Macadamia Nut coffee (woohoo), and sitting in a sunny kitchen with my Bible and my journal. I think I've explained this phenomenon before, but it's quite a special occasion when I simply sit with my journal and write down my thoughts. I have a need for speed (goodness gracious me - that's my new saying, can you tell? - if that isn't the truth) and the fact that my brain goes faster than my hand can scroll frustrates me. Thus the plight of a journal that contains about 10% of the material it's meant to.

I sat, captured by Psalm 63.
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
And my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
When I remember you upon my bed,
And meditate on you in the watches of the night;
For you have been my help,
And in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
Your right hand upholds me.
"My soul will be satisfied." There it was, plain and simple. Satisfaction. In the midst of work, and swirl, and fatigue, and a special Get-Better diet, and friends moving away, and "What is my destiny?" questions: my soul will be satisfied. That was worth pulling out the journal.

Then, when I pulled out the journal, I wrote more than that. I started jotting down the little things about my morning, things to notice, things to remember and be thankful for. Cream in my coffee, and the prospect of a quiet afternoon at a coffee shop, and a small victory over offense. Then, out of nowhere:
"Why do I not have the patience for gardening?"
Gardening? Through the French doors to our back deck, I could see our neighbor-boy, who helps us plant and take care of the beauty we have little-to-no knowledge of what to do with. He was planting a row of garden, and I realized that I don't envy him at all. In fact, I have absolutely no idea how he enjoys doing that.

{Christina is staring at her computer right now in disbelief. For the record, Christina, I love your roses.}

What a horrid thing to say: "I dislike gardening." Literally, stand me next to a patch of ground and ask me about it, and I want nothing more than to go for a run, a sprint even, right then and there. See, I told you this was going to sound strange. But it was real, oh so real.

How could a girl possibly find herself sitting in a sunny kitchen, looking out at petite impatiens, and overflowing pots of white gold, and the crown of them all: orange, trumpeting calla lilies, and think to herself that she is envious of flowers?

Flowers do nothing. Maybe this is not news to you. They get to be beautiful, and adored, and enjoyed, and they put not even a miniscule amount of effort into it. Completely and totally, they are cared for. Whether by your watering hand, or by the Lord pouring sweet drops of life on them, they are given life and they display it beautifully.

I felt the whisper: "Consider the lilies." The pages fell to Matthew 6, and the brims of my eyes had liquid company.

"And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?" {ESV - Matthew 6}
In the past week, I have been feeling the pull to sit and love, and be loved. One of the most frustrating parts of being sick is that I want to go so very badly. We've discussed this, I have a need for speed. I want to move to Southeast Asia, and travel to Vermont, and drive down the street to play with my nephews, but some nights I just can't. It is hard for me to sit, and believe that Jesus loves me, this I know, because the Bible tells me so. Not because I earned it. He just loves me. And if I spend this season recovering, and enjoying the love of the Lord, and loving Him back, that is successful.

Back to the flowers and my kitchen: I hope I'm not the only one who seems to get revelation while writing. Having had such experience, I did what any slightly-tech-connected 21st century young adult would do. I pulled up twitter. Out typed: "Consider the lilies, how He takes great care for them." Next? What comes next? Still sitting in my bright red chair, a bit of coffee left to get cold: "Consider the lilies of His heart, how He takes great care of them."

Then I thought to myself: Wait a minute, is that even Biblical?

Hallelujah for Tim Reimherr, because my next thought was a song: "I am the rose, I am the lily..." Well, it must be Biblical.

Sure enough, "He grazes among the lilies." Me. You. We have a caretaker, an overseer, a provider.

As sentimental as it sounds, you and I are "lilies" before the eyes of the Lord. Delicate creations that He takes personal responsibility for "clothing." Think the clothes of joy, the clothes of salvation, the clothes of strength...

So if you're like me, struggling to simply live the truth that the greatest of these is love...

consider the lilies.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Blessed is He whose Help is the Lord.

What a journey this is. What a journey.

Yesterday, I drove up and down my favorite Kansas City street, one lined with overhanging trees and not guarded by quite so fierce a speed limit. Suddenly in a different world, my thoughts wander to a conclusion: "Pain doesn't kill you. When you lean upon the Lord..."

Christina and I text back and forth through our week, finding comfort that we're not the only one learning what it means to press on toward the goal, through underbrush of trials, and despite the pain, and past the bog of doubt. He who promised is faithful...

And I sometimes sit in a room full of people and feel like I'm the only one, until the whisper of the Holy Spirit: "I am here. I am here, and I know."

Then suddenly, there's a phone call and I hear that a dear friend's world has been ripped in two, and my pain seems so small, but I still believe it's true for the both of us: "Pain doesn't kill you. When you lean upon the Lord..."

Sometimes there's a shame in admitting to being in pain. It's easy to believe the lie that you're a failure at victorious living, simply for the fighting to keep your eyes wide open, turned toward the Bright and Morning Star.

But the fight...the fight does not make you a failure. The trial is a learning process, the trial cannot be wished away, the existence of trial is thoroughly Biblical.

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you face trials of various kinds."
"Though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials..."
"For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead."

It is not about the pain, but it is about the hope. The Hope who is alive. The Hope to whom I lift my eyes, my Help. Always a Rock, strong on my behalf. He nevers fails, He is ever strong.

I am thankful. Thankful, for He is teaching me to lean upon Him. Lean hard, friends. Lean completely.