Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Broken car. Broken self.

Two days. 48 hours.

That's all.

And yet I'm going crazy. Yesterday I was just in tears. Can't go to work. Can't go anywhere else. Oh and of course the car is working fine for the mechanics. The washing maching is messing up. There's a thousand things I can't figure out and I can't personally fix and I've had nothing but time the past couple of days to be reminded of that.


So in my pondering and - when I finally got a clue - praying, I disovered something (it's amazing how often that happens when you pray...).

See I can handle lots of things, but let something happen to my vehicle and I fall apart like misbuilt swing set - tumbling, crashing and generally getting hurt in the process. Then I realized...

When something happens to my vehicle it's not about the vehicle at all, it's all about the fact that then my independence is being messed with. My ability to go anywhere, do anything and accomplish it all without the help of anyone goes out the door. Suddenly I'm at the mercy of others.

Not to mention that I'm no mechanic so I can't "fix" it either. And then all the other things that I can't "fix" all come flying up in my face at once and I'm left sitting on the sidelines wondering what just kicked me in the stomach. I realized that I've been on the verge of an anxiety attack the past few days, something I haven't had in a loooong time and it's all because I've been trying to be in control, to figure out a way to fix things.

I don't have the answers for why grandma's cancer is spreading and I can't fix it.

I don't have any idea how to raise thousands of dollars. I have less of a clue of how to approach my parents about the whole venture to begin with.

I don't have a clue how to fix the washer (maybe I should just start working on hand washing clothes)

And let's not forget, I can't fix the stupid car!

The good news is God hasn't asked me to try and fix everything. He hasn't said that I must have all the answers. He is the healer. He is the provider. He is the One who has everything under control and even though it looks crazy and out of control to me, He has it all.

Yeh, that's a good thing to remember...

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6

Friday, May 2, 2008

On the climbing wall, looking down

When I left work yesterday I decided I needed some time alone with God and some open air, so I headed for the park. I've said it before, but there's just something about walking along the rocks and sitting beside a small waterfall, watching the butterflies, listening to the birds, etc.

Of course sitting on rocks isn't always the best for a healing lower back so after a while I took my book to sit on one of the swings. It was so quiet. So peaceful. Then a guy showed up with his three kids to play on the playground. So much for the peace and quiet, but then I was the one sitting in the playground area and not playing so I couldn't exactly be annoyed. I half read and half watched the kids and how he interacted with them.

He helped his little girl, Holly, climb the climbing wall and finally she reached the top and sat up there. She was fine until he walked away to get some water and suddenly she wanted down.

"Daddy help!" So he walked over and said, "Just jump, I'll catch you." She gave him that look that conveys "You want me to do what?"

From my perspective I knew he would no doubt catch her. She only had to jump about a foot before she would be in his arms, but I also knew that from her perspective it was a loooong way down.

"I can't I'm scared," she cried. "It's ok sweetie, I'll catch you. Jump. Fall over. Do whatever you want, but I promise I'll catch you."

Again there was that pause and finally she leaned over with her arms outstretched and of course he caught her, lifted her above his head and tickled her on the way down.

In that moment I had such a clear picture of the Father's heart and could almost hear Him speaking to my own trembling nature, "Just jump. I promise I'm here to catch you. I love you."

"When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory and I realize just how beautiful You are and how great your affections are for me. He loves us so Oh, how He loves us. Oh, how He loves us. He loves us so."
excerpt from song
How He Loves by John Mark McMillan

Thursday, May 1, 2008

an inconvenient answer to prayer

I prayed one of those great prayers yesterday. It was completely sincere and now looking back I can just see God up in Heaven grinning as He says, "Sure thing kiddo!" Grinning because He knew that while sincere, I had no idea what I was actually asking.

Closing out our weekly staff meeting I prayed something to the effect of "Lord help us not to be so busy that we miss the open doors that you give us today to minister to others." Great prayer. Very Biblically based especially in light of having just discussed Colossians 4 and "redeeming the time".

Now to preface this let me say, when I'm working I don't necessarily do well with distraction. I don't tend to get a lot accomplished when I keep starting and stopping - I think this is true for most people but some of us it tends to frazzle a little more than others. I was also already a little frazzled since the printer/copier managed to break before I had even been at work for 10 minutes that morning.

So returning to my desk I began working on the normal to do list for the week when in came a lady with her granddaughter needing assistance. We talked and she shared what's going on in her life while our interim youth pastor went to retrieve a box of food (so my chiropractor won't give me a look like "I told you not to be lifting heavy things for a couple of weeks"). Very sweet lady in need. We helped her and I returned to my work.

At this point it was about lunch time and everyone left but me, as I was trying to actually accomplish something and was waiting on a friend to meet me, when two more ladies showed up needing assistance with food. It was a couple I knew that had been here before, but with no one to divert the situation to as to just how many times can we help someone, we talked and then ventured over to the food pantry. Well we didn't really talk. It was one of those "Just give us the food and let us go" type deals that always makes for a bit of awkwardness for me. All said though they left with the assistance they needed, food wise anyway.

To say that I was frazzled at this point might just be an understatement. I had left that point about an hour earlier actually and was now almost frustrated to the point of tears at my inability to accomplish my job. What is the deal? Why can't I get anything done?

My friend showed up for lunch to my exclamation of "Thank you Lord, get me out of here!!!"

I went to my computer to write a note for the door in case the copier guy came while I was at lunch and ....

Yes, you guessed it. Someone else arrived in need of help. She was really looking for one of the pastors but to her dismay (and mine), I was the only person herel. She had several questions, most of which I was about as helpful as a wet noodle but I tried.

My internal dialogue was more like this though: "Ok really Lord. I'm hungry. I'm getting nothing done. I'm frustrated. Can't you give me a break here???"

That was the moment. A very bright, high powered light bulb flashed to life in my mind - my prayer. The seemingly eloquent, beautiful prayer I had prayed hours earlier - God was just giving me what I had asked for.

Reflecting on it yesterday evening I realized that one reason I don't minister to as many people as I should, the reason I don't follow the promptings of that still small voice, the reason my Christian life is so dull and boring . . .

Ministry is inconvenient.
Ministry is uncomfortable - there are no formulaic answers to solve everyone's problems.
Ministry requires relying on the Holy Spirit instead of my own strength.

Oh but it's such a beautiful thing. I joked when the pastor's returned that I was never praying again because God was just too happy to answer my prayer. The truth is maybe I should pray that way more often. I might get less done that's on my neat, alphabetically ordered "to do" list but a few more people might have a life changing encounter with the truth - I think that sounds better.