Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Mustard Seed Faith

In the process of making dilly beans this week, I spilled the mustard seed container. Not wanting to waste the spice I needed, I tried to collect them as they rolled across the counter. They're awfully tiny, and hard to pick up with fat fingers. (Maybe they're hard to pick up with skinny fingers, too, but you'd have to ask someone else) You wouldn't expect life lessons during canning, but there was one. There are quite a few mountains we're trying to scale here at home at the moment, and just when we think we've conquered Everest, the rope breaks. I'm sure some of you have gone tumbling down a rocky slope a few times, too. You would think to overcome the big mountains, you would have to have "big faith". As in, the amount of faith I have is directly proportionate to the outcome of this situation. That thinking leads to a lot of self-blame. "It must be that I didn't have enough faith, or this wouldn't/would have happened". OK, you can all stop feeling sorry for yourselves now. Take a peek at a mustard seed. It's ridiculously small, yet that's all the faith God says we need to do big things. Luke 17:6 "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you." Mustard seed faith. Teensy tiny, because the outcome really is not about you. You are simply being obedient by putting into play your itty bitty seed of faith, and the big part all gets done by that big God you've been talking to. :)

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Ministering Jesus Is Everything

I walked through the wet grass during work hours this week, and ended up with damp socks.  Now, I know in the grand scheme of things that that is not a huge deal, but it taught me a lesson.  Lesson #1, don't walk through wet grass during work hours.

Lesson #2 will take me a couple more minutes.  It was a great work day, we had some fun things planned for staff meeting, and all of my charting was done (bonus points).  I should have been having a grand time, but I was so distracted by those darn damp socks that I couldn't focus on the positive. All I wanted was to go home and dry my feet.  Kind of silly, right? I mean, it's not a death's door problem, it was just an annoyance, but it was preventing me from joining in the fun.  It made me wonder how many times I have missed that in someone else?  How many times have I forgotten to speak to a person's most immediate need, before pressing on to my own agenda?  

Sometimes I get frustrated, because I want to speak to someone's heart and I feel like they aren't hearing me.  I want so much to reach them for Christ, that I run right past the opportunity to be Jesus to them.  I haven't cared for their most immediate need. If Jesus were walking on earth right now, he would have given me His dry socks.  He would have taken them off His own feet and covered mine, and in doing so, He would have both warmed me physically and made me feel loved.  Isn't that what it's all about?  It's about loving our neighbors and our enemies and, in so doing, leading them to Christ.  Not bashing them over the heads with the gospel and wondering why they don't respond.  

As you go out and walk through your week, as people are sent across your path, sit down. Listen.  Find out what their most basic need might be that day, and meet it.  Be hands, be feet, be salt, be light, be the one who cares for the body so that Jesus can minister to their soul.  

James 2:
14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 

15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 

16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?

Sunday, May 1, 2016

After The Rain

I spend time sitting with families who are suffering, and the one question I always hear is "why?". "Why me?". "Why us?". "Why not them?". It is a reasonable question in the midst of pain. That depth of wondering if somehow we have earned grief, or been randomly chosen to endure tragedy. I have been there, sitting in the dark, asking, looking for answers in the silence, pouring words out in tears.
It is in the backward glance that that suffering takes on new meaning. Somehow, that seed of affliction that we can not bear comes to rest in our heart's soil. We can not see it, most times we don't recognize that it even existed until it bursts forth. Days, months, years into the future it takes root, and something grows. Empathy, joy, purpose, or perhaps, bitterness and anger. What have we allowed our heart to become in this adversity? Nurturing soil, or cold stone?
With that "looking back" on times of hardship, I've found that the question should not be "why?", but "what?". What will this suffering produce in me? What will it produce for others? What will I do with it? What gives honor to that which was lost, and purpose to the pain? When we focus on the "what" instead of the "why", we move our mindset away from creating more torment in our souls.
Grief is important, it gives time for our tears to soak our heart's garden, but it is not meant to be forever. A time is coming, after the rain.

Hebrews 10:23
 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

...we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.  Romans 5: 3,4

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Winging It

For the past two weeks, there has been a Cardinal slamming himself against the sun porch window. Nothing I do discourages him. Today, he has decided he needs a little more momentum, so he flies back a few feet and then slams into the window. I shooed him away, I hung things so he could see it was a window, but he persists. We've named him Adam. Dearest Adam, you have all of the "out there" just for you, and you continue to insist that you want something that isn't in your own best interests. In fact, what you're doing is dangerous and will eventually result in harm or death. You even bring a friend now and then, and encourage her to do the same thing. If nothing else, I thank you for giving me a picture this morning of what my life sometimes looks like to God. "Dearest Michelle, please quit slamming yourself against that window. I have something so much better for you." 

Take a moment and re-evaluate your path today. Are you walking in His will, or are you beating yourself against a wall of your own choosing?

Monday, February 1, 2016

Hide It Under A Bush, Oh No

I've been thinking about the sermon yesterday. That's good, right? LOL Pastor Joe talked about Genesis 3, and it always breaks my heart. That part of Genesis, I mean. The part where God is walking in the garden, and His children hide, and He calls out "where are you?". I remember the old days, when clothes racks in stores were round and my little boys would hide in them. They'd disappear, and I'd have a long moment of panic. "Where are you?!" And then I'd find them, and be both relieved and mad at the same time. It's that feeling of dread that comes back to me when I read Genesis 3. How God must have felt when His kids went "missing". The frantic searching, straining to hear their voices to know that they were OK. I want to say I'm better than that, that I would never have touched the forbidden fruit, that I'd never hide from God, but that's not true. I think this story pains my heart because it's so close to my own truth. How many days does God cry out "Michelle, where ARE you?". Where is your mind? Where is your heart? Where is your praying voice? Where ARE you? I long to walk with you, to counsel you, to lead you and give you direction, but you've gone missing. Please come out. I love you. No matter what you've done, I still love you. So, today, I ask myself, and you, where ARE you? It's time to come out of hiding. God longs for relationship with you, and it's not Him who is quiet. He's crying out your name, and you're in the bushes. Come out! Confess. Repent. Be freed, and then go back and burn that silly bush you were in. Genesis 3