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 8, 2016

Piles of Promise

Here in rural America, neighbors show up with all kinds of things at your front door. Meals, garden produce, cookies, pumpkins, and this week, mine showed up with a load of manure.  Now, most people wouldn't consider a smelly pile of muck a gift, but we gardeners think that scores as high as a rooster on a rooftop (or some other such nonsense-y rural talk).

It's Winter here.  My gardens are a frosty, barren bunch of wooden boxes, plastic pots, and grassless land.  They don't look very impressive, but that's not what I saw when the manure came.  I saw tomatoes in August!  This is the time of year the farmers break out the spreaders and start throwing all those cow flops on the corn fields.  Me, I just use a shovel, but the goal is the same:  fresh produce this Summer!

I got to thinkin' (because I'm writing all rural-ly today), that God might have some lessons for me in that pile of poop.  First, it was a lesson in needs met.  It wasn't even on the "things I'm sure I need" list, but it was something I recall saying to myself as I hung out a load of laundry last week. "Gosh, I'd sure like to top off those raised beds before I plant again this year." That was it.  No shaking fists, or pleading, just a single thought.  Lesson #1:  God loves you so much that He meets even the smallest of needs.

As I shoveled that dung into the wheelbarrow, I glanced around at the garden.  It doesn't look like much this time of year. Some brown stalks of what used to be vegetables, a pile of rolled up garden fencing, and the carcasses of some squashes everyone refused to eat.  If I look at it from the surface, I'd say nothing at all was going on there.  Dead. Stagnating.  Yes, from my point of view, maybe, but underneath the surface things are happening.  My onion bulbs are resting, waiting to green up in Spring, and my garlic is tucked in in great anticipation of bursting forth in another month or so. Lesson #2: sometimes we feel like our lives are at a stand still, that God's not doing a darn thing, but that's only because we look at the surface.  We're totally missing what's going on down deep.

Manure needs time to compost, so basically you shovel it on in Winter and let it sit on the ground until Spring. That's when it works it's miracles.  Later on, not right this second.  Lesson#3:  God sometimes lets us sit under a pile of crap for a little while.  It doesn't feel so good, and we aren't very good about waiting for time to pass underneath it.

Those alpaca/llama poos didn't walk to the gardens all by themselves.  My neighbor muscled it into a cart, drove it over here, and deposited it in a heap.  I put on my old clothes, grabbed my friend "Spade", and worked up a sweat moving it from ground level, to wheelbarrow, across the yard into the places I wanted it to go.  Lesson#4:  the manure of life can be a struggle.  It can mean lots of hard work on your part when it comes your way.  Growth requires participation.

I finished the work in the gardens this morning, and when I was done I had to change my clothes. The yucky ones went right into the washing machine with a goodly dose of lavender detergent.  Last lesson:  God doesn't leave us sitting in our own stink.  When we ask Him, He gets us through the stagnant season, and through the stinky messes we find ourselves under, most of which are of our own making.  I forgot to tell you that when my neighbor called and said she needed to re-home some manure, I ASKED for it.  I asked for it.  I bet you asked for a little one time or another, too.  That's OK.  If we always got things right, Jesus wouldn't have needed to go to that cross.  You're forgiven when you ask, and Jesus takes all your stink and washes it away.

This little lesson from the Winter garden is meant to be a simple reminder of God's love to myself.  Sometimes, I feel a little forgotten in the Heavenly realm when life is hard.  If you get anything out of this, that's a bonus.  God started us all out in a Garden, and He knows what He's doing.  He's cultivating a Spring crop for an Autumn harvest, and I can't wait to experience the fruit of His labors.
Job 5:6 For hardship does not spring from the soil, nor does trouble sprout from the ground. 
7 Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward. 
8 “But if I were you, I would appeal to God; I would lay my cause before him. 
9 He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.

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