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Archive for August, 2014

fix

“I spent a lot of money on this.  I had it replaced twice.  Every time I go to use this tool, it falls apart.  It’s worthless.”

I watched as the mechanic tried unsuccessfully to repair the brand new God-forsaken object that was supposed to be helping him repair something else.  I watched as the ball bearings rolled out and underneath the car he was working on.  I watched as the entire tool fell completely apart in his hand as he tried to piece it back together.  I thought about his great level of frustration and I considered what he had said…

“Every time I go to use this tool, it falls apart.”

…and I saw myself.  Surely the Lord sits on his throne watching me fall apart in his hands right at the very moments when he is seeking to use me most.  I was bought at quite an extravagant price, too.  He continuously returns me to himself and makes me new, but it seems that the very mechanics of my inward parts disallow me from delivering when the stakes are highest.

After puzzling a few moments more, I reneged on the thought of God’s disappointment with me and I reminded myself that I am not simply a tool made of cold metal.  I am, rather, a child.  His child.  God may indeed be a stellar mechanic when it comes to matters of the heart, but he is never a frustrated one.  He is not a disappointed boss – ever – because disappointment, by nature, comes only upon the heels of failed expectations.  The Lord of the Universe knows and has always known exactly who I am, where I’m at, and what I will do.  He knows absolutely everything and therefore never expects anything that will not come to be.  He already knows when and where and how very much we all will fail throughout our lives, and yet, he saved us kids anyway.  He bought us at an outrageous price.  He adopted us at the very time when we were most undesirable and he seeks to use us even though we often fall completely apart when he seeks to use us under pressure.

All is not lost, though.

When that tool broke for the third time, the mechanic reach instinctively down and positioned the new part by hand without it.  He showed himself an expert builder by his clear lack of need for that small, insignificant tool regarding the sure accomplishment of his desired result.  Likewise, through each human failure, we prove our God stronger; more able; altogether independent; an expert builder in need of nothing and no one regarding the sure accomplishment of his purposes.  Thankfully, unlike the mechanic’s tool, our failures do not make us useless.  Consider Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, Solomon, Peter, Paul…and these were those who did some of the greatest things for the kingdom of God!

 God does not throw us away when we fall apart under pressure.  Instead, he takes those opportunities to discipline, prune, and mature us – loving father to ever-learning child.  He uses those times to prove himself strong and perfect in our weakness, and that, friends, is wonderful news.  These truths should encourage us if we are his children.

As we embark upon a brand new (home) school year, I rest.  After the worst year of my life, I can confidently say that if I am faithless, he remains faithful.  (2Timothy 2:13)  I do not have to worry whether he will carry me when I inevitably become overwhelmed.  He is the one who called me to work in this capacity.  I sometimes act like a hammer trying to be a screwdriver or a drill trying to be a fire extinguisher.  But God made me a wrench’s wife.  He asked me to teach the mechanic’s children and he specifically said I ought to do so at home.

By the grace of God, that is what I am about to do once again.  The days I fail will prove my God strong.  The days I succeed will prove him faithful.  I pray that every day in between will find me growing more mature, less unworthy of my calling and more useful to his kingdom.  Amen.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. ~2 Corinthians 12:9

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fix

“I spent a lot of money on this. I had it replaced twice. Every time I go to use this tool, it falls apart. It’s worthless.”

I watched as the mechanic tried unsuccessfully to repair the brand new God-forsaken object that was supposed to be helping him repair something else. I watched as the ball bearings rolled out and underneath the car he was working on. I watched as the entire tool fell completely apart in his hand as he tried to piece it back together. I thought about his great level of frustration and I considered what he had said…

“Every time I go to use this tool, it falls apart.”

…and I saw myself. Surely the Lord sits on his throne watching me fall apart in his hands right at the very moments when he is seeking to use me most. I was bought at quite an extravagant price, too. He continuously returns me to himself and makes me new, but it seems that the very mechanics of my inward parts disallow me from delivering when the stakes are highest.

After puzzling a few moments more, I reneged on the thought of God’s disappointment with me and I reminded myself that I am not simply a tool made of cold metal. I am, rather, a child. His child. God may indeed be a stellar mechanic when it comes to matters of the heart, but he is never a frustrated one. He is not a disappointed boss – ever – because disappointment, by nature, comes only upon the heels of failed expectations. The Lord of the Universe knows and has always known exactly who I am, where I’m at, and what I will do. He knows absolutely everything and therefore never expects anything that will not come to be. He already knows when and where and how very much we all will fail throughout our lives, and yet, he saved us kids anyway. He bought us at an outrageous price. He adopted us at the very time when we were most undesirable and he seeks to use us even though we often fall completely apart when he seeks to use us under pressure.

All is not lost, though.

When that tool broke for the third time, the mechanic reach instinctively down and positioned the new part by hand without it. He showed himself an expert builder by his clear lack of need for that small, insignificant tool regarding the sure accomplishment of his desired result. Likewise, through each human failure, we prove our God stronger; more able; altogether independent; an expert builder in need of nothing and no one regarding the sure accomplishment of his purposes. Thankfully, unlike the mechanic’s tool, our failures do not make us useless. Consider Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, Solomon, Peter, Paul…and these were those who did some of the greatest things for the kingdom of God!

God does not throw us away when we fall apart under pressure. Instead, he takes those opportunities to discipline, prune, and mature us – loving father to ever-learning child. He uses those times to prove himself strong and perfect in our weakness, and that, friends, is wonderful news. These truths should encourage us if we are his children.

As we embark upon a brand new (home) school year, I rest. After the worst year of my life, I can confidently say that if I am faithless, he remains faithful. (2Timothy 2:13) I do not have to worry whether he will carry me when I inevitably become overwhelmed. He is the one who called me to work in this capacity. I sometimes act like a hammer trying to be a screwdriver or a drill trying to be a fire extinguisher. But God made me a wrench’s wife. He asked me to teach the mechanic’s children and he specifically said I ought to do so at home.

By the grace of God, that is what I am about to do once again. The days I fail will prove my God strong. The days I succeed will prove him faithful. I pray that every day in between will find me growing more mature, less unworthy of my calling and more useful to his kingdom. Amen.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. ~2 Corinthians 12:9

 

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On Robin’s Requiem

robin

“Mommy, that boy over there looks like the alien.”

“Mia, that’s not nice.  What alien?!”

“You, know, the alien guy from that show.  The guy who died.”

“Oh.  You mean Robin Williams.  Mork?”

“Yeah.”

Needless to say, my little girls like to watch reruns with Grandma.  

Even my children have not escaped grieving the death of a man the vast majority of we wanna-be mourners never knew.  

A man we never knew.

What did we know, though?  We knew he was talented.  We knew he was famous.  And rich.  And, perhaps, handsome.  We knew he was well-received, admired, and quite popular for several generations.  We knew that most of what he did was decent, clean, humorous, and done with excellence.  We knew we liked his work.  We knew we liked his many accomplishments.  We knew we liked him.  We really, really liked him.

Nevertheless, we did not know this man.  We never ate with him.  We did not converse.  He never called us when he won, or, when he lost.  He never asked for our help or for our children’s names.  We never spent the day hiking or picnicking or celebrating one another’s birthdays.  We did not know his address, his favorite meal, or his pets’ names.  We did not know his joy, his pain, his sins, or his struggles.  So why do we feel so attached to him and to his family’s loss?  

Well, we liked him.  We really, really liked him.  Dare I say, because we liked him so very much, we wanted to know him.  We really, really wanted to.  We wished we could have.  We’re sad that we didn’t.  I mean, he’s the kind of guy that a person would want to have around; a good guy.  This man was a high quality individual and his life’s work proved it so.  There was so much about him that was interesting; intriguing; noteworthy; brilliant; distinct.  However, none of that changes the fact that we never met this man, and, this side of eternity, we now never will.

I cannot help but wonder how many of us have the very same fictitious relationship with another extraordinary man.  A man who is also talented, remarkably rich, internationally famous, and universally well-received and admired.  Yes, many of us have this false sense of familiarity with a man who has been quite famously, and infamously, popular for generation upon generation.  We know all about how very decent, clean, excellent and exceptional his accomplishments are.  We simply love his stellar work, and, by golly, we surely do like him a whole lot.  Nevertheless, we do not know this man either.  We never eat with him.  Better yet, we never stop eating just so we can spend some time with him.  We don’t converse with him.  We don’t call him when we win, although we may often blame him when we lose.  We don’t answer when he asks us to help and we fail to remind our children of his Great Name.  We never spend the day hiking or picnicking or celebrating with him.  If we’re honest, we do not know very much about who he really is or what he is really like at all.

His name is Jesus Christ.

We may like him.  We may even really, really like him.  There is so much about him that seems interesting; intriguing; noteworthy; brilliant; distinct.  We have convinced ourselves that we know him quite well.  After all, we can quote plenty of his original lines verbatim.  We want to know him.  We wish we could.  We’re sad that we don’t.  Still, for many of us, none of that changes the fact that we have never met this man.  The only difference is, when this side of eternity hands us over, we all surely will.  

Seek him now while he may be found, friends.  He wants to know you, real-ly.

 

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redeemed

In a low valley somewhere between the “Lord show mercies” and the “God please forgive me’s,” my threadbare faith became.  It became not better or worse, rather, it became what it was always meant to be.  So necessary that I could not loosen my white knuckle grip upon his pierced feet; so constant that I could not live without prayer for even one single moment.  It did not become more or less real; for it always was so.  It simply became.  No longer full of doubt; no longer man-dependent;  no longer heartless knowledge;  no longer duty driven.  No.  In that dark valley, somewhere between the “Lord show mercy’s” and the “God please forgive me’s,” my threadbare faith became a brazen blanket bleeding brand new hope.  

Change is no longer forever tomorrow’s promise used to pacify my conscience.  On the contrary, it is now a certainty grounded by the felt gratitude towards the one who did indeed have mercy and forgive me.  It’s assurance is fortified by the bitter residue left by its ugly predecessors – failure, shame, and pain.  

The scars left when one chooses to do things “the hard way” are not easily forgotten.  No.  But they do serve their purpose.  Never again will the little girl touch the stove to see if it really is hot.  Never again will she drag her soft finger along the edge of a razor blade to prove whether or not it really is sharp.  She has undoubtedly proven herself wrong.  She has unwittingly made herself an utter fool.  She holds hands with humiliation as she wakes and as she lies down.  That girl is forever changed.  She knows what she has done.  She has surely learned her lesson well.

Brokenness is her advantage; grief her teacher.  The only place she has left to go is the only place she has ever needed to be – the arms of her savior.  And after all, she is safe.  She is new, and no matter what happens from here, she trusts him.  She knows beyond the shadow of a doubt that her very life is in his hands – for better; for worse, for richer; for poorer, in sickness; in health, in joy; in sorrow, and death will never part them.  

When she thinks about how he sought her, she marvels.  She cannot doubt his great love for her.  From the “I love Jesus” cardboard sign in her childhood bedroom to the “God is love” Sunday school project which hung in her Pappy’s kitchen.  From the countless sermons she had the privilege to hear to the overwhelming provision of proper people in her life.  From his consistency to his constancy to his forgiveness.  She stands amazed.  Though she still asks her portion daily, she trusts fully in his great mercy.  She knows just who she is in him despite her failures.  She knows he has done everything necessary for her salvation.   She is free.  

Regret, accusation, guilt, and self-inflicted condemnation may try to break in upon her at times but, as with the wild wind and roaring waves, his love quiets them all with a mere word.  

To her surprise, it was not her perfection, but her imperfection and subsequent repentance covered by his perfection that eradicated her doubts.  It was not her obedience, but her willful disobedience covered by his perfect obedience that consumed her fears.  She understands what she could not comprehend before – brokenness is the prerequisite of reconciliation.  Yes, reconciliation, by very nature, has a prerequisite of brokenness.  One does not seek to fix what they believe is intact.  That burn was necessary to prove her broken.  That cut was imperative to reveal her need.  

But the end of a matter is better than it’s beginning, and patience is better than pride.  (Ecclesiastes 7:8)

Her conclusion?  She must wait.  We are called to absorb often a great amount of pain in exchange for true and lasting change within ourselves and others.  Jesus did as much and was guiltless.  How much more we who are guilty!

As she writes on the very last page of her ragged should-have-been-finished-months-ago-but-she-got-detoured-by-sin notebook, she knows that this is not the end for her.  The gospel works.  She is covered by grace.  She lives by faith.  She trusts in God.  She waits in hope.  She is living proof that even the least of these – those with absolutely no claim and nothing to bring – can be redeemed.  Dare I say, they are the only ones who ever were.  

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living!
 Wait for the Lord;
    be strong, and let your heart take courage;
    wait for the Lord! ~Psalm 27:13-14

 

 

 

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