Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Beginnings

We can never recapture yesterday. It is gone. We may have a memory, but we cannot redeem the time.
I will not waste time in regret. But no more. Each year is a year to celebrate. A cardiology surgeon once told me that I would not live to be 60. Liar, liar, pants on fire. I am 63 and am believing for my full inheritance of at least 80 years. I have much life yet to live.
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but [this] one thing [I do], forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14
The economy may be failing, but I am not. In fact, at my age I am better prepared for it than a young adult. I know how to stretch a dollar. I know how to make delicious meals out of little. And most important, I know how to keep my husband happy and he delights in doing the same.
I look forward to the coming year with great anticipation.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

An Expected End

My New Year’s resolution is to release friends and family of my expectations I inflict on them (and those they place on me). I also purpose to release myself from the ones I place on myself.
Expectations are generally unspoken; I hardly notice them anymore. For example, I expect that certain actions will yield specific results. Further, I expect that certain people will act in predetermined ways. I am often surprised and this isn’t always pleasant. In my belief system and in my control issues I hold expectations of what a good marriage looks like, a perfect family or even a good person or success. Sometimes these are too narrow and not godly.
Pain and suffering come when expectations are not met. If I finitely define what a marriage should look like, how children should behave, what success looks like, any other definition of it will bring disappointment. There is no room for God in the boxes that I draw. This black and white thinking often leads not only to disappointment,but hurt and anger and even depression.
Expectations are rooted in desire and fear, anxiety and stress. Often they are birthed out of fear of losing control. Anything less brings grief. If we only could see the tight box they keep us in. This box forces me to see my present experiences only as it fits in my plans for the future. When we release our expectations can we open ourselves to the possibilities of all God has for us.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Jeremiah 29:11
If I choose His expected end, even it appears uncertain to me, I am free of the stress and the disappointment when MY life plan doesn’t work out perfectly.
Instead of keeping my eyes focused on my plan, I choose to focus on Him.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Is It Time for a Name Change?

Over 15 years while living in Rockwall, TX, I listened to Praise in the Night on KVTT radio in Dallas. Every morning on my way to morning prayer for one of those months, I would hear the song, I Will Change Your Name. Prayer was at 5:42 a.m. This was a healing time for me as I sought God with all of my heart.
The song was one of promise.

I will change your name
You shall no longer be called
Wounded, outcast, lonely or afraid

I will change your name
Your new name shall be
Confidence, joyfulness, overcoming one
Faithfulness, friend of God
One who seeks My face

It was an intimate time with the Lord that reshaped my life.

Too often we believe what others say about us instead of what the Father says about us. We can not allow the sins of others to shape us.
While "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me," is a lie from the pit of hell, we do not have to have to take it in.

We can be pierced, but not wounded. It is an "ow-ey", but we clean it up and treat it. We don't allow it to fester and become infected with bitterness.

Read the lyrics backwards now:
One who seeks My face
Friend of God

Does that describe me today? If so, will He not change my name?
As I seek His face, the wounds will heal. I will no longer be outcast, but treasured. I cannot be lonely or afraid for He has promised to never leave me nor forsake me. He shows me this as I seek His face.

I want to have a name change.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve is a day of anticipation. Yes, there are always last minute things to do, but it is the anticipation of Christmas that carries the day.
We will have a dozen or so guests for dinner. These are friends from church who aren't going home for the holiday either.
Some have no home to return to and for some it is just too painful to go home.
If it is too painful to go home, don't. Don't let guilt and manipulation take you places that you don't want to go. It doesn't mean that you can never go there; it just means right now you aren't healed enough to go there. Be good to yourself. Allow yourself time to heal and become stronger in your identity.
Sometimes family gatherings become a vortex of emotions that can suck you down until you feel disabled. One of the ways to avoid that helpless feeling is to not have false expectations. If Aunt Betty has always been argumentative and controlling, don't expect her to be suddenly polite this Christmas. Instead of engaging in a real conversation, simply listen and when she takes a breath, say, "That's interesting."
She has a deep need to be heard, so give her the gift of listening. You don't have to agree with her or take in her barbs, just nod and smile.
If we go without expectations and with the anticipation of finding ways to show love, we will have a much better time.
Once I got out of my needs and began to approach life with a "how can I serve you" view, life became incredibly simpler. The bonus was instead of trying to get my needs met, while loving others, all those needs were either erased, changed or met.
I tell myself now and then, "Get out of your navel and into the Father's heart."
I pray, "Lord, help me to see today what you see and feel what you feel and love as you love."
On my own, I can't love the Aunt Bettys even though I know deep inside I was once one, too. But with the love of the Father, I can provide a safe place for the wounded and needy to heal. Isn't that why Jesus came?
He said, "The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,..." Luke 4:18
If He was about His Father's business, should I not this Christmas purpose to do the same?
Don't be misled. I am not there yet, but I want to be.
Thankfully my Father judges the intents of my heart, not my imperfect attempts to show His love and His mercy.
It's a journey - just one step at the time. The important thing is to keep going forward.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Bugaboo Creek

Our small town is not known for its restaurants. There is one chain, and several mediocre restaurants, but there isn't one that you would write home about.
So when my son-in-law told me that he would like to take everyone out for a Christmas dinner while they were here, I asked him to give me time to think about it.
Finally I remembered Bugaboo Creek where Ray had taken me for my birthday. It is an hour away.
Bugaboo Creek is sort of an Outback geared towards families. It has a Canadian Lodge ambiance with animated critters from a talking moose to a swinging squirrel. Yet with all that going on, it is not noisy or obnoxious. They have tempered the animations so they are a delightful interlude rather than an annoying interruption.
They were thoroughly enthralled with the animals.
But it was the dinner fellowship that was the greatest gift. We eat on the run way too often. So it was an extravagant gift to talk and catch up with one another. We had a great time. Emily and Christopher are the best children to take out to dinner thanks in part to their other grandparents who dine out frequently. That only added to the evening.
The food is so very good and plenteous. In fact, so plenteous that we ordered only two desserts between the seven of us. Hmmmm good!
Afterward, we went shopping. We cheated and picked up an pre-assembled gingerbread house which we all decorated the following day.
It was sad to see them all go. It was a great visit.
Each morning Ray had made breakfast. He hits the floor running while I ease into the day. He even cooked their eggs to order to accompany waffles, pancakes or french toast whatever that day's specialty was. lol Each morning their dad would laugh and say, "Now don't expect this when you get home."
Again though it was the conversation at the table that made my heart sing. Children speak truthfully. This is delightful in a world where people carefully guard their conversation for fear of being misunderstood or too transparent.

[Let your] conversation [be] without covetousness; [and be] content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. Hebrews 13:5

Emily and Christopher don't know that verse, but they live it. A life without guile is a beautiful thing to behold.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Love Does Not Insist Upon Its Own Way

A month ago I planned a Cookie Exchange. I knew Margie and her family were coming and I wanted to have lots of special cookies for them and I didn't want to bake them all.
Between my job and Mary Kay, I knew I couldn't do it. So I thought of the young mothers in my church who had even less time. This could bless them, too.
So I went online, found a site called Robin's Cookie Exchange. She has worked out all of the details. Looked like smooth sailing.
I created invitations and on the back side I printed Robin's rules. They were simple and straightforward. No store bought cookies. Cookies must use flour. Adults only. Bring six dozen. It sounded so simple.
As the Cookie exchange approached, I encountered questions like, "I don't want to bake. Can't I just come for the fellowship?" to "I work in a kitchen all day, I'm buying them from my girlfriend."
I was getting uptight and this was supposed to be fun.
Then my friend, Fran, said, "Diane, why are you having the Cookie Exchange?"
I told her I remembered having a house full of children and the frenzy of trying to get everything done for Christmas. I wanted to make it easier for young mothers especially and give them some girl time where they could unwind. AND I wanted beautiful cookies for Margie's visit.
She then said, "Why not trust God for that and relax. Let Him work out the details."
Wow! What a revelation!
I took my peace. Whatever God had planned I was good for it.
As I mulled it over in anticipation of what God had in store, I was reminded of 1 Corinthians 13, "Love does not get puffed up; does not insist on its on way."
I didn't have to insist on "doing it right" but I could leave the day to my Pappa God.
Candace made darling name tags and necklaces for games. Fran typed up other game cards. On Saturday Judi came and stuffed little bags with a little lagniappe for each guest. Mary came as a greeter and director. Marcia was our photographer.
We had a ball!
I am just a girl. My Father loves me right where I am. I don't have to strive to please Him. Just be love as He is love.

They're Here!

I have eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren and NONE live where I live.
Tonight though two of them, Emily and Christopher arrived, escorted my by beautiful daughter, Margie and her husband, Tom. What a great gift!
There is nothing like children in the house for Christmas. The sheer joy! Tonight we sat on the front porch as it was a very crisp evening. Later, we had hot chocolate and cookies. Emily and I made Christmas cards while Mike and Christopher played battle with Christopher's soldiers.
How rich we are to see Christmas through the eyes of children. We should seek to see the world like that daily. Emily wanted the Christmas tree left on just in case she woke up during the night, she could come out and see it. I used to do that.
While everyone slept, I would sit by the tree and dream.
If you haven't dreamed in a long while, maybe it is time to stir up that hope of beautiful tomorrows.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Eleanor Rigby

Despite my age, I never was a big Beatles fan. I think there was just too much going on in my life for me to swoon over the group though many in my dorm were devotees.
But yesterday morning when I woke up, the lyrics of Eleanor Rigby were dancing in my head.

Eleanor Rigby picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been
Lives in a dream
Waits at the window, wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door
Who is it for?

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from ?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong ?

Have you ever felt like Eleanor Rigby? I have. I would paste on my smile and go into the world believing that it really did not matter whether I showed up or not.
Abuse does that. It really doesn't matter whether it was verbal, physical or sexual abuse. I have experienced all three and defilement and invalidation of my worth first as a girl then as a woman was just as complete.
It is just like there is no such thing as being a little bit pregnant. There is no such thing as being a little abused. Sadly, self-abuse follows because you no longer see your worth either.
I have found two antidotes. Most important I must know my identity. I am not what others say I am or even what I say I am necessarily. I am not what I do. I am becoming a creation of the Most High God. Not all I can be yet, but nevertheless I am becoming. It is a process. Am becoming.
The second antidote is to help others become.

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

Eleanor Rigby died in the church and was buried along with her name
Nobody came
Father McKenzie wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave
No one was saved

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

Perhaps lonely people come from never knowing our true identity.
Not feeling like you belong is a wretched trap. Kids join gangs because of it. Yet even after the initiation and the dares, the conformity, they still don't feel as if they truly fit in. There is always one more thing they must DO to prove their loyalty, to prove they fit in.
The book of rules (the law), that God gave us, was taken away when I became believer "in Christ." Jesus Christ fulfilled every bit of the law leaving none of it for me to even attempt to achieve.
The caterpillar becomes a butterfly. It doesn't become a caterpillar with wings. There is a complete metamorphosis. I think I spend too much time remembering my hairy, prickly, wiggly self instead of flexing my wings and flying in my new identity.
A monarch caterpillar sheds its skin five times during the larval stage. Similar to the way a snake sheds its skin when its body has outgrown the skin, a caterpillar does the same. A new, larger skin is always waiting under the one that is shed. The problem is at each stage I think I have arrived.
Suddenly, the chrysalis cracks open and out comes the monarch butterfly. Its wings are tiny, crumpled, and wet. The butterfly clings to its empty chrysalis shell as a blood-like substance is pumped through its body. Did you get that? Out of who I was, (that chrysalis shell, my incubator) there was life. Sometimes shame causes us to disavow our past. It is out of our pain that we can bring life to others through encouragement and sincere empathy.
About one hour after emerging from its chrysalis, the monarch's wings are full-sized, dry, and ready for flying. Days after emerging from its chrysalis, a monarch butterfly is old enough to mate.....and so begins the life cycle of the next generation. Days. Yet it has taken me years.

As I become more comfortable with who this new creation is that I am becoming, I can give encouragement to those still in the chrysalis, the Eleanor Rigbys.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Friends are Friends Forever

Over 20 years ago Sally and I worked for a business newspaper in Jacksonville. I wrote and she did layout and design. Today we came full circle as I write and she created my glorious new header. Isn't it awesome!
I can remember 25 years ago sitting at a small oak table in her dining area talking to her as she did layout and design for a small newspaper. That was the day of light boxes, x-acto knives and rub-on transfer letters. She did this in addition to other work and raising three beautiful daughters as a single mom. We often did crafts together. She is a real artist. I am an artisan. lol
Later, I moved to Texas and then Africa and back. A series of circumstances brought me back to Jacksonville. As I began again, I met Sally at a garage sale. She was always looking for vintage buttons and fabrics and lace.
We picked up as if we had been separated for days, not years.
Again we created gifts and crafts together. She taught me scrapbooking and created her own scrapbooking patterns. They were so detailed, fresh and original. She gives the Lord the credit for her creative ideas and they are kissed by His love I am sure.
I have been living in Georgia almost seven years now. Each year when I visited my mom, I would take time for Sally. I got much more out of our visits I am sure. I always left with bags of goodies, new craft ideas and a heart bursting with gratitude.
When I wrote Sally and told her I was finally blogging as she had encouraged me to do, she immediately offered to design the header. I was astonished. Sally and I were almost snobs about everything being handmade. Now in her 70's, Sally is a digital artist!
I am so proud of her! When we worked late into the night to create beautiful things, I left tired, but exhilarated. That is what I am feeling tonight. I am tired with just work, Christmas shopping and the fast approaching Cookie Exchange BUT I am exhilarated with creative juices flowing. I feel like I am standing at yet another threshold and I can't wait to see where it leads.
No matter where we are in our walk in life, there is more.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Hole in My Heart Is Healing

Today is my oldest daughter's birthday. What a beautiful woman, wife and mother she has become in spite of the fact that as an infant I never even held her or saw her sweet face. Instead adoption papers were signed and I went home with empty arms.
For months I had talked to her in utero and shared what I thought were important life secrets and told her repeatedly how much I loved her. Yet I never knew if she heard me. I never saw her first tooth, her first steps, her first day at school or graduations, wedding or the births of her own children.

In that dismal home for unwed mothers, we were repeatedly told that we had no rights, that we could never interfere and all the other protocol of that generation. So I left New Orleans with a hole in my heart.

It would be over 30 years before we reunited through a series of what I call miracles. She was the one with the tenacity to find me. It's been over 10 years, but I will never forget the anticipation of her coming to Dallas. What a beauty she is. I constantly stole glances.

A lot has happened in the past ten years. I have been to Africa and back and nearly died of some heart complications. For whatever reason, we have had only three short visits.

Today while talking to a co-worker, I mentioned how I was trying to find all of those "hope deferred" places, so I could release them to the Father. Wham! Tears sprang to my eyes. This date was another "hope deferred" place.

Later another friend stopped by to check on me and when I told her with tears brimming that this was a hard date for me, she firlmly, lovingly said, "That is ungodly grief. It's time to let it go."

That was hard to hear, but I know by doing it that hole in my heart will begin to heal for ungodly grief keeps it open. Also, that ungodly grief puts distance between my daughter and myself, because she can never feel that hole. Only God's love can.

Over 40 years ago, I gave her away to faceless strangers who loved her and gave her the best they had to give. Today I release her a loving Father who has our best in His heart and is just waiting for us to put down our encumbrances and receive it.

Happy Birthday, Sweet One.


Sunday, December 7, 2008

His Mercies Are New Every Morning

Over 20 years ago we lived in the middle of a cow pasture. There were six of us. I had become critically ill and in a series of events, we lost everything. One of the parishioners of the church we attended owned this dairy farm and he offered us shelter and a job for Ray on the farm. I don't know which took more faith- the house or the job. We moved from a beautiful 4,000 plus square foot turn of the century Victorian home to this 900 sq ft home heated by a wood burning stove in the living room. Ray was raised in the Bronx in a high rise and now he milked cows. We were way out of our comfort zone.
He would get up every morning at five a.m. and while he dressed I made coffee and his breakfast. This was the only quiet time of the day that the two of us had together. We treasured this time encouraging one another that things wouldn't always be like this.
He would load the wood burning stove so the house would be warm for the children when they got up. Soon he was out the door to go to the barn.
When it was winter, it was bitter cold even in north Florida. I could hear his boots crunch as he stepped outside. I returned to the kitchen table and watched in the direction of the barn. Soon the light came on and I knew he was there.
I cannot adequately express what happened in my spirit when that light came on. It was if the darkness of the moment was flooded with light and with gratefulness. I had a husband who loved me and shelter. I was very grateful.
For the next hour I had my quiet time with the LORD before I woke the kids to get ready for the school bus. I poured my heart to Him keenly aware that I had come perilously close to dying the year before. I didn't understand the way my life was turning out, but I did know that life was a gift.
I think much time is wasted trying to figure out the whys, rather than living in this day. His mercies are new every morning and I need to appropriate them as opposed to sucking my thumb over what could have been, should have been and the willy-nilly "if onlys" of life.

[It is of] the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
[They are] new every morning: great [is] thy faithfulness. The LORD [is] my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The LORD [is] good unto them that wait for him, to the soul [that] seeketh him. [It is] good that [a man] should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD. Lamentations 3:22-26

The LORD was my portion, not antiques and a spacious dwelling place. The LORD was my portion, not a high paced executive position. On the farm, we had nothing, not even a car. If God did not provide it, we didn't have it. My hope was in Him. Deep from within I could feel new life- life I didn't understand, but life nevertheless. It was in the early morning that I would both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD."

I make the trek back to now in this season of my life to learn once again to "quietly wait." My friend, Mary Pat, says I can sometimes get a "whiney-butt" spirit. My pastor is more direct and would call it self-pity- the superglue from hell that binds us to our past.

Quietly wait means not calling the shots and surrendering to the LORD. What fear keeps me from doing this knowing that time and time again when I have come to that place of absolute surrender, He has met me in a way that was beyond anything I could have dreamed? That fear must be identified and excised with repentance for allowing it to come again. Remember I said this knowledge began forming over 20 years ago. What distractions have been so important that I haven't had time to sit at His feet and learn of Him? Why do I continue to declare like a four year old, "I do it myself?"

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me [with thy] free spirit. [Then] will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee. Psalm 51:10-13


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Be Still and Know

I have thinking the last couple of days about the word, "yada."
Years ago when we lived outside of Dallas, I studied it and it has been one of those words that serves as a plumb line in my walk with the Lord.

Be still and know that I am God. Ps. 46:10

Yada means to know intimately as a husband and wife know each other. It is not to know of someone, but really know them. To reach that level of intimacy, I must be still. This kind of still requires not only that I stop, but that I sink down with abandon. It is not a pause. It is that luxurious feeling you get as you slip into a relaxing, fragrant bubble bath.
More often than not my moments with God are like a quick cup of coffee. Yes, it is a quick pick me up, but I haven't taken the time to listen, to set the world aside and know His heart for the situation. Nothing can change until I do.
I have found it best to invite the Holy Spirit to fill up to overflowing before my head ever leaves the pillow. Yes, I now that I shouldn't "leak", but I am just a girl and sometimes the cares of the world displace that dunamis power. They are like oil and water. They don't mix.
This week I have stayed home and tried to be still, tried to give my heart a vacation physically. However, drivenness and performance are so ingrained into me, that I sometimes have caught myself feeling guilty for taking time out to just have a cup of tea and read a book.
Why is it hard to be still?
I remember about eight years ago, my friend, Sharon, loaned me her lake house for a week. I went alone with my Bible, writing materials, a couple of craft projects. No telephone or computer. After about 48 hours, I was antsy, restless. I enjoyed the quiet ever so much, but I felt guilty for doing nothing.
God designed us as human BE-ings, not human DO-ings. Yet too often we find our value in what we do. Our society puts a higher value on a doctor than a housekeeper, but I can assure you that coming home to a clean house lovingly done by someone else for me does me more good than all the medical exams that I have ever endured.
So I go back to the call: Be still and know that I am God.
Be still.
Can I perfect that in my relationship with my Father so that same stillness permeates all other relationships. Can I risk being still and transparent or is it a "Hey, how ya doing?" without even pausing for a response?
Be still.
What keeps me from being still? Not the distractions, but what within my being keeps me from being still? I need to recognize that and get rid of it, because it is keeping me from knowing all there is to know of my Father and His love for me.
Be still and know that I am God.
He is God. I am not. If I am still, I am not in His way of perfecting those things that concern me.
Be still and know that I am God.
I am ready.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Cookie Exchange

Next Saturday I am hosting a Cookie Exchange. Today a precious friend gave me beautiful linens. Now I am old school and whether it is hot tea or hot chocolate with decadent cookies, it just taste better with real dishes and linens. It doesn't have to be fancy, but there something that makes you immediately feel like a lady when you put a damask napkin across your lap.
This is especially important if you had little ones spitting up on you all week and have barely gotten out of your sweats. It is good for our spirits to relax with friends and be pampered with those little touches.
The older I get, the more I recognize the importance of taking some "me" time so I can better a better woman in the "we" time. Admittedly when raising children, those moments may have to be arranged or even stolen from your to do list, but it is important.

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine. But a broken spirit drieth up the bones. Proverbs 17:22
If your spirit is broken, perhaps it is time to make your heart merry.
When I was a single mom with three children, we used to play "HaHa."
Everyone laid on the floor with their head on someone else's stomach. The first person said, "Ha." The second one said, "Ha, ha."
Each person would add a ha until we were giggling together. Yes, it was absolutely fake in the beginning, but the more ha's we added, the more our defenses dissolved and we began to laugh together.
How did I get so caught up in surviving that I forgot how to laugh? Perhaps the key is surviving isn't really living. Surviving is a desperate attempt to do the mechanics. It doesn't rely on the Lord and usually doesn't trust anyone else either.
I remember I was once told, "You can't count on anyone but yourself and you can't count on her all of the time either."
What a lie! What a breeding ground for fear and doubt!

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine understanding. Proverbs 3:5

I so understand trials. Looking back now I can see that is through some of those trials that He has given me many heart "surgeries." Some of those trials were caused by my willful disobedience, insisting on doing it my way. As I repent for the mess, confess, He is so faithful to create a new heart within me. I want to know Him more. I want my heart to be like His. My present trial may not end on MY timetable, but when I release it to Him, He can calm the raging seas of life.
I think that "Peace, be still" is a good word not only for the storm, but my heart.

Turkey Soup

Today I am making turkey noodle soup at Ray's request. As I was removing the skin, fat and other undesirable morsels from the broth, our dog, Quigley, would follow the spoon from the pot to the garbage can. Occasionally, I would find a tiny bit of meat close to the bone and pick it out and put it in his bowl. Nevertheless, as I continued to clarify my soup, he followed the spoon to the garbage can. Now I have shown him, that I will give him some good things (not too much because he is a small dog), but he continues to follow the garbage and if I didn't push it deep away from him, he would scavenge the garbage as well.
Wonder how many times I do that? I know my Father will provide for me, but I continue to follow the spoon to the garbage can just to make sure I am not missing out on anything good. How ludicrous is that?

The young lions do lack and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good (thing). Psalm 34:10

Guess the question is am I truly seeking the LORD?


Hope Deferred

When the doctor told me that my heart problems appeared to be back again, the verse that sprang to mind was, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.”

Deferred simply means delayed or displaced. It doesn’t mean that the thing we are hoping for is not coming. It means we don’t set the timetable. I think this is the real issue. Who is God? Me or Him? Who am I to tell Him when it should be happening when He was getting all the ingredients together for the final project? It reminds me of the presumption of Job.

Hope displaced can set us on a never ending roller coaster ride from hopeful to hopelessness. Double-mindedness sets in. It can even progress into anger at God and others. Sadly, we often don’t recognize this anger because we shove it down.

According to Strong’s Concordance, deferred means to “delay” or “draw out”. That implies that the thing hoped for is probable and will eventually come to pass. But it is a journey, not a rocket ride. Just as it is necessary for me to gas up and pass many mile markers and even stop at rest stops as I travel, so it is necessary for our journey with God to have the same time-consuming, but oh so necessary delays. We may even breakdown on the way, but we repair what is necessary and move on.

God’s promises are true, but His timetable is rarely ours. Hebrews 11:1 reads, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” We can be sure of what we hope for even when it remains unseen if God, Himself, promises it to us. Hope is displaced when we assume that God will do something for us merely because He has done it for others. We can be full of anticipation and excitement one minute when it looks like our desires will be fulfilled, (things are going our way) and emotionally wrecked the next as we realize that little is changed or that the situation has gotten worse.

Too often I have gotten my eyes off the small victories, because I was so eager to get to the finish line on my timetable. Performance and drivenness push me to set unrealistic goals.

All of this takes a toll not only on our physical body, but our spirit as well.

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and [why] art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him [for] the help of his countenance. Psalm 42:5

I get to choose my circumstances or His promises. He promised me that He would never leave me nor forsake me.

[Let your] conversation [be] without covetousness; [and be] content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. Hebrews 13:5

In the midst of our worst trials, we can hold onto God’s promise that He will always be there for us, but don’t miss the part where we are exhorted during the journey to “be content with such things as we have” – even when it looks like we missed it or that God failed us. Our circumstances can color the truth. God may seem distant, unfeeling, uncaring. Nevertheless, that promise is sure. He will never leave us nor forsake us. So who will I listen to? The voice of the circumstance or the Word of the Lord?

Hope deferred can crush my heart if I expect God to stop the trial immediately and fix the situation. My heart can leap for joy when I see a small crack in the clouds above, then sink to my gut as darker clouds move in. Again the focus is on the circumstance, not the promise.

There are directions to properly set up a non-computerized telescope. You need to align the mount with the North Star. Sounds straightforward enough. However, if the directions to do that lived south of the equator, perhaps in Australia, and you used those directions, you would never be on course, because you are looking from an opposite direction. It is the same with our lives. We can do things according to the Word or we can align our lives with the world view and totally miss the galaxy that the Lord has prepared for us.

So today I am trying to be still and choose things that bring me joy. I love writing and have wanted to create a blog for over a year ever since my friend, Sally, encouraged me to do that. For 25 years she has relentlessly encouraged me to write. We even worked at the same newspaper for a while as she is a gifted artist.

Don't know where this journey will take me but I am eager to begin. Won't you join me?