You can’t disappoint God

It was not a great day for walking, unless fog and clammy fits your mood and you just head out. It was one of those mornings when I put on way too many clothes for this mild January morning and walked out on my usual stroll through the neighborhood then out to the greenbelt alongside our gully.

“Lord, though I don’t SEE you, I know you’re there, ” I said aloud. It was a great morning for just talking to Him out loud. All of a sudden out came my neighbor rolling her trashcan to the street for pickup. “Good morning!” we both sang out to one another. “Will you come in for coffee?” she asked. “Well, I believe I’ll pass this morning. Just out for the morning walk before I run some errands.” She laughed lightly then said, “Well, truth be told, I’m really heading out to work.” She grinned. It was all perfectly fine. I asked her what work she was heading out to this morning, knowing full well she was long into retirement. “My husband is trying to sell his business and it’s not going too well right now.” We talked about it a few minutes before she said, “But you know, our devotional this morning was on hope. We have a “hope rope” to heaven. We don’t need to be weighted down by our circumstances but keep our eyes on Him, our Hope.” I nodded in agreement and smiled. It was exactly what I had thought of saying to her. Keep our hope and eyes on Him and let the circumstances fall where they may. She had talked of his regretting that he had not sold it five years ago. “Shoulda’s are so destructive,” I responded. “That’s the past and there’s nothing we can do about it.” She nodded in agreement.

And then I remembered something I had read earlier this week. “You know, Dear Neighbor,  you really can’t disappoint God. He is not surprised by what we do. After all, He made us and He knows exactly what we’re going to do before we do it!” She smiled as she began to head to the back door. It was getting closer to the time she needed to be off to work – supporting her husband in his business endeavors at this time.

I thought about what I had read in “Altar’d” by Jennifer Kennedy Dean. “You may sometimes have the feeling that God is disappointed in you. “How could He not be disappointed?” you reason. “I let Him down again and again. I promise and then I fail.”

She says, “I don’t believe God is ever disappointed in you. What does it mean to disappoint someone? it means that you have failed to meet that person’s expectations. For you to disappoint God, He would have to think you were going to behave one way, then be surprised when you behave another way. God knows you better than you know yourself. “He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.” Psalm 103:14. I had thought of this all week, and actually, it became more and more freeing as I realized that yes, God loves me immensely and knows before I take the next breath what I’m thinking or planning or going to do. And still He is with me and will never ever forsake me.

I waved at my neighbor and said a prayer for she and her husband that his business would sell to the right person and that they would be able to move in their retirement, free from the burden of his business.arms outstretched

 

Change is uncomfortable; but necessary

praying together one Our small group has been meeting together far longer than when my Beloved and I joined. They tell the story of a morning when one of the men was out walking and his neighbor's cat was out? Was lost? Something. The cat was the catalyst for the men's encounter that brought them and their families together for what turned in to seventeen years!
"You and your wife come over and have coffee next Tuesday night," the walker said to the cat owner. They met and discovered they had much in common, including their church home. Let's invite some others. They did. By the time my husband and I came to their church about 5 years ago, the group had grown profoundly into 13 couples.
Over the years, the couples had seen one another through a daughter's brain surgery; parents' illnesses and passing away; rebellious sons; job searching; retirement anxiety and questions; moving away. Through all the issues of life we came together to pray. Our hearts, so knitted together under the banner of our Lord Jesus Christ's profound love, submitted to Him each and every Tuesday evening, knowing deep deep down that He was hearing. He was seeing. He was loving. And He was moving. And oh, how beautiful to watch Him work! It was glorious! To witness the healing of her daughters brain surgery; she, who is now mother of 5! To look around the crowded room of family and life long friends and see 11 completely new friends at my father's memorial service! Friends who had never met my father! Still profoundly moved at their heart and presence! To hear that their 30+ something year old son, who struggled for years to find a job was now not only gainfully employed but praised by his boss! Only God.
Lately, though, it seems that our group has had several move on to other groups within the church. Another couple moved to another town. Logical reason for leaving our group. But several others have moved on for what? Other ministries. And few new folks have come into our group.
Funny. This new season is groaning with questions. Are we still a group? What is God doing? Are we asking God that question or are we just getting irritated that folks are leaving our group? They're all great couples. Salt of the earth. Still very involved in other areas of the Body.
Change. Uncomfortable. Inevitable. Necessary.
Like pruning. When I get the garden clippers I'm quite deadly. As I was clipping the browned rose blooms, I got a bit hasty. Yep. Clipped a bud with two new buds yet to open. Bill noticed and grimaced. Pay attention, he said with his face. Oops. I brought the bud inside and stuck it in the middle of the carnations. It opened beautifully.
change- life is beautiful
What’s next for our group? Prayer. We meet and pray and discuss the question. What does God have for our group who have met for so many years? Personally, if they asked me, since we are in the midst of those retiring years, wouldn’t it be great to see the Lord bring in some young couples to our group to pray with? To encourage. To let them know that through their life issues, our God is with them. Seeing. Hearing. Loving. And yes, moving. And watch what God does to this next generation. For yes, though change is surely uncomfortable, it is so necessary for growth. I don’t really want to “die on the vine.” I want to be nipped and moved so I can bloom somewhere else! For my Lord!
Now, go out with Joy and be led forth in His peace!
change - open arms

Eyes to see

homeless woman eyes

There she was.
Leaning on her cane, looking directly at me.
“Help me,” she seemed to be saying desperately.
I saw her. Her sunburned face.
Auburn hair in dire need of a shampoo and conditioner.
The traffic light changed. I had to move on.
Down deep in the recesses of my heart she knitted herself to me.
I wanted to reach out to her.
To give her a meal, some shampoo, a bus ticket to a shelter.

Eyes to see,
Leah said to me.
So many folks have no idea
that there are even people standing on the street
begging for a few dollars
so they can eat,
much less seeing some of these are women!

Five dollar gift cards to the local fast food;
New underwear from the Dollar Store;
Toiletries collected from a stay at the hotel
Or from the half-off bin at Target.
A Gideon New Testament.
Some baby wipes and chapstick.
Put them in the gallon zip lock bag.
Take them to the street where Dr. Mosely preaches
On Sunday afternoons.
After the service, we offer a meal and a bag of toiletries.

Prayers. Hugs. A look into their eyes to say,
“I care. I see you. You are real.
You are loved.”
“You have done what you could,” said Jesus,
And that’s enough.

Jesus saw individuals.
Not categories.
He saw the one woman with the issue of blood.
He saw the one Centurion who sought after Him.
He touched the one blind man.
Looking directly into his eyes
And had compassion on him.

Categories are safe.
But inhumane.
Categories keep one from seeing the people
That God wants you to see and touch
And tell them of Him.
Removing the categories requires faith
And risk.
Trust.
And great reward.

See.
See into their eyes.
Feel what they are feeling.
And then they will no longer be a
homeless person with no face or history.
They’ll be someone who needs your care and
Your word from Jesus. “I love you.”
“I died for you.”

Mark 14:1-9

Freeing

birds flying free  There’s a freedom I really haven’t experienced in so very long until about 2 months ago. That’s when I finally decided to stand up to those dark, long-held grudges and anger toward some relatives. Down on my knees at the foot of my red recliner I cried and asked the Lord to forgive me for holding on so long and not forgiving and moving on to love unconditionally. I asked Him to  take away all that junk in my dark soul and then almost immediately,  like years of wax built up in my ears, finally being pulled out I heard the sound! Oh the sound of relief!  Of music! Truly! Of freedom, as the flight of the birds winging gracefully over the highways. Far above and out of reach of the chaos.

I know the freedom now  and what it means to just LET IT GO! I got on my bicycle and rode down the track – my get-a-way retreat. And my heart soared for love of my precious family who so long ago “meant well” when one sweet relative asked me if there was anything she could do for me when I came home from having given birth to our first-born. Came home with empty arms as he was so early. Well, I stammered, running through my muddled mind, “some diapers”? After all, I hadn’t thought to purchase diapers six weeks early. “Well, you can get those at the store,” was her not so warm reply. Well, then. Yes, I thought. So, what were you thinking to do for me, then? I mean, okay. I’ll go to the store. Thanks for your offer “to help.” And never again, did I ask her for help. But I had held on to the hurt……and other things from time to time. Those memories are now scattered in the air.

The proof. Thanksgiving Day at my brother and sister-in-law’s lovely home on the other side of town. The usual family. The usual spread of delicious home-made dishes atop the usual lovely table decor. Gone, though, was the usual grudge and inner resistance to totally love from the depths of my soul. The love for my family – all of them – this year was deeply genuine. I love them. Each of them and harbor absolutely no animosity, jealousy, ugly guilt. Nothing. Is this then, truly the love of Jesus from me to them? Oh, how light and joyous I felt all day and into the evening. Was it the letting go? It was. It was also the confessing and leaving that hurt right at my Savior’s feet. Sigh. Yes.flying birds

But there was still some deep down pain inside coming from something or someone else. My precious cousin and college girlfriend. There was that time when we were close. Weren’t we? I mean, I remember each of them on an occasion saying, “Best friends forever!” Being the Amelia Bedelia minded, I took that literally. Forever. Always. But, like mine, their lives are so busy in their far away towns with their own families.

Why have I held on to the expectation that they write???? That they call and just say hello? I don’t know!! Is it because it’s not a two-way street? And I’m tired of always initiating?  Do I particularly enjoy this feeling of gravel in the pit of my stomach? This “I’m owning this relationship and you’re not and I want you to and it’s painful and still why don’t you write. Was it something I said? I feel so INSECURE about our , well, is this still a relationship? Has it truly gone sour?”

I stood in the middle of my den and out loud proclaimed, “I let you go, sweet cousin. I let you go, sweet girlfriend from so long ago.” Go. Be free. And I will too. You who are so very far away from me and seem to choose to be. You who have so much on your plate. Always have. Always will. but no where on your plate is there room for me. It’s all okay now.  I let you go and I will clean out my belly of hurt, emptiness over a lost whatever this was and like you, move on. Oh, I’m still here. In the same house I’ve lived in for the past 18 years. Going nowhere soon. You have my address and phone. But you no longer have my heart. If you never bother to call it’s okay. If you don’t ever text or email, no problem. May the Lord continue to take good care of you and your family. Love you. Bye.

I do have some very precious friends right here in front of me and I know now that the enemy of my soul has been successful in making me feel less content, less fulfilled because two very precious folks are not in the forefront of my life right now.  Their presence in my life was rich and I am grateful for what we had. But now I choose to focus on the friends I have here. In my life right now. I choose to encourage them. Love on them. Treasure them as they are but having held too tightly before, I know now to always, always hold my friends loosely. With air to breathe. With freedom to come and go and be real and up close and far away and to know that from me, it’s okay.

bird in handRecently, in prayer group, some were discussing some long-ago friends who had been a part of the group (long before we came in) and had moved on. But there had been some small degree of dissension.  You know, one quipped, we can be Believers and not all agree on everything and it will be okay! Consider Paul and Barnabus; Paul and John Mark, I responded. Not even the early Christians got along with one another! We’re all human, she returned. And we’re going to have some strife and struggles along the way or, we’re going to move away from some friendships and that’s okay, too. We’ll all sit at the feet of our Savior one day! And then, it won’t matter anymore if we got along on the earth or not!

Holding tightly to anything will bring hurt and a stabbing pain. Open the hand and the joy will be everlasting! Because of the first Love. His love. Deep inside, wanting to be free and expressive. Loving this flight! I believe it’s time to take another ride down the track by the gully!

May you go out with JOY and be led forth in His PEACE!