February 6, 2012

I’m Ready to Turn the Corner

She lays her dish towel down to pick up a conversation. “Pronto!” {“I’m ready”} she answers with, instead of “Ciao” {“Hello”}. It’s a customary greeting for Italians.

A reflection of a heart postured in preparation. One daring to trust the person calling has an invitation. That something new is right around the corner. And hey, that’s not always easy to believe. But might we? Just today, might we answer His call by preparing our hearts to say Yes, I’m ready!

Pronto! I’m ready to listen. A stance that dares to meet the Lord’s eye, honest about the past. No qualms quiver in the gut. “Yes,” we truthfully say. “I have dredged through the wreckage, slid through the less-than-lovely.” And once confessed, we’re ready to hear God’s heart of grace and good plans.

Pronto! I’m ready to turn the corner. Leave the lonely streets of unbelief, heartache and shame. Is it too wonderful to believe that a new thing is around the bend? The potential of forgiveness…hope of living shame-free? Not at all. It’s there for us if only we answer His call.

But how?
We allow our heart to be…
refined {by His Word}
defined {by His character}
supined {in front of His throne}

Pronto, I’m ready to begin afresh. And that chance is offered for the taking. Because when the Father called to the Son, He said, “I’m ready. To die for her and her and him and him.” Jesus asks, will we receive His salvation, forgiveness? His forgetfulness of our past deeds? Therein lies our call to answer. Now that we’ve repented. Turned away from the past with faces turned up to hope. Now, now we joyfully start new.  Are you ready?

Thy light in my darkness
Thy life in my death
Thy joy in my sorrow
Thy grace in my sin
Thy riches in my poverty
Thy glory in my valley
~from Valley of Vision

Write this verse on the tablet of your heart and mind. Tuck it in the recesses to refer to as you prepare. “Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Remember, O LORD, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old.” ~Psalm 25:4-6

xoxo,
Sam

November 30, 2011

How are You?

If you’re popping over from Proverbs 31 Ministries devotion today, welcome! We’re delighted you’re here.

“There is,” he said, “healing in the telling.” ~Cecil Murphey

Yes, that. The telling which often requires an asking. Perhaps you’re like me? Keeping emotions tucked under the sleeve, rather than worn on it? Close mouthed unless prompted to open up your heart? Mostly I pour out to the One who always asks, ceaselessly hears. Yet I do long to share with others. I’m just a bit shy and perhaps give the air I don’t want need to be asked. “We long to be known because we are lonely, and we fear being known because then we may then be loneliest of all.” ~ Shelia Walsh, Honestly. And therein is the difficulty.

Many times it’s not only the original pain, but the pain of not being questioned. The claustrophobia of isolation. The not telling that is so difficult. Stifled words grow moldy and decay our hearts.

Three words have the cleansing power of bleach — “how are you?” Ahhhh, fresh, light, ease.

Perhaps you’re the opposite of  me? You freely share and openly talk about what weighs on you? May I encourage you… simply listen. A question I have to face often is, “Am I so caught up with what’s going on with me that I forget to ask others how they are?”

To ask and be asked. To listen and be heard. Both breath life into weary souls. So today, I’m going to ask a friend, “How are you?” and pause to hear. And, though out of my normal comfort, I’ll answer beyond “fine” when asked how I am.

So friend… one last thing… How are you?

We’re creating an online community today to encourage one another.
~Please leave a comment letting us know how you are.
~Then, leave a comment with a prayer for the person who commented before you. Please “reply” to their post and not in a different one. That way they’ll be sure to see it’s for them. Thanks!

xoxo,
Sam

November 22, 2011

Please Don’t Judge Me

Sometimes love requires the sacrifice of your possessions, your time, or some other precious commodity. ~John MacArthur

Please don’t judge me. I’m going to confess something and ask for mercy.

I have some priorities misplaced. Suppose I’ve known for some time, but it reared its head madly on a trip to El Salvador with Compassion International.

These two joys? I love them. They invited me into their home.

Led me into their dreams of being a police officer and a doctor.

They held my hand. Extending blessings they had not in silver or gold, but in love. Selfless love. Love that longed to be shared in stories and smiles and what rare, few tangible gifts they had.

I’d come to their home to extend gifts myself; extend mercy. But they exceeded anything I had to give. This. This bracelet.

They wanted it to be mine. She nudged her brother, too shy to give it to me herself. Beaming, he presented it as if the royal crown. They leaned down from the window and gently slid it on my wrist.

I declare, diamonds can not match the worth of their hearts, this gift, that moment. Be still my heart.

I had another precious bracelet with me. Simple and wooden, gifted to me over twenty years ago by my dad. Picked out on a trip to South Africa. The next day in El Salvador, the Lord challenged me. “Can you give your bracelet away like these precious children gave theirs to you?”

Please, don’t judge me.

Paralyzed with indecision, I wrestled before I left my room. Torn. My heart soared, anxious for that moment I’d spot the little girl or mama to give it to, sharing love. My heart sank, anxious to part with my sentimental treasure.

And therein lay the problem. My misplaced treasure.

I’m embarrassed, oh… more than that. Heartbroken. I’m sick to say, I couldn’t wouldn’t give it away. Both bracelets journeyed back to the United States with me. One harkening to selflessness. One to selfishness. I thought I was really something that day, bringing mercy to these kids with beans and rice, soap and smiles. Me with my jewelry box cluttered with bracelets. I am the one lacking much; the one in need.

Need of new perspective. New treasures. New truth – I don’t want to have possessions I can’t won’t don’t love others with. New mercy. And thank God that is available.

The crazy thing is, I’ve since lost my South African bracelet my dad gave me. Isn’t that the way it is with earthly treasures? They’re meant to easily slip through our open hands and heart, huh?

Next time, next time I’m giving it all. Are you with me? {might you want to start today with a sponsorship of a CI child, like these two cuties?}

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;  therefore I will wait for him.”  The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. ~Lam 3:22-26

Can we make this song a prayer today? Click here for lyrics to worship along~

xoxo,
Sam

November 16, 2011

Stillness

I had a dream last week. The convincing kind; so real until moments after fully awake.

We’re being driven. In the back of a towncar. I’m the good kind of nervous.  That inviting nook in His shoulder? He shifts for me to lean into it. Shy, wary, my head rests there. Cautious millimeters of tension relax into yards of ease.

Upward, His palm faces me: Can I hold you? Again, I rest. This time fingers in His. Entwined with purpose, as if setting a foundation to last a lifetime. As if He’s secretly pressing the moon into my hand; a gift to light up my darkest nights. A way to tell me the ebbs and flows of life’s tides are in His hands. Without a word, He’s solemn and hopeful and serious and charming.

I’m quieted. Dashing thoughts, maddening worries, door-pounding prayers, a thousand anxious whens? lobbed upward every minute of every day… all which robs stillness, steps aside. Here, in the quieting, I relinquish my grip on the second hand of the clock. I’ve been hanging off its cold sharp edges, willing time to move quicker. To force answers to arrive sooner and move through fears faster. My hands are raw from clinching every second.

As the weave of our fingers tighten, this is the haven my heart has needed, the elusive rest fought and flailed and wildly sought. This stillness within me is perhaps what He’s waited for before He could offer it.

C.S. Lewis is correct. “You can’t, in most things, get what you want if you want it too desperately: anyway, you can’t get the best out of it. ‘Now! Let’s have a real good talk’ reduces everyone to silence. ‘I must get a good sleep tonight’ ushers in hours of wakefulness. Delicious drinks are wasted on a really ravenous thirst.

“Was it my own frantic need that slammed {the door} in my face? The time when there is nothing at all in your soul except a cry for help may be just the time when God can’t give it: you are like the drowning man who can’t be helped because he clutches and grabs. Perhaps your own reiterated cries deafen you to the voice you hope to hear.” ~A Grief Observed

The voice that says, “Be still.” Yes, that, there. That seemingly impossible stillness? How, how do we get there? Thousands of years ago these words spoke this ancient instruction: withdraw, forsake, refrain. From what, or perhaps whom, is for each to determine on their own.

But know this –… that nook? Yes, His shoulder, His hand… they’re there for you to sink into. Withdraw to. Forsake others for. Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty {Psalm 91:1}.

Maybe just today, right this moment, stop, breath. Accept His palm. Rest your head and whisper knowingly, Truly my soul finds rest in God {Psalm 62:1}. Wash your hands of the longing ceaseless thoughts, petitions, fears, doubts. Take His hand. Be still.

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xoxo,
Sam