Thursday, April 24, 2014

Our Hidden Well

What makes the desert beautiful 
is that somewhere it hides a well. 
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

To live in peace and stay at rest,
we must believe the hidden well
is more real than the barren desert--
despite the 360 virtual tour of barren land
continually offered by the enemy of our soul.

The LORD will guide you continually, 
giving you water when you are dry 
and restoring your strength. 
You will be like an ever-flowing spring. 
Isaiah 58:11

He is our hidden well.
"Believe in Me so that rivers of living water 
will flow out of your innermost being."
I often find wells in His promises,
those words He has given me to stand on.
When I don't know which way to turn, 
I go to one of His promises
and stay there until I am filled.
When the enemy points to the desert places, 
and I find my strength being sapped, 
I remember that there is refuge in a hidden well.
One such well for me is Psalm 138:8:
"The Lord will perfect that which concerns me;
for Your faithful love endures forever."
His promise and His presence become one
and my strength gets restored.

The parched ground is becoming a pool,
and springs of water satisfying the thirsty land.
Isaiah 35:7
Lord, Your presence satisfies where ever I am.
The desert is a beautiful place 
because I find You there.
You remind me that I am filled 
with springs of living water because
I am a carrier of Your presence.
When I feel shallow and empty, 
You lead me into the depths of Your love
and coax my anxious heart to be at rest.
Your promises are always yes and amen.
I sit at these wells of Your goodness; 
I find You here.

Poetic truth is a beautiful echo, 
leading me to the clear sound in Your Word 
that I might sit awhile and find You.
You are always waiting;
You are always good.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Walking through Transitions

So much of what we go through is for the
purpose of discovering all that we are not.

If you try to hang on to your life, 
you will lose it. 
But if you give up your life 
for My sake, you will save it.
Luke 9:23, 24

Every time we go through a life transition,
we have to let go of something.
Transition is more than physical change;
it's about what is happening inside us.
Most transitions are difficult, but
even in the most joyous transitions--
from preparing for graduation
to preparing for marriage--
there is a time of reflection on
what we are leaving behind and 
all the memories associated with that.
There is an element of loss embedded in
every transition we walk through.
Some we go through by choice;
others, not so much.
The hardest transitions are the ones
which change our identity--
which most transitions do at some level--
especially the ones we do not choose 
and those we might consider
make us "less than" we used to be.
Losing a spouse, friend, job, home,
parent, church, finances, health...
can change us at the core of who we are.

It hurts to touch the core of who we are.
Birth pains tell the story
about letting go of a baby.
Transitions can be painful.
And while classes help prepare 
for the birthing transition,
many other transitions are invisible,
unguided or misguided experiences.

There is often pain and confusion--
and we aren't sure what is happening.
We cry out, asking the Lord to identify
the intense pain we rhythmically feel.
That is often not the question
He is waiting to answer.

This has been a tricky year--
transitions around every corner and 
I'm pretty sure I didn't choose one of them.
I have asked "what" and I have asked "why."
With tender mercy, He has simply assured me 
that He is with me.
He has been leading me 
to ask Him another question,
the one He has been waiting for:
Who am I?

It has been getting clearer and clearer
that I'm not a sum total of all my labels.
I knew that, I really did.
But it's not until labels get stripped away 
and you are left standing before God 
with your false identities removed,
that you can ask that question
just a little more confidently. 
And hear Him a lot more clearly.
"You are My beloved."

In this challenging season of transition,
I am becoming both less than 
and greater than all my labels.
It feels a little like dying
and a lot like Life.

I am His beloved.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Showing up at the Wells

When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well,
He didn't set out to get the her "saved."
He noticed her, engaged her, 
and spoke her language.
asking for a drink of water.
He surprised her with that request, 
considering Jews wouldn't even go near 
a cup that a Samaritan had used.
Sometimes, simply talking with one 
who has been long disregarded 
can open them up to encounter.

"If you only knew the gift God wants to give...
you would ask for living water."
She immediately went to the literal--
buckets, wells and livestock.
He connected with her right there.
If you drink from this well, 
you will be thirsty again.
He then presented an idea 
she never saw coming:
Something inside you can become 
a gushing fountain of the Holy Spirit,
a source of endless life and satisfaction.
She immediately thought of her routine life
and asked for this water so she would never 
have to come back to the well again.
People have real problems and 
are looking for solutions to those.

He revealed that He had His eye 
on her for a long time--
married five times, now living with a man.
He never pointed a finger or discussed sin.
And she made a connection to who He was,
which was His heart the whole time.
"If you only knew the gift I am..."
The thing she wanted was to never 
have to come back to the well again.
What she needed was to receive 
the gift of the Holy Spirit.
But Jesus didn't begin there.
We might see people stuck in sin,
needing the gift of God.
They want "water."
It may be a job, a friend, a home, healing,
 a significant relationship, someone to listen.
Our water won't be the answer
to what they want.
The most shocking thing Jesus did
was talk to this woman who had been
disregarded by the the religious system.
We don't need to condemn or condone.
We need to care.
At some point, the woman wanted
the water that Jesus had.
Others might do that too if
we begin noticing, caring and talking
to those who have been long disregarded,
those hoping there is more 
than walking to the well everyday.
They will not come into our churches
until we show up at their wells.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Thankfulness Re-members

"When I remember to give thanks 
in a fallen and broken world, 
this is what re-members me 
and I am put together again."
~Ann Voscamp

Some mornings I wake up and
feel dismembered,
compartmentalized into 
so many different pieces.
I look at all the spheres that 
define my life and, upon evaluation,
I am at peace with some and 
anxious for others.
When peace and fear are vying for position,
fear can be the stronger competitor
if we don't have some strategies in place.
Because what we are anxious about
is often both real and significant.
Sometimes it's an overactive imagination.
But sometimes it's a response to reality.
Oh my soul, why are you so 
anxious within me?
Because in this world there is pain.
And things don't always work out like we want.
And the consequences of all that are real.

God knew all that when He sent His Son.
"In this world you will have trouble."
His peace was meant to trump fear.
So He sends us messages of peace.
When I read about giving thanks
in this fallen and broken world,
it resonated with my real struggle.
This world is fallen and there is brokenness.
But when I give thanks, I am re-membered--
put back together again where wholeness
takes over and peace rules over fear.
I am not thankful enough every day.
But today is a good day to change that.
The beauty of a new day is that 
we can do new things.
I am quietly giving thanks for all I have.
Giving thanks for what we have,
instead of dwelling negatively
on what we don't or what might be,
opens the door for peace to come in.
Giving thanks is a pure response
to the grace of God.
It is always the right choice.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Drawing Power of Christ

I have loved you, My people, 
with an everlasting love.
    With unfailing love I have 
drawn you to Myself.
Jeremiah 31:3

The transforming power of Christ is not
a driving power but a drawing one.
We are drawn by His goodness and grace
to become those who are true,
more like the One we are drawn to.
It is His unfailing love that draws us.

The love of God isn't forceful, 
manipulative or judgmental.
It is attractive.
He loved the woman at the well, 
the invalid who had been at the pool,
the woman caught in adultery,
the blind beggar being told to shut up,
the widow with only two coins.
The hurting, the wounded, the rejected, 
the poor, the lost, the "least of these."
He attracted each with a gift of hope
and they went away better 
for having encountered Him.

He doesn't come to us with a demand, 
or a harsh tone of voice, 
but with compassion, grace and mercy
that He may help us change.
He shocked the woman at the well,
 avoided by the religious of the day.
"If only you knew the gift
that God wanted to give you..."
He didn't disregard the Samaritan,
as so many religious leaders had done.
He offered her springs of living water.

And just to confirm that He knew
all about her, he told her some things.
Married five times, now living with a man.
But with mercy and compassion, He said,
"I am the One you are looking for."
He didn't condone or condemn her.
He just offered her a gift,
a gift that He knew would draw her
to Himself and change her forever.

 As we draw near to the throne of grace
we receive again His gifts of 
eternal love, eternal acceptance.
He draws us forward and changes us.
He does this, not by calling us sinner,
but by calling us His beloved.
We can then go out and bring living water
to those who, just like ourselves, are hurting, 
wounded, rejected, lost and least--
messengers of hope and bearers of gifts.
The transforming power of Christ
is a drawing power,
the power of unfailing love.

And when I am lifted up,
I will draw and attract all men to Myself.
John 12:32