revelation

I have another “Mama always said…” for you. I often talk about my mother’s wisdom. I still hear her words almost daily cautioning, beckoning, comforting, or filling some hole within me. Though not exclusively hers, they bear repeating, and I like to give my mother the credit because she knew the truth in these words better than anyone.

“Reality isn’t as neat as the dream.” This observation is not necessarily bad news when you find yourself in the middle of a dirty place that seems so far from the white picket fence you dreamed about. The reality is often more intricate in beauty and truth. Dreams are generally ambiguous and painted in soft shapes the same way that fluffy, vaporous clouds lend themselves to our imagination. But the jagged concrete of life always calls us to something greater than a dream, something that sculpts itself deep within our souls—something that, if it were not challenging, would remain unnoticed, underappreciated, or perhaps undone.

I read something from a new favorite blog, Study in Brown that I can’t seem to shake this week. She wrote these words in her post:  “Back then, I thought that love was going to change the world and God would never let us fail. I hadn’t taken into account His long view or how He was going to rip through my romanticized version of world-changing and give me the cold, hard reality. Let’s face it: we all want to march in and save the world. We love the idea of sacrificing ourselves for the poor, the suffering, and the outcast. What we don’t want to do is get up right now and love the drunk in our family.  Or the brother who can’t keep a job.  Or the self-important right-wing (or left-wing) jerk we go to church with.” Her words still sting.

Not coincidentally, I started a journal of God’s revelation this week. Where does God reveal Himself to me? I was certain He’d gloriously explode in my heart with the bird’s song, or my cleaned up yard, or in the reunion of my three children home this week. He was there in those sweet moments also, but I missed the bang. Before I had finished penning the quote from Study in Browninto my revelation journal, my phone rang. It was a neighbor with a territorial dilemma. I smiled at God’s sense of humor in asking me to love the not-so-lovely person so quickly. How He knows my distracted heart these days—so like Him to give an opportunity quickly that I might pass the test. I responded with a smile and a story about how cute the squirrels were scrambling in the roof gutters for hidden pecans. I jokingly suggested she should pay those squirrels for cleaning out her gutters for her. She said she’d have her husband look into it. She missed it. But for once, I didn’t. I smiled and went about my day unruffled. Once again, the reality of the day hardly resembles the dream of what each day should look like, according to Annette.

This world brings some harsh realities. It is filled with struggles and real pain. But God shines clearer against the backdrop of the dirt. Often, we have to get in the dirt to see Him. And it looks nothing like the dream. But it is a sweet place of revelation.

This week, we started our fall study, Revelation. I can tell already that it will be so much more than sorting out a complex dream. This dream, the recorded Revelation, only captures a glimpse of the intricate, stunning reality of what is to come. It is our future, our remaining hope in the One who one Day returns to set all things right. And I wait in glorious anticipation for the one Reality that will be so much better than the dream.

 

more than enough

Most write birthday letters to their friends. This year, I am writing my own birthday letter to God in overwhelming gratitude. My heart is overflowing more than these words can possibly convey. Here is my best attempt:

Some countries count your age from the day you are born as one, and others like ours make you live a year before you count it. So, as I say I am 48 this last Saturday, I am saying God has graced me with 48 years already and I am almost a week into my 49th year. From a very early age, I knew each year was a gift. Because I have lost several people in my life way too young in my own arrogant estimation, I know well having those you love around you is a blessing.

I can’t for the life of me figure why God chose to bless me the way He has with a husband who still doesn’t know that I am not a queen after 29 years together; with grown children who still respect me even when the only reason they have to is because God commands it; for the best friends in the world who not only love me and listen to my endless ramblings, but put up with me like they even like me a lot. I have an adorable eclectic and most loving extended family whom I cherish, and who loves me, despite myself. And the list would be remiss without mentioning my faithful dog who sits even now at my feet and lives to please me. And the list really is complete without mentioning the closet kitty, though he is endeared to me in his own gastronomic way. I don’t know any other way to say it. God pours out His love to me in an outrageous way.

Some of you knew that Angie got to come to Houston for a visit. What she didn’t know was that it was party week at our house, so we went from one celebration to another, with a lot of down time in between. Just as you might imagine, she is one special woman. What you might not know about her is that she is as beautiful outside as in. There is nothing more endearing than meeting a heart first, then getting to know the rest of that person. Angie is the real deal—authentic through and through, with a love for her Lord, for laughter and joy, and a propensity to go to the deep stuff—though she can talk about lip gloss and shopping and Kevin the masseur with much exuberance as well. On Tuesday, my small circle of best friends took me to lunch before Bible study and it was such a joy. The highlight of my visit with Angie was to worship together at Bible study. There is nothing like singing and worshipping with this group of dear friends. I kept thinking of Simeon in the temple. “For now my eyes have seen Your salvation.” Each of these women, friends I count as best, have shown me the light of Christ Jesus. All I know for certain is I am one blessed woman.

Just as Simeon said, “Now your servant can die in peace,” if I did not have another day on this earth, I could die feeling my life was most rich and full as I recount the love and the joy I have known through these friends, this family, this life of 48+ years. Though I am not planning on going anywhere soon, whatever lies ahead in this life, should God decide to grant me more years, is what Cajun Louisiana people call lagniappe—a little something extra. Because what I have known already has been more than enough. And it blows me away to know eternity will be even better.

monday’s musings – Job

A SONG FOR THE NIGHT

There is none like You
No one else can touch my heart like You do.
I could search for all eternity long
And find there is none like You

Your mercy flows like a river wide
And healing comes from Your hands
Suffering children are safe in Your arms
There is none like You.

A very dear group of women who are seeking God to reveal Himself on a personal journey are reading through the Bible this year together and sharing online what lingers in their hearts. I have the privilege of studying with these twenty women, and I cannot begin to tell you the intimate things God is revealing to me as His Word jumps off the page and into the realities of my life. Then, on Mondays, I get to see how mightily He is stirring these other godly women’s hearts in beautiful and unique ways. If you want a rich blessing, go see Bev’s deep heart for Him at Keep on Believing each Monday. It is a rich and very intimate journey we are on that rouses my soul, overtaken with His love for us, despite ourselves.

In a few words, this study is a sweet gift to my heart each week, and the journey is almost too personal at times to put to words. It stirs my heart and shakes my beliefs. It brings me to my knees often in pure reverence and conviction, but with a hope of such blessed restoration unto Him. This week, we finish up Job and move on to Genesis. Though Genesis 11-21 is full of nuggets, for brevity’s sake (don’t laugh—this is brief for me) I will stay with my thoughts on Job.

Listen, for the Lord is speaking. Elihu speaks and he’s the junior senator from the land of Uz. He is quiet but can’t remain silent any longer in Job 32:18. The Spirit in me rises up and I can’t keep my lips shut. He basically tells Job to be quiet and listen so he can hear God. God is not silent. “Though men may not perceive it.” (Job 33:14) How often we miss God because we are not quiet. In Job 38:1, “Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm.” THEN, – The Lord waits for all to speak. He answered Job OUT of the storm. The Lord ANSWERED –He responds to our suffering. He is there and He answers. Every word in this verse is a promise and Truth of God. FINALLY He steps in. Anybody else? Finally. How often we feel God’s timing is late but it is after we have railed and said our piece, and how can we hear God anyway in our grumbling? But when everyone finally gets still, THEN the Lord ANSWERED Job—but, not as we would expect with reprimand but to reveal His beautiful and mighty character to Job.

Whatever happened to letting God be judge? Job 34—Elihu then turns to the other men and says, who are we to judge? He reminds them, “Let us discern for ourselves what is right; let us learn together what is good.” So often, I am quick to judge all in the name of discernment, sharing my opinion. It often comes from a place of arrogantly assuming I’ve been there, when I really haven’t walked in their proverbial shoes at all. I’d rather my merciful God be my judge any day that my peers, like Job had to endure.

He gives songs in the night. (35:10) Night is when our troubles multiply. Things are just worse in the dark. He gives us songs to comfort us. This reminds me of Paul and Silas praying and singing in the jail around midnight, when they had been beaten so badly. Don’t you know in their distress and pain, they could not sleep, so they sang. Just like Job probably had so many sleepless nights in pain, when we can’t sleep, He gives songs in the night.

His Ways are not comprehendible. (Job 37) Even if we knew the why about our circumstances, chances are our small minds couldn’t wrap around it. All we really need to do is look and see His power and know He is in control even when the answers to all the whys in the world make no sense. They are unfolding according to a bigger and much grander plan than we can comprehend or imagine. (1 Cor. 2:9)

God wants to reveal His glory and His love to us. As Job finally surrendered his righteousness and self indignation, God restored him. God revealed his incomparable character and Job was brought to his knees. Through Job’s loss, and finally his repentance and humbling, God refined Job to a place where He could send life abundant. We aren’t meant to figure life out on our own. God wants to father us. The truth is, he has been fathering us for a long time we just haven’t had the eyes to see it. He wants to father us more intimately, but we have to be in a posture to receive it. May we have eyes to see and hearts to receive Him.