Monday, July 16, 2007

Grace's Prayer

Last Saturday my family and my sister's family traveled up into the Cascades to day-camp. Tonight I went in to put the girls to bed and Grace asked me to pray, so I did. Then I was about to leave when she asked me if I wanted her to pray for me. I said sure. So she started off praying for me but then took a sudden unexpected turn onto Bigfoot.

"...And LORD, if we can go back into the forest, can you help Bigfoot to not be so shy, because I don't like it when he's shy, like kids are. Help him to feel okay about meeting me, because I really want to see him, I like him so much."

Afterward I was about ready to burst out of the room because I had been trying to keep a straight face when she was praying and it was just too difficult. But she held me back and said she really wanted to tell me something.

She said, "You know what? Uncle Richard told me about Bigfoot. Guess what? He has feet as big as all the way to Uncle Richard's elbow! And, MOM! you know what?" [pause]

"What, Grace?" I enthused.

"Some people have told some bad stories about him. That's why he's shy. But he's really friendly. Mom, Mom! If you hear a bad story about bigfoot, you have to tell them it's NOT TRUE. Bigfoot is so nice, and I want to meet him next time we go into the forest, and I hope he won't be shy anymore. He's really good, and he prays to Jesus, like probably every night."

I started spewing laughter and she got upset with me. That was the end of her persuasive speech.

Before I left the room I complemented her prayer and told her it made me happy. She said with a sheepish smile, "Sorry a lot of it was about Bigfoot."

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Across the Street, Pt 3

I went over again "empty handed."

I might have over-estimated how poor her health is, because she was not walking around without a cane today. She looked great, with color in her face and dressed and more clear-minded. (She's around maybe 50 years old, not that old.) Definitely an answer to prayer... with God I do not believe there are any coincidences. He is kind. She too was pleased that she was better today. So, I'll keep praying for her physical needs.

Once again I see how impure a witness I leave in the tracks. She complimented me on how good of a mother I am that I should have more than three. And, for some people, such a comment might be an attempt at small talk. But I could tell just from the way she said it that she absolutely meant it while observing me. And what did I do? Well I got uncomfortable so all I said was "thanks." Then I pontificated like I'm some expert... to a grandmother, none the less. I shake my head, I can see how arrogant I am. Everything in life right now is telling me that I am arrogant. I wish I could change. And that wish, I know, could be fulfilled if I was more willing to stand back and let God work. Which would require of me a closer walk with Him. Being still, and focused and in tune.

We got onto a topic of perspectives in raising children. She was so encouraging to me. She has all the same ideals for priority that I have set for my own life.... I mentioned that loving kids to model things "like faith," is so important. That's all I had the conviction to mention about "the gospel" for today, and that is enough. She mentioned "God" helping her with giving birth, a definite highlight....

The test I use on myself for how I'm doing to spiritually witness Jesus, whether or not it is with preaching, is this: who walked away feeling like a winner? Me, or them? Well once again today she made me feel absolutely awesome about myself. But how can I encourage her? That is the reason I am there, after all. Where is my head, Jesus? I mean, come on, Sanc. Get it together.

She said "I get too reclusive and the days pass along." I replied in honesty that I enjoyed her company for the same reason. We thought maybe we could get together tomorrow again, but I am expecting company. So we'll see where this leads, but as for this particular relationship, I'll blog whenever there is any developments. Just so I can see, I hope, over time, what God has done.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Across the Street, Pt 2

My children and I went over and all three of them were well behaved (of course this is one of the most impotant things I can "do" for anyone in my way of initiating in the world). She spent much time on the phone trying to get her new med reduced so that she wasn't literally walking into walls. You can tell her body is giving out on her and she is frustrated.

She had wrapped a gift for our baby in a paper bag (since that's all she could physically manage) and she put stickers all over it to dress it up. It's things like this that makes me so aware of the preciousness in sacrifice, and it humbles me. She also included a card which said that children are a blessing from God. In her kitchen I saw a little handmade craft which said "On the eighth day God made cats."

There was a good deal of Chinese art and symbology, as well as another small Buddha taking a centerpiece area.

I mentioned how I'd have the baby wear his gift to church since it was so nice. And I am encouraged. If she believes in some sort of diety, whether she is non-Christian or persuaded about Jesus and just a fan of Eastern religious art, I think this is a really great place to start.

Now if I could just get my skill back for working my testimonies of various kinds into everday conversation, it'd be better, although praying about it beforehand was a comfort to just acknowledge that this is His work.

I think there is a small chance she might not pull through all of these complications... and so I've had eternity on the brain since the beginning.... However it never ceases to amaze me, that when I am set that it's time for me to go and "help someone for Christ" someone instead ends up really helping me. Why does it work that way? Maybe because accepting someone else's ministry is a part of having an honest and real relationship with others.

She didn't get enough time to visit and she would like us to come over again tomorrow.

Across the Street

I'm usually not into talking about ministry because I want to stay far from boasting or the appearance of it.

Today though I think I want to so that I can see God at work.

There's a couple across the street who have children and grandkids whom they love in Arizona, and no other close-by family. She has had an increasingly difficult case with her health, because doctors made mistakes on more routein things.

And I've been making mistakes too. At times when I haven't been paying attention to God's Spirit, God has arranged time spent with them and I'd ask questions, that, when I look back, I realize they were not sensitive enough. And at the same time God is making me in a general way more aware of ministries of preaching or not preaching and consideration for where it is He wants me to be. So my awareness of "spiritual need" is somehow coming back.

I just wish it wasn't me, this time.

I want to do something for her. I can't make her a meal because she's on puree. She says she doesn't need help getting around. Etc., Etc. Plus I'd be ready to mention Jesus or ask her if I can pray with her but I remember that they mentioned they had a Buddha statue in their yard, and since I don't know much about what she believes in I'm afraid to offend her by even mentioning Jesus. This time, there is no strategy and I feel empty-handed.

Yet I feel like God wants me to be there anyway. I may not be there to do anything except be human. My children and I are going over today to visit her (she misses her children a lot).

Before I go I'm going to spend some time in prayer.

Monday, July 09, 2007

"East to West"

These are the lyrics of a song a head above the rest. Many "Christian-living" songs can't crack the case of the struggling very deeply, or when they do they pair it with "the solution." Disappointingly, that leaves the rest in their predicament, without understanding. This one is all about typical repentance-processes not working out.

Here I am Lord and I’m drowning
In Your sea of forgetfulness
The chains of yesterday surround me
I yearn for peace and rest
I don’t want to end up where You found me
And it echoes in my mind
Keeps me awake tonight
I know you’ve cast my sin
As far as the East is from the West
And I stand before You now
As though I’ve never sinned
But today I feel like
I’m just one mistake away
From You leaving me this way

Jesus can you show me just how far
The east is from the west
‘Cause I can’t bear to see the man I’ve been
Rising up in me again
In the arms of Your mercy I find rest
‘Cause You know just how far
The east is from the west
From one scarred hand to the other

I start the day, the war begins
Endless reminding of my sin
And time and time again
Your truth is drowned out by the storm I’m in
Today I feel like I’m just one mistake away
from You leaving me this way

I know You’ve washed me white
Turn my darkness into life
I need Your peace to get me through
To get me through this night
I can’t live by what I feel
About the truth Your word reveals
I’m not holding on to You
But You’re holding on to me
You’re holding on to me

--Casting Crowns, "East to West"

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Affinity with the Above

It's amazing that God's work goes on in the world when the people getting it done are oftentimes oblivious of how they are helping. Our plans are not His plans. Often times someone who is trying to minister to me in one way help me to grow closer to God in an area they had no purpose in.

It's also true that a lot of Christians can't see how they are really useful to God in their knowledge of Him, so they rather hope that because of Jesus, inadequacy is somehow nullified. And that is what I'm thinking upon tonight.

It must be true that believers all over the world are suffering with this sin or that bondage, but it doesn't matter... somehow. If you think about it, the homeless are still finding a warm meal and old widow down the street still lights up her face when she gets a visit from a neighbor. The name of Christ still marches forth, carried on the backs of simple proclamations coupled with a few honest acts of kindness and righteousness.

Meanwhile we are sinners, growing ever-more aware of our own need, for deliverance.

So... the outward life moves the gospel forward, and the hearts of men... oftentimes lags behind. How should we feel about that fight for inward regeneration? I think the answer is to not look too closely for it anywhere down here.

Genesis 3:16 quotes the LORD as saying to the woman, "Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you." I see this as a pattern of Christian effectiveness; the husband's giftedness is to guide all affairs, to determine and originate conduct. Outwardly, there is progression. But the woman is longing for more than just the outward, she wants the whole person, the heart and soul of the inner man. It is unfortuante for a wife's pleasure, that many men in the role of husband excel at the former and are awkward with the latter... as in the whole of humanity. We believers do well at proclaiming Christ and serving others in love but find it more complicated to tame obstinately sinful hearts.

Sometimes, the Christian life seems to be all about one thing: proving to have a heart that is truly in love with Jesus. We all prefer to be around people who appear to do so, more than us, to keep our perspective fresh and encouraged. But in the grander scheme this cannot be where our satisfaction with progression lies. We don't become on-target in life by comparing ourselves to others. We would be better off to simply rest on the guarantees God gave that He will regenerate, and be satisfied with what He gives.

God deigined this existence to be a struggle for the heart. And all hope in that struggle comes from above.

Monday, July 02, 2007

The harvest is plenty?

Exactly where is the harvest? Hmm. Seems to me that the bulk of those who might turn to belief in Christ are not in my sphere of influence. Or are they? I'd like to help lead someone to Christ. I wonder what exactly is the work that the workers should be doing? Preaching the word? Perhaps. Maybe that's relatable to picking ripe fruit. Maybe all the other kinds of work, the stuff that's harder, the stuff that doesn't make the front page, maybe that's the kind of work that is plentiful and where the workers are few. Like physical labor or services of other kinds that are without preaching. If that is the plentiful kind of work available, I will sign up for that. I don't mind that kind at all either.

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