Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Pennies on a Tombstone

We visited his grave when we were all together for the holidays. We gathered together, huddled together.

It was the cold that drew out tears and made eyes red. It was. Wasn't it? The blowing, biting wind? The chill of remembered loss?

A nearby tombstone boasted an array of pennies, spread out so you could see them all. So many visitors.

Maybe next time we could pass out tokens before we visit. Not just pennies, though. Not just to say we'd visited, but that we remembered.

Maybe next time we leave Hershey Kisses and sticks of Big Red gum.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Hide and Seek

We used to play hide-and-seek-in-the-dark with the whole family, nowhere in the house taken off limits. We found some fantastic hiding places-- like when my dad stashed my youngest sister into the space between the top of the cabinets and the ceiling. Or hiding the trash  can somewhere else, and tucking oneself into that cabinet it belonged in. Or just standing so flat and so still between a wall and a door. Or behind a dresser that had just enough space behind it. Or under a bunk bed, pulling everything back into place under the bed behind oneself, careful to breathe quietly.

It sometimes took quite a long time to find each other. On occasion, we've even given up looking, and the hider came out when we all had our eyes closed, and they got to keep that hiding place.

Sometimes, like Adam, we hide from God. (Gen 3:8-10). Perhaps, like Adam and Eve, we hide out of shame, or perhaps there are other reasons. But God loves us and comes lovingly looking for us. And there's no where we can hide that He won't be right there with us. It's like God doesn't understand how hide-and-seek works... how you're supposed to let the little kids think they've got a fantastic spot and wait for them to pop out and scare you.

"Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me," even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you." (Psalm 139:7-12). 

But, do you know what I consider more wonderful than God always finding us? When we seek God, we'll always find Him. God, who created the whole universe, probably knows some pretty epic hiding places. But he doesn't use them. His goal isn't to be undiscovered, as in our little game, but to be found.

"You will seek me and you will find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD." Jeremiah 29:13-14a.

And God decided that just being found by us wasn't enough. He ruined his best hiding places. He came right to us, right into this world, right into our hearts.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

"Very Good"

It's hard enough for me to understand that the very creator of the universe, the most perfect and holy being, God Himself, would forgive us of our sins, that he would make a plan to allow us to continue in blessed relationship with Him, but that's not even the extent of God's mercy. 

Not only does God forgive, He redeems. 

He takes what is broken, messed up, and torn, and He makes it into something good. 

"As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good," (Genesis 50:20a) ESV

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28) ESV

After all, God created all the earth and everything in it and surrounding it out of nothing. It would be no small task for Him, King of Kings and Lord of lords, to take something evil, to take a sinful past, to take that which is wrong, and make it, somehow and divinely, into something good. Not only good, but very good.

Connected Quote? How about this one?

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Next Time

So maybe this time you messed up. Maybe this time you missed that opportunity.

What are you going to do next time? Make a plan, make it today.

Once, I heard someone say that living a holy life is just obeying God the next time he prompts. And then the next time, of course, and then the next. But rather than looking at the daunting 'for ever and ever', just focus on being prepared 'next time'.

The plan is the important part. The plan, covered in prayer. Because without a plan, you'll fall into the same things. At least I do. After all, it's easier to do something you've already done than to try something new.

"Fail to plan," they say, "and you plan to fail."

So use the motivation from this missed opportunity, this slip (or jump) into sin, this attitude-- use it for fuel for next time.

Only, don't wait for next time to make that plan.

Connected Quote?

Friday, December 05, 2014

When Business Gets in the Way

A couple weeks ago I had a meeting with one of the parents of a student, but they had to cancel last-minute due to a family emergency. I didn't get any details, just 'family emergency'.

And the next day, when they picked up their child, I asked when they thought we'd be able to reschedule.

About five seconds later I realized that wasn't the right question to ask. I should have asked how they were doing. I should have asked how I could pray for them. Instead, I was so focused on business, on getting things done that I thought were important.
Fast forward to this Wednesday when I left school before lunch feeling terrible and sick and altogether bleh. And Thursday morning, feeling better again, calling students to my desk to recite the week's memory verse.

"Do you know this week's memory verse?" I asked one boy.

"Yes," he said quietly without hesitation, "But I'm just glad you're back."
Sometimes, business can wait. Usually, actually.

People themselves are more important than whatever needs doing.