Stay in the Moment

Be present! Stay in the moment!

It might well be the mantra of the decade. It is hummed from the yoga mat, preached from the pulpit and scribbled in the margins of self-help books. I warrant, it’s true. There is little worth in worrying about tomorrow, as it will happen exactly as God intended it to happen without the assistance of human agony. And fretting about yesterday only gives me indigestion and entices me to break open old wounds in an effort to right past wrongs.

The humans live in time but our Enemy destines them to eternity. He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and to that point of time which they call the Present. For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity. Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to the experience which our Enemy has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them.  ~Screwtape in C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters

I can see the wisdom of his words. I have felt the lingering, nagging, splinter-like pain of regret. I have felt the heart-stopping, immobilizing fret of the future. The great lie is that by attending to either one, I do some good. Perhaps, guilt and regret are part of paying the penalty. Do I think I am earning God’s sympathy or forgiveness through my groveling? Do I think that by making all kinds of logical suggestions about the future I can change God’s course for eternity?

Far better to rest in the finished, past and continuing work of Christ on my behalf. And far better to trust the Creator of the world to be sufficiently wise to sustain me.

-for the past is frozen and no longer flows, and the Present is all lit up with eternal rays. Hence nearly all vices are rooted in the future.

Naked no more: Clothed in Strength and Dignity

I doubt I’m the only woman who finds the Proverbs 31 woman intimidating. Last year, I wrote a post about this, a paraphrase of that infamous chapter.

However, when I read the chapter in light of my One Word for 2013, a tiny segment of verses stands out. Verses 25-27 seem to skip away from her laundry list of to-do’s and been-done’s. Instead those three little verses give me a peak at her personality, what she’s really thinking and feeling. And surprisingly, in the midst of her busyness, she seems genuinely happy.

“She is clothed with strength and dignity,
and she laughs without fear of the future.
When she speaks, her words are wise,
and she gives instructions with kindness.
She carefully watches everything in her household
and suffers nothing from laziness.”

While many in my generation revel in the greatest comfort our word has ever known: myriad conveniences, technology, progress and wealth, there are not many of us who Laugh at our future. What would it take? Where can we find the inner peace and joy to look forward and laugh? I want to laugh even when the stock market crumbles, even when I disagree with political decisions, even if I am unemployed, even if my loved ones die. I want to laugh at the future.

The Bible says this woman is clothed with strength and dignity. The Hebrew words strength and dignity can also be translated “to be fixed (strength) and to claim honor (dignity)”.

Those words remind me of Hebrews 12:2-3

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

If I were to resolve in this new year to be more like the Proverbs 31 woman, I would start here. I will fix my eyes on Jesus, becoming steadfast and immovable –  strong. And I will claim honor by despising shame. I will not accept defeat, shame or discouragement. Instead, like my Savior, I will claim the honor that is rightly mine as a child of God and I will laugh at the future. 

Chazown – Your Reason for Living

I confess, I haven’t finished my journey through Chazown.

Chazown is a Hebrew word meaning vision. Chazown is an online resource produced by LifeChurch.tv to help Christians discover God’s vision for their life.  Through an in-depth six step process, followed by related resources Groschel leads participants to discover the reason that God created them. Do you ever wonder, “Why me?”

I do. I know a lot of other women who do. Many of us think there must be something more, we must be missing something big, something we’re supposed to do. Do you believe you can figure that “one thing” out? How would it change your direction (your perspective, even) of your own life, if you knew the one thing you were meant to do.

I have learned so much already. I found purpose in whole seasons of my life that had once appeared to be wasted pain.

Imagine, reasons for loneliness, reasons for failure, reasons for people and places and a path through the past that led you to right here.

In step 4, Groschel has you write a purpose statement. At the first of June, before I began this journey, I would never have written something like this. Honestly, I probably couldn’t have put any purpose statement together. I’m so excited. What I am learning has fueled me with courage to take on somethings I’ve been afraid to do because now I understand that they are a part of God’s purpose for me. And His purposes never fail.

FIND YOUR CHAZOWN. 

Is. 55:11 So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; and it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

Pelting Life

See a flower, pelted by rain, scarred by hail. See

A bloom whipped by slicing winds, scalded by unquenched mid-day sun.

Yet it yawns wide, breathes and stretches, unfurls. Delicate, indestructible arms

Reflecting glory.

Then time and age, waste and days, then longer days and rain no longer

Revives. The scoff of storms yields no more growth. A season dies and she sleeps.

Peace beneath muddy crust till a new season of trial and storm,

Growth again, of new glory,

new color, deeper roots.

A Mind Is A Dangerous Place

A mind is a dangerous place.

We tisk when one goes to waste.

But rare we chide one over-wrought

For lo, it might per chance

By excess spinning

Random cast the dice –

And create a universe.

Surely by our heady power

Of worry, intelligence or education

We can extend a tiny fist

Past future’s protective womb

And prevent the cancer, pinch the flame,

Erase the pain.

If we’re aware of frailty, of the finite

We whisper, “All I have is God.”

Heresy! As if by last resort we

Skeptical approach, ask Him to blow upon our dice.

Lest we rightly evoke His wrath

Let us change our sore refain.

copyright 2012, Glenn Patterson

I have God, I have everything!

What is this that He chose me?

Confused, small-minded, ineffectual.

Until I believed – I have God!

I have everything.

Using A Broken Body and Bloody Heart

I am so broken. In many ways, I feel like I need to set myself on a shelf somewhere in the corner of life and wait until I’ve healed. Once my cracks are glued together, my bruises faded and I look presentable again – then, then I can serve. Surely God has no use for a weepy, tattered Christian. Surely God has more dynamic, charismatic individuals who can make a deeper, splashier, more memorable impact on the world.

My marriage stings, my ego smarts. I wrestle with compulsions, pride, addictions, envy, loneliness, fear and a myriad other maladies that may not be obvious this very minute. Due to my foibles, I was stunned and not a little nervous when God began calling me.

Recently, I finished a round of group therapy for wounded spouses. It was a conference call setting. I have only met one of the three women that I shared with over those 12 weeks. Each one of us has similar stories. We have each experienced similar offenses. Each one of us felt impotent, needy and unqualified to handle our own pain, much less minister to the needs of anyone else. That’s where God surprised us.

The group moderator wisely guided our conversations using provocative questions and homework. Then, she used us to teach each other.

“D,” how would you advise Abby in this situation?

Quite honestly, when the group began, I listed to D and J tell the summary of their stories. Not in a million years did I think I would learn from them – they were just as broken as I was!

At the same time, I began taking a Bible study at church called, Enhancing Your Marriage. My first impulse was to keep my head down and avoid having to admit the fragility of my marriage. Two days after our first class, the group leader called me and asked if I would facilitate a small group. The Holy Spirit insisted that I should accept the responsibility.

I met the six other women the following week, and discovered that their individual relationships were thriving compared to my own. Then the Holy Spirit began to insist that I share my vulnerabilities, my weaknesses, my pain and His sustaining grace in the midst of it all. I hope that I have been of some encouragement to the other girls, but certainly their responses to my role as small group leader have challenged and graced me.

That’s what God does. He pares us down, whittles us and refines us until we feel like there is nothing left. When we are at our weakest, then He places us in the most strategic places.

Remember the simplest definition of a mentor is “advisor.” Verbally, I am in no place to offer advise to any other broken human being. But perhaps, when I am weakest – willing to shut my own mouth – God admonishes and encourages His people through me. Praise the Lord!

P.S. If your own marriage is struggling due to the offense of a spouse, there is hope. There is tomorrow, there is grace and a future and a hope. If you need help, please consider this resource: A Woman’s Healing Journey.