The big choice

It’s been a hard week. The death of a dear young person close by, along with a poorly handled health crisis of a son-in-law, so far away in.Switzerland, who had a second, more aggressive surgery today that shouldn’t have been necessary, the shootings and reactive killings across our country, and terrorism throughout the world have roiled over me. I’ve spent a lot of my nights praying, and a somber cloud has shadowed my days.

It’s not a lack of faith. I know who is in charge, the Alpha and Omega. I know how the story ends. I know evil will not ultimately triumph.

Not even death.

But as I drifted off to sleep last night I realized I don’t want just a glimpse of peace.

I want peace in huge gulps, big armloads, total immersion.

I wondered, have I been so focused on the aches and pains of others–I really do care and often feel led to intercede—that it’s all I see, the dark side of life?

Does this view diminish the colors of everything else?

Maybe it is a daily question, which starts with The Big Choice, then must be chosen afresh every morning.

Maggie Valley

Do I choose life?

Or will I follow the pain? Dwell in the grief? In the gray place? Look no further than this side of the glass darkly?

Some of you are natural optimists (how often I’d like to trade places!). If you are still reading, you may be wondering what the issue is. Make the choice and get on with it, you say.

But I wonder if sometimes you roll right past the hurt and needs of those around you. (There is a reason the world is populated with both types of people. We need visionaries and optimists who will launch projects and lead the way. But we also need those who can’t help feeling trauma, confusion or fear in another person and want to make a difference, either directly, or by lifting that person to the One who Heals.)

I circle back, content with who I am — my place in the world.

And, once again, I choose life.

Even when there is pain I will look for the colors.

I’ll be more intentional about enjoying the flowers, the sunsets, a bird’s wing, laughter, the voice of a little girl with every reason to cry, singing, “Amazing Grace.”

red flowers driftwood on Dry TortugasCelery Fields, Sarasota, FLstar white flowerSarasota Sunset

It’s all right here for the choosing.

“We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.” I Cor 13:12,13

Sometimes the weight is too heavy

In the last couple of weeks the load of illness, suffering and evil in lives of those I care about became too heavy. With so much cruelty, sexual and physical abuse, alienation, infertility, and death damaging even families working to live God’s way, I despaired. Caring deeply about others, feeling intense compassion and extended intercession sounds very spiritual, and it usually is. But, like any good thing, it can have a downside. At the end of a long day, dead tired, I wondered, why do we keep trying?

Then I opened my Bible.

My sheep recognize my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them real and eternal life. They are protected from the Destroyer for good. No one can steal them from out of my hand. The Father who put them under my care is so much greater than the Destroyer and Thief.

John 10:27-29 THE MESSAGE

It helps to recall that we have an enemy who works hard to destroy us. But evil cannot win.

I love how God drops bits of comfort just when I need it.
A signpost when I’m floundering.
Encouragement when I’m too far down to pick myself up.

Quito, Ecuador
morning light in Quito, Ecuador

In the morning, I received an email with a portion of Ephesians 6:10-16,.

In THE MESSAGE it is titled, A Fight to the Finish.

God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.
Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life.

We often straddle two worlds, this tangible, visible one, and the as yet unseen eternal world, where a very real battle rages on.

Jane and Jack in different hemispheres, at the ecuator
Jane and Jack in different hemispheres, at the ecuator

I need to remember that this life will not be easy, the outcome often will not be what we hoped for, the cure will not always come and little ones are not always protected.

But we are still in God’s hands.

Those are the hands to which I run for comfort.
For release.

I lay my burdens down, again, and throw myself into the only arms that can hold me securely, the only hands strong enough for my prayers.

Then my tears turn to praise. I lift my eyes and blink them clear. My soul fills with light.

first light
first light

from darkness to light
from darkness to light

light again
light again

It really is good to dwell in the house of the Lord.
Here on earth, that is wherever we praise him.
However we turn to thanksgiving.
Whenever we let go of what we want or need, and smile at the abundance we already have.

I’m sure now I’ll see God’s goodness
in the exuberant earth.
Stay with God!
Take heart. Don’t quit.
I’ll say it again:
Stay with God.

Psalm 27:13-14 THE MESSAGE

Now, I return to prayer again, but this time remembering to stand on the rock, to pray in his power,

and I pray this prayer for you, my friend.

My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
Eph 3:14-19 THE MESSAGE