Craziness in an upside down world?

The world’s a mess. We may argue on the why and who, but no one is pleased with our state of affairs. Some ask how a good God can allow young children to be trafficked? Flooding muddy waters wash away villages full of people in Peru? Radiation from Japan not only wreak havoc there, but spread across the Pacific Ocean? Terrorists haunt major cities, even whole countries. Why the innocent suffer and the selfish and entitled seem to get more power, more wealth?

Warn and loved version

After I got my driver’s license, my Mom read to me from My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers while I drove to school. When I moved into the dorm at the U of Houston she gave me my own copy. Through the years she sent new ones as I wore them out. Right now, my OM and I read from the last one she gave us, even though he has to hold it together to read.

What’s the draw for me with Oswald Chambers’ writing?

Wisdom so deep you never see the bottom.
So fresh you gasp.
So right you don’t argue, even if it flips you or turns you in your tracks.

Here’s an excerpt from a devo on prayer by Oswald (as he’s affectionately known by those who love his writing) on YouVersion.

Prayer alters a man on the inside, alters his mind and his attitude to things. The point of praying is not that we get things from God, but that we learn by prayer to detect the difference between God’s order and God’s permissive will. God’s order is—no pain, no sickness, no devil, no war, no sin; His permissive will is all these things. What a man needs to do is to get hold of God’s order in the kingdom on the inside, and then he will begin to see how to handle the riddle of the universe on the outside.

God has so constituted things that prayer on the basis of redemption alters the way a man looks at things.

Reflection Question: What might happen if I spent more time allowing God to change me and less time trying to change my circumstances?

    Quotations taken from Still Higher for His Highest and Our Brilliant Heritage, © Discovery House Publishers

I don’t begin to understand the permissive will of God.

The only part I can grasp is, I’m still alive because of it. He didn’t wipe me off the face of the earth the first time I did something not worthy of life.

That’s permissive will.

But there is no peace in that, alone. I’d always be wondering when I’d cross the line, when he’d say, “Enough!” and snuff me out.

Through Jesus, the way God reveals himself completely to the world, I intersect with God’s order, the kind prophesied in Revelations, where there is no more death and no more tears. No more cruelty, abuse, or broken people. No more sickness of mind or body, or spirit.

He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and be their God, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” Rev 21:4 NASB

Because of his death and resurrection, I get a taste of God’s order now, and a promise of it forever.

Until I graduate and join my sweet mama in heaven, I straddle life on one side in a world run amok, in God’s permissive will, and on the other side the inner peace His presence brings, internal order, the all-is-well and all will be well of His spirit.

There is plenty I care about, much that I’m concerned about, people I ache for. But when I pray I’m not giving God a to-do list, or explaining how important something is and how, or why, he should act.

I am opening my mind to the Creator, to the power of his spirit to untangle my mind and smooth my peace.

Then I know how to pray for the sick and the hurting, how to react to ugliness and brokenness, how to take the next step.

How to live is an upside down world.

And you?

Empty tomb and empty nets

So the stone is rolled away. The tomb is vacant. But my nets are empty. I have been struck with these scenes, after the long dark night was supposed to be over, snippets I glimpse at times in my life. The huge stone is not a problem. But the empty tomb is so dark. How many times do I sit in the gloom rather than run to the blinding light?

stone in Maui by Jack H Thompson, Jr

How many times have I heard the voice outside my tomb — outside my pain, my regret, my yearning for what has never come true, dreams crushed or fading – and didn’t recognize the Voice of everything I really need.

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How often have I walked through life, intense and searching, not knowing my Companion has all the answers?

So many times I’ve gone on my way—the boot-strap thing.

Thrown my nets back into the waters of my comfort, only to come up empty.

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Who is that calling to me across the waters?

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Across the waves I sometimes struggle to keep my head above?

A voice so familiar. Yet, I’m never really sure.

Until I am close.
Until I see the hands.
Until I see the provision.

And hear the words of forgiveness.

Then, I can begin, again.

This side of the tomb.

Breathe deep.

Spirit deep into all the cracks, into the open wounds and into the scars, into the soft vulnerable places and into the hard, walled-off places.

Until the Wind dries my cheeks and the nail-scarred Hand lifts my chin.

And I can finally look into the Light.

 

It is enough

My bones are healing. However, every time I move, the soft tissue protests, reminding me it suffered greatly during the surgery to bolt my broken bones back together. I’m told it will be a while before I can sit or bend in comfort. Yet I have much to celebrate.D7T_3918

This week I went into town and had my hair cut, then out to lunch with my daughter. Except for sitting, I felt almost like my old self. In my last session at home with my physical therapist, he passed me to drive. Yesterday I drove to the store, then later to church, another milestone in this slow journey to normal.

Whatever normal is.

God, it appears, is giving me a new normal.

It began with complete helplessness, extreme pain and dependence on others for every need.

For several months unable to join in corporate worship or group Bible studies, I’ve had to draw near to the Lord in the quiet of my home, in the pain of my bed, in the shaking of my legs as I stand.

Every time I have to ask for help, I am crying inside, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!”

I’d have thought by now he would have turned and touched my hip. Taken the pain away. Launched me back to productivity.

But he has chosen to lead me on the slow path of up two, back one.

A slow dance of trust.

Three times I called upon the Lord and besought [Him] about this and begged that it might depart from me; But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me! So for the sake of Christ, I am well pleased and take pleasure in infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities and distresses; for when I am weak [in human strength], then am I [truly] strong (able, powerful in divine strength).

2 Corinthians 12: 8-10 AMP

And while new bone grows strong, a strength emerges in my spirit.

Not mine.

His strength.

His life.

This is how we know we’re living steadily and deeply in him, and he in us: He’s given us life from his life, from his very own Spirit.

John 3:13 MSG 

So I wait.

And as I press on with physical therapy, and plan in smaller increments for my future, I am acutely aware that my body does not contain my life.

Eternity holds me.

And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.

Nehemiah 8:10b ESV 

The revelation of God is whole
and pulls our lives together.
The signposts of God are clear
and point out the right road.

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Blue Ridge Mtns, NC
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Blue Ridge Parkway, NC

The life-maps of God are right,
showing the way to joy.
The directions of God are plain
and easy on the eyes.

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Smokey Mountains, North Carolina

 

God’s Word is better than a diamond,
better than a diamond set between emeralds.
You’ll like it better than strawberries in spring,
better than red, ripe strawberries.

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Roseate Spoonbills, Celery Fields, Sarasota, FL

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Clean the slate, God, so we can start the day fresh!
Keep me from stupid sins,
from thinking I can take over your work;
Then I can start this day sun-washed,
scrubbed clean of the grime of sin.

Ps 19:11-12 MSG

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Morning in Fernandina, Galapagos

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Sandhill crane pair in the morning, Celery Fields

It is enough that I take life from his hand. However and wherever the path may lead. Taking time for eternity is peace.

There is no greater peace.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ow4OfW4DP9s