Archive | April 2016

Stubborn Dirt

 

file000785016957 - Colored InkWho can tilt the water jars of heaven when the parched ground is dry
    and the soil has hardened into clods?” Job 38:37b-38 NLT

You may be wondering about the title. Why post about dirt? One could go in several directions. You pick yours, and I’ll share one from my memory bank.

Many years ago, having two little boys and trying to keep them clean could be likened to the arduous task of picking up droplets of mercury. One morning before church, after I had gotten them ready and was putting finishing touches on myself, it was all too quiet. Instinct said they were up to something. That “something” turned out to be magic markers; it appeared that each child had used his sibling’s face as a drawing surface. And because it was church day, naturally they chose dark colors for drawing. As you know, there is nothing “magic” about the color disappearing. I scrubbed and scrubbed, stopping short of rubbing off skin, and they still went to church looking like I had beaten them. Fortunately no one called Child Protective Services.

But there is another dirty story, and this dirt was very stubborn, too. After we had an old sidewalk removed and a new sidewalk put in, there remained a little dirt area that needed some sprucing up for “curb appeal.” I purchased some perennials, added some river rocks at the edges, and then I took a shovel to the dirt in the middle of this space. What was I thinking? This dirt had been packed under the sidewalk for decades. It did not budge a millimeter no matter how hard I tried. When I applied the shovel to the surface it resounded like I was banging on stone! I figured I would need a jackhammer to move it. (Anyone have one I can borrow?)

Digging spiritually, do we have dirt? Do you agree we do? We have not only outside dirt, but also inside dirt which needs frequent removal. We keep dirty little secrets, share private dirt others dish out, and the list goes on. If that is not dirty enough, we have an enemy who loves to grind our faces in the ground every chance he gets, especially after shattering loss. After my son died by suicide, everything seemed dark in my life. When my spirits were at their lowest is when I felt the devil’s boot pressing my face into the dirt.

When this happens, I turn my thoughts toward heaven and ask, “Lord, where are you when life’s dirt is more than I can bear? Are you still fighting for me? Are you taking a mighty swing at the enemy, knocking him flat? Please kick him to the curb, and surround me with your holy warring angels, who stand shoulder to shoulder, so that he cannot get back in. I need protection from his heavy boot and flying arrows.”

“We have been pushed down into the dirt. We are lying face down in the dust” (Psalm 44:25 ERV).

But wait . . . there is Good News! Although we live on a planet overrun by sin, Satan does not have the last word. He would like you and me to give him room to work in our minds and hearts and then sign on the dotted line to be comrades forever. Fortunately, we do have a choice.

Jesus also desires that we give Him permission to work in our minds and hearts. He doesn’t force our allegiance, but opens wide His arms, drawing us close with His nail-scarred hands. He demonstrated His love at Calvary by paying the ultimate price to set us free. If He has our permission, He will take care of our sins, one by one. He will also permanently eradicate the world’s sin infestation very soon. We can be certain because of the promise given to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden after they sinned so long ago.

“And I will make you and the woman hate each other, and your seed and her seed will hate each other. He will crush your head, and you will crush his heel” (Genesis 3:15 NLV).

Satan will finally get his due. At last his head will be under God’s heavy boot, and thankfully, it will be an injury from which he won’t recover. Praise God!

Verses shared: Easy-to-Read Version (ERV), New Living Translation (NLT), New Life Version (NLV)

 

This entry was posted on April 22, 2016. 2 Comments

Soakin’ Up the Love

lil orphan

Li’l orphan

“Not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.” Matthew 10:29 NLT

I first spotted him stalking a critter of some kind in our yard. I don’t usually see kittens among the plethora of adult cats who roam the fields and farmlands around our home. A tiny kitten looked totally out of place, and touched this Mommy’s heart. Obviously we didn’t need another cat added to our menagerie of three, but I could set out food and fresh water for him (or her ~ I can’t easily tell). A few meals might put some meat on his bones and help prepare him for his first, inevitably cold winter.

He ran away the first time I ventured outside and into his line of vision. I called. He stopped to listen. Eventually he got brave enough to come and eat a bit of food I set out in a bowl for him. Starvation must have made him braver than he would normally be. As soon as he felt safe enough to inch closer, I picked him up and immediately noticed he had been cared for long enough to have his front paws declawed. How unkind of someone to abandon him to fend for himself after weakening his chances for survival in the wild.

Over the weeks leading up to cold weather, we became friends. He “talked” when I approached and loved to be picked up and stroked, giving me a concert of soft purring. He’s all black except for a couple of small dots of white on his belly. Rudy, what I’ve named him, bears a striking resemblance to a large, black and white tomcat that prowls our end of the neighborhood. Tuxedo, what I’ve dubbed him, is likely the father of this kitten but obviously not interested in his welfare. The world will be an unfriendly place for one so small and unable to defend himself like all the other feral felines. “Take care of him, Lord,” I prayed. I know He cares for sparrows, so He must care for cats among His other creatures.

When I think of how the Creator takes care of His little, furry creatures, I’m reminded that He cares so much more for His children. We are invaluable and dearly loved, you and I, and those of us who grieve must be hugged especially tightly to His breast day and night.

You may be at a place in your grief journey where you feel neither loved nor protected by God. Your anger may burn red hot toward Him. After all, He could have prevented your child’s untimely death, could He not? *Each one of us is entitled to our opinions. In my case, I blamed. I raged. I turned away from God. He finally got my attention when the fog lifted in my head. Slowly, softly, tenderly, He has shown me how much He loves. He loves and adores me and my children, including the one who died by suicide. He feels the same toward you . . . and your children.

My li’l orphan kitten seeks comfort on my lap. Mostly he wants to stand up with his front paws on my chest as he tries to “nurse” a ripple of fabric on my shirt. Poor baby. I suspect he was not ready to leave his mommy’s warmth. As much as he desires food and water, he desires love so much more. Despite the curious stares of my suddenly territorial cats through the window panes, I give Rudy the love he so desperately craves. Now that he knows the comfort humans can give, he wants more.

Just like li’l orphan, Rudy, I desperately crave love and comfort, too. Yes, it’s been years since tragedy flattened me. And yes, it took a while before I could face the world again, but God never tired of providing His loving comfort when I needed it. And oh, how I still need it! Sometimes I follow His huge footsteps or walk beside Him, hand in hand. Sometimes I prefer to be curled up in His lap where I feel warm and secure, soakin’ up His love.

“Indeed the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not be afraid; you are far more valuable than many sparrows.”  Luke 12:7 AMP

*I imagine if you are like me, you have combed literature for answers to the hard questions like this one: “God, why didn’t You prevent the death of my child?” I have spent much time asking God to help me understand my son’s death; in fact, to make sense out of the senseless, when apparently, it is impossible to do so. Rather than give me a direct answer, He has broadened the scope of my view of this world in light of eternity, which has finally given me peace. I invite you to keep asking your higher power the hard questions, and please don’t stop until you feel a sense of peace. I know that God will answer all my questions once I get to heaven; however, when I see my son again, I doubt I will remember what I wanted to ask Him.

Scriptures taken from the New Living Translation (NLT) and the Amplified Bible (AMP)