Tuesday, April 28, 2015

In the Silence

There are moments in life that take your breath away. Moments when all you hear is the pounding of your heart, the drawing of your breath. In those moments there are no words to speak, no way to communicate the aching of your soul. You search for answers. You look for words of comfort. You seek explanations and solutions, but sometimes there is just silence. Painfully loud, silence.

Most of us are not comfortable in the silence. We frantically seek to fill it. Words, motion, busyness. Surely there is something we can do. We wrestle to escape it. We struggle to dissolve it. Somehow we must break it. We cannot stand the silence.

But it is in the silence that we begin to hear the whisper. We hear the voice that holds our hope for tomorrow. We hear the only sound in the whole wide world that can truly comfort our soul. We become acutely aware of the one that truly knows the depth of our pain. When we do not have the words, he "himself intercedes for us through wordless groans." (Romans 8:26).  We hear the one "who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." (2 Corinthians 1:4).  We find relief in one who promises, "Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning." (Psalm 30:5)In the silence we find God. Waiting. We have busily rushed past him the the noisiness of daily life. We did not notice him quietly waiting to be with us. Watching us. Loving us. Wishing he could talk with us. Yet there he is, in the silence. Whispering, ""Be still, and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10)

God is waiting....in the silence.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Bars on Windows

I drove past a beautiful home recently. The yard was neatly mowed and edged, the bushes crisply pruned. Flowers of many colors filled the beds and lined the walkway. The paint on the eaves was fresh and bright. By all accounts it was a lovely home. The owners obviously cared for it and kept it tidy. As I took a second look, I noticed another detail. Each of the sparkling clean windows were covered with intricate bars; bars designed to protect whatever was inside. The bars probably made the homeowners feel safe and secure at night knowing that they, and all their possessions, were protected from the outside world. To penetrate and reach them would be nearly impossible. What sweet rest they must get at night.

But then I began to think how those same bars create a prison. How do you get out in case of a fire? How do firefighters get in? If for some reason you need to evacuate your home, how do you flee when the doors and windows are covered with bars? And while the bars may protect from burglars and bad guys, they cannot protect from some of life's other intruders. They serve as no protection from tornado or flood. They do not protect from fire and smoke. They bring the illusion of protecting from fear, but it is only an illusion. In all reality there is still much danger.

I began to think about how we like to do that. We like to put up bars and build walls to protect our hearts. We like to believe that we can block out harm and trouble; to feel as though we have some power to keep ourselves from getting hurt. But each wall we build, each bar we put in place, is an illusion of protection. The walls and the bars do not keep danger out; they lock us in. They separate us from others. They isolate us. They prevent others from reaching us when the fires of life are raging. We think that they are keeping us from dangerous people who mean us harm, and maybe sometimes they do, but they also build prisons of loneliness. Places that others cannot reach us when our lives are burning around us. In the meantime, they do not protect us from the strong winds of trial or the flood waters of pain.

Do you have bars on your heart and walls around your life? The bars that keep others out may become the prison that keeps you in. Tear them down. Life is not safe, with or without the walls. There are some bad people and situations that may harm you. But prisons of loneliness keep you from being helped by the "firefighters" of life--the people who would love to reach out to you and love you. And God, who loves you even more, makes promises to encourage us to trust him and not our own protective devices.  John 16:33 says, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."  Your bars will not protect you from trouble, but there is peace that God take care of you through the troubles--he has overcome the world. Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope."  God has plans for you and they are for good, but you cannot enjoy all the beauty from behind high walls.

My prayer for you is that you do not let the illusion of safety become your prison. I pray you will take down the bars and tear down the walls. Life is beautiful beyond them.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Life Is Like a Cup of Coffee...

I rushed out the door, coffee in hand, trying to beat the traffic and make it to work. I don't know about you, but mornings in our house can be a little frantic. Papers to sign, breakfast to grab, last minute school needs, and a bad hair day can have my heart pounding by the time I reach my car. I drove carefully down the road, okay, let's be honest, I flew down the road glancing down at my coffee just as I approached the railroad tracks. Having spilled my coffee many times in this very situation I grabbed my cup to cushion the impact. Hand in the air, I went over the tracks. The coffee sloshed, it came dangerously close to spilling over, but being held in my hand diverted the disaster. Onward, ho!

As I continued my commute, the adrenalin from the morning settled and the lesson of the sloshing coffee began to occur to me. I realized that I am like that cup of coffee, bouncing through life in a vehicle that hits bumps, faces sharp turns, and sometimes comes to abrupt stops. With nothing to help absorb those shocks, I become a mess. Pain, worry, anger, and frustration, spill over and have the potential to damage the things around me. It is only when I place my life firmly in the hand of my Father that I am able to take the bumps.  Isaiah 64:8 says, "But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand."  I thought about the ceramic mug in my hand. It was made of clay. Formed by the hand of a potter and fired in a kiln to perfection. God formed me. I am the work of his hand. How appropriate that he would continue to hold me to absorb the impact of life's daily hazards. Being in his hand does not mean I don't hit obstacles, but it does mean I am protected from life spilling over out of control. I love the idea of my life being held high in his hand as he serves as a shock absorber for life's great ups and downs.

That may have been one of the best cups of coffee I have ever had.