Thursday, April 25, 2013

Newness of Life

This morning I received jubilant news that a dear friend had become a grandparent for the first time.  The announcement came complete with photos that clearly depicted a worn out mommy & daddy, and a newly minted baby boy.  All the necessary data followed ~ weight, length & a report on the good health of mommy & child. 

My mind wandered.

Even after a span of nearly 44 years, I cannot forget the unique wonders of giving birth for the first time.  Surely a bit of nostalgia tinges my thoughts, but mostly it's gratitude & awe that hold those memories captive.  The hustle of nurses, bright lights & the albino aspects of a delivery room; antiseptic aroma.   Light-hearted chatter; and even laughter. 

Once again I stare at his wee face, tiny fingers & dimpled knees.  I run my fingers over the the crown of dark curls on his head.  I am startled by the perfection of his little lips.  I breath deeply of his newborn scent ~ an incomparable elixir found nowhere on earth except, perhaps, a crushed rose petal. 

A rush of love floods my soul.  It still does. 

My first thoughts at seeing him are in tact also; etched upon my heart for eternity:  "Ahhhhh.  At last I now know how much my mother loved me." And "Where & how did I tuck this little man inside me?"

Newborns.  They tell us as much about God as anything or anyone.




(My mother surveying the newborn Bradley;
and no doubt re-living the grandeur of
her own maternal love.)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Pachydermitis



"Be strong and courageous.
Do not be frightened,
and do not be dismayed,
for the LORD your God is
with you wherever you go.” 
 ~ Joshua 1:9
 

From the time they're smallish ~ a mere 250 pounds at birth ~  elephants are trained to stay put with a tether & a stake.  As they mature to well over 6 tons (aka 12,000 pounds) they come to believe they are powerless to get away.  Which is why a full grown pachyderm will remain in place with only a tether to hold it ~ oblivious to their own power; a power that could free them.  They've been conditioned to believe a lie.
 
Interesting thought to ponder, isn't it?  I'm not sure why it's come to mind today, but it's certainly given me pause:  What might a tether of the human sort be?  What (known, or even unknown) thing might keep anyone constrained or confined; unplugged from the Power Source so ready accessible?  
  • Haunting words from childhood?
  • A difficult relationship?
  • A besetting sin, like pride?
  • Fearfulness or worry?
  • A wound of the heart?
  • Failure?
  • Betrayal?

With thoughts the size of elephants, I'm destined to ponder this one a long while. 


... God who equipped me with strength and
made my way blameless.
He made my feet like the feet of a deer 
and set me secure on the heights.
He trains my hands for war,
so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
~ Psalm 18:32-34
 
... whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God;
whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength
that God supplies—in order that in everything
God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.
To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. 
~ 1 Peter 4:11
 
For sin will have no dominion over you,
since you are not under law but under grace. 
~ Romans 6:14
 
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength
of His might. Put on the whole armor of God,
that you may be able to stand against
the schemes (tethers) of the devil.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood,
but against the rulers, against the authorities,
against the cosmic powers over this present darkness,
against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Therefore take up the whole armor of God,
that you may be able to withstand in the evil day,
and having done all, to stand firm.
Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth,
and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
and, as shoes for your feet,
having put on the readiness given by
the gospel of peace.
In all circumstances take up the shield of faith,
with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts
of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation,
and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,
praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer
and supplication. To that end keep alert
with all perseverance,
making supplication for all the saints. 
~ Ephesians 6:10-18

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Legacies

"Listen here, little lady, who do you think you're talking to?"

It wasn't really a question. 

Long before I understood the meaning of rhetorical, she used object-lessons to make its meaning abundantly clear.  The gig was up and, in essence, I'd been busted. 

It was never good to be a little lady. 

Even now the very thought of my mother makes me smile.

At times I thought her to be old-fashioned ~ a fuddy-duddy.  Worse, I thought she was a clean freak & far too churchy.  The word chore in her vocabulary meant chain gang labor in mine.  I have always been suspicious about who actually taught those 7 Dwarfs their "Hi-Ho" song!

Mostly I adored her, but I honestly used to tell her:  "When I grow up, I'm not going to make my children ________." (fill in the blank with whatever required work or discipline).  She just grinned.


This is probably as good a place as any to say that I DID grow up (or that I'm still in the process), and I DID make my children do those same things.   Like mother, I often found myself on the receiving end of little lady or little dude protests; and often I wore her hand-me-down grin.

Many years & many lessons have passed since anyone gave me a little lady summons.  Those things that tormented my childish sensibilities notions long ago are treasures to me today.  Most of them are captured in terms like work ethic, integrity, character, order, trustworthiness.

This little lady is so glad for a mother (and father) who never compromised the important things.



Monday, April 1, 2013

Easter & the Atheist

Of all things to encounter during a celebration of the Resurrection, I found myself sitting adjacent to an atheist ~ the family's very own ~ & a beloved of my heart.

More often than not, discussions with said atheist are warm & cordial.  Topics concerning our differing worldviews are rarely selected when a choice can be had.  Yet sometimes they cannot be avoided.  They crop up or, as in the case of Easter, they rise up.   

Not all atheists are equal opportunity cynics where Jesus Christ is concerned.  Mine is typically gentle, smart, good-humored and ~ on many levels ~ a very noble sort.  Love & respect flows in both directions between us, so I can honestly say I've learned a great deal in our many & associated dialogues.   

Yet there are times when I am clearly on the receiving end of a smackdown in an attempt to silence, once & for all, the truth claims of Christianity.  Being a smackdown-enabled person myself, I am  never always rarely sometimes tempted to respond in kind.  With age I have concluded it to be a folly too egregious to entertain.  Remaining on the high ground takes far greater resolve and, I dare say, a far greater degree of love.  I'm not always up to the task, so my tongue bears witness to the myriad times it's been silenced with the biting of it. 

I know my atheist (notice the possessive & affectionate use of my) claims victory in yesterday's worldview scrimmage.  The reason I say that is because I recognize the tell-tale signs of smugness (probably because I've done my own share of gloating over the course of my life). 

Goats gloat.  

Today I must wonder what was actually won and what was actually lost in yesterday's exchange?   What was it I wanted from that discussion anyway?  To be right?  Or for that beloved of mine to know the great love & power of God for themselves?    

Perhaps, in ways I don't understand, the risen Lord was/is advancing His Kingdom, using some very (seemingly) dumb sheep in so doing.

Courage, you that prayerfully work and toil
for Christ with success of the very smallest kind,
it shall not be so always; better times are before you.
Your eyes cannot see the blissful future:
borrow the telescope of faith;
wipe the misty breath of your doubts
from the glass; look through it and
behold the coming glory."
~ Charles Spurgeon
  

      


I have often repented speaking, but never
of holding my tongue.
Xenocrates

Before the tongue can speak, it must have
lost the power to wound.
Peace Pilgrim


But even if you should suffer for what is right,
you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats;
do not be frightened.”
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.
Always be prepared to give an answer to
everyone who asks you to give the reason
for the hope that you have.
But do this with gentleness and respect,
keeping a clear conscience, so that those
who speak maliciously against your good behavior
in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
1 Peter 3:14-17