Monthly Archives: February 2013

Lying Down . . .


I’m not a huge fan of the Academy Awards, not because I have anything against honoring quality art via the silver screen but mostly because of the seemingly endless parade of the self-impressed. Couple this with the fact that I haven’t seen ninety-nine percent of the movies up for awards, and well, let’s just say my interest peeks with the red carpet and its dazzling display of gowns.

I am, however, a fan of good words spoken at the right time. Certainly, movies are filled with many such moments, but when those moments happen off stage (when the actor removes the mask and throws the script to the sidelines in favor of real-life drama), I’m duly impressed by the dialogue. Such was the case with Daniel Day-Lewis following his 3rd Oscar win for his portrayal of Abraham Lincoln. Backstage after his win, Daniel was asked regarding his plans for the future, about what character he might like to play next. His response immediately gripped my heart:

“I need to lie down for a couple of years. It’s really hard to imagine doing anything after this.” (see source)

He’s going to lie down. Take a lengthy sabbatical with his family on his fifty acre farm south of Dublin, Ireland. Work on other things, like perfecting his cobbling (shoe-making) abilities or learning the rural skill of stonemasonry. Just “happily working away at other things.” (see source) Daniel Day-Lewis is going to lie down for a season, away from the stage and the bright lights of the big city.

What a wise choice.

I am challenged to follow his lead. Bright lights and big stages serve their purposes, but once the curtain goes down and the camera crew heads home, it’s time for a breather. Time to fuel up, rest up alongside the still waters where the only stage beneath my feet is carpeted with green pastures and the only light framing my steps radiates from the candle of the Shepherd.

My lengthy sabbatical with God to happily work away at other things.

Those things? Well, I don’t imagine it’s important to discuss them here. What is important is knowing that those things exist and that only by my lying down for a season will I be able to most happily, most agreeably engage with them. The good that grows in the pasture is not easily grown on the stage. Bright lights and big audiences—too much shine and too much recognition—dim the eyes and dull the senses, kind of like a blundering sheep in need of a wise Shepherd.

Life is changing for me . . . again. I must travel with the shifting wind, not against it. To fight my lying down is to relinquish the merry pleasures of rest. To linger on the stage after the curtain is drawn and the audience has departed is to stand alone and to feel lonely. But to leave with them? To trade in the stage for God’s greener pastures where dialogue is limited to just the Shepherd and me? Well I don’t suppose I’ve ever felt more enveloped in the fellowship of the Beloved.

I need to lie down for a while, friends. This doesn’t mean I won’t be here from time to time. Every sheep needs a flock, and you are mine. I simply need to give myself permission to happily work away at other things.

Soul things. Intimate things. God things.

Lying beside the still waters and on a blanket of green.

The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.

When Suffering Counts for the Kingdom

It’s been a long time since I’ve raised a toast to my cancer season and uttered the words, “Bless you, Cancer.” I’m glad I haven’t forgotten how to do so. There’s been a lengthy span of less thankfulness and more confusion in recent days. Not so this past weekend. On Sunday, I was able to whisper my blessing while sitting in the chapel at Rogers & Breece Funeral Home.

Vic passed away. He was my cancer buddy, sitting next to me during my first round of chemotherapy and many times following. He, too, was a warrior, fighting valiantly to lengthen his earthly tenure. God knew I needed him that first day; God also knew that he would need me in the days to come. Not just me, but my husband as well – the preacher man and friend who also attended Vic’s funeral but who would find his place behind the pulpit, not beside me in a pew. Billy was the chosen man to eulogize the life and witness of our friend, Vic, a role he never expected to play yet one he graciously accepted.

If cancer had never been my portion, then I am not certain who would have been chosen to tenderly and kindly lead Vic’s family and friends along this tremendous road of grief. Without our cancer connection, I don’t know who would have taken the time to pray with Vic . . . who would have made for him the connection between the earthly and the eternal. Sure, God can do it all on his own, but because of his tender mercy and loving trust, he willingly allows us the opportunity of kingdom influence. I feel so honored to be trusted with so much; I know my husband feels the same. And here is what I want you to know:

God is still in the business of making your suffering season count. Some days it feels rather weighty, this carrying of past or maybe current grief. Sometimes it feels forgotten, influence hidden away in the crevices of lessons learned in history. Sometimes in our movement away from personal pain our hearts can grow bitter about it all, wondering about the reasons we were allowed its portion in the first place. But every now and again, suffering makes sense. Suffering has a reason. Suffering (on the backside) feels suited to our flesh, and we are able to bless it rather than curse it.

I am grateful for those times when I understand and fully realize that the pain I’ve endured is a pain that has extended the borders of God’s kingdom. That the stretch of my flesh has also stretched his to reach long and wide and high and deep and wrap up in love the lost sheep of his earthly pasture. That when I reach outward to others through my pain, God reaches downward to others through his love, and therein the sky splits revealing the bright light of heaven that guides us safely home.

Maybe today you’re wondering if your pain matters . . . if, in fact, there is an eternal component to it all. That if somewhere down the road or somewhere right around the corner it might matter for more than just the personal perspective it’s wrought in you. That maybe God won’t leave it as part of your history but, instead, reveal it as part of his kingdom ministry. If that is where you’re at today, then here is what I want you to know:

God is still in the business of making your suffering season count. Nothing is wasted in the economy of God. He’ll keep using your pain, friend, because he understands the road of suffering and the great price you’ve paid to walk it through faithfully. He now intends to bless it most fruitfully—to sow and grow something in others with the seeds of your surrender. You may not see it now, but you can trust that God has seen it all.

And every now and again, you’ll catch a glimpse of the glory. Hang on for the glimpses. As they arrive, your heart will be strengthened for the steps ahead. As always . . .

Peace for the journey,

Unparalleled Obedience

I’ve been reading Lynn Austin’s book series, Chronicles of the King. The first few books in this fictional series bring color and depth to the life of a real king—Hezekiah—who reigned over Judah from 716/15 – 687/86 B.C. Because of my love for “period pieces” and out of my love for the Bible, Ms. Austin’s books are a good fit for my heart, even though artistic licensing is at work. A little imagination from her pen spurs mine along, fostering my thinking about God, his people, and their constant struggle to understand him, honor him, and, ultimately, to obey him. It seems to me the Israelites were always stepping just outside the parameters of who God intended for them to be. No wonder my fascination; I see my story written in theirs.

Now, take these books, stand them alongside my journey with the 7th year and, then, prop them both up beside the current ministry road I’m traveling with my family. In doing so, one theme emerges for me. One phrase. One challenge. One certain and strong whisper from the Father’s heart into mine.

Unparalleled obedience.

This is what God expects of me in this season; not that he hasn’t expected it from me in my earlier seasons or that all of life shouldn’t be met with supreme allegiance to the King. But now, right now, is the time when I see this most clearly, feel this most deeply, and understand this most fully.

Now is the time to walk the hard road of unparalleled obedience. Now is NOT the time to monkey around with my faith or play Russian roulette with God’s grace. Now is NOT the time to chase fires (remember that story?); now is the time to stay on the path with no straying. There’s too much on the line, and God is closely watching my steps.

Accordingly, I must guard my heart so that God can most clearly guide my steps. Unparalleled obedience requires intentional focus—a willing yielding to what God says even when what God says feels restricting. A little restriction . . . a little “uncomfortable and inconvenient” is small surrender in comparison to what God wants to offer in exchange—his favor. His direction. His voice. God has a plan, and I don’t want to miss it because of my unwillingness to apply my heart, mind, and soul toward obedience.

So what does this look like for me? How will I go about guarding my heart and mind in Christ Jesus? Here’s my fix (simple in scope; harder in sequence):

Fix my heart on God’s heart.

Fix my mind on God’s Word.

Fix my soul on God’s forever.

However he loves, whatever he says, and wherever he lives, this is where I must reside if I want to walk in unparalleled obedience to my King. When the heart wanders, the mind strays, and the soul lingers within worldly boundaries not tempered by eternal realities, the only allegiance given is to the cravings of the flesh that will never finish me “holy” but, instead, wholly hamper me.

I don’t imagine I’ve ever been more seriously inclined toward godly obedience. I do imagine God thinking it’s about time.

How about you? Is God calling you to an unparalleled obedience in this season—a time of walking the straight line of faith? No chasing a distant fire but, instead, staying firmly on the God-ordained path in front of you and making sure that any misstep is quickly confessed and corrected so that you don’t forgo the next glory God has in store for you?

I do believe that an unparalleled obedience to God and his rule is a requirement for a growing faith. I also believe that we sometimes don’t take it as seriously as we should. Casual obedience fosters casual faith—a sloppy belief system that cripples us instead of equipping us. Too much of that kind of monkeying around and we’ll find ourselves outside of Canaan and on the road toward captivity.

I don’t know about you, but I want to live free. Funny thing . . . to live there, I must live an unparalleled obedience to the King, chained to his heart, his Word, and his forever. However he loves. Whatever he says. Wherever he lives. Here is where I will wait. The next move belongs to God, and my eyes are fixed in anticipation of his glorious revelation. Greater still, my will is ready to obey.

Indeed, I think it’s about time. As always . . .

Peace for the journey,

PS: For a free, Kindle download of the first book in Lynn Austins’ series, Gods and Kings, click here!

Five Years of Peace

Five years ago, I started this blog.

  • Five years.
  • Half a decade.
  • 1826 days.
  • One-ninth of my life.
  • 555 posts.

Who knew it could be done? I certainly didn’t . . . not back then. Back then, I was just a little girl dreaming about collected words—thoughts yet unreleased in the previous eight-ninths of my life. Back then, I didn’t know a thing about blogging; I just dove in one day, swimming in the thought of it all, and here I am, five years later still paddling my arms and drifting with the current wherever it carries me.

I never thought it would last this long. Never. Honestly, I never had a plan. I’ve just kept at it, one word at a time. Looking back, I’ve crammed a lot of life into these past five years and chronicled it accordingly. A recorded history of messy faith wrestled out in front of an audience.

Interesting then, that I should I come across a passage of scripture this week, undetected by me in the entirety of the nine-ninths known as my journey on planet earth.

“Here are the stages in the journey of the Israelites when they came out of Egypt by divisions under the leadership of Moses and Aaron. At the Lord’s command Moses recorded the stages of their journey. This is their journey in stages:” (Numbers 33:1-3, NIV)

A journey in stages. Forty years. Forty stops along the way. Chronicled at the command of the Lord. A recorded history of messy faith wrestled out in front of an audience—us.

Why? Because maybe, somewhere in the Israelites’ stages—those “starting places” according to the New American Standard Version of the Bible—we find ourselves, and we collect God’s strength for the journey ahead.

Our path to Canaan is not unlike the one the Israelites traveled. There are many stages along the way. Pauses that shape us; pauses that launch us. Starting places, not ending ones. No, never ending ones, not yet. The Lord hasn’t set us on this course to finish us here. Our finish comes later—in a stage just beyond this one. Until then, we mark our course, and we leave a trail of faith so that those who step behind us won’t have to wonder where we’re headed.

I suppose that’s the sum total of what’s been done over these past five years—this one-ninth of my recorded history. Stages and starting points of a messy, unglamorous faith. In it all, I hope that I’ve written more truth than fiction, more faith than doubt. Most importantly, I pray that these posts serve as sign-posts–not so much in regards to where I’ve been, but even more so to where I’m heading.

Thank you for walking alongside me, readers, and for allowing me to join you in your journeys of faith these past five years. It’s been a beautiful stage of grace, a starting point for many deep, enduring friendships. It’s hard for me to imagine another five years’ worth of words at this cyber address, so I won’t go there . . . won’t plan a moment of it. Instead, I’ll walk on in faith and with gratefulness for every seed of grace that’s grown in this place.

This is my journey in stages.

I walk it with Peace.

error: Content is protected !!