Tag Archives: allegories

Missing the Bed

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I walked in the darkness back to my room. Usually we had a night light on but the bulb had burned out. I tried not to think too much so I could fall back asleep right away. I obviously succeeded at not thinking too much because, as I lay back down on my bed, my bed was not there! I fell through the air to the floor, crashing into my 3 year old’s box of toys as I landed. Hopefully no one heard that.

“Are you OK?” came from my sleepy husband. He had heard. I found where my bed actually was and assessed the situation. I had pulled a muscle pretty badly but otherwise, I was alright. As I pondered how that had happened, I realized that I had tried to lay down where our bed had been a few months before.

Have you ever done that? As I was thinking about how foolish I was, I realized that wasn’t the first time I had done something like that…you can “miss the bed” spiritually too.

Many years ago, I had a small credit card debt from buying a computer (it was about $1200). I didn’t have a big income and I expected it was going to be a long while before I paid it off. When Hurricane Katrina hit the southern coast hard, I made the decision to go down and help out with relief efforts. I quit my job, and wondered how I would pay off this debt. As I worked down there, God provided for me. I made sure that any money people gave to me to support me was not used to pay off my debt, and even still I paid it off far faster than I expected to when I had an income.

That experience made me believe that if I got into debt but was doing the things of God, that God would pay off my debts. I relied on what I thought I knew about God several years later while I was teaching at an impoverished inner city school. I used my credit card to buy things I needed for the classroom and my school children, and expected since they were for a good cause, that God would pay it off. Well, it took me a couple of years to repay this debt, and God did not do a miracle to help me settle it…it took some hard work from my new husband and myself to pay it back.

This is where I could just get mad at God for not coming through for me when I was doing work for him, but that would be a bit like getting mad at my bed for not being there when I tried to lay down on it. God does not change…the Bible tells me so. God’s promises do not change, like the size of my bed. It doesn’t change, it is always there. I can rely on it if I only know where it is! That is why it is ever so important to go back to the Word of God written in the Bible. When we go off-track in understanding God, it isn’t because he has changed, frequently it is because we forgot what the word really says about a matter. I trusted in God’s grace over his word. He says “Be in debt to no one” but I trusted on his grace to me at an earlier time as being a rule above his word.

But I was not relying on his promises, I was relying on his grace. Say that you have the rule in your house that your children can have television time once they make their beds. Your child fails to make his bed one day, but he had helped out around the house in other areas and has been a pretty good guy. You might say “That is okay, go ahead and watch your show on tv today.” That is grace. But if your child starts to believe that he no longer really needs to make his bed to be able to watch a show, it is likely you will find the need to remind him of the rule. He is relying on your grace rather than on the rule you have established.

Grace changes. If you try to lie down on the bed of grace where you did last time, you will crash to the floor. There are no rules for grace or it wouldn’t be grace, it would be a promise. The promises of God are trustworthy. Let us keep in God’s word so that we know where the bed is.

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Where the Birds Gather

Living on the reservation had been a very difficult thing for me.  Not only did my cultural behaviors clash with the culture I found myself in, but so did my personality of vivacity, playfulness and love of deep truthful talks with friends.

I worked where the “evils” of whites where constantly preached about and were talked down about, breaking down the already fragile bonds of friendship between those friends of different races.  (Not to say that we haven’t been people who have brought great atrocities on others—but there is a point where forgiveness is necessary and the love between peoples needs to be restored). After I began to notice my racist mindset toward my own people after being constantly indoctrinated with the negative talk—likely from the desire to remove myself from the hurtful words through disassociation from my culture—I realized I needed to get a healthier perspective again.  I left the reservation for the sake of sanity.

You may not have ever had to deal with not being accepted, but it is likely that most of you have to one degree or another.  And some of you have felt rejection for who you are all of your lives.  Some of you are just going through a season of feeling rejected.  Mine had been an intensely devastating season.

I was left wondering if it was wrong that I valued what I did, that I was how I was, if my culture was so wrong, and what was the right way to do things.  About half a year after returning home, my friends swept me away to a silent retreat where we were encourage to listen and talk with Jesus in an old abbey surrounded by a beautiful nature area.  Many people stayed around the abbey, but adventurer that I am, I went cross-country and looked for a little hide-away in the field or trees.  I found a delightful pond to spend time near, and was absolutely fascinated by what I saw there.

Birds of all types and sizes were gathered in and near the little cattail-lined pond.  Redwing blackbirds sat on the cattails and would then fly off.  A hawk soared overhead, gracefully above all of the feathery activity below.  One kind of bird would playfully soar close to the water with others of its type, seagulls flew in unordered groups not so gracefully as the other birds, and ducks and geese swam around the water or would walk up on the shore.

I saw how so very different each type of bird behaved.  Some were very regal, some were very fun, and yet they all gathered by the water harmoniously.  They could act different, and it was alright—that was how God had made them to be!

Suddenly I realized that people groups all have different styles and ways of acting, and none was the right way.  If God made birds to act so very differently from each other, then people, too, were valuable as different and unique cultures with their different values and perspectives.  In a way, valuing other groups was not an awakening to me—but being alright with my own group was a great awakening to my heart.  I related to the playful birds who would flutter and skim over the water.  There was nothing wrong with a playful spirit.  The Holy Spirit would gather all types of peoples together and all would benefit by the same pool of water.

Ezekiel’s vision of the kingdom of God:

“Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows.  There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live.  Fishermen will stand along the shore; from En Gedi to En Eglaim there will be places for spreading nets.  The fish will be of many kinds—like the fish of the Great Sea.”  Ezekiel 47:9-12

Every Tribe, people and tongue will be gathered at the throne of God in heaven (Revelation).  God values diversity—his love will bring all cultures and people together in Him.  And best of all, even if people don’t value me, it doesn’t mean that I am wrong by being who I am, it only means they do not understand the ways of a different type of bird—at least not yet.

Lord!  Let us love each other beyond behaviors, values, and appearance.  Let Your Holy Spirit bring peace between your people, and peace to ourselves. Help us know that our personalities are loved and valued by you no matter if anyone else values us.  But I also pray you bring us to a place where were are valued by others too.  Amen!?

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The Limit

The Limit

Don’t you hate having to follow those drivers who drive at the speed limit?  Well, before I let you rant too much, I will confess that I have been one of “those” people.  (And, as I am already making confessions, IZUIZ, I am sorry for any anxiety I have cause you in the past month; yes, that slow blue S10 was me.)

Sometimes God gives me a season of teaching me something-and it is usually  disciplining me in something I do not particularly want to learn.  Does he do that to you, too?

Once he told me I could not lead worship for a year.  Despite knowing that, I several times tried to leverage myself into positions where I would be leading worship…what was I thinking?  Every time this happened that I would try to work things out for myself, I would lose my voice or sound horrible the week that I was supposed to lead worship, and I lost the confidence of anyone around me that I had any sort of singing voice.  There was a lesson in it–but I will save that for another day.

This year, I had a long commute to Milwaukee for my job, which took me down some particularly slow roads where few people followed the speed limit because they were posted particularly slow for what they seem they should be.  I felt I needed to discipline myself to actually follow the very slow speeds.  Most of the year, I slowed down to about five over the posted limit, but still had not actually gotten to the point of obeying the limit.

Usually, when I would see someone in my rear view, impatiently driving behind me, waiting for the first opportunity to pass me by when the lines went from solid to dashed, I would speed up to accommodate them.  I knew this was really just trying to please people.  If I couldn’t even follow the speed limit because of fear of displeasing someone I didn’t even know in a car behind me, how could I possibly obey God in anything without being turned away by those who wanted me to do something else?

Not long ago, I decided I had to take the plunge and actually just go the speed limit all the way to work, no matter how many frustrated people were forced to follow me in this endeavor.  Only a couple of miles into the drive, I had a line of cars behind me, already impatient.  I fought to the resist the temptation of going just a little faster.  I couldn’t look in the rear view mirror or my resolve would crumble.  I turned up my worship music and just looked ahead.

Finally, the burgundy PT Cruiser behind me got so impatient that he didn’t even wait–he passed by me in a no passing zone.  I didn’t look over to see “the glare”–you know the one; I kept my eyes on my small goal for today.  He sped ahead of me, as if to brag of his freedom in having passed by my constraint.  He got quite far beyond me, but ironically, I caught up with him at the next stop light, where he had to wait quite some time.  I imagine if he saw me, he was not happy to see that I was right behind him.

Even more amusing was the fact that this happened for seven miles of our journey, until he turned off the road to pursue his destination.  he was always caught at the stoplight, and I was always pulling up behind.

Now, this is no amazing event, but as is the case when God is teaching us, and we finally try to listen, He has something important to say.  I know my weakness is to please people around me, which frequently leads to some sort of compromise.  The Lord told me through this car ride, that though someone may try to achieve something by going outside of the Lord’s limits, and though I may look like I am taking the slow route and will never reach my destination for following the Lord’s limits; we will end up at the same destination, and I will have done so with a clear conscience and a clear record, when others do not.

And before you start thinking I am judging you for going over the speed limit, be assured I am only relaying my own lesson for the day and what the Lord was teaching me.  What has He been teaching you?

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Lunar Eclipse

I was standing in a coffeehouse, talking to a friend one night in January.  As we talked, my eyes gazed toward the moon, which was only a sliver in the sky and became even smaller as I was watching, nearly fully eclipsing before gradually growing in size again, all within a minute of time. 

As I stood there,  just as suddenly as I had seen the eclipse, I felt God give me a revelation of understanding about how the moon was like our relationship with the world and with God, and it healed my heart.

Have you ever felt like there were times in your life where you were more effective for God?  Or where there were times that your God-given gifts shone more than they are right now?  Why am I ineffective?  Why am I called to this time where I look useless in the eyes of others?
Let this minister to your heart.

We are like the moon, getting our light from our reflection of God’s light.  As God made us in His image and gave us giftings, we reflect his glory and honor Him.  The moon is always reflecting the sun’s light.  The sun can always “see” the moon in its full reflection because the light side is always facing the sun.  There is never a time in our lives of obedience to Him, where we are not in full glory in His eyes.

From the earth, however, we only see a part of the glory of the moon.  Sometimes it is in different stages where we can see more of it, and sometimes we see almost nothing, but it is somewhere always reflecting the same amount of sunlight.  Our view of the moon from the earth is like what we as humans see of each other’s “glory” as a reflection of the LORD.  Sometimes we will look glorious in each other’s eyes, and sometimes we will wonder why we or someone else do not look particularly “brilliant” even though we are being faithful to serve God.

Some places God has called me to serve Him are naturally easy, and I shine in.  Some, I feel faithful by serving in, but it is difficult and calls for self-sacrifice, and others may wonder what on earth I am doing with my life.  The latter times are new moon times, when only the Lord really sees us in our full obedience to Him, reflecting Him oh so well.

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