Hurricane Irma Can’t Take This From Me

I walked into my room and grabbed the black duffel bag in the middle of the floor. I breathed in more uncertainty than oxygen. After joking with my sister the whole week about whether we would leave our makeup collections behind, I had reached reality. It burned my throat as I swallowed. It clouded my eyes as I closed them. In the past, I may have allowed myself to fall apart, but I did not have time to sweep up the pieces. So, I breathed. I believed.

God is good. God is here. God is all I need.

I want to say I steeled myself. My proud flesh wants to say I buckled down and did what needed to be done. That is not what happened. I was carried. God has carried me this last week and it was sweet.

Tears don’t scare me. Breaking down doesn’t scare me. Feeling alone doesn’t scare me. Being alone is daunting, but it is not what I most fear. I can say confidently after this last week, losing everything doesn’t scare me. Losing God does.

There are a lot of dreams I have held on to. There are prophecies and promises I have clung to with white-knuckled hands. I have dug my nails into my palms until they bled, but I didn’t let them go. I have carried them while He has carried me. He’s brought me this far and He’s going nowhere.

My greatest fear is losing Him the way a mother loses her husband when she forgets she’s a wife. Sometimes circumstances dictate priorities, but we pay a high price for losing sight of Jesus. He is closer than a spouse. He knows me better than any human could. I don’t want to lose Him. I don’t want to lose what I have with Him. If I had locked my mother’s house and come home to nothing, He would have been there. He would have been everything out of necessity, not out of choice.

So, I choose. I choose God. I choose my One Thing. Jesus Who saved me, You are my One Thing. Holy Spirit, Who never leaves me, nor forsakes me, You are my One Thing. Abba, Father Who gives good things, God, You are my One Thing.

There are more hurricanes in the Gulf. There are a thousand other circumstances that could separate me from my family, friends, dreams, life… There is nothing that can separate me from God except my choice.

Choose the uncertainty that surrounds Jesus and you choose a life of adventurous, unshakable love. The world can make you no such promises. The uncertainty of the world is cold and unforgiving. The uncertainty I live in today is persistent. It is, at times, overwhelming. But I am not uncertain of God.

For now, things are quiet. I am back to my routine, as normal as I can make it. Others are still suffering. Others were suffering before the hurricane and the world will continue to contain vast amounts of suffering until Jesus returns. But God is still good. God is still here. I still choose Him.

 

The Post of the Resurrection

In the room across from the one in which I sit lies a sick child whimpering in his sleep. I had an agenda this morning which did not include organizing my room and wiping a runny nose all day long, but the space demanded arrangement and my son was too sick to go to preschool on his third day. Life is often rife with intrusive spontaneity, especially as of late.

This little ship called life is being rocked by one of the most turbulent storms I’ve ever weathered. Its persistent waves are teaching me the limits of my innate stubbornness and my acute desperation for the strength of the Holy Spirit. My husband is 1500 miles and 8 states away from me, working day and night through his own tempest. This is not the first time our vessels have been so far apart, but it feels farther than it did last time. A couple of months ago, this saga hit the two-year mark on a date so conspicuous that no one marked its passing besides me. I celebrated it with the comfort that things might soon stabilize and the days of being gypsies would be over, at least for a while. We were so stagnant for so long, stuck in the apartment where God taught me gratitude for 8 years, and now we can’t seem to find a place to rest our heads.

This time has been marked by an acceptance of things I did not ask for while God uses them to equip me for that which I did ask. It would be ironic were He not so faithful and so truly gentle. Concurrently, within this onslaught rages the deathless battle between the rational evaluation of my finite existence and my abject emotional wallowing. I know more about the inside of my head than I ever wanted to and, let me tell you, it’s not a space I was formerly unfamiliar with. The cynic within me rises up to begin a protracted commentary about the life of a self-aware Believer and is swiftly quelled. Let us not indulge that sort of martyrdom in the middle of this blog.

Why now? This is the overarching existential question du jour. Why is now the time? Why is now the time to chase after my dreams and work for their realization? Why is now the time to march around Jericho? Why is now the time to follow Elijah on one more errand? Lord, I am tired. Lord, you see my crazy life. Lord, how on earth is that supposed to happen right now? Why is now the time?

On few occasions do I ask the Lord, “Why?” It’s not a common question in my arsenal. I find it both irrelevant and presumptuous. To ask the question assumes I merit and would understand the answer. God owes me nothing and His answer would likely be beyond my comprehension. And in this particular instance, the question itself is redundant because the answer is obvious. Why now?

Now is all we have. If not now, when? Promises are realized in the now. Dreams are pursued in the present. The past has only lessons to be learned and every future we get in this life is a gift. Nothing is guaranteed except your chosen destination. I will be with Christ, I have chosen Him, but my reward is being constructed in heaven as I work here. I do not work for my reward, I work for my God, yet my reality in heaven is more concrete than that before my eyes.

See to it, brothers, that none of you has a wicked heart of unbelief that turns away from the living God. But exhort one another daily, as long as it is called today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly to the end the assurance we had at first.  – Hebrews 3:12-14

Unbelief is a sneaky beast. I could not honestly deny belief in Christ, although the enemy sometimes prowls the outskirts of my mind. But, if I took my eyes off Jesus, he would quietly unravel my faith in the plans of God for my life. He can’t take my salvation, but he would settle for my purpose.

So, here I take up the banner once more. Here I say, “I believe in what You said to me.” Here I take the first step. The road seems no shorter, but in faith, I am one step closer. I have to start somewhere, so I am starting with this blog. I have recording to finish. I have copyrighting to complete. I have musicians to find. I have provisions to wait on. This blog has been dead since last year, but I plant here the post of the resurrection.

Why now? Because it is called today.

Parenting Blog #1: Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child

Who hasn’t heard this age-old adage? Even non-believers know what it means and dispute about it, although they probably don’t know its origin. It should be no surprise to Word-reading followers of Christ that it comes straight out of the Bible. Or does it?

No, I’m not about to launch into a rant about the merits of various forms of punishment. Go ahead and exhale. I want to address the fact that this little maxim, like most Biblical tidbits that make it into culture’s collective consciousness, is a half-truth. Before I go any further, here is the actual verse in its entirety.

Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him. – Proverbs 13:24 ESV

Why am I starting here? Well, I’ll tell you where I didn’t start. I did not post the page and a half rant I had in Microsoft Word before I arrived at this verse. I did not begin by painting broad, sweeping generalizations all over my parenthood canvas – although that is exactly what I felt like doing when I put finger to key. I did not put down the very first thoughts that came into my head a month ago when I first toyed with the idea of delving into this most tenuous of subjects. I have been mulling them over, handing them back and forth to the Holy Spirit, asking why I felt like doing this. What am I trying to accomplish by writing one more (because, for real, they are everywhere) blog about raising children?

I am trying to get us to slow down and look up.

I don’t want you to follow your heart as you read this. Our hearts are sick and deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9). I don’t want you do feel bad or good about the job you’re doing as a parent. We have one standard by which we are to measure ourselves, it’s the will of God, not our feelings (Romans 12:2). I would like us, as parents, to think about what we are doing and be honest with ourselves about this work and how we should do it. We have one source of wisdom (Proverbs 2:6), let’s use it.

When people say, “spare the rod, spoil the child,” they got it wrong. Revelations 22:19 tells us we better not be taking things out of the Word of God, so if you’re going to quote the Bible, you better quote the whole thing. The verse says, “he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” This verse is about love.

How I parent my child should directly and accurately reflect how God parents His children. Let me repeat that. My behavior and, more importantly, my heart attitude as a parent should mirror God’s relationship as a Father with His children. Maybe you read that and thought, “Of course, it is.” This is a widely accepted truth among Christians, but, in my observation, not a widely applied truth.

I’ll give you an example. Parents often talk about the rewards of parenthood as the reasons why they do what they do. When a list of #realtruths about being a mother or father are laid out, they are usually followed by a statement that goes something along the lines of, “but it’s all worth it when they say I love you,” or, “when I see them succeed,” or, “when I feel like a good mom.” That last one is one of less commonly written-out-loud ones, but it’s often there between the lines. In reality, there is only one reason why God does what He does with us: Love.

There are children that are more difficult to parent than others. This is absolutely true. There are sometimes long stretches of time when you will not get any of the so-called “rewards” that make parenting worth it. There are moments when you cannot muster up enough warm-and-fuzzy feelings or feel-good-as-a-mom thoughts to propel yourself through the grueling fight for your child’s well-being.

Love, pure and unadulterated, is the only reason to do this and it’s the only way to get it done right. And I’m not talking about your finite, conditional love. I am talking about the love that flows directly from a personal relationship with God the Father through the Blood of Jesus Christ, ministered to your heart through the Holy Spirit. If you are not plugged into the source of infinite, eternal, whole love, then you and I are not talking about the same thing. True love has a Name, and it sure as heck is not Disney.

Almost all the mentions the Bible makes to parenting are in regards to either love or correction. Most of the time, the two are bound up as they are in this verse. It’s not as if you could misconstrue what God is saying here. To love is to correct. To correct is to love. To be a son is to be loved and corrected. To be a daughter is to be corrected because she is loved. God doesn’t correct us while he thinks about the perks or pros, i.e. because occasionally we say, “thank you,” or “I love you.” God disciplines those He loves.

For the LORD reproves him whom He loves, as a father the son in whom he delights. – Proverbs 3:12 ESV

For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives. – Hebrews 12:6 ESV

I am not perfect. I get things wrong and I make mistakes. I am not writing from a place of, “Hey guys, since I got this parenting thing down, you should listen to me.” I am opening up the Word of God for an honest exploration of what it means to be a Godly parent. God sees my work here and He is the one who will give the final judgement on what I did – not my feelings, not my peers, and definitely not my child. This is not about self-righteousness or self-esteem. In fact, this is not about self at all. We do this for our children, yes, we do. But more important, we do this for God. These are His children and we are raising them for Him.

I challenge you today to find a few minutes and ask God to speak to you about His love. Ask Him to show you something new about how He loves you. Ask Him to give you more of His love. Remember, love is not a feeling, love is a lifestyle. (That is a whole other blog.) If you don’t yet believe in Jesus, I ask you to start there. Ask God to show you something about Who His Son, Yeshua (in Hebrew), is. Let us start in love.

God bless you, fellow builders. With God anything is possible.

Photo Credit: https://pixabay.com/en/child-rose-flower-red-smel-1152068/