Saturday, August 16, 2008

The truth is we just need a little light!

One Saturday evening recently, 4 of the fab 5, decided it would be best to each stay home, be productive and get some things done. All those little tasks like bill paying, laundry, cleaning closets, catching up on reading etc... So of course, I invited them over for a girl's movie night, and the definition of "what would be best" suddenly and predictably changed. We are such a diverse group and yet when our strengths are brought together we are the equivalent of at least one completely functional friend. So the movie magnate of the group was in charge of the DVD selection, I made popcorn, and the bills, laundry and closets were put off yet again.
I don't usually think of science fiction as a "chick flick" but Will Smith and New York City are favorites so we settled in, popcorn bowls layered on top of our blankets and assigned the remote to the electronically gifted among us. As the sun went down,and the room got dark, the tension in the room rose with the drama of this sci-fi experience. As the final climactic scenes approached and music told us it was time to be very afraid, I found myself saying aloud..."Ok, he is in a very scary situation. We on the other hand are safe in my living room! He should be afraid, we on the other hand are completly safe and have nothing to fear. Will Smith is in great danger, we are safe." Now once through that script would perhaps have been enough. But with every dramatic moment of extreme tension I would blurt out the same facts. It appeared to me that we needed too be reminded of the truth in order to have any comfort through the rest of this director's imagination. The 3 giggled under their breaths the first time, after that I think I may have spoiled their fun. I mean, we watch scary movies because we love the thrill of the suspense right? Or is it that we only put up with the anxiety because we so appreciate surviving and feeling the flood of relief that follows.
Now I can't help it that this has become a spiritual lesson. Take it up with the Creator, I take no responsibility for a twisted mind, just thankful for the One who has twisted it just so!
How often have I sat in the dark of a situation and gotten so sucked into the plot and action, that my anxiety has gotten the best of me. I want so badly for it to be a movie I know will soon end, and I have survived unchanged. I try to determine how to manipulate the characters, rewrite the script or walk out on this showing. Don't we all?
Well, perhaps the truth is... that the truth should be told in those dark moments bringing in a little light and clarity. The truth in my dark situation is "this might look scary, like the main characters are really at risk, like some may not make it out very well or at all, but the truth is `I am safe because I am loved by my Father. So when this is all said and done, and this scene finishes, we survive and though changed, changed for the better because of who our director is and because HE says so!" Its like turning on the lights in a theater in the middle of a horror film. The truth in the light says we have nothing to fear. So next time I find myself cowering beneath a blanket of fear, emotions, like a bowl of popcorn all over the room, I will remind myself, aloud if necessary, exactly what the truth is, even if the scene before me screams "be afraid!"
The truth is, we just need to add a little light. Off to clean closests....

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Need to Vent?

So the plum family is building a house. I am supposed to be blogging that work in progress, but I was hoping to do it chronologically with photos and stories of how its going. We are already starting the framing and I feel like I'm behind. And I realize everything to me looks like a spiritual lesson, so to post a picture and no insight to go along with it seems to be empty. I know, I know everything doesn't have to be a spiritual event...can I just say "in my world, YES IT DOES" I don't understand why God created me that way, but He did. I know it drives the rest of you crazy, but if He wants to drive you that way, well, take it up with Him. So here goes. There comes a point early in the building process when the plumber comes to do "rough plumbing" (I am learning so many construction terms! Thank you Lord!). Rough plumbing refers to the sewer lines and drains for the sinks, toilets and bathtubs. (It is preferable to lay these pipes before the concrete foundation is poured, so that we don't have big sewer pipes criss crossing on top of the carpet and tile in our houses) Anyway, what I didn't know is that every drain has a vent pipe that goes up through the wall to the ceiling, through the attic and to the roof. This explains those little pipe things everyone has sticking up through the roof. Haven't you ever wondered about those pipes? Like did someone before us have many little tiny fireplaces that have since been removed? I mean they look like little chimney pipes right? What a ridiculous idea, but that was the thought in my head all these years without even thinking about how silly it was. Ok, back to the point. They are vents. I guess every drain needs a vent for the air to escape so that the water can go down. Like in an IV tube, when there is an air bubble that keeps the fluid from flowing, air in the drain pipe with no place to go would prevent the waste water from exiting and going to where we surely want it to go...away! Or we can hold milk in a straw simply by preventing air from displacing the liquid so that it will flow out the other end. OK...the bottom line is that a drain needs a vent or the junk stays put.

It occurs to me that if I am having trouble, something that I have been bugged about, anxious about, convicted on; fretting over, raging inside about, someone I am having silent lectures with, or worse, not so silent; stuff I just can't seem to get over... I might just be wise... to check my vent. The vents for the toilets go straight up, no turns, no kinks, no detours. They don't connect to other vents through some horizontal pipe between them, each one shoots straight up through the roof to the sky. "Where am I venting?" Or perhaps if there is a problem that won't go away, "where on earth am I venting?" Um Um Um...doesn't that explain a few things. And so I tried it. You see lately God and I have been at odds over something very dear to me. I thought we had a plan and I thought we settled it years ago. I knew my part and I knew God's part and that was that. Well the time has come and it occurs to me that I am disappointed that God didn't give me what I told Him he would. And I had a very good idea about what this time in my life was going to look like and it even had everything to do with honoring Him and glorifying Him and it is not playing out right. Now I have not been angry really, but getting fuller and fuller of junk. And I know about junk and getting full of it. Just like a drain that is not draining, pretty soon, the junk starts backing up and it smells and it's ugly and it doesn't just effect me, but everyone within smelling or seeing distance. It can get ugly That's the plain truth. Let it go on long enough without a proper vent and it gets very ugly. We put drain-o or the like into a stopped up drain and what is the first indication that the mess is starting to clear? Air bubbles. The vent is allowed to do its job and the drain begins to clear. Alright then. Vent...and so I did. Straight up to the heavens. I told God I was disappointed and that I thought we had a deal. I told Him I felt let down. I told Him he gave other people my plan, and asked Him why not me? I told Him I thought it was unfair and that He was playing favorites and that I wanted to be His favorite because He was surely mine and I didn't understand. I vented and vented and vented. And in my heart He kept motioning with His hand to keep it coming, get it all out, every last piece of sewage I had been holding onto. His head was nodding in understanding and His hand kept beckoning... and then..."Are you finished?" "yes, sir I guess I am" (Job comes to mind about now). "Is that rough plumbing you were looking at?" "yes, it was" "so you haven't yet had the final inspection?" "no sir, we've just gotten started" "Can you see that the house is yet unfinished?" "um hm...oh" "I'm not finished with this yet. Are you?" "well, no, but it looked like maybe you were" "I'm never done until it is completed" "yes Lord, that is your way. Thanks for letting me vent".

Saturday, February 16, 2008

"I need a little help here"

God often uses everyday experiences to press something spiritual into my heart. The lesson is sometimes spontaneous and the application obvious, but most of the time he reveals it to me slowly knowing my shallow mind may miss something significant if I get to see it all at once. I have come to sense when this is happening and I'm learning to expect it when an image won't leave my mind and I can't figure out why. Here is the most recent and I am amazed again at God's creative way of teaching me the important things.

My husband and I were at our son's college baseball game last week when we noticed a blind man enter the small stadium. After several innings we noticed that this young man now sitting down on the first row behind home plate, was yelling out about different calls that the umpire was making and cheering for the team. We got to giggling at first at the irony of a blind man criticizing the umpire. My husband of course was jabbing me in the ribs and giving me a look that said "hey how come that guy gets to yell at the umpire and I don't?" ( I have never left him in the marriage, but I have moved away from him in the bleachers a few times) The longer we watched the more we realized that his calling out was absolutely accurate every time. A called strike 3 was high and inside and this guy yelled "come on ump, you know that ball was up!" We wondered if his hearing was so good that his mind could register where the ball was caught based on the sound hitting the catchers glove. Anyway...several innings later he got up and left the stadium. We were sitting at the top of the bleachers and watched him walk out and turn to stand just behind and below us. He stood there cane in hand and began calling out "I need some help here. I need a little help here. I need to get to the metrolink station across campus near the campus police station, the train leaves at 4:40" . He wasn't yelling, but calling out with some expectation I think. He wasn't disappointed. Within a few minutes a group of students, maybe about 15 or so from the track team came over and took him by the arm and away they went. At first I just thought it would be great if anybody could do that. Call out, "hey I need a little help with the groceries" and neighbors and people driving by would come running to help. We laughed about all the ways that would be great. But as the week has passed I couldn't get over what really happened and what God has shown me through that image.

We all walk around handicapped in some way or another. We may have figured out how to get around pretty well and learned to compensate or cover our problems. We may have even decided its better to stay put than let anybody know we are stuck. Maybe this guy could have tapped his cane all the way to the metrolink station but maybe he would have been late, or maybe he wasn't familiar enough with the route to make it. Regardless he recognized that this time he needed help and wasn't shy, fearful or too full of pride to ask for it. He didn't know how to get where he was going, but he knew what he needed, a few people to come along side him and help. What about me? Am I willing to do the same when it comes to asking for help? Am I willing to say "I need some help here, I can't make it by myself today and I need a few of you to come along side me this time" Do we come to church and humble ourselves so that we can ask for help, or do we come in and just hope nobody notices we are stuck or hurting? Is ours the kind of church where we feel like we ca stand up and say "I need some help here. I have a problem and I need you guys to come along side me and pray today" Is ours a body that would take a few steps closer to someone calling out and without judgement be willing to walk with them in prayer in that moment?

This young man didn't start by explaining the details of his blindness or why he was in a place where he needed help, he just called out that he needed a little help and the help came running. When God's will calls us to move, lets do everything we need to in order to accomplish that, even if it means letting others in on the truth that we may need a little help. Can we get past the over-important "I" plan and lay it down for the most-important "God" plan.

Isn't that what God asks of us on all sides of this scene? Humble yourself and ask for help rather than being paralyzed by pride or fear. Run to the side of another who needs you to pray for them or with them without alot of concern as to why or how they became so needy. Respond in such a way that if an unbeliever was watching this scene God would be able to use it to burn in that heart for his own glory.

By the way if you ever "need a little help" I'll have my running shoes on!