Saturday, May 30, 2020

Old School Apologies

A well-known fact about me, if you know me at all, is that I am rather "old school" in a lot of my preferences.

I can barely operate something as technologically advanced as a computer. Possibly because we didn't have one in our house till I was nearly grown, and no one under our roof knew much about how to work it...so I never learned. And then I married a super tech guy, so I never had to figure it out. 

My kids have to help me navigate at least half of the workings of our television and my cell phone.

I still enjoy, though I seldom find time for, writing letters- on actual paper, with an envelope and a stamp involved. Walking to the mailbox and putting up the flag...it feels like my childhood, and I deeply enjoy it.

I would much rather read a book that I am holding in my hands than on a computer screen. In fact, I don't know that I have ever, EVER, read a digital book. I've listened to audio books, which isn't ideal but does work when I'm driving. But E-books...no way.

I feel even more strongly about my Bible being a hard copy. I do have, and appreciate, my Bible app, especially when I need to cross-reference the wording of a particular version with another. Or if I'm looking for a specific verse and I know the gist of what is says, but can't recall where to find it in the Book, I will search for it on the app. So it has its uses in my life. But for my daily reading? I want to feel the thin pages between my fingers and strain to make out the small lettering and see the places I marked the last time I was in that particular book or chapter or verse...

I have a lovely new Insta-pot, but I'm still partial to my old crock pot, because I know how to work it, and don't know a single thing about all the buttons on the space-ship-Insta-pot.

You get the idea. I'm old school. 

I was recently in a conversation with my husband, where I was admitting to being "totally old school and not nearly progressive enough." And as I was saying it, the Lord all but stopped me in the middle of my words. I managed to stutter out the remained of my sentence, but then I fell into shocked silence as the Light of the World shined brightly on my heart, on the words I had just spoken, on the lie I was admitting to believing.

What were these horrifying words, you ask?

"I know its part of that backwards, sheltered, old-school, politically incorrect way or thinking, and I feel bad that I can't figure out how to become more progressive...but I just want to hear what the Word says on a subject, and align my life to that..."

And the Spirit whispered to me: "Did you just make apologies for choosing to allow my Word to guide your life?"

I've been marinating since then, acutely aware of the fact that I have frequently done that exact thing: I stand on who I know my God to be, as revealed in His Word, but I also apologize for how NOT-evolved that makes me. Why do I do that? I don't know.

Maybe I am hoping to make room and allowance for the fact that everyone has had a different life path, and we all feel differently on...well...a LOT of things. I know the going rhetoric about Christians being close-minded and judgmental. I am surrounded on every side by the ever-changing landscape of the world...maybe I"m hoping not to offend someone who has a different view than me, and so I just start out by apologizing for my 'old school' approach to...everything.

I also understand that much of the Scriptures are open for debate. SO many different views of the same verse exist.  Maybe I apologize in the hopes of not getting into a debate about a difference of opinion? 

As I've been sitting in this revelation, stewing over the fact that I feel strongly about the Word as the reference for my life, but also make haste to apologize for that fact...the Spirit of God has been reminding me of a few things.

Memories have been parading through my mind.

When I was a little girl, my grandfather was killed in a car accident. I have a vivid picture in my mind from that time. In a gray chair in one corner of our family room, my mom would sit, her Bible open in her lap, her face in her hands, weeping.  She was so young when she lost her dad. She was heartbroken. And in it, she clung to the Word. She dropped physical tears onto the pages.

When I was in a very dark depression, my husband came and sat on our bed one night, opened his Bible, and started reading it to me. And I wept, silent tears streaming for an hour as his voice carried through our room. That was 15 years ago. My husband still reads to me every evening. Because the Word saved my life that night. And that makes it something worth grasping onto.

When my sister died suddenly on the mission field, I laid in the middle of my living room floor, barely even able to cry. I felt I would drown in the pain. And do you know what? I saw a raging storm in my mind. I felt the waves crashing. I knew I was about to die. I could not catch my breath. I was there with the disciples in that boat. And there, Jesus came to me, walking on the water. He spoke to me, echoing His Words through my heart. "Don't be afraid...take courage...I am here..." (Matthew 14:27)

I have never, in my whole life, seen the Word and the Spirit of God prove anything but life-giving, life-sustaining, true and faithful and entirely able to withstand any storm.

If that makes me unusual, old-school, or backward...I'm thankful. I don't apologize for my bone-deep KNOWING that He is there with me in anything, in ALL things.

I was praying last night, grieving over the horrific injustice of this broken world, over the evidence of hatred and ignorance and cruelty and SIN that is so visibly apparent, and deeply affecting people I love. I asked the Lord, "what do I do? What can I say? What is Your heart?"

And, because it's been true all of my life, the Word answered me.

"I punish the wrongdoers..." (Deuteronomy 32:35)
"God will not be mocked. A man reaps what he sows." (Galatians 6:7)
"I will come quickly and save them; the time of my victory is near..." (Isaiah 51:5)
"The Lord is close to the broken-hearted..." (Psalm 34:18)
"...He will help the oppressed..." (Psalm 72:12)
"Arise, O God, defend Your cause..." (Psalm 74:22)
"In Your majesty, ride out to victory, defending truth, humility, and justice. Go forth and perform awe-inspiring deeds." (Psalm 45:4)

I stand with Him. And He is on the side of those in need of defending, on the side of the oppressed. He is close to the broken-hearted. He defends truth and justice. He will not be mocked.

He has performed so many awe-inspiring deeds in my life. And believing that He will do it again, on behalf of truth and justice for the oppressed, might make me "old-school." But I do not apologize.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Seen

It's still silent in my house this Mother's Day.

I remember the days when I would've given anything for silence in the 7 a.m. hour...and the 6 a.m. hour, and the 2 a.m. hour...

But time marches on, doesn't it? And no one is more aware of it than the mothers. It seems to jump and skip forward suddenly some days, and other days it feels like the season that will never end.

As I sit this morning, I am pondering on my current life season, with just the gurgling fish tank and my coffee for company. It isn't lost on me that I used to get extra hugs and kisses from my kids as Mother's Day gifts...but this morning I awoke to a vase of fresh flowers that my 18 year-old went and purchased with her own money. Also, the gift of mostly grown man-children who sleep all night long and half the morning...that's a magical present that never gets old.

I have been thinking about all the different places in life that all the women in my sphere find themselves this morning. And how no matter what emotions greet us today...it's hard to imagine what it will feel like when this particular season ends, changes, looks different than it does now. I know I couldn't actually picture what a full night of sleep would feel like, even though I was assured by all the mom's of older kids that it was a real thing that would one day be part of my life again...but now I regularly sleep the whole night, and the memory of waking up every other hour to feed a baby...well, it's just that, a memory.

We feel unseen sometimes too, don't we? In that place, in the plodding forward of days and time and work...does anyone notice that we haven't showered or brushed our hair or changed our clothes or manicured our eyebrows? As women, as the multitaskers of the human race, we just move forward and keep DOING ten things at once, and then ten new things, and then more...and our minds are whirring through all the things still to come...and I swear if I locked myself in a room that no one used but me (so, the laundry room, am I right?) the first creature to notice I was missing would be the first creature who went hunting for something I regularly kept supplied that had suddenly run dry. My husband would wonder where his clean underwear were. Or my daughter would be out of her special, lactose free coffee creamer. Or the dogs would have an empty water bowl. Or one of my sons would not understand why his iPad was mostly dead and sticking between the couch cushions rather than waiting, plugged in and fully charged, on the counter, like it usually was every day. Or there would be no pop tarts when the pantry was opened. No neatly straightened sheets and blankets when they went to crawl in bed. No extra rolls of toilet paper waiting nearby when they sat down without checking the current status of the holder. No bills paid. Or dentist appointments scheduled. No one else in the whole house who knew where to find the thermometer or the Tylenol or the bandaids or the broom or the laundry room where I was hiding.

SO much of what we do is unseen, unless its left undone. Our work goes unnoticed, while our lack of work is a pain clearly felt.

Not all the time, obviously, and lest you think I am complaining...I am not. I am simply pondering on all that my own current life season requires of me, and wondering how much of it I will notice has changed as years go on. And will anyone else see?

So, this Mother's Day, my 19th celebration as a mother, I want to remind all the ladies out there, whatever your status, of something the Holy Spirit whispered to me in the quiet of my home today.

Our God sees us.

In His Word, He tells us it's one of His names. "The God who sees..." You know who first calls Him by that name? A mother. (It's in Genesis 16, if you want to go read it for yourself.) 

I'm so glad, so grateful, that He sees me today. That He saw me when I was awake at 2 a.m. with a baby. That He sees me in 10 years, with no children at home anymore.

Being SEEN by HIM and KNOWN by Him...it's life, isn't it?

For all who were up all night with a baby...
For all who are empty nesting...
For all who long to be mothers...
For all who have lost their moms...
For all who have lost children...

For the ones drowning in laundry...
For the ones paralyzed by loneliness...
For the ones who feel overwhelmingly blessed and happy...
For the ones who feel only pain and longing...

No matter where you are, what season of life greets you today...

You are seen.
I am seen.

We are known.

Because the One and Only says it.

And I believe it.
And you can too.