Thursday, April 28, 2011

Head and Heart

Journal for Christa—
In circles of ministry, we often hear about the discrepancy between the head and the heart. How often have we heard (or confessed ourselves) of the fallacy of only possessing “head-knowledge” and lacking “heart-knowledge” as if the head is to be suspect, not to be trusted.
So today, I’d like to turn that thought on end. Are there appropriate times of trusting my head and perhaps even being leery of my heart? After all, let’s face it—it’s not always just the head that doesn’t satisfy.
Our hearts deceive us when we feel like God’s merely a distant light, flickering oh so far away. Our hearts betray us when hope is overshadowed and then engulfed with deepest despair. Our hearts well up in anger at hypocrisy and common suffering and conclude that God is lacking, or not even there. The voice of the heart can be a Truth twisting demon that we listen to.
What do we do when we’ve put God to the test, and we find Him coming up short? What do we do when we find that if He was ever there, He’s there no longer? How often in the dark, under a breathless weight, I just want an epiphany to wash the doubt and bring relief. But, to be honest, I rarely find a panacea.
I guess, for me, that’s when I trust my head. That’s when to gaze into Scripture and act on the God I know, not the one I can’t feel. That’s when I take a step into the darkness, trusting all that head-knowledge: every Bible verse I’ve ever learned—every sermon or lecture I’ve ever heard—every living principle expounded on in the Word. Those are the times to turn my back to the heart and lean into what I know—the Truth in my head: that God must be there, and that He knows me—even me.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Remembering Karen

Journal for Christa—
Yesterday marked the anniversary of Karen’s death. The reflection I’m posting this week was written last Easter—after the dishes were done, people had gone, and I sat alone, pondering what Easter means to me. I think this Easter, I will spend more time reflecting on Jesus—His crucifixion and His resurrection.
Easter 2010
I often think of Karen Sue, but I always think of her at Easter. It struck me yesterday as I was vacuuming the stairs, “I think Karen was a ‘Mary’ (at least when it came to Easter); I am a ‘Martha.’” All weekend people had put contemplative comments on facebook, but I had not. I had spent time cleaning this and that and baking brownies and a cherry pie because they’re Kaylee’s favorite. My one moment of contemplation was on the stairs when I decided Karen was a Mary.
Our Easters together started one year when most of my children were away at college. I had a ham in the oven and all the holiday fixings—for the 3 of us. After church I asked Karen what they’d planned for dinner. “Beans and rice,” she replied. “That is pathetic,” I said (We’d been friends a long time). “Bring the beans and rice and come to our house. I made a ham.” And so they did. Then they came and laughed at our table the next couple of Easters, until the Easter they were going to Chicago and we were going to Albuquerque—but Karen went to Heaven instead.
At Easter I always think of Karen. And this Easter I decided Karen was a Mary and I am not. She would plan a simple meal and probably spend her time focused on Christ’s resurrection. Yet, each Easter since her homegoing, her family has continued to come for Easter dinner, and I’m so glad they still want to.
I miss Karen Sue every Easter. I missed her today. I wish in some ways I was more like her. But, I also like baking brownies and cherry pies and making big Easter dinners. And as Karen, I like lots of people and laughter around the table. So now in the quiet of this Easter evening, I have contemplated that because of Christ’s resurrection, bringing the hope that there is much more beyond death, I’ll one day laugh with Karen again.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Naomi: Going Home

Journal for Christa—
Today in the “godly girls” class, we finished up the Book of Ruth—that story of Boaz and Ruth—that, it seems to me, is far too romanticized for what appears to be basically a marriage of convenience.
Sometimes, it seems to me that the real story—or at least a significant one, isn’t so much about Ruth as it is Naomi. Naomi, the woman who feels like she’s lost everything—who slowly drags her feet back into her home country and proclaims, “Just call me Mara”—bitter.
As we kind of recapped the book as a whole, I asked the girls, “Do you think there are times when you just need to put yourself in a different place?” When I’d asked the question, I’d thought of Cindy, and I was glad when she raised her hand and shared.
Cindy, an international student, has gone to school in the States the last three years. Her intent was to receive her degree from an American high school and to continue her college work here in the States; however, Cindy has decided to go home. It’s not been an easy decision, and it’s one many may have advised her against. But, Cindy feels like she needs to go home.
Sometimes, we just need to go back. It might be home. It might be to the beginning of a relationship or even an event. Wherever it is, we know—we just know—that we must go back—back to the familiar—back to the foundation, where we can once more feel our feet on secure ground, that place we find our bearings.
We go when we’re weary; we go when we’re confused; we go with no expectations. Yet, once there, not so unlike Naomi, we often find joy.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Thoughts on John 16:17-24

As Jesus prepares His disciples for His exist from this physical world, He tries to reassure them. He encourages them that all will be well in the end. He also deals somewhat with the issue of pain. They will experience pain, but it is temporary. Pain and joy--I wonder how we could really even know joy if not for pain? What would be there to contrast joy with? Some of joy is the absence of pain, and yet at times we can even experience pain and joy simultaneously. Strange--

Jesus ends by saying "Ask (in my name) and you will receive, and your  joy will be complete." I want to look for joy today.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Thoughts Prompted by Jn. 16:12-16

The Godhead--that mysterious, paradoxical Trinity that we just don't fully understand how His three separate essences make up one Being. Separate, yet one. Equal, but graduated: The Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit.

There are so many things about this physical world we don't understand. Why would we be suprised not to grasp the supernatural world--a world we aren't (but are) a part of. What an awesome place we inhabit, and I somehow think it's even more amazing just beyond my sight...and also that I could perceive more if I just had eyes for it.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The End Shall Be Like the Beginning

Journal for Christa—
I find it interesting that in the Bible the end times are compared to a “woman in travail” (KJV, 1 Thes. 5:3). I kind of like the word “travail.” It just seems more descriptive than simply—being in labor. The reason I find the metaphor intriguing is because way back—at the very beginning of humankind’s mess—we find Eve—Eve, standing there guilty before her Creator and God. And after God listens to her petty excuse, He doles out two punishments, one of which is “I’ll greatly increase your pains in childbearing.”
The end times is a little like “going full circle.” It reflects back to the judgment at the beginning, but ending once and for all the fallen state of all creation.
Now, modern medicine has come a long way in lessening that first pain, but it will not be so at the end of time. All creation will groan in travail—and there will be no relief—no relief until it is all over, and at the end there will be a new beginning—with all the joy of a new birth.
God is writing His story, and when He closes it, He will bring it back to the beginning. I’m glad that he wrote in a place for women—not just Eve, but each of us. God’s last judgment may mirror His first, but it will be different. In the end everything will be perfect.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Thought for the Day: John 15:26-16:4

Jesus tells His disciples that He will send the Comforter, and he will testify of Truth and of Jesus. Jesus warns them of what's to come so they "will not fall away." Things are getting ready to change drastically for them--Jesus crucified, resurrected, and ascended into Heaven. They will see the turning point in God's great story. Maybe these few short weeks before Easter, I should remember them again too.