Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Un Stars

Journal for Christa—

Peter, James, and John—they were the stars, often referred to as Jesus’ inner circle. Take them away, and that leaves nine. Take away Judas, the betrayer, and that leaves eight. Eight disciples who walked with God, saw the miracles, and went on to live lives of service after Jesus’ ascension. Little is said about some of them—not more than the mention of their names on the list.

There is, though, a brief conversation (recorded for us) among Jesus, Philip, and Andrew preceding the feeding of the five thousand. Jesus asks them where they’ll buy bread for so many people. Philip says that it would take “eight months salary,” and Andrew mentions the “five loaves and two fish,” but dismisses them as well.

In thinking about Philip and Andrew, I have to admit I’m very much like them in this regard. Philip basically says, “We don’t have that kind of money.” Andrew, perhaps somewhat more optimistic, points out what’s there. (Maybe he’d been wondering about food since he’d already taken notice of how little there was.) Regardless, they weren’t expecting much. How foolish of them. How foolish of me.

Jesus can work miracles, but just because He can doesn’t mean he will. And because he doesn’t always, perhaps that’s why I rarely look for them. It’s interesting that Jesus brought the whole thing up to begin with because He “already had in mind what he was going to do” (Jn. 6:6).

I tend to worry about all sorts of things from people to situations. I know Jesus can and does work miracles. I’ve seen some of them. But, in the daily routine of life, I’m not usually looking for them.

But, just what if—
What if something really breathtaking is around the next curve—
—because God already has in mind what he’s going to do?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

"I'm Gonna Be Sick"

Journal for Christa—

This summer we spent three weeks in Europe with Joel, Kim, Breck, and Helen. One thing I learned about three-year-old Helen is that when she’s overwhelmed and doesn’t like the situation, she’ll emphatically state, “I’m gonna be sick!” And, as often as not, she’ll make good on it.

Last week was kind of a sick week for me. I even told people I felt sick because I did. I—like Helen—felt overwhelmed, and I didn’t like the situation one bit. One night I moaned, “I’m not going to make it.” Jay just kind of gave me the look. I don’t know exactly what “the look” says, but it isn’t bad. It isn’t scolding. It’s just the look.

Then, in chapel an old classmate of Joel’s presented a ministry he works with that feeds children in very poor countries. He found me after chapel, and as we chatted with another teacher he’d had in high school, he suddenly burst into laughter, shook his head, and stated, “I can’t get over how much Helen looks like you!”

That’s not the half of it—cause I’ve been sick!

Strolling under forests green,
In a land for which I long,
Where rest and solace comfort me,
And love’s rich hand grows strong—
Where azure oceans kiss the sky,
And children’s laughter sings.
The gentle rhythm of the tide—
The distant church bell rings—

Take me back to God’s expanse
And let His Spirit fold me in
If only in my mind.
Behold! Upon awakening,
A petal—left of Thine.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

But Mary Pondered

Journal for Christa—

“Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

Pondering. What does it take to ponder? I wonder when Mary pondered. Was it as she washed out garments by a stream or as she ground meal for bread? Did she sit by lamplight mending a tunic for our Lord—her Lord? And when she pondered, I wonder just what she was thinking—what was she wondering?

To ponder—when do we ponder? I don’t wring laundry out in a stream; I toss it in a machine. I wouldn’t know how to grind meal if it was expected of me; my homemade bread is kneaded in a bread maker—dishes stacked in a dishwasher, and the notion of walking to a market would never ever seriously cross my mind.

I think Mary pondered as she went about her daily work—perhaps a much more productive multitasking than what we attempt to engage in today. I fear we’ve lost the natural inclination to ponder, to wonder, to think, to evaluate.

When I was a young mother, I think I pondered while nursing babies, while vacuuming and folding a mountain of clothes, while washing supper dishes. But, today I am rich, historically speaking, and I don’t really do many pondering tasks. I walk and that is good for me.

Pondering—a lost art of our culture. I wonder what would happen if this weekend, instead of assigning reading, I told my students to change and make all the beds in the house, to mow the lawn, to clean out a flowerbed—all without their ipod buds in their ears. I wonder what would happen. Would they ponder?

“Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Mary had much to ponder—and so do we.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Just One Inch

Journal for Christa—

I wish God had made me just one inch taller—

I don’t know what it is about the beginning of school that makes me feel like I ought to clean—Jay says it’s because I don’t want to grade papers. I think it may be that the list I made at the beginning of summer is somewhere on my desk upstairs. Whatever it is, it’s Labor Day—so it seemed a good day to labor. And, if I were just an inch taller, I could have reached the top of the cabinet doors with my Mr. Clean sponge. I could also have reached the top corner of the dining room window on the ladder outside, but I couldn’t. I needed one more inch.

Unlike today’s activities, for the most part, I think people ought to spend most of their time laboring in their areas of passion.

I have a neighbor who’s crazy about drama. She amazed me when I worked with her 20 years ago, and she amazes me still. She directs a few plays every year—with her church and with the homeschool group she works with. I don’t think she ever gets paid money for her labor, but she loves it. She loves seeing a vision become reality; she loves the rush; she loves the opportunity to give her plays a spiritual spin. And, when kids and parents appreciate her, that’s just kind of extra. It’s her passion. People often get tired working with their passions, but they rarely get weary.

But—today is Labor Day, and cleaning house is NOT my passion. One can’t always only do the things she loves. Some things just must be done. They are responsibilities. As much as I like my house, I’d never spend all my time cleaning it. That would just make me weary. I have, though, often thought, when cleaning the freezer chest—

If God had just made me three inches taller…

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Surprised by Love

Oh, Christa—

Today, I would speak to you of love, as I have seen love unfold before my eyes this year—not the often fickle love of adolescence, but love that’s rich, deep, selfless and most fulfilling—love unlooked for. If C. S. Lewis were writing of it, he’d have called it—Surprised by Love.

Often during the dark and confusing days of last spring, my dear friend—a kindred spirit—fell in love, with all the solidity that comes with maturity and all the freshness that comes with youth.

How many Monday mornings did she lift me from my malaise with her joy—her glow, her smile, her exuberance? It’s as if love suddenly awakened something in her, and it spilled over, out, and touched us all!

It is beyond expression to watch love spring forth. It’s magic—a miracle. And, I can’t help but wonder—

Did Adam so dance with Eve through Eden’s expanse?
Did Rebecca’s heart so leap in her chest when she first saw Isaac crossing the field?
Will Christ so greet us at Heaven’s gate?

There are many facets to love—sometimes quiet, sometimes iron strong. But this day, I would focus on love in its playful form—the part that makes us laugh, the part that makes us really live, the part that makes us burst forth in joy.

Today, Christa, I would have you see love—
                                         … such love as this!