Dress rehearsal

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Start with what you have, not what you think you need

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pixabay

It’s tempting to be discouraged when there is a formidable task at hand and (seemingly) not the appropriate resources to accomplish that task.  Most of us have been there, are there, and/or will be there in the near future.  Such was the case with King Saul’s son, Prince Jonathon.

Context:  His father having just failed his first spiritual test by not waiting on the prophet Samuel, the Israelite army was now in severe disarray and facing the menacing Philistine nation.  Less than a thousand Jewish soldiers remained.  Thankfully, one of them was Jonathon.

Make that two: Jonathon AND the nameless guy who carried his armor (as well as his own, I might add. I love nameless people in the Bible and the important role they play!  But that’s for another story.)

Jonathon was undoubtedly aware of his father’s blunder, but saw the task at hand, counted the resources he had, and chose not to shy away from honoring God.  He says decidedly:

 “Let’s go across to the outpost of those pagans,” Jonathan said to his armor bearer. “Perhaps the Lord will help us, for nothing can hinder the Lord. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few!” (1 Samuel 14:6, NLT)

Here’s the thought: when the battle is truly God’s, the circumstances pale in comparison to God’s power and provision, and most of all, His character.  The young prince and his assistant began with what they had, and God provided the rest, in some pretty amazing ways as it turned out.

It gives me pause, as well as encouragement, to ask myself what things God is putting in my sphere of influence to accomplish—in a relationship that seems broken beyond repair, or in a financial situation that was tanked by recent economic downturns, or any other number of things that seem (and are) impossible for me…

…but not for Him.

Read your history book, er…stone.

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At some point into King Saul’s tenure, things were not looking too good for the Hebrew nation, which, BTW, was nothing new up to that point in their embattled but miraculous history.   Come to think of it, it has been typical of their existence ever since.  

The good news was that the prophet of the Lord, Samuel, the same guy who had in recent memory anointed Saul as king over God’s nation of Israel, said that his plan was to show up in town seven days hence, and that Saul was to wait for him there.  The bad news was that the very powerful enemy (one of several) was now r-e-a-l-l-y ticked off at the still-fledgling nation, and was mustering an army against them.  As might be expected, Saul’s men were getting more than a little nervous, and began breaking ranks, slipping away into the hills and surrounding places, which was understandably a bit disconcerting for the king of Israel, (who struggled with his own self-image issues anyway—can anyone relate?) 

But wait!  There was even worse news!  Samuel, whose job it was to offer prayers and sacrifices to the God of Israel and bless them for success in battle, hadn’t shown up like he said he would!  He was late, or maybe he just wasn’t coming after all!

Hardly…

God’s sense of timing is not like ours.  To quote a good friend, Jon McKinney, “God is rarely early, but He’s never late.” This was a test, this was only a test. Unfortunately, Saul bombed it.

In fact, most of this life is a test as well.  In this episode, God was exposing an inherit flaw in Saul’s character—Saul was more concerned about himself, his safety, his victory and honor among the people (remember that old inferiority complex?) than he was about trusting God and honoring Him through patient obedience.  If only Saul had remembered his history lesson about his predecessor named Gideon (see earlier blog on that one, or better yet, read it in the Bible, Judges, chapter 7), he would have realized that God does not depend on numbers, but on our faith and His own grace and power. 

And how do I respond when my circumstances are telling me that God is somehow late, or worse, that He is breaking His promise?  Part of our faith is demonstrated by how we interpret our circumstances in light of our relationship with God.  Part of our love for God is revealed by desiring to honor Him through our obedience in the midst of those circumstances.  It’s not about “my” victory, but about His ability; not “my” reputation, but His.

Thx for readin’—dawnlizjones

Step away from the baggage, and no one will get hurt.

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Remember the days of playing “Hide and Seek”?  (Yeah, I also remember “Red Rover, Red Rover”, potential broken bones and all, so let’s stick with “Hide and Seek”.)  I’m not sure if I ever actually won, probably not known as the most ingenious covert operative, but I might posit that most of us have become fairly adept in our daily lives at hiding our true selves in various ways, …even from our true selves!

One of the many things I love about the Bible is the complete candor and mirror-like reality of its stories.  The heroes (with the exception of only One) are nuanced and flawed, their follies and foibles paraded befor us not only to see, but to be related to.  And I do.  Heartily.  One such character is the first king of Israel, a fellow named Saul, described as tall, dark, and handsome (okay, that’s not me), but evidently with a supreme inferiority complex, (that’s where I fit in).  Here’s a young buck that God has chosen to be king, God’s prophet proclaims him to be king, and he even LOOKS like a king!

Pick up the story as the prophet, Samuel, comes to anoint him before the nation of Israel in a special ceremony:

“So Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel before the LORD, and the tribe of Benjamin was chosen by lot. Then he brought each family of the tribe of Benjamin before the LORD, and the family of the Matrites was chosen. And finally Saul son of Kish was chosen from among them. But when they looked for him, he had disappeared! So they asked the LORD, “Where is he?” And the LORD replied, “He is hiding among the baggage.”  *

Cracks me up.

Interestingly, earlier in the same chapter we are told that God gave Saul a “new heart”, which informs me that when God chooses me to accomplish something, he will also prepare me inwardly for that job.  However, it doesn’t just stop there.  That “new heart” must be nurtured and protected or else the weeds of old ways of thinking and outdated patterns of feeling or processing experiences will creep back in again.  That’s when I’m tempted to duck out of sight, so to speak, to hide myself from fear of past shame or failure.

The truth says the opposite.  As forgiven children of God, only when we step out from behind the baggage of our past can we then step into our full destiny, trusting His work in and through us whether that puts us in the spotlight or not. 

In other words, since God, through His Son Jesus, has already come to seek us, we no longer have to hide.

*I Samuel 1:20-23  Tyndale House Publishers Inc (2008-06-01). The One Year Bible NLT (One Year Bible: Nlt) (Kindle Locations 15566-15569). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Walking the path

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Sasha Dichter's Blog

I recently had the chance to have dinner with a small group of amazing nonprofit leaders. Our host gave us all a gift by asking us to start the meal by going around the table and each sharing why we do this work.

Each member of the group was honest and open, and, in listening to story after story, I began to see that they were all essentially the same.

They were stories about role models, whether a mother or a grandfather, a teacher, a social worker, a friend.
Stories of seeing their own relative good fortune – because everybody is more fortunate than somebody.
Stories of the call to serve.
Stories of stubbornness in the face of the impossible.
Stories of discovering that their talents can be used for good.
Stories of getting hooked on the feeling of making meaningful change.
And stories of them fighting each day to…

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Redefined Reality in the Blogosphere (or, Welcome to my Worm Hole)

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In the few short months since I started this blogging adventure, I think I am ready to draw a few conclusions:

First, definitions: To follow traditionally meant—“to accept as a guide or leader; accept the authority of or give allegiance to;to conform to, comply with, or act in accordance with; obey; to imitate or copy; use as an exemplar:  (1)

The expanded version now reads: “When you follow a blog…the new posts from that site will appear in your Reader, where you can view the latest posts published across the blogs you follow. You’ll also receive notifications of new posts by email.” (2)

Lessons I have learned concerning “follows”: Continue reading “Redefined Reality in the Blogosphere (or, Welcome to my Worm Hole)”

Not yet over the rainbow

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I had never seen a double rainbow until Bob and I were on our honeymoon (a L-O-N-G time ago), so obviously, double rainbows are kind of special to me personally. 

One of the first things that the Bible records of God creating is light.  I’m not an engineer (both my dad and one of my brothers are, does that count??) but I think I remember a few things about light that are worth noting:

  1. It’s one of the fastest things in the universe. How they figured out what the speed of light actually is, I have no idea.  Faster than a speeding bullet (yeah, I’m old); faster than my husband in the morning (which isn’t saying much.)  Bottom line: it’s pretty quick
  2. Light is powerful. Too much can blind you, but focused light, as with a laser scalpel in a surgeon’s hands, brings healing.  Without it, food will not grow, but too much and the garden withers.
  3. What we normally experience with light is not really all there is. When it hits a prism—voila!  A rainbow.  In other words, there’s more to light than what meets the eye.

I find it intriguing that light was one of God’s first (recorded) ideas.  This gives me a clue as to its importance, not just in my daily walking around life, but as to my inward life as well.  Perhaps more so.  Probably more so.  No, definitely so.  Light—that is, understanding, clarity, wisdom—is integral to life.

  1. God’s light, His clarity, wisdom, enlightening kick in the pants (in other words, whatever form it takes) is the fastest distance between two points. No runarounds or red tape or beating around the bush or whatever other metaphors we choose.  God’s way is the best way, getting us to what He had in mind when He created each individual in the first place; however,…
  2. God’s illumination, His truth, may have to cut through the bricks and mortar of the walls we have erected around ourselves (or have allowed others to do so), such as deception, or fear, toxic relationships, confusion.  And that usually kinda hurts, but…
  3. There’s more happening with the God’s light that we can readily see, at least at first. As I heard expressed so long ago, the question is not “why me?” but “to what end?”. 

As light was the first order of business in creation, so His light is of the highest necessity to me now, moment by moment, in each encounter and situation.  And eventually, even if I can’t (and usually don’t) answer all the questions now, when His light hits eternity, I’ll see that His rainbow was doing its work all the time.

Avoiding the Red Sign

The red sign of doom
The red sign of doom

A lot of folks in my small town can relate to this sign.  Never mind that the print is too small to read from the street.  You have to pretty much get your face right up to it to get the full impact of the words.   Of course the tip-off is the searing red color, which brings to mind things like a blaring fire engine, a tornado warning on the weather map, the burning flames of,…well, you get the idea. 

It’s not a friendly sign.  But not uncivil, no, nor disrespectful.  Just matter-of-fact and to the point.  No beating around the brush (pardon the pun.)  It is from the local town government stating that your grass (to use the term lightly) is higher than the allowed limit for in-town residents.  The take home message is simply this: Cut it, or else.

Or else what?

Ah, therein lies the treasure!  Seems like the only motivator for some of us is the “or else” factor, a.k.a., consequences.  If…then.   And this is not necessarily a bad thing.  It is, many times, an uncomfortable one, which is in itself a good motivator.  I need to feel the pain if I lean up against a hot stove, or if I get irritable at my friend because I’m having a bad day.  I need to see the numbers on the scale go up if I eat donuts and ice cream every day, or the numbers in the grade book go down if I don’t study for my coursework.  Consequences teach us very important things, as well as keep us safe.

Removing reasonable (i.e. safe) consequences does the opposite.  Learning from our mistakes is harder, partly

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pixabay

because we don’t feel any different after making the mistake.   Or we don’t even know we made one, since somebody derails or blunts the consequence before it gets to us.  In a morally maturing sense, that’s “pass interference”, except that the one who pays the penalty is the person who was deprived of learning a needed lesson. 

This sets everyone else up for a Domino Effect down the road.  Someone who is not well acquainted with the consequences of their own decisions and behavior will eventually have the rest of us reaping the benefit of their vested ignorance. 

….it’s almost like they expect the city to make their signs a friendly pink and yellow.

Doesn't have quite the same pizzazz, y'know??
Doesn’t have quite the same pizzazz, y’know??