The wheel keeps turning, but am I going anywhere? (Prayer journal #3, cont…)

I’m a bit fascinated by the concept of Prayer Wheels.  Put somewhat simplistically, a Prayer Wheel is cylindrical collection of Buddhist mantras wrapped around a central core that turns (usually clockwise) so that every time it makes a full revolution, the virtue (“merit”) of those scripted prayers are incurred by the one who turns it.  It’s generally recommended that the practitioner use a form of meditation at the same time, but I’ve read that, even in a distracted state of mind, merit is still obtained.  The more it is turned, the more benefit is received.  This from Lamayeshe.com: Continue reading “The wheel keeps turning, but am I going anywhere? (Prayer journal #3, cont…)”

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Fishing–no catch limit

man-1291607_1920Rarely do Bob and I have to concern ourselves with the catch limit if we go fishing.  Even in Minnesota, where you can use a paperclip to pull a lunker bass out of a mud puddle, posting a catch limit for us was unnecessary.  Such is our fishing prowess.  Good thing we don’t have to fish to eat.

Unlike Peter.  A professional fisherman, his life depended on it.  In Peter’s first encounter with Jesus, they had fished all night and caught nothing.  (Not dissimilar to some of my husband’s angling adventures, I might add.) Jesus tells them to cast on the other side of the boat, to which Peter makes some disparaging remark, but does it anyway.  And the nets become so full that they rip apart. Continue reading “Fishing–no catch limit”

It was a set-up!

chess-2489553_1920I don’t play Chess.  That is to say, I know the basic rules, but like football, there are more intricacies than I care to ponder.  What little I know, however, helps me to appreciate those that really are quite adept at the game. 

As I understand it, the goal is to capture the opponent’s king.  Period.  That’s the goal.  It doesn’t matter how many pieces you have left when that king bows to your strategic prowess.  It doesn’t matter which piece gets the king; even a pawn can do that!  Every piece has a specific function and, yes, there are sacrifices to be made along the way.  It’s all a challenge, not of chance, but of resiliently setting up the next move, anticipating each opportunity, and patiently allowing the plan to unfold. 

I imagine true chess masters can also recognize the strategy of their opponent.  They’ve seen this move before, and won’t allow the trap to entangle them. 

A comment that I’ve not quite been able to live down from one of our family reunions was when I asked if anyone would like to play a “quick game of Chess”, not wholly unlike asking for a quick game of Monopoly.  Such a thing does not exist, (unless you’re playing with me, I suppose.)

Hmmmm….

Patience in life is not one of our culturally intrinsic qualities.  Spiritually, however, it is a must.  I love God’s “suddenlies”, His intervening grace when what I’ve been praying for happens “above and beyond all I can ask or imagine”.  Like when Peter was miraculously released from prison and was left standing to knock on the door of the praying disciples.  Or when the Holy Spirit fell on the Gentiles as the same Peter was in the middle of his discourse to them about Jesus.  Or the initial “Light, be!” in Genesis chapter one.

Yeah, those are nice.

Unfortunately, I’m not quite so great concerning God’s “set ups”.  I want to mentally and emotionally check things off my prayer list a little faster than seems to be happening in my very linear timeline and limited perspective.  There are relationships I desperately want restored.  There are needs I don’t see being met.

Then I remember: the goal is the king.  And I’m not a mere pawn, but a servant, with moves in the game that are assigned to me specifically.  I cannot do what a knight or a rook or a queen can do, but I can be part of the set up for the end result, protecting my King and going after the opponent’s. 

And, importantly, allowing myself to be moved, empowered, guided by the Master, regardless of personal sacrifice in the interest of the Goal, will require learning to hear Him more acutely.  That is my foremost strategy.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

My second is tenacity.  As much as I would love a sudden “checkmate” on my formidable enemy, my Master has other things in mind that by necessity must be set up.  I may not (probably won’t) see or understand what He is doing in the present tense, but that does not preclude my responsibility to hang in there. 

“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”

chess-2776289_1920The game isn’t over yet.

Your move.

John 10:27; Galatians 6:9 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Here comes the bride!

IMG_20150103_172451138Planning weddings has become a multi-gazillion dollar business.  I fancy you could send their kids to college with some of the hoopla that society calls weddings these days!  I mean, c’mon, if half as much time, effort, and financial resources went into preparing for the marriage as it does in preparing for the wedding, well…the statistics would read a whole lot differently.

So there’s my soapbox.

Evidently, however, our 21st century Western culture is not alone in this absurdity.  Take another look at 1st century Judaism—

“The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration.  The wine supply ran out during the festivities…

One source I looked at said that wedding celebrations typically lasted five to seven days, and the whole village would be invited!  Okay, they’ve topped us on that one.  I don’t know how much wine costs back then, but over a week, it would’ve certainly driven up the bill.

“…so Jesus’ mother told him, ‘They have no more wine.’”

 “Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.”

I love, love, love Mary’s concern for the bride and her family.  True empathy.  It could be that she has already married off daughters of her own, and can feel the coming embarrassment if something isn’t done, and quickly.  Very possibly, her own husband, Joseph, is dead by this time, so she turns to her nearest benefactor, her oldest son Son.  (How convenient.)

Her next remark is brilliant—

But his mother told the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’”

Seemingly having just been given a bit of a brush off, albeit polite, she proceeds to clear the way for something extraordinary should God decide, in His wisdom, to do something…extraordinary.

Which, as we know, He did.

I don’t know if the bride and groom, or their parents, ever found out.  (Yet another example of how God comes to the rescue for us when we’re not even aware we’re in danger, but that’s another whole lesson, I suppose.)  However, the disciples knew what happened, and it made a decisive impact.

people-2576936_1920Which leaves me with another impression—shall I ask God for something and not “clear the path” for Him to do what only God can do?  Should I not also listen for His voice in response to my request rather than go on wringing my hands?

I think not.  I prefer Mary’s tack, doing what I can do at present to allow for future heavenly intervention.  Then, listen.  Carefully, and creatively.

(To be continued tomorrow….)

John 2:1-5 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

When you know that you don’t know, but you want to know…y’know??

wood 2I remembering growing up and seeing those asinine tabloids in the check-out lines at the grocery store.  I suppose they continue to make money, since I see them touting the same nonsense about who-knows-what alien got who-cares-what Hollywood starlet pregnant. 

Clearly, enquiring minds still want to know.

What is it about human nature that makes secrets so enticing?  Maybe the upside is the curiosity for the unknown which has also put us on the moon and brought us the cure for smallpox and polio, so okay, I’ll grant us grant.  But, boy howdy, there sure is a downside!  It’s the stuff of James Bond 007 as well as the local beauty shop gossip. Continue reading “When you know that you don’t know, but you want to know…y’know??”

Blessing of blooming late!

garden last

Whee!! It’s cooling off!  Of course, I’m writing this in early October, so by the time it gets posted, we might be in the middle of a blizzard.  But for now, I walk out to my patio with my pot of steaming hot tea in the morning to find leaves on my table, and fewer and fewer mosquitoes. 

I love my Midwest autumn.

The flip side is that my gardens are getting less abundant (which, this year, is a relative term, unfortunately), and the flowers are getting ready to bed down for the winter.  But look what I found!!~~

flower

Now that’s a late-bloomer if ever there was one!   What untimely but welcomed color!  Elegance in the midst of common, new in the midst Continue reading “Blessing of blooming late!”

Avoiding the ditch

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280

Bob and I were riding our road bikes several years ago, yes, dare I say, spandex and all.  I had purchased a cute yellow Trek at a garage sale that I was pretty excited about.  Let’s go!  One day, we were sailing along quite well on a two-lane highway when half a house flew by on an “oversized” (you could say that again!) load—it had to pull into the other lane to get around me.  I figured the other half was right behind, so I did the natural thing…I looked behind.

Now, experienced riders (which I am not) can do that without losing their cycling “line”.  Me?  I ended up going full speed into the ditch, which I could have ridden out of, except for a driveway’s concrete culvert a few feet ahead. 

Needless to say, the concrete won. 

So I relate to this story about King David bringing the Ark of the Covenant, the ancient symbol of Yahweh’s presence, into the capitol.  He had put it on an ox-cart, and they were making their way with much celebration and glee, until the unthinkable happened…

“…the oxen stumbled, and Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the Ark. Then the LORD’s anger was aroused against Uzzah, and he struck him dead because he had laid his hand on the Ark.” 

Obviously, this caused quite a stir:

“David was angry…[he] was now afraid of God, and he asked, ‘How can I ever bring the Ark of God back into my care?’”

Yep, that’s it.  I get (what I think is) a good idea, God will like this one, and BOOM!  Off I go, zero to sixty in three seconds—

—only to end up in the ditch.  Then it’s really easy to blame God for my ignorance and rashness (which hurt not only myself, but the other Uzzah’s in my life as well!)

David was a warrior, a prolific songster, and a mighty king, BUT…he wasn’t a priest.  Perhaps in his unbridled passion, he neglected to ask those “in the know”.  Consider what happened when his royal predecessor, King Saul, acted as priest instead of waiting for Samuel to arrive as instructed.  (Things did not go well.) No one can deny that David was an enthusiastic individual, and truly had a heart for his God.  But even so, it is tantamount that we seek His guidance first and wait patiently for His timing.  Thankfully, David didn’t give up.  It was a good plan, it just had to be God’s plan:

“Then he commanded, ‘No one except the Levites may carry the Ark of God. The LORD has chosen them to carry the Ark of the LORD…We failed to ask God how to move it properly.’”

The information had been available but it’s possible that, after all these years of waiting and struggling to even survive, they were so taken up with this pending coronation (they had been doing some pretty seriously partying for three days prior), David overlooked this very important concept (that was penned by his future son, Solomon, BTW.  Maybe the son was learning from his dad’s mistake?)—

“Enthusiasm without knowledge is no good; haste makes mistakes. People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the LORD.”bikes

Kinda wish I still had that bike.  (Unfortunately, I still have the spandex…)

1 Chronicles 13: 9,10; Proverbs 19:2,3  Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Watching the clock

wood 2I’m not one to wait excessively well.  (Just ask Bob.)  Especially if I have somewhere I need to be at a particular time, like showing up for a party “on time” is one thing, but showing up for work “on time” is something else.  I’m seriously time-oriented, and if there has been one sticking point in our marriage, lo these many years, it invariably has to do with time management.  To me, the clock tends to be a mandate; to my husband, it’s merely a suggestion…

So, in a sense I tend to relate to the disciples waiting on Jesus to arrive at the boat for their departure to the next place of ministry.  I can only imagine what possessed them to be so impatient as to leave the Main Attraction behind while they Continue reading “Watching the clock”

The welcome mat was threadbare

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280

“Years passed, and the king of Egypt died. But the Israelites continued to groan under their burden of slavery. They cried out for help, and their cry rose up to God.  God heard their groaning, and he remembered his covenant promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  He looked down on the people of Israel and knew it was time to act.”

Many of us know the backstory, even if it’s just from Charlton Heston’s iconic portrayal, or even Disney’s animated version.  The people of Israel had been rescued from a catastrophic famine by the Hebrew patriarch Joseph who had become the Number Two chariot in Egypt.  God had sovereignly brought the “nation” of Israel (only about seventy people at that time) all the way from the Promised Land to be provided for during the remaining five years of crop failure. 

The only problem was that the remaining five years was over….400 years ago.

Fast forward to the current story.  The Continue reading “The welcome mat was threadbare”

In other words…

IMG_20160131_115645993

“The moment you began praying, a command was given. And now I am here to tell you what it was, for you are very precious to God.”

Daniel 9:23  Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation.