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Free-Falling into Cushy Faith

21 May
Eames Lounge Chair by Charles and Ray Eames

Eames Lounge Chair by Charles and Ray Eames (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you sometimes freak out over concern that a chair won’t hold your weight?  If you do, you’re either a very rare person or you’re struggling with extreme obesity.  The fact is that most of us sit all of our weight in chairs every day without a second thought, and the furniture holds us up just fine.  I believe that this “chair” principle is a perfect example of how life is meant to be lived when our faith in Jesus is genuine.

My situation recently got very scary.  I actually had good reason to believe that I had a limited amount of time left in which I would be physically capable of using my hands to work on a keyboard.  Every job I’ve ever had involved typing either on a typewriter or a stenograph machine or both.  With my elbows also problematic and my hands in bad shape, how many jobs fit my capability?

So between the chronic pain and the descent of a loved one into the proverbial bottom of the barrel, life has been extremely intense and stressful.  My response at some point was to simply jump off of the cliff I was clinging to and into the arms of God.

I’ll tell you right now that it’s safe to leap into faith feet first.  Jesus caught me.  In fact, He was with me through the entire ordeal and never left me.  What was missing was my complete trust that I can rest in the Lord as comfortably as I rest my tucas in my favorite reading chair.

My hands have improved tremendously, and I have two new employers who, together, are prepared to keep me working as a writer full time for good pay.  Wow!  And praise the Lord, right?  My loved one is the subject of prayers every day, and I’m trusting and resting in the Lord regarding the outcome.

God Formed a New Ear on a Grown Woman

3 May

Maddie

Have you ever thought about the way life begins anew, with a fetus growing into a little one with hands, feet, and everything else?  It’s sort of mind-blowing, isn’t it?  Well, I discovered that God forms new creatures even outside of the womb.  The thing is, He answered prayers and sort of changed me into a new person as a result of a desperate plea for help.

If you read my last post, you know that I’ve been guilty of behaving badly when moving.  I moved this week, and my youngest daughter helped me.  She had pretty much dreaded being with me in my “moving mode.”  But instead of me getting all edgy and sharp, I was relaxed and generous and sweet and loving.  We actually enjoyed our hard work, and we worked as well together as two people possibly can.

Maddie said, on several occasions, that we were a good team and the move couldn’t have gone any more smoothly than it did.  She appreciated the Starbucks coffees I bought her and the lunch and the general willingness to bend over backwards for her because she was working like a mule for me.

But it was a miracle that I acted appropriately.  How did God do that?  I have a track record of allowing worries to affect me in high stress moves, though normally I’m a person who refuses to worry for more than a few minutes, consciously, anyway.  Faith is all about remembering that God has us in the palms of his hands.  He doesn’t cough and look away, not even for one millisecond.

I know what it is that’s bothering me during these moves.  I’ve had some really bad experiences in which movers went so far as to scare me with threatening behavior.  Don’t want to go into all that, but I ended up fearing what may happen and how I may be overcharged.

Everything in my life fits as part of God’s plan for my life.  There aren’t any particular days or events in which I need to take up the mantle of worry and stress.  Since I believe that all things are working together for my good, I can behave like a sincere follower of Jesus Christ at all times of the day and night.  And when it was that this sank in well enough to turn my behavior completely around is a mystery, like when God fashions an eyeball.

I’m In a Pickle Jar, And God’s Unscrewing the Lid

30 Apr
Barney, Andy, Aunt Bee, and Opie in "The ...

Barney, Andy, Aunt Bee, and Opie in "The Pickle Story" (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I switched to a healthy eating regimen a few years back; and I still remember how exhilarated I was, as though I had been released from a mind control prison.  Energy returned to me, and my eyes and ears that had been dulled were sharper.  I was convinced that I had actually been in the captivity of my flesh, and it felt amazing to be free.

Here I sit in that same prison, but it’s worse this time.  I’m aware that I’ve been entrapped by the things I routinely put in my mouth.  In other words, I know how to get out.  So why don’t I?

Television is actually much like food for me in that it’s a mild addiction.  I can get caught up in the absolutely time-wasting activity of watching what Stephen King refers to as a “glass teat” in his book On Writing.  Every weekday morning I’m watching all the early episodes of The Andy Griffith Show, when Opie was a kindergartener.  And I don’t like to miss Columbo on Sunday nights or Monk on Fridays – and there’s more.  If you put together all those hours I waste in front of the television, I could have written the book series I dream of by now.

I’m tired of being comfortable with my complacency.  I want to be a better example to the little ones, too.  Life is so much better when I eat right and have a sense of health and well-being pumping through my body as a result of adequate exercise.  I feel like such an idiot, and rightly so.  Because what I wish for isn’t some lofty thing out of my reach, like getting to witness to Mel Gibson face-to-face.  I simply want to do the very best I can with this life and this body God gave me.

Again I ask:  So why don’t I?

It just came to me that focusing on these issues daily in fervent prayer will be the catalyst to turn all of this around.  I’ll do it, and I’m pretty excited about unexpectedly receiving this answer from the Lord.  And earlier today I had the idea that when I do start exercising, I could pray for friends I know who also need to get in shape for the sake of their health.  This makes so much sense.  It takes prayer to crucify the flesh and be free of its relentless demands.  Duh!  It’s a spiritual battle!

And all this time I thought it was about me acting stupid.

Caught between Dorothy’s Joy and a Wicked Witch’s Demise

26 Apr
Cropped screenshot of Judy Garland from the tr...

Cropped screenshot of Judy Garland from the trailer for the film The Wizard of Oz. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My spiritual high Monday, which involved an irresistible urge to pray all day long, was a day which produced an unexpected miracle  cluster.  My daughter Maddie is like the lion in the Wizard of Oz who found his courage.  She was hired for a position which represents a significant raise and promotion; she earned it by working hard far below her pay level for years.  My daughter Emily — like the scarecrow who had a brain, after all —  landed a high-paying job the same day she quit a job in which she was unmercifully used and worked much like a slave in management.  Funds I’ve been waiting for were released to me, and I got hired by a generous employer who actually believes writers should get paid well for the difficult job of writing.  It was a river of relief that seemed as simple as a snap, like when all Dorothy had to do to get her heart’s desire was to tap her slippers three times and say, “I want to go home.”

But my financial relief and physically taxing relief aren’t quite here; and, sparing the details, the pressure on me could be compared to being that wicked witch that was unfortunate enough to have a house land on her.

In moments like this, though dramatic, I think of all that Jesus suffered when he was beaten and hung on the cross.  The movie The Passion of the Christ gives a glimpse of what our Savior suffered through.  But the result of all that horrific difficulty and pain was a glorious resurrection and the opening of a stairway to heaven for all who believe in the Son of God.

Through my wincing, I believe that on the other side of this trial is an even bigger breakthrough than what my family experienced on Monday.  God is good, and He doesn’t let His children suffer without good reason.  The life of a Christian is a life of purpose which puts an anticipation of joy into every sweat drop of human suffering.  My rejoicing by faith doesn’t look like much on the outside right now; but on the inside, I’m giving God and His goodness a standing ovation.

 

 

Spiritual Urges are Way Better Than Fleshly Urges

23 Apr

I’m often struck with various urges. Mostly, I get the urge to eat a bit of chocolate.  My love of the outdoors is why I believe I get the urge to take the kids to the zoo on a regular basis (if you’re going on a long walk, why not go where the scenery is engaging?)  But today I’ve been struck with an ongoing urge to pray.

What a great reminder — as I move from living mostly with my mind on earthly things to keeping my mind mostly on the things of heaven – that the Christian life is a supernatural journey.

Imagine if you were part of an entourage for a huge celebrity and as such got to see and experience things the throngs would consider once-in-a-lifetime thrills.  Now imagine being in the entourage of the most powerful Being in existence; perhaps the throngs don’t see the excitement in it, but I certainly do.  I’m trying to draw a distinction between earthly thrills and heavenly pleasures.

When I commune with God as a person who is free from unforgiveness and habitual sin, life is anything but commonplace or boring.  Experiencing the nearness of God is like turning my human existence into what in fleshly terms would be the equivalent of enjoying a chocolate sundae with homemade Blue Bell ice cream (available mostly just in Texas and the best in the world).

Indeed, today I find the urge to pray stronger than the urge to eat.  What am I praying about?  I’m not even certain why there’s such a powerful pull on me to drop to my knees.  I know that two of my children have job interviews today for positions which would improve upon their current work situations.  I also know that my second move in approximately a month is one week away; definitely need prayers for that.

It’s been a while since I’ve felt such a strong spiritual pull of any kind.  I’m not using a lot of words other than agreeing that God’s will be done in the situation prompting my Spirit to pray.  Whatever God is up to, I’m just grateful and excited to be in his entourage.

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Romans 8:26

New King James Version (NKJV)

26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us[a] with groanings which cannot be uttered.