Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Bend Low, My Little Sparrow...

“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.
Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God,
That He may exalt you in due time,
Casting all your cares upon Him,
For He cares for you…”

1 Peter 5-7

I am the Mighty Sparrow
Across the skies, I soar!
I greet the morning sunlight!
I open heaven’s door!

Gorgeous velvet brown and silken gray,
I’m beautiful, I know it, and I’m not afraid to say,
My beauty is spectacular, the envy of the day!
I am the very image of what beauty ought to be!
All the other birds I know wish they looked like me!

The biggest, plumpest worms are mine!
They crawl up to my royal seat upon the highest tree.
I love to see them wiggle their boneless little spines
And beg that they might be,
The one I choose for breakfast, for dinner or for tea!

I lived next door to a Cardinal once, poor ugly bird was he.
He was best friends with a Blue Jay and I am sad to say,
They hated who they were because they weren’t me!
When will all the other birds get it through their heads?
I am the best, the best there is, there is no one like me!

I laugh at the pathetic Peacock,
Feathers spread behind him, he’s strutting up and down.
He bears a striking image to a garish circus clown!
Join me in my laughter, come along with me!
You can be in my circle of those who worship me!

Please join me in my circle. It will just be you and me.
It’s just me surrounded by my mirrors, so I can check on me.
I don’t know why the other birds avoid me like they do.
I don’t know why they fly away. I don’t know why, do you?
Won’t you tell me what I’m doing wrong? Tell me, tell me true.

Can I tell you a secret?

Do you promise you won’t tell?
Sometimes I am so all alone,
I think that I’m in hell.

When I was just a baby bird, beneath my mother’s wing,
She loved to pull me close to her
And in my little baby ears, a lullaby she’d sing.

I can still hear her sweet, sweet voice
Singing over me...

Stay close to your Father, my baby, my love,
And always sing your song to Him, my little turtle dove,
Little bird, I love you,
and I thank the God who made you, and put you in my nest,
To be my little chickadee, nothing more and nothing less.

She said the Father fashioned me to be a little bird.
To sing the song He gave to me that no one has ever heard.
I am having trouble remembering the words and melody.
I haven’t sung to the Father in so long,

Will He remember me?

I think I’ve lost my way.  I think that I have sinned. 

Do you think that He'll forgive me?
Do you think He'll let me in?
But, I hear my mother’s tender song, singing over me.
“Bend low, my little sparrow.
You’ll find Him on your knees… “ 



Thursday, May 23, 2013

Cracked Wide Open...

"...All Your waves and billows have gone over me."
Psalm 42: 7

(This is a re-write of Psalm 42, in the language of my heart...)

Like the parched earth cracks and breaks wide open to gulp down the spring rains, so am I broken and dying for even a drop of You...
Where are You?  I can’t find You anymore.
Nothing satisfies my thirst.  I eat and drink my tears day and night.
I hear the mocking of my enemies, laughing and dancing a victory dance over me.  “Where is He, now?!  Where is He hiding?!”
My heart breaks when I remember You.  I remember when we were close and I celebrated in Your house, with those who knew Your name.  I remember how we danced and sang Your praises late into the night.  What happened to all that?  I thought it would never end.  I don’t understand why it did…
What’s wrong with me?  I have to stop all this crazy thinking.  Now is the time to trust You, right in the middle of all this madness.  I just need to see You next to me once more…
Oh, God, I cannot stop the noise inside of me that is washing over me like a river of darkness.  Where are You?  Why have you left me all alone with my enemies surrounding me?
Oh, God, I’m going under! Grab hold of me before they bury me forever in a grave marked "Despair".
Somewhere, I have a memory of You loving me.  Didn’t You care for me tenderly? Don’t I remember You singing a love song over me, day and night?
Yes, I’m sure of it now.  I remember You, Oh, Lord.  You have been like a safe house to me - the place I run to when the maniac storm chases after me and murders everything it touches... 

But, why don’t You remember me?  Am I nothing to You, now?
If I matter to You, why have you left me alone with them?  Do You see them circling around me like a pack of wild dogs, barking at me constantly their vicious taunts?  They have torn me to pieces and gnaw on my broken bones.
I cannot shut them out.  Can’t you hear them laughing at me - mocking me?  “Where is your precious God, now, you fool?  You are all alone…”
Even so, I cannot forget Your touch; the joy of knowing You…
Is that You invading this darkness?  Is that You I see in the distance?
Is that Hope I feel stirring in my heart?
Is that You drawing me, claiming me, pulling me back to You?

Is that Your voice I hear stilling the jeers of my enemy?
There really isn’t much I know for sure, but, this much I have learned.  I would be a fool, indeed, to ignore a God like You.
You, and You alone, are the only God I have and the One I will praise forever…



Thursday, May 16, 2013

I Have You...

..."Even if I go through
the deepest, darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
For YOU are with me...
Psalm 23:4

Mother's Day.  Serving cupcakes and ice-cream-sundays to mothers in their eighties and nineties.  Some in wheel chairs, some blind, some deaf, some confused and losing their way mentally.  I had invited a new-found friend, an excellent speaker, a sister-in-Christ, to come and share her testimony with this little rag-tag group of ladies that had gathered around the ice-cream and cake to celebrate the blessing of motherhood.  My friend is a mother of several children, now grown, and of one who went to be with the Lord at the tender age of fourteen.  She has an amazing story...

Tanya (not her real name) lost her son to gang members who showed up on the playground where he was playing basketball and shot at random into the crowd of young boys shooting hoops that day.  When they were finished, her son was lying on the ground with a bullet in his head.  He died on the way to the hospital.  She never even got to say good-bye. 

For any mother, this is the ultimate loss.  Tanya is no exception.  As she shared with us the pain of that moment, over twenty years ago, she struggled to keep back the tears even now.  There really are no words to comfort a mother who experiences this kind of a tragedy.  But, I had asked Tanya to share with us because of the uncommon grace that oozes from the pores of this beautiful woman whose faith has deepened and flourished, not only in spite of this loss, but, even, because of it. 

Listening to her testimony of God's care for her during the most horrible time she ever lived through, she told us of the tender moments when Jesus drew very close to this grieving mother and reassured her of His unfathomable love for her as she said goodbye to the son she loved.

In the depth of her agony to release her son into the hands of God, this woman of faith was torn between her love for her son and the knowledge that he had gone home to be with His Savior.  She knew that of a certainty - she did not doubt it.  But, that didn't make the lettting go any easier, of course.  Right in the middle of the depth of that struggle, she heard the voice of Jesus calling her, loving her, comforting her.  "I have you, Tanya.  I have you..." 

There are many other things she shared with us about this trial in her life.  But, for now, that is all I want to leave you with.  Whatever you are going through today, no matter the tragedy or the trial, listen for the voice of your Savior calling to you, comforting you, loving you through it all.  No matter what it is you have been asked to face that seems impossible, hold on to Jesus.  Just remember that it is the same Savior that spoke to my friend that is reassuring you today.  He is saying over and over again, "I have you...  I have you..."  Jesus Christ has you.  No matter, what, He has you.  And He will bring you all the way home...

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Sing Over Me...

"...And He will quiet me with His love.
He will sing over me with rejoicing."
Zephaniah 3:17

It's morning.  I see the sun bursting through the windows, touching everything in its path with fingers of gold.  The cat stretches and meows a good morning greeting to be sure I am roused enough to fill her food dish.  Time to get on with the day. 

Awakening to the dawn, I realize there are some things left over from yesterday that need to be finished today.  At the top of the list is a phone call I must make that I have been dreading.  I know I cannot put it off any longer.  The time is now.  Lifting the phone reluctantly, I am aware of a growing anxiety creeping up my spine, filling my entire body with an unwelcomed and uninvited guest.  Anxiety is taking over my world, shutting out the stunning beauty of the morning that has broken out all over my tiny apartment.  All I can see is the tentacles of the hand of panic that has me in its grip. 

I dial the phone and wait to hear the voice of the person I am calling, convinced that my call will be unwelcome and unreceived.  Suddenly, she is on the phone, engaging me in a sweet and gentle voice of welcome, blowing apart all of my preconceived certainties about how she would respond to my call.  She shocks me with her understanding of the situation I am bringing to her.  She assures me of her confidence in me and graciously encourages me to continue on the course I am on, with her blessing.  I am blown away...

As I am listening to the reassurance of this lovely lady on the other end of the phone, something begins to run through my mind - a scripture I have heard so often that I have come to know it by heart...  Something about "He will quiet you with His love - He will sing over you with JOY!"  I am suddenly, immediately, breathtakingly, in the presence of The Lord.  I know beyond the shadow of a doubt, that He is there with me.  He has prepared this woman for my phone call.  He has paved the way.  He went before me, He is sitting in my living room at this moment, and He will go after me...  "Surely His uncommon Goodness and Mercy will follow me, all the days of my life..."  Ps. 23:6

He is teaching me to trust Him, day by day, minute by minute.  He is calming me, He is loving me, He is changing me.  By the sheer weight and glory of His presence and His love.  I am amazed by this God who never fails to surprise me with His tender, loving care for me when I have decided, once again, that I am on my own in this world, and I can't take another step.  He is there.  He is all over me.  He is the essence of love unspeakable and full of glory.  He transforms every inch of who I am.  He is the source of everything good, and lovely, and beautiful.  He is the Sunshine bursting through the  windows.  He is the God I love and the God I worship.  Oh, Lord, You're beautiful...

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Can't Even Get Out of Bed...

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
 because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
 He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the captives free..."
Luke 4:18

Thinking about the people who really need the Lord today.  The one's who didn't make it to church this morning.  Some of them are card carrying members of the local church.  And some of them never stepped foot in a church building before.  They are more than the sum total of what others may say about them or think about them.  They are frail and fragile, often beyond our reach. For them, the bottom has fallen out.  They need God in a way that cannot be described.  If you haven't been there, you probably can't relate.  But, if you have, you know exactly what I am talking about. 

I am not talking about a people who get up on a Sunday morning and fit God into their schedule because it's expected, because they are church members or members of the deacon board, or, even a Sunday School teacher or a pastor who stayed up late preparing his weekly sermon.  I'm not talking about the kids who go to church because their parents dragged them there, or the husband who "plays the role" of the spiritual head of the family or the wife who begrudgingly tags along with the husband who wants her there. 

No, I'm not talking about any of them. 

I'm thinking of the one who drank herself to sleep last night to drown out the voice of despair that she couldn't turn off in her head. 

I'm thinking of the one who graduated from college three years ago and wants to give it all up because there isn't a job to be found, even for a college graduate. 

I'm thinking of the young husband who got married in a whirlwind of excitement and promise, whose wife strutted out the front door yesterday with his babies in her arms, to live with the boyfriend she has been having an affair with. 

I'm thinking of the young college girl who bought into all the hype that sex, in any form, at any time, with anyone, is her right and privilege.  I'm picturing her broken and weeping all alone in her room now that she has exercised her "right to choose" and killed the baby she wanted to carry but couldn't find a way. 

I'm picturing the 70-year-old grandfather, lying on his death bed all alone in an "independent living" home, where he found refuge and where none of his children or grandchildren or siblings or friends ever bothered to visit him. 

I'm picturing the young soldier, dying on a battlefield in a war that nobody wants to acknowledge and everyone pretends isn't happening. 

I'm picturing the little five-year-old girl, looking up into the eyes of the father she trusts, just before he raped and murdered her mercilessly. 

I'm picturing the babies, born fully formed and beautiful from the hand of God, dying on the abortion clinic floor after the doctor that delivered them cut their spinal chord with a pair of scissors to "get rid of them".

So many people, young and old, dying natural and unnatural deaths all around us.  My heart cries out for them.  I know that is the heart of God crying within me for each one. 

People need the Lord.  Not an empty religious ritual where we gather together on Sunday and get Him out of the way just before we go to Sunday brunch.  But, a desperate, "sell everything you have" to get to Him need for the Only God who matters. 

Forgive me if I have no patience with empty rituals that don't bring us to the throne of God.  To me, they are a waste of time and a mockery of God.  He said He came to "set the captive free."  That's me and that's you...

He came for the sick, the dying, the desperate.  What are we doing settling for anything less...?