Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Following a Wild God - A Fairy Tale of Sorts

As a momma of three beautiful girls, I find myself telling the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears over and over and over again. I have NO idea why my girls love it, but it is definitely on our top 10 list. As is often the case with story, we find ourselves in the center of it. So I’d like to introduce you to my story, really our story, of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

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Let me start by telling you about Papa Bear. If you are reading this, I’m guessing you have met Him. For some, it might have been as teens, for some as adults. For me, it was when I was three years old. And for the record, don’t let anyone ever tell you that if you meet Papa Bear when you are young, that it isn’t meaningful. Sometimes the younger you are when you meet Him, the clearer the picture is of Him.

Papa Bear is loving and very protective.
Papa Bear wants to have a genuine relationship with all of His children.
Papa Bear will take you on adventures and through the wilds in ways you could never dream.
Papa Bear will fight both for His children and for the knowledge that His children are an active part of the Kingdom.

Throughout the Bible, Papa Bear has been showing others how valuable his cubs are.  We see in Mark 10 a passage that powerfully points to a Father who is passionate about His children.

People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And then he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.

What is perhaps most striking is how Jesus is described: “Indignant.” Often we gloss over this passage and picture a gentle Christ, sitting on a large stone, gently holding a couple kids on His lap, somewhat similar to Santa. But I don’t think that is accurate. I have no doubt that in the children’s eyes he was compassionate and loving. But there was anger as well, because someone dared to keep Him from His children. This wasn’t the first time Jesus had told his disciples about how much He values children.

Right before that we hear another story where Jesus took a child in His arms. Mark 9:33-36.

They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”

There are many things I love about this passage. First, during this time we learn in verse 30 that Jesus was trying to have some uninterrupted teaching time with His disciples as they were travelling. Yet, there was at least one child around. He didn’t send the children out of the house, or in the other room. He allowed him to be with Him. Not only did Jesus notice this child, he took him in His arms. He could have made any comparison, used ANYTHING to make this very important point, but He chose a child.  He chose a child!

Jesus continues on a few verses later:

If anyone causes one of these little ones – those who believe in me – to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.

I am drawn to the fact that Jesus is still using children in His description. It is entirely possible that as He continues discussing the importance of children, that He is still holding that same child in His arms. And why wouldn’t He? That child seemed to understand the Kingdom far better than the disciples did.

It is no wonder then, that when shortly later when parents were bringing the children to be blessed, that Jesus became indignant when the disciples tried to stop them. Here they were, stopping the children from being blessed by Jesus, doing the very thing they were told not to do, treating them as nuisances.

It seems pretty clear. The children recognized who Jesus truly was long before the disciples did. And Jesus knew that they were as much a part of the Kingdom as anyone else.

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And now, I would like to tell you about the Baby Bears in our story.
There was a story passed around through email several years ago. While maybe not Biblically accurate, there was something in it that always rang true to me. The story paints a picture of a girl age 5 hovering over her baby sister. The mother watches for a moment as the little girl whispers to her and then places her ear near the infant’s mouth. “What are you doing to your little sister?” The little girl replies, “I’m asking her what God’s voice sounds like. I’m starting to forget.”

This is one of those heartwarming stories that is cute, but not based on fact, right? But ask any who has rocked a crying baby, silently praying for them, feeling a once rigid body relax as prayers are sent to a Heavenly Father. There is a smile, unlike other smiles, when I hold my baby girl and tell her that Jesus loves her. There is knowledge, some uninterrupted direct line in their hearts that goes to their Creator. They seem to be born knowing that they are loved by God. 

But somewhere along the line, they begin to forget. The adults in their lives disappoint them. Their God ambassadors, also known as parents, lose their tempers, hurt them, and basically act human. And there are some who have unimaginable and unspeakable harm done to them.

Psalm 8:2 states, “Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.” The image painted of not just children, but infants, is staggering. There are not simply these fragile, weak and dependent creatures that spend their days sleeping, eating, and waiting for diaper changes. No, these children are designed by their Creator with a purpose. Even at a young age, their life is an expression of pure worship, even though we have a tendency to ignore them. These are people who have a role in the Kingdom. 

These are people who God has a relationship with.

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There are two characters left in our story, and this is where we come in. There is Mama Bear, and there is Goldilocks. We have a choice which role to take on. We can be Goldilocks. We can put ourselves as the center of the story, thinking it's all about us. We can keep busy doing our Kingdom work and pat ourselves on the back for reading them a Jesus story as we "prepare them for the future."

Or, we can be Mama Bears. We can stand up to others who hurt the Baby Bears, whether intentional or unintentional. We can love them, nurture them, and with every interaction point them to their Papa Bear. And we can whisper to them to explore and follow Him into the wild.

I look at my girls and I watch how they pray. I see it in their eyes. They hear Him. And I'm realizing it's more important for me to step back and give them space to hear Him. We're following Him together.





I am so excited that I was able to contribute to the book Wild Goslings: Engaging With Kids in the Mysteries of God. You can go to Amazon and download it here. You can also find us on Facebook here. You'll be glad you did! 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Sometimes We Are the Enemy - A Reflection on Psalm 64

I baked today. 

For probably the first time in over three months, I baked for no other reason than I wanted to fill the house with good smells. I wanted to watch Katie stir the batter with equal parts care and artistic flair. I wanted Sophie to beat the eggs as her smile widens with each pass of the whisk. I wanted Lucy to fold in the grated zucchini, proud that even a two year old can help. 

We talked about lemon zest as I generously added it in and smiled and laughed. We sat in front of the oven, just watching it bake, because we simply wanted to. I have a must-do list that is many, many pages long and needs to be completed. But this? This was important.



The loaves baked and there is something about that lemon-scented bread that centered me. The girls each ate a slice, hot out of the oven, dripping with butter. I do declare I heard the Lord himself say, "It is good."

Now they color and make an army of paper dinosaurs out of paper stars while I slip away to write. We all are happy.

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I meditate on Psalm 64 as I have been for days. And I read the words:

They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim their words like deadly arrows.
They shoot from ambush at the innocent man; they shoot at him suddenly, without fear.

I've been hurt by the words of others. I have cried out into the night, praying that God would swoop in and intervene and set all things right. I still wear the scars that don't seem to fade with time. They have changed me, good and bad, into the person I am today. 

The enemy is the tongue. 

The enemy is my tongue. How often do I bemoan others, unaware of my own culpability? We fight back, launching words and blog posts like arrows, hoping to penetrate the opposition's position. Hoping to highlight their weakness. Win the battle. 

There is so much hurt. So much wrong. So much pain. 

There are boys being shot when walking home at night. There are children being shot in parks while watching fireworks in my city where a total of 55 people were shot over the Fourth of July weekend. There are little girls who are so abused and neglected that they have maggots growing in their wounds. There are people dying of hunger every day. There is so much bad, so much wrong, in the world that sometimes all I can do is bake a loaf of bread and try to catch my breath because if I think about it to much I might just break down forever.

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I think about Psalm 64. I think about those who sharpen their tongues like swords. But what if we do, but don't aim at the innocent, but instead......? 

I will fight against injustice. I will fight myself and my own desires. I will fight to see His Kingdom come.

Jonathan Martin said on Twitter today:

The work of Jesus is to bind up the brokenhearted. You are surrounded by broken hearts on all sides, so roll up your sleeves & join him. What feels like poison to you will one day be the antidote for someone else. Your wounds will be a resource for healing - so don't give up.

And the brokenhearted are all around us. And the world is moaning and crying out in pain. And I can't act like I don't hear it. It's time to use our words for Kingdom work.




Friday, July 12, 2013

In Which I Think I Feel The Holy Spirit - A Guest Post for Sarah Bessey

Photo Credit: Jennifer Upton A Shared Lens
It was July 26, 2012 when I wrote on this blog, for "real." It was a synchroblog for Sarah Bessey and I wrote my heart out. And Sarah, graciously, came to all of us who posted. She read our words and shared comments. That comment gave me a nudge to keep writing. And here, almost one year later, I have the amazing opportunity to share my words on her blog. I am truly overwhelmed and humbled.


Join me there, as I share a story that's been stored up far too long.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

When Magic Breaks Through

The drafts folder is full of post upon post that aren't quite finished. This summer has been wonderfully relaxing. We get so tired with the constant demands of our normal, everyday schedule, and this bit of laziness has been good for the soul. But the lack of firm schedule and the heat of made our days blend one into the other and here I am on a Wednesday morning, realizing that again, I haven't posted this week.

Photo Credit: http://asharedlens.smugmug.com/Weather/Sunsets/24949647_HxKMrT#!i=2332245631&k=hnNH5jb&lb=1&s=XL


There is a lot that has been happening; a lot on the horizon. Some words flow freely. Some are stuck, just waiting for the moment of release. So much good coming. So much. I have that Mary feeling I get every so often. I'm just storing these things up in my heart.

I've been challenged by words this past month. And I've been angered by words. I've been encouraged. And I've been brokenhearted. 

But as disappointed as I can be in the words of others, I've found a new joy, a new beauty in the Words that I've known since I was a child.

I held my Lucy girls in my arms on the couch as she drifted off to her nap. As busy as life gets, there is something perfect about taking the time each day to let her fall in her momma cocoon. Breathe in. Breathe out.

Softly sleeping, I watched a few minutes of Call the Midwife (if you don't watch this, I just don't know....) and the words spoken by one of the nuns in the scene filled my heart like an orchestra's music swells to fill an amphitheater.

I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? John 11:25-26

Even in the King James, the words found their way to the deep places. And all the theological poundings and fighting and are pushed aside as I just sit in the knowledge that I am loved. I have life. 

And suddenly this day seems almost magical. Can't you just feel it?

Tomorrow. Tomorrow I can tackle the rest of the words. But for right now, I'm going to rest in this. The knowing that I am held.

It is good.