Friday, September 15, 2017

God's Timing



I was supposed to start taking an in-depth look at the metaphor of being a grasshopper, but I have become truly distracted by other things going on in my life. Therefore, I think I will take a detour here. Eventually, however, I will work my way back to the grasshopper…I know you are really anxious to hear about it…but, I honestly think my current frame of mind will take me back to the idea of feeling small…because, regardless of the perspective from which I get there, I often end up arriving at the topic of trust…or lack of thereof… and how that causes me a great deal of distress.

Yesterday, my mind circled around the idea of God’s timing. It is not the first time I wrestle with this concept. But yesterday, as I waited for test results, I really was led to pause and ponder on how different God’s timing is from ours.

As it happens, I was hoping to get my test results back the day before, but due to a series of events, which had to do with me not filling out and returning a form my doctor sent me back in May, they did not receive the results when they should have. So yesterday, after some maneuvering, they finally got them…but then, they informed me that the doctor was not going to be in the office until next Tuesday! So, I was left with having to continue to wait…augh…

Sigh…

Well…after I panicked for a few moments, I decided I was not going to let that bother me. I decided to trust. I was still nervous, but I was able to let go…even if only my kind of letting go, which means I had to continue to let go, over and over and over again. I repeated in my mind: “I trust You, Lord…I trust You…” like a chant… and I continued on doing my stuff. I didn’t become paralyzed with fear, like I often do. I was able to take my mind off of the worry and into productive things. Then, as I was getting ready to go for my evening walk with Dan…on a whim, I checked my e-mail…and guess what? The test results had been sent to me electronically! WOW! That had never happened…I don’t think? So, I took a deep breath…and clicked on the link to read that it was normal…

Then, I exhaled as I praised the Lord for His goodness, love and patience with me, a little grasshopper, trembling, trying to hold on to her faith as she trusts His perfect timing.



It never ceases me to amaze me how perfect, indeed, His timing is…and how different it is from mine, Praise the Lord!

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! 
 Psalm 27: 14


"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55: 8-9

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Rest



Last Sunday at church, our Pastor was talking about the need for us to rest. Boy did that message resonate! I am so stressed out right now, I feel faint all the time.

The beginning of the fall semester is always very challenging for me. After a summer mostly off, my brain cannot adjust quickly to a routine, and I feel scattered and disorganized most of the time. This fall, I have the added stress of having to prepare two big review packets because I am applying for tenure. Our Department is so small at the moment, that I had to go outside of it to find committee members to review my application. This was particularly stressful since I absolutely hate to ask for favors…

Then, I’m teaching a class in a one-night-a-week format, which is completely new to me. And I am teaching two periods of Culture in a not-so-near-by High School for a program I am volunteering.

All in all, I have no idea what I am doing at work.

At home is not any better. This is band season, so Grant is gone three days a week. We go to the games on Fridays and I volunteer to work at the concession stand as much as possible. Dan is back to his school and work routine. Dylan is in his last year of elementary. The house is a mess. The garage is full of junk. The dog needs a haircut and ear medicine. And, on top of it all, I have to have checkups in the coming days and weeks, which alone, totally freaks me out and gives me enough anxiety to fill up a whole year.

I. Am. Exhausted…

A sermon on resting was exactly what I needed. I even came up with a neat acronym, something I am never creative enough to come up with:

Refuel

Empty

Souls

with

Trust

I know… I had to squeeze in “with” to make sense of it…but I like it. I like it because, in my case, the reason I am so tired and in need of rest is because I’m lacking in the trust arena.

If I could just trust His word… trust His promises… I would not worry the way I do. I think I could actually relax in the midst of any circumstance. I believe I could just go with the flow and enjoy the ride…

I’m frustrated with myself. I mean, it isn’t as if He hadn’t proved Himself trustworthy to me. He has delivered me through many storms, fires, toil and snares … but, over and over and over again…when facing something potentially scary, I still get afraid. And I wonder, would that ever change? Would I ever see the day when I sense a storm brewing in the horizon and I don’t get overcome by fear?

I waste so much time being nervous, afraid and anxious. I’m totally sick of it. Fear also makes me distracted, irritable, temperamental, moody, impatient…all the horrible traits that I am ashamed of become enhanced when I am going through periods of tension and worry.

Sigh…

Therefore, I not only become extremely tired myself, but I make everyone around me tired and stressed out.

What a pathetic cycle.

Because of all these… I also become empty. Dragging the chain of fear everywhere I go empties my soul. I need Christ to break every chain that enslaves me, and I need Him to refuel me. I pray I can offer Him an open heart so He can work in me. I need help… I need to trust Him… I need rest.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Prov. 3:5&6

They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD. Psalm 112: 7


And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8: 28


Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1: 9


But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” Mark 5: 36

Saturday, September 9, 2017

No Yolk!



This morning, as I was preparing our usual lazy, Saturday breakfast of scrambled eggs, home fries and… yes… I’m sorry… bacon, I cracked one of the eggs into the pan only to see that it had no yolk! It’s no joke, either! Sorry… lame!!!

Anyway, I buy fresh eggs bi-weekly from a friend whose kids have this wonderful fresh-egg-enterprise. The thing is that I was really surprised by the all clear contents of that little egg. I’m not going to lie, I was startled!

A few thoughts went through my mind, many of them kind of gross. But then, a couple were rather interesting… at least to me… yeah… I know.

At any rate, one of the things I thought was that maybe I should start listening to Rosa and crack my eggs in a bowl, one by one before using them, just to make sure they are alright and good for use. I never do that. She has been telling me that since the first time she taught me how to crack an egg open, just about a thousand years ago. But I have never followed that advice. Especially not in my years living here in the United States where I have done all of my “heavy duty cooking.” Why would I do that? Why would Rosa want me to waste time like that? It is a completely unnecessary step. All eggs are created equal in the USA!

Today, I got it: it is not the same when we are dealing with actually, naturally-occurring things. During my growing years in Panama, we ate fresh eggs. They were not all the same. Therefore, some might have been different when coming out of the shell… not uniformed… I am remembering that, now that I am getting my fresh eggs. Before, whenever I’d open a carton of eggs, I’d know that everything in there would be exactly the same: size, shape and color, etc. …no surprises whatsoever. Now, when I get my fresh eggs, often, the recycled carton in which they come shows an uneven lid, bulging to one side, making it difficult to keep it shut. Once I open it, the assortment of shades of brown and sizes is a delightful sight. Nature at its best, delivering variety rather than monotonous uniformity.

In our society of manufactured and genetically engineered everything, from eggs, tomatoes and petunias, to cows, sheep and human babies, humanity has fooled itself into believing that we are the gods of this world. The enemy and master deceiver has actually manipulated our American ingenuity into making us think that we can control every aspect of life. We are convinced that we have control over every detail of naturally occurring things. We are so delusional that we blame individuals for a hurricane or an earthquake!

And that is what happens when we usurp the place that belongs only to God.

No matter how much we distort things, the truth is that we are as much the creators of the majesty of an egg as we are the creators of the beauty of a full moon. Believing in the possibility of taming nature might have surprisingly, unexpected consequences…one of which is forgetting that nature is inherently untamed. Science and manipulation may get us, at best, to a position of speculation, but never of true certainty.

Nature will surprise us, because nature was intelligently designed and carefully crafted by the Creator of all…the Almighty God, and He is not a tamed one… no human can fully explain Him, no man can fully predict Him… no person can fully understand Him. We have a Father in Heaven who will continue to surprise His children with His love and protection, but who also will continue to surprise those who try to push Him aside or kick Him out of this world. They might not recognize Him, still…but I’m sure they get the uneasy feeling that when something does not go as they planned it…it might be because there are larger forces at play…but, since they refuse to accept that fact, they try to explain it by blaming fellow human beings for things that are completely out of the realm of the human hand.

God’s voice is the only one that the winds and the waves obey. He is the One who determines the number of the stars, and the One who sustains the Earth on its orbit. He is the only One who can determine whether an egg will have a yolk or if it is best for the family to have a bit less cholesterol in its Saturday morning meal.

I hope I can remember this… so I’m not startled next time I find an egg with two yolks! Or maybe, I should just finally follow Rosa’s advice…

Friday, September 8, 2017

In the Eye of the Storm



Today…actually, during the last couple of weeks, it appears that a song like “Eye of the Storm” by Ryan Stevenson is a most appropriate song to have in the background as the days go by and we continue to hear about the devastation caused by several storms in the Caribbean and surrounding areas. Remember Harvey? That wasn’t too long ago, and we are already bracing for Irma with Jose following. Then there is Katia in Mexico, plus the earthquakes that shook that country’s southern area plus neighboring Guatemala. Talk about tsunamis, 10 foot-storm surges, tornadoes…let alone other types of threats derived from storms and natural phenomena like these…it is no wonder even people way out of the way of such devastation are feeling totally scared and worried.

I truly don’t know what to do or say at this time. I just wanted to express that I am concerned, but that I also know that God is Good…and that He is Good ALL the time, and that He is with us always. He is Good whether the hurricane makes landfall in our hometown or so far away that we can’t feel it. He is with us in the eye of the storm as well as in the calm of the distance. He does remain in control, even when all around us there is chaos and devastation. And He can work goodness out of disaster. He is the God that can make all things new…and He will renew the face of the earth. He is the God that the winds and the waves obey…and He will restore us.

At this time, I pray for all who find themselves in the path of these current storms, earthquakes, fires, tornadoes, surf surges, etc. May the protective hand of our Great God be with you. He will deliver you. And when calm returns, He will place His angels all around to help you rebuild.  In the meantime, let's acknowledge our weakness, and rejoice in the fact that once it is out of our control, it goes straight into His hands. 

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.  
Psalm 46: 1-3

He stilled the storm to a whisper;
    the waves of the sea were hushed. 
Psalm 107: 29




Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Little Grasshopper 2



While pondering all the questions from yesterday, about whether or not I should be ashamed of feeling like a grasshopper or if I should aim at embodying the traits of a giant, I figured I’d like to know a bit more about both of these specimens.

Let’s start with the grasshopper today. Apparently, grasshoppers have been around for a long time. They are ground-dwelling insects that feed on leaves, grass, but also other non-plant related refuse...yikes… They don’t really fly, but have powerful hind legs which enable them to escape from threats by leaping vigorously.

When we went to Panama this past summer, we stayed at a beach for a few days, and discovered many, large, bright-green-colored grasshoppers hanging around the hotel grounds every day. I never thought about them much, but they did hang out by themselves. We never saw two together…Then, today, I read that they are typically a solitary-type insect…interesting…

Male grasshoppers spend much of the day stridulating: making a noise or “song” by rubbing a row of pegs on the hind legs against the edges of the forewings. Some females stridulate, but not nearly as much as males…they are too busy taking care of business J

An adult grasshopper has a life-span of only about 50 days.

Another interesting fact I was not aware of is that at high population densities and under certain environmental conditions, some grasshopper species can change color and behavior and form swarms. Under these circumstances they are known as locusts. So, this means, that the 9th plague God sent to Egypt to “persuade” pharaoh to let His people go was none other than an oversized swarm of grasshoppers…hmmm…

At any rate, how do I compare to a real-life grasshopper? And, do I want to be one?

I guess I should first create a list of the characteristics to then explore each of them in more detail. So let’s see:

1. Ground-dwellers

2. Don’t fly, but leap powerfully

3. Solitary individuals

4. Make song most of the time … if you are a male.

5. When in large numbers, they form swarms and then only concentrate on eating most of the time.

6. Don’t have a long life-span

Well, I guess we can begin our in-depth look at the grasshopper and see if this effort leads us to any beneficial conclusion or if it is all a waste of time…how is that for enticing? Hope to see you tomorrow!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Little Grasshopper



I remember it very clearly even though it happened about a million years ago. I was sitting on the floor. A group of folks were gathered together, as it had become the norm every Sunday evening, for a Bible study our, then, newly arrived Pastor held at his home. I always had a wonderful time at our meetings. It was the very first time I was ever a part of anything like that. It was truly special to sit around a group of seekers of the Word, hungry for the Bread of Life! I learned a lot at those Bible Studies…not just about Scripture, but about myself as well.

It was then when I realized that I was a grasshopper.

Indeed, I am.

I can’t remember exactly what we were studying. I do remember, however, that we were exploring something that had to do with Numbers 13. As soon as I heard Numbers 13: 33, I knew…: We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

There it was. I had probably heard that passage before at some point. After all, I had been raised in the Church. But the words had never spoken to me so loudly. I can safely say that I had never identified myself with anything so profoundly as I identified with the grasshopper back then…and still today.

I am that person who focuses on the problem. I am that person whose eyes immediately go to the obstacles. I am that person who is instantly intimidated by the size of the mountain. I am that person who becomes paralyzed by fear when facing the giants. I am that person who, in her own eyes, she sees herself as a grasshopper.

The root of my problem? Lack of trust.

Not unlike the ancient Israelites, I lack trust in the Most-High God. Not unlike the ancient Israelites, I have a hard time surrendering my all into the Hands of the One Who Made it all.

I am an ancient Israelite grasshopper!

Why am I thinking about this today, sooooo many years after that night at Pastor Doug’s house, you might ask? I’m not sure. But I think it has to do with the fact that the whole thing with me feeling like a grasshopper has not ended. I still feel the same today as I did back then, all those years ago. I’ve also been thinking, what is there for me to do?

Should I stop feeling like a grasshopper? Should I think of me as a giant, instead? This grasshopper v. giant dichotomy has been circling around in my mind lately. I’m not sure where this trend of thought will take me, but, if you are game, let’s get on this new boat and see where we land!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Cold, September Morning



As I turn the page on August and September greets me with a rather chilly morning, I can’t help but feeling melancholic about the end of summer. I know that it is not officially over yet, but with Labor Day upon us…it may as well…

I have to admit that the thought of fall makes me shudder…

Yesterday, my devotional reading was about appreciating God’s radiant presence in the amazing sceneries He surrounds us with. The writer talked about the incredible beauty of some small paradise off the coast of Australia, and how unbelievable it all was. Overwhelmed by such splendor, the author worshiped God. I longed to be in places like that. My limited mind and corrupted heart coveted the author’s experience. I wanted to be in that small paradise off the coast of Australia. Why couldn’t I? Why couldn’t I go to places like that? Why can’t I LIVE in a place like that? Why do I have to be stuck in a place with cold mornings in September?

Sigh…

Later, Dan and I went for a walk around our neighborhood. I treasure these walks because it is about the one time that my husband and I get all to ourselves in the day. We also, often, use this time to discuss things that are pressing in our minds. It was early dusk and we were talking about something that was making me walk with my head down, eyes on the ground. As we walked our last stretch, Dan looked up to the sky and pointed out the neat shades on the clouds. I finally lifted my eyes from the uneven pavement and saw a most delicate combination of blues, whites, and infinite shades of pink possible. It looked as if a Master Painter had decided to gift us with a beautiful sample of what He was capable of creating.

Sigh…

I had missed the point of the devotional reading in the morning. By complaining about the place where I live and being disappointed that I could not experience adventures like a trip to the small paradises off the coast of Australia, I had missed the fact that the splendor and majesty of our Great God transcend time and space. He displays His beauty and glory in all nature…even right here…in my neck of the woods. I just have to open my eyes, and look up! Be it in a hot afternoon in Panama, in a melancholic evening around my neighborhood or in a cold September morning sitting at my desk, I just have to fix my eyes on Him, see the creation that surrounds me which speaks His name and reflects His glory, and worship right where I am.