Sunday, March 31, 2013

Soup is Almost Done

A few days ago a special friend gave me a book called “Tear Soup.” It is a great book about the grieving process, which is called “tear soup” making. I took it with me to read during the hour I did the Prayer Vigil early on Good Friday morning at our Church. Actually I went to the Prayer Vigil hour with Grant, and since the woman who gave me the book is the mother of one of Grant’s classmates, I thought it would be good for me to read it to him at that time. I have to say that it was by the Grace of God that I was able to get through the whole book without wailing uncontrollably. At times I did chock up and my voice faltered, which made Grant immensely uncomfortable (he has seen me crying, perhaps two or three times only). But I got through it, which gave me the chance to share a very special moment with my son.

All throughout the weekend, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the book. It really hit a cord in my heart, and I am most grateful to have received such a precious gift. One of the things that stuck with me the most is the idea that even though we eventually do finish making “tear soup,” we never really finish eating it while still on this side of Heaven. That thought made me ponder about my own recent tear-soup-making experience. I believe, and I pray it is so, that I am almost finished with the cooking. I think soon the pot will hang out to dry. I have made enough soup to last me a lifetime, though.

In this Resurrection morning, after singing praises to the King who is risen and Lives within my heart, I say a prayer for all who are in the process of making “tear soup.” Victory is won and it is time for life in abundance! Jesus is alive! Hallelujah! I pray that the Lord Jesus will rise in our hearts this Easter and remain breathing within our souls from now on. I pray that we see Him as we eat our soup, and know that He is with us as the ever present dinner guest who helps us swallow with ease, taking the bitterness away.

Well, it is time to go celebrate Easter. It’s time to enjoy the colored eggs, the kids and the time with family. I leave knowing that my tear soup making is thankfully almost done; and that even though I will never really finish eating it; I can certainly put it in the freezer for later. Now it’s time for some candy!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Holy Saturday

I woke up this Holy Saturday morning, looked at the blue sky out my window and couldn’t help but to smile. It’s been a long, cold, rough, depressing, dark winter and it is time for it to go away. This morning, as I welcomed this new and holy day my mind drifted to what I thought was a strange verse:

Do not abandon the works of your hands. Psalm 138:8c

The reason I think I thought of this verse is because I have been struggling many struggles lately, but among them there is one that has been crippling me from my ability to do the work of the Kingdom. I have been feeling mightily unworthy of being counted as a Kingdom worker. Yesterday, however, I realized it’s been all a scheme of the enemy. Incriminating hearts beat at the drums of the Devil for there is no guilt in Christ. That’s what Paul tells us in Romans 8: 1-2,

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

A condemning heart is manipulated by evil. The thoughts of inadequacy, unworthiness, inferiority and inability which come to us when faced with the opportunity to do great things for God are the flaming arrows of the one who wants to do everything possible to keep us from furthering the work of the Lord. He fills our brains with incriminating voices, “Why do you think you can serve in that project at church when you can’t even keep your messy life straight?” “You can’t work in that ministry after what you have done!” “What makes you think you can participate in that activity, when you can’t even control your temper with your kids?” “Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?” “You are not clean enough to be a part of God’s plan.” “Why would you even think that someone so small and insignificant could do anything that mattered?” “You don’t even have compassion for those you love, what makes you think you can show compassion for those you don’t?” The enemy will do anything. He will use any weapon in his deadly arsenal to stop us from doing great things for the King of Kings. He plants these thoughts of defeat in our souls when we feel most vulnerable in order to make us stumble in our way to redemption.

David came to my mind, and how small he must’ve felt when he realized what he had set out to do. Of course he was full of the power of the Most High when he decided to fight Goliath…but then, I wonder what he must have been thinking while selecting the stones he’ll put in his sling. The runt of the family, his own father was so ashamed of him that he made him a shepherd and cast him out in the wilderness. He wouldn’t even line him up with his other sons when Samuel asked to see them all. “What am I doing?” I figured was about those fleeting thoughts that passed through David’s mind as he bent over to pick up the stones. He would not be human if he had not thought of such things. The difference was that he had a heart filled with the power of God and he did not let the thoughts, the other voices of defeat, drown the voice of His Maker. He pressed on to do what God was leading him to do regardless of his inadequacies.

Today, in this Holy Saturday morning, just like the disciples did the day after Jesus’ death, I am hiding in my own self-pity and feelings of defeat. There is a voice inside of me, however, that is becoming louder than all the other voices that incriminate me. That voice is saying,

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up Galatians 6: 9

Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Psalm 126: 5

Unlike the disciples who didn’t know, on that fateful, long Saturday after the death of Christ, that He would indeed be risen the next day, I do know it. I know what tomorrow will bring. Tomorrow will bring victory! So today I prepare as I wait. Today I begin to peel off the layers of guilt and sorrow in which I have been buried for far too long and get ready to see the Son be resurrected in me again with the first light of day.  

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Hour of Mercy

Three o’clock is considered by some devotions as the hour of Mercy because that was the hour, according to Mark 15: 33-34 when Christ died on the cross.

At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) Mark 15: 3-34

According to Scripture, three o’clock in the afternoon was the hour when the blood of the Lamb covered our sins so the Almighty may see them no more. It was the hour of our forgiveness. Jesus paid it all. He paid the debt that was ours. He died so we could live. By His wounds we have been healed. By His blood we are forgiven. The veil is torn so there is no separation with God anymore. The sinners are forgiven and the prisoners of sin are set free. Death has lost its sting. In Christ we are cleansed.

Those called to believe in the power of Jesus’ blood now walk as Children of God, and as such, are commanded to extend that same grace that was so freely given to us, out to our brothers. It is no easy task, however, because forgiveness is the last thing we want to offer to those who maliciously hurt us. How do we forgive? “To err is human, to forgive is divine,” the old adage says. Those who walk with Christ in their hearts, however, are told to forgive the same way they were forgiven... It is a tough pill to swallow...

How do we forgive? I don’t know. Sometimes it seems an impossible feat. More often than not we don’t even know how to begin. To think about forgiving those who deeply wronged us is almost unfathomable at times. I know. I’m there. But what I do know is that I must do it even if the price seems too high because the alternative is even costlier.

Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting, but it is the first step toward mending the heart of the one who forgives. Even if it is just out of obedience, there comes a time when we must take that step to allow the healing to begin. The rest is up to the Lord, Our God,-that’s the part that only can be accomplished by the Divine.

The hour of Mercy. The hour of forgiveness. The hour our Lord, Jesus, died for us. The hour to start thinking about forgiving those who hurt us most.  

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Jesus is Enough

This morning I woke my son up earlier since it was the first day that his newly formed “running club” was going to meet at school. He had been excited about joining this club; however, the excitement wore off this morning as he struggled to get up while it was still pitch dark outside. Begrudgingly, he got out of bed and into his new running outfit. It was cold and wet outside. He was really not looking forward to this adventure. Needless to say, I wasn’t either since I had to drive him to the school.

As he dragged himself downstairs to have a light breakfast, I sensed “regret” in the air, and since I want my kids to enjoy the activities they choose to practice rather than see them as a chore, I said, “well, Grant, if you don’t want to go or actually do this, you don’t have to.” As soon as the expression came out of my mouth I realized something was not right. I was not concerned about my son. I was saying that for purely selfish reasons. I didn’t want to have to get out of the house in that cold, dark and wet morning. I wanted to stay home where I was safe and warm in my little cocoon. I pressed on, however, and I asked again in a few minutes.

He didn’t reply and just continued eating his cereal. When it was time to go, he grabbed his bags and followed me to the car. I asked one more time. He said nothing and we drove off. As I stopped the car to let Grant out, I said, “I am so proud of you for doing this! It is not easy. It is hard work and you are willing to do it even when you don’t really feel like it. I am really proud!” Again, he said nothing and just shut the door. I looked at him walking to the school through the side entrance and at that moment the song “Call on Jesus” by Nicole C. Mullen came on the air. I drove away and listened carefully to the lyrics of the song.

I'm so very ordinary
Nothing special on my own
I have never walked on water
I have never calmed a storm
Sometimes I'm hiding away
From the madness around me
Like a child who's afraid of the dark

But when I call on Jesus
All things are possible
I can mount on wings like eagles and soar
When I call on Jesus
Mountains are gonna fall
'Cause He'll move heaven
And earth to come rescue me when I call

I am hiding away, like a child afraid of the dark, and on my own strength I cannot do anything. With Him, however, all things are possible! I will mount on wings like eagles and soar as He lifts me up and makes me new, for He is enough. Like my son, I need to just do it! Get off my back, even if it is dark all around. I need to put one foot in front of the other, silently if words take up too much of the little energy I have, but just do it! Enough of this pit dwelling. It is time to come into the light again. I call on Him. He will move heaven and earth to come rescue me.

I’m sure I will hear my son’s stories about how hard it was to move his legs and how tough the coach was at the running club. I am sure also that I will perceive a hint of a healthy dose of good pride in his voice as he realizes that he pushed ahead even when he didn’t feel like it and accomplished something good today, despite the darkness around him. And I pray that would be me too, soon.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Sinkhole Season

The other day I heard on the radio that it was “sinkhole season in Florida.” As someone who has never even heard of such a thing, let alone, experienced it in real life, I have to admit that I chuckled a little. Later that day, however, I saw really terrifying pictures of the damage caused by sinkholes in recent days and I understood how serious the situation really is. Then, after I read a little bit about the causes of sinkholes, I saw that one of the natural reasons for its occurrence is a draught which dries out the underground water. That’s when my amusement completely ended.

Right then and there I realized that Florida was not the only place going through the “sinkhole season.” I am also in the midst of my very own. For months now, ever since the passing of my Father, the earth moved from under my feet and swallowed me into this deep sinkhole which I have been unable to climb back out. The worst part is, I’m not sure I want to climb out of it; at least not just yet.

I’ve been worried about my lack of drive to get out of this particular hole I am in. But now I think it might not be time to get out still. At least not until after the draught ends and I am refilled with the Living Water once again. Perhaps I am supposed to stay in there a while, as a hiding place the Lord might’ve carved out just for me during this season of my life. Maybe this is the place where I will find His deliverance as He reaches down and carries me out. This might just be the darkness where His light will shine the brightest.

Like the resilient people of Florida, who face yearly seasons of earth moving phenomena; I will go through this sinkhole season in my life knowing that my strength is in the Lord for He is my Deliverer.

You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. Psalm 32:7