January 20, 2014

AND OVER ALL THE GLORY...A CANOPY




"Then the Lord will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over all the glory will be a canopy.  It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain."
Isaiah 4:5, 6


Some days it feels difficult at best, and sometimes unattainable, to remain close to His presence.  Not the "He is always with us" type presence we can always be sure of but that sense of nearness that is palpable.  The sense of nearness that David called "his good".  The sense of nearness which gives us the ability to rest, to smile to ourselves confidently, to move about peacefully in the midst of even surrounding chaos.  That nearness also gives us a sense of what He's up to around us - and what His invitation to us might be in that. 

Perhaps like me, you have yearned for your own personal "pillar of cloud by day or a pillar of fire by night" to make His presence clear as He did for the Israelites.  Of course, there's one big difference between us and them - we have seen the Messiah and have been sent the Holy Spirit.  Jesus said this about the Comforter He was to send us:  

"But when he, the spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.  He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears...He will glorify Me because it is from Me that he will receive what he will make known to you."
John 16:13, 14

The Spirit is what we need to guide us into truth - truth for clarifying decisions, truth to know which way to turn next, truth to know how to engage in difficult relationships, truth to understand needs around us, even the truth about ourselves.  The Spirit is honest and clear and wholly uncompromising in His role in these verses: to pass on to us only that which comes from Jesus and to glorify Him.

Since I am convinced of this, I was a little surprised when I read the Isaiah passage above recently.  I thought those expressions of His presence were way back in Exodus 13.  And they are.  But additionally, in proclaiming a time of restoration for Jerusalem, Isaiah includes this amazing promise of these expressions around the place of worship, Mt. Zion. 

If you think Mt. Zion was for worshippers "way back then", think again!  We all have a place for worship "in spirit and in truth" - our very hearts!

"How blessed is the man whose strength is in You, In whose heart are the highways to Zion!"
Psalm 84:5 

We can be building in our hearts literal highways that take us to our place of worship.  Highways that facilitate the journey of turning to Him in love and adoration.  Highways that are well marked and well lit so we don't lose our way - or have excuses.  Highways that have been nurtured and maintained and used frequently.  Highways that move us closer, that lead us to that nearness.  Highways that are open 24/7. 

If we build these highways through time with Him, in our own personal Zion we will experience and see His glory.  This shekinah glory IS His presence.  And over this glorious presence, we will be sheltered by a canopy - one which is said here to be a shelter, a shade, a refuge and hiding place from any of the difficult things in life.

I am camping out there in my heart - under the glory and under the canopy!




Photo by:  flyingsails


January 15, 2014

THE PLACE OF INDIFFERENCE




There is a phrase in Spanish, ¨me da igual,¨ which means ¨It is the same to me.¨  It is perhaps closest to the phrase in English ¨I could go either way.¨ or ¨I have no preference.¨

This is the place I stand today as we go to the hospital to do the last exploratory surgery and get the results of a biopsy which could change the course of my daughter´s life.

I don´t mean indifference in the irresponsible or aloof sense of ¨I don´t care.¨  I mean the place of indifference that one comes to in the ¨Desert Fathers´ sense¨ of being at peace with whatever the road is.  Of being indifferent to my preference, to my logic, to my desire, to my viewpoint, to my will.  It is both a terrifying and sweet point of surrender to the will of the Sovereign God and His choice of a perfect, good and loving plan.

In the last few weeks of tests, wondering and waiting, the ¨wake-up¨ moment came when the Dr. finally said they had found ¨the source of the bad cells.¨ He seemed so sure.  I guess we had been hoping they wouldn't find anything besides the little umbilical tumor that had begun this whole mysterious search.  Today this will be confirmed or not.  The Drs. have absolutely no explanation as to why one so young would have this kind of illness - to be specific, stomach cancer.

In the 4 days between his sober announcement and today, there has been a swinging back and forth between fear and faith, reality and shock, hope and sadness...and waiting.

By faith, we have asked for healing, gathered faith-filled praying friends to exert their faith to pray for healing and have proclaimed our own mustard seeds of childlike trust in Rapha, the One who heals.

In the quieter moments of surrender, we have sat in His presence and whispered ¨not my will, but Yours.¨ We have acknowledged His right to choose whatever tools He deems necessary. We have expressed our trust and hope in His sovereign, complete vision of life and the kingdom.

In the more raw moments of struggle, we have cried, asked questions, fought off a fog of sadness and fatigue and challenged the logic and injustice in all of this - especially in one so young, in one who is one semester away from graduating from university with honors, ready to take on the world.

In our rebellious, warring moments we have raised our voices to proclaim the power of the Resurrected One over her, we have been furious at the enemy from whom all forms of evil derive, and we have taken out all kinds of ammunition in the The Fight:  Scriptures, prayers, fasting, anointing with oil, proclamations of faith and truths about healing and faith and the character of the New Testament Christ.

In the end, perhaps it could best be described that I have chosen an expectant peacefulness. Whether the road is a miraculous healing or a new journey in illness previously unknown to us, miraculously (I seriously mean miraculously!), I seem to have faith for it.

My indifference is a victory.  My indifference is a gift.  My indifference is a reflection of praying friends.  And my indifference is a reflection of the kindness of the God I have walked with since my youth and have come to know and love with all my heart.  He has proved Himself very worthy of this childlike trust.

Today as I accompany her into that hospital, I can truly say:

¨Me da igual.¨




Here is an old Ignatian definition or expression of ¨indifference¨:

¨For this it is necessary that we become indifferent to all created things so that, on our part, we want not health rather than sickness, riches rather than poverty, honor rather than dishonor, long rather than short life, and so in all the rest; desiring and choosing only what helps us praise, reverence, and serve God.  This detachment comes only if we have a stronger attachment; therefore our one dominating desire and fundamental choice must be to live in the loving presence and wisdom of Christ, our Savior.¨ 

Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Spanish founder of the Jesuits







Photo by:  hockadilly








January 6, 2014

JOY & SORROW: A HOLY FRIENDSHIP


(A mother's reflections as we wait for final test results 
on some suspicious cancerous cells.)



Such joy & sorrow mingle down,*
entwined together as holy friends.
My heart whispers trust,
but my body trembles.
Love grabs at me when I look at her...
...she is beautiful & precious to me.

The questions around her health 
fill me with a certain pain,
Yet the beauty of her spirit
is sweetness.

The need for healing, for intervention
create space for a miracle -
the one in her,
the one in me,
the one that everyone around us needs.

This need is making room for Him,
causing a deeper leaning.
On the One who is Life,
On the One who is Love,
On the One who is Good.

Healing is in His hands
as is wholeness of heart.
We stand together on this truth
and throw ourselves into His arms -
the arms of One who knows fully
how joy & sorrow mingle down
as holy friends.

Yes, we wait quietly in that place
with these sacred companions.




*Reminiscent of the line from the hymn When I Survey:
"Sorrow and love flow mingled down..."
by Isaac Watts


Photo by:  Valstar2011

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