Monday, March 26, 2012

The Gift of Time


The Gift of Time
God, where were You
when my childhood was shattered,
my innocence ripped away?
Where were You, Almighty God
When callous and unforgiving words
sliced away
day after day
slaying the little girl within?
Where were You Lord
when the emptiness and shame
haunted and maimed?
Oh how I prayed for an end to my pain
and still you were silent.
I held tight to my anger,
my pride and my way
blaming the world the further I strayed.
Seeking my idols,
defending my wrath,
anything I could to disobey.
Defying Your rules as I sought my own path.
And still I called out,
I cried,
I yelled and I begged
Where are You God?
And why don’t you care?
Am I so repulsive?
So worthless?
So bad?
And as I lay down to die
in this valley,
the slimy pit of my sin,
a Voice so gentle, so sweet,
rose first in my heart,
then filling my ears,
“My dear little child,
I was just giving you time.
Time for your empathy to grow and mature,
to nurture compassion and grace.
Time to distinguish
the hope found in Me,
to recognize My peace
time for you to want to be free
from the bondage of sin
and misery.
I was only giving you time
my child, because I knew,
I knew on this day,
I’d find you here ready,
waiting for Me as you prayed.”



(Response to Psalm 119:81-88)
About the pictures: Phipps Conservatory (April 2009)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Leaning on Each Other

Last Tuesday, I woke up in a very fragile state. I was spiritually, emotionally, physically, and mentally drained. As I forced myself through the motions of getting ready for work, each step felt like I was trying to walk against the tide. I was on l overload and couldn’t take one more stimulus and I hadn’t even left my apartment yet. I have to admit that I left my home that morning with selfish motives – Tuesday mornings are when I have the joy of meeting with a group of friends for fellowship and study and I was looking forward to their support and sympathy.

I didn’t get what I wanted that morning, not exactly anyway. Each of my friends had major things going on in their lives as well and they were looking for the group’s support and sympathy just as I had been. As the day went on, I encountered even more people whose crushing concerns were just as overwhelming for them as mine was for me. I couldn’t get a break.

In early evening, I had a moment to reflect on the day before an evening meeting began and it occurred to me that we really are all broken people – each and every one of us and if we’re going to make it through this life – we have to do it together just as we are. You’re going to have to be my eyes while I am your ears. You – my legs, me – your arms.  I thought back to the morning’s fellowship and realized that even though I had nothing of substance to offer – no wisdom, or skill or ability to fix any of my friends’ problems, I do know the One who does. He had called me to support these dear friends by being a listening ear, in crying with them, and offering my compassion. Broken as I was, he was using me to support them in their brokenness. Together we limped and crawled to Jesus with each other’s burden weighing heavy between us. I can’t speak for them, but I found peace, and enough strength to get through every moment of the day, and joy in being able to love these dear friends in Christ. All of a sudden, my weak but well meant companionship and prayer support was not such a small thing – but a miraculous gift of victory from God. Even out of the nothing I had to give – God provided all we needed in each other.

About the pictures:
Pittsburgh, PA (April 2010)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Steadfast Lord


STEADFAST LORD
Who am I that You sought me?
That You even saw me?
That You would soothe the sorrow of my soul?
Why such favor for a remorseless sinner?
You came to me.
You loved me.
You remained with me
and You won my heart.

I refused to call out to You in my despair.
Not once did I seek Your grace and healing
nor speak Your name devoid of animosity.
Defiantly I turned my back to You and yet
You came to me.
You loved me.
You remained with me
and You won my heart.


You reached into the darkness of my sin,
the emptiness of my hopeless existence,
sobbing with me in the agony of my wounds,
never hesitating, nor withholding compassion.
You came to me.
You loved me.
You remained with me
and You won my heart.



About the pictures:
North Park (Aug. 2009)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Breathe

This past week has been a struggle of a different kind for me as I’ve been housebound with a viral infection that in turn triggered my asthma. Asthma is a chronic disease of the airways of the lungs caused by inflammation which swells and irritates the airways, restricting the airflow to and from the lungs. In addition the muscles around the airways of the lungs squeeze together constricting the airway even more. It’s been twenty-one years since my last full blown attack.  If you’ve never had the experience – it’s very much like those first few moments after you’ve swallow water through your airways into your lungs. You take a breath and nothing happens, it stings and then you cough uncontrollably and violently to expel the water. Your chest tightens up and your lungs don’t seem to be able to inflate. It can take several moments to “catch your breath” again. Now imagine living in those few moments for a week or two. That’s what asthma feels like.

On one particular morning last week, I found myself humming a familiar song… This is the air I breathe. This is the air I breathe. Your holy presence living in me…(Breathe by Chris Tomlin). I began to think about how much we take breathing for granted. It just happens. God wired us to breathe even when we aren’t conscious of it. In Genesis, he formed us from the dust of the ground and breathed the breath of life into us and we became living beings (Genesis 2:7) and in his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. (Job 12:10) He created us resilient and sturdy, and yet so fragile, because like a breath, our days are like a fleeting shadow (Psalm 144:4) I can’t begin to count the number of times the Bible records that he, she, or they breathed their last. Breathing is one of the essentials of life and we don’t give it a thought until we can’t catch our breath.

If, as the song states, God’s very presence living within me is the air I breathe, then, I began to wonder, what would a spiritual asthma attack look like. I supposed it would be like life pressing in on me and restricting my time in prayer, worship and personal study. Perhaps, I find myself so busy doing my work for the church, or cleaning my house, or taking care of my family that I just can’t seem to find the time. Is it really so bad to decide to spend my only free half hour in the evening paying bills instead of reading my bible? I keep thinking if I can just get through this busy period of time, things will let up and really, I’ve been saying that for years now. I know I’m supposed to prioritize, but really – everything is important – what do I not do?

What I was reminded of this week is that even though lots of things are very important – breathing is a must! It’s not something I can put off until tomorrow. If prayer, worship and personal study are not my very first priority, like breathing, then I’m not going to be equipped and able to do any of the other stuff in the light of Christ. How can I reach out to others in the love of God if I haven’t taken the time myself to marvel in it? How can I reflect it if I don’t know it for myself each and every day fresh and new? How can I share my personal love and admiration for God if I don’t make the effort even to talk with him on a daily basis? If I’m not seeking his forgiveness, wisdom, grace, protection, and will, how can I possible forgive, advise, bless, protect and guide others in his way?
So I have decided to breathe - - God first! Worship first, prayer always and consistent study. I still haven’t figured out how I’m going to do all those other things, but if I’m breathing, I’ve got more of a chance of fulfilling all I’m meant to do then when I scrambling around breathless. I guess what God reminded me this week is that time is not the great barrier I’m facing, but trying to catch my breath to climb over the mountain in front of me.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. (Psalm 150:6)

About the pictures:
Deer Lake Park (Aug 2009)