Monday, November 24, 2014

A Relationship to Be Grateful For

I had reason this week to think a lot about the relationships I’ve had and have in my life, those that have failed and those that haven’t. I knew a young woman a few years ago who struggled in her marriage because it wasn’t the “happily ever after” she expected it to be. When I told her that no marriage is a fairytale and that love is hard work, she desperately clung to her denial, telling me that it can’t be love if you have to work at it. It will be no surprise to you to hear that her marriage ended shortly after that conversation. I also know too many families where the parents and children are estranged for any number of reasons. One generation doesn’t or won’t live up to the other’s expectations because they are all broken people unable to give what the others need.

Relationships are hard work. To begin with, relationships consist of two people who are human and therefore fallible. Because people grow and change over time, relationships are fluid so that even if you happen upon a perfect moment in the relationship, the fluidity of life will wash that moment away. Too often, people try to hold onto that single moment and become disappointed and sometime even bitter that they can’t instead of appreciating the relationship for what it is presently. Or they are in their idea of the perfect moment in the relationship and worry too much about how it is going to change in the future to truly enjoy the gift of the relationship as it is right now. It’s a miracle that any relationship lasts these days in this society where everything, including relationships, is disposable and easily replaced.

Then there is the relationship I have with Jesus. He is perfect and infallible. He never has a selfish moment. He never changes. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Even though I am sinful and at times selfish and constantly changing, he is the solid foundation of our relationship. It was his word that created me, his love that reached out to me, his Son who redeemed me, and his Spirit who goes through life with me. There is no where I can go that he isn’t and no thing I can do that would lessen his love for me. He seeks me out wherever I am physically, emotionally, spiritually because I am his creation, his image bearer, his child. Even if I quit on him, he will never quit me. In his eyes, our relationship is never disposable and can never be replaced.

I don’t deserve his love, but every day I am growing in gratitude and love for this love of God I know will never waver, or change or die.

Monday, November 17, 2014

No Regrets

This is one of those cold dreary days that lends itself to inactivity and depression. Even more so when you take into consideration that right now as the rain is turning to snow, I am watching a crowd of people all dressed in black leaving the Sanctuary and walking over to the fellowship area to laugh and cry with each other over sandwiches and memories of a life that ended tragically and too soon.

As you can expect, this touches my heart deeply—I might even dare to say, a little more deeply than most. I understand the void that is filling the mother’s heart and there really isn’t anything anyone can do to take that pain away. I also know that as the shock wears off in the coming days, that pain is only going to increase.

It never ceases to amaze me how many people one life can touch. We leave a part of ourselves in the minds and hearts of every person we interact with. Our smile or frown can change the course of someone’s day. There are those people who are so dear to us, that the day isn’t complete until we laugh with them, cry with them, or share a moment of togetherness. There are those who drive us to be better people and those who drive us crazy. God put each of these people into our lives as a precious gift. He made us to be in relationship, first with him and then with each other. Often we learn about being in relationship with him by being in relationship with each other.

There is no deep insight today. No real way to tie what I’m feeling to some deep theological concept. All I really wanted to remind you of is that today is a good day to tell those you love that you do love them. Give them a hug. Call them and talk for a few minutes just because. Write them a letter, email, text. Take the time because it is worth the effort. Whatever you need to do to say you care—now is the time because who knows what tomorrow will bring.

Monday, November 10, 2014

What Can I Say About Love?

Yesterday at church, in our children's sermon, we remembered the Veterans who love this country and its people so much that they gave their service and some their lives to ensure our freedom. The pastor of course made the connection that Jesus also served and gave everything for our freedom--our freedom from sin. It made me think about a poem I wrote and shared in December 2011. I hope you enjoy it.

What Can I Say about Love?
Love is a choice, 
a way of life, 
a sacrifice. 
It's a connection that can't be broken, 
a purpose, 
a light.
It's not about me and all about you.
It's your strength in my weakness.
It's a treasure 
and truth.
Love knows and accepts me 
for who I am
and inspires me to be better,
to be more, 
it's why I wake 
and what my heart beats for.
It's our greatest desire,
a need to give and receive.
It's a sharing, 
a gift, 
between you and me.
It's not just a feeling that warms our hearts
though warming it does
Love is going without that I may give
Love gives its own life that its beloved may live
Whatever you think love is
It's so much more
when our love is His
our lives redeemed,
our minds renewed, 
and our hearts restored.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Blessed to Be a Blessing All the Time

I will bless you…and you will be a blessing. (Genesis 12:2)

Very soon we are going to be inundated with Christmas music and mega-sales before we’ve even had an opportunity to take time to be thankful for all that God has blessed us with. We in the U.S. are so abundantly blessed it should be embarrassing to us and too often I find myself thinking about what I feel I’m lacking rather than all the riches I take for granted. There was a point in my life when I would go into debt to get those things I felt I was lacking and would often find a reasonable explanation to justify doing so. I am debt-free now and I refuse to do that again, so now I just do without. However, I still think about what I don’t have so much more than what I do have.

Recently a friend’s daughter moved to West Africa and at times I am put to shame when I am obsessing over wanting a new wardrobe or kitchen gadget I can’t afford and hear that she is without what we think of as basic necessities:  water, a roof over her head, an oven to cook in, etc. If I want peanut butter, I just go to the corner store and buy it (as I complain about the price and the wait in line to purchase it). When she wants peanut butter, she has to make it! That is if she can find the peanuts at the market to mash. Okay—yes, she answered God’s call and put herself in that situation, but for millions, that is just everyday life from birth to death.

We in the U.S. are so very spoiled. I can say that since I’m one of the spoiled people. I am blessed with a job, reasonably good health, a vehicle, a home with running water and electricity. I have more food in my cupboard the day before payday than the majority of the world has when they first come home from the store or market. The bible tells us in God’s promise to Abraham, which was repeated several times to Abraham’s descendants and which is meant for all God’s children, that we are blessed to be a blessing. As I think about all the blessings I have, I need to ask myself how I am using them to bless others. How can I use the home, car, money…. God has blessed me with to bless others.  Here’s one example:  On my way out of the church parking lot yesterday, I saw a woman and her two daughters walking home from the service. I offered them a ride and was happy that they allowed me to bless them with a ride.

So in this month of November, I am going to focus on being thankful for all my blessings, none of which I deserve in the least, but I am also going to try to be more active in finding ways to bless others with what he has so freely given me to share.