Archive for January, 2010

“It’s times like this when you realize most things are replaceable.”

A little before 4:00am this past Monday we awoke to the sound of the dryer buzzer alerting us, as we discovered, that our basement was flooding. Melting snow and rain from the sewer drain gushed into our basement through a hole in the floor resulting in 2-12 inches of water (the floor slants). Apparently others in town had up to 4 feet, so we were fortunate.

As soon as I saw the water something clicked inside and I sprang into action. I grabbed my rain boots and got to work moving things upstairs while my husband tried to stem the tide so the sump pump could catch up with the backflow. The above phrase started running through my head as I traipsed up and down the basement steps, water leaking from boxes and dripping on to my pajamas. Needless to say my week has not gone entirely as planned.

I know the damage we’ve experienced is minimal compared to earthquakes, floods, fires, and other more serious natural disasters, but it was enough to get me thinking. Nothing new or surprising, but reminders of timeless truths. Really, ultimately, most of my stuff is replaceable, or disposable, or washable, or whatever. I’d have preferred if my photo collection remained above the water level (all but a very few pictures survived, and not all of them even got wet), but even that I could live without if necessary. “Is not life more important” than all these things (Matthew 6:25)?

Driving to the store for cleaning supplies I began to reflect upon Matthew 6:19-21:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal [and floods and earthquakes and other things claim all your stuff when you least expect it]. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”


Where is my treasure? Where is my heart? Am I building my treasure here or there? What am I actively doing to build my treasure in heaven? I make trips to the store, building my earthly treasure often enough. Am I spreading love and peace with the same fervor? Indeed, with a greater purpose and intensity than that with which my physical possessions are increased?

Read Full Post »

I am not one for making New Year’s resolutions. I do, however, think there is something to be said for being intentional. Deliberate, focused, purposeful steps taken toward a desired goal.

I came across the resolutions of Jonathan Edwards yesterday. Edwards was an 18th century theologian famous, among other things, for a “fire and brimstone” sermon he delivered in 1741 entitled “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” (I haven’t read it in its entirety, but I can’t say at a glance that I would recommend it).

In 1722-1723 he composed a list of resolutions to which he strove to adhere. Most of them embody typical ideals of self-improvement, some are redundant, and a few seem unnecessarily strict. But some I found thought-provoking and worth consideration…

4. Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.

Do my actions bring glory to God? If they are less than glorifying, how can they be improved? If they are more than that which is glorifying, are they necessary or beneficial in some way? Would my time be better spent elsewhere?

6. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.

Jesus came that we might have life, and have it more abundantly (John 10:10). I love the breakdown of the Greek word translated as “more abundantly,” “abundant,” or “full.” Those words don’t seem to capture it. Try this: “over and above, more than is necessary, superadded, exceedingly abundantly, supremely, much more than all, superior, extraordinary, surpassing, uncommon” (see KJV with Strong’s, look up the passage and follow the link for the word “abundantly”). Am I experiencing life in its fullness? In as far as it depends on me, am I living with all my might?

13. Resolved, to be endeavoring to find out fit objects of charity and liberality.

It’s all very well to be generous when need presents itself – a friend asks for a favor, a charity asks for a contribution, donating clothes to the local thrift store when closet space is at a premium…but am I seeking out opportunities to be generous? I love the New King James translation of Isaiah 32:8 – “But a generous man devises generous things, and by generosity he shall stand.” Also the New Living translation – “But generous people plan to do what is generous, and they stand firm in their generosity.”

23. Resolved, frequently to take some deliberate action, which seems most unlikely to be done, for the glory of God, and trace it back to the original intention, designs and ends of it; and if I find it not to be for God’s glory, to repute it as a breach of the 4th Resolution.

I love this one. It might be my favorite. To frequently, deliberately, choose to do something “which seems most unlikely to be done, for the glory of God.” To step in faith! How often are our actions guided by our own abilities? Of course, there is something to be said for practicality, but I think the idea of endeavoring, on a regular basis, to undertake the “impossible” is fantastic (no really, and not just in the fanciful, imaginary, impractical sort of way, although that seems to highlight the point)!

25. Resolved, to examine carefully, and constantly, what that one thing in me is, which causes me in the least to doubt of the love of God; and to direct all my forces against it.

Speaking as someone who believes, unequivocally, in the love God has for me, I think this is quite profound. I believe in God’s love because I have experienced it, and it is a beautiful and all-encompassing thing. To steal a line from Ingrid Michaelson and take it entirely out of context, it’s “the sort of” [love] “that waters me, and makes me grow tall and strong and proud, and flattens me.” Does anything cause me to doubt this thing I know to be true? Stand in the way of my receiving the fullness of it? Of being filled, healed and empowered by it?

43. Resolved, never henceforward, till I die, to act as if I were any way my own, but entirely and altogether God’s…

Am I living selfishly or sacrificially?

Read Full Post »

Be still

Monday night found me sitting (well, pacing most of the time, but in a relaxed sort of way) at God’s feet. Of late much of my time spent with him has been fairly one-sided – “God, I’m sorry I keep doing this, and I know I’ve not been here often enough, but please help me with this, and this, and this”…God is gracious, and I know He wants me to cast my cares on him, but I’d finally had enough of myself and decided I wanted something more.

The scene was set. My daughter was asleep in bed. My husband wasn’t home yet. I had space and time all to myself. I determined that I was going to wait. No questions, no expectations, no strings. Just me and him. If he wanted to speak, fine, if he didn’t, fine. This was not about agendas, this was about being together. Snuggling up. Holding hands.

I put my cares in a box and shoved them at his feet. And then I waited. I could feel his presence in the room around me, and for the first time in a while I felt still. Able and content to just be. I lifted my hands, I sang, I prayed in tongues, I slowly paced around the room, I knelt. The silence was filled with a heavy calm.

Eventually I heard his voice, “Be still and know that I am God.” After a bit more quiet I decided to go and look the verse up.

Over the past 7 or 8 years God has freed me from some serious fear issues, but in the past couple of months old and new fears have been rising up and trying to reclaim a place in my life. I opened up to Psalm 46 and as I went back to the beginning the words leaped off the page. I started to pace the room again, chewing on them, waving my sword around for the first time in ages.

Excerpts from Psalm 46 (adapted)

God is MY refuge. God is MY strength. God is an EVER-PRESENT help in trouble. God IS my REFUGE. God IS my STRENGTH. God is an ever-present HELP in trouble. Therefore I WILL NOT FEAR…God is within [me – the place where the Most High dwells], I will not fall; God will help [me] at break of day. Nations are in uproar, KINGDOMS fall (but I will not); he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with ME; the God of Jacob is MY fortress…He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire. “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Read Full Post »