Waiting on my next Mission
I have been praying for direction, and this morning came across this verse:
This is what the Sovereign Lord says: What sorrow awaits the false prophets who are following their own imaginations and have seen nothing at all! ~ Ezekiel 13:3
A sobering reminder to wait on God and not invent my own map.
Who is among you that fears the Lord, that obeys the voice of His servant, that walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God. Behold, all you who kindle a fire, who encircle yourselves with firebrands, walk in the light of your fire and among the brands you have set ablaze. This you will have from My hand: you will lie down in torment. ~ Isaiah 50:10-11
Even when I don't have light showing the next step, I can still trust in the name of the Lord! He does have a plan, and I don't want to stray from it.
Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go. ~ Isaiah 48:17
Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left. ~ Isaiah 30:21
When I don't have light, I need to close my eyes and listen for a still, small Voice. Listen for my next mission. Because I choose to accept it.
Making The Connection
Wise words written by my grandfather on June 5th, 2000.
"To hope is to believe in the possibility, however slim, that things will change. It is to believe that given patience and time one can endure whatever may come before one’s situation improves and that things promised or principles held will eventually prevail.
To hope is to trust in the outcome no matter how costly or difficult the way, to hold on to one’s beliefs in spite of all indications to the contrary. Hope is that state of belief that enables all one’s resources to be focused on an outcome deemed impossible by all human odds whether that outcome is fulfilled in one’s lifetime or beyond.
Hope transcends time and events. Hope is the catalyst that triggers energy you did not know you had, to do what you didn’t know you could, in situations you never knew you’d face. Hope is the connecting rod between faith and fulfillment.
Hope is grounded in the unchanging One who validates our faith in his sovereign will. Hope stands between what we believe and the Eternal God in whom we believe to enable us to love even when there is no earthly reason for us to love."
This God Who Is
Today is a good day. Because I'm with God, and he is with me. Tomorrow will be a good day. Because even if I change and/or circumstances go crazy around me, God is still the same--good. And he won't leave me.
I love this God that loves and buys what this world says is worthless.
He breathes his life into our mess, and creates beauty from ashes.
He sees our confusion, our fallenness from his glorious plan, and reaches out.
He does what we cannot, and the result is grace.
How can we please him? By trusting, believing to the core of our soul that what he did trumps our black hole of debt.
By knowing that he is. And that he is ever and always enough.
I love this God that knows my pain and heals the wounds I am afraid to touch, binds my heart-fractures with his comfort. Bids me rest in his peace as he knits me back together in wholeness.
In quietness I wait. Listening. Hearing. His dear whisper speaks deeper than any voice I've ever known.
And his words are very life to me.
What does he desire of me? This I want to give.
A broken, repentant heart...to cherish his presence...pursue truth and kindness...to love as he loves.
I love this God who sees each life he created as infinitely precious.
Worth living. Worth loving. Worth dying for to save.
Who else gazes on this darkness of rebellion and deceit and decides to send his greatest treasure
to rescue a stray sheep? A stray flock? A stray human race?
And one of those sheep was I.
You drew near when I called on you; you said, "Do not fear!" O Lord, you have pleaded my soul’s cause; you have redeemed my life. ~ Lamentations 3:57-58
For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. ~ 1 Corinthians 6:20
Painful, Confusing, and Inconvenient
The first snow of the year has fallen, and, so far, has stayed. The brilliant whiteness adds to seasonal cheer and travel hazards. Love it or hate it, winter is here!
Cold, yet cozy. Beautiful, yet dangerous. Fun...and annoying. The beauty may even prickle to the touch.
Metaphor for life?
Most of us have picked a favorite season out of the year, if only to have an answer when asked. Each have their pros and cons, and our selfish psyche picks which ones to remember and wishes away the rest. But as there is a "reason for the season" of Christmas (which approaches with astonishing pace!), there is likewise a purpose for each season we encounter in our lives.
We know that seasons change, but we do not always have the time or the inclination to prepare for them. Sometimes the change seems to come without warning....and not all the seasons are welcome. While there may be the occasional Indian summer of unexpected happy adventures, more often it seems that the interruption is of a sinister nature: accidents, sickness, unemployment, heartbreak, or the death of a loved one. What do you do with that?
Perhaps the most troubling question is: WHY? Why did this happen? (or not happen...) Why did this happen to me? Why did this happen now? Why shouldn't I give up now? Why doesn't it just go away? While those questions may have answers, maybe that's the wrong sort of question for us to be asking at first. Maybe the essence of Why is a distraction, to keep us sitting at the base of the hurdle in our way, analyzing the structure and philosophizing about the placement on the track instead of jumping or climbing over to continue the race.
We mean well, of course. If we know Why, then we know what to do about it, right? We would know how to prevent it from happening again, and eventually have a problem-free life. Right?
Wrong: "...in this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
I have several friends who were/are involved in debate clubs growing up. Something they have learned is that if you let your opponent frame the questions for you, or fall into a default mode, you lose the argument. All right, fine. So what questions could we be asking instead? Well, here are some that I use for target practice when I'm "trouble shooting." :-)
What is the trouble/s? It is said that identifying the problem is the first step to dealing with it. While not imperative for initial action, understanding the issue is certainly necessary to achieve a long-term resolution of it. And have you noticed that troubles like to travel in company? When I'm feeling overwhelmed, it really helps me to write down a list of all the variables trying to stress me out, so that the nebulous mass doesn't keep churning in the back (or front) or my mind. Then I talk the list over with God.
Whom does this affect? Something I have found is that it helps to shift the focus from myself to others. Obviously this is affecting me personally, but while I might feel alone, I'm usually not. Even seemingly isolated troubles often have ripples into other people's lives. What can I do to ease their pain and better understand their burden?
Who am I fighting against? Regardless of who or what I think caused the problem, I need to recognize who the enemy really is: Satan. The devil will use whatever he can to distract me and trick me into putting my energy into warring against anything else. But although the symptoms vary with each case, it's hard to go wrong with targeting him as the ultimate perpetrator.
Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. ~ Ephesians 6:11-12
How has God shown himself strong in the past? I remind myself that God is greater than my trouble/enemy. I read the Bible and find story upon true story of how God has shown his power and grace in strong, effective ways. I search out modern-day testimonies from friends or even strangers that relate to my situation. I review the specific faithfulness and goodness of God in my personal history. When I can't remember certain events well, I try to find someone else who was there that can help me recall it better. It also helps to write down answered prayers in a journal to look back at.
How do I fight? Instead of reacting in fear, doubt, hate, worry, griping, or other such destructive manner, I strive to respond with the opposite. These are some tactics in my arsenal:
How can I glorify God through this? There comes a point when how we respond to hardship contributes to answering the Why. When we submit our lives to the Lord Jesus, God works in our lives to bring good out of even the things that Satan meant to destroy us (Romans 8:28). We can partner in this process by keeping our eyes open for opportunities to give glory to God along the way.
"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life." ~ John 9:3
As you may have guessed, this is majorly a distillation of what I am learning from my recent life struggles: nursing my sister when she was suffering from a recurring high fever, dealing with a nasty rash on my own skin, resisting depression after the high of a long film shoot, ongoing car trouble, paying unexpected bills, and being there for friends in a hard place. It's been a hard fall.
But God has brought us through as victors, not victims! God has healed us and we experienced a recovery much faster than normal. I've been receiving unexpected gifts and funds that have covered all the expenses, and now have a wonderfully functional vehicle. And despite my many imperfections and inexperience, he has somehow used me to help others through some rough spots at the same time. I am in awe of what he has done—and is still doing!
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
....All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:7-9, 15-18
Yes, life can be very painful, and often confusing. No, there doesn't seem to be a shortage of inconvenient circumstances cropping up from the infamous land of Nowhere with the unnerving speed of Suddenly.
But who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
"For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 8:35-39
Treasure In Heaven
Treasure In Heaven is the tale of a small town pastor who is merely going through the motions. All seems to be a smooth ride, until a stranger's quiet wisdom prompts the Rev to take a sober look at his congregation's complacency, as well as his own. No longer content with appeasing the church board, the Rev begins to take a stand for living according to scripture instead of the status quo.
Not everyone is happy about his rekindled spiritual fervor, however. When he confronts a prominent businessman about an adulterous affair, threats and rumors start to fly. Now the Rev and his wife have a choice to make: to fear man, or to fear God.
This is the second feature I've acted in, and the first to be finished! I play a girl in the youth group named Jane who is startled out of her "normal" teenage existence through the radical change she sees in the life of her pastor. The premiere of Treasure in Heaven is scheduled for Saturday, November 10, 2012 at the Cobb Theater in Leesburg, VA. Unfortunately, I'll not be in the area, but if YOU are, you might want to check it out.
Cobb Theatre Auditorium #11 Village 12 1600 Village Market Blvd Leesburg, VA 20175 (571) 291-9462 http://www.cobbtheatres.com/leesburg12.aspx
Doors will open at 9:15 AM and the movie will start promptly at 10:00 AM (i.e. there will be no movie trailers shown). The concession stand will be open.
Tickets are $5 at the door. Please bring cash as the movie showing is a special event for the theater, so will not be using the normal movie ticketing system.
Movie Trailer: http://www.tihthemovie.com/TIH_View_Trailer.html
I'm (Still) Waiting . . . .
People sometimes tell me how strong I am. But I don't feel strong. Whatever strength is there, it surely isn't mine. I guess that would be scriptural:
For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. ~ 1 Corinthians 1:25-27
I have been called. Called to live my life in love and joy and peace and patience and faith and kindness and obedience. Called to devote my energies and thoughts and words and actions as a living sacrifice of adoration to the one true God. Called to a steadfast surrender to the astounding Grace that makes it at all possible.
Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. ~ Psalm 119:35
All well and good to be willing to obey, but what if we are unsure of the path to take? What constitutes obedience in a particular instance? It is said that the devil is in the details. Perhaps, but my God is Lord over both the details and the bigger picture, so I'm in the best of hands.
This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. They did not thirst when he led them through the deserts; he made water flow for them from the rock; he split the rock and water gushed out. ~ Isaiah 48:17, 21
He will teach me, direct me, lead me in the way I should go. But so often I'm like a little kid: "Are we there yet?" and five minutes later "How much LONGer?!!"
In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.
~ Psalm 5:3
As I was growing up my family would sometimes take an entire summer and visit friends and family all across the States. I grew used to lengthy drives and learned to use the time spent in the van productively. Those who were able might decide to nap some in order to arrive with more energy. Reading, studying, talking with parents and siblings, singing songs, playing travel games, folding origami, tatting, crocheting, solving puzzles—there were countless activities available to occupy us (besides the ever-tempting snack-box). Have I so quickly forgotten how to be content as a passenger?
Humph. But at least on THOSE trips I knew what to expect! Oh, really? What about traffic delays, adverse weather conditions, construction detours—and my still developing sense of time passage itself? Is this really so different? Many of us are still children with respect to interacting with heaven's timetable.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. ~ Psalm 130:5-6
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
~ Lamentations 3:22-26
A dear friend reminded me yesterday that I am not the only one having to employ patience here. God is being patient, too. Not just patient with me (which he is, and I am SO thankful!), but everything else going on that makes things take longer than they might otherwise. God is excited for me to glimpse the next adventure, thrilled to take me there and share my delight in what he has so graciously prepared.
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. ~ Ephesians 2:10
He is infinitely more eager than I, and infinitely more patient. Anticipation is helpful. Impatience and anger over unmet expectations are not. Do we joyfully trust our Father that the good things he has prepared for us will also come in his beautiful time?
I confess that after publishing my last post all about waiting, part of me indulged in the thought that the package I was waiting for (speaking figuratively) would now "magically" appear. Another part of me suspected that there was still much to learn about this fascinating facet of life called "waiting." The former part hoped that the latter part was being unnecessarily pessimistic. I chuckle inside now at my psychological game. Who was I kidding? It is when our own strength runs out that we discover the true strength that comes from depending on God alone.
God enjoys spending time with me—me spending time with him. Yes, he will be with me, holding my hand as I walk through the door when that time comes. I even think I know which door that is, though not fully what lies behind it. It hasn't opened yet, though I have knocked several times. Well, that doesn't mean I can't praise God in the hallway!
Let's break out the car songs . . . . ;-)
Which of these answers would be the hardest for you to hear? If you're like me, you would say the third. The why of a yes or no isn't as tough to deal with as the "how long?!" of a wait. But so often that's exactly where I find myself: waiting. And it's easy to get discouraged if I keep staring into the dense fog obscuring what's ahead.
I like how Corrie Ten Boom expressed the futility of it. She said: "Worry is a cycle of inefficient thoughts whirling around a center of fear....Never fear to trust an unknown future to a known God."
We are exhorted in scripture to live by faith (2 Cor. 5:7) in light of a living hope (1 Peter 1:3). This is not an empty suggestion, but a vital expression of a life surrendered to Christ. In a culture drowning in the "easier and faster is better" philosophy it can be a constant struggle to maintain joy and peace in the waiting seasons. Yet I am convinced that being patient is not sitting around moping, wishing, sighing for something I'm not sure of.
Patience is faith that endures.
It endures the difficulty of known obstacles, the uncertainty of fluctuating variables, the frustration of invisible progress, and the temptation to get depressed with the slow, lingering passage of Time.
And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end,
so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
~ Hebrews 6:11-12
Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord. ~ Psalm 27:14
Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary. ~ Isaiah 40:31
But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. ~ Romans 8:25
When I find myself growing restless or impatient, here is how I take stock:
Let's take a brief example. If I am expecting a call that would mean a trip somewhere, I can already start packing my bag. But what if the call doesn't come, or it turns out the trip is unnecessary? Well, then I unpack the bag! That wasn't so hard, now, was it? And yes, I have "been there, done that." :)
Keeping busy by being productive while I'm waiting helps me to maintain a proper perspective even as I prepare for when the season of waiting comes to an end. And it does! When the answer is "Wait" it is not for an indefinite period of dangling in limbo. Remember, God is always faithful to his promises:
For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; for it will certainly come, it will not delay. ~ Habakkuk 2:3
So for all you fellow "waiters" out there, my prayer for you is that:
...you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. ~ Colossians 1:9b-12
The Cold Read
This past week I had the privilege of teaching at a film workshop in Denver, CO, with my brother and sister, who are also heavily involved in the film industry. I spoke about what scheduling looks like, and explained a sample call sheet, but the bulk of what I shared had to do with acting: auditioning, character study, and what it's like on set.
One of the topics that came up was the "cold read." That's a casting term for when an actor is asked to audition with sides (scenes from the script) that they have not previously studied. You haven't had time to warm up for it, so it's called reading it "cold."
For acting, the first time I did a cold read was about a year and a half ago. I had studied on how one should approach it, but was still nervous about the actual execution (ominous word, I know, but it captures well the essence of the moment). I had five minutes with the script before I was "on," and the adrenaline from the focused energy made me feel like I'd been running after an active three-year-old for an hour with no breaks. No, it was not comfortable to do. Yes, I was apprehensive. But it was also surprisingly fun! (Especially when they called the next day to offer me the role)
As far as my life goes? "Cold read" situations pop up with disconcerting frequency. By God's grace, I have but to ask to receive inside tips and wisdom on how to handle them.
There are several keys to keep in mind when faced with a cold read. They are much the same as an ordinary audition. The main difference is being able to snap into a faster gear to prep. Here goes:
God has information about the situation (script) that you don't. He can give you wisdom about how to go about things that will make sense in the actual context—even without you knowing what that context is!
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ~ Isaiah 41:10
Stress (dismay) isn't going to help anyway. When the thought comes: "I can't do this!", simply agree quickly. "Sure enough, 'I' can't do this. However, there's this other factor to take into account. God is going to help me. That means that not only can I survive this, but I can certainly 'take possession' on top!" Leave your worries with him and enjoy the experience.
The temptation is to dwell on what we don't have to go on. The if-only's can be exhausting! But what DO you have? Start there. God can show you how to use it in unexpected ways. (Go read the rest of the story to find out how the widow used her oil)
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. ~ 2 Timothy 1:7
Indecision is a fearful stance toward something which you feel in the dark about. The key is to walk in obedience to the light you already have. Be courageous! We do not walk alone. Let your “Yes” be yes, and your “No,” no. Don't waffle between them in the "maybes."
Even if you can't get it word for word, try to understand each point being made. Speak according to the need. Don't just put words out there that won't propel the situation in the right direction.
In regard to life's unexpected turns, don't spill out whatever comes to mind to say. Words are powerful! Have an arsenal of faith-building words at the ready in case you need to remind yourself that if God is for you, who can be against you? What you're facing might be new to you, but that is not a good reason for your trust in God to falter. His power and wisdom and love remain unfazed.
~ Psalm 32:8-9
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
~ Isaiah 30:21
Don't get stuck on a certain way to do things. If a yes-no option isn't clear at the outset, or you see a a roadblock ahead on the route you had chosen, feel free to mix it up. Let the Holy Spirit guide you on your way; keep your satellite reception strong for the Gospel Positioning System.
As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. ~ Psalm 103:12-14
What if the decisions you made weren't the right ones? What if you completely misread the script? What if you stumbled on your lines, or failed to reach that level of emotion you were going for? Let the Director give you his feedback. That's what counts, anyway.
Is God not bigger than our mistakes? Of course he is! Let him be your judge, your coach, and your teacher. He understands what we're going through.
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever—do not abandon the works of your hands. ~ Psalm 138:8
Listening to the director's vision for the scene
Some actors are notorious for injecting their own opinions into a script. Opinions on why the character is the way they are, what they should do, how they should do it, and even changing dialogue to better fit what they think the character would say. But that isn't really the actor's place.
If there is a script, it's there for a reason. The story is told the way it is on purpose! Just because I am chosen to portray a role in the story doesn't mean that I have been given creative license to decide what my character is about. My ideas about my character's arc and development will only be legitimate insofar as I am staying true to the intents of the director.
"Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, 'What are you making?' Does your work say, 'He has no hands'?" ~ Isaiah 45:9
The director has the final word. Any suggestions must pass through the director. The rest of the team unites under his vision.
So must the actors rally to the call to action. The music has been written, the interpretation is being directed. We are simply the instruments assembled to play the notes clearly and with feeling. If my interpretation differs at any point from that of the director, and he directs a change, I must be ready at a moment's notice to make that adjustment.
By personality I am very much a planner. I like to have everything laid out and organized in my head before I make decisions. Through practice born of necessity, I've begun to enjoy some spontaneity (especially if I already suspect that the situation will warrant it :P). I do have to consciously reject rising stress, though, when encountering an unexpected curve ball.
As a Christian, however, I have not only accepted Jesus as my personal Savior, but surrendered to his personal Lordship over my life. He is my life Director. Any ideas I might have about my life's story, or my own character arc, must be subject to his plans for me. Now he has the final word and authority. He IS the final word and authority!
Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. ~ Psalm 119:89
For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head...so that in everything he might have the supremacy. ~ Colossians 1:16-18
God recently gave me an apt illustration of how this can play out in my everyday life. Last week I was starting the draft for this very blog post, and pondering the implications of what it could mean, when my older sister approached me about the possibility of doing a short trip on the weekend to visit some friends. While I didn't have specific "plans" that took up my weekend yet, in my mind I was already allotting that time to prepare for some auditions I had coming up. But we took a few minutes to pray over the decision together, and I quickly realized that this was exactly what God was trying to teach me!
I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you. Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding, whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check, otherwise they will not come near to you. Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but he who trusts in the Lord, lovingkindness shall surround him. ~ Psalm 32:8-10
We did end up going, and not only did we have a wonderful visit, but I was even able to help with teaching about acting at a film workshop on our way there. :-) A great reminder that "a man’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand his own way?" (Proverbs 20:24) Indeed, it is only by seeking his direction for us that our lives can be truly significant. It is only by following his direction that we can rest secure.
I know, O Lord, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps. ~ Jeremiah 10:23
This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. ~ Isaiah 48:17
My life story is his to write. My time is his to spend. My love is his to give. My feet are his to go. My hands are his to serve. And even the smallest line in his script has more meaning than one of my monologues; the smallest role in his story more satisfying than any saga I could construct for myself.
We've got to stop being divas and let divine authority run the show!
Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." ~ Isaiah 55:6-11
Yes, Lord! Amen; so be it.
Front Row Seats
Sunrise over Estación de Cartama, Spain
~ The following is resurrected from my journal musings of over four years ago. While I did not locate a specific date for the entry, in this case the time of origin has no real bearing on the content—which is as relevant to me now as it was then. ~
I reach through layers of slumber, past troubling dreams, and lie there, blinking slowly to let go of the remnants of sleep. The nightmare isn't true, I realize...and will my mind to stop churning.
It's early yet, and the birds have just begun to work their way through the Saturday morning repertoire. Some of the chirps sound quite close. Okay. I'm curious now. I work my way out of the bedclothes and get off the bed so I can look out the window. I smile, enjoying the sight. There are two of them, side by side, perched on the white rake of an antenna mounted on our roof. They have front row seats to the sunrise.
I love it when I'm close enough to watch their sharp, short beaks open and close as they keep the conversation going like good football [soccer] commentators. Regretfully, I leave the winged creatures to their melodies and retreat to the bathroom mirror to reflect on my thoughts.
What does it mean to have front row seats to a sunrise? - I wondered, drying my face on the short rose-colored towel.
It seemed utterly presumptuous now to assume that the pair of birds I had witnessed sitting above the roof would have a better view than those swooping gently in the fresh morning air.
And yet, did that mean all of them saw it equally well? Perhaps, though each of them has the unique opportunity to fully appreciate the joy of the morning right before their eyes—just perhaps, like us, there are only some who choose to watch the day's beauty unfold. Only some who acknowledge the singular creativity of this day's miracle. Who raise their eyes, their voices, their hearts, in humble thanksgiving and adoration of the One whose mercies are new every morning.
I am dressed now and sitting on the edge of my bed. I close my eyes, silently making my own choice: to play in tune with heaven's melody, to watch attentively for every movement of the orchestra Conductor's hand, and so live in harmony with the theme of eternity's love song.
May I remember this choice today, and always Today.