Friday, February 18, 2011

"Make me know why You contend with me."

Job 10:2

Trials make the promise sweet;
Trials give new life to prayer;
Trials bring me to His feet,
Lay me low, and keep me there.
Perhaps, oh tried soul, the Lord is doing this to develop your graces.  There are some of your graces which would never be discovered if it were not for your trials.

Hope itself is like a star, not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity, and only to be discovered in the night of adversity.  Afflictions are often the black foils in which God sets the jewels of His children's graces, to make them shine the better.

Depend upon it, God often sends us trials that our graces may be discovered, and that we may be certified of their existence.

God trains His soldiers, not in tents of ease and luxury, but by turning them out and causing them to make forced marches and do hard service.  He makes them ford through streams, and swim through rivers, and climb mountains, and walk many a long mile with heavy knapsacks of sorrow on their backs.  Well, Christian, may not this account for the troubles through which you are passing?  Is not the Lord bringing out your graces, and making them grow?  Is not this the reason He is contending with you?

Charles H. Spurgeon

I love Spurgeon.  There is meat in everything he wrote.  And preached.

I am coming to some new realizations in my walk with Jesus.  The promise of the Old Testament is prosperity.  The promise of the New is adversity.  I'm not sure I understand the ins and outs of that yet, but by experience I know that trials do result in growth.  Being more like Him.  Were it not for the losses in my life, the absolute need for dependence on the Lord for daily bread, the realization that He is the one Who "will bring forth my righteousness as the light and my judgment as the noonday," when falsely accused -- not my own defense of myself -- I would be a very shallow vessel for His love.

I am learning more and more that the adversity, trials, contending.....all are gifts to gently steer me into deeper dependence on Jesus.  Every day.  Every hour.  Every minute.

This IS the reason He contends with me.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Eugene H. Thompson
February 15, 1931 - February 12, 2011

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Of Mice and Women

Grief is a funny thing.  It catches me unawares at the most unsuspecting moments.

Today I started on a project which I anticipate taking me all year.  I'm attempting to organize the thousands of photos from both sides of my family-of-origin, my growing-up years, and then the past 32 of our marriage and family.  Because of all the scrapbooking projects I've done, pictures turn up in the oddest places, perhaps stashed in a hurry when needing to "hide" what I was doing, or folders of pictures in a drawer for a project started but not finished.

So, I'm starting with my mom and her family.  I went through an easily accessible box and then headed for the ones stored in the "cubby."  Most of the photos are in plastic tubs, safe from the ravages of the elements, but I chose the cedar box.  The one with broken hinges.

Now, I am fine with spiders and bugs.  But mice bother me.  And when I opened that cedar box with broken hinges, there was a mama mouse staring right at me.  A pretty good sized one.  And she had built a big nest using shreds of irreplaceable family photos, part of Mom's birth certificate, some post cards from her trip to Norway and Sweden, and the corners of letters my dad had written her in their early days.  Precious things.  And I started to cry.  Grief.  Unexpected.

Mom died nearly 6 years ago, but has been gone from us much longer.  Alzheimer's Disease took her mind long before it took her body.  And reminders of her are precious to me. 

I run an ongoing battle with the issue of "things."  Jesus reminds me that I shouldn't be storing up treasures on earth but in heaven, because where my treasure is, so is my heart.  And I've thought about that.  A lot.  And I don't believe my treasures are on earth, really.  But I treasure my mom's beautiful things.  And the keepsakes that remind me of her.  And it grieves me when moth and rust (and mice) destroy them.

So, I took a walk and cried, and talked to the Lord about it.  And He reminded me again that He loves beauty, too.  He made amazing things....because He could.  He did it for His own pleasure, and for ours.  He makes stunning sunrises and sunsets everyday and uses a color palette we can only dream of.  He makes majestic evergreens to stand in groves and wave a fragrance over us that is unmatched anywhere.  And He is the One who gives the ability to paint and sculpt like Michelangelo, to design architecture and incredible inventions like DaVinci.  He is the One who stirs our hearts to all areas.  His instructions for His tabernacle include things of amazing beauty.  So He understands and loves it more than I do.  He is the source of it all.  He has no problem with loving beautiful things.

The question for me, then, is "where is my heart?" 

Okay, where is it?  Well, it's not in a wooden box with broken hinges. Neither is it in the drawers of the antiques that belonged to my mother's mother, nor in the cigar boxes full of pictures of generations of family.  My heart is the dwelling place of my Abba Father and His Son and His Spirit, and therefore it belongs to them. And WITH treasures.  In heaven.

So once again I attempt to wrap my heart and mind around the fact that these things that are hard, and bring grief, are part of Their work in me to conform me to the image of Jesus.  I allow myself to grieve and cry.  I clean up the mess and throw away the wreckage. And thank the mighty Three-in-One that they care about these things.

Mouse nests made of family memories that cause me to weep.
And search my heart.
And hopefully look more like Jesus.
Every time.

Mom & Me in 1958 or so.....