Thursday, April 30, 2009

As is

I was at the mall recently. It's one of the least likely places you will find me but I was there. I went on my lunch hour to avoid the crowds. At the last minute, a friend went with me which made it much more pleasant.

While I was there I noticed they were giving away some free things if you spent a certain amount. Part of the promotion was that you could choose between a couple different items. As I was checking out and my sales person was bagging my items, she apologized for no longer having the choice as they had run out of one of them. I said it was OK. She just kept apologizing. The rest of the conversation when kind of like this:
Me: It's really OK. I know some people may have a problem with not having the choice, but it's really not a big deal for me. I didn't come here for free stuff.

Her: Really?

Me: Really. I mean, it's free.

Her coworker: Did she really just say that?

Her: Yes. (to me) Oh, we like you. Will you come back? We never hear that, do we?

Her coworker: No. Never.
They just went on and on about how people don't respond that way. She then gave me extra free stuff. I tried to refuse it but she insisted so I gave it to my friend who was gracious enough to go with me. She practically begged me to come back.

It really got me thinking about the gift God gave. He offers the free gift of salvation to us - all we need to do is accept it, as is. The problem is, we try to make it into something it was not intended to be. We smile, and say thank you, but then we think it's not quite right. Maybe we make it into a set of rules we have to follow. Maybe we think of it as a "get out of jail free" card, and go on living our lives the way we want with no concern for Him at all. Maybe it's saying certain parts of the Bible apply to us and others don't.

We want to custom order the free gift, with only the accessories we think will fit into our plans. Problem is, the plan isn't really ours. The gift isn't customizable. You can't make it better. You can't make it worse. Jesus is perfect, as is.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Wrong Way

Recently, my normal drive to work has been disrupted by orange barrels. Yes, along with the new life that spring delivers, it also marks the beginning of construction season.

A couple of weeks ago, it took me nearly 2 hours to get to the office (a 45 mile trek). I decided that day that I needed a new route to work. I had a few choices, but chose the one that would hopefully be fastest. Things have been going well ever since.

That is, until this week. Yesterday as I was leaving the office, I apparently wasn't thinking about what I was doing, and I turned the wrong way out of the parking lot. After kicking myself, I decided I could get back on my new route by taking a little detour. That detour added 1/2 hour to my drive.

Fast forward to today. Once again, leaving the parking lot, I turned a different wrong way. This time, I made the decision to take all back roads home, which again, added 1/2 hour to my normal drive time. I was so frustrated with myself. I realize that at this time, there really is only one way to get home.

It's amazing how a simple distraction can cause me to get on the wrong road, not to mention falling back into old patterns. I didn't mean to get on the wrong road. I could have turned around and gotten back on track, but I thought I knew the answer to my dilemma. I wasn't turning to the great Navigator, who always leads me back to the narrow road - the one that get's me to my ultimate destination, right on time.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

They're Everywhere

If I had to describe yesterday in one word, it would be wet. It rained all day.

One of the byproducts of a spring rain is worms. They come out of the ground to, well, I don't know why, but they come out.

When I was a kid, I would spend at least a week at my grandma's. She lived on a lake and it was so much fun. I remember digging in her garden for worms and fishing with them. But somewhere along the way, my idea of worms changed. They are no longer a source of fun but a source of fear.

About 10 years ago on a rainy day, not not unlike yesterday, I got home, parked in the garage, closed the garage door and as I turned to walk into the house, I saw them. Hundreds (thousands in my head) of worms on the street, sidewalk, even on the porch (though at first I couldn't see that far). I was paralyzed. I started a conversation in my head trying to get my legs to start moving.

Now my fear wasn't because I thought the worms would harm me. The fear was that I would step on them. It wasn't because I thought I would kill them under my feet (but ewww), but that they would touch me. If I stepped on one, it would get on my shoe and follow me around. I'm so glad no one had a video camera on me because I got as high on my toes as I could and I quickly bobbed and weaved avoiding them as best I could (which was hard because there were so many). I know I stepped on some. Then I got to the door and I had to stop moving to unlock it. I was certain they were crawling on me. I get chills just thinking about it.

So yesterday, as I walked from my car to the office, they were there again. Not as many, but they were there and I avoided them as I do every time I see them. I was feeling anxiety and truthfully, sick to my stomach. I'm not sure where this irrational fear came from, but at least it's a source of entertainment for my family.

As I was thinking about how crazy this is, I was reminded that just like those worms (who are out to get me), temptation is all around. It's unavoidable. I'm going to step in it. It's going to come on harder and stronger when it's cloudy. The Son can't shine when clouds of sin are covering my life. Then I remember that I'm to keep my eyes on Jesus, not on the world around me. If I would have been looking at my destination instead of the path I was on, I would not have noticed the creepy worms. In the same way, if I keep my eyes focused on Jesus, whatever comes along the path will not harm me.
1 Corinthians 10:13: No temptation has siezed you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted he will also provide a way out so you can stand up under it.
There's always an escape. Even if it means throwing away your shoes after stepping on a few worms.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Story for Claire

Today is my friend Claire's birthday. This story is for her (we had story time before). And for me. And for you.
Once upon a time there was a beautiful girl who lived in a quaint village in a small log cabin near the river. She loved to walk along the river and ponder life and love and what the future would hold.

Because of her beauty, she won the favor of the King. He knew who she was even before she knew he existed. He was watching her from a distance and waiting for her to notice him. He couldn't take his eyes off of her.

One day, as she was taking a stroll along the river when she saw something out of the corner of her eye. She thought it was a man, but she wasn't sure. At first, she was frightened. She wondered if she should run away. But then, he was there. He was standing right in front of her and she couldn't move. She knew something was about to happen to her, but she was curiously not afraid of him.She recognized him as someone others called the King.

When she looked into his eyes, she could see the depths of her own heart staring back at her. She knew her own heart, and was certain that she recognized it as her own, but it looked... different. Somehow, more peaceful than she had remembered. She looked away from him and looked into her own heart and saw the darkness, the despair, the fears and the shame of her life. He put his hand on hers. It felt strange. She looked down and saw that it was bleeding. He was bleeding and his blood was on her hand. She wanted to pull away from him, to run, but something held her there. It was his eyes. Those eyes. She remembered moments ago looking into those amazing eyes so she turned her gaze back to them. In those eyes, she again saw her own heart, covered in the same blood that was on her hand. She soon realized that she was not seeing herself as if she were looking in a mirror, where all of her faults were revealed. No, this reflection was different. This was washed in blood... his blood... and in the depths of his eyes she saw her heart like it was new. She saw freedom. She saw peace. She saw rest for her soul. She saw beauty in herself for the first time. She knew, somehow, in the presence of this King, that she was loved.

God bless you, Miss Claire!

Friday, April 10, 2009

See His Love

I'm so unworthy of this kind of love. I'm so thankful he gave anyway. Such love is this for me.