Monthly Archives: July 2012

God watches my every move

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Beeeeep.

My heart monitor beeped and the communication module activated.

Why?  I have no idea!!!

The monitor is set to be activated by four specific heart activities.  Four concerning heart activities.

Apparently, my heart did something concerning and I was TOTALLY UNAWARE.

It’s like I don’t know myself at all.

I need monitoring.  I am unaware of my heart issues.  I need help.

Of course, there is a blatant spiritual metaphor that is chasing around in my mind today:  In all realms, I need monitoring.  I am unaware of my issues.  I need help.

That’s why I love my Abba Yahweh’s intervention in my life.  That’s why God’s offer is not offensive to me.  I am very happy to have Him as my coach, mentor and Father.  I am not at all tweaked by the fact that He is watching my every move.  I am beyond-words-happy about being subject to His scrutiny and guidance!

God, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand. I’m an open book to you; even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking. You know when I leave and when I get back; I’m never out of your sight. You know everything I’m going to say before I start the first sentence.

I look behind me and you’re there, then up ahead and you’re there, too –  your reassuring presence, coming and going. This is too much, too wonderful –  I can’t take it all in! Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit? to be out of your sight? If I climb to the sky, you’re there! If I go underground, you’re there! If I flew on morning’s wings to the far western horizon, You’d find me in a minute –  you’re already there waiting!  Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark! At night I’m immersed in the light!” It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you; night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you.

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God – you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration – what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception  to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.

Your thoughts – how rare, how beautiful! God, I’ll never comprehend them! I couldn’t even begin to count them –  any more than I could count the sand of the sea. Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you! And please, God, do away with wickedness for good!

Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about; See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong –  then guide me on the road to eternal life. Psalm 139 select verses (The Message)

Why would humans want to live life without His presence? I can’t understand it at all. God’s Love is incredible.  God’s intimate care for me is mind-blowing.  I am so grateful that He knows everything about me.  And I’m so grateful for His redemption, forgiveness, salvation, freedom, purposes and eternity.  Thinking about all this today has flooded me again with His peace.

The inconvenience of this heart monitor has given me a beautiful gift today.  I am grateful someone is watching my heart.  I am grateful God is watching my everything.

How are you today?  How do you view God’s monitoring of you?  Are you glad?  Are you afraid?  Maybe this is something to pray about today.

Want to read through the Bible with me?  Today’s readings are: Psalm 98; Acts 7:1-43

The words that stood out to be today are: ‘Was it to me you were bringing sacrifices and offerings during those forty years in the wilderness, Israel? No, you carried your pagan gods’ (Acts 7:42-43a) //  Father, I do not want to turn to or trust in anyone or anything but You.  Help me to let go of my own gods each day and give me the courage and strength to embrace and trust You more and more.

Spiritual without knowing God?

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This 37-year-old felt pretty young sitting in that waiting room with all the silver-haired cardiology patients.  I felt like I was in the wrong place.  But no, I was exactly where I was told to be.  An adult woman with a new murmur needs to see a cardiologist.

All the nerves turned to tears when the doctor’s final sentence to me was a question: “See you in three weeks, ok?”  His “ok?” made me ask myself if I was.  And the tears came.

“Let’s talk about why you are crying.” He said. “I am not going to leave yet.”

He has to be one of the most kind, gentle, and insightful doctors I’ve ever met.  He is a self-proclaimed “spiritual” healer and was really interested in knowing about the details of my beliefs.  His online bio says that he believes spiritual health is intertwined with physical health.  He desires to treat his patients as whole people and use all approaches to bring healing.

I was crying because I was simultaneously relieved and terrified.

I had asked him if I could die suddenly from this heart issue.  “No.”

“You are delightful. I strongly sense that the divine has you here for important work.  Your time here is not yet done.”  He was like a walking, talking best-fortune-cookie-ever.

But I don’t read fortune cookies.  A few years ago I made a decision to always crumple them up unread.  In 1 Samuel 28, a freaked-out Saul used a spiritual medium to bring Samuel back from the dead for a chat.  It’s a pretty funny story.  It would make a great movie scene.  An illegal medium gets freaked out when she discovers her customer is the guy who made her profession illegal.  Their banter is funny to me.  And I hear a huge lesson for God’s children in this passage.

When Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by prophets. Then Saul said to his servants, “Seek for me a woman who is a medium… (1 Samuel 28:6-7)

Saul needed to hear from God.  He had tried the normal ways but God didn’t answer him.  That drove Saul to go another route: spiritualism.

Then Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” And Saul answered, “I am greatly distressed ; for the Philistines are waging war against me, and God has departed from me and no longer answers me, either through prophets or by dreams ; therefore I have called you, that you may make known to me what I should do.” Samuel said, “Why then do you ask me, since the LORD has departed from you and has become your adversary ?  (1 Sam 28:15-16)

Ok check it out: the medium actually accessed Samuel!  The Bible says that dead people can be reached via a medium.  Interesting, right?

But here’s the lesson I see:

1. Consulting the medium was plan B.  Hearing directly from God is what we were created for.  We don’t need a medium.  We have God for our Father, Jesus as our intercessor and the Holy Spirit as our indwelling guide and transformer.

2. Consulting the dead through a medium only enables you to get info from dead people.  What good is info from dead people?  I love how the dead-Samuel says it, “Why then do you ask me…?”  What good is asking dead people??  If we don’t know how to hear from God, hearing from dead people isn’t actually a good substitute!

3. Fast-foward to the New Testament.  Jesus is not longer physically on earth and the Holy Spirit has come to in-dwell in the lives of the Believers.  Game-changer!  In the Old Testament, Saul had been looking for an answer from God via dreams, divination tools and prophets.  In the New Testament, we hear God directly and also through other Believers who have the same indwelling Spirit of God.  This means we get to hear from God more often!!  And we all also get to hear Him and share those words with others.

My doctor seems to have a spiritual insight that is uncommon.  From what I’ve seen, I believe that people who don’t know God can still hear Him and have insights into the spiritual realm.  And it’s those kinds of people who end up being more prone to be “prophetic” and/or “prophets” when they know Jesus and are part of the Body of Christ.

Twice I’ve experienced unsolicited palm readings.  In both situations I had merely offered to practically help people I saw were in need.  Once, when I was working at a department store, I saw an elderly lady trying to juggle her shopping items and deal with an oxygen tank and nose tubes.  I offered to help her to the register area.  She cried and seemed amazed at my kindness.  “I want to give you a gift as a thank you.” She said.  I explained that it’s just part of my job and no thanks were needed.  She grabbed my hands and traced my palms with her fingers.  The other time was when I was the scholarship and membership coordinator for a local YMCA.  I gave a full-scholarship to a family that fit the income and situation parameters.  The mum was so grateful she hugged me and grabbed my hands and studied them.  Both women said they saw strange things in my palms.  One asked if I was an angel.  Words filled my mouth… no, I’m not an angel but the Spirit of God lives in me.  One said my timeline doesn’t end.  Again words just came… I believe I will live forever with God because of the salvation of Jesus.  Both women were amazed and said they hadn’t met someone like me before.  They both said I had pure spiritual light.  They both said they felt meeting me was destiny.

Both were fascinating encounters that left me with lots to think about and pray about.  And I end up having a problem and an intrigue.

Here’s the problem I have with spirituality that exists disconnected from knowing God: I don’t trust it.  I think the doctor is great but I don’t trust the source of his information.  His words were comforting but I know that true and enduring comfort comes only from a relationship with God.

Here’s the intrigue I have with spirituality: There is a pursuit of insight and knowledge that should exist within the Body of Christ.  We are people who hear God.  We are people who can know the unknown.  But we don’t pursue it.  I think it’s because we don’t want to idolize spirituality.  We want to pursue and worship God only.  But have we thrown a baby out with the bath water?  By knowing God, don’t we also know the spiritual world?

My doctor is functioning in a realm that belongs to me too.  I had not gone to his office with the mindfulness to be listening to God for a word or any other of the spiritual gift functions described in 1 Corinthians 12-14.  I was consumed with thoughts about my physical health.  Bubbled up in my own journey of trying to trust God.  Totally inward focused.  Major fail.

And so I’m thinking today about two big things:  Trusting God (yes, clearly I’m not done with dealing with trust issues!) and the Spiritual Ministry of the Body of Christ.  Praying today for the wisdom and ability to rise above my self and be the minister God has called me to be.  Not a weirdo but a connect between the Spirit of God and this world that needs Him.  A conduit of God’s words to us.

Selah.

How is your spiritual ministry?  How do you see God empowering you with the gifts and functions He has for each of us, His children?

Want to read through the Bible with me?  Today’s readings are:Psalm 95, 96, 97 ; Acts 6:1-15

The verse that stood out to me today: “At this point everyone in the high council stared at Stephen, because his face became as bright as an angel’s.” (Acts 6:15)  // Father God I want to minister in Your Love and Power like Stephen did.

Truth and truth and Trust

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Our four-year-old is not a liar.  She is still pure and honest.

I don’t doubt her truthfulness.  I do, however, have to question her perspective, perception and comprehension.  Therefore, I can’t always trust she’s telling the truth.

There is never deceit.  She is speaking her truth. But there are so many things she doesn’t know yet.  So she is not speaking absolute Truth.

“I had a shower this morning.” She said.

“Really?” I was not questioning that a shower had happened.  I was questioning that it had happened this morning.  Time is a concept she is still learning to understand.

A quick text to Daddy and the absolute Truth was found.  Yes, she had a shower this morning.

(Side note: It is a glorious gift that my husband gets the kids up and fed breakfast before he goes to work each day.  It is an incredible gift of grace that he lets me sleep longer.  I am so humbled and honored by his care for me in this season of illness and always. Thank you love.)

I’m thinking about our sweet daughter and her growing independence.  “I want to do it all on my own” is her regular cry.  I mostly support her and let her go for it.  But there are also times when she really needs some help.  She doesn’t have a full Truth to guide her.  There are times I let her try things and discover new things.  There are times when I have to protect her from her lack of wisdom and knowledge.

I am not at all upset that her version of truth is not complete.  It doesn’t say anything about her character.  It doesn’t affect my love for her.  Her current age and development is totally delightful.  I would like to freeze her in this moment.  I have wanted to freeze each of our kids many times over.  Each age and stage is so precious.  I am painfully aware how short each age is.  They are growing so fast.  Not that growth is bad.  I’m so excited to know them in their years to come.  But I will miss the little versions of them.  They are such a joy.

I’m thinking about the arrogance of humans.  We think we know so much.  We think we see the absolute truth.  We think our versions are utterly correct.  We think our wisdom and knowledge are trustworthy.  We trust our perspective, perception and comprehension.  But there are times, many times, every day when we need help.

We are not all-knowing.  O, we should be afraid of how limited we are.  Our perspective is off.  Our comprehension so meager

God is all-knowing.  And He, as our Father, is offering us the benefit of His guidance and wisdom.  That is totally mind-blowing. Incredible.

Our Abba Yahweh is utterly delighted by us today.  Who we are today is precious to Him.  Who we are going to be tomorrow is a joy to Him.

He has given us His indwelling Holy Spirit to guide us in all things.  Amazing.

I hope my children will be want my perspective and wisdom as a help and support throughout life.  How much more should we want and totally trust God’s help and support?!

Such a good reminder to tune-in to the Holy Spirit each day.  Learning from my children again today. 🙂

Respond to the greatness of our God! The Rock: His works are perfect, and the way he works is fair and just; A God you can depend upon, no exceptions, a straight-arrow God. His messed-up, mixed-up children, his non-children,  throw mud at him but none of it sticks. Don’t you realize it is God you are treating like this? This is crazy; don’t you have any sense of reverence? Isn’t this your father who created you, who made you and gave you a place on Earth? Read up on what happened before you were born; dig into the past, understand your roots. Ask your parents what it was like before you were born; ask the old-ones, they’ll tell you a thing or two. When the High God gave the nations their stake, gave them their place on Earth, He put each of the peoples within boundaries under the care of divine guardians. But God himself took charge of his people, took Jacob on as his personal concern. He found him out in the wilderness, in an empty, windswept wasteland.  He threw his arms around him, lavished attention on him,  guarding him as the apple of his eye. He was like an eagle hovering over its nest,  overshadowing its young,  Then spreading its wings, lifting them into the air, teaching them to fly. God alone led him; there was not a foreign god in sight. God lifted him on to the hilltops, so he could feast on the crops in the fields. He fed him honey from the rock,  oil from granite crags, Curds of cattle and the milk of sheep, the choice cuts of lambs and goats, Fine Bashan rams, high-quality wheat, and the blood of grapes: you drank good wine!   (Deut 32:1-14 edited)

How are you?  What is God speaking to you today?
Want to read through the Bible with me?  Today’s readings are Psalm 94; Acts 5:1-42
The verses that stood out to me today:  I cried out, “I am slipping!” but your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.” (Psalm 94:18-19)

Goodness

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For months I’ve been wanting to go but our schedule has not worked.  But last night I got to go for the first time to an awesome study group at church.  It is a women’s group that is studying the Fruit of the Spirit.  Each month they focus on one specific attribute from Galatians 5.  Last night: Goodness.

I had to smile.  Have you noticed that the Goodness of God has been a theme in my life lately?  Or I should say, doubting the goodness of God … urgh.

Last night an awesome woman shared about her journey in doubting but clinging to the goodness of God.  In the past few months her family has had three loved ones and a beloved dog die.  She shared about her grieving and her sorrow and the goodness of God amidst it all.  It is IN her grief that she is experiencing the goodness of God.  Not merely to deal with the grief… but actually to be nourished by the grief.

Totally paralleled the words I have been reading in “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp: “Would I really choose the manna?”

When faced with hard times, do I accept what God is handing to me?  Do I take it, choose it, eat it and let it nourish me?  Or do I get stuck, questioning its goodness?  Questioning God’s goodness?

Last night we asked, “What is goodness?”

Goodness is really hard to define.  The greek root of the word translated to “goodness” in Galatians 5 means: “good.”  I think most humans would like it to mean “no pain.”

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines goodness as:

 – the quality or state of being good
–  the nutritious, flavorful, or beneficial part of something
(http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/goodness)

LOVE that second definition: “the nutritious, flavorful, or beneficial part of something.”

God does bring goodness into my life.  Nutrition. Flavor. Benefit.

There is a part of pain that is good.  A part of grief that is good.  A part of each day that is good.  God’s goodness is the nutritious, flavorful, beneficial part of everything I am walking through.

God’s goodness is present.  In my life.  In my days.  In my moments.  I taste it.  I see it.  God is good.  (Psalm 34:8)

Today I’m anticipating nutrition.  I want to be ready and willing to pick up the Manna and devour it.  And trust that God is writing my story with goodness and love as His guide.  The overflow of who He is.

The LORD is my shepherd; I have everything I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk through the dark valley of death,   I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You welcome me as a guest, anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.
Psalm 23

I don’t want to waste anymore of my life doubting the goodness of God.  Let’s carve it in stone.  Let’s write it in permanent marker.  Let’s set up a standing stone to remember.  God is good and His goodness and unfailing love never fail.

How are you? What themes are you seeing God speak to you about lately?

Want to read through the Bible with me? Today’s readings are Psalm 92, 93; Acts 4:1-37

A different day

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One: Clothes. Loose, comfy and warm.
Two: Wear no metal.
Three: 2 Litres of water.

Tuesdays are different from other days.

Slow down. Divert from the usual. I have to be purposeful and deliberate.

At first it was really inconvenient.  It takes mental energy and extra time.  It messes up my usual morning pace and flow.

Round up my metal-free clothes: Stretchy, comfy yoga pants. Socks. Tank with non-adjustable straps. Light colored t-shirt. Pull-over hoodie. No zippers, no underwires, no jewelry.  I’m mindful as I put on my wedding rings that I need to remember to remove them.  I’m careful to count the bobby pins as I put them in so I can make sure they all come out again.  I fill my 32oz water bottle and make sure I drink the full bottle then refill for another.

On Tuesdays I get treatment on a machine that needs me to be metal-free, have high water volume and lay still for an hour.

Oh I LOVE it.  An hour alone.  Soothing music. Lights dim.  Killing the bugs.  Most weeks I fall asleep under a warm soft blanket.

But even more than that relaxing hour, I love the preparation.  I love the mindfulness.  I love having to think about my every step.

Life can become so full of auto-pilot routines.  I love the different pace that comes from the inconvenience of my Tuesdays.

I think about marriage as I mindfully put on my wedding rings.  Other days I just put them on without a thought.
I think about my health and my earthiness as I drink the water.  Other days I take life for granted.
I think about the sweetness of our kids as I lay in a room void of their chatter.  Other days are too busy to take the time to contemplate simple joys.
I think about so many things that get crowded out on other days.

There is something really awesome about special preparation days.

Like Sundays used to be in days gone by.  When people dressed in their “Sunday Best” for church.  There is something special and sweet about that time of preparation.

Like Christmas or birthdays.  Days with special rituals and deep meanings.

Like a wedding day.  Days full of preparation and difference.

I love the gift that Tuesdays have given me: An out of the norm mindfulness.  A day of difference.  A day of slower pace.

This week my nurse asked me what gifts this illness has given me.  Her question irritated me.  Why should I have to find anything good in this?  Honestly, I couldn’t think of one.  I can see a few silver linings to the dark clouds but nothing I would define as a “gift.”  Mostly, it’s simply a terrible illness and I’m not at all happy about it.

Today is Wednesday and I’ve been thinking about her question for 24 hours.  And in my rush of a Wednesday, I’ve been thinking about the beauty of Tuesdays.  I guess my new routine on Tuesday mornings are a gift.  I can’t wait till I’m done with this battle.  But when it’s over, I think I’ll miss my mindful Tuesdays.  A bonus time of “selah” mid-week.

_ _ _

How are you?  Do you have something in your life that forces you to be mindful in different ways?

Want to read through the Bible with me?  Today’s readings are: Psalm 91; Acts 3:1-26

Nourished by the Mysteries

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I needed privacy and tissues.

The receptionist’s voice brought me back to real-time, “What are you reading today?”

I had to choose to breathe instead of sob my reply, “One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  I’m on page two and a baby just got killed.” (Sniff)

My friend tells me it’s been really popular but I hadn’t heard anything about it.  A couple of weeks ago I  was searching the library catalogue for my next batch of reads and stumbled across it.

My doc can run quite late so I keep a book in my bag just in case.  On Friday I had almost an hour of reading time in the reception area.

“In the November light, I see my mother and father sitting on the back porch step rocking her swaddled body in their arms. I… watch their lips move… with please for waking, whole and miraculous. It does not come. The police do. They fill out reports. Blood seeps through that blanket bound.
“Mama… holds my youngest baby sister, a mere three weeks old, to the breast, and I can’t imagine how a woman only weeks fragile from the birth of her fourth child witnesses the blood-on-gravel death of her third child and she leaks milk for the babe and she leaks grief for the buried daughter.”  (Voskamp, Ann. One Thousand Gifts. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010.)

As a mother of two little ones, my heart has been taken captive by this book.

I’m thinking about the terrible pony accident that happened with our eldest and her best friend when they were two years old.  They could both be dead.  Gloriously, they only had bone bruises and skin lesions and there are no enduring issues.  Still, my stomach gets tight at the memory of that day.

I’m thinking about how both our kids were born with health problems.  Our amazing Children’s Hospital gave us top-notch care and God clearly touched both kids and those issues are behind us now.  Still, my heart gets heavy when I think about the days of questions and waiting when we didn’t know what the future would look like.

I was changed by those days.  I am marked by those wounds and the scars are still thin and fragile.  And I gained a layer of fear.  A default to caution and worse-case-imaginings.

The surrender of those fears and the confession of my sin of distrust is a daily part of my life.  And over time I am accepting the forgiveness and freedom that was instantly given by my Abba Yahweh.

Ann Voskamp’s journey is deeply painful and I am grateful for the chance to know it.  Each page stirs up my heart and touches issues I had let settle mostly unaddressed.

This is a good time for me to revisit these old pains: As I wrestle with my own health battle and the possibility that my sweet little family may have to each face the battle too.  There is an umbrella question that covers it all.  A grievance: Why does the goodness of God seem to be scarce in the lives of some?

To be clear: I know God is good.  He causes the rain falls on the just and the unjust. (Matt 5:25)  His goodness is constant and pervasive.  We all live immersed in His goodness.  Without His goodness, I can’t even begin to imagine the state we would all be in.  This world would not keep turning.

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. James 1:17

Even so, I crave more goodness from my good and loving God.  To be honesty, I desire a life of no pain.  I desire full health, abundance, prosperity and goodness from Him.  His Word is so full of promises about these things.  And my flesh sure hates discomfort, pain, lack and anything less than perfect goodness.

Thank you Ann Voskamp for slapping my face with truth.

“Isn’t this the human inheritance, the legacy of the Garden [of Eden]?”
“I believe the Serpent’s hissing lie, the repeating refrain of his campaign through the ages: God isn’t good… That God withholds good from His children, that God does not genuinely, fully, love us.”
“Doubting God’s goodness, distrusting His intent, discontented with what He’s given, we desire… I have desired… more.  The fullest life.”
“I look in the mirror, and if I’m fearlessly blunt – what I have, who I am, where I am, how I am, what I’ve got – this simply isn’t enough.  The forked tongue darts and daily I live the doubt, and ask: Does God really love me? If He truly, deeply loves me, why does He withhold that which I believe will fully nourish me? Why do I live in this sense of rejection, of less than, of pain?  Does He not want me to be happy?”
“Satan, he wanted more. More power, more glory. Ultimately, in his essence, Satan is an ingrate.  And he sinks his venom into the heart of Eden. Satan’s sin becomes the first sin of all humanity: the sin of ingratitude.  Adam and Eve are, simply, painfully, ungrateful for what God gave.”  (Voskamp, Ann. One Thousand Gifts. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010.)

I want to keep typing and include the whole chapter here because each sentence contains so much to think about!

The book moves on to introduce a new family member: Ann’s brother-in-law.  He and his wife have lost two young babies to a genetic disease.  Ann questions his positive outlook.  He responds with an affrontive statement about God’s blessing and the wonderful time they had with their sons.  He is, to me, remarkable.  He seems to know the goodness of God in a way that I weakly grasp for.

Ann talks about the beauty of the Manna God provided in the wilderness.  She has grabbed my heart once again.  It is a section of the Biblical Histories that I am totally in love with.  It is my most precious personal study passage and my most favorite teaching and sermon to share.

She talks about the “mystery” that nourished the people.  They didn’t know what it was but they ate it and it nourished them.

“I think of buried babies and broken, weeping fathers over graves, and a world pocked with pain, and all the mysteries I have refused, refused, to let nourish me.”  (Voskamp, Ann. One Thousand Gifts. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010.)

Oh.  There are times when I have let the mysteries from God nourish me.  And there are many times when I’ve refused to let mysteries nourish me.  Hmmm.  This is good to think about.

I am enamoured with this journey I am on as of late. God sure is doing some deep demolition and reconstruction in my heart.

Now I need to have the courage to devour these current mysteries and let God nourish me… instead of being afraid of what He is preparing me to endure next.

I do believe; help me overcome myunbelief!” Mark 9:24

Have you read One Thousand Gifts?  What has God spoken to you about His goodness?  What is your journey to deeper trust?

Want to read through the Bible with me?  Today’s readings are Psalm 89; Acts 2:1-13

Innocent Murmurs

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The butterfly fluttering happened off and on all day last Friday.  Yesterday morning it happened again.  It was like my heart had grown wings and was trying to stretch out inside my chest.

My doctor listened today and said I have a “nice heart murmur.”  Um. I question her use of the word “nice.”  She referred me for testing so I have an appointment with a cardiologist in 1o days.  Testing will show if it’s a congenital issue or a developed issue.  I do have a co-infection that is known to reside in heart tissue.  We need to determine the source of the murmur to know how to treat it.

Heart Murmurs: “There are two types of heart murmurs: innocent murmurs and abnormal murmurs. A person with an innocent murmur has a normal heart. This type of heart murmur is common in newborns and children.  An abnormal heart murmur is more serious. In children, abnormal murmurs are usually caused by congenital heart disease. In adults, abnormal murmurs are most often due to acquired heart valve problems.” (www.mayclinic.com)

The term “innocent murmurs” makes me smile.  The double meaning is too awesome to ignore.

I’m prone to utter “innocent murmurings.”  I have a bad day and just need to vent.  Or I have doubts about God’s plan and just need to cry.  Or I have questions about life and just need to talk it through.  Most of what comes out of my mouth in those times is stupid.  But saying it somehow makes me feel better.  There’s something cleansing about actually forming the words that have been bouncing around inside my mind.  And once they push out of my mouth and float in the air, I feel good.  In those times I rarely, if ever, agree with what I say.  If someone were to record my conversation I would be desperate to destroy the recordings.  They are not words that should bear fruit.  They are simply innocent murmurs.  They should remain empty and purposeless.  I don’t mean what I say when I murmur about God, about people, about myself.

“An innocent murmer has a normal heart.”  At the end of the day,  I am normal.  Nice, loving, peaceable.  Innocent.

Last night a lot of people were hurt by a man.  He took a bunch of guns to a movie theatre and shot people.  Men, women, children, babies.  It’s so very, very sad.

Today I keep hearing people question, “What is this world coming to?”

I think we all know humans are capable of terrible things but we dare to believe that humans are decent.  We all have bouts of “innocent murmurings” that give us a taste of our darkness but it’s not truly who we are and we go back to normal life.  Because after all, “An innocent murmer has a normal heart.”  Normal.

What that man did last night is not normal.  It’s abnormal.  It’s bad.  It’s wrong.  It’s counter-intuitive.  It’s crazy. It’s serious.

“An abnormal heart murmur is more serious. … caused by congenital heart disease … [or] due to acquired heart valve problems.”

Yes this is serious.  And the question now is, why did he do it?  Was it something he was born with?  A congenital struggle or chemical imbalance or disease?  Or was this something he developed over time? An acquired anger or a response to pain or a problem in life?

This is a problem:  It’s so hard to know what is going in on our own hearts sometimes.  And just like I need a heart specialist, humans need a help to determine the source of our murmurings to know how to treat it.

For the word of God is full of living power. It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires. It exposes us for what we really are.  (Hebrews 4:12)

I have always had a hard time receiving correction.  I really like to be able to do self-diagnosis and thus avoid the public humiliation that comes when someone else points out an issue!  But there are some things that are beyond our own ability to see.  It’s hard to know what is going on in our own hearts sometimes.

Last night’s attack is a tragedy on two levels.  One: people were killed.  But two: a human being became abnormal.

When was the tipping point?  At some point the man would have simply had innocent murmurings.  What happened for him to leap from normal to abnormal?  When did he acquire this serious problem?

Of course, in the days to come we will all hear the man’s story and we’ll start to see how things unravelled to this point.  But this situation is stirring up a somber yet hopeful reminder: HUMANS NEED COMMUNITY.

We need to share life. To love and be loved.

We need to laugh together.  To share experiences and adventures.

Also we need the insights of others in our quest to live a normal, good, not-crazy life.

(I’m not saying we should haphazardly shout judgements and corrections at people around us.  Oh man, some people sure love to do that.  God has some important guidelines when it comes to Speaking Truth in Love)

What I’m talking about is: living in genuine loving community with people and having a culture of commitment to growing towards purity, goodness and holiness.  It is my firm belief this can only be done through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Only God can give us the Love and Wisdom to do this well.

Take good counsel and accept correction –  that’s the way to live wisely and well. (Prov 19:20)
Be alert. If you see your friend going wrong, correct him. If he responds, forgive him.  (Lk 17:3)

Isolation is not good for humans.  We get tweaked without knowing it.  It’s in our relationships with other humans that we can see ourselves.

Abnormal-hearted humans are dangerous.  And such a waste of a beautiful life… and then the lives of the others affected.

How did we get so off track as a human race?  We are one people but we act like we are barely related.  It’s dangerous that we think it’s socially “rude” to get all up in the personal business of others.  I understand that no one wants to be judged by a nosey gossip… but who else have we blocked out of our lives in the process?

Could it be that wise insightful loving community is the greatest need of humanity?  I know it’s one of my greatest needs.

I’m so grateful for the wise insightful loving community I am a part of.  This is why I’m a fan of church.  I know churches are filled with “interesting” people but I have found a fuller life amidst these diverse and unique people.  We are sometimes oil and water but we are bonded together by the Love and Grace of God.

Where do you get feedback and insight from? Do you have a community of friends that speaks with godly wisdom into your life?  How do you keep connected and avoid isolation?

Want to read through the Bible with me?  Today’s readings are Psalm 88; Acts 1:1-26