Friday, September 19, 2014

Broken Dreams (Google Images)
Go again to that dark place
where freedom dies and life lies waste.
Consider there that time, now past,
when all alone you gazed aghast
at broken dreams, forlorn and bent
beneath your feet lay, shattered, spent.

Return once more to memory’s cove
where, snug and safe, a treasure trove
of gold and silver, safely hid
from evil’s touch and gambler’s bid.
Protected by a Father’s hand
who caused these dreams to ever stand.

Some will die, and others live.
It is the Father’s grace to give
the best to those who dream, and wait
for Him to choose which one to take
and weave into life’s broken heart
a thread of hope, that missing part.

Let fall behind those painful sparks
of dying dreams that now grow cold.
And look beyond their fading light
toward His promise, pure and bright,
of dreams set free, divinely blessed,
a Father’s gift, as always, best.

Friday, September 12, 2014

That Sinking Feeling (Google Images)
Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” (Matthew 14:28 NIV)

You have to admire the audacity of Peter. As for me, I don’t like small boats. I prefer my water in a glass or at least in a form that comes with a tap. If I had been Peter, I probably wouldn’t have even been in the boat, much less trying to walk on water. But sometimes the events of life don’t give us a choice. Unlike Peter, we don’t even get the opportunity to ask permission to take a walk on the wet side—we get tossed out of the boat and seemingly left to sink or swim. A serious illness, a financial setback, a ministry turned misery, a relationship that fails, a past that haunts us, a present that overwhelms us and a future that defies us—who would ask to walk on these turbulent waters?

For Peter there was a lesson in faith to learn. He couldn’t have known that when he stepped out the boat. All he wanted was to get to the Lord. And that is the whole point. To get nearer to the Lord, to know Him better, to trust Him more, to grow in His likeness requires stepping beyond all that means security to us. It means allowing Him, even inviting Him, to push us out of our boat so that we can learn the lessons in trust that only rough seas can teach.

And when events thrust us out of the boat? Don’t look back. The past is done. Don’t look around. There is nothing out there that can save us. Don’t look down. Neither sinking nor swimming are options that God would choose for us. He wants us to walk in triumph over the stormy seas of our lives. Not under the circumstances, but above them. How? A successful crossing comes when we keep our eyes, our hearts, our minds, our lives always focused on Him. And keep walking.

Friday, September 5, 2014

It Seems Like Only Yesterday

Archisnapper (Google Images)
The old woman told me to my face that it would have been better if I had never been born.

And was I expected to accept the blame for that?

I lost my innocence then—at the tender age of twelve. Like the gush that announces the blooming of womanhood, came the understanding that no one is safe, not even a child in the presence of someone old enough to know better.

At one time our city mayor was a lowly high school counselor—well, I guess to us he didn’t seem so humble then. My one, and thankfully, only visit to his office was on the occasion of his dispensing advice concerning my future. He asked about my plans. I told him. He informed me that I didn’t have the brains to do what I anticipated.

It’s a good thing I didn’t believe him.

It was at that point in life that I came to the conclusion that free advice might actually be worth exactly what you pay for it, and even those in lofty positions of influence might not always know what they are talking about.

Four years later, within weeks of graduating from my chosen institution of higher learning, I was asked to be the valedictorian of my graduating class. Days later, a rather shamefaced dean informed me that the Board of Directors of the school had rescinded the invitation. After all, they argued, the school was trying to attract men, making it inappropriate to have me, a woman, as valedictorian.

I guess I should have been doubly insulted.

So I learned that sometimes even the most godly men do ungodly things. History tends to repeat itself, but it’s that first plunge into the waters of disillusionment that seems the coldest. With time I would become much more familiar with my own frailties and become much more sympathetic to the weaknesses of others. All the same, during those chaotic days I discovered friends I really wasn’t aware that I had, classmates who refused to allow the scions of ecclesiastical power to do the wrong thing.

During the adventurous twenties, I was to learn that with patience and perseverance, even the harshest critic can be won over, and that not every open door leads directly into the next room. Sometimes there are hallways to be dealt with before we are ready for the next door. A hallway can be a humbling place, something akin to standing in a corner except that it isn’t punishment. It’s, well, a place to wait, reflect, and get things in perspective.

In one of those hallways, in middle life—the lower middle—a shock awaited me. I discovered that God wasn’t impressed by my job description. He showed me that I needed to describe myself, not by my title, but by my relationship to him. He was more impressed by my being than by my doing. To teach me that lesson, he had to strip away all that he had given me so that I would learn to focus, not on the gift, but on the One who had done the giving.

In my forties, I took the first steps toward learning not to tell God how things ought to be done. I also learned to tell my mother what to do, and then discovered what a wonderful thing it was to be able to relinquish the role of “mothering” my mother and to return to being a daughter.

“Freedom 55” came and went. I resented that, especially since my brother retired with a nice package at the age of fifty-two. But then, I argued, what would be the use of having learned all those lessons, gained all those experiences and acquired all that expertise just in time to be relegated to that proverbial “pasture.” I remembered Caleb, who demanded the right to take on the toughest assignment possible—at the age of eighty-five. I’m barely crawling out of my nappies compared to him.

Now, on the cusp of years that are physically rusty but spiritually golden, I realize that my battles are not fought with the same naivety as in the spring of my life, nor with the same heat as in my summer years. The fall is cool but fresh, and bright with colour. There are still possibilities to explore, mountains to take, more lessons to learn, before winter comes.

And I have a message to deliver to an old woman.