Whatever is Pure - March 2010
Choose A Different Perspective!
I remember about a year ago, visiting a local church situated on a hill near the sea. I was kindly invited to look inside, as I had been walking around admiring the grounds and the outside of the building. The inside was attractive, with lovely stained glass windows, most impressive.
I walked outside to jump back in my car, and immediately became aware that it was as though my sense of sight was heightened, everything looked better! As I drove down the road the surroundings and the sea in the distance took on a beautiful quality. I arrived home and walked inside, my house looked better the view of my garden looked wonderful. I didn’t want this to wear off. I knew the still small voice was highlighting something to me. it was about changing my perspective, to see things as He sees things, always seeing the beauty in things, it is where we choose to put our focus, that determines our joy & happiness. I believe also that He was showing me that he doesn’t just reside in beautiful buildings, but His glory can be found anywhere. This is a lesson that he continues to repeat to me in different ways just recently I heard him speak to me of it again. let me encourage you dear ones to shift your focus, dwell on the positive, the good, the lovely, allow Him to give you His perspective - a new perspective! Don’t settle for anything less.
The Day The Devil Got Me
Let me tell you a little story about the day the devil got me.
I wasn’t always the best big sister. I did, from time to time, give my little sisters a hard time. Okay, a really hard time.
I didn’t wake up and just decide to be mean. The meanness just came out sometimes. It would be like a soda pop can that you shook up and then popped the top. It just exploded out of me, just like the soda pop.
Well, one day, we all went to the tree line in the back yard. Our neighbors were usually over every day. If they weren’t at our house, then we were at theirs. From sun up to sun down you could find all five of us girls outside playing, even in the rain. But, this particular day stands out because it was a day that changed my life.
My mom called us all back to the house. Of course the race was on and I was sure to be one of the fastest. I planned on leaving everyone in the dust. I had my head down, slicing through the wind, on a mission to be the first in the house when abruptly I came to a dead stop.
I had been wearing my mother’s boots that day. While running back to the house my shoes became stuck in a hole. That hole led straight to the devil, I was sure of it! I had been captured, high-jacked by the devil himself! I screamed my head off! I was begging, screeching, and pleading with the others to rescue me. I was in a tug of war for my life.
To my complete dismay, they were laughing at me and continuing to run!! How could anyone do that? To me! I was their big sister, their best friend! Why wouldn’t they help me? I ended up abandoning my mother’s boot and ran with one boot back to the house. I ran in crying about the devil grabbing me. I was telling my mother how I was in the battle of my life. The devil had grabbed a hold of my leg and was trying to take me down. For some reason, my mother thought I was telling her a fib. She made me march back out into the yard to retrieve her other boot.
The last thing I wanted to do was turn around and go another round with the devil himself! How could she ask me to do that? So I sought out my sisters and friends, begging them to go with me. To my dismay, no one would help me. For some reason, they saw my predicament as being hilarious. I couldn't see the humor and proceeded to go back to war.
On my way to retrieve the dreaded boot, I muddled over why it was my own sisters wouldn’t help me. Why would they want me to go to battle by myself? As I slowly, very slowly, walked back to the battleground I began to reflect on the kind of sister I really was. I realized that I wasn’t a very good one. I had tormented my sisters most of their life. So I began to realize the real question was, "why would they want to help me?" I was the worst big sister in the world. I wouldn’t help me if I were in their shoes.
As I approached the boot, I made a silent prayer, "please dear Lord, help me get the boot back from the devil and I’ll be a better sister." Is it possible that we all have to have a show-down with the devil to realize what kind of person we really are? For those of us who have faced him down, it’s a squaring off that we aren’t likely to ever forget. For the record, that hole to the devil was a post hole my daddy had missed when filling them. For me, it was a life altering moment, one that I won’t soon forget.
"Patience is a virtue," the grizzled speaker drawled, "especially when it comes to child rearing."
Back when I was a wet-behind-the-years-whipper-snapper – just after the discovery of fire - my husband, Chris, and I registered for our church-sponsored parenting classes. With four sons and a grocery bill that could rival the national deficit, we figured we could use all the help we could get. When the air-conditioner conked out and the summer sanctuary mimicked tropical rain forest sultry, I wasn’t so sure. The combined effects of heat and our lunch break--an "all the way" super supreme pizza with a tepid root beer chaser--removed all doubt as my eyelids became anchors.
Peeved over a late start and a class now running way overtime, I jerked awake as the podium veteran opined, "Have you ever considered how Patience relates to families and parenting?" A retired pastor with five brothers and three sisters, father of five girls, grandfather of seventeen, and uncle to millions, our guest speaker had the credentials. With a resume that sterling, I figured he oughtta tell me. Instead, ‘ole Grizzled focused on Ages and Stages.
"Three year olds are inquisitive, explorative, eager to please. They’re also mouthy, temperamental, and often raring for a fight." I wondered how long he’d been reading my mail. "When your toddler throws a fit, give him a time out," the family veteran advised. "Take him to his room and make him lie quietly on his bed five minutes for every year of his life."
"Great," I muttered. "Fifteen minutes of total destruction, all to himself. How can any three year-old resist that?" If I can go to my room and lie quietly on my bed five minutes for every year of my life, then I’m putting temper tantrums back into my daily routine. Today.
Then the guy camped on Patience. "It figures" I groused to Chris. Patience. My personal "thorn in the flesh."
"So what is Patience?" the preacher continued, oblivious to my squirming lack thereof. "Patience means standing firm gracefully under pressure. Enduring with a long and unruffled temper" he explained. "Another word for patience is `long-suffering."
You got that right.
Winding down, the seasoned saint cemented his message with "Patience, prayer, persistence." Profound observations. Then I wondered how long he’d last around our testosterone farm.
"FOUR boys?!" people say, "You’ve got your hands full." Which is sort of like noticing that rain is wet. They seem unsure about uttering the obvious as an exclamation or a condolence. Most wind up somewhere in between. Based on some of the reactions we get, we must resemble the Ringling Brothers when we "take the show on the road." Folks see us coming a mile away and clear a path a mile wide. The smart ones, that is.
For example, when our quartet descends on the local library en masse, we send clerks and librarians scurrying for cover. Wal-Mart hides the Starbursts and seals off the Toys aisle. Childless relatives vacillate between cringes and sighs when we visit, always with one eye on the clock. Hunters hide the ammo. Sunday school teachers shoot prayer arrows at world record rates.
"Are you going to try for a girl?" people used to query. Total strangers used to ask me that. Do I look that desperate? "Well," I’d reply sweetly, "my husband and I have prayed about that. We decided to ask God for a sign. Keep an eye out for purple elephants."
"Patience, prayer, persistence," I chant. And one more thing. It occurs to me that my kids aren’t the only ones requiring daily patience infusions in elephantine doses. It stands to reason that the same God who wants me to come to Him for my boys knows exactly what His bigger kids are like, too. And that "thorns in the flesh" may serve to show us just how far short of the mark we all fall. I wonder, maybe those thorns exist to poke, prod and prick us into sinking our roots deeper into the rich soil of the vineyard as we desperately draw strength and sustenance from the Vine?
I wonder other things, too. Like, does God chuckle at my thin prayers of, "If You can’t make me look younger, then can You at least give my neighbors more wrinkles?" What about moms who sometimes lose their tempers, gobble cold pizza for breakfast and have been known to scrap homework in favor of chocolate chip cookies? Does He understand this kid on the days I feel I’ve been treading this sod since the earth’s crust cooled, getting no where at warp speed? Peering over heaven’s portals, what does He think of my pinched prayers and flimsy faith?
"Selfish," the Almighty pronounces. "Stubborn. Myopic. Cranky. Patience-impaired." And more. He pauses and adds with a twinkle, "I’ll give her some king-sized Saguaros to shear off some character dross."
"Patience is a virtue" Chris echoed en route to our next parenting class. "Why do you think that is?"
"Because it’s so rare? I replied sweetly. "By the way, dear, we’re late. Can you hurry up?"
© 2010 Kristine Lowder
HEvencense - Exploring the delightful, sometimes dangerous and often mysterious realm of Christian womanhood with candor, hope, and faith.
He Is The Author
Recently, I was commiserating with a friend as we discussed current events in our lives. We are members of the same church and we both share a deep sense of gratitude for the rich teaching we receive every week. A couple of months ago, our pastor extended an invitation to us - a call to deepen our commitment to see Christ's reign in our neighbourhoods and communities. That Sunday, we both stood with most of our fellow church-goers, dedicating ourselves to the commission given us by our pastor. Both of us were mature enough in our walk to know that God would take us at our word.
Within a week of renewing my commitment to be a light in my neighourhood, I experienced a disconcerting encounter with a new neighbour in my apartment building. I won't go into details but I came away feeling shaken and vulnerable and a little unsafe in my own apartment. The inner battle was on and I have to admit that I am still struggling to walk past my fears and to continue to follow the Lord's marching orders.
My friend's experience was much more intense than my own and she confessed to feeling inadequate for the task at hand.
We both agreed that things were messy, uncertain and confusing. We have heard of the miraculous results in the neighbourhoods of other congregants who stood with us that Sunday morning. However, neither of us can stand up in front of our church with glowing testimonies of miraculous answers to prayer. At least, not yet.
We both know that in the midst of our stories. we cannot gauge our success by the changing circumstances around us. We know the dangers of comparing our stories with the stories being played out in the lives of our brothers and sisters in Christ. We have placed our trust in the one who called us forward and we keep our eyes fixed on him. Because He is the Author of our lives, his plans and purposes will come to fruition. (Hebrews 12:2, Isaiah 55:11) He has the advantage of seeing our stories from the beginning - past the middle mire and chaos - through to completion of his word.
Perhaps, like me, you are in the midst of your own struggle to remain obedient and true to the calling God has placed upon your life. Perhaps you wonder how you can find a clear path out of the mess, no matter how you could find any victory from the chaos you find yourself in today. Trust God at his word and remember his promise to us.
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