Thursday, July 24, 2014

You thought that I am like you

Dear God,
This is Kelley.

These words are in Psalm 50:  "These things you have done, and I kept still, and you thought that I am like you." In the psalm, You are speaking to one who is a sinner -- to us ... to me.

I don't want to look at this and consider these words, Lord. After all, You and me, we're friends, right? We think alike. You have taught me what I believe, so all is in alignment, yes?

I have to conclude, "no, all is not in alignment." And, though You, Lord Jesus, do call us friends, still, that was in a manner of speaking. It was an invitation, an invitation to turn toward You with our whole hearts, minds, wills, and souls. It was and is an invitation to give all to You, even our own ways of thinking, to surrender to You that You might rebuild us with Your grace and wisdom, to the degree that You wish, toward the vocation You have chosen for us, with the talents You have gifted us with. Do I really think all that is in alignment in me right now?

No.

And do You think like I think? No. Every morning, I come before You and plead Your will be done. Every morning, I realize how shortsighted my parenting is, how lazy my love for friends and family, how forgetful despite good intentions. And yet, down deep, I do harbor this belief that You and I think alike. We're of the same political party, the same faith, the right values, the true way. And I suppose if I didn't think that to some degree, I would have to change parties, find another faith, adopt other values. But I pause to realize -- and we must all pause to realize -- we see only a tiny bit of the whole picture, and from that perspective, any "party" can look "right" and be "right"; any faith can aid our growth; and values sharpen and remold themselves over time. We never have it "right," not when we see and understand so very little at any one time.

But You have it right. May we cling to You, Lord. May You lead this dance of life we're in. May we humbly follow, enjoying being with You, being ready to fight for You, being willing to stretch ourselves and take part, using all Your gifts to us. And when we get to thinking You are just like us, make us laugh.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

It's process

Dear God,
This is Kelley.

If some who pray to You don't get answers in the forms they want, in the ways they expect, they give up on You. If the particular burden isn't lifted right away, they walk away from You. Many people expect "now" from You; they don't see or understand that "now" is rarely Your way; "process" is.

How many mountains have I climbed without having leaped from peak to peak? If I had just leaped from peak to peak, I would not have the stamina I do now. I would not know how to forge streams, follow paths, determine direction, find food. I would be ignorant and weak. No, "now" is not Your way.

I look back at all the mountains I've scaled, and I smile. I downright know it wasn't just my strength that got me to where I am. And the realization of that fact fills me with such joy, with such awe of You, it is as if I am seeing a burning bush. It is as if I walked on water. Only those metaphors can capture the gratitude that fills my heart.

So when people say they tried praying once but You didn't come, I say, "Yes, God did come. God had come. God is here now with You. Open your eyes. His work is process, incremental. He enables, empowers, little by little. He gives ideas, points to possibilities, and He gives even when You think it's just you who got through."

We rarely realize Your miracles in the "now." Our eyes must be acclimated. Our minds must be formed. It's all a process. But once we can see... O! there's no turning back!

Monday, July 21, 2014

The mileage we get from running on God

Dear God,
This is Kelley.

When Joshua and the Israeli warriors were beaten just outside the holy land, after the walls fell in victory, it was a shock to Joshua. But it wasn't to You. You hadn't done anything on purpose to make them fail, had You? They had done it to themselves, and this is the point of the story: when we do dishonest things, it actually weakens us. It makes us suspicious of others. It makes us paranoid. It makes us negative. It makes us weak. It causes separation and division.

It doesn't seem that way, however. We see people stealing from others and growing strong, loud in their arrogance and power. But that loudness is superficial and temporary. Wisdom tells us it will not last. History tells us it will not last. Only You and what is of You lasts.

Teach us, Lord, the power that comes from standing close to You. May we experience what true strength is by welcoming Your grace within us and allowing it to guide our minds and our hands. May we not be jealous of the kind of power that comes from dominating and taking, crying foul and getting even, being first and only. For our true strength comes in unity; it comes from taking our place among others and recognizing what You call each of us to do in community.

Your way is simply that which makes us truly thrive. And You know this because You made us. You know what we run best on! May we stop looking for alternative "fuels," and discover the mileage we get from running on You!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Just what is this abiding presence?

Dear God,
This is Kelley.

We cannot forget Your abiding presence, Lord. We must not. So many judge You; they find You lacking, for the Nigerian girls have not been rescued; the cancer is not gone; the mental struggle still rages. But to shake our heads and walk away, thinking our prayers not answered misses Your grace, Your love, Your will pounding in the veins of all those for whom we pray. You do not cease to love. No moment is not saturated with You.

image by Dave Ingram
I hated You for not intervening. Why, that canoe could have capsized closer to us, within reach. But no, it had to have drifted 15 feet away from us, necessitating my going back into that black water, the water with a crocodile in it, somewhere. And I hated You when I leaped for that canoe, when I climbed out of that water, balancing somehow on two Cypress knees. I hated You as I pulled a water-logged canoe up and out of the water, tossing it upright as if it were a bag of mulch. And then I saw my friend's face, a look of disbelief arrayed, and I realized what had just occurred. No, You hadn't allowed that canoe to be easily retrieved and turned upright; but You had allowed -- and enabled -- it to be so.

You do not make things easy; You make them possible. And even when our eyes do not see the possibilities, You do. Even when an end is reached; even when death comes about; even when we perceive the answer as no. What we must remember is that it is an answer. You are present. You are finding a way, a way perhaps other than the one we see as best, but what way would we rather have it? Our way, or Yours?

We must stay tuned in. That's where miracles reside. That's where Your grace flows -- overflows. That's where we find attachment and attraction to You like no other. It is not to be missed.