Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The God Who is Kind

Father, Would You teach me of Your kindness?

Blinded by battle fatigue, my steps falter. I wander around in the foothills of life carrying burdens too heavy to bear up the mountain. I am beaten down. My hopes are dashed.

I am the God who is kind. My compassion endures forever. I am patient and loving toward all I have made.

Your kindness keeps my heart tender toward You. You are my portion and my hope. You are my song in the night. You are Lord over all the earth.

Come to Me. My yoke is easy and My burden is light. You are the apple of my eye. Rest in My shady green pasture where the still waters lie. I am the God who sees You. I am the God who rescues.

I love You because You are holy and kind. Early in the morning my songs will rise to You. Your grace is enough for me.

And I love you. I made you a present, beloved child. Open the eyes of your heart. It is springing up before you. Will you not see it? Welcome to Sabbath. Welcome to rest.

Shalom. Yes, Father. I do see it.

Come. Let us away.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Cup of Joy

If any line that I ever penned,
Or any word I have spoken,
Has comforted heart, of foe or friend -
In any way, why my life, I'll say
Has reaped the reward of labor.
If aught I have said, or written, has made
Gladder the heart o' my neighbor.

If any deed that I ever did
Lightened a sad heart's sorrow,
If I have lifted a dropping lid
Up to the bright to-morrow,
Though the world knows not nor gives me a thought,
Nor ever can know, nor praise me.
Yet still I shall say, to my heart alway,
That my life, and labor repays me.

If in any way I have helped a soul,
Or given a spirit pleasure,
Then my cup of joy, I shall think is full
With an overflowing measure.

Though never an eye, but the one on high
Looks on my kindly action,
Yet, oh my heart, we shall think of our part
In the drama, with satisfaction.

From "Poems of Reflection" by Ella Wheeler Wilcox M.A. Donohue & Co, Copyright 1905

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Daffodils in the Snow

A single charming daffodil said hello to me this morning. The long harsh winter is melting into spring and my heart rejoices to see it. I don't know when I have needed a season of renewal and refreshing more than I do this spring. My tired soul is ready to be awakened to possibilities, opportunities and challenges that have been dormant all winter.

Whether the trial we endure has been physical, emotional, mental or spiritual, when life beats us down we bend our knees and beg for a change of season. Plenty of hardships, however, last for a much longer season than we ever expect. Indeed many last a lifetime. Pain is the universal language, the one thing we all have in common. It might be the death of a partner, a miscarriage, divorce, physical or mental disability, a prodigal child, learning problems, disease or abuse, any number of burdens, but we all have pain.

Does it seem to you that suffering is coming after you with a personal vendetta? I mean, why bother to fight this hard? It's easy to get caught in a downward spiral of lost hope, but denial, rebellion, worry and fear do nothing to empower us in our journey.

I beg you to wait. No matter how big the dragon that you face, please wait. Joy will come. There is a peace that passes understanding available for you in Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Man of Sorrows and the Lord of Joy. In your weakness and pain, He can make you able to conquer the dragons you face. Open the book of Psalms and express your thoughts. Meet Jesus in the New Testament. Let someone know how badly you're hurting. There is a God who sees you, a God who loves you, a God who has a plan for your welfare and not your calamity.

This has been a difficult season for me, too, and I am casting my burdens on Him because I know He cares for me. In my weakness, He is strong. God is able to do more than we ask or imagine that He can do in our lives. Keep walking by faith and not by sight. Please, don't grow weary and give up.

As sure as the sweetness of daffodils after a harsh winter, the sweetness of His strength in our weakness will appear. He gives beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning and a heart full of praise for the spirit of heaviness that we might be oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified. (~Isaiah 61:3)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Though Critics Deride

In a pile of musty forgotten books left to me by my grandmother, I discovered this gem:

I'd rather have my verses win
A place in common peoples' hearts,
Who, toiling through the strife and din
Of life's great thoroughfares and marts,

May read some line my hand has penned;
Some simple verse, not fine or grand,
But what their hearts can understand
And hold me henceforth as a friend.

I'd rather win such quiet fame
Than by some fine thought, polished so
But those of learned minds would know,
Just what the meaning of my song...
To have the critics sound my name
In high-flown praises, loud and long.
I sing not for the critic's ear,
But for the masses. If they hear,
Despite the turmoil, noise and strife
Some least low note that gladdens life,
I shall be wholly satisfied,
Though critics to the end deride.

"Poems of Reflection" by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Copyright 1905 M. A. Donohue & Co.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Color of Patience

David has to use extreme focus to cause muscle movement in his fingers. In frustration he hits his head trying to escape the sounds and dark places in his mind. Overloaded senses make each new discovery a battle that no nine year old should have to fight. But, somewhere inside this young muddled brain, David hears music in bright colors, a musical strain that flows in and out through winding tunnels and confused darkness.

No matter how difficult it is, he is determined to play the piano. The amount of patience it takes for me to teach him and for David to learn is staggering. When his patience grows weary, he lays his left hand on top of my hand while he plays. To other young students this has been an endearing way to connect with me and gain confidence. For David, there is the added belief that touching me allows the "river of colorful songs" in me "to flow into him."

With complete focus he grits his teeth and focuses on moving the fingers of his right hand to search for a melody. "I can do it," he will say softly when he is finished for the day. "I will do it. I will do it, Teacher. I will do it." He always lovingly strokes my piano to say good-bye. My piano is the "Holder of Color" and "rules the darkness."

David knows that the arthritis in my hands is getting worse. He also knows I am struggling this winter with difficulties in music, writing, art and prayer because of the pain. If I just try hard enough, there should be success, right? Patience is not always my best thing.

Last week he held both of my hands and squeezed them. I winced and he laughed. "Teacher, it's the pain that makes the colors brighter. Your hands dropped your colors because of the cold dark. The pain can give it back. Do you see them yet? Do you, Teacher?"