Friday, March 21, 2014

Johnathan Said No

Johnathan wanted to stay up with his older siblings. It wasn't that he cared about their games and books, he just didn't want to be left out.  He didn't want to miss anything. First he begged me, then he argued with me. After that, the child ran away from me.

"No, Johnathan. Come, please," I encouraged the toddler, moving toward the stairs. "Come to me."

"NO! No. No. No. Nana. NO!" He yelled as I lifted him into my arms. Legs kicking, arms pushing me away, I carried him toward the bedroom as he continued to rebel.

In the darkened room, next to the crib, he softened his crying as he realized he was helpless to change his lot.

As I cuddled him close and rubbed his back I talked gently, patiently. "Night Night Stars. Night Night Moon. Night Night Bear. Night Night God."

As I comforted him, he put his head on my shoulder, and I began to sing. Though still disappointed, he began to tune in to my words, quieted by my love.

"No, Nana, " he whined softly. "No. No. No. No."

My heart rebels, too. At first, maybe I'm only disappointed, but my frustration can quickly grow into anger and resentment. I want to do what God wants me to do, but there is hesitation, fear or rebellion against his plan.

I know he wants what is best for me, but must it take sacrifice? What if I miss out on something everyone else is getting to do? I beg him, argue with him. Sometimes I even run away from him.  "No, God. No. No. No."

"I love you, Johnathan," I said, "It's time for night night."

"No. No. Nana....Okay. Yes," my little one agrees.

What opportunity is God putting in front of you today? Will you trust him even in the sacrifice?

Not my will but yours be done. Okay. Yes.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Maisy in the Hubbub

Only a few people were in the church building when I arrived on Sunday. Maisy was sitting quietly on a chair munching some dry cereal, watching her father practicing music with the worship team. She smiled up at me from her peaceful reverie as I sat down beside her.

I hadn't seen her for a day or two so there was much news to tell me. She had thought of me in my absence and I had thought of her. Indeed, she is one of my little favorites and always in my heart and mind.

My husband and I always sit near the front of our church. Some of the parents of our favorite little ones teach Sunday School and lead worship. Being easy to see as the children return to the worship service after Sunday School helps them to find us when their parents are on stage or ministering in other rooms.

Yesterday four little boys and Maisy were sitting beside us as the worship service came to a close. People began moving about after church in the hubbub of happy visiting and cleaning tasks. I gave permission for the boys to go play and continued talking with a friend.

Maisy laughed at the boys silliness as they disappeared into the small crowd. Suddenly seeing only unfamiliar people, she covered her eyes and put her head down on a chair.

"I'm right here, Maisy," I reminded her. She sat on my lap and snuggled into my hug.

"You're not alone. We would never leave you alone. Daddy is putting away his guitar. Mommy is somewhere around here cleaning up or something."

"Don't leave yet," Maisy said, her peace quickly restored. "I feeled like I mighted panic."

"I won't leave," I promised, lifting her up. "Let's go see what Mommy's doing."

Outside of the hubbub of life, peace comes easily. Familiar pleasures fill us with joy. Peace is the absence of fear and turmoil, but it's not always the absence of pain or disappointment. We can be full of peace and full of sadness at the same time. We can be full of joy and full of disappointment at the same time.

I am the disciple whom Jesus loves. As a child of my heavenly Father, I am the apple of His eye and one of His little favorites, always in His heart and in His mind.

Do you feel like you might panic and fall apart in the noise and the fray, beloved one? Does the way look unfamiliar, even dangerous?

 Fear not. The Lord is near. Panic not. He has a plan for your well being, not your calamity. He would never leave you alone in the hubbub.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Devil in the Toilet

"I don't get angry at people," Steve shared, "I get angry at things when they don't work. Like the car. Or the computer, or the toilet. And then other people suffer because I'm angry."

"The devil inhabits the toilet," my husband replied.

We laughed, but it's true, isn't it? The devil uses whatever circumstance he can as a tool for spiritual warfare.

The computer swallows an hour of work. The vacuum spreads dust everywhere. The car won't start. The toilet backs up.

"STUPID TOILET!"  The children scatter. A plunger hits the wall. A foot begins to throb from a well deserved, though unwise, kick against porcelain.

It's not true that the devil makes us do it, but he is always there, waiting for his opportunity.  He's not just concerned about where you spend your Sundays, or about how much time you spend on your knees.  He knows we are weakest when we think we're doing "non-spiritual" things.

Because in our minds we divide the spiritual from the physical, we allow him a foot in the door. We give him time and opportunity to set up his tanks on the battlefield of our lives.

To those who declare they are Jesus followers, the enemy is ruthless, tenacious, cruel and heartless. He sets up his heavy artillery aimed directly at our vulnerable spots. Waiting for a moment of exhaustion, disappointment or overstuffed schedule, he attacks with his unyielding force. Disappointment leads to discouragement.  Fears crash into depression.

We know he is a liar. We know he sits back and laughs at us.  But we get busy, direct our attentions elsewhere, become soldiers unaware. We forget that there is an unseen world that is active with the rage of demons. We set aside our mighty weapons of warfare. We cast off our spiritual armor.

We can choose instead to train ourselves to stay awake to the unseen world, even in the humdrum and ordinary parts of our lives.  By constantly walking alongside the Holy Spirit, we remain alert, prepared-for-action soldiers.

We call out to God for help and he helps - he's a good Father that way.  But don't forget, he's also a responsible Father, and won't let us get by with sloppy living.