Thursday, February 26, 2015

Comfort Zone

The elderly man paused in the aisle of the market. Leaning on his cane, he spoke into his cell phone, English phrases, Chinese phrases. He was obviously weary and confused.

Our eyes met and we both left our comfort zones to smile. How hard it can be to cross barriers of gender, nationality, language and cultures. It's so much more natural to ignore a stranger than to risk embarrassment saying the wrong thing.

"Good morning," he said. "I have problem."

"I am a Christian," I said encouragingly. "I will help you. What is the problem?"

"Jesus-person? Yes?"

I smiled, relaxing, back in my comfort zone. "Yes. I am Jesus-person."

"Not Jesus-person," he replied. "Old person. Lost old person."

I helped him find his way to the front of the store where he could rest on a bench while he phoned his son for a ride home. He was back in his comfort zone, back in the familiar.

I shared a little bit about Jesus, but the barriers were too wide. There wasn't enough time, enough common language, enough opportunity to introduce him to Jesus.

While we were still lost, when we were "not Jesus-people", Jesus died for us. Now we are Jesus-people, and we find our comfort zone in His presence, singing and shouting our praises.

Shouldn't talking about Jesus with those who are still lost be our comfort zone?

Leaving this man in his lost state of "not a Jesus-person" was more uncomfortable than it ever could be to leave my comfort zone and say hello to a stranger.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Show Up

Whether it was a concert, a new restaurant or a trip to the hospital to visit the sick, my dad used to say it was always worth the trip. He knew people regret more the things they didn't do than the things they did do.

You may show up for an adventure and be disappointed, but something valuable can always be achieved. Sometimes we win by being delighted in our adventure.  Sometimes we win by learning a lesson. Either way, when we show up, we move forward in life.

A soldier-princess shows up every morning to take on whatever new adventure of mercy the King has promised for today. She shows up to represent Him along the way, to be His hands and feet, His voice and heart.

Show up every day to walk alongside Jesus in rhythms of grace. Watch Him to see what He does when He shows up to love the brokenhearted and weary. See a need, meet the need. The soldier-princess who refreshes others, will herself be refreshed.

"I have loved you with an everlasting love," the King says to the soldier-princess. "I satisfy the weary ones and refresh everyone who languishes."

We don't always want to satisfy the weary ones and refresh others. Quite often we would prefer to stay in our pajama pants and an old tee-shirt. We want extra coffee and more donuts. We want to let our work slide, doing just enough to get by. We prefer to languish. We prefer to not show up. 

Prepare your mind for battle and your heart for action, soldier-princess. It's always worth the trip.

What does showing up to love in your life look like?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The King Never Quits

"I feel like a train wreck," I told my friend Lynn. "I'm completely tired."

She smiled. She, also, is a soldier-princess and she has been walking alongside me for years. She encourages me as only a close friend can do. She sends meals and gives me flowers. She sends texts and prays diligently for me.

As she coached me through our Pilates workout, I gained the surge of energy that would carry me through the rest of my schedule. No soldier-princess would fail to fight for her comrade, and Lynn faithfully spurred me on so I could continue to show up for love and good works.

A soldier is trained to hear the voice of truth and to obey marching orders without questioning, without doubting what the King is able to do. She has her sword, the Word of God, at the ready, her shield of faith is lifted against enemy attack and she continues to do the next right thing over and over again. The mind of a soldier stays focused on God during battles and there is peace.

A soldier-princess never quits. She continues showing up to love alongside her King in enemy territory, in the trenches of the daily hard and in the unfamiliar dark wilderness where she feels afraid and inadequate. She keeps pouring herself out, laying her all on the altar of service to the King and she considers it an honor. A soldier-princess never quits.

When the energy gauge is on empty, when physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually she is poured out for the King, it is the King who recognizes the need for a soldier to rest.

When a soldier-princess "feels like a train wreck", defeated and exhausted, she learns to wait for the familiar voice of the King. She knows her King never quits. Though a soldier cannot always leave her battlefield, the King is able to lift her soul away for awhile. He carries His exhausted and broken princess in arms of love where only He can heal, sustain and pamper her.

After the whirlwind, a still, small Voice. "Come away to a quiet place."

Away from the noise and the fray, deep in the innermost being of the soldier-princess, pain and fatigue, brokenness and confusion, prisons and disappointments are left behind.

One fist lifted warns the enemy, "Back off. She's mine." One glance at the angel army and the battle is finished. One smoothing of His hand over her and the princess rests. He sings over her, a song no other will ever hear. He quiets her with His love, calls her by a special name only she will hear through all eternity.

"You look like you're running out of steam," a neighbor called as I was limping past her house. "Are you okay?" Most mornings I am happily jogging or running when she sees me. I call out and wave, but I am unwavering in my training and discipline. Today my heart and body were aching from the inside out so I stopped to visit a few minutes.

"You need to go to a movie or even take a vacation. Or do what I do. Shut the bathroom door and have a good wailing session. Then take a hot bath and read a good book. Sometimes we just have to crash."

She's not a soldier-princess and she wouldn't understand. I may feel like a train wreck, but I'm not. I am a child of the one true King and He would never let me crash. My name is engraved on the palm of His hand. I am the apple of His eye, His protected and treasured soldier-princess. I am my Beloved's and He is mine.

 A soldier-princess never quits, but neither does her King.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Sunlight on a Cloudy Day

As I was leaving the store one December, I paused to encourage an elderly gentleman who was ringing a bell for the Salvation Army donation bucket. >

A small boy dropped some pennies into the bucket, then handed me a paper snowflake he had made.

"Thank you so much," I told the boy. "What a kind thing you are doing to give both your money and a snowflake to help other children."

"My mom gave me the money, but I made the snowflake," he said softly. "Do you think some kid would like to have it?"

I smiled at his "widow's mite" and nodded. "Very much. Snowflakes make everything better, don't you think?"

He agreed and reached into his pocket. Sprinkles of glitter fluttered around us, a snow fall in a rainbow of colors as he pulled out a stack of paper snowflakes. "Would these help, too?"

I glanced up and noticed tears in the eyes of the old gentleman still faithfully ringing the bell. I looked back into the bright, hopeful eyes of the young boy. With my hands full of paper snowflakes I began to sing, "Away in a Manger."

The little boy grinned and began to sing along. The older gentleman joined in with a strong, cheerful bass voice. Then an elderly woman, waiting beside her cart for a ride, began to sing along. In moments, a crowd of strangers was smiling and singing Christmas carols one after another.

The Christmas season has been left behind.  February winds have blown in swirling, sparkling snow. Focus on giving has turned to complaints about the weather, a longing for spring as beautiful snow becomes dirty and tiresome.

Sabbath heart, a heart set on things above, not on earthly things, is a heart with steadfast peace.  Goodness and faithfulness are my focus. A Sabbath heart does not brood over circumstances, does not spread negativity. We are the sunlight on a gray, dreary day. We share the God-colors and God-light in a dark weary world.

Let your light shine in such a way that others will see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. 

One small boy believed a paper snowflake could change his world...and it did.