Monday, August 31, 2015

Fight or Flight

 Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen saying:
‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!’
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”  Luke 19:37-38 NKJV

"Praise God,"  and various amens are heard around every Bible believing fellowship when someone proclaims a miracle has occurred, which is exactly what was happening as Jesus entered Jerusalem that fateful day.  He had just fed thousands with a single serving of food, healed lame, blind, and leprous people and delivered many from demonic oppression and possession, even raised some from the dead, so yeah, His followers were REALLY excited.  They declared Him King and Messiah all in one breath!!  They were shouting for all of their known world to hear.  They were bold and raucous, fearless even in the face of their oppressors of Rome.  Why now, when the vast majority of them had lived in fear of their and their families lives for many, many years under Roman authority?  Why?  Because they just knew that their interpretation and the things they had been taught throughout the years about the Messiah HAD to be correct.  To them it only made sense that the Messiah would come in, be declared King and begin to beat the Romans into submission.  After all, that is what God had always done in the past, wasn't it? 

When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”
 Judges 6:12  NIV

When God delivered them from the oppression of the Midian through Gideon, He slaughtered the Midianites while Gideon and his men blew trumpets and broke jars.

And when the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. 52 Now the men of Israel and Judah arose and shouted, and pursued the Philistines as far as the entrance of the valley[a] and to the gates of Ekron. And the wounded of the Philistines fell along the road to Shaaraim, even as far as Gath and Ekron. I Samuel 17:51b-52 NKJV

When God delivered them from the oppression of the Philistines He had David use a slingshot to knock over the giant Goliath and then behead that giant with his (Goliath's) own sword!!  They were then able to easily defeat the Philistines and at least temporarily end their oppression over them.  

Each time shouts of victory and praise were lifted high to heaven proclaiming God's goodness and deliverance, exactly the way Jesus was proclaimed as He entered Jerusalem on the back of a never-before-ridden donkey.  The donkey should have bucked and brayed, but even he knew this was useless as Jesus, his Creator, was on his back.  The donkey probably was amazed that he had been chosen, or perhaps knew that the very reason for his birth was occurring at that moment in history.

Unfortunately, the very thing that happened after all the praise and shouts of victory in Old Testament times was about to happen again.  Just as the Israelites were thrilled with God's deliverance from oppression, but would once again turn their backs on Him in idol worship as soon as the thrill wore off, so too Jesus' followers turned their backs on Him when the thrill of miracles was depleted.  Not only did He not wipe out the Romans on the Israelites behalf, He refused to even defend Himself against the false accusations made about Him!!  Even His faithful followers ran away, I imagine thinking that as the Son of God He would be able to take care of Himself, well, IF they were correct anyway.  If not, better Him than them.  

As a child I would inwardly fret over whether I would have run away or not.  The funny thing was, I KNEW I was a coward.  I was afraid to fall asleep, afraid to walk out tiny neighborhood, afraid to learn to ride a bike, afraid to learn to swim....but the truly funny part was, all those things actually ended up making my little world a safer place.  When I learned to ride a bike it made me more alert to traffic.  Learning to swim made it less likely I would drown.  Walking my neighborhood made me physically stronger and therefore more able to resist any attempts made against me - I at the very least had more stamina to run away!!

Now as I read about Jesus' triumphal entry, I wonder instead if I would have been angry that He didn't do things the way I had always dreamed He would?  Would I want to shout at Him that He was supposed to overthrow the Romans and set us free?  Isn't that what the Scriptures proclaimed - freedom from oppression forever?  Would I be so blind as to not see that what He was about to do was greater than anything I had ever imagined and would set me free from myself?  Yes, I think I that blind that is.  I hate to think it.  I WANT to be able to say I would know, but how could I have?  Just as they had always been taught the Messiah would also be Avenger against Rome (or whomever their oppressors might be) I would have been taught the same and would be looking for it.

Even today I tend, as do we all, to look for God to do things MY way.  In our minds we think we understand the Scriptures perfectly, and so we just KNOW God will do things the way we desire, then when He doesn't, we do one of mainly two things - get angry or despair.  Sounds familiar, doesn't it?  That is because it is exactly what Jesus' followers did.  They yelled His praises and kingship, then when He refused to do physical battle, some betrayed Him and demanded His execution, while others ran away in defeat. 

As I write this, my only physical brother is lying in the hospital waiting for 1/3 of his foot to be removed.  He is five years younger than I, so I have always been a bit protective of him, even though he is much bigger than I, so it is difficult for me to even think about.  However, he has been playing Russian Roulette more or less for several years now.  When told he was diabetic, he scoffed.  Before anyone becomes judgmental, he was only playing the "if I ignore it, maybe it will go away" game that we all play now and then.  Unfortunately, it backfired and now he is in this position.  I am (this time) not angry with God for not doing things my way.  As a parent and grandparent, I realize children sometimes need a wake up call to get them up and moving.  I pray that this event wakes my brother up to the need to take care of the body God has given him to use in His service and then that he never has to go through such an ordeal again!!  But if he refuses to listen and learn, that is not God's fault, but his own.

Father God, forgive me for demanding my own way so many times in this life.  Forgive me for getting angry when You did what was best rather than what I wanted, or for running and hiding when I feared You would not respond my way.  Help me to understand what it really means to stand in faith believing and do so with determination.  Help me not to waver or be unstable in any way.  I know I have a lot of growing to do in this area, but I also know that You are more than capable of helping me do just that.  So I ask You to help me and to help all my brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus as well.
Thank You Father!!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Golden Grandchildren

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the prophets.  Matthew 7:12
I just turned fifty seven years old.  It's funny that inside I feel no older than I did twenty years ago, but my body tells a different story.  Exertion brings about back pain, headache and sore feet.  Twenty years ago it brought about a euphoric feeling and made me want to do more.  However, I would not go back for the world. 
Twenty years ago I was thirty seven, had three wonderful teenagers that severely tried my patience, brought me many tears and much laughter, and made my heart swell with pride and joy.  It was a wonderfully blessed time in my life as it prepared me for my life now.  I remember wondering when I would get a full night of sleep again and if I would ever have the organized house of my dreams.  Then those same children grew into adults, married and had children of their own.  I hear them in my mind and sometimes with my physical ears asking the same questions I used to ask and I smile, because I know that one day they will be where I am and will look back and realize just how wonderful those days really were.  If it weren't for those days of preparation, I could never have reached the place of being able to care for seven children from two different families, with two different rearing styles for two full days, with three of them spending two nights and not ending up frustrated, uptight and yelling.  However, because I know just how quickly time flies, how important it is to relish every moment possible with them and how vital it is to take every opportunity to share God's love with them: when there was conflict, I could calmly remind them to be kind to each other or they would have to take a nap (works wonders), pray at lunch for us all to remember that school starts on Thursday and so we need to enjoy our time together, feed them and clean the mess over and over again with the joy of knowing it made them happy and then wrap my arms around each of them one by one and tell them how VERY much I love them.  Actually, I did that last bit many, many times over the last couple of days.  By yesterday afternoon I had the headache, backache and sore feet, and this morning I woke feeling exhausted and had an asthma attack, but my heart was so filled with love for God providing me this opportunity and the training to go with it that when our daughter called and said her children were hoping to see me again today, even though she told them I was probably too tired, I had to go see them.  I didn't stay, but I took them lunch and received a BUNCH of hugs and kisses.  Talk about making it all worthwhile!!
One event that took place with a brother and sister yesterday I hope I will never forget.  They had been arguing over two small balls the sister had been using to try to learn to juggle.  The brother asked for them.  She told him she was still using them.  He grabbed her leg and pulled her shirt, causing her to drop the balls.  He then grabbed the balls and ran away.  I came in in the middle of the sister laying on top of her brother grabbing and trying to get them back.  He was yelling and crying while she simply repeated, "Give them back!"  I separated them, said a quick silent prayer for wisdom, then asked them how they were supposed to treat each other.  They both replied, "With kindness."  I told them that was true, but that I wanted to know exactly what God's word said about it.  Then I said, "Treat others the way...." and they said simultaneously, "the way you want to be treated."  I then turned to our grandson and asked, "So, if you had a toy and were playing with it and someone came and asked you for it..." He jumped in with, "I would give it to them."  I told him I hoped so, but what if he wasn't finished and asked them to wait a minute.   Would he want them to grab his legs and pull on his shirt and when he dropped the toy, run away with it?"  He looked very sad and shook his head no.  I then turned to our granddaughter and asked, "If one of your friends had a toy and you wanted to play with it, so asked if you could, would you want them to tell you no?  How would it make you feel?"  She said that it would make her sad.  I then asked what they wanted to do.  They looked at each other, apologized with sincerity, hugged each other tightly and then our granddaughter asked our grandson for a "kissy," which he happily gave her.  I whispered a thank You to God and hugged them both.

Thank You, Lord, for the trials of parenthood that teach us well how to become grandparents if we will but remember the things You have taught us, especially the part about how quickly time goes by!!  Where physical work makes our older bodies weary and achy, the joy of grandparenting, though very hard work at times, brings that same euphoric feeling physical labor used to give our younger bodies, but it is on a much larger scale and stays with us for all eternity.  It is all much more than worthwhile!!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Flexing Fingers

It seems such a very long time since I have written anything, but perhaps God was giving me time to heal from Momma's passing and then crushing my right index finger in a car door.  I stand amazed as I look back on how God deals with these kinds of issues in our lives. 
Momma died February thirteenth, making her entry into heaven just in time for Valentine's Day.  While I am certain this means little to those who are actually in heaven, I am also certain that God recognizes how important it is to those of us left here on Earth as it gave us a bit of rejoicing for her and Daddy, as he was always calling Momma his sweetheart.  It somehow placed a smile on all of our, their children, faces, even as we grieved our personal loss.
When I crushed my finger (and yes, I did it to myself by not paying attention), I stood there dumbfounded as to why I couldn't get my finger out of the door.  This only lasted a blink of an eye, but it is amazing how many thoughts can go through your mind in such short moments.   I remember thinking I should be able to move my hand but couldn't, then realizing it was because it was caught in the lock of the door and finally how stupid it was of me to put myself in such a position. I opened the car door, looked at my finger and calmly told my twelve year old granddaughter that I needed her to unlock the house door.  She asked why and I said, "Well, I closed the car door on my finger."  She asked to see it, I showed her, and she quickly and nervously began looking through my purse for the keys.  When we made it inside, I told her we needed to call her mom and see if she could take me to the hospital.  No answer.  I told her to call one of her uncles.  He lives 10-15 minutes away, was still in pajamas and had three kids to pack up, but made it to my house fully dressed in 15 minutes.  During this time I had her call her grandfather, my husband and put me on speaker.  He wanted to come home right away, but I told him we had it under control.  As we waited for my son to get there, I had to lie down on the couch to ease the queasiness trying to creep in.  Our granddaughter became agitated and started pacing.  I smiled and told her it doesn't do any good to get upset in such cases, because it won't change a thing.  She immediately calmed down and went in and started cleaning up all the blood, without being asked I might add.  Then she came back and told me this was good for her because she wants to become a veterinarian someday.  I thanked her and then she told how there was blood in the car, on the car, all over the garage floor, up the two steps, all over the kitchen floor, down the cabinets and in the sink.  I thanked her again.  I ended up with eight stitches and a 6-12 month healing sentence.  Finger flexibility is gone, but I hope will come back.  If not, it will be a constant reminder to be more vigilant when closing car doors.  I was told I would experience a lot of pain over the next several days and they wanted to prescribe narcotics for me.  I refused and have been blessed with only a twinge now and then.  God is awesome.  Why?  Because through this experience my granddaughter, who had been pulling away as teen years approach, threw herself back into my arms and has been hugging me tightly ever since!!  She shared with me her dreams as well!!  I will take that over a flexible finger any day and if I can never play my flute again, I will look at it as an opportunity to pass the mantle on to another granddaughter who desires to be a flautist like Gramma. 
Be blessed as I have been blessed and more so!