Saturday, January 28, 2006

God flirts!

When our Saturday night worship leader suggested the God flirts with us, I thought the spotlight had overheated his brain a bit, or he had been zapped by the sound system somehow and was a bit dazed. It was something to think about, so I did. For about 30 minutes. The next time it came to mind was about two months later…while on a trip to Wyoming.

I had not been back to my home state in several years…I basked in the glow of love from relatives that had aged more gracefully than I. The jet lag had me up in the wee hours of the morning. Unable to go back to sleep, I would read my Bible, pray and thank God for getting me there for the visit. Back in Florida, the temperature was going to be a lot colder where I was. In Wyoming, it was hovering around 50 degrees, and the wind blew incessantly. It felt like the tropical storm winds before hurricanes blew through—I could almost lean into them! I was a little sad that no snow was predicted at all that week, but I enjoyed the distractions of shopping, visiting and reconnecting with crazy cousins.

My last full day was a Sunday and I got ready for church. When I came into the kitchen, mom told me “We have a surprise for you!” I looked around, expecting a surprise visit from another relative. The people in the kitchen parted so I could see straight out into the back yard…SNOW! It was white and fluffy, and the flakes were as big as the corn flakes in a cereal bowl. I ran to the sliding glass door and took in the back yard. At least 3 inches of the fluff covered the picnic table, chairs and the grass that was so brown yesterday. I ran back to the kitchen and hugged my Dad, weeping with joy. What a mess I was. My Dad hugged me back and I could hear one of my Uncles say, “Funny we weren’t supposed to get snow, and it only happened in our area.”

It was then that I knew God was flirting. I could almost hear him say, “Here’s the day all dressed up in white just for you. Take your brother, and go have fun.”

I couldn’t get my jacket and mittens on fast enough. I grabbed my camera and went out the front door with mom. I think the first thing that hit me was how pristine everything looked. There were no footprints yet, no cars driving by. Everything looked like it was covered in frosting. There was no gusty wind like the day before. It was as if the day was one big sigh. The second thing I noticed was the sound, or lack of it. The white stuff had muffled everything, it was a soundproof yard where all you could hear where your own barking footsteps.

We left for church and I reveled at the sight of snow, scenes from Christmas cards rolled by…a farm with a frozen pond, snow laden trees, people wrapped in bright scarves and dark boots. After church I jumped into my ski gear my brother had ready for me. We drove up the mountain—and he didn’t tell me how bad the roads were until he put on his chains in the parking lot at the ski lodge.

With some difficulty I snapped the skis on and grasped the poles. Cross-country skiing for the Floridian novice…how hard could it be? Can you say marathon, with 15 layers of clothes? We found our route and my brother led the way. He was the expert and I followed, trying to keep my skis in his ruts he made in the snow. For a moment I closed my eyes and listened…I couldn’t hear the other people on the trail. It was just my brother and me, and God and he said, “Let’s go.”

Right, left, right left, my skis slid across the powder…my husband calls it “shussing”. After a few minutes I could feel the burn in my legs—it was going to be an interesting trip. It was so beautiful, I told God how amazing it was. The first hill we went down, my brother was way ahead of me. My knees bent, I pushed off at the top and coasted down…and I suddenly understood where the term “white noise” came from. The skis on the powder made this static noise that was very soothing in a way. Then I heard some thumps and looked around…the pine trees where getting so heavy with snow they were dropping their branch fulls here and there. I rounded the bend and caught up with my brother…the next thing I knew I felt a thump on my back and I was covered. It was as if God was saying, “Gotcha!” I tried to ski a little faster and the mini-avalanches stayed just behind me and the air was full of snow flurries. I felt like I was breathing white flakes.

Did I think God was flirting? Yes. He was saying to me, “I want you to remember that I am. That I have control over the weather and anything else and it’s time to trust me more. The plans that I have for you are not to harm you, but to give you a purpose and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) It’s time to press on, because it’s not just hot chocolate that I have waiting for you at the end of the trail…it’s Eternity.”

Luke 18:17 "Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it {at all.}"

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Great Physician

I flew to Wyoming to visit family this week, and was surrounded by sniffling, sneezing seat mates on the airplane. I felt like I was in a cloud of germs and wanted to take a shower when I finally arrived at my destination. So many people are worried about germs…flu germs, virus germs, cold germs…humans almost duck when someone standing next to them sneezes. We do what we can to protect ourselves from those invisible attackers.

What is the first thing you do when you feel a cold coming on? Do you drink gallons of orange juice, eat zinc tablets like they are tic-tacs, pop vitamins, take that coughing-sneezing-aching-sleep-so-you-can-rest-medicine, walk in a cloud of disinfectant, clean random door knobs and finally, stay away from family and friends, thinking you don't want to get them sick? You put all this time and effort into this little invisible germ, just in case it MIGHT be there. You never see the germ, you only know its there because “it was going around” or “you had a tickle in your throat”. And yet, you would go to great lengths to avoid it.

Some people think “getting saved” is the same as “getting sick”. They think it’s an illness that can kill the “good life”, when the opposite is true. It’s a cure for a terminal illness: sin. (1 Corinthians 15:56) If I open my Bible in public, like on the plane, it gets very quiet. People suddenly become very small in their seat, almost willing themselves to become invisible. If I mention Jesus to some people, they visibly flinch like I sneezed in their face. I’ve noticed that when people feel “God coming on” they might deaden that feeling with alcohol, drugs or physical intimacy. Some disinfect their homes of any type of religious material; even go so far as to block channels on their tv. If a family member “gets saved”…they might be avoided because it “might be catchy”. And heaven forbid walking into a church, that would be like walking into a quarantine for some deadly disease without a hermetically sealed bio-suit.

Why do some think of finding Jesus is like catching an illness? There are even terms for it: Jesus Freaks, Holy Rollers, and Religious Hypocrites. The Bible says that Jesus is the Great Physician-not Typhoid Mario. (Mark 2:17) I happen to know for a fact that He specializes in Cardiology. I have not figured out yet why He does not heal some people physically. (That will be another post.) I do know for a fact that He never passes up a sick heart. When you ask, He can reach in and do an amazing transplant. He removes that rock hard heart that was deadened by anger, jealousy, promiscuity, drugs and alcohol, abuse or hate and replaces it with a new one that beats only for Him. (Ezekiel 11:19-20) For added measure, He adds a pacemaker of sorts: the Holy Spirit. (He beats that Energizer bunny hands down.)

If you are tired of running away or running your own life and you are ready for a dose of living-praising-overcoming-peace-so-you-can-rest-heavenly medicine, pray with me now:
"Father God, I am sick of breaking Your laws and having my sins separate me from You. I am truly sorry, and now I want to turn from my past sinful life and move toward You. Please forgive me, and help me avoid sinning again. I believe that Your son, Jesus Christ died for my sins, was resurrected from the dead, is alive, and hears my simple prayer. I invite Jesus to become the Lord of my life, and to perform heart surgery on me now. I want Jesus to rule and reign in my heart from this day forward. Please send your Holy Spirit to help me obey You, and to do Your will for the rest of my life. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen."
If you prayed this prayer and really meant it, God will begin a work in you that will change your life. And He won’t stop until He’s done. (Philippians 1:6)

What's the next step? Continue your complete recovery and ask God to direct you to a local church, so you can grow and learn more about this new life. I would love to pray for you, so please leave a comment on this blog or drop me an email. And don’t forget, Christians are recovering sinners…just because some of them have relapses to their old life doesn’t mean they’re hypocrites. It just means they’re still healing and they need a friend to help them get back on the road to spiritual health. Colossians 3:12-17