Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Life's If

As I was grocery shopping the other day, I overheard a conversation between two little girls that almost floored me. One asked the other a very simple question...but the weight of a two letter word slapped me in the back of the head.

The little girls where trailing their mom's cart and were deep in conversation. As I passed, the taller one asked the smaller one, "If you grow up, would you rather live in an apartment or a house?"

Simple question yes? But why "if"? Isn't that question usually started with a "when"? Don't children normally think they'll live until as old as their parents? Why "if"?

With the breaking news of the day still swirling in my worries, I asked God why that hit my heart so hard.

He reminded me of a bedtime prayer, "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take."

Wow...could it be those little girls understood this childhood prayer better than I did? You see, we are not promised tomorrow. We are not promised another breath on this earth. Nobody knows when their time is. You can guess by looking at your family tree, or listen to what your doctor tells you...but nobody but God knows the exact date and time you will come face to face with Him.

So then, how should we live? The book of James says:

Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit." Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are {just} a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, {you ought} to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that."
James 4:13-15

There's that little two letter word again, "if". Such a tiny word, but it carries the weight of humble obedience. Those little girls did have it right...and so does my grandma.

One of her phrases is, "Lord willin!" Which in Wyoming jargon means--whatever God wills! She knows all about that child-like obedience to "the Good Lord".

Can you say that today? Can you truly say that you want God's will in your life? Imagine that...even the word Life has that humble word "if" in it. God is awesome. Life is short and it can be hard, but with Christ you are promised to face the ifs of Life with Him--never alone.

If we were to live today like tomorrow wasn't coming, what would you want to change?

As the stars come out one by one tonight, I hope you will consider a new rendition of that bedtime prayer:
"Before I lay me down to sleep, I pray that Christ my soul does keep. And IF I die before I wake, I pray my eyes behold His face!"

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, {he is} a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17

Monday, January 10, 2011

Keep the Fire 2

I had a few more thoughts on our campfire experience. I decided, it's all about the marshmallows. It's not the chocolate or the graham crackers. They are just the vehicles to get the wonderful sugar napalm to your taste buds.

When we stopped at the grocery to pick up s'mores supplies, there was literally one bag of large marshmallows left. We made our way home with our bag of inedible looking white sponges. Little did they realize what was in store for them!

Hubby went out to where the palmettos and palm trees grow and selected some long green palm sticks. These he sharpened down to a point at one end. We stoked the fire a bit and watched the coals grow orange. Then one by one we parked a marshmallow on the end of a long stick and held it over the fire. Very carefully we held it near the coals, not taking our eyes off of it. One centimeter too close and whoosh! We had an instant torch on the end of the stick. No matter how quickly we blew it out, a charred smoking husk dangled from the end of the stick.

As we gained expertise, we figured out the best coals for slowly toasting a marshmallow. We'd turn it near the glowing ember, watching for a lick of flame to tease us with a flame-out. We kept it just out of reach, always watching, always turning. Sure, our faces felt warm and we might've singed some hair on our hands...but once we proclaimed it "Perfect!", the humble marshmallow was elevated to a gourmet experience: campfire brulee.

It's the same with me. If I realize when life gets hot that I am in the hands of the Master, I will trust that He is always watching and will never drop me into the flame. Because He knows just how much heat I can bear...as well as how much more flavorful my life can be. Why should I be satisfied with what the world calls "normal life"? --when I can step into the amazing purpose that God has in store for me...dancing just inches above the fire!

Life is sweet...why not ask for s'more?

These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold – and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold. So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 1 Peter 1:7

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Keep the Fire

We had small group tonight and decided campfire therapy was needed. The weather was cool with a spritz of rain that kept us just chilled enough while the fire burned. (Yes January in Florida can be warm!) We had glowing coals, green palmetto sticks, soft marshmallows, sweet chocolate and crunchy graham crackers. It was a good night for this.

We talked about everything and nothing, we talked about deep subjects and silly jokes...and we shared our hearts for our family and friends. Our small group is small, but we're big enough to hold each other up through the hard stuff. And that's what a church family does...they do life together and they do it well with Christ.

As I sat there in the glow of the fire light and laughter, I saw the logs on the fire shifting and sending up sparks now and then like shooting stars. The new branches would burn brightly when first tossed on the fire--our faces lit up with the dancing flames. Then as the fire changed to blues and orange, the coals started to emerge...toasty grottoes formed and we deftly roasted a few marshmallows--and flamed a few more than we intended.

I realized as we shared and bolstered each other up, I saw ourselves as those logs on the fire. You see as new Christians, we ignite with the fire of the Holy Spirit...burning brightly with the excitement for Christ. But as time wears on, some days the flames burn hot and our lives seemed to be forever scarred, blackened and broken--this is where some want to escape, until we realize the fire is a crucible. God is purifying our lives. We watch as others come closer to find comfort in that warmth. As those glowing coals render up ash and a few sparks in the sky...we continue to offer our lives as a living sacrifice to the One who burns in our hearts.

As we prayed before our group went home, the sweet taste of burnt marshmallow and the smell of smoke in our hair and jackets lingered in our circle. And I had just a twinkle of an idea of what maybe Daniel experienced in the furnace...because Daniel had his small group who went through the fire together, and so do I.

"Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. Isaiah 48:10

for our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:29