Hope Shines Through!

 

Light, Dark and Holy Week

Light, Dark and Holy Week

Holy Week is upon us. Actually we are ‘over the hump’ of Holy Week entering the deepest part of the last week of Lent. I re-entered the Anglican tradition about 8 years ago and have found the intentional awareness of the Church calendar a rhythmic force in my life.

Holy Week is intense. When you get this it will be ‘Good Friday’ marking the death of Jesus on the cross for our sins. Last Sunday we celebrated Palm Sunday, Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Yesterday was Maundy Thursday, commemorating the last supper and Jesus’ capture in the Garden of Gethsemane. What a roller coaster! Highs to lows then hope shines through on Easter with the empty tomb and Jesus alive again, with victory over death, for Him and for us.

I chose this photo specifically. The back light on the big trees say to me that there is great darkness in this world. It works its way through our lives with diseases, terrorist attacks and so much more that God knows all about but did not intend. The root of the darkness we experience is not in God, it is in the hearts of humankind.

And yet…

God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” John 3:16-21

In the photo, light shines through the branches like the hope of Jesus’ and our resurrection shines through on Easter morning.

Come into the light!

The Power of A Good Apology

This is not intended as a “how to” on apology, but it is a very short story of how powerfully a good apology can be to bring healing.

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Walls between people are built when an apology is not offered well or received

Recently I found myself sitting with about a dozen other women facing a wall of nearly 20 men who stood together to apologize for the way men treat women. The teacher, a man, had just spoken for over 30 minutes on the value of women and how men have historically misused the Bible and their cultural and sometimes physical power to take advantage of and devalue women in many ways.

When he finished teaching he invited the men up to stand with him to apologize for their behavior and for their gender. Granted, the men who have mistreated us were not present. But that does not change the power of their apologies.

Like others in the room, many of us had never received a sincere apology for the sometimes cultural and sometimes specific things they mentioned. A few of the things they cited had to be revealed by God alone. None of those men have been with me all of my 58 years. Yet they used turns of phrases that only I could relate to profoundly disarm offenses in my life. Several of those offenses I had forgotten until they said them.

The apologies did not come from my offenders, but they did come from God the Father who revealed them to these men. The one who created me in love and for love, knew I could not continue to live with an undercurrent of offense, one I was not even conscious of.

An important part of what made this act of seemingly generic apology so powerful was the ground rule the teacher gave: no one was asking us to forgive. Asking us to forgive makes a demand on the one receiving.

You see, I’ve been apologized to in the past for some of the things they mentioned, but each of the previous times it came with the stated or implied goal that I forgive on the spot, or really soon. Most times healing comes over time. A demand to overcome and forgive immediately is more likely to prevent or distort the healing process.

This time, by releasing me to God’s timing to forgive, I was free to just let the apologies sink in. I did not have to weigh and analyze. Nothing was expected of me, only the option to receive. This freedom allowed their genuine regret and remorse to sink in more deeply than ever before and disarm wounds, many I was not even aware of.

Bridges are built when sincere apologies are presented in Abba's ways and timing.

Bridges of healing being built by sincere apology presented in Abba’s ways and timing.

Abba, Help me be less demanding of those I love and hurt. Show me how to walk and talk in ways that offer grace and space, especially to those I love.

Resting in the Father Heart of God

Resting is not something that comes very naturally to me. I am a mover and doer, to a fault at times. The first two months of this year were a prime example. My House went under contract, I went to the Middle East and Europe to minister and visit friends. I returned with pneumonia and had two and a half weeks to move out of my house of 19 years.

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Right now I look a lot like this lion stretched out on a rock…exhausted and resting.

This week I am attending a “Father Heart- A School,”*  At this school I have lots of time to soak in the truth of the word of God in a way that is full of grace and rest. I am literally lying on a mat on the ground resting much of the day. I can hear the teaching, but from the beginning I sensed Abba telling me He is holding my heart, and my responsibility now is to unwind from the whirlwind I have pushed through.

Before this week I was wound so tight from too much activity that I looked more like a hungry pacing lion, not really even able to lie down.

So what’s the difference from one week to the next?

A large part is permission. I have given myself permission to rest and recuperate. Granted one of my largest hurdles is behind me, but with it comes an opportunity to rest. I have most of my deadlines and work cleared for the week. I planned this get away.

It is also the grace of the way the “school” is presented. They too give permission to rest. Registration confirmation even comes suggesting you bring a pillow and a mat!

Another reason I am able to rest is I know I really need it. For the first three days my body vibrated. Last night I felt for the fist time in a while like my body was at peace and I was not pushing to get through yet another deadline.

I am not just renewing my mind with the truths of the love of Father God, or Abba, as I like to call him, but my heart is experiencing a new level of rest through grace.

Most importantly I am experiencing grace and love from the Father Heart of God at a deeper level each day. It is repositioning me to continually receive eternal love so that I can share God’s love with others more freely.

One of the great things I have learned this week is that the word adoption in the English Bibles we read does not actually mean adoption as we know it. It means son placement.

What’s that you ask? Well, the key difference is unlike adoption, we never really belonged to anyone but God the Father, our Abba. Adam and Eve stepped out-of-place, but Jesus paid the price to put us back in our proper place of belonging in the Kingdom of God!

I am exhausted but I still have a lion heart for the love and work of the Kingdom. I will be back up refreshed and on the move with the passion of Aslan soon.* But my prayer and expectation is it will be orchestrated from a much deeper place of rest, and not primarily chasing deadlines.

 

*http://www.fatherheart.net

*From The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis

New Beginnings Start With Endings

For 19 years this room was home base, the living-room. For me it is bitter-sweet. It is time to move on so I have emptied the place. I have sorted, packed, thrown away and locked up treasures in safes and inside of me too.

My ending it someone else's new beginning.

                                       My ending is someone else’s new beginning.

As I carried the last few things out and walked around praying through the house I found myself experiencing almost every emotion. The over whelming one though was relief. It’s finished.

One friend suggested I dance in this room thanking God for the 19 years as my last act. That was a possibility, but I was so tired and emotional all I could do was lie prostrate in the middle of this floor. I cried with thanks for the myriad blessings and good times this house offered to us and to all who passed through our doors. God used this home to bless many!

I also thanked God for the sad and trying times, knowing that we are all stronger because of them. And for the fact that they are now past.

It is a new season of life for me. This particular ending is one of the biggest evidences of that fact. I still have to wait for my new home to be ready for me, but this door is closed and locked behind me. I can only go forward!

And I hear the promises of God calling. I hear the great cloud of witnesses cheering me on to keep fixing my eyes on Jesus, the one who knows and loves me best.

As I consider that this is the Lenten season, one to refocus and to let go, it seems fitting for me to be without a home of my for a while. (Semi-forced giving up ;-}!)

By the time your read this the new family will have signed, paid and moved in. I bless them with the fulfillment of all their hopes and dreams!

I will be enjoying a few days of vacation. I am tired and happy, dancing on the inside….