The Balance Beam

>> Thursday, August 30, 2012


When my girls were young, they were talented in many ways. Each played one or two different instruments … and practice time was a cacophony of sound. They were creative … conducting make believe interviews on the street with friends and family … and occasionally strangers. But sports … not so much.

Yet Kerri, my youngest, loved gymnastics. She tried tap dancing and ballet, but when gymnastics time came around, she lit up. And she was good. Her slender body could bend in unbelievable ways. Instead of walking down a sidewalk, she cartwheeled.

It looked like she just might emerge a real gymnast.

To encourage her involvement, I allowed a strip of masking tape to be placed diagonally across the living room carpet. Balance beams are only four inches wide, but it did look a little strange. When visitors came in, comments like “Oh, did you tear your carpet?” were normal. She would climb on her imaginary balance beam ... with tongue sticking out … focusing on her balance. Falling off was not acceptable.

She was on her way … and then came the accident, which ended that specific dream.

As I watched the recent Olympics on television, my thoughts returned to that little girl. She not only fell off … but also never climbed back on. Her life has gone a totally different direction.
 
Isn’t life like that? Sometimes the path we are on seems even narrower than four inches. We do more than just stick our tongue out to help with our focus. In our effort to keep our balance we turn to sleeping pills, counselors, Yoga or just plain whining.

Finding our balance is such a difficult task.

But there is one way to keep our focus … continually and forever. If we turn to Jesus … the great Balancer … we won’t fall off. When we get to the end of this life, we will land with a triple flip at His feet.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith, goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.” 2 Peter 1:5-7 (NIV)


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That Door is Always Open

>> Wednesday, August 15, 2012


When we leave the house, we put our dog, Charlie, in the back yard. He has very good ears and can hear the garage door opener when we return … and dashes to the back door to be let in. However, since it has gotten so hot, he has discovered a cool spot on the north side of the house and can’t seem to hear when we come home.

This morning I ran errands and did some grocery shopping. When I came in the house, Charlie did not come running to the back door, so I opened it and called his name.
Still no Charlie.

I pushed the door almost shut, but did not latch it … and then carried the groceries in the house.

Still no Charlie.

I worked around the house a little more, even going to the bedroom on the north side and calling his name. We’ve taught him how to push a door open, so he could come in if he wanted.

I waited.

Suddenly, there he was at the door … tail wagging. I called out, “Come on” but he just stood there with his tongue hanging out … his whole body wiggling.

I thought of some people I know … who are standing at the door of a relationship with Jesus. The door is unlatched and ready for them to walk through. Jesus is saying, “Come on.” And they stand there … being friendly … watching what’s going on inside … but never taking that final step of pushing the door open and walking through.

That door is always open.

Jesus replied with this story: “A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations. When the banquet was ready, he sent his servant to tell the guests, ‘Come, the banquet is ready.’ But they all began making excuses. One said, ‘I have just bought a field and must inspect it. Please excuse me.’ Another said, ‘I have just bought five pairs of oxen, and I want to try them out. Please excuse me.’ Another said, ‘I now have a wife, so I can’t come.’” Luke 14:16-20 (NLT)


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The Test

>> Saturday, August 11, 2012


In my almost 70 years on this earth, I’ve had some hard tests … and I’ve learned from them. Having been raised to believe that worry and guilt showed others just how much you wanted to please God, I had those emotions down pat. And then life happened. My worry and guilt wrecked havoc on my body and I ended up in the hospital.

Did I really believe that was how God wanted me to live?

And so I worked on me … and with a lot of help from God I conquered those bad habits … I thought.

Years ago I had given my children into God’s care … understanding He loved them more than I did. Over the years I’ve done a great job of just letting go and letting God. Then my daughter, Lorri, drove from Salem, Oregon to Columbus, Georgia. Oh, I didn’t worry about her safety. I knew she was in God’s hands. I didn’t worry about the 3,366 miles she had to drive by herself (well she had two cats with her). I did great until she reached Boise, Idaho and her air conditioner quit working.

It was my helplessness that did me in. I felt it in the pit of my stomach. I could do nothing to help her. And that’s when I took it all back … the worry. I drove every mile with her as she sweltered across Wyoming … Colorado … Texas.

We kept in touch … mostly by texts and Facebook. But when we finally talked I had to confess to her that her troubles were not just her own. I was being tested and failing … miserably. The air conditioner was repaired with an all day job in San Antonio, which meant she had to drive through the night and then the next day … when it quit again.

I was still flunking.

She made it … and imagine her surprise when the air conditioner began working again as she pulled into her apartment complex parking lot. More proof to me that it was … indeed … my test. My heart overflowed with gratitude for her safe arrival and I thought my test was over.

Not so.

Two days later she called and said the car wouldn’t start. And there … again … was that feeling in the pit of my stomach. Did I really not trust God? For the next two hours I battled … determined to receive at least a D- … and not flunk entirely. At first it was a minute-by-minute handing her back to God. Then I went for five minutes trusting before the fear took over. Finally I let go completely and placed her back in God’s hands.

I trusted again.

“He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” Mark 4:40 (ESV)


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Sign Language

>> Thursday, August 9, 2012


I sat in Starbucks, watching a very unusual sight. Sitting at the bar by the window … with his back to me … was a young man … Skyping. Now that’s not all that uncommon … except for one thing. He was using sign language. I could see the screen on his computer … and the other person was signing right back. They were communicating in their own special way.

A very silent conversation … and one I could not understand.

And I’ve pondered … about a unique language I grew up with … in church. In my earlier years I listened to many conversations loaded with religious words that I understood because I had been trained in that vernacular. Words like:

            Atonement
            Blood of Christ
            Heresy
            Holiness
            Messiah
            New Covenant
            Pentecost
            Repentance
            Sanctification
            Spiritual Gifts
            Stumbling Block
           
But to someone on the outside of my religion this was an unknown language.

Now, as a Christ-follower, I try to speak in words that anyone can understand … simple words. My desire is for others to have a relationship with Jesus … and pious words are not needed for that to happen. Everyone understands words like: 

            Forgiveness
Love
            Sorry

Are you still using sign language?


“Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.” Colossians 4:6 (NLT)


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The Plan

>> Saturday, August 4, 2012


My daughter, Lorri, recently moved from Oregon to Georgia … and she drove there … all 3,366 miles … just her and two cats. Before she left, she made a plan … with the help of AAA. They provided detailed maps and directions. She knew where she would be stopping each night, how long she would drive each day and when she would arrive in Georgia. I was given a copy of the map with the highlighted route so I could travel along with her. 


It all looked great on paper. 

Halfway through Day 1 her air conditioner quit working. That fact had not been mentioned in the plan … since she was headed to Wyoming, Colorado, Texas … places with daytime temperatures over 100. She sweltered across Wyoming and into Colorado, where an uncle and his family could possibly help her.

They were unsuccessful, so after spending a night in southern Colorado, so she forged on through west Texas … the AAA plan all forgotten. Her goal now was San Antonio where another uncle lived. Part of the plan had been to listen to music and books on tape as she traveled. With the windows down to get air movement, the noise drowned out any chance of listening to anything. 


Even though Day 4 had been scheduled to get her to New Orleans, she spent the day in San Antonio while repairs were made on her car. Leaving San Antonio in the evening, Day 4 blended into Day 5 as she drove through the night. She crossed Louisiana, Mississippi and into Alabama, where her air conditioner quit again. 

She reached her destination in Georgia the evening of Day 5.

Isn’t that exactly how life is? We have a plan … a good one … all laid out. Maybe our plan is marriage and children … and then we are unable to get pregnant. Or perhaps attending college is the plan, but suddenly the funds dry up and it’s necessary to get a job to help provide food for our family.

Life gives us no guarantees.

But there is one Plan that is sure … and guaranteed to work. With Christ as our guide, we can know each step of the way that He is with us. Even though times look dark, He will lead us through the night … sometimes carrying us in His arms. As we journey we can turn to Him morning, noon and night.

And when we reach our destination, He will be there to greet us with open arms.

“Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow.” Psalm 25:4 (NLT)



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