The secret ingredient

A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of one’s birth; better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for that is the end of all men; and the living will take it to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, For by a sad countenance the heart is made better. (Ecclesiastes 7:1-2)

Sorrow: the element that makes one’s life sweeter.

Solomon writes here about life. Had he not known the pain of death, the sweetness of life would not appear to him.

I speak not of sorrow left to mold and embitter the heart, but to deliver one in agony to the feet of Jesus, where that sorrow can be turned to joy, and the master carpenter can craft from splinters and dust a new building for His glory.

Those who have tasted cookies baked without salt understand that without salt, the flavor has no balance. That savory element is needed to define the sweet. To put it in context, if you will.

Tears shed in sorrow enhance the sweetness of life.

We found out two days before our daughter was born that my husband had a very large brain tumor. It pressed on his brain stem and had cost him his hearing on one side. We knew the Hand of God was directing the details, so we sat back and trusted, trembling, but confident in His faithfulness. And when she was born, there was something complex and beautiful about the joy we felt this time. There are few surprises in the birth of your fourth child, but we rejoiced in a new way, knowing the mercy of God that keeps us daily and, while not preventing every storm, gives us peace and strength to ride it out.

Why would God allow such difficulty to come in a young man’s life? Because it is now, early, that He wants us to learn the beauty of sorrow, the glory in suffering, the joy that is set before us that renders the present suffering unworthy of shame.

And why does He not change our circumstances when we ask in faith, believing? Might it be to train our eyes Upward, looking to Jesus, the (Author and) Finisher who knows the End and that it is good?

There is purpose, always purpose, in suffering. And yes, it is good. Oh, that we would grasp that purpose and take it to heart! Thereby the heart is made better, and life is sweeter.

I’ve got it

love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance…

they’re all there. Installed when the Holy Ghost came in.

Why do I doubt it? This is the Spirit of Christ we’re speaking of. He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think. That power is in me, if I have the Holy Ghost.

So why don’t I feel it?
Because I must ‘stir up the gift,’ as Paul said to Timothy. Often. How to have access to this bottomless resource of all that is good and needful? Stir it up!

No more asking God for strength–the Joy of the Lord is my strength, and that comes with the Gift.
No more asking for patience, because longsuffering came with the package.

And no more requests submitted to God because I don’t feel like putting forth the effort. Too comfy right now…”will do that later, Lord, but while you’re around, would you add another cushion under my left foot? It’s a bit achy. Scratch the ol’ big toe while you’re down there. And how’s about a sandwich?”

Really? Has He done so much for me only for me to reject the bit of effort required to follow Him?

It’s like refusing to drive a Jaguar because turning the key in the ignition sounds like too much work.

Ok, I’ll admit it’s a bit hard to stir it up sometimes, especially when it’s been a while and the sediment on the bottom of the soul is rather thick…like trying to re-distribute the layer of oil on the top of natural peanut butter while it’s still cold from the fridge.

But that’s the deal, folks.
It’s a free gift, but it’ll cost you.
The reward is immeasurable, but elbow grease will be involved.

If you’ve seen the beauty of vinegar and baking soda at work, you understand that sometimes a little stirring is all it takes to get the reaction you need.

…hmm..chemical reaction. Should blog about that, too.

Nutshell: If you have received the Holy Ghost (which you need!), you have been grafted into that Root that draws from the everlasting well, and if you have repented and been baptized, there is no cloud of sin to obstruct the Sun from your face. You are the tree in Psalm 1. You have ‘access to the excess,’ as one of my favorite preachers once said.

You are not ill-equipped to fulfill your role in the Body of Christ! You’ve got everything you need. The treasure is there. Stir it up!

(much appreciation to Rev. Rufus Parker, whose ‘Morning Manna’ on January 19 inspired this post.)

He would rather

It would be grand to make His home
amongst the sun and stars
Or build Himself a mansion on the other side of Mars
His house could be a castle filled with statues and fine art
But He would rather live inside your heart.

It could be that on ancient stone
He’d speak in paint and ink
Or leave His love notes scrawled in minty toothpaste in the sink
He could have carved his words on little pebbles in the brook
But He would rather put them in a Book.

He could listen to great symphonies
and poet’s famous verse,
Or hear the wrens and bluejays with their tweets and squawks converse.
His favorite sound could be the forest’s rustling leaves and limbs
But He would rather hear you talk to Him.

You could swim in vats of money and
wear clothes of solid gold,
Have all the games and food and fun and stuff that you behold
He could spoil you silly, load you down ‘til “Uncle!” you could plead
But He would rather give you all you need.

You could wish to change your nose to one
much smaller than you’ve got
Or your face could be more pink or brown with fewer specks and spots
It might be your desire to change your looks upon a whim,
But He would rather make you look like Him.

He could fashion the most beautiful
And grand celestial maid,
With glitt’ring hair and stars for eyes, who all His words obeyed
She could radiate with glory, be the object of His pride,
But He would rather take you as His bride.

You could go by Bobby, Spencer, Carter,
Chucky, Goose, or Rick
Or answer to Jemima, Little Lucy or Big Nick
But those don’t carry quite enough distinction or acclaim
For He would rather call you by His Name.

It was His gentle, skillful hand
that formed your little face,
And in His book inscribed your members in that secret place
He commands the rain and sunshine, taught the birds to build their nest
He’s the One who loves you most, and He knows best.

–written for my kids, Summer 2009. 🙂

We cannot but speak…

We cannot but speak what we have seen and heard… (Acts 4:20)

My eight-year-old is a talker. Everything he notices, everything he hears gets repeated. Everything that’s on is mind is spoken out loud. It can drive us all a bit crazy. 🙂 It’s all innocent observation and interest, and for the most part, it’s thrilling as a mother for me to see his mind developing and watch him make new connections between principles and facts. He loves to learn, and I love that about him. But he is a talker.

One issue we have in particular is his tendency to tell everything about every scene in a movie he has seen before, spoilers and all. There is no boundary in his mind (yet) that prevents him from ruining the movie for someone else who hasn’t seen it.

He is literally unable to hinder any previous experience from making its way out of his mouth. The memory is so real, the excitement so potent, that it is unthinkable to keep it to himself alone.

I find intriguing the human process of experience-to-thought-to-words to which we are all bound. Intake determines product, “garbage in, garbage out,” “you are what you eat,” etc. I’ve blogged about that before. But it’s so true, I’ve got to address it again.

What we have been watching, we talk about. What we have been listening to, the conversations we’ve heard, are what we repeat.

What am I listening to? What do I put before my eyes? it is inevitably that which will come out of my mouth. Because we are made to be witnesses. And whether we use that element in our design for good or evil, we will nonetheless use it. Witnesses of something.

Our eyes are always seeing…what is it they see? For it is of this that we will witness. What do we hear? It is this we will repeat.

You cannot but speak that which you have seen and heard. It will come out, despite your attempts to stifle it. It is the natural flow to life.

Herein lies the beauty of God’s perfect plan. Having designed us with this tendency to repeat and reproduce what has entered our existence by our senses, He placed in us this ‘treasure in earthen vessels‘ that is so powerful, it trumps everything else! No experience can compare. And it’s ongoing… ‘further up, further in,’ so to speak. There’s no end to this amazing trip, so there’s always something more to say.

It is therefore my goal to seek Him with my eyes, studying His Word, and listen for His Voice with my ears…the ‘witness’ part is inevitable.