Spring

I hear songbirds this morning, heralds of spring. The renewal of the earth is all around me… in budding trees, in chickadees, in green blades of grass pushing through dormant mats of brown.

 

And I’m forced to consider God’s promise to make all things new.

spring butterfly

Maybe God puts us in hard places, impossible places where the future is bleak, disease-ridden, and barren so he can show us what renewal really looks like.

One thing I know, our future depends on God being the incomparable, faithful, rejuvenating God he claims to be. Our hope is rooted in the character of God, who alone has the capacity to do something utterly new.

Lift up your eyes on high and see:

Who created these?

He who bring out their host and numbers them,

calling them all by name;

because he is great in strength,

mighty in power,

not one is missing.

Why do you say, O Jacob,

and speak, O Israel,

“My way is hidden from the Lord,

and my right is disregarded by my God”?

Have you not known, Have you not heard?

The Lord is the everlasting God,

the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He does not faint or grow weary;

his understanding is unsearchable.

He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless.

Even youths will faint and be weary,

and the young will fall exhausted;

but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,

they shall mount up with wings like eagles,

they shall run and not be weary,

they shall walk and not faint.

Is. 40:26-31

Transplanted

It’s not the land of my birth, but it is the land of my growth, of my becoming… my forming.

Indiana.

Sunrise

I am formed by rich red kitchen walls tinged with splatters of bacon grease and pancake batter on Saturday mornings. Clinking silverware and stacking clean plates from the dishwasher remind me that early morning chores call as faithfully as the sunrise. And I am transformed by meals at the kitchen table shaping this family into one that loves good food and conversations that always end up about movies.

And I am formed by the Indiana clay under my fingernails as I plant and weed and tend red lillythe roses and lavender in my garden beds. The hostas in the shade and lilies in the sun have taught me about blooming and pruning… necessary ingredients for growth. The redbuds we planted out back with their spindly branches and magenta blooms never fail to enchant. Every spring, they tell me that new life lurks just beneath the surface, merely waiting for a warm sun-kiss.

I am formed by three boys whose ever-bouncing, climbing, running feet found mud puddles to splash and balls to kick. They saw forests and imagined new worlds. They saw boxes full of Legos and built spaceships. They saw me and knew I could be trusted. What a gift. And every once in awhile, I convinced them to slow down and notice the caterpillar creeping along a leaf… which fostered in me a bit more childlike wonder.

I am formed by sure-changing seasons, sometimes subtle, sometimes brash. By soft grass and smiling daisies and sticky humid days passed poolside. By falling leaves, apple daisies and lavendarpicking, and bonfire crackles in the crisp night air. By chilled still bare tree-patterns against stormy skies and the hush of fresh-fallen snow. And by robins digging, creeks trickling, and buds bursting while rain pitter-patters on the window. They’ve taught me to watch, listen, and expect beauty at every turn.

I am formed by family time on the olive green couches. Guitar strumming, scripture reading, hearts singing, quiet praying time — inconsistent, but forming just the same. We’ve sought to listen to each other and to God. Together. Sometimes questions go unanswered, but we ask them anyway. Our belief in the One who knows all is strengthened in the asking.

I am formed by hospital beds and emergency rooms, by disease and unknowing. Struggles not just with tight budgets and traffic jams, but with temptations and tempers and immune systems. I have grabbed hold of Hoosier grit. It tells me that keeping on is better than giving up. And that friends who stand with you in the darkness love to celebrate with you in the light.

And I am formed by my partner in life. Marriage has taught me about giving and receiving Hand Holdingand how to be true. My dear one has loved me well and patiently listened while I railed against the hand of the One who loves us best. He stands beside me, stands up for me, stands to protect me, and stands with me in the place we’ve made home. His strength has softened me, and his softness shows me that loud and quick are not necessarily the only way to get something done.

Oh Indiana, I’ve still yet to mention homeschool co-ops and history clubs and milk runs to Rockville. Dunes camping, summer projects, tour buses, farmer’s markets, and state fairs are all part of life that has become mine. How you’ve changed me. How you’ve taught me. How you’ve welcomed this California transplant and encouraged her to grow.

Thank you.

fall trailside

Too little?

When prophet Nathan confronts David about his sin with Bathsheba, he is swift and to the point.

A wealthy man had many sheep and cattle.  A poor man had one sole ewe that he cherished.  But, when the rich man wanted meat to consume with a guest, he took the poor man’s ewe, slaughtered it, and fed his greedy soul.

David sees the blatant injustice and responds with righteous indignation.  So, the “You-are-the-man!” flows strong and forceful, like an arrow released from a bow, slicing through the silence, claiming its mark.  David has one lowly response.

“I have sinned against the Lord.” (2 Samuel 12:13)

The consequence of David’s sin?  Death.  Death always follows sin.  Always a loss.  Lost time, lost innocence, lost relationship, lost life, lost purity.  Sin always leads to a place where we spend something, we loose something we can never get back.  David’s sin cost

him more than the life of his first child with Bathsheba.  The consequences rippled through his family for generations.

What’s at the heart of David’s sin?  According to the Lord’s rebuke, I think verse 8 hints:

“… And if all this had been too little, I would have given you more.”  (2 Samuel 12:8)

Greed.  David’s desire for more than was his.  His entitled view of himself, the taking of whatever his eyes landed upon, led him to sin.  When God lists out for David all that He’s done for him, and then says more would have come, “You only needed to ask,” the plea reveals how David’s sin wounded God’s heart.  This is why David’s sin was “against the Lord.”

David looked at all of God’s goodness and said, “It’s not enough.  I want that one, too.”

 

I don’t usually see my own sin this clearly.  I don’t see it as choosing something other than the grace of God.

But, David’s sin shows me that when my heart wanders toward discontentment, I am really saying, “Lord, you haven’t provided enough.”

When I enter an argument with my boys over how they spend their time, I am really saying, “Lord, you don’t control enough.”

When I compare myself and envy another woman her influence or her wardrobe, I am really saying, “Lord, you haven’t given me enough.”

Ouch. That hits close to home.  Truly, my selfishness drives me to a warped perspective that God is holding out on me.  It’s a lie.

Oh God, give me a heart that is thankful;  cultivate my heart in the garden of all that you have given.  It’s good.  You are good.  Your goodness toward me never, no never ends.  

So this is why entrance into His courts demands thanks.  Thanks debunks the lie.  Thanks directs my focus to the goodness of God.  That’s where I want my heart to live…

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving,

and His courts with praise.

Give thanks to Him and bless his name.

 For the Lord is good and His love endures forever;

His faithfulness continues through all generations.”

(Ps. 100:4-5)

photo credits: stockfreeimages.com