Thursday, October 27, 2005

Spirit and Humanity

Dear Gentle Readers,

I have been reflecting on my experiences over the past weeks. They have been both full of gratitude and faith…and punctuated by moments of despair and feeling overwhelmed by the circumstances. But does this human journey of despair and concern overshadow or negate our trust and faith in our God? Does being thankful and full of faith mean that we experience no human emotion? I don’t think so.

You know by reading my posts, I believe in “but God.” I think that the “but God” ultimate core belief is the stuff of which faith is made. Just because we have moments of despair does not make us less fit for the Kingdom. Consider Jesus.

How often was Jesus discouraged? Did he not call out to his Father and ask for another way to fulfill what he was called to do? In Luke 22:42, Jesus was praying because he was overwhelmed by the circumstances. He well understood what was to take place in his earthly life and his humanness came to the forefront. Jesus wasn’t afraid to be honest with his Father. He wasn’t all “happy, happy, joy, joy.” And he knew that his human response to the coming sacrifice wasn’t an affront to God. What was his ultimate response? “Yet I want your will, not mine.” Jesus submitted his humanity to God’s Spirit. His submission brought about the victory. But his humanity was not sinful or offensive to God.

I am concerned that we, as the Church, have created an atmosphere that doesn’t allow for human weakness or failure. I hear us saying, “Praise the Lord,” because it is acceptable and expected. We don’t, however, express our honest humanity by saying, “Oh, God how can I cope?” Have we created a place where, unless one expresses superhuman joy and faith all the time, we look down upon and condemn others as less holy or a failure in their faith walk?

We must remember that God, in His infinite wisdom, made us human. But God also put within us His Spirit! That combination of humanity and Spirit is what gives us both the humanity to fail and the faith to overcome; to see ourselves and others as God sees us.

Even though we are spirit, we are also human. The Spirit strives to be like God; full of faith and holy character. But we are human. We will fail. We will hurt others, albeit without meaning to do so. We won’t always get our prayers answered the way we expect or desire.

But God…

God says we are a holy people, chosen by God.* Therefore, allow for humanity. Let us not judge another’s faith walk. Let us not presume to know what is in a person’s heart. But, let us be the hand of God that reaches, encourages, and lifts others up, knowing that we all have our humanity. That allows us to be transparent before our God! That allows us to have a deep, abiding relationship with our God.

So, in conclusion, today take some time to look beyond a fault or failure and encourage someone in your life. Love and support them, and in so doing be the hand of God in your world. Be that royal priest called by God to show acceptance…not rejection.

May God richly bless you this day and may you experience the wonderful overcoming power of the Holy Spirit as you seek to be like God.


* I Peter 2:9-10 “But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you---from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.” The Message Remix

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Lessons in Humility

Hello, gentle readers,

It has been a couple of whirlwind weeks. Again we were told by one of the insurance companies that we are not covered. That was the last one with which we were to meet. Now we try for loans and grants. I must admit that the process is daunting...and frustrating.

We learned a lesson in humility this week. On Friday, after we met with the insurance adjuster, two of our dear friends joined us. I felt terrible for my friend. He had stored some items in our home and they were destroyed by the hurricane. He was so kind, though. After we went through and packed these items, we went to the charity tents. Yep, you heard correctly. The charity tents. Under these tents were clothing, food, supplies and a cafeteria.

I was somewhat embarrassed by having to do that. To be at the mercy of another is a most humbling experience. First we went through the clothing tent. There were two ladies at the entrance hugging and giving comfort to all who entered regardless of ethnicity, religion...or sexual orientation. Their embraces were genuine and full of concern. If you've never lost so much and had to rely on the goodness of others, you cannot imagine what that concern meant to us.

After the clothing tent was the food and supplies tent. The line was incredibly long. The lady in front of us had her mother and her son. The son was fighting heat exhaustion. Along the way there were coolers that had ice and water. We drank it gratefully. We also poured that cold water on the woman's son, trying to help him to feel better. Wherever we went, the lines seemed to go on forever and people were hot and tired. Some shared stories of their losses. Some just stood in line with blank by the tragedy.

The money running low, we thankfully went through the food and supplies tent. We were grateful for everything that people had donated and for the gentle people who served us with joy and gladness. In the light of such tragedy, here were people of every shape and color imaginable all coming together to share their lives and their provisions.

I would learn more about this wonderful group of Christians. The organizers are Christian Life Church in Baldwin County, Alabama. They, themselves, have been the victims of horrific hurricanes. They have committed to serving the people of Bay St. Louis and Waveland for an entire year. I was amazed at this! The people in the tents were from all over the country. The two ladies who gave us such a warm welcome and blessing at the clothing tent were from Illinois.

All I could think of while standing in the lines was how truly this was the Church. This, as Christians, is what we are all called to do: clothe, feed, and care for those who are in need. Trust me, not everyone who went through those lines shared a belief in Jesus as Savior. But what an amazing witness to that small community of the love of Christ, expressed in the hugs and supplies of His people.

Yes, I was humbled to go through those lines. But, I was also encouraged! As always, with me there is a "but, God..." This lesson's "but, God..." spoke volumes over my embarrassment and humility. This lesson was in showing the true Light of the World through a simple embrace, a kind word, or something as elementary as a cold bottle of water.

Thank God for people like these! Please remember them in your prayers as you remember those who still struggle to recover from the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina.

May God bless you richly this day. May you show the world the love of Christ in all you say and do.


Thursday, October 13, 2005

God's Grace in the Storm

Hello, Gentle Readers…

It is good to be back with you again. Thankfully, the cable installer has visited us and I am online and ready to spend some time with you again. I have missed our time together. But, apparently, God had some other plans for us. And that’s okay. We certainly learn more when our faith is tested, right?

I have learned volumes during this trying time. Only time will tell the lessons learned and how to express them to you. I’m not much for the preaching of those who give lessons they do not learn, nor follow. So, here we are at the brink of new discovery.

We left our home in Bay St. Louis, MS on August 29, 2005, knowing in our hearts we would not be able to return. It was a very sinking feeling. The truck loaned to us by a friend in the military was full of our “kids” (read furry, four-legged kind), whatever we could snap up in just an hour, and we were on the road to Mobile.

Without the love of our pastor and church, we would have stayed in our home during the storm and could have been hurt or killed. But, our wise pastor lovingly “encouraged” us to head for Alabama. He gave us shelter and food for three weeks while we tried to find financial assistance and a place to live. We had two duffle bags of clothes, personal papers, a couple of our Bibles, my guitars, and our “kids.” That was it. Our 40+ years of living zippered into two duffles.

We went back to Bay St. Louis a week after the storm to find our house had been saturated by 2 feet of raw sewage. It was pungent, to say the least. We were able to save some clothes and a few other items, but nothing of significance as all was full of mold. Mold is now climbing the walls, about 4’ high. Insurance (why do we pay them?) says it’s “flood damage” and we’re not covered. What a mess.

But God…

You know by now that with me there is always a “but God.” Our Heavenly Father has been so gracious to us. We have had people we barely know, and others we simply didn’t know but knew of us, give us amazing financial blessings. Other people gave us furniture, bedding, linens, a washer and dryer! There seems to be no end to the blessings of God! And I truly, truly believe that the blessings are there because we are gracious in receiving them. We are not owed anything, but by God’s amazing grace we are given all we need.

I could tell you stories of how blessing after blessing overwhelmed us. I could tell you of the friend who thought of our “kids” and blessed them with a Petsmart gift card. I could tell you of two friends who simply gave us a washer and dryer. I could share with you of the woman who sent us a laptop; her first and much-loved computer. Over and over the blessings keep coming. And we are humbled by the generosity of others and the compassion of our Lord.

We are now in prayer about employment. It will be necessary for me to obtain secular employment for a bit. I am looking forward to new challenges. Both my partner and I have interviews on Thursday, October 13, 2005. Please join us in prayer for wisdom and guidance in obtaining the employment God has for us. We know that God has already made a place for us. It is our task, and joy, to find what that path is.

To our friends, thank you for your prayers. Certainly, we have felt every one of them during this tragedy. Continue to remember those who are displaced and discouraged by both Katrina and Rita. There has been so much lost. And if you are able to help, please do so. Obviously, relief efforts need assistance. But remember that prayer is your greatest gift of all.

I am looking forward to sharing more of my life lessons with you. I hope you will join me again on this path of learning. God is our Teacher and we are His students.

May God richly bless you this day. May you know the fullness of His grace and the joy of His salvation.


Tuesday, October 11, 2005

I'm B A A A C C C K K K

Hello all!!!

I am pleased to say I am finally back online!! The cable folks finally sent us two techs who were hard workers and problem solvers. So...hopefully I will have a new blog up in a couple of days.

In the meantime, know you are loved by God and inhabited by the Holy Spirit, and forgiven through the blood of Jesus!