Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter 2011

A woman in my Bible study sent me a link with the lyrics to a song about loss--and the loss of a child particularly--that really moved my heart. What follows is my response to her and the other women in our core group.

The Lord was a very present and inexpressible comfort to me when Jordan died. There have only been a few times when I have felt so tenderly held and loved and cared for by Him as I did in those first dark and incomprehensible days of the deepest bereavement a heart can endure.

There were many times during Jordan's life and illness when his friends would ask him if he ever wondered, "Why me?" And he always said, "No, never! The question is 'Why not me?'"

We live in a fallen world. There is, thank God, great joy to be found, but there is also incredibly deep heartache and pain. He seemed to understand that and not question it or blame God.

From the time he was 2 (I am NOT making this up!) Jordan wanted nothing more than to be married and have a house full of children! He talked about it all the time--his whole life. He never got to do either. (One of my most treasured conversations with him took place after his doctor told him he probably only had another year or two to live. On the way back home, I put my hand on his leg and asked him how he was feeling about what the doc had said. I will never forget his plaintive response. "Mom, I just don't want to die a virgin!" But he did.)

Yet I know that if God promised him a beautiful wife and the best 5 kids who ever lived, he would not consider leaving the glories of heaven for this old world for even a nanosecond! I find tremendous comfort in that realization.

It was eleven years ago Easter weekend when he and I came home after a four month stay in St. Louis to a triumphant reception after his very successful heart/lung transplant. It was such a high point! He was the poster child for rebounding beyond anyones expectation, especially considering how close to death he had been going in. It was such a miracle, we thought for sure he would live a very long time and realize his dream to marry and have children.

And was not to be so.

But here is what I know: God's wisdom surpasses our feeble understanding. His grace is ever-present. Truly, His mercy endures forever! Our job, like our friend Joseph, whose life has resonated so deeply with us during our study this year, is to simply rest in His comfort, trust in His wisdom and believe in His promises with unflinching conviction. Eventually, it will all be crystal clear and we will marvel at all God has wrought.

And so we stand. With faith, with hope, with assurance. And hopefully the world takes notice.

I pray a blessed and happy and hopeful Easter for each of you!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Spirit Versus Flesh

I had a 9:00 phone appointment with my publicist, Kerry, yesterday to finalize my one-sheet. A one-sheet, for those of you who might not know, is a promotional piece for speakers. And there is a real art to them. It's like putting together a puzzle. The idea is to create visual impact and show who you are and what you speak about as concisely and with as much interest as possible. So it's actually like putting together a 500 piece jigsaw puzzle and still making a picture with just nine pieces! Or so it seems to me...

As the name implies, it is printed on a standard sheet of paper, but it is essential that the layout and design elements grab the eye and hold the reader's attention long enough for them to actually read it. So we had to work out the layout, colors, text, a picture, the book covers and logo all without making the page too much of a cluttered mess, and while expressing who I am as a speaker, yet also showcasing the books. It's not nearly as easy as it might appear to be on the surface.

So anyway, when I woke up, I greeted the Lord as I always do by telling Him good morning and thanking Him for another day. As I walked into the kitchen for my morning cup of joe, the Lord said, "I wish you would ask Me to help you with your one-sheet."

Now that might seem a bit odd to you, but I hope not, because God is intensely interested in every detail of our lives. It didn't seem odd to me at all. In fact, I was a bit embarrassed that He had to ask, but I laughed out loud and said, "Oh, Lord! Of course I want You to help me with the one-sheet! Why, You are the most creative Being of all--You thought of and created everything we can and can't see! Please help us to make it as perfect as it can be."

And He did! Once we had all the pieces in place and I saw the finished product, I knew we had hit a bulls-eye. I sent it to four strategic people for feedback and all of them loved it. One suggested we spell Scripture correctly, but that was it! Would that have been an embarrassing typo, or what?

That's all well and good, but it's not the end of the story. I had been thanking God all day for His help because I was so delighted with the results. But while I was doing one of the miserable sweat baths my ND is having me do, I began thanking Him all over again.

And then it hit me. God didn't want to help me because He felt left out or had nothing else to do, or even because He loves me and is interested in every detail of my life. He wanted to help me so that His fingerprints would be all over it and His Spirit could go with it to accomplish the goals He intends it to accomplish.

That which is born or done in the flesh is flesh. But that which is done in or with the Spirit has all of the power of the Spirit behind it. He simply cannot bless or use the former, and He simply cannot not bless the things He instigates and is involved with. What a wonderful reminder this was to me as I lay in the tub boiling my body.

It is also the difference between striving and resting. I realized I had been striving to build my speaking business in my own strength and asking God to bless my efforts! After the bathtub revelation, my attitude immediately changed. I don't have to strive or try to make it happen in my own strength. Now that God's fingerprints are all over it, all I have to do is send them where He leads me to send them, give them to whomever He leads me to give one to, and then rest in Him while He does the real work.

This is true no matter what we are doing. That is walking in the Spirit, and it is the only thing that allows Him to move for our good and His glory. And that is always our goal, isn't it?