Sunday, June 26, 2011

How Does Your Garden Grow?

I'm proud of my small garden plot behind the garage.  My hubby and I savor the sampling of fresh vegetables it modestly provides.  Next to the king size quilt of colorful perennials and produce my friend Julie oversees, my patch is a baby blanket. How fun to stroll through the lushness of Julie's garden and hear her tell stories and history of each variety as though talking about her kids.

This week seemed God's time to reveal how the fruit of His Spirit was developing in my spiritual garden.
Come along and hear what I found out.

Peace weathered some rainy days of melancholy.  The challenge to keep my thoughts focused on the Gardener in spite of feeling depressed, hopefully has quickened the ripening process.

Joy swung brightly from the Friendship branch as I shared a very special day with two close girlfriends. We threw schedules aside, visited our favorite places to eat, walked a quiet nature trail, did some low key resale shopping and talked to our heaart's content.

Patience's fruit, still green and underdeveloped, seems to take a long time to mature.  The Gardener even needed to prune back some new growth this week.  I suspect developing greater intimacy with my husband involves an intricate growing process that can't be rushed.

I was delighted to have Kindness harvested by my father-in-law as I stood by his hospital bed two days ago.  He had suffered a small heart attack.

Patron's in the library where I work were able to pick a peck of Goodness as I catered to their needs.  This fruit is plentiful when I am regularly being watered by the Gardener's word.

Self-control felt nice and plump as I walked my exercise route.  Some new buds are developing on this plant, and I hope to cultivate a good crop as I set some goals for better time management and sorting of priorities.

The week ended with a grandkid's sleep over at my house last night.  You should have seen all the Love fruit! There were bushel baskets full, and Love's sweetness was juicy and sticky.   We enjoyed it's delicious messiness.

The Master Gardener continues His good work in me.  I see Faith coming along nicely as I yield to His expert care. I catch a glimpse of Meekness when the Master pulls back the leaves it hides under. I'm thankful I can trust the Gardener for the needed days of rain and Son.

How is your garden doing?

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Father Sets Watch

My heart was heavy.  Fear that I was being rejected began poking into my thoughts. Vain imagings closely followed as I worried that my son might be in trouble; maybe lost his cell phone or wasn't wanting to connect because he was trying to hide something from me. I was determined to get some explanation for my unanswered texts and phone messages! Maybe the time of day wasn't right.  I'll call earlier. No response. My emotions were bundling into a triple play of worry, anger and rejection.

He responded,  finally.  Nothing was wrong.  "Why are you so upset, Mom?" My satisfaction of hearing from him was overshadowed quickly by pangs of regret. Why had I demanded his response and why the hissy fit?  I knew better.  I have been through peacemaker training.  The teaching on the slippery slope of idolatry was the path I had just slid down. The progression from the top down goes like this:
--good desire frustrated, --turns into disappointment, --slips into demand, --whooshes into judgement where --daggars of punishment are unsheathed towards the disapointer
Oh, Lord, help me. Rid my heart of the idol of looking to relationships for satisfaction when you are the only One who satisfies.

During replays of my slippery slide, the Lord brought the Prodigal Son story to mind. Hey, I can identify with the Father's heart on this one, Lord.

Pain of being alienated from someone you love
Intense longing for reconnection
Worry from not being able to see what is really happening...

Go on, Lord.  What else? 
I realized the Father is constantly watching for the son's return, but there is no frantic hot pursuit to bring him back. Neither is he sending pleading messages with passerbys who might be heading his son's direction.  He waits, patiently, prayfully.  When he returns the welcome is warm, not accusatory.  The Father is full of joy, not having to apologize for his groveling behavior.

I get it, Lord.  Will you teach me how a parent graciously poises the heart towards adult children?  Letting them go with absolute trust and no strings attached, yet keeping watch in pray and faith. Make me a cheerleader, supporter, helper and friend, knowing when to take initiative and when to wait,  but always resting in your perfect love for me and them.

The Father's heart is our example and comfort. May you know His love and acceptance, no matter what earthly parents you've known or have been. He will always be there, with all you need.

Thank you, Father God for loving me like that.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Devoted to Being Close

"...for who is he who will devote himself to be close to me?" declares the Lord.  Jer. 30:21

Previous to this verse, Jeremiah has been sharing about the future restoration of Israel.  The Lord had pleaded with his people to turn from their wickedness.  They refused to listen and and were taken into captivity by foreign governments.  Yet God's mercy is extended and the beginning of this passage predicts the days to come when Jerusalem will be rebuilt, and the captives will come home with great rejoicing and honor. A leader will emerge from them who the Lord will bring near and close to himself.  Then he asks the question, "Who will devote himself to be close to me?"

God is asking for relationship and intimacy. Amazing, isn't it, that our great big God seeks people like us to be close to him?  How cozy does that sound?  Who wouldn't want to say yes to an invitation to be tight with the God of the universe?

But notice that hefty word 'devote' in the invitation.  Responding to the call may require more than a glib yes.
I haven't found devotion to be my forte.  My heart has said, "yes,Lord" to many things, but how many of them have I stuck with?  What would it look like to devote myself to being close to God?

James 4:8 says, "Come close to God and he will come close to you".  (Amp Bible)  The rest of the verse challenges us to purify ourselves of wavering, divided interests, disloyalty and spiritual adultery.  I know he will never leave me or forsake me, or withold his presence and love from me even while I'm multitasking all those divided interests.  But I think I'm seeing just a bit more clearly how the intimacy with God that I desire doesn't come automatically or easily.

Lord, I want to be close to you.  Yet, inside I feel the struggle.  How badly do I want that?  Am I devoting myself to being close to you or am I just hoping it happens as I go about doing life and being satisfied that you are with me.  Please continue to call and draw me.  Forgive me for resting too long on the plateau of comfort.  Stir  my heart to true, passionate devotion to being close to you.  Forgive my involvement in divided interests.  As much as I know how right now, I purify my heart, and I'm coming closer, Lord. How I need you!  How I need your help to keep me drawing near to you!  Show me and teach me how to lay aside the things that compete for my devotion to you.

As a deer pants for water-that devoted!
As not living by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God-that devoted!
As loving you more than father, mother, son, daugher-that devoted!
As laying down my life for my brother-that devoted!
As forgiving as I've been forgiven-that devoted!
As loving you with all my soul, heart, mind and strength-That Devoted!