Monday, August 29, 2011

Where's the WOW!???

Several times during the past months, I have heard my friend, Marty, burst with a great big “WOW!” I’d raise my head in surprise and look at his face, and sure enough -- “WOW!” was written all over him. It was real and genuinely expressed ---- and I was jealous.

I was born in church (not really!!!) and I can’t remember ever missing being there when the doors were unlocked. I think I had 17 bars of Sunday School pins when I was 17 years old --- perfect attendance! Youth Groups, Junior church, big church, Pioneer Girls, Youth Choir, Big Choir, Wednesday night prayer meeting, Evening services, etc., etc. I think I always knew that God loved me ---- the first Bible verse I remember learning was, “We love Him because He first loved us.” So I learned a lot during all those years.
I heard it over and over and over and over. . . . In a million different ways, different presentations, different people, different lessons.

I went on to Bible School. More of the same, only a little deeper, more concentrated, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Now. . . Here I am in my early 60’s. I recently started attending a church where there are many new Christians. Not only are they young in their faith, but all of this “stuff” is brand new to them. One told me that she had no idea what they were talking about when they told her she needed “A Savior.” She had no inclination of what that meant. She said, “Saved from WHAT?” All the words that we are a part of our Christian “language” were new and foreign and strange to her. Grasping the concepts of the sin of man, a Savior, redemption, the cross, etc. just baffled her and said that there ought to be “beginner classes” for those who come into the church unlearned and new.

It’s been a real eye-opener for me, but at the same time, the most refreshing thing I’ve ever experienced. I’ve wondered how many times I have said things that perhaps went right over the heads of those listening to me? I grew up in a time when most of us all went to church ---- Catholic, Jewish, and Christian --- that’s what we all were in my high school and we all went to our respective churches. I remember years later the shock that came over me when a teenager asked me, “Who was Jesus, anyways?” At that time, I thought everyone in the U.S.A. knew that answer. I definitely know better today.

For me, it has been such a blessing to watch new believers “get it!” And there is just a little, tiny piece of me that wishes I were in their shoes. I would like that “WOW!” feeling once in a while. Yes, I am grateful for all God gave me in my Christian upbringing. But having grown up in it all, taking it in little by little on a daily basis, somehow the wonder and awe and newness was just not there for me.

One of my prayers lately has been that the Lord would show me Himself in a new and “WOW!” way, and that Scriptures that have been memorized and repeated over and over all my life would become new and alive and real ---- just as they are to Marty.

How about you? Do you have any “WOW’s” ? I’d love to hear about them!

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Old Paths and Good Ways

Several weeks ago, a friend invited me (or should I say, BUSTER) to go to the beach to share a playdate with her two dogs. All I could think was. . . . BUSTER?????? And ME??????? Out with real people and other dogs????? We talked it back and forth, and after finding no fight in me at all, I thought, what’s the worst that could happen??? We could just come home.

The day arrived, and it had been raining. The sky looked so threatening, but I put Buster’s gentle leader collar on, snapped on his leash, grabbed some towels, ice, water, etc., and out we went.

By the time we were all ready to jump into their car, it was starting to rain, but we decided to go anyway.
I was shocked at Buster’s good behavior with the other dogs. Amazing!!!!!

I loved the ride. It took me on a trip down memory lane ---- places of years ago, old haunts, good times, hard work, places of new beginnings, dreams, bad endings, and people involved in all the in-betweens. Add to that, I love rain, and I loved the conversation and getting to know new and wonderful friends.

The sky was still dark and threatening when we arrived at the beach, and the wind blew non stop, but it was perfect. No blazing sun, no hot sand, no squinting, no mosquitos, no panting and no sweat! Can’t beat that.
This doggy-friendly beach area was deserted except for our little party, and Buster found the walk to the water just full of wonderful sniffing places, and his nose would not stop! His head was high and his nose taking it all in. But to see his eyes when we reached the water ----- I wish I had remembered to take my camera. Up until now, the biggest body of water he has seen has been the little blue plastic kiddy pool in the back yard! Can you imagine what he thought of the Gulf????? And waves??????

I rolled up my pant legs, and began to tug on Buster’s leash, but he had anchored his feet deep in the sand.
But the next wave came up over his legs, and we were in. The other two doggy friends were swimmers and jumped right in, but Buster?????? No jumping in that stuff, no sitting, no swimming. I didn’t force it, and soon he relaxed a little and at least got his belly wet. What a chicken for a great big ooff of a dog!

The sea was restless, churning dark, and the waves were hitting hard and fast. The phrase, “troubled sea” took on a new look for me, as this was truly it. I stood there, trying to anchor my feet, just as Buster was,
But each wave took away the sand I had planted my feet in, and I felt myself losing my footing. Time after time, wave after wave, more sand washed away from around my feet, and I was sinking. I would have to move again and again. Buster heard the sea gulls and was watching them above him. They flapped their wings so hard, trying to fly against the wind, but seemed suspended in midair as they could not make any headway. I loved their soft, soprano harmony added to the beat set by the crashing waves and the melody of the wind.

If anyone could have seen my heart that day, it would have looked just like this storm tossed gulf beach. A “troubled sea” would aptly describe it. I had forgotten that feeling that comes when something crashes in, and my footing feels unsure, and I’m finding all the junk from the bottom of my heart churned up and causing me to trip over my own feet. Sand!!!. . . . . At that moment, I felt like my whole life was just sand. . . Something that was just washing out to sea at the will of a churning storm.

I looked behind me, and I saw how over time, about 3 feet of beautiful beach had been washed out to sea by these waves. There was a wall where the sea grass ended, where the waves had beat away inch by inch what had been. I saw it as “a line drawn in the sand” so to speak --- the place where the waves stopped and never crossed --- a dividing line between what is a sure foundation with roots and life and stuff that grows, and shifting sands that wash away with the slightest of storms. On one side, the storm nurtures and waters life, on the other side, the storm takes away to the bottom of the sea.

The dogs all had a great time, and so did we. I know I did. I loved watching Buster’s reaction to it all. We got ready to leave, put our shoes on, and found the path back to the car. This path was well worn, beat down by many, many years of people and their dogs. But step off that path and the sand spurs dig in like spears. Buster stopped dead in his tracks and lifted his paw and it was up to me to pull those suckers out!!!!
I wrapped the leash so it would be shorter and kept him on the path. This path twisted and turned a bit, but we knew it led to the parking lot and the car. It was the way we had come --- so it was the way back. Later, as I thought of it all, I was taken back to Jeremiah 6:16. A favorite of mine for years, but I had not thought of it in so long. . . . “Thus says the LORD: Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls.”

We went home, dogs were dog tired, and it continued to rain. My heart still churned like the sea and for weeks I tripped in the sea weed of my soul and sunk in the sands of what I had previously thought were rock solid foundations of my faith.

Why I let all this happen to me, I don’t know. I knew better. I knew the “good way.” I knew the “old paths.” I had no business on that side of the line in the sand -- all I had to do was remain steadfast, stay in the ruts of the old paths and the good way and I would not be pierced by sharp sand spurs, I would not lose my way, and my footing would be safe and sure.

I needed a picture, a real life illustration. A day at the beach in the pouring rain with crazy dogs and two wonderful people who had no idea of what was going on in my heart.

Thank you Dan and Liz!

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