Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Peace in Christ

As I sat on an airplane last week, pondering the previous week, I felt refreshed and encouraged by a step away from the ordinary to celebrate my younger brother's PhD. The holiday in Richmond, VA was a delightful celebration of this amazing accomplishment. I appreciated time away without children (even though my heart remained near to my husband and girls!), relished in-depth conversations and activities; and felt engaged into the world that encompasses my brother and sister-in-law's daily life. To truly see where they live, minister, and love others felt like an incredible gift. We admired my brother's doctoral distinction and his friends and professors spoke well of him, as many family gathered to congratulate him and provide an honorable celebration.

During the flight back to Colorado, I undoubtedly felt the disappointment of the miles between our homes, space that stretched along like clouds. When I observe a distance on the map between Colorado and Virginia, those numbers feel desolate and far: nearly 2,000 miles and a long horizontal line across the nation. And then in an airplane, alone for a day, I became painfully aware of the scope of genuine distance, from my home to the home of loved ones. And yet as we individually set forth, surrounded by our lives in community, participating in important work, we can remain connected. Sometimes that urging of God moves us away from the location of those we love, and that always involves great risk and faith, to fully embrace the Lord's direction in life, trusting Him to provide friendships, support, and encouragement in a new place.

I remember that He has offered His children purpose and calls us to persevere. When the path ahead feels treacherous as we step forward in faith, we can be reminded of God’s generous grace, and provision for each moment. Living unto Christ certainly requires being present and intentional, while remaining aware of His lead, open to an unexpected sacrifice, and honestly striving toward encouraging and spurring others forward. When God invites His loved ones toward His purpose, He will create an awakening in the soul – and urging to follow – a sometimes-singular mission. Responding with obedience often requires listening carefully, casting aside judgment and doubt, and advancing forward in faith. And sometimes that will necessitate moving away from those we love.

Sometimes His delays are simply His not-yets, and a true measure of grit and determination. How long can we trust, even when the road remains unmarked? The anxious distractions may certainly hinder growth, progress, and freedom. And when lacking self-control, one can misunderstand the lesson. His adventures for each of us are wildly unpredictable and His calling and purpose unique. When we cannot understand His next step, we can wait for His peace, and remain unwavering, settling into a rhythm of time spent with Him and time in ministry to others. Sometimes the most effective outreach requires consistency, dependability, with an open heart, ready to listen.

The call for sincerity and passion with integrity remains the same, for all who are of the Lord, regardless of each calling. The challenge remains of how to eloquently – and decidedly – step into a place of peace, drawing from His source of comfort and grace. Amidst life’s distractions and necessities, we are urged to become fully established in His loving guidance, each moment not always knowing His intended design, yet certain of our intimacy with our Creator, the One who will lead at appropriate measures, calm our endless inquiries, and turn us toward His able being.

"I am progressing along the path of life in my ordinary contentedly fallen and godless condition, absorbed in a merry meeting with my friends for the morrow or a bit of work that tickles my vanity today, a holiday or a new book, when suddenly a stab of abdominal pain that threatens serious disease, or a headline in the newspapers that threatens us all with destruction, sends this whole pack of cards tumbling down. At first I am overwhelmed, and all my little happinesses look like broken toys. Then, slowly and reluctantly, bit by bit, I try to bring myself into the frame of mind that I should be in at all times. I remind myself that all these toys were never intended to possess my heart, that my true good is in another world and my only real treasure is Christ." ~ C.S. Lewis, from "The Problem of Pain"

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Miracle in the Moments of Today

Mother's Day Reflections, Looking Back (from May 13, 2007)...
So this is Mother’s Day, and in a sweeping desire to be loved and needed, my three girls are all together – sobbing, congested with a cold, teething, weepy, clingy, and generally needy. Sounds like daughters taking after their mother? They are never aware of special days like this, although the miracles in moments of today create that magic. However, those ordinary adventures of daily routine signify their dependence and love. My first-born can easily verbalize and gently strokes my arm, ending the moment with a soft pat. “Hi, Mama,” she whispers, and offers her newest smile, kind of fake, but just as cute. She tries to be genuine with snot running down her nose. 
Meanwhile, I am fixing her a quesadilla with grapes and oranges, while alternating between a crying second-born, who is suddenly only content in my arms or in the bouncy seat, yet that bouncy seat is now where my third-born wails, pulling at her uncomfortable, cutting gums. I realize even as children are seemingly pooping and unhappy – intermixed with hilarious moments of beautiful expressions of love – they will not always need me in such a physical way, so dependent and entirely desiring.
Even as this Mother’s Day consists of arduous care for my children, along with love and genuine appreciation from my sweet husband, with cards and flowers and dinner, I realize that someday I will be sending warm mothering congratulations to my daughters, when they are surrounded by families of their own.
For now, I revel in the moment, in today’s gift. I notice my daughters watching, adoring, and admiring, as I cuddle, enjoy, and feed them; and as they play contentedly in moments of real delight. And I stroke their faces, and inhale their fresh, authentic, innocent scent, and thank the Lord for this gift of mothering, for His entrusting me with their lives. They can be immersed in a game, then suddenly gaze at me, and beam. They break my fortresses of pain, guilt, and fear; simply with a huge, toothy grin. I smile back. I am homeC.M.