Saturday, March 23, 2013

1 Corinthians 13:1-10

I sit and ponder honor and relationship and grace.  Sitting at a coffee shop gives a certain perspective into the lives of others.  You can sit quietly and blend in; most people barely noticing that you’re there.  And, you watch, watch them all come and go.  All shapes, sizes, backgrounds-some army, some single mothers, some seen, some hiding, all with hidden scars.  Or maybe not.  I sat and watched as several people came in together.  One man walked to the door, holding her hand; then he let go and walked in before her.  I sat and simply let it sink in, to my detriment, I put myself first like that.  Next I watched a couple sit and talk for an hour, him all immersed in her every word; her taking in each moment, completely enthralled; each taking time for the other.  I watched a mother and daughter walk in; a pair I’ve often seen before and have gotten to know.  I love watching her, that mother, she’s had it hard.  I don’t know her story, but I know the man who’s supposed to be with her isn’t.  She makes it; she works hard, I know, she’s served me.  Her daughter loves her dearly; it’s so beautiful.  But still I watch, and I see brokenness of taped together people all around me, crying out for freedom.  Everyone simply wants a heart to love them, to understand them, to care for them.  And I think back to the other evening when I was the one to point and laugh.  When I was the one to not reach out.  When I was the one who watched, but didn’t do anything.  There was no honor.  There was no love.  There was no Jesus in me reaching out.  And I had to wonder why not.  Why didn’t I stop to think that I’ve been on the other side?  The side of being all alone, feeling like an outcast.  Feeling unwanted, odd, like no one will ever see me.  Why, when I know what it’s like, would I do the very thing that has been done to me?  Someone took a step and reached out a hand to me, that hand, led by a faithful Father, led to redemption from a Savior sovereign.  Someone took the time to journey with me through some of the darkest, most painful parts of my life, and is continuing to do so.  Why am I not even willing to reach out my hand to at least smile, and say “hi”?  Even if I can’t be a part of their personal journey, could I be the smile that tides them through.  Have I become so inward focused that I’ve forgotten what Jesus did in my heart?  What healing He brought and continues to bring?  I’ve been the blessed.  And it’s my turn to bless. 

                                  1 Corinthians 13:1-10 (Message)
                      If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t LOVE, 
   I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

                               If I speak God’s Word with power, 
                revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day,
 and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps,
                                         but I don’t LOVE, I’m nothing.
                            If I give everything I own to the poor
            and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr,
 but I don’t LOVE, I’ve gotten nowhere.
            So, no matter what I say, what I believe,
                          and what I do, I’m bankrupt without LOVE.
  Love never gives up.
     Love cares more for others than for self.
        Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
           Love doesn’t strut,
                      Doesn’t have a swelled head,
              Doesn’t force itself on others,
         Isn’t always “me first,”
             Doesn’t fly off the handle,
                       Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
                                  Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
                                         Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
                               Puts up with anything,
                                   Trusts God always,
                                     Always looks for the best,
                                                     Never looks back,
                                        But keeps going to the end.
                                                              Love never dies. 
             Inspired speech will be over some day;
                                          praying in tongues will end;
                                       understanding will reach its limit. 
                                                         We know only a portion of the truth, 
                                                                and what we say about God is always incomplete.
                               But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Counting excessive blessings today, blessings poured from a wounded and beautiful hand.  How is it that one soul can experience joy from flashing red and blue lights?  How a first can terrify, shake to the core, yet fill with a happy so odd that it's unexplainable.  How grateful one becomes when the longing for the Savior starts to come on strong.  When moments are needed, moments just spent with Him.  I'm finding that I don't need to constantly be rigid in how I find Him, that's not who He is.  It's not about a schedule or routine, but a secret finding Jesus in the little moments.  Finding the gospel in the hard things, finding love in broken, finding grateful in ache.  Blessings seem to come in all forms, shapes and sizes-people, weather, a song, simply life.  I long to reach out and touch and receive some of those blessings, to hold, to give back.  Some days the ache of life seeps in and touches a broken part of me.  It takes the breath right out of me, and leaves me gasping for good, for blessing, for truth.  Some moments the tears flow freely, breaking free from walls longing to crumble; then come the tragic moments where the concrete of the ache holds back pain from flowing, where deep has become safe, and light seems to create fear.  And, some days I feel how He aches for me, how He cries for my pain, and longs for me to see, to see something different.  Something tragically beautiful, a renewing of knowing the gospel, His heart.  A renewing of the blessing of His scars, and poured-outness.  A renewing of the cross, something sacred and cherished instead of pushed aside.  A turn-the-world-upside-down kind of gospel-filled love.  One where, willingness would give up everything, comfort, home, things, in return for His heart.  One where we, I, would take up my cross and follow Him.  One where the breaking for Him would be blessing instead of heartache.  One where understanding for His gift, would outweigh selfish desires and longings.  One where His will would be what I longed for instead of my own.  One of pour-out giving of myself.  Breaking apart for His truth.  Finding blessing in each love-filled ache. 

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.  I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound.  In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. 
-Philippians 4:11-13

That one day, soon, I would live that verse.  Through Jesus, and Him only, our strength, yet this hard-headed, stubborn one can barely get some days.  So grateful for His grace in showing.  Grateful for His love and discipline.