Friday, April 16, 2010

One Adventure At a Time

Last weekend we had a visitor. Victoria Suzanne Smith, age three, came to spend the night with her Grammy and Grampy for the first time. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would she cry for her parents who were celebrating their wedding anniversary in Nashville? Would she get bored with no cousins around to play with?
Tori informed me shortly after her arrival that she likes adventures. The first adventure began when Grampy gave her a $10 roll of quarters to spend as she liked. Then Grammy took her to the library where we had lots of adventures with books and puzzles. Afterwards we went to Baskin Robbins where Tori bought herself and Grammy some ice cream.
Later we went for a walk, not a long one. Grampy went rolling in his wheelchair and let Tori walk and hold the leash for his dog Grover. Grammy walked with them. Our goal was just to walk around the high school campus which is right across the street from our house. All went well until we got to the back near the parking garage for busses. Suddenly Grampy had no power in his wheelchair and there was a fairly steep hill in front of us in the last block before home.
Tori and Grover and Grammy walked back to the house and, leaving Grover inside, Grammy managed to back out Grampy’s fourwheeler scooter leaving only one chunk of the fender lost and the front door miraculously intact. When I was safely on the sidewalk I let Tori join me from the edge of the porch where I had sent her to stay safely away from me and the ‘monster’. Then Tori got on my lap and, rachet strap in hand, we drove back over the hill to where Grampy sat waiting. He attached the strap and we took off. We towed Grampy back to the house without further mishaps.
After Grampy’s chair was safely plugged in, Tori looked up at us beaming. “I liked that adventure,” she said. “Let’s do it again!”
We declined.
Jesus says we are to become as little children in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. During Tori’s visit I got a deeper glimpse of His meaning. I remembered back on the fun I used to have with her sister and older cousins. Children live in the ‘now’. They are not fretting over the past or worrying about the future. And when I am with them, neither do I. I become like them and live in the ‘now.’ And the ‘now’ is always interesting.
Children don’t wonder where their next meal is coming from. They don’t even think about their next meal until their stomachs demand one. They don’t worry about delays or changes in their plans; they just go with the next step that presents itself.
Children don’t have to be taught to ‘count it all joy’ when different tests come. They just enjoy the adventure, secure in the knowledge that those who are bigger than they will cause everything to work out okay.
I want to be like that. And I think our heavenly Father wants that for us…that no matter what happens on our walk we can rest in the knowledge that He can handle it and it will all turn out all right. And somewhere along the way we find quarters and ice cream and books and puzzles – fun stuff – because we are loved. We won't worry about tomorrow because we can relax and just take one adventure at a time.

But Jesus said, "Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” Matthew 19:14 NLT

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Present Risenness

I loved Resurrection Day this year. I enjoyed church and then family get-together, visiting with friends. But I think what I enjoyed most was that night when I picked up Brennan Manning’s “Abba’s Child” and discovered that I had stopped in my reading exactly before the part on the “Present Risenness” of Jesus Christ. Wow! A God-incidence to pick that up on Easter. I was glad that I’d changed the traditional responses in the bulletin that morning to: Christ is risen. He is risen indeed! Christ is risen. He is risen in me!

There is nothing more exciting for a Christian than to get a revelation of His present risenness in us...those times when you find yourself doing something you know you wouldn’t choose to do but you do it anyway because it seems right – and later you find out that it was His Spirit within you ministering to one or more of His other beloved children.

Easter afternoon, Gary and I went by to pray for a good friend before his heart surgery on Monday. (He is doing fine, Praise the Lord!) and the friend introduced me to a lady I’d never met by telling this story:
He went to a “Christians in Government” group to hear a woman who had left her position in state government to go into the housing projects to minister on a regular basis. She had a passion for helping the poor – not by just giving them things but by helping them become all God created them to be. He liked everything the woman said because it matched his own thinking and he knew she would be a good person to head up a pilot project he had in mind.
He asked the person who invited her to speak at their meeting if they would invite the speaker to her house along with him and several other Christians. To God he said, “Okay, Lord, I think I’ve heard you saying “XYZ” (private message) to me. If that is you and not just my imagination, have that woman confirm it by saying it to me also."
When the time for the meeting at his friend’s home came, he got there a few minutes early and when the woman arrived, she spotted him and immediately came over and handed him an envelope. “God told me to give this to you,” she said. He put the envelope in his coat pocket. It was a wonderful meeting and at the end, the woman agreed to come back to work for state government and head up the pilot project.
When he went home, he pulled out the letter which began “ I have said to you “XYZ” and again I say to you “XYZ”.

I was the woman and after he finished, I went on to tell his guest the other part of the story. The night before the meeting I felt a strong leading to listen to the Lord on his behalf. “XYZ” came to me over and over, so finally I prayed and then obeyed. I felt silly. Here was this important man – a Commissioner – and I was writing him this long letter that opened with something that could have made him think I was crazy…if God had not said “XYZ” to him before. But I knew I had to leave it as it was.

What if I had let the fear of being wrong, the feeling of silliness, cause me to stifle the ministry of the Lord Jesus? There would probably have been no close thirty year friendship. Our pilot project was only for a year and we couldn’t get additional funding – but we did reach some people with life changing concepts. And at least one county in Kentucky is still holding meetings for government, church, and private programs to come together and share insights and help. Those things could have been missed if feelings were bigger than faith.

The Present Risenness of Christ, it’s the most exciting thing in the earth. I confessed to my congregation Easter Sunday morning that sometimes still I am tempted to put duct tape over Him who lives inside me. Sometimes I bind His hands. Oh, but when we don’t! When we let Him speak and give and love through us…that is Glory in all it’s meanings – honor, praise, manifestation of God in this physical realm.

…the mystery…which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27
He is risen indeed.