Monday, March 25, 2013

Who Am I?

 Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head and I go so far back I remember when they were just a bag of body parts and my parents had to supply the potato. It was much better when the Potato Heads came with their plastic bodies though. 

I still remember cupping that smooth, hard, globular form as I pondered which lips, which hat, and shoes would transform a spud into a teacher, shopper, mother or beauty (well, maybe not that).

With each different accessory, my potato people would take on new identities. Until I stripped them back to what they were: bare naked spuds.

At so many stages of my own life, I have mistaken the accessories of my particular roles for identifiers of who I was. 

From the time I carried my metal lunchbox across the threshold of the first-grade classroom until decades later when I submitted my life to Christ, I responded to “What do you want to be when you grow up?” thinking that whatever answer I came up with would the one golden egg that defined who I was and supplied my source of self esteem.

Even as a Christian, I have confused my missionary hat, teacher hat, pastor’s wife hat, mother hat and good-girl-now hat with who I am. I know, of course, all the facts of my new identity: child-of-God, royal priesthood, chosen people. I’ve recited over and over, “It is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me.”  But it has been an unfolding process to grasp the tangible reality of these truths through the everyday down and dirty and high and lofty moments of life.

Graciously, the Lord has led me through times of stripping, so that I could see more clearly who He is, and in that light, who I am.

Like sunlight passing over beach sand at different times of day, glinting off now a shell, later a crystal grain of sand, the Holy Spirit shows us things in the afternoon light we couldn’t see in morning’s.

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.-1 John 3:2

I love how author, Jennie Allen, opens her Bible study, Chase: Chasing after the heart of God, with this examination of Identity. She takes us right to the stripping place: “As long as I am looking into myself for my identity, I will either be self-righteous about how great I am, which would be inaccurate, or distraught by the reality of the wreck I actually am.”

“The gospel steals all self esteem: “For I know nothing good dwells in me. . .—Romans 7:18

And then Jennie leads us to the precious understanding that as imperfect as our jars of clay are, we are each “uniquely shaped to hold the Spirit of God for different purposes, each with unique marks and cracks and broken places.”

And I love this: “And through those spaces God shines out.”

Ha! Not the “perfect places. Not the all-decked out Mrs. Potato Head Sunday dress places.

The God places in us, given by Him.

Sometimes, often, really, I overwhelm myself with words, information, or Scripture verses, erroneously thinking that more is better. One of the things I appreciate about Chase is the simplicity. Each question for reflection is weighed in light of a biblical truth –one-by-one, side-by-side. It causes me to pause and absorb the weight of truth instead of skimming over the surface of a page full of verses. Although Chase is interactive and reflective, it stands no chance of navel gazing because each idea is examined in light of God’s perspective.

Later,I will have more to say about this study, which I received from Thomas Nelson for review, but for now, this week, as we look to the Person and Moment that gives us our identity, I’m enjoying the light glinting off the biblical truths about who I am because of Christ.   
 How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!—1 John 3:1

 Thank you for taking time to come by. It is my heart and prayer each time I write that someone stopping here would be encouraged about the Lord's unfailing love and perfect purpose in your life.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

And the broom stood on end with the egg

 I am sure there are some meaningful lessons that can be drawn on this day of “balance” between light and darkness, (certainly no such thing spiritually), but I don’t want to go there right now. 

No, what I want to do is go to the kitchen and see if one of my farmland’s best eggs will live up to its mythological potential and stand on its end in celebration of the spring equinox.

At first I didn’t seem to have a balanced egg in the bunch that would cooperate, but after several attempts, I found the secret to success over at Bad Astronomy .

 Of course, one thing led to another and before I knew it, I succumbed to the temptation to stand the broom, even though it’s angled, mind you, on end also. There they stood in a kind of “and the dish ran away with the spoon,” sort of moment. I left them there, side by side, for my skeptical husband to find when he came in. 

Although this March day here in South Carolina isn’t particularly bursting with springiness, it is a far cry from the many dreary March days I spent in the Northeast. In fact, I take a moment to send encouragement to my friends there—friends still shoveling snow and gasping for sunshine. Today! All is equal—light and dark, and better news yet, tomorrow light gains its edge.

But all this talk of light and dark is stirring up ideas that I don’t want to explore right now, so I am simply going to suggest you hop on over to NOAA  and see a great satellite shot of this beautiful Earth at equinox.  And then go stand an egg!

Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD my God, you are very great! You are clothed with splendor and majesty, covering yourself with light as a garment, stretching out the heavens like a tent.

Bless the LORD, friends.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Climbing and Chasing after God

 Zacchaeus, that short, little tax collector who greased his pockets with other people’s money, is most known for hanging from a sycamore tree in order to get a look at Jesus. Probably any kid with a bit of Sunday School under his belt could tell you that.

 I almost passed over his story to get on to meatier matters this morning, but the Holy Spirited backed me up to verse three in Luke’s account:  And he was seeking to see who Jesus was . . . . ‘’

Wait. Zacchaeus was more than a curious spectator. And God was already at work in his heart. Even though he was still collecting and keeping undeserved money, even though he probably spent it on his own lavish lifestyle, even though to all outward appearances he probably didn’t look like a “seeker,” Zacchaeus had an unswerving determination to see who Jesus was.

Imagine the abandon that drove a pompous, wealthy man scrambling to climb a tree in time to catch Jesus pass by.I suspect Zacchaeus worried he might miss his opportunity. Circumstances weren’t favorable. The crowd was thick. He was too short to get a view.

The beauty is that I don’t think he could have missed Jesus. Jesus already knew Zacchaeus’s heart and that he was seeking. He wasn’t surprised or curious about why Zacchaeus was in tree because He already knew their paths would intersect in a divinely appointed meeting. How comforting is that!

I think we strive, and fret, and fear we will miss that glimpse of the Lord we seek. Or we worry that someone we love who doesn’t know the Lord but earnestly desires truth, will miss Him. But Jesus assures, “Seek, and you will find” (Matthew 7:7). 

Pant after God, yes, but don’t despair that He won’t find you up there in a tree.

I need those reassurances sometimes. When I am frustrated with a loved one’s struggle to know truth. Or when I worry that what I have, think, feel, do, am is not enough. When I forget He knows the longing in my heart and has already appointed divine intersections. Has already provided those glimpses of grace that elude me.

Zacchaeus’s desire to see Jesus leads right into Bible study I received for review. Chase is about chasing after God above every other thing. Originally I thought I’d do a post about it, along with an interview with the author, Jennie Allen from the big state of Texas. But as I watched the short DVD segment for the introductory lesson and worked through the first lesson, I realized Jennie’s heart for God and for other women has captured beautifully and simply the longings of my own heart, and, I suspect, yours as well.

My next week’s post was going to be on identity crisis, which, I was surprised to discover, is also the first lesson in Chase. (Although a bit of different approach!) So, instead of one review post of Chase, I have decided to incorporate bits of Jennie’s heart and wisdom into my blogs for the next couple of  Mondays as I share nuggets from this study.

I hope you will join me because, “After chasing everything the world has to offer, nothing is more satisfying than God.”—Jennie Allen, Chase.

Thank you for taking time to stop by. I pray you will be delighted by glimpses of God’s lavish love this week as we turn our faces toward that Time that changed everything.


photo courtesy of  Kozzi