Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Old Man and the Snowman

Sometime after his arrival the hugs stopped. I hoped it was enough to just serve him—make his meals, and showers, attend to laundry and bodily malfunctions. Take him for a daily ride and watch Wheel of Fortune.

 I was tethered to his myopic world. Tethered and tetchy.

I hoped it was enough. But it wasn't.

We were having lunch when I commented on the wild, wiry rim of hair that circled his bald head. “Pa, you look like you put your finger in a light socket,” I said, in my heart annoyed he had become so lax with so many of his grooming habits. I put my fork down, got the scissors, wrapped him in a towel and started cutting. Combing and cutting—carefully around the ears—he was worried about that.

When I finished and gave him a “Ta Da!” he started crying. He held my hand, respectful not to impose with the kiss he longed to give, as though knowing an old man’s body wasn't welcome. 

I scooped him in my arms and planted a big one on his cheek.I hadn't realized how much he needed to feel love. I hadn't realized how much I had let service replace it. A noisy gong clanged in the background of my mind. (1Cor.13)

The next day it snowed. I made him a snowman. He kissed me again. 

A haircut, a hug, a snowman at breakfast. Not too difficult.

Epilogue (of sorts)
I don’t know what all this warm fuzzy released in him—up at 8:30 this morning (usually eats and goes back to bed half the day) looking for things to do (with me!).

Oh my. I hope that’s not noisy gongs and clanging cymbals I hear again.

Blessings on this National Escape Day of January 2014—a  good to remember the caregivers in your life—they need breaks too.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Runner in the Night and the Storyteller

Always there is a story. 

And sometimes that story lands in the hands of a story teller so masterful that all the thoughts rattling around in your own mind just STOP. And take in the awe.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

God's arrows of victory

Although my only experiences with bows and arrows were from playing cowboys and Indians with our cap guns and string-strung sticks, I find the imagery to be a powerful spiritual metaphor

 I can almost see the arrows of prayer and purpose, and even attack, punching through the spiritual realm into the physical.  (Want to read how that imagery helped me to publish a book?)

According to the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, this thinking is similar to the ancients’ prescientific worldview which recognized an unseen reality paralleling the visible one; a reality in which “a just person participated in spiritual warfare fought by greater powers with unseen weapons whose results spilled over into the visible universe.”*

(I didn’t think I had an ancient’s prescientific worldview—aren’t we fighting against unseen powers with spiritual weaponry whose results spill into our visible realm? Help me out here if you can.)


The Bible is rich with references to the arrow(s) of God, arrows of good and evil, and arrows of speech. According to the ancients, because of its swiftness and long range accuracy, the “bow and arrow was not only a weapon to be feared in the visible world but also the prime symbol of justice meted out.”—Dictionary of Biblical Imagery

Yes, the devil has his “fiery darts,” but God’s arrows are the ones to be feared. They always hit their mark. Always find the chink in the armor. “Thine arrows are sharp; The peoples fall under Thee; Thine arrows are in the heart of the King’s enemies”.—Psalm 45:5

And always win the victory, as Elisha told the king of Israel when he commanded him to open the window to the east and shoot “The LORD’s arrow of victory, the arrow of victory over Syria!”—2 Kings 13:17

But sometimes God’s arrows seem pointed at us, as Jeremiah laments:  “He has bent His bow and set me as the target for the arrow. He has made the arrows of His quiver to enter my inward parts . . . .I have forgotten happiness. . . .My strength has perished, and so has my hope from the LORD.”—Lamentations 3:12-18

That is about as depressed a state a person can sink to.

On those days when it feels like you hardly have enough strength to shoot a rubber-tipped toy arrow— Shoot! Shoot God’s arrow of victory at however tiny a piece of Truth you can recall and watch it stick—“The LORD’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail” Then shoot again: “Great is Thy faithfulness.” And again: (Oh, go for the whole chapter!—Lamentations 3: 21).

Remarkably, even though Jeremiah thinks he has lost hope, he musters up a sliver of truth. And then another. And it is enough to open the gates of hope and help him climb out of despair.

Thing is, God knows those times when we can’t even shoot our toy arrows, and arms others to shoot for us—to be “bows in the hands of God.”—Isaiah 49:2—which is what I set out to examine today, but I think I will think about that tomorrow.

For now, may you be encouraged that it is not our own bows that will save us (Psalm 44:6) but our being a bow in the hands of a God who cannot fail. "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, Therefore I have hope in Him."--Lamentations 3:24

Blessings this midweek of January 2014,

*Love this ambitious work: Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, edited by Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit and Tremper Longman III

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Most Formidable Weapon of All

For a person who derives great pleasure in finding the right words to express an idea, I am starting this year remarkably adrift. 

After taking holiday time off, I find the discipline to sit and think, to observe and write, requires the same kind of effort as hauling myself off to the gym. (A procrastination I quelled by downloading a good book on my nook and allowing myself to read only on the treadmill. Gotta know your rewards.)

The problem is purpose. Focus. Direction. And for those of us with task driven personalities, losing your purpose is like being adrift in a dingy without oars. You can either wait for a current to catch or start kicking.

I started with prayer. Even that is work. There is a pressing in, a labor of ask, seek, knock, and a trust that even if you haven’t broken through to the experience of God’s pleasure, you are sure of his presence. As Manning says, “When the craving for reassurances is stifled, trust happens.”

So, I am believing the words from my New Year’s Day reading: “Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”—Jeremiah 33:3

And I am persevering like the bothersome widow before the unrighteous judge (Luke 18) who is rewarded for perseverance, and like the Syrophoenician woman (Matthew 15), who withstood what could have been perceived as rebuff or offence, and pressed on to receive her reward.

Because there are times when it seems “God has unstrung your bow” as Job laments,

And there are tyrant keepers: The Procrastinator, The Critic, The Judge, and The Taskmaster who delight in keeping you down. 

But there are things you can do, small and indirect as they may seem, that can dismantle
these tyrants as surely as David’s stone toppled the giant. (Will talk more about these later.)

Today I just want to encourage you that prayer is the most formidable weapon we have. If only we could gain even a mustard seed sized glimpse of just Whom we are speaking with and how much He values our prayer.  

A saint's life is in the hands of God like a bow and arrow in the hands of an archer.”—Oswald Chambers. (This year I am full of the bow and arrow imagery and analogy God use.)

For now, imagine what this would look like in your situation today:

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Lord, would you touch each of those who have paused here and whose lives have briefly entwined with mine, and fill us with the zeal to ask, seek, knock, and find more of YOU.