Saturday, July 30, 2011

Pondering the Fact that "I Don't Need to Know..."

Several years ago, at a radically different time in my life,   I was in an emotional conundrum. My life was topsy-turvy and falling apart, in many ways. I was also desperate for answers to a mindful of questions that I felt compelled to have answered, even if it meant resorting to subterfuge.
One evening in the dead of night, I set out alone to solve one particular mystery that was haunting my every thought and action. As I drove through the country, my thoughts and my feelings were probably as dark as the night around me. Desperation and those disturbing questions, suspicion and months of turmoil had worked overtime on my heart, mind and soul.
Miraculously, it was into that anguished moment that I heard the LORD speak to my spirit with words that would begin to change my outlook and my perspective and send me down a different that would bring peace even in the midst of this drama-filled chasm. What I clearly heard Him say was, "You don't need to know. You just need to trust Me."
It took me no more than a instant to receive the truth that I had heard, to embrace its reality, to choose my next course of action and, to turn around and go back home. Thus began an incredible time of healing in my life. The situation itself did not improve, but my choices made all the difference in the world. In the midst of God's amazing peace I was able to let go of "the need to know" and entrust everything that was happening and would happen to my God. And I became one who was able to echo Joseph's words in Genesis Chapter 50:20, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done..."
Well, I have been reminded of this particular lesson and its impact on me just this week when I learned of a decision that was made and implemented that shocked and grieved me. It caused me to question the motives of others. It caused me to begin to distrust another's wisdom. It left me feeling raw and helpless. The truth is I don't have all the facts that lead to this decision, but for the life of me I can't imagine what good will come out of it. But I have a choice. I can choose to fret and worry. I can choose to pick up this burden and carry its weight. Or I can, once again, choose to follow the LORD's direction to me... "You don't need to know. You just need to trust me." 
And with that decision I receive His peace and my heart sings...
What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.
Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there. 

Pondering the Ability to Adjust

One of the gifts that the LORD has blessed me with is the ability to adjust well. It doesn't always happen immediately...sometimes it takes awhile, but I have come to count on this ability as I cope with my often changing world.

A good example is adjusting to  living in Mechanicsburg. I have been here for a little over a year and I do not "know" any of my neighbors. Well, I know Michael. He is in the apartment next to me. He came over one night when a bat was in my bedroom and I was just a little freaked out and needed help to catch it. Michael and I both squealed and jumped around, but we were finally able to corner it and get it outside. We're that kind of neighbors. He shovels my sidewalk and I sweep his porch. I can call on him when I need to and he notices when I'm away for a few days.

And I know Brittany, who lives above us, well enough to say, "Good morning" and chat for a couple of minutes, but that's it. For the first time in my life I am living in a place where I don't know any or all of my neighbors. I can't even describe how foreign that is to me and it took some time to adjust. In fact, I think the adjustment was so slow and so subtle that by the time I realized it was happening, I had been here for several weeks.

The thing is, when I lived in Hanover, I was living by myself for the first time in my life and my office was in my home, therefore I spent a good part of my work week at home, alone, with no one else around. So, by the time I called it a day, I was desperate for people! Walking the neighborhood every evening exposed me to the colorful variety of the people who lived around me and I established some meaningful relationships with my neighbors. By the end of the evening my need for "socialization" and "community" was fairly well satisfied.

So, how have I adjusted to this radically different life? Well, it's the job thing. I am pastoring at Messiah Village Retirement Community now, and my "work" days are filled with people...filled to overflowing. Going home to a quiet, peaceful, empty apartment has taken on the semblance of refuge. It's where I can finally relax and recoup after a day filled with people and ministry. And I am loving the feeling of healthy balance for my particular needs. I need to be with people, but I also need the time without. Thank you, LORD, for giving me the ability to adjust well.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Pondering the Roles We Play....

Okay, here’s the deal. I can’t even count how many women I have seen riding motorcycles recently. And I don’t mean riding on the back with their guy in front, I’m talking about women-all by themselves, on a motorcycle of their own, tearing down the highway! The sight still catches me off guard!

Then there are all these television series that have aired in recent years, where women are in the roles of tough, no-nonsense, gun-wielding, high-kicking killing machines who make Annie Oakley look like a fairy princess with a pop gun. Women like “Fi” on Burn Notice or Angelina Jolie in the movie role of Mrs. Smith, along with dozens of others...that’s what I’m talking about.
The truth is, I am not sure why it is so hard for me, of all people, to adjust to these particular gender shifts. The reason being, for the last 14 years I have been in the similar place in a dominantly male role...a pastor, no less. I admit it caused me ongoing and reoccurring duress till I got used to the idea myself, but none-the-less, I did get used to it and I have flourished in the role and love the ministry opportunities and the opportunity to serve my God and others this way. I am suited for pastoral ministry. It is my nature, my calling and an act of obedience. Which makes it a joy.
Those other roles? And even seeing men as nurses...well, I guess eventually “the shock” will wear off and I will get used to the idea, well maybe not the “gun toting” thing, but the others anyway. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Pondering: "Friends"

Is it only me or do we all have "friends" like this? 
You can spend an hour, a day, a weekend or a lifetime with a person and you know just about every answer to every question you've asked or they have freely divulged...but you walk away from him or her thinking,  "She doesn't know a thing about me..." And it's not because you wouldn't have been more than willing to share. 

So, is it simply because it's all about them? Or maybe they just don't really care about you and what's happening in your life. I wonder if they ever, for a moment, even consider the fact that you parted ways and they never asked a question, or if they did they quickly filled in with an answer, an opinion or a story of their own. 

Did you ever start to say something and he/she just runs over your voice with his/her own narrative? 

You know what it does for me? Reminds me of what kind of friend I want to be and it also gives me an opportunity to be thankful for the good friends I have...the ones who share a mutual story and interest. The ones who make me feel like I have worth to them. Yeah, it makes me thankful. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Riding on a Cloud

I am awed by the clouds below me,
Airborne I fly one way,
Blissfully they float the other.                          
Mountains and ridges,valleys and peaks
Shadows among light take flight.
And He will come...riding on a cloud!

Marshmallow cloud on wings of fantasy,
Look, there's a dinosaur, a bear, no a face
Captured in cloud dust for a moment in time,
Cotton ball clouds thick, thin, then fluffy,
Peaceful they hang suspended in space
A bed for the angels in silent repose.
And He will come...riding on a cloud!

Psalm 68:4 (NIV)
Sing to God, sing praise to His Name, extol Him who rides on the clouds---His Name is the LORD---and rejoice before Him.