Monday, September 10, 2012


RECIPROCITY - a relation of mutual dependence or action or influence

For several years now, at some point during the year, a "theme" has taken shape in my life. For instance, one year the theme was, "Who Am I and What Do I Know?" (A good reminder that "it's not about me" and that, apart from Christ, I have nothing worth offering of any eternal significance.) And from that theme a new one was was easily born, "Apart from YOU, LORD, I can do nothing!" Another year my theme became, "If the LORD so wills it…" Each theme had a deep personal meaning and left a lasting impression.

Then, last year, I was given the word "RADICAL" (a whole year ahead of time) for the theme at Roxbury Holiness Camp, where I had been asked to give two morning messages. RADICAL became "the word of the year" as I was hyper-vigilent to anything and everything to do with RADICAL and as I quietly waited for the Holy Spirit to reveal the direction my two messages would take.

Well, once the two sermons had been delivered and I was on my way home, I considered the fact that I could now let "RADICAL" rest, but I quickly realized that might not ever again be possible. RADICAL is indelibly written on my heart and mind and I am determined to become, in every way, a RADICAL Woman of God. I'm not sure I can, or want to be, satisfied with anything less.

So, fast forward a month and I am asking the LORD to give me a new word just the same. Again, I wait patiently, knowing that it will be revealed in His time and not my own. And sure enough, this morning as I walked through the halls of Messiah Village I greeted a professional with my customary smile and super-sized "Good Morning! How are you?" And I was rewarded with nothing more than a cursory and almost curt, "Fine," as she went on about her business. Immediately a word came to mind... "RECIPROCITY." (How do I know it was from the LORD, you might wonder. Well, I knew it when my first question was, "LORD, couldn't You at least have given me a word I can pronounce?")

I have no idea where this journey will take me, but within the first couple of hours I was recognizing instances of genuine RECIPROCITY and I have certainly been reflecting on the significance of the word this evening with many questions. Surely I experienced some of the opposite, as well, and there will be just as much, if not more, to learn from that. I think I might just become RADICALLY excited about RECIPROCITY! 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Okay, I Confess...

I love this quote by Henri Nouwen. 
It is so true. 
So real. 
And certainly worth taking to heart in every way.

"In a world that asks us to make up our minds about other people, a nonjudgmental presence seems nearly impossible. But it is one of the most beautiful fruits of a deep spiritual life and will be easily recognized constantly by those who long for reconciliation." Henri Nouwen 

Having a judgmental attitude about others is something that I have been very conscious of in my own life. 
I don't want to be one who is quick to judge...especially when I don't know all there is to know about a person or a situation. 
When it is necessary to judge, I want to use the same ruler that I would choose to be judged with. 

I want my judgments to be fair and accurate and certainly Biblical and Christlike...which brings me to issue that I have been pondering in my own life. 
I confess. I repent. 
I will change my attitude and behavior. I must!

You might be surprised to learn "the issue" at the core of my confession. 
It isn't blatant sin as you might imagine... I'm perfectly content to leave that judgment to God. 
You probably won't find a scriptural basis for it. (I can't anyway.)

You see, I am quick to judge people who do not appear to be friendly.

  • The ones who walk toward you down a hall and look at the wall rather than at you.
  • Those who only speak if you force them to by speaking to them and waiting for a response.
  • And then they respond with little more than a grunt.
  • The ones who seem to have no smiles within them.

And what is with the grumpy one who demands without a "please" or a "thank you." And has nothing kind to say about anything or anyone.

Here's the heart of the issue for me and it is what I'm coming to grips with... I have expectations. 
And, when my expectations aren't met I have a propensity to judge! 

  • I expect friendliness.
  • I expect a smile and a friendly greeting.
  • I expect to be looked in the eye.
  • I expect consistency... I don't want to wonder from one day to the next if you are going to smile and be friendly or growl and look somewhere else! 
  • I expect people to use their manners and be polite and show respect for all. 
Good Grief! Whose world do I think I am living in? 
                     (My children refer to it as "Debbyland.")

So, just because....
I rarely, if ever, do grumpy.
I don't raise my voice in anger. Ever.
I don't take out my frustration on anyone else. 
I am not temperamental. 
I certainly need to remember that my rush to judge those who don't meet MY EXPECTATIONS is certainly as much a sin as any other! 
All my "goodness" is as filthy rags if I am meeting others with harsh judgment! LORD, forgive me!

Rather than walking away from that demanding, grumpy man I should have served him just like I would have served Jesus.

Instead of telling my daughter, "I'm not impressed!" when she introduced me to a well-known Pennsylvania political commentator and he brushed me off... Well, it's not his job to impress me, is it?

And haven't I pretty much "brushed off" my not so friendly new neighbor, rather than trying to win her with kindness? 
And, regardless of how others treat me, well, I know I'm responsible for my behavior-NOT ANYONE else's. Obviously, the only one I have any right to expect anything from is myself. 

So, I confess and I repent and I determine to release others from my expectations.
And I will be all about that "beautiful fruits of a deep spiritual life!"                   So help me GOD!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Tiger's Whisker (A Korean Fable)

Someone shared this story with me a few months ago. It contains subtle, but powerful truths...enjoy!

ONCE UPON A TIME a young wife named Yun Ok was at her wit's end. Her husband had always been a tender and loving soulmate before he had left for the wars, but ever since he returned home he was cross, angry, and unpredictable. She was almost afraid to live with her own husband. Only in glancing moments did she catch a shadow of the husband she used to know and love.
When one ailment or another bothered people in her village, they would often rush for a cure to a hermit who lived deep in the mountains. Not Yun Ok. She always prided herself that she could heal her own troubles. But this time was different. She was desperate.
As Yun Ok approached the hermit's hut, she saw the door was open. The old man said without turning around, "I hear you. What's your problem?"
She explained the situation. His back still to her, he said, "Ah yes, it's often that way when soldiers return from the war. What do you expect me to do about it?"
"Make me a potion!" cried the young wife. "Or an amulet, a drink, whatever it takes to get my husband back the way he used to be."
The old man turned around. "Young woman, your request doesn't exactly fall into the same category as a broken bone or ear infection." 
"I know," said she.
"It will take three days before I can even look into it. Come back then."
Three days later, Yun Ok returned to the hermit's hut. "Yun Ok," he greeted her with a smile, "I have good news. There is a potion that will restore your husband to the way he used to be, but you should know that it requires an unusual ingredient. You must bring me a whisker from a live tiger." 
"What?" she gasped. "Such a thing is impossible!" 
"I cannot make the potion without it!" he shouted, startling her. He turned his back. "There is nothing more to say. As you can see, I'm very busy."
That night Yun Ok tossed and turned. How could she get a whisker from a live tiger?
The next day before dawn, she crept out of the house with a bowl of rice covered with meat sauce. She went to a cave on the mountainside where a tiger was known to live. She clicked her tongue very softly as she crept up, her heart pounding, and carefully set the bowl on the grass. Then, trying to make as little noise as she could, she backed away. 
The next day before dawn, she took another bowl of rice covered with meat sauce to the cave. She approached the same spot, clicking softly with her tongue. She saw that the bowl was empty, replaced the empty one with a fresh one, and again left, clicking softly and trying not to break twigs or rustle leaves, or do anything else to startle and unsettle the wild beast.
So it went, day after day, for several months. She never saw the tiger (thank goodness for that! she thought) though she knew from footprints on the ground that the tiger - and not a smaller mountain creature - had been eating her food. Then one day as she approached, she noticed the tiger's head poking out of its cave. Glancing downward, she stepped very carefully to the same spot and with as little noise as she could, set down the fresh bowl and, her heart pounding, picked up the one that was empty.
After a few weeks, she noticed the tiger would come out of its cave as it heard her footsteps, though it stayed a distance away (again, thank goodness! she thought, though she knew that someday, in order to get the whisker, she'd have to come closer to it).
Another month went by. Then the tiger would wait by the empty food bowl as it heard her approaching. As she picked up the old bowl and replaced it with a fresh one, she could smell its scent, as it could surely smell hers.
"Actually," she thought, remembering its almost kittenish look as she set down a fresh bowl, "it is a rather friendly creature, when you get to know it." The next time she visited, she glanced up at the tiger briefly and noticed what a lovely downturn of reddish fur it had from over one of its eyebrows to the next. Not a week later, the tiger allowed her to gently rub its head, and it purred and stretched like a house cat.
Then she knew the time had come. The next morning, very early, she brought with her a small knife. After she set down the fresh bowl and the tiger allowed her to pet its head she said in a low voice, "Oh, my tiger, may I please have just one of your whiskers?" While petting the tiger with one hand, she held one whisker at its base, and with the other hand, in one quick stroke, she carved the whisker off. She stood up, speaking softly her thanks, and left, for the last time.
The next morning seemed endless. At last her husband left for the rice fields. She ran to the hermit's hut, clutching the precious whisker in her fist. Bursting in, she cried to the hermit, "I have it! I have the tiger's whisker!" 
"You don't say?" he said, turning around. "From a live tiger?" 
"Yes!" she said.
 "Tell me," said the hermit, interested. "How did you do it?"
Yun Ok told the hermit how, for the last six months, she had earned the trust of the creature and it had finally permitted her to cut off one of its whiskers. With pride she handed him the whisker. The hermit examined it, satisfied himself that it was indeed a whisker from a live tiger, then flicked it into the fire where it sizzled and burned in an instant. 
"What have you done?" Yun Ok cried, horrified.
"Yun Ok," the hermit said softly, "you no longer need the whisker. Tell me, is a man more vicious than a tiger? If a dangerous wild beast will respond to your gradual and patient care, do you think a man will respond any less willingly?"
Yun Ok stood speechless. Then she turned and stepped down the trail, turning over in her mind images of the tiger and of her husband, back and forth. She knew what she could do.