Friday, August 27, 2004

I'M HUNGRY!!!

The cats woke me up at 5 am to remind me that breakfast was a mere 4 hours away and I must be sure not to miss this important event. There is something to be said for hunger...it is a persistent master.

Imagine your life without any pangs of emptiness to remind you to eat and no parched throat to make you reach for that glass of water. Come to think of it, what if there were no yawns and droopy eyelids to urge you to sleep, no bloated bladder to rush you to the bathroom for relief, no shivers and chills to ensure you put on a jacket and boots in winter, and no sharp pain to make you pull your hand away from the fire. All these sensations, some of them not the most pleasant, serve their purpose...to keep the body whole, healthy, functioning, growing, and alive.

I am forgetful. I forget to pray, I forget to make an effort to be kind, I forget to be thankful, I forget to repent, I forget to ask for miracles, and most often, I forget that God is really, really, truly in control and has promised to take very good care of me. Have you ever experienced an emptiness in your soul, a desire for brighter colors in the world around you, an ache for love, a ridiculous urge to be generous or show kindness to a stranger, or a need to sit and be still? These are spiritual hungers and thirsts; big and little reminders that are meant to drive me to action that will feed my spirit, that will change the atmosphere around me, and will ultimately result in infusing me with true life.

The cats got their breakfast at 8:53am, 7 minutes early, partly because I was tired of the meowing in my ear and the endless pacing past my head, but I must admit, to a large extent because I admired their relentless detemination not to miss out. Thanks to Jazz and Tea for being my reminders today.

What are YOU hungry for?

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Coping vs. Overcoming

I have been dealing with a frozen shoulder over the last year. It is not a pleasant condition, for your body just refuses to move in perfectly normal ways for its own undisclosed reasons. After much prayer, six months of treatment, determination, and continuing exercise, it started to move again. Thankfully, the only problem I have had in the past few months has been occasional stiffness which is relatively easy to work out.

The word I heard often in my discussions with my osteopath was ‘compensating.’ My body had been through some injury and overuse (which we were never able to pinpoint) and legitimately compensated for the inflammation by limiting movement in the affected joint. However, it got stuck in that coping mode, mistaking it for the new ‘normal’, and by its stubborn refusal to move, spread its atrophy and twisted way of doing things down into my ribcage. The chain reaction of coping and compensating became an immobilizing disability that tried to redefine how my body moved, or rather, force it to remain static. And it is a long process to convince the muscles and joints that, yes, they are capable of so much more; if they have done it before, they can do it again. I am sure you can see where I am going with this.

Because of the wretched state of our world, we all experience pain, trauma, and injury. And God has developed wonderful coping mechanisms that enable us to be protected while we heal, but we cannot let the coping BECOME our healing. It is a very poor substitute, and will result in the withering of an area that God has intended to be filled with life and movement instead of walled in and shut down. I am determined to pursue total healing. I do not want to stop short, even when my body or emotions or will say it is impossible to go any further because the trauma has changed everything. I will let the creator be the definer of ‘normal’, not my experience. He said I could be more than an overcomer and I will settle for nothing less, for he who made me is abundantly able to sustain, repair, heal, and invigorate my being. He is life.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Hope

It is more than a wish.
It is stronger than a desire or longing.
It draws my soul to things greater than myself and my small existence and dares to dream bigger than life.
Hope does not get tired of the wait or disappointed at the current state of things.
Hope makes you turn your eyes from the ground where you are plodding to the sky where you want to be flying.
Where do you go to get hope? I can't pull it up from within me, I must ask God for it.
But it is a gift that requires discipline to maintain.
So what kind of day is today?
Is it a day where I partake of the gift of hope as I sense it in abundance around me, or is it a day when I must fight to keep it alive?
Whether is it easy or hard is not the point. Is it right, is it true, is it honorable, is it loving, is it worth it?
Then just do it. Don't give up!

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

PURPOSE

This has been an interesting season for me. In the last four months my identity has shifted somewhat as I have endeavoured to get back to the person God had in mind when he created me. Somewhere along the way I managed to deviate from that true and simple path – it happens to the best of us. We encounter people who reject us, situations that disappoint us, and dreams that seem inappropriate and unattainable when we look at our present state or surroundings. So we adjust, and add, and subtract, and tweak and finally come up with a way of living that will allow us to function reasonably well with minimum discomfort and only the occasional twinge of guilt. But, thank God, he was not willing to let me stay in my carefully constructed lifestyle adapted to fit the demands of the world. Instead, he challenged me to cultivate the high calling of being a child made in the image of God and to live by the principles of the kingdom of heaven instead of earth.

One of the side effects of this undressing has been a sense of un-belonging, of not knowing how or where I fit in anymore, especially in the area of being a productive member of society. So one Sunday as I was taking the cat for a walk in the park (yes, I have trained my cat to walk on a leash, and we do get quite a few looks!), I asked God what my purpose was. The last few weeks had seemed empty and two-dimensional as I grappled with my desire to make a world-changing contribution in my lifetime and yet could think of no way in which that would be remotely possible at this point. And the immediate answer that came to me was, “Enjoy the moment.” I repeated the phrase to myself several times before I began to understand what it meant. By seeking that one, illusive, great thing that I must do in my life, I have relegated any of my experience and my time that does not fit into that narrow category to the realm of unimportant. I have become a time-killer, always in a perpetual waiting room counting the minutes until my appointment with destiny, and the passivity that this mindset has allowed to sprout in my soul is downright crippling!

Enjoy the moment! Every day, every minute, every second is a gift from God, never to cross my path again. These are the building blocks for incredible things down the road if I will just seize them and appropriate their unique offering into the grand scheme of things. This moment matters, I dare not waste it. And what did I want to do at that moment in the park? I longed to resurrect all those old, childish dreams and heartfelt desires that seemed so silly to the worldly wise, and take a good look at them to see if there was any hope left. And when I looked at them with the eyes of a child who knows nothing is impossible instead of a cynical adult who has seen too much disappointment and pain, those dreams and desires quickly awakened as if the hibernation had never happened.

What is the wildest, most imaginative dream you had as a child? What is the craziest, most wonderful thing you could imagine God making out of your life? What is the thing that would make every molecule in your body and soul tingle with life? Grab onto it, plant it deep in your spirit, offer it to the Creator to breathe life into, and don’t turn back. I am making a list: at the top, I am writing all of those improbable things that are not impossible after all when you know Someone incredibly powerful; and beneath that I am listing anything and everything I can do in the next few months to get closer to seeing these things come true. If I want to see people healed from every disease, I must find the sick and begin praying for them. If I want to write a book that will change the world, I must begin to set aside a few hours every day to write. If I want to become a philanthropist, I must look for opportunities to be extravagantly generous with what I have now. Enjoy the moment. Suck every bit of life that you can out of every second that God has given you. Make each day count. Invest yourself into things that mean the most to you, the things that excite you, that make you giddy with joy when you think of the possibilities, or that wring tears of hot emotion from your eyes when you realize how precious they are.

So if life seems a little flat and unremarkable lately, why not ask God, “What is my purpose?” and then listen for that still, small voice that resonates deep inside you; or perhaps it will be a thundering shout that shakes your whole world. Let the words of the Father once again define who you are; let him call you by your name and tell you what it means. Let the adventure begin again…

“I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out--plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I'll listen. When you come looking for me, you'll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I'll make sure you won't be disappointed. - God's Decree from Jeremiah 29 (The Message)