Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Place Where We Begin

I remember in my youth building caves in the piles of snow that were accumulated by the plowing of our driveway, or by the clearing of a path to the house, through snow drifts . These large heaps of snow afforded us the space to make caverns and tunnels, which much to the worry of my dear mother were favorites for hideaways for hours on end. There was always the warning, "Be careful, it will cave in and that will be the end of you!". But even though there were those frequent mishaps, I always seemed to survive the collapse, and the end, but I could never understand why all that work need be destroyed so quickly. That was just childhood folly... we spent hours rebuilding again.

In discussing Psalm 22:1, Denis Lane, director of Overseas Missionary Fellowship, wrote that when the roof caves in, the first question that often comes to us is the same question Jesus asked: My God, my God, why…?”

Lane said: Asking the question is perfectly natural. We all ask it. There is nothing wrong, but that is usually the place where we begin.… God does not always answer our “why” questions, but He does understand our asking them. Jesus was given no answering voice as He hung upon the cross.… The resurrection was still three days in the future.

I wish that I could say that the roof has never caved in, but that is not the case. Through the years there have been moments that I felt the weight of the roof as it fell on my shoulders with a roaring crash. Some years ago when told that I may have Thyroid Cancer and would need some drastic surgery, my heart was broken and my life held the weight of the coming crash. We all have those moments. But God is in those moments with us.

My life did not end... hence I am here writing today. Nor did I in the end need to have some radical surgeries. God was in the midst of answering prayers, He was at work changing sickness into health, He was healing me to go do other things. I know what Lane meant about our cries being heard, but not having them necessarily being answered immediately. There has to be a place from which we begin... a place where we give it all to God and let it be what He wants it to be... without losing hope.

Years ago I had to let go of my mother, as she went away to the "cure" for T.B. for a whole year. It was a time of testing. She held us at arms length and told us that Mommy has to go away, but that she would be back. Our tears of fear were there and my little heart cried out in my own way; "My God, my God, why?" (I was known to sit on the front granite gate post at a very early age of around 3-4 and talk to God.) Even then, a child's heart can grasp the concept of one greater who hears our cries, our petitions and our general conversations. Was it mere chance that God would speak to one so small? Was it mere circumstance that brings a settled soul to the edge and expects that soul to be calm, non-resistant and accepting of what may be?

This is the place we sometimes find ourselves... the place where we begin. Many will ask, begin what? Begin to let go. That is the difficult part of the exercise. Letting go of that which we can not change. Being willing to accept that which is before us, yet ready to live life faithfully to the end. There is no secret formula. Most would not recognize the ingredients until they were faced with the conundrum before them. Looking into the face of that which you can not change is humbling, yet strength comes not in the resolve to conquer, but in the release. A peace that enables the pain, even of the cure.

Well, life is a joy most days, when we let go and see the morning mists and watch the sunsets and be reminded that it is all for us. Imagine that... all for us! So if the sunrises and sunsets are for us, so are the storms, the disasters and disappointments... they are all for us to experience and begin again. This morning as I strolled down to the waterfront, just a few feet from our house... I had to begin again... a new resolve to be happy, be content and let go and allow God to finish His work begun in me.

Yes... each sunrise is living on the edge.. the edge of another coming day and each sunset the edge of another day at its end... awaiting a new dawn... a new edge! Blessings!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

When I Awake at Break of Day

When I wake at break of day,
And hear my Master’s voice so softly say;
“Go now with power from on high”,
My soul would then release its sigh.

And as the sunset or’ takes the day,
I’ll hear my Master’s voice to say:
“Go to your rest… you need not cry,
I heard your heart and that deep sigh.”

“As sleep comes and completes the day,
You’ve been found walking in the “Way”.
Take rest now and release that pain,
For holding such … there’s naught to gain.”

“This day I held your hand so weak,
I heard your cry, yet did not speak.
I picked you up when you stumbled today,
As you walked along with feet of clay.”

“Each day I’m here… I hold your hand,
For that’s my work in “our” Father’s plan.
For time will bring both peace and pain,
My peace, is what you need to gain”.

“ And as you wake at break of day,
And feel the stress along the “Way”,
It is My call on your life you’ll feel,
It is My path that will help you heal.”

“Take heart my child I’m at your side,
Through thick and thin with me abide.
And when the final rest you’ll take,
There’s a “NEW” dawn… when you awake.”  Allen14/02/12

This got away, (published) before I added my "other living near the edge" thoughts.LOL... Is there ever a moment when I am ready to face the day fully aware of what may be out there to face and overcome? No... so sad to relate... I must depend on God's Spirit to keep me going, for my spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

I don't know why the phrase "feet of clay" became so important this morning, but for the fact that we all carry that inside which brings no comfort, but weighs us down by its mere capacity to overwhelm. We cling to so many things that, should the world know, we would shrink to the lowest depths. These include fear, worry, despair, anxiety and any manner of sin both personal and corporate (meaning that which effects others) such as anger, bias and outright hatred of anyone that may be different. We carry quietly and fearfully those burdens which when given to God in confession and with contrite heart, are forgiven and forgotten.

But we don't leave them there. We often pick them back up and continue to carry them as though God can not forgive... yet it is we who can not forgive ourselves, thus nullifying what God is doing through Christ... what God accomplished in His dying on the cross... for those very sins... past, present and future... all for us... Not for Him!

I live along the edge of that rim of life each day. I become angry when I should remain calm. I am crushed and defeated, when I should have fully the Power of Christ in my soul! I cry deeply in my soul and tears of exhaustion flow from my eyes, when it should be tears of joy for Christ has taken on my sin and pain even though I do not deserve His love. Paul says that this is a human battle.. one that continues between that which should be and that which still remains. "Paraphrased he says; "That which I should, I do not do and that which I don't want to do, I do... so within me a spiritual war continues" While there is some consolation in hearing Paul confess his weaknesses, I remain some days in sadness of heart for my inability to get beyond the weakness of the flesh that will tear us down in a moment and crush us with fear and guilt.

So, I listen and wait for the voice of Jesus. It is not always heard in the silence of the waiting heart, it may be heard in the voice of a stranger calling us to truth, the kindness of a fellow-worker in the "Way" who brings good news or consolation one day, it surely is the prayers of our "loved ones" who hold us before the Lord daily. He comes to us both personally as we read His Word and secretly as we live our lives in Him day to day. This is living on the edge.

I pray that as you greet the sunrise (should you rise that early) or watch the sunsets (should you take the time to look) you will be mindful that you are not alone. God has provided His Spirit as per Jesus' request (John 14:15-17) and He is there for me and you. Go for a walk along the edge today...“Living near the edge is not bad, it has moments of testing, moments of required courage and moments of extreme joy... It's all in how we define the view from there.” Edwin Allen “07”

Blessings this Valentine's Day 2012

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Waiting For Flight Plan

Many of you have likely wondered where I have gone since my writing came to what seemed like an abrupt end. Well, life sends us on journeys that may take us away for a while, but eventually brings us back to what is most important and to those roots which make the most sense. That is not to say that God takes us to places which make no sense, but we measure our reality through human eyes and the context is quite often hard to evaluate and accept. Moses, I am sure, wondered why he was going back to Egypt, when he felt comfortable in the fields of his father-in-law, as a herder. Well, God takes us on journeys that have meaning and into places where we feel uncomfortable and we may even come to the point as to question His motives and plans for our lives. 

Well, that may have been part of the journey over the past 2 years for me. I made the decision to follow the Lord’s leading and the journey was long and hard. I was caused to examine my life, evaluate the ministry to which I had been called and was put so far into debt that I wondered if I would ever see the light of day, as expenses rose and income fell. But, I had to ask the question…. Was God in the journey? Was he pushing me nearer the edge to test my metal? Did He want to know if I knew myself and my skill sets and abilities and want me to measure what was important and what could be left behind? Well, I guess maybe that was the situation.

I find myself now, after 2 years, back to my roots. Back in my hometown, in my home Church, walking, working on small items and, as Frank (an electrician’s joke) once said in the comics, “I am taking some time off to let my eyebrows grow back!” The time I will spend over the next several months will be filled with an exercise in faithfulness. Faithfulness to the tasks at hand, which will include my annual trip to India to teach, more time spent in prayer and study, some renovations and repairs on our properties and as the temperatures pick up just a bit, some long morning walks. I want to spend more time reflecting on the journey. I want to see the sunrises and sunsets, have the wind blow in my face… if I can get the sailboat in the water this spring coming and for sure, hold hands on long walks with my dear wife. A year off… but not sitting still and more than I have to.

So how do we approach the edge when we see it coming? I suspect that we all have our personal take on that confrontation, but I have a tendency to just wait out the various aspects of the trip and evaluate the bends and potholes as they arrive. I remember asking myself whether I wanted to travel the east end of the Shore Rd. to the cottage (it was rough and full of deep ruts ) in the Spring, or take the western route, most of which was newly paved and made it easier on the car’s frame and running gear. Well, most of the time I took the same old route, but drove slower than usual and took my chances on not damaging the car. But damage was done nevertheless. Tires took a beating, alignment went askew, and the shaking made my back and joints ache. It had it its consequences! So, the question arises… do I just take chances and am willing to pay the consequences? It seems that way doesn’t it. Is the short way always the right way, does the hard path make us harder, tougher, more resilient for the next journey?

Living near the edge and approaching the edge is not always about the journey. It is sometimes about the preparation. Sometimes we need to do more prep work. I have asked myself a thousand times over the years in His work, if I am running ahead of His plans. My prayer life spans the gamut from fervent request to a complete walk of faith, and I still remain in awe of the fact that God answers after the fact as much as he does beforehand, much of the time. Knowing that expectation is the key, we have to decide which set of expectations we are to follow. There is first of course God’s. Then there are those of kith and kin, the workplace, the corporate eye of doers and dreamers in the faith and finally our own set of rules, limits and foundational truths from which we have scaled, modified, confirmed, shaped and lived our lives thus far. Solomon said, “vanity, it is all vanity!” and I am of a mind to agree with him more and more each day.

That is not to say that I am about to throw it all away, sit back and let death come as it may! No way! I am like the true explorer; I still want to see what God has in store. I don’t want to move away from the edge… being near the edge has its advantages. You get to see both sides much better… the perspective is great if you keep your eyes on God, in Christ Jesus, with the Spirit at the helm and not having our own personal enterprise or requirements holding us back. I would like to say that it is a challenge! None of us are that pure that we need not evaluate self-motive, self- image and our own expectations. No, they should always be under scrutiny and left to be checked by the Holy Spirit, for His judging and leading. All too often we are flying by the seat or our pants and not by a Divine Flight Plan, that has the stamp of His approval. Yes, I know! We have all submitted a flight plan and as yet have not received and answer. Well, have you ever considered that the flight was in the wrong direction, on the wrong timeline and perhaps you have found yourself in the air and had to turn back? Not just a waste of time, fuel and energy, but a proving ground for God’s way, being the only way!

I am not afraid of trying for sure, but, just now I am resting my options and waiting to see if a Divine Flight Plan has been posted for my immediate response. I suspect that I have been placed on standby to let those eyebrows grow back for a reason… God wants me to be able to see and respond with full fervor when the plan is circulated, approved and issued again. Did my last journey fail… no… or so I am told at least. Did it take its toll on my life?… for sure, but what journey for God doesn’t. If it didn’t cost us anything, it would be of no value to us or Him!

So, I am writing again: from a new perspective so to speak, with a bit of a different view physically for sure, but from the same “window of faith” that I have had since early childhood. God has taken me back again and again to the edge and living near the edge is what life is always about.