I have really been enjoying this, particularly the reading from the Psalms. However, I've really had a hard time keeping up like I should this time around. I've read everyday, but it seems that I'm never quite able to finish, and by the end of the week I'm a full two or three days behind.
Well...so far this week has been no different. I'm trying to tell myself that it's okay. The point more than anything is to be in the Word everyday. But I feel like I'm really missing out on the richness that doing this in community provides, because I'm behind and not reading what everyone else is everyday.
But, that's not to say that I haven't gotten anything. Two of the Scriptures that have really hit home with me are Psalm 25 and Psalm 39. We're in a pretty tough spot right now financially, which has been a very intriguing contradiction from the answered prayers we're seeing with our 40 Days "Luke 10:2" prayers. So these two Psalms have resonated with me out of a spirit troubled with the weight of a calling but struggling with how to practically carry out that calling and still feed the family...
Psalm 25 (With the exception of verses 1 and 2, this is from The Message)
1 To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul;
2 in you I trust, O my God.
Do not let me be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
3 I've thrown in my lot with you;
You won't embarrass me, will you?
Or let my enemies get the best of me?
Don't embarrass any of us
Who went out on a limb for you.
It's the traitors who should be humiliated.
4 Show me how you work, God;
School me in your ways.
5 Take me by the hand;
Lead me down the path of truth.
You are my Savior, aren't you?
...20 Keep watch over me and keep me out of trouble;
Don't let me down when I run to you.
21 Use all your skill to put me together;
I wait to see your finished product.
22 God, give your people a break
From this run of bad luck.
Psalm 39 (The Message) This one hit particularly hard after a conversation with Bret about the Idols of Security and Safety, and how that's not what we're promised as Christians -- at least not in the way we traditionally think of them.
1-3 I'm determined to watch steps and tongue so they won't land me in trouble.
I decided to hold my tongue
as long as Wicked is in the room.
"Mum's the word," I said, and kept quiet.
But the longer I kept silence
The worse it got—
my insides got hotter and hotter.
My thoughts boiled over;
I spilled my guts.
4-6 "Tell me, what's going on, God?
How long do I have to live?
Give me the bad news!
You've kept me on pretty short rations;
my life is string too short to be saved.
Oh! we're all puffs of air.
Oh! we're all shadows in a campfire.
Oh! we're just spit in the wind.
We make our pile, and then we leave it.
7-11 "What am I doing in the meantime, Lord?
Hoping, that's what I'm doing—hoping
You'll save me from a rebel life,
save me from the contempt of dunces.
I'll say no more, I'll shut my mouth,
since you, Lord, are behind all this.
But I can't take it much longer.
When you put us through the fire
to purge us from our sin,
our dearest idols go up in smoke.
Are we also nothing but smoke?
12-13 "Ah, God, listen to my prayer, my
cry—open your ears.
Don't be callous;
just look at these tears of mine.
I'm a stranger here. I don't know my way—
a migrant like my whole family.
Give me a break, cut me some slack
before it's too late and I'm out of here."
Sorry, that's a little heavy. But it's where I'm at.
And so the other day, the boys were playing outside and enjoying the beautiful weather we've been having. I decided that was the perfect setting to read today's selections. It was a very disjointed reading though. I had to stop every verse or two to help Joey with something.
And then there was Micah. He kept bringing me dandelions. I was very appreciative, as I always am when the boys give me flowers. Flowers -- even weeds :) -- from my boys are my favorite! But he kept on bringing them. I was doing my best to mock excitement, yet desperately trying to get something from my reading.
Finally I gave up on the reading. And it was then that God opened my eyes to my sweet boy and the beautiful flowers that He created. There were beautiful fresh yellow dandelions, fluffy dried up and seeded dandelions, and some in between. As Micah blew seeds, I was reminded of all the seeds that we (hope and pray) we are planting with our new friends. Yet I couldn't escape the element of death. And how much I feel as though I am approaching it. But not in the good "die to yourself but be alive in Christ" kind of way. More in the "I still am having a hard time wanting to do all of these difficult things I'm being called to do," and the "I don't like the way that giving up those idols of safety and security feels" and the "I feel like you're answering our prayers and connecting us with people who are searching for you, but I'm impatient and I'm ready to see those relationships step up to the next level and produce some fruit" and the "Are we kidding ourselves? Is this really ever going to work?" and the "I'm not feeling any life or joy right now in this church planting thing" kind of ways.
And I was stuck there. With my pile of now-dead dandelions, reeling in my not-so-Biblical feelings of death, the pleas of Psalms 25 and 39 pouring out from my heart.
It wasn't until I sat down to look at the pictures that I had taken that I began to put it all together. There were dead and seeded dandelions out there, and Micah had brought some of them to me. But he hadn't given them to me. He had wanted me to watch him blow the seeds instead. All of the flowers that Micah had given me were very vibrant and alive, full of potential. (Or at least that had been up to the moment that Micah had picked them!)
It may be a stretch, but I really feel like God was using my Micah's gifts to encourage me. To remind me that there is still life and beauty and potential in this. We're just in the throws of learning to die some pretty major deaths right now -- ones that must happen in order to really see that life and beauty and potential come forth at its fullest in some of our new (and not-so-new) friends.
So my prayer is that this cycle continue, and that like the cycle of a dandelion, it will be rather quick from this point out. I'm ready. Because sometimes I fear that I am way more near that
"Give me a break, cut me some slack
before it's too late and I'm out of here"
point than I ever wanted to be...
"Take me by the hand;
Lead me down the path of truth.
You are my Savior, aren't you?