Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Other Side of the Street

We live in a world that is enlivened by opposites.
We see contrasted elements of texture, color and design in creation. Rugged cliffs edged by peaceful waters. Blankets of soft fresh green grass surrounded by ancient stones. Billowing gentle clouds often announcing fierce downpours.

In our lives we can experience deep sadness that gives birth to great joy. Laughter that turns to tears or the light of peace that pierces the darkness of dread. 

From these vastly differing and changing landscapes, we can ascertain that the way things are are not the way they will always be, and that where we are is not where were going to be forever.
Actually, it is pretty amazing how quick things really can shift.

I was thinking about this concept in terms of our experiences and how we relate to those around us.
Somedays recently I have thought things like ...”Today I will have the grand goal of getting up and getting dressed!”
But then, I actually get up get dressed  feel better and then find myself outside of the house and around people ( this is big these days, though I believe it will not always be like this.)

But in this season, this cautious pace has caused me to slow down, not only physically but also mentally. ( no wise cracks here ok..:0 )
To have the opportunity to see things and people at a more deliberate pace is a blessing.
I believe there is always someone opposite us. Someone across from us that we can see and affect or be affected by no matter where we are.

For example, my daily trips for the last 20 days have taken me to Radiation Oncology at UMC. Sitting in that waiting room, I have seen many people “across” the room from me
A young anxious mom with a bald headed teenager in pj’s. Another bald headed teenager with his dad, toting an IV pole. A middle aged man telling someone, anyone who would listen, that he hasn’t been able to drink water for a long time and that they are going to try to teach him how to eat starting tonight.
A women in a wheel chair with a bandage on her neck seeking to sooth the burn of radiation.
These are just a few. 

Now there has been a day or two when I have made it there and stumbled into the back room for an IV fluid infusion to deal with the dehydration that chemo and radiation can bring. (Not poor me please, I’m just thankful that the Lord provided this treatment and it helps so much!)
On those days, I have to think that I was the one across the room from someone else and they reached out to me. The nurse with her comforting ways, the receptionist who got me situated quickly, saying kind words and those who reached out in prayer across the city from their homes or across the county through emails.

But, as I find myself on better days, I can then again see the others across the room,
And, I can pray for them, perhaps offer a word of hope, encouragement or camaraderie or maybe just a smile.

I believe we are all meant to cross the street and touch those around us in some way, when and as we can.

The example that comes to my mind is that of a man who was on a journey and on his way, passed through a “racially tense” situation
He dared to overcome personal obstacles crossing the street of prejudice, busyness, and inconvenience to touch someone very opposite him in what they were experiencing. He was having a good day. They weren’t.
Let’s look at the difference his gestures and choices made.

Luke 10:25-37

25 And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?
27 So he answered and said, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’ ” 
28 And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.”
29 But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ 36 So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”
37 And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

For those of us who want to make a difference in our worlds, Jesus’ final words in this account are our source and strength.
“ Go and do likewise”

There is always someone across the room or across the street or across the city or county that we can reach out to with compassion and touch.
A phone call, a prayer, an act of mercy or practical help, an all important visit to listen and just sit with someone suffering. These are all great gifts that may cost us some comfort, but trying to exist only for our own comfort is a sickbed of it’s own.

Perhaps today you are the one that finds yourself on the side of the street needing a good Samaritan to cross over and encourage you.
If so, post your prayer request here. There are lots of prayer warrior princesses ( and princes I dare say..:) out here who will pray. You are not alone. And He hears every cry of our broken hearts.
“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” 1 John 5:14-5

If you have a story of a “good Samaritan” touching your life. Briefly share it here. It know it will encourage the rest of us to “Go and do likewise.” 
I’m so excited! I  just love stories!

And always remember, Jesus literally Cross-ed the street of suffering to show you His great love.

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”
Philippians 2:5-8

Sunday, November 4, 2012

True Freedom

From the vantage point of my bed in my childhood bedroom in England , I could peer out the tiny upstairs window and see a large tree that held a bird's nest.
I used to love to watch the mother bird flit around in the nest, faithfully caring for her eggs until they hatched. Then, watching as she returned with food to feed their little mouths until they were strong enough to leave the nest and fly away.

Around the same time, (I think I was about 5 or 6), I became fascinated with catching a bird. My mom had told me that if you get salt on a bird’s wings they can’t fly, so they can be slowed down enough to grab hold of.
I remember running around the backyard with the salt shaker trying desperately to seize this magnificent creature destined to fly.

There’s something about flying that just shouts freedom to me. Unhindered, unrestricted soaring, sailing, floating freedom.
No traffic lights, no limits.

Trying to capture a bird is somewhat of an oxymoron, as is trying to contain freedom,
as it’s very essence is fluid. However, I believe all of us desire to be truly free.

Different people have different ideas of what freedom is.
Preschoolers think freedom is being able to eat as much candy as they want, while teenagers think it’s never having to sleep and being able to go where they want, when they want, with who they want for as long as they want!
Some of us think of freedom as being able to do something we can’t do now, like run a race or see someone we love that lives far away.

There is a passage in the Bible that demonstrates true freedom to me.
It’s an account of a very sick man, some faithful friends and a God who sees beyond the surface to what we need most.
Found in Luke 5:17-26, here it goes:

Now it happened on a certain day, as He was teaching, that there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come out of every town of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was present to heal them. 18 Then behold, men brought on a bed a man who was paralyzed, whom they sought to bring in and lay before Him. 19 And when they could not find how they might bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the housetop and let him down with his bed through the tiling into the midst before Jesus.
20 When He saw their faith, He said to him, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.”
21 And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
22 But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answered and said to them, “Why are you reasoning in your hearts? 23 Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise up and walk’? 24 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the man who was paralyzed, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.”
25 Immediately he rose up before them, took up what he had been lying on, and departed to his own house, glorifying God. 26 And they were all amazed, and they glorified God and were filled with fear, saying, “We have seen strange things today!”

I think if you were to ask this man what his greatest need was, he would be like, “are you serious? I’m paralyzed!” “Obviously it’s physical healing!!”
While this was a great in this man’s life and Jesus does heal him, He addressed the greater need, the need that we all have and that is forgiveness.

We can strive for financial freedom, seek freedom from limitations in our bodies our jobs or our bank accounts, but having a fresh clean slate of forgiveness from sin and it’s debilitating sidekicks, guilt and shame is experiencing true freedom.

Dealing with the physical afflictions that come with a disease, I would be the first to say
my obvious need is healing. But, I can tell you there is nothing like having a relationship with the true and living God. 
There are many long nights when I literally am just up and hanging out with Jesus, Reading His word, listening to His Spirit speak through those truths, hope, love  and assurance into my soul. Things that cannot be taken away. Freely given, freely to be enjoyed, unconstrained or slowed down by the grainy afflictions this life might try to throw on our wings of faith.

The limitations of sin that we all inherited as being part of the human race, hindered our ability to interact freely with God, until Jesus Himself became a man, to bear our sins in His own body on the cross and then rise victoriously from the dead. The rolling away of that stone from His tomb signifies the rolling away of the burden of sin that each of us can experience if we receive that truth and grasp Jesus hand for help. Truly, He will lift anyone who asks, out of the murky muddy waters of sin and put us on solid ground where we can live with Him securely.

All of our bodies will eventually fail, and then the greatest gift will be the most evident , eternity with the One who loved us enough to give us true freedom.

Jesus said, And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32

And referring to Himself, He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
Direction, freedom from sin, meaningful and eternal life..
Not found in a system or a formula, but in a Person.

Today and every day may your heart open wide to receive Jesus, and soar with Him, unrestrained, on the wings of the forgiveness He freely offers.

“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Cor. 5:21

Listen and be truly set free!!
Jesus, Messiah by Chris Tomlin

*Update..After a rough couple of weeks and "seeming" setbacks, I am happy to report I am eating better and better..Praise God!
My doctor said on Friday this was "nothing short of a miracle," as he expected me to get a PEG ( feeding) tube.
I have 9 more radiation treatments, please pray that those would go along smooth with no damage or inflammation to my esophagus and other organs.
I have  a CT scan this Tuesday ( the 6th) and should know the results by Wednesday.
Love you all!