What you know. . . counts!

November 1, 2011

My youngest daughter recently visited the Holocaust museum in WDC. She was deeply moved, as was I, (I was there the year it opened) by the evidence on display there. Though not the world’s only attempt at complete genocide, the holocaust is a powerful reminder of the evil potential in the human heart.

Not long after she returned home, I found this passage in the book of Proverbs: (chapter 24:11) I admit, I’d never noticed it before.

“Deliver those who are being taken away to death,
And those who are staggering to slaughter,
Oh hold them back.
If you say, “See we did not know this,”
Does He not consider it who weighs the hearts?
And does He not know it who keeps your soul?
And will He not render to man according to his work?”

It made me think of those brave souls who sacrificed all to defend their Jewish friends against the horrors of Hitler’s regime. Risking their families, their fortunes, their very lives, they did what they could to stop the deaths. I recently read of one woman who became an electrician in Poland, so that she could sneak children out of Jewish Ghettos. At the end of her work day, she put babies in her equipment bag and carried them out to her truck. Her german shepherd dog, trained to bark at everyone, made so much noise that the baby’s cries couldn’t be heard by guards. In all, she saved over 2000 children — one soul at a time.

It reminds me too that we believers cannot burry our heads. When it comes to the unborn, to the genocide in parts of Africa, Bosnia, and other locations, to the children traded by sex traffickers, we cannot turn away. Our God weighs the hearts. He knows what we know. He expects us to respond on behalf of the innocent, on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves.

I find that a heavy responsibility. It would be so much easier to attend services, sing worship songs, go to Bible studies. And while those things are good, our God expects more.

What are you doing to defend the defenseless? Any ideas? Anything we might do together? I’d like to know!

Bette

Composer or player?

October 9, 2011

I’ve just spent time whiting out the old “fingering marks” on this fall’s college orchestra music. The whole exercise got me to thinking. . .

You see, on the cello, you can play a single note in many, many different positions, on different strings, with different fingers. While sight reading, you must play along making snap decisions, answering the question, “How and where am I going to play that note?”

Under the best of conditions, it isn’t easy — playing the right note at the right time along with your fellow musicians. (It can be horribly embarrassing!) But when someone else has marked all over your music, it can be downright confusing. Such were the marks I found when they handed out this quarter’s music. Here I am trying to think my way through the Concerto for Guitar by Vivaldi, while simultaneously evaluating (and dismissing as crazy) the marks left by some prior musician.

(Here’s a link to the music. You might enjoy it! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBJ8BmFPt3U&feature=related)

And so today, I simply made all those marks disappear. Thank you Wite Out!

You see my objective is to obey the composer. Vivaldi didn’t really care which finger I use, or even which string I play on. Old composers rarely even cared which direction the bow was going. All those marks have been given to us by modern editors. He only cared that I played the notes as written.

And it makes me think about our Christian culture. One thing we specialize in (in our modern era of publishing) is giving one another “advice” on how to walk the Christian Walk. Ten ways to conquer your temper. Five ways to renew your marriage. Seven tips to fulfilling ministry. In our culture, this advice is a little like the markings on my Vivaldi music.

They may help me play the music, or they may just slow me down, leaving me confused and frustrated.

In the Christian walk, it is wise to know which marks are left by the Composer, the Giver of LIfe, and which are left by well-meaning bystanders. Whose marks do we obey? I think that the Bible, the Word of God provides for us all of the notes and melodies which our Composer requires. Don’t let the well meaning advice of bystanders confuse you.

For instance: Scripture says, “Don’t forsake the gathering of believers.” What kind of church you prefer, when you attend, and the focus of your church — well, God has left those decisions up to you. Scripture says, “Pray without ceasing.” But it doesn’t tell us what that prayer should look like. Even the “Lord’s Prayer” seems to be a pattern to follow, not a chant to recite. He tells us to use our gifts to bless the body and grow it into maturity. But he allows us to discover where and how to use those gifts. Do you see my meaning?

Scripture, like music, leaves us a great deal of room to find our own way. Of course God himself provides us the wisdom we need to play our part! When we get hung up on the instructions of humans, rather than the clarity of the Composer, we are inhibited rather than released.

When it comes to the well meaning advice of the Body of Christ, I say, don’t be afraid to use the white-out. Go back to the original score. Check out the notes. The rhythms. The melodies. Play those carefully. Exactly. Slowly. Find which techniques work for you. Practice. You will improve. I promise!

Evening Quiet Time? Go for it!
A single life? Live it happily!
Singing your prayers? Let it ring!
Doodling your prayer requests? Let me get you a new set of ink pens!

He wants you to succeed in playing his music. Go back to the original score. Find your melody. Play it with gusto!

bette

Epiphanies, by any other name?

September 21, 2011

Today, on the Lisa Oz radio show, her guest (Elise Ballard) spoke of epiphanies. She defined them as revelations, sudden insights that give you power to change the course of your life. In her case, she described an epiphany that was about her ability to have children — that her fear of childlessness should not tie her to a man she did not love. Her epiphany gave her the freedom to leave her marriage.

Great, huh?

We Christians know the power of revelations. As the Holy Spirit lives inside his children, he provides an unending well of insight, though these insights are often accompanied by repentance (sorrow over our actions) and a dynamic, unexplained, heretofore unexperienced power to grow or change. I had one of these recently, and the indwelling Holy Spirit used the experience to encourage someone I love very much.

This someone is in crisis. In her eyes, the future looks bad, and the “now” is exceedingly painful. The past, which she has chosen to leave behind,  looks more and more enticing as the moments go by. I am afraid she is tempted to move backwards.  As we were talking the other night, I believe the Holy Spirit gave me insight into an experience I had recently. My own epiphany. Here’s what happened:

My daughter  and I were climbing a hill on an organized bike ride.  It had been a long and difficult day. Rain. Mud. Cold temperatures. Many difficult hills. Generally though, Maggie leaves me in the dust on those hills. But we hit one at the fifty mile mark that surprised us both. It was a short steep climb, the kind where you find yourself standing up to power through. At the top of this hellish hill, the road made a stark 90 degree turn. Maggie saw the road turn and gave up. She got off her bike and started walking. I’d never seen her do that.

At the same moment, I powered around the corner and finished the hill.

What was the difference? Surely not my fitness level, I’m 30 years older than Mags (and significantly fatter!). Here is the secret. I’d looked ahead and realized that the hill was nearly over. I’d spotted a mailbox up the road and decided, “I can make that mailbox.” It was hard. I was gasping for air. But I made it. Why? Because I’d spotted the end from the middle and I KNEW that that miserable hill wouldn’t last forever.

In emotional terms, my friend in crisis is in the middle of her own hill. She can’t see the end. The now is painful. She is gasping for emotional air, her legs are burning, and she doesn’t see how she can possibly finish. Part of her wonders, “Will this pain ever end?” She is tempted to get off the bike. To Quit. To. Give. Up.

I told my friend about our bike ride. And I reminded her of so many folks who go through dark difficult seasons. None of us know when one of those troublesome times will end. When the illness will end. When the marriage will get better. When the cancer will be pushed back. We are tempted to give up. To turn back. To get off the bike. When you are thinking that way, remember what I told my friend. My epiphany:

Don’t do it. Though you do not realize it, you may be almost to the top of the hill. You cannot see the end, but that doesn’t make it far away. It is simply out of your field of vision. Stay on the bike. Don’t give up. Breathe deeply.  Keep your eyes on the road in front of you. Tap into the strength which is greater than your own. Don’t be distracted by the view, or lack thereof. Whatever you do. Stay on your bike!

How about you? Do you regularly receive insight from the Holy Spirit? Care to share a story with us?

Bette

Ghost Ship

August 31, 2011

Summer keeps us all pretty busy; but never busier than in the NW, where we have to squeeze twelve months of play into three weeks of good weather. The Nordberg family spent  some of our play time on our boat. While we were gone, we had the most unusual adventure . . .

We’d anchored our boat in Montegue Harbor, British Columbia and tied a friend’s boat up alongside for the night. In boating parlance, we call that “rafting.” After making certain that we were well anchored, we made dinner and sat down to feast on board Ron’s boat. As we were eating, Ron looked up and said, “We’re dragging anchor! Look how close that sailboat is!”

The boys (our two husbands) ran up to the pilot house to check our position. The GPS would confirm that we’d moved off our anchor. But a scan of the harbor and a check of the instruments showed us that we hadn’t moved at all. They rejoined us  at the table saying, “Must just look like we’re closer, maybe due to the wind or current. Sure seems strange though.”

We didn’t think much more of it, until suddenly I looked out the back of our boat and said, “My gosh that boat is going to run into us!”

Scrambling, the four of us ran outside. Ron leapt  into his dingy (which was tied on the end of his swim step), just as the errant sail boat slid into the pontoon. He’d caught it just in time. Now what?

We managed to get fenders out and enough lines to tie the fifty foot vessel alongside Ron’s boat. We banged on the hull. No answer. We called out to the owners. No one was on board. Quite literally, we’d inherited a sailboat. In the rules of the sea, an abandoned boat becomes the property of those who rescue her. Ron worried about when the owners would return. “What if they aren’t back tomorrow morning? Will our anchor hold with this extra weight?”  I assured him, with blustery confidence, that they would be back before dark. What worried me though, was how they would respond to discovering their vessel tied up alongside a strange boat. Would they accuse us of trying to steal her?

About forty minutes later, the sound of a small outboard motor grew louder, and sure enough, the sailboat’s owners, four adults on board, came along side in their dingy. The man in front was snapping pictures as they approached. No one looked happy. “What happened?” they asked. “Why is our boat tied onto yours?”

Their astonishment soon turned to disbelief. “I set the anchor. We waited for hours before we left the boat. It was solid as a rock. There’s no way she came loose.” The boat’s captain was adamant.

“She wasn’t just dragging anchor,” we responded. “She was completely loose on the tide, her anchor line completely slack. If we hadn’t stopped her, she’d be in the Queen Charlotte Islands by now.” A slight exaggeration on my part, I admit.

The captain could hardly swallow his disbelief. He was so certain of his technique, absolutely confident that the boat couldn’t have come loose. His wife, on the other hand, quickly understood the situation, and her surprise gave way to gratitude. “How can we thank you for saving our boat?” she said. “What might have happened? It could have been clear out in the channel, or grounded on a rock, or the beach. I can’t believe you saved her! Thank you.”

In the end, we used the dinghies to untwist the anchor lines and set the sailboat free. The captain and his crew were profoundly grateful for the safe return of their expensive vessel. As the sun set, we enjoyed a great desert in the twilight.

All was well. But the experience got me thinking. How often have you observed a fellow traveller drift off the security of his spiritual anchor? Maybe he’s been enticed by a dangerous habit, an unreliable relationship, a slacking off of the disciplines that keep us tied to Christ, our savior, our anchor. And maybe, just maybe, someone you know has gone adrift. Have you the skills to catch the vessel before it slips off to sea? Are you willing to risk your own vessel to save another? Would you risk being misunderstood in order to keep someone else from losing all?

Our experience with a real sailboat got me to thinking. I don’t take those risks easily. I’m afraid of the confrontations, the misunderstandings. In fact, I myself have endured the false accusations of well meaning friends. But I think we owe it to one another. Keep watch. When a ship goes drifting,  yours may be the only vessel who can rescue. Are you willing?

Has your drifting boat been rescued before? Mine has. Thank heaven for the ones who care enough to speak.

 

Bette

 

 

The Other Side of the Tracks

July 20, 2011

I’ve been off line for a bit, training hard for the Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic (with my daughter Maggie). Toward the end, we were riding about 120 miles a week. That takes a lot of hours–hours that kept me from the computer and from writing.  We finished the 205 mile ride on July 10th, feeling strong. As a ride, it went well.

But on June 4th, we had a frightening training ride,  and in the process, we discovered a very powerful lesson. It began on a sunny Saturday morning with the plan to complete 60 miles of the Burke Gillman Trail, in Seattle, Washington. Some of you know that  the BG isn’t finished in the Ballard portion, and just six miles into our ride, as we headed west, we turned a corner to make an alarming discovery. I had swung wide, ending up on the “wrong side” of a set of unused railroad tracks.

Maggie managed to end up on the traffic side of the tracks, riding safely parallel to them. I, on the other hand, was on the shoulder side of the tracks, with these two iron rails (running parallel to our direction of travel), lying between me and the riding lane. I needed to cross those tracks; but I knew I was in trouble.

The cardinal rule of bike riding is NEVER, EVER cross railroad tracks without crossing at a 90 degree angle. I knew that. I said out loud, “Oh boy. I’m in trouble. I don’t want to be here.” I said it several times.

But I never stopped to think through the problem. I was too anxious to cross the tracks, to keep going, to make progress. We had so far to go, you know? I knew the rule, and I must have decided that I could successfully break it (though I don’t really remember making that decision). I swung wide and took a sharp angle toward the first rail. Crossed it. Still up.

Crossing the second rail, my tire caught in the space between the rail and the pavement. I went down like a rock from a jet airliner– at maximum velocity — never even removing my hands from the bar hoods. I crashed, elbow first, hips and knees only slightly behind, into the pavement, landing directly in the traffic behind me. Luckily, no car was nearby, and a rider behind me blocked the traffic lane while I tried to get off the pavement. At the moment of impact, I got a terrible cramp in my left calf. Wrenching myself out of the pedals, I danced in the street to rid myself of the cramp, before collapsing on the side of the road and weeping in pain. I thought I’d broken my left elbow.

The pain was so intense that while Maggie cleansed it with an antibiotic wipe, I never felt her digging out the gravel.

We managed to get me patched up, go to a repair shop (where they re-hung my front deraileur), and finish our sixty mile ride. I was sore, but not dead, and for that I am very grateful.

I got to thinking about that set of tracks and the cardinal rule that I’d broken. Why did I think that I’d get away with it? Why didn’t I stop and make a safer plan? Why the big hurry? Why the foolish decision?

Isn’t that like sin? Don’t we think we’ll “get away with it?” Just this once? I’m too busy. It’s too important. No one will notice. I won’t get hurt. No one else will get hurt. And we do what we KNOW BETTER THAN TO DO.

I’ve done it. I’ve had that fleeting thought, “this won’t work well.” And I’ve done it anyway. Lost my temper. Said something I later regret. And like the bicycle, I’ve found myself on the ground in a virtual heap.

Makes you think doesn’t it? Had a rail trip you up lately?

Bette

Morass of Moralessness

May 13, 2011

So, I’ve been away.

I rode along with my son as he drove across the United States in a cross-country move to San Francisco. We covered 12 states in five days. Three thousand miles. All of it (except for about ten miles on each end) on Interstate 80. An amazing trip. (We live in an amazing land). Here’s the story:

Two weeks ago, my hubby and I flew to Brooklyn to help Eric move. We spent two days in his apartment, working. We separated the things that would go with the movers from the essentials that would ride along in the car. We packed boxes, cleaned floors, threw away trash. We packed suitcases, filled garbage bags and chose electronics to be recycled. And then we filled a POD with his stuff and watched as a forklift loaded this plywood box filled with all his earthly belongings onto a truck. (I highly recommend this method, by the way).

As of today, it’s already arrived in San Francisco.

Interestingly, when we had his apartment inspected, the man who helped us told us something interesting. We needed to formally ask  for Eric’s damage deposit back; the manager had  advice. “You want your whole deposit back?” He said, “Tell them you lost your job here. Tell them you got fired.”

Eric hadn’t lost a job. He was moving just one month short of his one year lease date. I said, “Well, he does have to be in San Francisco for a new job. He had no choice about that.” (Eric will be doing a fellowship in research at a facility in San Francisco).

“No. Don’t tell her that. Tell her you lost your job, that you couldn’t help it, you had to leave. Tell her that.”

He made no bones about it. Lying was the only way we’d get our deposit back.

Then this week, I went to a training event at REI in Seattle. The lady speaking was a Tri coach. She told us about a client of hers, someone she had trained as a tri-athelete, who was about to start a race. This was the story: “She asked me if she should wear her wet suit for the swim. She didn’t think she would. It didn’t feel right to wear it. She asked me about it. Now, she had been my client. I had trained her. Now she was my competitor. I told her, ‘don’t wear the suit.’ And, I beat her out of the water. She should have worn the suit.”

The coach, who was now her competitor, lied.

I won’t bore you. But I’m amazed at the ways that lies have become acceptable parts of language. The old expression, “If the lips are moving, he’s lying,” seems to more applicable every day. It’s everywhere. And truth be told (that’s the point after all), it’s easy to slip into half-truths and slight of hand when it comes to honesty.

Here are the ways that I fail to tell the truth: I may not actually out and out lie to you, but I will carefully lead you down a blind alley. As a result, you’ll come to a false conclusion; but I didn’t actually tell you anything that wasn’t strictly true. Sometimes, I let you assume falsehoods without correcting you. Sometimes, I leave out details that are condemning. I’m especially good at these slight-of-hand mistruths when it comes to being late.

I’m often late. I get busy. I lose track of time. And then, five minutes after I should have left, I look for my keys and can’t find them. Later, when I arrive late, I say, “I couldn’t find my car keys.” True. BUT, if I’d started on time, I would have been LESS late. Do you see what I mean?

It’s the same thing when I tell my husband about something I purchased. I start out saying, “It was 30% off.”

Today, the Puyallup School District has lost a great principal. Scott Brittain was “investigated,” by his supervisor for “insubordination, and lying.” In frustration, Scott resigned. Personally, I’ve never known a better principal. Scott is a gifted administrator who will find a job with another school district. We  lose.

I don’t know if Scott really lied. No one ever will; the investigation was closed. But when I think of the ways that lying is commonplace in our world, and the ways that I mislead others, even when I so value truthfulness, I am saddened.

How about you? Have you been instructed to lie at work? Have you been tempted to lie to keep someone else from being hurt? Have you struggled with personal honesty?

When it comes to liars, I will never  be the one to throw the first stone. I am afraid of the bruising that I deserve. When I observe others casually throwing truth out the window, it makes me realize how very steep and slippery the slope of truth may be. It’s hard work staying up on the cliff of truth. I think it’s worth it. How about you?

A Picture of Grace

April 6, 2011

Recently my daughter and I spent ten days in Roatan, Honduras. We both love to scuba dive, and while we were there, we got our Advanced Open Water Certification. In all, we each did 15 dives off of the 40 foot dive boat, Wish You Were Here. They were great dives in a virtual paradise of undersea life.

On one of those adventures, I got an enduring picture of Grace, (as in “By Grace you are saved, thru faith, and  this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.”)

Every morning, our boat was full of divers. On board we separated into groups, based on our abilities and the purpose of our dives. Getting so many individuals in the water takes time, and frequently, those of us who were first had to wait in the water while the others put on their gear and jumped in. One morning, after jumping off the boat, I realized that the current was very strong. Before I’d cleared my mask and checked my gear, I was further from the boat than I intended. To get back, I’d have to swim up stream. I filled my BC, rolled over on my back and began kicking.

Moments later, when I checked on my progress, I realized that I’d been swept even further away. Now, this wasn’t a crisis, mind you. I wasn’t going to drown. No one was going to lose me in the ocean. But I wanted to stay with my group. I wanted to drop underwater with all of them nearby, so that we could dive together along the reef. I kicked harder.

It didn’t take much time before I realized that I couldn’t make it back to the boat on my own. I continued to drift away. In the midst of wondering what I should do, a giant wave came along and tossed me toward the boat. At that moment, I kicked with all my might and to my surprise I arrived exactly where I needed to be.

Without that wave, all the effort in the world wasn’t getting me to the boat. All the wishing and hoping wasn’t moving me forward. But the wave provided power beyond my own. It came at just the right moment, and it stopped my wayward path.

That, my friends is Grace. It is all around us. It is God’s power, made available to humans, which enables us to change direction. Whether you need to quit drugs, stop watching porn, stop cheating on your wife, or move toward God, begin a new life, open a new chapter, and start a new habit, God has the power to pick you up and move you forward. Like a wave tosses you toward a boat, God’s grace can put you where you need to be. It offers power beyond your own.

He loves to provide the Grace when you need it. You have only to ask. (Some believers think of Grace only as a “salvation event.” It’s not. It’s the means by which we continue in our faith. It’s an everyday event, whether or not you see it.)

Someday, perhaps, I’ll tell you about a time when God’s Grace changed the course of my life.  In the meantime, what about you? Have you ever been carried by a wave of Grace? Care to share?

Bette

One of those moments:

March 11, 2011

This week, I won’t be referring to scripture. Often, the Lord speaks to me in the “everyday” of life. Forgive me this observation:

Last week in orchestra, most of the cello section was absent. I was there alone with our section leader, a guy named Wayne, who plays like taffy. Long stretchy bows, with not a hint of scratch or squeak. You never hear him change his bow direction. Wayne reads music like I read words. No hesitation. No errors. He sight reads music with the most glorious attention to every detail. Honestly, a genius.

But last week, in a particular piece, Wayne missed an entrance. It was after five beats of rest, and Wayne, somehow, just didn’t show up.

The first time  it happened, I simply jumped in where I belonged. But it frightened me. Wayne never makes a mistake. I must have screwed up. I kept playing, but my mind was back at the error, recounting the rests, wondering how I’d made such a terrible mistake. I mean, it had to be my mistake, right?

Our director headed us back to top of the music. This time, when Wayne didn’t jump in, I didn’t either. I was spooked, too freaked by the event to do what I knew to do. His hesitation fed mine. My hesitation turned into paranoia. The paranoia digressed into absolutely irretrievable stage fright. I was a gonner.

Even as it happened, I couldn’t believe that a five beat rest could undermine an entire suite. It did.

The next morning, I realized how much orchestra mimics the Body of Christ. You see, like the members of the orchestra, we depend on one another. We are leaning on each other, listening for one another to function in our gifts. If you hesitate, I will too. If you fail to enter at the right time, I will doubt myself, and stay quiet too. I’m listening to make sure that my notes harmonize with yours, that I play in perfect tone, that my style suits yours, that my silences give your solos greater weight. I want my accompaniment to let your solos soar. I want your accompaniment to be the foundation for my solo.

And all of us must be listening to our Great Conductor.

We must enter when he directs. We must grow louder as he deems. We must whisper with our instruments so that the message of the music has greater and greater effect. He decides which notes depict the music’s theme. He emphasizes them by coordinating the body so that those notes have the greatest significance. He pauses to let us work out the kinks, to listen to one another, to practice our parts.

And then, when all is well, he taps his wand and begins the Great Concert which brings glory to his Father.

I ask you. Are you hesitating? Are you listening? Have you quit because the player in the next chair missed his entrance?

Or, are you courageously following the Great Conductor?

Me? I’m working on it!

Bette

The Big Picture

March 3, 2011

To remind you, I’ve been blogging my way through the Bible. I thought I’d do it in a year. (After all, I read through the whole Bible every year). But it’s gone on longer than that, and frankly, I’m enjoying it too much to change topics now. (If you’re still coming back, I’m here to serve!)

Lately, I’ve come around again to the book of Job. According to the text, Satan challenges God to test Job, believing that Job will fold under the pressure of loss and illness. Satan believes that Job’s love for God is dependent on God’s blessing and his own prosperity.

Not much there, you might think. God seems so bored with his own life that he plays people like pawns in a chess game. He and Satan have what some folks might call a “spiritual pissing contest” if such a thing exists. Poor Job takes it in the shorts, and keeps coming back for more. His best friends turn out to be pretty worthless. All they have to contribute are accusations and guilt.

So, I’m slogging through the chapters again, wondering why this book is included in the Book. And it hits me:

Have you ever noticed how much truth is included in the first 37 chapters. Each character in the story has a collection of truth (which they march out and pound over Job’s head). Even Job understands much about God’s kingdom. So what is the problem? Why are these guys so lost? Think about the truths they hold dear:

God doesn’t sin. God carefully watches the way people live. God does not respond to people’s complaints.  Why doesn’t the Almighty open the court and bring judgement? Why must the godly wait for him in vain? Evil people steal land by moving the boundary markers. . .

Each speaker in the book makes valid points. Though each has BITS of truth, none of them has the BIG PICTURE. God’s picture. God’s perspective. None of them know what God knows. And, while that seems obvious to us (as readers), the characters themselves are clueless. Each one has taken their bits of truth and nailed them together hoping to create a strong shelter. What do they really have? A house of cards.

If there is any lesson in Job, it is this: Be careful of how you add up your truth. No matter how wise, how educated, how indoctrinated, how sure, how confident,  how accomplished you are, I can tell you this with confidence. You do not have the BIG PICTURE. None of us can see with God’s perspective. None of us. Foolish is he who thinks he has all the answers.

If you doubt my conclusions, open your Bible. Read God’s response to the gang beginning in chapter 38.

Occasionally, we would be wise if we would adapt Job’s words as our own. “You have asked why I talk so much when I know so little. I have talked about things that are far beyond my understanding.”

Or, in a more modern translation, as our southern sisters might say, “Well, shut my mouth!”

How about you? Does it comfort or vex you that we don’t have the “whole picture?”

As for me? I find comfort in a God I can’t fully explain. I don’t have to understand it all. I simply have to rest in the One who does.

Bette

A Deliverer

February 26, 2011

So, I learned a two-part lesson this week. It all started on Tuesday, with a rather startling revelation. During my prayer time, I’m quite sure that the Lord told me, “You know, what you really want is a warm blanket God. That’s not who I am.”

I was a little insulted. After all, I write and teach Bible Studies. I certainly “ought” to know who God is. I, of all people (exuding pride here, I know) ought to realize the “whole picture” of our God.

But in an instant, I knew: He’s right. Again.

I do want a warm blanket God. One to cuddle up with. Where I can hide out against the storms of life. I don’t want my blanket God to ask anything of me. Heavens no. No expectations desired. Just warm fuzzies. That’s what I prefer.

So. I took him at his word, and I went away thinking about it. How do you change that? How do you let God be who he is and not who you want him to be?

Forward to Wednesday. I’m training for the Seattle to Portland Bike classic, a little 207 mile trek that happens in early July. It involves putting in a lot of miles, and in my case, the training starts in January. So, this week, I had 16 miles still to ride. But the weather wasn’t promising. In fact, they were predicting a blizzard to hit about the time of the evening commute.

It had snowed all morning, without really sticking. But at 11.30 AM, I looked out my office window to clear skies and melting snow. I thought, this is my moment. I can do the 16 miles in a quick hour and be done with it before the arctic blast hits. I got ready and headed out.

The weather started to deteriorate about 2 miles into my ride. But I thought, it’s not bad. I’m not cold. It’s snowing but it’s not sticking. I pushed on. At mile 10 the hail started. It’s not bad, I thought and pushed on. Suddenly, at about mile 12, the wind picked up to about 20 MPH, and the hail started blistering my face, landing in my eyes until I found myself careening down a hill with my eyes CLOSED.

Not the way to ride your bike. I pulled to the side of the road and turned around. “At least it’s not sticking,” I said. “I can make it home.” And I looked down to the pavement and in that very instant, the snow began to stick. The wind picked up and I leaned my bike into it. My eyes felt like they’d been caught in a storm of nails.

I began to pray. “Lord, stop the wind, if only for a moment.” It didn’t stop. “Stop the snow.” It didn’t stop. I thought of who to call. My phone rang and when I picked it up, it shut down. Battery dead. Snow got thicker. Cars started to skid on the road near me. I approached a stop sign and my tires began to spin. The legs went around, but the bike went nowhere.  Uh, oh, not good.

I begged God to get me home. I was five miles away. It felt like fifty. My brakes didn’t work. The bike made noises I’d never heard before. Trucks lost control only inches from my shoulder. I’ve slid on the ice before. The bike goes in directions only God could predict. The biker lands in strangely uncomfortable and unpredictable positions. I wasn’t looking forward to that.

I was afraid.

But inch by inch, prayer by prayer, I made it home. Half a mile from my house, a lady offered me a ride. I declined. I was close enough now. I walked the bike down the big hill to my house. When I got there, my brakes were frozen to the frame. Frozen. Ice had packed the space between the frame and my tired. That was the noise I heard.

It wasn’t until after a hot bath and warm clothes and a hot chocolate, that I sat down to pray again. That was when I realized that I’d been delivered. Not delivered FROM the bad weather, but THROUGH the bad weather. God had delivered me safely home. I had to thank him for that. It was a profound experience.

In the process, he proved himself my deliverer. Not my warm blanket. Not my cozy shield. God was my deliverer. In the face of wild danger, God showed up. He came through. He met my needs. Not the way I asked, but in his own powerful way.

He is what he is. And that is the God he wants us to know. It isn’t comfortable discovering that he can deliver me from danger. It’s dangerous. It isn’t easy to find he is our provider. It involves becoming needy. To meet the healer, we must experience illness.

I am choosing to discover him as he is. How about you? What did you experience this week where God revealed himself in a personal way to  you?

Bette