Monthly Archives: January 2017

What We Do with The Blank Spaces

I’ve made myself a bucket list of adventures I want to have in 2017, and this was one of them. My goal is to go on one such adventure every month in 2017, because I’ve found it’s deeply restorative for me to get out and explore. My list is incomplete, so if anyone has any must-see recommendations for Oklahoma or the surrounding states, I’d love to hear them. (Here is the list of places I’ve been.)

This past Saturday I went on a little adventure to the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. It was such a gorgeous day, that when I had finished there, I wandered around downtown and then in the Historical District, taking pictures.

 

16406968_10100637725651427_1072466919178212079_n(Downtown Church)

16388092_10100637725751227_4829707294485001791_n(The Oklahoma City National Memorial)

16266273_10100637725711307_1234822229592295289_n(A sculpture at the Memorial called Vigil)

You can view the full Downtown Oklahoma City Album here.

16387354_10100638404585837_5864863730712445871_n(A somewhat haunting view of the Historical District)

16174733_10100638404510987_3629283808399118889_n(Muted tones in the Historical District)

16265400_10100637754348917_8824193518329635752_n(The branches of the trees in the Historical District were particularly striking against the blue sky)

You can view the full Historical District Album here.

But I want to circle back to the Museum of Art.

In my opinion, the crowning exhibits at the Museum were the WPA (Works Progress Administration) Collection and Dale Chihuly’s Magic and Light Collection.

The Works Progress Administration was of course established as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, and it funded thousands of artists through its Federal Arts Project arm. The Oklahoma City Museum of Art houses twenty-eight pieces by twenty-six artists.

16406602_10100637725526677_3474297402372343968_n(I was particularly drawn by the cubist elements in this piece from William S. Schwartz, as well as the combined realism of industry and nature. I looked at it for a while, then I went back and looked again.)

The Chihuly Magic and Light exhibit features glass-blown sculptures and if you ever get the chance to see a Chihuly exhibit, just do it. It’s incredible.

16266181_10100637725581567_203280408826478368_n(This really doesn’t do it justice.)

Even before going to the Museum of Art on Saturday, I knew that my taste in art tends to have heavy realist elements, and that those elements have to be presented in a striking way, or it just won’t capture my attention. I like thinking about curation, or the order and placement of art. I also enjoy pretty things, like glass-blown sculptures.

I am not, however, a fan of abstract art. I’ve tried, y’all. I’ve spent hours in front of random splotches of color on canvasses and I just haven’t gotten it. Until Saturday, when Sam Francis explained it to me.

16195799_10100637725546637_2562863611918579754_n

Apparently, Sam Francis embraced this style because of “[the] spiritual significance of white in both Western and Eastern religions” and “inspired his interpretation of the blank canvas as ‘ringing silence … an endless, ultimate point at the end of your life.’ In reaction to his own fearful reverence of the void, Sam Francis confronted this ‘visible absence of color’ by flinging bright paint onto it” (Oklahoma City Museum of Art).

That I understand.

It reminds me of a phrase from one of my favorite passages of Scripture: “[God] has planted eternity in the human heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11b NLT).

It reminds me of The Curate of Glaston by George MacDonald, where the various characters grapple with what happens when we die throughout the story, and how our beliefs about what will happen when we die shape our lives.

It reminds me of how I use my own creative spark as a means to fill the blanks, the vacuums, the voids, the unknowns I encounter in my own life.

I think we all do, if in different ways.

Discomfort with the unknown is intrinsic to the human experience. We all have to deal with the discomfort, because the Only One who knows everything is God. And I can’t help but think all of our creative endeavors to fill the unknowns – however they are expressed – are at least a coping mechanism for the discomfort, if not a way to be rid of it altogether. We can’t handle unknowing, and so we create in an attempt to know and understand what we cannot.

Around the New Year, God convicted me to move my daily quality time with Him from evening to morning. I have no idea why. I mean, I hoped I would have some sort of evening routine, maybe involving my long-neglected fiction writing, but so far, no two evenings have been alike. Maybe I cook, maybe I clean, maybe I read, maybe I write, maybe I go to a Bible study, maybe I talk with friends and family, maybe I watch Netflix, maybe I process something that happened in my day, or maybe I do some combination of activities. There is no routine. In fact, best I can tell, I am supposed to keep my evenings routine-free for an unknown purpose.

I don’t get it. I don’t particularly like it. I mean, I could handle routine-free if I understood why. And if I had a routine, I wouldn’t be so preoccupied with why. But I don’t have either. I just have time that is being filled as it comes.

And maybe someday I will understand why that’s necessary right now, or maybe I won’t. What’s important is that I continue to seek God, and move as He reveals, and this is what He has shown me for right now.

It’s that simple, and it’s that difficult.

A Tale of Two Grandmothers

 

*Please note the following is reflective of my limited personal experiences and impressions.*

On Christmas Eve, my Grandma – who has dementia – said, “Lydia! Who is that boy sitting next to you?” It was my younger brother, and when I told her so, she said, “He looks just like the boy sitting next him.” The boy sitting next to him was her son and our uncle, and while the resemblance between them is striking, that moment meant so much to me, because in that moment, my Grandma – who has dementia – knew who I was.

 

 

My maternal grandmother – we called her Granny – passed away nearly twelve years ago. She, too, suffered from Alzheimer’s and dementia. And it was her I dreamed of last night.

 

 

I was standing at the front of her house, looking down the hallway, through the dining and living areas, and she was standing in the kitchen, which is where she almost always was when I saw her in that house. She just stood there, beyond the gate, dressed all in white, looking at me. In the dream, I knew I was just a stranger to her, and in her house no less, and I called out, “Hi, Granny,” so she would know I wasn’t an intruder, so she would know how we were connected. Still, she didn’t know me, and I think, was afraid of me. I thought that was just as well; after all, neither one of us belonged there – her, because she wasn’t alive anymore, and I, because that house had been sold many years ago and I had no claim to it.

 

 

I knew the dream was significant as soon as I woke from it. For one thing, a friend prayed very specifically over my dreams earlier this week, and for another, this dream was vivid. (I dream often, but rarely remember specific details when I wake.) But I didn’t  understand its significance immediately. I had to pray and ponder.

 

 

We are going to lose my Grandma soon. Hospice was called in just a few days before I saw her on Christmas Eve. I think that’s why it meant so much to me that she had a moment when she knew who I was, even if it was only a moment – that was likely to be my last time seeing her alive. She has lived a long, full life, of course, but I think she is the first person I have known and loved – I mean, really known and loved – that I will lose.

 

 

She never hesitated to share her stories with me, you know. Was always willing to tell me about herself and her family when I developed an interest in family history. She even read every story I shared with her. And trust me, some of them were truly terrible, but she always encouraged me to write. We shared stories.

 

 

Everything I know about my maternal grandmother, I learned secondhand. I didn’t know her. And even in her lucid moments, I’m not certain she would have known who I was. She might have known I was her granddaughter, but I doubt she would have been able to name me, or anything about me. We shared no stories.

 

 

There are many reasons for this lack, not the least of which was her stilted relationship with my parents. Our family visited her a few times a year – usually around the Coast Guard Festival and around Christmas. She always sent us home with big bags of candy, but I had the impression early on that my presence wasn’t particularly important to her; in fact, I felt like a nuisance, an unwelcome intruder. We were often restricted to the same places as the dog on our visits – the kitchen and the back room on our visits. I don’t think I even saw the entire house until after she’d gone into the nursing home and we were cleaning it out to sell. She wasn’t open, and I wasn’t comfortable enough with her to ask her anything.

 

 

But it was more than that. I wasn’t curious enough to ask her anything. She was perpetually dismissive, and by the time it was apparent she was losing her memory, I wanted nothing to do with her, either. Thankfully, I was at an age where that wasn’t up to me, and my Mom brought my younger siblings and I out to visit her every Thursday. And thankfully, my Mom had the foresight to ask things for me before her memory was completely gone, because I was indifferent at the time.

 

 

I rarely give her a second thought even now, unlike my Grandma, who is almost always in my thoughts these days, so I could not fathom why she was the one in my dream last night. There was the dementia link, of course, but these women were so different, it didn’t make sense that I should be thinking of one and dreaming of the other.

 

 

And as I looked down that hallway again in my mind’s eye at my maternal grandmother and she looked back at me, afraid of intruding and being intruded upon, I realized: we are the same. I cannot fault her for restricting people to certain areas of her life, because I do the same thing. It’s a protective mechanism to keep from showing anything that can be used against us. We’re told we’re cold and unfeeling, when really, we feel so much we want to tear out our beating hearts. You just don’t see it, because we don’t let you, because impenetrability is our strength. We show little or nothing as we do whatever needs doing, and we wonder why people can’t see how much we care, how they can think we don’t love them, how they can assume the meanest and very worst things about us.

 

 

And I am tempted to accept this as my lot in life as her granddaughter, but she was not my only instructor in the school of strength.

 

 

My Grandma taught me to be open with people, to be open to people. Even when it means sharing stories of our imperfections, or sharing our imperfect impressions of ourselves and the things through which we’ve lived. She stands at the end of her life with a man who I imagine knows just about everything there is to know about her and still holds her hand, because if she remembers nothing else, she remembers what they’ve shared. She remembered me, if only briefly, because we shared stories.

 

 

I want to stand at the end of my life like that, you know? But I also want to pick and choose what I let people into.

 

 

And if this dream has made me realize anything, it’s that I cannot have it both ways.

 

 

Two strong women, in my opinion. Two different kinds of strength – the kind that keeps other people out, and the kind that lets other people in. I belong to both, and both taught me their strength, and unlike my dimpled smile, which grandmother’s strength I adopt is not up to genetics.

 

 

It is character, and it is chosen.

img_20170127_214115

Affirmation

“Do not put trust in princes, in human beings who cannot save. When their spirits depart, they return to the ground; on that very day, their plans come to nothing. Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God. He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them – He remains faithful forever. He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free, the LORD gives sight to the blind, the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves the righteous. The LORD watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but He frustrates the ways of the wicked” (Psalm 146:3-10 NIV).

For The Ones with Ears to Hear

For the past two years, the exercise of my spiritual gift has largely been intercessory. (Before that, I’d say it was equal parts denying it and agonizing over what to do with it once there was no denying it.) In November, that started to shift. Of course, intercession will remain vital in this exercise, but now God is also calling me to also speak forth and speak into what He has revealed. Most often, in the past two months, this has come as encouragement and mild exhortation that anyone can get behind. Today, I come with a warning and a call that is at odds with both the evangelical Christian community and our culture at large.

For the ones with ears to hear:

Yesterday, President Donald Trump closed his Inaugural Address with this thought: “We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the earth from the miseries of disease, and to harness the energies, industries, and technologies of tomorrow.” And not long after, one of the most respected evangelical leaders in the United States, Franklin Graham, stood and affirmed President Trump’s administration, saying that in the Bible, rain is a sign of God’s blessing.

Lord, have mercy.

We stand ready … to unlock … to free … to harness … As if we have that power. As if we can know anything without it first being revealed by You. As if we can free anyone from anything. As if any of the earth’s resources belong to us and can be contained by us.

And yet, our nation is plagued with this hubris. At one time or another, we have all believed that the answers to human issues are within ourselves, or at least within humanity as a collective. One tends to be a conservative approach, and the other liberal, but both keep us blind to You and our need for You. We are often willfully blind, because we want to be our own gods and our own saviors.

Those whose candidate lost in November mourn the loss of a champion who would have led our nation, to fewer borders and boundaries and distinctions, to a higher human consciousness that would ultimately save us and our world. Those whose candidate won in November rejoice in the victory of a champion who will lead our nation to save itself, and in turn, save the world. For thousands of years of failed humans and human systems, there is still an inordinate amount of faith in them – especially given the caliber of the leading choices this past election cycle – because of our stubborn refusal to recognize our need for a force outside of ourselves.

Lord, have mercy.

“Pride,” the Proverb says, “goes before destruction.”

And because President Trump’s words are only an indication of a much deeper cultural problem, it is incumbent upon me to warn that our nation is on the verge of destruction.

Lord, have mercy.

The first time rain is recorded in the Bible, it is judgment (Genesis 6:1-7). There is one instance that I can think of where rain was the product of Elijah’s intercession (1 Kings 17-18, James 5:17-18), but in the context of the story, I think it says more about God blessing Elijah, not King Ahab. The best reference to rain I can find in the Bible is this from the ultimate authority on any matter, Jesus: “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45).

So why Franklin Graham, a respected leader within the evangelical Christian community, chose to stand before our nation and say that rain in the Bible is an indication of God’s favor is inexcusable – that is, there is no good reason for it. But, as President Trump’s words are only an indication of a heart issue in American culture, so are Mr. Graham’s words are only an indication of a heart issue in the American Church.

Lord, have mercy.

We are terrified of losing our status, our position as the reigning institution in this country. We have learned that the more we are seen, and the more we are seen in a certain light, the greater our influence – that is, our ability to mould the thoughts, opinions, and actions of others. In this we have adopted the hubris of our society, clumsily attempting to do things only You can.

The difference is, we – as Your Church – should know better. After all, we have been afforded every luxury to seek and know You better. We are without excuse.

But in our ease, we have become fat and lazy, we haven’t fought to know You as we should. We have picked and chosen parts of You, making You over in our image. If we are angry about something, we make You angry. If we have an opinion on something, we make it Your opinion. If we bless something, we make You bless it. If something is out of our reach, we make it out of Your reach. It’s easier, more convenient for You to be like us.

And when Your Church, a body intended to reveal Jesus to the world, reveals instead the god we have made after human likeness, You will correct us.

Lord, have mercy.

“She said, ‘I will go after my lovers, who give me my food and my water, my wool and my linen, my olive oil and my drink.’ Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes; I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way. She will chase after her lovers but not catch them; she will look for them but not find them. Then she will say, ‘I will go back to my husband as at first, for then I was better off than now.’ She has not acknowledged that I was the one who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil, who lavished on her the silver and gold—which they used for Baal. Therefore I will take away my grain when it ripens, and my new wine when it is ready. I will take back my wool and my linen, intended to cover her naked body.  So now I will expose her lewdness before the eyes of her lovers; no one will take her out of my hands. I will stop all her celebrations: her yearly festivals, her New Moons, her Sabbath days—all her appointed festivals. I will ruin her vines and her fig trees, which she said were her pay from her lovers; will make them a thicket, and wild animals will devour them. I will punish her for the days she burned incense to the Baals; he decked herself with rings and jewelry, and went after her lovers, but me she forgot, declares the Lord” (Hosea 2:5b-13 NIV).

And just like the United States is on the verge of destruction, the American Church is about to undergo fierce discipline.

The tide of our nation’s destruction can be turned, but only if American believers rise up against it.

You promised, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV).

We are sorry, Lord. Sorry for all the ways we have tried to be You. Sorry for all the ways we have tried to make You like us. We are without excuse.

But so thankful, Lord, that You are bigger than us. That Your ways and thoughts are higher than ours.

Allure us now, Lord, into the wilderness as You did with Israel. Take away everything we love that is not You. Take away everything we’re using to reveal ourselves, and not you. Take away our ease and privilege and luxury. Get us alone with You, so we can learn who You really are, so we can become obsessed with You and revealing You to a nation who needs You.

Please forgive us and restore us, Your Church. Make us such a body as our nation and our world is without excuse as well.

In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

“These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.  You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.  I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me” (Revelation 3:14-20 NIV).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you know?

“Now this I know: The Lord gives victory to his anointed. He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary with the victorious power of his right hand” (Psalm 20:7 NIV).

“I know that the Lord secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy” (Psalm 140:12 NIV).

As I’ve seen God rise up for me in the past two months, this is what I know:

  • God is so much bigger than me, and none of His plans, purposes, and promises can be thwarted by what I do or don’t do.
  • God fiercely loves, jealously protects, and mercifully vindicates His own.
  • God lays things on our hearts to pray – things He wants to do. He gives us grace to pray these things, and powerfully works through them.
  • God removes things we’re praying for from our hearts, and the grace to pray for them, not necessarily because He’s done working, but because He’s working in a different way.
  • God ordains and changes the seasons of our lives.
  • God cares about what I care about.
  • God doesn’t force anyone’s hand.
  • God alone satisfies.
  • God speaks to us in whatever way we will hear, because God wants to be heard.
  • God is not impressed when we’re out doing “big” things for Him when the things closest to home are neglected.
  • God alone redeems.

What do you know?

“No one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for them—the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough—so that they should live on forever and not see decay … But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead; He will surely take me to Himself” (Psalm 49:7-9,15 NIV).
Redemption is the “act of recovering ownership of something by paying a sum.”
I can do many things.
Redemption of life is not one of them.
Not for myself, not for anyone else.
Redemption is God’s work, and God’s work alone.

Let the Redeemed of the LORD Tell Their Story!

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—those he redeemed from the hand of the foe … Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things … Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron … He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind … He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind … He turned the desert into pools of water and the parched ground into flowing springs; there he brought the hungry to live, and they founded a city where they could settle. They sowed fields and planted vineyards that yielded a fruitful harvest; he blessed them, and their numbers greatly increased, and he did not let their herds diminish … Let the one who is wise heed these things and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord” (excerpts from Psalm 107).

“If you’ve got pain,
He’s a paintaker.
If you feel lost,
He’s a waymaker.
If you need freedom or saving,
He’s a prison-shaking Savior.
If you’ve got chains,
He’s a chainbreaker” (Zach Williams, Chainbreaker).

I’m kicking off my year in the Psalms – you know, the five-a-day plan – and today, I came across this prayer: “Keep me as the apple of Your eye” (Psalm 17:8a NIV). I’ve heard the phrase apple of my eye many times, and understand that it denotes someone or something cherished and valued, but I today found myself wondering about the origins of the phrase.

I mean, seriously. What is the apple of an eye and why would anyone ask to be kept as one?

I dug around a bit and found that both the English and Hebrew expressions refer to the eye’s pupil, but apple is not a great – or even good – translation of the Hebrew. The Hebrew is literally translated, “the little man of the eye,” and refers to the reflection of oneself in the pupil of another.

David is not asking God to keep him as the pupil in His eye, but to keep him as a reflection in His pupil. David is asking for God to keep him in His sight, under His watch. Perhaps he was even asking to see God watching out for him.

Pretty cool, huh? To be the little man in God’s eye?

On the Subtleties of Selfish Ambition

I don’t think anyone who knows me would describe me as ambitious. I certainly wouldn’t describe myself as ambitious; in fact, I spend most of the time feeling guilty that I don’t have more of a desire and drive to be and do more.

Enter Sunday morning.

The passage was James 3:13-18 (NIV): “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.  But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.  Such ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.  For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”

The theme was true wisdom, and the pastor defined true wisdom as “acting from what you know to be true about God.” Conversely, false wisdom is acting from envy and selfish ambition. The root of envy, he said, is the lie that Jesus is not enough, and the root of selfish ambition is the lie that who God says I am is not enough. Selfish ambition doesn’t always look like scratching and clawing to get your way (though it certainly can be that); sometimes, it’s selfish promotion – the way we present ourselves to others out of a need to be seen, or a need to be seen as somebody. In other words, it’s the way we try to manufacture significance when we are discontent with who God says we are. (You can catch the full teaching here. I highly recommend it.)

I want to rewind my life to about three years ago, and have a conversation with my twenty-four-going-on-twenty-five-year-old self. (Not that she would have listened.) The one pounding out edits for The Field, discouraged that twenty-five is just around the corner, and she’s done nothing significant with her life. (Her words, not mine.) The one working two part-time jobs, neither of which really utilizes the degree for which she worked two and sometimes three part-time jobs throughout college to pay for, and ceaselessly looking for the opportunity that will, because that would mean she didn’t waste four years and thousands of dollars. The one who can never quite get her ducks in a row the way everyone else can. Because envy and selfish ambition have a harbor in her, and that harbor is only going to expand in the coming years.

Selfish promotion. As I heard the term on Sunday, it was uncomfortably familiar. It reminded me of something in the publishing world called self-promotion. Of course, self-promotion in its most glaring form – that is, authors talking about themselves and their work all of the time – is frowned upon. The less obvious self-promotion – like spending obscene amounts of time and energy building relationships with others who will talk about them and their work – is expected and encouraged. The obsession over beating algorithms and statistics in order to be seen and entice people into your world – like knowing exactly what to say, and when, and how … expected and encouraged. Filtering your fullness through the three or four topics that define your brand … expected and encouraged. Making goals, shattering them, and of course, sharing when you do – sharing everything you do … expected and encouraged.

Why? Well, publishers expect and encourage authors to do these things, because when their authors and books are seen in the right light, it positively affects their bottom lines. And authors go along because they want to be seen, and want to be seen through their brand.

I have been as guilty as anyone of giving selfish ambition harbor. And I’d love to say I left it all behind when I dismantled my online author platform through April and May of last year, but…

I have this story I’ve been working on for almost thirteen years. Have never so much as finished a rough draft, though the story has evolved. I expect to be working on it for at least another ten years, maybe even fifteen. It’s just not there yet: I’m still getting to know the fleshing out the characters and plot and themes and structure. It needs … time to mature.

At times, though, I still feel immense pressure to have something, anything to share with the world. So I might share snippets here and there on social media – you know, to assure all of you that I am hard at work writing this thing. I might get thinking that twenty-five years is a long time to spend on one story, and I might start and finish other, easier stories and push them out there. I might build a platform that God has not given me. All because I believe the lie that who God says I am is not enough, that I have to be more, and I have to do more.

Around the New Year, God gave me an unexpected career goal, and automatically, I wanted steps to get there. The only step I’ve been given at this time, though, is to pray and believe. Because it’s not time for it yet, not even time to be working for it yet. But the time for it will come.

Everything I am and do between now and then in obedience to Him is enough.

I don’t have a platform anymore. Maybe someday I will again. If it comes it will be when God gives it, not when I make it happen. And He will ordain it unique to me, not what works for everyone else, or even how I have done things in the past.

Right now, I simply believe Him when He says, “It is not time for platform yet, but it will be. Right now, it’s time for a palm tree,” and that He, and whatever He gives, is enough.

 

 

There Are Always Signs

Yesterday, as I was driving to the expanse that is Western Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle, I was taking some detours to drive along Historic Route 66. Google Maps apparently doesn’t know Historic Route 66 from Adam, so I was winging it. Somehow, I missed a turn (read: I was caught up in the wonder of a cutesy historical main street and not paying attention) and ended up in a sketchy part of town before getting on the wrong highway in the wrong direction. I knew I wasn’t in the right place because there weren’t any signs for my route; I just wasn’t sure how to get back to it (because no signs). I ended up backtracking to my missed turn, and when I got to the right place, it was peppered with signs for Historic Route 66 what seemed like every few feet.

 

That was when God very gently spoke: “There will always be signs.”

 

There will always be signs. For anything ready to give out. For anything out of place.

 

Even an absence of signs is a sign.

 

Early this morning, I was reminded of these words from Jesus, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?”

 

Now, I understand from the broader context (Matthew 7:13-27) that Jesus is saying that you can see who His followers are by the lives they live (namely, lives that do the will of the Father revealed by the words of Jesus – vs. 21, 26).  Still, a picture has persisted in my mind since I was a little girl of a wolf dressed in a sheep costume, harvesting thorns and thistles in his bushel basket.

 

Too often, we measure a disciple’s fruit by platform – views, likes, follows, and shares, to put it in social media terms. When that is our focus, we miss looking at what is in his or her basket, and that is where the incontrovertible evidence lies. What is in that basket has been harvested from whatever has been planted, whatever is growing.

 

Paul puts it another way in his letter to the Galatians, “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality; idolatry and sorcery; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissension, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like … But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

 

There are always signs. When in doubt, look in the basket, not at the person.

img_20161231_143614