Thursday, January 31, 2013

Figuring Out the Future

I must have read the story of Abraham a thousand times...but this time I saw something I had never seen before. Eight little words jumped out from the page and left me wondering how on earth I could have missed them before. Abram (or so he is called before he receives his new name) is standing in a foreign land, a place already occupied by others, trying to figure out what the future holds. He has just left Egypt, where he failed God miserably, and now has to contend with his selfish nephew, Lot, in a fight over sharing the land. It is here that God steps in to encourage Abram with these eight little words... 
lift up your eyes from where you are. 
And as Abram responds to that gentle command, he is rewarded with a tiny glimpse of what God has promised for the future. To the north, the south, the east, and the west, all that Abram can see will one day belong to his family.
Thousands of years have passed since that day. But God is still the same. Like Abraham, we walk with a promise maker. We talk with a promise keeper. And wherever we are right now, he gently commands us to lift up our eyes so that he can give us a glimpse of what the future holds. Be encouraged.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Just for a Moment

It is 4pm. He wakes, still sleepy from his afternoon nap, and lifts his arms to me. I reach down and take him, wrapped in his soft blanket and we sit on the rocking chair, just for a moment. He lays his head on my shoulder and I see whisps of blonde curling softly under my chin. I hear his quiet baby breath. I feel his little heart beating with mine and just for a moment, it seems like we are one. And I close my eyes and savor this moment, because I know this stillness will not last. I could stay here forever, with him in my arms, but he is too busy. And all too soon, his trucks, and teddies, and toys will call. And they do. Reluctantly, I let him go.
And I think about God, yearning for those moments with me...when I lift my arms to him and he reaches down and I'm so close that it seems our hearts are beating together, and just for a moment, it feels like we are one. Then when the world calls, reluctantly, he lets me go.
But I will return, because like the Psalmist, it is only in these moments, when I am truly still, that I know God.
Be still and know that I am God.  Psalm 46:10

Monday, January 7, 2013

Lucky Children?

One week before Christmas, four lucky children jumped excitedly into the back of my car. Our destination? A local bookstore where they would each be able to spend a whopping $20 on new books. The outing was just one of many, organized and led by our church's Community Ministries Program- a wonderful outreach that impacts the lives of impoverished children in our neighborhood. You might assume that the highlight of this evening, for children who do not own a book of their own, was being able to visit the bookstore, and make their very own selection. But you would be wrong. You might assume that the part they enjoyed most was the lovely drink of hot chocolate that they sipped in the cafe afterwards...after all, hot chocolate is probably not on their parents' shopping lists. But you would be wrong. The most wonderful and memorable part of this evening for those little children was simply being taken out of their world to drive past affluent homes that boasted spectacular Christmas light displays. Their eyes were agog as we passed glittering reindeers, laughing illuminated Santas, and lights of every color chasing around trees and rooftops. And with a sigh, the little boy in the back said: This must be where the rich people live. And of course he was right.
As I dropped them off at home that evening, outside darkened doors with no twinkling lights, and no Christmas trees waiting to greet them inside, I thanked God for the privilege of being able to help these children escape from their world...even if only for a short time.
And just think what a difference we could make if every single church had some sort of outreach ministry to children; if every rich person, including you and I, were to help impoverished children escape from their world - even if only for a short time. Just think.

Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. Matthew 25:40