Playing with purpose

Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.

Thankful for the Re-Do

“Oh, give thanks unto the Lord for He is good and His mercy endureth forever.” (Psalms 107:1)

Years ago, my Uncle Frank said to me; “the only test you have to re-take is the one you have failed.” I am so grateful for re-testing. Grateful for do-overs. And yes, I say that with a grimace. Testing can be difficult. Mainly because of its challenge to me.

But oh GOD I am so thankful for the opportunities brought to my life via the simple act of repentance. “I’m sorry Lord, help me, please!” Is such immediate freedom that it makes me wonder why I ever hesitated?

Often the exercise of free will can be my obstacle. My hesitation to relinquish even the smallest appearance of control. Which usually amounts to the illusion of control in the uncontrollable. I was not made to forge this life alone. Neither were you. We were made with a need for GOD. Not one another, but for GOD.

One of the elders I grew up with would sing; “the failure is not in GOD, it’s in me. The failure is not in GOD, it’s in me. You know I fell short so many, many times. So many evil thoughts come into my mind. But the failure is not in GOD, it’s in me.” (Recorded by Roberta Martin Singers 1933-1970. See Dorothy Norwood Singers for stellar rendition)

That is memo to my soul. It reminds me that even if the fat lady has sung, it’s not over till GOD says it is over. Thank GOD for re-testing. Long live do-overs. I’ll see you in class, reserve the seat up front for me.

Thankful for the Legacy

In the first hour of this new day, I can hear my Aunt Della speaking in a Bible study. We were leaders with a great commission she reminded us. We did not follow others; we did not follow the crowd. We were a “set aside” people. We were trendsetters, not followers.

That is the paraphrase of a lesson given to me in my upbringing. Not just from Aunt Della but from the people of GOD. I was taught to not trust the flow of popular opinion. I was not to live like a herded sheep only concerned with immediate gratification. I was to set the trend rather than follow it. It has served me well throughout my life. I always ask the question. Especially if everyone is doing it.

In this mojo liking, everybody’s doing it culture, that we currently swim in; it continues to serve my best interest. Asking the why questions of myself if not of others. Living should be deliberate not something I drift into. Living should be purposeful not necessarily popular. Living should only be directed by the relationship with GOD. All other ground, all other leadings are sinking sand. We owe it to ourselves. We owe it to our children. And we owe it to one another to order our steps in the Word of GOD.

When we follow GOD, we can’t help but put our best foot forward.

Thanking GOD for Lemonade

During a required training class for all licensed Colorado Childcare Providers, we were told that it was imperative that we made sure during the early years of development that the children did not have negative experiences because it would interfere with the proper development of mental synapses. Never say no, or never.

We had been carefully admonished to not ask questions during the lessons for this apparently altered the schedule of the class. They would try and address our questions at the class’s conclusion. I tried.

The advice to stop teaching children to write in cursive was silly enough, but the brain synapses development plan was much too ridiculous to ignore. My hand shot up high. “When,” I asked, “do we teach the children to take the lemons in life and make lemonade?” Deep rumbles rolled through the room. I wasn’t the only one who thought what was passing for training was, itself, failed synapses development. The instructors refused to answer.

Earlier today I had occasion to visit with a young man I had not seen since the beginning of the year. The sadness and defeat seem to hang about him as he walked around. His discomfort was evident. I began talking about the season of crazy that seems to have gripped many in my family and slowly he began to unwind. He was deep in pain from his family’s betrayal and rejection. Even his beloved parents. He felt alone, boxed in and neglected. I have no doubt he was truly hurt and stymied by what was happening to him and his two small boys.

While praying I shared with him the one thing that played upon my heart. I said. “You know people belong to GOD. When they get too crazy, I just return to the sender. People are GOD’s to fix not mine.”

I hoped he could filter past all the recommended responses that are laid out, particularly for young males. Young people seem to assume their deliverance is connected to their strength. Their personal vitality. But what that means is GOD must move you from your own silliness before He can deal with the foolishness of those who have harmed you. Whether the young man knew it or not wasn’t clear, but GOD remains faithful and prayer is a powerful tool.

His sadness reminded me of that old training class. It also awakened my appreciation for lemonade. Making lemonade is all about taking the sour and making it sweet and appetizing. Making it a delicious beverage to be consumed in large satisfying gulps. Ending with the thirst saturating clink of ice cubes in the bottom of the glass. The hotter the day the more refreshing the lemonade.

Thank you, Lord, for teaching me to be a great lemonade maker. I have learned when you make good lemonade you want to share it with everyone. Even those who brought the lemons.

Thankful for the Ownership of GOD

There is wonderful freedom when recognizing GOD’s place in each life. I may feel all kinds of bad towards you. It may be well deserved. But at the end of the feelings, I am required to consider what a person means to GOD.

It relieves me of the need to see or experience certain behavior from others. It relieves me of the need to “fix” other people. To fix a child. I consider it my “safe place” because there is such freedom and shelter in allowing GOD to have His way with each of His children.

Each day I am striving to live with respect and consideration for the ownership of GOD. In the end, it doesn’t matter whether we live like we belong. In the end, it doesn’t matter if we ever acknowledge our Creator. It remains an undeniable and factual truth. People belong to GOD.

That does not mean that the law is not for the lawbreaker. That does not mean that we don’t reap what we sow. What it does mean is that you are GOD’s problem. I can always return you to the sender. I can be assured that the warranty of GOD’s love means the repairs are ongoing. It is His desire that none of us be lost; all souls belong to GOD. However, the soul that sins will die. (2 Peter 3:9 particularly & Ezekiel 18:4 particularly.)

There is something to be said for love that keeps reaching for us until the reaching is no longer warranted. That’s grace and mercy I covet for myself and for you as well. Brought and paid for we belong to GOD!

Thanksgiving for Dreams

Dreams are a communication extension. If you learn to listen.

Probably my favorite dreams involve being inside the home I own. My home, I have learned signifies my spiritual state of well-being. More importantly, they provide insight into the conversation between the Lord and my heart. They can announce blessings or dangers. Sickness or health.

Probably as only a child born with seven sisters and one brother would understand. My homes always come complete with a separate bathroom attached to each bedroom. Each home splendid in its size and amenities. Nothing lacking, everything provided.

But sometimes I have encountered powerful hateful spirits. If invoking the name of JESUS CHRIST seems ineffective, I have been known to distance myself from those spaces or awakened still engaging in warfare. It is one of the ways I understand that I am doing things by rote, rather than sincerity.

My homes hold unending discoveries. I have learned if I see someone resting in my home, or in one of my beds; special prayer is needed. If I am moving to a new job or home, it means GOD is calling me to deeper depths and new lessons. I am happy as the years have passed; my homes are becoming grander.

In 2017 I went to the second floor of a sophisticated apartment I occupied. Huge. But I had not utilized the rooms on the second floor. I had not told anyone about the malevolent spirits I had encountered in two of the rooms. Because this home had been inherited it was stocked with possessions that belonged to the previous owner. I was always intending to sort through those rooms and retain the valuables for my use. But those spirits had made it a task I continued to avoid.

In 2018 I found myself in that home again. Determined as never before. I decided not to sort through any of the possessions. I would instead empty out every room of every inherited possession, and began to use those neglected spaces. I was not repulsed by the spirits; I understood they were tied to the old possessions.

Now I occupy a larger, redesigned, and redecorated home. I am still learning how to operate all the upgrades, but earlier this year my Aunt Lonnie appeared there and insisted that I not rent out such a grand home as I had planned to do. “You were meant to live here,” she told me.

I am learning to discard my habit of assigning natural symbolism to what is meant to convey spiritual symbolism. I am no longer of the habit of awakening and looking for natural remedies to the dreams. Some things have a natural context, but most do not. Let me say I prefer the stuff of the spirit. It is much more substantial.

I feel like a gambler betting on a fixed race. Or a stockbroker with inside trading information. I cannot lose. No one does, sleeping or awake when you listen for the heart of GOD.

Thanksgiving for GOD’s Timing

I think while I inhabit this temporal state, some lessons will be ongoing. Temporal living when treated as permanent can rob you of what you already know to be true. So, thank you Lord for the keeping power of your SPIRIT.

One such lesson is the one about time. My childhood was marked by a doctrine of timeliness. We were taught that even church attendance must be done in a timely manner. To do any less was an indicator of your true feelings regarding GOD! If we dare not arrive at a natural job consistently late; why would we be less timely in our efforts towards GOD. Therefore, I am guilty of experiencing the anxiety and weariness brought on by such expectations.

I have told GOD about the situation; because He so needs that from me. I know that He is aware of me. But why oh why doesn’t He answer?

I am learning to take the human stopwatch off GOD. We know already how time exists with GOD, wraps our concept of timing into oblivion. Hint: “a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as a day.” (2 Peter 3: specifically verses 8 and 9.)

Nine to Five is for the order of our world. Man invented to help organize our living. To help mark the spot so that we can know we have been there. Seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years are from us. The past, present, and future; us again.

But when in relationship with GOD put the stopwatch away. Time obeys GOD. When I remember this, trust becomes the reflection of my living. While on this Earth I will always speak from my perceived desires and needs. But I will trust GOD.

Timing that fits my need. Timing that customizes my relationship with GOD. Timing that is always, always on time.

Thanksgiving for Lesson Number Three

This is a biggie for me. A lesson the Lord has given to me that I find it necessary to return too. Like keeping eggs in my basket. Life has a way of flipping this egg out of the basket. But if nothing else, the presence of the Lord remains steadfast. His lessons true. The revelations to my soul, ongoing.

This is the year I learned something about prayer. Prayer should be the highest form of communication. But often we resort to it after we have tried to orchestrate solutions for ourselves. That’s human. That’s predictable. But as the highest form of communication, it is wiser to listen than it is to talk.

Conversation with the alpha and omega of life, and you are doing all the talking?

When I consider the prayer of JESUS in the Garden of Gethsemane, I find an obviousness that tends to allude me. In Christendom, we are quick to declare the benefits of being co-heirs with Christ. We assume that a 100-fold in this life is in evidence when our lives reflect affluence. When we have GOD given life mates and children as our legacy. But that boils down to more talking than listening.

Three times JESUS prayed, “Father remove this bitter cup!” Twice he enlisted the help of those who loved him. His posse. He prayed until sweat like blood ran down his brow. But the cup was not removed. Surely the Son of GOD had the authority and right to not just ask but to declare. But He did not. (Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, and John 18.)

He concluded; “not my will but thine be done.” For someone who faced unimaginable persecution. Through no fault of His own. (2 Corinthians 5 emphasis on verse 21.) To face such horror on behalf of a world that often rejects His efforts, that represents for me perhaps the single greatest act of faith in GOD. To choose the path most detriment to the human body and the human mind is trust beyond trust. I know what I would like Lord. I know what I deserve, but I trust that if it faces me; it is the very best for me. I trust you GOD no matter what faces me.

I found that trusting GOD included times of discomfort as well as blessings. That trusting GOD did not necessarily equal opulence, affluence, wealth or health. That trusting GOD means no matter how it translates to my humanity, it represents something for me. One hundred-fold in this life means everything works together for my good. Everything! And the good, well, that’s the success of my fellowship with the Creator.

Seeing GOD’s face in peace is the journey and purpose I share with my Creator. The noblest and highest calling upon my life.

I am determined to live in view of what comes next. Enjoying all this world has for me. But living in expectation of the next. I have the breath of life within me, you think I’m not smart enough to allow the giver of life to lead and guide me? I’m listening Lord speak to my heart.