Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Reading the Last Chapter

"Here, do you want this lottery ticket? We already know it wins a million dollars."

"Um, no...no. I'm not ready to be rich."

This supremely telling dialogue was created by my loyal sister as a pretty fair summary of some recent events. I've had it humming around in my head ever since. While the OneThing08 conference here in Kansas City has been unveiling a whole new arena of thought to many of the attendees, and re-energizing my own pursuit of the full Gospel of the Kingdom, it has become so clear to me once again that God has unlimited extents of treasure for us to dive into and explore -- but we have to actively choose to do so. However much our own ignorance or blindness or short-sightedness comes into play in our choices, the root of our answer is the same. We are either giving a "YES" or a "NO" to Him. We are either saying, "Yes, make me rich," or "No, I'm not ready to be rich." But the fact that richness is available is definitely not in question.

Mike Bickle, who I respect very much, has been diving into the book of Revelation and teaching on that most controversial of subjects: the end times and second coming. I know that many Christians are hesitant to think much about these things, hesitant even to read Revelation because they feel it will simply confuse and frighten. I left the first evening of teaching on Sunday thinking about it in terms of my own passion - writing. Who would read an entire novel, only to stop just before the last chapter? Not only would such an experience be entirely unsatisfying, it would leave one in the dark as to the real story, the full meaning of the novel. Without the ending, in which the hero or heroine triumphs and all the threads of the story come together, it would be no story at all. I, personally, have never met a reader who leaves out the ending chapter. (I've met some who read the end first, though :).

But, to be honest, it is certainly the reader's choice. If they want to read all 65 chapters and then lay the book aside before the 66th and last, they can. We can do this with the Bible. We can read it all but the ending. We can study the parts of Jesus we feel are accesible, and then set Him aside before we're confronted with the majesty of His holiness, with how His love is expressed in righteous judgment, with His simultaneous identities as a King, a Bridegroom, and a Judge. But, just like in my sister's little scenario above, what great richness we are voluntarily giving up if we do! It's like abdicating an entire kingdom. I am not content to meet Jesus face-to-face having only known the parts of His personality I picked and chose. In reality, that would mean I did not really know even those parts, for His mercy cannot be understood apart from His truth, and His love cannot be known apart from His power. Let's read the last chapter!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Good to Me

“The Lord is good to me,
And so I thank the Lord
For giving me, the things I need
The sun, the rain, and the apple seed.
The Lord is good to me.”

Did everyone sing this in their childhood? I must have, but it has been years since I’ve heard or thought of it. As Dora drove the curve into the Honolulu airport this afternoon, this song dropped into my mind; rather, it dropped into my lap. That’s what it felt like. God had dropped it on me, specifically, purposefully, and with a mischievous smile. I’ve been humming it ever since…

  • As I watch the bluewater below me on this trip back from the far end of the earth.
  • As I consider the city-like clusters of poofy cream clouds below my vantage point and imagine little worlds populated by air fairies who not only move with the ever changing cities, but pull them this way and that like taffy candy designers.
  • As I shiver deeply for the second time in 7 months (airplane air, you know). The first time was a few nights ago on Malia’s lanai. The breeze off Pearl Harbor was cooler than I’d anticipated.
  • As I realize humans are proud of their technologies and jet-settedness, but that God made the earth traversable – just the right mix of challenge and achievability. It’s pre-designed for us to win.
  • As I ponder the thought that the people who are raptured up to meet Him in the clouds will come from a generation used to seeing the world and the earth from high up. We won’t be so distracted by flying as, say, the saints of 200 years ago would have been. Happy thought, eh? :)
  • As I rehearse all the ways God has been good to me. (Don’t get excited; there are too many to list here).

But one of them is very apparent to me now. For some reason, Alaska Airlines has a few more inches of leg space in their rows. I’m almost positive, for my knees are not touching the one in front of me. When I rule the world, I’ll do something about the profound discomfort imposed on long-legged travelers…probably by telling people not to travel so much :).

Oh, never mind. Do travel, please. Travel to Kansas City and see me. Travel to Windward Oahu and see the Creator. Travel to Croatia (according to the retired guy in front of me) because you’re interested. See, I’m not Rebecca Lynde, whom travelers remind of Satan, always roaming too and fro over the earth.

The earth, by the way, is very large and small at the same time. I’ve been on the most remote archipelago (that’s hearsay; I haven’t googled it because I’m on a plane at the moment) on earth, and it’s only taking me 5 hours to get back to Seattle.

Seems I’ve evacuated at just the right time. Yesterday we took the morning to enjoy Lanikai, my favorite beach, one last time. Supposedly, soon Mr. Obama will be coming to do his Christmas vacationing there. Can you imagine the disruption…secret service people blocking off beach and roads and parking spots and – horrors – turquoise waters? Yes, just in time. A turtle came to say “hi” to me as I swam, but he stayed underwater and swam back out. I realized the other day that a human being in Hawaii who killed sea turtle eggs would be imprisoned, heavily fined, and suffer the horror of the entire populace. But one who killed a human still in its unviable state…well, nothing. (Sorry, mentioning Mr. Obama reminded me of these sad things. May God show him a turtle, and bless him with the same revelation during his days on Lanikai!)

Monday, December 01, 2008

No Story of Deliverance

"If Daniel had never entered the lions' den, there would be no story of deliverance."

An author friend of mine sends daily devotionals, and this was in today's. He's so right. I've had a super hard month, and am facing another very difficult transition. December is going to be a challenge. In fact, it seems that every time I'm confronted by a challenge it is more difficult, nuanced, and multi-faceted than the one before. In the end, will it all be worth the trouble?

Let's see... what are the pro's?

It's an opportunity for Grace -- to acknowledge my need of it, and to expend it on others freely.

It's an opportunity for Strength -- to admit I have none, and to operate out of the Lord's unending supply.

It's an opportunity for Joy -- to sweep around the circumstances and envelope them, until they have little to do with my internal state of constant worship and constant communion. I am loved by a Man who will always be greater than any other.

It's an opportunity for Courage -- in the spirit of Joshua, I've been instructed to have courage. It's kind of fun to look back and see where I've obeyed, and how the Lord has come alongside and provided all I've needed for it, and how pleased He is (sort of pleased and proud) with me.

Yes, I think it will be worth it, but I've definitely had to make the choice to grow through it all rather than to just endure it all, holding my breath until the end. This is the choice we always have to make; it's confronting us every day with every imperfect circumstance. What sort of waiting will we do? -- the sort that covers its eyes and holds its breath until everything has passed, or the sort that opens its eyes and looks toward the hope at the end even while the roller coaster is still rising and falling and throwing your body from side-to-side? I want the active waiting, the one that actively endures because of the hope set before me, the one from which I emerge a woman built up with patience and character and hope, the one out of which I will not walk disappointed.

Years ago a prayer team prophetically described me as a pillar of strength, a woman "able to bear great weight." It did not seem good to me...I thought of all the weights I didn't want to bear: the weight of great sorrow, of great difficulties, of long waits, of constant postponement, of unfulfilled dreams, of tragedy and loss (can you tell I'm a novelist? :) Perhaps I will (and in some ways already have) encounter all these things, but the meaning of this prophecy was far different. I will be able, when the Lord has brought me fully forth into my design, to bear the weight of great responsibility, of great joy, of great purpose, of life on a great scale. How am I to become such a person? By bearing and entering into a great love with a great God, by bearing His yoke, by learning to experience it as an easy and light thing, by counting all the deep sorrows and difficulties as joys to draw me closer to Jesus, by sharing in His sufferings. By sharing in His sufferings.

Like Daniel. He was punished for being upright; he was hated for being pure. He was almost destroyed for the great "sin" of loving God...a "sin" that enabled him to be the most useful, loyal, faithful, and loving subject any king had ever had. Daniel. What injustice he suffered as he longed to return to his true home and love - Jerusalem. It is like us, longing for our true home, for Jesus to come back and set all things right. But if he had never entered the lions' den, there would be no story of deliverance. And I want a story of deliverance! Oh how I want it, because oh how I want to glorify God with that story!

Here, finally, is the song I mentioned in my last post. Mercy first, and eventually...eventually...EVENTUALLY...JESUS RETURNED TO ME.