Saturday, May 30, 2009

Rescue Me

So Tuesday morning I was minding my own business, getting the kids ready for school after the long weekend. I don't iron at my house, so the equivalent is throwing wrinkled clothing into the dryer for a few minutes and moving forward from there. So, I was doing my version of the poor lazy man's version of ironing.

On my first trip outside to put the clothing in the dryer I noted a playful kitten being chased by the neighbor boy. I thought, "Oh they have a new kitten." By the time the process of "ironing" was done, my neighbors had left but the playful kitten was still romping about in their yard but now totally unsupervised, so I stopped to watch as the mischievous little creature started to crawl up into the undercarriage of the truck in the neighbors driveway. If you don't foresee the problem here, let me just give you two words, Kitty Slaughter and no, I do not mean some cool kitty hair band from the 80's, I am speaking of the sure demise of one of God's cutest little creatures. When I was growing up I had a cat who was one of the lucky few who got out of such a situation only losing half her tail, most kitties are not so lucky.

Look at this face, what would you have done?

Yeah, me too. And she made it really easy. I called her and she came bounding right over. I went in the garage and tried to find a safe place for her. I had the towel hamper out in the garage, newly emptied, and placed her in the deep bottom. She was not a happy camper. I was torn. I knew should couldn't stay in it, it wouldn't close. I looked about and she fussed so I took her back outside, not knowing who she belonged to. As soon as I set her down, she headed straight back to the truck, clearly no wiser for the 4 minutes she spent in time out. I called her back, picked her up and put her back in the hamper. Then I found our old cat carrier which was full of photographs.

I emptied it out and placed her safely inside with a towel. Cute and cuddly to crazed and cranky in 4 seconds or less. You know what? She was loud, grumping and complaining at the top of her lungs. I got back to my laundry business and getting my kids ready for school, making a couple of quick "Found Kitten" signs and posting them on the street. The young ones took a look at the grumping kitten before we headed off to drop off. I went to give her a little liquid to drink but she was so out raged meowing at the top of her lungs, gripping the cage door with her paws and claws that for fear of my fingers I thought better of supplying her with refreshment.

I sent hubby a quick text letting him know about our temporary ward and could hear the "woe is me, oh my" in his response, despite the fact he said I had done the right thing in rescuing her.

When I got back from dropping off the young ones I peeked in at our little prisoner and thought she had escaped, the carrier now appeared empty and was completely silent. I shook the carrier but got no reply. Finally I opened the door and stuck my hand in the towel where I found that a docile little creature had replaced the formerly ferocious feline. So I went in the house and refilled her refreshment, gave it to her and went about my day.

When I got to work I assured Neal my intention was to send her packing. When I brought the little kids home they took Jake to have a look. I didn't let them open her cage and told them she would be moving on, though my misconception about a local pet hospital being willing to take her had been corrected. And the only "no-kill shelter" in the area was quite a bit out of our way, and hours were too late by the end of the day as it was. I shuffled the kids inside and got them to their homework, still confident we would find a better place for the little kitten.

So when Neal got home I asked him if he wanted to have a look. Next thing I knew, this had happened.... in my living room mind you... not my garage.

And by the end of the night she had found a favorite place to settle herself...

All throughout the next couple of days it made me think about how it is for us when the Lord has to reign us in. When we in our foolishness or out of our sinful nature find ourselves on a road that leads to danger and destruction, and quietly the Lord calls us back. I wish I could say I always come as quickly and easily as the kitten came to me, but I don't. But very much like the kitten when I put her in a safe place, as she was fighting back and resisting... how often I find myself in a very similar way resisting and striking against the discipline of the Lord. Does it matter that He does it for my safety and good? I wish I could say I am always quick to see it His way.

Sometimes like the kitten I don't fully understand what's going on and cannot see the dangers lurking like the Lord does, and so in His love and care for me He gives more concern to my benefit than my comfort. The Lord in his love, knowing what will come from the path I am on, may lay the obstacles that will divert my way. I may never know exactly what trials loomed ahead, because in His goodness, the Lord blocked the road. How often do we pray for God to open and close the doors before us as He wills, and then rail against them when they aren't what we had hoped for ourselves. My benefit, not my comfort.

But here was the beautiful metaphor that struck me. When we finally surrender, we find ourselves at home in the arms of the Lord. As it is for the first time, when we come to the surrender of salvation, like the kitty being given a new home, and a new family and name through adoption, or whether it be again when we have strayed from the Lord's will for us, we find the peace that comes from resting in the arms of the Father, safe, secure, at peace - remembering what it is to be loved and to belong.

Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
your justice like the great deep.
O LORD, you preserve both man and beast.
How priceless is your unfailing love!
Both high and low among men
find [a] refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house;
you give them drink from your river of delights.

Psalm 36:6-8

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Seeking Him Together - Can I Be Honest?

I have lived in the same house for 38 of my 39 years of life. I don't remember ever living anywhere else. Just before I got married (in all honesty) my parents moved out and my fiance moved in. We rented the house from them for 8 years and 10 years ago we bought it.

I remember when I was little, probably 10 or so, my parents brought a tree home in my dad's two-tone Datsun truck and planted it in the front yard. It was so skinny and weak, I remember when the Santa Ana winds came we thought it was going to break right in half. They had to tie a stake to it to keep it standing. It scarred up the tree pretty good. That little tree is now the biggest tree in the neighborhood.

This tree once so little and harmless, has become a force to be reckoned with. It has taken on a life of it's own never to have been fully anticipated when it was first planted.

If you walk up closely to it and look up high on the large trunk, you can still see the scar from the rope that once held it upright in the wind protecting it. I look at this tree and it makes me think of a lie. A lie? Yes, a lie. I think about how so often a "little white lie" is told with justification or excuse but before you know it, it takes on a life of its own.

If you walk around my property, you can see the damage on the surface being wrought by the deep roots of our tree. There are cracks on the surface, our foundation is being uprooted.

Just yesterday my husband had to remove a branch coming up between our patio and back door. (Yes, I said BACK door.) It was pretty big, and we had let it go so long it was starting to interfere with the sliding glass door. It begs the question, with the damage we can see on the surface, what sort of havoc are the roots wreaking underneath where we cannot see. Like a lie, or worse, a life lived without honesty, the real problem lies beneath the surface, doing unknown damage.

This is a lesson I have had to learn all too well in my life. When I came to the Lord, I came to Him out from under the cover of darkness and dishonesty. I kept a sin secret for so long it laid there prepared to destroy my marriage. It had driven me far from the knowledge of God and was a fault line in the foundation of my life.

Perhaps that's why I hold such a high regard for honesty and transparency. I not only require it of myself but those around me. It becomes quite a bone of contention between my oldest son and I, who at 15 is still learning the importance of living a transparent and honest life, total honesty. The fact of the matter is, if there is such a thing as too honest, I may be guilty of it. I have thought on more than one occasion that this blog should have been perhaps titled "Naked Diana" rather than "My Walk of Faith."

Now, please don't misunderstand me. I am by no means perfect in this area, but I do know I tend to be extremely open about my struggles with sin. I also tend to be honest about the struggles and sin of my family as well, which is probably in part at least where I cross the line, but I have experienced the total lack of peace that comes from living a life with hidden sin, and refuse to live that kind of life again.

Now on to our questions from this week's hostess.

~What part of this study or what Scripture has been most helpful to you thus far in understanding what revival means in your life? Why?

For me the most profound nugget of wisdom from this study came from a quote in the first week's study. Del Fehsenfeld Jr. said, "Revival awakens in our hearts an increased awareness of the presence of God, a new love for God, a new hatred for sin and a new hunger for His word." I see this quote almost as a progress scale, by recognizing the status of each point, I can gage whether or not there are signs of revival in my life. In all honesty, I am sad to say I noticed the strongest activity in my heart in the first week, but I consider it like heart exercise. When you are building muscles, your first efforts are most strongly felt, then you reach a plateau and the effects of the exertion are less felt. It's then that you know you must raise the bar to find the effect of exertion felt again. I suspect it is time to again raise the bar for the effort that needs to be made to revive my heart towards the Lord.

~What can we do to create greater freedom in the Body of Christ to be honest with each other?

I think the key to fostering honesty in the Body of Christ is to fight hard to overcome the sense of judgment that is so prevalent. We have forgotten the sentiment, "There but for the grace of God go I." I think we look around and think we have our demons and struggles beat and judge others who struggle in areas we no longer feel we do. But the fact of the matter is that it is that very prideful attitude that setds us up to fall again into that sin, and the sin of pride on top of it. We need to remember we are all works in process, each battling to overcome our own struggles. Your sin issues make you no worse than me, we are all human fighting to overcome our sinful nature. Likewise, my sin issues make me no worse than you, just a soul in need of a Savior because apart from Christ, I can do nothing.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


This morning in church service we had a wonderful time of worship. The final song was one I like very much, it's called "Offering" by Paul Baloche.

The chorus of the song goes like this,

I bring an offering of worship to my King
No one on earth deserves the praises that I sing
Jesus may You receive the honor that You're due
O Lord I bring an offering to You
I bring an offering to You.

Our pastor's wife, who is also the head or worship ministry, and who was helping lead worship this morning and began to talk about what we truly bring as an offering to the Lord in times like today. She talked about how it isn't our tithe, it isn't our service in ministry, it isn't even our singing of the song, it's just us. I think she said "little old us," but the concept is clear, the offering we bring to God is just who we are.

As she was speaking I got this vision of the Lord standing and all of us bringing our offering and laying them at His feet. What I saw was us bringing things like coal, and unpolished stones, lumps of stone or clay, blank canvases and the like.

In my mind I saw this pile of "stuff" and thought what value does it have? And I felt the Lord say, "none, until it's in My hands."

Then I thought about what happens to those things in the right circumstances. The coal, under pressure becomes a diamond. The stone after much careful treatment such as heat and pressure becomes a gem stone, precious and beautiful. It requires the steady and trained hand of the sculptor to chisel from the stone and clay a beautiful sculpture. The blank canvas, it is only by the careful time and intention, and attention that a masterpiece is created worthy of display.

So often I know I struggle with the questions and doubts of what could I possibly offer to the Lord? It's in these moments I realize it isn't about what I have, but rather about what the Lord can and chooses to do with it. Just as Moses asked, 'Who am I?" The answer remains that the Lord we serve is the great "I Am."

It is simply ours to be available and willing, to make ourselves an offering. It is the Lord to create the purpose, the value and the beauty. He may use pressure, or heat, He may even use those things that are sharp to chip away that which is not of Him. The process may be long and methodical, tedious even, but of one thing we can be sure, when we are in the hands of the Master, the end result is sure.

I bring an offering of worship to my King
No one on earth deserves the praises that I sing
Jesus may You receive the honor that You're due
O Lord I bring an offering to You
I bring an offering to You.

Lord, I come to you unrefined, but I come willing and available. Make in me a masterpiece, that I may reflect your goodness and your beauty.

"But who can endure the day of His coming?
And who can stand when He appears?
For He is like a refiner’s fire
And like launderers’ soap.
He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver;
He will purify the sons of Levi,
And purge them as gold and silver,
That they may offer to the LORD
An offering in righteousness.
“ Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem
Will be pleasant to the LORD,
As in the days of old,
As in former years."

Malachi 3:2-4