I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free! Psalm 119:32, NIV1984

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Oh, Israel, do you know?

I scurried about this week, busy with the business of my days. Clothes to wash, meals to prepare, lessons to plan, and what will I wear to that wedding? Cancel that appointment, schedule the haircut, get out the door to make it to practice on time. Don't forget to fill out the paperwork before the first meeting, and remember to take those test results when you go to see the specialist. Did anyone let the dog out?  Feed the cat? Clean the fishbowl? Get the mail? Check that message? And, oh! This Sunday is Easter!

And somewhere in the midst of the scurry, I slowed to wonder if the self-absorbed scramble of my present was somehow reminiscent of the past.

I wondered if that week of Passover, in Jerusalem, when the Promised One came riding in on the foal of a donkey and they cried, "Hosanna!"  ("Save now!") . . .

... I wondered if they then returned to the busy business of their days, preparing for the Feast, sweeping the specks from the corners of their homes and tossing the yeast from their kitchens, but missing the planks in their eyes, forgetting the leaven in their hearts, and looking right past the One who came to fulfill the very Feast for which they prepared.

I've been finding planks in my own eye, stubborn leaven in my heart.

And I've been praying that God would give me eyes like His eyes, that He'd give me a heart like His, that He'd teach me to love like He does the people He calls the apple of His eye.

I stood in that city, Jerusalem, just two weeks ago.  City buzzing with laughter and life.  City that has captured my heart and never fails to take my breath away.

A little girl chases a ball in the Jewish quarter, another walks with her grandfather through the souks, up cobbled paths, and through the crowd. Old men argue at tables along the way, and shopkeepers call out that they have the best price on that item you're not sure you'll ever need.  Soldiers patrol the streets of the city, and families wander the ancient paths. The city is alive with life and all this living.  But do they know the One who died that they might live?

Do they know, as they remember the Passover this weekend, the One who is our Passover Lamb?

Do they know that, after his sweat poured like blood in the garden of the pressing, that place we know as Gethsemane, Gat-Sh'manin, the "oil press" - where the olive trees grow still and the oil once flowed from olives crushed in the press -

- do they know that He hung on a cross at the place of the skull, Golgotha, and a woman wept as the blood of her son soaked the earth beneath His pierced hands and feet?

Do they know - as they pray for the peace of Jerusalem, as they press their prayers into the Wall - do they know this One who is the Prince of Peace?  

Have they heard, as they touch the mezuzah at Zion Gate and remember: Shema Yisrael, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad, (Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is One) that the One God gave His One and Only Son that whoever believes in Him might have eternal life?

As the sun slips away beneath the western sky tonight, I remember those waking soon in Jerusalem. Do they know that the One they've waited for so long is longing for them now to know He lives?

Then the angel spoke to the women.
"Don't be afraid," he said. "I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  
He isn't here! He is risen from the dead, just as He said would happen."  
Matthew 28:5-6, NLT

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Digging Through the Roof

Nearly twenty years have passed since I first stood in that place, smoothing hands across stone columns, wiping fingers across wet cheeks in awe.

Nearly twenty treks of the earth around the sun since I carried a heart-still-broken across continents and seas and stood in that place where He once stood, restoring bodies broken by this world.

And something dead in me rose to live again that day.  Some wild hope burst right through my stone-cold heart, and hot tears ran like rivers, healing springs.

The stone pillars of that ancient synagogue became my Ebenezers, memorial stones, reminders of the work that God had done, those broken stones bearing witness to the pieces of a shattered heart restored.

And though Jesus had cried out against that city because of unbelief, for this heart, it was a place of believing.


I stood there again, two Sundays past, licking raindrops from my lips, breathing in the sweet scent of late winter rain.  And I wondered about the ones who had dug though the roof of a house nearby, believing for their friend who lay trapped in a body unmoving.  I wondered about the ones in the house below, brushing caked mud and straw and broken branches from their hair as the roof caved in above them.  I wondered about those raindrops falling as we stood there, a bit of earth's roof and heaven's floorboards come dripping down on top of our bare heads.

He asked us as we stood there... "Will you be the one?"  He spoke of archaeology and excavations and historical accuracy.  And then he said this:  "Pray that you will be the friend who will do whatever it takes."

Those friends were willing to tear the roof right off that place, to dig straight through to get to Jesus.

When Jesus returned to Capernaum... While He was preaching God's word to them, four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat.  They couldn't bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head.  Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus.  Mark 2:1-4, NLT (emphasis mine)

Will I be that kind of friend?

I have that kind of friend.  She's dug though the roof a time or twenty, two hundred even, for me.  When my boy-child lay struggling hard for each breath, and I lay on the floor by his bed, willing him to keep going, pleading with him to just keep breathing; she lay awake, digging though the roof. Night after night, for a year and more, she carried him to Jesus with her prayers. And I slept at last, knowing the One who watched over Israel and my boy-child never slumbered or slept, and knowing I had a friend who was storming heaven with her pleas for the health of my child.


We turned pages, from Mark's story of the ones who dug through the roof, to John's account of the man who didn't have a friend to help.  Thirty-eight years he lay paralyzed, hoping for a chance to slip into the healing waters.  Thirty-eight years he lay waiting for a friend to help.  When Jesus asked him if he wanted to be well, the man replied, "Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool."

No one.

No friend to carry him to Jesus.  No brother to lift his body into the healing waters.  No sister to bear him up on wings of prayer.

No one.

Our friend asked us, after he told us about the archaeology, the excavations, the history of that place, "Will you be the friend who will do whatever it takes?"

And I swallowed hard.

What if it takes digging through the roof?  What if I have to get my hands dirty?  What if it takes every ounce of strength that I have?  What if it takes courage, the guts to do what no one else is doing?  What if it's hard and out of my comfort zone?  What if it takes time - time I had planned to use for something else?  What it keeps me awake at night?  What if everyone in town is blocking the way, and I have to step out in wild faith?

I like my comfortable life, my scheduled weeks, my well-planned worship gatherings.  I like following the rules (mostly) and doing what others expect and knowing their pleasure.

What if I have to step out on a limb?

I remember Amanda Jones saying of a giant step of faith she and her husband, Curtis, took:  "We were way out on a limb with God.  But the view of His faithfulness was spectacular."

But I know that kind of view comes with a certain risk.

Am I willing to take the risk?

Will I be that kind of friend?

Will you?

Even if it means digging through the roof?

Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, 
"My child, your sins are forgiven."
Mark 2:5, NLT
(emphasis mine)

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Friday, March 1, 2013

In the bluster of the busy days...

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts...
and be thankful.
Colossians 3:15

These winter days have been full to the brim and spilling over . . . lessons, meetings, deadlines, assignments, projects, and overnight trips . . . 

In the bluster of the busy days, two things have kept my heart quiet:  this resolve to remain and the practice of counting gifts, giving thanks.

So I'll slip in here at the end of February (ahh... posting the first of March) and share just some of the gifts.  Because even on the busy days, this practice of slowing to take note helps me see...

Continuing to count His endless gifts and grace . . . 

#1640  driving home, sun behind us warming the fields

#1645  rainboots and coats in the cold, pouring rain

#1651  husband's encouragement when I'm feeling overwhelmed

#1660  a quiet Saturday morning to study and read

#1669  handwritten notes of encouragement in the mail

#1673  setting sun turning everything golden

#1674  new wreath for my door that my grandmother and cousin made

#1679  firstborn helping me make cakeballs to take to the party

#1682  standing in my mom's kitchen, munching on yummy tea sandwiches

#1683  my dad answering my call even while he was in a meeting

#1687  making our traditional French toast breakfast for Valentine's Day

#1694  full moon rising over the lacrosse field

#1697  husband taking a day off to bake a "dad & lad" cake for the contest

#1699  red tulip on my kitchen counter

#1701  praying with my boy-child through the night watches

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything,
by prayer and petition with thanksgiving
let your requests be made known to God
and the peace of God, which passes all understanding
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

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