Monday, April 29, 2013

A Prayer For My Daughter

Each night I put my baby to sleep and her tiny fingers, so warm and new wrap around her Mama’s hands. Her gentle face looks up at mine and she smiles and I sing. I sing the old hymns, the ones that bring me comfort, the ones that bring me joy and peace on hard days. I want her to find comfort too—comfort in her Mama’s voice, soft and strong, comfort in her Jesus as she grows and learns that life is hard, but that He is near and that He never forsakes those who truly seek Him; He is the Good Shepherd. He sings grace and peace over His lambs; His voice is truth and gentleness. 

Then I pray, hand over her littleness, hand over her baby-frame; she is so unaware of the harshness, of the pain outside her window; the wind of the world cuts deep. I will not be able to shield her from everything; the Lord knows what is hers to bear and He will carry her. 

But I pray, because I love her, because I love this baby lamb, given to me for a season-to protect, to nurture, to cherish. I pray and I look to His great “depths of mercy” to pour grace into her soul. 

I pray . . . 

And the prayer ascends . . . 

So I pray, because I don’t want my daughter to be rich in material things, but “poor in soul.” I pray, for I believe that the “end of all things is near,” and I want for my daughter to be one who is counted worthy to suffer for Jesus’ sake. I pray, because the distractions of this life may so easily crowd out the joy of the Gospel, and I want for her days to be filled with grace, not empty and meaningless. I pray, that her soul be redeemed and she be one of the blood-bought-ones, who someday will wear a robe of white. I pray that her heart may be sensitive, not seared, that she will have compassion, not scorn for the lowly. That she will heal and not tear down. That her words will be gracious, not harsh, embittered, tinged with the sickening sarcasm and degrading humor of this age. I pray, because it is only His grace that transforms a sinner to a saint, only His blood that redeems. 

I pray. And I trust His love for this spark of life that He created, that He formed in my womb, that He knows with a knowledge unfathomable. 

The prayers ascend. My baby sleeps. And grace blankets her softly like apple blossoms on earth’s arm. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Ancient Paths

This is what the LORD says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.

Jeremiah 6:16

I was 19 years old and the air was still and ebbed with the warm shadow of summer. I sat on the porch swing with my Mama . . . back and forth, back and forth in the cooling night breeze and the sky was alive with the last splendid hues of the sunset. All around, a fragrance beckoned--the scent of the perennials in the deep grainy soil, a promise of beauty, grace of a scattered seed. I breathed in the thick richness of it all.

It was the summer after I graduated from highschool, the summer after “the decision,” when all the world changed for me, and all that I valued as important faded more sharply beneath the vision of His love and the searing, beautiful pain of the sacrificial knife. 

Suddenly, the Robin song was all a-sky, painting ribbons over the smoky pink rays of the setting sun. Joy of the Robin-song in their nesting season, and I only 19 years old, considering the ancient paths and aching to walk in them, if I could only but find them. 

My Mama beside me; she had walked the ancient paths, learned of the good way, known the Great One in truth. Together, we rocked on the porch swing, flesh of flesh and blood of blood, and listening together to the robin’s joy-song in the coming of their offspring. 

And I her daughter, my Mother who had introduced me to Oswald Chambers’ writings, who always counseled my sisters and I to “count the cost,” and that it was worth it to follow Him, even when it did cost. She bore the love-scars and the stain of the tears of that counsel. 

The ancient paths . . . in a world that has grown so “advanced,” in a Church that has suddenly become “sophisticated,” simple faith in the promises of God replaced by statistics and frantic growth efforts. 

Whatever happened to humble, child-like faith in the promises of God? Whatever happened to fervent Spirit-saturated prayer and obedience to His authority in every aspect of our lives? As Vance Havner says, have we, have I become too “grown-up,” to “become as a little child?” 

I wonder, sometimes, if instead of spending our time and energy on new techniques and programs to “reach the lost,” we “spent” ourselves together in prayer, as the ancient saints did—and moved the Most Holy. E.M. Bounds says, “What the Church needs to-day is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use -- men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men, men of prayer.”

Where are the ancient paths? They are not difficult to find . . . they lie quietly in the worn pages of a cherished Bible, in the prayer meetings of persecuted suffering saints. They lie in the hospital beds of the lonely and afflicted who have learned the secret of being empty of self and filled with the Presence of God. 

They lie in the quietness of seeking God through patient, persevering prayer, in the relinquishment of lesser things to become more filled with glory, in the cup of cold water offered to a little child, in the triumph of self-laid-aside, of decreasing so that He may become more. 

They lie not in me, but in Him . . . and He is the One who leads the feet of those, who through His grace would take up their cross and step onto the worn, narrow, ancient paths... 

The frantic, rushing world all around . . . The Church, racing to keep up with the pace . . . Oftentimes it is in the simplicity of child-like faith that the God of Might moves, and where we least expect. The child-like heart, listening to the Great Father, accepting His strength and grace... 

What paths will I choose? And will I hear the simple Robin song of peace or the cacophony and confusion of this world and all its daily noises? 

It is a difficult way, but eternally its worth is precious . . . Oh Lord, enable me through Your grace to choose the ancient paths...

Friday, April 19, 2013

A Place of Rest

Come, O Lord and be our Guest

May You in our home find rest

Yielded, wholly, through and through

And our hearts be filled with You

Come into our dusty rooms

Sweep the cobwebs with Your broom

Of relentless, burning grace

That Yourself we touch and taste

Open up our homely hearts

Where the gift of service starts

Heal our souls and drive them to

The balm of healing that is You

Then open up our doors that we

May other hungry souls then feed

With hospitality’s fresh bread

A cup of soup, a clean warm bed

May many come to be our guests

And find within our home true rest

The Holy Spirit will impart

The gift of healing to their hearts

And may it be a house of prayer

Where many, weary, entering there

Would find fresh strength upon their knees

Beside a brook, beneath the trees

May our home be ever kept

By You, Lord, as a place of rest

Where hope burns keenly and its light

Shines brightly through the lonely night

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Cemetery Walk

The silent stillness mists around my shoulders-

    A tepid quiet echoes all-around

           I see the graves,

        Cloud-gray and silent-cold

Asleep beneath the ground

  So many—

      Slumbering humanity

And I wonder-

     What kind of life this one

          Or that one lived-and did it matter for the eternal? Or only for the distant, time-hushed “now”?

    The mossy stones say nothing; only the stillness speaks, whispers to the soul

I gaze upward-ornate monuments, embellished with angels

     Now christened with dusty soil and silent in the spring air—

“The deeds done in the body . . .”

I wonder-what will my deeds say?

“I am the Resurrection and the Life . . . “

     His life, lived for mine

          His deed of love

               To cover my sin-stained hands—

His tomb, now empty

   Hushes my shame

     And whispers hope.

I walk through the cemetery—

        The phoebe sings sweetly

              Her sunlight song on my shoulder

                 Angels, alive, alive sing glory

           To this one in the place of death, the place of life.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A Life of Joy

Walking in the woods, the pine needles crisp beneath my feet, my soul looks upward, towards the rich, fading sky. I walk in the woods because it helps me to think, clears my mind of distractions, sets my heart on the things above. I sense His presence more deeply here, in the quietness. 

We used to walk in the woods with my Mama. When we were little girls she spent her days with us, gave up her own dreams of pursuing, of becoming so that we could “become,” so that she could encourage our souls into the Savior, lead us to that place of decision, nurture us as only she could. In losing, in “giving up,” in bowing down, she was lifted up, and “became” what God had purposed for her life. We always drove an old car, always wore hand-me-downs; our vacations were simple camping trips. And we were happy, comforted by her being there, content with less because we were rich in our Mother’s love and in our Heavenly Father’s care. 

I meet people that I know and they ask me how do I like staying at home now, how do I like “not working?” And I have to humble myself, bow my pride low before Jesus, answer, think with understanding. Have I ever “worked” harder in my life? When my goals were purely academic, did I even burn the midnight oil then as I do now?—when my baby cries for the sixth, for the seventh time and it is 5am and I am bone-weary? Because before my goals were for myself, my work was towards self-advancement—now, it is bent towards the welfare of another life. It is difficult to lay myself down, consistently, day-in and day-out—and in my humanness, I often complain; I don’t do it perfectly. It is difficult to lay oneself down in a society screaming for self-realization, self-fulfillment, and a “you deserve it” mentality. 

I love my baby, and it is because I love her that I lay myself down—as every mother does, through the sleepless, fitful nights, through the colic, through the fussiness, through the sickness, through the helplessness of these small ones, these tiny infant souls. 

And they say to me “I wish that I could do that; stay at home with my baby; you must be very financially secure.” 

Is money the answer to everything? Is worldly security the answer to a life of joy? Do I tell them that my husband and I share a car--an old car, that we very rarely travel, that we eat beans and a lot of spaghetti? That my clothing comes from consignment shops, that we can’t afford K-cups, that I don’t “get my nails done.” Or do I humble myself and smile and try to live before them a life that is different, the life that the Father has called me to at this time, and that only by the grace of God . . . ? 

Is it “wrong” for a woman to pursue her own goals, apart from raising her children, apart from her family? Is it wrong for a woman to seek a job, seek a career, spend her time chasing, self-fulfilling? Only the individual can answer that question before God, in the quiet conscience of her heart. And there are varying situations which may call for varying answers of how this may work itself out . . . but the question always comes, the piercing question—Am I laying myself down? Am I sincerely following the Father’s leading upon my life or the pattern that society has laid before me, imposed upon me, backed my conscience into a corner with? Am I empty, ready to be filled with joy? Or am I so “full” of this world’s treasures and comforts that I don’t even comprehend what real joy is? “He who would follow Me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow . . .”(Matthew 16:24). “He who would seek to save his own life will lose it, but he who loses his life for My sake will find it . . .” (Matthew 16:25). “He who gives up houses and lands in this life . . .” (Matthew 19:29).

What am I doing with my life, the life that the Son of Man has entrusted to me, the Son of Man who had no place to lay His head? And will it matter for eternity—and for a life of joy in the now? Every man, every woman has to answer that question before the Father. 

But I want what I am doing to matter, not to be burned up as chaff on that Great Day. And my soul cries out to hear those words spoken to me, through the blood of Christ—“Well done, thou good and faithful servant . . .” For this is joy realized and tasted; this is life and glory. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Bearing Fruit

What depths of sin my heart has known

Pressed ever downward by His Law

While all-despairing bow my head

For I cannot for sin atone

The good I do is filthiness

For all in pride my good is done

And in my own sufficiency

For I am all unrighteousness

But when I flee from my vain strength

To bring my burden to His feet

The day grows bright; the birds are glad

When all my own resource is spent

He takes my sad, despairing heart

Into His great and gentle hands

He says "My grace alone will do--

And you must ne'er from Me depart"

Abide in Me to do the things

That I have given you to do

The branch bears fruit when it remains

Upon the vine-then life it brings

Monday, April 1, 2013


The sweet air softens these love-lines around my eyes. Things that were once so important to me fade and the song of heaven becomes more real as the days grow brighter and spring steps in gently, like a doe in the clearing-wood. What is it about the changing of the season, about the passing of winter that affects me so deeply? Something in my blood cries out, reaches out in thirst like a third-world beggar. Is it spring I long for, or joy? And why does the spring put the Father-hunger in my heart?

I hear the birds call, singing still in the new breeze. They lift their voices tepidly, hesitantly almost at first . . . is the winter really over? Did they really make it through? The days of quick-falling dark, of ice-cold-air that breaks the spirit and the bones and hushes the strong and weak alike, the days of barrenness and skeleton-trees-- are they over?

The dove sits on the telephone wire-above, her placid wings tucked around her. “Oh, that I had wings like a dove . . .” The world is harsh; I long for the promised rest,  for the rivers of delight that await, for the peace-filling that will soothe my soul and pour balm on the wounds that never fully healed in this life. The healing waters and the trees . . .  and redeemed humankind free from their suffering-agonies and sorrows.

Joy, joy . . . the leaves of remembrance . . . the mist of myrrh where sadness has been soothed over with gracious balm.

I hear the phoebe-song, gentle laughter of delight, the murmuring trees just before their leave-crowning comes. Peace . . . not the absence of pain but deliverance from it. Joy . . . not the absence of sorrow but the holy restoration, the making of all things new. Glory . . . I see Jesus, sitting at the right hand of the Father--nail-scars-closed and spring all around. Winter is over. The trees burst forth their buds, angel-shaken. The creatures, birds and beasts walk without fear, the lion and the lamb together, the infant and the adder. Grace---my soul stirs, like wind in the waiting pines.

Healing, grace, renewal . . . the sun rises. And winter is hushed; the morning wakes. Men and angels singing glory. And spring laughs over my soul.