Longing For Your Child to Digest the Truth

 

The cute toddler sized outfit, its corners pinched between my thumbs and middle fingers, appeared too big. How could my infant son’s five pound frame possibly expand large enough to fill it?  Yet, two years later, I witnessed him growing into those clothes.

It didn’t happen overnight. Time, as any parent knows, becomes a surreal presence in the midst of child raising. The days often seem endless. Yet, the years accumulate quickly. Nurturing the body demands investment on the part of the caregiver: acknowledging varying dietary needs, identifying restrictions, observing carefully the developmental results, knowing when love for your child trumps their arms pushing back in resistance. Sustaining life is no simple task.

“Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates.” (Deut. 6:6-9 The Message)

Nurturing life in your child  involves more than physical consumption.

Morsels of truth must be fed at all times. Unlike, food, there are no restrictions. Scripture speaks of sharing the “bread” at all times and in all places. While we may be privy to the results immediately. The “aha” moments bring satisfaction to both. The hunger for more brings us joy.

Yet, at times, the truth is not yet embraced or the bites are still being digested. Perhaps the words are overwhelming. Will they ever grow into the knowledge of the truth?

So we pray. Asking for the Spirit of truth to satiate and fill the hunger. And hope that the recognition of the true source of the soul’s nourishment is grasped. Knowing it is only found in Jesus-The way. The Truth. The Life.

 

This post is written for the Five Minute Friday Community. Come join us: http://katemotaung.com/five-minute-friday/

 

 

 

Reflections On the Limits Of a Mom’s Control

Ambulance sirens shriek as through a megaphone into my ears. Goosebumps attempt to arise. Some memories find themselves woven into my senses.

2014 became the year of the unexpected for my family. Detours and valleys frequently marked our path. Most notably; my son’s health deteriorated. While my husband and I sought answers, his symptoms grew became more baffling. Watching your child suffer draws out a fierce desire for control that previously lied dormant.

One evening, after dinner, I faced the most horrifying moment as a parent: The prospect of losing my son. In the midst of routine, we found him seizing. We were caught off guard. Nothing prepared me for the sight. Stunned. Horrified, Grasping…..for resolution. I found myself screaming at the 911 operator. Desperation and panic evident in my voice. For I realized in those moments that, as a mom, I thought I had a sense of control over most things in his life. But the reality hit me-death was not one of them.

How can a mom not save her own son?

Fortunately, by the time the paramedics arrived, my son had regained consciousness and began to recover. But the encounter with the truth hit me like a ton of bricks. He is ultimately God’s child. I am blessed to be in his presence. I am humbled by the responsibility to care for him and point him to the one who literally breathes life into him. But, he is not mine.

The thought of Mary facing such a reality musters up feelings of admiration; yet, conviction. As she  watched her beloved son’s final days, she had to have recognized her control had ceased. Could I have embraced it so willingly?

How can a mom not save her own son?

She knew whose he was. It was revealed in the beginning. But there is a bond between mother and child that stings in the stretching. It’s the attachment that drove her to frantically look for him when he was missing. It’s what fuels the emotions she felt as she gazed at her young son and “treasured all these things in her heart.” (Luke 2:19). And the sting was felt most prominently when she, in her humility, knew that God’s purposes for Jesus prevailed her Earthly maternal ones.

For now, I embrace the gift I have. The opportunity to be his mom and learn to trust in the one whose purposes for us ultimately result in “life.”

This post is written for the Five Minute Friday Writing Community. Come join us! http://katemotaung.com/five-minute-friday/

 

How Redemption is Found in a Changing Landscape

As I step outside on this spring day, my eye catches the transforming landscape across the way.

For as long as my family has resided next door to Ray, the small strip of land between our driveways has given witness to the hand of our Creator.  On Summer days, my first glance captured the vibrant multicolored blooms lining my black tarred driveway. Further up the strip, tomato plants, zucchini, cucumbers and giant sunflowers towered over anyone standing in their midst. Often our home was blessed with portions of this majestic bounty.

Ironically, as the fruit blossomed, his health withered. In the last five years, the strip of beauty gradually shrunk to a small rectangle. Patches of Earth spawning bits of grass spread where blossoms once lived. But not on the whole piece of land. Despite Ray’s fragile health, his passion for producing a bountiful harvest remained. His adult children now took on his role.

Once again, the symbols of Spring emerge. Traditionally, speaking, planting activity along his side of the driveway should be visible. But it isn’t. A few weeks ago. Ray died.

Much will change this summer. The blooms and the outdoor conversations will cease between us.I have written previously about those unfiltered moments between he and I. Ray resisted the longing arms of his Creator. Yet, God’s voice continued to speak-through the colorful display of nature dotting the land between our homes-and through neighbors. I’m not sure what decision Ray made at the end. We will never know.

Though death has occurred, God’s hand is still working.

Today, there is new movement across the way. Yes, the evidence of death lies blatant. His voice no longer calls to me as I venture out to get the mail in my bare feet; an act for which he would chastise me. “You need to tell your husband to buy you some shoes,” he would say with a slight smile. His blue chair in the driveway appears lonely.  But the ceasing of one rhythm in my life has given way to a new one.

Laughter, the aroma of bbq, footsteps, and machinery compose the new beats. An audio soundtrack accompanies the visual changes. His son and grandson inhabit Ray’s home now; moving forward in steps of restoration and healing.  The deterioration of health coincided with the deterioration of his home. Although his son, lived there, Ray resisted any transformation of his home. I suppose whatever bits of feisty independence remained were reaching to exert control.

Now, a beautiful new landscape develops. Outside, large machinery reshapes overgrown, dried, brush.  New colors and textures emerge on a three dimensional canvas. One which flows inside as well. Fresh coats of paint bring life back into  these old walls. Broken begins the journey to restoration. Both in things and in relationships.

Redemption.

As I gaze out my window this morning, I watch a neighbor transport tree trunk sections on a dolly across the street to his home.  Until yesterday, the trunk, rooted in the ground, supported death.  Life had ceased in the body attached to it.  What will become of it now?

And then my mind made the connection: The hands of my neighbor, a skilled sculptor, will carve into the wood. Beauty lies beneath; anticipating it’s birth.

Transformation.

Tomatoes and blooms yield to new. different. hopeful.

Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
    It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?” (Isaiah 43:19).

The master hand of the Creator is at work. That which is created takes new forms. The process is not yet complete. But what a privilege it is to watch it unfold.

Just Because You Can, Should You?

Living in dual citizenship has its challenges, don’t you think?

Our feet trod this Earth while our hearts pursue a Heavenly destination. Both places bear witness to the Creator. Daily, we encounter the reminders of the divine craftmanship at hand in a world that resists redemption and restoration. Beauty in the temporary; Sovereign arms reaching out to bodies turned away. Our God-in a perpetual motion of movement forward to remind us where truth, wisdom, comfort are found.

 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. (Prov. 3:4-5).

What happens when we lean on our own understanding?

Impulsive and irrational decisions often appear tantalizing. We quickly jump to the resolutions, yet, later realizing our feet stuck a hard landing.

Sometimes, the choices don’t appear sinful. And, for others, they may not be.

  • taking on an extra work project
  • investing in a large purchase
  • refusing to humbly surrender to God’s mercies and grace when holding a difference of opinion with someone
  • lunging toward our own desires without considering the implications for ourselves and others (is the goal a reflection of wise stewardship of time, talents, and treasures?)

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

“Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.” (Matt. 6:33, The Message).

When we are next tempted to run towards the lure of a “should”, perhaps the best course of action is to pause and discern whose voice is speaking.

(This post is written for the Five Minute Writing Community on the prompt “should.” Come join the fun: http://katemotaung.com/five-minute-friday/)

 

Why We are Deceived by More

more

Perhaps our human nature’s tendency is to resolve a void by grasping for more.

At times, the thirst seems unsatiable. It’s as if we have traveled a long journey in the heat of Summer. The craving for relief of a dry mouth and dehydrated body spirals as our eyes catch a glimpse of water. We don’t just splash a bit on the face or sipped. The cool liquid is gulped. A mere swallow morphs into a nonstop flow down the throat. In the end, the flood of water is too much; the body would have benefited by a more intentional stroll. Co

What if a pause for refreshment and stillness on the journey would prevent the desire for more?

In our thirsty state, the body, soul, and mind become vulnerable to anything that can quench the unfulfilled state. Newer technology. Bigger portions. Culturally Iconic clothing. Expensive cars. Prized seats at a sports venue. Big House. Promotion. Activity at a popular church.

More does not equal abundance.

Jesus said, “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of” (John 10:10).  He comes to give; not take. Anything else we crave or accumulate in order to feel satiated will leave us feeling empty.

Ironic, isn’t it?

Jesus exhorts: “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.” (John 7:37)

What is your “more?”

This post is written for the Five Minute Friday Writing Community prompt exercise. Come join us! http://katemotaung.com/five-minute-friday/

 

 

 

 

When God Speaks But The Fulfillment Appears Incomplete

Only a week ago, a weekend full of multi-sensory worship began the “annual” reflection of Jesus’ resurrection. As a pastor, I am familiar with the challenge of trying to bring the message found in the resurrection to those in our midst in fresh ways. Truth is Truth. Yet, in a culture that is surrounded by plenty to veil the raw implication of Jesus’ invitation to Kingdom living, the truth loses its urgency. Reframing the account of Jesus’ resurrection gives us new perspectives.

Traditionally, the Holy week observances exhort us to reflect on events of Jesus’ last days. Typically, we recognize and recount Jesus’ death and resurrection.

But what about Saturday? Why, as Christians, do we brush off that “extra” day? The Jews recognize Saturday as the Sabbath day. However; for those of us who follow Christ, the Sabbath transitioned to Sunday. Perhaps the implications of what that in-between day meant to those closest to him do not even cross our minds. We know what happened on Sunday. But I’m guessing they were left:

Reeling from the gut wrenching events witnessed the day before. Had the words uttered by Jesus as they lived under his leadership adequately prepared them for the reality of his crucifixion? How do you set aside the images captured in your mind? On what do you draw in order to move your legs forward from their state of “paralysis?”

Pondering why they felt compelled to risk everything to follow this man who claimed to be the Messiah. Certainly others had claimed the same title in the past. Yet, what were the convincing characteristics of Jesus? Peter, in his second letter, reflects on what his eyes observed.

16For we did not follow cleverly devised fables when we made known to you the power andcoming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we wereeyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice from the Majestic Glory said to Him, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”…

Hoping: that Jesus was right. “I will not leave you orphaned. I’m coming back. In just a little while the world will no longer see me, but you’re going to see me because I am alive and you’re about to come alive. At that moment you will know absolutely that I’m in my Father, and you’re in me, and I’m in you.” (John 15:18-20)

Believing: All the promises poured over them by Jesus including: “I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.” (John 15:25-27)

Can we not empathize with the disciples as they wrestled with the tension of faith in the face of dreams unfulfilled?  It points to our humanity. One that cannot grasp the unfathomable character of God.

In visiting my great nephew a few weeks ago, I was reminded of the stage of human development when the existence of objects (and people) within a baby’s sphere, only claim existence if they are seen.  Anxiety appears in the wide eyes of a five month old when the mind realizes the person in view is not the parent. Their sustainer, provider, source of life. The mouth begins to quiver, the eyebrows furrow and tears form in the pockets of the lid….until a rotation of the body points to the one whom for whom they long.

Perhaps, like an infant, our eyes and mind, and heart often find themselves disconnected. Have you ever heard the Holy Spirit speak to you a word about your future but later find your ability to see it waning? Dreams planted in your heart that seem to have failed to bear fruit?

Like the disciples, we are left wondering and seeking Jesus. Though our hearts bear evidence of an undeniable connection, our eyes fail to sense him. We haven’t rotated our view. We are looking at the place we expect him to show up. But he hasn’t moved. We’ve been consumed with waiting for Jesus to appear according to our assumptions.

If we are still, we will live into that moment of transition from quivering lips and teary eyes to abundant rejoicing at the reunion. And the reminder that our perspectives fail us. He is always here.

Where have you been expecting to see Jesus? How can you rotate your view?

Why Sing a New Song to God?

Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth.” (Psalm 96:1)

A new song? How could anything be new to God? Our Creator’s existence and hand lies outside our understanding of time.

Yet, numerous scriptural references exhort us to “sing a new song.”

Why new?

Ancient connections bring about security. There is something liturgical about repeating words spoken by those with whom we share spiritual DNA. Theology is breathed in as we sing of the same truth embraced by brothers and sisters long ago. It’s a medium by which our collective story is shared; both within and outside of the Christian community.

So, why new?

He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and hear and trust in their Lord.” Psalm 40:2-3.

Singing a new song bears witness to intersection of Divinity and humanity. How many times were the Israelites reminded that God’s movement in their lives pointed others to Him?

Singing a new song adds our story to the bigger narrative of God’s people. A narrative of our God who is Creator of the Universe yet knows the number of hairs on our heads. A narrative which speaks of God’s unwavering passion to breathe life into us no matter the depth of our betrayal. A narrative not limited by any set of circumstances or bound by time.

When we sing a new song, we live into God’s words to his children of many generations:

“Behold, I am doing a new thing;
 now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:19)

What new song springs forth from your tongue today?

This post is written for the Five Minute Friday Writing Community. Come join the fun! http://katemotaung.com/five-minute-friday/