Friday, March 6, 2009

...flipping ahead...

March 16th the doors will open and the children will race through the doors of our church for a week of Day Camp. Some will be hesitant, some will cling to a parent and many are ready to run (literally) from the minute they get there. They all know that something is going to happen that week but are not sure what that something is. By about three in the afternoon everyone has become acquainted and the place is buzzing with excitement. I can stand on the platform now and ask for volunteers and just about every hand will not only be raised, but children will begin to moan and whine and hold their hand higher, hoping for the chance to be the "chosen one". As I look down at the crowd and call one out I promise you they don't sit down and smile and my gesture, but rather they race to the front of the stage, ready for whatever is coming next. Not an ounce of hesitation is evident, they are completely present in the moment and awaiting your next words. They know that whatever I have for them to do is going to be good.

And then I am humbled.

Humbled at the realization that this is what Jesus is looking for in me. When he calls my name. When He choses me for a job, I know He would love me to race to his side eager to hear His instructions. Attentive to His voice and calling ready to act.

There was a day when I was like that. I was a child then. I embraced the call with everything that was in me and doubts were squashed under my readiness to act. Now, I have grown, and matured, discovered many of my weaknesses. I've realized my list of shortcomings is huge and accepted that I'll never be wise enough, talented enough, educated enough... I've become adept at making excuses and settling for a big pile of mediocrity. Kind of like the man we are going to be learning about at Day Camp.

Meet my buddy Moses.

This guy stood, barefoot, in front of a burning bush, listening to the voice of God and his response was basically, "Sorry God, I'd love to help you out but...well, there's these sheep... and I have a bit of a stutter, so THAT would work would it?... and well, I could recommend my cousin if you're still interested in this whole, letting your people go thing... do you want his number?"

I've been reading about him, preparing for camp and smiling at His foolishness. I confess I have an advantage over him. I can flip the pages of my Bible and read ahead. I know about the plagues, and the passover, and the parting of the Red Sea. I've read about Joshua and the wall of Jericho, of the Promised Land and the fulfillment of all God's promises. I can flip back and read about his sister, Miriam, caring for him in the bulrushes, and his childhood amongst Egyptian royalty. I can see how his whole life had prepared him for this task and I know what God did through Moses.

But, sitting on a hill, all this shepherd could see was the Midian landscape where he had taken up residence. This vista represented his escape from his mistakes and from an identity he wanted to deny. In this field, a world away from the king's palace, Moses had safely curled up amongst the sheep content to live out his days in complacency.

But God could see, and we know God had a plan.

Jeremiah 29:11 promises us that God still has plans. Just like unsuspecting Moses, He has a job for me, for you, for all of us. His desire is that we become like the children in Mark 10 who race to his side, eagerly anticipating what His words, not like Moses hunkered down amongst the sheep making excuses. (As if it was about me in the first place!)

Do you ever wonder what Jesus said as they ran to his lap? What did He see as He looked in their faces? What does He see when He looks in yours? Maybe it's time to climb on up and hear for yourself...

The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: "Don't push these children away. Don't ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God's kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you'll never get in." Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them. Mark 10:13-16

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11

When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, "Moses! Moses!" And Moses said, "Here I am." "Do not come any closer," God said. "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground." Then he said, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob." At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God. The LORD said, "I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt." But Moses said to God, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?" And God said, "I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain." Moses said to the LORD, "O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue." The LORD said to him, "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD ? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say." But Moses said, "O Lord, please send someone else to do it." Then the LORD's anger burned against Moses and he said, "What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and his heart will be glad when he sees you. You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him. But take this staff in your hand so you can perform miraculous signs with it." Exodus 3:4-12 & 4:10-17

Thursday, February 26, 2009


My friend would have turned 51 this year. As I read this again I am reminded of the legacy she has left in her children and the empty place at every family dinner. Despite their loss I can see the smudgy fingerprints she has left all over them, and indeed anyone who crossed her path.
I was standing outside the house, gardening the day she drove up and told me she had been to the doctor. The cancer had come back she said. It was so matter-of-fact that I wasn’t sure I heard her correctly but in the days to come she, her family and friends began to process the news.

Her story has been nothing short of a miracle really. Before we had even met she had been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and given two years to live. I remember her telling me how she began at that time to pull away from her friends, from her family...preparing to say goodbye. And then, with only the intervention of God, she was healed. She went on to have twins and when they were about a year old we met. Our boys were nursery buddies.

It wasn’t long until we were welcomed into the fold. You didn’t stay a stranger long in her circles. Hers was a house you walked right into - the door was always open. No need to knock - just pull up a chair, pour a coffee and join the conversation. She share her home, her life and her faith. Often she would tell me about someone here or there she had met, shared her story with and led to the Lord. Oh, yes, and they would be coming over shortly if I wanted to meet them.

The year the cancer came back the two of us were home schooling our children and spent time almost every day together. It was that year she went through her first round of chemo. She was determined to stay strong, not let it affect her but even in the early days it was a struggle. Despite her weakness, with God she was strong. Bad news, cancer or otherwise was to be taken to God in prayer and WE were to keep on being obedient. During that time I watched her continue to touch those she encountered every day.

I remember one ladyspecifically from our small town who also had cancer. The two of them had their appointments on the same day in the city hospital. She recognized her in the waiting room and went over to talk. She shared her story and gave hope to one who sitting quietly in a hospital needed something greater to live for. Cancer was not as strong as faith on that day. It wasn’t just because she was a people person either - it was because she knew the power of a life saved. Saved from sin and saved from death.

She loved. Her friends and her family. If you were over in the afternoon she would always get the coffee ready so that when her husband came home it would be waiting for him. She was always looking for ways to honour him. She was a typical mama and fiercely proud and protective of her children. She prayed over them, worried over them, bragged about them - loved them. They each bear a part of her and will carry a legacy of faith throughout their lives.

She loved life. She fought and prayed to live as long as God would allow. She reminded me often we have not been promised a life without struggles and heartache but we are called for a greater purpose. It is not that grand purpose for which many ascribe; fame, or knowledge, or significance, but rather a life of obedience and service. In the seemingly mundane "daily-ness" of life you could catch glimpses of Heaven as bodies were healed and even more miraculous lives were restored. In was in those everyday events, with everyday people that she became the hands and feet of her Savior.

On her family, her friends, and even strangers, she left indelible fingerprints that have touched our hearts and made us so much the better to have known her.

She is finally in the place her heart has resided for so long. Today, she sees it all, not as a mere reflection in the mirror, but clearly revealed in the face of her Saviour. For her there is no more suffering but only joy as she saw Jesus, waiting at an open door to take her in His arms and welcome her home.

Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! But when full understanding comes, these partial things will become useless. When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. 1Corinthians 13