Mr. Don Posey

ED725858-9733-48E2-AA4A-07DE5062BE0BI couldn’t sleep last night. I had just read about the riots and unrest in the nation. I watched a few videos, my social media feed covered with thoughts and statements and images. I haven’t been quite able to gather my thoughts as my emotions seem shallow, not truly deep enough to bear the weight of what others have suffered. I want to use the right words and I just haven’t been able to release them the past few days. I want to honor God and all his children with my words but they weren’t leaving my mind and making it to the page.

Until now and I’m not even sure how good they are, but I want them to be said…there is a story I want to be told…the story of Mr. Don Posey.  

I enjoy story telling and his story feels true and right in the middle of this.

When wrestling with this social and racial tragedy, all I could think of was my more-than-friend, Mr. Don Posey. My husband began calling him Mr. Posey at work. Chris showed up to sell copiers fresh out of college. He was too skinny, too shy and his suit was too cheap.  Mr. Posey walked down the hall with his expensive clothes, strong cologne, cuff links, manicured nails and the most welcoming smile Chris had seen in a while. Chris soon could tell that Mr. Posey loved Jesus too. And so that was all they needed. Mr. Posey was a high ranking salesmen in the company and began to mentor Chris. He soon became a family friend and actually moved into our neighborhood in Norcross, Ga.

We had no children. He was single with grown children so we had all the time in the world to spend together. He demonstrated southern cooking while discussing more and more about Jesus over amazing dinners. We watched movies every Friday night. He taught us so much and tried to explain some about being a black man but we couldn’t really understand. Race didn’t seem to matter when it was the three of us. Chris and I never thought about the color of his skin. But I now understand more than ever that he thought about his skin and being a black man every day of his life.

He was the choir director of his church so he was always singing. He became family to us and we were like his children so close to home. He came to thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. We, his two white children, invaded his single guys night of local black men regularly. And it was wonderful. He was our family one street over, which these two newlyweds needed. This was how it was several nights a week….until…

We moved to Forsyth County, Georgia. Then Mr. Posey wouldn’t come to visit. I didn’t know the history of racism when we moved here. I just needed a job and Cumming offered me one and housing was very affordable. Still Mr. Posey refused to come and we didn’t understand. Finally, we assured him it would be ok. He agreed to come but he brought a friend and said he must leave before dark. He was very anxious during his visit and he left quickly before 5. Nothing like our late movie nights in Norcross.

Not until today did I truly understand why he was so afraid. Not until today and I’m just so sorry. Not until I’ve heard the voices of other black men in the media have I been able to truly grasp the fear of one of my dearest friends. I am grieving over that. That someone I love was so fearful to visit me, a white person, because his life could be in danger.

Mr. Posey died of brain cancer over 12 years ago. It was devastating news and he only survived months. We were more in shock than grief at first. We were asked to sit with the family at the funeral. We entered the church with the family and were placed on the front row. We wept like we had lost a father and a best friend. We were 2 white 20 somethings sitting in black church with a black family for the death of a black man that seemed a father. And we were all just God’s children that day.  And we were nothing but loved.  And he was nothing but love to us. And the thought of him hurting and being afraid is breaking my heart tonight.

And so these are the words I have. That love is what has to connect us all. I am broken and praying and learning and scared and angry and sad and just so sorry. I am thinking of you Mr. Posey and all your black brothers and sisters. And I just love you. I wish you were here to help us, to help me and Chris and our boys and give us your wisdom and sing over us and pray over us. And I’m just so sorry I couldn’t understand but I do a little more now….I just pray these are good words that tell your good, good story…

Hard work

I’m tired. I haven’t written in a while. Haven’t really exercised in a while, or risen early to spend time alone in a quiet house with my thoughts or my God. I’ve eaten too much sugar and haven’t stretched my crooked back in a yoga class… but boy, have I exercised my mind. I’ve been doing some really hard work. Therapy and reading will do that for your brain. 

As I sat (online) with my therapist this week and explored the pain of my past, I told her I was just tired. The thoughts we resurfaced made me feel yuck and they were hard, but my brain was tired of holding on to them and it was time to let go. She encouraged me to write about our time so here it is. 

During session, I saw powerful images as we used a practice called EMDR, a technique which allows the brain to remember and let go of what it’s held onto for so long.

I saw a knife cutting the umbilical cords of my 3 boys, the ones I like to keep close and I might add, control. Especially the oldest. He was the sickest and bonds are formed when you rock sick babies. Bonds that may be too strong and need loosening, maybe even severing.

I saw all the years of my dad’s illness, and me trying to save him, in my twenties and thirties, again the control and misplaced bonds and roles. I remembered my younger self trying to control outcomes that didn’t belong to me. 

Then, thankfully, I saw me and my Jesus sitting and watching a movie, the movie of my boys’ life. It was nice to just watch and be available if needed, but to let the Savior write and play the movie as he wished. I was able to watch with Him and not direct every next move. 

How nice that is, to not direct the next move, but to be surprised by what He has in store for them and for me and for others. Surprise, it’s my word for the year. I wonder what all it will entail. Surprise can only come with not knowing though. Am I willing to not know? That’s where I get stuck a lot.  Not knowing is where God and I wrestle. 

Not knowing has taken shape in my life with health concerns for some reason. These all surfaced in my mind during the EMDR session like popcorn… My dad’s illnesses when I was a little girl and then a college student, lastly as a young mom. Never knowing if he would make it, if he would come home or play ball in the yard with us again. Then my first born’s chronic sickness when he couldn’t eat and had a crooked foot and tilted head. Seizures and possible surgery and a feeding tube kept us on edge. And even now some health concerns that haven’t been resolved. And lastly, my own health crisis after the last baby came. He gasped for breath every night, there was more talk of surgery and new doctors, then dad was dying and then we moved homes. 200 blood tests and 2 MRIs with no results. No one knew why I was dizzy and couldn’t remember words and would drop things all while barely getting out of bed…. We discovered my hormones and adrenals had shut down from all the unknowing, all the trying to make things better so I could feel safe in the world and in my skin. Hypervigilance my therapist called it: an enhanced state of sensory activity accompanied by exaggerated intensity. It may bring about increased anxiety that leads to exhaustion. The brain is always at work, scanning for the next problem or a way out. The brain, trying to manage the unknown, instability in the world…

Things seem to be calming down though. Through EMDR, good talk  therapy, reading, yoga, long walks, time in scripture and journaling I’ve noticed my mind more at ease lately.  I don’t yell as much, I am able to be more present, and curious about what I’m feeling instead of afraid of my thoughts…

But the unknown, we are working on our relationship. I think we need to be at peace with each other, having an understanding that we are both held by God. The unknown has no authority over me and I cannot control any outcome as I don’t weld that much power, so we can sit side by side without me crumbling or fighting or fixing….

Surprise is tucked inside the unknown and you can’t have one without the other. 

Trust allows the unknown to take its shape and write the stories in the world that so badly need to be written. Trust lets God be God and lets me take my rightful place as the excited observer. Trust also lets my brain rest  and release more and more of what it’s held onto to protect me. 

So be it. That’s what I’m telling myself these days. My therapist asked me to find a mantra  that brings me back and centers things when my claws of control resurface. So be it. Let God do what he wants to do in the life of my boys and in my health and in this world. And let pain and brokenness come and complete their perfect work because suffering brings us to our knees and closer to completion.  

The beautiful stories He writes don’t need an editor and I’m not really fit for the job and I really don’t know or want that burden. So be it. I pray I can watch with Him all he wants to unfold and only step in if he directs me….

So thank you to my therapist for pushing me and never judging me in these dark spaces. Thank you to my brain for all your hard work these years. You are a problem solver and so resourceful. Thank you to my body for holding out as long as you did and for showing up and wanting the right, safe result. Thank you to my God who made our bodies and brains to heal. Thank you to that part of me that controls to keep everyone safe. You can take a rest now and let God write the stories. He is better at it anyway…..

Re-Post: Redemption

I am re-posting in honor of trauma awareness month:

I saw something really beautiful happen today. An old, hurt place in my heart was brought back to life and I heard God whisper, “I can redeem all things.” I sit down most Wednesdays to write, and I knew he wanted me to write about redemption, to be redeemed.

To Redeem: to gain or regain possession of something in exchange for payment, to fulfill or carry out a promise, to compensate for the bad aspects of something, to buy back or recover, to obtain the release of or restoration of

Redemption is not just a saving from sin. It’s Christ going back to those places that were destroyed or wounded and regaining possession of them, recovering and restoring them.

I have these college buddies who have an amazing house flipping business. The wife sent me before pictures of a home they renovated. It had trash in every room that was four feet deep. They went in with masks and bags and began their redemptive work. Several dumpsters were parked out front to collect all the garbage. I was able to physically see the finished home one afternoon. It was such a peaceful home, with a beautiful front window that shown light through the whole house. My friend told me the window was original to the home. Most everything else had to be reconstructed but the window stayed. I sent her a message stating that their business was like the business of Christ, restoring things, redeeming things so the light can shine through.

When thinking on redemption today, I remembered Rahab. We find her story in Joshua 2. It is a fascinating story, one worth your time to read. Rahab is a prostitute living in the city walls of Jerico. Jerico is on the route of the Israelites path to the Promised Land. The Israelites are wanting to know about the enemy in the land ahead of them, so they send 2 spies to check things out. These 2 spies gather information from Rahab. She puts her life in danger by hiding them, giving them information, and lying to the authorities about their whereabouts. We later see that because of her courage, she and her family are spared in battle. The great story of redemption here is in Rahab’s legacy. We find in Matthew 1:5 that Rahab’s courage spared God’s people and she married and became the great grandmother of King David. We know our Redeemer, Jesus, came from the lineage of King David.

So we see that out of a woman, who entertained many dark things, came redemption.

In reading Rahab’s story, I realized that her home and the Jordan River were both on the path to the Israelite’s Promised Land.

Commentaries state that the Jordan River has very swampy conditions, 27 rapids, intense heat, and wild animals causing it to have no traffic. The Jordan was up to ½ mile wide in some areas and from 5-10 feet deep during flood stage, when the Israelites needed to cross. Joshua 3 tells the story of God parting the waters so the Israelites can pass through.

So we see that out of a river, full of dark things, came redemption.

As I think on the Jordan River, I imagine it was a wild, overlooked, and mostly avoided place. Maybe a little like Rahab’s home?

Can I compare Rahab to the Jordan River for a minute? I know that she was probably avoided (except by broken men), lonely, and overlooked because of her occupation. The Jordan had no visiters and was avoided because of it’s muddy conditions, heat and wild animals. Do you see it? What irony? God used a broken, worn out woman to rescue his chosen people and prepare the way for his son. God used a swampy, uninhabitable river as passage for his children and to baptize his precious son in before he sent him into ministry. God redeems things, people and places that no one else wants to use.

No one would place a perfect, royal baby in a dirty barn, but God did.

No one would choose a murderer to spread his precious gospel across the world, but God did.

No one would birth his chosen people through a barren woman and her old husband, but God did.

No one would sit and have dinner with the dirty, shame-filled sinners but God did.

No one would get baptized in dirty, muddy, insect and gator filled water, but God did.

No one would use a prostitute to bring forth a king, but God did.

No one…But God.

God is in the business of redeeming things. He redeemed this wild river to save his people. He redeemed this broken woman to save his people. He will redeem anything to save his people.

Rahab and the Jordan River were both on the path to the Israelites freedom, the Promised Land. They were both on the path that led to the Messiah, the Redeemer.

What wild, broken, lonely place is on the path to your Promised Land? Your freedom? Your Redemption?

What does God want to redeem in you? He can redeem anything. I can see it in my own life. Places I thought were too far gone, that would never change. Places that were too dark, too overlooked. He looked right into them and breathed life. He rescued them, redeemed them.

Psalm 107 is a hymn of redemption.

Psalm 107:2 “Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story- those he redeemed from the hands of the foe.”

Here is what I saw today in Psalms 107:

The actions/response of God’s children                               The actions/response of God

They were wandering in the wastelands He gathered them from distant lands
They could not settle down He settled them
They were hungry and thirsty, losing their life He satisfied their hunger and thirst
They cried out to God He delivered them from their distress
They sat in darkness, prisoners in chains He brought them out of darkness

and broke their chains

They were tossed by the sea He stilled the storm to a whisper
They cried out He answered them in their distress
They were broken He turned parched ground into flowing springs

Psalm 107:43 “Ponder the loving deeds of the Lord.”

He is whispering, “I can redeem all things.”

Heaven’s Wind

“It’s like wind from heaven is here!” my 9 year old-Ben shouted from the deck last week.  “Mom, you have to come out here, it’s heaven’s wind!” He was right. It was the purest, coolest breeze in the midst of a perfect blue sky. I  was refreshed to breathe in something deeply that was so clean and calming regardless of the chaotic and sickly state of the world. 

On a walk this morning, I thought of this moment and wondered, Is it possible to feel heaven’s wind in the midst of a pandemic? Can you experience peace and breathe deep when everything seems uneasy and bound up? Paul says I should be anxious for nothing but where is God? How much longer will this last?  Big questions are being asked and faith has been stretched these last few months.

Coming off of a strange Easter that wasn’t what I’d hoped for, it has been so easy to see what is wrong here on earth. Yet my little guy was able to encounter something good, something better than good. He sensed heaven in what seems like a bit of hell. 

Despite what is hard right now, I do believe good, God things are happening all around us. Heaven’s wind is still blowing.  I’ve been reading through the Old Testament lately and  I just keep seeing heaven’s wind, God’s goodness, on every page. 

I’ve been struck by these stories and testimonies of God’s faithfulness and steadfast nature, his pursuit of those he loves and his provision for these Israelite children of his. He just keeps showing up, even in the midst of their hard story. There are some lessons that I’m holding on to, that assure me of heaven’s wind today, that help me keep breathing deep when my lungs feel constricted and my belly gets tight.  

1. Nothing can stop His plans: “Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones. I will write on them the same words that were on the tablets you smashed.” Exodus 34:1 

There were two sets of ten commandments, both written by the finger of God. Moses destroyed the first set in anger when he saw the sin of the Israelites as he came down the mountain. You see, God writes our story with his finger and we cannot destroy or undo what He has planned… and neither can COVID-19… or our impatience, or our angry words or apathy during this time. We do not have that much power. He will accomplish all he wants to because his wind is always blowing. 

2. He wants to use all who are available and all of our story: “So the two men set out and came to the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there that night.” Joshua 2:1

It was not unusual for Rahab to have strange men in her home. God knew Rahab’s profession was the perfect cover for the Israelite spies who needed somewhere to hide. Rahab knew of the Israelites’ God and believed in His power. She was available to serve and God used the reputation she held as an entertainer of men to preserve his plan. If we will say yes, He will  use us right now with all that we bring to the table. That is heaven’s wind, the goodness and kindness of God for all who are available. He wastes nothing, even the hard parts of our story. 

3. Sometimes He leaves things behind: “These are the nations the Lord left in the land...to test the Israelites…to teach them warfare…the Philistines.” Judges 3:1-6 

The Philistines were left in the land…on purpose…to teach something. This enemy who was left behind by God, led to the great story of David and Goliath. David, the 12 year old boy who knew his God slayed the bear and the lion for him and knew his God would slay a giant Goliath for him. The giant was left behind on purpose to teach something, to grow David’s faith and ultimately glorify God…the slaying of the left behind giant led to David’s place in the palace.

God leaves things behind. Could he have left behind COVID-19 on purpose? To teach us warfare, to strengthen our muscles, to grow our faith? Are there hard parts in our stories, like Rahab, that still trip us up? Have we smashed or wrecked relationships or opportunities like Moses? All of this leaves room for his wind to blow and refresh us…

I’ve needed refreshing in these weird days where I want to be alone but then need to hold my children close. When I’m bored but never have time to do anything. When I’m sad but grateful and afraid but rested. It’s all been very confusing. Sometimes I feel like I have no direction, like I’m floundering, wondering what if my efforts are no good? What if I’m just no good? What if I’m wrong, doing it all wrong? What if it never gets better? What if it doesn’t matter or turn out like I want? What if I’m missing something and then I don’t matter or turn out like He wants. 

When these questions come,  the heaviness sets in. I can feel it in my chest and shoulders..it surprises me, this heaviness, it has no warning, no rsvp…

but then if I pause, find a quiet space and remember, take a breath, there it is…heaven’s wind…

Then Ben runs out on the deck and reminds me…

Then the pages of Deuteronomy and Acts tell me…the boundary lines are chosen for me just as they were for the nomad Israelites that wandered for so long. He chose the portion of land just for them, the place where they would find rest on all sides…

His wind and his word remind me that nothing can stop his plans, that he will use me and my story if I’m available and he leaves some hard things behind to draw me closer…that the boundary lines fall for me in pleasant places…

And then I can breathe, then the peaceful cool wind washes over me…

From the ground up

From the ground up…I heard it this morning upon waking, a thought I knew was not my own.

From the ground up.

Today, good Friday. The day He was placed in the ground. The day of death. 

The time has come for the Son of Man to enter His glory and God will be glorified because of Him.” John 13:31. 

The time has come…Glory began with His death. Death made God brighter. From the ground up. 

You made us from dust and to dust we shall return. From the ground up. 

Spring is here, new life blooming. A rest from winter when all has been buried and stalled. From the ground up. 

Renewing, restoring, redeeming.  All begins below the dark, quiet earth. From the ground up. 

Could it be with all this pain in the world and in our hearts that you are creating something new? 

Could it be that the end of all we know and understand and count on could bring our salvation? 

Could it be that we had to drop to our knees, get low to the floor to find what we have always wanted? 

Could it be you are rebuilding us from the ground up? 

Today, Good Friday, this day of death, feels more real than ever before. More real because grief and loss seem more like neighbors now. 

The time has come…your death brought the most glory, God’s glory. Could our death bring you glory too? Could you resurrect us too from the ground up? 

What happened, Sweet Jesus, in the center of the earth, on that Saturday between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday? What happened as all was quiet, waiting and scared…as all hope was lost…and you stayed in the ground for what felt like too long?

This feels like too long, Savior…but we wait and we hope. We can’t wait for Sunday…because from the ground you arose with victory in your hands…and death brought glory…

Yet, we will wait for You…for your promise and your plan, for your rescue and just for you…we wait just for you…from the ground up. 

 

Shelter-in-place

“Whether the cloud stayed above the tabernacle for 2 days, a month, or a year, the people of Israel stayed in camp and did not move on…so they traveled at the Lord’s command.” Numbers 9:22 

Was this the first “shelter-in-place”? Ha! I read this verse on March 4, before COVID-19 was even real to me. Today our governor issued a shelter-in-place requirement for the state of Georgia which means no outings unless they are considered “essential.” Oh, and he cancelled school for the year.

Around 4:30 today, I took this information in, told the kids, and prepared dinner. My husband wanted to go for a walk after our meal but I just wasn’t up for it. I could feel a difference in my body: tired, achy, cold, exhausted. I told Chris no to the walk and headed upstairs. I wanted a hot shower, chocolate cake and my bed. This virus has taken its toll on so many. I am really not a casualty. I am just uncomfortable, bored and eating a lot more carbs. But I think tonight I could finally feel the physical impact the stress has taken on me.

As I was in my shower tonight, I remembered the verse about the Israelites, “Whether the cloud stayed above the tabernacle for 2 days, a month, or a year, the people of Israel stayed in camp and did not move on…so they traveled at the Lord’s command.” 

We are here now, right with the Israelites. We must stay in camp. We cannot move outside the Lord’s command. We cannot move until He chooses to change things. 

How does this make you feel, to be so powerless, so vulnerable, so dependent on someone else? The Israelites hated it and complained. They hated the manna and the quail they were miraculously given and the water that came at their request from the rock. Numbers 21 says “the people grew impatient with the long journey” crying out “we are tired of this manna.”

I am impatient and tired of manna…I want chocolate cake… And I want to eat it at the cute bakery across the street…with my girlfriend.

But then Moses changes the tone and says to God in Exodus 33:15 “If you don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place.” 

“Don’t make us leave this place.” What? How could Moses pray this? Scripture tells us the journey out of Egypt to the promised land from Mount Sinai should have take about 11 days but it took 40 years! How could Moses say that he wouldn’t move without God? Even if it meant staying put for a long, long time. The Israelites camped in Sinai for one year without moving!

I believe Moses could pray this because he had a Shelter in place… he knew the goodness of his Father, and he knew how not good things were without Him. He knew he could not lead the millions of complaining Israelites without the wisdom of the Creator.

He had seen the miracles and wanted to be closer to the extraordinary than settle for the ordinary.

We see in scripture that he spoke with God face to face as a friend. He knew God well enough to tell the Israelites: “Don’t be shocked or afraid…The Lord your God is going ahead of you. He will fight for you…and you saw how the Lord cared for you all along the way as you traveled through the wilderness, just as a father cares for his child…”Deut. 1:30-31 

Moses knew the goodness of God in the midst of his shelter in place.

Despite staying put, he still experienced the delight of His heavenly father and couldn’t bear the thought of moving anywhere without Him. 

I am hoping this season of our lives is one of a kind. I am guessing we will never be in a place of this much restriction as a country or as families. So, this is a very unique situation and we serve a very unique God who cares for us “just as a father cares for a child.” He is a good, good Father and an excellent teacher. 

I believe there is a very unique lesson for all of us in this time and I don’t want to miss it.

I want the heart of Moses, to know God as a friend and to be able to pray “If you don’t personally go with me, I don’t want to leave this place.”

What does he have for you in this place? This shelter in place? What does he want to teach you where you are, camped out, impatient with the long journey and tired of the manna?

You know, manna was the miracle bread, only enough given for each day, no extra could be consumed or it would spoil. We are here too, shelter in place, with only manna, only promised today.

There is a lesson here in your camp. There is a miracle in the manna for you too. 

He doesn’t want you to leave this place without Him either… 

This hard, hard story

 

These are crazy, trying times, like nothing most of us have ever seen before. I have been comforted lately reading of Moses and the Israelites and the crazy, trying times they endured. Theirs is a hard, hard story, an impossible story, yet I am encouraged and my faith is strengthened. God is not surprised or overwhelmed by our current circumstances. His word is alive and active and available to inform and fuel our spirits by His unending faithfulness, a faithfulness that allowed Moses to carry on. We can carry on because the arm of the Lord is not too short. (Numbers 11:23.)

Reading in Exodus 9-11 we see Moses and Aaron desperately trying to convince Pharoah to let the Israelites leave Egypt. They had become slaves under harsh Egyptian leadership and God heard their cries for deliverance. God prepared the Israelites for departure but there was something He wanted accomplished first…His glory. He hardened Pharoah’s heart…

“But because his heart was hard, Pharoah refused to let the people leave, just as the Lord had predicted through Moses.” Exodus 9:35

God hardened Pharoah’s heart and sent unfathomable plagues, so He could be glorified. “But I will make Pharoah’s heart stubborn, so I can multiply my miraculous and wonders in the land”…Exodus 7:3

If you believe in the God of scripture, then you have to know something, He will do whatever it takes to glorify Himself. This may sound selfish or hard to grasp…it is still something I am trying to understand and remember. However, the more I hang out in this sacred space…knowing it is ALL for His glory.. then it takes the pressure off. It allows me to let go. I don’t have to be seen because He shines brighter…I don’t have to figure it out because He has written the story…it allows me to celebrate others because He meets all my needs…”May He equip you with all you need to do His will…Heb. 13:21

God hardened Pharoah’s heart to show miracles and to have stories of His greatness…stories that would go before the Israelites and cause their enemies to bow in fear…stories that my grandmothers and Sunday school teachers and mother told me…stories that planted seeds of faith in my heart…

You see it’s always for His glory…the Israelites were ready to go..but God had bigger plans…He could have forced Pharoah to just say yes..but God had a river to turn into blood, frogs to send..a Red Sea to part…

It’s all for his glory…even the pain…even Corona…even death and illness and unemployment…there is a purpose..to make Him shine brighter so we can be drawn to that brightness…

So friends…we are in the middle of a hard, hard story, an impossible story that He wants to use…yep, you guessed it…for His glory. God can remove Corona at any time but He has chosen not to. Why? Because there are some things He wants to accomplish first. He may have another Red Sea to part…“so I can multiply my miraculous and wonders in the land”…Exodus 7:3

More folks are on their knees right now because of this crisis…what if when we got on our knees we had a new perspective, a perspective that Moses taught us…the perspective that this horrible awful is a catalyst to make God greater…that we can trust Him because He’s seen it all before and He never stops working…because He is not overwhelmed or afraid…because He actually wants to use us in the beautiful purpose of Him receiving all the glory…

Would that feel different? 

Would that give anxiety a rest for a moment? 

If we saw our suffering through the lense of His purpose?

Would it help?

What does He want to tell you the next time you are on your knees? Does He have Red Sea to part in your story? How can this horrible awful be used to draw you and others closer to the Kingdom? 

“Who caused His glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses. Who divided the waters to make for Himself an everlasting name.” Isa. 63:12

It has always been just for Him.

The finger of God

Growing up in the south, in the Bible Belt, Vacation Bible School was always a summer experience for me and my brother. Mom and Dad were at work on summer days so we mostly stayed with my grandparents over the long 12 week break. Yes, it was 12 weeks back then. 12 weeks of watching TBS and the Braves, and slip n slide and Dairy Queen and VBS. My grandparents sent me to all the VBSs within 10 miles to keep us busy. I tried this with my kids, calling it “Church camp” but they caught on quickly that is was a free babysitting option with snacks. Boo. I don’t remember having a choice, it was VBS or the highway.

During these sweet VBS weeks between the hours of 9:30-12:30, I remember consuming lots of red punch and sugar cookies and there was always a parachute game and a felt board. The parachute was a little nerve wracking because what if you get stuck under this large piece of dirty fabric with strange kids? But the felt board was safe. The green board had all the famous Bible characters stuck to it and their strange stories were told thanks to the power of lamination. Many of these accounts involved  Moses…and sitting on the cold, hard tiled church floor…in a circle. Yes, Moses, you know, the baby in the basket, the Plagues, Pharoah saying “Let my people go” (there was even a song) and the 10 commandments. Moses and the felt boards. 

I was reading about Moses this week and these verses grabbed me: “When the Lord finished speaking with Moses, he gave him the two stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, written by the finger of God.” Exodus 31:18

“These tablets were God’s work; the words on them were written by God himself.” Exodus 32:16

I am not sure how I thought the 10 commandments were written. I guess I assumed Moses chiseled them with a sharp stone…and they were legible? This was not discussed over red punch and sugar cookies or during the cold floor circle time with the green felt board. But Exodus is clear: the terms of the covenant were written by God himself. 

“Written by the finger of God.” It has stayed with me today…The terms of this covenant, this plan between God and his chosen people was not Moses’ doing. Moses just showed up, he just said yes and climbed the mountain and then God issued the law and wrote it with His finger!

Moses, the baby who was hidden for 3 months and floated down the river in a basket. Moses, the man who was displaced over and over, who left Egypt and ended up with sheep who then encountered a burning bush, only to be moved again, back to Egypt to deliver bad news and finally released from Egypt to wander in the wilderness. Moses, who was never lost from God, never out of his sight.  

Moses, who encountered God on the mountain “face to face, as one speaks to a friend.” (Exodus 33:11)

Moses, when chased by Pharoah’s angry, Egyptian army, looked the at the Red Sea in front of him and thousands of Israelites behind him, and still stepped forward…Moses, full of faith, fully available…for God’s glory. 

God always made a way for Moses: the basket, the river, the burning bush, the tablets, the Red Sea…He always provided…”written by the finger of God.”

Whatever God needed accomplished, He made the provision. For His glory alone…never for Moses’. “Glory to glory” scripture says. His glory to His glory. Not ours. Never ours.

Whatever His plans, what ever He needs, He will provide. He will use His finger to write it out, to make the way. 

When our hearts align with His, when we get out of the way, the pressure is off. The pressure is off to get it all right, to be at the right place at the right time, to say the right thing, look the right way, know the right person. We just have to say yes, to climb the mountain, to step into the sea. He will find us wherever we are, even if it’s in a basket, floating down a river, or wandering in a wilderness…He will find us and He will use whatever and whoever it takes to accomplish His plans.

Because you see, Moses led us to Jesus…on the mountain to get the tablets…for the covenant…the old covenant…written by the hand of God himself….that led to our need for the new covenant…written and paid for by the blood of Jesus… 

He will find you wherever you are and will use whatever you have…if it will lead others to Jesus. It will be for his glory alone. That’s the hard part, laying down all that concerns us, laying down all our crowns, so that he will be glorified…so that everything leads to Jesus.

So…every mountain that needs climbing, every sea that needs crossing…His finger is writing, writing the story that brings Him the glory…that always leads to Jesus.

Grace for all the parts…

 

“We can mother ourselves, re-parent ourselves.” It sounds strange but that’s what I told my 17 year old client who was despising his 15 year old self – his younger self that fell in love too hard and too fast, who gave so much away. Who let the relationship define him, as he lost himself. His decisions, along with his will power failed him. The break up was devastating, as he didn’t know who he was without her. He sees this self as weak and insecure and he hates that it’s a part of him. He is angry with the part of him that couldn’t cope or maintain control, the part that turned to the drinks and the drugs to get through. 

While sitting on my couch, we offered that part of himself some grace. We put those hard places in the offering plate before God and heard what He had to say. We spent some time re-parenting the 15 year old like Abba would. Just like Abba would with mounds of grace. Mounds of grace like he poured out at Calvary. We spoke to that hated part and told the shamed, weary adolescent boy that he was still loveable despite the bad choices, despite the mistakes. We told him that his brain was still forming and good decisions are hard, especially while making them with no wise voices around and a heart that’s in the clouds. Love really is blind and his 15 year old self couldn’t see the truth. Self control is a fruit of the spirit and at that point, the Holy Spirit was not residing inside him.

During this process, there was grace in his voice, a kindness for himself he had never experienced, a deeper connection with his Savior. He took deeper breaths by the end of session, and his shoulders didn’t hang so low.  I am praying his step is a little lighter now that he let part of himself off the hook, took off the noose, loved himself a little, and allowed God’s voice to speak a little louder, instead of his own condemnation. 

Jesus is this way with us, the ever-for-us brother, the friend who sees us, despite our sin, our shame, and our self loathing. He is the lifter of the heavy head, the carrier of the one who “shoulds” all over himself and is covered in “if onlys. ” “I should have been wiser, I should have said no, if only I had behaved better….”

Which part of you needs some love today, needs to be mothered or parented with grace? Which part or season of your life do you wish would stay hidden, or do you keep at bay? You know, angry dogs don’t stay quiet long. The bark and the bite just keep getting stronger. That’s a scary thing, to face the part of you that longs to stay hidden, but struggles to stay quiet.

I know because I have just spent some time with those parts of myself. The ones that got depressed, anxious, the ones from the past that didn’t want to get out of bed some mornings, or just fall asleep forever. Yes, I have those parts and I’ve done a good job of keeping them hidden to most. But I believe they have a story to tell and they are part of my story. 

I’ve loved on those parts a little lately: The girl that was afraid to make mistakes, afraid to miss out, afraid no one would see her. The girl who so badly wanted to have the affections of others because it meant she was okay, really okay. The girl who made bad choices just to secure that affection. And then the girl who shamed herself into depression for those mistakes.

I’ve been trying to love her well, to let her know she was just doing her best and because of her, I am now closer to God and stronger than ever. Thanks to her, I clung tightly to my Savior because there were days I couldn’t breathe without Him. She forced me to eat the scripture because it was the only bread that would fulfill me. Because of this broken, overwhelmed girl inside me, I understand pain and sorrow. Because of her I know the tenderness of Emmanuel as he met my deepest need. I am thankful and grateful to her for the light of joy I experience because I know what the dark night holds.

My friend says we cannot experience the light unless we are aquainted with darkness. My client has a deeper appreciation for his emotional, spiritual  freedom because he experienced the co-dependent slavery of his former relationship. The elation of joy is more powerful if we understand the depths of despair. 

When we  face the pain of the past, we can more fully appreciate the peace of the present. We have to embrace and love graciously the wounded self, knowing it is just the inevitable part of us, yet so important to the story of who we are becoming. It is the voice of grace that makes us stronger, not the condemning lies that hold us down. 

So, I see you old self. I am thankful for all you have taught me and I know you were doing the best you could. I am no longer afraid of you and I will not continue to live in regret over you. I embrace that you are part of my story, but you can take a rest and be quieter now. Go take your position, listening to the loving, gracious voice of Jesus, my brother and God, my father.  

“Be strong through the grace that is ours in union with Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 2:1

Now go friends, and be gracious to yourselves. Go, and be strong through grace.

 

 

 

Secret Speeches

My grandpa, my mom’s dad, loved to walk. We called him “Poole” and Poole was the fittest grandpa I knew. He loved to exercise, lifting weights and walking the long cement driveway to the road, then heading to the stretch of backyard grass and garden.  Everyday Poole walked, lifted weights and smoked cigars. His walking uniform was a white wife-beater and khaki pants. I spent most school afternoons and long, hot summer days with him, with Poole, my walking, weightlifting grandpa with the wife-beater. Summer days with his feet pounding the earth, rising again for the next step, worn grass, sweat stained shirt. I’d walk with him a little, run a little, trying to keep up. 

My grandparents lived on what seemed to be an acre or two, with a long, flat driveway, great for riding bikes and bouncing balls. The gate opened to the back yard. His path went beyond the back porch, perfect for stringing beans and eating ice cream, past the metal recliner swing, further than the red barn and then into the garden. That was his loop, the driveway, the backyard, the garden,  then all over again. He’d walk and sweat then lift weights. 

While he walked, he recited. He was the speech giver for his group of the Masons, a male fraternity of sorts. On his path, he whispered his secret speeches. None of us were to ever know the words he mumbled, they were just for the men, the Masons. So everyday, Poole walked, and sweat, repeating the verses over and over. Despite how ridiculous they sounded, he kept going, moving forward, saying the lines over and over again, in the heat, down the path, the same path over and over, every day. And it was a secret, the words were secrets. 

I’m not sure why I thought of him recently. I was his first grandchild, and he called me “Doll”. He drove an old red Comet and I was embarrassed when he would pick me up from school in that junky car. Just so embarrassed and I would pretend I had a headache, laying down in the back seat so that none of the kids at my private school would see me. Surely he knew I didn’t have a headache most days. From what I remember, Poole was dedicated and devoted. Dedicated to the Masons, to his routines and to his family. I remember spending many weekend nights with him and my grandmother. He always took  us to get ice cream and would hand me $5 for the toy store at the mall. 

I thought of his walks this week, his walks and his secret speeches, the ones he spoke over and over again. The secret lines he recited day in and day out. I’ve been thinking about my own secret speeches, the words I say to myself, over and over again. They seem to even be part of my routine as my mind goes down the same path. These lines emerge when my world is stressful, or sad.

These words are the ones that no one hears but me because, well, they’ve been secrets. We all have them. Some we know, are there and some we don’t even realize are plaguing us. The lines, beliefs and routine words that have made a path on our hearts, our brains. They aren’t always kind, they aren’t always true, they don’t always make sense. But we continue down the path. I’m finding this same routine to be true more and more with my clients and some friends. We are all a little like Poole, reciting the speeches over and over, despite how ridiculous they sound, we keep walking, moving forward, saying the lines over and over again, down the path, the same path over and over, every day. And some of the words are a secret…because we don’t know why or we are afraid to tell. We are afraid to tell the hard, secret words that make us sweat…

However, I’m less and less afraid of these words lately, these routine speeches that I tell myself. I’m offering more and more of them to God, sharing some with others. I’m even asking God to reveal where they started in the first place. I find that as I pray for more of Him, the speeches are exposed. They have to be because darkness can’t stay when Light has been invited in. Revelation 12:11 tells us we overcome because of Jesus and by the word of our testimony. As much as I see myself like my grandfather, walking the same path, speaking the same secret words over and over, I don’t want to continue. I don’t want to mumble any longer, or keep my speeches hidden. I want to overcome. Don’t you?

A dear friend was sharing her own journey of wholeness with me this week. She said, “The healing came when I wasn’t afraid of anything God might reveal in me.” Now that’s bravery. Would you be willing to be brave like that? To ask for God to reveal the secret speeches? And then to tell someone, a very safe someone, so you could overcome too? 

Oh God, would you unlock the secret speeches in me, the why, the darkness. You are there. Always there in the darkness, in the broken hearted parts and places. I am no longer afraid of the darkness.
Luke 8:17: “
For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.”

Daniel 2:22 “He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him.”

You know, Jesus came, placed his feet to earth and walked and walked and walked. He came to replace our secret speeches for his truth and life. And before him, God walked this earth and from the earth, He breathed into dirt, from heaven to the ground, from the ground he brought life, from Breath to breath. Oh God, your Breath in my breath,  breathe on me, breathe into the secrets and their source with your breath, your life in me, heaven in me, your treasure and truth in me. Make me an overcomer.