Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Yeshua Almighty

She was bent and looked up from a weathered face of 81 years.

There was a quality beyond her looks that drew me to her. I'd been sitting next to her making occasional small talk at the gate. She was articulate, though a bit forgetful, and I could tell she was worried about getting her carry-on luggage in the overhead compartments.

I felt an assignment to make sure she felt secure... as if she were family. I helped remind her where her seat was: one behind mine. To reassure her, I waved to her before I started to sit. The man behind me asked if I'd like to trade seats.

So began a conversation that left us both changed. "You understand older people, don't you."

(I always ask the Lord to guide me to meaningful conversations or good rest whenever I fly.)

She came from a home where her mother hated her. Her older sister, before she died, apologized for being so mean to her. It reminded me of Cinderella, except Hilda had had no carriage, no glass slipper, and no palace life.

She did have a man who had been interested in her and courted her for years. But she was afraid that his controlling sister and mother were only too familiar.

Now, a year after his death, she was grieving what she could have had, missing his care, wondering if it might have worked.

We talked of faith, of the "Almighty" as she referred to G-O-D, and commented on His surprising similarity to the Jesus I talked about.

She didn't think she was the poorer for her experiences. Just sad. I reminded her of Joseph's comment to his brothers. "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good" (Genesis 50:20).

They could have made her bitter, those close encounters with rejection. But they didn't. She described how she broke the generational meanness by deliberately speaking encouragment into a younger relative who had also been picked on. There was a sensitivity, an openness to others who were vulnerable.

There were times she looked straight into my eyes and I into hers. Brokenness met brokenness. "Mine keeps being mended by Yeshua," I told her.

"How do you pronounce 'Yeshua' in Hebrew?" I asked. "You don't," she flashed back with a smile. In spite of her custom, I knew that same Yeshua would reveal more of Himself.

We shared slices of our lives and precious discoveries from our faith.

She nodded. "I'm very glad we had this conversation. It has helped me."

I'm glad too, Hilda. May Yeshua, closer than a brother, be your comfort and your peace.

For Your Consideration

"There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother" (Proverbs 18:24).

How have you experienced Christ saving presence in the twists of your life?

[Note: Name and photograph have been changed.]

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Cloud Covering

"[God] spread out a cloud as a covering,
and a fire to give light at night"
(Psalm 105:20)

It is one little verse out of forty-five, and one provision of several others the psalmist describes. He urges the people to rejoice in their great God.

"Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.... Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced" (verses 2 and 5).

The psalmist recounts the miracles God used to deliver Israel from Egypt and to supply their needs in the desert. He produced plagues of frogs, gnats, and locusts in Egypt, and supplies of quail, manna, and water in the desert. Their covenant-keeping God was doing the miraculous to help them get to a place to worship Him.

But it was the cloud covering that caught my eye this morning. A cloud to stay the scorching heat. A cloud in the waterless desert.

I've never trekked across north African desert, but pictures record endless sand dunes and hot, rainless skies. I find it amazing that God would use a cloud to stay the heat and guide them at the same time.

Depending on our desert, God will provide the cloud. Our desert and cloud may look quite different from the picture above. The desert might be a glamorous place filled with sound and lights, and the cloud the pages of a Psalm.

Today, God reminded me that He would provide just what I need, and would guide me in the way I needed to go.

I just have to ask. "They asked, and he ...satisfied them ...." (verse 40)

For Your Consideration

What does your desert look like?

What provision or guidance do you need, and have you asked God for it?

Which of God's "wonderful acts" prompts you to share His goodness and power?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Kindness and the Lawnmower

Our lawn mower decided not to start. That was after the lawn got a growth spurt from the rains.

Our yard was beginning to look like we'd moved out already: the grass had to have been five inches high! I drove in from work and despaired that our lawn looked even worse between our neighbors' manicured yards.

Later, I was working on my computer and I looked out and watched Sue drive her mower beyond her property boundary, making repeated loops from her lawn to ours. With each turn, the side of our property was mowed. I was grateful because each fresh cut leveled a portion of my embarrassment.

I went out to apologize and explain the reason we hadn't cut our grass. Then I went to the shed to bring the lawnmower to the garage. I looked up to see Garry walking toward me offering to help me get it started as he had the week before.

When I explained my predicament, he helped me lift the lawnmower into the car, angle it and disassemble the handle so it could fit in the sloping hatch back -- a tedious task.

Driving home the next evening, I wondered how I could borrow or rent a lawnmower. I pulled in the drive and saw the front lawn neatly mowed. Honestly, the surprise sent me into giggles of joy.

My neighbor smiled when I went to thank her. She was happy to help. After all, my husband had helped hers when he was doing some construction, she said.

Today, I watched Garry use his rider to mow down the overgrowth in the back. Sam, our neighbor behind, mowed our extra 4 foot behind his yard to our tree line. How wonderful to have neighbors who help in practical ways! I'm amazed at their kindness and deeply thankful for their help.

God showed me love through my neighbors and their lawnmowers. They fulfilled Christ's law of love and my needs were lavishly met. That serendipity endears my Lord to me and makes me love Him more.

For Your Consideration

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:1, NIV)

Do you have any need that has grown beyond your ability? Have you asked for God's intervention?

You obey the law of Christ when you offer each other a helping hand. (Galatians 6:2, CEV)

Might you extend a helping hand to your neighbor when you see a need with which you can help? Will you acknowledge the joy God must also receive as you express Christ's law of love to others?