Thursday, November 27, 2008

My Thanksgiving List

Today is Thanksgiving. From tradition we might believe this idea originated with the Pilgrims on the Massachusetts shore hundreds of years ago.

But my friend, David, from the book of Psalms understood this concept long before William Bradford and Mary Allerton.

“I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High.” Psalm 7:17

“Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.” Psalm 95:2

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” Psalm 100:4

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” Psalm 107:1

Today what presses on my heart and causes it to lift in thanksgiving?
Here is my Thanksgiving List. As usual there is really no particular order.

contentment
love
circles
daughters
Steve
vision
patience
hope
Angela
Terri
Jennifer
Denise
Andy
laughter
falling walls
professor's glasses
Sharon
filters
mornings
sighs
renewal
tenderness
New Testament Survey Class
idiosyncrasies
Betty
Abby’s discernment
memories—old and new
provision
Orion
surprises
7:00 a.m.
transparency
John Legend
Olivia’s bruised dancing feet
Abby’s gorgeous smile
Anna’s profound words
Katherine’s intense passion
neighbors
standing on tip-toe
Anna’s wisdom
connection
commonality
Joe
achieved goals
My daughters’ father
peace
Olivia’s wit
my Dad
dominoes
Southland
Katherine’s compassion
brothers
love languages
the library, my job, and the staff
Brenda
dreams and wishes
fairy tales
Crossroads
The Body of Christ
Mac
purpose
healing
faithfulness
quickenings
conviction
Did I mention my four daughters?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bend Low

“I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear (bent down) to me, I will call on him as long as I live.” Psalm 116:1-2

O bend low, sweet God.

I am just a little girl
wanting you to
incline your ear to me.
Eager for you to
turn your head toward me.

I am a small child.

Persistently speaking,
wanting so much for you to hear.
Unabashedly touching
the hem of your sleeve.
Boldly tugging
for your undivided attention.
Wistfully longing
for your face to turn toward mine.

Bend down to me.
Please bend down, I pray.
You must bend because
even on my tip-toes I can not
reach that high.

Who are you to bend so low?
Who am I to ask?

You bend so low because you are my father.
I ask because I am your child.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Incognito


“We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade, the presence of God. The world is crowded with Him. He walks everywhere incognito. And the incognito is not always hard to penetrate. The real labor is to remember, to attend. In fact to come awake. Still more, to remain awake.”

C.S. Lewis
—Letters to Malcolm

I have seen you.
In glassy, colored, concave mirrors—
just fleeting glimpses.
Perhaps they are nothing more than flash pan,
momentary impressions.
Maybe they are simply figments of my own
eager imaginations.

But in my peripheral vision
(the part of my sight not impeded
by preconceived ideas)
I see the back of you—

I think it is you.
I want it to be you.
I need for it to be you.

I run and try to catch you.
My feet pound the uneven, broken pavement.
The wake of your flying coat becomes
a pulling, drawing filament
connected to me.
I reach forward to grasp

the fleeting glimmer
The undulating wisp
The lingering aroma

of You.

I must follow—
compelled
by the shadowy images
on the backs of my eyelids.
I watch
for any clue
that you have been here.
I turn the corner
searching for the
trailing cloud of your glory**

You seem to elude me.

Are you in disguise?
Are you moving freely about
Incognito
wondering, hoping
your people will recognize you?

Are you delighted when we do?

Are you thrilled when we gasp
and drag in a breath of air?
Because in this brief breath-held moment
we see you face to face—
and you wink.
Then you smile and take off again
wanting and engaging us to follow.

You are traveling incognito—

What beautiful, varied, and tragic disguises you don.
You cloak yourself in the frailty and fragility of the human soul:

The grungy, ragged coat
the risqué, black lace
the four-button sweater
the designer suit
the wounded eyes
the hesitant caution
the polished façade
the angry defense
the pain-filled countenance
the loud bravado
the wary glare
the drug-induced stupor

Only those who will look
beyond and through these
will see you.

In the moment
we peer into
the concave mirrors of another soul--
what we see in their reflection will startle us.

And we will become fully awake.

In each other we will see you.

Incognito.



**William Wordsworth

Monday, November 3, 2008

Lovely Waste

During a dinner for Jesus and his disciples, a woman moved inward among the recliners at the table. Culture and tradition was forgotten. Hair unbound, eyes focused, hands trembling. She came toward Jesus with an alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume. And of all things, she broke the jar and anointed Jesus, right then and there—in full view of them all. Then she took the act a step further: she dried his feet with her hair.

Scandalous, questionable, risky behavior.

You know the story. You have heard it from many angles.

A woman bent—kneeling at the feet of Jesus. She is scrutinized and criticized. In the eyes of many she is weighed and found wanting. She comes up short. Wasteful woman. Their words are derisive and condescending. And they discussed her as if she were not present.

Crazy woman. She doesn’t have a clue what she has just squandered. Immediately they deemed her act to have no value. There were too many other “good” things that could have been done. Even Judas made suggestions, and the others were in agreement. They turned to Jesus for his assessment.


Jesus remained silent. He did this often when the disciples made fools of themselves. He waited until the heat of their protestations had dwindled. He paused until the intensity of their overwrought reactions dissipated (remember the woman caught in adultery?)

And then he spoke. As usual they had missed the point.

She had opted to be extravagantly wasteful rather than piously good.

“Leave her alone. She has done a beautiful thing to me.”

Some versions of Scripture translate the word beautiful as “good” or “beautiful”. This particular word has a slightly different nuance. It means “lovely, winsomely good, not just morally good (though this thought is present)".

“Leave her alone. She has done a lovely thing to me.”

The disciples are stunned. They stammerd and murmured at the rebuke. Once again their paradigm of value in Jesus’ kingdom is shifted and turned on its head. All their lives they had been taught to value the “good”. They had watched the Pharisees: pious and devout. And so their definitions of good evolved and revolved around the outward, religious acts of the Pharisees.

And of course we should take note. We should pay attention. We should be willing and even eager to be extravagantly wasteful for and toward Jesus.

But I have learned something else. Never would I have caught this truth had I not studied and pondered this dear woman’s sacrificial actions. I discovered the word kalos (lovely and winsomely good) as a result of studying her.

My God has always been good to me. Always. Since I was a young girl: lost and in utter darkness and profound poverty. His goodness has led me, guided me, conducted me, convicted me, compelled me, and corrected me. As I survey the last forty-some years of my life I see not just traces but rivers of this goodness flooded over me and my life.

Recently though, as I have assessed and weighed and pondered my life, I have found a tributary in his river I had never noticed. This tributary is an endless succession of blessing and intervention and grace: specific and detailed. It is so evident I wonder how I actually missed its presence, but I did. Then I realize why.

I questioned my God’s judgment. I have questioned his actions toward me. As he has poured out rich perfume on me I have protested. I have fussed. I have argued. Surely there is someone or something more worthy of his attention? Surely there is someone who deserves this lavish outpouring more than this crazy woman named Tamera—with all her flaws, issues, walls, and sins. Surely. My whining objections were loud, and my balking behavior was overwrought.

But he waited, in silence, for my protestations to dwindle and dissipate.

Then he spoke to me. As usual I had missed the point.

Leave me alone. I am doing a lovely thing for you.”

I am the recipient of the kalos of God.

My God, through Jesus, has been extravagantly wasteful to me.