Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Dragon

Recently I have had a heart full of petty complaining

A jaw full of pent-up frustrations

A throat full of raw sighings

A stomach full of harbored expectations

That’s what happens when we get weary and we forget to pray.

When we forget God is near.

And this morning he and I had a long talk. I did most of the listening.

At the end of the conversation I realized I had a problem. Certainly something I have aspired to. Certainly something I am never going to attain. I am a little too obsessed with perfection.

The wrong kind.

The wrong kind of perfection leads to constant defeat and an utter sense of failure. The wrong kind fills us with false and dashed hope. The wrong kind makes us expect what can’t be given. The wrong kind scrapes the inner lining of our heart until it’s raw and we lash out from the pain.

I have been striving for a perfection that just simply doesn’t exist. Demanding from myself what I just can’t produce. I just don't have the capacity to do this. I keep too many tally marks of my wrongs, mistakes and failures. And I multiply them. They become monstrous things--dragons. And this dragon of perfection breathes out fire and blisters my skin and scorches my eyebrows and hair. And when I cry the salt burns the raw places.

And this morning I was weary from struggling and I fell into my Father’s great big arms and wept. And wept some more.
He just held me there.

And he rubbed his salve on my blisters.

Monday, May 2, 2011

God's Beyond

He used to call me Mammy.

He couldn’t pronounce my name. He was a beautiful child. Strikingly so. He managed to get the good genes from both sides of the family.

And he and I were inseparable.

On the weekends when I came home from college he wouldn’t leave my side. He rode in my 1978 green Monte Carlo with me—most of the time standing up in the front seat right beside me (I would never allow a child to do that now!) with his little arm thrown over my shoulder.

One of my most favorite photos in the world sits on the headboard of his bed. I don’t even know who took the black and white candid shot. We are on the ground in our back yard at our family home. He is in my lap and I have my arms wrapped around him. We are both laughing and the laughter reaches all the way to our eyes.

I learned later that when I would leave to go back to college he would stand at the window and cry for me. I wish I had known. It would have been hard, but I wish I had known. I would have come back.

Life has been hard for him. Partly because of his choices and partly because of the choices others (including me) made, but he couldn’t control.

Addiction snared him and embedded its nails deeply. The disease sunk almost to his heart. He’s been through two bouts in rehab and multiple interventions and spent a long time under house arrest. Sometimes my phone would ring and when I would realize it was my step-dad or mom I would steel myself and push down dread and panic. I was convinced they were calling to tell me my brother was dead.

He hit rock bottom. Almost all the way down.

Later this month he will be clean for eleven months. After a harrowing decade (longer) he is free.

My brother has returned.

This was miracle enough. Utterly amazed I have watched my brother come back to life—resurrected from the wasteland of addiction and all the ugliness and deception that accompanies it.

God, however, wasn’t finished yet.

My sights were not set high or broad or deep enough.

You see God finishes what he starts. And his answers are immeasurably beyond what we have imagined in our hearts and heads. **

This past Sunday I came home from work and checked my phone for messages. I had several, but I had a text message from my brother. This is a rare occurrence. I hit view. The words that popped up on my little screen were bigger than life.

I got saved today at church.

I reread that one sentence several times.

While I was reading that text message heaven was rejoicing. While I was processing that one sentence the angels were partying.

I called my brother. One of the first things he said to me was that he hoped Granny C, our grandmother, and LaVinia (see the post: White Cadillac) could see what he had done.

Brother, let me tell you this. Not only do they see, they’re dancin’, hollerin’ and shoutin’. Granny C. is clapping her hands and LaVinia is fussing at the angels because they are not lifting their feet high or shaking their wings enough—not nearly enough for their boy who has come home. Their prayers have been answered. My prayers have been answered.

Thankfully, God did more than what I asked for.

To save my brother only from the drugs would have only saved him from something. Our sweet God wanted to save my brother for something.

See, God finishes what he starts. Being free from the clutches of addiction is necessary and essential, but God wanted my brother to have more.

This is the greatest miracle. Utterly amazed I am watching my brother come back to life—he is now being resurrected from the wasteland of sin and all its ugliness and deception that accompanies it.

God always has the beyond in mind.



Philippians 1:6

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 3:20

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…

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