Monday, June 14, 2010

Listening To God Is Not Always A Polite Experience

A certain woman named Lydia, a worshiper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. - Acts 16:14


This is a conversion story worthy of transcription. When I read the story of a woman in the bible, it makes me stop. While men were the primary actors in the unveiling of Christ’s story on earth, there were these women who express the intent of the gospel, highlighted amongst them. In most biblical stories, we see the heart of women in action rather than words. Inspiring.

Lydia was a worshiper. Yesterday, the pastor was talking about the story of Joseph. He came to the point, in the story, where Joseph has found his brothers tending the flock. Joseph was prepared to write up his behavioral analysis and return to Jacob, but as his brothers see him coming they plot to kill him. The pastor asked us, “What do people say when they see you coming?”

They said that Lydia was a worshiper.

She was also a purple cloth dealer. In these few verses, Lydia is identified in many roles, and in verse 15 we see her act of obedience as one who was baptized. Something happened in the middle, though. The Lord opened her heart to listen, eagerly.

Bare with me while I dust off my Greek books from seminary. The word eagerly is not actually in this text. Eagerly expresses the intensity of the word ‘opened’. Here, ‘opened’ is the same word used when a firstborn opens the womb. It is not a lightbulb going off, or a “Hmm, I’ve been wondering about that.” It is a violent crack in what was formerly understood, pushing through disrespectfully. It stops at nothing but complete transformation.

God opened something in Lydia that had been closed. She never even knew that it existed. She saw what she could not see before. She heard words that were completely understood for the first time. One moment she was a worshiper, and the next she was a listener.

The Lord opened her heart. To listen. He opened a soul to create understanding and desire to hear His word. That is what God does.

I would argue that this process does not stop. It seems that I move from one level of understanding to something completely new, as He bursts forth through my heart. He opens what was closed before and I am left on my knees, waiting to hear his voice. I have begun to ask for this in my prayer time.

This process is not polite. It was not for Lydia and it will not be for us. It is not safe. It is not controllable. It is what happens when we listen to the Father.

Blessings, as you listen to the Father, today.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Happy Birthday, Filled With Praise!

Amy, at Filled With Praise is having her 1 year blog party. Go over and give her your best. I adore her heart. Thank you for being so wonderful, Amy. Keep up the good work!

If you could have dinner with any person (past or present) who would it be?

If I could have dinner with any person past or present, I would have dinner with Rahab. I like a good story, and let’s face it she has one. God specializes in testimonies of change. Her story would be sheer contagious energy.

What is your most embarrassing moment that you are willing to share with the blogging world?

When I was in college, I went to a music festival on a river. There were thousands and thousands of people there, which usually means food and drinks...and port-a-potties. We went to the bathroom in pairs, so there was one girl in the port-a-potty and one girl guarding the faulty door locks. You just can’t be too careful.

I guarded my friend and it was her turn to guard my door. I was almost through with my “errand” when my door opened and I was face to face with a strange man. It would have been fine if my pants had been anywhere but around my knees.

I saw my ‘former’ friend and door guard in the distance turn around slowly, mouth hanging open, and finally exclaiming, “I’m sorry”. She had seen someone that she knew and went to say, “hello”. Because the man in my face was so stunned by what he found, he seemed to be unclear about his next move. This meant that we just stood face-to-face for an eternity, while I scrambled for my pants in front of all the festival attendees.

I can no longer be embarrassed. And, I no longer use port-a-potties...ever.

If you could only use one word to describe yourself, what would it be?

My husband says, “Fabulous”.

I say, “Evolving”.

You found a machine that allows you to fast forward your life to a moment or to rewind your life to a certain moment, but it can only be used for one moment. Would you fast forward or rewind and to which moment would you choose?

I would fast forward to my death bed. My husband and I have a running discussion on who will 'go home' first. I want to prove that I am right.

What is your favorite simple blessing in life?

I asked my husband why his eyes were red one night. He said, “They must be irritated from not having looked at you all day”.

Either way, he is my blessing. I love that man.

Friday, June 4, 2010

My Love of iPhone Apps and Bee Invasions: CR

I will be completely honest, in my absence I have stored up randomness to pour out at the appropriate time.

My new found pastime is iPhone apps. My husband warned me this would happen.

My favorite is Talking Carl. They say that kids love it, but I can tell you, so do adults. We were on a car trip when I found him, and the whole car was rolling with laughter. You talk into the mic of your phone and he mimics you, but he also laughs when tickled, growls when you leave him alone and makes funny noises when you poke him. It is like having someone else in the room with Talking Carl.

I talk to my dogs with him.

Also in my time away, I visited The Flylady. Anyone else into this? I can’t decide if this will make me legalistic or free. I would love to hear your input.

I watch So You Think You Can Dance every season. I do not watch any other competitive shows, just that one. This season, they changed the format. There are ten finalists, not twenty. They are also going to the contenders homes, blah, blah. I am afraid that it is going to become drama, drama, drama. That is the point that all shows lose me. So, I am willing to see what happens this season, but our relationship could be on the verge of failure. Does anyone else watch it?

The strangest thing that happened last month was a bee invasion. One day, I was letting Tess back in the house and had to scold her for playing with the bees. She thinks it is terribly fun to chase them. I, finally, got her attention and what I saw got mine.

Hundreds of dead bees littered my back patio. It was kind of gray outside and very still. I stood there and analyzed the situation. I think that someone sprayed a hive and they all made it as far as my porch. I sent a picture of it to my husband via text, and then my phone crashed. My phone never crashes.

At this point, probably from watching Fringe, I got the idea that the world might be ending. I am not sure how I got from dead bee invasion to that, but it felt right. So, I stood still trying to reboot my phone and check for signs of other life.

Still more weird, I went to my neighbors and they had no bee invasion, only me. My husband had to clean them up with a blower because there were so many.



I know, right?

There is more where this came from, and I am looking forward to more randomness with Andrea, at Under Grace and Over Coffee, next Friday!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Are You Suffering? Have You Suffered?

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? -Acts 2:1-8, NRSV

Now, erase every word you have ever heard on these verses.

Think of this as a picture. All of us in one place, and the rush of violent wind surrounding us. Between us, above us, around us, tongues that look like dancing fire, searching for their keeper. On each of our shoulders, a new, linguistic identity rests.

We speak these new words. We experience them in our heads, hearts, rolling off of our tongue. These are the words appointed to us. We are given the ability to speak them and share them.

As I sat on the couch one day, this picture came to me so clearly. I had just received a phone call from another friend seeking to console me. My husband and I had, what I will call, a “life event” early this month. I know you also have these life events, too.

My friend did not know what happened to us, but comforted me as I revealed my absence from blogging. As her concern and kind words rolled over me, I heard her say, “I am experiencing a season of suffering, also”. Divine appointment revealed.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God. -2 Corinthians 1:3 & 4, NRSV.

As she revealed her story, my heart broke for my old friend. Our situations were completely dissimilar, but I understood the intensity of each word. I understood the language that breaks through condition, preference, lifestyle, and choice.

This month, I have found the common language of suffering that rests on all of us at some point.

We all speak a strain of suffering. We have our own brand, our own dialect, on which we lay claim. The most important thing to remember is that while our experience looks, smells, feels different from our sisters, our suffering and consolation are more similar. They are purposeful, crafted, directional. They begin, rest in, and end with the Father.

We all have the ability to understand this language.

I wish that I could bring all of you who have stood with me into a room and take turns hugging and feeding you. (That is intimacy where I come from.) What a gift that not one of you withheld prayer or words from me. You have taught me and healed me in so many ways.

When suffering is spoken, hearts unfold, reach out, lock each other in a hedge of protection, and forever become the object of mutual consolation. That is my experience.

If you are suffering, or even simply struggling, I encourage you to trust your sisters with that sacred biblical task of caring for you. It is a privilege to walk through trials appointed to us, together. Email me and I will be overjoyed to intercede for you.

If you have come through a time of suffering, reach out to another who needs consolation. Remember those who stood around you in your suffering, and extend that same love to someone else.

I have thanked all of you for this last month, but I will do it again. Thank you for your patience, your words, your prayers, your comments, your love and your hearts. I have rested in each of them.

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