Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Post Holiday Reflections

The turkey is nothing but bones. Only crumbs remain from the pies. The suitcases, the air beds, and the general clutter are gone. The floors are once again open spaces where the hostess can walk unimpeded. Gone also are the giggles and screeches of grand kids, and the constant hum of a dozen different conversations. Everyone is back home, back to work and school, back to life.

However for one brief weekend we re-lived what once was, a time when family was around for every occasion, happy or sad. When only days passed between visits instead of years.

I will hold the memories of this special holiday in my heart, pulling them out during future holidays when we cannot be physically together.  

This Thanksgiving held something even more miraculous than being all together, the celebration of my parents 60th Wedding Anniversary. They were married on Thanksgiving Day, 1951.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Turkey - A Re-Post in Honor of Thanksgiving

We were flat broke with several more days to payday. With three kids to feed and a pantry nearly bare, things looked pretty grim. I mentioned my concern to a close friend at work.

"Remember when God paid your insurance? If He will do that, he will surely fee your family as well. Trust Him."

She then told me this story.  A flood ravaged a small community, forcing many residents onto their roofs to await rescue. One man, looked at the water already lapping against his ankles, realized he couldn't wait too much longer to be rescued. Unable to swim through the raging water, he faced certain death if he wasn't found very soon. Desperate, he cried out to God to rescue him. God promised He would.

 A rescue helicopter noticed the man on the roof, flew over and lowered a rope. The man waved them off. God was going to rescue him and he didn’t need the helicopter. The crew shook their heads at the man’s foolishness and moved off in search of other victims.
Two men came by in a row boat and offered to take him with them. He refused their help also, again stating God was going to rescue him.

A surge of water swept the man off the roof and he drowned. Standing before God he asked why He hadn’t saved him as He had promised.

God replied, “I sent you a helicopter and a row boat, what more did you want?”                                                                                                                 Author Unknown

I thought about the story as I drove home that afternoon. Okay, whatever God sent my way, by whatever means, I would not decline the offer. I would look for and accept the helicopter or a row boat. I didn't expect God to send me a turkey.

When I walked into my kitchen, I discovered a twenty pound turkey, thawed and ready to cook, was sitting in my sink. Thinking of the story, I knew it hadn't simply materialized. Someone had put it there. Only one person, besides the family, had a key to the house, my mother.

I called her, and listened to a story almost as amazing as if the bird had suddenly materialized out of thin air.

Several days prior, the freezer belonging to a woman neither of us knew malfunctioned and everything in started to thaw. Most of the food the woman was able to either cook or transfer to the freezer in her refrigerator, but the twenty pound  turkey wouldn't fit and it was too much for her family to eat without re-freezing the left overs. She offered it to a neighbor. The neighbor accepted it, then decided she didn't want it. She passed it to a friend. That friend accepted it, then decided she didn't want it either. She in turn passed it on to someone else.

This was repeated over and over until the bird was passed from home to home all the way accross town to my mother. Mother accepted it on my behalf and brought it down to the house just before I arrived. By that time the bird was completely thawed and ready to cook. Dinner would be late, but there certainly would be plenty.

And now, every Thanksgiving when I look at the turkey and see images helicopters, rowboats and my kitchen sink, I bow my head and say, "Thank you."

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Needs

I've spent a great deal of my life clinging to a job, a home, financial security, husband, children, parents  -  things, and in the process expending a great amount of emotional and physical energy. I am not saying we should not care about people or things, we should. We need relationships, we need things in order to survive, but we need God more.
One of my devotions mentioned a popular chain e-mail. It asked, "Suppose you're house was burning, with all of your family already safe, you have just enough time to take one item with you, what would you chose?"

As I went through a mental list of things I treasured, a new thought emerged. What if God came to the door and simply said, "Come." Would I need to say goodbye to family first? Would I tell Him, just a minute I want to grab a few things, or would I have enough faith and trust in Him to simply step out the door? I decided I could just walk away. After all if God were personally beckoning me, why would I not?

Another image formed. With nothing but the clothes I was wearing, I embarked on a journey with Him. We walked side by side down the street, out of the neighborhood and gradually out of the city. For a woman who carries a large purse everywhere, and always has multiple suite cases when traveling, this was an intoxicating concept. He even made keeping up with Him easy, matching His pace to mine, and carrying me when I became too tired to walk.

We were deep into a wooded area, far from any town when night descended. A thunderstorm hit, and within seconds I was soaked. I could no longer see God or feel His touch.  As I considered my desperate situation, a large lightening flash revealed a small cave only a few steps in front of me. The floor of the cave was sandy and dry, but I still shivered in the night chill. I wondered why God had brought me there and then just left, leaving me to die of exposure and hunger.

Lightening hit the tree, just outside the mouth of the cave and ignited one of the large limbs. It fell a within arms reach, and with minimal effort I drug it further into the cave. My clothes were soon dry, and the blaze held off most of the night chill, but I was still hungry, tired and seemingly alone.

Then I realized God would do two things. He would either provide food, warmer shelter and everything else I needed to continue the journey  - at one point or another - or He would take me Home where all my needs, even those beyond my imagination would be filled. Short term hunger and a little cold could be endured.

At that moment God came into the cave and sat down next to me. He entertained me with stories and amazing natural wonders. He assured me that although I missed dinner, breakfast would be indescribable.  He told me how much He loved me.

I eventually fell asleep, curled next to the fire, covered with a blanket of God's love and peace. No worries, no concerns. I didn't make any do list's or minute by minute plans for the next morning. I didn't check off a list of all the things I failed to accomplish that day, nor did I recite any list of transgressions. I had followed God, and that was all I was required to do.

Now, I can truthfully say, if the house were on fire, or if God knocked and said, "Come", I would walk away, leaving everything. I would be selfish (according to the world's point of view), but by choosing God above everything else, life becomes simpler, and far less stressful. My burden's are much lighter, especially when I let him carry most of the load.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Two Masters

No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Luke 16:13.

I understood the above passage on an intellectual level, dispassionately, objectively, yet never personally, until yesterday.

My temp position requires a staggering amount of training, and after three months I do not feel any more competent than I did after three weeks in my last position. The result, I am still making mistakes like a new-hire. To a Perfectionist/Over Achiever this is frustrating, humbling and sometimes humiliating.

Yesterday, I made an error, important, but not grievous.  With constant interruptions from the phones, I was distracted, lost focus and confused two gentlemen's names. Both names were similar:  same first name and close last name. As a consequence, I sent an important, (thank goodness not a confidential) package to the wrong address.

My supervisors were kind about the error, especially after I owned up to being responsible and explained how it occurred. However for a perfectionist, seeing the disappointment in management's eyes was enough to send me on a spiral of self-chastisement. In answer, God sent me another dream.

I was in a large compound filled with people from many social and economic levels. The general crowd was engaged in rather disgusting behavior. Desiring some privacy and a place to escape from the ethical onslaught, I found a small room with a locked door. Ignoring the lock, people came in and violated what I felt was my private space. They not only invaded, they continued their abhorrent behavior. I was angry and in admonishing them let slip a cuss phrase using the Lord's name. Regardless of their horrendous behavior, I knew my error would be severely punished.

When the general manager approached, I told him, "Stop right there. I never cuss or use the Lord's name. I slipped and this is why."

I then listed the atrocities going on around me and how I resented the disrespectful behavior toward me. He apologized, and offered to send one of the resident pastors to speak to the group. He joked they would either stop their abhorrent behavior or clear the room. The dream ended there.

After my readings this morning I understand the symbolism. I ranked my error as serious as taking the Lord's name in vain, in essence putting their approval above, or on the same level as God's, making them my second master. That is a far greater error.

Putting God first, pleasing only Him, takes away the burden of relying on my accomplishments to affirm my worth. God knows my heart. He knows my intent is not to be slovenly in my tasks. Being imperfect, I will make mistakes, but these do not define who I am.

I am a child of God, and I refuse to have two masters.