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Sunday, September 28, 2014

When Bare Soles Ache on this Hard Cracked Earth and Bare Soul Must Have Blue Sky

If I could declare by faith to the stack of dinner dishes, "You are clean!" then I'd never lift another dish rag. But the skillet is soaking in hot water and dish soap bubbles are turning filmy red and dissolving in the barbecue sauce I made for the chicken. It's cooked on hard and will soak overnight and I'll scrub it in the morning with wire bristles after making Malt-O-Meal because youngest daughter has braces now and can't chew anything. Malt-O-Meal for breakfast and she couldn't have the chicken for dinner, but did eat pasta with garden fresh basil pesto.

The pan hand washes, and I'll just slosh the salad bowls and wipe barbecue sauce from plates clammoring like the kids when they needed their faces wiped after every meal. I hold dish rag and wave it over the bubbles just to watch them stir and pop and I can't help but scoop them up in hand and blow. It's my way of getting into the moment. Of living on purpose even in this hum-drum. The suds fly and disappear and that's how faith seems sometimes. One day faith seems just as real as hot water and dish soap and fragile as suds, and then something blows in and it disappears. What blows in is a gust of pragmatism.

It's where I am right now; and I have questions because I've got my hands in hot soapy water that's turning shades of barbecue sauce and I mix in the left-over coffee from this morning's brew and the vinegrette pooled in salad bowls till suds dissolve in the muddy slew. Seems to me this is what pragmatic faith looks like. A little muddy and I can't see what my hand is reaching for at sink bottom any more than I can see through facts left over from faithless days to reach what I believe now this day.

I lift the sink stopper and listen as left-over sauce and everything else is slurped down the drain and I wonder, "Is it really possible to mix pragmatism and faith and still see clear enough to make decisions based on faith?" I honestly don't know, but the sink is empty now and yeah, there's residue clinging to sink and dinner dishes, but vision is restored. And, silly but it's just where I'm at this moment and I have a feeling that I just witnessed pragmatism get sucked down the drain. 

My thesaurus gives antonym for "pragmatic." It's "blue-sky." And synonym is, "not given to grand vision," "bottom-line," and "earthy." Isn't "earthy" what we wash off at day's end with soap and water? Isn't "earthy" the greasy film and bits of noodles and basil at sink bottom, and ring around the tub, and sand on the shower floor? But "blue-sky?" I can stand beneath blue sky all day and nothing blue will film the tub or murk the sink. What comes out in the wash is telling, I'm thinking.

A fresh towel from the linen drawer to dry dishes. I live under the blue sky and my feet walk bare to the basil and my hands rinse chicken breasts and spread sauce over them; and I wash. I wash the basil that pushed with all energy of life through dirt to get under blue sky. Wash the quinoa grain I cooked for this morning and wash last night's barbecue sauce off skillet that soaked all night because it cooked hard stuck. I wash the sink, and this apron, and counter tops, and stove top, and floor and table; and once I washed out the mouth of a little brown-haired boy who smelled like earth and sun and little boy sweat who simply needed a bar of soap on his tongue. I wash things. It's what I do.

I'm reminded that Jesus washed. Washed His disciples' feet and they washed His. And He healed people in various waters, including His own spit. We called it "family fluid" when the children were young. And what about the red water flowing down His earthy flesh and seeping over pragmatic nails and staining the cross all pragmatic bottom-line, too? What about this?

I stop here because, "Don't You say the cross is foolishness to those who don't believe?" I look for it and find what He really said.

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" (1 Corinthians 1:18).

"Oh! That makes more sense!" I say it because it seems to me that the cross itself is just wood beam on beam and nails are pragmatism at it's most naked and deadly; but the message of the cross? The message. That's different.

The message isn't what it looks like. It's not a message of death, but of life. Not of despair, but of hope. Not of bloody gore, but of bloody glory that leaves not stench but that washes stench away. It is foolish talk to the perishing, for don't we perish in pools of pragmatism? And, lately, it's seemed to me that even those who are being saved are living as if the message of the cross were foolish. We just use Christian words to make it seem not so. We do. We just do mix earthy with blue sky and come out with faith the color of brown and blue blended and it looks like the dish water. Murky faith.

"Were You pragmatic? Ever?" I wonder this in whisper. I really do, because how do we live on earth and make the millions of decisions in life by faith based on nothing but the faith of Christ and on no one but the Author and Finisher of our faith? Is it enough? Really enough?

That was yesterday. But now? Today? This morning is sit out back and look up at "blue-sky" antonym of pragmatic and it's so just so much sky. Sky. Not earth. High up and unfathomably deep and, scientists say, ever expanding.

Ever expanding!

Not like dry cracked bottom-line beneath the bare soles of my bare-naked feet. And I realize that my bare-naked soul isn't meant for bottom line living. Not meant for hard facts that crack in droughts and shift when earth-shattering news changes the bottom line. History is full of that. Before Columbus set sail, the fact was the earth was flat and he was going to fall off the face of the earth. No, my soul is not made fit for the pragmatic. It's fit for blue-sky.

"Yet," I explore tentative and bowed and the answer whispers before I ask the question; but I ask anyway to hear the answer loud; "Faith is evidence and substance. It's what You invited Thomas to touch so that he would believe You and You ressurrected. Isn't that pragmatic? How can faith be so earthy when my soul was made for blue-sky?" I don't know if I ask it right, but really, no words clear enough for soul questions.

"Did Thomas do it? Did he put his fingers into the prints of the nails and put his hand into My side?"

I turn pages. "No. No!" I astound it out. "It doesn't say that he did. Just, "My Lord and my God!" Thomas astounded it out, too.

"Faith is 'blue-sky' kind of evidence. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Fear Me."

"You lost me there, Lord." I didn't think we were talking about wisdom, but faith. I just wanted a 'yes' or 'no;' not a whole other realm of theology out here.

I stamp my feet firm on the hard beneath them. I walk on the bottom-line, but live blue-sky. I stamp it out and it doesn't sound like the old cliche, "I'm in the world, but not of the world," so known that one might think it's in the Bible. It's not. No. I stamp it out different, "I'm not of the world, but sent into it." It's true and wisdom is must-need. Without wisdom there are simply too many things and people and bottom lines to fear.

My soul isn't fit for life without wisdom. Not fit for hard facts that crack when things shift, but I'm here and standing on it and, yes, even sent into it to live the astounding, "My Lord and my God" exclamation because it's the message of the cross. Because my soul is given to grand vision. It looks down right delusional at times, and even feels that way when once I leave earth shores and set sail, or wing soar, because only bare soul can believe enough to venture the ever expanding blue-sky faith and deem it enough evidence to risk falling off the edge of earth for. Thing is, Columbus didn't fall off at horizon. It kept going. Kept expanding right before his very eyes.

Blue Sky in Red Pot

"Fear Me. Just Me."

It's a little murky still, like last night's dish water. Until I remember to remove the drain stop. I remove it, fill noodle pan with fresh water, and there it is. "I see it, Lord!" I'm so excited I grab my iphone and take a picture. It's blue-sky right there in the noodle pan. And it comes to me like this, "Wise living has everything to do with who is feared and what isn't."

We live in a pragmatic world and have tried to mix pragmatism with faith. And when it turns murky, we moan, "Dag-nabbit, I'm in this world," and forget that we can remove the stopper. Remove the bottom line and watch the murk swill down. Just remove the stopper and, "Awesome! I'm in this world!" It's faith based on the facts, exclamation of Jesus' life and Self.

This is the message of the cross. And it is foolishness to the perishing. Doesn't make much earthly sense. For that matter, sometimes it seems foolish to the believer who is being saved. I've felt it like that before, and probably will again before the day is through. I hope so, because it's odd proof that I'm responding to something faith.  It's like picking up towel deciding to dry the dishes because the ring around the kitchen sink is proof that they are clean for the drying. Anything other is everything less and I don't want to live rarely sure of which decision to make because I'm fearing all kinds of things and people.

"Fear Me."

"Just You?"

"Just Me."

This is "blue-sky" for today. For today when my German and I discuss things like finances and a mission trip to India that mission-hearted daughter believes she heard Jesus say, "Yes. You will go," before there was even hint of possibility. A new friend divinely introduced and an invitation, "Why don't you come with us to India? We're going there soon to minister Christ and Him ressurrected.  Come!" And we have frequent flyer miles.

"Fear Me only."

"Amen, Jesus. Amen!"

written by: Carolyn~Elizabeth Roehrig

Monday, September 22, 2014

If Hope Had a Color

If hope had a color, it would look like every color of light just exploding like the sound of a trumpet and the sun would be its mouthpiece shouting silent intangible spray of light that somehow impossibly hangs together in orderly formations, ray after ray. It would be the full spectrum of light broken open because doesn't hope have everything to do with the Light Himself bowing just split open beautiful over earth and encircling the very throne of God Himself? It must.

I'm watching leaves turn, and some are falling. Most are yellow with spots of blue-green and orange. Age spots. Summer is taking her make-up off. And beneath the chlorophyll green elixer of youth, is the naked. Inner beauty surfaces when summer days wind down cool, and the veins in leaves and my own, too,constrict. There is sweet sap water in leaf veins. Constrict the veins and that sweetness is the color of  honey and maple syrup and it changes the leaf from the inside out till beholders can nearly taste the change.

And may it be so with me. I want sweetness running in the veins of my soul, and all the more as they come closer to the surface because age thins the skin and sometimes my soul feels thinner for the years. May hope change me from the inside out till I'm just oh, so free to show naked face wrinkled a little or a lot and a watching world may marvel like tourists during fall in Vermont in the same way they marvel when a life is turned around and ashes are traded for beauty, a heavy spirit traded for joy and when emptiness becomes fullness. Who cares about wrinkles and thinning skin if there's inner sweetness because God's presence fills fuller and sweeter as years go by?

Well, honestly, I'm not about to wash the make-up off and yeah, I'm not going to wash my face with hand soap, but truly whatever fills my soul is what will color the expression of my face and the complexion of my life. It's the way true hope is. It's not skin deep, not fleeting, not deceptively charming but runs in soul vein and changes the tone of life.

Exploding Light

I'm curious about autumn tumble beginning kind of shy in my backyard. It's aging and brittle and crinkley. The leaves, the air, the sunlight. Crinkley and leaning, gentle and transluscent.

Autumn is vulnerable. Change makes for vulnerability. I'm feeling it now this season. A little shy in the beginning of a new thing. Vulnerable.

Yet autumn is also the meatiest. Summer harvest was plentiful fruit peaches, tomatoes, watermelon in Kroger bins. But autumn is pecan meat. Hard shells the colors of dirt. And some of them get buried in the dirt. Squirrels claim pecans in mouths and claw dirt wide open and deep enough to bury some for later. I know some just rot there, forgotten. Others will sprout, also forgotten. But squirrels will remember some they burried and will dig them up. The shell will be softer; easier to crack open, and squirrel will have nut-meat.

Autumn is watchful, too. It ticks off time. I hear it when woodpecker taps the hard wood, and see it when the squirrels scramble all watchful, patrolling staked claims. Tree territories. And I've watched the fights they have over this limb and that section of trunk. Watched the attack, the rumpus and gasped as they tumble mid-air tangle and aggression till they thump like nuts wild and all adrenaline to dry ground hard and cracked. The fighters separate, stunned, and I can't tell who won, but they know. Because it's over and both stand at ready for other competitors.

And the other nuts, the real ones? They fall, too. And thump. This is another watch entirely. Because these fall and some sink below ground. Those unnoticed are not buried and stored for later. They just land where they land hard tock and gradually sink into the ground and they won't nourish squirrel, but  worm. It's just the way of it. It seems morose, but it's really not. In a way beyond the natural, it's redemptive, this becoming as compost and where worm goes. It's supernatural redemption. I know it is, and would read about it this morning. And really hear it. Spirit to spirit, Psalm twenty-two on thin worn page. I would read it and the obvious jumps up and waves arms in holler, "This isn't what David is saying about himself; it's what Jesus is saying about Himself!"

Yes, I would read it again. And again. Because the unthinkable sinks in. "I am worm." He says it.

Really? I read it again, "I am worm." And He takes place in my soul like that; and He turns it over. The tiller is uncomfortable, but my soul is richer for it.

It's Psalm twenty-two, verse six and I think to myself, "I've never seen this passage in it's true color. Never noticed that this is Jesus, not David. And worms eat dirt." I recoil inwardly at the realization.


But here it is. Humility beyond anything I've ever pictured in my sterile, "Just give me the cut version and respectable clips" imagination regarding Jesus, even though I know there was unthinkable violence and beating and crucifixion. But that's it. It's been categorized in the "unthinkable." But worm?

Worm. I can think about worm; and I know what that looks like. I've never seen a beaten person in my life. But, He says of Himself, "I am worm," and I've seen plenty worms. Dug my fingers through the soft rich soil they make and I've planted there, and it strips my breath just this, "Worms eat dirt," mid-exhale while He fingers soul soil He's just turned.

But,"The lowest of the low? Jesus? Like this?" I bend over and pick up a pecan that fell last autumn and was forgotten. It's  right where it fell then, but dark now, and stained and empty. I hold it and I get it. I do. I know what it feels like to be empty and to feel stained. Forsaken by those I've loved. It's not odd or pitiful. It's part of living and redemption.

I know this, too, because I've been picked up off the ground by God's hand and held there like I'm now holding this bit of hollow shell.

And yet, when I've felt the low, haven't I asked God, "Why are You so far from me?" And, who hasn't heard others say in response, "He's not moved far; you've moved far. He's not silent; you're just not hearing Him"?

Fact is, God is silent sometimes. And sometimes He's silent when we are falling, sinking, swallowed whole and forgotten. Wasn't He silent when Christ hung on the cross? He was. It's hard.  He forsook Jesus at this hour. Answered not a word when Jesus called out, "My God, My God, why have Your forsaken Me?" And He meant it.

I can't make excuses for God's astounding behavior any more than autumn would apologize for the changing colors and falling leaves.

May I just know Him for it and feel the uncomfortable, uncontrollable wildness of His unaccountable ways?

Just know Him for the strange humility that requires worm?

For the upside-down redemption that requires falling?

May I just know Him for soul veins full of sweetness?

And then may I end up praising Him wildly till praise explodes straight out like the sound of a trumpet and full color from the inside, out? Yeah. Definately.

written by: Carolyn~Elizabeth Roehrig

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Getting from Here to There on Grace

I held a snail. She glided slow across morning and left shiney goo on the glass door. Not that the glass was fresh cleaned. No. I don't know how long its been since I've held Windex spray bottle in hand, but still. Snail goo?

Gentle pry. The trespasser hangs out the front door of her spiral shell  home, and my finger becomes like porch for her to sit upon.  It's marvelous beauty just so quiet and unassuming. Graceful, too. She moves delicate silent and stretches out long and side to side, and her antenae elongate and shrink for reasons I cannot know.

Goo is on finger just soft glaze and shine and Ms. Snail never really touches the soil of this earth, but glides across it on what? I'm calling it, "grace." She glides across this earth that she lives in without touching it. She's touched by it, is right now, by me. But  somehow she glisses right filmy above filthy and right gooy above gritty.

I hold her at eye level and say, "Thank You" to her Creator, God. "Thank You for this, this," I can't find words. I just think things like "humble" and "slime" and put them together. "Yes.  Thank You for this sublime," because isn't humble often "sub?"

Then more words of gratitude come, and I lift them like prayer picture because they are a picture of thanksgiving this morning.

"Thank You for the rare," because it's rare to me, how I'm seeing grace this morning. It's grace just raw and organic.

"Thank You for the remarkable," because it's remarkable to see grace like this; grace just simple and humble snail.

Is it possible? Possible to see grace in a snail? To see in the likes of a snail, the real felt "I will do it," grace that God says to those of us who really feel our needy state before Him? It is possible if we make it soul habit out of soul need to find every trace of grace possible. And the traces are everywhere. Even in snail. Found out in the way she moves through this world.

It's need for me, this grace that God gives, to live and move and have my being in Him as I trek earth sod. It's so much more than the official but perhaps a bit over used, pat and, may I say, stale defination, "Undeserved favor." Grace is that, but I have to begin with goo to even know what "undeserved favor" means for real.

"Thank You for the captivating." It's not that I'm captivated by a snail. I'm not. It's that this morning I'm holding still on purpose. Purposing to take thoughts captive and reign in the rush, and a snail has been provided. I'm captivated by grace, for grace, and if God provides me with a snail for it, then, "Thank You, God, that I didn't miss it."

It's all word picture of grace to me. Something of what grace looks like, and I'm filled with thanks giving to see it. To see what it looks like to be in this world, but not of it.

I want my treck through this world to be snail goo, in a manner of speaking. For this grace to transport me and mark like snail goo just gentle and silvery when the Light of the World shines upon the tracks I make, the ways I've gone, even today. And may this grace be seen by grace-seekers who, should they follow the mark I make, be led to Jesus at every turn.

I've left more wreckage in my youth-strong path than I want and now I want nothing more than to leave this gentle touch that shines because I'm moved from here to there on grace. May my feet leave just gentle, humble, transparent and true as goo, whisper.
Child and Snail

"She's doing yoga," I bemuse myself and, no doubt amuse the eve's-dropping Creator. "Look!" I say to Him. "She's twisting and reaching high and extending out till she touches her foot!"

"Look at her shell," says my eves-dropping Lord. He understands my delight. It's worship. And worship is grace transport through this world. It's a steady slow snail Sabbath appreciation of God's work. And He gives me yet another look into Sabbath. A grace look into this rest that takes time to enter. To do. To practice and learn because it's worth it.

Isn't God worthy of the time and trained focus to enter Sabbath rest because He does? He gives me snail to lead me there today. And so I watch this snail and look at her shell because God created her with what she needs to built it and He housed her and, "It's beautiful, God! Just beautiful!"

I'm curious about snail shells. Does the snail just find an old shell and move in? Or does she build her shell? I google it, and snails build their shells with the cellophane-thin film they are born with. Before they are hatched, they are given what they need for life. And they nourish themselves with calcium to build strong shells to live in. Hmm. "You covered me in my mother's womb," is Psalm one-hundred thirty-nine word that comes to mind.

"I covered you with grace before you were born," I hear Him whisper silvery to me.

I purpose to make it my life to nurture grace. To nourish myself with the Bread of Life. It's choice. I choose grace, and so, choose what I feed my soul. I choose grace, and so, choose what I think about and what I do, where I go and how I get there.

It's whole, the shell. It's filled with graceful life. It's not like the cracked empty pecan shell I held two days ago, darkened with age and cracked weathered and broken. Must have fallen last season around this time and lain forgotten on hard ground till buried beneath life that also just fell in heaps on top of it till it became empty. Just empty. 

I know what that felt like last season. It happened like that to me, which is why I picked this shell up and held it. I know the emptying and the empty and the "Now what?" question when I knew God held me a little like I held this empty pecan shell. And when, "Now what?" was just answered with His silence because it had to be that way.

Sometimes He is silent, not because I've moved far from Him. I was in His hand then, as I am now, and He was just silent and He let life fall like dead leaves in heaps upon me. But it was season for empty. Season for becoming empty; for feeling the shrivel and, yet somehow, also for knowing God presence silent, but with me, inside.

And so I related to this empty I held in hand two days ago. And, "Thank You" formed even then on soul because flesh gave way to it. And isn't this it? Doesn't flesh have to shrivel until human shell is empty of it like this pecan shell empty of it's own meat in order to say, "Thank You"? Sometimes the Sabbath is soul long. Measured by the setting and rising of soul sun. And soul days measure differently than flesh days.

Empty Pecan Shells
But this morning season the sun is rising on my soul. I see a bit  of what it looks like in the slow, and I think my soul relates to a snail's pace more now than ever before in my life. Is it because more than ever before in my life I'm nurturing love for God? Nurturing the grace He covered me in? Is it because what's taken the bravest death to self has become what's life altering practice? If so, then what else is there to do but to make every minute all about nurturing love for Him who gives grace for it?

There is nothing else. Just try turning elsewhere and feel soul shrivel while flesh gains. I refuse. I choose. Because nothing is more terrifying than soul shrivel. And perhaps this is part of Sabbath, too. Perhaps part of it is to refuse soul shrivel, and to command flesh to lie still on the ground for a long season while life just falls in heaps atop. I'm just sure it is. It must be, because to refuse to practice Sabbath, and it is practice, is to let flesh run in the fast lane. And that is deadly. It is. People crash in the fast lane. And God Himself says that much. Live fast lane and flesh life too speedy relentless for Sabbath rest, and die. I think He said it in Exodus not long after giving the Ten Commandments. But live Sabbath practice; and practice and practice till it becomes easier and changes the way life happens the rest of the days of the week. And live. Live! Just glorious and beauty seeking and love nurturing and grace finding, full and slow and alive life! I want this. I practice.

There's this snail and silver gloss goo, and slow, this morning on transparent door. And that's meaningful, too. Where it's discovered. Because God doesn't skip the details. We do; but God doesn't. Until one day the Sabbath practicer notices. Just notices the beautiful trail of where God has moved. And I'm looking at it right now, in a way. Right here no further than my back door.

In the most reverent, God-honoring speech, "God, if I'm like this snail," it's sublime humble to say it so, then I learned it from You. May I say it like this, God?"

"My life moves in you, reaches out of you, and is the grace between you and the world you are in. Yes. You may say it like that to Me."

I'm holding the truth of it all right here. Gift. "Thank You." I worship, give thanks, in the slow. I worship in the conscious "No," to flesh that always wants to run. But, "No!"

Because I am holding a snail.

written by: Carolyn~Elizabeth Roehrig



Monday, September 8, 2014

Just Bare-Foot Theology for the Likes of Me, Please

Four stepping stones to my victory garden. Four long strides away; and it's only four-foot by four-foot. Small. But it's there, and that's better than last year because it's growing tomatos and basil and, yeah, the zucchini is just a lot of leaves and not a single squash. It's August and I don't think I'll harvest zucchini, but I'm enjoying it for what it is. And every time I stoop down to finger through large leaves for hint of squash I remember the snake that likes to hang out there and think "The Savior squashed the serpent." I know. Corny. Grainy. But this is a victory garden and so was the field of grain where the disciples walked with Jesus on a Sabbath day and heard the heart of Sabbath, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath" (Mark 2:27-28). Corny, grainy, squashy, it doesn't matter. It's Sabbath talk and victory reminder in earthy speech that doesn't require big theological words and a degree to understand.

There was serpent who tempted in the Garden of Eden; and there was great fall. The Fall. In a manner of speaking, Eden summer ripe turned fall fallow and so did human heart. Eve heart, Adam heart, turned from ripe green and crop cultivated by God Himself in those walks through Eden at the cool of the day, to fallow soil when the walk was without God and, I imagine, in the heat of the day because Serpent is present in the heat of the moment and I'm reminded of this, too, because the  one in my garden is no different. Snakes like the heat of the day. They soak it up.

And I wonder, "Was there serpent in the last earthy garden, too?" Surely. That was Gethsemane heat.

"Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation," Christ warned His followers. He knows about serpents. And Serpent.

They were His followers who fell asleep in the heat of the moment. I am optimistic that they tried to stay awake and watch and pray. But, "Simon, are you sleeping? Could you not watch one hour?" And, "Are you still sleeping and resting?" (Mark 14:37-41)

I read His warning about temptation and think, "Serpent." I read, "watch," and think, "eyes." And wonder, "Was there Serpent hissing hypnotic till Christ followers' eyes closed to God, again?

The Serpent is hypnotic. I think I know what "hypnotic" means, but how is it defined? I google it and find, "tending to produce sleep," and, "readily holding attention." Well. That figures. Two opposing concepts to work in favor  on one opponent. Of course. No wonder Jesus said in that Garden of Gethsmane, "Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation."

Sleeping Sprawl

Four large six-foot something men, young but men, snore heartily on upstairs floor. Just sprawl and cover square footage. I listened last night into the morning wee hours to six nieces and nephews and one daughter. All upstairs enjoying summer freedom to stay up late and sleep in late, because life with one another is too good to close eye on. Too good to shut out.

I'm a morning person. So I'm tip-toeing crazy pathways over wood floor because I know where it complains when stepped on. Complains loud enough to wake the sleeping. I zig-zag to bright red coffee maker. Then step odd pattern to back door. Yellow dog grins around the stuffed bunny in her mouth, and we step outside backyard. 

I go to check the zucchini because I'm forever the  optimist, even in August garden. Maybe one morning I'll be doing victory dance and zucchini jig up and down those four stepping stones. But this morning I don't actually make it straight to victory garden. There are weeds choking the stones. Sprawling over the step-way. Rock-way that gets me there. Rock and Way. To victory. It's how I see it.

I set coffee down in dirt and sacrifice bare fingers nipped earlier in the season by something
finger is still recovering from, praying against my own foolishness. And God is glove. I pull weeds. Clear rock-way. And I wonder, "Why do I think about holy Sabbath when I garden? And, apparently, when I'm just gardening on my way to the garden? I do, for some reason. And I'm doing it again. "What's the connection?" I ask God. "Connect Sabbath and these thoughts I save for garden work," I say to Him with my bare feet on the smooth rock and weeds drape between bare fingers..

"Oh, My girl,  My barefoot lil' bit, you're standing on it." I hear Him, but I'm barefoot and bare fingered, and slow.

"On what?" I look down.

"On the connection," He says.

I quirk my head at tilt, not getting it.

He regards my body language, "On Me, dear girl. I am the connection."

"Oh!" And it's really more than I can fully grasp. I grasp another handful of weeds, instead, and think about those in sprawl on my floor upstairs, and these weeds sprawling over the stepping stones.

I think about sprawl, growth. Weeds and these nephews who have grown like them. And zucchini not with-standing, the plant is vine and so is tomato plant; and how they sprawl up and out and right over edges of planter. I think about these simple things of this morning; and what did He say? I'm standing on Him. On the Rock. He is the Sabbath answer for daily, weekly, life that sprawls weedy on this suburban pavement kind of rock-way, and Sabbath answer for life that sprawls viney beyond reason, and for six-foot something lengths of young men who love Jesus.

I find the connection like this. Since the Sabbath was made for man, then it was so for the first Sabbath when God rested. So I ask it, "Did You rest at least in part, for man? Did You rest for man to enjoy the fruit of Your labor and so, to worship You? Because isn't it reverent worship to stop our labor for a day to recognize and enjoy Yours?" I've never looked at Sabbath from the 'Sabbath was made for man' perspective.

It feels a tad backward to think that possibly God rested from His labor, for man to enjoy it. But doesn't this perspective keep man in his place? Keep me in my place? Keep me awake to the fact that what He has done on my behalf brings Him greater glory than what I do on His behalf? That I can, must, afford a day to get it straight, again, that the Sabbath was made for man and not the other way around? It's must-need and begs rhetorical questions like, "Did You delight when You made Adam in Your image, and even more delight when You made Eve the day before declaring the Sabbath, knowing that they would enjoy one another because You were resting that day?" It is rhetorical, but I ask because I need to hear myself say it.

"I was sacrificed on the Preparation Day before the Sabbath. I gave up My life on Preparation Day." His response takes me aback.

"The law keepers crucified the One who came to fulfill the law," I see it different on this smooth rock between the driveway and my victory garden. And I wonder, "How did they manage to observe the Sabbath just hours after taking the crucified down from the cross? They must have barely had time enough to wash the blood off their hands before the sun set and Sabbath began." All I can think is that it was blind observance. And it still is for most and I don't want to be a blind observer, so here I am on the second stone pulling up weeds on my way to the garden so small I painted the word "Produce" on an old fence slat pointing straight to it, lest it go unnoticed. It's a sign pointing straight to what I call "Victory Garden."

Get the Sabbath straight, and know the victory of it. I'm getting it straight because God Word is sign, too, pointing straight to it. Clearly God had reason to create the man and the woman in the Garden of Eden the day before He created the Sabbath. It was Day of Preparation for Sabbath victory! Man and woman created by God, in God image, to bring forth sons and daughters to know the Father and His kingdom!

And then there was Golgatha Day of Preparation when the Lord of the Sabbath was crucified. What strange perspective to underscore the words of the Lord of the Sabbath to Moses, "Surely My Sabbath you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you" (Exodus 31:13). It's sign, Sabbath is, pointing straight to the Lord of it. Miss the sign and miss the meaning of God's rest.

I'm getting it, sort of. "You didn't rest to make Sabbath for man, as if observing the Sabbath makes man holy; but You rested to make man for the Sabbath to keep the Sabbath holy." Is that it? I'm sure there's more, but I've got dirt under my fingernails digging up weeds to see this Rock I'm standing on with greater clarity.

"The place of My rest is the place of your true worship," says the Rock. "It's the inner place of a poor and contrite spirit where trembling at My word happens." He's talking from Isaiah chapter fifty-seven, verse fifteen.

"I make Your word the words I speak till Your word is my pleasure and till Your way transforms my way. Is this it? True Sabbath? Sabbath that I find delight in because I find my delight in You?" I answer Isaiah fifty-eight, verses thirteen and fourteen. It's heart to heart with God.

"You shall be like a watered garden and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail," He speaks  verse eleven.

     Dirt Gets Under my Fingernails
It's old hymn, "On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand;" and "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotton Son" love sprawled across John chapter three, verse sixteen and all the lengths that Love went to till Sabbath and life all weedy and tangled and some of it bearing fruit and some of it not even a squash, connect. Connect. On the Rock and on the Way to victory that cannot be contained in the planter.

Sabbath. It's victory. It's the jig and dance that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit must have done on their day off that first week of life as we know it. And Sabbath is victory Vine reaching far beyond the cross and death that could not contain Him. And Sabbath is victory over unruly living that would choke the way to the One who gives the kind of rest that is worship and love, that roots perspective and replenishes purpose. Sabbath and garden work connect like this for me, on the Rock.

It's just so simply answered for me right now. So clear and so normal and just alive and breathing and snoring and in the zig-zag and the tangle. It's bare foot theology. That's all. Laughable wonderful grace answer for Sabbath wonderings by those of us who grasp weeds and who pluck grain like the disciples did right off the stalk while walking with Jesus through grain fields and Sabbath becomes topic. And isn't grain field, garden? It is! I'm not alone in my garden thoughts! The disciples learned Sabbath while talking with Jesus and plucking grain. And were accused of unlawful garden work by plucking so, on the Sabbath, by Pharisees. That just says it all. Secures the connection for me. I triumphantly progress to the third smooth rock on the way to my victory garden and there are weeds here, too.

"Sit hear, while I pray," He chuckles because He's praying for me as I progress and it's delightful. I know it. I sit. Aware all wonder that He can say it so, like this, the "Sit here while I pray," when the first time He said it was to His disciples at Gethsemane garden.

"How can You say it like You do, now, to me?" I awe it as I sit all obedient on rock-way. Only now it's Rock-Way.

"I can," He smiles reminiscent tender, "because the Rock was struck and then water poured out from His side; because the Shepherd was struck and then His sheep were scattered; and because I am the Rock beneath your feet and the Rock that reflects sunlight every night above you just all moon rock; and the Redeemer of everything in the heavens and on this earth. The Rock has risen. See Me, Light risen over the dark, and you will not stumble." He's speaking Gethsemane language, "All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night." (Mark 14:27)

He continues as I sit two steps from victory garden, "I can say, 'Sit here while I pray,' with light tone because I am both Shepherd and Lamb. Both struck and sacrificed."

I get it. He's glorified. And I'll see reminder of this again, tonight. Because that's what moon is to me. Reminder of risen Rock to give light in darkness. It's marked. Pocked. The moon. The Rock. Pock mark scarred. He's risen and still bears scar.

Could it be because the pocked Rock reflecting the very glory bright of God Himself is strongest intercession for me before Him? Could it be that one look from Father eye at Son scarred on my behalf and for His kingdom is all the intercession needed? Does the Lamb of God carry those scars still, for that very reason? Still on my behalf?

The sun is beating down on me heated, and tonight it will illuminate and cast shadow defining the craters on the moon; and I'll see the scars on the Rock.

"The Father takes one look at My scars and hears My Holy Spirit groan," He says.

I finish the thought because it's God Word that I know, "Your Spirit groans the words I cannot express." It's too glorious for words. And that gets groaned, too. Glory beyond words in some holy language known by Spirit and God.


Just silence.

And breathing.

I pull weeds away. I step reverent on rock-way till I stand at victory garden. Pluck a tomato. It's red. Ninety percent water, I've read. I place the tomato on my tongue and hold communion at victory garden. In remembrance of Him. "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty; Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory. Amen"

written by: Carolyn~Elizabeth Roehrig