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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Can I Just Make My Whole World About This?

PISTEUO! Connecting with God's Heart-The Devotional
Supplement to  Chapter 3

"And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.' Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to Him, and said, 'Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them, for of such is the kingdom of God'" (Luke 18:15-16).

It's a freedom to leave the lifting to God. A freedom to leave it in His hands to do. After all, it's how He made the first man and woman. He formed the man from the dirt and lifted him right up from the ground. And then He told the man to lay back down on the ground, put him to sleep, and lifted the woman of his dreams right up out of him and that was the first dream come true!

I've learned that the Latin root for the word "ground" is "humus." It's pronounced "hyoo'-mus" and is the root word for "humanus" (hyoo'-man-us) which means "man," as in "us." And then there's the word "humility" (hyoo'-mil-ity) which comes from "humus;" and I can't help the word play. God's the linguist and He has a sense of hyoo'-mur. He lifts up the humble today just as surely as He lifted up Adam from the humus.

Humility means "to have a clear perspective and respect for one's place in context" (wikipedia).  I put it together like this: The clearest perspective and greatest respect I can have regarding myself and others is to stay grounded and to leave to God any lifting up of me.

Can I just make my whole world about this? Can I put my whole world in His hands like the tax collector did? He put his whole world in God's hands when he prayed, "God, be merciful to me a sinner!" Is this the first place in the New Testament where the "sinner's prayer" shows up?

I wonder what he did when he left the temple liberated by the freedom humility gives? The freedom is given in the absence of what we call with a bit of pride in the voice, "the self-made man." When my perspective isn't clear in the properly respective context of humility, then this lil' bit of humanus in the likes of me is too heavy for me to lift without falling; because pride comes before the fall and pride is heavy.

Thing is, there's still some pharisee in me. I catch myself passing judgement. I do. And I'm disciple too, and still as prone as they to get too big for the  britches sometimes. I'm tax collector, saved; and yet sometimes wanting to collect some debts. And I'm infant weaned and content to let Jesus touch me and hold my whole world in His arms. I'm saved by this Savior who freely gives salvation, and I'm disciple walking this humus ground; and humility costs everything.

Humble Jesus paid with His life, and with more than I may ever know. He paid. It cost Him the pain that my sin was causing me; and is the cost still being counted though the debt has been paid? I wonder, because I've always been flesh and blood conceived in sin, hell bound, but He hasn't.

I gain what I've never known: heaven and full redemption; and become what I've never been:an unwrinkled, spotless bride.  He lost what He only knew, and He will never get it back completely. He is no more purely Son of God, but is also Son of Man. And isn't this the acceptable expression of a groom's love for his bride? That a groom in love with his bride would take her pain in an instant, if he could?

The only Groom who is able to do this is Jesus. And He did.

I can't be humble enough to be adequately humbled by this kind of love. I am too imperfect to know how to be humbled enough.

Bride and Groom

I listed in Chapter 3 of The Devotional some ways to humble myself . Now some ways to be humbled by God's love:

-If I never learn anything more through hard times than to hit the humus and wait for God's touch and His arms that lift, then this would be enough for everyday.

-Jesus hurts when He sees me hurt. He's felt it and more than it, before.

-His love is balm applied to my pain, and His.

-He left His home; and when He ascended and went back home He sent the Holy Spirit to speak the Word of God and His own new speech became to intercede for me.

-He chose to labor for me, to deliver me, and forever He bears the marks of the delivery.

-The marks stretching across my belly are humbling reminders of His love.

-Perhaps He means for trials to teach me more about Himself than what I can learn about myself; about how to live His life more than about how to live mine; about what He's done more than about what I ought to do; about His love more than about any other affection.

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Freedom and Fences

I look around the yard at the stuffed bear, bunny and lion that belonged to two sons and two daughters years ago and now belong to this Yellow Dog who will always be a two year old.

The pillows on the prayer bench that sags more every year beneath the weight of time, have slipped between the bench and backrest as if seeking warmth.

The cross that hung on the fence there, fell off it's tack and lies on the bench.

A plastic grocery bag lies in the corner. The garbage truck sent it sailing days ago. And a plastic water bottle sliced clean in half lies near the freshly cut wood pile. Brothers. Now grown men with wives. The same two boys who chewed their toast into weapons they wielded in their chubby soft hands from booster seats at breakfast table, and yeah, that morning I decided it was a battle against manhood to say, "No toy guns or swords."

Christmas day, and one gave an ax to the other. And the other received a sword. From his wife. Ax man tossed the water bottle and I admit it was impressive to see it sliced mid-air like that. They played, with real weapons in man hands, and my wood pile is chopped and the brush pile is sliced through.


A red-headed woodpecker dances arbitrary slapdash around hardwood trunk. It's a hit-or-miss morning and I'd go inside because it's cold out here, but I won't because I hear Him whisper, "Stay a moment longer," as I turn to go in. My self complains, "I wanna go in," and I say to self, "I know you want to, but you can't." It's a familiar exchange.

I stay, hoping this won't take long and feeling like the woodpecker wanting food and hopping on one foot then the other to stay warm in the wait.

"I feel like what this backyard looks like, Lord." I'm just a little strewn inside.

He's silent; waiting because He knows there's more.

"Is it possible," I venture gentle and timid, "to be fenced in by what I've been delivered from? Limited by the freedom I've found?" It's odd to ask, but I do ask because until now I haven't had words to articulate the question.

Thing is, I've been delivered from trust issues that tore me open, and from fear that fenced me shut. Yet, in this moment I know there's more. Without apology, I know there's more. With highest worship and humblest "thank You" that I will never cease to say to Him who has proven Himself faithful and as my hope I say, "I know there's more."

I'm a tad hit-or-miss this morning. But I feel the presence of God in my backyard, and if my soul has a backyard, and it does, understanding is dawning there somewhere between freedom and fence. And beyond it. Because there's more.

He asked me to stay a bit longer, so I am. I stare at the fence, waiting and, "Uh, Lord? Since when has there been a hole there in the fence?" It's a small square peek hole where a board has cracked and slipped down an inch or so.

"Look though it." He's not chatty right now. He knows I'm cold.

I look through it, sort of. I'm frozen to the patio, so I look through it from the short distance. It's enough; and who can adequately put dawn into words? I just look through the hole to what's beyond the fence. More. And I look up through bare tree branches to what's beyond them. More.

"Ahhh," my breath collects and hangs, "There's more." I see it and it hangs like holy breath right in front of me, at the threshold of more.

"Yep, there's more." He nods, and I can go inside now.

Four plastic storage boxes are waiting to return to the attic and they aren't neatly stacked or lined up by the door, but that's okay because the boxes will still be there come morning, and the energy will too. It's not, now. I used it up filling them. I "packed up Christmas" and this year I did it differently than years past. It wasn't a chore to complete, but a moment that counted. It counted, because I've spent the past year redeeming time and making moments count.

"Redeem time because the days are evil," I'm told in scripture. Take the petal off the metal and train the breaks.The more I practice it, the more I get it. The evil one would speed time away, because he knows his days are short. The evil one would distract me from making moments count because somehow making moments count, paying attention to each moment, slows time down. It does and I haven't the slightest how that really works, but it does. It worked like that this morning in backyard dawn; and again in the boxing.

I've been packing faith and hope into my heart like I packed into boxes the decorations that declare the coming of Christ in the flesh. I've been collecting faith everywhere possible, because I've had trust issues and a faith crisis that came out stright forward honest, "God, if You ever stop proving Yourself faithful to Your word, then I will have little left to say to You."

I've fought for faith and hunted hope for so long, it feels odd to come up against a fence.

"I'm free," I puzzle before God. "I'm freer than I've ever been; so why this fence?"

"It's for freedom that I have set you free." He speaks.


He takes my breath away. Just takes it from my lungs and wraps it up in a cloud like He did when I ventured to breathe, "Is it possible to be limited by the freedom I've found?"

"Faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love," He speaks 1 Corinthians 13:13 to me, and I'm at threshold with Bible open, frozen to the spot, "Lord, since when has that been there, like it is now?"

"Since this morning." He sounds so pleased with Himself!

Faith is the evidence of things not seen, but hoped for.

The commandments of God were written on rock solid stone tablets; weighty faith to live by.

Then what? Christ came in flesh as faith embodied. And He did more than keep the commandments. He fulfilled the commandments.

I'm peeking through holy words in 1, 2, and 3 John and they're opening wide. "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments" (1 John 5:3).

It's sinking in. Is there any greater freedom than keeping the commandments already fulfilled by the love of God? Love fulfills it's own.

"Love is everlastingly more!" I want to put my mouth up against the hole in the backyard fence and shout this exultant "more" through it to the other side.

"Ah, Lord!" What can I say? I want to borrow my son's ax and whack wide open the peek hole in the fence, but I don't need it.

The love of God is opening me. And that's more.

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

My Epiphany Prayer

New Years Day has come and gone, and left me behind in the confetti this year. I'm still gazing at the Nativity scene beneath our tree which is still up and loosing needles, a confetti of it's own, which I'm finding.

This big German I'm married to hauled in bags of sand to spread on plastic sheeting beneath the tree. He sculpted a desert and placed figurines of shepherds and their sheep, desert dwellers young and old, men and maidens who come just as they are to the rough wooden stable he placed beneath the shelter of tree boughs. He placed votive candles throughout the scene.

I light them now for Epiphany.

The Light Has Come
Epiphany. The word means, "to shine upon," "to reveal."

I light the votive at the entrance to the stable. A star touched earth like no star ever has. The Light of the world was delivered in light. "Your Light is come." I say it under my breath.

It's Epiphany day; different than Christmas day when I lit this votive. Different because the day Christ was born, the Light was announced to the shepherds in the surrounding fields and they came in mass to Christ.

Did they cradle Him in shepherd arms that instinctively knew how to cradle a lamb?

But when kings from far away came and beheld the King of kings, and bowed to Him, the Kingship of Christ was announced far beyond the surrounding fields and to the whole of the gentile world.

Their arms wouldn't have instinctively known how to carry a lamb, but the Lamb knew how to carry all, and "Your Light is come," is too big for under breath whisper. It's proclamation call carried beyond the fields and the few, to the edges of the earth and to all nations.

My girl danced with one-hundred and fifty children on a beggars beach on the edge of the earth we call India. She, and the missionary family she is with, ministered the Light of the world to those bearing the Hindu mark; and sometimes the edge of the world is across the world, and sometimes its just a thought away, but it's never beyond the Light.

The edge may be pulled under a briney dark tide, but light spills like fresh cream from the Indian moon and in the light can the hungry fingers that claw at sands edges be turned palm up in worship on the edge they rip into? It happened on that beach. Palm up worship.

Nations may dip into ink pots and be veiled to the difference between ink dabbed and light poured. But light pokes through veils like stars point through the veil of a dark night; and tiny dabs of starlight form dippers big and little and ladle light out like liquid over a nation that's dabbed darkness right between the eyes, and then wash a nation in quenching light. This is happening, too.

I look at the burning votives, and the string of lights on the tree. I step outside and look up at the burning string of starlight that winds glory intricate across the sky from the cusp of my back patio to the beach just down from the flat where my girl is waking to my tomorrow, because the stars string across time zones.

"How," I wonder upward, "did the Magi turn to go back where they came from?"

"They turned to go back to their country by another way." The answer is given and I hear what's just just beneath it.

"Repentant." I know how they turned. It's how all who bow to the King of kings and to the Prince of Peace, and who cradle the Sacrificed Lamb, turn.

I know it's true. "Then," I continue speaking upward, "may I never be satisfied to say, 'I've seen the Light! I'm born again!' but 'I've cradled the Lamb. I carry the Light.'"

"May I live so," I speak it and the plea hovers silent on the cloud of my breath in the cold night air. I 'm looking up at the clearest billion reasons to hope for the nations. "May I shine so," I breathe into the darkness.

I just keep looking up. It's cold. My neck is cricked. But I can't look away. I just can't. I look up at the strings of starlight edging the heavens and wrapping 'round this earth and, "May I be such a light, one in a string of believers, shining in the darkness and extending Your kingdom."

This is my Epiphany prayer

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth.