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Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Strange Goodness

Hot wind burned the panting ground, stabbed as pitchfork and plowed like the new-fangled John Deere tractors that rode over depleted topsoil till it had nothing left to give but to give itself up all "dusty ol' dust," as the 1930's saying went, till dust rose and roiled and rolled over itself with the momentum and power of a rogue wave at sea that mounts upward of several thousand feet and then sprays higher.

This dust didn't float; it lumbered. It didn't catch the sunlight; it grabbed the sun in a black fist and ripped light right out of the sky. It wasn't smudge, but indelible blot on the flesh fabric of those who woke in the mornings and saw the silhouette of their heads on the pillow case, the only thing not blanketed in dust that fell though the night.

Documentaries of the Dust Bowl record the dust appearing as a cloud ten-thousand feet high. "Nobody knew what to call it. It was thick like course animal hair; it was alive."

Dust. Just sand and dirt ground up like powder till it became strange black ranges of mountains that grew and moved in the wind because none of them were rock, but dust.

I catch dust and cat hair in the feathers of my duster and I sweep it from the keyboard.

Cat and Mouse

Some say it was the wrath of God. I wonder. What if there wasn't the greed and lust for more? What if we were content, thankful even, for what we have? What if we didn't eat through, chew up, strip down what we have until it's all used up and we move on westward because "There's gold in them thar hills," and there's a rush on land as virgin as what we just raped and left wallowing in dust? Maybe there wouldn't have been the Dust Bowl, the Great Crash, and the Great Depression.

I've done things like that before. Youth tends to. Young people, young nations and maybe it's because the lust of the eyes and the pride of life scream against this truth that's stood rock solid through all the ages and nations; "Foolishness is tangled up in the heart of a youth" (Proverbs 22:15). And maybe worse than the blind leading the blind are the foolish leading the foolish because a blind heart can learn from past stumbles and warn others, but foolishness is insanity.

Maybe we wouldn't have personal dust bowls, great crashes, and great depressions if we gave the kind of greatest praise and thanksgiving that's called "the sacrifice of praise," and "the sacrifice of thanksgiving," to God.

Seems we've categorized the consequences of foolishness. If the consequences are uncomfortable, we say we've gotten what we asked for; but if the consequences are completely out of our control, we say it's God's wrath.

What if we reasoned from the perspective the cross gives? Wasn't God's wrath satisfied there? And how much clearer could He have demonstrated the truth that His good plans for us have everything to do with Him, and that we merely benefit, because He is good.

He is good. Period. He can't help it, and we can't earn it.

 Many are just stripped by blast after gust. Some turn their backs on God while others manage a scratchy "thank You" in, not for, in it.

The raspy "thank you" comes from the tried and true saint; from the likes of Stephen who counted the praise that God will have, for He will, worth every stone hurled at him. And it came from Jesus, Savior of every saint, when He spoke the sacrificial "thank You" at Eucharist table.

"How?" I wonder. "How do people praise You when all that is as stone flies right at them? How do they thank You when dust is falling from their sky, or when the literal sky itself seems to be falling like a ceiling crumbling and there's pain and even death? Just how?"

Thing is, I do know how. It's by a desire that surpasses every desire to become Christ-like. To be thoroughly Christian, knowing that the word "Christian" means, "Christ-like." And I know, too, that just as Jesus was thoroughly the Christ, there is no such thing as a Christian who isn't thoroughly Christian.

Feather Dusting
I'm listening to myself; and to God whose saying, "Ok hon, 'nough with the 'we/they' language."

It's impossible to hide behind I.

So, will I thank Him when I don't understand what He's doing?

Will I praise Him though my sky looks to be falling and I'm crawling on my knees to Him for shelter?

Will I sacrifice the hard praise? The labored thanksgiving? The, "I trust what You're doing more than I trust what I want" and "I will accept even this as from Your sovereign goodness"?

Isn't this where humility begins? With just one breathed "Thank You" and an unapologetic, "Everything is primarily about the praise You will have"?

Sacrifice like this and there's no more, "Surely this isn't from God" excuse as if some things are beyond His good reign.

I'm thinking about these things. Seems to me the praise and thanksgiving offered when God's come through in ways that I understand, and answered my prayers the way I want Him to is a beautiful praise, but it costs me nothing. Seems to me this isn't half as beautiful as the sacrifice of praise.

"I choose to praise You whether the ground is firm beneath my feet or is oddly mounting in the sky and raining dust that I'll need more than a feather duster for." I say it like this to God.

"Bring Me your heart." He wants my heart. Maybe He wants it because I'm being refined, threshed, pressed, and isn't silver dross, wheat chaff, or dry mesocarp basically dust? And isn't dust itself evidence of the power of purification? Evidence of pure silver? Pure wheat? Redemption, dustless and eternal?

It's a strange goodness that nailed the sovereign Savior to the cross, yet gave Satan power as prince of darkness. Yet, God is King of heaven and earth and all that is in it. King. Not prince. And He is omnipotent over all. All. As in just flippin' and spinnin' all.

Well, He wants my heart. Maybe He wants it because it pumps life blood and strength into this bit of flesh and because soul life and soul strength and the purpose of heart, soul, and strength is for loving Him.

"Do You see the dust clogging up my heart, soul and strength? It's just falling off of me!" I ask Him knowing that He does, but unsure of what it's going to cost me to give Him my heart like this.

Pig-Pen Personified

"I made all things to praise Me." He's all about His praise, and some wise saint once said, "I'm most satisfied when God is most glorified." It's true. I don't know how it works, but it's true.

I remember God saying that the rocks themselves will praise Him. No wonder. Jesus is the Rock; and maybe the earth itself sometimes peels back and rises up as course black dust because when the people don't offer sacrifices of praise to the Rock, the rocks will sacrifice for it and the people will feel it. I

It was felt in the 1930'and is felt today. Perhaps it'll be felt for as long as earth keeps spinning because dust is the fallout of refinement but praise and thanksgiving are most beautiful when given from a dusty broken spirit and a contrite heart. God seems to prefer the prayer shed from a spirit that chooses to thank Him in life's pain and to praise Him in dust storms over a "Good job, God," pat on the back,

"Make my heart to praise You, Lord." It's courageous prayer for me. I know what I'm saying. I've said it before, but I guess I need to repeat it when I'm shedding dust like Pig-Pen in Charlie Brown.

I wave the feather duster, "Make my heart to praise You!"

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig

Monday, July 20, 2015

He Washes My Feet Till My Soul Smells Like Honeysuckle

Pink handled broom is loosing its bristley head. Its just not screwed on right anymore. I sweep the front walk and the head wobbles swivel because maybe its just stood in the pantry corner too long staring at the spice rack where dried basil, thyme, and oregano are crushed into glass spice jars, and cans of tomatoes and a jar of minced garlic from the supermarket line shelves and don't breathe.

Soil and mulch has hopped garden bed and walks up the walkway. The pink broom comes outside with me and her head swivels as if she can smell the garlic breathe alive. We sweep past garlic in purple bloom and the garlic nods a welcome.

I screw the bristled head back into place and sweep this curious pink broom but, "Oh," she swishes against the pavement and the head swivels a loose left because there the basil in terra-cotta pots breathes and its breath smells spicy in morning sun. I pinch off a leaf and chew it just because it's there. I screw the bristled head righty-tighty into place again and sweep the welcome mat.

A glass pitcher rests between the basil and the welcome mat. It's filled with water from the garden hose and the sun catches glass and water till light splashes with joyful abundance and I pour abundance over life all basil. It grows like this at the welcome mat and this summer I haven't once screwed off the lid on the jar of basil in the pantry. Instead, I've pinched, watered and washed basil leaves, carried the fragrance over the welcome mat and the scent just always breaks open full abundance when minced on the wood cutting board.

It's abundance on the wood, I think to God and myself. And it bleeds fragrance there. With the blade of the mincing knife, I  push the abundance into the pot of olive oil and minced garlic and is there anything richer than fresh basil and garlic minced into oil extracted from the olive which is the same oil that lights lamps in this lacking world?

I drizzle the pasta, starch of life, with this fragrant abundance of life I that washed carried over the welcome mat. And just like that, abundance oh so fragrant rich supplies the flavor plain pasta lacks.


His abundance supplies our lack. My lack. He was rich, yet for my sake He became poor.

"For my sake?" I cannot begin to know the extent of what this means. I only know it as I see it; as I read it again and again on pages of Holy writ. I only know that I can't see the whole of His abundance, or of my lack, but that I can believe and hope it is as He says.

"You say," I repeat what He says back to Him because I need to hear it out loud, "that Your abundance supplies my lack; that You were rich beyond what I can fathom and became poor with a poverty I cannot comprehend. And You did this for my sake?"

"And Mine," He adds.

"And Yours." This stirs  me because the abundance that is mine isn't supplied by the blood of sacrificial lambs offered annually, but by the blood of the Sacrificial Lamb offered once lest He would have had to suffer as often as sin has been committed since from the beginning of time.

And I gain remembrance of not my poverty, not my lack, but of my Savior. And isn't this remembrance a portion of the grace of the diligence of Christ?

The empty tomb profoundly lacks when sin's diligence is destroyed because Christ's diligence to do what He had in mind to do, and that to "put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself," is profoundly abundant. (Hebrews 9:26).

"You had it in mind to put away sin by the sacrifice of Yourself; and You did it," I worship at His feet, aware that mine are soiled but also remembering that He's washed the sole of my soul and here I take the eucharist to heart.

"This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me," He says the ancient words to me and they never come up lacking. Then, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you" (John 22:19-20). He spoke so to His disciples at table.

Then He washed their feet.

So was He born in a poor man's stable? That's how I picture it. And was there a donkey in the stable? I only wonder because a donkey low was a poor man's beast of burden and transport; and a donkey would transport Jesus.

The Lamb rode a donkey. The thought comes and takes my breath. Swivels my soul. The clean and spotless lamb rode the back of the unclean.

Some called, "Hosanna in the highest" and laid down palm branches, symbols of strength, for Him to be transported over. Others laid down their cloaks, symbols of what covers nakedness.

If I give palm and cloak, they are as dirty rags under the feet of unclean donkey. I'm putting some things together. What if, I remember my pastor's sermon, I return to Christ what I have received from Him? Returning is different than giving. What increased abundance do I have when I lay down the palm and cloak as rags and return to Him what is His? Abundant life, me thinks.

He knows my thoughts and, "If you return to Me what you have received from Me, all is redeemed."

Ah! The Lamb rode a donkey! The Lamb redeems, makes worthy, the humbled, burdened and unclean. My thoughts kind of plow like this.

Love is transported by humility to redeem the unclean. I put it together.

Humility increases as love washes the feet of humility and then finds its transport by those feet. Maybe it's something like that.

"Humility is as welcome mat for love to be transported over." This is how I hear it and I cheer softly,

"It's an abundance!"

The Lamb Rode a Donkey

The way I see it, the road to the holy city was littered with palm branches and clothing and, "This is what the narrow road to the pearly gates must look like. Littered with strength laid down and with cloaks of self to cover more self; masks, attitudes, props, till the "have's" and the "have not's" are equal."

Few lay down their strength; few lay down what cloaks the soul. Fewer still lay palm and cloak down for the Burden Bearer riding the burden bearer. The way is narrow.

What if I broke off timidity and peeled off the strength of my flesh and the cloak of my soul for love and love alone because the beautiful burden of Love is carried on the back of humility?

Wasn't Love stripped of His strength?

Wasn't a foreigner in the land by the name of Simon of Cyrene called on to carry the burden of the cross on his back? And isn't that what it means to be a stranger in a strange land, a foreigner of this world, called to carry the beautiful burden of love to the world?

Wasn't the thready robe that clothed Christ's sinewey flesh bartered for while He gave up the Ghost?

Wasn't Love bared naked except for a cloth covering the loins of Love because the Father of Love will keep sacred the seed of Love?

Seems humility shoulders love, and love's always got the back of humility. "It will hurt," Love promises rugged, "but I've got your back."

Humility responds, "I lay down all palm and cloak for You alone;" for love is transported humbly like that.

"Lord?" I've got a question. "How do I lay down my life for the sakes of others without enabling them to use me up?" I want to be humble transport for Love, but not a doormat.

"I washed their feet; and became a welcome mat." His answer spurs another question.

"What's the difference?" I ask, but the answer comes before I get the question all the way out. "Oh," I'm getting it, "a door mat isn't the same as a welcome mat."

"Couldn't this Man who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?" I read it in John 11:37 and recognize the speech. It's spoken, "I believe that God can, but will He?" I've heard it because I've said it. And now I wonder where the likes of me is looking when I speak so. Am I looking, really looking, at the One I'm talking to? Or am I talking to Him, but focusing on me? I know what that feels like. It feels like manipulation.

Well, it was said at Lazarus' grave site. I wonder, How many there noticed that Jesus was weeping? Groaning in Himself? How many were really looking at Him?

Was He weeping and groaning inwardly because He was attending a type of what the Father would command on His behalf, and ours? Wrenching, I'm sure, to witness a foreshadow of those who would mourn for Him; of the stone that would roll away from the mouth of His borrowed grave, of the coming resurrection. Maybe He wept and groaned because this was hitting real close to home.

People were wiping their feet on Him, and it scraped out "You should not go where Lazarus lays because, if You recall, the Jews there have been trying to stone You." The disciples pulled their feet back like that. And then Mary and Martha scuffed, "Lord, if You had been here, then our brother wouldn't have died.

What exactly did they, have I, tried to wipe off the bottoms of our sandal shod souls? Fear? Misjudgement? Flesh mire?

What if they, if I, entered the work of Jesus as He entered His work? Isn't humility the entrance of His work? Hasn't love always been carried, cradled, transported, and delivered by humility?  Isn't humility the only transport and support for God-ward love? What if they, if I, laid my frondy strength and the garments my soul would wear, down to welcome the Lord?

Some door mats say, "Welcome" on them. Others are stiff as bristle. Bristle at humility and bristle at Jesus. Bristle, "Don't go at this time," as the disciples did, or "Why didn't You come sooner," as Mary and Martha did and, yeah, the feet wipe back and forth as sandal-shod souls would scrape against Jesus and I can hear the rough swish-wipe.

I know what it sounds like. My own soul has wiped its feet like that, as if Jesus were door mat, and then this soul of mine declines His invitation, "Welcome," and somehow doesn't see the bowl of water and towel He's holding.

He Washed Their Feet

Well, Jesus is welcome mat who washed feet gently.

May I be that kind of mat! Not doormat. Not bristle stiff. But welcome mat and soft wash towel. May I welcome those who will let me wash their feet.

The disciples let Him wash their feet, once they understood. And they've passed that understanding on to me. It's written. Explained. Demonstrated. Mary and Martha, and many of the Jews who had come to their side in their mourning believed in Jesus. For He casts nothing but the glory of God to those who believed. "Father," He said almost apologetically, "I thank You that You have heard Me. I know that You always Hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by, I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me." I can hear Love speak past the lump in His throat and speak love through tear dampened lips to the One whose will He came to do.

Love piggy-backs humility.

There were those who would cast stones to kill Him, but He rolled stone away to bring forth life.

There were those who would have bound Him in grave clothes, but He commanded, "Loose Lazarus."

There were those who would have kept Him dead and bound up behind grave stone, but He commanded, "Roll the stone away! Loose Lazarus!" I'm sure Lazarus went straight into Jesus' arms.

I guess a welcome mat must wait to receive those who want to be welcomed. And an impatient welcome mat whose heart aches so much for those it longs to welcome with a bowl of cool soapy water and soft wash towel may bargain, but will be rubbed the wrong way in the bargain till the water to wash the feet is spilt on the mat and the towel dirtied; and the bargainer bristles kind of pink and stiff in the spine because it's not possible to sweep up offering that's spilt because it's not wanted.

I want to be a patient welcome. "Help me wait till the one I long to welcome, whose feet I long to gently wash, wants to be welcomed and washed," I pray. It's hard, even feels negligent sometimes, to wait like that.

I have bowls in my kitchen. One aluminum, four glass, one purple ceramic. I also have soft wash towels in the linen closet. "It's silly, Lord." I do feel a tad silly, but  I'm fixin' to fill my large aluminum mixing bowl with water from the garden hose.

I find the wash towel, the white one, while hose water groans through the pipes. It's cantankerous and we've fought at the spigot. I sicked a wrench on it some time back, so now it turns on and off without spitting, but we still have water fights. I turn the spigot off. It sprays me and gets the last word, but my bowl is full.

I carry it sloshy to front door and place it beside the "Welcome" stamped across the cheerful red and yellow flower on the mat there. A wind chime sings from the shepherd's hook at the entrance, and I drape wash towel there.

I admire my soul work at the welcome mat and, "Oh! I need a bar of soap!"

I place honeysuckle essential oil soap, gift from son and daughter-in-law who know how to welcome the rough worn, on wooden green painted step ladder too rickety old to be more than decoration. It stands on all fours, legs "v'd" and the second step supports a bar of honeysuckle soap.

I'm a wanna-be,getting-there welcome mat. But I still bristle stiff when I'd rather smell like honeysuckle. "How do I do this this, Lord?"

"Spend time with Me." He's all welcome mat.

I sit with Him in the morning sun, and my leather bound Bible sticks hot to my bare legs. I dangle my own mired feet in cool pool water.

He washes my feet till my soul smells like honeysuckle.

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig

Saturday, July 4, 2015

No More Logs in the Eye, Please and Thank You

She's slow to wake up full. Slow to open eye round bulging. Slow to lift lid shadowed by night sky. But she does. The moon slits the lid open after one full night a month of shut eye, and crescent light shines a little sleepy.

I stand where backyard grass peels back and tilts away down into night shade, and I do the same. Peel back my head till nose tilts straight up at the night sky. And the moon is wide-eyed glory.

Wide-eyed glory. It's what I want.

"Fill my sight with Your glory tonight," I pray it silent, open, and maybe right now I can feel a little of what Moses felt because, like him, I'm tucked into a cleft on this rock called earth and asking to see God's glory.

From cleft I gaze out and a glory full and white in indigo night fills my eyes because somehow the sun strolls long across the sky and kisses me goodnight before it steps down from the horizon; and God strolls by, too.

I can't look straight at the sun, and I can't look straight at God's glory; but I look at the moon and as surely as moon follows sun, and moonlight glows with sunlight after the sun's gone down, I know that I, too, must follow God if I want to glow with the light of His glory. And I do want. And more. I want to be full of His glory, and to glow round and full like the moon at full term.

My open eyes fill with wide moon and I wonder to God, Why did You blot the moon with shadows? I wonder what the moon would look like without them.

He hears my wondering. "The moon looks like the way you see," He explains.

"Blotchy." That's how I see.

"Yeah," He chuckles kind of amused, "blotchy."

The moon just glows a little blotchy, and so do I. "But God," a pinch of its-not-fair nips me, "the moon doesn't cry."

He knows I know that tears don't wash away blotchy vision. Only the blood of the raw Truth does that. But still, tears are cleansing. They are. And sometimes my sight is improved after tears have rinsed where my heart's been scrubbed clean as repentance.

Yeah, I've been scrubbed like that recently. Seems that where I've been rubbed the wrong way by others is where I've required a good right scrubbing by God. Seems, too, that what things I've complained against are those things I must confess and repent from; and that the blotchy spots in my vision are craters larger than those on the moon and are certainly larger than splinters.

I'm told there's a log in my eye. God says so. And the log in my eye recognizes the offending splinter in another's eye because the splinter's of the same wood as the log. An unrepentant gossip is more offended by a gossip than a repentant gossip; and an unrepentant busy-body is more offended by a busy-body than a repentant busy-body. An unrepentant sinner is more offended by the sins of others than a repentant sinner because the unrepentant sinner orbits toward the wane, but the repentant sinner presses open to wide-eyed wax and begs, "I see!" and "Lord have mercy" in the next breath.

Moon with Craters

"The Beginning of Knowledge." That's the subtitle heading Proverbs, chapter one, in my Bible. The verses are pen-marked and I remember marking them decades ago. The ink is faded now, and I seem to have skipped underlining the phrase, "receive the instruction." I mark it now. "Receive the instruction of justice, judgement, and equity" (Proverbs 1:3).

I want to know what the words "justice, judgement, and equity" mean because I'm told to receive the instruction of them and, as the verses progress to include what I really need, the fear of the Lord, don't I need some instruction before I know much of anything about that? Oh, I do.

I go to Merriam-Webster on my iPhone. Justice-the process or result of using laws to fairly judge crimes and criminals.

I read it slowly, several times, because the understanding I'm wanting is an understanding that just opens wide in slow phases.

"You're saying, 'Receive the instruction of the process and result of Your laws?'" That's how I read it, and it's different than receiving the instruction of His law.

He lets me think. And I'm thinking that when I complain against this and that in another, may I have the presence of mind to say, "Oh! My vision is blotchy! I must have a log in my eye." And the rest is easy. I don't have to wonder what the log is called because it's usually called by the name of the splinter in the other's eye that offends me till I repent.

"How," I ask God, "can I co-operate with the process and result of removing the log?"

"Go back to the tree." He knows that this morning I tugged a chewed up leaf off the pecan twig above me because it reminded me of what I would look like if Jesus hadn't hung, just chewed up, on the tree as if the crime was His and the law was mine.

I finger the leaf. "How is it fair that You were chewed up by the jaws of sin, the worm of man, and hung on the tree?" I hold up the leaf to make sure He really sees this. "How is it fair, when You committed no crime?"

It sounds a little accusatory, and I don't mean to accuse God. "I don't mean it the way it sounds, God," I confess. "I'm beyond grateful, but," I venture carefully, "how is it fair?"

Lyrics spring into my head that song writers would roll their eyes at. It's not a song I've sung before, but the words sum up the message of a hundred worship songs that I have sung.

It should have been me crucified on that tree,
But He died in my place and I'm saved by His grace.

I would sing them now, except that I'm thinking justice is saying something diffferent. I'm not hearing, "It should have been me." I'm hearing, "Accept as fair use of My law what I say is fair use of My law."

Silence, again. Then, "How?" I have no idea where to begin. I feel like a child learning how to ride a bike and not knowing how to turn it around without skinning my knees on the pavement.

"Do you receive the instruction of justice?" He's asking me if I'll get on the bike.

"But how do I turn it?"

"Sweet girl," my Father's hand steadies the bike, "just turn around every time I say, 'Turn here.'"

"I hope You've got a large box of band aides, 'cause I'm gonna spend a lot of time on skinned knees," I laugh; sort of.

And the lyrics turn here.

Strange to say, "It was fair that Jesus hung on the tree;
That justice was served in an unheard of way and
The sinless One died in the criminal's place."

Strange to say, "It was fair that the blood on the cross wasn't mine;"
If I'd said, "I'll pay," sin would've had it's way,
But the sinless One died in the criminal's place.

"Do you receive the instruction of justice?" He wants an answer.

"Yes! Yes, I do!" I raise my hands in exuberance.

"Whoa there!" He steadies the bike. "Keep your hands on the handles and turn here!"

Bike Riding

I type the word "judgement" in the search box at Merriam-Webster. Judgment: "a divine sentence or decision."

"Ah! Just Ah-ha!" I hear His word different than ever before. Is it because I'm receiving His instruction of justice? Me thinks so.

Receive the instruction of the process and result of His law, and receive as fair the divine sentence His law requires.

It's not instruction for good behavior with warning for bad behavior. It's way more than that. It's His divine sentence carried out, hammered in, nailed down by nails that resemble exclamation points. They do, when they're upside down. And isn't it fitting that the hammer pounded the head of the long sharp exclamation point into the hands and feet of the One who carried out God's justice, and Who would be risen, that I might be upright exclamation pointing to His divine justice?

"Do you receive the instruction of judgement?" He asks.

I know what the instruction is. It's to be an upright exclamation pointing to His justice, not mine.

"Your decisions are better that mine," an understatement if there was one. "You know what should be done, and have done it." I recall all that Jesus did. "Yes," I say it with the daring courage only the humbled possess. "Yes. I receive the instruction of judgement."


I type the word,"equity." It means, "the value of a piece of property (such as a house) after any debts that remain to be paid for it have been subtracted."

My breath catches because I am His piece of property. His house. Decades ago I underlined the truth of equity in the light blue Bible with my name inscribed in gold script in the lower right corner. I snap it open, gift from life-long friend of mine who led me on my thirteenth birthday to this God I love so dearly. The ink is faded beneath the words, "What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price..." (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

My value has everything to do with holy subtraction. The subtraction of the debt that remained to be paid, but is now paid in full by the One who owns me and lives in me. After the debt for my sin was paid, subtracted off the books, I owned not myself. What a relief! I became nothing to become the holy temple in which God's Holy Spirit dwells. I became the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus when He subtracted my sin. Yeah, I'm still clay on the Potter's wheel, but this lump belongs to Him now and His hands are pressing me just wide-open glory from the inside outward, into the mold of His holiness.

This is the instruction of equity.

"I want to be soft to Your touch, Lord. I want to yield easily." I say it true as can be and I say it with some fear, too, because I know that if I'm soft to any touch but His, I'll be like a moon out of orbit that should be full wide-eyed open, but is sleeping at the wrong time. If I yield to any touch but His, I'll be like a woman with child who aborts because she's afraid of a pain more complicated than labor.

"I want to yield to Your touch, Lord," I say it again because He will fill me with His life till I glow round as full moon and then press outward what He's formed inward-His image. Holy DNA.

I don't want to be asleep when I should be awake. I don't want to be empty as a moonless night when I should be full of glory.

"Lord," I say it delicate, "mold me into a vessel fit to carry Your life. I open the womb of my soul to You. May I carry Your life to full term." It's prayer, shocking prayer, but I mean it because I want wide-eyed glory.

I look at the moon in fullest phase tonight. I have just enough fear of Him to know that He wants me full of Him, too, and that this lump of clay can be a re-do. Does that sound harsh? I think it probably does, but it doesn't have to be. After all, didn't He already follow His own instructions for justice, judgement, and equity? And isn't He the One getting my mud on His hands? All I have to do is let Him. Co-operate. And hold the shape He gives me because that's the shape that will house His life and I don't want to be a re-do.

"I receive the instruction of equity." I say it before He has the chance to ask the question. I'm after wide-eyed glory. No more logs in the eye, please and thank you."

Pregnant Woman

Silence. Selah; true and so still that it seems the whole world's stopped spinning. My soul's waxed full and, "Can I stay like this? Can I stay wide-eyed glory?"

He shakes His head, "No," then smiles, and it would be a mixed message except that I know instructions are meant to be followed to the last page. And I've botched enough do-it-yourself projects by now to know that I need step-by-step instructions and even then I'll mess up and I'll have to go back where the mess up began.

"Follow the instruction of justice, judgement, and equity," He repeats His word. I try it on and it fits like a maternity dress over a belly that's not yet round enough.

"I want Your word to fit, Lord." And I cry. I do. Because I want to feel full of His life, not mine. And I know that there are logs in my eyes just as surely as there are craters on the moon. I cry because the knowing hurts. The knowing comes when something reveals the log, and usually that something is an offensive splinter in the eye of an offender that I recognize because the splinter's of the same wood as the log. And I cry because I know that my vision is obscured and I know that there's a wide-eyed glory brighter than a full moon on a clear night, but I don't see that way yet.

I'm bent low. Forehead presses into the yellow life-preserver I store beneath bed and kneel on each morning.

I cry. I confess. I repent.

My knees are skinned. My make-up's tear smear. My head's spinning from too much thinking, and I choose to embarrass myself sheer humble making amends, and then hope that they will be graciously accepted with no further discussion yet, "Even that," I confess to God, "even if I'm shorn with questions and humbled further," I venture where I've not gone before and sometimes it feels like the back side of the moon to go the belly of the soul, "You say the entrance into Your kingdom is like going through the eye of a needle and there ain't no way I'm getting through with an expecting soul and enough wool for two sheep."

"Ha!" Yeah, He appreciates my humor. I just know He does.

And then? Well, this of river tears dislodges the log and it floats away. Just floats out of sight and it seems ridiculous to me that I didn't see that log before.

And then? The tears stop. And I begin pouring thanksgiving all over Him. "I see Your mercy!"

He's poured His mercy all over this.

I see mercy in the quoted prayer a sister-in-Christ emailed me this morning.

I see mercy when this joyous life-guard daughter of mine who works ten hour shifts under the blazing, bleaching, browning sun parallel parks the family van with perfection and passes her driver's test with a 97% score.

I see mercy in the cheerful woman at the DMV counter who twinkles out, "What happened? Did the instructor fall asleep? Because no one passes with a 97!" Twinkley eyes line with laughter at her own joke and, "Congratulations!"

I see mercy in the celebratory donut the lady at the corner coffee shop gave the newly liscenced driver. "Here's the iced mocha you ordered, and here," she presents a white paper bakery bag, "is a celebratory donut!"

"Thank you!" We laugh because this is just so fun!

And I say it and mean it for God. "Thank You for the donut."

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig