Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Timeless Comfort and Constant Refuge Through the Ages

Few things in this life are timeless. Change is constant and constantly present. Even things such as a classic pant suit undergo adjustments to fit into the acceptable list of fashionable attire, and flowers that have been around since the beginning of time are being arranged, dyed and tinted to appear more "unique", though to me the beauty of an untouched rose is truly timeless.

This last month as I've been reading Psalms and other books of the Bible, I've had these images flash in my head of all the hundreds of thousands of people who have read the same books, chapters and verses. I would imagine that Psalms 186 of my Bible is not the only one that is tear stained, or that the pages of the book of Romans in my Bible are not the only pages falling out of the binding. I know I'm not the only one who totes her Bible to coffee houses, or to a park on a sunny afternoon. 

I'm not sure why, but knowing this information makes me feel less alone in this life. Lately I have had images flash in my head of an abused and battered woman who appears to have the "perfect everything" retreats to a closest and shuts the door; knowing that is the only place she feels safe. She reaches for the light switch, sits on a box and opens her Bible to Psalms 46:1. "God is our refuge, a very present help in trouble" is what she speaks out loud in between sobs, over and over again until she has enough strength to endure the next physical blow of her husband and assault on her spirit.

The next image flashed into my head takes us back to the 1800's. A black slave who has just seen his wife raped by his owners son, simply because he did not work hard enough that day in the fields. In His sweat and tears,  he breaks down on his hands and knees and quotes scripture that he has memorized, because for his owner to know he can read would be a threat on his life and the lives of his family. "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Luke 23:24.

A young woman who has applied and applied and applied to medical school to follow the dream and desire to become a pediatrician, only to be rejected over five times in three years. With the fifth rejection, she pulls out a little encouragement card that was given to her by a lady in her Bible study. "For I know the plans I have for you" declares the Lord. 'Plans to proper you and not to harm you; a plan to give you a hope and a future.' " -Jeremiah 29:11.

The missionary who is being held captive in a jail cell after being caught leading a worship service in her home. As she holds the back of her head after it was beat down with the butt of a gun, she pulls the tattered pages of Romans out of her shoe, and bending on her knees she reads the truth of Romans 8:28. "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."

The woman who met an abortion survivor at her work place; satan reeling her into pain, guilt and condemnation, because she herself had had an abortion as a teenager, a choice that she has never revealed to a living soul, but one that has haunted her while awake and asleep. With the pill bottle in her hand and the intent to take her own life, the Father whispers to her "Behold, I am making all things new! These words are reliable and true."- Revelation 21:1

So many stories, so much pain. So many copies in so many translations, so many countries and different places in time... But this one thing remains timeless and true: "...And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."-Matthew 28:20.

You Don't Belong Here

 Smile. Be nice. Make small talk. Bag their items. See them run out the door.

I repeated this scenario what seemed like over a thousand times in 5 hours last Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday. Towards the end of my shift, an enthusiastic mentally disabled man sporting a Dallas Cowboy's jacket came through my lane. He was so proud of that jacket, and listed off all their stats to me as his care taker payed for his items. The guest that came after him looked at me in awe and said  "You were so good with him." to which I responded that mentally disabled people are people too, and that I've worked a lot with seniors and seniors with dementia. She smiled at me, looked at me straight in the eye and said "What are you doing here? You don't belong here. You don't belong in a place like this." She had such a look of peace on her face, and her eyes were soft and kind. Little did she know how prophetic a statement that was in my life, unless of course she was an angel; a possible factor that I haven't ruled out quite yet.

"What are you doing here? You don't belong here." This statement been resonating in my head and heart for as long as I can remember. To be truthful, I have never quite felt like I "fit in" or "belong", and the times in which I did were few and far between. The only time that I felt like I fit in and belonged was when I was in a choir. My voice was used as one of many, but often used to help lead the other voices or singled out in a solo portion of a song. The other time I felt like I belonged and fit in was when I was taking care of seniors; having one leaning on my arm for support was one of the greatest fulfillment's of my life.

My mom is a wise woman, and most definitely my best friend. When I would have those moments of young adult loneliness, she would look me in the eye and put her hand on my shoulder. "Sarah, you are a leader. Leaders are always lonely." Some things won't ever change. Humans are dynamic; they won't ever, ever stay the same. However, there are some elements that never change, such as Gods design of an individual. No matter if I like it or not, I will always be a leader, even when I am not physically in a leadership position. There is no cap for Gods design of His children.

Since recovering from my illness and the blow of losing another job, God has been working over time in His personal revelations in my life. One of those revelations is that I don't belong here. This earth is just a temporary place in passing until we reach our heavenly dwelling, right into the arms of our Savior. However, He has also told me that because of this truth, I will not ever fit into this world; that because of His love, grace and faithfulness in my life, I will always be that square among circles, the Minnesotan accent among the southern drawl, the deep among the shallow. Not because of me, but because of who is within me.

Who am I to say where I belong? If it is God that has given me my talents, strengths and abilities, who am I to say where they should be used? If I am Gods baby girl, isn't my only job to do the next right thing and seek His will for my life? 

Friends, I urge you to lay aside your pride and need to have all the answers. I urge you to empty yourself before God, to seek His will for your life; to really and truly tell Him that you want Him to take you where you need to go, use you in the way He desires to use you and break you in the areas that need to be shattered. In your need to belong and fit in, you are forfeiting the true sense of completion of your spirit in realizing that you belong to Him.