Monday, February 25, 2013

Passing Through the Desert

We equate the forty year wilderness wanderings with punishment of Israel's lack of faith, and we wouldn't be wrong. But we aren't entirely right either.

I've been struggling with discouragement. There. I said it.

It's the wilderness, and, though it may be my discipline, it is so much more.
As much as I'd like to forget this dry and barren time and move quickly into the land of milk and honey, God is asking me to remember this place and time, because its in the desert that God humbled, tested, and determined whether or not Israel—I mean, I—would keep His commands.

Since God already knows all things, this knowing must be for me.

The only other possibility is that the facts changed over those forty wilderness years. Where there was no faith, God systematically constructed some.

A faithless people can find faith in the desert, so what started as a gaze at the circumstances and believing what they saw rather than what they heard from their Almighty became, slowly over time in the desert, a shift in focus from circumstances to Adonai.

This shift happens when God places us in need. He let Israel go hungry so that he could become their provider. He did it because Israel needed to be fed, but also because Israel needed to know God provides. Is there a better way to learn this Truth than to be in need and God provide?

I think not.

So God fed Israel manna day by day, morning by morning. Each morning a new hunger, each hunger met by new provision. When it happens over and over again, strength for today becomes bright hope for tomorrow.

What appears to be aimless wandering is, rather, a straight pathway to knowing God's heart of love.

A voice is calling, "Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God (Isaiah 40:3).

God's faithful provision, time after time, creates in us hope; faith, where there was only doubt, fear, and discouragement before.

God, the great provider, creates circumstances that elicit from me a listening ear to Truth, an eye to the Provider, blind to my circumstance.

This is manna. This is God's provision in the desert, in the discouragement.

He wants to be the God who gives good gifts. What better gift is there than the one we are in desperate need of?

Of course, this necessitates our desperate need.

I want to be in desperate need of God. Not just for a time, but always. Even if that means having to pass through the desert for forty year or just over and over again.

I have nothing to fear, and everything to gain. Discouragement becomes hope because God is faithful.

And the land of milk and honey that I long for? Well, milk and honey feed the hunger within because they are the Words of Life. God is teaching me that man doesn't live by bread alone. Not when you're passing through the desert and not when you've reached the promised land.

Sharing one part Sunday sermon, one part Holy Spirit travel through scripture, and one part testimony with Michelle's Hear It Use It community.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Defining Sexy: One Secret to a Long-Lasting Marriage

The heart-shaped box was bigger than a dinner plate. Noelle's Valentine chocolates from a school boy evoked a glowing 15-year-old grin and a dreamy look in her eyes. I told her it was bigger than any I had ever received, even from her father, and she was the full moon lighting the sky.

I just returned from a Caribbean cruise, an extravagant vacation of a lifetime for us. It was romantic and decadent. We celebrated two anniversaries: ten years of remission from cancer and twenty-four years of marvelous, magnificent marriage. We didn't wait for our twenty-fifth to go on a cruise, because, after cancer, every year is a milestone.
We had cake with a single flickering candle and singing servers. It was chocolate, like Noelle's Valentine's box.

But I've come to learn that twenty-four years of marriage is sexier than a box of chocolates or a cruise. I'm thinking fifty-six years with its thinning hair and sagging sun spots is even sexier.

It may start with chocolate, love notes pinned to the windshield by wiper blades, and bouquets delivered to your office. It starts with grandiose dreams of perpetual hand-holding, him opening the car door for you, and nary an argument.  But it can't end there.

If your idea of what's sexy doesn't change over time, your love won't make it.

After twenty-four years with the man of my dreams, I've learned a few things about what's sexy and what's just empty calories.

Our first full day home from turquoise saltwater and a chef's culinary creations gracing my dinner plate included these ordinary things I now deem sexy anyway:

  • dressing for work quietly in the dark so I can hear Mike's rhythmic breathing from our bed.
  • clean undies to wear this week because he did the first load of laundry when we returned.
  • a text message that says, "call me," and when I do, he asks if he should pick up some milk.
  • picking out a new TV together because the old one finally gave out.
  • that he stayed up into the night to get it hooked up and the remote control working.
  • that he comes to find me asleep in the bed when he's through, just to put his fingers through my hair.
  • that, even though it roused me from sleep, he didn't speak.
  • that he came upstairs just for that, then returned downstairs to await our teenager's arrival home from work.
  • that he loves our mostly grown son that much.
Somewhere along the way, he stopped opening car doors for me. Wooing me gave way to working together as one, both of us opening car doors for babies and toddlers who needed help with car seats. Chocolates and roses gave way to oil changes and stripping wallpaper in the dining room, and I'm more than okay with that.

Sexy now, is finding a Dragon Tales cassette tape in our 14-year-old truck that we sold yesterday and the conjured memories of singing "Shake Your Dragon Tale" for our babies in the car. They've since become teenagers.

Now, that's sexy.

Boxed chocolates and Caribbean sunsets from a cruise ship's balcony might be romantic and surely have their place, but dirty laundry and our14-year-old truck and looking forward to dentures, so long as we do them together, is even sexier.


With marriages failing regularly, even Christian marriages, I join Jennifer's community this week to glorify God with marriages that last the long haul. Until death do us part.
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