Through the Open Door

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Consider this photo. It’s a bit silly and whimsical, this door in the middle of a field. It is possible to completely avoid the door, to simply step around the post and continue walking into the expanse beyond.

There have been times in my past when presented with just such choices I would have gone around. An old rebellious nature in me would cause me to see constraints as suspicious and therefore to be avoided.

I recently came upon a piece I’d written about two years ago and it too was about open doors. At the time I was feeling frustrated because something in me sensed a new opportunity (an opening door) and yet it was stubbornly hiding itself or otherwise remaining closed to me. It’s a feeling I’m quite familiar with and it has caused me no end of grief.

You see, when faced with such blockades, these times often cause impatience (and impetuousness follows close behind), causing me to go around the doorpost and on into a future I felt quite capable of managing on my own. I’m positive God isn’t happy with this behavior.

The value in journaling or otherwise writing down your journey can show you important pieces of yourself. This old piece I’d written showed me, loud and clear, how I wasn’t waiting on God. Today, with a clearer eye, I see what He was doing. Unfortunately, we don’t have the benefit of hindsight when we’re faced with the decisions of life now.

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”  Isaiah 43:19 (ESV)

Many years ago, a friend gave me this verse as part of a prophetic word. It was so appropriate at that time, a much needed promise to give me hope for my future. I just looked up the root meanings of the main words in this verse and found a new revelation. I just love it when Papa gives me the gift of new meaning, fresh from His Word!

The root meaning of “spring forth” is samah. It means to sprout, to bring to bud. What I saw for the first time is this: bring to bud means to me that this is another of those “process” things. The verse doesn’t say the new thing is new now; it says, in the original language, that the new thing has begun, is set forth as a bud. Buds aren’t the finished product, it’s just the beginning of what will become a beautiful new flower. It must go through the process of growth to “finish” to maturity.

I see a new meaning to open doors in my life. Like this photo, they are placed there as a promise to me that something new is sprouting up, a new opportunity, perhaps  to grow into that which I’ve been hoping for. If it’s a open door from God it is an invitation to enter in. Funny, that once you go through the door, again just like this photograph, the field looks pretty much the same as if I’d walked around the doorpost. The only difference is one of submission and obedience; I’m choosing to go through the open door that God has placed in front of me and now I will patiently wait for Him to bring the bud to flower, allowing God to be in control and not me. Once through the doorway, things look pretty much like life as normal. It is only in the waiting patiently that things which originally looked familiar will transform into something new and amazing, sent from a loving Father! 

What about you? How do you handle those periods in your life when you are chomping to go forward and yet, everything today indicates you are to go nowhere any time soon? I’d love to hear how you keep from charging around the open door.

I want to encourage you to go through the open door! That bud is going to be beautiful…in its own way, in its own time!

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Jump for Joy: I Want to Radically Embrace Hope

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This photo says it all.  This is what all out praise is about!  Jumping as high as I can in celebration of the One who is worthy to receive.  This is what hope is; tossing cares aside with abandon and placing your trust completely in the unseen future.  I don’t know about you, but this is what I want for my life.  Jump this high, joyously.  Hope this much, expectantly.  Trust this much, with abandon.

I’m heading into deep waters this week.  I caught hold of error this morning at church, asking a friend to pray for me.  I said with my mouth something quite negative.  I asked for prayers to cover that which I anticipated to be like every other time I’ve walked into muddy waters.  Can you relate?  It wasn’t until I walked back to my seat that I felt the nudge from the Holy Spirit; “is that what you really expect this week Linda?”  I don’t know about you, but I absolutely hate it when I say something in the spirit of stupid!  My words conveyed what was in my heart, expectation that this will be the same ‘ol same ‘ol and nothing is ever going to change.

But NO!  I repent Lord.  I don’t want to walk into this week with despair.  I want to enter into it with an attitude of gratitude that You are giving me another chance to go expectantly this time.  Earlier today I was reminded of the children of Israel fleeing to the desert as they left Egypt.  They arrived at the Jordan and saw an obstacle.  You know the story.  The river before them, Pharaoh coming in hot pursuit behind them.  “Oh what are we to do God?” they cried.  When the miracle had happened and they were safely on the other side, the people marveled at all the Lord had done.

A few years ago, I heard a teaching on this subject and the speaker shared how the Israelites were so frightened on this side of the Jordan.  They were up against it; water before and an attacking army behind.  They panicked.  Once safely out of harms way, they finally were able to see the hand of God and they rejoiced at what God had done on their behalf.  Then the speaker made a suggestion: while this story has a good ending, what might have happened if the children of Israel had rejoiced on this side of the river?  Might the outcome have been different in that they were rejoicing at what they knew God was going to do because it’s His nature to care for His beloved children?  Even though they couldn’t see His provision, doesn’t mean it was not there all along!

And that is where I find myself this morning.  Facing a Jordan ahead of me and the enemy behind taunting me with words such as, “it’s never going to change, this week will be a trial for you, and you’re already tired and this week will only serve to suck more energy out of you!”  I have a choice to make — right now.

I am choosing to radically embrace the hope of my Savior.  I am going to stand on edge of the shores of my week and declare, “God you are for me and all I do in the coming week is in Your hands.  I am declaring that this week is going to be different because YOU ARE IN IT!  You want the changes I desire even more than I do Lord.  You love the people I’m going to be with this week even more than I do and You want glorious, wondrous change to happen for them.  So Lord, I am going to rejoice on this side of the river on their behalf.  Do what you want to do and help me be part of the change!”

What are you facing this week?  Difficulties in your job?  Your marriage?  Your future?  Would you like to stand with me right now and give thanks and praise for what God is going to do before we even get there?  Would you stand with me, right now, right here?  Yep, get up out of your seat and leap in the air with joyful expectation that God is going to perform a miracle for you this week.  Let’s do it!

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”  Ephesians 3:20-21 (NKJV)

Jump high joyously.  Hope expectantly.  Trust with abandon.  We can do this people!

It Was All Carter’s Fault!

Sometimes the most wonderfully unexpected things happen by means of surprising circumstances!

Our grandson came to stay with us this past summer.  He’s 12 1/2 years old and quickly approaching the age when it just won’t be cool to hang out with Mamaw anymore.  At least this is what my logical mind keeps telling me.  I cherish my time with this young man for he is quite wonderful and amazing.  We both love to laugh at things.  When he was little, I would often launch into absolute buffoonery just to make him and his sisters laugh.  Carter has the greatest dimples and when he laughs long and hard, he often says he’s having a dimple freeze meaning his face hurts from so much laughter.  That’s what I always hoped for; dimple freezes translating into we are having laugh attacks together.

Well, during that week he showed signs of wanting to hang out with Papa some and so they did some landscaping work with a bobcat tractor that Carter got to drive for the first time.  He was loving it and I might add, he took to it more readily than grandpa did when he learned!  Not surprising with today’s youth who grow up on technology, video games and joysticks.  He rambled around the yard with absolutely no problems!  Then Papa gave him a few lessons in the art of the golf swing and they spent a few hours throughout the week up in the shop, swinging away at the little white ball into papa’s golf net setup.  Seems Carter has his daddy’s natural ability to have a pretty hefty golf swing; Papa was impressed.  They also shot at targets with a 22 pistol and all these things added up to wonderful “guy time” for Papa and Carter.

As usual Carter and I had a few laughter moments (the old girl still has the knack!), but sadly, I had to work a bit harder to find the silly space between us.  My moments with him came in dreaming up meals that I knew he would appreciate or at the very least like, helping to plan out what we were all doing, and in confounding the boy by trying to turn facts into secrets or silly untruths.  He’s got me figured out pretty well at this age!

Then came Saturday.  Papa was going to be gone at a golf tournament that had been planned prior to our knowing Carter was coming to stay with us.  What were we going to do for the day?  Carter was pretty agreeable to most anything we discussed and then he had an idea.  “How about we do another one of those treasure hunts Mamaw?”  This statement caused no small amount of contemplation on my part.  You see, a treasure hunt is something of a spiritual exercise.  You pray beforehand and ask the Lord for clues to help you find people who need prayer.  Clues can include such things as colors, locations, body parts (meaning a limp, a cast on a wrist, a brace of some sort, anything physical that can be seen), specific articles of clothing, or any other thing to help you find God’s treasure (the person) for prayer.  We had done one of these with all three of our grandchildren about three years before; the results were pretty outstanding and the day made a lasting impression on these kids.  Shucks, they made a lasting impression on us adults as well!

So, Carter wanted to do another treasure hunt.  As wonderful as they are, treasure hunts can cause issues.  Issues like fear, insecurities, and other such distracting things to surface.  And, since it had been quite awhile since I had participated in a treasure hunt, all the uncertainties of treasure hunts started screaming in my head.  “Oh my goodness, I have to muster up courage to approach people!”, “what if someone yells at me?”, and a myriad of other objections wouldn’t leave me alone.  And yet, here is this 12-year-old looking at me with all the confidence in the world that his grandmother is going to take him out on a God adventure and we’re going to pray for people’s needs.  I simply could not let this moment and opportunity pass.

So, off we went into town, armed with our individual lists of clues that included mostly colors, articles of clothing, and a person with a limp.  First we went to one of the grocery stores in town that is situated in a strip mall.  We took our dog with us since she usually is a people magnet.  No one approached us; the dog was not working her charms that day!  We spotted a couple of people with the right color or piece of clothing, and even a man with a limp, but I couldn’t bring myself to chase them out in the parking lot as they approached their cars.  With much frustration, we commented to each other that this was turning out to be harder than the last time we did this.  Finally, we saw a friend leaving in her car and we promptly waved her down to talk.  We told her what we were doing and she told us we could pray for a need she had this day.  With our pump primed now, she drove off and we decided to go to another store in town.

We left Sophie in the car and went inside.  Looking down the aisles, we finally noticed a woman with a gray sweater, two of the clues on our sheets.  We approached.  I excused my intrusion and waited for the woman to acknowledge me.  She continued staring at the shelves of items in front of us.  Inside, I was dying!  “Oh my gosh, this woman thinks I’m a fruitcake!  We should just walk away,” I bemoaned to myself.  Out of the corner of my eye I could see Carter, waiting for his grandmother to launch into action.  How could I bolt with those eyes upon me?  And so I launched into my speech: “Hi, this is my grandson and we are on a treasure hunt today from the Lord.  You are wearing a gray sweater and that was a clue He gave us this morning as we prayed about how we were to find folks who need prayer.  We believe you are one of God’s treasures.  Do you by chance have a need today that we could pray about for you?”  The woman had remained looking straight ahead at the shelves until I finished talking.  She finally turned to look at me, smiled, and said, “oh I don’t think I have any needs today.”  I thanked her, apologized for interrupting her shopping trip and wished her a blessed day.

As we walked off, Carter said, “well, that was awkward, wasn’t it?”  I couldn’t have agreed more.  I felt that this was a bust idea, but for Carter’s sake I never let on how insecure I was feeling at the moment.  We looked for more treasures for another ten minutes or so and I finally said we should head for home.  I was so disappointed.  I had been sure the Lord would use us because He knows how tentative a 12-year-old’s faith is and I didn’t want the enemy to win.  Somehow my disappointment was quickly being transformed into thoughts of failure, all tied up with my fears and doubts about my own courage in this experiment.  We slowly walked out the door.  Off to my right was a pharmacy walk-up window and there, standing against a short wall waiting her turn at the window, was an older woman in a blue shirt and a flowery, knitted cap, more of our clues.  I knew in my heart that this was a woman going through chemo and the hat was covering her bald head.  I motioned to Carter that she was one of our treasures and he agreed; we approached the woman.

Once again, we introduced ourselves to her and told her of our purpose; “…you are wearing a blue shirt and a flowery cap, two of our clues this morning as we prayed and we wonder if you have a need we could pray for today?”  She looked at us and quickly answered, “I do have a need.  I have cancer.”  I asked if we might pray for her there and she told us yes.  And just like that, the day was transformed from an awkward personal challenge into a total victory for the Lord.  Did He heal her?  We don’t know.  But did He touch her?  I think so.

My day began as most others save for the fact that our grandson was visiting with us.  Carter, with a childlike faith to be used by God and his trust in his grandmother’s ability to lead the way, transformed the day into something magical.  I have every confidence that the Lord smiled down on all of us that day.  The woman in the gray sweater may or may not have had any needs, but I’m positive God will use the moment to cause questions to rise up in her thoughts about people, their willingness to reach out, and about this God who gives them courage to do so.  For the woman with cancer there may be healing or any other number of possibilities only He knows, the least of which could be encouragement on a rough day from two strangers.  For a grandmother with a very trusting grandson, I am humbled.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to go on the treasure hunt.  Once begun, I felt I was failing God miserably with my fears and lack of courage.  But in the end, the Lord turned it all into victory.  A glorious, full-of-God possibilities, wonderful, victory for two women, a hesitating grandmother, and a brave hearted, God loving 12-year-old.  It was all Carter’s fault!