Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Creeping Charlie of It All

I love to garden. Except that I forget to weed, water, and otherwise invest in it. So maybe saying I love to garden is too strong a description...I enjoy planting things and watching them grow. It's in the general maintenance that I fall short.

This morning I gazed out my patio door at my handiwork and expense: the herbs and perennials I chose, dug holes for, and, with great expectation, buried up to their necks in the Miracle Gro soil Memorial Day weekend.

I could almost still see them through the weeds and warriors that had advanced on their safe havens like an encroaching army. Clover, creeping charlie, peppermint and lemon balm, all good and beautiful in their rightful places, stealing space from my little green babies.

Armed with my foam knee pad, a small shovel, and my bright orange garden gloves, I surrendered to the obvious task at hand: weed that garden. And, as usual, God speaks loudest to me when I'm on my knees, the natural posture for a reluctant gardener.

I grabbed a handful of creeping charlie, a deceptively destructive plant. Sporting lovely shaped green leaves and tiny purple flowers, it sends out tendrils to climb up the plants I'm actually trying to grow and chokes the life out of them. As I pulled and bagged, God brought to mind my own creeping charlies...those things that take over an otherwise fruitful life.

Trolling comes to mind when I think about creeping charlie's in my world....not fishing with a small motor hoping to catch something, but the metaphor works. I lose whole chunks of time on the internet, reading the Facebook statuses of "friends" I wouldn't recognize if I passed them on the street while my own family withers in front of me, getting lost on Pinterest because everything is just so cool, examining every kitchen light fixture that Wayfair offers....and did you know there's a zillion things for your home on Wayfair? Seriously. I've seen most of them.

Restlessness is a creeping charlie that is harder to pin down...a lack of satisfaction in my current status quo and a longing for new adventures. The Bible identifies this as discontent. Not that it isn't useful to propel me into new arenas, but when discontent breeds dissatisfaction, the by-product is discord. A whole host of dis-words for you...never a good thing. Sometimes it's a sign that God is awakening something new and I need to listen to that. Other times, it's a sign that I need a nap, a snuggle, and to engage in some serious worship.

MY...a two letter word that has the ability to take over the world. My agenda, my needs, my plans, my desires, my quiet time...if I am dead honest, I structure my life and my time to meet my needs. We all do. Even when we look like we sacrifice our all for someone else's needs...think suburban soccer mom who spends her life in her minivan carting children to and looks like she's giving everything up for her kids but in truth, she is serving the vision of what she imagines life is supposed to look like. (Not an indictment, just a statement.) We are all serving something and making room for it in our little patch of dirt we call life, but is it what the Lord wants us filling our gardens with?

What if we all committed to take a serious look at our gardens, our lives? Do we fill our time, our irreplaceable blink and its gone gift of time, with thoughts and activities that nourish our souls and those around us, or have we succumbed to just being satisfied with full schedules that result in the wrong harvest?

What is your creeping charlie?

Can I encourage you to get on your knees, shovel in hand, and see what's invaded your garden? Ask God to reveal them to you if it isn't obvious, although I suspect that deep down most of us know; it just takes courage and intention to deal with them.

 Like my garden reminds me, a once per season overhaul is less effective than consistent diligence.You will get your hands dirty and sweat might run into your eyes because this is hard work, but the result will be worth it.

"... let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us..." Hebrews 12:1

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Stoplight Conversations

Despite the fact that the air temperature was 67 degrees and the skies overcast, I agreed to take my kids to the city pool. That's the beauty of a pool pass...I really don't care if we leave after five minutes because they realize it's too chilly to swim. But we ended up staying an hour, and that's not really the point of this story.

We're sitting at a stop light on our drive to the pool and my eight year old son says from the backseat, "When can I get baptized?"

Playing it cool, I asked him why he would want to.

"Because Jesus says if you want to follow Him you should get baptized."

Alright. Good answer, buddy. "You know you can follow Him before you get baptized, right?"

"Yeah, I just want to."

I promised that we would talk more about it and continued our drive to the pool. It was a deep conversation in the space of a red light and I was thinking how grown up he was getting.

Then he turned back into an eight year old and said something snarky to his brother. I opened my mouth to say something like "That's not acting like someone who wants to get baptized," but felt an invisible pop upside my head. (Not a real one. An imaginary one. Not sure which is worse...)


It was like watching conversation bubbles pop all around me as everything wrong with that statement flashed into view:

  • Don't you dare say that to him.
  • If you think you have to act a certain way to be good enough to get baptized you are missing the point.
  • Do you always act like someone who has been baptized?
 And I realized how guilty I am of believing the statement I almost made to my son. 

When I start putting qualifications on who can choose to be baptized in Christ's name, I cheapen the grace He came to give. . .the whole reason we follow and get baptized in the first place. 

Instead, I need to remember that the Lord he's already decided to follow will work in his heart, and learn to give him the grace and room to grow that Jesus gives me. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Dangerous Ground

I sit on my couch, hair still damp from the first trip to the swimming pool this season, and wonder how my life fits into the world around me.

I'm on dangerous ground lately. I've been praying for God to open my eyes to the things He wants me to see and He's done it, with a vengeance.

I want to nibble at this buffet of awareness God has put in my heart, because I'm afraid that if I gorge myself I will lose the taste for it, but I can't.

In the past three weeks I've read John Piper's Don't Waste Your Life, Jen Hatmaker's Interrupted: An Adventure in Relearning the Adventures of Faith, and Noel Brewer Yeatts Awake: Doing a World of Good One Person At A Time. All this from someone who hasn't read a book cover to cover in a couple years.

Last year I wrote a blog confessing that even though I looked shiny and bright on the outside, on the inside, things were dying. Just what you wanted to hear, right? But maybe you've found yourself in the same place. As I sought some sort of cure for this dilemma, the Lord lead me to Philippians 3:10: I make it my aim to know God.

So I did what any Christian of my demographic does. I found a Bible study to do. Let's just say that learning more about God did not do the trick. I think it's like reading recipes for vegetables while eating a bag of Bugles. I might be reading the right stuff but I am not experiencing any of the benefits.

By January I knew I was drifting. I chose the word REVIVE for my One Word Revolution, because I knew that is what I needed. Revival. New life breathed into these dry dusty bones. God has been answering that cry steadily for the past six months.

It's required me to start again, to really analyze my goals, dreams, desires, plans, habits, and commitments...all that Type A stuff..and lay it at His Feet. If He wants to breathe life into it, great. And if it collects dust while He stirs new things in my heart, great.

I just want to be where He wants me, doing what He wants me to do.

And in the middle of it all, I try to figure out where my real life fits into this scene. I sit on the couch, heart pounding while I read a first hand account of the atrocities in Rwanda while listening to my kids bicker in the background.

I read the statistics and effects of living without a clean water source while booking a vacation to Florida and wonder if there's a right or a wrong in this.

I go to the grocery store for a missing ingredient and think about mothers making mud cakes to fill their children's parasite-ridden bellies and wonder how this is all possible on the same planet.

My heart breaks and I can't look away. But what do I do with this? When I figure it out, I'll let you know. In the meantime, I'll continue to pray that God becomes a consuming fire, destroying what I don't need and bringing new life from what's left behind.

I know He's up to something; it feels like dangerous ground. And I can't wait to see where this goes.