August 30, 2009

Waiting on the Lord

"New every morning is the love our wakening and uprising prove ...” John Keble, 1822

It’s a surprising fact of nature that it is the clouds that bring us the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets. The light refracted through the clouds creates colors and highlights the outlines of the clouds that we might otherwise overlook.

It’s a surprising blessing that it is the storms of life that bring us closer to God. How many times in scripture do we find the servants of the Lord encountering storms of one kind or another? Think about Noah, Abraham, Leah, Naomi, David, Daniel...the list goes on and on. Yet, through it all, God was present. As Keble’s hymn says, “Some softening gleam of love and prayer shall dawn on every cross and care.” It is the storms of life that bring our faith into relief as the Light shines from behind the clouds.

Often, the storm experience makes us feel like we are in a desert with no way out and even prayer seems dry and fruitless. During these times we learn to focus and depend on God. Then we wait until God is ready for us to act. Moses, Joseph, Elijah, and Paul immediately jump into my mind as some who experienced a desert time before they were ready to do what God prepared them for. In fact, the desert time was part what made them effective servants of the Lord.

What do we do in the storms and desert places we face? Take a lesson from our spiritual ancestors and continue to live and walk with God, even when God doesn’t seem present. Eventually, like Jeremiah we can come to the conclusion that, “Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness…The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.” Lam. 3:22-26

Waiting isn’t easy. We want to ‘get on with our life.’ Maybe we want to ’do great things’ for God. However, you can’t force God’s hand. Waiting [on the Lord] is a discipline as much as prayer and fasting. The end result of faithful waiting is blessing. We are trained and refined and purified to better fulfill our calling. It is the storms and deserts that make us who we are meant to be. These times provide us with “Room to deny ourselves, a road to bring us daily nearer God.”

If you are in a waiting time or if you just want to deepen your faith walk this fall, I invite you to check out, my upcoming online study. You’ll find it right here during September. In the letter to James we are called to be 'doers of the word, not just hearers'. calls us to be living ‘websites’ living God’s Golden Rule.Each week we’ll share ideas about how to live the Golden Rule in relationship with friends and family as well as acquaintances and strangers. I look forward to sharing with you.

August 23, 2009

Gretchen Grackle and the Hummingbirds

In a departure from the normal Sunday meditation--today's is a parable starring 3 contentious hummingbirds and a grackle. Let me know what you think. Do the birds remind you of any human traits?

Gretchen perched on the waving top of the poplar tree. She surveyed everything in the surrounding area. Loud chirps drew her attention to a commotion below her. Three small, fierce birds were buzzing around one another. They each had an opinion.
“You should never land to eat. Hover and flap your wings,” whirred one.
“If you settle on the perch, you can rest your wings and get a good drink,” insisted another.
The third flew past chirping triumphantly, “It’s all mine.”
“No!” Simultaneously both the others buzzed toward the feeder, chasing the interloper away.
He chirped angrily and flew in an irritated circle. A moment later he zipped to the top of an adjacent tree.
“What’s wrong?” Gretchen asked after a moment, “if you don’t mind me asking.”
Her companion sighed sadly and watched the fast moving little birds. The argument was growing more heated.
“My mother told me that there would be birds like you insisting that we change our way of doing things!” screamed one. “Hovering over a flower is a hummer tradition.”
In response, the black headed bird alighted on the feeder.
“Consider the ease with which you can eat…” he began calmly but changed to an angry chirp when the green backed bird zipped so close her wings brushed the black feathers. In a flurry of rage, he shot after the green bird.
“Excuse me,” Gretchen’s new friend dived toward the feeder while they were gone.
However, he seemed indecisive about how to eat. Hovering over first one and then another opening, he grabbed a few quick sips. For just a moment he let his feet perch on the rim before bolting away just before the return of the dueling pair. Panting a little from his frantic flight away from the battle front, the little bird settled across from Gretchen.
“What is your name?” the grackle asked politely.
“Horace,” replied the bird, taking a deep breath. “That’s Consuelo with the black head and Liberace.”
“Are you all friends?” Gretchen was a little confused.
“We used to be,” admitted Horace. He watched the pair once again circle the feeder, arguing loudly. When they zipped away after each other, he rushed down to grab a few sips.
“If you are friends, why are you fighting?” Gretchen asked when he returned. She was feeling a bit dizzy from all the fast movement.
Horace shrugged, “It’s a good question.”
He took another quick flight to the feeder. This time he sat on the rim to slurp up syrup. Only at the return of Consuelo and Liberace did he fly rapidly away.
The accusations followed him to his perch.
“We used to fly together and visit the gardens with fragrant flowers filled with nectar. When there were so many flowers we could each eat our fill. I guess we never noticed any differences or it didn’t seem to matter. We all flew from flower to flower.”
Horace stopped to listen to a tirade from Liberace.
“You are wasting all your energy hovering when you could just as easily perch and eat all you want. You know it’s an old hen’s tale that you have to flap constantly while eating or we die.”
“How dare you say that?” raged Consuelo. “My own grandmother told me that.”
“It’s been proven…” Liberace began but a wild rush by Consuelo made him stop in mid sentence. The pair raced away in mad circles around each other.
“There are fewer flowers now, so we all gather at the feeders,” Horace explained. “That’s when we started noticing the differences in sipping habits.”
“So it’s all about how you eat?” Gretchen almost chuckled and had to quickly make a circuit of the yard to hide the fact.
“It is silly,” Horace was not fooled. He shrugged and buzzed down to his friends.
Gretchen leaned forward to watch.
“Can’t we get along like we used to? It didn’t matter at the flower garden,” he pointed out.
“You want to put an end to the traditions founded on generation upon generation of black-headed hummers?” Consuelo flew straight at Horace and hovered there. “You are as bad as that green fool who insists on preaching lies.”
Horace backed away rapidly. Consuelo flew in an arc avoiding both other birds.
“Liberace, what difference does it make if Consuelo wants to hover and eat?” Horace tried a new tactic.
“Silly chicky, you are obviously too young to understand that one must move with the times. It is a proven fact that it is better for the digestion when you perch. I saw you do it yourself, just a little while ago. Wasn’t it better?”
“That’s my point,” argued Horace. “I’ve tried it both ways…”
“And you now know that the modern way is better,” Liberace interrupted triumphantly.
“I did not say that,” Horace flew after the celebratory bird. “I said I tried them both and I think they can both be useful, depending…”
Liberace turned wrathfully and dived toward Horace.
“Depending—on what—your indecisiveness?” he chirped angrily. “You have to make a decision about whose side you are on.”
Horace dodged between the birds and flew back to land on the tree below Gretchen.
Consuelo followed him to demand, “You have to decide. Are you for tradition or the modern folderol? You can’t have it both ways.”
Liberace circled the tree before racing down to perch on the feeder before Consuelo noticed.
“Ah, refreshing!” he taunted when she dived past him again.
“That is too bad,” Gretchen stated solemnly. “I’m sorry your friends are both angry with you.”
“It isn’t your fault,” Horace assured her before flying away alone.
“His friends won’t compromise and now he is gone,” Gretchen shook her head sadly at the conflict continuing below her.
(By Cynthia Davis, August 2009)

August 9, 2009

ABC's of Faith

Sometimes it's good to get back to the basics. The fun of summer is almost over, even though the calendar says it's only August. School is starting up soon and my grandchildren will be off to their various classes. A couple will be in preschool for their first experience of school. One daughter will be starting home schooling for her family. A couple of them will be returning to school as a familiar experience.

One of the first things we learn in school is our ABC's. It occurs to me that sometimes we need to stop and consider what the basics of our faith in Christ really are. I don't mean the dogma and creeds, necessarily, of any denomination. Rather, it's the statements that you personally relate to and consider the cornerstone of your relationship with God and with Christ.

What are some of those statements for you?
God is Love is the one that resonates most deeply with me. I still remember the first time I read that in a child's Bible story book. It was soon after I learned to read--so around 5 years old. There was a little poem, which I cannot recall. It was something about the sun and flowers and birds, etc. all whispering 'God is Love'.

"I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper and not harm you," (Jer. 29:11) is another that I believe. Knowing that God is involved in every part of my life is a comfort and assurance when I feel confused about which way to go or what decision to make.

Another is Rom. 8:38. "I am sure that...nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." That's pretty awesome if you stop to really think about it. We are in the arms of a loving and mighty God, who will never let us down.

So what are the ABC's of my faith?

Answers are not necessarily important, because God's plans are better than mine.

Belief in God who is Love is the basis for all faith and

Christ is the cornerstone who keeps us safe in relationship with our loving Father God.

I would invite you to take a bit of time this week to ponder your own ABC's of your Faith. You might be surprised at what you identify as the ABC's of your faith.

August 2, 2009


And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. (Rom 5:3-5 KJV)

Yesterday, my husband and I took a drive up to Sandia Crest and a stroll along the top of the crest. I noticed this tree trying to gain a root-hold in the rock. The stout little tree reminded me of one of my ongoing spiritual struggles--becoming patient.

Several years ago, I asked my spiritual director how I could work on being more patient. After chuckling, she reminded me that when we pray for patience we are often giving opportunities to practice patience. She then gave me this citation Romans as a study. Since that time, I've had many chances to practice 'patience' and I don't know if I'm much further down the road toward obtaining a patient heart.

The Greek word translated as 'patience' in the KJV is now more often translated as 'perseverance' or 'endurance'. The word is hupomonē, which means cheerful (or hopeful) endurance or constancy as well as patience. The NIV translation says:

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (Rom. 5:3-5 NIV)

I think that translation sheds new light on what 'patience' is. Rather than being a resigned waiting for whatever will be, a la the old Doris Day hit "Que Sera Sera,"* patience is an action verb. It is indeed, as the NIV translation says, perseverance--a steady, constant action or belief over time. Patience/perseverance is the development of our distinct, individual qualities into the person God calls us to be. As we grow into our character, we grow closer to God. We also learn to hope and trust in God's never-failing love through the action of the Holy Spirit.

Instead of sitting around waiting to 'be patient,' we need to learn from the trees on top of Sandia Crest. They grown in and through and around the rock because they sink their roots into the soil beneath the stone. Like them, we can learn perseverance and develop our character in Christ by sinking our roots deep into the soil of faith despite the obstacles of boulders in our path.
I invite you to consider ways you can persevere in your walk with the Lord. Are there 'boulders' that you have let get in your way of growing into the person God envisions? Can you stretch your faith roots around them to get to the soil? Who knows what vistas may open up for you when you perservere in the Lord?
*For those who don't remember the song, the refrain is:
Que sera, sera
Whatever will be, will be
The future's not ours to see
Que sera, sera
What will be, will be