Ostrich-itis

As I sit with my head laid upon my desk and my eyes closed, I wonder, ‘Do I remember reading that ostriches don’t, in fact, bury their heads in the sand, but rather lay their heads upon the comforting earth, close their eyes, and let the world slip by?’

Because really, I can relate to both.

I can relate to the ostrich-head-resting feeling that I’d rather the details of the world pass me by. That if I could just rest a minute, maybe all the things in life will sort themselves out, will make sense.

That the buzzing around me will still once it sees me playing dead, or at least, dormant for just a little while.

Maybe ostriches are just the ultimate procrastinators. Seeing the needs around them, to feed, protect, sustain, they just want a self-imposed time out.

I get that. Anyone else?

When your to do list meets the internal response of a resounding “NOPE, NOPE, NOPE”. And the feeling that I’d rather be doing anything/be anywhere but.

Yep. That feeling.

We all get to those places every now and again. Where it feels better to hide in the bathroom for just 10 minutes rather than have to go out there and adult.

And sometimes those 10 minutes fix the flight instinct that soars within us as our inner toddler says “I don’t wanna!”

I’ve had those toddler conversations with God. Where I tell him all the stuff that falls on my head and in my lap. I tell him that I don’t want to and he should make somebody else do it.

Boy am I glad that God already knows my impulses before I even voice them. Because I really would be much more embarrassed if he weren’t all-knowing.

Those few minutes of peace, telling him what’s going on, feeling him rest his hand on my resting head, seem to sort me out.

But then there’s the times when my head’s buried.

When the weight of the world and life’s tragedies seem less mosquito and more mountain lion.

When I’ve been hit so hard with responsibility, grief, or change that I can’t seem to muster myself out of the sand covering my head and heart.

What then?

Those situations are more than a 10 minute fix.

They’re more than a grumbling prayer and straightened spine,

Sometimes the digging out is from a place so deep that we can’t even hear the voice of God through our muffled hearts.

Because we are piled under the weight of burden so deep that the more we try to dig, the more seems to flow in.

I’ve been there too.

And it’s hard. We don’t know what to pray, how to help, what to ask for.
We don’t know how to find our way out and feel hopeless and stuck and stunned.

So sometimes we hide. And we wait for it to get better.

 Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along.

If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans.

He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God.

That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.   Romans 8:26-28 MSG

If I’m told that the hard things I’m going through are worked for good, it can make me want to shriek and hurl things and people in all directions.

Because I don’t know how to fix it. I don’t know how to turn this mud into a masterpiece. I just can’t do it.

But then I remember that during these hard times it’s in God’s hands.

Remember that He’s the one lifting my heart and thoughts to a place where He and I intersect.

That in this intersection of relationship where He’s all-seeing and all-loving, I can remember and release to him. 

And know that through His work and His brooding care, not by my own mechanizations or strength, things can be worked for good.

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The Danger of the Third Person

I noticed a bad habit in myself the other day.

Though it is Lenten time and a therefore a time of reflection of behaviors and things Spiritual, this wasn’t that kind of habit.

This isn’t a chocolate/internet kind of habit to be broken.

It’s a habit of thought revealed by a habit of word.

You see, I noticed that I’ve recently started speaking a lot in the third person. Not using ‘You’ and ‘we’ but ‘He’ and ‘they’.

This isn’t me speaking in the royal we. “She is going to take the kids for a walk” sort of crazyness that would signify to my husband that a night off was in order.

No, what I noticed was that for a long time I’d been referring to God in the third person.

This isn’t normally a bad thing. It’s good to speak about God, to speak his praises, to bring him into conversation. That wasn’t my problem.

My problem was I was talking more about God than to God.

The realization sank deep. There was a sneaking and growing sense of detachment as I spoke more and more about God in the context of conversation than with God in conversation. He was becoming the object of my words rather than the object of my focus.

I wasn’t seeking God.

I wasn’t seeking time with him. I knew him, could speak of him, could argue for him, but wasn’t seeking him.

I wasn’t trying to look him in the face; I was talking about him like he wasn’t there.

How sad. How sad that at a time when I should be focused on him, focused on the multitudinous answers to prayer that had just been answered, falling on my face in worship of his goodness, I was loosening my grip on my solid rock.

Have you ever been in that place? Realizing that the most important relationship to you in the world has started to stagnate because of your unintentional neglect?

That the person in the world you should be most grateful for and to, is the one you haven’t thought of all day?

Been there.

And it shamed me.

He didn’t shame me, my neglect shamed me. 

And I knew the cure. I knew that though I felt shame, the Father of the Prodigal was looking for me. Looking to run towards me the instant he saw me turn my head.

That he’s always been there, waiting through the ebb and flow of my devotion. Waiting in the stillness and the chaos. Ever present, all seeing, gracious love and overflowing mercy.

He will not, should not, could not forever be ignored.

As I lifted my eyes to him after lowering them to his Word, I knew my welcome was absolute. That no matter the distance I drift, a hairbreadth whisper or a league, he’s always within reach. That though I may wander and forget, he never has and never will.

Psalm 121

A song of ascents.

 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
 My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

 He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
 indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
 the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

 The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore

Decisions, Decisions

I had to make a decision this morning.

Not a wear or hair decision, but a heart and attitude decision.

And this decision took place in the shower, as all good decisions do.

You see, someone had hurt someone close to me. And this someone had hurt them right where it hurts, at the core of who God made them to be.

And I was angry. I’ve spent the past evening and now, waking hours, thinking about this person who threw the emotional dart. Thinking that they should know better. Thinking that they should DO better. Thinking that their whole perspective on the world needs a shift and by gum, someone needed to say something.

I know that person isn’t me but what temptation to think that person into submission and repentance.

Pray for those who persecute you.

Nope (accompanied by vigorous soap wielding)

Pray for those who persecute you.

(raised eyebrow in acknowledgement and skepticism)

But then I started thinking.

Why did Jesus call us to pray for those who persecute us?

Because they need it.

Because the lack of understanding and lashing out doesn’t come from a place of God’s peace.

Because the maneuvering and manipulating doesn’t come from a place of Spirit-led relationship.

Because prayer for the persecutor does as much for me as it does for them.

Because I need it.

Lifting up another person before God, on their behalf, is a way of focusing the entire situation on God, who is the healer and making-right of all things.

Because in order for this situation to be resolved in a way that brings unity and not destruction and division, I must lay my feelings and perceptions before God so that he can sort them out in his wisdom.

And as I offered up my mind and heart for Spirit cleansing, I began to see things in a new light.

That hurt comes from hurt.

That lashing out comes from the feeling of sinking sand beneath the feet and the grasping hand reaches out for purchase in the face of change.

That sympathy and pity should be my approach.

That we all need God in such deep ways.

The persecuted can quickly become the persecutor if our responses aren’t taken to the Throne and Cross.

Unreflected responses can do more damage than good.

Praying for our persecutors puts the blame where it really lies, into the spiritual realm from where it originates. The non-flesh and blood that works on flesh and blood.

So we pray for the persecutor so we don’t become the persecutor.

We pray for the persecutor because they are persecuted in ways we can’t see.

We pray for the persecutor to put ourselves in a place of submission to God, for his insight, filter, and lessons as we process this situation together.

We pray for the persecutor because on the Cross, Jesus prayed for his.

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.  Matthew 5:43-45a