Thursday, December 22, 2011

Simple Promises

We have a Christmas tradition in the Jones’ family.  It’s what we like to call the “Holy Spirit game”.   We put different spiritual promises in a bag and as friends or family stop by, they pull out a card.  They are supposed to take that word or words and let God minister that promise to them over the next year. 
I am always completely amazed by what people draw like for instance – guess what I drew this year – "Perseverance!"  I have 3 surgeries coming up in the 2 months.  Just what I need!  Two nights ago, one of my favorite people was over.  She pulled a card for herself and her fiancĂ©.  The sad thing is her fiancĂ© is spending Christmas in a jail cell for bad life decisions.  He has made excellent changes in his life, but now he must finish his time.  She misses him terribly and his isolation and loneliness eat at his soul.  Guess what card he pulled?  “Mercy” and hers was “Peace.”  I’d say these cards are kind of a divine gift personalized by the tenderness of God Himself. 
Well, this morning as I left for work, I grabbed the bag of cards and headed out the door.  You see, even staff at my job are into the game now.  It was windy outside and I had my arms full.  The wind ripped the bag from my hands and the little cards with their messages danced in the air.  I was in a panic! I felt like everyone’s promises were flying away like un-tethered kites.   I had to retrieve them before they were lost forever.  After a series of acrobatic stunts, while holding onto my hair, I was able to recover almost every one of them and put them back into the bag for safe keeping.
As I was driving to work, it hit me.  Wow- I really went to town trying to get all those promises back in the bag.   A few questions occurred in my spirit:
What if I sought after the promises of God with the same fervor as the cards in the wind today?
 What if I was determined to get ALL that God had for me, instead of what was easy and in my reach?
The Holy Spirit game took on new meaning for me this year.  I WILL run after Him –‘cause Lord, I want it ALL! - the whole BAG!  Make me an instrument of love as I dispense your grace in this life.  Merry Christmas Indeed!

Monday, December 5, 2011

I wanna be a buckethead

Sunday morning has a routine for Doug and me.  The Sunday after Thanksgiving was no different.  As usual we were getting in the groove for our youth service.  I was rolling a few song sets in my head and humming away.  Doug was brushing his teeth and thinking about his message for the morning centered on believing God in the impossible.   We always saved an extra hour in the morning to get our Sunday bagels, so I was grabbing my guitar and phone to get out the door.  Doug doesn’t enjoy bagels as much as I do, so I never want to give him a reason to change his mind about getting them.

Then came the phone call-  

It was Brad.  He very calmly said, “Oh, hi Lynn, we have a little problem.” “We’re in the fast lane in our car on the I-5 at a dead stop and we’ve pulled over as much as we can.”  “Something hit our car and we have two flat tires.” “Do you have an AAA card?”  I said immediately, “Brad, get off the phone, call 911 and have them give you a police escort to a safe spot!. And call me right back.  We’re on our way.”  They were about 50 minutes away. 

Brad, Bethie, and Karis were headed back to Sacramento from the holidays.  They had left Brad’s parents home in Orange County about an hour before.  Bethie was driving while Brad and Karis took a little nap.  Bethie had the Grapevine Pass in her sights.  She just passed Magic Mountain amusement park when all of the sudden the car in front of her swerved back and forth.  The swerving car was actually dodging a truck tire that the car in front of them had hit it.  Before Bethie could blink the tire slammed into the side of their small compact car making a 2 inch holes in their tires and destroying the rim. Bethie said it   sounded like a train bearing down on a small town. It woke both Brad and Karis up and the car came to a halt in a very precarious situation.  The Grapevine is home to herds of Semi trucks trying to make up time and gain enough speed to make it up the incline. The trucks were so close you could almost reach out and touch it as it passed.  The wind caused by the sheer size of their trailers shook the car every time one zoomed by.  After ten minutes of this uncertain journey, the highway patrol came to the rescue.  The patrolmen stopped traffic to help not only my young family, but also the other cars who had been struck by the tire.  They were finally moved; however the officer left them in another harrowing spot -the right side of the freeway.  They were instructed to wait for a tow truck.  

My phone rang again.

“Okay, we’re in a better spot, Lynn” I let Brad know we were about 35 minutes out now and would find them.  I asked if they felt safe.  Brad said, “I do, but I’m not so sure Bethie feels that way.”  I could hear Bethie at this point snapping at her hubby, “yeah, right Brad we’re on the edge of a Freeway with a baby- nothing to worry about” I got my answer.  I said, “We’re praying we’ll be there as soon as possible.”  Here’s the thing with the AAA towing, they will not help you if you don’t have your card in hand- baby or no baby.  As anxious as we were, there was nothing we could do, but drive. Doug and I just decided we have to trust in God. We didn’t say much and just listened to worship music to take the edge off scary.   

Thirty minutes later, we found their little white Mazda on the right hand shoulder of the I-5.  Bethie and I transferred car seat and baby to our vehicle. Doug and Brad surveyed the damage done to the Boekestein car while Bethie, Karis and I tried out exciting new versions of the “itsy bitsy spider.”  Karis enjoyed her water bottle and cookies when her hands were free from spiders going up the spout. The tow truck showed up and we exchanged information so we could finally leave the freeway.  
Wouldn’t you know it? There was a tire place open at the next exit AND a restaurant next door. Breathing a sigh of relief, we sat down and ate a good breakfast.  Karis totally enjoyed her breakfast – syrup and scrambled eggs!  What a great combo!  We walked back to the tire shop and Karis spied a candy machine.  Eight jelly beans later, we had a super excited little chimp! She found her Mac Donald’s kiddy meal bucket in her car and placed it on her head.  In full Karis form, she played tag, did her wacky walk, and “lets explore where we are not supposed to”.   It was more fun because she got a second dose of grandpa and grandma due to this whole event.

I looked at my granddaughter and got a good picture of what it means to totally trust in the care of your Father.  From an adult view, we had been scared, uncertain and helpless.  From Karis’ world, the whole extravaganza was an adventure! She yelled with delight as each truck rocked the car “truck!” Excited that she matched the word to the object and that it kept happening! And her grandparents show up from nowhere, she played games, ate goodies, went out to breakfast and found her bucket! 

I think sometimes little people have such a better understanding of who God is. They have a special wisdom that God is with them and wants to lavish His love upon us.  If we lay down our worries to dance in the moment with Him maybe we could find the joys of being a buckethead too.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, No power in the sky above or in the earth below--indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow--not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love. Romans 8:28-29