[E] Just Enough Light…

Recently, I was talking to a mom from church about prayer and such things, and she recommended a book called “Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On”.

The title alone was a great help for me… it made me realize that even though it often feels there is great deal of darkness surrounding me, I do have light–for this point in my life’s journey. And it is enough.

In fact, if the whole staircase of my life was lit up right now, it would be overwhelming. I wouldn’t be able to focus on this step. And, furthermore, I would likely see things that would pain me and cause me to be afraid.

One or two steps is plenty, thank you.

Sometimes, though, the darkness seems so thick that it is hard to believe that there is a next step–that you will actually move forward.

And that is when you reach up, and ask God to hold your hand–to lead you on and comfort you. Just like a little child in a dark room would reach up to his Papa’s hand.

“I walk forward,

one step at a time,

fully trusting that

the light God sheds

is absolutely sufficient.”

-Stormie Omartian, Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On.

P.S. This concept would make a really neat… um, photo manipulation thing project, don’t you think?

[E] I Own Three Bibles

Three!!

And that’s just me. We have (at my most conservative estimate) ten other Bibles in our house. Probably closer to fifteen, or perhaps even twenty.

I thought I didn’t take this blessing for granted. I thought I was grateful for having so many Bibles so readily available– in my language.

And then I started talking to Michiko. Her sister Yuko is a good friend of ours, and Michiko was visiting her from Japan. We’d met Michiko before, on a previous visit. She became interested somewhat in Christianity: she saw the difference it had made in her sister’s life, and she wondered what had happened. Yuko did her best to explain things to her, and purchased a Japanese/English Bible for Michiko to read.

Michiko didn’t know anything about the Bible. Nothing at all! Imagine that. Seriously, I mean it. Think about what that would be like!!

But she was intensely interested in learning more: more about the Bible, more about Christ… and, in broken English, she attempted to ask us questions–and, in simple English, we attempted to explain things.

Now, I learned a wee bit of Japanese, but none of it really comes in handy for this sort of thing… “Good morning” “Please pass the salt” “Where is the computer?” um… I mean… uh… πŸ˜› Thankfully, Michiko knows a great deal more English than I know of Japanese, so we were able to understand each other fairly well. (Though we did keep the dictionaries handy. :D)

Wow, what an experience. I can’t even explain the blessing it was… I’m sure it’s always exciting when someone is interested in learning more about Christ–but someone from a whole ‘nother country! And someone who is the sister of someone you had prayed for years to become a Christian!!

It made me really value something I had only occasionally thought about: the fact that I’ve grown up learning about the Bible. I have a great deal of the history in my mind: when I read about Elijah in John, I know who that is–and I can find the place where it talks about him in the Old Testament. Seems obvious, I know: but that was one of the questions Michiko asked me after reading in John a little. When I want a verse about a particular topic, one comes to mind. (Even if I do have to do a little hunting to find it… :P)

I felt so… inadequate. There is SO much to tell! And I only had a small amount of words to use! Somehow, though (Which translates to: with the help of the Holy Spirit), I/we were able to explain many of the major things to her… like the fact that Jesus is a mediator between us and God. I used the example of a translator, since that was a word and concept she knew very well (haha). It is so cool when God uses you in cases like that… and when motions and/or easily understood examples come to mind just as you need them. πŸ™‚

So… all of that has left me with a greater appreciation for the Bible… and for all of the years of hearing it and reading it.

What is This Wet Stuff On My Face?

I used to think crying was a sign of weakness. Too “girly”. Or something to that effect. I’m not exactly sure what my problem was. But I made it a point to do my best to avoid it, and was quite proud of myself when I couldn’t remember the last time I had cried. I was tough. I didn’t need to cry. Everything was fine. I could handle it.

Or could I?

Something happened to me several months ago, something very good: I got in way over my head. And I couldn’t handle it. From my perspective, there was no way out of the mess I seemed to be in–at least not any way that did not involve tremendous pain. And, finally, I broke down and I cried. Hard. It hurt. But it was a different sort of crying from what I had known: It helped. It was the kind of crying that comes when you reach the end of you, and you need God. The kind where God meets you– and you find strength to continue: His strength.

So, I started learning. Or rather, God started teaching me. Crying, especially the sort of crying I’m talking about, is actually a sign of strength… in an odd sort of way. It declares that you have reached the end of yourself, and it forces you to run to God for help. It is a prayer–a desperate crying out to God: straight from the heart. It is humbling, especially for someone who used to avoid crying. It takes strength of character (and awe of God) to admit that you are weak.

9And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

10Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

I have learned that many of my best prayers have come through tears–Tears for other people’s pain, tears for my own pain, tears for my sins.

It is freeing and refreshing, somehow. (Even if you do get awful headaches and even if your nose will drip.) It brings healing and peace–and even joy.

3The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.

4Turn again our captivity, O LORD, as the streams in the south.

5They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.

6He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him. Psalm 123:3-6

Now, I still don’t advocate crying excessively. For one, your head will always hurt, and for another, you’ll use up all the tissues. Okay okay. Seriously, it isn’t a good habit to cry over everything and anything. But if you have a good reason to cry– for instance, you’re praying about abortion, or you see the horror of your sin and are repenting, or you know a friend is going through hard times, or you yourself are pained–don’t hold it back. Let the tears come. But don’t just cry–cry out. To God.

5 The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me;
The snares of death confronted me.
6 In my distress I called upon the LORD,
And cried out to my God;
He heard my voice from His temple,
And my cry came before Him, even to His ears.

Psalm 18:5-6

He’s used to it–just look at Hannah, or David, or any number of others in the Bible:

Hannah:

And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore. 1 Samuel 1:10

David:

In my distress I cried unto the LORD, and he heard me. Psalm 120:1

Hezekiah:

1In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.

2Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the LORD, saying,

3I beseech thee, O LORD, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore.

4And it came to pass, afore Isaiah was gone out into the middle court, that the word of the LORD came to him, saying,

5Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the LORD.

6And I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake. 2 Kings 20:1-6

Ezra:

Now when Ezra had prayed, and when he had confessed, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, there assembled unto him out of Israel a very great congregation of men and women and children: for the people wept very sore. Ezra 10:1-2

Job:

My friends scorn me: but mine eye poureth out tearsunto God. Job16:20

Paul:

Serving the LORD with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: Acts 20:19

3And I wrote this same unto you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all.

4For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you. 2 Corinthians 2:3-4

Jesus:

41And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,

42Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. Luke 19:41-42

Jesus wept. John 11:35

(Allow me to point out that there is only one female in that group: crying is for men, too. Hello! Jesus wept, people!!!)

God knows we are dust:

13Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.

14For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. Psalm 103:13-14

He knows we are miniscule (way better than we do, heh.): He knows we can’t do it. And He loves nothing more than when we come to Him broken and humble, pleading with Him for help and forgiveness.

17The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.

18The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Psalm 34:17-18

(Remember Romans 4 –we who have accepted Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross are counted righteous because of Christ’s work on the cross. )

So go ahead–cry every once in a while. You have my permission. πŸ˜‰

Just make sure you’re crying to the Right Person, for the right reasons.

Oh, and please: don’t forget to put your smile back on when you’re done. Okay? Okay. Thank you.

Why? Because this world is not our home, and we are looking forward to that day when He will wipe away our tears.

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. Revelation 21:4

{RD} I Own Three Bibles.

Three!!

And that’s just me.Β  We have (at my most conservative estimate) 10 other Bibles in our house.

I thought I didn’t take this blessing for granted. I thought I was grateful for having so many Bibles so readily available– in my language.

And then I started talking to Michiko. Her sister Yuko was our neighbor (and is our friend, though now she lives a little farther away.) and Michiko was visiting from Japan. We’d met Michiko before, on a previous visit. On that visit, she became interested somewhat in Christianity: she saw the difference it had made in her sister’s life, and she wondered what had happened. Yuko did her best to explain things to her, and purchased a Japanese/English Bible for Michiko to read.

Now, I learned a wee bit of Japanese, but none of it really comes in handy for this sort of thing… πŸ˜› Thankfully, Michiko knows a great deal more English than I know of Japanese, so we were able to understand each other fairly well. (Though we did keep the dictionaries handy. :D)

Michiko didn’t know anything about the Bible. Nothing! Imagine that. But she was intensely interested in learning more: more about the Bible, more about Christ… and, in broken English, she attempted to ask us questions–and, in simple English, we attempted to explain things.

Wow, what an experience. I can’t even explain the blessing it was… I’m sure it’s always exciting when someone is interested in learning more about Christ–but someone from a whole ‘nother country!

It made me really value something I had only occasionally thought about: the fact that I’ve grown up learning about the Bible. I have a great deal of the history in my mind: when I read about Elijah in John, I know who that is–and I can find the place where it talks about him in the Old Testament. Seems obvious, I know: but that was one of the questions Michiko asked me after reading in John a little.

I felt so… inadequate. There is SO much to tell! And I only had a small amount of words to use! Somehow, though (Which translates to: with the help of the Holy Spirit), I/we were able to explain many of the major things to her… like the fact that Jesus is a mediator between us and God. I used the example of a translator, since that was a word and concept she knew very well (haha). It is so cool when God uses you in cases like that… and when motions and/or easily understood examples come to mind just as you need them. πŸ™‚

So… all of that has left me with a greater appreciation for the Bible… and for all of the years of hearing it and reading it.

The Living, in Present. Living the Present, In. [Ahem] Living, in the Present.

I had been listening to Michael Card while editing a post… and just as I opened up a nice new blank blog post, I heard this line:

“Reject the worldly lie that says/that life lies always up ahead”

Ah, how we need that reminder… Or at least how I need it. I am so tempted to live in either the past or the future–forgetting that all too quickly what was once the future is slipping with alarming alacrity into the past.

I was three, longing for the day when I would no longer be required to take naps. At eight or thereabouts it seemed life would be completely figured out by twenty–surely by then I’d be married and know exactly what to do in every situation. I was ten, thinking that sixteen was positively ancient. I wondered what it would be like to have my driver’s license–wouldn’t it be neat to actually be able go to the store and get a few things quick, instead of joking about it? And, more recently, it seemed like it would take forever for mama to get that little hidden baby out so we could see her.

Well, guess what? I don’t have to take naps anymore. (To my chagrin, sometimes.) I am past twenty; not married–and I haven’t the foggiest idea of what to do in far too many situations. Sixteen is long gone and wasn’t near as old as I thought it was. I’ve had my driver’s license for over three years now. Esther has been outside of mama for over two months!

Time is not staying still, folks. And once it’s done, it’s d-o-n-e. As in, FOREVER. No retries, no extra lives. This isn’t a video game.

How can we really grasp the horrifying finality of that? We are each given a gift: a certain allotment of time. We don’t know now long it will be. And in that time, there is work to do.

Only one life,

twill soon be past.

Only what’s done

for Christ will last.

For some reason, God wanted you here now. (By the way, I think there once was a proper way to use those three elements… )

“Here is a test to find out whether your mission on earth is finished: If you are alive, it isn’t.”

“The Future” never really comes. It just doesn’t. All we ever get on earth is right now. This moment.

“The important thing is to receive this moment’s experience with both hands. Don’t waste it. ‘Wherever you are, be all there,’ Jim once wrote. ‘Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.'”–Elizabeth Elliot, Passion and Purity

Oh, how much easier this is to write about than to live!

Do you have any ideas for living fully in the present?

Side by Side

Side by side

In this dark world

A battle we must fight.

Our brothers fight

To look away

To make wrong thoughts flee.

We sisters fight

To draw eyes to Christ, not us

To dress with modest grace.

Each side grateful to the other,

Though silent we oft remain–

Fighting our battles

Side by Side.

Carissa Mann, 2/16/11

I had this concept for poem a while ago, and this is the (refined) rough draft I came up with… what do you think? How could I make it better?

[E] What is this Wet Stuff on My Face?

I used to think crying was a sign of weakness. Too “girly”. Or something to that effect. I’m not exactly sure what my problem was. But I made it a point to do my best to avoid it, and was quite proud of myself when I couldn’t remember when I last cried. I was tough. I didn’t need to cry. Everything was fine. I could handle it.

Or could I?

Something happened to me several months ago, something very good: I got in way over my head. And I couldn’t handle it. From my perspective, there was no way out of the mess I seemed to be in–at least not any way that did not involve tremendous pain. And, finally, I broke down and I cried. Hard. It hurt. But it was a different sort of crying: It helped. It was the kind of crying that comes when you reach the end of you, and you need God. The kind where God meets you– and you find strength to continue: His strength.

So, I started learning. Or rather, God started teaching me. Crying, especially the sort of crying I’m talking about, is actually a sign of strength… in an odd sort of way. It is humbling, especially for someone who used to avoid crying. It declares that you have reached the end of yourself, and it forces you to run to God for help. It is a prayer–a desperate crying out to God: straight from the heart. It takes strength to admit that you are weak.

Β 9And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

10Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

I have learned that many of my best prayers have come through tears–Tears for other people’s pain, tears for my own pain, tears for my sins.

It is freeing and refreshing, somehow. (Even if you do get awful headaches sometimes and even if your nose will drip.) It brings healing and peace–and even joy.

Β 3The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.

4Turn again our captivity, O LORD, as the streams in the south.

5They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.

6He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him. Psalm 123:3-6

Now, I still don’t advocate crying excessively. For one, your head will always hurt, and for another, you’ll use up all the tissues. Okay okay. Seriously, it isn’t a good habit to cry over everything and anything. But if you have a good reason to cry– for instance, you’re praying about abortion, or you see the horror of your sin and are repenting, or you know a friend is going through hard times, or you yourself are pained–don’t hold it back. Let the tears come. But don’t just cry–cry out. To God.

Β 5 The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me;
The snares of death confronted me.
6 In my distress I called upon the LORD,
And cried out to my God;
He heard my voice from His temple,
And my cry came before Him, even to His ears.

Psalm 18:5-6

He’s used to it–just look at Hannah, or David, or any number of others in the Bible:

Hannah:

And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore. 1 Samuel 1:10

Hezekiah:

1In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.

2Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the LORD, saying,

3I beseech thee, O LORD, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore.

4And it came to pass, afore Isaiah was gone out into the middle court, that the word of the LORD came to him, saying,

5Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the LORD.

6And I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake. 2 Kings 20:1-6

Ezra:

Now when Ezra had prayed, and when he had confessed, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, there assembled unto him out of Israel a very great congregation of men and women and children: for the people wept very sore. Ezra 10:1-2

David:

In my distress I cried unto the LORD, and he heard me. Psalm 120:1

Job:

My friends scorn me: but mine eye poureth out tearsunto God. Job16:20

Paul:

Serving the LORD with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: Acts 20:19

3And I wrote this same unto you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all.

4For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you. 2 Corinthians 2:3-4

Jesus:

41And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,

42Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. Luke 19:41-42

Jesus wept. John 11:35

(Allow me to point out that there is only one female in that group: crying is for men, too. Hello! Jesus wept, people!!!)

God knows we are dust:

13Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.

14For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. Psalm 103:13-14

He knows we are miniscule (way better than we do, heh.): He knows we can’t do it. And He loves nothing more than when we come to Him broken and humble, pleading with Him for help and forgiveness.

17The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.

18The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Psalm 34:17-18

(Remember Romans 4 –we who have accepted Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross are counted righteous because of Christ’s work on the cross. )

So go ahead–cry every once in a while. You have my permission. πŸ˜‰

Just make sure you’re crying to the Right Person, for the right reasons.

Oh, and please: don’t forget to put your smile back on when you’re done. Okay? Okay. Thank you.

Why? Because this world is not our home, and we are looking forward to that day when He will wipe away our tears.

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. Revelation 21:4