Tag Archives: inspiring

From Breslau, with love

“On the question of relating to our fellowman – our neighbor’s spiritual need transcends every commandment.  Everything else we do is a means to an end.  But love is an end already, since God is love” – Edith Stein.

God created us to live in community with one another.  We are all souls created in His image.  He uses others to guide us and light the path beneath our feet – a path that leads back to the foot of the cross, a place of love.  In Home, Daughtry sums it up well with, “The miles are getting longer, it seems, the closer I get to you.  I’ve not always been the best man or friend for you.  But your love it makes true and I don’t know why.  You always seem to give me another try.  So I’m going home, back to the place where I belong and where your love has always been enough for me.  I’m not running from, no, I think you got me all wrong; I don’t regret this life I chose for me.  But these places and these faces are getting old.  So I’m going home.” 

Last week I had the chance to speak with a mentor and friend from 35 years ago.  She is a woman of great wisdom, patience and insight who has a keen understanding of long-term investment.  In my formative years, she spent a lot of time imparting lessons on me that she knew very well I didn’t understand.  Nonetheless, she passed the information on with the determination to prepare me for my future, holding out hope that understanding would come.  Although my talents and gifting seemed light years away from coming together, she knew that time would pass quickly and seemingly in the blink of an eye, God would put those pieces together with dime-size precision.  When I look in the rear view mirror at that part of my journey, I see an assertive but confused little person, caught up in the fog of war, who lacked the ability to discern the Commander’s intent.  Having figuratively and literally been through war, she saw an enterprising pre-teen who would go on to do great things.

Our conversation was both intimate and inspiring.  As she did years ago, she repeated last week.  She filled my basket with more than I could consume in the moment, knowing that I would use it to feed the future.  Specifically, she reminding me that:

  1. Hope is a necessary virtue.
  2. Nothing here is ours.
  3. The Lord gives quiet assistance.
  4. My only cut card is love.
  5. We need time with Him to sustain working for Him.
  6. Do not concern yourself with what you may lose when there is so much to gain.

By the end of our conversation, I realized we were no longer the old lady and the girl, but rather two friends from different generations sharing similar experiences.  Her patience with me as a child taught me that there is something deeper than disagreement.  Her insights and experiences shared with me as an adult made me know there is something beautiful in connection.  Proverbs 3:13-18 tells us, “You’re blessed when you meet Lady Wisdom, when you make friends with Madame Insight.  She’s worth far more than money in the bank; her friendship is better than a big salary.  Her value exceeds all the trappings of wealth; nothing you could wish for holds a candle to her.  With one hand she gives long life, with the other she confers recognition.  Her manner is beautiful, her life wonderfully complete.  She’s the very Tree of Life to those who embrace her.  Hold her tight—and be blessed!” (MSG)

My reflection on the conversation drove home the notion that life’s journey is not a series of unplanned disjointed twists and turns, trips and blunders, setbacks and disappointments, triumphs and victories, and achievements and successes.  Instead, it is a highly planned, coherently organized movement of people, places, and things, designed to bring us back to Him.  God uses the bumps to slow us down and redirect us and the open-country road to build us up and encourage us.  Ellie Holcomb in The Broken Beautiful says it so well:  “I’m better off when I begin to remember how You have met me in my deepest pain.  So give me glimpses now of how You have covered all of my heart ache, oh with all Your grace.  Remind me now that You can make a way.  That Your love will never change, that there’s healing in your name; that You can take broken things, and make them beautiful.  You took my shame and You walked out of the grave.  So Your love can take broken things and make them beautiful.  You say that You’ll turn my weeping into dancing; remove my sadness & cover me with joy.  You say your scars are the evidence of healing; that You can make the broken beautiful.”

Life is not a linear, even-paced walk.  We will stumble into the valley as much as we walk on the mountaintop.  When the going gets rough and forward progress seems like an impossibility, God doesn’t just tell us to find a way.  He makes one for us.  He places teachers, mentors, and sponsors on our path; people who light the way, hold our hands, sing praises of encouragement, and show us that “it” can be done.  He places them there to soothe our misplaced aggression, bandage our bruises, lighten our spirits, and give us wings to fly.

Like my teacher and friend (and her mentor), we are all built to be blessings to one another.  So get going!  Soar high and generously sprinkle His love on everyone you encounter.  Be a Godly teacher, mentor, or sponsor and friend in your next human engagement.  Share your story of God’s love and grace with those you meet.  Do so and your actions will teach people this:  “I am Lady Wisdom, and I live next to Sanity; Knowledge and Discretion live just down the street.  The Fear-of-God means hating Evil, whose ways I hate with a passion — pride and arrogance and crooked talk.  Good counsel and common sense are my characteristics; I am both Insight and the Virtue to live it out.  With my help, leaders rule, and lawmakers legislate fairly; With my help, governors govern, along with all in legitimate authority.  I love those who love me; those who look for me find me.  Wealth and Glory accompany me — also substantial Honor and a Good Name.  My benefits are worth more than a big salary, even a very big salary; the returns on me exceed any imaginable bonus.  You can find me on Righteous Road — that’s where I walk — at the intersection of Justice Avenue, Handing out life to those who love me, filling their arms with life—armloads of life!” (Proverbs 8:12-21 – MSG).  Thank you, my friend!

Good Vibrations

When someone threatens or injures (emotional or physical) someone I love and care for, I experience severe and disruptive vibrations at my core. If I am not stable on the rock seeking Him, the rapid shift of my foundation can cause a swift degradation of my circumstance and condition. The tremor is an internal indicator that I am relying on my own strength and am guiding myself. Proverbs 3:4-8 tells us 4-5 If you want favor with both God and man, and a reputation for good judgment and common sense, then trust the Lord completely; don’t ever trust yourself. In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success. 7-8 Don’t be conceited, sure of your own wisdom. Instead, trust and reverence the Lord, and turn your back on evil; when you do that, then you will be given renewed health and vitality.” (TLB)

Recently, my business operations were reviewed by outsiders. Leading up to and during the review, I stood ready to answer any questions they had as I know every contour of the operation like the back of my hand. The thing I was not ready for was some of the cutting words a reviewer levied upon my colleague and friend. The words left my colleague feeling like actions or inactions on his part would cause us to fail the review. In a sermon from a year ago, I learned that we must THINK before we speak. Before we say anything, we must ask if what we are about to say is: Truthful, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary, and Kind. To the extent that any one of the five elements is missing, silence is the best way forward. I don’t believe the reviewer was aware of the acronym and perhaps he was not aware of the power of the words he spoke. He hurt my brother and I didn’t like it! His words loosened the rubble beneath my feet and the instability rippled throughout the day. However, Hawk Nelson gives us perspective and leads us in the right direction with Words: “Words can build us up. Words can break us down; Start a fire in our hearts or put it out. I wanna speak Your love; Not just another noise. Oh, I wanna be Your light. I wanna be Your voice. Let my words be life. Let my words be truth. I don’t wanna say a word unless it points the world back to You.”

When we allow events to shift us from solid ground to sinking sand, we get distracted, lose sight of our goals and begin taking matters into our own hands. We become self-reliant as we begin to do it our way. Galatians 5:19-21 says, 19-21 It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: …a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods;…cutthroat competition; …a brutal temper;…small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival…I could go on. This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom.” (MSG)

And that is exactly what happened when I learned about the reviewer’s words. I got angry, questioned the team’s motives, gloated in their lack of technical accomplishments, pondered the possible sanctions against them, boasted about our successes, pitted my organization against theirs in an artificial competition, and viewed them as the enemy. Fortunately, prayer and 24 hours of reflection allowed me to regroup and climb back to solid ground. Sidewalk Prophets reminds us in The Words I Would Say, “From one simple life to another – I will say come find peace in the Father. Be strong in the Lord and never give up hope. You’re gonna do great things. I already know God’s got his hand on you so don’t live life in fear; forgive and forget but don’t forget why you’re here. Take your time and pray. Thank God for each day. His love will find a way. These are the words I would say.”

So…, when someone misunderstands the power of spoken word or knows it but intends to use it to hurt others, what is a proper response? When we feel unsettled, upset, alarmed, or distressed by the way others use or abuse language, how do we maintain an even keel? In instances such as these, praying and surrendering our circumstance to Him must become second nature; otherwise our path will quickly become uneven or turn to wet cement. When the ground rumbles as the earth quakes and we realize we are standing on sand, our reactions cannot be to reach for the control switch. We cannot grasp at the lever that steadies the platform we are standing on. Going for the handle attached to the helium valve that shuts off the air lift, causing a slow enough decent that those in the carrier are not sufficiently alarmed about the imminently approaching ground, is not appropriate. Leaning towards the button attached to forty feet of detonation cord, without regard for who is in the blast zone is not how we are called to react. Instead of clearing the entire deck in an explosive way, providing constructive criticism and dismounting with grace are alternatives. A volatile reaction illustrates ego-driven self-sufficiency that lacks faith and trust in Him.

The experience made me question whose favor I was seeking, God’s or man’s? Why was prayer not my immediate default position? Why was I so ego-driven when my goal is to serve Him? Where was my instantaneous surrender?

In the end, we were successful in the review. The reviewers finished out the week without too many more negative words or incidences. The vibrations I experienced were positive and good because they brought me back to these truths:

  1. God is our rock – Stillness with Him quiets the quakes
  2. Trust in the Lord – Seek Him first
  3. Prayer is the vest of tranquility – In Him we find peace
  4. His grace is our forgiveness – pass it on
  5. THINK before speaking – words can be exceedingly helpful or heartbreakingly hurtful

In I Will Not Be Moved, Amy Grant reminds us, “I will stumble, I will fall down, but I will not be moved. I will make mistakes, I will face heartache, but I will not be moved. On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand. I will not be moved!”