Friday, September 23, 2016


Contentment.. these days it seems to be an elusive slippery thing.  For many of us it comes and goes like the tides on the shore. 
When all is right in our worlds and we are pampered and pleased.. when the kids are well behaved and top of their class and your husband gets that coveted promotion.. when the smell of baking chocolate chip cookies wafts from the oven and you’re family and friends are coming over for an evening of hotdogs and laughter around the fire.. we think that’s it.  We sigh easily and Flesh throws his arm around our shoulders and says,
                “Haul that log over here and prop your weary feet up.  Ahh, much better. Isn’t this the life?! Look around, what more could you need or ask for?!”
You lean back and smile big at the stars overhead.. Flesh holds out an object in the darkness and you reach out and pull it in close.. wrapping your hands and heart and mind tight around this cup of contentment. Drinking it down deep your soul belly fills with the faux liquid. 

But what about next week or next month, when your teenage son rebels and insurance doesn’t cover the emergency root canal… what about when your husband brings home brussel sprouts instead of chocolate and you burn Sunday dinner. Where does that liquid that had just filled flow out too when your closest friend moves out of state and you don’t get a call back from that job interview?

Is contentment just like a high?  Does it come and go from day to day, hour to hour, depending on the air and environment that we are breathing in? Is it that heavier liquid that gets weighted down and settles at the bottom, as doubt, worry, fear, and the fight for control form layers above it?  Is the state of our hearts no more than an elementary science experiment? Where the liquids are all dumped in a jar.. and as long as our worlds and days are being rocked and shaken by excitement and activity contentment flows all through.. but when we are left sitting and alone, after all the dust settles and the last car pulls out of the drive-way, contentment disappears somewhere there on the bottom.. once again locked in by the layers above.
Is true contentment so easily lost?
Are the promises, and life made available through Christ hidden and mysterious?! ..slippery to hold on to.. Requiring a tight and unrelenting grip on our part? 
Is contentment an object to be attained or a Life to be received?

What if contentment could be as real and sure as a rock jutting out into the ocean.. unchanged by the unrelenting waves.  What if contentment for you and for me could be like that mountain stream.. always bubbling, flowing, and falling, but never extinguishing. 
Yeah, that brimming cup full that flesh handed you might feel really good in the moment.. but it doesn’t last.   That is a liquid surrounded by sides and a bottom.. there is no external source renewing and refilling.  Fleshly contentment requires doses, one cup every six hours, and best results are found if the doses are administered while the patient is surrounded by the people and things they love.

But Jesus.. He promises perfect peace, and joy and love unending, all the things that we endlessly search for in this world to give us that coveted contented soul.
The Bible says HE is The Vine. 
Unlike a cup full with the surface exposed, vines carry their life and their sustenance on the inside…
So when He {in}dwells and I abide.. those refreshing waters flow untouched, their surface unmarred by environmental circumstances..  For, they are incased in and flow through a Life that is undefeatable and impenetrable. 
The waters of contentment that are found in Jesus Christ require the patient to rest, abide, and trust in The One who upholdeth all things. 

So, if you want to keep taking those glass fulls.. then that is your choice. But as for me, I long to drop to my knees beside that stream that ever flows and drink down its endless depths.  I believe that I have access to a contentment that cannot be touched by this world.  And I am in pursuit. 
I have not yet perfectly attained.. and some days the rain streaks these dirty windows and I sit in a quiet house and the layers start to settle. 
Some days I don’t fling open wide the door of my heart to allow Christ's life to flow.. and I get restless and depressed and down. Some days I look at lives around and see them sparkling and shining with excitement and I lay my head on the eager and open shoulder of Flesh and let him tell me how lucky everyone else is and how bad I’ve got it. 

But I know, and firmly believe that it does not have to be that way.  I believe that rain can fall outside while praises are being sung inside.  I believe that I can find endless satisfaction and ultimate contentment in Jesus Christ no matter what the day holds. I believe that I can walk through loss and lack and disappointment with a smile that engulfs my soul.  I believe Jesus did more than provide an abundant and amazing life for me in the here-after... I believe He has made a way for me to experience that even here in this sin-stained world.

So find that untainted water my soul, drink deep and be filled.. Your life, or should I say QUALITY of life, depends on it!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

When God Uses Onions

Onions. They really aren’t anything special to look at… little round layers of white thick, wrapped in red and yellow thin. When supper requires several, they leave hands smelling and eyes stinging wet. When planted their green stems rise straight up from there home in the earth, strong and proud.  Fields of green, charming the eyes.  Lush life receiving rays.  As laundry is wrung and strung to receive those same rays, I often found my eyes glancing over to take in their green offering of beauty.  I anticipated the day they would be harvested.. to watch workers bend and unearth the gift.  But as weeks turned to months the tall green began to bend.  Vibrant stalks turning shades of brown as they drooped back to the dirt that had birthed them.  The fields of inspiration took on a hue altogether different, one of dilapidated-dying.  And then one morning I took my place at the rail to see backs bent in harvest. 
And God used ordinary onions to teach me an extraordinary truth.
You see, we humans, with our human eyes and human wisdom.. peer out into a world made with a God mouth and God eyes and God wisdom, and make judgments. 
We declare that which is blooming, that which is vibrant, and growing, and strong, to be beautiful and successful.  Days all sunshine and blue sky, circumstances tinted with rosy.. and we are soaring high in emotion.  The mountains appear all majestic and glorious.  Promotion, top scores, new houses, spouses who dote, abundance in income, perfect children…. It all tastes so sweet. Our steps seem to bounce with ease, heels springing up high.  Praises bubble up and out… we cry ‘GOD IS GOOD.”
And, Amen! He is!!
But what about when streaks of bright-hot lightning streak through our skies… and the wind brings in a storm.  When we glance up at that which had been light, and watch it dim as the clouds gather.  Frantic we run to close the windows… don’t allow that rain and pain to blow through.  Darkness has descended.. this cannot be good.  He lost his job, she failed, sickness, betrayal, kids who don’t listen, downsizing to afford. Journal pages lay with words scattered jagged, pain carving letters deep.  Our strength and endurance is waning.  We grope about lighting flesh candles… trying to bring light.  Words of doubt fly from lips, too which praise now seems foreign.  Our hopes and emotions lie like dirty rags on a worn-out floor. Every way our eyes turn.. everything seems to have a depressing brown hue. We only pray to ‘somehow’ make it through… blindly grasping at the grace which is said to be all-sufficient.  Pats on the back and knowing nods are our only encouragement on this tiresome trek through this seeming valley.
But what if we were on the mountain all along? 
When the clouds roll in where I live… it doesn’t change my location.  I still reside back that long lane at the top of the hill.  All that is hindered is the depth and distance that my flesh eyes can percieve.
And so, I am beginning to think that we have this all wrong.  And that maybe, like the onions… with flesh eyes all we see is the dilapidated dying leaves, when the real treasure.. the true gift.. that sought after prize lies hidden there within the dirt.
Ever feel like there is a lot of dying and dirt covering in your life? Ever look at a situation and see the leaves stooping heavy with rot? 
Maybe the treasure is just beneath, waiting for the proper time.  Soon you will push aside the brown that covers, to discover a round, ripe, reason for it all.
You see, we can’t see.. we are slow too understand and comprehend.  So often in the seemingly dark times in life… God is working, in covering, to craft and birth the miraculous and perfect. 
Lay the seed on top of the soil, where things are always bright, the sun always shining, and the skies always blue… and it will never grow. It takes planting and covering in dirt for real life to spring forth. 
We can’t see the forming and transforming in that hidden place. 
But, God sees.  And His wisdom designed and created it to be that way.
So maybe we.. like the ordinary onion.. need to be planted.. grown up in green, and allowed to wither in brown, for the extraordinary to be birthed inside of us.
Do we want a life of superficial and imagined growth… lying like a seed atop the soil, where everything is always sunny but nothing ever really changes?!
Or, do we want a deeper life?! ..To enter into the darkness and dying so we can witness the mighty workings of our Awesome God.
And when we say yes and embrace the withering required, only to discover what we always dreamed of lies just beneath.. just beyond….  Then, we will be able to say with all confidence that God is good, rain or shine.  We will then know, that though clouds swirl all around… just behind, lie the Glorious peaks, fashioned by our Gracious Creator.
Maybe the key to seeing isn’t changed eyes, or changed circumstances… but a changed mind.
Life look bleak? Situations and circumstances drooping… as the hue of dying spreads?
Wait! Hope! Something beautiful is coming!