Tuesday, October 25, 2011

#220 Hiding in the Baggage

The first thing I must do is start this post with a DISCLAIMER.

I've chosen part of a verse of Scripture to base my writing on today. I will basically not reference the verses before or the verses that come after it. Well, maybe I will...maybe I won't. I'm not taking this verse in context. My goal is not to give you a formal exegesis. I am not saying that this is what we should take away from this particular Scripture. Today is just about something that struck me hard. Ready? Here we go...

"And the Lord said, Yes, he has hidden himself among the baggage." 
(1 Samuel 10: 22)

About ten days ago, someone posted this verse on Twitter. Just the verse. No commentary, no nothing; just the verse. I haven't been able to shake it ever since. "He has hidden himself among the baggage." 

In the text, "he" was Saul, and he was hiding among the trunks, suitcases, and luggage used for traveling. For our purposes, how many of us hide among things that encumber our freedom, our progress, our development, or our adaptability? How many of us hide amidst the BAGGAGE of our lives?

If we've walked earth's sod for any number of years, we've picked up stuff along the way. The King James Version of this same verse says, "Behold he hath hid himself among the stuff." Baggage. Stuff. We all have it.  

Things that have happened to us in the past. Where we've come from. What was done to us. Things we've done ourselves. Experiences. Circumstances. Offenses. Conversations. Rejections. Abuses. Cuts. Bruises. Gaping wounds, sometimes scabbed, picked, and oozing poison once again. 

We hide because of them. We hide behind them. We hide amidst and among them. 

And we go nowhere.

Limits are placed on baggage when we board an airplane because lift-off and forward movement can only handle so much weight. Our emotional and psychological "baggage" will prevent us from soaring. It will impede our growth and forward momentum in every area of our lives. You were never created to carry all that weight.

One of the most gut-wrenching sermons I have ever seen and heard was one given by Bishop T.D. Jakes some years ago. I won't ever forget it as long as I live. The Bishop walked up and down the aisle and the front of the sanctuary, having someone place suitcases, duffel bags and all manner of luggage on him, piece by piece. Each one had a name. Names like those I listed above. In the beginning, he was able to move freely and rather quickly. With each added piece, his movements became more encumbered, slower, and eventually he could barely crawl up the steps of the altar before he collapsed under the weight of them all. What a visual of our beaten down estate when we try to function, all the while carrying around all of that baggage. I sobbed at the bare, raw truth depicted in that demonstration.

What would it look like, my friend, if we could reverse this demonstration? If one by one, we could deliberately take each bag off, and lay it at the foot of the Cross of the Lord's Christ? Imagine the increasing freedom of movement that corresponds with the discarding of each piece of baggage, until...until...we stand erect, unencumbered and free. And could we be so bold as to never pick those bags up again?

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." (Galatians 5:1)  

"...let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." (Hebrews 12: 1)

A runner cannot run loaded down with any kind of weight. We will never be a part of the race, let alone win the race of life, loaded down with hindrances and baggage.  

Throw off the baggage. Run free!

Those bags are not sufficient excuses to justify our wrong choices.

Those bags are not sufficient excuses to sit on the sidelines and never be used by God.
Those bags are not sufficient excuses to avoid the people of God.

Those bags are not a hiding place. 

Those bags ARE heavy, destructive, devastating, limiting, suck-the-life out of you, straight from the pits of hell, weapons of the enemy of your soul. 

You will never rise, fly, produce, serve, or experience true Holy Spirit joy or peace, as long as you insist on hiding amidst your baggage. 

In the text, Saul was chosen to be king over Israel, but no one knew where he was. No one that is, except the Lord. It was He who said, "he has hidden himself among the baggage." 

You may be able to run and hide from others; maybe even from yourself. But the Lord knows. He sees you cowering and trembling and hiding yourself among all that baggage. 

Look. He is holding out His hand and beckoning you to come forth. He is calling you to step out into the light of His love and grace, forgiveness and mercy. He is ready to take those bags from you, one by one, and throw them into the abyss forever. 

Go ahead. 

Don't be afraid.

Come out of your hiding place. 

He is there.

You will never be the same again. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

#219 "Fall Into Rest"

Green chlorophyll stands aside to make way for yellow, orange, and red, as the hum of food-making grows silent. Nature falls into autumn. The trees will rest.

I used to view the fall season in terms of death and dying. I even wrote from that perspective on this very blog. ("Beauty in the Dying") This year is different somehow. The wind dances  through the half-barren branches and whispers something new as she goes. "Rest", she says. "Rest." 

No word could be sweeter to my weary than that word...rest. The last few months were anything but that. I spent three months writing and self-publishing my e-book. September was spent preparing to speak to a group of precious women about the Living Water that is our Christ. Just over a week ago, my daughter married the man of her dreams, and we watched our 3 year old granddaughter for 5 days while they honeymooned. All along I kept saying, "if I can just get through these four things....then I can rest." I've gotten through. I've come out on the other side. 

Weary. Tired. Empty. Physically. Emotionally. Spiritually. 

God's creation declares that it is autumn, and it's not about dying...it's about rest.

As leaves become crunchy carpeting under my feet, I think a lot about what parallels there are between autumn and my need for rest. God has ordained the seasons for their specific purposes. "There is a season for every activity under heaven." (Ecclesiastes 3:1) Not only are seasons ordained in nature, but God ordains the times and seasons of our lives as well.

The Bible frequently mentions the "early rain", signifying the rain of the autumn. From May to October, no rain fell and the land became dry, parched and brown. The people patiently and expectantly looked for the autumn rains to come and prepare the earth for reception of the seed, and to revive the parched and thirsty soil. 

My parched and thirsty soul needs the autumn rain to prepare my heart to receive the Seed.

Rest is the rain that will fill this empty vessel so that I can give out again. 

Leaves fall. 

Flowers cut down and dormant. 

Production ceases. 

The land rests.

In autumn's soul rest, I can cease from striving to produce.

I can quietly receive and lay down the frantic of giving out. 

Holy Spirit rain falls afresh.

The harsh winds of winter will come soon enough. Rest only lasts long enough for one to get refilled. I want to give. I want to produce. I want to stand with face like flint against the winter blasts that will surely come my way. They always do. 

But for such a time as this, I will...

...sit across the morning table from Jesus, and have discussion about His Word, before the rising of the sun. I will light more candles. I will make my home. I will cozy up in soft blankets when night falls and the lamps are lit. I will read good books that encourage me to do greater things in the name of Jesus. I will linger long in His presence and talk to Him about everything. I will take naps and use my slow cooker more often. I will choose joy and live thankful for everything. I will rest. I will rest. I will rest. It doesn't come naturally but it becomes a necessity.    

I wait like the husbandman with longing to receive the Holy Spirit rain that will revive my parched and thirsty soul. I wait for autumn's refreshment, restoration and renewal, so that I may produce once again. 

Because rest only lasts long enough for one to get refilled.

"Behold congenial Autumn comes,
the Sabbath of the Year."
-  John Logan

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

#218 "But Now..."

"My ears had heard of you 
but now my eyes have seen you." 
(Job 42: 5)

...in first morning sun illuminating first born Son.

...in "the Lord is a God who knows and remembers and because she asked for her".
(1 Samuel 1-2)  

...in "Jesus loves me, this I know."

...in heritage and reward and quivers full.

...in afflictions eclipsed by Glory.

...in love
 soft as an easy chair, strong until death, unquenchable, rivers cannot wash away.

...in answered prayer and double portions.

... in "It's benign, dear Donna..." Emily

...in plenty.

...and in want.

...in deep hug, tears streaming down the dark face of one I've never met, but who heard God speak, cut to the quick, through my imperfect words.

...in pain, in tears, in paralyzing fear, in the horror of the unspeakable.

...in crucifixion, in shared suffering, bruised reeds and broken hearts.

My ears had heard of you.
But now my eyes have seen you.

If not for dark, I would have never seen Light.

If not for the storm, I would have never seen the rainbow.

If not for the wind, the seeds would never fall.

If not for the waves, shore would never be so sweet.

The anchor holds. 

If not for the vicissitudes of life, we would never be so close. 

Because never are we closer than there.
Never feel His breath on our face.

Never feel the warm and muscle of Everlasting Arms.

Never closer than when we are broken, bruised, and battered.

My ears had heard of you 

but now

my eyes have seen you.

I am blinded by Your beauty!