Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Friday, May 15, 2009
The sound of some one's footsteps can flood us with many different emotions. Close your eyes, if you will, and imagine the sounds of these feet.
The pitter-patter of tiny steps, deliberate yet unsure, awkward and uneven; a baby's first steps accompanied by squeals of joy and a parent's clapping hands. At that moment, the baby ceases to be and a toddler is born.
The clomp, clomp, clomping of tiny girl feet fashioning mommy's high heels in front of the full-length mirror in the bedroom upstairs.
The scramble-bump, scramble-bump as your sons wrestle each other to the ground.
The quick-paced, short stepping clippety-clop, clippety-clop, clippety-clop of your feared fourth-grade teacher coming down the high polished linoleum hallway.
The quiet tip-toed stocking feet climbing up the stairs of the wee morning hours. You can finally allow sleep to come knowing your teenager is home.
The crunch, crunch of your husbands feet alongside yours on a sandy beach at sunset.
The soft slippered shuffle of Grandma's feet across the carpeted bedroom.
The sound of these footsteps can bring us joy, conjure up fear, elude to romance, bring uncertainty for the future. Some footsteps we dread, like those of our feared fourth-grade teacher. Others we eagerly await like those of our beloved husband or wife and children.
What of the sound of Jesus' feet? We're told of Mary, the sister of Lazarus whom Jesus loved dearly and raised from the dead, twice washed Jesus' feet. The first time was at the Pharisee's home. He was reclining at the table for dinner and the owner of the home had not even offered to wash his feet which was the custom back then to clean the dust off the guests sandled feet. Yet Mary, in an act of unselfish love and repentance washed his feet with her tears, wiped them dry with her hair and poured perfume on them. Jesus recognizing her love as pure said to his appalled host:
"You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little" (Luke 7:44-47).
Again, less than a week before Jesus was crucified, Mary annointed Jesus' feet with expensive perfume at another dinner table with his disciples and her brother. Judas was upset that she would waste such an expensive perfume on Jesus' feet instead of selling the perfume and giving the money to the poor. Jesus explained that we will always have the poor among us but that "...you will not always have me" (John 12:8).
Mary knew the joy of having Jesus near. She treasured the moments at his feet soaking up his wisdom, hearing the truth he spoke and abiding with him while she could. He brought her good news bearing life and not condemnation.
How are your footsteps? When your family hears your footsteps at the door each night do they look forward to greeting you? Do you bring good news that bears life? Do your footsteps bear the image of the One who gives life?
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
One particular Christmas though, when I was seven years old, my mother delayed placing the presents under the tree for some reason. It was odd because she always loved displaying the wrapped gifts under the tree the whole month of December. In my seven-year-old mind I started to panic. "Will there be any presents under the tree at all on Christmas Eve? Did Mom and Dad forget about us? What about the toys I asked for? Will they show up?" It got to be the second week in December...Christmas was only a week away...and STILL the tree stood in my living room donned embarrassingly with only a skirt and ornaments. There were no packages. There were no bows or ribbons or anything but a dumb old white sheet wrapped around the tree trunk.
In our house 6 p. m. was a sacred hour. That's when my parents' sank down in their chairs in front of the television to listen to the evening news hour anchored by Walter Cronkite! I swear the whole house could be engulfed in flames and my parents would sit and watch Walter, totally engrossed in what he was reporting and ignorant of their own surroundings! They'd only believe it if they saw it on the news! Well, one particular news hour during my despondent Christmas, I took advantage of the 6 p. m. news hour and tip toed into their bedroom. That's where the secret stash of presents was usually kept. How I know this is another Christmas story.
So, there I stood, quiet as a Christmas mouse ready to snatch the cheese, staring at the door handle of their walk-in closet. I breathed a deep breath, held it in and quietly turned the squeaky door knob, praying the noise would not distract them from old Walter. As I opened the door ever so carefully, there before me was a mound of shopping bags! HUGE ones! Filled with presents! Yeah! There WERE going to be presents on Christmas Eve! Whew! What a relief! Now...what were they?! I just couldn't help myself. I'd anticipated way too long and before I could stop myself I was digging into the shopping bags and pulling out a plethora of treasures. There was play dough, coloring books, new crayons, play food for my NEW play kitchen! Oh my...and oh...those metallic gold Hollywood fur-adorned slippers I'd wanted! Oh I had to try those on! And there I was amidst these presents, adorned in metallic gold fur-adorned slippers inside my parents' closet celebrating an early Christmas...all by myself. I popped my head out of the closet and listened for Walter's familiar voice. "And that's the way it is..." he was saying. That meant he was signing off! Oh boy! So, I kicked off my slippers and scurried to put all the presents back in their bags just the way I'd found them. I darted out of the closet, closed the door and dashed across their bedroom into the bathroom and shut the door behind me.
For the next week until Christmas, the wrapped packages appeared one-by-one under the tree. Normally, I'd anticipate what might be in those packages but that year there was nothing to anticipate. I'd already seen what my gifts were going to be! What was there to hope for?
Paul reminds me of this anticipation, this hoping in Romans 8: 24b-25 "...But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently."
Monday, May 4, 2009
Friday, May 1, 2009
When I speak to an older audience on the subject of writing, I will say, "Writing a book is as easy as telling a story and everyone has a story to tell." For those of us who like to write we use words to create a picture in the imaginations of our readers. Authors are known as word-smiths. We manipulate a sentence, create a paragraph, even make up our own vocabulary at times to evoke a certain emotion. Musicians do the same with sound. They choose a pattern of sound to create a melody, harmony and rhythm that when strung together communicate emotions and create a story in the imagination of their listeners. They use various instruments including the human voice to play these parts that when performed correctly utter the beauty the composer intended.
I have always loved music. My first memories of music come from Sunday church services where all the hymns were accompanied by piano or organ. I loved the sound of the piano. There was something about it that would just create a burn inside of me. I could sit and listen to someone play the piano for hours. I still can. I remember sitting forward in my pew while everyone else stood to sing and I would "play" the hymnal rack as though it were my piano keyboard. How I wanted to be a pianist whose fingers could glide across those ivory keys and move people's souls. Forty-seven years have passed and I'm still moved by the sound of a piano. I don't know how to play even though there is one sitting in my living room but it's on my "bucket list" of things to do before I leave this earth.
God looks at us as his instruments. He created us in various shapes, forms, colors and sound that when put to the task his beautiful composition is performed and souls are moved to worship Him. In Acts 9:15 Luke records God's conversation with Ananias regarding Paul, "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel." Paul was the most unlikely person the disciples would have imagined to bring a witness of Christ to anyone! He was the persecutor of the first Christians. He put them to death! But Jesus met him and spoke the truth of God's purpose for his life on the road to Damascus. He took Paul's passion for God, leadership and boldness and used it for his purpose to bring the rest of the world to God through his personal encounter with Jesus.
God has created you to be his perfect, chosen instrument in the composition of his Kingdom. Which instrument are you? Have you asked him what part he wants you to play?