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Posts Tagged ‘mother’

Do we still honor the builder? I think not. I am as guilty as anyone else. Sometimes, I can’t remember the author of a book, much less an architect. I was terrible at “music memory” in grammar school and worse at signers of the declaration of independence.

Hebrews 3:2b-4
. . . just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.

Instead, I get absorbed by the end result, the “house,” the object.

This morning, a friend and I spent a couple of hours at Panera Church over latte and coffee discussing how differently she looks at humanity than she did five years ago. For so long, she said, it was still about “us and them”–the believers and the non-believers. “Thems” were a shadow of humanity: they were out and we were in. They were a house without rooms. They were a shell. But now, she finds herself within the teeming masses of people, all built by the hand of God, all sacred in a way that only God can create. She sees the builder behind the human.

There are people who are still building and using their creativity. There are inventors struggling to find a place for their inventions (they even have their own reality show now); creative artists abound, longing for ways to get their work out to the general public, to share their creations. For these people, they are giving out a part of themselves. Painters, writers, composers, craftsmen, architects, and many more creators, are trying to tell us: this is how I see the world, come with me.

God is a creator too. The earth is one aspect of God’s message to humanity. And more, living things are another, animals, fish, and people included.

Today is Mother’s Day in the U.S. and we celebrate the women who carried us within their bodies and nurtured us as best they were able. Together, a female and male parent came together to create another human, endowed with a personal spirit, unique to the world in which we live.

Let us give thanks to the Builder today, the Creator, the Mother/Father of us all. Let us look at everything and everyone and remember the source of that idea, that word, that color, that shape, that sound. Amen.

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Words are compelling. They can change someone’s mind or lock in a point of view; they can soothe or they can motivate to action; they can break a heart or heal. Words create and words destroy. Depending on the wielder of those words and the interpreters, meaning can go either way.

I Timothy 6:4b-5a
“. . . He [one against the message of the Christ] has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men, . . . ”

Currently, there is quite the controversy over the book, Love Wins, by Rob Bell. Perhaps by now, a few of the attackers of this book have actually read it, but I have a feeling that their minds are made up about the author and will read into those words what they believe are true. In response, they have added more words that are even more controversial, like heretic and apostate and “universalist.” These words are highly charged and challenge anyone who might want to agree with Rob Bell’s proposition as being in equal danger. Each day, I google Rob’s name and his book to find additional essays and points of view. Today, I discovered a well crafted essay from Richard J. Mouw, the President of Fuller Theology, who called Bell’s book one of salvific generosity or a generous orthodoxy, a term popularized by Brian McLaren some years ago (also a controversial author).

And so the battles rage about words and more words. Some are determined to “protect the faith” and some are equally determined to take grace to its limits, expanding the faith.

I am not a theologian nor do I have any authority to speak either way really, except by personal experience. I have written about my mother before who died at 91, in full dementia, and after a long life of mental instability, bitterness, and hardness of heart. But, when it came time for the end of her life, love was there and she had a specific experience of seeing the Christ. How could that be? How could God break through that cloud of confusion? Because, love can win. That love came through me, my husband, my children, my church family, my friends, and my neighbors. That love was three-dimensional, yes, but I believe it was also supernatural.

There is potential for recognition of the Way at any point in a life. We will never know.

When I give my own testimony of how God reached into my own soul, I am always reminded that several people who had known me before my revelation would say, “You? You are a Christian? You are LAST person I would think would ever do that.” And so it was, that I was the last person, like the woman who washed Jesus’s hair with her tears. And so, among the terrorists and killers, the child molesters and liars, the idolaters and the prisoners, I am there too. We are all among the last. And what words are there for us?

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When Paul’s cohort (more than likely, all men) lived and worked in Thessalonica among the new believers, they had a dual role: mother and father. It’s no different for us, for me. And I don’t mean replicating what it was for us, but what it could be.

I Thessalonians 2:7, 11-12a
. . . but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. . . For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God . . .

Like so many of us, I grew up with a dysfunctional family life. I wouldn’t say my early season as a believer was much better. There were “teachers” aplenty and people who were sure they had all the answers, but not too many who role-modeled mother/father love.

One role meets those basic needs like food, shelter, clothing and above them all, unconditional love and holding (this is how I see the mother who cares for a small child). The second role expands on this one with encouragement, comfort, and advocacy. The first role builds up within the safety of a known environment and the second role sends out into the world.

Jesus did the same thing. He taught in the small circle and gave his disciples everything they needed to thrive and then sent them out to build on what they had learned. Build strength; use strength . . . to grow even stronger.

Have I done this as a parent? Only in fits and starts. Have I practiced these roles as a friend? Not as much as I could or should.

Sometimes I blame my abdication from one or both of these roles because I didn’t get the benefit of them, or at least, it doesn’t seem that way on first blush. It’s not true, of course. God provided everything I needed to move me forward in the world, but in less traditional ways. My God is creative in loving and sending me forth.

In my first year as a believer, it’s true that I didn’t have a caring core to carry me through my questions and disappointments. There were no clear mother/father faithful around me. But I also remember a specific night when I prayed to God, a time when an hour in prayer was nothing because I was on fire and so hungry for the Holy Spirit. And in those early weeks and months, many of my prayers were in Latvian, a language I grew up with as a child. My birth father never did learn English and so up to his death, this was the language we shared. And so, on this night, I talked to God in that child-like way, in a language I hadn’t really exercised much as an adult. The result? I distinctly heard, in Latvian, God speak to my heart and claim that father-place. He would be the father I lost. He would comfort, encourage, and send me forth.

” . . . for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! Assuredly not!” [Hebrews 13:5, Amplified]

Selah! [Pause and think of that]

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The passage I read today from Romans is not a particular favorite. Talk of cutting off and God’s sternness and unbelief is always difficult. As I contemplated these unpleasant attributes of God, I considered the importance of timing.

Romans 11:23
And if they [Israelites] do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.

Each of us has windows of opportunity to experience or meet God. I can certainly look back and see some of those windows that opened and closed. They were crossroads I didn’t recognize at the time because I took the other way. As a child, I can remember going to Vacation Bible School and although I enjoyed the activities and “something to do” in the summer, I didn’t meet God there. And later in high school, one of my closest friends was a PK (preacher’s kid) and I adored her family but it never occurred to me to embrace their God. In college, I was in a sorority where many of the girls were active in Campus Crusade, but I didn’t even consider attending a meeting. There must have been more of these “close calls from Christ” in my young adult years, but I don’t remember them.

God reached out to me and for that season of time, I could have looked through and believed. Who would I have become? No telling.

I am grateful there were many windows.

If there were many windows for me, then there are many windows for others. Christians get so hung up thinking about someone who hasn’t “accepted Christ” and “oh, they will be lost forever.” But there is always another opportunity. There is always another moment in time. We just can’t see it now.

My mother was against all things religious for years and years. By the time she reached her nineties and was living with us, I assumed she would never experience God in any kind of real way. Then, as dementia set in, the likelihood seemed even more remote. But one night, while I was sitting by her bed, chatting quietly until she fell asleep, she said, “Oh, look, it’s Jesus,” and then, “Oh, he’s reaching out to me with an invitation (this was all in Latvian, so the word was specific to a card or written invitation),” and then, after some moments she said, “I think I’ll take it. Yes, I’m going to take it.” And then after some silence, she opened her eyes and told me how beautiful it all was. I was mesmerized. I thought she might die in that moment and just go on to be with the Christ. It was an amazing experience to watch her face, her countenance and to hear the quality of her voice. It was a different woman, totally coherent, and totally enraptured. She died a few weeks later.

My mother had missed ninety years of open windows, but there was still another window ready to open again.

God can be stern and even close windows for a season, but in the end, there is still that grace and mercy and kindness. God will reach in. Today or tomorrow. It doesn’t matter to God who exists outside of human time. Holy, holy, holy.

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