On the way to church this morning a rabbit ran in front of my car. He made it to the other side of the road safely just as my car reached him then he suddenly did a 180 and went right back across. This time sure I would hit him I pressed on the brake and yelled “Whoa Bunny Foo Foo!!!!!!!!” Much to my relief he narrowly escaped my left front tire. After that I started to giggle about what had come out of my mouth. “Bunny Foo Foo…” really? One morning several weeks ago during the school year I was taking my two daughters to school and heading on to my work. There was a bird sitting in the middle of the road and not moving as my car approached. At that time I stated “Move flower!” Yes you read that correctly. It was a bird and I called it a flower. My daughters were thrilled with my mistake and I had no good explanation as to why the word flower escaped my mouth instead of bird. It made me think of the movie Bambi when he called the skunk flower.
It is in these spontaneous instances that what comes out of our mouths reveals what is truly in our hearts and minds. Apparently lately flowers and bunny foo foo’s are on my heart. You may find that delightful or just plain weird. Personally I am not sure what I think of it, but it is better than something foul. It has not always been the case for flowers and bunny’s to spill out of me. We tend to spill out what surrounds us. There have been times through company I have chosen or just simply who I am around in my work place that foulness and complaining has been a continuous bombardment. As I have been faced with surprising circumstances guess what came out of my mouth. Even when foulness was not integrated into my language within normal conversations in an emergency foulness flew out.
The “Whoa Bunny Foo Foo!” proceeded by our Sunday school lesson today from 2 Corinthians 5:15-21 and the pastor’s sermon from Romans 12:9-13 were all used by God to integrate a lesson even deeper within me. To be in a continuous state of fellowship with God, to be a representative of God’s love at all times, to surround myself with the example of Jesus by studying God’s word and through prayer, and to allow God to work through me through the power of the Holy Spirit at all times. When foulness comes from me it is when I am focused on me. When my focus is on Christ it will be love that flows from my words and actions.
Ephesians 5:1-2 “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”
This blog post is coming from a variety of recent experiences all coming together to give one word “powerlessness”. The last couple of days I have taught Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS). The first time teaching since my dad passed in March. I have spent the majority of my 19 years as a nurse in the critical care arena and have been certified in ACLS around 18 of these 19 years. Even with the knowledge and experience we just can’t save everyone. The details of the attempted resuscitation of my father and his hospitalization experience from his surgery have been hard to suppress from my mind. Knowing something was wrong after my father’s surgery to remove his cancer and not being able to pinpoint it or fix it myself has left me with an even greater sense of powerlessness in this life. No matter what our profession we are all limited by our human capabilities, experiences, and what minute amount of knowledge we have obtained. As a healthcare worker I am merely a tool that God uses at times to work His miracles or to bring comfort to others.
In the state of Illinois we are required to pay a fee for an annual sticker for any licensed vehicle driven or pulled along the roads. I had gone to our local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to purchase our stickers. As I waited in line two older men were having a very loud conversation about women. One of the men loudly bragged that he was going to get him a twenty year old. The other man said “Whew, I don’t want no twenty year old.” The first man replied “I got enough money I can get me a twenty year old.” In this moment I was very thankful for technology as I just kept looking down at my phone not wanting to make eye contact with either man. My eyes always give me away. It was hard to stifle my smile and giggle as I thought “Really…” and then “Be careful what you wish for buddy. The kind of love you have to buy usually is not worth having and comes with an even greater price.” When I did sneak a glance at the twenty year old seeker I observed a man maybe about five foot seven inches in stature. He was probably sixty to one hundred pounds overweight. His hair was thinning and his shirt was unbuttoned nearly to his navel revealing thick curly black chest hairs. My eyes had to quickly look at my phone and stay there because even if I could manage to keep from smiling I knew my eyes would not. The word “powerless” came to mind again. His money and arrogance are not enough to hide the fact that he is powerless to life’s normal aging process.
Our lives these days seem to continuously be inflicted by the dreadful diagnosis of cancer. It seems nearly daily another friend or loved one is being diagnosed or having a cancer scare. My fourteen year old daughter had read the book “The Fault in our Stars” and desperately wanted to see the movie. Being certain that I have met my quota for tears in the year of 2014 I didn’t particularly want to cry anymore. Of course doing what mother’s do I took her to see it anyway. It is a beautiful story and now I need to take the time to read the novel. One word that kept coming to mind during the movie was “powerless”. We are powerless to cancer. Even with all the man-made medicines and tests we are powerless to cancer and so many other diseases.
As I continue to think about this word “powerless” I keep thinking more and more of the one who is Power. Not has power or is powerful. He is power. God spoke the earth, the heavens, and life into being. With just one word He can create or destroy. The more I realize how “powerless” I am on my own the more I realize the greatness of the power of Almighty God. It is through God’s power and wisdom that I can do anything of importance.
Jeremiah 10:12 “But God made the earth by his power;
He founded the world by his wisdom
and stretched out the heavens by his understanding.”
1 Chronicles 29:11 “Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.”
Ephesians 6:10 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.”
The amount of answered prayers continues to grow in this teensy life of mine. God actually sustains me moment to moment most days by His answers. One thing I am learning is to never forget those answers. By continuously remembering when God has provided protection, strength, and healing in so many ways I am humbled. As I have been studying through the Old Testament there is so much to learn about answered prayers and forgotten answers to prayers. The Israelite people are a huge example of forgetting where God has brought them. Time and time again God heard their cries and brought them out of slavery and turmoil only for them to forget where they started and who had gotten them out of the depths of despair. In my own life I have learned that God is always faithful to hear my cries. He doesn’t always answer in the way I have orchestrated in my mind. He always answers better than I can ever imagine. His answers always come with tremendous growth in my own faith. The true test as a believer is remembering where God has brought us. Will we allow Him to change us and grow us with His answers? Will we remember where we started and how far He has brought us? Will we see the miracle of His perfect timing and see His beauty even in our darkest times? When times are good will we give ourselves the credit or give all the glory to God? As I study I have found that King Solomon is another huge example of forgetfulness. Both 2nd Chronicles and 1st Kings record the account of God coming to Solomon in a dream and Solomon asking for wisdom to rule God’s people.
2 Chronicles 1:7-12 “That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” Solomon answered God, “You have shown great kindness to David my father and have made me king in his place. Now, Lord God, let your promise to my father David be confirmed, for you have made me king over a people who are as numerous as the dust of the earth. Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?” God said to Solomon, “Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, possessions or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, possessions and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.”
God was faithful to Solomon in His promises. The news and fame of his wisdom carried so far and greatly that even the Queen of Sheba had to check this out for herself. Solomon had a great start, but a not so great finish. He had a weakness for the ladies, hundreds of ladies actually. How the guy kept up with all that girl drama is a mystery to me. Amongst the hundreds of ladies were ladies from all types of backgrounds and countries. God had warned of the dangers with marrying those of different faith. Many of these women came from homes and lands that worshipped idols and not God. His weakness for the ladies led to weakness to be swayed into their idolatry and alas to forget how and why he had the very position of king in the first place. God had given everything to him, life, power, wisdom, material goods, and fame. He forgot where he came from. God is faithful to us and in his promises. It is in our weakness and pride that we fail Him.
As I reflect on the greatest answers to prayer it has been the prayers for protection, for God to help me love others as Jesus does, for God to help me to forgive others as Jesus, for God to lead others to Him, and for whatever I do to bring Him glory, not me. These are the prayers that I have seen His greatest miracles. My continuous prayer is to always remember. To remember that God gave me life and that everything I am and have is and was God’s in the first place.
When cleaning up the yard this spring I actually contemplated retiring this old planter. If I move it the bottom is going to literally fall out. Actually finding beauty in the rusty decay of this small metal wash basin, I decided to try to make it last at least one more year. As the weather grew warmer a green sprout started to grow from one of the large rusted cracks. It didn’t really resemble a weed so I made the resolution to wait and see what the green sprout grew into. Much to my delight it is one of the annuals I had planted last year. How exciting it has been to watch the bright yellow puffy blooms from last year appear completely unplanned by me. There was enough of a remnant of a root or possibly a seed that survived a harsh winter in this old decaying pot. As I have watched this plant bloom from the brokenness of my old planter it has made me think a lot about our broken messed up lives. No one can escape life’s trials as we all have them. Sometimes it is the consequences of our own choices causing our wounds. Sometimes it is the choices of others that wound us. Then add life’s normal progression of losing loved ones. Learning that this world we live in is not fair is an addition to our brokenness. The amazing thing is that before God even created the world He had each and every one of us planned. Within each of us He planted a seed of His glory. When that seed becomes rooted in Jesus, God’s only Son, there is a beauty that blossoms out of our brokenness. As we turn our broken lives completely over to Jesus’ love and forgiveness. When we turn from our sin and set our eyes on Him. The seed of God’s glory that He planned so long ago becomes rooted in Jesus. That seed then begins to grow and to blossom. As we allow His purpose and plan for our lives to play out there is a beautiful peace that is beyond description. God can turn any ugliness of our lives into beauty. No one is too broken or messed up that God cannot bring life and hope from the deepest of wounds. Eventually this pot will have its final day and will no longer be able to stand. As our bodies will one day take the final breath. It is at that time that if our seed is not rooted in Christ that it dies, forever separated from God. Until our final breath we have the opportunity to accept Jesus and become firmly rooted in Him.
Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
Isaiah 61:3 “and provide for those who grieve in Zion– to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.”
John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
Colossians 2:7 “rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”
Jeremiah 17:8 “They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”
My creative outlet has been focused on a project for Father’s Day and for scavenger hunt clues for a slumber party these past couple weeks so the blog has been a bit on the back burner. A friend of mine just gave me a topic suggestion of lost socks and now after having twelve girls staying in our home for one night there are all sorts of lost something’s around here. Socks, undies, towels, shoes, and swim goggles to name a few random items found so far. My friend is single and still has the infamous sock mystery in her own home she said. Where do these socks go? As a mother I am so relieved that the fashion has changed to the little anklet socks that are bright in colors and do not have to match. In fact you can even purchase socks now that do not have a matching friend. In this household it isn’t always such a mystery of where our socks go with having a dog that loves to eat anything that smells like feet. I shall not mention the other things this weird dog loves. We also find the socks in random places. Pockets of jeans, behind the dryer, in toy boxes, under the couch, in the couch… There are sad little socks lost to never be worn again across our beautiful globe and most definitely across these wonderful United States of America. Sometimes you see a lone sock or even a shoe along the roadside. Now how in the world does that happen? Socks seem so insignificant until you have a blister rubbed on your foot or wear a pair of shoes without socks. Enclosed shoes worn without socks become putrefied very quickly within the Lucas family. The worst smelling shoes award were a pair of soccer shoes and socks that had been worn to play a soccer game in the rain. The shoes and socks were left under the driver’s seat of my car without my knowledge. The next morning it literally smelled like a small animal had crawled in my car, died, and decayed overnight. For the most part losing a sock doesn’t get me too bent out of shape. Now there have been frantic searches for a matching soccer sock on game days that gets the entire family focused on one measly stinky sock. This mother learned very early to always buy at least two sets of each color of uniform socks. Even then that is not always enough to prevent the last minute soccer sock panic.
My friend’s suggestion got me to thinking and studying God’s word more intently on what it means to be lost. It is a Christian term that I know I have been guilty of taking for granted that everyone knows. The Christian terms of being “saved” and “lost” can be quite confusing to anyone who hasn’t been raised in church. As I think of terms we just haphazardly throw around it is no wonder the world doesn’t understand.
In the bible Jesus says in Luke 19:10 “For the Son of man came to seek and to save what was lost.” He made this statement for the benefit of critical on lookers as he called to Zacchaeus the tax collector to come down from the tree and asked to go to the house of this so called “sinner”. When researching this verse I learned something new about my own bible. There is no Matthew 18:11. In all the times I have read the book of Matthew I have never noticed the missing verse. In some scripts this verse Luke 19:10 was quoted here as well, but upon researching original Greek scripts this verse actually does not translate into this section of the bible so many newer translations have simply left it out. It is a process called textual criticism that is a tool in testing the accuracy of the scriptures. In Matthew eighteen the concept of Jesus seeking and saving the lost is there as He tells the parable of the lost sheep. Matthew 18:12-14 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wonder off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.” This discovery brought an even greater discovery and reassurance of how God has protected His ancient word. No other ancient manuscript has been copied so many times in so many different languages yet maintains nearly one hundred percent accuracy despite the fact that “to error is human”. He divinely used human beings to script His word and continues to use us to share and copy it. He has protected this roadmap to life and the history of His plan time and time again through countless efforts for it to be destroyed or to be taken out of context.
The same love and protection of the scriptures God has applies to every single human being. What does it mean to be “lost”? What does Jesus need to “save” us from? God had created mankind to be his friends yet he wanted the love and trust of the relationship to be mutual. For us to have “free will” to choose God’s friendship and to trust Him. Adam and Eve succumbed to the temptation to eat from the one tree that God had warned them not to eat from. They had free reign of all the other food in the paradise God had placed them in. There was no pain, sickness, guilt, shame, or sadness. As soon as they had eaten the fruit of the tree God had told them not to the result was immediate. They immediately felt the burden of guilt and shame. They tried to hide from God and started passing the blame from themselves Adam blaming Eve and Eve blaming the serpent. All in all it was each of their own personal choice to do the one thing God their creator and friend had asked of them not to do. From that point on every human being has had this bondage of guilt, shame, and sadness. Not a single one of us is free from our sinful choices. We are a slave to our choices, addictions, bitterness, and selfishness. Our sin has caused separation from God’s love, companionship, friendship, and protection. The Old Testament provides the history of God’s plan to provide the perfect sacrifice to cover the separation our sin has caused. The New Testament reveals God’s one and only Son, Jesus. God in the flesh came to earth and led a sinless life. He was the pure and perfect sacrifice that covered our sins that separate us from God. Once again God has given us the choice. First we must realize that we are lost. We are so much more important than a sock or a sheep as in the parable that Jesus told. To God each and every one of us is worth the pain and suffering endured on the cross. He calls to each and every one of us separately and personally. When we choose to believe and allow Jesus to free us from the pain of our burdens it is the most freeing experience that is possible for mankind. So often we have no idea of the weight that we try to carry and the joy that we are missing. We can choose to become bitter by our circumstances of sins inflicted by others on us or by the consequences of our own sins or we can choose true life through Jesus.
We don’t have to be a lost sock. We can forever be paired with Jesus to fulfill God’s plan for our lives for eternity. It is our choice to continue to carry our pains in this life and to die separated from God forever. Or to start living a life free from our burdens right now and have the promise of eternal life. When death comes for a believer true life begins with no more pain, tears, or sorrows.