Monday, August 23, 2010

Luke who?

When I'm in a good Bible-reading phase I make a habit of reading daily from both Old and New Testament.  The Psalms and Isaiah are my go-to OT stops, and I lean heavily on John in the NT.  I kind of can't get enough of John. 

Last week I started feeling guilty for my neglect of the other OT authors.  Specifically, I felt guilty about Luke.  Poor Luke, I thought.  I can't even remember the last sermon I heard preached out of Luke.  Maybe it's because he was a doctor, and with his doctor's brain wrote just the facts, facts, facts.  He's kind of dry, poor neglected Luke.

I'm sure he would be relieved to know that right then and there, I made a commitment to read his book straight through.

This week, I'll be telling you (lucky you!) all about it.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Cross-cultural torture and witnessing

A Peruvian girlfriend introduced me to a form of middle eastern torture called threading.  While the pain is significant, the results are pretty amazing and I am hereby resigned to subjecting myself to this ritual once a month.

A few years back, on or around my 30th birthday, I decided that I wanted people to know that I am a Christian.  Even if I met them just once.  Ideally, this would be accomplished through my actions and my great love for them.  Usually, though, I found a simple phrase or word that kind of set the bar, so to speak.

In the case of the Pakistani woman who performs my threading (whom I have come to love), and also in the case of the woman who runs the shop (whom I have come to love), I just can't seem to spit it out.  Even when they talk about Allah, even when they promise to pray for me.  I usually think "Ack!" and then nothing comes out of my mouth.  For once in my ever-loving life, I am rendered speechless.

I honestly don't know why.  It could be that it takes all my energy to understand what they are saying.  It could be that I am in their place of business and have no desire to offend.  It could be that I'm a wimp.  It's quite possibly all of the above.

Today, before I got out of the car, I did two things.  I braced myself for the pain to come, and I asked Jesus to help me.

And the oddest thing happened.  After my threading, I went up to the front to pay.  Instead of the usual howareyourkidhowisyourhusbandcanyoubelievethisweather small talk which has become the norm for us, the dear sweet woman (whose name sounds kind of like Ezekiel to me), began telling me some very sad and very personal details about her life.  I'm sure my eyes were bugging, what with trying my darnedest to understand her and wondering what exactly on earth was going on, it was all I could do to nod and murmur and take her henna-ed hand in mine as the tears coursed down her face.

I was really at a loss.  I had no idea why she chose to share this with me.  I had no earthly idea how to help.

But of course I had no earthly idea how to help, but I could offer to pray for her.  She smiled sadly and nodded vigorously as she squeezed my hand and said, "Yes. Please pray for me."

And so I will. 

The funny thing is that all along I had imagined myself taking some grand, monumental stand for my faith there in that little shop.  I imagined proclaiming Jesus' name with my head held high and my shoulders back, come what may.  In this case, the deal wasn't to proclaim my faith.  It was to live it.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Return to blogging

I haven't been over here for so long that I was shocked to see a blue background on the page.  When did I do that

This is a difficult medium for me; for some reason the idea, the weight and responsibility of 'blogging for Jesus' just shuts me right up.  If you know me, you know that's no easy feat.  I haven't figured out how to resolve this little issue, but I do want to write here, so I'm going to make an attempt at diligence.  For the record: also no easy feat.

So.  I got up early and went to my favorite Spinning class, which effectively burns off all the guilt of yesterday's dining choices and comes with the added bonus of an endorphin overload.  In trying to make the most of that burst of motivation, I came home, started a pot of coffee, walked the dog, showered and sat right down to read my Bible.  I've been reading in Matthew, but today I opened to Isaiah (from my Top 10 People I Want to Hang Out with in Heaven list) and read Chapter 44.

I was cruising along, pencil in hand, underlining things that caught my eye.  This is what I marked:

(from verse 6) I am the First and I am the Last; Besides Me there is no God.
(from verse 8) Is there a God besides Me?  Indeed there is no other Rock; I know not one.

And then I read all the way down to the second half of verse 22, where God knocked my socks off.

Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.

Sometimes it happens this way, where some little thing in God's Word just grabs me, shakes me, and moves me from my fuzzy slippered, comfortable place of apathy and into the very throne room.  I heard my God  beseeching me to come back to Him.  I felt the urgency of His love for me.  I felt His desire to have me walk with Him, to set aside all the fleeting things that consume my time and return to Him.

It moved me straight to tears, I'm telling you.  Who am I?  Who am I that the King of kings would desire my attention?  It blows the mind, doesn't it?

One other thing struck me.  The verse does not say, "Return to me, and I will redeem you."

Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.

So here's your take-away people:  If God redeemed me, He most certainly has done the same for you.  Please accept that gift now if you never have before.  If He is beseeching me, then He most certainly is beseeching you.  If He loves me, without a doubt He loves you, too.  Don't wait.  Return to Him.