Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Songs in the Night: I'm Just a Person

Songs in the Night: I'm Just a Person

#34: I'm Just a Person

I am a person--just a person like anyone else--an imperfect person who has made mistakes, who has hurt people, who has failed others, who has made wrong decisions, who has screwed up. That's me. I have done all those things. And, as a person, I have cried, felt guilty, had remorse , been angry, experienced disappointments, been abused, suffered both pain and grief, become bitter and resentful, and taken my feelings out on others. Yes, that's me too.
But, I am something else.
I am a Christian. A Christian is an imperfect person who has made mistakes, who has hurt people, who has failed others, who has made wrong decisions, who has screwed up. 
Both a person and a Christian--a Christian person. 
The reason I am a Christian is because I discovered that Jesus was also a person who lived in this same place that we do--was hurt, deceived, rejected, scorned, laughed at, mocked,  abused, and ultimately killed. He experienced joy, friendship, grief, anger, disappointment, rejection, betrayal, agony, pain, and even death-- the same feelings and experiences that all of us go through as we walk this earth. But,  his reaction to all the insults that were hurled at him, to all the disbelief, to all the resentment, to the lies, to the ignorance, and to the betrayal  was to love, was to have compassion, was to forgive, was to heal. While he was here, he taught us, he loved us, he was patient with us.  
We have the story of how he lived and what he said and the promises he gave us in a book called The Bible. In it we learn that He sacrificed himself for me and for you by dying on a cross so that you and I could have, not just salvation, not just heaven, but a relationship with him every day and a way to live this life, while we are on this earth,  with freedom and joy and peace . And, He wants to be our friend. He wants to be our family. He loves me. And, he loves you. 
The way I became a Christian is by realizing that I am not perfect, that I have screwed up, and that I want something different. I want the freedom and joy in living that Christ teaches about. He said, 
"The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows]. John 10:10AMP
I found that the way to get that kind of life is to believe  that Jesus is who He says He is, to ask Him for forgiveness for the things I have done (and often still DO) wrong, and then to ask Him to help me to do them differently. That's just a prayer, directed to the person Jesus, asking Him to come into my life and change me. 
He's right there, ready to listen, when we ask him:
"Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me."
Rev 3:20 NIV
You may think that kind of freedom and acceptance won't work for you.  Well, it did, and it does, for me. God says,
“I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?”
— Jeremiah 32:27
I decided to believe Him and Take Him at His word.

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16 NLT

I am writing this today so that you may know, undoubtedly, where I stand and what I believe. I stand with Jesus, my friend, my Savior, my brother. My Lord. He gives me peace and purpose and joy. I love Him, and I want more of Him every single day. 

New Living Translation
"For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes--the Jew first and also the Gentile." Romans 1:16

Monday, July 10, 2017

#33: First Cup, Second Cup (Part Two)

"Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul."
Psalm 143:8 ESV

    In my last blog entry, I began writing about my thoughts on "second cup"--that rare bonus time of the day when  I get to enjoy a fresh cup of tea as well as fresh insights during my quiet time with God. If I am fortunate enough to have the luxury of that second cup, it is a relaxing and renewing time, when I breathe more deeply and pray more fervently. On a good day, it's also when I listen more quietly. It doesn't happen every day, but, when it does, I am grateful for it.
      As I was writing that blog entry, God was allowing me to see that cup of tea and that time more metaphorically--not only as a literal cup of tea that I sometimes get to enjoy in the mornings with the birds and the Lord, but also as a symbol for this period in my life. It has taken me awhile to mull over this idea, as evidenced by the two weeks that have transpired since my last entry.
     This is a time of transitions for our family--sort of a second chapter. Our youngest child was graduated from her university  recently, and we no longer have college bills to pay. Hallelujah! I saw an ad for a back-to-school sale and realized it doesn't apply to us. And, for the first time since 1981, there is no need to plan our family calendar around those dates delineated by the school calendar. How different this is from all my years of actively "mothering".
     Our loved ones don't seem to need us in the same ways they have in the past. For example, our parenting role, though not over, certainly is changing in its function. Our children no longer need us in the way they used to. They are all grown and have their own lives to lead. My aging parents need us at times, but they remain independent. I am grateful that we get to spend time with them. What a source of wise counsel they are to us!
      Even our living arrangements have changed. My husband works in Austin, yet I work in Tyler. Since we work in different places, we maintain two homes while trying to spend as much time together as we can. We would like to be able to spend more time in the same place--together!  Although we love our homes, we are challenged by their upkeep.  Frankly, we need to downsize.   While I still continue to practice medicine, I also actively serve on a governing board in Austin. One or the other of us is on the road traveling between the two places nearly every weekend.
     Our lives, however, are not solely about work and responsibilities. We want time for rest and for creativity. We also want to visit all our children and grandchildren whenever we can, and those grandchildren live far away. Although we would love to spend more time with friends, we find it difficult to do so since we are not in the same place at the same time for very long. Those who know me well would affirm that I would rather be singing, no matter where I am. The frequent traveling often precludes that. My suitcase is nearly always out. I unpack and wash the things from my last trip, only to be preparing and packing my clothes for the next.
      I find myself wondering what God has in store for us during this part of our lives. It seems awfully chaotic for me to make any sense of it. I can't help but wonder, "Where are we going with this, Lord?"  Above all, we want to be in the place that He wants, doing what He desires of us. Fortunately for us, we don't need to "lean on our own understanding". Perhaps He is preparing us for our "second cup". 
      I think about the beautiful old song, "Fill My Cup, Lord", and how I've sung it many times:

"Fill my cup, Lord.
I lift it up,Lord.
Come and quench this thirsting of my soul.
Bread of Heaven,
Feed me 'til I want no more.
Fill my cup.
Fill it up,
And make me whole."

      God has filled my cup. He has quenched my thirst and fed me with the bread of life. I have been satisfied with Jesus. But, instead of that being my only cup, I am realizing that finishing a "first cup" may mean there is now room for a second. God is able and wanting to fill it. He's offering us a second helping.  
      We don't know where God is directing us, but we do know that He is. God has a second cup for us – – the second chapter during which he wants us to be active and fruitful. 
Lord, here is my cup. I'm holding it out to you.

" For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth. Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are He who took me from my mother's womb. My praise is continually of you."
"My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all the day. Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent."
"But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge.
With the mighty deeds of the Lord God I will come; I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone. O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come."
"You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again. You will increase my greatness and comfort me again. I will also praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, oh my God; I will sing praises to you with the lyre, oh holy one of Israel. My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed. And my tongue will talk of your righteous help all the day long."
Psalm 71: 5-6, 8-9, 14-18, 20-24. ESV