Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Forgotten Field

The forgotten field

I took a walk in my dream last night.

It was a lonely brook near a lonely hill, a small overgrown wood lay near the eastern edge and to the west a small forgotten field.

In its glory it was the prized treasure of a farmer and his growing family but now all that remained of those years was a broken down well long emptied of its cool clean water.

I have often wondered where I get that sentimental curiosity, the one that asks the questions that no one seems to ask anymore.   I see a second hand tea cup or handmade apron in a store and wonder of the stories they would tell if they could speak. Of who drank tea by the fire while reading Dickens. Or who filled their homes with the aroma of cookies while their children wiped flour caked hands on the carefully stitched rose at the bottom of the skirt. Whose memories are these that for a moment seem to catch my attention and imaginations?

But this field, was haunting as if the memories had never wandered off. It was different than a mere cup or apron from a store filled with disposable memories. This field was alive. It had a temperature. It had a breath and a brain. It could hear and see, it had a heartbeat. But more to the point it was filled with destiny and purpose, promise and hope.

As I walked, I lightly caressed the tall golden grass that met my fingertips. I saw and heard the grasshoppers playing themselves in a beautiful harmonic way that blended with the winds that gently blew through the leaves of the trees and the grasses as the swayed in rhythm. The brook babbled as its smooth water made its small rocks smoother still with its persistent flow. I knelt low to the ground and picked up dirt that was composted perfectly into gold for a harvest by all the years of waste from the wild plants and animals. This place had a value that had been completely forgotten by any man.

It saddened my heart to think of the old farmer who once valued this field, who once cared for it and fed and watered its soil with his own sweat and toil. What would the farmer say if he could see his field sitting and waiting for someone who would never come to tend this valuable soil? What a waste, what a sad thing to see such a precious treasure go untended, unseen and unutilized.

It’s that moment in a dream that you feel yourself waking up, but you are not quite ready to leave. I held on but the ground beneath me shook, it stopped for a moment. I realized it was the earth waking up, the field was as alive as you or I, breathing in and out. Was it me waking up or was it the field I could not say. But just as soon as I awoke from that world and into this, I wished for just one more moment there. To go back and treasure that field through the eyes of the farmer one more time.

I guess this is the part where I tell you that the field was alive and that it exists not just in dreams. You don’t have to dream to find it although in dreams it seems our fields often find us. For me my forgotten field is not your forgotten field but I would guess that most of us have one somewhere. Few of us make plans to cultivate and harvest and fewer still would recognize it if we saw it.

My forgotten field has five names. It is the husband I promised to care for on our wedding day and the four children I named before they were even in my arms. I see the farmer pointing to places in the field where he wants me to explore, cultivate and harvest, places that this inheritance of ministry that he has given me has in time become like the field with the empty well. It happens even to the best of us that we are given a place where will be so powerful if we can only just remember the value of it and yet we look for other fields to find our purpose.

Have you noticed what time can do to value of things? It either devalues them or makes them more valuable. I have a picture by my front door, when I first put it there it was new and fun to look at and now it is just the wall for as much as I notice it. Have you stared at an image for so long that it loses focus. The monotony of life can cause us to live in a state of un-appreciation and begin to devalue the precious things in life. The forgotten field is usually a place you lived for so long that you couldn’t see its true value anymore. I live by the beautiful Rocky Mountains and yet I have gotten so used to them that I don’t see the beauty anymore but just a background, not un-like a screen saver on a computer. How can we break the pattern of our forgetfulness? How can we see again with fresh eyes? Thankfully all we need to do is go to the farmer that gave us the field in the first place and ask him for fresh eyes.

I believe that our forgetfulness is the reason the bible says that we are to begin anew every morning, and that we are to bring, thanksgiving and praise to Him.

Psalm 136: Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of Heaven. His love endures forever.  

I had all this seed to sow and I was looking for a field to plant it in. A place to put some roots deep inside and all the while my forgotten field was waiting for me.

Where or who is your forgotten field? Do you know that God has been waiting for you to walk once again in your field of giftedness, in your season of promise? Let Him lead you back and although some weeds may need pulling and some wells re dug for water, there will be a harvest, for you will not toil in vane when you toil for love.




Saturday, November 14, 2015

Cheap Faith

Cheap Faith

This time of year with the Holidays approaching, it always brings to my mind the nativity scene, gifts, and time spent with family and friends.  I love to give gifts and see the joy on the faces of those who, for that few minutes, have to wonder what is inside. I always love the idea of giving something to my loved ones that will be of true value and great expense and deep meaning to them; so expensive or time consuming that the person receiving the gift will be truly blessed and moved into a spirit of gladness. 

I was asked a challenging question in my devotional this morning. “Are you willing to trust and fulfill His purposes no matter the cost?" I have been very weary lately and very consumed by my rights as a follower of Christ thinking that I don’t deserve some of the challenges and trials that I am facing. I have been so preoccupied with defending my rights that I forgotten that Christ said there would be difficult times and that we would need to trust God through them not scream and yell to be pulled from them.

I think we easily forget that the God who provided one person with the creature comforts of first world life is also the same God of the homeless man on the corner and further still from our sight, the same God of a starving Somalian child in Africa. He doesn’t love me more or less depending on my worldly comforts or discomforts. And often times I fall victim to the same attitudes of the disciples who knew they were walking with a future king but based their perception of his power on an earthly system.

Do I stop in confusion like the disciples did when Christ refuses to be crowned with anything on this earth but a crown of thorns and persecution.  Surely they were hoping that any minute he would use the power he had to raise the dead and heal the blind to overthrow the evil rulers and take his place as King.

I find myself consumed with the truth in 1 Peter. His words although life and light to my struggles are said to a very persecuted church who was often given the choice to denounce Christ or die. And here I am almost derailing my witness because a neighbor doesn’t like the way I park, or the way a tree branch almost touches my house.  I feel offended and claim my rights to not be falsely accused over tree branches while the early church was being wiped with tree branches and hung to die on crosses made from the wood that I out of spite I refuse to trim. My tree (or struggle) is just so silly in comparison to true persecution. None the less I find myself needing Peter’s words all the same to overcome my selfishness.

1Peter 3:8-15

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.11 They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it.12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.”15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.

I felt like I was in the boxing ring with my neighbors over all of these silly things, getting pummeled over and over, and all I could say to the enemy of my soul was, “I am not supposed to be in this place of persecution, fighting for my innocence.” I gently heard God say to me yesterday as I was trying so very hard to defend myself, “Get out of the way! I will defend you, but you need to get out of the ring.” I was trying to fight the devil at a game of righteousness and the only one that can ever win that fight against him is my God; the one who paid the highest price for me to be made righteous.

I think we get very frustrated in our walk with God when the road is not straight or the things ahead look daunting. I tend to yell at crooked roads to be straight more than I take God’s hand and tell Him that I trust Him. I tend to speak to my circumstances and get angry when they don’t answer back instead of asking if this faith, to just follow no matter what. This is the priceless gift I can give my God. Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please God.” My question to you is: Even if it is hard to have faith, is it any less important to have it?

We often fall into a Christianity of Convenience, but at the moment that our faith costs us something we tend to be less enthusiastic about it. This is a very big misunderstanding that faith should cost nothing. When something costs us our convenience, when it costs us time, or money or our pride, even our rights, we can take hope that it is not a wasted act that we do when we surrender our will but rather an act of worship to our God that honors Him very much.

1 Peter 4:12-14

12 Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. 13 Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.14 If you are insulted because you bear the name of Christ, you will be blessed, for the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you. 

I wanted to yell at the devil to get out of the way of God blessing me, but I think I just realized that the only one in the way of that is me. God blesses me when I trust Him, when I follow Him even through difficult times, when I surrender the fight to Him and believe that no matter the cost of following him, (even if it means death) that all that matters is bringing glory to his name. And although I may not like the way in front of me and I may even ask God to take it far from me like Christ did right before the crucifixion, I will say what Christ did and with all my heart surrender, “Not my will, but yours be done.” Then truly I can say that my faith was not inexpensive but costly, and my love was not cheap but of great value. This act of surrender is very time consuming and can cost a lot, so on that day when I meet my savior, I hope to present Him a surrendered heart, worth the weight of gold.
God help us to remember that when trials come, even small ones we can trust you and in turn trade our sorrows for dancing by living and breathing your will. Help us to turn our worldy struggles in for heavenly rewards when we choose to be surrendered to your will. Help us to love you, love our neighbors and love our enemies as you have commanded, and required of us in return for your great love. I love you so much and I want to please you so I ask for you to help me to discover how to walk in faith more every day. Amen