“There was a believer in Joppa named Tabitha (which in Greek is Dorcas ). She was always doing kind things for others and helping the poor.” Acts of the Apostles 9:36 NLT
Last night, I saw the writing prompt, “Now” and thought there’s so much that word could inspire in this time, this time that feels like now is an open-ended question or complex algebraic word problem I’d likely give up on. So, I thought to write about the difficulty of now, the tough realization that we’re running out of distractions to fill up the time called now that feels so far away from “then” and even farther from “when”.
Instead, after making a very good to do list to help me feel a purpose, I lingered over a quote on my “In Touch Ministries” devotion, knowing this was pressed prior to Co-Vid and meant to turn us towards Easter.
“In loving with His whole heart, Jesus was willing to be turned down.” Dr. Charles Stanley
I turned back to my daily Bible guide and returned to Acts. The story of Tabitha, I missed before. She became ill and died and was surrounded by friends who wore garments she had sewn for them. Peter prayed and she was healed and because of her healing, many others believed.
But, I couldn’t stop thinking about the women who surrounded her, the lives that would remain in the room and that many would carry with them, wearing tunics made by their friend and remembering her acts of charity, her love for them.
I thought of the quilts my grandma and aunt made that lie folded across our beds. I thought of women everywhere who’ve learned to make masks for medical workers and others.
Love remains. The love we give, the love we’ve given. The love we decide to give today, regardless of it being well-received or going unnoticed. Jesus is our example of love giving, love that will remain.
We’re beneficiaries of His choice to love mankind through dying not knowing who or when or if we would receive it.
So, the prompt called “now” that caused me to be frustrated over its lack of borders led me to a story of a creative and what she left for others, love and beautiful garments.
Her love remains even today because of my discovery of her “story” and the way it made me feel worthy, feel hopeful, inspired.
What’s your story? How have you loved others, how can you continue elaborately even unknowingly in this time of openness in time despite closed doors?
Of looking for God in the small places, letting the light in. It’s uncomfortable. We are unaccustomed.
I found an old note to self in my Bible. “Wait for the promise of the Lord, gracious uncertainty.” It was written after I read Acts 1, about Jesus ascending to heaven and him telling the disciples that the Holy Spirit will be their(our) guide now.
…but to wait for the promise of the Father Acts 1:4
Jesus answered their question about when by saying it’s not for them to know, only for them to spread the word of Him, so that many can be saved and to listen to the Holy Spirit as to how and when they were to share.
Last week, I didn’t mention prayer in a setting I felt I was supposed to. I didn’t. I didn’t know why.
Until an hour later, I’m out walking and I notice a family planting new roses. I stopped and I turned and I was greeted with what felt like glee.
“I don’t typically do this” I announced “but, would it be okay if we prayed together?”
And the mama rose from her flower bed digging and the daddy who’d been supervising smiled a giant smile and called their little boy over beside him.
I prayed and they prayed.
Then they smiled and we talked about the dog I couldn’t get trained and about children and sunshine and they commented about how they watch me walking and noticed I’m so fast. I laughed. They laughed too.
So, I smiled “see you later” and walked again back home.
I knew it was the Holy Spirit that told me turn back, meet them in their front yard, interrupt their day and together, pray.
It’s that way when we are attentive, I realized.
We’re praying for rescue now and not knowing when and we’re getting even more quiet although uncertain.
We’re leaning in to listen. It’s more possible than ever.
We’re praying prompted by the Holy Spirit. It feels new maybe, like new students not yet keen at recognition.
Maybe God’s idea for this season, this semester of waiting is keenness.
I woke up as usual and looked towards the window for day and then prayed, help me to see you more clearly God, today.
Three hours now into the day, I reread the words of Jesus and I see peace in the corner; a stack of books, collected feathers, glass that caught the sunlight, old magnolia pods in a tiny bowl, my granddaughter’s tiny silhouette.
A magnifying glass.
My son answered “I love you” in reply to mine and headed back to stay home in a different city. Not halfway into the day, I can hardly keep up with God’s ready replies to my prayer.
“Help me to see you today. Show me your knowing. Help me to recognize your glory.”
Praying you see Him too. Continue and believe.
“He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you… Acts 1:7 ESV
It’s not new, my fascination with the sky. The clouds on Tuesday looked like fat pillows against clear blue and situated as if a pillow fluffing designer had been busy all morning setting up the shop.
Then Wednesday morning not too many, cloud cover interspersed very flatly, blank canvas space.
But, in the afternoon we spotted the big crow. My granddaughter smiled and then giggled when her clearly adult grandma sang a song she made up and then over and over added “Ca Caw! Ca Caw!”
My sky is different, I thought yesterday evening walking. I’m not as sullen or driven to staring at the blankness as if looking for inspiration or looking for anything else. Maybe it’s not necessary I decided.
Maybe, as my friend answered yesterday when we talked of trauma’s inability to be anything less than honest with us. Maybe it’s just now a representation of clarity, of sweet truth despite storms.
She answered my question.
”Do you think it’s possible not to be affected by trauma?”
Were the people who were healed in the Bible really going in peace or did they get drawn back by their pasts? We decided the scriptures are true and if there had been a “rest of the story” about the women Jesus made well, God would’ve included it.
Instead, the stories have a certainty. An encounter with Jesus that brings certain healing.
My friend told me the way to believe in our very own healing is simple.
We become certain of God’s love. I loved her reply because I see it. It’s a slow coming to terms; but, it is becoming certain and it is making the difference.
I am certain of my healing.
So the sky is now different. It’s not a place I’m looking towards to ponder possibility and wait for some answer aching heart turned in an upward skeptical way.
No, now the sky is my solid confirmation. I see its steady changing and its transformations daily. Same sky, steady and at the same time changing.
God. God and I, the sky above me reminds me of His knowledge of me, of His delight in what delights me.
“That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19 KJV
How can we truly believe all the promises we’ve read, heard from pulpits, been enthralled by testimonies? How can we embrace “daughter, you are healed” or like the prodigal who returned know it wasn’t just a fluke, God was waiting, He ran out to meet us and we were welcomed. How can we believe God planned our meeting Jesus just like the woman at the well, a prostitute who was surprised to see Him, even more surprised by His intentional kindness?
We can decide to be certain of His love more than anything. We can be as certain of God as we are of the sky.
Look up today.
Be reminded, God’s love is vast and wide and deeply unchanging.
I watched the soloist in worship, saw timidity in a way that led to her being brave. Fairly new to the stage, I’ve been attentive to her growing. I long to know her story.
Has she always sang so bravely, was it a thing she knew she’d always do? Was it a path that opened before her and at last she agreed she was able?
I watched as her hand held the microphone in its stand. I listened as she told me it’s God’s breath in me that led and leads to my breathing. She opened both hands towards the ceiling as her voice was elevated, “Great are you Lord!” I joined in agreement.
I’d still love to know her faith story. I’d like to know her journey as a woman.
I sat in the white chair later, the chair that was yellow when my mama got it. She had it in her den and I don’t recall her ever sitting there. It was positioned in front of her place for sitting, a place she could simply see it.
It faced the wide windows that opened the view to the field, the skinny lane that announced visitors. My mama lived alone for a bit and her yellow chair is only one of a few things she gave me. The others, ceramic roosters and a bracelet, now broken and not really jewelry, “costume” the jeweler said, “not worth anything”.
The yellow chair now recushioned and covered white, the little roosters and the bracelet, all yard sale discoveries.
My mama had very little.
Her legacy is wisdom. Wisdom and spontaneity, gifting herself with an occasional treat!
I thought of her as I drifted into a nap on Sunday. The yellow chair now creamy white facing my own wide windows.
I found solace in the soft chair, curled like a baby in my mama’s not made for sleeping chair.
I rested in the certainty of her joy when she found the fancy to her yellow chair. I celebrated her deciding she was worth it, something her life had never told her.
No wonder I find comfort in my mama’s yard sale chair.
It’s a side of her story she really didn’t tell. Her story of strength, of being worth something other than what life had shown her. A story of the bravery in believing, to wake to your very own beauty.
To believe in yourself because of God’s plan. I sit in my mama’s humble chair and feel the softness of her wisdom, I feel able to keep believing I am more than what my hard years have told me.
Continue and believe.
There is wisdom in quiet joy. There is wisdom in pursuits that are tentative.
There is safety in remembering another’s very own wise path, as far back as when the writer of Proverbs called wisdom a “her”.
“When you walk, your step will not be hampered, and if you run, you will not stumble. Keep hold of instruction; do not let go; guard her, for she is your life.” Proverbs 4:12-13 ESV
I hope to ask her one day, the new solo singer in worship, “How did you get to this place of using your voice to strengthen my faith?” There is wisdom in her journey I’m certain. I long to know why.
Who are the wise women in your life? The humble ones, the overcomers, the singers, the confident business owners, the young mamas, the elderly still with us, the teachers, the artists, the singers?
Life makes us either hard or wise. Stay soft if you can, wisdom comes not from hardening.
A few days in a row I fixated on the idea of a bluebird landing in my palm. I imagined being able to get close enough before it flew away.
I set out with the plan that if I asked God to let that bird make a nest in my palm, I’d believe even more strongly in a God I can’t see.
I would see faith in a whole new way.
The fencepost is marked by a blue ribbon! Trickery to my vision even today.
If I clutched that resting bird, I’d go back home or sit on the front steps and I’d make a call. “Cousin!” I’d say with a loud happy voice, to my cousin who believes bluebirds mean hope.
“Cousin, you’ll never believe it! I have just held a little bluebird in my hand!” And she’d reply in her southern strong voice with either,
“What???? …Get outta here, no way!!!”
I love the way she always gets excited over my revelations.
Or, she’d say “Oh, Lisa, I can’t believe it, isn’t God so good?”
She might find my behavior odd, that I long to see a bluebird sit still in my hand.
That this crazy idea born of seeing a bird near the fence for me is a metaphor for faith, for sustaining it.
For me to be honest with me. Holding a bird in my hand would just lead to me longing for more. I’d love the way God answered my crazy request; but, what next?
Would I ask God to bring a cardinal indoors to live next to my bed? Would I have no fear of flying and ask to soar on an eagle’s wing?
Outlandish thoughts! Really elaborate tales I write in my intricately woven head.
God made me this way.
Last month I was more focused on the birds than ever. Crows all over the country field and a gathering of blue birds in the yard. Several cardinals seem to time it just right and I am turning my face towards the sky and they unravel themselves from the branches and hover over my walk on the trail. Bright red, soft and luminous blue, even the omenous charcoal black buzzard sitting atop the falling down house.
I noticed them. I thought about how God made them all. Thought about God telling us we mean more to Him than birds, than sparrows.
We are more intricately made. A blessing and a worrisome thing is a mind, a complex and compromised by life on earth brain.
Maybe that’s why I love the birds, love the idea of flying from place to place with my little flock. Being able to simply know my nest will be strong and safe if even for just a season.
Knowing there’s a pattern to life, there is a path for safe transition to Heaven.
Birds stay in that pattern undaunted by earth.
The coldest and most wet winter and I still hear the new bird in the tall pine singing its newly acquired noisy song. It sounds like anguish to me. Who am I to say? It’s most likely excitement.
It is a birdsong of faith.
As I type, the sound of a bouncing off the tall window has occurred. I don’t look up soon enough to see it, to know its color, brown, blue or rich red.
I know it may have been off course or maybe, just maybe it felt my longing and it thought it could come inside. Most likely not land in my hand, only let me truly see up close.
That’s faith that accepts our complexities. It’s faith in the God who made me who makes me unconcerned over writing this post, a crazy essay type story about how a bird not in my hand is leading me to deeper faith.
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalms 139:13 ESV
My thoughts are known and they are unique, one of a kind wonderings and at times quite woeful.
I am thankful I am loved completely by a God who knows me so well, who knows me because He knew me.
Who’s watching over and is satisfied by my longings over bluebirds.
Who is satisfied that I am coming into me as a work of His hand. A God who sees me testing Him to give me a bird as a measure of faith and is understanding of my ways and compels me deeper, deeper into His view of me.
God is okay with my oddities.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Psalms 139:23-24 NLT
None of us are the same.
We don’t see one another’s inward parts. For me to write about birds is a risk; a risk I pray gets others thinking. We can never understand the mind of another. We can only accept that as truth. We all have hidden vulnerabilities. Some of us overcome them. Others show and then regret showing because they’re met by the very different thoughts of another. Some brains have fought back with resilience.
Others still have little corners and crevices that have stored up fear. Some hearts don’t appear to be broken but are quite broken. They are not beyond repair. No, not at all beyond resilience sustained by faith. Some are not healed yet; but, they are closer to believing they will be, closer to the possibility of coming into God’s own. The place of rest.
So, from the perspective of one who ponders birds and skies, let’s all join together, separately and yet wonderfully made and believe together.
Faith makes us well, may we not need earthly evidence to believe it.
I don’t think Jesus would have told us to look at the birds if we couldn’t grow by looking. So look up today. Look for the birds, imagine if you like, being allowed to hold one gently for a minute.
“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” Matthew 6:26 ESV
Heavenly Father, thank you for making us so individually well and reminding us that we are so very fragile. It is you that makes us strong. Help us remember you through a flash of blue against a winter field. Because of mercy, in Jesus name, Amen.