The One Next Thing

No matter how long I have lived and how many lessons I’ve learned, it never fails that my desires betray my selfish heart,

my answered prayers run smack dab into my control and ambition;

and once again, I find the need to humble myself before God,

just do the one next thing He has put before me,

and leave my future in His careful, tender hands.

A thought . . .

*

In my Scripture reading this morning in John 18:28-29:

“Then the Jewish leaders took Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness they did not enter the palace, because they wanted to be able to eat the Passover.

So Pilate came out to them and asked, ‘What charges are you bringing against this man?'”

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I wonder how many times I avoid desecrating the religious aspects of my devotional life while at the same time betraying my Savior.

A Record of Wrongs

I kept diaries off and on as a kid, chronicling important stuff like supper menus, sibling squabbles, and crazy crushes; but it wasn’t until I began to travel and sing full time that I started journaling in earnest. Over the years, it has been a great way to keep a record of people, places, and important events. But . . . and this is the problem part . . . it also became a way of venting, praying, and scribble-screaming. When I was mad at my husband, Dear Diary got the full load of anger and frustration, but I was not as diligent to record the apology or act of forgiveness. When others wounded me or each other, I recorded the offences, but not necessarily the resolution.

In I Corinthians 13 in the NIV translation of the Bible, it states that love is patient and kind and also keeps no record of wrongs. A while ago, that last bit jumped up and grabbed me. Ouch! I began to realize that my record of wrongs was in a box underneath my bed. And I wasn’t sure what to do about it.

To be honest, it has been an effective way to work things out in my mind—to pray and vent without burning bridges; and it also has helped this non-confrontational person let the perpetrator “have it” without crumpling into a pool of tears, and then not saying what she really wanted to say. Cathartic!

I knew I couldn’t just shred the many journals. They recorded births and deaths, accidents and healings, failures and accomplishments. The history that even included betrayals is important to me, too, so as to keep people and timelines in order at those pivotal moments of my life. (May end up in a novel, after all!) But there were things I knew I had to make disappear—things that would be hurtful if ever read by family and friends. And so, I started the task of going through my adult life in print, whiting out and sometimes ripping out that record of wrongs.

It has been painful reliving periods of trauma and pain, going through them once again. Crying once again. It has been instructive, getting a glimpse into who I was and who I have become. A lot changes between 20 and 70! But most importantly, I have been able to once again forgive—to let go of the wounds that have a tendency to wrap their tentacles around a heart. Some situations were healed and some were not, but I can see that if God kept the long list of my wrongs, I would be forever lost.

In His book, He sees Jesus. In His book, I am covered. And I am thankful for that.

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I Corinthians 13: 4-7

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 

It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

. . . For You

L onely . . . in this time  

O f increasing unbelief, looking frantically, hungering,

N ot for miracles, but for signposts that used to be so faith-clear, undisputed—

E ver-present testament, truth, surety,

L ooking for sanctuary, and I guess . . . just lonely for

Y ou.

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“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you.

Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” 

~John 14:27

After All This Time

One day slips slowly by, minute by minute, filling up its hours.

One life slips slowly by, hour by hour, day by day, filling up its limits, bounded by health and will and intersection with others on this human path; and

the child’s mind is still there behind the lined skin, the greying strands, thinning. And

the insecure teen is still buried somewhere in those pieces of flesh and neuron, hiding

behind her guitar, trying

to convince the world she is worth something—

trying to convince herself.

And the wandering, wondering minstrel is there with her boundless creativity and her endless insecurity, all muddled into one mass of synapses firing

with the only thing giving weakness away, the red blush that fills her cheeks,

announcing to the world that she is floundering in this finding of her way.

And in a corner is the hesitant bride, sure and unsure,

all the same,

loving and yet not knowing how to love, hoping against hope that she gets it right.

And the mother and the teacher and the artisan and the Christian—jumbles of crisscrossed wires, confident, failing, falling and rising,

sometimes laughing, sometimes crying, now tucking it all in the folds of the grey.

In these slowing days, she can pull out a thread at will and feel what it was like. It’s gone, but not. Each memory has settled into its place.

And there should be a contented sigh to see it shuffled and settled; and yet,

when wisdom should frame it all,

when lessons learned should feel so sure,

she feels she is only beginning this journey.

How can it be that this weighty five pounds of flesh should still be wondering and wandering

after all this time?

I Am Broken

I am broken; I am mended.

I am broken; I am scarred. Lessons learned and some forgotten,

and I say, “Again, Lord, really—again?”

Round and round, my thoughts conflicted, hope and despair in this raw dance,

sure and steady, moments from the fall,

and I am broken; I am mended.

I am broken; I’m dependent, neither seeing nor knowing at all.