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

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.

Jan. 4? Already?

Well, I am already late.

I thought I would try to write something on my blog this year, if not every day, at least several days a week. I used to be more faithful to do that, but between California and Texas, I lost some of my words. They are still kind of there, but mostly float to a place of capture only as I try to sleep.

I didn’t think moving would be so hard. I knew it would be hard physically, but the grieving–the loss of people and places left behind–has been harder than I imagined. (But I don’t miss Gov. Newsom!)

We have come to a very picturesque place, but we have no friends, just barely a church, no family in this town. We chose it because it is the halfway point between far-flung grandkids. But at our age, setting up a homestead in a new place is challenging, to say the least.

Covid is a factor, I think, in having some people keep their distance, but mainly, being retired means you don’t automatically have a community to plug into. Finding a church where you are not hired to do worship. walking in with a sort of Jesus-pedigree, is challenging for someone like me who is basically shy until you get to know me or unless I am singing to a crowd or doing live television. Just being a plain old parishioner in search of a parish is different and unsettling. And in this process, I have lost some of my words. Life and passion.

I have lost them to exhaustion and worry.

I have lost them to the loneliness and blank-staring, realizing that halfway in-between might just as well be a half continent away.

I have lost them to the stream of dissent and political pundits that crowd the airwaves and my mind waves in this tumultuous time.

But it is high time to fight back. To reclaim the right to think and write and find joy in the middle of all the mess. To create and not destroy.

To be confessional.

To change and be changed.