“I’m not over it, but I am open to it.” This is the response by a woman who was told that she is going both blind and deaf, after being confronted with the idea of getting over her eventual loss. We never really get over loss. It doesn’t matter what it is. We always remember what it was like when we had something that we no longer have. Yet the loss of one thing is opportunity for something else to enter in, not necessarily to take its place but rather to move us in another direction, physically, spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally. Lord God help us to make every day count, to be like Jesus when he walked out of the wilderness, physically weakened but strengthened by your spirit, fully broken open to receive your wisdom and be guided by your compassionate love. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26
In the earliest known game of chess, the piece we know today as a pawn was represented as a tombstone; a marker for the dead. The fact that a tombstone is used in a game of strategy circa 600AD (or perhaps even earlier) is evidence at least to me that “life” after “death” is a long held and lasting belief of every possibility by the hand of the most high strategist. If the tombstone reaches the opposite end of the board it not only gains “new” life it possess power equal only to one other piece, the queen. It has the power to move in any straight line, any number of spaces available, in any direction, forward or backward. Perhaps today we may feel like a tombstone as part of this game of life. What we feel, and who we are in the hands of God is nothing short of a life making its way to the other side as conquerors, royal queens. We shall stay the course and let our praise be to God and God’s Kingdom. “…she rose from where she lay prostrate.” Judith 10:1-23 (Apocrypha)
Lazarus sits at the gate of the rich man and the rich man ignores him (Luke 16:19-31 ). Haman a wealthy official in King Ahasuerus’ court sees Mordecai sitting at the gate and despises him because he does not bow to his position of authority (Esther 5:1-14). Desperately waiting for assistance, both are seen as having no value, less than human, looked down upon, forgotten and plotted against. The plight of Black lives today are once again played out on video; Terence Crutcher in Tulsa Oklahoma, waits for assistance as his car has stalled on the road. He surrenders his hands to the air, but is seen as having no value, less than human, looked down upon, forgotten and plotted against. FOUR officers surround the him. His body is pumped with electricity, followed by a bullet and he dies. Mission accomplished. How can anyone be comfortable with this violent oppression, which includes the silence, ignorance, triangulation and justification characteristic of the oppressor? This active arrogance, internalized authority, unmerited privilege and distorted perception of life is merely hatred in disguise. I am a black woman, wife and mother. By the end of the day, there is a real possibility that I, my husband or either of my two sons will not arrive home alive. In whole or in part I will not be my own oppressor! Don’t ask me to understand. Don’t try to dissuade me from what my eyes clearly see. Don’t ask me to wait and be patient with the pervasive backwardness of our own constitution that is systematically and wrongfully supported in our society by such atrocious acts against Black lives. No debate necessary. Justice delayed is justice denied. #Black Lives Matter.
“Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.” Esther 4:4-17 In relationships, triangles in and of themselves can be a good thing. They help to check and balance the sides and force accountability for the positions we hold in the relationship and the actions that we take. However, when an issue arises that causes tension to one side, when is the right time to do the right thing? Esther was part of a triangle relationship, one in which she believed she had little power or authority. Though she served the king, she was also accountable to a higher authority. In the physical world it may seem as if we are in a powerless position, when in fact spiritually we may have been strategically placed for such a time when we recognize that our own self-preservation is not guaranteed and it becomes necessary to go beyond what we believe is the limit of the triangle we are in and do the right thing. The life of our spiritual integrity of who we are is at stake. The alternative is death, and for us that’s no way to live. “I will go to the king, though it is against the law; and if I perish, I perish.”
What if I had not believed that I should see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Psalm 27: 17 – 18 There is a tv commercial about a man struggling to write and after placing a mint of some kind in his mouth a unicorn appears. The man looks up and says “I believe in you.” Suddenly his creative juices begin to flow. Of course unicorns are mythological creatures. Yet somehow represent the mystery of what is possible showing up in our lives and letting us know that there truly is a greater good within us. Today, may the mint on our tongue be the Word of the Lord encouraging us to continue to believe. O tarry and await the Lord’s pleasure; be strong, and he shall comfort your heart; wait patiently for the Lord.
Surely there s a mine for silver and a place for gold to be refined. Job 28:1-28 Sometimes it was late in the evening when Orpheus and I would take our walk. As some streets were darker than others visibility was limited for me but not for Orpheus. He was sight hound, an Italian greyhound who could see further in the darkness than I could ever hope to see. It scared me sometimes because when he started after something, as hounds often do; I didn’t always know what or who it was that he saw. On the other hand I felt safe enough during those late walks because he saw what I could not see. The life lesson is that it doesn’t matter how much we know, there is always room for a greater knowledge. However perfect our life seems to be there is always room for an even greater perfection. Although we see and experience what’s in front of us there is always still more to be seen and experienced. What we see isn’t all that there is. When we become comfortable with where we are believing that we’ve reached that gold status, we limit our selves to all of the other greater possibilities that God has in store for us physically, intellectually, emotionally and above all spiritually. God looks to the ends of the earth, and sees everything under the heavens.
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you… Job 42:1-17 Why didn’t God instruct Job’s friends to offer sacrifice on Job’s behalf sooner? They claimed to know God. They had the means. Throughout all this time, why was it not impressed upon their heart to help their friend, their colleague? Job’s suffering was not his test alone. His friends were being tested as well and they failed. They were blind and judgmental. The little his friends did offer was to appease their own conscious. It’s easy to be thankful when you have everything you could want or need. It’s easy to claim grace and mercy when at every turn there’s a benefactor. What happens when even the things you need become scarce and help from those who claim to walk in love are no where to be found? What then will the ears hear and the eyes see? Who will prove to you that God has not forgotten your faith? Even as our hope grows thin and our faith seems to wane, our relationship with God is still our most valuable asset in this journey. For when others forget, it is the heart that is within us and seeks after God that will sustain our every step.
I will never forget your commandments because by them you give me life. Psalm 119:93 For he shall deliver the poor who cries out in distress, and the oppressed who has no helper. Psalm 72:12
“Can you draw out a Leviathan with a fish hook…?” This morning I was wondering why God responded to Job in the way that he did and was reminded of my senior year in college. I decided to enroll in something that I’d never done but had great interest in. Fencing fit the bill and the three day class schedule I was trying to achieve. It turned out that I was a natural at the sport and the fencing coach asked me to try out for the team. At the end of tryouts I made varsity and had some successful bouts. I was feeling pretty good, until we met with the team from Penn State. Their number one female fencer was top ranked in the state and country. The coach informed me that she would be my opponent! I was terrified but I think I surprised her with the first touch. She then quickly made mince meat out of me. I walked away wondering why I was put in such an impossible position. My coach shared that she had faith in my ability and believed I had the bold competitiveness to hang tough in spite of my opponents magnificent profile. I thought she was just hanging me out to dry. On the way home, her response rang loud. My coach had faith in me. I survived the “leviathan” that day and went on to win more bouts. Up to this point, Job had not met such a challenge that he was currently facing but God had faith in Job. So too, for us we will meet challenges too great for us. Let’s not defeat our selves with small thinking. Hang tough and remember that our God, the greatest coach has faith in us. “Who can confront it and be safe – under the whole heaven, who?” Job 41:1, 41:1-11
…he took him and had him circumcised. I realize that my words alone aren’t always enough. I can not fathom to what extent my actions must be. Perhaps a double or triple dose of compassion within my spirit and a wider door to make room for God’s flowing grace. I will mark myself with a persistent commitment to build, encourage and strengthen weakened hearts. Because the enemy loves a wide door, may God guide and protect my own heart, lest I become lost and believe what the world says about me. ….for they all knew that his father was a Greek. Acts 15:36 – 16:5