February 26, 2010

THIS is really THAT!

Just before the spies were sent into the Promised Land, there's an account in Numbers 12 that Miriam and Aaron "criticized Moses because he married a Cushite woman." The history behind Moses' apparent lapse in marital judgment was probably greatly influenced by the fact that he had in essence been an Egyptian the first 40 years of his life and then spent the next 40 years in the boonies. We don't know who this wife was, but moreover there's no explanation as to why Miriam would have had a problem with this. Or maybe there is....

In the very next verse it tells us that Miriam and Aaron said, "Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Hasn't He spoken through us, too?" So, you're probably wondering, what in the heck does this have to do with Moses's Cushite wife? Nothing! And that's the point. Here's one more classic example in history of someone complaining about THIS when they're really actually fuming over THAT! Convincing ourselves that THIS is really THAT. It happens all the time. Let me explain.

Often we find ourselves venting, fuming, giving someone an earful over what so-and-so did to us - in English we call that gossiping - and in actuality, it's just a symptom of a much greater self-induced disease called bitterness. We allow this thing - whatever was done to us or said about us or how we were horribly mistreated - to sit below the surface and turn into a fortress of soul decay. We think that this "sweeping under the rug" is a sure-fire way to just not think about it, forget it, and pretend it never happened. Are we serious? Never in the course of human history has it worked that way. Never!

Miriam was incensed that Moses was getting all the face-time and the "glory" for communicating with the Lord and on his behalf - he got the lead anchor spot and she was still doing the community service bit that follows the forecast. She was not happy about this. In fact, she was down right mad. And because she sat on her anger long enough, it turned to bitterness. And God noticed! He pays attention, you know. When you and I find ourselves in these insignificant moments in life (so we think) that's when the Lord has His eyes peeled and sits back to watch how one of His kids will handle this internal moral dilemma. He wants to see if we'll have the courage - or guts - to point to the real wound and call it what it is. And so often we don't do this. Because it's easier to point to something else - some other scrape or scratch - while the real cancer remains, eating away at our soul.

The Lord means business. He slapped a shameful case of leprosy on Miriam. He doesn't seem to do that very often these days. Instead, He simply allows the Holy Spirit to quietly whisper...very quietly...but very clearly...until we're finally ready to say, "I surrender". 

Are you wounded? Are you hurt? Are you rotting away? Will you call it what it is and let it go? Or will you keep pretending...and let it keep decaying and molding and destroying who you are? Don't do it. Don't wind up "excluded from the camp" with your heart a million miles away.

Been there? I have. I would love to pray for you!

February 17, 2010

Just Get Out of Bed!

Yesterday morning I woke up and grabbed my daily bowl of cereal (which I eat sitting in bed watching the news). Usually at that point I continue on in the daily routine: suit up, brush my teeth, and head out to exercise. But not yesterday. I finished the cereal, put the bowl on the nightstand, and slithered back down into the bed. My running shoes were beckoning from the closet. Only their cries of loneliness fell on deaf ears. I just felt like going back to bed! My sheets were crying louder than my running shoes!

In perfect timing (and probably my payment for having the stupid TV on to begin with) a commercial comes on. All I hear is, "Are you staying in bed longer? Just wanting to sleep for no reason?" [And let me interject at this point that my family had been gone for 4-5 days and I was beginning to feel what we might call "a little lonely"] CONTINUE ANTIDEPRESSANT COMMERCIAL: "Are you feeling sad? Lonely? Maybe you need to try Proxactivelexa...." Whatever the name was, I can't remember. All I knew was I wanted to punch the guy in the face who was narrating this 30 second seduction of my self-pity. And then the explanation continued....

He then explained that his drug of choice helped regulate Serotonin, the drug in your brain (and all through your body) that transmits signals. It basically helps your brain, your gut, and various other organs get along. Many forms of depression effect serotonin levels. At the same time, EXERCISE is commonly known as one of the most effective ways of increasing & releasing serotonin. Ironic, isn't it. The day I simply want to sleep in, and happen to be a little over-emotional, I wind up lying there wallowing in the guilt of knowing that if I'd just gotten my lazy butt out of bed and gone to the gym, I wouldn't have seen or heard this stupid commercial and I wouldn't be thinking about this at all. And that is life my friends. This morning, I didn't even hit Snooze!

*Please note: this is NOT an inference of any kind against antidepressants or anyone using them. I know that for some this is a chemical issue that is best dealt with through medication. Do NOT take this personally. And please keep taking your Paxil!

February 9, 2010

Valleys Fill First

Valleys. I'm not sure what to think about them. I know for me, I usually wind up there because I've gone tumbling down some sort of hill in my life. Or if I spend any time wandering aimlessly in my Spirit, I typically find myself standing dazed, wondering how I fell from that mountaintop view where I'd been resting and enjoying the view of life. Right now though, I'm there. In the valley. Thankfully, I believe there is joy and peace and hope that can be found there. If you're willing to look for it. Here's what I mean.

In December I ran my 3rd marathon. I know going in that when the race is over I will go through a few weeks of really having no desire to run. None! This time it's been a little different. It hasn't been weeks - it's been months! I have NO desire to run. But those mornings when I have the determination to lace up the shoes and "GO", I never regret it. My walk with the Lord is this way as well. The time in His Word and communing with Him is never regretted. Never! 

For me, the valley is also the place of greatest desperation and hunger. I am never more aware of my need of Jesus and His love for me. I think there is a fire that waits for me there that is the heart of God longing to refine me - to burn away the garbage that I have decorated my heart and life with like bad wallpaper. The Lord leads me there and shows me how disgusting the walls really look - He pulls back the veil that blinds and gives you more of His eyes. 

I remember the first time I ever heard the song "Valleys Fill First" by Caedmon's Call. What encouragement! The idea that even though I'm standing at a place where (in my mind) I "feel" far from the good things of God - a place where I see the rain and sun and wind sweeping over the summit  - I realize that even still, the valley is where that river runs, filling it up and bringing refreshment. It's all about perspective. Do I want to be touched by the Lord...or filled? Happy...or content in Him? 

Valleys. I never choose them. The Lord seems to forget to warn me that I'm approaching that hill I will slide down on my face. But He's always there to meet me when I come to a stop, stand to my feet, and look up. Valleys fill first. I long to be filled! What about you?