Thursday, July 28, 2011

Lessons from Lazarus

I'm reading Seventh Day, by Bodie Thoene. It's basically the story of Mary, Martha, and their brother Lazarus, who were friends of Jesus. They were sometimes His hosts, when He was near Jerusalem.

And then Lazarus got sick, very sick. Mary and Martha KNEW Jesus could heal their brother, because they had seen Him heal so many others. He just had to say the word, even from a distance. So they sent Him word that Lazarus, "the one you love," was ill.

They were asking for a miracle, in complete faith. Jesus had done this before; they had seen it with their own eyes. And He was their friend, so of course He would do the same for them. Total faith.

I have done that a few times in recent months. I've seen other people's lives changed in this way or that, and God glorified from it, so why not mine, too? I've asked, believing.

Most recently, I could plainly see how it was amazing that our offer on a short sale home was accepted. I could clearly see us settling into that beautiful oasis of a back yard for years to come. Evenings in lawn chairs, with a breeze rustling the leaves overhead, and maybe a little koi pond nearby, with a waterfall. The house would provide for our needs; the yard would be food for the soul.

And then...

Mary and Martha tended to their sick brother, and he died. What? How? Noooo.... The tears, the questions, the anger. Waiting until the last moment to wrap his body, because even now Jesus could bring life back into this dear man. And finally, acceptance. Wrapping the body. A public burial. The whole town knew that these friends of Jesus were abandoned by Him in their time of need. He healed others, but (they probably speculated) when His life was threatened by local authorities, He was too cowardly to return to heal His friend. Oh, the things they doubtless said about Jesus!

And Jesus, from a distance, tells those with Him that this is for God's glory. That Lazarus has indeed died, but this is for your benefit.

No, you didn't get that house with that oasis yard that you thought you wanted. The deal died. But this is for God's glory and your benefit.

Four days. Lazarus had been in the tomb four days when Jesus walked up the dusty road into town. "If you had been here, my brother would not have died." "It's too late now. His body stinks." "If only you had been here."

If He had healed Lazarus before he died, only those closest to the family would have believed it. But because they had gone through the public mourning, the whole town knew about Jesus' power. "Lazarus, come forth!"

I don't know what is next for us. But aparently we aren't supposed to sit in our own little oasis and sip iced tea. I think maybe I was trying to skip ahead to Heaven. We still have work to do here. May God be glorified.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Now, About That Picket Fence...

The last few days, I have pretty much let Garry do all the house-hunting, while I sat around with my fingers in my ears, singing, "La la la la la...." so I couldn't hear him. He talked to a couple of realtors and picked one. He looked at several houses and showed me pictures. He examined new options for mortgage financing.

And today he told me he would like to put an offer on a house. It's one we saw months ago and really liked, and now the price has come down, putting it in our range. That sounds good to me.

I like it that he is pursuing this. I'm going to not interfere, and sign on the dotted line, unless something really bothers me.

Maybe there is a picket fence in my future still. Maybe. Though we might have to build it ourselves.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

At the Crossroads

"This is what the LORD says:
'Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.'" (Jeremiah 1:16a)

We are standing at a crossroad, again. The bank said they wouldn't loan on the house we had chosen. So we are once again wondering if we are buying or renting.

"Stand at the crossroads and look." Look at the options. Stand still for a moment and look. Don't just blunder on through. Pause. Observe.

"Ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is." What has God done in the past? What do godly people do in this situation? What do your trusted friends and family say? One person tells us to not buy a house because Jesus is returning soon. Others say that this is a great time in this economy to be a buyer. Ask for advice. Look around at what God's people are doing.

Now "walk in it." Take a step. Make a move. Try something and see. Follow good advice. Don't keep throwing a stick in the air, waiting for it to point the way you want to go. And don't be like the people in the end of this verse, who say, "We will not walk in it."

"And you will find rest for your souls." Peace. Deep down in your soul, peace. Peace that passes understanding.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Baby pictures

I could talk about the loss of the picket fence we were looking to buy... but I'm not ready yet.

Instead, let me show you pictures of the baby. They do 3-D pictures in the womb, and these are amazing to me. You can see the little guy's arms and legs and nose and chin. He looks like an old man to me! Or maybe a monkey...

But I'm sure he's a baby. Pretty sure.

We were sort of hoping for a pony.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Girls' Weekend

Chick flicks, shopping, brownies, pizza, Chinese takeout, more shopping, and talk, talk, talk, talk - all add up to a really fun girls' weekend with my prego daughter. We bought maternity shirts and baby boy clothes and tiny little hats. We made a list of what qualities she wants in a man, and prioritized them. That was fun!

On another note, I love seeing God at work in the timing of our lives.

Last January, Michele decided to take a semester off of school. We really thought that was a mistake, but it's her choice. Yesterday, our mortgage officer said that because she still has two years until she has to repay them, we are still a good risk for the mortgage we want! If she hadn't taken that semester off, those loans would be due sooner. And we might not buy a house.

We still might not buy a house, but I'm seeing an awful lot of God's hand in this, and I think just maybe, He wants us to buy the picket fence.

Monday, July 11, 2011

What if...

When Amanda was little, really little, she used to worry a lot about what if's. And to the rest of us, most of them were funny.
"What if an eagle came down and picked up our car and carried us away?"
"What if the color blue is really evil and anyone wearing it goes to hell?"
But she was serious.

Two weeks ago, the ultrasound technician casually asked, "Are there any birth defects that run in your family?" Probably all she meant was, "Is there anything you would like me to look for?" But I heard, "I see something potentially awful and I want to know if you know."

So I've waited two weeks for Amanda to go back to the doctor. I didn't say much about it to anyone, but God and I talked a lot. What if... ? What if this baby has something wrong with him? What if the technician saw something awful?

Today, Amanda went for her checkup. Everything looks fine. Normal. That's no guarantee, but it's reassuring.

On the other hand, I know that whoever this little guy is, however he is made, is exactly, precisely the way God intended him to be. He is wonderfully made. And God knows our little grandson, who he is, who he will be, all of it, now. In the womb. Before any of it has happened. While he floats around and kicks his mama, God knows him and loves him.

Psalm 139:13-18
"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you."

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The picket fence

Since we moved back from China, three years ago, we have had the Great Debate going on at our house. It ranges from, "Look! A job opening in Nepal!" to "Look! A cute house with a picket fence!" And each spring, we wondered what the next school year was supposed to hold.

Now I have a full-time job I like. So does Garry. Amanda is living with us and working part-time, which is just right for a single-mom-to-be. And yes, there is a little boy on his way to our home in 19 short weeks. So we feel like the answer is pretty clear: stay put.

There is a mourning, a giving up, that happens with any decision you make. You always have to say no to the other thing. That's what we're doing: saying no to living overseas, at least for a few years, and saying yes to the picket fence.

Song of the day:
"What a day that will be, when my Jesus I shall see,
And I look upon His face, the One who saved me by His grace!
When He takes me by the hand and leads me through the Promised Land,
What a day, glorious day, that will be!
There'll be no sorrow there,
No more burdens to bear,
No more sickness, no more pain,
No more parting over there.
But forever I will be with the One who died for me,
What a day, glorious day, that will be!"
--James Hill (1955)