Balance and beauty

On June 15, 2012, Nik Wallenda became the first person to cross Niagara Falls on a high wire. He walked over the massive cascade of water from the United States to the Canadian side.

Step by step he moved above the falls, while beneath him, nearly 5.7 million liters of water rushed powerfully over a 200 foot drop each second. He took a little under 30 minutes to traverse the 1800 foot distance over the falls. Wind and mist pounded him from all sides.  Even though he was required to wear a safety tether, he didn’t have to use it…

…because while accomplishing this feat, he relied heavily on the balancing pole he carried, which was harnessed around his shoulders.

 During this Christmas season, I was led to explore fresh insights about Jesus and the changes His life produced. While meditating before the Lord, I suddenly started thinking about Nik Wallenda’s walk across Niagara.  I waited to see if it was a passing thought generated by my random mind, a distraction, or the Lord showing me something. I realized quickly the Holy Spirit was giving me a visual lesson about one of the changes Jesus has provided to believers, who are willing to accept it. Jesus didn’t just come to live among us, He came bringing changes that bless our lives. The larger concepts of salvation, justification, redemption and deliverance are all changes for our blessing, but I want to focus on a change I call balance.

100_1457

The Niagara Falls of life are always potentially ahead, for each of us. We walk through our days with countless decisions to make… what, when where, or who. Our overall well-being (which includes relationships, health, finances, maturity,  safety, stability, comfort, security, happiness) lies before us like a tight rope. If we lose the balance, we tumble off that tight rope of harmony and peace, and into the turmoil. One careless move can cause pain and suffering within a blink of eye; one misguided decision can send us into debt or destroy a relationship. Some have developed skills to keep up the balance of life themselves. With much concentration, they take one step at a time on that high wire, using the balancing poles of education, common sense, fame, wealth, resourcefulness, creativity, or just plain bull-dog tenacity, all of which can be valuable in varying degrees. 

Seemingly, this skilled high wire act appears to do well, until eventually a gust of life’s winds or the fog of life’s mist attack their balance. During these pressing conditions, it becomes obvious the balancing pole being used is not enough for the completion of this journey over tumultuous falls. Education will eventually reach a peak. Common sense will get tripped up by inexperience. Fame and wealth fade away. Resourcefulness and creativity hit blank walls and discouragement, and that bull-dog tenacity becomes weary and unfocused.

When Jesus came to fulfill God’s love for humanity, God gave us the greatest gift, Himself. Jesus made a way, through His Spirit within us, for us to access His unlimited abilities, and we gain a supernatural balancing pole. We have every skill needed to live balanced lives, through His power working in us, to walk over the turmoil and even to experience the beauty of life despite the troubles. I imagine Nik Wallenda had an amazing view of the beauty of Niagara.  God’s work is always beautiful, whether it is His creative work, like the physical beauty Niagara Falls, or through His creative work within us spiritually.

Matthew 1:21 Amplified Bible (AMP)

21 She will bear a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus [the Greek form of the Hebrew Joshua, which means Savior], for He will save His people from their sins [that is, prevent them from failing and missing the true end and scope of life, which is God].

Nik Wallenda did not start across Niagara without a balancing pole and then suddenly realize he needed it. That is why he didn’t have to use the safety tether to prevent him from falling. He assessed his inability to walk that high wire without the pole before he ever stepped on it, and he totally relied on the balancing pole the entire way. Consistent peace in life comes when we prepare our hearts to realize our need for Jesus, and our willingness to depend on, and receive the blessing of balance through Him.  It isn’t about waiting until all our resources are proven inadequate, it is starting the walk across life’s traps and pitfalls, knowing it can only be accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 11:28-30 Amplified Bible (AMP)

28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.]

29 Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls.

30 For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.

100_1462

Many of us have experienced a tumble off life’s high wire. I know I’ve gotten wet many times, as I dangled above life threatening waters, saved by His grace alone. Had it not been for the safety tether of God’s saving, sustaining grace, I would have fallen completely into the turmoil, never to have recovered. But, praise God  He loves us and watches over us in such a way that He is able to rescue us from the foolishness of not relying on Jesus to balance our lives.

Galatians 5:25 Amplified Bible (AMP)

25 If we live by the [Holy] Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. [If by the Holy Spirit we have our life in God, let us go forward walking in line, our conduct controlled by the Spirit.]

My heart yearns to live a life patterned after Nik Wallenda’s balancing ability, entrusting my life to the balance provided by Jesus, not needing to be rescued from the waters of despair, because He helps me walk over them.

John 16:33 Amplified Bible (AMP)

33 I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]

Connecting, with love

Donna

I’m thankful…

…for God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit…for the cross and all that Jesus made available through that cross to those willing to receive it

…for grandchildren and sunny days at the beach

…for sunrises, even when the red sky foretells of coming storms…because my hope is based on Jesus Christ and nothing less

..for peaceful sunsets at the end of blessed days

..for spring days abounding with flowers in all their varied colors, sizes and aromas

…summer green all over

..for fall days and nights and brightly painted mountains

…winter beauty with mountains dressed in snow

..for the Body of Christ…brothers and sister, near and far…related to each other by the Holy Spirit…joined in worship, praise, prayer, service, ministry and fellowship…knitted together in love

…did I mention grandchildren…and a husband, a daughter, a son, and their spouses…a mother, a father, a sister, a brother and their spouses…aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, and grandparents, long gone, but still close to my heart

…for all the joys of nature

…mountain streams

…for rain

…lakes, rivers, and creeks

…gardens, orchards, farms….provision of food

So many more people and things to be grateful for…friends…new and old, homes, comfort, love and acceptance…safety, good health and strength…helpers, servers, supporters and mentors…provision and jobs…laughter, fun and adventure…seasons, climates, holidays, celebrations… people of all nations…visitors, guest, neighbors and strangers…memories, and anticipation of the future…painful lessons learned… fears overcome…tears shed with loved ones…

How do I wrap this up?  During this week before Thanksgiving, as I become still to consider, the good in life is without measure. Even the bad is made right by God’s grace and loving kindness. To abide in Christ is a win-win. He causes us to walk in His favor and He cause what would be considered painful or wrong to be made favorable for our good.  So, I praise you Lord with all my heart! I thank you for each and every day You have given me, and for whatever lies ahead.

Isaiah 30:18 Amplified Bible (AMP)

18 And therefore the Lord [earnestly] waits [expecting, looking, and longing] to be gracious to you; and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you and show loving-kindness to you. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are all those who [earnestly] wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him [for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship]!

Connecting, with love

Donna

Mama,Mom,Mother-gift from God

My mother’s  eyes are brown, and shine with tenderness and compassion. Every time I see her looking at me, I feel her love.   She uses her eyes to detect the needs of others,  and to find the positive, more than the negative. Those brown eyes have darted about with humor,  have issued warnings of concern,  have expressed a knowing understanding, and have hinted of  joyous surprises to come.

Matthew 6:22 (MSG) “Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light….

Occasionally those eyes have cried with sadness, grief and pain. However, as quickly as the tears appeared, they even more quickly disappeared. She most often has finished a time of crying by saying something funny, or offering a unique perspective, as a way of signaling that despair was finished. Mom isn’t one who spends time talking about others or complaining.  I don’t remember seeing her overwhelmed or frustrated for any length of time.

Philippians 4: 4-7 (NIV) 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God,which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

She loves to shop, even if she doesn’t buy anything. She is meticulous with her appearance, and it is always a delight to behold her beauty. She has always maintained a clean, comfortable home and lovely landscaped flowers around the house. Mom can find beauty in the simple, as well as, the profound things of life. Her inner beauty radiates with her words, which are gracious and soft-spoken.  She is utterly supportive of her family, making each of us feel important. Those that know my Mom respect and honor her, because she has first respected and honored them.

1 Peter 3:3-4 Amplified Bible (AMP)Let not yours be the [merely] external adorning with [elaborate]interweaving and knotting of the hair, the wearing of jewelry, or changes of clothes;But let it be the inward adorning and beauty of the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, which [is not anxious or wrought up, but] is very precious in the sight of God.

She has sent hundreds of greeting cards to encourage others, and has made countless dishes to serve families suffering from grief or sickness.  Our family continues to enjoy her wonderful cooking as well. Forget the restaurants when she has prepared a Sunday dinner! She is a gracious hostess. I learned how to add water to the gravy and cut the meat into smaller pieces, increasing the amount of portions, when unexpected guest showed up at mealtime… and to smile as you served it.  Have you ever walked into a room and smelled cinnamon, either in the food, or from a candle or incense? It is such a warm, inviting smell. You feel comfort, and you want to stay there, appreciating the scent. That is what it is like to enter my Mom’s home.

1 Peter 4:9 (NIV)  Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.

At 85 she enjoys  Facebook, email, surfing the internet and playing computer games. Mom and Dad regularly attend a Senior Citizen Center for fellowship meals, special events, and game nights. She is still active on a church committee that provides meals when needed. She has recently acquired a laptop computer. Mom is well-informed about political and world events, and able to converse with confident knowledge. She is a huge Atlanta Braves fan and knows the players by name and by the positions they play, as well as the team’s standings. She is vibrant with life and has a spunky humor. Mom, with all her 5′ 5″ self, can climb up in their Chevy Tahoe, and maneuver through city traffic without a qualm. Her middle name is “I have my bags packed and I’m ready to travel”. She and my husband have a long running joke that she is his favorite mother in law…..actually she is his only mother in law.

Psalm 92:12-14 (AMP)12 The [uncompromisingly] righteous shall flourish like the palm tree [be long-lived, stately, upright, useful, and fruitful]; they shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon [majestic, stable, durable, and incorruptible].13 Planted in the house of the Lord, they shall flourish in the courts of our God.14 [Growing in grace] they shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap [of spiritual vitality] and [rich in the] verdure [of trust, love, and contentment].

She has spoiled my dad with her devotion and preference to his needs, and he adores her. She is his loyal friend, and steadfast companion. They are such a good team, both helping the other. Their love was a stable foundation for my brother, sister and I, and now a continued blessing for grandchildren and great-grandchildren to witness.

Proverbs 31:11-12 (AMP)11 The heart of her husband trusts in her confidently and relies on and believes in her securely, so that he has no lack of [honest] gain or need of [dishonest] spoil.12 She comforts, encourages,and does him only good as long as there is life within her.

Now, after listing all these attributes, there remains an even greater asset about  Mom. I can’t say that, in my youth, I ever perceived her as a strong, spiritual woman. She had always held back that part of her life, hidden in her heart. She just lived it and didn’t say much about her faith. Also, I think it was because, most of the time, life didn’t force her to reveal her strength. That is until she was diagnosed with colon cancer when she was 72.

I remember getting the call about the diagnosis. I went to Mom and Dad’s house, dreading having to face her. I anticipated Mom would be fearful and inconsolable, because after all, we had never experienced the threat of cancer within our immediate family. Mom and I hugged for several minutes and she cried. I cried. Then she took me by the shoulders and told me she was going to be fine. As I wanted to comfort her, she was the one doing the comforting. I saw her strength and determination, as her walk with the Lord became clear for all of us to witness.  Her faith was ready to accept that her God would carry her through this  attack of cancer, and He did. During that time of several surgeries, numerous hospitalizations, chemo, IV’s and chest ports, temporary hair loss, mouth ulcers, nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue, and pain, I saw that my mom was indeed a strong woman of faith. She handled every ordeal, with courage and hope because she kept her eyes on Jesus. Today she is cancer free.

Proverbs 31:28 (NKJV)Her children rise up and call her blessed;Her husband also, and he praises her…

I’ve been blessed that I was born into a nurturing  family. As I write this post, I realize there are those that will read this who have not had a good relationship with their mother. In fact, you may have grown up without a mother. Here’s the real message I want to share with you. You are loved by Someone who desires to nurture and care for you, even into your old age.  God’s word states:

Psalm 27:10 (CEB)10 Even if my father and mother left me all alone, the Lord would take me in.

God’s love is able to heal your hurts, and fill that lonely ache in your heart. You don’t have to feel remorseful for what has been lost or stolen from your life. He also says in His word:

Psalm 68:6 (GNT)He gives the lonely a home to live in and leads prisoners out into happy freedom…

With or without a good mother, God can cause happiness to abound. He makes all things right. Coming to Him, through His Son, gives you a home and a family that lasts forever. I thank God for my Mom, and for His love through loving moms, and His love… even without loving moms.

connecting, with love

DK

Salty Grace

Job 6:6 –  (GNT)  But who can eat flat, unsalted food?…

Throughout history,  the value of salt has ranked high in commerce and daily living.  Salt adds  flavor to food;  it is a cleansing agent, and a resource to promote health and healing.  Salt represents purity, hospitality, durability.

For anyone who has experienced a salt free diet for any period of time, you understand why Job compares the counsel he has received from his three friends with unsalted food. It isn’t palatable to his soul anymore than unsalted food is palatable to our taste buds. He has just experienced some of  life’s most dreaded losses, the loss of his children, his health, his possessions and his livelihood.  In the face of all this grief he also has lost his honored place within his society. As Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar, his friends, attempt to comfort him, the ineffective, graceless words they use, even with elements of truth, cause Job more pain. His three friends are unable to encourage, offer hope or point him toward a restorative, redemptive God, even to the point that all three receive a rebuke from God. Job is cast down, judged, criticized, misunderstood,  and patronized. He is left defensive, graceless, without hope.  Job declares in chapter 6 verse 30 (AMP), “Is there wrong on my tongue? Cannot my taste discern what is destructive?”

Finally, when the three men and Job can find nothing else to say,  a fifth man, Elihu begins to express his thoughts. He is a younger man, who has sat quietly listening to all the dialogue between the four men, Job, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar.  Spiritually, the number five symbolizes grace. With this fifth main character, Elihu, grace is factored into the equation. Elihu’s name means “He is my God” and his father’s name, Barachel, means “God blesses“.

In chapters 32-37, Elihu repeatedly offers grace to Job. He affirms Job’s place before God 33:6.  In 33: 7 (AMP), Elihu declares to Job, I shall not make you afraid, neither shall my pressure be heavy upon you. Numerous times in Elihu’s dialogue, he encourages Job to trust in God, while correctly presenting a clear insight into God’s gracious heart. Obviously, Elihu knows God, has had time to become acquainted with His character, and can share  from a genuine overflow of his own experience with God. Elihu teaches, corrects and challenges Job’s self-righteous thoughts, while lovingly encouraging him and directing him to trust God. Balance is the key to fruitful ministry of reconciliation. Too much salt in the soil prevents or retards any type of plant growth, while  gracious words are never flattery. I once heard someone say the best way to correct a child or offer corrective counsel is to mimic a Oreo cookie, a sliver of corrective insight sandwiched between two encouragements. Elihu didn’t exactly follow this pattern, but  his words of correction are often surrounded by words of comfort and hope.
Elihu declares in chapter 32 :17-22 – (NKJV)

 17 I also will answer my part, I too will declare my opinion. 18 For I am full of words; The spirit within me compels me. 19 Indeed my belly is like wine that has no vent;It is ready to burst like new wineskins.20 I will speak, that I may find relief;I must open my lips and answer.21 Let me not, I pray, show partiality to anyone;Nor let me flatter any man.22 For I do not know how to flatter, Else my Maker would soon take me away.

In Jewish culture, the meaning of names holds great significance. I do not believe it was accidental that Elihu, whose name reminds that God is my God, speaks to Job just before God speaks to him. It also was not  coincidental that Elihu’s father Barachel, God blesses, was also mentioned at this precise time.  God called Elihu to speak words that would focus Job on a correct representation of His character. Ultimately, God’s own words lead Job to a yielded place of rest and a better understanding of himself before God. The final outcome is that Job receives abundant blesses from the Lord. He experiences restoration by the Restorer Himself.
Consider two side of pain.  One side is seeing the pain that someone else faces. The other side is experiencing the pain ourselves. A prepared heart stands ready to deal with life, come what may.  The world, and those around us, need words of grace that are, like salt, healing and restoring, and we also need that same grace for our own issues. We need to know the Lord so intimately, that our faith in Him does not waver. A prepared heart is ready to accept, even in pain, by faith, that God is my God, and that He blesses.There should be a readiness to love with His love, through His power, so that grace is always the automatic response.

There is so much more I don’t understand about the Book of  Job. However,  I wanted to share what He has taught me….so far. I have been on both sides of pain and have come to appreciate grace so very much. It truly is amazing. There is still at least one more blog about Job, but I am waiting on the Lord to help me understand it more clearly 🙂

connecting with love
Donna