How to smell like a dog

I was out walking a friend’s dog this morning and noticing how she stops to smell everything.  As in everything.  A patch of grass.  Smell.  A patch of grass two inches away from the last.  Smell.  A crack in the concrete.  Smell.  Oy!  And, while I understand the whole dog physiology of smelling and marking and all that, it’s hard for me, being a human, to understand the appeal of smelling all that stuff.  To me it just looks like a patch of grass or a crack in the sidewalk.  Big deal.  There’s hundreds of both.

 

But then I thought- I’m only looking at it from my surface, 5’2”off the ground perspective, and she’s seeing it from a much deeper, and closer to the ground perspective.  Plus, she’s seeing with more than her eyes; she is using her other senses to figure out what is really there and what has been there in the past.  She’s seeing deeper- or maybe I should say, smelling deeper.

 

And I thought, how often do I do the same with my life, with others, with myself, with God?  Judge from the surface, instead of “using my nose” to really figure out what’s really happening, what the truth is.  That’s hard to do- mostly, I must admit, because it requires time and is inconvenient  to my scheduled busy-ness.

 

But if the things I am reacting to or doing are not based around truth, do they really matter?  They’re just empty fluff.

 

God, help me to see with Your eyes and to take the time to see with truth.  Help me to react only out of love, and to know that what is important to You is always worth taking time for.

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Expecting the Unicorn, Getting the Vacuum.

Expectations.

 

You know that Christmas gift you thought would be a unicorn that instead turns out to be a second hand vacuum cleaner, or that book you thought would be so cool and instead was something you could have written yourself….when you were four years old….

 

Or more seriously, that job you thought you’d retire from that gave you a pink slip yesterday (and not the kind that goes under your now-threadbare skirt), or that baby you long for so much and the pregnancy test that came back negative…again….or the friend/spouse/family member you thought would always have your back and who now barely speaks to you.

 

Expectations.

 

So many things in life are based around what we expect.  And it seems that we are often wrong.  So, what’s the point?  Should we just not expect anything and live with the lowest standards possible, in order to not get hurt?

 

Expectations are, at their core, hope.  Hope is listed in II Corinthians 13 as one of the three greatest things in existence, and is also listed elsewhere as a byproduct of living by God’s Spirit and as He desires.  So, it goes to reason, that hope is a wonderful thing.  It heals wounds by the mere possibility of it being possible; it gives joy and light in a dark place by the mere suggestion of its existence. Hope assists in being faithful to another; in persevering through a tough situation; in giving a task or life meaning.  Hope is a strong cord at the core of all heartbeats- the expectation of another heartbeat.

 

All of which sound like really good things.  So why are expectations so often, well, wrong?  Are we putting our hope in the wrong thing? Or are we just assuming something, instead of expecting it?  Is there a difference?

 

Actually, there is.  Expectation is something that you want to happen, but that you aren’t sure will happen. The dictionary defines it as: eager anticipation; belief about (or mental picture of) the future; wishing with full confidence of fulfillment; the feeling that something is about to happen.

Assumption, meanwhile, is something that you think will happen, and are taking for granted that it will, or accepting it as truth without proof.  Assumption is, at its core, entitlement, or possibly pride.  It hurts relationships by putting itself first; it brings the darkness of self-absorption to an otherwise light situation; it takes all the meaning in life and makes it about only the self.  Not a really good thing.

 

So, I will be the first to admit, that what I so often think I am expecting, I am actually assuming.  For example, that pregnancy test negative would hurt a lot less if I looked at it as the anticipation of something that will happen, and not getting consumed by the idea that it has to happen NOW, and assuming that I know best how it should be.

 

It boils down to focus and control.  Who you are focusing on is who has control of your life, and who has the control shapes whether you eagerly expect something or selfishly assume it.  I know for myself, I definitely want my focus and control to be with God, because I definitely don’t want to carry around the burden of trying to make my life shape what I think it should.  UGH! TOO MUCH WORK!!  He’s way better at that than I am, and He sees the whole picture.  And I know that He will take care of me, and does all the time.

 

This is both an expectation and a bit of an assumption….

But that’s a whole other topic….  🙂

 

Focusing on the freight train, or a paradigm shift

Sometimes there are moments in life where your paradigm and thought changes so fast, it feels like a freight train just roared past at 200 mph, 6 inches away, and now your face is sideways, looking at the train and trying to understand it more, unable to understand all the things you thought pre-train, and knowing you will never be the same again.

 

I have just recently had one of those moments.  I was thinking about how much Christ gave in order to show His love, and how much we give and sacrifice in order to show our love to Him.  But then I thought- Wait!  Is it really a sacrifice?  It’s not easy, but, if we keep the mindset of the hugeness of the sacrifice, what’s the point?  I can give myself; someone else can give their selves and a ton of money, Jesus dies and gave everything to be with us, does it really matter? 

 

No, it doesn’t.

 

Now, don’t give up on me yet.  Let me explain.  On a certain plain, yes, of course all of those above things matter very much.  Especially what Jesus did for all of humanity.  It matters more than anything else ever has.

 

But.

 

Those things happened in order to pay the price for something else.  If what you are obtaining in return is worth the cost (or more than it), does the cost matter?  It’s like selling everything you have to obtain your deepest dream and desire.  Once you obtain that, would you bemoan the loss of all that you’d paid?  Would it really matter?

 

I give Christ my all, my entire life and breath and all my steps and existence for eternity.  In return I get ever-increasing, ever closer knowledge and access of His heart.

 

He gave everything for me, and in return, He obtains my willingness to love and desire Him in return.

 

While I cannot speak for Him, I know I’m getting back infinitely more than I am paying….

 

Which makes the cost not matter.

 

And I know, for me, I want to focus solely on Him and all He has for me, weather I perceive it as bad or good, because, if I focus on what I’m giving up, it’s much harder to give up and it’s much harder to receive what He has for me.

 

And that is a sideways-face-train-bypass moment that I never want to get over.

The (in?)sanity of buying a field

I was reading more in Sharing God’s Heart for the Poor, and this chapter really struck me about a passage I’ve read many times but never really understood until now, so here is my comments on it, which will be my last blog about this particular book.

 

Picture this- you are living in a country on the brink of ruin, surrounded by armies that are attacking you.  You have no option to pretend it isn’t happening, as God keeps telling you to tell others that it is happening, and your country will fall, along with a lot of the people.  Everyone’s scared, everyone thinks you’re crazy, no one listens.  You lose heart and hope.

Then God does something really insane.  He tells you to buy land that is now behind enemy lines, land that, for all intents and purposes, is useless to you or anyone who is not the invading army.  Your cousin owns it and wants to dump it off on you- you’re the crazy prophet right? Maybe you’ll actually buy it- to get a little money.  And he asks full price for it, to add insult to injury.  And God tells you to buy it!

So what do you do?  You buy it.  Add to the rumor mill of your need for padded walls….

So, the million dollar question is- just WHY does God want you to buy this worthless land?  What’s the point- he’s already told you that you’re going into captivity, with no promise of you personally coming out alive. Why does He keep making you look so foolish?  And, at the root of it, what does the purchase say about God?

It’s all about redemption.

And worth.

And trust.

The land is seen as worthless, but is sold at a premium because it had value to the buyer- and the real buyer was God, who told Jeremiah to buy it.

The land is seen as a dead end, but it is sold under a long-lasting contract, as a long-term investment in life.

The land is seen as something unobtainable, yet the deed is placed where it will last for a long time- until the time that it is obtainable again.

 

Now change the land into a person.

Who the world sees as worthless, a throwaway, God sees as very very valuable and spends everything to obtain.

Who the world sees as a dead end, beyond repair and too broken, God invests into for their whole life, seeking to heal.

Who the world sees as too closed and hurt to ever be touched, God works on slowly, over time, until they can finally open up and be touched by Him.

I’m ashamed to say that often times ‘the world’ includes Christianity.  But, everything God does really does look foolish.  As a good friend of mine says- God really does have a massive sense of humor.  So having a heart of compassion, to see the real value, often times is the ability to step out and look foolish.  And that’s where the trust part comes in.  Trusting that God will make good on His promises of restoration and love.

Just something to think about.  You can read the story here, or look it up and find the surrounding verses too…  J

 

Jeremiah 32:8-17 NIV Now it happened just as the LORD had said! My cousin Hanamel came to me in the courtyard of the guardhouse. He said to me, ‘Buy my field which is at Anathoth in the territory of the tribe of Benjamin. Buy it for yourself since you are entitled as my closest relative to take possession of it for yourself.’ When this happened, I recognized that the LORD had indeed spoken to me.  9 So I bought the field at Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel. I weighed out seven ounces of silver and gave it to him to pay for it. 10 I signed the deed of purchase, sealed it, and had some men serve as witnesses to the purchase. I weighed out the silver for him on a scale. 11 There were two copies of the deed of purchase. One was sealed and contained the order of transfer and the conditions of purchase. The other was left unsealed.  12 I took both copies of the deed of purchase and gave them to Baruch son of Neriah, the son of Mahseiah. I gave them to him in the presence of my cousin Hanamel, the witnesses who had signed the deed of purchase, and all the Judeans who were housed in the courtyard of the guardhouse.  13 In the presence of all these people I instructed Baruch, 14 ‘The LORD God of Israel who rules over all says, “Take these documents, both the sealed copy of the deed of purchase and the unsealed copy. Put them in a clay jar so that they may be preserved for a long time to come.”’ 15 For the LORD God of Israel who rules over all says, “Houses, fields, and vineyards will again be bought in this land.”’  

 16 “After I had given the copies of the deed of purchase to Baruch son of Neriah, I prayed to the LORD, 17 ‘Oh, Lord GOD, you did indeed make heaven and earth by your mighty power and great strength. Nothing is too hard for you!  (Copied from theword.net Bible software)

 

Of Sheep-Wrangling, Kings, and Value

So, I’m reading Samuel 16, when Samuel anoints David to be king.  It seems like every time I hear anything on that passage, it is centered around the line of God looking after the heart, not the outward appearances.  And that is wonderful and amazing and true and of value.  But, maybe there’s more than that.  After all, it is a whole chapter, not just a single verse.

Rereading it, I was struck at how David wasn’t even there when Samuel was making his selection.  He invited Jesse and his sons to come to the event, yet David did not initially come.  Was he not invited in turn by his father?  Was he just way too busy with sheep-wrangling?  Was the Lord’s call not important to him?  Was he just always lost at events, unable to really fit in or find his place among 8 older brothers?  Although the Bible does not relate all the events around this why of the lack of David attending the event, I tend to think, based on how his brothers treated him with goliath, which is the only other account of them interacting with each other that I know of, I think it was a combination of inability to fit in and being busy.  I think God was very important to him, even at this young age, because of all that the Psalm say, and it seems that David was quite close to his father, as he sent him around to do different things and seemed to trust him, which comes from a good relationship and implies that he would not be forgotten in an invitation to do something as wonderful as attend a sacrifice with Samuel.

So, busyness.  Way too much.  It can keep us from the greatest things in our lives- we all know that!  We don’t know just when that moment will be, and it can get lost if we aren’t careful.  Yes, sheep are important, and serving, and washing dishes and laundry, and working, and all the other multitudes of things we fill our lives with.  But don’t forget to make time for God- and most activities, we can still be conversing with God in our minds….

But, to me, the biggest part of that is the not fitting in.  David, the future king of Israel, who shaped the rest of their history even now, from whose lineage Jesus was born, was treated as nothing by his brothers.  Perhaps they were just busy with their own lives, but it doesn’t seem like they helped him with the sheep- he says he killed a lion and bear by himself-, they didn’t value his time, work, or feelings- they belittled and disrespected him when he came to them at the field with Goliath-, and that, at least the latter, was after he had been anointed king!

Which makes me think- how often is someone I see as ‘little’ really a king?  In truth, we all are.  We were all created by God; we are His children, which makes us royalty!  We are masters of the earth, with the power to move (figurative and I believe literal) mountains if we let Jesus work through us.  So we all have an enormous amount of value.  No one should ever be invisible to me, or be around me and feel that they are.

God, give me Your eyes to see like You do!!!