Patience with Their Journey

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Life is a journey. God is patient.

As a young man C.S. Lewis abandoned his Christian beliefs and became an avowed atheist. His lifestyle was one that raised more than a few Christian’s eyebrows. They shook their heads, pronounced judgment, predicted his destination, and then added, “I will pray for him.”

What they didn’t know was his heart. They didn’t know his pain. They didn’t hear him pleading in the night for God to spare his mother from death. And when his mother died, in his pain he decided there was no God.

But life is a journey and God is patient.

The life-path of C.S. Lewis led him back to God and he became one of the greatest Christian apologists of our time.

There was a young man, Denny Ezell, who did not live the conventional life. He had a hard time fitting the mold society made for young men. As he struggled to fit into that mold and not being able to, he made a lot of bad decisions. These decisions affected his family and friends. His mother cried herself to sleep many nights. More than a few Christian’s eyebrows went to their hairline. They shook their heads, pronounced judgment and predicted his destination if he didn’t straighten up. Of course adding, “I will pray for him.”

What they didn’t know was Denny’s heart. They didn’t know his conversations with God. They didn’t know his struggle to be the man God created him to be.

But life is a journey and God is patient.

Denny’s wife and four children had moved to a tiny community in Louisiana. Denny joined them and in that little town he found God’s path. In the short time he lived there, he impacted the people of that small town with his love for God, people, and life.

Less than two weeks ago Denny died from a heat stroke.  He was only 32. But in his short life, his love for God and people triumphed over any bad choices he had ever made. At his funeral, the little church in his community burst at the seams with mourners. I attended his memorial in North Little Rock, expecting around 75 people give or take. There were 550 people. 550! You see, he loved others without judgment because he understood their pain. Denny could relate to their frustrations, disappointment, and struggles. He was a trophy of God’s love and grace.

Denny offered hope.

Why am I writing this? Because there may be someone in your life who has been consigned to the hottest part of hell because of the way they are currently living their lives. I know I do. And I suppose that is why I’m so sensitive to this. Even though the scriptures teach the opposite, it is so easy to put sin on a scale making one worse than the other and from that we shake our heads, pronounce judgment and predict the outcome, never forgetting to say we will pray.

But do we? Really?

Two of my sons made very insightful observations. Charles asked me once, “Aren’t you glad that God released us from the burden of judging others and instead told us to love them.”

I am glad. Very glad.

But Linda, you may be thinking, we are to expose sin. What I have to say about that is there is a fine line between judging and discerning. In judging the attitude is one of self-righteousness. In discernment, we are truly concerned, our hearts are heavy, our mercy is tender, and yes, we DO pray—earnestly.

My son Rob reminded me that we are on a journey in this life and it is up to God when He intersects that journey and sets us on His path. Pastor Dick King said, it is all about God’s love and His love story for us. We are all a part of God’s love story.

So remember, life is a journey and God is patient. May we grasp this truth and be patient with those we don’t understand, those who walk to the beat of a different drummer, or whose lives are offensive to us. And for those of us who have someone in our lives who are the cause of eyebrows arching, may we find hope in this truth.

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Reframing Our Focus

 

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“Our life always expresses the result of our dominant thoughts”~ Soren Kierkegaard

 

There is nothing like early mornings in the garden for quiet contemplation. I never know what I am going to hear from God while basking in the cool shades of green and dodging honeybees I disturb while seeking fat butterbeans.

This morning was no exception.

While peering through the vines, I noticed the leaves at the bottom were yellow. Upon further inspection I found a few bugs. I made a mental note to take care of those hungry critters. With my mind on the vine’s problems, I couldn’t see the beans. I scanned the leaves and saw nothing but lush vegetation. And then, my focus cleared and just a breath away from my nose hung a cluster of fat pods.

So it is with my life sometimes. I focus on the problems so much that I miss the fruit. Yes, we need to deal with problems, but we shouldn’t let it hijack our vision. How often are we so distracted that we miss what we seek and it is right there in front of our nose?

This week, take a deep breath. Get a plan for the problem, then step back from it and see the fruit.

 

MEOW REMIX

Cats have always been a part of my life, that is, until my precious grandson developed a serious allergy to them. After that the only way I could have a relationship with my favorite animal is if they stayed outside. But that just didn’t seem possible. I needed a cat more comfortable outside than inside. One that knew how to survive in the wild and in all kinds of weather. You don’t find that in your typical house cat.

A couple of months ago, while my husband and I spent a quiet evening on our front porch, a stray cat came to visit. We shared our snack with the friendly feline. And, as you have already guessed, her visits became quite regular. We called her the kitty who comes for dinner.

One day we got quite a surprise when she hauled her four kittens to our deck. Two were black, one a tabby like its mother, and the last one was gray.  She almost had them weaned. The problem was they were feral and would have nothing to do with us.

Then just as suddenly as the momma cat drifted into our lives, she disappeared. So did all of the kittens except for the gray one. She stayed behind but hid from me every time I came outside.

Then it hit me. This kitty fit all the requirements for my perfect outside pet. The problem? She was as wild as they came and even the door opening sent her sailing off the deck. But I decided to try and tame her anyway. 

I named her Willa, after Willa Cather. Cather, get it?

The long process of training began. I used canned mackerel as my bribe. But as hungry as she was, she just did not trust me. I spoke to her in my most endearing, quiet coo.

No dice.

What to do? An idea came to me. Years ago I raised Shaded Silver Persians. I remembered how the mother cat used to call her kittens, so I tried it. Willa’s ears perked up and she made a beeline toward me. However, she stopped about four feet away because while I sounded like momma, I sure didn’t look like momma. I tossed a piece of fish to her and she devoured it. As long as I meowed, she stayed put. If I spoke in English she scurried away. Over the following days I continued speaking her language and feeding her.  However, she never got close enough for me to touch her.

The next week Willa began to trust me more. She came closer and ate from my hand. And I could mix in my English with my cat-speak and she wouldn’t run. The week after that, while she ate, I could reach behind her and stroke her back. Two days later I could also scratch behind her ears.

Last week I picked her up and held her close, cooing in English and barely meowing at all. Now when I come out with her food, she runs up to me. And as long as I sit down, she will get into my lap, give me a few nose-bumps and knead me with her paws. The process is slow and ongoing. She still will not let me walk over and pick her up. But she will.

You know? The same process I used to earn Willa’s trust can be used to promote trust and communication between people. The key is to help them in their time of need and be willing to speak their emotional language instead of expecting them to speak ours. Over time as trust is built we can use both their language and ours. Then the day will come when they trust us and understand our language. All it takes is patience and the willingness to enter their world.

Words to stay married by! Do you have anything to add?

Claire Croxton Romance Author

My lovely niece is getting married on Saturday, the first of the grandchildren to take the plunge. Yesterday, my oldest niece and brother and sister-in-law hosted an impressive BBQ and shower for the couple. Since the wedding present isn’t finished yet and probably won’t be until oh, I don’t know, December or so, I gave the happy couple a series of black and white photographs for their kitchen. I also gave them:

Tips for a Successful Marriage from Claire’s Kitchen.

Ingredients:

Love

Kindness

Respect

Understanding

Patience

Friendship

Growth

Sharing

Trust

Caring

Many think that love is all that is needed for a marriage to thrive, but love alone grows stale without mixing in kindness and respect.

Similarly, combining two individuals for too long can result in bitterness. Each must have their own unique time and interests before they can properly complement the other.

Apply liberal amounts of patience and understanding…

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