The Jitterbug

It’s raining again, but I don’t mind.

I have in one hand a large mug filled with freshly brewed Starbucks coffee, and in my other hand my Bible, pen, and journal; I am sitting in my over-stuffed brown leather loveseat. Behind me on my kitchen table, a candle is lit, carrying the soft aroma of an old country kitchen; cinnamon and cloves. I have music playing, “David Nevue’s solo piano; While the Trees Sleep”. As I sit here I am overwhelmed by great stillness, and again, overjoyed with this great gift I have been given of leading a life that affords me this precious time at the beginning of each day.

“How do I thank you O God for moments like this? There is no where else I desire to be, then right here with You…..”.

I begin to read my bible. I always begin my reading with a Proverb that corresponds with the day of the month, and so today I begin to read in Proverbs 16.

Verse one: “the plans of THE HEART belong to man, BUT the ANSWER of the tongue is from the Lord.”

Verse two: “COMMIT your work to the Lord, and your plans WILL BE established.”

My mind began to process again what I was presently doing with my life and today’s blog started in my head, so I made my way down to my little office; music still playing, candle still burning, my coffee and bible in hand…to write.

Stillness and work.

My work is to write, I know this now, but words are nowhere to be found when my life is filled with busy-ness.

“Commit your work TO THE LORD…”

This scripture brought reflection upon the life I have led. I thought of how from my childhood God has been preparing me for this path of work; and I remembered the Jitterbug.

Every summer my family would drive North to a camping ground located in Gowganda, Ontario. There at the old “Sportsman’s Camp” we would pitch our camper for two weeks.

My Dad loved to take us out fishing. My favorite time of day to climb into that old aluminum boat was at dusk when everything in creation had come to a quiet halt. The water’s surface became like a large mirror, still and quiet. I remember as a child being mesmerized by this great stillness, and my child eyes feasting on every reflection I could find, the shoreline with its trees and rocks, and the sunset appearing duplicated everywhere I searched. I remember feeling at “home” in this great stillness and solitude.

Dad would take the boat to a distant shoreline defined by fallen trees emerging from the water. He would shut off the boat’s motor, drop the anchor and prepare our fishing rods. We were encouraged to speak in whispers to keep from “spooking” the fish (Bass are illusive fish dad would tell us). Dad would attach “fake bait” to my fishing rod. The fake bait had a name  of ‘Jitterbug’. This bait was designed to make a quiet noise of bubbling across the surface of the water which would then spike the curiosity of hungry Bass to emerge up out of the water and bite it. This ornamental piece of bait could only be used effectively when the surface of the water was perfectly still.

So I would sit and wait patiently, casting my fishing line and reeling it in, all the while being fully aware of the blanket of stillness I sat under. The Jitterbug spoke lessons of calm, stillness, patience, observance and ultimately lessons of the rewards of BEING STILL.

My dad was teaching me far more than learning how to fish for Bass. He was teaching me an art and a discipline.

As I reflect back upon my personal history this rainy morning, I see a repeated recurring theme. 

Stillness gives great strength, perspective and peace of mind and soul.

“For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, ‘In returning and REST you shall be saved; in QUIETNESS and in TRUST shall be your STRENGTH” (Isaiah 30:15).

BE STILL and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

….. 

Thank you dad for introducing me to Mr. Jitterbug.

PRAYER

It falls under a sub-heading: “David’s Prayer”…………

“Then King David went in and SAT before the Lord and said, “Who am I , O Lord God, and what is my house that you have brought me thus far?” (1 Chron. 17:16).

I began a study through 1st Chronicles, I have felt led to study here for a while and I discovered (once I breezed past all the genealogy) that this first book is much about worship.

The verse above created heaving intense desire within my soul and I cried out to God, ” THIS is the place I want to LIVE from!”

How do I describe what rolled over within me? It created passion and longing for MORE of God, just that one little verse, and if you read the rest of the passage you will see what I discovered.

David had an intimate relationship with God. David was a worshipful man, a praying man. He was a man who lived out of the realities of confrontations he met with as a human, and desired God intensely in the midst of them. We are so blessed to read of this chronic wrestling match He had between life on earth and a soul longing for more of God.

When is the last time you found a secret place to sit before the Lord? When is the last time you stilled your soul long enough to discover that sweet communion of deep calling to deep?

The Word of God is FULL of truth and instruction regarding prayer.

Prayer is a result of worship, of knowing the One with Whom you seek audience.

Can you picture David?  Sitting with a posture of humility, need, and of longing? Legs cannot walk when they are bent beneath your body.

I LONG to worship, to sit at the Almighty’s feet…to know that as I do, secrets of the unseen realm are revealed, strength is given to live, and my life is traded in for His.

Do you know how Webster’s dictionary defines the word “pray”? : “to address God with adoration, pleading, or thanksgiving.”

To “address” God? I suppose this is good, technical and proper “english”, but since my grammar and spelling already stink maybe this simpleton can get away with some other words.

As David sat there, his first words were words of deep humility, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?”

He “addresses” God and asks a question that reflects the posture of his body; “WHO AM I THAT YOU…”

Have you tasted of this deep transaction of soul? If not, why not? What are your questions? Is your God too aloof? Is your God real? Has your God saved you, and if so, from what? What have you been taught about who He is?  Do you LONG to be with him in prayer?

Listen to what David wrote in the psalms: “TRUST in Him AT ALL TIMES, O people; POUR OUT YOUR HEART BEFORE HIM: God IS a REFUGE for us. ” (psalm 62:8)

Have you made prayer into a recipe that you can never partake of ? David could say “Pour our your heart”, because this is how the man lived. To pour out means to empty a vessel of its contents! Maybe too many live with chronic pre-occupation;  they play at an illusive game of hide and seek, with themselves….maybe? Perhaps? I dunno….

“Pray WITHOUT CEASING” (1 Thess. 5:17)

I don’t mean to be smug! I started talking to Jesus when I was four years old, it was instinctive to me, I knew He was there, I knew He was always listening and I knew I needed Him desperately even as a little girl.

I wanted Him to know everything I was thinking and feeling and seeing, I loved to ask Him questions, and I loved to hear and see Him speaking to me through creation and His word and music, EVEN AS a little girl. So What would prompt a little girl to be obsessed with God? Hmmm…do you think maybe God Himself? It had NOTHING to do with my life, I am just a little piece of sand on a vast expanse of shoreline.

If He has set eternity on the heart of every human being (Ecc. 3:11) then within my child heart was a built in “homing” device, searching, longing for the more of life; reaching, seeking and learning what it means to love the God who created me; and guess what? That same device is within you too, calling out in a whisper, for you to sit awhile and speak with the One who knows you, loves you, desires you.

Listen to the words of Jesus:

“And when you pray, do not heap up EMPTY PHRASES (I suggest that perhaps these are words not spoken from the heart?) as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your heavenly Father KNOWS what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as IT IS in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, AS WE ALSO have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Matt.6:7-13)

If you really don’t know where to start, then start with Jesus’ instruction on how to pray, and then keep praying!!

Drop, Walk and Roll…

How full would your ocean be if each time you waited upon the Lord you added a cup of water?

Waiting upon the Lord is a common ingredient to our recipe of faith in Him. Say like sugar to cookies, muffins and cakes, or yeast to bread, or salt to a bowl of oatmeal.

Isn’t it interesting  that the ingredient necessary to walk with Jesus Christ is the very thing we seek to eliminate from our lives? “Pleeease, no more waiting!” we cry; “Please pray for an answer!” we tell our family and friends; “Please, O please God ANSWER me, give me tangible evidence; Illumine the exit sign from this journey of waiting!”

This child-like mind I have holds imagery of many of us marching around in CIRCLES like an army of little mice at the foot of the Throne. Our heads down and our faces painted with expressions of determination as we trudge and wait, and wait, and wait.

Seriously, if I answered the first question of this blog we would have a Tsunami on our hands! Every mouse for himself!

….

“Now FAITH IS the ASSURANCE of things HOPED for, the CONVICTION of things not seen.”(Heb.11:1)

“And without FAITH it is IMPOSSIBLE to please Him (God), for whoever would DRAW NEAR to God MUST believe that He exists and that He rewards those who SEEK Him.” (Heb. 11:6)

Webster’s dictionary defines faith with these words: “firm belief even in the ABSENCE of proof.”

 Much of our waiting is a result of the “absence of proof”.

If we had the answers we would have proof, there would be no waiting, we would hold what we seek in our hands.

Isaiah 40:31 says this:

“Those who WAIT for the Lord SHALL RENEW their STRENGTH: they SHALL mount up with wings LIKE EAGLES: they SHALL RUN and NOT be weary; they SHALL walk and NOT faint.”

In other words, in our WAITING upon the Lord our strength shall be made AS NEW; we shall have the ability to rise above and soar as though we literally had wings like eagles. We will run the long haul without weariness and walk long without fainting.  

 If the breadth of our days offeres many unanswered questions and many seasons of waiting then why would enlist as a soldier in the army of mice trudging out of militant determination, instead of being dancers of joy?

Listen to this:

“For God ALONE, O my soul, WAIT IN SILENCE, for my hope is FROM Him. He ONLY is my ROCK AND MY SALVATION, my fortress; I shall NOT be shaken.” (Psalm 62:5-6)

 “Do NOT be anxious about ANYTHING, but in EVERYTHING by prayer and supplication WITH thanksgiving let your requests BE MADE KNOWN TO GOD. And the PEACE OF GOD which SURPASSES all understanding, WILL guard your HEARTS and MINDS in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:6)

“REJOICE in the Lord ALWAYS; AGAIN I will say REJOICE.” (Phil. 4:4)

While we wait upon the Lord we still live. Should waiting be an idol? Should it consume our hearts and minds so that our days are coloured only by the dirt beneath our feet? Where are the eyes of our hearts? If we have committed our lives to following Jesus, then why do we so quickly focus on the shadows instead of placing our hope and trust in the Lord?

Today I see the enemy at work against  hearts stamped with eternity (Ecc. 3:11). TIME is not  God’s concern, He sees eternity as He looks upon us, we see hours and days. If truth sets us free (John 8:31-31) and this is truth, then why not “drop, walk and roll?”

He KNOWS for what we wait!! We live like we think our God has no ears and no heart! And not only that, we think He needs convincing that our requests are “legit”. No wonder we are so anxious, no wonder we lack the peace the Word says IS OURS!

We neglect to see (or perhaps we have been blinded by the enemy) that much of scripture speaks of  our ACTION  BEFORE we SEE the hand of God, read the scripture above, what are we asked to do?

“May the God of hope FILL you with all JOY and PEACE IN BELIEVING, SO THAT by the POWER of the Holy Spirit you may ABOUND in HOPE.” (Rom. 15:13)

The Forest Floor…

The title given to the work of art is “Gateway to Eternity”.

A narrow path winds itself through the forest floor. Pieces of undergroweth are scattered like wind blown leaves but their little roots have given them home in the dark forest soil. Large foreboding trees stand like giants in a bog of mist, guarding (or maybe protecting?) the borders of the path.

The entrance to the path boasts a stoned arched gate made of rugged old rocks, and the gate is a backdrop for a bouquet of wild flowers growing at its’ foundation.

This is the picture my eyes have rested on today, this piece of art holds great symbolic value to my soul.

Do you suppose the title given by the artist was a metaphor of the unveiling of Eternity’s gate as we journey the long paths of waiting on the Lord? Of trial and testing? And/or as we journey through the dark nights of the soul?

Listen to the Words of Jesus:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that DOES bear fruit, HE PRUNES, THAT it may bear MORE fruit….ABIDE in ME, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, UNLESS it abides in the vine, neither can you, UNLESS YOU ABIDE IN ME.  I am the vine; you are the branches. WHOEVER abides in me, and I in him, HE IT IS that bears MUCH fruit, for apart from me, YOU CAN DO NOTHING. ” (John 15:1-5)

The journey of suffering and waiting is God’s work of pruning. The dense forest floor boasts of deafening silence and long, narrow paths with no visible exit; much like the times given to try the soul.

Do you welcome and accept the hand of the Pruner? 

The artist’s canvas revealed living truth to me…. the journey into the forest, the journey of yielding one’s life to the pruning process, is one you must take alone. If we are unwilling to walk this sacred and mysterious path, we will not taste nor drink from the deep of the Water of Life.

…….

“Have Thine own way Lord, have Thine own way,

Thou art the Potter, I am the clay;

Mold me and make me, after Thy will,

WHILE  I am waiting yielded and still”