In an instant we were off the highway and into the large ditch median. How could something that happened so fast seem to go on forever? As we rolled over again, and again, and again…glass shattering…horrible crunching sounds coming from every direction…something – sunroof? door? pavement? smashing into my head with every roll…my thoughts were not ‘take me home, Lord.’
Oh, it’s much easier to say, ‘I’m ready when you are, God’ until you actually face that moment. Then it’s a bit more…well, a bit more everything. When faced with your own mortality, you become a bit less flippant with your life. No. Knowing that each resounding crunch might be the sound of my husband’s life ending, or the signal of my own death, the terrified words out of my mouth were “Save us, Jesus!”
And He did.
The SUV was totaled. I had to be cut out from the passenger side. We had some scrapes, bruises, and a lot of aches.
We hadn’t hit anyone else. We both walked into our house that very night after a day at the ER.
Praise the Lord!
God has given me more days. What shall I do with them? If He didn’t have things for me to do, I wouldn’t still be here, right? So, the question is, how do I honor Him with the extra time he has given me. I certainly don’t want to stand before Jesus one day and say, ‘Lord, I had a lot of fun playing games and watching movies,’ do I? How do I not waste any moments? How do I make the best use of each and every day He has so graciously granted? What do I do? How do I live?
Where do I go from here, Lord?
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should Go: I will counsel you and watch over you. Psalm 32:8
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to Go and bear fruit – fruit that will last. John 15:16
Where can I Go from your Spirit? …your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. Psalm 139:7,10
Therefore Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 28:19
How could she not see it? A shaggy dark brown wig was hanging from the dining room ceiling fan. It looked as if the fan had gotten the best of a Cocker Spaniel or won a battle with an Ewok.
My dad, sister, and I had decided to use this unusual choice of décor as a test. Known in our house for her lack of observation skills, my mom was the one unwittingly taking this exam.
Five feet above the table my mom eats at daily, in the center of the room she walks through multiple times each day, on the fan that is visible from the living room, the kitchen, and the foyer, thus in plain site from the moment you step through the front door, hung the wig. We simply hooked it over one end of a blade. Would she notice?
If memory serves me well, after about 48 hours we broke down and told her.
Much laughter ensued.
Her defense: “That’s not fair! I never look up!”
As amusing as I find this story, it does make me pause and reflect on my mom’s response.
‘I never look up.’
How often are we guilty of this? We are so busy observing the things around us (or not observing them) that we fail to look up. We think we are running things just fine. Everything is under control. We know our way around. We know all the answers. We see to it that we’re getting all we can out of life. But, we don’t realize what we are missing out on.
God has more for us. He wants to show us so much more that we’ll never see without Him. He’ll be our guide, our light, our salvation.
If only we’d look up.
My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.
I recently watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy again. This scene keeps replaying in my mind, the quote having an impact like never before. Maybe it will for you too.
Frodo: I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened. Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.
Esther 4:14b: And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?
We’re stuck in that deep well again, surrounded by darkness. How do we get out? Do we even want to? We weep. And weep. Perhaps we will cry enough tears to fill the hole and bring us to the top. Instead, we choke and nearly drown. We scramble at the sides, pressing, pulling, scratching until our fingers bleed. We end up bruised, broken, torn, but nowhere nearer the top. We continue to stumble around the dark circle, only hurting ourselves more. We eventually run into something in the center. We discover it’s a rope. We start to climb up. It’s so hard. We tire. We ache. We can’t pull ourselves out, no matter how strong we think we are. We fall back to the bottom, crushed yet again. We begin to think we are better off here – no risk in getting hurt if we stop trying. We fall. But, as we fall, we stumble over something else. It’s at the end of the rope. We feel around in the dark and realize it’s a large, overturned bucket. Is this a way out? We try to figure out how to use the bucket to help us climb. We get nowhere. We sit on the bucket and cry. We get angry and kick it around the pit. It lands face up in the center. We realize there’s no way out. This is something we just can’t do on our own. We plop back down. The ground is hard and cold. The walls are uninviting. Sitting there empty, the bucket seems more appealing than our current spot. There’s nowhere else to go. Nothing else to do or try. We climb in the bucket to rest, surrender, and just be still. That is when it moves. Jesus Christ pulls us up, all the way up, out of the darkness, and into his light.
Some sat in darkness and the deepest gloom, prisoners suffering in iron chains, for they had rebelled against the words of God and despised the counsel of the Most High. So he subjected them to bitter labor; they stumbled, and there was no one to help. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains. Psalm 107:10-14
You meet someone new. In just a few seconds, it’s determined. Click or Zoink. You just know.
You will never be close. There’s not necessarily any negativity present. Certainly no hatred. You just didn’t click, and never will. You can be civil, even friendly. You can hang out, get along, be around each other and have fun. But, there will not be that closeness, that feeling of familiarity, of total rightness, between you. It will just never happen, no matter how long you know each other or how much time you put into the relationship. That special bond will never form. Just ain’t gonna happen. Zoink.
There’s something there. A familiarity, a kinship, a bond. It may be weak at first. It may take a long time to develop. But it’s there, however faint or strong, immediately. You feel you’ve met a kindred spirit, someone you can be yourself around, someone whom you can understand and will understand you. It is this bond that is necessary to develop a life-long friendship, a closeness that does not come with others. Somehow, the hearts, the personalities, the minds, just fit. It just happens. Click.
In the past year, I have been learning some hard lessons on relationships. The syllabus has included priority, prominence, and price. I sat down one day to sort out some of what God was teaching me. The following is what appeared on the screen:
I was standing on a three-legged pedestal.
One leg was God.
One leg was family.
One leg was friends.
When the family leg wobbled and seem to break,
I leaned on the other two,
finding it hard to keep my balance,
When I felt the second leg shatter,
I didn’t know how to stay up.
I had been leaning on that friendship leg so hard and for so long,
I was left flailing my arms,
crying out to God to help me stay up.
I think he has let me fall.
I don’t think he wanted me on that particular pedestal.
Now I’m on the ground,
with nothing but Rock below me to build on.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” – Jesus, Matthew 7:24-25
I have found that gaming is the secret passageway to one’s personality. If you really want to get to know someone, play a game with them. Yes, you can try the yawn-inducing mundane questions: ‘What do you do for a living?’ ‘Where do you live?’ Oh, and ‘Did you grow up in this area?’ (That’s a good one.) You will gather many tidbits of information and be capable of writing a very factual report on the person by the end of the night.
Or…you can swim into deeper waters and find out how they perform when asked to draw the word “hallucination,” or imitate Jim Carrey, or get a teammate to say the word “goodbye” without saying “hello.” Learn the inner workings of their brain as you discover what they associate with the color red, what job they feel they were made for, or what they see in an inkblot. Glean their heart state as you witness their ability to win, to lose, and to work as a team. Analyze their skills as you discover their aptitudes for learning, negotiation, and strategy. Note their idiosyncrasies or diagnose disorders as they arrange game pieces and playing cards. (Mine are always very orderly.)
It really is a unique view into the depths of another’s psyche. Someone should have told Freud he didn’t need a couch, just a deck of Bicycle cards or a board with a Free Parking space.
Games induce laughter, thought, and communication at a new level. They help reveal different sides of self that mere conversation over coffee cannot draw out.
So, the next time you are faced with new faces, or even old ones, do yourself a favor and take the shortcut. Deal ‘em, roll ‘em, set ‘em up. It’s always a win.