Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Never Give Up

Dust flew, feet pounded, hair swirled. The driveway left behind, I raced my shadow down the gravel road.

I at last slowed to a walk, talking to the Lord, pouring out frustrations, recent and old. My flip-flops made curvy prints in the dust as my walk took me farther and farther from the driveway.

Where the road made a bend, I stopped. Dropping to the ground in the shade, I shook my head. Lord, what now?

The answer came in the tops of the trees. Be still and know…

So I crossed my legs, closed my eyes, and was still.

Alaskan silence closed in around me. Birds singing, whispering wind, distant calls—it wrapped me up in one panoramic definition of beauty. I waited for God to commune with me…and heard nothing.

My eyes flashed open in time to see an ant crawling on my leg. I flicked him off, noticing with consternation that a few more had headed my way. I got up, walked back a few feet, and sat again. I’d try one more time.

I picked up a small stick and tormented an ant with it for a moment. I then broke it into four equal pieces and tossed them. As I began to realize that the Lord was communing with me through His nature, I noticed an interesting drama. I never would’ve seen it had I not moved.

In front of me in the road was an ant. I first noticed how carefully he moved forward: a few steps, then testing everything around with his antennae. Then a few more steps, and another test. He tested every rock before he stepped on it, and cautiously made his way forward. Funny, I thought. Guess I never knew ants were so careful and methodic.

I continued to watch him. He made it to a small hole in the gravel; something that would look very like a large cave in the ground to us. In this hole, a piece of my broken stick had fallen.

The ant touched the stick, felt it all over, and started to pull. I laughed inside. Yank away, little ant: you’ll never get that out of there. That’s like me trying to hassle with a 16-foot long log that about 4-5 feet around!

He tugged and pulled and yanked and tried. No budge. He let go and walked around and around.

Then he came back and tugged and pulled and yanked again. Still no budge. One more time he walked around and around, going farther away this time. Surely he’ll give it up, I thought. There’s no way…

He came back and pulled on that stick with desperation. This time, it moved. Not very far, but it moved. He’d moved its position in the hole. Now he tried more and more, each try moving the stick until he at last used the “boulders” as a tool to get the stick out of the hole.

I was fascinated. No way! How on earth…?

The little ant continued tugging. He got stuck a few times, but he kept on pulling and pushing. Sometimes he got hung up on something and his tiny legs would flail in frantic attempts to keep going. Sometimes he let go and walked around and around: I decided he was looking for a way to get the stick to move easier. Each time, he successfully moved the stick farther.

About this time, I noticed another ant—with another of those same sticks! So there I watched two tiny ants lugging these huge “logs” around, getting closer to one another all the time. So interesting. I shook my head. Who ever would’ve thought I could see such a thing out here on a gravel road?

Just then, both parties got stuck. They’d reached some sand and somehow got hung up. The first ant tried and yanked and tugged and pulled, but couldn’t seem to make any headway. The second ant tried and yanked and tugged and pulled, but he didn’t seem to make any progress either.

My attentions turned to the second ant. After all, I hadn’t been watching him as long, and he hadn’t proved himself to me yet. He hung off one end of his “log” in strong determination. He would move that log whatever it took.

I went to look for the first ant, the little guy who had already moved his “log” a colossal distance. Imagine my surprise when I saw his stick unoccupied! He’d abandoned it and moved on, apparently thinking that it was too hard for him after all.

My mouth fell open. He what? After all that work? What’s up with that!

The second ant gave another desperate struggle or two, and his “log” came unstuck. He continued on through the sand, twisting and turning his log to accommodate the terrain. He hadn’t given up.

My gaze fell upon the first stick. The stalwart little ant who had wrestled it out of a cavern and dragged it across so many “miles” had given up…and I found myself disappointed in him.

“I can’t believe you gave up.” I frowned, speaking aloud for the whole ant community to hear. “You were doing so well—and when you hit a tough spot after so many had already been conquered, you gave up. If you’d hung on a little longer…”

My sentence died out. A strange comparison flashed through my mind, as if all of Heaven had shouted aloud for me to hear.

Universes unknown—and all Heaven itself—watch me struggle through life here on Earth. They see the burdens I lift and they’re watching the push and pull for victory with all the intensity they can muster.

I guess I knew that Heaven watches everything I do. The startling thing to me was…what about the times I give up?

What if I give up? What if life proves too much? What if I throw my hands in the air and scream, “I can’t take it anymore!” and walk away? What if…?

My conclusion is that Heaven would have a very similar reaction to the one I had when I saw that any give up on his struggle. “You what? How could you? You what…!”

I rose to my feet, face turned back toward the driveway. Dust flew again, feet pounding with purpose a special rhythm: I will not give up, I will not give up, I will not give up….


God help me. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013


For the fourth day now, I was sitting perched on my knees in the seat of the bus. Staring out the window, drinking in the passing landscape like a tall glass of cold lemonade (sorry Kezzia, that imagery won't work for you).

Then came that voice. "Heidi, did you bring books to read?"

I blinked at Angie. "Yeah...?"

"Well, here, do you want to read another one? It's really good." She extended a book to me.

I took it and considered the front: Under the Overpass. I'd seen it in the house and been interested, but we'd had to get going. And now I had it in my hands. I settled down to read.


Some hours later, the book fell to my lap, the last page flipped and the cover closed. What a vision reeled through my brain! 

A young college student felt called to go--and not to a foreign country, but to the streets of America. With a buddy and little more than his guitar, he set out to be a homeless man for 5 months, to experience America as the homeless do. And he did. And he was changed.

Inspiring story, cover to cover.

I cringed in horror as I remembered the homeless man with the sign I'd looked away from the other day. My heart sank as I realized what lengths of pride one had to go to to keep themselves aloof from the "least of these"...

Wait a minute.

The "least of these"....... They are Christ's brethren. 

And what I do to them, I do to HIM.

I walked past Jesus the other day and felt myself to be too high for Him. I didn't so much as smile. In fact, I looked the other way.

God in heaven, have mercy.

God in heaven, forgive me.

I've seen "the land of the free and the home of the brave" in a different light today.

And one thing I know.

I have been called to reach out to the afflicted ones, whomever and wherever they may be. 

That means the man on the street with the sign.

How? ...Honestly, I don't know.

But God does.

And by His grace, someday...

Somehow, His love will find expression through this heart, these hands, these feet...

Not just in a jungle in Thailand I love so well, but also on a lonely street corner in some city where people are broken shreds, searching for light.

I see the world with different eyes. 

Funny how "today" can change so much.

Even funnier how much "today"s change will affect tomorrow...

Thursday, June 6, 2013

What Will Be

It's amazing how fast my old computer, keyboard, and mouse materialized. It seems like only yesterday that I was sitting here at my desk, gathering things up and bidding my electronics a sad farewell. Oh, how different things had been!

I walk around this familiar place. I know where to file things, I know where to find things. I know how to print, how to update databases, how to do...well, not quite everything, but close! It's like coming home again.

Even still, it's not the same. There are pieces missing: a few friends who no longer haunt the premises, a few details that aren't the same anymore, a few feelings and facts that have, for now, fled. It's wonderful to come home... But it isn't the same.

It's not that things changed. It's that they changed without me. 

It's not that different things belong here now. It's that the old things don't. 

Maybe I live in the past too much. 

But memories are some of my most precious possessions...

No, not everything changes. Some things stay the same. 

But there's still that sense of loss... something that once was, that no longer is. Something you treasured, loved, appreciated: it's just gone. Faded. Vapor.

I'm reminded of last night. The four of us girls gathered in the living room for worship: Haley and Jessica on the couch, Kezzia and I on the mini-couch. We each read a section out of Dave Fiedler's book, D'Sozo. He was talking about how angels--and unfallen worlds--look at us humans...

They see us as a risk. Is it safe to take once-sinful humans to Heaven, anyway? Sure, they say they've changed, but how do we know they won't do it again? 

But there's more than that.

How about the destruction of the wicked? How do we know that they might not have changed further down the path? Is God being arbitrary? 

And it's not just wicked humans we're dealing with either...

We're dealing with fallen angels.

In other words, we're dealing with the heavenly angels best friends. Best friends once upon a time, yes, but still...

That means that another question raised is, "Lord, can't You do anything to save our friends?"......

I don't forget those I've loved, no matter how far away or removed they may be from me. I imagine an angel isn't much different in that respect.

They've experienced horrendous, heart-breaking, shattering change. So much is so different now than it used to be. How many of them walk around the familiar grounds of Heaven and point: "Look! So-and-so and I used to meet there every day..." "Hey, remember when we used to...?" "Remember that song Lucifer wrote for our choir to sing...?" "Remember...?" 

They remember. They ache. They hurt. They miss.

...just like me.

Worse than me.

My change suddenly looks less.

Sure, it still leaves a hole. 

But I'm nowhere near as full of holes like that as those in heavenly realms. And even the angels change is minimal to the change God has experienced. 

Jesus was Divine in every sense. It changed: and He became human in every sense. And He didn't run from it: He embraced it.

Change? I think so.

Why embrace something like that? Why? Did Jesus look back from Gethsemane's gate and remember the beauty, the peace, the happy moments from Heaven? I assure you He did.

So why embrace the change?

Because He wasn't looking back... He was looking forward. 

Not at what once was, but what could be...

I'm convinced.

If the Creator of the universe can embrace change... 

So can I.

Oh, I still treasure my memories.

But it's time to embrace change and look not at what once was...

....but what will be.