Friday, April 25, 2014

Spend (and be spent)

I sat down at my desk and pulled the large sketchbook over. The day before I had sketched a couple of line drawings for the magazine next quarter, and I now had a few pages of "nonsense:" scribbles that I'd done to try and get it right. I decided to erase the nonsense so I could make profitable use of those pages.

I started with an eraser. Perfectly smooth end, rounded, firm: you know, the kind of eraser everyone likes. 

 I had 2 kinds of lines to erase. Some were light and would come off easy...

But I had some others that I had scribbled with a bit more zeal. They were dark. Like, really dark.

I set to work with the eraser. I found it to be pretty simple; after all, the lines were coming off. But I had to push awful hard sometimes... and my eraser started leaving pieces of itself all over the paper that seemed to get in the way and make the job even harder.

When I finished, my perfect eraser was no longer perfect. It was no longer smooth and nicely rounded on the ends. And it had lost lots of pieces of itself that I had littered all over the desk, the mousepad, the keyboard.

And, too, even though I had given it my best--even though I had pushed as hard as I could without completely destroying my paper, it had some leftover lines on it. Scars, if you will.

However, when you looked at the big picture, it was useful again. It was clean. Because of the eraser.

We daily make a mess of our lives. We scribble and scratch, trying to "get it just right," and in the process, we ruin many days, months, years of our lives. Left to our own devices, we'd be sketchbooks full of nothing but deep stains, dark scratched lines, and vain scribbles.

But. A long time ago. There was an Artist who wanted to make use of you, of me. And He took His perfect Eraser and laid the smooth edge to our rough, ruined surfaces...and began to erase.

It took a long time.

And when He finished, that perfect Eraser was no longer be perfect. It was marred. It left pieces of itself all over my pages, having spent itself that I might be clean. Whole. Useful. And that's when the Artist took up the pencil and began to create a masterpiece.

There are days when I snatch the pencil and scribble away. I make a mess again. But when I see the mess, my heart melts and I return the pencil to His hand, He smiles and picks up the Eraser again. And after some work, I'm clean all over again. And He keeps working.

That Eraser is spent a little more every time I make a mess, that I might be better.

And here I am, selfish, mercenary little heart hoarding like a miser blessings for myself.

I have been ashamed, looking back recently, at the selfishness of my own behavior; and in turn, have been humbled by the selflessness of some who have seen me at my best and worst.

I want to be an eraser.

To spend.
And be spent.
That someone else might be better.

Friday, April 18, 2014


Raindrops spattered the windshield. Lively chatter emanated from the front seat. And I looked out the window, staring at the overcast sky, thinking about what I was heading out to do.

A long time ago, when I was younger and lankier, I used to run. I ran in school, during P.E. time, and I had chopped my mile time down to about 7.4 at my best. However, that was...a long time ago.

Starting running again within the last couple months has been a challenge. I stand at the start point, staring at the concrete circle called Buttercup Lane and think about how many times I have to go around before I'm done. How fast can I go tonight?

I've been working on my mile time. But after signing up for Bloomsday, in May, I decided it was probably time for me to work on my distance, not so much my speed. More ostrich than cheetah. Or tortoise than hare, as the case may be.

We quit running out at Buttercup a few runs ago, mostly because running 10 circles or more around that silly loop gets monotonous after awhile. We graduated to running down the road.

All of this flitted through my mind as I stared out at the overcast sky and heard some comment about "wet rats" coming from the front seat. I knew I'd be wet when I was done. I also imagined I'd be dead.

New running shoes hit the pavement. Arms swung in anticipation. And when the timer on Kezzia's phone proclaimed, "Beginning workout," the steady pound of foot on asphalt accompanied me down the road.

We got the end of the pavement, almost a mile in itself, and turned around. About that time, my companions stopped for a breath. Stopping would be my undoing, so I didn't.

The distance between me and the parked car lessened, one step at a time. The image grew from fuzzy to sharp and soon I reached the door. To keep running, I had to go around the car a couple of times to get my outer jacket inside and the door shut again.

Fire burned in my legs, a heaviness in my chest. But something goaded me on. C'mon, you can make it to the top of that hill. Okay, seriously, why not to that driveway right down there? And how about we just make it the bottom of that hill? See, it wasn't so long after all. Hey, how about all the way to the highway?

I didn't go all the way to the highway. Fun does come to an end at some point. I stopped at 2.3 miles and as I walked, I felt like I was floating along, making no effort at all.

Jessica and Kezzia came down the hill and ran to where I had stopped. Ahead of them, I paused along the road and waited.

In the breathless silence, I closed my eyes and lifted my face to the rain. Raindrops lightly kissed my cheeks and forehead, birds sang tunes all around me, and a satisfying burn enveloped everything in me. And that's when it dawned.

A race. Run with patience. Obtaining reward at the end.

It's a long way. But not so long after all.
It burns. But it's a satisfying burn.
Ir rains. But there's a specialness to having your face wet with Heaven's tears of joy.

Run the race with patience.
And let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.


One of the best feelings on earth.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

I had no idea

I had no idea.

I knew it'd been there all the time, waiting for me to discover it.

In fact, I only saw it because more of the devil's dirt got cleared from my eyes.

But I had no idea how hard it would be.

To select all those familiar tunes and hit delete.
To look the other way.
To not click on the YouTube icon.
To take less at a meal.
To turn instantly from temptation and sing in your mind.
To choose to be a more worthy steward of God's resources.
To surrender. Like, really.

I had no idea.

I had no idea how hard the devil would hit me with guilt.
How many old mistakes he would bring up on my mind's silverscreen.
How many whispered doubts.
How many excuses.
How many times pride would be stirred up.
How hard he would fight.


I had no idea how simple this could be.
I had no idea how liberating surrender is.
I had no idea how amazing it feels to leave excess alone.
To keep my mind stayed on Him.
To trust Him even with the tiniest, silliest things in my heart.
To give Him reserves.

I had no idea.

I had no idea how hard He would fight for me.
I had no idea how strong His arm could be.
How strong His love.
How far He would go to rescue me from myself.
How much power He wants to give me.

I had no idea.

I have a long ways to go.

In fact, I feel a little bit like, now at 21, He's starting all over on me.

But no. He's been working for years. He hasn't given up.
And yet, He's not finished with me yet.

His work is only begun.

I had no idea.

Praise God.