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The Book Thief
One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are
On Gold Mountain
Bread & Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter
City of Tranquil Light: A Novel
The Distant Land of My Father
The Paris Wife
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy
Fall of Giants
World Without End
A Stolen Life
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption
The Pillars of the Earth
Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation
The Road
Trials of the Earth: The Autobiography of Mary Hamilton
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, a Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal
Cutting for Stone

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Entries in Wait on God (32)


have mercy

I am 46 hours late for the Mercy Monday post over at Jenn Lebow’s Mercy Mondays. She mercifully allowed me to still post. I mostly am late because I still don’t really know what mercy is. I’m asking. God is slow and painstakingly clear in His telling.

Ever since Jenn visited me in early August and we sat on my swing until late in the night, I’ve mused mercy. Like Jenn, I studied James in the spring and truly sang hallelujah as I read that mercy triumphs (James 2:13). Nothing like the book of James to rouse up a good case of mercy-itis - only cured by mercy. 

We talked about our good ole Campus Crusade definitions. Mercy means the withholding of a judgement deserved. Grace is unmerited favor. These two are so close that you cannot differentiate the very arteries and veins suppling their lifeblood.

This week in preparation for a post on “mercy as pardon,” I pulled out some 10 or so 10 pound books. I’ve looked at the Old Testament Word Book, The Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible, Addiction and Grace by Gerald May, in addition to various online sources. One phrase has captured my attention... “this is the exact place where God met with humans.”

The wings of two cherubim shadowed the mercy seat. Once a year the Hebrew priests sprinkled blood on that exact spot - the mercy seat - as an atonement for sin. Atonement means something that makes the offended party glad again. It means to be in harmony with one another. Literally to be AT ONE. 


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Large hazel eyes searched anxiously our faces, the faces she had birthed. 

“Has she talked to y’all yet?” she asked as she grabbed hold of the rail on the hospital bed. 

“Mama, the computer froze. We don’t have the answers.” I stammered through quivering lips.

Jodi, my youngest sister, and I had waited for hours  while the doctor used Star Trek technology to get a look at the nodule growing in Mama’s lung. Today, we thought, we will have answers. Drama unfolded all around us. People waiting. Nurses calling families back and giving them their futures in less than eight words. 

When the doctor came back for us, she walked quickly with a white face. I judged her body language and facial expressions and braced for the worst. When she explained that the computer had failed her while Mama waited under anesthesia, my body relaxed in relief. Not good news. But not the worst news either. It was an odd and visceral reaction. Then, I realized we would have to tell Mama that the entire procedure had been in vein.

We learned later that 5.5 cm separated the tube with the ultrasound camera from the mass. 5.5 cm is the length of my pinky finger.

I told Jodi: Sometimes I am flabbergasted at the lengths the Lord goes to in order to show me my lack of control. 

But this is about more than a lesson in powerlessness. In the midst of putting one foot in front of the other and leaning on each other for strength, we look to Him. Our hands are empty. We depend on Him. We have a lot of questions and few answers.

We wait.

I am reminded that we don’t just wait on the bronchoscope computer to be repaired. We wait on the Lord. Who likes to wait?

The Hebrew word for wait is qavah. It has both a figurative meaning and a literal. Literally, qavah means to bind together as in forming a rope from smaller strings. This picture reminds me that we can be strengthened as we wait. 

In fact, Isaiah 40:31 says, “But those who wait (qavah) upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, They run and don't get tired, they walk and don't lag behind.”

I can tell you this: While I waited on that doctor and that stupid and frail bronchoscope computer, I was drained of energy. All of us were. 

Today I am reminded that my hope is in the Lord. I wait for Him, the one who gathered (qavah) the heavens in one place on the third day (Genesis 1:9).

Mama is heading home to Mississippi even as I write this. She is feeling better and still has no symptoms. She will surely get some TLC from Fred, my stepfather, her extended family there, and treasured friends. She will build some strength and stamina back. When they call us and say the computer is repaired, we will do it all over again.

Meanwhile, we wait (qavah). 



One morning last week as I walked on the beach, I kept finding the most beautiful pieces of shells and sand-dollars. I thought, “Imagine how gorgeous that one was when it was whole!” In my mind’s eye, I filled in the gaps and missing spaces. Some of the shells looked lacy where time had worn through the hardness. Some looked beaten and weathered.

I can relate.

Life comes at you fast to quote an advertisement on tv. Seldom do we feel ready. Rarely do we feel whole. 

My small group of women decided to study James. I really like these ladies a lot so I went along. Well, ok, I voted to study James too. So I asked for it. James keeps the barrage of commands coming like the waves of a rough surf. He talks a lot about perfection. And as a recovering perfectionist, this makes me shudder.

I’ve learned that the word for “perfect” that James uses means mature or complete. Whole. When God looks at me, He says, “Imagine how beautiful she is! She is whole!” Of course, He saw me in my mother’s womb. Before I was formed, He knew me. His eyes saw my unformed body. 

I will not know a day on this earth free from sin. It boggles my mind that my Father sees me as perfect through the lens of His Son’s Blood. The work for my salvation is complete. Jesus finished it on the cross some 2,000 years ago. 

I’m growing up. James calls me to. Wholeness does not mean external perfection. It has a lot more to do with internal completion. When I was 10 and asked Christ into my heart, I was completed at that moment. Perfect. But not mature. That takes place over time. 

Even the gaps and spaces are beautiful. Time wears us down and certainly our bodies are degenerating. But our souls are growing toward wholeness. The souls that are weathered by trials are gorgeous and unique. 

I dare say the reflection of our Father is clearest in the souls most pocked by trials. As hardships erode away our external facade, the soul’s gleaming light of rest in the work of the cross shines brightest.


inner peace

My eyes flew open at 5:00 a.m. and my heart pounded in my chest from the nightmare. Matthew was alone, sick and desperate in the horrible scenario in the dream. This is a recurrent nightmare - one of my children is separated from me and in need. I cannot get to him. I had this nightmare many times in Honduras until it became REAL and I had to leave four of my sons there. That is another story. But the lesson is the same. 

A partial truth is the calling card of the Enemy. Matthew is sick. He has mono; we got the test results yesterday. He is not alone. He is not desperate. Nonetheless, I got up at 5:00 a.m. and began a battle to release my worries and fears to the Lord.

After making some Cuban petrol, aka strong Cuban coffee; I took up my post on the patio in the cool of the morning. Did you hear me? I said cool. What a change! Wrapped in a fuzzy brown blanket full of holes (Skip chews holes in every blanket we have), I opened my Battle Plan. Jesus Calling by Sarah Young lead me to Psalm 27. Verse 4 is my verse for 2011. One thing is the theme of this blog... I will seek ONE THING. 

One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. 

And so I began to realize the two scenarios in Psalm 27. There is an internal truth: David says, “The Lord is the stronghold of my life.” Then there is the external truth: a day of trouble. Evil men are advancing to devour his flesh. He has oppressors, false witnesses breathing violence, an army besieging him. 

While all this swirls about David, his private world is at peace because the Lord is his stronghold. Inside there is light. He is safe. He is sacrificing with shouts of joy. He is confident and singing. He calls out to the Lord. He asks to learn His ways. Both of his eyes are gazing upon the beauty of the Lord. His soul says to seek the face of the Lord. He is hidden in the shelter of the Lord’s tabernacle.

The concluding verse says:

Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.

Yes, Lord, I will wait. Meanwhile, I will trust and give thanks and gaze.


open hands

This thought floated through my mind as I reached for a pecan I had toasted. Really, the only manner to overcome addiction is moment by moment.

The irony was not lost on me.

I was not hungry at the moment. The pecan was just there at the wrong place and the wrong time. Well, that is my excuse.

A lot of things are up in the air for me right now. As both children enter school in a few days, I am faced with a lot of space and a number of choices. Space is what I have longed for and wanted. When facing space dead on, one can become paralyzed by fear. I’ll never forget snorkeling and swimming suddenly over an area where the ocean floor literally dropped off into eternity. The space massive space threatened to envelop me. It was a moment of terror looking into that deepest blue and realizing how small I was/am.

Gerald May, in Addiction and Grace, talks about the space left behind when one curtails an addictive behavior. “Although this emptiness is really freedom, it is so unconditioned that it feels strange, sometimes even horrible. If we were willing for a deeper transformation of desire, we would have to try to make friends with the spaciousness; we would need to appreciate it as openness to God.”

Living with that space is difficult and exciting. There is no other way to do it than moment by moment.

May goes on: 

The purest acts of faith always feel like risks. Instead of leading to absolute quietude and serenity, true spiritual growth is characterized by increasingly deep risk taking. Growth in faith means willingness to trust God more and more, not only in those areas of our lives where we are most successful, but also, and most significantly, at those levels where we are most vulnerable, wounded, and weak. It is where our personal power seems most defeated that we are given the most profound opportunities to act in true faith. The purest faith is enacted when all we can choose is to relax our hands or clench them, to turn wordlessly toward or away from God. This tiny option, the faith Jesus measured as the size of a mustard seed, is where grace and the human spirit embrace in absolute perfection and explode in world-changing power. Gerald May, Addiction and Grace, p. 128

Will I clench my hands around the pecan (the idol) or will I relax them and let God fill the emptiness? Will I turn wordlessly toward Him?

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