Tag Archives: trust in God

Narcissus Dies Again

14 Mar

Narcissus. Pronounced: nar-SIS-əs. Latinized form of Greek Narkissos, possibly derived from narke meaning “sleep, numbness.” Narkissos was a beautiful youth in Greek mythology who stared at his own reflection for so long that he eventually died and was turned into the narcissus flower.

“But Father, we want this so much!” The children leapt from their beds and stretched. “The sun is warm, the robins are singing, the earth is calling, please let us perform today.”

“I’m telling you, the time is not yet right.” Father gathered them in his loving arms and set them resolutely back in bed, pulling the soft brown cover up over their heads. “Just a little while longer, I promise.”

“Not fair,” they wailed. “You never let us do what we want to do! We’re ready.”

Father smiled. “My little ones, it’s not about just you, and it’s not just about what seems good. It’s about what’s best. Trust me. You may think you’re ready, but I’m not. I’ve seen ahead. I have great plans for you and for those who will be blessed by your performance. Again, I say trust me. Something else must happen first.”

To Narco, the most brash among them, Father’s words were insufficient. “I don’t see why you can’t just tell us what’s going to happen.”

“Because, my dear Narco, I shouldn’t have to prove myself to you.” Father’s gentle voice had already soothed some of the younger ones to sleep. “I’m inviting you to trust me, not because of what you think you know, but because I’ve never let you down before.”

Ignoring the whines and protests of those still awake, he kissed the row of budding children and closed the door, resuming his business.

In the darkness, they stewed with a sullen awareness of the warmth radiating above them. Narco pulled back the covers.

daffodil1

Take THAT!

“I don’t care what he says. We’re missing everything. Life is too short to spend it in the dark. I’m ready NOW. I’m going up!”

With that, he sprang from the bed and shot upward. His glorious mane unfurling as his arms stretched for the sky. He lifted his face toward the sun and beamed, drinking in its bourbon-like rays from head to toe.

“Take that, Father! I told you so!”

One-by-one, his siblings followed, peeking shyly out from their covers and then, gaining courage, unfurling to greet the sun. A collective, joyful sigh filled the air.

Settling down after a sweet opening-day performance, the children felt a slight chill in the air. As night fell, the winds began to howl. The little children cried and searched desperately for the way home, but the doors had all closed.

“Just a minor set-back,” shouted Narco over the din. “Stay together. The sun will be back in the morning.”

daffodil2And so, they huddled together in the cold, sobbing through the night, as layer upon layer of snow settled over them, each heavier than the last. At some point in the night, Narco felt a sharp pain in his waist, which caused him to bend nearly double.

When morning came, they could no longer stand. Their frozen hearts could no longer sing. Their beautiful manes had shriveled and hung limp.

Narco shed a single tear, which dripped from the cup of his face onto the snow-covered ground and froze on contact, merging his lovely petal to the earth.

“Oh, Father, why didn’t you stop me?”


Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way. — Proverbs 19:2

Hustle Along, Little Crab. Don’t Fear the Sea Gull.

3 Feb

Today we’re going to talk again about Brian the Hermit Crab, because some people misunderstood his role as Exhibit A in last week’s message about worrying.

brian_no_worriesI received the following comments:

“All I see is a cat.”

“He may be happy, but the reality is still a dangerous situation. Maybe he should be worried.”

And my favorite, “So, we should ignore the big picture?”

Sigh, no, no, no. Besides, the Big Picture is not the cat (whose name is Aslan, by the way). And the small picture is not even the crab . . . it’s what the crab is doing. In that particular photo, Brian is sleeping. I have other pictures of him zipping around the top of the cage at what he likely believes is lightning speed, taunting Aslan by sticking his tiny claws through the wires. I wonder sometimes if he sees Aslan as a giant sea gull.

The point is, Brian is doing what hermit crabs do. Going about accomplishing the inclinations of his heart: Sleeping, eating, digging, climbing, and nothing else. He’s not trying to take on the giant sea gull, or hiding in the corner in fear. I’m not sure about the brain capacity of a hermit crab, but I do believe he knows about the danger that lurks outside his wire sanctuary, yet he keeps doing what a crab does.

Which brings me to a few side points: A cage isn’t always a prison. Constraints aren’t always road blocks. And sometimes, what we view as freedom might actually lead to a trap. A wise man knows how to discern the difference. (We’ll talk about the wise man in next week’s post).

Brian has outlived the 6-months-to-a-year predicted life-span of a hermit crab in captivity (and for those of you who were wondering, he’s a gift. We didn’t plan this adoption). We’ve had him nearly two years now. I imagine he’s lived so long because he’s not surrounded by stick-fingered, frightening children (Aslan excepted), and also because I’m a nag about such things so he gets regular food and water. Additionally, I believe he has lived so long because he’s NOT trying to take on the dark whiskered beast. We know who would win that battle.

News flash: We all have a dark whiskered beast looming over us, whether we can see it or not. It strikes at different times, and in different ways. For some, through depression, for others, financial woes or an abusive relationship. The beast may use something as simple as a flat tire or missed appointment to get to us, or something as serious as cancer. And it doesn’t give up until we do. If it can’t snatch your claws while you’re happily swinging from wire to wire, it will wait until the door is opened for feeding time and stick its giant paws inside. It waits patiently for an opportunity, and gleefully approves your living in constant fear about the “what if.”

But that dark whiskered beast is NOT the big picture.

So, what is?

brian

Watermelon…the nectar of the ocean arachnids.

In this scenario, it’s us, his humans. Unseen, but very present. He has no idea we’re out here, yet here we are. We know the threats he’s facing, but we also know how to control them. We won’t let Aslan into the cage. At feeding time, we can force him out of the way, or divert him with a treat, or wait until he’s elsewhere before opening the door. Aslan may think he’s going to get in there and shake Brian up one day. He might even dream about it. But he doesn’t have the final say in that. We also do little things to bring excitement (if you can call it that) into the little guy’s life, like putting the occasional bits of fruit and nuts into his cage. He seems to like watermelon a lot. We are, to Brian (or would be if his brain could make the leap) his god.

In many ways, you and I might find it easy to compare our situations to Brian’s, but this analogy only works to a point, because hermit crabs are not humans, and we humans are not God. As humans, we can err. We might forget to feed Brian, leave the cage open, or, heaven forbid, drop the poor creature when we’re holding him. And there are potential woes outside our control, such as the heat going out or the air around him becoming too dry. He could die despite our best efforts to protect him.

However, the most significant misalignment in this analogy is that we did not create Brian or put passions and inclinations into his heart.

In OUR big picture, yours and mine, the caretaker is much, much more capable, sees much more of the big picture, and loves us SO much more than anyone could ever love a hermit crab. Also, God doesn’t err, and there’s nothing outside his control.

For instance, when God made you, he gave you passions and inclinations, and he fashioned your life events in such a way that you are now uniquely suited to do something specific, something nobody else is suited for, and something a lot more meaningful than sitting in the sand, sucking watermelon. What is it? I cannot tell you. I can only tell you that the dark whiskered beast is doing all he can to stop you and to make you doubt that it’s your purpose.

You don’t need to fear the whiskered beast, because you know the bigger picture. You may run into road blocks and wire fences, but trust that they’re designed constraints, put there for a reason. You may get a glimpse of the beast occasionally, but trust that God won’t let him touch you. Just keep doing what it is you’re supposed to do. To the beast, it will be like poking your claws through the wire. He absolutely hates it when you’re freely you.

Stop trying to figure out what God is up to and find your own purpose. Jump in with all six legs, let out your inner crab, and believe in yourself.

God does.

p.s. Is it weird that I’m fixing crab for dinner?

 

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You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. – Psalm  139:1-6

Storms May be Brewing, but the Sun Ain’t Goin’ Anywhere

1 Oct

Today is a dismal, bleak, rainy day here in Virginia.

From my window I can watch dirt and mulch, wrenched away from once-splendid summer gardens, tumble in clumps down the street and become caught up in a swift-flowing rainwater river. The debris bumps along on an aimless journey, careening into a pile of leaves at the end of the road, where it rests briefly before slipping through a gaping sewer opening that leads to who-knows-where?

Wet bird in the rain

Hunker down, or deny it’s raining. You decide.

A nor’easter is heading in from the sea, threatening to raise floodwaters, close roads, fill basements, and sweep cars from under people who refuse to believe they’re vulnerable, despite warnings to hunker down.

South of us, Hurricane Joaquin is gathering steam for a pass up the east coast. Hundreds of tree limbs will break off in its gale-force winds, nearly ripened fruit will never make it to harvest, and puzzling objects from the depths of the ocean will stir, and rise, and wash ashore. People will be hurt, and some may die.

It could be days before we see the sun again.

But still, the sun will remain in the sky, peacefully, gloriously, shining, just above the gray clouds and the calamitous vortex of wind and rain. It shines just as brightly throughout this storm as it does on any other day, whether we can see it or not. Regardless of how cold, how wet, how dark we feel over the next few days, it will continue to blaze with its usual fiery heat, sending down to us the exact amount of energy we need to sustain our planet, sufficient vitamin D to keep each of us healthy, and light enough to see where we ought to step (or paddle) next.

I have faith in the sun’s existence, because I’ve seen it and I paid enough attention during science class to know roughly what’s going on up there. I made the requisite Styrofoam solar system and know the sun is securely stationed at the center, even without the help of a wire coat hanger or a tube of Elmer’s glue. I don’t understand why or how it works, but I don’t need to know. I can trust it’s there. I’ll see it again.

Of course, I can chose to deny the sun’s presence, pointing to the eerie gathering darkness as proof of its ineptitude. And when the clouds clear and the rains subside I can still refuse to see the sun by closing my eyes. But that won’t make it not there.

Still, I will prepare for the dark days ahead by stocking the shelves with canned goods, ensuring we have propane for the grill and the fire starter handy for the candles, digging the flashlights out from under last year’s winter coats, bringing family treasures out of the basement, and probably finishing off the coffee ice cream in the freezer, you know in case the power goes out—wouldn’t want that to go to waste. Then, as the winds howl outside my door, I can remind myself: we’re okay, and this will pass.

light peeking through clouds

We can lose sight for a while, but it’s always there.

That’s how it is with God. We can lose sight of Him sometimes, but He’s always there, despite our fiercest storms. We know this because we’ve done our homework and answered that one question we must all answer for ourselves: Is the Bible true? We’ve made the requisite Styrofoam Gospel scene and know that God burns securely in the center of our hearts, even without our duct tape and glitter. We don’t completely understand how He can do this, but we don’t need to know. We can trust He’s still there.

So we’ve prepared for the storm by studying God’s promises, trusting His Word, and telling Him our concerns. Then, as the wolf howls outside the door, we can remind ourselves: we’re okay, and this will pass.

Yet, for some reason, some of us will huddle there in the dark for days, weeks, even years afterward, denying ourselves the warmth and peace He offers. Why do we do this?

We may be angry at Him for not preventing a limb from breaking during the storm, and deny that he’s filling the fields all around us with new life. But we cannot anger him away or close our eyes to the evidence. Just not looking won’t make him not there.

We may be hiding from Him, cowering in the shadows in shame or worry because we’re sure we’ve somehow let Him down, but His light sees into those darkest places, knows everything we’ve done and failed to do, and loves us anyway. He’s there with you under the basement steps, extending a hand. He wants to bring you out of there.

The storms will end soon enough. I challenge you, even while they still rage, to leave your hiding place, venture out, and look up, into the light. Offer Him your hand, your hurt, your sorrow, your regrets, and He will shine on you, just as brightly as He has been doing all along.

The difference between God and the sun, though, is He can make YOU shine as well, because His light is brighter than the sun, and His presence many times more trustworthy. Trust Him. He’s there.

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For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. — 2 Corinthians 4:17-18