Holding Hands

8 08 2011

I caught my son holding hands in church today. I looked across the auditorium and saw him shrug his shoulders and wink at me. He grinned as I smiled. My teenage son was sitting in the pew holding hands with a 100-year-old beauty.

This lovely lady is one of my son’s favorites. She looks like Jesus and inspires everyone around her to do the same. She goes out of her way to encourage, teach, love, and learn. My son watches her, knowing he is witnessing what it means to walk a lifetime with God.

Today I caught a glimpse of what he has learned from her. He was standing with his friends. He saw her sitting alone. For him, there really wasn’t a question. He quietly moved into the pew and picked up her hand. He and another friend sat by her side showing her that they had learned the lessons about family, surrender, and grace that she has taught them through her example.

Holding hands is such a powerful expression of connection. It communicates comfort, compassion, unity, understanding, love, safety, and protection. Where we choose to place our hands says a great deal about where we choose to put our hearts.

“I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you;” – Isaiah 42:6a

My Jesus Resolution today is to hold hands. God wants to hold my hand. He longs to hold me close, tuck me in next to His heart, and teach me everything it means to belong completely to Him. Where I choose to put my hands today will say a great deal about my heart. Will I serve, love, lift up, and give or will I grab, take, and hoard? I want to learn the lesson my son has already learned. Holding hands with the right person can help you look a lot like Jesus.

The Lost Wallet

5 08 2011

“Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does
not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it?
And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors,
saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so,
I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

– Luke 15:8-10

I lived this parable today. Well, it wasn’t a coin. It was my son’s wallet. He lost it. We got home from camp, and he realized that he didn’t have his wallet. He remembered putting it in the pocket of his suitcase by his bunk. Unpacking produced piles of laundry, a suspicious smelling towel, a wet swimsuit scrunched under an unused bottle of sunscreen, but no wallet.

He texted his friends, checked with the other campers, and searched through his bags. We waited and worried and prayed. Finally, there was only one thing left to do. Go in search of his wallet. His dad and I got in the car, preparing to drive all the way back out to camp to look for it. We called the camp caretaker, making arrangements to visit the camp and then set out. After a nice, long drive, we pulled into camp and headed straight for the boys’ cabins.

Opening the cabin door, we searched under beds, peered in corners, pulled bunks away from the wall, and examined all the places a wallet might hide. Where could it be? We hadn’t come all this way to give up without searching in every possible nook and cranny. Finally, we lifted up the mattressin the bunk where he had slept, and there it was. Relief, joy, and thanksgiving flooded our faces. And it was only a wallet.

This moment by the bunk bed shed light on the heart of God. We were willing to search diligently to find a lost wallet. God went to much greater lengths to search for me.

My Jesus Resolution today is to remember what it is like to be lost and found. If finding a wallet can produce that much joy, imagine how God’s heart explodes when one of His lost children comes home, when we choose His will over our own way, or when we deliberately decide to look like Jesus rather than imitating the world. I want to bring a smile to God’s face today. Iam going to live found.

Popcorn Grace

3 08 2011

I am a perfectionist. I am working to get over it. There was a time when perfectionism crippled my relationship with God. I thought that faith was a checklist that I had to complete. God’s relentless love has shown me that it is a relationship to be lived. There are moments, however, when my struggle with being perfect still makes my heart stumble.

Third day of camp. By this point short nights, early mornings, and baking hundreds of chocolate chip cookies were beginning to take its toll. When we finished serving lunch, I grabbed the opportunity to take a short nap. A few minutes of rest would revive and recharge me. I checked the schedule, set my alarm, and closed my eyes.

The banging on the door caused me to sit straight up in my bunk, hitting my head on the bed above me. “Are you coming to do canteen?” a voice called out. I shook myself awake, totally bewildered by the question. I looked at the schedule again and flew into a panic. I missed it. I misread the schedule and now a mess hall full of girls sat waiting for their popcorn. The perfectionist in me was mortified.

I ran to the kitchen and started popping popcorn. Getting out the bowls, I looked into the eyes of the staff gathered around the table expecting to see recrimination and blame. Instead, I saw love, friendship, and room to be my whole self. In that moment, grace had a face.

The popcorn was a big hit. But I learned more in almost missing the popcorn than I would have if I had gotten right by myself. Someone held me accountable and called me back to the table. Others offered to pitch in and help. Grace overflowed as I realized that the best friendships are not defined by me getting it all right, but by being there and standing together.

My Jesus Resolution today is to pop some popcorn. With each pop, I am going to remember the power of grace. It covers me, holds me close, teaches me to be better, and reminds me that taking a faith step with Him is better than just standing still and trying to do it all by myself.

The Slop Bucket

1 08 2011

Yucky doesn’t even begin to describe the bottom of the slop bucket. I just got back from a week at camp. It is always a time in which God’s presence penetrates even the most ordinary moments. I see Him in sun-soaked grins, hear Him in night time whispers, watch Him work in mailboxes, and feel His nearness in the busy tempo of the camp kitchen. But I never thought I would find Him in the bottom of the slop bucket.

For the uninitiated, a slop bucket is a container used to collect the unused liquids after a meal. When the kids are done eating, they pour any leftover milk, lemonade, soda, juice, water, and even syrup into the slop bucket. It saves us from leaky trash bags and makes kitchen cleanup a little easier. But it is yucky.

After emptying the slop bucket at the edge of the pasture, the KP kids bring the empty, dirty, stinky slop bucket to the kitchen to be rinsed out before the next meal. That is where the slop bucket and I meet. I am the cleaner-outer. It is my job to make sure the slop bucket is ready to go for the next meal.

Pushing up my sleeves, I turned the water on as hot as it will go. I took a deep breath, and then regretted doing that. The slop bucket has a nasty smell to match its yucky appearance.

Sticky, slimy, smelly, I started scrubbing. I grimaced at the mess and prayed for open eyes.  The realization of how God was at work in the slop bucket stopped me in my tracks. The slop bucket is a picture of my heart. The yucky slime that sticks to the bottom is the sin that sticks to my heart. Jesus is the Cleaner-Outer. He scrubs, scours, sanitizes, and sterilizes every inch of my heart to make me clean, new, ready, and useful.

My Jesus Resolution today is to remember the lesson of the slop bucket. Jesus makes me clean. His blood washes away the yucky messes I leave behind. He deals with my misplaced motives, selfish attitudes, greedy appetites, and faithless focus with a tenacity and love that should leave me in awe. He scrubs me clean, makes me new, and reminds me that I am meant for better than the world’s leftovers.