Sunday, July 31, 2016

Simple Truth

Frank shared the essence of this story with me quite some time ago.  I've written what I could remember.  Simple truth is often the most profound.........

There is a fable about a king who owned an amazingly beautiful ring.  All who lived in his kingdom knew the intricate designs of the gorgeous piece of jewelry.  Such an amazing statement piece needed a proper inscription.

The king called for his most trusted advisor, a man known to be of outstanding wit and wisdom.  “This ring must be inscribed with a sentiment unlike any other; something totally awe inspiring.  I want you to find a statement that at the same time brings sorrow to the heart of the one rejoicing and joy to the heart of the sorrowful,” declared the sovereign. 

For days the wise man labored under his assignment until at last the perfect words came together for him.  He asked for an audience with the king and it was granted immediately.

Everyone in the throne room waited silently; they leaned forward with anticipation of what the sage would say to the royal.  “Sire, your request was indeed a difficult one to fulfill.  I’m not sure there has ever before been such a statement as the one you desired for the inscription your ring will bear.  However, I do believe I finally have struck upon it.”

“Well, speak up, man!  Don’t keep me waiting, “ the king’s excitement couldn’t be hidden.

“The phrase that will simultaneously bring sorrow to the joyful and joy to the sorrowful is this, O King…… ‘And it came to pass’.”  The words hung in the silent expanse and the sage bowed low waiting for the king to ponder them.

“And it came to pass…, “ whispered the monarch as he stroked his beard pensively.  “Yes,” his weathered face nodded slowly. “Those five words will indeed simultaneously bring sorrow for the joyful and joy for the sorrowful.  ‘And it came to pass.’ 

Indeed the one constant is that everything in life changes.  Even moments of greatest joy eventually fade into tomorrow.  The anticipation of that change would cause the one rejoicing to have great sorrow.  And so it is with the one who finds himself in a time of sorrow.  Eventually the day of newness dawns and sorrow is finished.  The hope of that day gives the sorrowful great joy.  Well done, my friend.  Well done!”

The words of the sage ring true still today for each and every season of our life journey.   
“And it came to pass….”

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

It's a Journey

(This is an excerpt from the project I'm working on.  In this project I'm examining the concept that so much of life is made up of different seasons.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on the story.  Enjoy!) 

Because of all our ministry travels, we’ve stayed in some incredible accommodations.  Always appreciated.  Always interesting.  Almost always clean.  But one spot illustrated, for me, a vitally important life lesson........

Frank and I had finished a church service once years ago and were taken to a lovely condo overlooking a golf course.  We had been traveling extensively for weeks and this was a perfect spot for us.  Because we were there during the “off” season, the golf course was almost completely abandoned and quiet.  We were able to sit in high backed rockers on the veranda and listen to all the sounds of nature; feel the breeze; smell the rain; experience the peace. 

We just happened to be there over the weekend of our wedding anniversary.  So the condo became, for us, a haven of rest.  Our hosts had stocked the small kitchen with an assortment of snacks and breakfast items.  We had our own transportation and were able to move at a luxuriously slow pace.  It was nothing short of resplendent.

However, our scheduled time at the condo came to an end all too soon.  When we were finally packed and set to leave, I asked Frank if I could sit on the porch for just a few minutes longer while he put our bags in the car.  Sitting there all alone, looking out over the pristine greens, enjoying the different bird songs, I suddenly began to cry.

The wave of emotion caught me completely off-guard and it took me a couple of minutes to regain my composure.   “I don’t want to go,” I whispered while brushing away tears.  “This is such a perfect spot, Father.  Can’t we stay?”  I found myself asking God to let us stay in this peaceful place just a little longer.

The truth was, I was physically and emotionally exhausted by the schedule we’d been keeping and my heart was crying out for more than just a break.  In the secret depths of my soul, I wanted to be finished with evangelistic travel.  I wanted to find a little place with a porch and a view and a lot more serenity than my life was offering at that time.  In essence, I was requesting a new assignment. 

Our Heavenly Father is so tender when we are broken hearted.  The response I sensed from Him was gentle and filled with compassion.  “Sheri, you must move on.  I have other places for you to experience.  If you stop here, you’ll miss what I have in store.”  In the same moment I was reminded of Psalm 23, “….he leads beside still waters.  He restores my soul.”

I knew the Lord was urging me to walk on in confidence; to not give up before experiencing all He had planned.  There would be other times of refreshing but for now, I needed to get up (emotionally) and find joy in this part of my journey.

I took a deep breath and marked that moment for myself.  It’s important that we treat promises and personal moments with the Father as great treasure.  Luke says Mary (the mother of Jesus) was our example.  “…Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19 NIV)

My response to the Lord’s urging came from the deepest recesses of my heart.  “Alright, Lord.  If you’re saying this season isn’t over, I say, ‘Let’s Keep Going!’”  

About that time, my dear husband stepped out onto the porch and sat down in the rocker beside me.  He sensed I was having a conversation with the Father and simply took my hand in support.  No words were needed.  It was several days later before I shared with him my thoughts.  He understood perfectly.

And I can tell you that after all these years, I’m still experiencing some amazing rest stops on this journey.  I’m so glad I got up and kept moving even though it wasn’t what I wanted at the time.  I’m especially glad when I think of all the adventures and beautiful people I would have missed.

In the Disney movie, Pocohantas the lovely young heroine asks multiple times, “What is it that’s waiting for me just around the river bend?”  And I guess I understand her song of anticipation because that’s what my life has reflected.  While there are lessons to be learned and clear purposes for this season, there’s always something to look forward to in the next.   

Understanding this truth keeps us moving during the times we’d prefer to stay right where we are.  Walk on, dear friend.  Be encouraged in Christ.  Look forward with eager anticipation.  This is a journey and there is much yet for you to experience.