Month: March 2016

Do Not Disturb

Blog_WorkInProgressMy butterflies are waiting in their chrysalises, soon to emerge in splendor and freedom. While I wait for their big reveal, I’m doing my best to follow the step-by-step directions that accompanied the butterfly garden kit. And, I might add, biting my nails. What if I do something wrong? Could one mistake prevent these amazing creatures from fulfilling their destiny? Will they die in their cocoon?

This morning, I took the bold step of removing the paper film from their former habitat and transferring the chrysalises to their garden home. Bold, I say, because I do NOT like insects. As mentioned in yesterday’s blog post, the only thing motivating me to care for these otherwise repulsive bugs is the knowledge of what they will become.

The next step shouldn’t be so hard. “Do not disturb.” Although, in a classroom full of curious kids, it’s not as easy as it sounds. The future butterflies are busy at work, though all we see is their hard outer shell hanging loosely from the netting. Our job is to wait and watch.

Sometimes, we get a little eager to see what’s going on with our circumstances. We want answers, and we want them now. If it seems nothing’s happening, we want to intervene. What if we’re not doing enough?

And yet…what if we’re doing too much?

There’s a season for everything. There’s a time to labor and invest. And there’s a time to wait and watch. There’s wisdom in discerning which season we’re in.

If we step in when we should be still, we disrupt the process. Think of Abraham. When he should have been waiting patiently for the fulfillment of God’s promises, he took matters into his own hands—resulting in family strife that affected all of history beyond.

When God says “do not disturb,” it’s best to listen. There’s a work in progress. We’re a work in progress. And the results of waiting (patiently!) are always glorious.

“The Lord will fight for you. You need only be still.” (Exodus 14:14)

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When it Seems Like Nothing’s Happening

Nymphalidae - Danaus plexippus - ChrysalisLast Monday I returned to my classroom after a long weekend to find a cup of dead bugs on my file cabinet. At least, I thought they were dead. In reality, those fuzzy insects lying dormant on the bottom of that cup were just waiting for something to happen.

Within a couple days, they were moving and eating and making their way to the top of the cup. I’m no insect lover, but I must admit it was fascinating to watch these lifeless caterpillars wake up and start crawling toward their destiny. When I returned after this past weekend, they were already hanging upside down in their chrysalises.

Tomorrow, I’ll transfer them to their butterfly garden in hopes they emerge before Spring Break. If not, they’ll be coming home with me. I don’t want to miss the miracle of their ultimate transformation.

A caterpillar’s metamorphosis is a parable of life. At first, it appears nothing’s happening. Then, for a short while, they’re moving, but their movement is much like ours—forward and backward, forward and backward. Getting somewhere, getting nowhere. Making progress, losing ground. And in their chrysalis, again it seems nothing’s happening.

But we all know the end of this story! Soon enough, nothing will become something. A butterfly will emerge from its cocoon of death. And it will fly free.

I’m sure Jesus’ disciples felt nothing was happening as He lay there in the tomb. But that tomb was like a chrysalis, life overcoming death within. After three days, the stone was rolled away, and life emerged.

It may seem like nothing’s happening in your life right now, but just wait. When it seems the most hopeless, the most lifeless, there’s a resurrection coming. New life waits in the shroud of death. Soon enough, in the hands of almighty God who brings life from death, you will fulfill your destiny. And you, too, will fly free.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26)

Still We Have the Cross

Blog_CrossHillWhen the ground beneath us shakes
And all we have is swept away
Still, we have the cross

When the oceans roar
And what was once is no more
Still, we have the cross

 

When the earth trembles, and the mountains fall
And there is nothing left to call our own
Still, we have the cross

When the fires rage
And consume our faith
Still, we have the cross

When the wind destroys
What was once our joy
Still, we have the cross

When the womb is empty
And the heart is cold
And it seems the promises once told
Are lost
Still, we have the cross

Still, we have the cross
Still, we have the cross
All once gained is counted loss
But still, we have the cross

Still, we have the cross
Still, we have the cross
It’s possible to hope again
For still, we have the cross

Let the empty womb meet the empty tomb
Reap the joy of the cross

To Infinity and Beyond

I thought I was finished. Actually, I never expected to even start. My initial plan was to post random quotes and verses on love for fifty days. That’s it. Nothing profound—just simple, everyday reminders of what true love is all about.

My journey took me further than expected. I originally thought I’d glean most of love’s definition from the most quoted passage on love—1 Corinthians 13. But the list of love’s qualities kept growing and wouldn’t stop.

My conclusion?

True love…is infinite.

It can’t be contained, confined, or defined. It’s greater than we can imagine, stronger than we can hope, and more powerful than we dare to dream. It’s safe, yet dangerous. Simple, yet profound. Beautiful, yet messy. Impossible…yet supernatural.

Love is so misunderstood, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s a wonder we expect a small kitchen appliance to come with instructions, but we think such significant things as life and love come random and undefined. How do we expect to survive this planet if we don’t know what’s asked of us in the realm of love? It bears repeating that the extensive accomplishments of humankind are rendered meaningless if we fail in the mission of loving one another.

Do we really believe we’re stranded on this earth without purpose? Have we so suppressed the obvious order and design of our universe—all because we want selfishly to chase after fleeting satisfactions? Creation speaks loud and clear. We’re here for something greater. And we’re not gonna find it if we’re bent on selfish endeavors.

Love is the only worthy endeavor.

True love comes from an infinite God…who loves all he’s created without measure. He sacrificed so we can know and live in this love, for now and for eternity. So we can experience the infinite.

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)
 
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” (1 John 4:15)
 
“We love because God first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)
 
 “When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.” (Romans 5:6-10)

Source: To Infinity and Beyond

Victory in the Field of Broken Dreams

It’s fascinating to watch the most stoic of sports fans erupt in various displays of emotion over their favorite team’s plays. Forget the game—I’d rather grab some popcorn and watch that typically passive guy become a drama king when the ref makes a bad call. The spectacle is far greater than the most exciting of sports competitions. And when the team wins? You’d think nothing could surpass the exhibition of sheer elation. And that’s for the pre-season games. Just wait until the play-offs.

So, the underdog team overcomes the odds and wins the big game. What next? There will always be another game, another season, another chance to win or lose. And believe me, emotions will be spent on those wins and losses.

What about the daily game of life? Emotions aren’t so readily displayed for the wins and losses encountered on a daily basis. If we’re honest about the latest news headlines, we see a lot of defeat. It can get pretty discouraging. Super Bowls come and go with different teams taking the ring, but still there’s news of unprecedented human trafficking centered around the event. The Final Four makes another round, yet would-be fans refuse to travel certain states due to bias and fear. Another team will take the NBA Championship this year, and still nothing can dispel the wars and rumors of war around the world.

I was around for the Chicago Bulls three-peat and four-peat and so on, yet in the years to pass witnessed different teams come and go. In sports, no victory is lasting. In life, the forecast seems increasingly grim. The world is a field of broken dreams.

What has the power to overcome the evil, fear, and hatred in this world? Martin Luther King Jr. once so eloquently stated, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Love alone has the last word, the final victory. As we celebrate Good Friday, we think of the words of the man who died on the cross for the sins of the world: “Father, forgive them—for they know not what they do.” Words of forgiveness. Words of healing. Words of love.

Words of victory.

Yes, this world is filled with unimaginable suffering. Most often, this suffering stems from the hardened hearts of men unwilling or unable to love. Yet in the midst of such suffering, consider these words of Helen Keller, “Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.” And what is the one, lasting victory in this world of hate? LOVE.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Source: Victory in the Field of Broken Dreams

I Spy Love

If we open our eyes, we will find God’s love…even in the deepest of darkness.

Source: I Spy Love

When We Can’t Love

God loves us even when we can’t love him. He loves even when we’re powerless to love our enemies, and even when we struggle to love our friends. And by his love, he enables us to love with sincere, supernatural, unfailing, and unconditional…love.

Source: Love for the Rhythm-impaired