Once again I have to be amazed that

Once again I have to be amazed that it’s when I’m speaking to a child or a child speaks to me that I recognize a truth about God’s character as our Father. I spent eighty minutes each week in the spring semester at the school where I work tutoring Jacob, whose native language isn’t English, in reading while his classmates have their Spanish lesson. The previous aide in this classroom advised me that the only way she’d been able to get Jacob’s cooperation in reading was to reward him with candy, so I continued her policy when I took over her position and “inherited” Jacob and his reluctance to study.

As we walked down the hallway toward the school library for our last session of the semester, Jacob began complaining that the students in Spanish were having a party that day.  “Why don’t I get a treat? They’re getting Popsicles!” he asserted.

Using the “love and logic” approach to discipline, I returned a question. “Jacob, do any of the other students in your class get candy for reading?”

“No.”

“”And what do you say when the other children ask why you got candy and they didn’t when we come back into the classroom?”

Silence and a glare from eyes hooded by his wrinkled brow.

Grudgingly Jacob admitted they didn’t get a candy reward for reading, but he still was incensed at the “unfairness” of his situation. I could see that words alone weren’t going to open his eyes. Jacob resentfully pulled out a chair at the library table and plopped down, his arms folded.  I took out the log of our reading sessions and asked him, “Jacob, can you count by two’s to help me count how many pieces of candy you’ve had since we started meeting together?”

“Two, four, six . . . ” he counted as I kept turning pages in our log, “ . . . eighty, eighty-two, oh, eighty-four.”  In silence I let that truth seep into his awareness before I asked, “How many treats do you think the other children are getting from the Spanish teacher?  Eighty-four?”

“No,” Jacob admitted, and his uncrossed arms showed me he got the message. He sighed heavily as he read the first book, a very easy one he’d read many times before, but then warmed up and spoke with some animation in his voice as we read a story about a silly chicken together.

But even as we read, I was hearing a familiar voice in my heart reciting a story I’d read many times. “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. . . . ‘But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’  ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours . . ..’” Luke 15:28, 30-31

I get to live in my Father’s “house” every day, enjoying an intimate relationship with God that is in itself a treat and treasure. Why am I concerned about how other people who “do me dirty” seem to be enjoying today’s  “popsicle” when I’ve already inherited assuredly more than eighty-four blessings straight from my Father’s love? How many times has the Spirit of God connected me wonderfully with someone who needed to hear of his love, with someone who had a word straight from God’s heart to mine? Who is richer?

And I – in righteousness I will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.  Psalm 17:15

You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.  Psalm 16: 11

I reminded myself of the most well-known and beloved Psalm in the Bible:

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.   Psalm 23: 5-6

With an overflowing heart I cried out to the Good Shepherd, “Living in your love is my reward. Bring the lost ones home to know you, too!”

I gave Jacob the rest of the bag of candy to tuck into his backpack and take home. And guess what – the Spanish teacher gave him a Popsicle, too.

But the greater truth is this: neither of us teachers, and none of the rewards we gave, could ever out-give or even begin to compare with the abundant riches of knowing and dwelling in God’s presence daily, the security of his character as a mightily giving Father.

a ” . . . BUT . . .”  to move:  Father god, I get miffed when I see people who don’t honor you seeming to prosper BUT I rememb

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Mr "Good Wrench" and "Good Advice"

Sorry all that this is just a quick glimpse into what the Spirit said to me Tuesday, August 15. Driving to work I heard Lysa Terkeurst and Amanda Carroll on KLOVE radio, Lisa talking about her new book Unglued and about ratcheting our anger when we’re repeatedly offended. 

Oh, Eureka! Exactly what my beloved did over 34 years and more of our life together: put his arm to the wrench and ratchet down on the nuts of anger, bitterness, contempt, offense, unforgiveness, wounding, and self-preserving seeking on the tires of his life, so tightly that he can’t let go of his wounded emotions and cultural-norm “look out for yourself” choices. No wonder he’s stuck!

A very able engineer, he always warned me and our sons not to let a tire dealer use the pneumatic wrench to snug down the bolts on the nuts of our wheels too tightly, or we’d never be able to break them loose if we had to change a flat on the road. Ah, but beloved, you did just that, and I almost did until I saw the lies I was believing about your motivation in the things you said and did, and started believing that you DID love me in the ways you could. 

Oh, the PNEUMA of the Holy Spirit to break free the lock-down on our “lug nuts” and fix our flats, give us re-treads or just plain new tires to keep us moving in God’s direction and purposes! This may be a copyrighted phrase, BUT I praise ” Mr. Good Wrench” Jesus and the Holy Spirit to do the releasing for us what we can’t do ourselves if we let him!

And the “good advice”? Disclaimer: I am no one’s Savior, I’m heartily glad Jesus took that role upon himself, and I surrender that right and role to him. I was wondering, though,  how Jesus would have responded in the Garden of Gethsemane to, and how our lives now and forever would play out if Jesus took the advice of, some solid psychologists and counselors who ought to have been there in his agony instead of the snoozing Peter, James and John. Can you hear their advice to him, like the advice given to me?

“It’s time to look out for yourself.”
“Do what’s best for you.”
“Take care of yourself.”
“You can’t change them. They have their own free will.”
“You need to establish healthy boundaries for yourself.”

And the best one, the one I hear caregivers say at the preschool every day : “Just walk away.”

How would YOU have counseled Jesus to respond in his situation?   What if he had? Aren’t you glad he didn’t?

I AM!

So flying in the face of what sounds “right” is our fully functional, not dysfunctional, Lord and lover of our souls Jesus.


Here’s the world’s best “. . . But . . .” to pray:  I was lost in my selfishness and self-seeking frantic attempts to validate myself and find love, and I’ve wounded other people in the search, BUT JESUS YOU DIDN’T WALK AWAY! You thought of me and gave yourself, and in YOUR GIFT I have validation and amazing love now and forever! Jesus, Mr. Good Wrench, put the arm of your love on the lug nuts of my anger and bitterness over ____________________________ and break me free, change my heart, fill me with the penuma – air- breath – of the Holy Spirit so my heart is free to love ________________________________.