Monday, September 19, 2005

September 19

How refreshing it is to have found a devotional with substance and depth, where daily I'm challenged to trust Him more rather than to pursue my own happiness. Suffering seems to be so out of style in our culture. But Mrs. Cowman discovered its necessity in our spiritual development. In her devotional collection, Streams in the Desert, she offers daily meditations on the value of suffering. For September 19th she quotes Dr. Miller, saying,

"It is comforting to think of trouble, in whatever form it may come to us, as a heavenly messenger, bringing us something from God. In its earthly aspect it may seem hurtful, even destructive; but in its spiritual out-working it yields blessing. Many of the richest blessings which have come down to us from the past are the fruit of sorrow or pain. We should never forget that redemption, the world's greatest blessing, is the fruit of the world's greatest sorrow.

"There are blessings we can never have unless we are ready to pay the price of pain. There is no way to reach them save through suffering."

Having learned yesterday of the death of a humble and effective servant of God in the Philippines, of a friend's husband who has discovered a brain tumor, and of the death of a 9-year old boy whose parents left home to bring the good news to remote tribes, this comes as a great comfort. How can we explain the presence of such suffering if not for the fact that God's purposes for our lives run so much deeper than our personal comfort here on earth? He has rich blessings to give, if only we will recognize His hand in our troubles.

Friday, August 26, 2005

August 26

"I remember a summer in which I said, 'It is the ocean I need,' and I went to the ocean; but it seemed to say, 'It is not in me!' The ocean did not do for me what I thought it would. Then I said, 'The mountains will rest me,' and I went to the mountains and when I awoke in the morning there stood the grand mountain that I had wanted so much to see; but it said, 'It is not in me!' It did not satisfy. Ah! I needed the ocean of His love, and the high mountains of His truth within. It was wisdom that that 'depths' said they did not contain, and that could not be compared with jewels or gold or precious stones. Christ is wisdom and our deepest need. Our restlessness within can only be met by the revelation of His eternal friendship and love for us."

-Margaret Bottome, quoted in Streams in the Desert by Mrs. Charles E Cowman (August 26)

Sunday, August 14, 2005

back to trusting

It's been an awfully long time since I've posted anything, mostly because of our big transition back to the US, extra traveling, and preparation for baby. But God has been gently nudging me lately. There's been a subtle shift in my life from peaceful trusting to a driven kind of prayer that will not rest until my circumstances are comfortable, as if God owes me preferential treatment. It came to a head 2 weeks ago when I learned that I would probably have to have an immediate cesarean. A friend was good enough to say that his prayer is for God's will in our situation, not necessarily the most humanly desireable outcome. So here I sit, thankfully still pregnant, but ponderous of how I could have slipped so far from what He taught me during dry months in the Philippines.

This morning I read a devotional entry by Hannah Whitall Smith that brings it all back to center for me. "Is it not a glorious thing to know that, no difference how unjust a thing may be, or how absolutely it may seem to be from Satan, by the time it reaches us it is God's will for us, and will work for good to us? For all things work together for good to us who love God."

Tomorrow's entry, by F.W. Robertson, reads, "The best things of life come out of wounding. Wheat is crushed before it becomes bread. Incense must be cast upon the fire before its odors are set free. The ground must be broken with the sharp plough before it is ready to receive the seed. It is the broken heart that pleases God. The sweetest joys in life are the fruits of a sorrow. Human nature seems to need suffering to fit it for being a blessing to the world."

Thank you, Father, for your grace that will not fail until I'm found fully in You. Forgive my self-centered preoccupation. Show me again the way to find blessing in brokenness and the ministry of comfort in affliction.

Friday, March 11, 2005

2:00 AM

Life looks a lot different at 2:00 in the morning. Absolutely still. Dark. Almost everyone is sleeping, and those who aren't are quiet. I'm not sure why I can't sleep tonight, but I'm thinking about how amazing God is to not need sleep. Nighttime reveals just how human we are, how vulnerable and limited. Boundless energy and big visions must all rest. Tired moms and hospital patients, too. Sleep is the great leveler of humanity. We all need it -- no matter how rich or poor, intelligent or simple. Stresses seem irrelevant at this hour. Problems smaller. We can (and must) rest in the arms of the One who needs no sleep.

"He won't let you stumble,
your Guardian God won't fall asleep."
from Psalm 121 (the Message)

I'm headed back to bed ...

Sunday, February 27, 2005


My mouth started watering the instant I saw them. Peaches. A whole pile of lovely golden peaches with a ripe blush. I had already been dreaming of peaches for about a week. Knowing that we would soon be back in the States, where peaches are readily available, had piqued my appetite. But here, hidden in this grocery store in Manila, were real peaches. I knew better. I knew it was February, not peach season. I knew I was in Manila, not Denver, Colorado. The price alone should have stopped me. But my mouth was already watering so I splurged. After all, the peach had a nice firm softness about it that seemed just right. And I was pregnant and needed more healthy variety in my diet. So I took the plunge.

I knew the moment the knife pierced the skin that it had been a mistake. No juice dripped out on my fingers. No irresistable smell reached my nostrils. I finished cutting the peach, the damage having already been done. Before sharing with my daughter I tried a bite myself. Mealy and tasteless. Ugh. I tried disguising my mistake by mixing it with delicious bites of mango and juicy ripe pineapple. She was not fooled. "Ugh. What is this mommy? I don't like it."

I thought then about how timing is everything. A perfect blessing at the wrong time is no blessing at all. So I could cry about the peaches I'm "missing out on" or I could thank God for keeping them on the tree until they are truly delicious and I'm on the right continent to enjoy them.

neurological restlessness

"Cognitive scientists ... recognize a restlessness in the human mind, a need to do something with our thoughts and to pursue goals . Being human means grasping for something more, just as Adam and Eve did..."

"Presumably, God could have designed a human brain more like a computer CPU, leaving out any neurological restlessness. Animals seem content living out the singular goal of survival, without the need to reflect on themselves or grasp for more. Yet when God created a being in God's own image, he built in restlessness, along with curiosity and desire..."

from Philip Yancy, Rumors of Another World, 102-103