A meditation on saving my life



“See it as a chance to die.”

It’s what I heard walking in the back door after kicking my shoes off with the scattered shoes from every other person in my family. I saw all those shoes, not even in simple pile, and thought of all the times I’ve bent over to pick up shoes and put them in their right place, or called the shoes’ rightful owner to come pick them up and put them in their right place, and I thought, “Why do I even try? I clean up after people all the time, trying to keep some semblance of order in this house but it’s a loosing battle. I mind as well just get rid of the laundry baskets, cause everyone just throws their dirty clothes on the floor. And I mind as well get rid of the shoe box on the patio cause people in this house don’t even seem to care if two shoes are in close proximity to one another!”

As I walked into the kitchen throwing my mental pity party, taking note of all the misplaced coats, hats, blankets, toys, gaming controls, mail, dishes, pens, pencils, papers, and clothing, I heard Elizabeth Elliot say, “See it as a chance to die!”

I really love E. Elliot.  She’s one of my spiritual “older women”.  She’s a no-nonsense, Five Solae exalting woman.  You can’t listen to her and not be clear about the gospel of Christ or His amazing love or our sinfulness.  One of Elliot’s inspirations was Amy Charmichael.  It was Amy who originally said, “Missionary life is simply as a chance to die!” inspiring Elliot to apply that truth to her everyday life.

Christians are called to a most peculiar calling: to die daily.  We don’t die in the 6 foot under sense daily, but we die to our own “rights” and plans and powers.

Usually when I hear those words from Christ in Luke, “And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.“, I think of big sacrifices.

Missionaries like Amy Carmichael and Elizabeth Elliot surely did take up their crosses and follow Jesus in their work as missionaries, but loosing one’s life for Christ sake is not lived out only by missionaries and pastors and those in “full-time ministry”.

Every shoe picked up with a heart of forgiveness, every gentle call to a child to come clean up after themselves, every patient ignoring of a pile of laundry to look into the eyes of world-weary man who’s inviting you to just come sit with him for awhile… all this is a daily dying.  And every irritation I run into in a day is another chance for me to die.  Again.

But there’s more.  Notice the goal of what Christ said , “… but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”  

I don’t really want to die.  Neither in the six foot under sense, nor in the daily stuff sense.  I want to live!  And if you look at the goal of what Christ is saying here, dying isn’t the ultimate goal either!  Living is!

The difference between what I believe and what the health and wealth, get-your-best-life-now folks believe is time.  I believe what Christ said: if we loose our lives now for his sake, we will actually be saving it.  In this life we don’t strive to get our best life and the best stuff and the fountain of youth.  In this life we lay all that down to love others in Christ’s name… with his character.  But in the resurrection we will have no death, no disease, no lack, no pain… pleasures forevermore in the presence of our Savior!

So yes, I choose to see those shoes and the daily messes as a chance to die, but beyond that dying I see my best life coming.

Oh Lord, give me eyes to look past the messes and irritations and daily dyings to the beyond-words life I’ve tasted of in the Spirit now, but will one day fully experience!

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 

– Colossians 3:2-4

 Quieted,
Sheila

Of life without a down side

One day I’ll get to endlessly experience life without the down side.  I was thinking about that on this beautifully cool, gray, drizzling morning.

I was awakened this morning by, “Get up!  The cat peed on the bed!”  Yeah.  That’s the definition of waking up on the wrong side of the bed.  In fact, they should just change that saying.  Instead of, “Someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed!”  We should say, “Someone woke up with a cat peeing on the bed!”  I’m not a cat person, I tolerate her existence in my house since I have three other members of my household who adore her, but now, she’s on my hit list.

You might think this would pretty much ruin my day, but to my surprise, a theme of thankfulness has been running through heart this morning.  The hum of the constant rain, the smell of bacon and hot coffee, the sense that this wet, grey day may have provided for me hot tea, good books and quiet… at least until 11A.M. when the business of basketball games and batting practice starts.

As I lay on the couch this morning, I could hear my husband rehearsing the news out loud from the kitchen table.  Some guy has “tamed” lions by giving them, “love and affection”.   “That guy’s gonna get eaten!” my husband prophesies.    He’s probably right, but it reminded me that someday, life will really be like that with no threat of harm.  We get little glimpses now of what the Bible promises those whose faith is in Christ will experience for eternity.

Some day the lion will lie with the lamb and snakes will be play things.  Some day cats won’t pee on beds and bacon won’t clog arteries.  Some day rest won’t seem like a waste of time or laziness.  Some day what we call work will be joyful, creative expressions of Imago Dei in us.  Some day other centered affections and interests will be my constant character.  Some day there won’t even be a hint or undertone of thinking of Jesus in a religious, untouchable or cheesy way.  Some day talking of God and his beauty and glory and Christ and his love and affection will be as natural and as joyous as talking about your hero and the faithful dad who loves you and the chivalrous husband who swept you off your feet and the courageous warrior who saved his platoon in a self-sacrificing act.  Some day there will be life of life abounding without even a whiff of a down side and all that was here that I ever complained about will be a vapor long gone.  Some day life will be so vivid, so unrestrained, so deep and wide and full of awe and beauty and pleasure that all I ever thought might be worth turning away from the way of the cross to satisfy me here will seem like piles of worm filled dung.

Some day breath and rest and smiles and belly laughter and affections and flavors and sounds and vistas and powers and relationships and intimacy with the King of Glory will be my constant, uninhibited, depravity-free experience.  Oh that I would lift my head and let the things of earth grow strangely dim!


“Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth, and no one will even think about the old ones anymore. Be glad; rejoice forever in my creation! And look! I will create Jerusalem as a place of happiness. Her people will be a source of joy.”- Isaiah 65:17-18

 Quieted,
Sheila

Longing for home

Big sigh. Friday at 5 am we got in the car and began our travels back home to Arizona. Yesterday around 5 pm we pulled in to our Litchfield Park address. But, there was no settling in and relaxing to be done. We spent the remainder of Saturday unpacking, doing laundry and preparing for today- moving day 1.

At the beginning of the month we purchased a home in Surprise on horse property.  The house required some fixing up and invited some remodeling projects James was excited to start.  So, while the boys and I were on a road trip and visiting family in Nor Cal and Oregon, he was at the Surprise address knocking things down, tearing things out and running into road-blocks as is the normal course in any remodeling project so I’m told.

As of today, we still have no showers and no washer and dryer at the new house.  The basement floor (where all the bedrooms are) still has no carpet, just concrete.  That I can live with for awhile, but showers, not so much.  James has been working non-stop after work and on weekends to complete the projects he started a couple weeks ago, but things just haven’t gone as he planned, so now we’re sorta in a pinch.  We have to be out of this house we’re renting by July 1st.  That’s next Monday.  Yikes!

On top of all that, I’m supposed to start my week of Abrazo’s orientation tomorrow.  But, it might not happen.  While I was at the hotel in Bakersfield yesterday morning, I checked me email (which I hadn’t checked for several days) to find a disturbing email from my future employer saying I had until 3pm on the 20th to complete a mandatory training online or I wouldn’t be able to start on the 24th.  Well, that didn’t happen.

My first response in situations like that is to get a big knot in my stomach and worry.  But this time, I just looked up and knew Who was in charge.

I don’t know how I missed this mandatory training.  The email I got suggested this was something I should have known about. I looked back in a packet of papers the lady gave me the day before I left for our road trip and found a paper about this training.  It didn’t mention any timeline for getting it done and I don’t recall anyone saying anything to me when I went to the HR department to do all the paperwork.  So I figure the worst that can happen is they’ll think I’m a flake and choose to not hire me.  And if that doesn’t happen, I guess they’ll give me a later orientation date.  Both options would open up this week for me to focus on getting things packed and moved to the new place.  But, since this all went down yesterday, in my head, with no communications possible with the HR department, and since I did the training in the hotel room yesterday as soon as I read the email, I’m going to show up tomorrow at the orientation and see what they say.  If they say I’m not hired, I guess I’ll start looking elsewhere again.  If they say I have to take the orientation at a later date, so be it.  I’ll go home and get busy moving.  If they say I can stay, I’ll stay.

I feel sort of like I have no real home.  It’s an uneasy feeling.  Moving from place to place on our road trip.  Coming home only to pack and move half our stuff to another house.  It’s good for me to feel this way.  It makes me look up and take hold of, “…we have no continuing city here.  But we seek one to come.”

I think in part I feel this way even more because even in my own home, there is no unified rest in that promise.  And when I’m away, like I have been for these weeks, and I come home and know I can’t go to spend time in prayer and in learning from God’s word and in worship together with others who I know do rest in that promise; and when I can’t go spend that precious time when I feel most alive, teaching God’s word to the kids at Pathway (and at home or anywhere that happens), I feel a deep ache.    Today, I needed to stay home and help my husband get stuff moved.  But in my heart, I longed for that set apart time, when I get “centered down” for the week to come.  When my focus gets rightly fixed on Jesus to run the race of faith this week.  When I remember where my real home is and preach to soul, “Why so downcast oh my soul? Hope in God!”

 Quieted,
Sheila