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When the storm brings rain

We had a much-needed rain last night. Though the arrogant lightning flashed boldly in my window making it hard to fall asleep, when I heard the droplets pelting against my window pane I knew that thirsty Mother Earth would be glad for a drink. In the morning, the soaking had left a smile on the face of my struggling, newly sodded lawn and renewed my hope that the hydrangea I had transplanted into the front mulch bed — a gift to me from my new next-door neighbor — might still gather the strength to stand up tall. Nice as he is, I felt sure he would be noticing.

As I strode along the drive and then through the neighborhood with my two energetic pups, my shoes became altogether sodden thanks to the puddling on the path which didn’t drink the rain up. Neither did signs and vehicles we passed, nor the metal-covered electrical box, nor the roadway, nor the roofs of nearby homes or their driveways nor the …. But so much did. The browning hillside. The drooping trees and bent shrubs. The colorful annuals planted hopefully along the foundations. These surely did.

Suddenly I felt an odd gratitude for the indiscriminate nature of the rains, falling on all things equally, like the grace of God. Paying no mind to where they land — whether needed or well-received, whether shirked, shed or run off down the hill into the pond — they distributed themselves equally. Yes, the Father sends rain on the just and unjust.

At once I felt a bit of a twinge, recalling times when I had prickled at the apparent unfairness of good things that had come to the poorly mannered, undeserving, entitled or even to the apparently wicked while the same good seemed to be withheld from those who needed or deserved it the most. I needed this simple reminder that the grass, my grass, didn’t receive its rain because it needed it but because of the even-tempered and merciful nature of the One who delivers it.

So that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45) 

When we put our hope and trust in humans and human ways, we are sure to be disappointed, but if we trust in God first, perhaps we can trust in what God’s grace can do. Even in them. Even in us. Especially in the storms of life.

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This one’s for you

What if you get to the ripe old age of, let’s say, over 50 and you realize you haven’t accomplished much? You know. You haven’t been successful in business, haven’t revolutionized a product or a process, haven’t been invited to speak before large crowds, haven’t even written a break-out novel. Heck, what have you been doing with yourself?

Worse yet, what if you were voted most likely to succeed by your high school classmates? How disappointing to start off with so much gusto and glide in with so little to show for it.

I’m not looking for sympathy here. I’m just stating the facts. I was given lots of tools and lots of resources and an open door to the world. That comes with strings. The strings are: use these gifts, talents and treasures to build up the kingdom. I’m looking back on a lot of projects that were started and not finished. Good ideas whose time just never came. Efforts and initiatives that fizzled and went out. Queries I didn’t follow up on or projects that had their season but were unsustained. Left behind. Lost.

One day I will be called to give an accounting. To lay all my deeds and doings on that scale and see if they balance against the plans God had for me. We’ll see, He and I, whether I have contributed what I was meant to while I was here.

Yesterday, I got some good news about this moment. There is a place for invisible deeds on that balance. Things we don’t see but God does. Time and age and distance and despair may blind us to what God sees so clearly. But every now and then we’re given a glimpse of the invisible. Someone is kind enough to share that what we said or did a long time ago has stayed with them. It’s become a part of their story – a good part – that has meant much and lingers still. We have forgotten these things. In fact, we are reluctant to believe we are even responsible for these things because, let’s be honest, we were really not such good people back then. But still, something real remains, and it gives life.

Somehow God is working His eternal in our lives here on earth even without our knowing. And that’s good because, had I known it, I would have messed it up for sure. I am feeling especially blessed today for the kind recallings of this old friend who says the old me still lives on in him – in a good way. How do you account for that? No telling. I’m just glad God’s doing the accounting.

And I still have time left. It’s a wonderful life. Now, to finish that breakout novel!!

10-4, Message Received

“Okay” “Understood” “Got your transmission.” That’s what today’s date means according to Urbandictionary.com. The expression, it says, came about in Citizens’ Band (CB) radio lingo where  common phrases were represented in “ten codes.” They were often used by law enforcement officers for brevity and clarity of communication. I, of course, learned them on tv cop shows. Apparently, I am showing my age. I had to explain this to my 22 year old daughter.

Still, I chuckled at that thought when I wrote the date in my journal today. I wrote it AFTER I had already written several things that occurred to me on waking. I often do this – scribble down whatever is bubbling up and then go back to date it.

Apparently, my mind is still reeling around a particularly difficult event our community experienced recently – the death of a family of four. Reports say that the Dad, Al, distraught over the condition of the economy, politics, community and personal matters, took the life of his wife and 2 teen sons. It is so tragic.

Apparently, I took the plight of this family on my run this morning. It brought to mind a similar circumstance from my life. My mother took her life 30 years ago as she suffered with depression. She wasn’t thinking clearly and wanted to save us, her family, from enduring the weight of the burden she saw herself to be.  A friend and pastor later suggested to me that this act, inexplicable by us in our “right” minds, was the most loving act she could conceive of.

And then I thought of Al. Father and husband. He must have been considering taking his life. As I considered his plight and speculated on his thinking, this phrase lept to mind: “Don’t leave them home alone.” It’s not safe to leave your children defenseless against the bad that might happen to them. Clearly, Al no longer saw his life and home a safe place. Could it have been that it was his love for his family that, confused by depression, convinced him to take this final act.

Walking up the steps after my run, it almost seemed as if this was a message from Al, now that all is clear and he is safely home. Please tell them, I didn’t want to leave them home alone.

Sorry my posting today is a bit grim. But it’s what God gave me. 10-4.

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