My (Preferred) Alter-Ego (come find me here!)

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Lion: "I wish I were..."

“I wish I were braver,” says Lucy Pevensie in the 2008 cinematic portrayal of C.S. Lewis’s “Prince Caspian.”

Aslan replies, “If you were any braver, you’d be a lioness,” and a smile dawns across her face.

When we next see Lucy, she’s walking alone to face the iron-clad Telmarine army on a bridge they constructed to cross the river. She approaches one side of the bridge, and the army stops abruptly on the other, stunned to see this little girl standing to block their way. With a small smile, Lucy draws a tiny dagger and half-heartedly waves it at them. Then we see Aslan pace with deliberate steps to walk behind her, and we realize the power behind her.
It was at this point that I burst into tears the last time I watched this movie. Like many of you, I feel like Lucy tottering on the edge of a river, thrusting my tiny dagger towards an army waving enormous swords.

I wish I were braver. I wish I were stronger. I wish I were more grateful; quicker to forgive; less selfish. I wish I were.

I wish I trusted more and tried to control less. I wish I had more faith. I wish I learned from experience and didn’t panic at the little stuff. I wish I had more patience.

I wish I had more to give. I wish I prioritized and time-managed better.

I wish I remembered to pray in the Spirit more. I wish I didn’t have to fight daily not to care about what people think of me. I wish witnessed more. I wish I judged less.


For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling
down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled. [2 Cor. 10:4-6, my emphasis added]

It’s not about the strength of the sword in your hand–it’s about the Lion of Judah standing behind you.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Merry Heart Meditations (part 1)

…because God has a sense of humor…

Definition of “A Beans Day”

It had been a high stress day at work; I came home exhausted and had a raging headache. JD decided to be kind and start dinner for me–minestrone soup, at my suggestion. Every recipe I found online suggested that the ingredients list was flexible, so JD decided to build our meal off of a bag of dry 5-bean soup beans.

After they had been boiling for an hour, I walked into the kitchen to discover most of the water in the pan had boiled away, the bottom layer of beans had burned to the pan, and the top layer of beans sported a chalky, powdery substance previously undiscovered by man. I made the executive decision that the time had come to start from scratch. Down the disposal went the beans, and out came another pan.

Just before we sat down to what turned out to be a delicious dinner, JD discovered that water was backing up into my kitchen sink. He retrieved a half-filled bottle of liquid plumber from the laundry room and sent it to work its magic while we ate.

Upon clearing the table from dinner, we discovered the sink still was not draining. I went to round up a second half-full bottle of liquid plumber from my bathroom. Down poured the contents of the yellow bottle; up glooped more slightly bubbling drain water. I sent DJ for the plunger.

We alternately worked on the sink with the dedication of trained EMTs performing CPR. In the back of my mind, I vowed to thoroughly disinfect the sink once we took care of this little drain problem.

An hour after we discovered the plumbing clog, we made a trip to WalMart to purchase more drain cleaner (the expensive kind) and some water-proof adhesive to seal a leak in the pipes our vigorous plunging had exacerbated. We were in the plumbing department when we saw it, housed ominously in its oversized plastic bag: the Liquid Lightning Drain Opener — sulfuric acid guaranteed to eat through anything organic in 20 minutes.

“We are so getting this,” JD said to me. And we did–to use as a last resort after another bottle of drain gel.

Dark was rapidly descending and I was puttering in the yard when JD came flying out the back door and doubled over coughing on the carport. I threw down my watering can and ran to his side. “What happened?!?”

More coughing.

“Are you okay?”

“Don’t go in there!”

“What’s wrong?”

“It–the smell–I–” Cough, cough, cough.

My house. My rules. “Stay here,” I told him, and I pulled my t-shirt up over my nose and ran inside. Neither of us are good at following directions, it seems, because he was right behind me as I crossed the threshold.

It smelled like a thousand pool filters had spontaneously combusted in the center of my kitchen. One tiny bottle of chemical had transformed my sink drain into the mouth of hell. I could almost see the smoke wafting into the living room.

My eyes were stinging while I ran around shutting off the air conditioning, turning on every fan, and throwing open the windows. JD dazedly followed every footstep, sporadically coughing every few minutes. I began wondering if we needed to rush him to the emergency room.

We shut ourselves in one of the back rooms of the house and sat in the dark (I had turned off all the lights to cut down on the heat), waiting for twenty minutes to pass. JD could only manage a few words, mostly about an erupting green liquid that squirted up past the pan he’d put in place to cover the drain. To this day I only have a vague understanding of what exactly happened. It sounds like Slimer took up residence in my plumbing.

At around 9:45, we tiptoed through the house (as if walking normally would somehow set off another chemical reaction). Drain vomit had crusted over my sink with brown and green goop. A good sign, I thought. Nothing could live through that!

JD turned on the water, and it bubbled along for a few seconds. I grabbed a steel-wool scrubbing pad, concerned that the residue on the sink wasn’t washing off fast enough. By the time the water began backing up into the sink again I had realized that the stain wasn’t coming off. I sent JD home to call a plumber and get some sleep, and returned to my room trying to force images of greasy water, dirty dishes, and chemical haze from my mind.

A phone call from the plumbing company the next morning informed me they wouldn’t be able to come out until early next day. JD washed my dirty dishes in a drink cooler in the back yard. We went out for dinner that night, reminding each other that in a year, this experience would be funny.

One over-$300 visit from the plumber Saturday morning brought the following conclusions:

1) JD and I are both in the wrong line of work. At $350 an hour, we could both retire within twenty years.

2) Sulfuric acid will eat through the bottom of garbage disposals.

3) Sulfuric acid takes the finish off of brand new stainless-steel sinks. “Safe for pipes,” my eye!

5) Sulfuric acid is rendered powerless in the face of 5-bean soup mix. Beans are indestructible. All paving companies should take note.

The wonderful thing is that God is always there with us, even in the middle of a “beans” kind of day. He protected JD and me from possible chemical fallout, and the entire situation lasted a relatively short amount of time in the grand scheme of things. JD and I have laughed about the experience with our friends multiple times already, and it has been much less than a year. How grateful I am to share my life with a man who laughs with me.

I’m praying that the plumber felt the Holy Spirit in my home on Saturday morning as he worked. Is reaching a human life worth $350? I have to say, “it is.”

“For we know all things work together for the good…”

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Productive Pain

My friend, Sara, is one of my role models. She has what I like to call “forefather-faith”–the kind of stubborn trust in the faithfulness of God that sent Abraham away from his family looking for a land he’d never seen; that sent Abraham’s servant on a quest looking for Isaac’s bride; and that compelled three Hebrews to defy an order to worship an image in the face of certain death. Sara believes in divine healing, and rarely misses an opportunity to pray for those who are sick. She is a modern-day Hannah making constant intercession for her son, and the Lord is honoring her faith (you can read more about that here).

What is so encouraging is that she is regularly contending for healing in her own life. She has been asking the Lord to heal her ears for as long as I’ve known her; and while I might have given up by now and felt that God had no desire to heal me (or worse, that He no longer heals), Sara is relentless in her pursuit of the healing that the Lord promised her.

Last Saturday afternoon in our prayer set, Sara felt led to invite anyone in the room who needed healing in their body to come to the front for a time of prayer. The Holy Spirit had blessed us with His Presence, and she felt His prompting to ask for His touch. I will admit, at the time I felt reluctant simply because she’d asked one of the two other singers on the line to come and pray with her. The other singer had momentarily excused himself shortly before, so I was left alone singing and “didn’t feel inspired.” To be honest, I don’t even remember what words came out of me at this point. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit does not bind Himself to my emotions.

Sara and Nicole began walking down the row of people who had come up for prayer, laying hands on them and quietly praying 60-90 second prayers over each before moving to the next person. The entire process ended after about five minutes; then the other singers returned to their places on the line and we transitioned into another song. Well, that’s that, I thought.

I had forgotten about the entire process at the end of the set when I introduced myself to one of the ladies who had come up for prayer. We shared the usual pleasantries and then she said, “I just wanted to let you know I have a testimony.”

I leaned closer to hear her through the hubbub of laughter and small-talk around me.

She said, “I came in here earlier today and had a blockage in my right ear–I couldn’t hear well out of it. Well, when that lady prayed for me, it popped open and I’ve been able to hear perfectly ever since!”

We have all rejoiced in the kindness of the Lord and for Sara’s obedience in praying for healings. However, what has been the most interesting to me is that God used Sara to bring healing to a lady struggling with the same ailment as Sara. Furthermore, Sara’s genuine joy over God’s goodness has been a delight to witness–she has not asked, “why didn’t God do that for me instead?” She has rejoiced in His faithfulness to His word with an open, unselfish heart.


While reading in Isaiah earlier this week, I felt the Lord highlight this passage to me:

As a woman with child is in pain and cries out in her pangs, when she draws near the time of her delivery, so have we been in Your sight, O LORD. We have been with child, we have been in pain; we have, as it were, brought forth wind; we have not accomplished any deliverance in the earth, nor have the inhabitants of the world fallen. (Is. 26:17-18)
Isaiah’s statement encompasses the required posture of an intercessor. Those who partner with God’s purposes know the baptism of pain that marks close communion with His heart. A woman in the middle of childbirth endures the pain because of the promise of holding a new life in her arms. An intercessor partnering with the Holy Spirit clings through emotional valleys to bring deliverance to the earth.

God can trust the weak with His power. We give Him most glory when we face the stark reality that there was no way we could have brought about deliverance ourselves. He uses us most in the areas where we feel that we fail the most–where we have to rely on Him because we have reached the end of ourselves.

I believe that God gives us authority in our areas of greatest weakness. Paul understood this when he struggled with his “thorn in the flesh” and the Lord told him:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Cor. 12:9)
The process of God’s training is never easy, and sometimes the losses feel they are too great; however, if we truly desire to be a “these-signs-shall-follow” generation, we must allow God to lead us through some valleys. Although the process often involves crushing, the purpose always ends in Christlike-ness. We must not be so consumed by the process that we forget His purposes.

May He give you grace in persevering.