Ode To Green Stuff

Green stuff so fluffy

oh green stuff so fair

you’re sweeter than sweetness

you’re lighter than air!

 

Pineapples and ‘mallows

cool whip and pudd

my salivary glands

think you’re more than good

 

You’re not boef bourguignon

you’re not coq au vin

but calling you white trash

would be hateful and mean

 

Though Julia and Martha

would turn up their noses

You’re fairer to me

than red wine and roses.

 

Happy Thanksgiving! May your day be filled with delectable delights both refined and lowbrow!

 

You’ve heard my silliness…now here’s a little exhortation… 

 

Thou that hast giv’n so much to me,

give one thing more, a grateful heart…

Not thankful, when it pleaseth me

as if Thy blessings had spare days

But such a heart, whose pulse may be

Thy praise.

~George Herbert

Branded

Cowboy X has been branded.

 

Four and a half weeks ago he reached up with chubby hand towards a mug of tea, just poured from the singing kettle, and learned what “hot” meant.

 

The liquid poured down his 18 month old arm, destroying everything in its path instantly, soaking into pajama sleeve, shockingly ruthless.

 

The shrieking was severe.

 

The clothes were torn off posthaste but the damage was done. Emergency room patched him up and the next morning we headed to Hillcrest Burn Center in Tulsa to see the experts.

 

How a mother’s heart breaks to watch a child in pain. My eyes brim over with memory and grief. How do you explain to a baby that all will eventually come right? How many times can you say I’m so sorry for an instant’s unwatchfulness?

 

When words do not suffice, it is enough to be held, and to hear the murmured prayers of someone who loves you, someone who cares more than words can say.

 

The verdict was deep tissue 2nd degree burn. The flesh peeled away in horrifying thicknesses, later turning white when underlying cells decided the damage was too severe to recover and gave up their battle as well. Twice daily we bathed the arm and slathered on the ointment thick for healing, wrapping and bandaging to protect the raw and vulnerable from infection.

 

Several times I had to sit with head between knees until the spinning world decided to come back into focus. I am The Fainter, The Squeamish One, The One Who Does Not Deal Well With Blood or Gore.

 

It felt so cruel, this bathing and washing. To unwrap his dressings caused him pain. To expose the damage to water and soap, to pop the blisters and gently help the dead skin release its hold did not feel kind.

 

He cried.

 

I cried.

 

Yet it was not cruelty, it was kindness. Cruelty would have been to leave him as he was. Left to itself, the dead flesh would damage further, spreading infection and disease. 

 

Neglect is never kindness. 

 

Xavier, with hitherto untapped wells of courage, submitted to the actions without struggle. Clinging to his sister, tiny feet wiggling continually in an effort to distract, he would bury his face in her shoulder until it was over and done.

 

And the Lord spoke. Oh, how He spoke.

 

This is what I do for you He whispered to my heart. See the dead, clinging flesh? You don’t need it. It’s a danger to you. Let Me strip it off. Let Me bathe the hurt with healing water. Let Me bind up Your wounds.

 

This world wounds. We are every one of us burned by the daily heat of life on planet earth. Some is self-inflicted, and some is poured out by others and we are simply bystanders, injured by default.

 

All of it hurts.

 

We can guard it. We can resist His ministrations, kicking and pushing Him away, telling Him we are fine.

 

We are not fine.

 

But it’s our flesh. It’s a part of us. We love it. We don’t want to see it go, no matter how damaged and dangerous it may be. I loved Xavier’s chubby little wrist. To see the flesh wash down the drain broke my heart. But holding onto it would not have saved it.

 

See what a blessing it is that he submits The Lord whispered again. See how much easier it is to get done quickly…how much less painful it is to him when he does not struggle. My heart does not delight in your pain. My heart delights in your healing.

 

As sure as I wept over Xavier, the Lord weeps over us. He is distraught over the damage of sin in our lives. He is only waiting for us to be still, to hold the battered pieces out to Him and let Him do His work of stripping and cleaning, anointing and binding. It feels like cruelty,  but it is the sweetest form of love we will ever experience.

 

Cling to Him as He works. It is enough to be held, and to hear the murmured prayers of Someone who loves you, Someone who cares more than words can say.

 

 

(This is the injury:)

 

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underneath

 

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cleaning7

 

(And this is the cleaning:)

 

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(This is the trust:)

 

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(And this is the healing:)

 

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Duh

Is it just me, or does anybody else out there ever have trouble with knowing God’s Word sometimes?

 

I don’t mean with the really tricky stuff, like “if you have faith as a mustard seed, say to this mountain *be removed* and it shall be thrown into the sea” or anything of that ilk. I mean the easy stuff. Stuff like:

 

Do you know He died for you?

 

Do you know He hears your prayers?

 

Do you know He intercedes for you?

 

Do you know He sent His Holy Spirit to help you?

 

Do you know He is coming back to earth someday?

 

I can almost hear the “Well, DUH!” in your mind right now. And I understand. As Christians, we “know” these things. I thought I knew them, too.  I had filed them away in my mind under “faith” a long, long time ago. But did I know these things…or did I KNOW these things? Uh oh. There’s a difference?

 

Here’s a quick check to see if you are knowing things or KNOWING things:

 

Does what you “know” change the way you live? Change the way you feel? Change the way you respond to situations? Change…you? In those secret, dark and damp places in your heart where the door is tightly shut and barred and closely guarded…does any of that truth ever get in?

 

Let me be frank here…I have known lots of stuff in my life. I’ve believed in Jesus since I was four years old. I knew the lingo. I could preach it with the best of them. Jesus loves me. Jesus died for me. Jesus forgives me.

 

And then I got alone with the Lord, really alone and quiet before Him, and He very kindly informed me that I didn’t KNOW much of anything at all. Here’s a little illustration of what He showed me has to happen before we can turn knowing into KNOWING:

 

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When we read His word and when we pray, when we listen to solid preaching and when we read truthful books, all that truth goes into our heads. Obviously, it has to go there first. It gets processed there. But it’s not supposed to stay there. If it stays there, it never changes us, not For Real. For it to change us, it must percolate down into our hearts, where it can flow out  to the world around us in daily life.

 

The biggest thing, the crux of my difficulty, and, I suspect, the crux of most folks’ difficulty, is in KNOWING God’s love for us. The magnitude of it. Such a thing could not help but change us fundamentally. I used to think I simply couldn’t know it, that it was beyond my capability. But that’s not what His own words tell me.

 

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,  that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,  may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Eph. 3:14-19

 

You see right there? Right. There. He says KNOW the love of Christ, which surpasses knowledge.

 

What? Know something that surpasses knowledge? Yes. The difference is right there, between heart and head.

 

I wanted to KNOW it. I knew I needed to KNOW it. What was wrong with me that I could hold such a thing in my brain for so many decades with only tiny bits of it sporadically getting through to my heart? I asked the Lord. He showed me again.

 

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(highly scientific cross-section view) 

 

Ouch. Here’s the problem. Pride. Anger. Unforgiveness. Fear. These are my own clogs. Your results may vary. They block the funnel, clog it up. Make it downright impossible for those seeds of truth to settle down into the soil of the heart, where they can grow and bear fruit.

 

What to do? How to remove it?

 

What else to do but pray?

 

I prayed for Holy Spirit Draino. Roto-Rooter, even. No matter how it was going to scorch and burn, I wanted it. I stopped caring if it would hurt. I knew it would. And it did. But He is SO GOOD, friends. SO. GOOD. Suddenly (and yes, it seemed just that sudden; I am not overstating the case) He blew my mind with the revelation of all He has done for me. It had never seemed so real. It had never been so close, so fresh, and so precious.

 

So I’m starting with this advice: get some Draino. Get some now. Because anything else will seem like just so much blahblahblah without it. Turn off the computer. Shut out the voices. Get on your face before Him (and no, I don’t mean metaphorically or in your heart, I mean literally, face to carpet) and mean what you say.

 

He will come. And He will pour you clean.

 

Jesus. You are awesome, so faithful and so immediate with help. Please keep me free from the buildup of pride, fear, unforgiveness, and  anger. Let the pipeline be so open that the truth dropped into my mind goes straight into my heart, where it can yield a harvest of Your righteousness in my life. Oh You are so beautiful to me! Thank You. Thank You that You are not disgusted with the magnitude of filth in my life, but eager and delighted to blast it away.

Envious

I envy eighty.

Even more, ninety.

Creases on hands, on face…on heart.

Signs of time

well-spent in living.

 

I envy races

with end in sight;

no longer run

to beat and conquer

but run

to finish

and find rest.

 

I envy books

nearly read;

lopsided pages

thin as a whisper against back cover

and turned

with trembling anticipation.

 

I envy winter

and soft snow falling;

bring quiet to chaos

no more striving

no more building

no more blooming

no more growing

 

only sleeping.