Posted in Family, life, Scripture, thankful, wisdom

Murphy’s Law

Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.”
Song of Solomon 2:15

Good ole Murphy.  You have probably heard about a thing called Murphy’s Law.  The bottom line is that if something can go wrong…it probably will. I have been a strong believer in Murphy’s Law for a long time.  In fact, I bet if I checked ancestry.com this Murphy fella is somehow related to me.  Now I know if you are one of those optimistic folks you are not a believer.  You probably don’t believe in Big Foot either.  Well, hey, I’m a believer.  Let me give you a couple of examples.

I have a 100 foot water hose that we use to water plants, wash the car, all kind of things.   When I am done with the hose and it is time to roll it back up, there is a 90% probably that the hose will catch on something—a flower pot, a rock, a crack in the sideway, or even an ant. When it catches, it kinks and I will have to walk out and unkink it.  And…there is 67.5 % chance that it will kink again.  There you go…Murphy’s Law.

Are you up for one more?  So, let’s say I am installing a light fixture in the bedroom and I have to screw three screws in to hold it. There is a 94.75 percent chance that I will drop at least one of the screws from atop the six foot ladder, that it will roll 7.5 feet over toward the wall and that it will drop into the heating or air conditioning vent.  AND there is a 100% chance that I will not have a replacement screw AND a 84% chance that no one in town will either.  See, it is Murphy’s Law—undeniable, irrefutable, you gotta believe it, proof.

Now the good thing about Murphy’s Law is that most of the things it involves won’t kill you or even cause serious injury …but it will definitely drive you crazy.  I’ve lived long enough to come to the conclusion that it isn’t the major disasters in life that steal our joy, rob us of peace, or make us want to move to Montana.  No, it is the little things.  One of my favorite verses is tucked away in one of those Bible books we never read—the Song of Solomon.  Trust me—don’t read it to your kids before bedtime—or maybe anytime.

Well, right in the middle of the book is this jewel, “Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.” The author, who is a guy named Solomon, is saying he is not worried about a herd of elephants stomping and ruining his grapevines.  Nope.  He realized the danger is from those pesky little foxes that come along and eat the harvest one grape at a time.  One.grape.at.a.time.

In these crazy days that have become some kind of new normal there are some elephants out there.  The reality is that the corona virus can be very dangerous. There is a pretty small chance that I will get it.  There is an even smaller chance that it will kill me.  But there is just about a 100% chance that it and all its circumstances have and will  mess with me. And that’s the problem—worrying about things that mess with me, things I can’t change, and the Rolaids stock goes right through the roof.  Those stinking, pesky little foxes. We should be wary of the elephants, but let’s not give too much time and energy to the little foxes.

The foxes can and will mess with us.  If we allow them they can cause us to be frustrated and even angry.  They can mess with our peace, our joy, our relationships and even our sleep.  But the truth is our God is greater than any elephant or any fox. All we have to do us trust Him—to lean into Him.  The writer of Proverbs says it this way, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and don’t lean into your own understanding.  In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” 

There you go…trust and acknowledge and He will straighten this mess out. So, the next time the hose kinks or the screw disappears just remember Murphy is at work.  The choice of what we do when he visits is ours.  I think we should just probably introduce him to our Friend Jesus.  We should let him know there isn’t room for he and Jesus in our circle of friends.  Someone has to go and Murphy—it is you.  So long Murphy.  I’m gonna go rest in Jesus.  He’s got this. 

Posted in fear, Grace, gratitude, life, Scripture, thankful, wisdom

Do You Have A Pencil?

God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:6

“Do you have a pencil?” he asked.  Realizing there were plenty of kinds of pencils he added, “You know, the old-fashioned kind?”  I’m not sure what he needed it for but I rummaged through my desk drawer and found one.  I think he needed one with lead on one end and an eraser on the other.  The kind where you use one end to write a story or make a mark and the other you use to remove our “oops.” Today we are more likely to use the delete key on a keyboard. Erasers were my friends. Delete keys are my new friend. It makes my oops disappear.  I have a lot of oops.

My delete key changes things.  I mentioned recently that I did something that I had done only once before.  I opened the church calendar on my computer and started deleting things.  Evening service.  Delete. Youth Impact. Delete. KLICK and Women’s Bible Study.  Delete. Wednesday services. Delete. Choir Practice. Delete. Delete, delete, delete.  When I was done the calendar looked, well, mostly empty.  Mostly empty.

Then it hit me. Like an artist I was staring at a blank canvas and I realized what had been planned was gone.  The space that was cleared left plenty of room–room for God to write a new story. A different story. A better story. Several weeks ago, I began writing. With more white on the page there was more time to write.  Without God orchestrating the delete button, the stories would still be in my head and heart but not on the page. The thing I resisted led to the freedom to do it.

I wonder what would happen if we started concentrating on the ways God can use this hot mess we are in to rewrite stories?  What if we started to freely, to openly, invite Him to use the delete button and rewrite the stories of our lives?  I wonder what opportunities, what adventures would suddenly fill our pages.  A walk to the park becomes a safari. Homemade pizza night becomes an edible art gallery. The dining room table is cleared and we drag out the family games that have stayed in the closet too long.

Then there are cards to write, and calls to make, and stories to share.  Imagine the kids’ faces as they hear again how you met each other or how you met Jesus. Imagine sharing how things are really, really hard right now but how you are trusting God to help.  Imagine faith leaping off the page of the Bible and right onto the pages of your life. Then, imagine them saying, “Mom, Dad this bad time has been the best time because we got to be together.” Just imagine.

Yes, these are really challenging times.  Financially. Emotionally. Spiritually.  Yes–but what if God is writing a new story that in the end is the stuff of legends?  What if in a few years these days are some of the best memories?  And it was all possible because we said, “Ok God–go ahead and use the delete key.  I’m trusting that Your story is better than my story. I’m trusting You.” You see, God’s best use of the delete key is when He applies His grace to our sins, our mistakes, our misguided decisions, our oops.  New pasts and new futures are His specialty and they are often written in crazy days like these.  So, go ahead, press that delete key. Rest in Him.  He’s got this.

Posted in Uncategorized

Telling God No…

It was breaking news. “According to local sources a 5.8 magnitude earthquake rocked Southern Illinois yesterday, April 23, at approximately 2:49 pm. Authorities say it was the strongest earthquake to hit the area in decades. The epicenter of the strong quake was traced to Harrisburg, Illinois. In an unusual move, the Center for Seismic Activities was able to trace the center of the quake to 1300 South Feazel Street. More details will follow later.”

Later is now. It was me. I was sitting in one of the offices at Dorrisville Baptist Church solving all the world’s problems (and it was a long list) with two of my friends. In the midst of the conversation it came. My “Dick Tracy” Apple watch vibrated letting me know a message had arrived. It was from our Financial Secretary. She was watching the news.

Governor Pritizker had just announced he was extending the stay at home order until at least May 30th. I stomped my foot and the ground shook. That would mean for five more weeks we couldn’t meet as a church family in our building. It got worse. I then learned I would be required to wear a mask if I went out in public unless I was medically hindered. If stubbornness is a medical condition–I won’t be wearing a mask. Regardless, I stomped my foot and the ground shook.

Never in my wildest dreams could I foresee a time when our church campus would be closed for 10 (pull off your shoes cause you’re gonna need your fingers and toes to count them) weeks. Never. Never could I imagine a time when so many businesses would be closed, so many jobs would be temporarily or permanently lost. Never could I imagine such fear and devastation from an enemy so small I can’t see it. Never.

But God did. God saw it all coming. In fact, we can’t see the end of this and yet He sees it with crystal clarity. I’ve been writing now for weeks that He has “this.” And He does. He has allowed this brokenness in our broken world that will ultimately bring glory to His name and somehow–somehow–bring some sense of good for me–and you. No, no, no–this is not good. He just promised to bring good.

But I stomped my foot and I said “no.” Telling God “no” is never a good idea. I mean, He is God and I am not. He is smarter, wiser, bigger and better than any of us. He never, and I mean, never messes up. He never has an oops–never is caught by surprise. But I stomped my foot anyway. Why?

I stomped my foot out of frustration. I stomped my foot because I want normal. I stomped my foot because I didn’t trust…didn’t trust…didn’t trust God. I stomped my foot because I want my life back…now. You see it is one thing to say I trust the sovereignty of God in your life but quite another to trust it in mine. Isn’t that true for all of us? I don’t mind if God messes with your life as long as He doesn’t mess with mine?

Psalm 14:1 is a really powerful verse. It says, “The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” God is saying it is a foolish thing to deny His existence. Take a look around. This world is way too incredible to be an accident. It has “God” written all over it. But there is something else here you need to see.

In that same verse, the words “there is” are in italics. That means they are not in the original language. So, it could read, maybe should read, “The fool has said in his heart, “No God.” It is not only foolish to deny the existence of God it is a foolish to tell Him “no.”You see, He really is smarter, wiser, bigger and better than us. He really does love us–a lot. He really does care for us–a lot. He’s got a plan, a good plan, a perfect plan–I promise you. So, Dewayne, quit stomping and start trusting. Rest in Him. He’s got this. He really does.