Master Mechanic

dsc_9582On Saturday,  my daughter was in a car accident, and thankfully, suffered only minor injuries.  Her car initially appeared to have survived the impact of a van rear ending it at 60 mph.  There were only a few noticeable scratches to the back bumper, but when she tried to drive it,  all the lights on the dash began flashing and the car only made it a half mile before dying.

The next day, when her husband was able to tow it home, his diagnosis was that it was a total loss, for although the exterior of the car held up rather well,  looking under the hood revealed far greater damage. The engine was jammed, misaligned and the radiator had been jarred and broken. It  was a beautiful car with a total wreck for an engine.

I  have been pondering the words of President Trump’s inaugural speech.  He is hopeful and has great intentions to make America Great Again.   I am hopeful also, but my reason for hope isn’t that America will be financially stable, or that I will feel safer, or that our  infra-structure will be improved.  All those things sound wonderful, but are just exteriors.

My hope is placed elsewhere. My hope is in the Lord and His intentions.

Social media seems to reveal the hearts of people. It shows things that shock and dis-heart-en me,  and make me realize that satan is a master at deception.  What is good is now considered bad, and what is bad is now considered not only acceptable, but even good.  How can things be so turned up-side-down?  How can our nation seem so dark?  How can its heart be as messed up as the inside of my daughter’s car?

We can’t make America great again just by improving her  infrastructure. Infrastructure is defined as,”the basic physical and organizational structures and facilities (e.g., buildings, roads, and power supplies) needed for the operation of a society or enterprise.”  Some would describe it as the internal workings of a civilization, but I beg to differ. Infrastructure is an external;  it’s still dealing with exterior things.

America doesn’t need a nice exterior, she needs a new engine. To mix metaphors, instead of just a make over, she needs a heart transplant.  Hopefully, those of us who believe we should love those who feel like our enemies,  will point those we disagree with toward the only One who can give them new hearts.  Are we kind? Are we humble? Do we ask forgiveness along with granting forgiveness?  Are we speaking truth in love?  After all,  “In the bigger picture, the ultimate goal, the real instruction Jesus gave his followers, was to attract others–not to repel them.”  (Carson, 134)

It is hard.  My natural response is to feel angry and in turn, slander those who seem to hate everything I stand for, but I am hanging on to the fact that I am called to pray for those who persecute me, and return blessings for curses.  People opposed to my beliefs, don’t need me arguing back at them.  They need to see what the Master Mechanic has done in my life, and how I respond to antagonism gives me the opportunity to show sacrificial love in action. How I live my life should be the most convincing message of all.  That should speak louder than any message on social media.

Bring on the plans to make America Great Again.  I will be doing my part by asking God to help me be joyful, humble and loving as I point others to Him,  the  Master Mechanic.

“The power of the gospel, could achieve more in hearts and lives than all the Acts of Parliament…”   J.C. Ryle.  (Russell, 262)

Carson, Ben.  Take the Risk.  Grand Rapids, Michigan:   Zondervan, 2008.  Print.

Russell, Eric.    J.C. Ryle:  The Man of Granite With The Heart of a Child.    Fearn, Scotland:  Christian Focus Publications,  2002.  Print.


Safe and Secure

dsc_9581The snow plows had cleared the way for  people to be out and about just after  the storm.  Four to five inches of fresh, snow covered the formerly brownish banks that bordered the road into town. After days of outside sub-zero temps, making it dangerous to go anywhere,  I could breathe again as I ventured out of my cabin to break my fever.

On the car radio, the announcer told a brief story of the life of Leon Fleisher, before playing his piano selection,  Schafe Konnen Sicher Wieden,  What amazed me about this pianist was the fact that, after having lost the use of his right hand for 35 years,  he was playing this song in particular:  “Sheep May Safely Graze.” The man was then 88 years old at the time of the recording and it was breath-taking.

As I made it to the library before the music concluded, I stayed in my car to enjoy the last few phrases of one of my favorite pieces by J.S. Bach.  Mr Fleischer’s right hand must have recovered well because every note was played perfectly and was pure joy to my heart.

A quick look into this man’s life revealed that he is a Jewish man, who at the peak of his career as a pianist, began to watch a “slow motion catastrophe.”  (MPR)   His last two fingers began to contract, curling up into his palm, eventually rendering that hand useless.  He went on to play for 35 years various compositions that only required his left hand, and only in recent years, thanks to the muscle relaxing effects of Botox was he able to play again with both hands.

Other than the fantastic details of his physical recovery, I wonder about the details of his mental recovery.  I don’t know what he believed about the God of the Jews, but the fact that he played “Sheep May Safely Graze,” is what some would consider an ironic choice of music, considering God allowed him to lose the use of his hand for all those years.

Could it be that Mr. Fleisher really believed that sheep could safely graze?  Can sheep really  trust the Good Shepherd with all the details of their lives, even when the Shepherd takes things away that are seemingly good?

Do I really believe the Shepherd is good?

Sheep may safely graze and pasture
Where a Shepherd guards them well
By still waters ere he feeds them,
To the fold he gently leads them,
Where securely they may dwell

The song replayed in my head all the way home and after arriving,  I got out of my car and looked up into the sky.  It was a brilliant blue pasture for the flocks of fluffy, white clouds floating  so beautifully across its expanse.

The air, the music, the views, all reminded me once again;  He is  good.

He is The Good Shepherd.

His very name– God, means good. 

You are good and do only good; make me follow your lead. (Psalm 119:68)


Making Room

dsc_9552Much to my delight, my son has decided to tackle a renovation project in our basement.  Our  craftsman style house was constructed in 1926 and became our home in 1987.  It is a two-story with a half-finished basement.  I say half-finished, because multiple attempts have been made throughout the years to redeem the space, but…. well,  I’ll save you the details; life gets busy and we never seem to be able to finish the other half.

In order to begin the tedious job, we have discussed the actual use of the new space.  Do we need to build more storage closets and shelves to organize our stuff, or heaven forbid, do we get rid of the stuff that requires so much of our time and energy to organize?   Could it be we could make the mistake of building storage to make room  for garbage?

Oh,  I cling tightly to a lot of it.  Despite warnings to discard old car seats for children, I hesitate to jam my son’s old car seat into the garbage along with all the other bits and chunks of junk that are occupying so much of my home.  I cling, thinking someday, I may need it and I will rue the day I was ever so ruthless.

While sorting and sweeping, I’ve been humming  one  of my favorite Christmas songs:  “Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne.”

Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown,
When Thou camest to earth for me;
But in Bethlehem’s home was there found no room
For Thy holy nativity.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.

(The version I have in my head from childhood is sung by George Beverly Shea)

A young pastor spoke at our church last Sunday and he was not only eloquent,  his message carried a freshness with it,  much like a peppermint mist diffusing over the heads of the weary congregation. In his enthusiasm, he challenged us to consider a resolution  I had never considered before.  (I usually resolve not to make resolutions.)  “This year,” he suggested, “try  making room for more joy in your life.” Hmm… that sounds wonderful, but how exactly does one accomplish that?   After all, there are so many reasons to be….sad.   As a Christian,  I hate to admit it, but there are times my heart is filled with despair and there is no room in my heart for joy.  He obviously knew the secret, for the young pastor fairly glowed with joy.

The very next day, my faithful God answered the question that was only floating around in my head…  How do I make room for joy?  Before heading to the basement to clear the way for my son to start the renovation, I treated myself to the Dec. 24th reading in   Mary Tileston’s book,  “Joy and Strength,” and it shed light on what needs to happen in my life.

All that God desires is to give you His great love, so that it may dwell in you, and be the principle of your life and service: and all that withstands God’s desire and His gift is the want of room for it, and for its free movement, when that room is taken up with yourselves and your little personal interests. (Dec.24, William Bernard Ullathorne)

By rooting out our selfish desires, even when they appear to touch no one but ourselves, we are preparing a chamber of the soul where the Divine Presence may dwell.  (Dec. 24, Ellen Watson)

The bags are full.  They are dusty and ugly, bulging with what I thought needed to be saved–hoarded.  The feelings I hoard in my heart–the selfish ones: the pride, the grudges, the judgemental attitudes, and the fearful ones–lack of trust in God and His provisions…all of them are just as ugly and space wasting as bags of junk so why is it so hard to get rid of them?   Why do I frequently dust them off, open them up and rifle through their contents?  Why do I make room for them and not for joy?

Oh Lord, I need your help to make room.

Take the junk out of my heart and don’t let me keep bringing it back.

Thank you for  coming and even wanting to live in my heart.

Make yourself at home and fill me with so much of You,  there’s no room

for anything else.