Friday, April 20, 2012

Big Ego, Big Fall

There was a time when words poured out of me like water from a spout.  They were not my words, but words given to me by the Author of Life.   Words gushed from my pen, covering a page and then more, all the while filling my soul, feeding that part of me that was hungry for His touch.  This rain of Truth into my life encouraged me and filled me.  I, in turn, shared these words (now "my" words) with others so that they would minister to the wounded and encourage the downcast.  Slowly, almost imperceptibly, my ego began to grow.   My pride began to inflate.  My perspective began to change.  I started to look for man's approval, no longer wanting to share the writings for God's glory, but for my own sense of worth.  And the deluge of words from the Father that always quenched my spirit slowed to a soft rain,  trickled down to a  light drizzle.  Then it stopped altogether, becoming more than a dry spell.  I was immersed in a true drought

Proverbs 16:18 (The Message) says, "First pride, then the crash— the bigger the ego, the harder the fall."  And I had definitely crashed.  My ego had grown so large that it blocked my view of the Holy One.  I could not hear His Words, could not even process His written Word. 

"God can't stomach arrogance or pretense; believe me, he'll put those upstarts in their place."  Proverbs 16:5 cut to the heart of the issue.  It cut my heart, exposing the dark arrogance and forcing me to deal with it.  My words are nothing.  His words are LIFE.  These talents, skills, gifts I possess have nothing to do with me and everything to do with Him.  I did nothing to earn them but was blessed with them for a reasonHe gave me those talents so that whatever I write would draw the reader's heart to the Source of those words, to God Himself.  And unless He inspires and provides those words, that is all they are--mere words.  Empty words.  He is the One who breathes life into them.   He is the Author and Finisher of all.  And He alone deserves the recognition and praise.

Father, forgive my arrogance.  I want to be used by You for Your glory, for Your honor.  Root out and reveal those fleshly bits I hold so tightly that I may let them go and grab hold of You.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Stepping Out

Ok, Lord,  I am here.  It’s 5:00 AM and I wanted to stay in bed.  I came up with a million excuses and reasons why I could, why I should.  But, I kept hearing your voice saying, “Take the first step.”

So, here I am.  I don’t know if writing is what You wanted me to do this morning, but it is the first thing that came to me when I woke and saw what time it was.  I want to be obedient to You, obedient to what You have called me to do, obedient to the life You have called me to.

I wrestled, Lord, flesh wanting to stay in bed for one more hour, spirit wanting to be used by You in a mighty way, soul yearning to be who You created me to be.  Step out!  You told Abraham to go to the place that You would show him.  He moved in obedience and You gave him a nation.  I trust You.  Take me where You want me.  Move me, guide me, show me where You want me.  I have faith that You can and You will.  I am stepping out.

You are God.  You are my Creator, my Sustainer.  You are my Salvation.  You are my Rock and my Refuge.  You are my Strength and my Portion.  You are my Deliverer.  You are the Author and Perfector of my soul. 

You do not call me to walk in darkness, but You have created a path for me in Light.  You plant my feet, guiding each step over rock or pasture.  Nothing comes to me that has not passed through Your hand.  I move—this step, now—to walk in obedience to Your plan for my life.  I don't want to be on the sidelines, watching life.  I want to live what You created me for. 

Lord, here I am.  Use me for Your glory.

And, unless You have something else planned for me, I'll be here again tomorrow.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Love of the Father

This week has brought loss to two families in my circle of friends--parents losing children.  It has not been easy to watch as they begin the grieving process.  I am a bystander, grieving too, but not as a parent.  I cannot begin to imagine the pain, the grief that wells up inside to the point of flowing out of my mouth in a scream, a sob.  My heart breaks when my mind attempts to go there.

But, I glory in a God who loves us so much that He willingly chose to accept that same grief and pain that they are experiencing.   I trust in a Father who so loved me that He was willing to give His Own Son over to death in order to keep me.  I rest in the truth that He sees our every tear and captures them in a bottle.

Easter reminds us of the pain that Jesus chose and accepted for us.  He took our sin on His sinless body, became so vile in the stench of it that the Father turned away as the Son died a death that we do not have to die.  His Father saw Him in His Agony and allowed Him to suffer because of Love.

These parents now know, to some extent, the pain of the Father.  And they know the price that was paid.  Who among us would have been willing to watch our child suffer so grievously for another? I cannot imagine such Love. 

That same Father holds these precious ones. And He holds these parents, creating a new normal in their lives. He carries them through all of their todays and tomorrows, healing them until that Someday when families are re-united.

This Resurrection Sunday marks that Someday for Jesus.  And because He lives again with His Father, we wait and we pray for the days to get easier, the grief to subside, so that the memories are only precious and not painful.  We wait to be re-united with family.  We wait for Someday!

Come, Lord Jesus.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

You Never Know What to Expect

        Teaching is an adventure.  No two days are ever the same, and you never know what to expect from the minds and mouths of third graders.  There is never a dull moment!

        My students bring me an endless source of joy and amazement.  I take deep delight in their discoveries and in their growth.  I love kidding with them and watching their sense of humor mature.  Sometimes they stop me in my tracks with their humor. 

        Last Friday, one of my students made a comment about my age.  "Mrs. Joyner, you were alive in the 1950s, weren't you?" one precious child quipped.  My reply was a quick no.  He continued, "But you're fifty years old!". 
        Immediately I put my hands on my hips and with a stern look, playfully chastised him.  "I am not 50.  I am 46," I said in my best teacher voice.
        He looked me the eye, smiled, and replied, "But, it rounds to 50."

        Later that day, we were watching a film on rocks and minerals.  The phone rang again and again.  I was trying to fill out report cards but was unable to keep my focus with the constant interruptions.  I headed back to my desk to once again work on report cards after the sixth phone call.  I was halfway across the room when the phone rang again.  I turned, answered it, dealt with whatever was needed, and hung up.  I stood still, trying to recall what I was doing before that interruption.  I muttered to myself, "Where was I going?"
        To that, one quick youngster replied with perfect timing, "Crazy!"
        If only he knew how accurate he was!

        That same afternoon my students lined up to be released for buses.  As I walked to the front of the line, I heard one boy say, "Stop licking me!"  I stopped in my tracks, bowed my head, and put my hand over my eyes.  I waited, trying to decide exactly how I wanted to deal with this. 
        The students got quiet.  I heard one whisper, "What is she doing?" 
        Sadie replied, "She's having a moment."
        Out of the mouths of babes!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Comfort in Our Agony

      My heart aches for the mother who holds her daughter's hands, watching and hearing her breathe those oh-so-soft breaths created and sustained by a machine.  My soul grieves for the mother who will hold her son no more, taken too quickly in his own despair and desperation.  Tears well up in me as my eyes take in the pain all around me.  Broken dreams.  Overwhelming fears.  Lost causes.  Shattered hopes.  Destroyed plans.  No one is immune.  We all hurt.
     Father, Your people writhe with real pain that cannot be spoken away, dreamed away.  Pain that pierces the very core of our beings.  Father!  We cry out for You to move!  We cry out for You to heal.  We cry out, O God, for You to hold us and be our Victory. 
     And You have heard us in our agony.  You have seen us from  before the beginning of time, and You knew the pain of our today.  You knew, and You loved us. So you sent a Healer.  You sent a Comforter.  You sent our Redeemer.  You sent us   Jesus! 

In Christ Alone
In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm

What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless Babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save

'Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live, I live

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again

And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny

No power of hell, no scheme of man
Could ever pluck me from His hand
'Til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I stand

Monday, April 2, 2012

We Wait for Joy

An entire state away, a family waits and worships as their tiny two-year-old succumbs to the ravages of cancer.  Sweet Piper has battled valiantly; the leukemia has just been too vicious in its attack.  Her mama writes, recording for a world to see, all the struggles and the victories.  How it hurts now to read her words.  How much more it hurts her to write them!

We have watched and waited, we have praised and prayed, and we have hoped with a hope that can only come from a faithful God.  He has heard our prayers--those uttered by family, by friends, by friends of friends, and by strangers alike.  He has not ignored our pleas, nor is He capricious in which prayers He chooses to answer.  He is God.  He sees a thousand tomorrows while we can only see the here and now.  He sees the beauty that will come while we can only see the dark ashes that are our now. 

I do not know Piper, nor do I know her parents.  I've never met them face-to-face, and, yet, I've never been so touched by strangers.  I am a friend of a friend who has heard the story and wished and prayed and waited for God to move in Sweet Piper's life.  And though He did not move according to my will, He did move.  He has moved to make Sweet Piper's life count.   He has blessed Linley's journey even as she has her head shaved to honor her sister's fight.   He has used her father's strength and brokenness to show a father's love.  And He has magnified her mother's hope and pain, giving words to both so that all could know and see how great is her GodIs there any greater purpose for our own lives than to touch others for our Father?  Sweet Piper has served Him well.

Sorrow is the bitter sting of letting go long before we desire.  It lingers long, as we wait for morning, as we wait for joy, for He has promised that joy will come in the morning.  And His promises are true.  Lord Jesus, we wait for the Joy.  We wait for You.

For her mother's blog, please go to
Sweet blessings.