Saturday, September 15, 2012

Proverbs 3:5-6--The Long and Winding Road

A black river snaking across the landscape, inky and mysterious beckons.  Prepared for the battle, the riders take to their mounts, and pursue the journey.  Each meandering curve is a surprise, each twist excites the senses.  Too slow, and the ride will be torturous, but advance too quickly, and the path may be deadly.  A skilled rider learns to feel the road, dance with the dips and bends, and accept that though it may be faster to ride on the straight path, the education, the true high of the ride comes only by mastering the curves.

In the past week, I was on a journey.  I attended WeSTOC, the west coast gathering of the ST Owner's Club.  The Honda ST is a sport touring bike, and the first time that Layne and I saw one, we fell in love.  This was the bike that would allow us to spend time together, to grow closer together, and to find new adventures.  The bike also helped us find new friends. 

Our group meets in a different western location each year.  This year, our meeting place was Golden, Colorado, where roads lead to the Rocky Mountain National Park.  The mountains are immense, and the scenery is a visual feast.  Most importantly, the roads are far from straight.  

A motorcycle rider lives for twisties.  There is something about a curvy road that quickens the heartbeat.  It's like dancing with God.  The ride through the Rockys reminded me that clearly, riding is so much like our journey here on earth.

Reaching the pinnacle of a peak is exhilarating...but the path to the top is often treacherous.  You aren't always sure what the next corner will bring, and there are dangers throughout the ascent--gravel that can take your tires out from under you, cars that cross the center line, animals running into your path.  A rider must have faith in his gear to protect him, in his tires to hold him up, and in his ability to feel that path that has been laid out for him or her.

Our group always gears up.  And we are given armor in the Bible that will protect us from possible falls.  God knows they happen.  He knows that sometimes, we're going to overshoot a corner, or become too confident and forget the dangers.  That is why he provides us with armor, and He expects we'll wear it.  

But each mile of the journey is filled with promise, too.  Sights that you would have missed, if you didn't take the ride.  Friendships that you wouldn't have forged, moments that are so valuable, the entire journey is wrapped up in them.  To find these gems though, you  have to be willing to risk the ride, the journey.  You have to be willing to have faith that although dipping down low into the next turn may put your throat in your stomach, there will be an experience in the trip that you wouldn't want to miss.

Our lives are full of curves.  Some of them are exhilarating, others are terrifying.  But each one grows us and makes us stronger.  Without those twists, we'd be alive, but we wouldn't really live.

Layne taught me to ride.  When I met him, I was terrified of motorcycles.  He rode me around the neighborhood at less than ten miles an hour, letting me getting used to the feel of the machine and his riding style.  As time went by, he taught me to dance with the bike, to feel the road beneath and let myself lean into the curves instead of struggling against them.  

God taught me to do the same with life. I leave with you this video of one of the dances I was honored to have at WeSTOC.  May we all embrace the journey.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Psalm 103:2-5

"Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle's."

Sept 11, 2001.  A call comes in from my husband.  "Are you watching the news?"

Normally, I turned the news on as I brushed my teeth...first thing. But, for some reason, on Sept 11, I had been distracted.  "No, why?"

"We are under attack"


So I ran to the television just in time to watch the North Tower of the World Trade Center crumble to ashes. I was in shock.My mind went back to a dinner that I attended there just weeks previous.  I was impressed by the sheer mass of the tower. Even the revolving doors were massive, thick, intimidating.  How could something so strong become cinders in the blink of an eye.

Immediately, I knew two things:  One, the end times are here, and I was not ready.  I was far from God, and His plans were moving forward without me.   Two, if that building was ashes, surely the life I had built and put all my stock in was nothing.  The new home we were building, the money in the bank, the "security" I felt I had purchased.

I began to question everything.  I wanted my life to be meaningful.  I didn't want to get up, work every day, and have nothing to show for it but things that burn.  My marriage was good by all outward standards, but we were very busy being busy, and had no time for one another.  I looked at Layne.  I had no idea who he really was.  

It was shortly thereafter that I asked for a divorce.  And Layne replied by asking for a month.  A month?  What good is that?  But, I reasoned, he had been my husband ten years...I owed him a month.

In that month, something happened.  He attended Promisekeepers...there he met Christ.  He began to go in our closet in the morning, and he prayed.  He poured his heart out...and he begged God for his marriage.  He  begged God to make him a better husband, a better father.  He asked nothing of me.  But he began to give.  I would ignore him, and yet, he would give, and give and give.

And he prayed for me, every single day.

And my heart was softened, and he returned me to my Savior...and walked our entire family one by one to the throne.

So while others think of September 11 with defiance, with sadness, I remember it as a turning point.  For me personally, for our family, for our country.

What did we learn on September 11?  Life is short.  God will not be mocked.  Fix relationships, it is all we have.  Love others above yourself as the rescuers did.  Hold one another tight in the darkness, for a new day will dawn.  His timing, and His promise that the unthinkable is real.

What will we do with that knowledge today?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Luke 19:1-10

19 He entered Jericho and was passing through. And there was a man called by the name of Zaccheus; he was a chief tax collector and he was rich. Zaccheus was trying to see who Jesus was, and was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a [a]sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way. When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” And he hurried and came down and received Him [b]gladly. When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, “He has gone [c]to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I [d]will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I [e]will give back four times as much.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

For those of you who don't know...I came home this week.  I flew in the arms of my family, my friends, my heritage.  It was wonderful.

I drove to Pickerington, Ohio, and up Route 204.  I was enjoying the gentle, rolling hills, the soft curves of the road.  I was probably driving too fast, and then I saw it--a traffic light!  "Since when is there a traffic light at this curve," I wondered.  I slammed on the brakes, and thought "Wow, things have changed."

Then, I made my way to Harmon Road, which in my memory is an oiled one lane path, arched with trees.  I was amazed to find the road of my memory lined with subdivisions along a three lane highway.  

Yet, coming home filled me with warmth.  If it wasn't the houses and the streets--what could make me feel so wonderful?  It was the embrace of my brother, the smile of my sister, the voice of a friend calling out "Betty Lou!"   I haven't been called by my full name in SO long.  

As I sat one evening around a fire, chatting with my high school friends, I realized how important it is to be with people who KNOW you and love you.  They know your name, your REAL name.  They don't forget you.  You are important to them.  Your life matters.

Indeed, my life matters.  And your life matters.  And that is why in Luke, Jesus called Zaccheus by name, though he was not the most lovable person.  He was a tax collector.  He was without friends.  Yet Jesus knew him, by name.  He knew his heart. 

That is our Savior.  He's hoping that you will return home to Him.  He knows your name.  He wants to embrace you and love you.  He doesn't forget you...ever.