Monday, November 9, 2009

Soak it Up!

Many of the trinkets the kids have brought home from Sunday school over the years have been glow-in-the-dark in nature; crosses, vinyl bracelets, rings, etc. One evening, after tucking her in bed, our daughter was asking me to show her how to make her bracelet glow again. So I turned on her lamp and held it close to the bulb for a minute before turning it off. She was delighted and I explained matter of factly, “You see, in order to glow it has to soak up the light.”

Wow, what a truth. And for more that just trinkets! We need to soak up God’s light in order to glow. We need to do it regularly and thoroughly. I know that there are weeks (especially with three small children) when I am hard pressed to recall what the sermon was about a few hours after church. These are the same weeks that I tend to feel more burdened by trying to take on the world myself, and slightly less full of God’s confidence and faith in his promise.

Soaking up the light doesn’t just mean organized worship. Having breakfast with a fellow believer and discussing your faith, daily devotions, and prayer, making a habit out of being in his light, his Word, will help charge you and make you ready to glow if and when the lights should go out suddenly.

God designed us this way. He designed us to grow stronger when we exercise. All parts of us are designed this way, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. All of what makes us tick requires exercise. Our body’s muscles require exercise, physical skills like playing piano or a craft like wood working. Our mental facilities and skills require constant sharpening (don’t ask me how to do the same trigonometry I once did in High School). Very often underestimated or overlooked, is emotional self control which also requires practice and discipline. God warns us about lack of self control and tells us to practice constantly and discipline ourselves. I’ve seen far too often in our world what lack of emotional self control does to people and their families. Without exercise and practice all parts of our person slip and become undisciplined. The same is true about our faith. When we fail to exercise and practice our faith, regularly, the way God has designed us, we begin to slip. For discipline and self control COME from God, gifts, free of charge from the Holy Spirit.

Galatians 5:22-23
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

In my life, I find that slipping in my spiritual exercises of being in the word, being in the light results in a growing knot of anxiety in my gut as I begin to believe that somehow I am in control and realize how much of life is really out of my control. A good steady workout program to soak up and store up God’s light is a great way to get rid of the “fear gut”. Rays of God’s word also keep away unhealthy influences and thoughts that Satan takes every opportunity to sneak in when we are not looking.

So soak up God's light and let it shine. The amazing thing about glowing God’s light is that it’s so wonderfully contagious. Let them begin to wonder what makes you shine.

And what a story you'll have to tell them when they ask how they can shine too.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

There’s a Hippo in my Room

When my first son was about 2 and a half years old there was a week that I will always remember. He came out of his room on night and said “There’s a Hippo in my room Daddy.” Like any good conscientious parent I said, “no there’s not, now go back to bed” or something equally comforting. But he insisted and I went to his room, opened the door, turned on the light, and showed him that there was no hippo there.

The next night the same thing happened, and I began to wonder where this game had come from. Several times again that night, he insisted that there was a hippo in his room. “go back to bed” was the compassionate reply.

Finally, on the third or fourth night of this, I used his first AND middle name for emphasis, “I’ve come to your room each night and shown you that there is no hippopotamus in your room. It’s in your imagination. Now please go back to bed and go to sleep.”

“But Daddy”, he replied in exasperation, “when you come in the hippo go whee whee away gone. Come see.” Now, this was the first time I had heard this particular part of the story so I thought I would check it out, at very least to put him back in his bed.

I walked into his room, closing the door, turning the lights off, and intending to say “Now Samuel, there is no hippopotamus in your room.” But by the time I had gotten halfway through the word hippopotamus, I stopped with just the “oh” hanging on my lips. After I the lights had gone out and with the door closed, the night light near the floor blinked on, and there in all its monstrous glory was the shadow of a 10’ tall hippopotamus on the wall. Now of course, there was no hippo, but the night light and the teddy bear propped on top of the dresser conspired to make, under these specific circumstances, the shadow of the elusive beast.

This particular tale has haunted me. The moral of this story didn’t jump out at me like the hippo eventually did. It was a cute story, but it kept itching away at me, that there was more to it, that I just wasn’t getting the message. And then there it was. The Lord opened my eyes and I realized that the story was about persistence. There my little tike was insistent that there was something in his room, but he would eventually go to bed with my urgings. But he did not give up. Every night, SEVERAL times a night, he would come and tell me again, and again. Now we know our Heavenly Father knows our hearts and the deepest truth before we even begin to pray, so we don’t have to convince him that there is a hippo in our room, but he tells us, in Luke 18:1-8 about the widow seeks her petition with persistence and is heard by even a sinful judge.

Even the fact that this story kept bugging me, and itching at me, is a story of persistence in itself. It was probably a year later before it occurred to me what lesson was and why it kept knocking at my mind. There are many times when I will offer up a quick request about something that is important. If you measured the importance of the issue by the length of time I spent praying about it, my petition would fall flat. Romans 8:26 offers me comfort that the Holy Spirit is interceding on my behalf, but how much more would my cares, worries, fears, and hopes be heard if I spent half as much time praying about them as worrying about them. Pray without ceasing and rest assured that the answer will come and will always be what is perfect for you.