Thursday, January 17, 2008

Hope and the Rock

This morning, I was reminded of something a little 6-year-old girl recently said to me: "Hope is the most beautiful word!"

What makes that such a touching statement is that she was a participant in a program at our church for children of divorce. (It's an amazing ministry of healing and hope called DC4K, and it's nationwide-

She wasn't talking about hope as if it were a present that she'd asked for but wasn't sure she'd get. We were talking about the hope of the New Testament. It is more like “confidence” or “eager expectation” than "unfounded optimism". The Greek word is “elpis”, the root of which is “elpo”: “to anticipate with pleasure”.

One set of notes I read called “hope” a “blessed assurance”. That, of course, got me singing. I found an old hymnal and looked up “Blessed Assurance”. The lyricist, Fanny Crosby, was, in effect, saying, “Hey, listen up! This is my story! I have inherited salvation because I am now God’s child! He has redeemed me! I have been born again and washed in His blood. Jesus is mine! What a blessed assurance! I have been given a taste of God’s glory! My soul is at rest and I am singing with joy!”

What incredible words! And to think I had sung that song a hundred times without ever really hearing and understanding it. I hungered for more, wondering what other songs might open to me. I turned back one page in the hymnal and there was “My Hope is Built”. The refrain is, “On Christ the solid rock I stand; All other ground is sinking sand, All other ground is sinking sand.”

Immediately, I envisioned a sea in which there were hundreds of people. I looked around me at their faces, because all that was visible above the water were their heads. They looked so frightened and exhausted, and I realized they were treading water. I, however, did not feel such strain and I realized it was because I was standing on a rock. I called to the woman closest to me, “Just relax and put your feet down!” She cried back, “I tried to, but it’s quicksand and it will pull me under!” And then I realized that I had something she did not. And I told her that my feet were secure and I called her to come to The Rock.

The third verse to “My Hope is Built” says that His oath, covenant and blood “support me in the whelming flood” and that when everything around my soul “gives way”, He is then “all my hope and stay”.

I am reminded that I am called to stand firm on that Rock and be a lighthouse. I am to be a beacon of hope, of confidence, of blessed assurance. I am to call out to the drowning, to share what I have found: “Here is safety! Here is rest! Come! It is for you, too!”

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Finding My Voice

Whom Do You Choose?

That’s a phrase my voice teacher, Karla, uses for warm ups. We sing, “Whom … Do… You… Choose…”, listening to the resonance of each note, focusing on the color of the sound, egg-shaping the interior of our mouths as we descend the four notes of the arpeggio. I have to concentrate. I have to pay attention. It does not come easily.

Voice lessons are not like singing to the radio. This is work. These are exercises for the voice and abdomen. It is training and repetition and focus.

I always thought singers just opened up their mouths and let it out. And I still believe the best ones do just that. But it isn’t as if they have not prepared. It’s just that they finally get to that point where it has become second nature.

Getting to “second nature” has turned out to be a rather lengthy process for me. “First” nature is to be fearful, to be anxious, to be shy, to lack confidence. Yet, in Christ, I am a new creation. Why does the old nature linger?

Whom do I choose?

What are my choices?

I can choose to remain as I am, to nurse the old nature. To give in. To beat myself up. To stagnate. And when I have wallowed enough, to search alone for self-confidence.

Or I can choose to believe in the promise of God that I am a new creation. (2Cor 5:17) That He has not given me a spirit of timidity, but one of power, love and self-discipline. (2Tim 1:7) That my confidence is not in myself, but in Him. (Jer 17:7)

Whom do I choose?

I choose my Lord. Daily. Sometimes minute by minute. I must hide His word in my heart and fight the old, self-centered, self-empowered nature. Little by little, lesson by lesson, God separates the wheat (the fruit) from the chaff (the husk that obscures it). Jesus lifts my hands and the Spirit blows away the residue. And, like any good training, we repeat the process over and again. Threshing. Winnowing. Threshing.

“Whom… Do… You… Choose…?” Again, “Whom… Do… You… Choose…?” I sing down the keyboard, lower and lower, until my voice is on its knees. And when my heart finally joins it, the notes sing for themselves.

Whom do you choose?

Monday, January 7, 2008


Is it really stepping out blindly if God sees where I'm going?

Are His eyes not perfect?

I am legally blind without corrective lenses. But after an examination and a prescription and a fitting, and I can see.

I remember my first pair of glasses. It was in the winter of my third grade year. I stepped out of the optometrist's office onto a snowy sidewalk on Main Street in a little Kansas town. And when I looked down the street, it was as if a whole new world had been unveiled. Even at that young age, I was already legally blind, but no one had known. Not my parents. Not me. I was very, very nearsighted, lacking the ability to see distance. Suddenly, in the literal blink of an eye, I gained perspective.

I could see all the way down the street, blocks and blocks ahead, to the point artists call "the vanishing point", where left and right converge in the middle, where all angles meet at the horizon. It was the most amazing thing I'd ever seen! It changed my life forever because it caused me to pick up pencil and paper and begin drawing. I could see! I needed to document it!

And here I sit, documenting even now.

It's time for a re-exam. God is about to change my prescription and give me a fresh perspective. I can feel it. There's nothing to fear. There's something I've been missing, and now I will see.

God examines the eyes of my heart. He understands exactly what I need. He has prescribed the perfect lens. Now I sit here, ready to be fitted.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


It's 3a.m. What on earth am I doing awake? I haven't had my requisite 8 or 9 hours of sleep! But here I am, in a bathrobe, sitting in a cold room, writing.

I woke with my brain trying to write. Why? I evidently forgot to shut off my brain before bed. Can one really turn off one's mind? Mine seems to be missing a switch. It's as if it gets to the overflow mark and the release valve kicks in... and out this stuff pours.

What is there to write about at 3a.m.? Usually, I find that when I wake in the night, that's God's "special" time for me. It's His "Lisa, we need to talk" time. So I obediently (albeit somewhat hesitantly at times) get up and get out pen and paper and start writing.

So, hey, God. What's up tonight?

New Year. Resolutions. Make time. Get up.


Did I leave God out of my planning again? Did I forget to seek Him and His advice prior to making a life step? No, but I came close.

This is a reminder.

I need to make time with Him a priority. THE priority.

You don't need as much sleep as you think you need. (Grin) The daily quiet time needs to be a commitment... "break-fast". Not a snack. Get in that Bible. Read. Pray. Listen. Write. This is the Year of Shining. This is the year to be inwardly reflective and then to shine outwardly. It's time to polish the mirror. It's time to feed the fire. It's time to come out from under the bushel and shine. Be a lighthouse.

This blog is not just the musings of a 44-year-old empty-nester. It's a way to practice openness. Publicly. Allow others in. Provoke thought. Stimulate.

A natural stimulant. Sounds like Milk of Magnesia! Spiritual M.O.M. Flush out the toxins, restore regularity. That's what 3a.m. is about.

OK, God. I'm listening.

"Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well."

Seeking implies action. Research. His kingdom? His kingship? His people? What is His righteousness? What is righteousness in the first place? And what things will be added? Ah, I think He just gave me what to study in my next few quiet times.

I need to put God where He's supposed to be, on the throne of my heart. My Lord. The One I serve. Does He call me at 3a.m.? Get up and serve. Submit. His is not a heavy burden. Why resist? Why question? Does He not love me? Does He not protect me? Did He not give His very life for me?

How does one show gratitude? By serving with love. By being attentive. Trusting.

How does one demonstrate trust? Is it really stepping out blindly if God sees where I am going? More on that later.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

I'm a blogger!

It's 2008. It's time for something new. It is time to become. This, my friends, is step one in my new year journey. More later!