November 11, 2010

stand in the rain

"peace does not come from finding a lake with no storms. it comes from having JESUS in the boat." john ortberg

"life's not about waiting for the storms to pass... it's about learning to dance in the rain." vivian greene

one of my favorite games of childhood was "the oregon trail." yes, you know the one, and don't even pretend like you didn't spend countless hours in front of the computer playing it. if you really never did get to play it then you missed out on one of the most educational and insightful experiences of life, and i would suggest you get it now and find out what you've been missing.

sometimes life is like "the oregon trail." just when you fix the broken axle of your wagon wheel, little johnny gets cholera and baby maria gets bitten by a snake. sue ellen breaks a leg while jim bob gets a bad case of the dysentery. the path you had planned to take gets flooded, and your favorite ox drowns in the process of fording. sometimes you're hunting for a bison, but all you can find are little rabbits and dinky squirrels. and for all the heartache and sorrow that you have to endure, you get a single verse and chorus of "poor wayfaring stranger" played while raiders come and invade your wagon, stealing all the goods you just bought from the general store.

for the past few weeks i feel like i've been on my own personal oregon trail. i've felt the weight of many burdens that i've been trying to carry in my wagon. there have been constant struggles and road blocks that have completely changed my direction. people whom i respected as people of character and truly valued have proven to be dinky squirrels instead of bison. other people whom i had been quick to judge or to whom i hadn't given a fair chance have proven to be diamonds in the rough. some friends have forded the river and fought tirelessly to salvage relationships. another friend fights daily for his own life. sickness, countless projects, and car troubles have made their presence known all at the same time. struggles, hardships, and tears have been sent straight from satan to deplete us entirely of all energy and happiness. and we travel our trails with heavy loads of care.

but it's times like these when i'm extra thankful to have JESUS in my boat. or my wagon. or my life. to give me strength, courage, and joy when i feel like i'm drowning in the storm. i'm realizing that life is always going to be a little stormy, and it really is all a matter of keeping JESUS in that boat and learning to dance in the rain, which is even better with a great pair of rain boots. the great thing about storms is that no matter how big they are, they pass, and the winds and waves will always know HIS voice. GOD'S faithfulness is as inevitable as change. and HIS mercy is new every morning and never ceasing. and it is with the knowledge that GOD walks with us that we can confidently continue on our own personal, turbulent trails because as robert frost said, “in three words i can sum up everything i've learned about life. it goes on.”

"be still, my soul, the LORD is on thy side. bear patiently the cross of grief or pain. leave to thy GOD to order and provide. in every change HE faithful will remain. be still, my soul, thy best, thy heavenly FRIEND through thorny ways leads to a joyful end." "be still my soul" (my favorite hymn)

November 1, 2010

worth it

"if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing well. if it is worth having, it is worth waiting for. if it is worth attaining, it is worth fighting for. if it is worth experiencing, it is worth putting aside time for." susan jeffries

cost and worth are two very different things. cost derives a negative connotation along with a sense of dreadful obligation. when you ask how much something costs you shudder upon waiting for the answer, hoping that it's in your price range. but worth is an entirely different concept. whereas cost is objective, worth is subjective, being defined and appreciated differently by different people. one man's trash becomes another man's treasure simply with a change of perspective. something might cost much more than it will ever be worth while something else might be worth infinitely more than it could ever cost.

this week i dropped everything i had going on, drove to alabama, and surprised all of my friends and family to simply let them know that they were worth it. i showed up in my mom's classroom where she responded with complete shock and her 3rd graders responded with cheers and applause. i then surprised some of my closest friends by just appearing suddenly where i knew they would be. the reactions were great, but their realizations of my love and appreciation for them were priceless. seeing the simple realization that they were worth my time was worth driving any number of miles.

and that's when i realized that people simply want to be worth it. they want to have the liberty of being an inconvenience. of coming along at the worst possible time. of causing discomfort. of being the exception. of being chased. and being pursued. of being a priority instead of just an option. or even being bumped up to the number one spot of the list of the million other things you have to do. of being just plain difficult. but of being deserving of forgiveness. of being saved. of being redeemed. of being appreciated. of being loved not in spite of their flaws but because of them.

a mom needs to be shown that she's worth visiting and told when she goes from being a mother to being a best friend. a daddy needs to be reminded that he's the first man his little girl ever loved and the first man his little boy ever respected. a sibling needs to know that you'll always to be there to punch his or her bullies in the face. a guy needs to know that he's worth infinite numbers of baked goods and back scratches. a girl needs to know that she's simply worth the effort whether it's taking her to dinner at p.f. changs or just the daily, cheesy text message.

and then people need to be reminded. i like to pretend that all of the people in my life have daily amnesia and forget how much i think about them and care about them every night when they fall asleep. so that means that each new day starts a whole new round of showing my attention, affection, and appreciation. it's exhausting loving so many people, but it's a wonderful way to fall asleep every night.

sometimes other people don't return the favor, though, and we feel small and insignificant in their lives. whether it's a friend who's too caught up in his or her other responsibilities or friendships to make time for you or someone who really just doesn't even care, it can be easy to stop feeling worth it. to feel like an obligation instead of a choice. a void filler instead of a place holder. a last resort instead of a top priority. a cost instead of a worth.

it's times like those that i remind myself of the ONE who deemed me worth it. who gave the very definition of worth. who didn't even check the price tag before making the purchase. who paid the price without a second thought. who not only gave HIS life but also surrendered a life of sinful pleasures and self indulgence. who took on our greatest fear of being left totally alone and bore the weight of infinite sin. who was made to feel worthless, rejected, and hated all so i would feel worthy, wanted, and redeemed. who loves me regardless of whether or not i return the favor. who will never love me more for what i do and will never love me less for what i fail to do. who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. who thinks i'm special. incredible. worth it.

and i'm here to tell you, you're worth it, too.

"you see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, CHRIST died for the ungodly. very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. but GOD demonstrates HIS own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, CHRIST died for us." romans 5:6-8