Tag Archives: James 1:17

Lord of the Fleas

23 Feb

I will restore to you the years
.    that the swarming locust has eaten…
You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel,
.    and that I am the LORD your God and there is none else.  —Joel 2:25, 27

About a year ago I staggered into the bathroom in the middle of the night. I lost my balance. My foot slid across the floor and up against the side of the toilet. Instead of supporting my weight, the floor gave way slightly. Even in a sleep-stupor, I knew this was not good.

This midnight episode launched a year-long project. The homeowner’s curse—“while we’re at it”—took over at every stage.

Before we could remove the toilet, there were several aspects that had to be done first. Finally, the day came. My husband loosened the bolts; we lifted the 1970’s almond-colored toilet from its foundation and set it aside. We expected to find a wet floor under it. Instead there was a neatly piled mound of sandy stuff that we swept up before ripping into the sub-floor. The plywood layers were loose and came up with little effort.  After lifting a few with a putty knife, we discovered the reason for the squishi-ness that started this project—a colony of carpenter ants exploded around our feet.

Never was a more intense dance performed! Four arms flailed in time to our frantic heel-and-toe moves.

IMG_1695crop
After we sprayed ant-killer and the madness slowed enough that I could take a photo

While we were completely grossed out until the last insect was dead, the ants gave us a brand new bathroom—new toilet, tile floor, shower (“while we are at it!), vanity and sink, paint, towel racks… and all mold eradicated.

And, yes, it did cost a bundle. The ants forced the bathroom to the top position of our financial priorities for last year. Without them, this project would have stayed near the bottom for a long time. I’m actually grateful to the (long-squished and dead!) ants. I really, really like our new oasis!

Our situation made me think of Corrie ten Boom who was imprisoned with her sister during World War II for helping Jews escape the Nazis. The last time I read her biography, The Hiding Place, I was in high school. Yet I still remember Corrie’s sister Betsie thanking God for the fleas in their concentration camp barracks. Corrie was vexed by them and didn’t understand Betsie’s thankfulness (neither did I!) until she explained that they were able to have Bible study and prayer times without fear of interruption or punishment. The guards didn’t want to get fleas, so they stayed out of the building!

Fleas and ants are pests. I dislike them lots. In these two cases, though, I’m grateful for them.

I wish I could say that I always have this perspective and understand God’s greater purposes in life’s frustrations, but I don’t. More often than not, I’m still broadsided when my expectations are thwarted. I am, however, learning to breathe, to take a step back when hit with the unpleasant stuff of life.

Several years ago someone told me that maturity is shortening the distance between falling and getting back up. I would add that maturity is also lengthening the distance between an annoyance and reacting to it, in order to temper my reaction with grace.

I wouldn’t mind if I never saw another ant in my house. But I don’t want to limit God from working in my life.

He has my complete permission.  He is God; I am not.

—————

Ready for Sunday

How many times have I been derailed from worshiping God because of a Sunday morning annoyance? Technology that doesn’t work… an off-handed comment from someone that hit me the wrong way… not feeling well… and a myriad of others.

How can I enter into the spiritual realm equipped with weapons to defeat these commonplace enemies in order to worship the LORD my God? Being vigilant against an age-old enemy requires ancient weaponry – The Word and prayer.  Against such strength no tactics will succeed.

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He Gave the Body

14 Apr
 It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid.                   —Mark 15:42-47

He gave the body to Joseph.

Pilate gave the body of Jesus to Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Jewish Council.

This week I have been thinking about the hours between Jesus’ death and entombment, and I have many questions.

  • Who took Jesus’ body off the cross?  The Roman guards?  Joseph of Arimathea?
  • Did they lower the entire cross?  Just the cross bar?
  • How did they get the large spikes out of the wood?
  • When Joseph picked Jesus’ body up, did he gaze into His lifeless eyes?
  • Did Joseph understand what he was doing in the grand scheme of God’s plan?  Did he wonder how everything would work out?  Or was giving Jesus a Jewish burial an act of love for One he believed was gone?

I imagine Jesus’ limp body in Joseph’s arms and a sob catches in my throat.  I see him struggle under the weight of a lifeless body, and watch him lay it down in a cold tomb with only a torch for light held at a distance by a curious on-looker not wanting to come in contact with death and become unclean for the Sabbath.  The water, brought in a bucket from a sympathetic woman, weeps, as Joseph solemnly washes blood caked with dust and human excrement from his Rabbi.  There was no time for the spices and compounds to be applied before the setting of the sun signaled the Sabbath, so Joseph swaddled Jesus in clean linen, and closed the tomb with a boulder.  He had done what he could.  He had honored his dead Lord.

—————

This week as I have contemplated the phrase “he gave the body” the above questions and scenes swirl together in my mind dream-like, with another, more immediate, idea.

(Before I mention my thought, I have to say that I know Mark 15 is not a symbolic or metaphorical passage.  However, I believe that the principles throughout Scripture are not opposed to my idea, and in fact support its essence.)

Pilate gave the body of Jesus, bloodied and broken, to Joseph who prepared it for the greatest miracle the world will ever know.

In a similar way God gives the Body of Christ to worship leaders every Sunday morning.  He places His Beloved in our arms– wounded, broken, abused, and weary people.  The Father allows us the privilege of leading them before His throne of healing and grace, where He tenderly binds up aches and washes away filth, preparing them for His Resurrection power.

—————

Heart check for Sunday–

What in me is broken, aching, or wounded and needs God’s healing?

Am I praying for the people I will lead tomorrow, asking God to show me how he sees them?  (Or am I preparing so that I will look good?)

Every good and perfect gift comes from the Father – my calling, my abilities, and the ones He gives me to lead – and is a sacred trust from Him.

Father, work through me for Your sake and theirs.

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