Thoughts and Meditations from verses and stories through one guy's head and heart... Psalm 124:7
Friday, June 30, 2006
Norah... almost as shocking as what you are about to read!
Whoa… That Was Close!
Okay, you’re not going to believe this… If I hadn’t seen it with my own two eyes I probably wouldn’t either, but it happened. First though, check out these verses from Psalm 91…
"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart… If you make the Most High your dwelling— even the LORD, who is my refuge- then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone…"
Now, I have always been confused by these verses because I, like you have stubbed my toe plenty of times, but friend, this week I found myself unmistakably covered by His feathery wings… He delivered me from the snare and from a huge stinkin’ insurance premium!
Okay, here goes… Christy and I have been going through a tough time lately and have had trouble making the ends meet, ya know? Well, on Tuesday I was getting in my car to leave the church parking lot. I let down the emergency brake and instead of putting the car in reverse, I just took it out of gear because there was this envelope with “The Youngers” written on it. Our knowing Father had used some sweet servant of His to meet our need, and just in time! I was floored and came back in the church to ask Tom if he knew anything about it, which he didn’t, and when we came back outside the office, my car was gone… and then I remembered… car out of gear, e-brake down, Oh No!
I looked across the street to the little yellow house owned by our sweet neighbors, the Ramsey’s, and there was my car. It had rolled down the church parking lot in reverse, crossed the street and straight down their steep little sloping front lawn into their house… Tom and I ran over to inspect the damage, but something looked a little off… The car had not hit the house! In a perfectly straight line it had rolled over fifty yards backward and then three feet in front of their house my car made a 90 degree reverse left turn, missing the house, and then hit a concrete flower pot slowing it down just enough to keep it from hitting the Ramsey’s car in their driveway… whoa! I am not even kidding!
When Mrs. Ramsey came out, I apologized and told her that I didn’t know how it was possible, but my car had not really hit anything. She said, “Well, honey, I’d say the Lord was driving.” I say, “Amen!” He met our need and saved our behinds and I am a witness that He is good, faithful, mighty, and as the Psalmist said, He is my refuge! Is He yours?
As I type this, thousands of kids are sleeping in their cabins at Young Life Camp all over the country. It is Saturday morning, which means that there are hundreds of sleepy heads who are alive for the very first time having been spiritually dead their whole lives… Today they will wake up to maybe their first or second day of new life in Christ. My friend Bill is in Minnesota right now with a cup of coffee and his little black Bible praying for his new brothers and sisters at Young Life’s Castaway club. My friends Abbey and Becca are washing the towels, sheets and toilets of their new brothers and sisters at Windy Gap in North Carolina. My friend Andy is at Crooked Creek Ranch in Colorado making his new brothers and sisters laugh. My friend Emily is at Windy Gap preparing high school kids to serve their new brothers and sisters as well as sharing her story with them and my friend Ryan is there as well, singing into the hearts of his new brothers and sisters about how Jesus is our family.
It’s happening every week this summer… at various places throughout the country something like 40,000 high school kids will hear the message of the Gospel and experience it in various ways at camp. Tons of money, time, prayer, organization and arduous preparation goes into this outreach and the greatest thing about it is, those of us who are a part of it are not responsible for changing lives! Camp speakers plan every word they will say, musicians plan every word they will sing and leaders pray over every name for months, but we have absolutely no control over who responds to the Gospel.
This morning I was reading Acts 16. Paul was in Philippi and went by the city gate to a river where he planned to pray, but there were some women gathered, so he started to talk to them. This is verse 14: “One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.” See, Paul couldn’t save Lydia, but salvation does not belong to Paul. Some of us plant and some of us water, but God makes things grow and He does it whether we are asleep or awake and in ways we can’t explain.
Praise God that He lets us be a part of what He’s doing! He doesn’t need us. In fact, He could do this a lot better and cleaner without us anyway, like when a two-year-old helps their mom make cookies… He calls people, He draws them to Himself. He holds the keys to their hearts and only He can turn those keys. He drags us kicking and screaming into new life and we wouldn’t have wanted it if He hadn’t caused us to. He has said “Let there be light…” inside dark hearts and for some reason He has allowed us to have some little part in it, whether praying, playing or paying. The great thing that this means is that success in ministry is not about results or numbers, because that’s God’s deal. Success in ministry then, is all about faithfulness and holiness. Are we walking with Him? Are we keeping at it? Success means to stick with it, stick to Him and leave the keys in His hands.
The other day my oldest daughter Anna told me that she wanted oatmeal for breakfast, so I started to fix it. It was really cute too, because when she says oatmeal, it sounds like “oh-milk.” I put her in her high chair, put her bib on, and gave her some milk to drink while we waited on the oatmeal to cool off. After a while I got busy doing some other things and sort of forgot about Anna’s breakfast… oops! It’s okay though, because she reminded me. As I walked by her high chair she started to sing a song... an original composition that went like this: “Oh-milk, oh-milk, I’m having oh-milk…” It was awesome because she wasn’t screaming or crying but just patiently waiting and singing a song about it.
It wasn’t always that way though… When Anna was Norah’s age and still nursing, she didn’t patiently wait on food, and neither does Norah! Before babies are weaned, they absolutely freak out about eating! When the hunger pains start, Norah lets us know with heart-breaking, ear-splitting, blood-curdling baby screams… as if Christy hasn’t fed her exactly what she needs eight to ten times a day for the past five months! I don’t know what happens in their little baby minds, but they haven’t learned from all the other times their sweet mommy has provided for them. They don’t really know the ins and outs of nutrition, caloric intake and what their little bodies need. The only thing they know is that they are hungry and for some reason they think, “Okay, this is it… this is the end. It’s been fun, but I guess it’s all over!”
After Anna stopped nursing and started eating big people food, she learned over time that we are going to come through for her and give her what she needs. Eventually sweet little Norah will learn this as well. She will be able to relax and trust that we know what we’re doing and that she’s not going to starve. Now, if only I could learn this lesson… So often I don’t know what’s happening in my life or understand why God is allowing certain things and I throw a fit. I stomp my feet, clench my fists and lose my grip, hardening my heart in worry and anger. I act as if He doesn’t know what He’s doing, as if He hasn’t provided for me everyday, all day long all these years! In Psalm 131 David says, “But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, put your hope in the LORD both now and forevermore.”
So what’s the secret, David? How did you learn to be weaned and to wait patiently like my Anna singing her Oh-milk song? Verse 1 in Psalm 131 says this: “My heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul…” We don’t understand all that God is dong in this world and in our lives and even if He explained it to us, we still wouldn’t get it. He always knows what we need and He never forgets about us! We need to let Him sort out all the stuff and just trust Him. He knows what to do and He controls it all. We probably just need to sit back and sing more.
I think I am finally starting to recover from my trip to Sharp Top Cove… Last week we took around 50 folks (high schoolers and leaders) to the Young Life camp in Jasper, Georgia and we had an amazing time! I say that I have finally recovered because summer camp can be taxing, especially if you’re over ten years older than the campers… I had tired feet, sore muscles, a sunburn and nowhere near enough sleep, but I think I’m just about back to normal. It was all worth it though, because I was able to stand back and watch as God did amazing things in the lives of our high school friends.
One of my favorite aspects of Young Life summer camp is the hike we take mid-week. Now the hike at Sharp Top is not an incredibly difficult or long climb, but for some folks it is first time in their lives they have ever even thought about hiking. When we got to the top, the camp speaker had everyone sit down and get completely quiet for a whole minute. It was amazing. I know that in my life in this 21st century there are very few times when everything is truly quiet (especially with two babies), but for high school kids, that is an even more rare occurrence. Their lives are bombarded with noise and confusion from every direction. I am always a skeptic when we start that minute of silence on top of the mountain… I usually think, “Yeah right, there is no way hundreds of kids will sit silent for a whole minute.” But they always do. It is absolutely breathtaking to look out over what our God has made and just be in awe of His abstract art. That day we all heeded the sons of Korah who wrote, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)
For me though, this hike was special because of a girl named Heather. She is a girl who has had a hard life, made some bad choices like all of us and has quite the reputation, but God has started to bring about amazing changes in her heart… I have watched Him draw Heather to Himself over the last two years through the love of her friend and leader, Emily. And this week I watched her stand up and tell over three hundred people about how she gave her life to Christ. It was awesome. Well, Heather had been dreading the hike all week long because she didn’t think she would make it up to the top, but we stayed with her and beside her all of the way up and she did make it! Several times on the way up she stopped and wanted to quit, but we didn’t let her. Then, when we could finally see the end in sight, she just got really quiet and hustled right up to the top. It was after that hike that Heather really opened up to everything at camp and started having a blast. She rappelled, rode mountain bikes and even conquered the ropes course! In all my days, I’ll never forget that hike and what God has done and is doing in Heather’s heart and mine. It kinda makes you wanna be still, doesn’t it?