Friday, April 30, 2010

Petulant child...

So, on a list i'm on, we were discussing church/babies/nurseries. And i wrote this:

Yeah- it's just been such a long stretch of always having to leave in the middle of worship/the sermon. Fourteen years solid.
I don't really like nurseries, either - i'm not comfortable nursing in front of strange men who might come in whenever they want, the change station is always kinda gross - other people's children have licked all the toys (and then mine do!) - and you can't hear anything in there...

T does most of the nursery duty, since he hurt his back and can't sit still that long either :) -

it's not that my littles are bad - it's just that the situation has been hard for a long time. they are all taking their turns being babies. But Anaia at 5 should be able to be a little better. And not, for example, pull up my skirt in the middle of worship ... just for instance :)... Now i only wear pants to church!

One thing i like is the "family feast" the last Sunday of the month - at first it was a pain to get a big meal made and brought to church, and then try to corral the children, but the more we do it, the more people know who we are, and the children are more comfortable and we kind of know where they are if they're not with us...

But the whole sit down shut up part is kind of lost on me most Sundays... Someone always has to go potty, or starts to cry, or wants to nurse, or is doing something naughty. It's not the end of the world, but it is the end of my concentration, and i'm one of those people that if i miss one point, i feel like there was no point listening to any of it...

So anyway, my friend told me i should adjust my attitude. And probably she's right.
What for?

What is the point of church? Is everyone there hating it as much as me? IF so, is there a way to do things differently? Or is this just one more case of grin and bear it and soon you'll be out of those pesky child bearing years?

Because that's what modern medicine tells me - i pretty much avoid all prescriptions, because nothing is safe for "pregnant or breastfeeding women" - which is what i've been for fifteen years solid. and i feel like the same can be said of church... Maybe most women don't care, because it's a two or three year span and then they are done?

Another friend wrote it was much easier when she let go the hope of being "spiritually fed" in church. Well, it's been decades since i have been - if i were going for spiritual food, i'd be dead by now.

But again, what is the point?

Is the family feast enough of a reason to go? Maybe it is.

If it's not the worship, it's not the message, maybe just the communal eating is the whole point of going. To get to know others? Sometimes that's a good thing, sometimes it's really not.

I don't find most people hugely encouraging in my strange-to-them calling in life. Christians are either repelled or scared if you have more than 2 children, and tend to judge your motives before you ever open your mouth. If you have a large brood, you are expected to have them all perfect and quiet all the time. Some people tell you that the children are good even when they're not - others glare at you the whole time. And the whole prolife issue - when i was a child, every Christian was pro life. Now, they would prefer not to talk about it, and i would venture a guess that if the majority is prolife, the biggest part of that majority is the silent type...

I'm sorry if it makes people uncomfortable, but i can't figure out what church is for.

sometimes i worry that it's sin, since i'm obviously just going because of the "fear of man" and "whatever is not of faith, is sin"

I'm not trying to kick at the church i'm going to, which i am getting used to... just trying to figure out why i hate this so much and everyone else loves it so much...

Friday, April 2, 2010

We too live in a fallen world and must participate in its sufferings

Just so you know - most of this post below is from my notes at the Good Friday service this morning. We were late, i'm getting fat from being sick and had trouble finding something to wear - but i was glad we went.

These are my notes:


Mark 8:34

34Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35For whoever wants to save his life[c] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? 37Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 38If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels."

We succumb to the crush of the urgent.

We misunderstand Romans 8:28.

In misery we are assured that God is working on our behalf.

Taking up your cross doesn't mean minor irritants.

When we suffer, we are following Jesus, and if we follow Jesus, we will suffer.

No fence sitting during suffering.

Our Christian witness is crucial.

Your suffering is not in vain.

"Pain is God's megaphone" (Don Larson) (I thought i had heard that before - and it was C.S. Lewis i was thinking of : C.S. Lewis once wrote "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains; it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” - The Problem of Pain)

His Word is a wellspring of life.

Suffering deepens our walk
Suffering creates compassion
and our ability to help others

Look to the one who suffered for you.


Those are all the notes i took - redolent of CS Lewis and Madame Guyon, reminding me of who He is, washing me in the Word...

One of my favourite Good Friday hymns is "Go To Dark Gethsemane" - it has two different melodies, and powerful lyrics for today and for the coming Sunday...

Go to dark Gethsemane, ye that feel the tempter’s power;
Your Redeemer’s conflict see, watch with Him one bitter hour,
Turn not from His griefs away; learn of Jesus Christ to pray.

See Him at the judgment hall, beaten, bound, reviled, arraigned;
O the wormwood and the gall! O the pangs His soul sustained!
Shun not suffering, shame, or loss; learn of Christ to bear the cross.

Calvary’s mournful mountain climb; there, adoring at His feet,
Mark that miracle of time, God’s own sacrifice complete.
“It is finished!” hear Him cry; learn of Jesus Christ to die.

Early hasten to the tomb where they laid His breathless clay;
All is solitude and gloom. Who has taken Him away?
Christ is risen! He meets our eyes; Savior, teach us so to rise.

I know it sounds like all is pain and suffering here, and i can assure you that's not true! We are enjoying my husband's week off of work, enjoying the sun as spring tries to peek into our town, enjoying being together, and even enjoying the forced lassitude of sickness in the house. Sickness slows us down, we do less, and we connect more the slower we are going... It's been a slow week, but one filled with pleasure, and i know God is doing a deep work in me this week, and through this hard time. I've changed my signature at the bottom of each email to a Bible verse that encourages me every time i send out a message :

Job 23:10 But he knoweth my way, and trieth me, and I shall come forth like gold

What we are going through is so little compared to so many of my brothers and sisters all over the world. I've been reading "Scared" by Tom Davis on my ipod, and it made me cry, in the GM station, to think of all that some beautiful young believers have to go through - that they have to live in faith only to die still without seeing a realization on earth of God' hand upon them, of His good intentions toward them. They die like Abraham, not seeing the end of their faith on the earth. And i am so blessed. So blessed. But even the little pains that we endure will not be "for nothing". He sees, He hears, and all things He works for my good and for His glory both now and in the world to come...

Spring is coming!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Being Friends With God.

I've been thinking/praying a lot lately.

If you are my real life friend, or on any lists with me, you'll know a little bit, but just to recap - since Christmas day, we've been sick - i've had pneumonia, the little ones have had human meta pneumovirus (and still not over it), at least two different kinds of stomach flu, pinkeye... head colds, flu...

Our dryer broke down, then our washer. Then our laptop, and our stove is not behaving either. Plus we need a new tranny.

None of these things were surprises to me, because i did have advance warning - you know, how God just kind of lets you know "there's more to come... just be prepared"... In my case, that helps. And just so you know the ending - God is faithful - we are all down but not out, beautiful friends happened to be replacing their washer and dryer - and the tranny still has some use in it, for now... We have everything we need.

BUT it does lead to thoughts like these.

I've been focussing on "being a friend of God" and you know how some friends it's just sooooo easy - you show up, hang out, laugh, and it's all good? And other friends you have to work at it more - you have to be more careful with your words, or maybe you don't enjoy the same things, so you'll do the things you don't like so much, just because you do value their friendship - but it's not as easy? Well, God is like the ultimate hard friend, i think.

This is what i know. He wants to be my friend. He wants me to know Him. He wants me to run to Him when i have troubles, and to share my joy. But my "skin on" friends - if i ask them for help that is easily within their power to do - and they say no - i will quit asking them. That's just normal. So why does God want me to come to Him, even though He knows He will say no? I've been asking for a reprieve from the sickness for months now - and it's been pretty bad. I've been pretty despondent - especially when baby decided she didn't like taking her asthma medication four times a day nor the eye ointment four times a day. Eight times a day i was holding that tiny little girl on my lap, or on the floor, holding the air chamber up to her face, while she cried and tried to get away, or while she screamed "My eyes! my eyes!"...

I know it could be so much worse, but those days i was just shaking, broken, by the time T came home from work. And if He did listen, and healed us all, i know deep inside i'd be thinking "then why didn't you save my little baby?"...Because I've been more desperate than this before...

Thing is, it is NOTHING to Him to fix this... And i know, i know, i know... He has a plan for us. I know this deep inside. And what is almost worse - i know that every time we go through something like this - something that has "the whiff of brimstone" about it - that i come out changed, and with a deeper knowledge of who He is, a deeper faith, a renewed heart.

But while it's going on, all i can see is that my own strength is totally gone, i have no human refuge, and my one Friend that i know could fix it, won't...

I've talked before about my two best friends - my husband's deep, calm love. And my God's crazy, wild, reckless love... And somedays i'm thankful most that God did give me the man He did, to be that comfort in my life.

I wonder sometimes if "friends" is an appropriate paradigm to use with God. Sometimes, yes, it seems perfect - when i'm in constant prayer, and He's there, and showing me new things in His Word - and sometimes it seems like trying to be friends, like the Little Prince by St. Exupery - with a wild thing, a fox, an alien, something just so utterly *different* and *beyond* and *trans-everything-i-know*.

But friend is what i know, and some days i hang on to that.

Jesus loves me, this i know
for the Bible tells me so
Little ones to Him belong
they are weak
but He
is strong.