Friday, September 20, 2013

As You Wish

"'As you wish,' was all he ever said... That day she was amazed to discover that when he was saying, 'As you wish,' what he meant was 'I love you.'"

I got to watch The Princess Bride tonight with some friends, and that movie never ceases to make me feel good inside... great characters, adventures, and quotable quotes. I've been thinking a lot lately about Westley and his famous quote, "As you wish" - his response to every command and request Buttercup gave. He was her servant, so he kind of had to do what she said; but he also loved her and because of that he submitted himself willingly to whatever she asked. Submission and obedience were the evidence of his love for her.

So I'm thinking that it is a good example to follow in my relationship with the Lord. I say that I love him, I tell him I love him... but does my attitude and response to his command always reflect that love? When I ask him for things and he says no, or when he tells me to do things I don't want to do, how often do I pout and resist and complain about how unfair life is, before I snap out of it and remember to surrender to him? Sometimes it takes me a while to get my heart in a position to respond to Him with "As You wish." And that is something I really want to work on in my faith... because if I am truly committed to loving, submitting to, trusting, and serving Him, this should be my automatic, ever-ready response. So I'm asking the Holy Spirit to change my heart in this way, so that in any and every situation, I want the things that God wants, and I delight to do whatever he calls me to do... As You wish... I love You.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Guardians of Grand Secrets

Poetic thoughts from our walk around Jackson Lake, Wyoming, in Grand Tetons National Park. Photos are compliments of Brie Elliott. 

Listen - Watch - Breathe
We are small and insignificant and
Moving between giant pillars of evergreen
That hold up the domed cathedral ceiling
Of a marbled grey and silver sky

They do not watch us, 
But are very aware of our presence
Like the royal palace guards
Tall and straight and still
Unflinching in their vigil 
Over the grand secrets - 
Treasures of the heart of God... 

Deep things that are hidden away in the clefts of the mountains
And buried in the depths of the silver glacier lake.
They are carried on the wings of hawks and eagles
And whispered in the rustling of wild creatures in the trees.

We are hemmed in, surrounded
We cannot see over, around, or through
Nature's high security system -
Coniferous guards stand at attention
And line a smooth, well-carved path
Guiding our steps to keep us safe,
And keep the Secrets safe from us.
I wonder if they are tightening their ranks
Or hoping we will defy them and break through.

So we leave the guarded, tamed road
In search of mystery and wonder...
And we find it -
Too majestic to speak of in words.
Glimpses of secrets as old as the earth,
Truth as vast as the heavens,
Tales of life that goes on and on forever
Yet is being renewed day by day.

What are we - so small and insignificant
Before such beauty and glory -
That You are mindful of us?
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
Too lofty for me to attain.
All I can do is listen - watch - breathe
All I can do is worship the God of Grand Secrets.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The usual weekly battle

I took Brie and Hannah to prayer time this afternoon, a regularly scheduled weekly thing that I usually go to while the girls are at work, but today they were free and wanted to join me. Most of the usual family was there, and we prayed about most of the usual things. When we finished, I looked up and Brie looked a little stunned, sitting quietly on the sofa and staring straight ahead. I said her name a couple times and she blinked and followed me outside to the car.

"Well, that was... intense," she finally said. And Hannah agreed with an, "Um, yeah."

"What, you mean the prayer meeting?" I asked. I tried to think back and identify anything particularly strange about the time, but we're not really a charismatic group, and while our times are powerful and precious, nothing crazy stuck out to me.

"I wouldn't call that a prayer meeting," Hannah said, sounding a little overwhelmed. "It's more like... a battle."

"Yeah," Brie agreed, and I could see a dozen adjectives racing through her mind behind her eyes... I know that look - she was trying to find words for her emotion. Crazy? Powerful? Incredible? Ridiculous? Inconceivable?   "I don't know if I'm out of shape or what, but that almost made me catatonic... I could feel the heaviness, the weight of the importance of the prayers... I can't speak. I can't even handle this right now."

I smiled. I knew what they meant. Our group looks simple enough - small people, older people, weak people, people with glasses, people who lose their cell phones, people with Midwest accents (yes, Indiana, you do have an accent here!). "Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were influential, not many were of noble birth..." But we have more in common than our unassuming facades; inside we are warriors, and we wield powerful weapons against the enemy of souls.

We love our friends so much that we are willing to fight for them - for their freedom from sin, death, fear, and shame, and freedom to live with peace, hope, joy, and love. We know there is an evil villain who wants nothing more than to steal, kill and destroy anyone he can. We also know we serve the great, victorious King and we know we can boldly approach his throne of grace with confidence on behalf of our friends. Today Eldon pointed out that we may be the only people on earth who are lifting up these friends of ours by name to our Father - what a weight of honor and responsibility that adds! What a privilege to be the warriors on the front lines fighting for them!

That is why we pray - not because we feel weak and incapable of doing anything else, but because we are strong and know that prayer is our very best plan of attack against the lies and wickedness of Satan. So if you ever see a small group of common people bowing their heads in solemn and earnest prayer on a Wednesday afternoon together, just know that, even if you cannot see it, there is a fierce battle going on... and we know that God will win.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

a few new kindred spirits

I got to hang out with some pretty cool kids the other night. Four siblings, whom I had actually never spent real time with before - just a couple brief encounters - but I have had a feeling for a while that we would be good friends, if ever we had the chance. They just have these smiles and eyes that twinkle in a way that say, "I have a wonderful story," and I just wanted to be a part of it for a little while.

So for a few brief hours, we talked, and played, and read books, and sang songs, and colored, and ate ice cream and brownies, and went to the park and back again. And by the end of the night, it felt like we'd been dear friends forever. They are so sweet and gentle and fun... and you know, they were also really natural and comfortable around my chair, without the fear or awkwardness that a lot of kids have. They asked about different buttons, and leaned on the armrests to talk to me, and the boy ran ahead to warn me of bumps in the sidewalk and watched out for his baby sister when she wandered behind me. It was really quite encouraging and blessed me a lot.

One of my favorite moments was on our way home from the park, when I had one of the little girls bundled in a blanket on my lap, and halfway home, she said, "I want-" and I said, "Do you want to get down?" and she said, "No, I want to rest..." and she leaned back and laid her head on my chest and patted her little hands on my legs. Then she sighed and dreamily said, "I really liked this - tonight was a lot of fun." Talk about melting my heart!

I don't know how often our stories will cross in the future, but I'm so thankful for the time I got to spend with these precious little ones, these kindred spirits.