Wednesday, September 3, 2014
By Micky Wolf
The day was sultry, the sun bright and intense. I wasn’t rushing about, but intentionally working my way through a small to do list.
Approaching the main entrance to the church, the slow-moving figure of a woman emerged from the building. Leaning on her walker, it was clear she had long ago learned how to use her wheeled helper with grace and precision to open doors, without being hindered in the process.
Yes, I’m one of those folks who will usually offer a greeting or a smile to passers-by or while waiting in line, whether I know them or not.
However, almost before I could open my mouth she glanced in my direction, moving closer to the handicap accessible ramp section of the cement curb.
“Morning,” she said, a big smile crossing her face.
“Good morning to you!” I responded. “Sure is a hot one today, eh?”
“Oh my, yes, for sure.” She had some of the most beautiful blue eyes I had ever seen, laugh lines squiggled at the corners. Neatly styled short, straight, white wisps of hair framed her face.
“Some people love this weather.” By now both of us had paused, a couple of feet apart. “Me, I prefer the seventies and low humidity.”
“Amen! Me too!”
Her smile broadened, if that was possible. An angel in disguise? Surely someone’s wife, mother, or grandmother. Maybe a sister or an aunt. It didn’t matter. In the midst of her focused effort to keep moving with a body that gave silent witness to the wear and tear of the years, she seemed oblivious to anything—but me.
“You have a wonderful day,” I said, oddly reluctant to move.
“And you too!”
Passing through the doors into the church I turned for another glance. She was gone. Vanished.
Not sure why this encounter has left a lasting impression. I can still see her face, her smile, the lovely white hair, the walker.
What I do know is there is no need for an explanation or answer.
What I do know is God often chooses to manifest His presence in the most unlikely ways, at the most unexpected times.
And that, fellow sojourner, is the way He would have it to be, for each of us, every day.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
By Micky Wolf
In recent days, found myself part of a small group of Christian women talking about the joy (and suffering) we experience as we allow God to work through each of us. All well and good—until the Divine decided it was the perfect opportunity for Him to get my attention.
The issue at hand? In sharing about my personal journey it became crystal clear, in an instant, that I can get too distracted with “the need to be understood”. (This ‘need’ has nothing to do with wanting to be right or needing everyone in the room to be in lock-step agreement, entirely different topics.)
A time and place…
As a writer, I’m only too aware of the importance of stringing words and sentences together in a way that doesn’t leave the reader confused or struggling to understand the point.
However, communicating with that kind of clarity is not the same as the person needing to be affirmed, in some way, that the reader or hearer fully comprehends the idea or concept being set forth.
For example: when I communicated to my toddlers, “do not run out into the street after the ball”, they had yet to fully comprehend moving vehicles and little children are not a healthy combination. The exhortation was clear, yet it would be sometime before they actually understood why this was a nonnegotiable rule.
The same is true when it comes to our Christian walk. You and I understand and comprehend God’s Truth and Love differently today than we did yesterday. That is very good thing—we are truly works in progress. So then, why do we put undue pressure on ourselves (or others)—or worse yet, develop expectations of any description—about how quickly or how thoroughly each of us is becoming more Christ-like? God’s time, place, and the way in which He chooses to knock on the door of our hearts is something known only by Him. Period.
To comprehend is…
…to grasp the nature, the significance or meaning of (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
Communicating clearly and authentically means making a commitment to being honest and vulnerable with thoughts, emotions, and actions. As Christians, when we choose to live and behave in this manner, we are to trust the process of comprehending to something that occurs within each of us, through the presence of God and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
There is no right or wrong when it comes to ‘grasping the nature, the significance or meaning of’ an event, a circumstance or an idea. Or, for that matter, another person’s perspective in any given situation. In fact, it is the unique perspective each of us bring to community which may be used of God to reveal a deeper Truth or insight. Ergo, the previously described encounter with the other women.
Being so focused on the need to be understood—which on some level involves having evidence to indicate that has occurred—takes our eyes off Jesus and places them on the flesh, the human need to know, to have assurance, to be certain.
If we insist on being understood as a prerequisite or requirement by which to measure the quality or fullness of our relationship with others, we risk stepping into a form of God-playing. Why? We need look no further than the earliest moments of inspired Scripture.
The LORD God then took the man and settled him in the Garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it. The LORD God gave the man this order: You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. From that tree you shall not eat; when you eat from it you shall die. (Genesis 2:15-17)
In other words, “do not run out into the street after the apple”.
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
By Micky Wolf
“Wow, a large section—when I find the connecting pieces, it’s going to be fun to see more of the bigger picture fall into place!” My beloved smile as I directed his attention to the long segment of ocean amidst the assorted pieces on the table in front of us.
Those of you who follow this blog know one of the ways I relax and let my mind wander (and wonder) is assembling jigsaw puzzles. While the basic process is similar—border first, group similar looking colors or patterns—no two puzzles ever come together in the same way. And this one is no exception. For whatever reason, it isn’t often that a large collection of pieces come together before being connected to the body of the puzzle.
And then, the pieces of thoughts wandering and wondering about begin to create another sort of picture—God in all things.
God knows each of us before He created us in our mother’s womb. The framework was set in place by the One who knows and understands who He has created us to be long before it ever occurred to us.
As we cooperate with His grace, He pieces us together—individually and corporately—to create something beautiful from the original outline. The more we allow Him to work and to
will His plan, the more we become a true manifestation of His Love.
Shapes and colors…
Every piece of puzzle has outward nubs and inward slots. That makes it possible for a connection to be made. Without these odd bumps and indentations there could be no meaningful association. It is important, however, to gently place the pieces together, otherwise we risk damaging them.
Same holds true for us. God didn’t place us here on this earth to simply occupy space and suck up more than our fair share of oxygen. Our nubs and slots—our heart, mind, body, spirit, and emotions—are to be extended in love, and open to receiving the same from others. Kindness and compassion will hold us in good stead as God works, and we work.
One at a time or several…
There are some occasions when I sit down with the puzzle and can only find one piece that fits before I need to move on to other tasks of the day. It used to be that twenty minutes with that kind of result felt unsuccessful. A waste of time? No.
Some of the most insightful and graced moments of my life have unfolded in what seemed to be the smallest experiences at the time they occurred. For example: happening on a few pages my father had written years ago was of those blessed occasions. The familiar longhand style evoked memories, some pleasant, others less so. At the same time, it was as if he wanted me to know something about him that he never had the opportunity to share while he was alive.
When God is in the process of building community—or for that matter expanding an existing one—we can be pretty sure His timeline is very different than ours. He is in no hurry, neither is He oblivious to accomplishing His purposes.
With great care and attention, He allows us to encounter one another, to share events and circumstances that He will use in His time and place—if we choose His will rather than our own.
Challenges and difficulties…
As sinful human beings, we can make a mess at times, especially if we’re trying to manage or control all the pieces, whether in our own life or the lives of others. Trying to put ourselves in place doesn’t work, nor is it loving or helpful to shove people around because they look like they will fit into our picture or puzzle.
God’s process of creating the larger picture is to give each of us plentiful opportunity for allowing Him to gently lead and guide us into following His Divine Will. All of which may mean that from our perspective, things look terribly out of order. Nonetheless, we know God’s ways are not our ways, His thoughts are above ours.
For each and all of us, the work of the Creator (or of being created ongoingly as Ignatius of Loyola would say) is to fully live and experience the present moment.
As this journey unfolds, and in light of calling ourselves Christ-followers, may we choose to be the unique piece—and the peace-fullness—that unites rather than divides. May we truly be and become, living witnesses of the handiwork of our great and good God.
How do I feel in the awareness God knew me before He actually created me?
How would I describe the state of my heart, mind, body, spirit, and emotions?
Am I connected to the source and summit of the bigger picture?