Archive for October, 2012

Finding Wisdom in the Maze

READ THESE RULES. ABIDE BY THESE RULES.  HAVE FUN!

1.     If you are in a hurry, please do not enter the maze.  This maze takes time. Most people do not finish in less than 90 minutes.    

2.     Collect pieces that are hidden throughout the maze in gray mailboxes.  Pieced together they will form a map to help you find your way out. 

3.     Please stay on the paths.  Short-cuts through corn stalks are not allowed

4.     Kids, stay with your adults.  Adults, supervise your kids.

5.     Paths are rough and bumpy.  Watch your step.

6.     Please be kind and courteous to others who are in the maze with you.

After quickly reading the rules, my son and I eagerly entered our first corn maze.  Confident we would hear our names announced as the fastest corn maze participants for the day, we scurried down the leading path.  The stalks of corn towered over us on each side, creating winding trails interconnecting with each other across 7 acres of farm land.   As we traveled through the maze it was clear we had no strategy.  Despite our impulsive decisions, we lucked out and quickly found three mailboxes holding puzzle pieces.  The map that would lead us out of corn world was rapidly coming together.   We slapped each other high fives and boldly predicted we would make it out of the maze in less than 90 minutes!   Unfortunately, our celebration ended pretty quickly, when we found ourselves circling the same area of the maze repeatedly.

With the afternoon sun taking center stage overhead, our morale began to sink. Both of us were hot and tired and frustrated by the repeated dead ends.  The maze felt more like a cage at this point.  This is when we briefly began to reconsider the guidelines for the maze.  Should we go ahead and try taking a short cut through the corn stalks in order to cross over into a section that seemed out of reach to us?  Convicted by the very thought of taking the easy route, we encouraged each other and pressed on.  SLOWLY, but surely we entered new sections of the maze and located more pieces of the puzzle.  The way out became more and more obvious to both of us.  When we found the last piece we squealed and excitedly sprinted toward the exit of the corn maze.  I am proud to say we made it in record time!   Yes, our time of 2 ½ hours was one of the slowest times recorded that weekend.  Regardless, we were the owners of a completed map maze puzzle and a precious memory made with each other.

There are many treasures in life that require us to be persistent in our efforts to find them much like the corn maze was for my son and me.  In Proverbs 2 we are told that even in our search for godly wisdom we must be patient seekers who are willing to slowly put the pieces together in order to find what we desire.  Wouldn’t it be so nice if the Lord granted us wisdom and guidance as parents at the mere clap of our hands?  Instead, he allows us to hit dead ends so that we are moved to call out in desperation for understanding.   In Proverbs 2:1-6 we find several requirements as we search for His  treasures.  They are

    IF YOU…    

  1. accept my words
  2. store up my commands within you,                                                                                                                                                                   
  3. turn your ear to wisdom
  4. apply your heart to understanding—
  5. call out for insight
  6. cry aloud for understanding,
  7. look for it as for silver
  8. search for it as for hidden treasure

The list of verbs suggests action and/or intentionality toward God and His word.  Moreover, they are not something that we can do for short periods of time or on just one occasion.  They are lifestyle verbs.  God’s wisdom cannot be found through a quick treasure hunt.  Yet there is a promise for those who remain steadfast, refusing to take short cuts in their search for His will and His wisdom.  Proverbs 2:5-6 says “Then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.  For the Lord gives wisdom.”

As you seek His wisdom today in the ordinary and extraordinary circumstances of your life, may you be sustained by Him as you heartily or wearily accept, store, turn, call out, cry out, look and search for His guidance.  And I pray that together we will understand the fear of the Lord as we discover His wisdom.


“I can’t see!”

“I can’t see!”  Have you heard that exclaimed in your home lately?  When my kids were younger, these were words I heard all the time.   Little ones can’t see when someone taller than them stands in front of the television.  Nor can they enjoy the scenery when their seat is stuck in the center of the back row of the car.  At many stores and offices around town our young ones can’t even see the person on the other side of the check-out counter with whom we are speaking.  Instead, their view is limited to the uninteresting base of the cabinet and our lower leg.  I can recall countless times in these scenarios when my young children would repeatedly whine, “But, I can’t see!”

I can certainly relate to these exclamations even as an adult.  Although I am small in stature I am referring to the many times where I cannot see the full picture in my life either.   The limited view I have causes my heart to wearily cry out, “Lord, I can’t see!”  The piece that I do see promises little relief, resolution or provision of resources.   Aching to get a better grasp of the incomplete picture I often find “adult” ways to cope with the portion I can see.   Like a little girl standing on tip toes or jumping up and down at an elevated counter I desperately try to size up and increase my view of the scene?  When I think I’ve got all of the pieces figured out or planned out, I will do my best to control what I can to make the scene look as it should.   At other times I cynically accept the state of affairs as I mutter something like, “It figures” under my breath.  When I am especially weary I may stop looking at the situation altogether to protect my heart from continued disappointment.

The reality is that my role in the scenes of life is so limited.  Even when I have convinced myself that I really can see everything, I know that there are many things that I will never see or even understand.  Although I sometimes long for more clarity, a completely unobstructed view of life is not possible.  There will always be other people and other things that keep me from seeing what I long to see on any given day.  Instead God in his sovereignty allows me to see just the pieces of the picture that I need to see for today.  And by his spirit I am led to respond to what has been revealed.

When Jesus called each of the disciples, the picture of what life would look like was certainly limited.  His invitation to come follow Him included no promise of clear views ahead or perfect scenarios.  Instead, it was an invitation to a journey with the Savior.  Despite their inability to see beyond their today, they dropped everything and followed Him.  No doubt they believed that travelling with Jesus was far more valuable than being able to see a complete picture of what lay ahead.

Like the disciples we are also invited to walk alongside the Savior of the World.  This path does not always offer a beautiful resolution of today’s struggles or the promise of a clearer picture tomorrow.   But like all disciples we must decide that holding on to His hand will offer us the best view even when we can’t see what lies ahead.  Because He is our Father His eyes are all we need to lead us home.

What can’t you see today?  Where are the incomplete scenarios, the foggy places in your life? Can you trust the hand of the Savior who can see all and who promises to guide His children home?

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.   2 Corinthians 4:17-18

 

Exiting the Traffic Circle

We had just gone over the bridge.  The excitement began to brew in the car as the island was now in full view.  A few more miles and we would arrive at the beach house we rented every summer.   When we came upon the traffic circle we drove around a beautiful little park in the center of this crazy intersection on the island.   Instead of exiting at the proper time, however, my husband decided to drive around and around to see how long it would take the kids to notice his silly behavior.  We must have circled around at least six or seven times until one of our kids finally noticed what their daddy was doing.  With dizzy feelings becoming more noticeable, we all begged him…repeatedly… to immediately exit the traffic circle! Read more

Wheels on a Cross

A few years ago my husband John and our oldest son were away on a trip together.  While idling at a stoplight, they spotted a man on the corner walking across the street while carrying a large cross over his shoulders.  When John noticed our son inquisitively taking in what he saw, he began to explain to him that some people feel called to literally carry a cross to share in the sufferings of Christ as they proclaim the message of the Gospel.   Alex nodded and followed the man down the street with his eyes.   After a bit of silence, he suddenly exclaimed, “But daddy, his cross has wheels!”  Alex was both perplexed and amused by this obvious contradiction.  My husband said he belly laughed about it for miles!

As John shared this story with me, I too chuckled at the obvious incongruity.  Within seconds, however, I found myself defending the guy!   I quickly remarked, “Would you want to carry that cross around all day without wheels on it?”

Silence.

An image of Christ carrying the cross as he walked toward Calvary slowly emerges in my mind.

I don’t want to carry a cross.  Do you?  I hate pain.  I can rationalize this hatred since I know that our God did not create us for pain and suffering.  We were designed to be garden dwellers interacting with our Maker and experiencing the deepest pleasure possible in Him and through Him alone.  Unfortunately, pain is attached to sin and sin is attached to each one of us in this world as a result of the fall.  It’s even attached to the way that we cope with our pain.

When pain, like a weed, overtakes my path and threatens to consume me, I often find myself immediately questioning what God is doing.  Unfortunately, my refusal to embrace the suffering is often an idolatrous attempt to pursue comfort rather than God himself.   Nonetheless, in the midst of my resistance, the lover of my soul,  faithfully invites me toward Him-to share in His sufferings.  In that place where my pain intersects His presence, I know I experience the life that comes through the resurrected Christ.   And somehow, in the midst of suffering I experience the most intense form of worship imaginable.

But, oh how tempted I am to make life easy, to manufacture some “wheels” to keep myself from  fully experiencing the weight I am being called to carry.  Those wheels rarely lead me to his lap. Instead they lead me down detours and rabbit trails that sap my energy and rob me of that beautiful intersection where He is glorified in me and through me in my pain.

Can I really experience His life in the midst of ALL of my struggles, my sufferings?  Budget issues, sibling conflicts, illnesses, mundane chores and endless demands, job stress, marriage problems, rebellious teenagers, etc.

If you are at the beginning of a pain filled path know that He will greet you there.  

If you have walked along a painful path and find yourself sitting beside broken wheels and shattered dreams, remember that He is faithful to sit with you.  

If you have been trusting in Him and then give up only to find yourself crying out to Him once again, He will graciously take you by the hand once again and walk beside you.  

It is in His presence alone that we can take comfort in knowing that He promises to provide us with supernatural “wheels” that will move us through the pain as we glory in Him.

 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.                                                                                                                    2 Corinthians 4:7-10


 

 

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