Monday, April 29, 2013

What It Takes To Sing

The highway turns to blacktop, which soon narrows to a poorly maintained country road. At first homes speckle the landscape, but the scenery quickly changes to only wide expanses of rolling sand dunes  held together by a veneer of hearty prairie grasses.

Sparse tawny skeletons of weathered sunflowers remain from last season. They seem to hang their heads while deep roots cling to porous soil.  Needle and thread vegetation, that for years found its way into our childrens stockings, are intermingled with waving tufts of blue-stem grass which only display tawny hues from lack of moisture. 
Spring rains have yet to bring forth new growth that lie dormant below the surface.

Endless blue sky stretch out in all directions like a dome over us. The only sign of life is a lone meadowlark who clutches with his tiny feet to the spiky blade of a yucca plant.   

This is where Jim and I spent many years raising our children. We know well the frailness and the wildness of this place. Our faith was not unlike the delicate balance that brings stability to these hills, for not long before moving here, we had first recognized and drew close to the face of the Invisible God.

It was around this time and space that  I met a woman, who seemed good at everything she did. seasoned Christian, gifted in so many things, who appeared to have the energy, resources and vision to do most anything.

A cancerous root was established in my heart toward her. The details aren't helpful to know, but it was easy to justify my reasons. 
A decade passed and then another. I've tripped over ten thousand things in my journey. None of them have landed me as scared as withholding and extending true deep forgiveness.

Being a Christian has been more hard work than I could have imagined. It is a constant process of rejecting lies and embracing truth. Unknowingly I adapted some personal doctrine of how many times and who was worthy of my forgiveness.  I began my Jesus story with more gaping wounds and tragedy than I care to recount. I could write a book that no one wants to read on just the process of grief. "Process" is perhaps the wrong word since it conjures up a picture of moving forward. 

Unresolved soul injuries  and indifference to sin hardened and robbed me of living fully alive. Things I saw as small indifferences, went largely unnoticed until recently.

The test came.

It began with lunch and a friend. In the last course of the meal I casually decided to give my opinion about this person. Which is really a nice way to say that I gossiped about the woman. It wasn't so many days later, while standing in the shower that the Spirit pressed hard on my spirit. The pressure pushed me to my knees and as the water splattered against my back,  hot tears streamed down and I was washed clean much deeper than just soap can rinse fiber and tissue. 

But sin has fall out.

There were apologies to be extended and forgiveness to be asked. My stomach tightens like flesh that has receives a fist punch  just to think of it all   --probably like the woman felt when she heard the words I spoke. 

Sin is so insidious.

It seems small. But it is ugly and hard.

Not so long ago I was in the emergency room with my mom. She had fallen and had shattered her shoulder. We did paper work. She lay is the small room while different tests were administered, I stepped out to make phone calls. It was not long before my finger began to burn and throb. It was ridiculous and annoying and I tried to ignore it. It quickly became evident that something was very wrong and it would have to be addressed.

I later found out, that through a very small paper cut I had received earlier that day, I had become infected with MRSA. (This is the abbreviation for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Also known as Staph.) Within hours of the microscopic bacteria entering that small opening, my finger was swelled and infection was traveling rapidly. It took some very intentional steps and careful observation to contain the rampant attack.

I wear a scar in the area it entered.

Yes, sin is like that.

It seems like a small thing. We try to ignore the warning signs. The longer we let it go the more damage is done. And the cost is higher than we understand.

In the days that followed by failed test, I believe the Lord revealed to me this. That my lack of love was the issue at hand.  And I get that it's hard to love like Jesus loves. Especially when others withhold love. 

The truth is that it isn't hard to love like Jesus. It is actually impossible.

Apart from knowing the Lover and then submitting to His ways it is only a wide rolling expanse of desert with no ability to produce life.

Not only are we to forgive. Jesus said we are to forgive seventy times seven.
(read here?) 

That is just crazy grace. The kind He died on the Cross so it could be extended to me. The kind of free grace He died for, to extend to anyone who will receive it.

And that grace began to settle me.

What do people do who don't know how to seek it? 
Why did it take me so long to extend it?

Margaret Feinberg said it like this which I love: "Dispensing grace." Yes. Pouring it out. 
For the measure I use to judge others will be the measure that God uses to deal with me.

The words that I say, the prayers that I cried...

It was for freedom.

Me releasing them.

Me being released.

So we are all free to sing our life song.

The window was lowered just enough for the breeze to drift in. The motor whines under the weight of the climb and dust clouds form ghosts behind us and tire tread digs deep into the sand. Miles stretched out before us still. And the lone meadowlark, he opens wide his beak and sings his song. In this dry wasteland with little life, he sings his life song clear and loud. The one that only he can sing. He sang it as if he were in a crowded theater with a soldout audience.  He was free to sing to his audience of One. 

Forgiveness. I ask for it. I extend it. Mostly I want to live it.

Out of the rolling wastelands, full of thorns and the rough  edges of life, we who are adorned in the outrageous beauty of a living God, the One who sits resplendent in light...  we have a  song to sing.

He gave it to us.

No one else can sing our song, so it's important that we not be caught in any snares. 

Can I ask you?

Is there any unforgiveness that holds you back from truly being all that you were made for?

Linking today with, Michelle, Duane Scott, Shelly and Heather.
Reading "Wonderstruck" by  


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© Rhonda Quaney