The fault in our scars

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I’m what you might call a crier. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a blubbering fool. But if something moves me, I’m gonna cry. Guaranteed. There are times when I’m reading God’s Word and I have to stop because my heart twists in my chest and I simply can’t contain the ensuing downpour. I’m pretty sure tears are the result of God wringing out our hearts.

Recently, God has drawn me to the book of Jeremiah. I’ve always liked him. Maybe it’s because he’s a crier, too. “They” (the proverbial they of the scholarly elite who write commentaries that spongelike students devour) call him the weeping prophet. Now I’m not going to say that I want people years from now to refer to me as the weeping anything, but I can appreciate Jeremiah’s tenderhearted affection for God. I love the conversations he had with God and his displays of emotional rawness, or the thread-thin strength he had in moments of tension.

I curled up with Jeremiah the other night and felt the familiar wringing of my heart in God’s hands. I had read the verse—the verse that stopped me in my reading tracks and elicited the ocular waterworks—before. Numerous times, in fact. I’m sure it had struck me in prior readings, but not in the tearful way it did that night. Isn’t it strangely exhilarating and wonderful that God can make His Word fresh and new with each reading? Oh how I love feasting on His manna daily!

Chapter Two of Jeremiah begins with the “word of the Lord came” to Jeremiah. If you’ve ever read any of Paul’s posts over at “just me being curious“, then perhaps you have been privy to one of his God-zooming-in-on-His-Batmobile insights. If not, then I encourage you to read his posts. All of them. Just not right this second… We’ve got some Jeremiah to discuss.

As I think about Paul and his conversations with God via the Batmobile, I can’t help but wonder how God’s Word came to Jeremiah.  In dreams? In whispers?

Either way, I’m grateful for Jeremiah’s obedience to deliver God’s messages to the people. I imagine it wasn’t easy. After all, who wants to hear how bad they’ve become?

In verses 2-3, God spoke to Jerusalem about the days when Israel was a devoted and loving bride, dutifully following Him. God protected His holy, chosen people from those who attempted to devour the “firstfruits of His harvest”. Those enemies faced disaster (as in Egypt and the Red Sea).

Then God stops reminiscing and confronts His people with a question: “What fault did your ancestors find in me, that they strayed so far from me?” (Jeremiah 2:5).

Whoa…wait a minute. What? Did I read that correctly, God? Did you just ask what fault they found in YOU?

I sat back in my chair, flummoxed. There it was. Verse 5. I had read it in the past without much more than a passing curiosity. Sadness enveloped me as God whispered to me, “Where did I go wrong? What could I have done differently to keep my children at home, safe in My arms, resting in the warmth of My lap? Why, oh why, do they always run away from me?”

I could hear the pain of a parent who has lost a child. Pain filled with the all-encompassing emptiness of unanswered questions.

Then, I heard Him say, “Please, my children, come back to Me. I’m waiting. Still.”

And He is. Not just for them, but for us, too.

Sitting in my office that night as I read Jeremiah 2:5, I wept. Uncontrollably. Loudly. I couldn’t fathom God’s agony over losing His chosen ones time after time after time. I cried at the thought of His suffering for those who hear His call daily and refuse to answer, or worse, tell Him, “No.”

That verse has been on my heart for a few weeks. I’ve been afraid to respond. Afraid because then I’d have to look at myself and see the truth of me. But He deserves an answer. Even if it seems too small.

Oh my Heavenly Father. You did nothing wrong. As if You ever could. We do not find fault in You but in ourselves. You are without fault. We see our history and the wounds of our transgressions engraved in the landscape of time. Our wickedness repulses us. Our idolatry and pride disgust us. We are covered in the scars of our sins.

The fault, God, is NOT with You. Never. The fault is in our scars.

Of destinations and detours

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I’ve never been much of a planner. I tend to be a wait-till-the-last-minute person. Some might call it procrastination. I simply call it preference. I don’t like to get bogged down in too many details. To-do lists overwhelm me. I focus so much on everything that needs to get done that I can’t enjoy completing each individual task. I understand the need for plans and to-do lists. And God put plenty of people on this earth who are not only exceptional at planning but who receive immense pleasure from checking off or crossing out items on their lists.

My sister is a planner. And she’s a really good one. Have a momentous occasion coming up? She’s your gal. Everything from the invitations to the table decor to the entertainment will be thematically linked, of the highest quality, and have hours of thought behind its execution. Party planner extraordinaire. It’s her new middle name.

Me? Well, let’s just say, “Oh is that tomorrow?” is my middle name. Prime example: my hubby recently celebrated his 50th birthday. Pretty big deal, right? I threw together a swell shindig at Incredible Pizza complete with one-week-notice phone invites to two friends and my sister, brother-in-law, and nephew. My hubby still enjoyed the “party”. Personally I think it was the over-the-hill ensemble I made him wear. Either that or the all-he-could-eat pizza buffet.

I am also the person who, unlike everyone else in my family, doesn’t send out Christmas cards. Not because I don’t want to or don’t have time. I could make the time. I just forget. My “forgetfulness” over the years is evidenced in the four Christmas cards I get from family every year as opposed to the thirty or forty my sister gets. She remembers to send hers. Always.

This time of year, it’s easy to see the chasm separating the planners from the non-planners. Planners had their Christmas decorations up the day after Thanksgiving and several gleaming gifts under the tree. Us non-planners still have presents to purchase and bins of decorations nestled in the attic.

I accept my preference. Others may not, but I do. It’s who I am.

I’ve been watching people plan for upcoming trips to various locations. I’ve seen people book hotels, purchase plane tickets, reserve rental cars, fill carts with travel-size HBAs. Checking to-do lists, scratching off completed items.

Me? I don’t travel much. Meniere’s Disease makes traveling not so fun. But that’s OK. I’ve accepted that this is who I am.

And believe it or not, I am planning for a destination. I RSVP’d “Yes” several years ago. And my life hasn’t been the same since.

All our plans (or non-plans), all our destinations are but detours on the road to our final destination. The one where we get to meet our Father who so lovingly adopted us into His family.

God is a Master Planner, so He sent out His invitations when He created man. He even sent His Son to personally invite everyone.

My hope is for more people to RSVP “Yes” to Him, “Yes” to the only destination that matters, “Yes” to His plan, His will, His Word. It is the best “Yes” a person can make.

The date on His invitation is drawing near. Oh how I pray that few miss it.