Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Squeaky Wheel

“You can’t let the squeaky wheel get the grease!” 

This has been one of my most common mottos in life – and especially, in parenting. I’ve always been annoyed anytime I’ve witnessed a disobedient child getting all the attention. I’ve always cringed at the sight of the “slacker” finally doing something “normal” and thus getting lavished in praise for doing what they should have done all along.

“We shouldn't praise normalcy,” I would lecture, bitterly; “Normalcy is to be expected. We should only praise exceptionalism.”

And while this may be an effective attitude in business and government, it doesn't work in the home, and it certainly isn’t how Christ deals with us.

Even as I type this, I want so badly to reject it. I literally despise the notion of the lazy, selfish, and disobedient person getting showered in gifts and attention. I despise the mere thought of the hard-working, obedient, and honest person getting no more love and attention than the idiot who squandered it all. I despise the prodigal son – and I particularly resent his Father.

If I was the Father, I would have taught that wayward son a lesson. First of all, he wouldn’t have got my inheritance early, and second of all, if I was merciful enough to let him back in my house after he betrayed me like that, he would have earned his keep.  

And If I was the Shepard in Luke, I would have let that careless, and obviously inattentive, lost sheep go. After all, it’s not fair to the other ninety-nine, if I leave them alone to go after the one who couldn’t act right. And if I’m going to be giving anyone free-rides on my shoulders, it’s going to be the ones who deserve it. The other ninety-nine seemed to manage to stay on the right path, why should I give extra attention to the one who couldn’t?

And why should I go downstairs to the room of my grounded son and hug him, and tell him how much I love him, when his more obedient siblings deserve whatever hugs would have went to him? Why should all my attention go to the trouble-maker, while the obedient siblings sit upstairs alone? Why should the squeaky wheel get all the grease?

And why should—

“The only reason you don’t squeak, is because you’ve got the grace,” the Lord interrupts my complaints.

This shuts me up.

Those times I think I’ve got it all together, those times I think I’m so righteous, and those times I think I’m so capable, it turns out,  I’m nothing more than a squeaky wheel that’s been silenced by grace.

And come to think of it, I’m not even all that silent. I whine (squeak) , I complain (squeak), and sometimes I even write my grumbles on a blog (squeak, squeak).  Yet, the Mechanic is always listening, always seeking out the origin of the squeak, and is always ready with His bottle of greasy grace.

The Holy Spirit then faces me with this pride-killing question: How could you withhold grace from others when you know it is the only thing that keeps you turning smoothly? Without it, you would rust – and die.

Oh, as much as my inner-Pharisee wants to fight back, scripture proves time and time again that in the Lord’s shop, the squeaky wheel always gets the GRACE – and truth is, we are ALL squeaky wheels. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Lord's Lullaby

"Hush little baby, don't say a word..."

His cheeks are flushed, especially the left one -- it's always seemed to turn more red than the right. His skin is hot, his temperature is high, and my heart is...restless.

I once heard it said," have a child is the decision to forever allow your heart to go walking around outside of your body."

And it's true.

I'm rocking my heart, my youngest child, in an old nursery room glider that's rocked so many hearts down through so many generations that it now tries to tells its own stories, through creaks and knocks.

"Momma's gonna buy you a mocking bird..."

I'm singing to him - over him, trying everything I know to comfort him. If I could steal his pain away and absorb it myself, I would.

We hate to see our children hurt, don't we? I'm convinced there's no greater pain.

And a fever is just the beginning. As their little hearts become big, the pain grows, too. Their tummy aches turn into disappointments, their skinned up knees into broken hearts, and their childish fears turn into lost jobs, divorce, addictions, and all those grown up sized failures.

"And if that mocking bird don't sing..."

It's love that pulls this lullaby out of me. I sing over my child because I love him -- but I'm not signing alone. As much as I love this baby boy, the Lord loves him more, and the scriptures say, He is singing, too. (Zephiniah 3:17)  Not just over my son, but over me, and you.

Can you hear it?

Can you even imagine it?

The God who simply SPOKE the universe into creation, is now SINGING over you. If His mere WORDS set the earth into motion, then how much more power is contained in his SONG?

The thought of it all gives this restless mother's heart rest. 

For my love song is imperfect; it has limits and is tainted with sin - and yet, still, I desire the best for my children. If my out of tune, off pitch lullaby can comfort, soothe, and calm my child, then how much more can His perfect love song heal and unburden us?

In every mother's life, there comes a point that we can't help our children. We can't heal their every sickness, right their every wrong, ,keep them out of every danger -- or allieviate their every pain. But He can, and He loves them more than we can fathom.

Maya Angelou says, "A bird doesn't sing because it has all the
answers, but because it has a song."

So keep singing, weary mother, remembering that your never performing a solo, but rather a duet with the Lord.

I cup his face and stroke his flushed cheek with my thumb, and I sing.

"Hush little baby, don't you cry, our Daddy loves you and so do I."

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Take a Seat

Who would keep fighting a battle when they've already conquered hell? 

Who would make bail and yet choose to remain in their cell? 

Who would keep searching for the cure when they've already been made well?

And who would desperately try to cover stains that have long been washed farewell? 

I would. 
I have. 
I do.

I just want to make Him proud. I'm determined to make the Lord pleased with me. 

I'll try harder. I'll do better next time. Then he'll really love me...right? 

"Love me!" my heart craves, cries, begs. 

"I do!" His Word promises again and again.

What heights, what depths (Eph. 3:18); He loved us first (1 John 4:19); a love that surpasses knowledge (Eph. 3:19); I have loved you (John 15:9); the Father loves you (John 16:27); He gave himself for you (Eph. 5:2); and on and on.

But that slimy serpents slithers through the grooves of my cerebellum whispering the age old lie, "Did God really say...?" 

So, I doubt.

And I allow the Enemy to convince me that I'm surely but one misstep away from God leaving me this way - forever.

You know the saying, "If it's too good to be true then it probably isn't true"? Well, HIM loving ME is too good to be true. 

I'm not wanted enough, disciplined enough, worthy enough, likable enough, together enough, redeemable enough, (fill in the blank) enough.

Enough, enough already! 

You'd think I'd know better by now. You'd think, I'd have enough "whatever" to overcome this doubt. You'd think I'd be stronger, wiser, more now. 

What is wrong with me?

Me, me, me. 

There I go again. Looking at me when I should be looking at Him. 

Should be, ought to. 

Always comparing, measuring, always falling short.

Still believing the lie that I have at least some ability to save myself.

How long, Lord, will You let me be haunted by my inadequacies? How long will you allow me to chase after Your love? Where is this "rest" You talk about? Where is the "easy yoke"? Where is all the "free, free indeed"? 

I was certain that, by now, you would have healed me. 

But here I am, once again: same doubts, same shame, same prayer, same plea, same demons, same struggle...

same hope,
         same trust,
                 same faith,
                             same today, 
                                               and tomorrow.

You've been good, you are good, you will be good.

Whether you choose to give me deliverance from my doubt,
or grace for the moment, I will praise you.

If a broken and contrite heart you will never despise, then I'm in luck, because broken and contrite is all I have, it's all I am...

but it's all yours. 

I have no choice but to trust Him, to wait on Him, to hold on, for dear life, to the glimpses, to the promises, to the marvelous mystery of a God who, while we were still sinners, rejecting him, mocking him, even crucifying him, would willingly sacrifice himself to earn us, earn ME, a seat at His table. 

If he did that for us - for me - then surely he isn't 
disappointed when I pull out a chair, and actually