Everyone Needs A Stone

Then God went up from him at the place where he had talked with him.~

Genesis 35:13 (New International Version)

I have a stone. It is small and nondescript, smooth to the touch and primarily colorless.  It is my stone of remembrance.  It reminds me that, no matter what is going on in my life at any speck of time, God still appears in the middle of my situation. And He speaks.

I call it my quiet stone. Quiet because it diminishes my flagrant urge to gush and tell God all about something He already knows. The secret to effective Godly communications, for me, is listening. But don’t just take my word for it; let’s ask Jacob.  Jacob had that kind of encounter at a place he named Bethel, “house of God.”

Jacob called the place where God had talked with him Bethel.~ Verse 15

Let me be clear. When I say God speaks I mean He actually does talk to us.  The One Who is Creator of the universe will show up.  Often because I ask Him to.  Periodically I find myself saying, out loud:  “Lord, I just need you to come down here and see about me.”  I need Him to weigh in on my situation.  Then, occasionally He shows up just because.

I’ve learned that having a brief memory lapse is a typical human frailty.  It is easy to forget what God just did yesterday.   I need a stone to remind me that God is adequate.  He is enough.  He has everything that I need.  My stone reminds me that God is sufficiently able to do everything He has promised.  I’ll need that stone tomorrow—when I may not hear His voice so clearly.

My stone is a reminder of God’s presence whenever there are flashes of distraction, anguish or pangs of sheer perplexity, when I ask, “What was that? What just happened to me?”

Jacob set up a stone pillar at the place where God had talked with him…  Verse 14

I’m getting ready to walk around the house and yard to find the place that I will name my Bethel.  It shall be the place where I place my stone.  A place where I meet God and visit with Him.  We all need a stone.

God’s vision for Jacob was of him producing kings, procreating millions and generating a nation. God’s vision for us is possible, but it is not inevitable.  It materializes if we yield to His will . You will be great; you will do great things.  Your stone reminds you that God is with you and that He has a vision for your success far greater than anything you have imagined.

 (iStock Photo, Steve Gray)

IS DAT A BOMB?

If you are ever having a foggy day and your joy seems to have fallen into a funk, just take a moment to chat with a kid. That is guaranteed to snap you out of your gloom, really fast. The questions they can ask sure beat anything you could pay to hear at the comedy spot.

Some years ago my husband was standing next to a father and son while attending an event during which a commercial blimp flew overhead.  The little boy gazed quizzically at the sky, tugged his father’s shirt tail and asked:  “Is dat a bomb?”

My daughter, Sherri, directs a Black History Month program every February.  A few weeks ago on a Saturday, she invited anyone interested in participating to meet with her to discuss ideas.

Her most enthusiastic attendee was eight-year old Jeremiah.  Jeremiah—the walking encyclopedia on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.—announced that he envisioned himself playing lead in several scenes from Dr. King’s life. Immediately, a role reversal took place and Jeremiah began directing himself.  “First, I’ll need a wife,” he said.  Then he described the other actors and staging needed for his most vivid scene—being shot on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel.  Jeremiah had it all figured out.

Amused, Sherri listened then proposed her own idea. “You are on the balcony, there is a shot and then you fall.” Jeremiah looked at her aghast.  Brow wrinkled, lips pursed. It was a trick and he knew it. He saw the script changing, his lines cut, his most creative scenes eliminated.  Jeremiah snapped back fast. “Then, there’s the funeral…right?”

When Sherri told me that story I fell out laughing at Jeremiah’s quick wit. Sure enough, the following Sunday when she drove around to pick me up at the curb after church, there was Jeremiah sitting in the front passenger seat. He had brought his favorite pictorial book about Dr. King to church. Proof for Sherri of his research, of course.  When he offered to get out so that I could sit down, I insisted that he stay put. What? And miss the next Jeremiah-ism, up close and personal?

If Art Linkletter had not written the book or if Bill Cosby had not already done the television show, I would launch my own version of “Kids Say the Darndest Things.”  We need to laugh more. Laughter reduces the stress that taints our lives. Laughter can eliminate our sleep and anxiety disorders, eradicate panic attacks and conquer fretfulness.  Life is stressful. Living fearlessly is best accomplished with a full dose of deep chuckles, quiet giggles or full-out belly laughs. Take your pick.

A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones.

~Proverbs 17:22 (New King James Version)

 

You Are Relational

Black Man on Beach with Open Arms

When you look into someone’s face, do you see the real presence of the person you encounter?  Do you understanding our connectedness.

You are relational!  You are connected to others.  You are not a separate entity, traveling through life on your own.  Wrapped up in your own identity. Engulfed in your own little world.  So often, we get caught up in the “me” and “mine” of life—my money, my job, my family, my issues.

The dictionary definition of the word “relational” is this:

          Concerning the way in which two or more people or things are connected.

Last Saturday, the men’s ministry in our church hosted a prayer breakfast. We gathered at individual tables;  after sharing pleasantries, we got down to the business of discussing the assigned topics.  Near the end of the teaching period, each person shared a brief prayer with the entire audience.  As we went around from table to table, the room was electrified by the presence of the Holy Spirit.  It was as if someone opened a window to let us peer into the life of the person sitting nearby.  We had a personal glimpse of private conversations with God.

A mother spoke of the imminent challenge facing her son—returning home in a few hours after twenty-five years of incarceration.  A young woman sought Divine direction in meeting the mate God designed for her.

We are connected to one another, even our enemies.  For years, I told myself I had no enemies.  That was all right; even when I discovered I was wrong, it didn’t matter.  When you can tolerate being injured by a person and not resent them for it, you become a stronger person.

When we understand that we are relational, we choose not to react to or get sucked into anyone else’s anger, resentment or hatred.  Otherwise, you wreck your immune system.  Being reactive results in inner dis-ease. You cannot become internally angry about a situation without making yourself ill.

Being conscious of our connectivity doesn’t make you vulnerable, it makes you powerful.  You can become immune to negative energy.  Nothing can hurt you; you reserve that power for sharing love. Transmitting love and joy may not change how others feel about you, but it sucks the negative energy out of your reaction.

Experiencing everyday joy means opening your eyes to those around you to see your coworkers, casual acquaintances, friends, family members. Learned joy is caring enough to understand the challenges others are facing and what is going on in their lives.

There is even scientific evidence that life connects us and that we affect one other. You are an eternal soul, encased in a temporary body. The energy that I want to transmit is that of healing, connection, communication and compassion.

That’s how it is with us. There are many of us, but we each are part of the body of Christ,

as well as part of one another.  ~  Romans 12:5 (Contemporary English Version)

That’s You–Tattooed in the Middle of God’s Hand

 

 

What’s the clearest, most solid physical difference between generations? I
believe it’s whether or not you have a tattoo. Tattooing is noticeably today’s most
identifiable cultural phenomenon. Most people in my age group (defined as
traditionalists or baby boomers) don’t quite get the astonishing display of tattoos worn
by other generations—the Millenials (my grandchildren’s age) or Generation Xers (my
children’s age). I admit it; I’m getting better but some of my opinions about tattoos have
been rather stereotypical.

I guess that explains why I was so astonished to discover that God has a tattoo!

Don’t believe me? Check it out. In the King James Version of the Bible, this
passage in Isaiah begins with the word “behold.” God speaks with emphasis, as if to
say: Come here; hear this. This is important. Pay attention. You are about to be
surprised at what I’m going to tell you. Isaiah recorded God Himself speaking and
wrote—I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands.

I met The Reverend Patricia Brock, Chaplain at the Southern Hills Medical
Center, on a day when she delivered the chapel meditation. I arrived early enough to
choose an unobtrusive seat along the wall; I wanted to be an observer. As service
started, nearly every seat filled with clinicians, hospital workers and volunteers.
Afterward, I asked Rev. Brock for her views about the spiritual side of healing. During
our conversation, she told me about God’s tattoo. A friend gave her a bookmark with
those words from Isaiah. “I needed to know that I am that close to God—that He loves
me that much,” she said. “Our hands say a great deal about us.”
So, God has a tattoo! And, just like everyone whose tattoo connects them with
someone they love or with something they favor, God’s tattoo is an image of you.

He placed it smack in the center of both His hands. Your image is engraved in the hollow
of God’s palms, on the flat of His hands. The Hebrew word in this passage, chaqaq,
means to cut in or to carve. Some translations refer to the imprint as being your name; I
prefer the interpretation that it’s an image of you.
In the midst of life’s challenges, our greatest fear is that God has forgotten us.
We fear that He doesn’t see the storms swirling around us. Do our storms even matter
to God? There you are, smack in the middle of a cyclone, and—like the disciples out on
the sea with Jesus—you wonder if the great God of the universe cares what happens to
you. Is He asleep? Is He preoccupied while you face a cataclysm?

The answer is in His tattoo: you are never out of God’s thoughts; you are
constantly on God’s mind. God says: Your image is ever before me because it is carved
on my hand. Your portrait is there, your imprint is permanent.

My son, Randy, has an amusing habit. Whenever he thinks he may forget
something important and doesn’t have a piece of paper, he writes a note to himself on
the palm of his hand. It may be a phone number, a short checklist, or even a sketch.
When Randy washes his hands, his notes are gone. But, you are not a temporary mark
on God’s hand; your image is perpetual, everlasting, enduring.

Know this: God has a wall of protection around you. This is evidence of how

precious you are to Him and the great affection He has for you. Not only does he place
His angels around us to guide us, but God Himself is our protection.

How comforting to know that, in all things, we are never, ever out of God’s sight or thoughts.