Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A Personal Meditation on Psalm 121

The next chapter in my journey is about to unfold. My spiritual director sent me this picture which in actuality is a collage made up of pieces of paper that give it the illusion of a painting. I was captured by it and began to meditate upon it as it spoke to me of where I am in my present spiritual walk. I began to write in my journal about this experience and the words of Psalm 121 became a part of this scene.

June 16, 2015
The Village Within.jpg

"I see a little girl morphed by what seems are overwhelming odds. Everything around her and everything she sees seem larger than life. She is about to enter an unknown place. How far should she go? Her shadow seems to indicate she is touching the wall almost as if to have a sense of security. That wall is upholding the structure above her. The wall is a firm foundation, the Solid Rock, Jesus. In comparison to that little girl the archway is mighty. I notice the contrast in the colors of the wall. The gray seems almost like lifeless stone as compared to what's on the other side. On the other side are warm browns and yellows almost inviting her in. In fact everything on the other side of that wall looks inviting. The homes representing a place of family and community. The green vine along the railing speaks of new life reminiscent of the True Vine of John 15. The ground on which the little girl stands has a blue tint to it. In an ironic way the blue rather than feeling cold and lifeless feels like the Presence of God that has been following her. For there in the distance are the hills backed by a blue sky reminding me of Psalm 121. "I lift my eyes to the hills--where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth." (Psalm 121:1-2) I don't know if the little girl is aware of the Lord's Presence or if she is too focused on the dwelling places before her. She doesn't know where to go. The dwelling places are of various shapes and sizes and she stands almost paralyzed and confused. What if she makes the wrong choice? She is just a little girl with no apparent grown ups to help her. I identify with her Lord on this seemingly endless journey. I have no one to guide me save for You. I am about to walk through a doorway to another unfamiliar season in my life. What lies before me are many choices and many churches. Yet, what do I do? I feel overwhelmed, I feel abandoned. I notice the dress the little girl is wearing is red which in the church is typically symbolic of the Holy Spirit. Thus, the Holy Spirit is covering her and He covers me, too. In fact I see the Trinity represented in this picture. The Spirit covers her, the Rock she clings to is Jesus and God the Father is represented in the hills where her help comes from. She is barefoot, standing in essence on holy ground. And perhaps what lies in the center, in those dwellings surrounded by the Father, Son, and Spirit is the church community. A diverse community represented by the buildings of differing shapes, sizes, and colors. Because she is standing on that holy ground, "He will not let your foot slip--He who watches over you will not slumber; Indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you--(that archway in the picture, the hills, the Spirit's covering) the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night." (Psalm 121:3-6) Even though that little girl is scared and unsure, even though I resonate with her feelings of insecurity she and I can go through that archway. "The Lord will keep you from all harm---He will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore." (Psalm 121:7-8) I stand on the edge of the unknown yet I remain surrounded by His Presence whether I am coming in or going out. There is new life waiting for me somewhere among the many choices. The Lord is inviting me to enter in and not be afraid because I declare with the Psalmist, "The Lord is my Rock, my Fortress, and my Deliverer; My God is my Rock in whom I take refuge. He is my Shield and the Horn of my salvation, my Stronghold." (Psalm 18:2)

Peace and Blessings,
Pastor Sheree

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

House Cleaning

Last weekend I was sitting in front of our slider that looks out onto our deck where our birdhouse is located. Every year the house wrens return to start building their nest where they can hatch and raise their young. This year was no exception and they returned right on time. I was excited, anticipating the development of new life. However, a few weeks after the birds began to nest, I noticed I no longer heard their familiar song. I realized they had abandoned their endeavor. For some unknown reason they left their home. I suspect another, larger bird drove them off. So as I sat looking out at that empty bird house I became sad and depressed. Where there was once possibility and potential new life, where there was once singing and great joy, there was now only silence, emptiness, and desolation. I started to think about my own journey in seeking to find a new church home. The birds having been driven from their home felt like a metaphor for my life. It seemed like every church we visited held great possibility, new life and new joy. However, once again I am homeless, chased away by thoughts and attitudes of others that I could not be overcome. Like the birds, I did not feel strong enough to fight so I just gave up and moved on. I know the Lord will find those house wrens a new home and if He cares so much for those birds of the air, according to Matthew 6, I am more valuable to God. (Matthew 6:26) I found myself resonating with Jesus' statement in Matthew 8:20, "Foxes have their holes and birds of the air have their nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head." I asked the Lord, Where will I lay my head? When will I finally rest? I know the Lord has left a blessing through me wherever I have been but I was once again feeling exhausted. I prayed to the Lord to breathe new life back into that birdhouse so I could know there is hope and breathe new life back into me so that I may persevere. The Lord answered my prayer. The following day I looked out of my slider to see a house wren back at the birdhouse. New life had come! However, as I watched the little wren work, to my surprise it wasn't building a new nest but rather pulling material out of the house. I got the impression that the wren was house cleaning to prepare the house for a new purpose. While it worked it was singing which is typical when these wrens are engaged in activity. I felt the Lord impress upon my heart that life yet remains in that birdhouse and all that was needed was to clean out the remnants of what was to make way for what is yet to be. I was being called to learn from this bird's example. I needed to let go of the remnants of what was and be prepared for something new. The Lord was preparing a place for me. A place where new life will abide and like that bird I will sing a new song! What remnants need to be removed from your life? I encourage you to let the Spirit of God do some "house cleaning" so you can sing anew to the Lord."He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God!" (Psalm 40:3a)
Pastor Sheree