Playtime

Sarah’s chubby fingers gripped the crooks of her folded arms.

Her usually cherubic face contorted into a grimace.

Her eyes became chocolate tongues of fire as she watched me collect the remaining cards.

In a crystalline 4-year-old aria, she sang,

“I don’t want to play any more.”

Now, the game was her idea.

She had bounced with excitement as I set up the board, arranged the cards, and gave her a game piece.

But Sarah stomped her Stride Rite sneakered feet in displeasure when she began to lose some of her gold tokens.

Something shifted when she realized that losing was a possibility.

I don’t want to play any more.

We can feel the same way at times in life.

We are granted moments that make us float with thrill and encounters that simmer into syrupy joy.

It is when these occasions threaten to persist

When they hint at continuance

That give us pause.

Because we know that floating too high can make you fall

And simmering can ease into a slow burn

And injury to our person

Our heart

Is imaginable.

The risk gets real.

And we don’t want to play any more.

But stopping the game means cutting a journey short.

Ending the happy

And closing the door to a win.

Yeah, painful defeat is conceivable.

So is exhilarating triumph.

Let’s see what’s next.

Stay in the game.  

And keep playing.

The Wall

Growing up, there was nothing more magical to me than a department store.

As soon as my mother’s glossy mauve fingertips loosened on my wrist, I was off to explore this grand kingdom.

The circular clothing racks would transform into miniature weeping willows.

I’d part them to carefully settle into a hidden cave, a cozy and dark hideway specially carved for me.

My fantastical trek was always cut short when my mother’s voice reached through the colorful trees and beckoned me to the register.

Or as I’d call it, “The Wall.”

To a short 6 year old, the register counter was a particularly annoying presence.

Sullenly teasing me with its height, shrouding what was behind it in wallpapered mystery.

Balancing on the tips of my Keds with ballerina concentration offered no real revelation.

Just slivers of possibles.

Flashes of dollar bills in metal drawers.

Peeks of logoed paper bags.

Views of glass merchandise on clear shelves.

I’d catch only drops of what was there before I crashed back on my heels.

Back into frustrating cluelessness.

We always wonder

Always ponder

What is next.

What awaits us in the next chapters of our lives. 

But all remains hidden by the wall of time and our limited understanding. 

We can breathe easy in knowing that our Heavenly Father is far bigger than we are.

He sees and controls what lies behind

and beyond

the wall.

Jesus stands beside us at the counter

Smiling reassuredly as we see saw between our toes and heels

He sees what we don’t. 

And we can trust Him.


 

I trusted in, relied on, and was confident in You, O Lord;

I said, You are my God. My times are in Your hands…

Psalm 31:14-15a (AMP) 

The King

Recalling that I have a Father who lets His robe trail among twigs and His nail scarred feet walk upon hard cement to give His daughter her crown.
Thank You, Jesus.

the beautiful project

I can’t.

I can’t go on.

The words, weak and soft, were barely heard to her own ears.

She was so weary.

Her journey was long and rough.

Rough enough to lead her to a forest of broken trees and dead soil.

But she was so weary.

She walked a couple of steps more to a tree stump, where she eagerly collapsed.

She closed her eyes and breathed in deeply.

Unwanted tears spilled down her face but she didn’t wipe them away.

She just took a deep breath.

And exhaled.

Deep breath

And exhaled.

She lay there for a while in the quiet of night.

Too weary to move.

Too weary to speak.

Too weary to care.

Until a question came from behind her.

“What’s wrong?”

Without turning around, she exhaled,“I’m so tired. I don’t know what to do. I’m not good enough. I’m not doing enough of the right things…

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The King

I can’t.

I can’t go on.

The words, weak and soft, were barely heard to her own ears.

She was so weary.

Her journey was long and rough.

Rough enough to lead her to a forest of broken trees and dead soil.

But she was so weary.

She walked a couple of steps more to a tree stump, where she eagerly collapsed.

She closed her eyes and breathed in deeply.

Unwanted tears spilled down her face but she didn’t wipe them away.

She just took a deep breath.

And exhaled.

Deep breath

And exhaled.

She lay there for a while in the quiet of night.

Too weary to move.

Too weary to speak.

Too weary to care.

Until a question came from behind her.

“What’s wrong?”

Without turning around, she exhaled,“I’m so tired. I don’t know what to do. I’m not good enough. I’m not doing enough of the right things.  I’m just…not.”

“Who told you that you’re not?”

Silence returned to the air as she thought.

She finally answered in a shy voice,“No one. I just feel like I am.”

“Don’t you remember who you are?”

She felt something suddenly placed on her head.

She sat up and took it off to discover it was a crown. A gold one. Her name engraved on it in script.

“My daughters are forever redeemed, eternally safe, and loved forevermore. So says the King.”

She examined the crown.

Smooth solid gold.

Every precious stone imaginable surrounding the rim.

“But,” she sighed. “I don’t even know what’s what anymore. I don’t even know what the plan is.”

“You don’t have to know what it is. You just have to follow Me.”

She looked at the crown again, enjoying its beauty.

It truly was a gorgeous sight.

And she was amazed that it could even fit her.

Balancing the crown between her hands, she hesitated and looked at the King.

“ Remember who you are. Walk in confidence for every word I say is true.”

She placed the crown back on her head.

Slid it right.

Slid it left.

Til it was right in the center.

It fit her perfectly for it was custom-made.

“But what are You even doing here?” the princess asked. “This is no place for a King.”

The King smiled at her question.

Wherever My children go, I go.”

“Even to a place like this?”

“Even to a place like this.”

The princess felt peace as the King helped her up from the ground.

He held her up as they walked.

Slowly out of the forest.

 

 

Elsewhere

Earlier this year, I came across two articles, pieces on Christians who live in a Muslim culture. They attend mosques and pray but they do so in the name of Jesus.

The stories of two of these Christians stuck with me. One experienced a real-life five loaves and two fishes miracle. The other experienced the purest joy for something simple that I’ve often seen made complicated.

The articles stay in my mental file cabinet. I pull them sometimes to remind myself that God’s power is still at play, here and elsewhere. 

The Final Blow

 I couldn’t move and I didn’t want to.

I was still.

Not still like peace.

But still like a dead engine.

Like a broken wheel.

Like a chalk outline.

I couldn’t move and I didn’t want to.

I lay there, feeling the pain from bullets 1 through 5 radiate through my body.

And then came the last bullet, snipping my spiritual spinal cord.

I couldn’t move and I didn’t want to.

Why should you get up?

You lose.

You’re a loser.

You lose.

You’re a loser.

You lose.

You’re a loser.

A furious refrain that was stuck on repeat.

A poisonous chorus that bloated me with shame.

And left me so lonely that I could taste it.

I couldn’t move and I didn’t want to.

My vantage point showed a lifeless scene all around me.

Because I had lost.

I’m a loser.

This was it.

But whenever I decided to cease looking and let the dirge sink into me, a different melody would begin to play.

This isn’t the end.

There’s more to this.

You are not forgotten.

I am with you.

My thoughts are higher.

Keep on trusting Me.

They were stirring.

I felt my eyes flutter. My legs twitched. My knees bent.

And I began to move again.

Current conditions made the forecast plausible.

Persuasive.

Convincing.  

But all is subject to change when God is involved.

I am not a loser.

I haven’t lost.

I will not lose.

For I know the plans He has for me.

And they don’t include failure.

Bullet #6 was meant to be the final blow.

Weapon #6 is resilience.

______________________________________________

“We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken.”

II Corinthians 4:8-9 (The Message)