Lessons from a Montana Rancher

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“Jon is a character”, I announce to Diane, his wife of 50 plus years.  She looks up at me with a smile.

“Yes, Jon is witty.  A witty character.”  As if I, a pre-friend of a mere two days, must inform her of this news.

Wispy white hair and clear blue eyes that seem to have a life of their own.  Eyes dancing side to side with each passing thought.  To the left—creative and witty.  To the right—practical and reasonable.  Left.  Right.  Right.  Left.  The heart of the witty drummer beating out thoughts through lucent pool-eyes.

But, isn’t that how it is for all of us?  Heart beating out the thoughts within and with every beat, we live and breathe and move to the cadence of those heart-thoughts? 

Divergent thoughts—left, right.  Right, left.  Creative and witty, faith-filled thoughts; imagination takes flight and then… WAIT, WHAT IF?  And the spirit descends to earthly realms and the heart beat slows to a stop.

Is it possible to live life in the realm of now-faith without the restrictions of our old-man fences of human reasoning? 

Jon repairs the old fence and installs new for the cattle to be delivered this week.  Solar powered electric fencing meant to protect his livestock from wandering down the bank and into the river below.  Protection through sun-powered fencing—has me thinking.

Why do I set up my own fences of human reasoning that keep me from following the one who designed the heart beat within me in the first place?  Can I trust Him, my Son-powered line of protection from falling…from drowning…from failing?

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places, the psalmist delights.  So, why not trust those pleasant boundaries that are above and beyond what we can even ask or imagine?

Choosing to keep step with the God-designed heartbeat within—moving beyond human reasoning into the realm of creativity, wittiness and faith, expressing more and more of the Abundant Life right where you are.

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us (Ephesians 3:20-21 MSG)

 

True Faith Makes A Road Where There Is None

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Recently while driving, I came upon a road called “Willing Way”.  It immediately caught my attention.  “Are you willing?”, whispered His still small Voice.  And, in that holy moment, fully aware that He fully knows me, all I could manage to say was, “I want to be willing”.

There will come a time when you are invited to walk the road called “Willing Way”.  Not because you must, but because you are willing.  And this brings great pleasure to God.

“…not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be …” 1 Peter 5:1

 

Memory Markers

A face book post from a childhood friend interrupts my morning—a beautiful tribute to her elderly faith-filled mom who passed into Glory two days’ before.  Compassion brings us to a stop, and for a moment we rise above ourselves”, writes Mason Cooley.  I stop in a moment of compassion and allow the memories to rise, and a familiar image of a younger version, childhood-friend mom emerges from the outer edges of childhood past.  She smiles, and I remember.

How often do the faith-full parents of our childhood friends dot the horizons of our childhood memories?  They appear standing at a distance—silent guardians, watching and waiting; guideposts pointing the way; some already joined with the heavenly cloud, yet still encouraging us to run with patience and endurance the race of a faith-full life.

My thoughts take a leap to our own children’s childhood friends—those boys and girls who we got to love and serve in the Spring-season of their young lives.  Some were broken; all were hurting in one way or another (aren’t we all?).  And for a brief period of time, God graced us to share in their lives as faith-full guardians—watching and waiting amidst agonizing moments and gut-wrenching prayer.

I begin to rise above myself … Could I possibly be a dot on the memory-horizon of our adult children’s childhood friends?  Is it possible that even now, more than a decade later, I linger as a childhood memory—a guidepost helping to lead, to direct, to encourage?  If true, then all of the pain, the heartache, the sleepless nights and gut-wrenching prayer can finally make sense.

In the rising, new perspective comes.  Yes, we are road signs; we are guideposts.  We are the prophet Isaiah whispering a word from behind, memories from years past, “This is the way; walk in it”.  We are memory markers that dot the horizons of a multitude of childhood memories —even as the memory of my childhood friend’s mom marks me.

This morning, compassion brings me to a stop and I rise above myself and say,I thank my God upon every remembrance of you…” (Philippians 1:3).

God’s Face

Jacob was terrified to meet his brother, Esau.  He wrestled all night with “a man”.  At daybreak Jacob calls the place Peniel–meaning God’s face”, because he saw God face-to-face and lived.

The next morning Jacob limps out to meet the brother he feared.  He looks into Esau’s face and says, “To see your face is like seeing the face of God”.

Sometimes God hides Himself in our enemies.  Sometimes He hides Himself in those who are just plain annoying.  Keep wrestling through until the blessing comes–when you can see God’s face in the face of your brother.

“… Your face, Lord, I will seek.” Psalm 27:8

 

Sailing on Through

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Husband on a mission—tightening the hinges on every door throughout our house.  I have no idea why.  Yet, after 30 plus years of marriage, I do know my husband.  He does nothing without good reason, and whether I understand or even agree, I listen with my spirit because God uses him, and I know it.

So I ask, “What’s going on?”

The question catches him off guard.  He stops.  He thinks for a moment.  Flash of Holy Spirit inspiration…, “Batten down the hatches”.

Yikes, not sure I like the sound of that.  “Batten down the hatches”—a nautical term that generally means “to prepare for stormy weather”.

Volcanic adrenaline-filled thoughts erupt in my mind.  Stormy weather coming.  Hang on tight; here we go.

But then he proceeds to tell me something he learned while sailing the New England coast as a boy.  The command to “batten down the hatches” is not just given at the approach of stormy weather but also when the captain decides to pick up speed and sail faster.  And, as a young boy, sailing fast is pure joy!

So, whether we are preparing for stormy weather, or preparing for a spiritual season of acceleration when God moves things to us and through us at an increasing rate of speed, or maybe even both, I’m not sure.  But of this I am sure.  God is good—period.  Therefore, something good is about to happen.  He is the good captain of our ship.  He is in control of our lives.  And we give thanks for it.

Form Follows Function

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“Our choicest plans have fallen through, our airiest castles tumbled over, because of lines we neatly drew and later neatly stumbled over.”  Piet Hein, poet and scientist

Our daughter has followed the path of her God-formed interior design into a career in interior design.  “Form follows function”, Amanda says, “always.”…“The way a space looks is not as important as how the space functions.”  Her words throw light; I am intrigued, HGTV-binger me.

Form follows function… yet, how often do I do just the opposite—elevating outward form at the cost of diminishing function?

Form-chasing.  Neatly drawn lines that look good but later cause me to stumble for lack of the more important heart-function?

Could it be that my function in life is what is most important—not the form it takes?  Form follows function… if true, wouldn’t the God-created interior design of heart-function be what matters most—to Him?

In a moment of clarity, mind-eye opens … forms are designed to change; we are movable designs, fluid, ever-changing with the ever-changing seasons of life.  Function remains constant, foremost; the unique heart-function design within each of us—a design first rendered in the heart of the Master Designer Himself.

We begin living the words, form follows function… elevating our inward heart-function above outward form; the becoming, more important than the doing.  And life’s airiest castles tumble; the lines we neatly drew now gone.  And we find ourselves living, moving and breathing the words, “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty”.

 

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