Circus Lessons

Family Circus Trip 2017-Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.”  Proverbs 3:5-6 

I love the circus.  Especially since they seem to have done away with the white-faced clown with the unnatural red hair and the garishly (almost freakishly) drawn on smile.  A happy place full of lights and laughter, controlled chaos and the smiles of children.  The aerial artists, with their gasp-inducing flights through the air.  The amazing strength of the acrobats and contortionists.  The many motorcyclists in the “steel ball of death” (they do not call it that, but I do because it’s just flat out dangerous to me).  The big cats.  My sister and I wonder how much is part of the act when they swipe and roar at their trainer.  I say, all; she says, no way is it all an act.  We both could be wrong or one of us could be right, but who cares?  It’s the circus! (Insert giggle here).  
There was one act which brought the above scripture to my mind.  There was a little dog, a Chihuahua, doing various tricks along with his canine companions.  A pole was brought out to the center ring and a pedestal was put atop.  Now the pole was raised up to the rafters by the dog trainer, with said Chihuahua sitting very still on the pedestal.  I know immediately the small dog is to jump down and we all clap at his agility and bravery.  However, the trainer kept raising the pole higher and higher.  I began to think it impossible for the dog to land in the ring without injuring his legs in some way.  Chihuahuas are small, after all.  Yet the dog, sat there looking at his trainer, as he was raised to the heavens!  No fidgeting, no nervous-shaking (as small dogs sometimes do), he just sat looking down at his trainer as if to say “can I jump now? Is it time yet?”  When the pole was at its zenith, I realize the trainer was going to CATCH the dog.  He wouldn’t be jumping to land on his own four legs, but jumping into his trusted trainers’ arms.  The trainer gave the signal and the dog, without a flicker of hesitation, leaped off the pedestal to his awaiting trainer and crowd applause.

Instantly, I thought, “that’s how I am supposed to trust Jesus.”  No hesitation.  No apprehension.  Just a belief in the one who will never leave, nor forsake (Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:5).  I believe the thought came because, sadly, I don’t mimic the Chihuahua.  I would be looking around for medical personnel in the vicinity, trying to gauge the distance, just in case He dropped me.  I am guilty of not trusting God as I should.  I read His word.  I read His promises.  I hear His voice.  Yet, too many times “trust in the Lord…” is head knowledge, not heart action.  I pray for His help to trust Him as I should.  He sends situations, orchestrates circumstances to extend his help, but I do not ask for it in the moment.  I miss the opportunity to experience His grace.  I know my God is faithful and He isn’t done with me.  He is not done with you either (Philippians 1:6).  He is still working in this battered and bruised heart.  And if I keep asking, He will always be there to provide what I need.  It won’t matter how high MY pole is.  I will not waver, fidget or shake.  I will just keep my eyes on the God who promised me He would perfect everything that concerns me (Psalms138:8).

What’s in Your Fire Swamp?

My Princess Bride workout tank 😊

Wesley and Buttercup.
 The two main characters in one of my top 5 favorite movies, “The Princess Bride.”  It’s pretty much a fairy tale, with some characters I would describe as colorful and not “goody-goody.”  There are some pretty evil folk living in Wesley and Buttercup’s world, who manipulate and abuse them, endeavor to keep them off-track and unsuccessful at fulfilling their main goal – to be together. Yet, at all costs, they fight the odds to achieve their dream. Wesley makes a promise to her that he will always come for her.  Always. Not sometime, or half of the time, or only if it’s a leap year, or when there is a full moon, but…ALWAYS.  Now, we know the surety of promise fulfillment is contingent on who actually MAKES the promise. Wesley’s promise is not as rock solid of a promise as Matthew 28:20 or Deuteronomy 31:6, but I digress and you get the picture anyway.  Their quest brings them to the Fire Swamp and they have to make it through in order to escape capture by Prince Humperdinck (what a name). 
The Fire Swamp is a perilous place and renowned throughout the kingdom for having super-sized rodents, “lightening sand” (quicksand) and pockets of earth that sprout flame.  Wesley is confident they will make it through safely because they are facing it together; Buttercup, however, isn’t quite so sure.  I liken the Fire Swamp to our own personal wilderness, whatever it may be.  Sometimes we find ourselves in one or headed to one as a result of our own choices.  Sometimes we look around and find ourselves in the heart of the wilderness, through no fault or action of our own.  It doesn’t matter which road led you, but the dark, dry, desolate, discouraging, despairing atmosphere of the wilderness is undeniable.  You open your mouth to speak to these “dry bones” around you (Ezekiel 37), being obedient to “…call[eth] those things which be not as though they were” (Romans 4:17), and you see nothing change.  So you live a little while longer in the wilderness.  On the days you get frustrated and angry about being there, you find yourself, maybe even feel yourself, drifting, losing your connection to the Vine. Then the thoughts come, coupled with the internal questions because after all “why am I still here? I thought I only had to suffer for a little while (1 Peter 5:10)?  Is this what being loved looks like (Jeremiah 31:3)

I know many people feel like they cannot question God.  They believe it blasphemy to even dare. But my God isn’t scared of my questions.  He knows I’m a thinker because He made me that way.  He knows I need to sit with things, study them, research them, see why it went down the way it did.  Some days He will indulge me (Psalms 103:13-14).  Some days He reminds me He is God (Psalms 100:3), and who am I to question? (Job 38:4). Either way, He is with me in my wilderness.  When I drift, His spirit draws me back with compassion.  When I believe and speak His truth, He illuminates the path before me so I can walk out of the wilderness.  The Bible tells us that the Word became flesh (John 1:14).  In my minds’ eye, I can picture the physical being of Jesus leading us out of any wilderness we may find ourselves in.  He is in front of us, looking back with His hand extended, lightly holding our fingertips, guiding you and I away from our Fire Swamp (Psalm 31:3)

 P.S.—Wesley and Buttercup made it through and were troubled no more by Prince Humperdinck.  They lived happily ever after…duh, it IS a fairy tale you know.

Miriam 

Small beginnings

“Do not despise this small beginning, for the eyes of the Lord rejoice to see the work begin…” Zechariah 4:10 (TLB)

After much debate within myself, and a healthy dose of self-doubt, I’m here – my first blog post. Yes, I hear you whispering “welcome to the 21st century” under your breath! Cut me some slack and go easy on me please.  Its only by God’s grace and INCESSANT nudging that I find myself typing these words, on this platform, tonight.

You see, I’m the kid who always loved words.  I would wait for my mom to get home from work and immediately run to her with the tissue-paper thin order form for Scholastic books I’d received in school.  I would anxiously await the arrival of my order. Couldnt wait to read new stories comprised of…words. I grew to be a woman who was never at a loss for them, written or verbal.  However, always able to express myself, whatever the medium, I shied away from the call of writing for public consumption.

Few times in life have I found myself without a journal. I write to process my observations and experience, for memory, my hopes, my prayers. I write my conversations with the Lord.  It is only recently I realized I was building a catalog, along with my relationship with God, over the decades. I also found, as I shared bits of my experience with people, they were encouraged, uplifted, contemplative. Maybe they saw themselves and knew someone else had the same questions, thoughts and feelings.  Sometimes that’s all you need, to not feel  isolated or alone.

So tonight I take heed to the Spirit and I write. I obey His leading and I share. In doing so, I honor Him with the gift He gave me. And He promises, “…for them that honour me I will honour.” 1 Samuel 2:30

Miriam