Monday, May 27, 2013

Going with the Flow

Going with the flow,
can take you where you don't want to go.

Yesterday my family and some friends went kayaking and canoeing.  We had a great time going down the river.  It was the perfect day to be out on the water -- not too hot or windy.  Along the way, I learned a couple of things --

Lesson 1
          Going with the flow, takes you where you don't want to go.  Even when the river bends, the water doesn't. That means that the water goes along straight until it hits the outside of the curve, where it's forced to bend.  If I let myself just drift along with the current, I would have barreled into the opposite shore.  Also, water doesn't go around trees and debris.  It goes under it.  Trust me, you don't want to go there either.

It's the same thing in life, too.  If we just drift along in life, not making intentional decisions to go the right way, we'll end up where we don't want to be.  People don't plan to fail, they just fail to plan.

Lesson 2
          Overcome the current, or the current will overcome you.  If I don't want to run into the riverbank, then I need to do something about it!  In kayaking, I can either go faster than the current, or slower than it -- but I can't sit still.  Sitting stagnant means that the current can take me where I don't want to go.  Only by going at a different speed can I maneuver efficiently.

Just recognizing that there are problems in this world doesn't fix the problems!  We have to do something about it!  We need to be proactive.  Sitting still doesn't help us or anybody else.  By being intentional about what we do and the choices we make, we can literally save lives.

Lesson 3
          Just because I don't see a rock sticking out of the water, doesn't mean it isn't there.  This one really became clear to me, after having some extremely close calls with some rather large rocks scraping the bottom of my kayak.  The thing is, even though you can't see a lot of the rocks and submerged logs in the water (especially when the water is moving fast) you can see the signs that they are there.  Even though the rocks are mostly underwater, the water on the surface moves out and around and over the rock.  This makes a telltale "V" in the water.  Sometimes it's difficult to see, especially in fast moving water, which has all kinds of ripples and waves of it's own -- but it's always there.

Sometimes we think we can ignore the ugly parts of our life and they'll go away.  The truth is, ignoring things like anger and resentment, sin and pain, only makes the problems worse.  Even though it may seem like we can't see the effects of them in our life, that doesn't mean that they aren't there.  They wait, lurking just below the surface.  And then, when we least suspect it, they raise their nasty heads.  Instead of ignoring the truth, we have to decide to confront the problem and fix it.  Pretending that sin or bitterness or hatred doesn't exist -- even though the warning signs are there -- just means we'll run into them when we least expect it and flip the boat.  And, trust me, it's a lot harder to deal with a submerged boat than with recognizing the rock and dealing with it.

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."   Romans 12:2a

Friday, May 17, 2013

KILL IT, before I have a heart attack, please

I was driving home from youth group in the dark with my mom and Lizzie.  We were about five minutes from our house, which is located out in the middle of the country.  (By the way, I live in the State of Confusion, which Google pinpoints as somewhere in Maryland)  I'd been driving for about a half hour -- yes, my youth group is quite far away, to most people's standards.

Anyway, as I was driving, my mom super-casually mentioned, "Don't freak out, but there is a rather large spider over here on my side of the windshield.  Don't worry, though.  He's nowhere near you.  Just keep driving."

Here is something that you need to know about me.  I am TERRIFIED of spiders.  Some people (ahem) think that I am on the verge of arachnophobia on certain occasions, but that is simply not true.  Any sane person should be fearful of spiders because they are evil.

 Now, back to the story... as I continued driving, my mom informed me that this gigantic spider that she was keeping an eye on, well, she couldn't see anymore.  It had dropped to the dashboard and she thought (she took great liberties to assume this) had crawled into the vent up there.  I was not convinced.  It was too dark to actually see the the top of the dash, because the geniuses who build cars forgot to put a light up there for occasions such as these.  My stomach dropped as if I was on a rollercoaster.  What if the spider crawled across the dash, up to the steering-wheel, and on to my hand?  The thought still makes me queasy.

But the spider didn't crawl across my hand.  Instead, he reappeared on the windshield, crawling upward right in front of my face.  I'm not sure which scared my poor mom more -- me screaming in terror, or me pulling off the road without a turn signal.  And all the while Lizzie sat calmly in the backseat and rolled her eyes.

Finally, mom was able to reach across and smush him with a napkin.  Unfortunately (for me) his body wasn't on the napkin or on the windshield.  We only had a few legs and a small smear as evidence that the spider ever existed.  And because we couldn't see the top of the dashboard, I had no idea where the rest of him was.  My mom assured me he was dead, yet I could just imagine him crawling on three legs across the dash, down the radio, and onto my hands...  It took extreme mental determination for me to reach down in the dark and manually shift the gears.  You never know what you're reaching down to.

I tell you all this to show you just how traumatized I was.  I literally was afraid of a spider.  And later, when I tried to explain to Lizzie exactly why spiders make me shriek in horror, I couldn't come up with a legitimate reason.  All I could say is that they have lots of legs, and they skitter with all their little legs and jump across floors and fall from ceilings and into laps.  And that's not a great reason, because it's not like I am in danger of being killed by a spider -- unless I have a heart attack.  They pose no threat to me.  Yet I am still afraid.

I bet God looks at me, and anybody else who fears things, like Lizzie looks at me.  He shakes His head and says, "What are you afraid of?  How can this hurt you?"  God looks at death and darkness and trials and asks us why we are shaking like a leaf.  He has us in the palm of His mighty, all-encompassing hand.  Whom shall we fear?  Maybe when God looks at us quivering in our boots He wonders why we are troubled.  It looks as insignificant to Him as one spider on the dash of a car.  Though our troubles seem enormous to us (and let me tell you, that spider looked three times bigger than the size my mom showed to my dad when she told him the story) they are so small to Him.  So, today, let us not be afraid, for the God who created the universe is with us ALWAYS.


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

My Weekend

I had a great weekend.  It was busy and, sometimes, stressful, but it was AWESOME.  Here's what I did:

I bought new shoes...
Need I say more???

I had my piano recital
and it went really well, considering I didn't get so nervous that I forgot the piece midway and couldn't remember it AT ALL (which may have happened a couple years ago...)  I've really been praying that God will grant me peace this year -- with recitals, driving, State School of Music Association exam, etc.  I tend to get really stressed out about stuff like that, and my poor brain starts spinning with all the what if _____ happens? that I do really poorly.  But God has slowly been working on me, and I'm learning to let go, because I'm not in control anyway.

I went to CMS at the Chapel
It was so much fun!  The Christian Musicians Summit in Gettsville, New York, is a two day event for Christian musicians, media people, and worship leaders.  It's held in New York State, Tennessee, and Washington each year, and it's such a huge inspiration to everyone who attends.  This year I missed a couple of the workshops (I had to leave for my piano recital :) but I still learned so much!

Every year I discover a new artist or two that I absolutely fall in love with.  Last year, it was Christy Nockels  and the City Harmonic.  If you don't know who they are, you should absolutely check them out on YouTube, especially Sing Along and Manifesto, respectively.  This year, I found two artists that I am a fan of.  The first is Mandisa.  Although I had heard of her before CMS, I only knew a couple of her songs.  So, about a month ago, Lizzie and I bought her newest CD (What if We Were Real), and we instantly loved every song.  She is such an amazing woman of God!  It was a privilege to get to meet her and to take a class from her.  I also got a picture with her!

The second artist that really inspired me was Tim Timmons.  Tim has had incurable cancer for twelve years now, but he's still going strong -- glorifying his Creator with his voice and his music.  I wanted to post his song, "Christ In Me", but I couldn't find it on YouTube :(  This song is called "Cast My Cares."  It is such a beautiful song, and it speaks to me on days when I start to worry and let life get to me.

That's what I did this weekend.  What about you?