Locked in...

The sirens blared, 2, yes, 2 huge fire trucks... too many firemen in full garb for me to even count.  They were really here for me..  Frank calls them "Lucy moments"... you know Lucille Ball, she used to get herself into all kinds of trouble, most often the trouble was fairly innocent.  Mine, too.

My two older girls were in elementary school; someone had a project or something equally as important that needed some mom help to carry it all in.  Mollie was a baby, 9 or 10 months old, always on my hip.  We deposited the two girls and the project and headed back to the car.  We must have been on our way somewhere else, because I clearly remember that I was dressed up a bit, actually had on a skirt... which just adds to the Lucy part of the story.

I quickly clicked Mollie into her car seat (because we were always late to whatever we needed to hurry along to) and as I often did, tossed her the keys.  Our routine would be that I would walk around to the driver's seat, and she would toss the keys toward me to get going.

I was almost to my door, couldn't have been more than a step away, when I heard it... You know, don't you - the click of the doors locking.  How could a 9 month old baby girl press just the right button at just the right time, and more importantly, how was I going to expect that she would press the other button in order to unlock the doors.  L.U.C.Y - so I shouted for Ricky Ricardo, he didn't come.

It was fall, so I was thankful not to have to worry right away about Mollie smothering in the heat, but still my dilemma continued.  There was another young mom who obviously had to help bring in a project for another child who noticed my harried look.  She graciously agreed to "watch" the van while I went in to the office to call Ricky.. I mean Frank.  (Yes, my young friends, this was before cell phones!)   He was out on a job with no way to get in touch with him.

So our thoughtful principal suggested we call 911 - isn't there another option.... how about pop-a-lock...we could wait a few hours...  He reminded that my baby was stuck in the car.  Okay, so we did.  Surely they would just send out one nice police officer who could just pop that door right open, maybe even a bit covertly, no big deal.  Not exactly... that's where the fire trucks came in.

It just got worse.  They didn't come equipped with that thingy that you slide in the window to pop the lock.  Their only answer was to take off one of the back windows, and then have "someone" crawl through the window to grab the keys.  They were firemen, weren't they?  They were trained to crawl in windows.. but NOOOOOO.  The "in charge" fireman gave the order to me... you should climb in because we don't want to scare the baby.  I think I heard some chuckles behind me from the other firemen. 

With as much Lucy grace as I could muster, I hoisted myself through the back window, remember wearing a skirt, and saved the day... and Mollie.  By this time she was understandably upset, so I quickly unbuckled her and comforted her offering as much calmness and peace as I could.

After Jesus' death the disciples were, I assume, in a state of shock and uncertainty.  Like many of us would do, they gathered together in the same room where they had last dined and talked with Jesus.  Comfort in numbers!  Out of fear, out of anxiety, out of uncertainly, maybe even out of habit, they locked the door.  Without much ado and though the door was locked, Jesus simply appeared in the room.

As I use my spiritual imagination to determine the emotional thoughts and the climate of [those in] the room; I see sadness; I see guilt; I see anger; I hear distraught; I hear devastated; I feel heaviness of heart; I feel oppression; I feel pain.  My thinking could go on and on....  What do you see, hear, and feel?

But then... in the midst of it... there is JESUS, gently, kindly uttering, "Peace.... be with you."

Let's be painfully honest, dear friends, if we gathered a bunch of "us" in a room, what would we see, hear and feel?  The list above would likely describe the majority.  I could list the reasons here for the pain, the guilt, the oppression, but the reasons aren't the point, are they?

The point is...In the midst of it... there is JESUS.  He is offering to each of us, every single day, HIS peace... HIs words:

"Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.] John 14:27 Amplified Bible (AMP)

In the midst of it.... there is JESUS..

.I can tell you when Mollie saw me and felt my presence, she experienced peace... certainly she didn't fully understand it, but she knew she was safe and with that came relief.  Imagine how I felt when I reached her... 

JESUS just wants you to invite HIM to wherever you are locked in...

What Happened???

 Raising 4 kids, Frank and I have asked that question more times than I can count... On one particular occasion the scene was a bit different - it was late on a breezy fall evening as we  rounded the corner toward our house.  Every light was on, every door was open, it was clear something was wrong.  You see we had left the house just before dinnertime as the electricity had gone off - there was a strong, quick storm that had blown over shutting down our power.  Our thoughtful neighbor, knowing we had dinner plans and knowing our kids' fear of storms, invited all four of our children to their house for a "camp-out" while we attended our dinner.

As we neared our house we could see that smoke seemed to be billowing out every opening.  What happened???  Another neighbor coming home from work had noticed the smoke, and with the right tools was able to "break into" our house to assess the situation.  The smoke originated on my stove with a now empty pan atop a burner set to "high".  Thankfully flames had not yet ensued, but sparks were flying. 

Retracing my steps of the evening, I remembered my plan.  I had put a pan on the stove filled with water to offer the kids their favorite standby dinner - macaroni and cheese.  In the craziness of the power outage and getting the kids settled next door, it never occurred to me that I had left a pan on the stove nor that I had left the burner on high.  The odor lingered with us for several days, but the thought of what might have happened plagued me for months.  Even now I shudder as I remember my own thinking of how I could have been so thoughtless.

One moment... one decision... numerous possible consequences.  Dear sweet friends, do you ever just feel overwhelmed at the thought.  In our own lives, in the lives of our children, in the lives of our friends, Frank has often uttered this wisdom, "all of us, Susan, are just one bad decision away from destruction..."    Now that's great dinner topic conversation, huh?  In all honesty can you relate?  Can you only imagine if that thought was the end... where it all stopped?  Would you be living in destruction even now based on some decision you made, or one that someone else made that affected you?

Oh friends, I am so overwhelming thankful that it doesn't stop there - that would be hopeless. I have known the name, Jesus, all my life - that was in no part my decision, but that of my parents for which I am eternally grateful.  But let's be honest,  knowing His name or even knowing stories about Him doesn't equal His influence or even His Hope in my life.  He is absolute hope.  Often when folks are struggling, Jeremiah 29:11 is freely quoted for encouragement, "I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  I love that verse and have clung to it often, but even the fact that HE promised those plans doesn't fix everything, does it? 

The following verse gives me the "plan", "Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you."  Sorry, friends, in all the versions I read, the answer was not, "...and I will fix everything."  He promises to listen; He promises to intervene when HE determines to, He promises to offer wisdom; He promise to give peace - one that we can't even understand; and most importantly, HE offers salvation -freedom and forgiveness.

Let's me be clear, when Jesus returns, absolutely completely, everything will be fixed... to His perfection.  For now will you trust HIM with everything.... every sadness, every hurt, every decision, every mess, every person, every thought, every pain...  He is trustworthy and He is listening...

One moment.. one decision... one Savior promises to listen -just call His name.


             Hard to believe that the Eagles sang this ever popular song back in 1973.  “Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses, you’ve been out riding fences for so long now...  You better let somebody love you, before it’s too late.”  Many a lovesick young man (or woman) hit the rewind/play button over and over to console a broken heart with these “desperate” words.

            Rereading the lyrics of this song led me to believe the young renegade must be receiving advice from someone who had walked this path before and sounds to me like, with experience, didn’t want this young friend to miss love… almost pleading with him in desperation.

            Fast forward to 2002, Michael W. Smith released a song called, “Breathe”, including the powerful lyrics, “I’m desperate for YOU, I’m lost without YOU,” adding, “YOU are the air I breathe…”.  Of course, Michael W. Smith is deeply yearning for and seeking God.

            What causes us to be desperate – defined as “leaving little or no hope; having an urgent need or desire.”  Would you consider yourself desperate if your young son had been plagued for his entire life with fitful seizures that had taken control of his life?  Throwing himself into a fire or plunging himself into a river threatened often to take your boy’s life.  Begging for help you traveled to doctor after doctor, clinic after clinic, trying any and every prescribed medication.  You would pray, wouldn’t you… with conviction, with faith, with desperation.  What if your son’s challenges continued?  Would you quit?  Would you give up?  Would you cease praying?  Of course not… you are fighting for his life!

            The story from Mark 9 is somewhat familiar.  Jesus, Peter, James and John are returning to the city just after the “mountaintop” experience where they met Elijah and Moses.  Jesus had been transfigured before the disciples’ eyes as they heard the voice of God saying, “This is my Son, whom I love.  Listen to Him!”  So they are met by the crowd quickly realizing there is quite a commotion going on.  A man brought his boy who was “possessed by a spirit… that seizes him and throws him to the ground.”  To the man’s dismay, Jesus’ disciples could not “drive out the spirit.”      

            So Jesus asked for the child.  Here stands the father before the Son of the Creator of the Universe, and he says, “IF you can do anything, help us.”  Oh, precious friends, don’t you think you would choose any word to address our Savior in the place of IF?  Jesus seems to be taken back a bit as he responds by sending the man’s own words back to him, “IF you can… Everything is possible for him who believes.”

                        In Richard Blackaby’s book, Unlimiting God, he proposes that certainly this father had some faith, but it wasn’t at the level to experience the miracle in his son’s life.  There was a limit to what he believed God could or would do.  Is it possible that we limit what God can do in our own lives and those around us?  Hear me clearly I truly believe the God of this vast universe has absolute power to do as HE pleases, but scripture is clear that God does give to us in accordance with our faith.  The father responded, “I believe; Help my unbelief.”  Then Jesus healed the boy.  Don’t give up!  Keep praying – pray specifically.  Blackaby says he regularly prays in this way,

“Lord, I do have a lot of faith in You now, but would YOU raise my faith in You to a higher level, so those I pray for and minister to can experience Your power in an even greater degree?”

            He is your gracious Father, you know.