Sunday, March 14, 2010

"My Eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare. Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted." Psalm 25:15-16

I am part of a women's Bible study that meets every Monday night. It's held at the church my husband and I attend, The Chapel at Crosspoint. Last week I can honestly say that I was just in a bit of a funk and didn't really want to go. I wanted to isolate myself and go home, cook dinner and plop my butt on the couch and watch TV. Can you relate? I was tired and stressed and feeling like I just needed a break from life. But I went. I went partially because I made a commitment to go each week and partially because I knew if I went, in obedience to the Lord, He would meet me. And he did.

Half way through the study we read Psalm 25:15 and it was at that point that the Lord just smacked me straight across the heart! I got it. Have you ever had an "ah, ha!" moment? That is what happened to me. If I were an animated cartoon there would have been a little light bulb over my head that blinked on. And though I was able to share a little in the moment with the women in the study it wasn't until my 25 minute ride home that the Lord just poured His word into me.

Ok, so if an animal is caught in a snare they wouldn't be able to get out because they don't have the skills or thumb(s) necessary to get out. So what are their options? Self-destruction (chew off their leg) which leaves them maimed for life and hurts a lot. They could stay there and just become vulnerable to other predators and risk getting hurt even worse, or death. They could drag their self across the ground but they would be limited to a certain radius. They could cover it up and pretend they aren't caught. They could try and try and try and try to release the snare with no luck.

I've done the same thing! I've made choices in my life that have led me to be caught in a snare that I just can't get myself out of. And while caught, the only thing I've wanted is to be out. Unable to free myself I've done each of the things listed above. I've been self-destructive in my thoughts and torn myself apart. The damage of that pattern of self-destructive thoughts left a limp in my step for a long time. I've laid down in defeat and chosen to stay in the snare because I really thought, "This is just the way I am". At that point, there became other areas of my life that felt the effects of that choice- both personally and in relationships with others. I tried to move on but realized I could only go so far and kept circling and coming back to the same spot I'd started. A pattern of sin and stinkin' thinkin'. And I've walked into church and bible study, smiled and shared answers from the homework and memory verses only to know that beneath the facade was an ugly, painful, heart gripping snare. But lastly, I know what it's like to try every way to release the snare with my own two hands. I've read self-help books, magazine articles, googled how others dealt with it, tried to just be a better person and be a better christian. But, I will be the first to tell you, that none of those things worked. And, truth be told, they never will.

What are some feelings I would experience if I were caught in a snare? Well, anger. I'd be mad that I was caught. But anger is never the root emotion. So, what else would I feel? Maybe guilt. Guilt because I chose to go down a path that I knew had a snare and now I've let people down who were relying on me. Or I've let myself down because, really, I knew better. Denial. What snare? Oh that? That giant trap that cutting into my body? That's just part of me. It's always been there. I'm used to it. In fact, I don't know who I'd be without it. In fact, it really just makes me stronger having to haul it around. What else? What about despair? How am I ever going to get myself out of this mess!?! Pain- being caught in a snare is painful. Sometimes physically and sometimes emotionally and mentally. Loneliness. Because sometimes, even when there are others around me who are caught in the same snare, it's still a very lonely place. Despair. Hopelessness. Depression.

In verse 16 we see that the psalmist was lonely and afflicted. But he knew the key to being released. Keeping his eyes ever on the Lord. In my life I've been caught in many a snare. I've sinned with the best of 'em. And what I've learned is that there is absolutely nothing I can do to fix my mess, release my foot, or heal the gaping wound. What I can do is to look to the Lord, seek His face, and in the midst of being vulnerable, wounded and stuck, ask Him, in his mercy, to release me. 1 John 1:9 says that, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." The truth is, not only will the Lord release me from the snare, He will heal me from the damage that the snare caused.

"The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks or righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor." Isaiah 61:1-3

I love the beautiful picture of being an oak of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor. The hope of this verse speaks to my heart. God doesn't just release, he transforms. He doesn't have to. But he chooses to. Because he is love. Not because I will ever deserve it. But because it's part of his nature. He is good. He is good no matter my circumstance, no matter my snare.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


For anyone who lives in the Western New York area you probably know the phrase commonly used by Billy Fuccilo. Here in Buffalo the tag line is, "It's HUGE, Buffalo, HHHHUUUUGGGGEEE." And for anyone who lives in the Western New York area you may agree with me that it gets old, really fast. I roll my eyes every time that commercial comes on.

This morning I was thinking about some of the things that God has been doing in my life- the ways He has been revealing himself and speaking to my heart and that was the phrase that just ran through my head. God is huge. He is huge.

A few weeks ago on a Wednesday there was an article in the paper about a local artist that built a giant table with matching giant chairs. They were on display at the Albright Knox gallery and when people would walk into the room they instantly felt small. It would be like entering the set of Honey I Shrunk the Kids. I had happened to catch a glimpse of a picture of it in the paper and had a short conversation with a guy I work with about the display. Later that night when I was home and spending some time reading my Bible and praying the Lord reminded me of that art display. I felt as if He was saying to me that being in his presence was much like standing in the midst of that giant table and chairs. And that feeling small was a good thing because it meant that He is Huge. God is bigger. Period. That beautiful picture of my smallness and God's HUGENESS came at a point when I had been praying about direction and guidance regarding a potential ministry opportunity. I had been feeling some anxiety and in my heart I knew that I need not worry- God is bigger. In my journal I scratched a picture of a big table and under it I listed things in my life. I drew a picture of Ryan and me. I put Cole (our dog/the furry love of my life). I wrote the name of the place I work and the name of the potential ministry I could work for. And I drifted off to sleep that night with a peace that blanketed my soul and a heart that was crying out, "God, you are good!"

The next day I got a call at work from my husband. His warehouse would be closing and the five people working there would be laid off. Come sometime in March he would not have a job. There were no details. No last day given. No there will be other job opportunities. Nothing. I sat still at my desk as the room seemed to start whirling around me. This is not uncommon. I've read the news articles, the statistics about unemployment and heard awful stories about people being laid off. But that was something that happened to other people. I walked through the day somewhat numb interspersed with bouts of tears. After work I went to the gym to try and relieve the stress and take my mind of the unknown. When I got home and got in the hot shower, yet another attempt to relieve stress and relax, I stood there for so long I forgot if I had actually shampooed my hair or not. In a whispered voice I managed to simply say, "Lord..." The tears started again as the thoughts of bills, car payments, rent, and lack of health insurance flooded my mind.

But then, as I stood in the shower, completely vulnerable in every way, God whispered back, "I am bigger. Remember the table and chairs." I immediately broke down in tears knowing that God is bigger. I wept because in my vulnerability God's goodness covered me. His love comforted me and the peace of knowing that He is bigger reigned. I wept because just the night before this storm God spoke to me a word that, while I would grasp a small part of it, would not be able to fully grasp all that He meant it to be until I sat in the midst of the storm with the fullness of the winds and the waves crashing. Only God can do that. God is Huge. HHHHUUUUGGGGGEEEE.

Here is the beautiful part of it- unlike Billy Fuccilo and his tagline, the truth that God is huge never, ever gets old. It's always fresh, always new, always true. God is HUGE. And He doesn't use his hugeness to get his people to buy things or do things or win them over from any competition. He is huge. He will always be huge. It's just who He is. And because he is love, and because he is good, we can rest in our smallness and put our trust in a God who fully covers us- every part of our lives.

So, today, a month after all of that began, we know details. We know that his last day is March 25th and that there is a 98% chance he will be rehired with the company at a different warehouse. And we can choose to rest in knowing those things. But they are not forever, nor are they worthy of our trust. It's nice to know. I like to know. But my faith, my trust and my life will rest in the Lord. Because he's the only one who can speak to my heart today what I will need to cling to tomorrow.

"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7
"Finally brothers, stand firm in the Lord and in his mighty power. " Ephesians 6:10