UNTAPPED POTENTIAL

By Lisa Huddleston

 

UNTAPPED POTENTIAL

 

Lying in the hammock

Praying for the rain

Thinking of the thirsty roots

Acknowledging the pain

 

The rolling thunder rumbles on

with promises–untrue?

But I see the cloud sky breaking

Now the blue is showing through

 

Another storm blows over

The hope of showers gone

I could almost smell the rain this time

I could taste it on my tongue

 

Another storm’s blown over

I can barely hear its sound

The rumble has grown distant now

O how long, Lord, how long?

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REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE

By Lisa Huddleston

“Be careful that you don’t forget the LORD your God by failing to keep His command—the ordinances and statutes—I am giving you today. … Be careful that your heart doesn’t become proud and you forget the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery” (Deut. 8:11, 14).

What was Gen. Stanley McChrystal thinking when he openly criticized his Commander in Chief and ridiculed members of the Obama administration to a reporter from Rolling Stone?  Was he looking for someone to take the blame for the recent deterioration in Afghanistan?  Was he overcome by a desire to appear “cool” in Rolling Stone?  Did he forget that he would have to answer for his actions?  What in the world was he thinking?

As inappropriate as his remarks were and despite his deserving to be removed from his post, I can’t help feeling sorry for the man.  He has to be ashamed of his failure to remember his place.  I suffer with him at the public nature of his disgrace, and it’s more than sympathy I feel.  I can relate to his embarrassment and am thankful that my failures to remember my place have not been as public.  However, they have made an impact and serve as markers to help me remember who I am.

One such embarrassment came when I was a first-year teacher in a public high school outside of Memphis, Tennessee.  I was assigned an older teacher as my mentor and was required to observe some of her classes to learn how to manage my students better.  After watching for a few days, I arrogantly criticized this woman’s abilities to another teacher in the school who immediately told my mentor.  I see my pride today.  I had no experience and a lot of book knowledge—a dangerous and even ridiculous combination—but I thought I knew more than she did about how to run a classroom.  I was ashamed when I learned that she had heard every word I said.  Thankfully, she remembered what it was like to be young and stupid, and she graciously continued to mentor me—after a tearful, humbling apology on my part.  I had forgotten who I was.  She was the one with the experience.  She was the one who was serving as the mentor.  I was supposed to be gleaning from her wisdom rather than criticizing her actions.  I still blush and feel sick when I think of my presumption and pride.

Both of these examples, McChrystal’s and mine, are reminders of the importance of knowing your place.  As followers of Jesus Christ, our place is clear—it is one of submission.  He is Lord, and we are not.  A simple concept but one that I fail to remember on an almost daily basis.  When I choose to disobey his commands, I am putting myself in the place of God.  When I judge others and place my convictions on them, I am putting myself in the place of the Holy Spirit.  When I put my needs and my desires ahead of the needs of others, I am failing to follow the Lord and am putting myself in a place that I don’t deserve. 

Yes, my heart aches for Gen. McChrystal even as my head shakes in disbelief.  It is important to remember who we are.  Jesus is Lord, and we are not.  I know it—so why don’t I act like it?

DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE?

By Lisa Huddleston

 “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor. 4:4).

Yesterday morning, as I sat at my kitchen table drinking coffee and reading my Bible, I had a weird sensation that I was being watched.  I looked out the window to discover a large bird sitting on the back fence and staring at the house.  Because I am terribly near-sighted, I squinted to determine what it was.  Hawk?  Owl?  Hmmmm … not sure.  I even picked up my husband’s glasses which were lying close at hand.  No help at all.  So I opened the back door and slowly walked out onto the porch.  Yes, it was a hawk, and he was looking right at me!  After a couple of seconds of staring, he calmly turned and lifted himself into the air with his wide spread wings as I watched in wonder.  How unusual!

But this has been an unusual week.  My husband has been working around the house and yard instead of going to his office.  The kids have been busy with VBS.  I attended my first online class in a chat room. And we missed our mid-week anchor—Bible study and choir rehearsal.  Things are simply out of whack.

In addition, I’ve had the unsettling feeling that God is trying to tell me something that I just haven’t been getting.  I’ve been picking up vibes for some time, but maybe I haven’t wanted to see the truth.  And that’s what I need to write about today—seeing.

As if having a stare down (or squint down) with a hawk weren’t enough, I have had some other reminders of the importance of seeing.  A friend had sudden corneal trouble and couldn’t see clearly.  Several other acquaintances have shared their visions of me, and I’ve been surprised by their take.  And I received an email this morning from another friend asking me to help her to see her “blind spots.”  In each of these situations, the problem has been exactly the same—an inability to see with clear vision.

So what?  Just this.  Clear vision is important.  It’s important in our physical lives, and it’s important in our emotional and spiritual lives.  In the passage in 2 Corinthians 4, Paul writes about the importance of clear vision in sharing the gospel, the truth about Jesus Christ.  He says that the gospel is veiled from those who are perishing and this veiling is not an accident.  The god of this world, better known to us as Satan, is blinding them to the truth.  And what is that truth?  That Jesus Christ is the very image of God!

Who else has been made in the image of God?  Mankind! (See Gen. 1:26-27.)  Yes, that means you, and it even means me.  And isn’t that another truth that the devil would love to keep us blinded to?  As long as we can’t see clearly the gifts and abilities that God has placed in us to use for his kingdom, then we can be kept blind and ineffective, unable to see the glory of Jesus Christ at work in our lives and through us in the lives of those around us. 

But we don’t have to stay that way!  Paul reminded the Corinthians and he reminds us today that what we are to proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord.  We have the ability and the responsibility to let His light shine in the darkness as it has already shone in our hearts in order to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God to a world that cannot see.  Like flashlights in the dark, we can help others see—if we are willing to open our own eyes to His vision for us.  Do you see what I see?  Or better yet, do we see what He sees?

THE LAST TIME

by Lisa Huddleston

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15-16).

New parents spend lots of time and energy documenting the “firsts” in their children’s lives.  They buy special books to fill with dates, written memories, and pictures of Junior’s first steps, his first teeth, his first words, and so on, but not much notice is made of the “lasts.”  More than likely this oversight is because we are often unaware of when an event is a true “last.”  When was the last night I tucked my children into their beds and listened as they said their evening prayers?  When was the last time I brushed their hair or cut their food or helped them to sound out a new word?  These and many more “lasts” passed by with little fanfare as my three children grew into increasing independence and maturity. 

Today, however, I was aware of a last as I sat with my eighteen-year-old son for his, and my, last visit to the pediatrician’s office.  If you know Nick, I’m sure you’re already smiling at the thought of his six-foot-two frame crowded into the noisy waiting room with all the other “children.”  It was pretty amusing, but since this was the office that held his immunization record, it was the easiest place to have his college health forms completed.  But it was definitely the last trip I would make with one of my own children to this place, and I have to admit to feeling a little melancholy about it.  Nick will graduate this Saturday and head off to college this fall—the last of our children to take this big step.  Where has the time gone, and how did it pass so quickly?  Wasn’t it just yesterday that he was begging me to sing “Grandma’s Feather Bed” just “one more time” in order to put off actually lying down and going to sleep?  I’m literally shocked to find us here although my gray hair and Nick’s man-sized self tell me the time has come.

As I ponder these lasts with my children, I can’t help but think about the possibility that each day holds many more lasts in so many other relationships.  Today may be the last day that I can pray for my friend to accept Jesus.  It may be the last time I kiss my mother or the last time I tell my husband that I love him.  It may be my final opportunity to pet my dog’s graying head or my last chance to accept an opportunity that God has given me.  Each day holds a finite number of minutes which once spent are gone forever—unless they have been spent wisely by investing them in the future of the lives of those we love.

Despite my sighs and tears, which cause my family to smile and shake their heads quite often, I am thankful for this time to ponder these “lasts.”  I hope I will remember this thought next week after the graduation events are behind us and this momentous occasion too has passed.  I pray that I will be mindful of the time that is given to me and thoughtful of how to use it more wisely.  May I tell my family and friends that I love them.  May I make the effort to pray for them, to call or write, to go to lunch, or to pat a shoulder and give a hug.  May I make the most of each day so that I will not regret the evil of wasted time, as often filled by omission as commission, but rather rejoice in the memories that tomorrow will hold.  After all, it may be my last chance.

(I love you and am very proud of you, Nick.  Happy Graduation!)