HEAVEN CAME DOWN

 

By Lisa Huddleston

“Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down …” (Isaiah 64:1).

Today is Thursday which for me means “Writing Day.”  Usually by this time of the week, something has piqued my interest: a current event or a quirky phrase or even the changing seasons.  Something.  But this morning, this Thursday, I awoke with an empty head (which is not to be confused with a clear conscience or a blank slate.)  Nada!  So I began to fish around a little.  There was still time, I calmly reasoned.  Then, as I usually do in matters of deep spiritual need, I panicked.  What if I never had another good idea again?  What if I had written my very last word?  What if God had decided to stop funneling his truth through my warped and weird filter?  I even dared to think the words, writer’s block, as my brain began to grow ever more frantic and helpless.  Surely something needed to be said, but still nothing raised its head.  And I began to pray for a “fire in my bones” to replace the “dry bones” that were clunking together in meatless music like a weird voodoo wind chime, “No-thing, no-thing, no-thing.”  No!  Nothing to write?  Nothing to say?  My terrified writer’s heart screamed like Janet Leigh in “Psycho!”

To make matters worse and add to the increasing pall of the day, there was a funeral to attend late in the morning.  Might as well, I thought.  What better place for a writer without words than a funeral?  I dressed with less than enthusiastic zeal.  Black on black for Black Thursday.  Just perfect.

As I drove to the white antebellum funeral home off the square, I fussed at myself and then I fussed at God.  Woe is me, I thought, looking for a parking spot and trudging into the crowded parlor to find a seat at the back of the room.  Glumly, I crawled across the two white-haired ladies in the aisle seats and plopped myself down next to an old friend to sit and stew.

The usual crowd was there, and I exchanged appropriately sympathetic smiles with those I knew and made small talk with my friend.  There was something comforting about the familiarity of the setting, and despite myself, my tousled soul began to still.  The sweetness of the family, the tenderness of the aging friends, the consecutive preachers who shared their respect for the departed saint, and the personal, trembling words of the minister grandson.  I couldn’t help it.  I just softened right up.  By the time the grandson shared the memory of his grandmother sitting on her porch to keep her eyes on her grown son as he mowed her lawn once a week, I couldn’t keep it in any longer, and the tears began to flow.  Like the sun bursting through a dark gray cloud with rays of gold, heaven came down and glory filled my soul!

So although I still have no deep message to share on this Thursday, I do have the glimpse of glory that lingers even as I struggle to express the sight.  God is here.  He’s in the good days, and he’s in the bad.  Like Miss Mary Ruth on her porch, God delights in the sight of his children.  And that warm image fills my soul with joy.  Okay, I haven’t gone all soft.  It’s still a bittersweet kind of joy.  I can’t admit to complete surrender, but I do have a glimpse.  And for today, that is enough.

EYES ON THE PRIZE

 

By Lisa Huddleston

 “For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory.  So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen; for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor. 4:17-18).

Monday was Columbus Day so my husband, who is a federal employee, didn’t have to go to work which sort of made Tuesday Monday, if you get my drift.  To complicate matters further, Chuck works at two different offices—one in Murfreesboro and the other in Nashville—so he is constantly having to remember where he is going when he leaves the house every morning.  This confusion and the fact that we are both getting old and senile caused him to worry that he might head off in the wrong direction on Tuesday.  Therefore, my parting words to him that morning were, “Remember where you’re going.” 

After he left, those words kept playing through my mind.  They were a great reminder for me as well as for Chuck even though I wasn’t physically going anywhere.  As I pondered this thought throughout the following days, I saw more and more application for their truth.  We all need to have a destination in sight.  We all need to remember where we’re going.

But that seems to be a real problem for many of us.  We seem to travel through life without direction.  Is it any wonder that we take so many turns that lead us down dead ends and unpaved rabbit trails?  Every pothole signals the end of the road.  Every flat tire points to an impossible failure.  We can’t see beyond the moment, because we have our eyes fixed on our latest discouragement or catastrophe.  We are nearsighted drivers without a map to direct our journey.  And the results of our myopic vision are often deadly. 

As I’ve considered the importance of keeping my eyes on the prize, two very opposite examples have been playing out on the nation’s television screens.  The first scenario was the terrible tragedy of the young college student who took his life after being humiliated. Two other college students filmed him in a sexual encounter with another young man and posted the whole thing on the internet.  As you might expect, he was devastated; but the real tragedy was that he couldn’t see beyond that moment.  He didn’t know that there was more to come and that he wouldn’t be stuck in that terrible spot forever.  He couldn’t see that there was still a future that could carry him past his pain so he chose to end his journey.

The second story is a much happier one—it is the recent rescue of the miners in Chile.  Trapped for 70 days in the tomb-like prison of their collapsed mine, they were able to keep their thoughts on the future.  They sent notes to their families.  They dreamed of breathing the fresh air of freedom, and they kept hope alive.  I imagine it would have been very easy to give up especially in the first days when no help appeared to be coming.  Yet, they survived, and their joyful faces proved to be shining examples of what it looks like to reach your destination.  The joy of hope fulfilled.

What a contrast!  What a difference hope makes!  But that’s what faith does for us.  It’s what it’s all about—the light at the end of the dark tunnel, the promise of things to come.  “Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen” (Heb. 11:1).  As believers in Christ, our faith is sure, as real in the present troubles as it will be in the future.  We can trust that the finish line is there, and we can keep our eyes fixed upon it in even our most desperate situations.

Did you watch as one of the miners fell to his knees as he exited the pod and thanked God for his rescue?  I don’t know about you, but I want to keep that image in my mental photo album for the next time I feel hopeless.  It will help me to fix my eyes on the prize—Jesus Christ is the author and finisher of my race.  I hope he is yours.  If so, remember where you’re going.  The destination makes every moment of your journey worth the trip.

MOTHERING AND OTHER UNBIDDEN URGES OF LIFE

By Lisa Huddleston

 “How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!”  (Matt. 23:37)

As many of you know, we have been blessed with some new additions here at Hudfarm.  A tiny squirrel-colored cat recently appeared on the front porch, and as you would expect around here, it didn’t take long for various members of the family who shall remain nameless to start petting her and loving her and, yes, feeding her.  But one thing puzzled us.  Although this was a tiny, kittenish cat, there was evidence that she wasn’t what she appeared to be—evidence that implied she was nursing, if you get my drift.  I was worried by this discovery but happily and conveniently put it out of my head.  Until the day Chuck walked into the bedroom with a sneaky grin on his face and announced, “I have the answer to your question.  Get your shoes on and follow me.”  Perplexed, I did as I was told and before we hit the stairs to the basement, I guessed it, “Oh no!  Kittens!”  Smiling, he led me to the driveway where two fluffy puffs of fur quickly disappeared under the overturned canoe.

“Great!  Just great!” I muttered as I stomped my way back upstairs.  We already had two cats of our own along with a large, very old and very stinky brown lab.  “There is no way those cats are staying here,” I continued to mutter.  Yet, my urge to nurture was already kicking into overdrive, and I knew it. 

And everyone around me knew it, too.  From friends to family to social networking acquaintances, chuckles and smirks abounded.  My son called me a “Crazy Cat Lady” and my husband just laughed and kept talking baby talk to the furballs in a high,  squeaky falsetto, “What a cute little kitty he is.  Yes, he is.”  (Sorry, Chuck—rescue me or lose a man card!) 

So now what?  The skinny teen-aged mother is thriving.  She already has some softening of flesh over her bony ribs, and she comes running when she thinks we are heading out the door.  And, yes, she has a name.  Kitty Mama appears to have found a home.  She has moved to the back porch along with the two puffballs.  They have made comfy beds in the cushions of my chairs, and there is even a truce in place with the dog who only looks at them from her peripheral vision now that Kitty Mama has taught her what is expected.   Just this morning Kitty Mama looked at me through the slats of the window blinds and winked. 

Man!  I see how it is!  But I am just a sucker for anything that needs me.  I have an often annoying urge to mother that I simply cannot ignore.  And it is amazing to me to recognize that Jesus feels that same urge when he looks at us.  Even when we fight against him and pull away, he longs to gather us close and to tuck us under the protection of his wings.  Oh Lord, I know the feeling, and I’m grateful to see that you understand my heart.  I pray that I will be more receptive to your love than those frightened kittens who still hiss and scamper away when we reach down to pull them close.  I pray that I will be more like their mother and run to you ready to be held tight and purring to rest in your arms.  

Okay then … I’m still looking for someone to give these flea bitten cats a good home.  After all there are only so many animals that any family needs.  But, you’ll have to give me good references, and you’ll have to hurry.  We’re getting pretty used to each other around here, and it’s just a matter of time before those kittens will be calling me “Mama,” too.

LITTLE RED FLOWERS

Little red flowers

drop and dissolve

spreading into pink

then fading away

 

Red flowers flowing

down down and out

circling the drain

then gone

 

Dilution’s the

solution to

pollution

 

So he floods

my head my heart

with truth

 

Are you washed in the

blood

There is power in the

blood

The Life is in the

blood

 

And the beat goes on

pumping and pulsing

from my heart and

through my veins

and no further

 

Six quarts reclaimed

like red petals splashed upon

the altar of life