Thursday, January 30, 2014

What's in A Rescinded Academy Award Nomination?

We’re so quick to start kicking and screaming when things don’t go our way.

It’s tragic that the song “Alone Yet Not Alone” got pulled from the Oscar nomination list. Or is it?

An announcement was made yesterday that the Oscar nomination for the song “Alone Yet Not Alone” was rescinded.  Apparently, there was email exchanged between the song’s composer and the Academy and, no matter how well intentioned it was, the Board of Governors took action to protect the integrity of the process. 

It’s so easy to rush to judgment about why this should not have happened. For sure, it’s just plain sad.  Sometimes I think we worry a little too much about perceptions. In any case, there will be those who think this was an attempt to silence a message that points people to Jesus. This song was from a film that did a powerful and profound job of pointing people to the One True God!

Should composer Bruce Broughton have been more careful? I’m pretty sure he has some regrets today. But I’m also pretty sure He is taking comfort in knowing that God will do something really cool with this mess.

There’s something I’ve learned over the years. Whenever circumstances get really ugly, God does things with those messes that are bigger, better and more beautiful than anything I could have imagined, hoped for or done for myself.  In fact, it has been when my life seemed most broken, upside down or backwards that I’ve had my most intimate encounters with the power, presence and goodness of God. 

I think the singer of “Alone Yet Not Alone,” Joni Earekson Tada, would agree with me too. Joni, more than anyone, knows that God’s purposes always prevail. No weapon formed against God’s love and reign will ever prosper. Ever.

The message of this song could bless millions of people. How many million people would have gone to listen to “Alone Yet Not Alone” if it had won an Academy Award? How many would have listened if it had NOT won? How many will go listen to it today — people who would NEVER have otherwise gone to listen to it — just because they’re curious about this song that got pulled from the Oscar line-up? 

Of course, we’ll never know. Well, maybe Jesus will explain it to us in heaven. But for now, I trust something bigger is unfolding.  I think this whole thing is going down in a way that God is just chuckling about.  There will be people who hear this song today and in the coming days who will experience a hope and comfort — and possibly even life transformation —all because this song never appeared at the Academy Awards.

Let us pray… 

Listen to "Alone Yet Not Alone" here.

Monday, January 27, 2014

From Wallowing to Clinging

The tears streamed down my cheeks in anger and sorrow one day last week as I drove home from picking up my daughter Carly at school.  My feelings were both justified and unreasonable. Yet again, disability was wreaking havoc with my plans and delights while causing our precious Carly more discomfort and robbing her quality of life.

I prayed through those tears: “Why can’t I just have all the blessings of disability without all the hassles?”

Why is it so easy for me to have confident faith in the bigger picture of disability but such small faith when it comes to the details — those tedious, daily, monotonous, messy details that make parenting in disability such a slog? I can have such total assurance that God’s sovereign Kingdom purposes are at work in the broader issue of disability yet struggle so much sometimes keeping my chin up through the minutia and seemingly perpetual drip of “little” challenges that face us each and every day.

I tend to throw up my hands and say, “What are you doing here, God? What are you thinking?”

I am not alone. Caregivers all around the world wake up every morning (if they’re lucky enough to have had an uninterrupted night’s sleep) only to hit the ground running with a new day of navigating complex lives and emotions. There’s the 76-year-old husband who goes unrecognized by his confabulating wife with dementia. There’s the bedraggled couple feeling overwhelmed and alone because they can’t sit peacefully through a church service with their wriggling son who has autism. There’s the mom in Belize praying for calm seas so she can give her daughter with brittle bones some gentle swim therapy today. And then there are those who are getting the “break” they didn’t want — like the family in Iowa still tender from the loss of their 4 year old son and brother who had cerebral palsy and passed away of pneumonia last year. 

When I’ve spent another hour supporting the weight of my 115 pound girl who tremors through a bowel movement that just won’t come; when I’ve spent another hour washing clothes, carpeting and upholstery to the point where I want to give up on cleaning and just fanaticize about the makeover people coming with new flooring and furniture; when my husband has spent precious hours on telephones again this week (yes sometimes both landline and cell phone at the same time) and on computers with insurance companies, pharmacies, government websites, social workers — that’s when I sometimes struggle to feel God’s goodness.  I know it but I don’t always feel it.

Nobody likes waiting.

It was in the midst of this kind of self-absorbed wallowing that I opened my Bible study lesson to Matthew 15 and read about the Canaanite woman who begged Jesus to heal her daughter (see verses 21-28). Despite the fact that the woman wasn’t part of the “chosen people,” she was desperate and refused to leave without the blessing of Jesus whom she acknowledged as the Messiah calling Him, “Lord, Son of David.”

But Jesus didn’t respond right away.  In fact, he initially appeared to have ignored her altogether.  I was reminded that His hesitation was not a lack of compassion or ability to heal.  A careful and historical reading of this woman’s experience with Jesus shows that he was allowing their conversation to unfold slowly for a couple of reasons.  First, He was watching her faith in Him awaken to deeper and unshakable levels.  It was as if she was saying like Jacob did while wresting with God (Genesis 32:26), “I will not let you go until you bless me!”

All the while she knelt before him, the Canaanite woman expressed reverent anticipation. And while her conversation with Jesus caught more attention, the faith and understanding among the onlookers must also have grown.  Jesus made the most of this encounter to bring the faith of several people to greater heights.

Ultimately, Jesus commended this woman’s great faith in front of His disciples.  Those onlookers experienced many lessons even as the woman was being richly rewarded with the affections of God and a deep peace as well as a daughter who was instantly healed.

I want to be that kind of woman. I want to be the humble, patient, expectant woman who grabs hold of God’s promises and clings to Jesus on behalf of my family.  I want the rewards of His affection, peace and power!

I’m quick to get busy DOING but not always persistent in CLINGING.  My Heavenly Father delights in my clinging to Him.

Once again, Jesus asks me to BE STILL AND KNOW…
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Different Kind of Birthday

I’m celebrating some things today. You got it. It’s my birthday. It’s been odd for me to think of myself as 48 years old. Part of me feels older than that. Part of me wonders when this happened! Either way, this year feels like a different kind of milestone than other years for some odd reason. Here are some possibilities:
  1. Staying fit, healthy and thin is no longer a battle. Now it’s WAR!
  2. I find myself praying for my kids’ safety and traveling mercies even more than I did when I first handed them my car keys. (What is this about? Do we get more paranoid as we approach 50 or is the natural pile-on of life experience just giving us a sense of reality-check we didn't yet have at 21?)
  3. Apparently, I look less my age than ever. When people find out I’m 48, they just say, “Oh!” then kind of smile in an encouraging sort of way as if they’re thinking “Hm. I thought she might be a little older than that.” I figure I’ve got two more years until I get the "WOW!" response with a hug and "You look great for your age!”
  4. I’ve graduated to the bifocals club. I don’t mean those cute readers you buy in the drug store like the ones I heard a little boy begging his mom for in Target the other day. I mean the very expensive kind you have to order special. And I don’t yet qualify for any AARP discount. Thankfully, I’ve managed to adjust to multi-focal contacts. God is good. I can still hide.
  5. I no longer have any urge to make my own cake. Whatever I can buy at Nadia’s cakes (gluten free) will suffice.

Now, just to prove I’m not all sarcasm, I do want to share some spiritual fun too!

I love Jewish history and enjoy learning new things about that part of my Christian heritage. A friend showed me how to look up my Jewish birthday! It’s the 29th of Tevet (5726). Ya. Cool. I have no idea what it really means.

The Torah portion commonly attributed to my birthday (1/21/66, morning in case you're wondering) is Exodus 6:2-9:35 — starting when God spoke to Moses about taking the Israelites out from under the hand of the Egyptians as His special people and deliver them to the Promised Land then continuing through the first five plagues. The realities of God’s grand plan of redemption were unfolding and we see His absolute authority to perform great acts (starting with judgment on Pharaoh). 

Just before this (in chapter 4), we see that Moses’ faith was shaky and he worried about his weaknesses as an appointed leader saying, “I am slow of speech and tongue.” But this gives me great comfort and hope on many levels. God responds saying, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”  (Exodus 4:10-11)

THE TRUTH: God is sovereign over all things including disability, brokenness, weakness...yes, my "old age" as it comes along too. His design is always good. He takes good care of His children. He is perfect and powerful in my weakness. In my weaknesses, He is shown to be strong. He redeems all those who trust in Him. Because I TRUST IN HIM, there is a Promised Land ahead for me! And even though my faith is shaky sometimes, God is patient and kind. He surrounds me with support, equips me for every good work, and keeps giving me good gifts. He reveals more of His power, presence and goodness as I walk in celebration that there is FULLNESS OF LIFE IN HIS PRESENCE!

For sure, my greatest gift and reward today is the privilege of walking with Jesus. Now THAT really is something worth celebrating!

If it would be fun and spiritually enriching for you to use the Jewish Birthday Calculator, visit this site:

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