The Great Amen

Our gregarious grandson recently spent some glorious extended time with us. Pulling us into his full – speed – ahead,  precocious preschooler’s approach to life, my normally active routine paled in comparison. Although nap time was not high on his priority list it became a necessity – for me!

Each day after stalling for as long as he could, he reluctantly went to his room. To ensure he stayed in bed, I would sit on the family room couch just around the corner. He couldn’t see me from the bedroom door, but I could hear him get up and open the door in search of me. When he didn’t see me he would say, “Aww, man!” before closing the door again. I guess he was hoping to convince me to let him get up.

Hearing his plaintive “Aww man!” reminded me of how often I also utter that phrase in frustration. And as those syllables rolled off his tongue, Holy Spirit drew me into an interesting language perspective. By slightly changing the last vowel sound, “Aww man” suddenly became “Amen”.

Hmmm…. the “what if’s” began to percolate in my brain.

What if in every set back I would utter up a resilient  “Amen” in place of a combative “Aww man” ?

What if I resisted the temptation of exasperation and leaned in further to the “Amen”?

And what if I allowed Jesus, the Great Amen,  to reign in my life as the ultimate “so be it”?

I waste a lot of time fighting against opportunities that may be kindling for the first spark of a refining fire.

Experiences that I deem as negative may eventually spur me toward joy. Experiences that can help me rejoice when I run into problems and trials.

For I know that they help me develop endurance.

And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens my confident hope of salvation. (Romans 5:3-4)

When life’s doors of opportunity seem to block my temporary goal, am I cracking them open only to rail an “Aww man!” at life?

Or am I acquiescing to the great Amen as I embrace the peace and joy of Jesus?

The choice of one syllable is up to me.

And it changes everything.

 

 

 

 

Look at My Eyes

On the day of our arrival, the resort front desk explicitly explained their pool towel policy. For the duration of our week-long stay, we were issued two towels that we were to guard with our lives. To receive a new towel, each day you had to exchange your old one.

No exceptions.

We were also told that failure to turn in our towels before we checked out would cost us twenty dollars.

Per towel.

Let me assure you that these towels were nothing to write home about. In fact, they were rather ratty around the edges, but for whatever reason this was the rule.

Unfortunately for us, one day when we left the pool briefly to get something to eat, our unattended towels disappeared. We had a pretty good idea of who had taken them, but not wanting to cause a scene I went to the towel booth to plead my case.

When I tried to explain that our towels had been stolen, the towel booth attendant shrugged his shoulders and pointed to the sign behind him that said in bold letters: TWENTY DOLLAR FINE FOR LOST TOWELS.

Since we did not share the same native  language I became more animated in hopes of conveying that someone had actually taken our towels. He just kept pointing and shaking his head. Finally in exasperation I took off my sunglasses and said to him, “Look at my eyes. I swear to you I am not lying.”

It was then he finally flashed a toothy smile and handed me two new towels.

It’s true. Our eyes really do give a glimpse into what lives in our hearts.

Matthew 6:22-23 in the Message Bible puts it this way, “Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!”

In Revelation 1:4 the apostle John describes Jesus with eyes like a flame of fire.

That knowledge is both awe-inspiring and terrifying. It tells me that Jesus sees my true self. Nothing escapes Him. He sees the worst of me and the best.

Still His gaze remains constant.

And the truth of the matter is that when I raise my own eyes to meet that gaze, it is His consuming fire that purifies me. The fire that burns away anything that hinders my love for Him.

The fire that sets my heart ablaze with love for Him.

The eyes of fire that look into my eyes and understand me to my core.

He speaks my native language and I don’t have to plead my case to Him. Because He already knows me.

And He loves me anyway.

 

 

 

 

My New Name

I have a confession to make. Growing up I wished for a fancier first name. I loved my middle name- Elizabeth, but Anne? Anne just seemed so ordinary and lackluster. It was, after all, a common middle name among my friends. That seemed proof enough to me that it was a second best kind of name. Even the extra “e” at the end only seem to confuse people who often mistook it for Annie.

As a little girl I often thought about what it would have been like to be named Elizabeth Anne instead of the other way around. I could have been nicknamed Beth like the tragic character in Little Women or Betsy like the famous American seamstress. In my mind, plain old Anne just couldn’t compare.

Then one day around my twelfth birthday someone gave me a laminated card with my name and its meaning. It read:  Anne – Hebrew origin, meaning, “Full of grace, mercy and prayer.” I was stunned. The name I thought so run-of-the-mill had such beautiful meaning. It identified exactly who I longed to be- a young woman full of grace, mercy and prayer. My perspective changed. Anne was now a name that I hoped to be worthy to grow into.

I don’t have to look far into the Gospel to find someone else who had to grow into his name. The Word tells me when Jesus met Simon son of John for the first time He told him he would call him Cephas or Peter. Peter- literally “the rock”. Peter was, in fact, anything but a solid rock of faith. His impulsive actions led him to jump out of a boat, cut off a servant’s ear and utter heartbreaking denials that he even knew Jesus. But in the end, he truly did become the pillar that the early church was built upon. Jesus saw Peter as if he already was what he would become! The solid rock of faith that would win many hearts for Christ.

It makes me wonder what Jesus’s name for me might be. How does He see me in the present state of who I am? Does He see me in the fullness of my imperfection or in His eyes am I still Anne- a woman full of grace, mercy and prayer? I think I have an inkling of the answer. In Revelation 2:17 Jesus says, “To him who overcomes…I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.” The revelation of how God sees me now through His perfecting love. The new name I grew into.