Monday, December 27, 2010

Expecting Cardinals

I'm glad it's over. There I said it. This is the first Christmas I have ever NOT celebrated (at least a smidge). Every year, the older I get, the longer my walk with the LORD, the less interested in Christmas I become. This year was IT on the scale of absolute disinterest. You're appalled, aren't you? I sound like a pagan, huh?

But, Christ's birth shouldn't be relegated to a day in December and to me, it isn't. I try to read through the Gospels continuously in my daily Bible study. I still keep my Bible marked with my hand-braided bookmarks in five places. Rod still wakes me up before dawn with coffee and a kiss and encourages me to "get some Word in you". And I do, every day. I want to. I get to. I'm glad to.

The green and red glitz in the stores makes me sick. The worldly push to make Christmas all about Santa and gifts is such a major turn off. So, this year...I turned my heart...altogether. I went on a Christmas strike deep down inside. Oh, I showed up at all the expected events. My body was there, but the door to my heart was shut tight against the Christmas creepiness. Are you thinking that in saying "no" to all the yucky excess I ignored the birth of my LORD? Not a chance.

Right now, I need Him more than I ever have before. I'm weak and weary and heavy laden and He knows it. And He is the only One who can really understand and He is also the only One Who can carry me through it.

I know, I pulled the post about the new dog. It was also about Rachel getting her driver's license. I used her first and last name. It wasn't wise. A couple days after I posted it the LORD woke me up at 5:56 am and said, "Pull the post". So, I pulled it at 6:03. He has His reasons. Who am I to argue?

I know you all are praying. I am still fighting my way out of this funk...even though "it's over" (Christmas). But, there are more things brewing and I'm just not sure what He has in mind for us. Two weeks left of unemployment and not a job on the horizon. But, I have no real reason to worry.
My King is on His throne.

David said, "I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread." Psalm 37:25

Yet, I must admit, I have been expecting cardinals when the ravens have delivered the goods. My continuous prayer has been, "Please Lord, give Rod a job." It's become a mantra. That's a bad thing. It feels like it's falling on deaf ears. I begin to feel that nauseating panic rise in my throat and I pray that silly prayer again. He's not deaf. He heard me the first million times. I become annoying. I begin telling the LORD of the Universe just HOW to answer my prayer. I am an"Idiotic control freak"! Now that's something true that could go on my headstone. So, I switch tactics..."Okay, Lord, not my will, but Thy will be done. Just please do SOMETHING!"

Am I immediately grateful that all the bills have been paid? No. Because I want cardinals to bring the provision we need and not the ravens He has sent. I feel guilty that the ravens that He sent to us to pay our bills, buy our groceries and provide Christmas gifts for our kids are not MY preferred method of provision. Does that make sense? God has completely provided everything we need AND MORE. My kids had the "BEST CHRISTMAS EVER!!!" That was according to Gracie who opened gift number 17 delivered by one of those precious ravens who was so concerned that our unemployed state was going to "deprive" my kids of a "decent" Christmas.

I was looking forward to a sweet, quiet, LEAN Christmas (don't ask me probably has a lot to do with my Christmas strike.) God turned that plan of mine inside out and our kids had a hearty, abundant Christmas instead. On December 14th my mom came over and asked, "When are you putting up your tree?" I responded, "What tree?" She gave me the MOM LOOK and said, "You can't do that to the kids. You're going to have to put that tree up for them." I grumbled and did it a few days later.

Praise Jesus! Do you know what God did for us financially over the last month and half? He provided so much money that we were able to pay our bills AGAIN and even gave us enough to go out on a coffee date (at long LAST)! Plus, He arranged to have our entire mortgage note cancelled altogether! People all over the country are losing their homes because the banks are foreclosing and we had our debt completely cancelled! But, the person (yes, not a bank but an individual we know and love) who held the note on our home really NEEDS the money. Yet, she asked us to turn to Deuteronomy 15:1 and read it out loud.

"At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release of debts."

She handed my husband a pair of scissors and the promissory note and told him to cut it up. She said, "It's been seven years since you all signed that note. Today, it's over. You're debt is cancelled." Praise Jesus! She is one of His ravens.

There have been other ravens in the last couple of weeks. These ravens need the food themselves (in my opinion) but the LORD knows best. I found myself telling Him exactly how to take care of us until I heard Him tell me one recent early morning, "Please stop telling Me HOW to take care of you. I'm taking care of you, right?"

So, I started thinking about the ravens. They are fine flying in flocks. And He has been providing a lot at once. This requires more than one raven at a time. Cardinals are territorial and not really flock oriented. They stick out like a sore thumb, too. The ravens are less obvious and they blend in with the landscape. Kind of like a diamond in the rough. And if you ask my mother, those "crazy cardinals are in love with themselves". She has a male cardinal who constantly moons over himself in the side-mirror on her SUV and leaves his droppings down the side of it, too. She's not too thrilled with the cardinals. And I am really thrilled with my ravens, now that I think about it. How would we ever have made it without them? Heavenly servants is what they are. Unsung heroes who don't wear red and parade about. Humble and obedient. Yes. I think I'll stop expecting cardinals and keep on rejoicing over the ravens He has sent.

Do you know what I'm talking about? I'm certain you do. But, in case you don''s one of my favorite stories about God's loving provision for His children.

And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, "As the LORD GOD of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years except at my word."

Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying "Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan.

"And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there."

So he went and did according to the word of the LORD, for he went and stayed by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan.

The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook.

And it happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain the land.

Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, "Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.":
1 Kings 17:1-9 NKJV

The season for free-running drinking water and food provided by ravens did finally pass. But, don't you know that every morning and every evening Elijah looked expectantly upward for the Lord's generous and faithful provision of meat and bread.

Oh dear, I just realized He might send me to a widow next. (Smile.) Just kidding. Right? Hello?

Dear LORD, thank You that You are a merciful and understanding and faithful God. I pray that You would forgive your foolish and grumbling servant for expecting cardinals when You have sent us ravens. Please know that we are eternally grateful for ALL of Your many blessings. Know that we have "tasted and seen" that YOU are good. Thank You for whatever You are going to do for us next. We KNOW that You have it all planned it ravens, widows, jobs, healing, dogs, baby dolls or candy canes. You are the God who sees and hears. You know our needs both materially and more...spiritually. Keep us close, LORD, as we continue to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Hold our hands as we cling to You for protection and kindness. You are our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
We love you and are eternally grateful for all You have done and we trust You for the rest. We are yours, Dear One. In Jesus' precious name we have the extreme privilege to pray. Amen.