Tuesday, September 1, 2015

My grandmother's lap

Six of us lived in a small farm house with two bedrooms. ... my widowed grandmother, my dad, my mother, my two much older brothers and me. The Kansas climate was windy and brutal, except for a few weeks in the spring and in the fall. We had no conveniences except for cold running water, pumped by hand from a deep well into an elevated metal tank in the wash room. Life was harsh and Irish tempers sometimes ran hot.  Somehow I knew that my assignment was to be a skippy, happy little girl and stay out of every body's way. There was no time for hugging or cuddling. My mild- tempered widowed grandmother gardened,  darned socks and rocked. ... detaching herself as best she could from arguments. I ran to her and hid my face in her lap while she stroked my head and crooned: "It's all right, Tootsie. It's all right."

After high school my ten and eleven years-older brothers left the farm. My grandmother died when I was fourteen. I was a lonely little girl, feeling trapped on a farm with aging parents, miles from the nearest neighbor.  I fled when I graduated from high school. ...barely seventeen years old. Two years later Jesus invaded my life. Sometimes I have a nightmare in which I am unable to escape from a closed-in place. In five cities and one town Ted and I lived in homes with bedrooms that had no way to escape to the outside.  Some of you have expressed mild horror that I sleep on my open deck for as long as weather permits. Now you know why. If for some reason I am put in a closed- in retirement home, somebody might as well plan my funeral.

I believe that the meaning of "discipleship" may be different for those of us raised in a home where the Lord Jesus Christ was not the Head.  We understand the need for individuals to be personally discipled,  rather than group taught. Paul says it this way: "Knowledge without love will not work". ...or something like that. One of the frustrations for me as the wife of a pastor was that there were always too many newborn lambs for us to disciple adequately. Because of our spiritually lost beginnings, Ted and I drew people from like backgrounds.  I still do.  Many of the older ewes and rams in our churches did not see or understand the need for personal discipleship.

My Bootsie cat comes to me each morning as I sit with my coffee and my Bible,  kneading until his little feline-self is satisfied. If he doesn't get uninterrupted kneading, he will yowl all morning until I sit down. cuddle him close and let his needle-sharp claws dig into my flannel robe.  I flinch. The world outside our churches is crammed with people who have never been invited to "knead".  The same awful condition exists all too often inside our churches. Lost sheep bleat. "Found sheep" may bleat, (yowl) as well and if nobody hears, they may mosey on over to another sheep-fold  ...or they may give up on church altogether. Some seek out a professional counsellor who may or may not be a Christian. Some find a Christian with a lap, arms and heart. I can't make people well. Only Jesus can. ...and this is what He says: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted and set the captives free!" 

I did not give myself permission to get off the merry-go-'round until I was in my 50's. For years I had inwardly felt trapped in the cities,  depressed and suffered with insomnia. Ted shared none of those feelings. My conclusion: "I am really screwed up. What is wrong with me?"  I finally stopped racing and, just as I had feared I would do sank into a dark, bottomless pit.  The only One that had access to my "pit" was Jesus. Out of a reservoir of memorized verses Jesus brought only two to the forefront of my mind.  Your Lord will give you the verses you need if you become quiet enough to hear His Voice. If you refuse to do that,  He just might take you there. My two scriptures began to bring me up out of terrifying darkness, for "Even the darkness cannot hide You." (Psalm 139:14)  My Heavenly Father and my dear husband heard my cry and moved me here to a home that has a view of the mountains from every window and door. I often sleep under His sky, I see sunrises and sunsets, two lakes far below, and every kind of animal that runs wild in California. I could do without the rattlesnakes, but so far I haven't had one in my house.  ...and I can breathe in fresh, clear air. I seldom leave this mountain. Why would I? ...and He brings me His loved ones from close by or far away who need to knead.

Yes, I know that something ominous may be coming down soon for our nation. What else can a Righteous God do?

                             BELOVED HYMN: HE HIDETH MY SOUL

A wonderful Saviour is Jesus, my Lord; a wonderful Saviour to me.
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock, where rivers of pleasure I see.

A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord; He taketh my burden away.
He holdeth me up and I shall not be moved,
He giveth me strength as my day.

When clothed in His brightness, transported I rise
To meet Him in clouds of the sky
His perfect salvation, His wonderful love,
I'll shout with the millions on high.


Love, Jo