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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Peace! Peace? Peace. (Re-post)

This is one of the first blogs I wrote, back in 2007. It seems appropriate right now in my life to re-post this. I feel a little like I'm in a dream, and peace is somewhat elusive these past few days. I find comfort in the following Truth:

I have found that in our life, with its ups and downs (emotionally, physically, spiritually, etc), there are different punctuation marks in our times of peace, or different types of peace we have.
There are the highs of life, when all is working well, where family and friendships are good. These are times when peace is an exclamation point on a great day or week or month. These are times when favor is bestowed upon you, seemingly out of nowhere. People love you, life is grand, and success lays out the red carpet. I enjoy these times because they are so few. Their effect, however is felt and remembered for years. Aaahh . . . . Peace!

Then there are the parts of life's timeline where we wonder where and what peace is. When nothing seems to go right. When we wonder if being a colossal failure at everything is just our lot in life. When we wonder, "Could this be all there is? Am I really this weak and stupid?" These are the times of conflict when we are tempted to believe God doesn't care. These are the times when we feel "out of favor" with our Creator. These times are hard to pull out of. The question mark looms over us . . . Peace?

Finally, if we are faithful in our highs and lows, we come through them to a deeper knowledge of who God is. If we continue to get up when we fall, to still obey when we struggle, to trust when we can't find immediate answers, we will have survived the mental tests and realize what God-given peace actually is.

This is a peace that rests in the knowledge of who God is, not what He does. This peace finds Truth in any situation, good or bad. This peace is a plain statement. Nothing affects its place. Nothing moves its meaning. This peace remains a straight line, as unchanging as God Himself, because it is sent from God Himself.

This peace is the best kind, because God is happiest when we can look up through the smoke of spiteful circumstance and still trust. We can look up when have been blessed with success beyond our wildest dreams and trust Him WITH IT. This peace says "God is enough", regardless. In this time we now know what true peace is. It is peace . . . period . . . Peace.

This timeline is part of our process. God leads us to and through each phase, building us as we go, leading us to what He wants us to become. It does take time, but the time it takes is really different for each person, and God ordains it. He knows all and plans all. Sometimes I become frustrated when I am not "learning" fast enough, compared to others. But I have come to realize that God is leading each of us individually, at His pace.

He uses everyone, and surprisingly enough, the weak are his first choice. Take heart in whatever part of your life you are. He will lead you to His fulfillment.


© Copyright Derek Hickman 2007

Monday, January 5, 2009

Apples, Crumbs,and Intrinsic Value

I'm sick. It's one of those feverish, achy, stomach churning viruses that wears you out but doesn't let you sleep. I think the fever's gone, but the stomach thing won't let me go . . .

So I'm sitting here. On the floor. Looking at my computer screen. It's 2:19 a.m.

Around me are the markings of a 22-month-old.

Next to my computer, on the coffee table, are the scattered remains of Reagan's bedtime snack, or "Chux" as he calls the Chex cereal we put in a bowl for him to munch while he plays with "MommyDaddy". On the floor next to the coffee table lies a bag of apples he dragged in from the kitchen, demanding "mappels". I know, the kid can eat. You have no idea . . .

I love him so much!

When he smiles, the room lights up. When he cries, his precious cheeks are stained with tears of deep sorrow, or so it seems to him! I pick him up and kiss the tears away no matter what, no matter how deeply wronged he feels he has been by his older siblings.

My heart aches when he actually does get hurt, and I can hardly stand to let him learn "the hard way", although sometimes it has to be done . . . for his own good.

Sometimes I feel like a child myself when I help him with something so simple as putting his shoes on. Sometimes I see God in his little face, in his action, and in his wonderment. I've seen the hardened faces of strangers soften when they look into his curious eyes. I've seen the stern gaze of a great grandpa turn to warm affection when Reagan smiles at him. Even on my most discouraging days, the thought of him brings joy, and even peace to me. He loves me unconditionally . . .

He's my boy. My beloved son. I would die for him in a heartbeat. No hesitation.

Not because of how successful I think he will someday become. Not because he's good all the time. Not because he's perfect. He's not. Yes, he's adorable and incredibly cute, but that's not the reason either.

He's my son. My "Creation" if you will. His value is intrinsic and God-given. I also love him unconditionally, as any Father does. I place value on him because of what he means to me. He's mine.

Sound familiar?

Tonight I saw a 28-year-old woman get robbed. She was scammed, destitute, and totally hopeless. Stranded by the very person she had just helped. He took her purse, some other incidentals, and a huge part of her self-worth. She was dirty and worn from traveling for hours. She had no money to get back home to Mississippi. He had promised her payment for a ride that had now cost her everything.

Sitting at the stop sign, I saw it happen. I watched him and some friends take everything she had, hurriedly shove it in another car's trunk, and drive off while she was in the station buying coolant for her radiator.

I watched her come out of the store and totally lose it when she realized what had happened. I saw her devalued. I saw her devastation. I saw her lose hope. I saw their actions telling her what she had been trying so hard to fight, for so many years now . . . "You're worthless" "You're a loser" "You've failed again" "Nobody cares".

And I thought of God . . . the Father.

She is His. His beloved daughter. He would die for her in a heartbeat. No hesitation. In fact, He already has.

Not because of how successful she may someday become. Not because she's good all the time. Not because she's perfect. Not because she is happy and has an attractive personality. To be honest, she wasn't in the best frame of mind at the time. Not because she's made all the right choices with her life. She obviously hasn't.

She's his child. His "Creation" if you will. Her value is intrinsic and God-given. God loves her unconditionally, as any Father does. She has a place of value because of what she means to Him. She's His. She is valuable. No other reason is necessary!

I helped her as best as I could. We put her up in a hotel for the night through our church emergency outreach. I helped her report the crime to police, since I had seen it and was fortunate enough to write down the license plate number of the getaway car. I gave her some money for food and gas to get to Mississippi.

That was the least I can do, and probably the last time I will ever see her. I helped her temporarily, but that's not what impacted her the most. What mattered most, what softened her hardened face, what dried her tears, what changed her hurt and anger to hope . . . was when she looked into the face of another child and saw God.

"You are special to me" "You are worth it" "You are incredibly valued" "You are loved . . . unconditionally".

So sitting here with the crumbs of my life around me, I realize so deeply the love of our Father. We are so valuable to Him. Not one of us is better or closer or more deserving than anyone else, no matter what we've done, good or bad. Our intrinsic value doesn't change in His eyes. Markets fall and rise, circumstances come and go, but our value stays the same.

Romans 5:8 - "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us".

You are worth it.

© Copyright Derek Hickman 2009