A New Leaf

Ponderings in Changing Seasons


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My Fickle Heart

It’s Wednesday. In what some call the Week that is Holy.

Now back to Sunday.  In what some call the Sunday of Palms.  It was Holy!  The Sabbath.  The day for doing no work.  Yet, here came Jesus, riding on an unridden colt of a donkey.  Low.  Humble.  And the crowds cheered!  “Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the LORD,” they chanted.  Some cut palm fronds and laid them upon the road he would traverse.  Some simply took off their cloaks, their coverings and laid them under His Feet.

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I imagine what that would look like:  the green of the palms, the MANY COLORS of the raiment of the people.  The unison of the crowd calling out their “Hosannas” ~ a sight to behold!

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It was a moment foreshadowed.  Joseph, the favored son of Jacob, had a coat of many colors.  He is famous for it.  But the back story isn’t so pretty!

Joseph was the long-awaited son of Rachel whom Jacob loved.  And Rachel was the long-awaited wife of Jacob for whom he bound himself to Laban, her father, for seven years ~ TWICE!!  You see, Laban’s heart was fickle, calculating.  He promised to give Rachel to Jacob for the indemnity of service for seven years, not uncommon in the days of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  But then he broke his promise, tricked Jacob and instead gave him her older sister Leah in matrimony.  Jacob could not decline this unwed, uncomely sister of His Beloved because of his heart’s desire. He was at the mercy of this merciless one.  And so they were wedded.  And then Jacob worked another seven years for the sake of Rachel.  He obtained the Victory, the Prize for whom he had set his eyes and on whom he had set his heart.

But then, Rachel was barren.  Meanwhile, Leah and her concubine Zilpah were bearing him  sons ~ Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah and eight more.  And Rachel for the solace of her barrenness gave him her concubine, her maid Bilhah to conceive and bear him progeny.  To fill her aching arms with Child.  In that day the child of a concubine was considered the child of the wife.  Still Rachel bore no children.

But one lovely night, deep in the tent of Jacob, love expressed conceived.  And from their union was born the long-awaited child Joseph.  He was to have a little blood brother Benjamin.  Yet Joseph remained the Favored One, the First Born of his Beloved!!  Jacob, his father, gave him a many-colored coat to wear to show Everyone he was SPECIAL!  And he did ~ wear it and wear it and wear it!! (You know how sibling rivalry runs!!  Some flaunt; others become jealous.  And there can be Hell to pay!)

Joseph’s brothers plotted to literally kill him, but Reuben, the eldest, persuaded them just to leave him in a pit to die.  And they told their father a wild animal had killed him, deceived him as he had once deceived his own father Isaac.  (Oh, the generational patterns we weave as we deceive!)

This coat, these colors, these patterns.  Jesus rode a donkey’s colt who trod upon the cloaks of many colors.  He trod upon our jealousies, our deceptive habits, our wanton self-centeredness, our anger and our angst.  He trod upon our depressions and our anxieties.  He trod upon our heartaches, our confusion, our fear.  Color these red and blue and green and yellow and orange and black.  See the green palms ~ LIFE ~ laid in and amongst the many colors.  Hear again the crowd’s loud acclamations of Hope and Hosannas!  Surely NOW! Surely THIS MAN!  Surely MESSIAH had come!

But now it’s Wednesday.  The crowds are silent.  They’ve gone back to their work, their families, their mundane lives.  The Hope has waned.  How intense the passions of the crowd.  It is contagious.  It wanes in solitude.  Our fickle hearts!  My fickle heart!

Tomorrow is what is called Maundy Thursday.  On that day we remember.  We who are Disciples, Christ followers, we take Communion and we remember.  We remember that Jesus washed the feet of His Disciples.  Where the crowds laid down their colorful cloaks, He laid down His Life.

He took the Bread and the Fruit of the Vine of Passover Remembrance and called it His own:  His Body, His Blood.  And He prayed!  And prayed! And prayed!  In the Garden.  It is told that He sweat great drops of Blood as he travailed.  And then:  He was betrayed.  By His friend.

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He was led away without flexing His muscles, without calling all Heaven down in manifestation of His Glory.  He was ridiculed and shamed and beaten and tortured ~ to death!  Where were the crowds then who so acclaimed Him five short days before?  Oh, yes, they still were passionate.  They still cried out in unison.  But now their words were, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” And that generational thing?  These were their words, “His Blood be on us and on our children!”

My fickle heart can quickly change from passionate admiration and loyalty to resentment and resistance.  My fickle heart cries out at one time “Save me! Rescue me from this world of woe. Hosanna!”  Then just as quickly, my fickle heart can switch to “Where are You? Why have You not done NOW what I wanted?” and it bleeds out in moodiness and stubbornness and self-focus. Those around me are the recipients of my angst!

He came to call me from my brokenness into His Wholeness.  He came to offer me Mercy and Grace.

He came to save my fickle heart.  He, the Favored One of the Father, came to give me Favor!

And so on this quiet Wednesday, again I sing:  

Hosanna, Hosanna!   Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the LORD!                                                                                               


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.. 934 .. 935 .. 936!

936 Weeks Gone

GONE!!

Gone are the Putting-on-your-shoes Days.  Gone are the Hurry-up, we’ll-be-late Days.  Gone are the Cheering-you-on-to-victory Days.  Gone are the “Can-I-sleep-with-you, Mommy, Daddy?” Days.  Gone are the first “Hellos” and the first “Good-byes”.  Gone the First Dates, First Dances, First Dalliances.

GONE!

The Days that add up to the Weeks of a the Child.

Nine hundred thirty-six weeks:  GONE!!

Nine hundred thirty-six weeks ~ that sounds like a lot.  Dollars: $936 ~ a lot.  Daffodils: 936 blooms ~ a lot.  People in a room: 936 ~ a lot.  Gum balls: 936 ~ a lot.

WEEKS  in your child’s life to mold and shape and influence and teach:  such a morsel, so fleeting as hours turn into days turn in to weeks turn into years, so quickly GONE!

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Finding the time, redeeming the time lost, saving the time.  It is like water slipping through our fingers.  We cannot grab it back; we cannot negotiate it back; we cannot steal it or cajole it back.  Once the days ~ and the weeks ~ have past, they have passed.  Never to return.

On a wall in an office ~ a counseling office ~ I once saw a framed picture that read:

There are reasons why I do the things I do BUT excuses keep me there.

Lest you think, “Well this is a downer today.  Gloom and Doom.  Frustratingly fateful,” let me go on.

Let us look at this way:  We GET 936 weeks from 0-18 years of age to mold and influence, to love and teach, to encourage and celebrate!  We get to walk alongside our child(ren) intimately acquainted with their likes and dislikes, their faith and their fear, their strengths and their weaknesses.  What parent who has raised a child does not remember those critical teachable  moments when all else in the schedule is discarded because all that matters is the NOW, the OPPORTUNITY to groom and to grace?

I remember a time such as this:  We had just finished a paper drive fundraiser for our church’s Youth Group.  The high schoolers and we, the Leaders, had collected and sorted and received papers of all types for most of a day.  My own two daughters, still grade school age, were circling ’round the truck and the open grounds, entertaining themselves.  Suddenly, I noticed my younger daughter (probably about seven) was eating something.  I knew there were no food or treats around.  When I queried what she had and where it had come from, she avoided, she was vague, she was “slippery” as children are wont to be when they think they’re in trouble.  My concern was that she’d found candy among the donated papers and that it was full of germs.  Who knew where it might have come from or been?

But she continued to resist my questions.  I remember letting it go for the moment; it was already on its way down her gullet.  But when we got home, I pursued.  She resisted.  I had her sit on the couch with me.  And we sat … and we sat … and we sat.  I said little; she said less.  We had a Battle of Wills going one ~ The Battle of her childhood for us as I look back on it now.

On that day she was tested and testing.  How much did I love her?  How much was I willing to sacrifice for her? How much was she willing to risk to find out?  Little did I know then how swiftly the days ~ weeks ~ years would fly.  But, we waited.  Each on the other.  Finally, after more than an hour, perhaps two, she broke.  She told me that she had gone across the way to the grocery and gotten a package of lifesavers.  She told me that she was afraid because she went without permission.  She bought candy without permission.  She knew that eating the candy – the forbidden fruit, if you will – was the path to punishment.

But, it wasn’t – that time!  Because she ultimately told the truth, she was spared the consequence of punishment.  Her penalty was the anguish in the “Wait”.

Did I do it wrong?  Should I have come down hard on her?  Should I have denied her my love and compassion?  Or, did I do it right?  Was the penalty of the interminable Wait, filled with all the thoughts she had, sufficient to build her character and keep her safe?

The teachable moments of Childhood I sensed even then were fleeting.  And when I saw the Weeks of Childhood consolidated, concentrated, confined to a partially filled gallon jar of gum balls, I knew.  I knew that we have to use every single moment, every single opportunity:  every single event, infraction, victory to build into our child(ren).  We have to BE THERE ~ in the hard moments as well as the sweet moments.  All are being committed to memory in the heart of the Child.  Let this be the stuff of Memories:  My Mom was there for me!  My Dad was there for me!  I could count on them!  They challenged and championed me to Victory ~ in 936 packed-full-of-Love Weeks!

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