Life is Not an Emergency

“You’ve got to be kidding me!”  The cacophony of fire alarms were rattling my brains.  I looked up at the hairstylist, who had set her jaw and increased her pace.  Layers of foils floated around my face.  “Do you think we should stop?”  I asked.  “I’m comfortable going on if you are.”  I had visions of half highlighted, or worse overprocessed hair, burning as I shivered outside the mall waiting for the all clear.

” I’m good,”  she said,  glancing up at the grizzled and frizzly salon owner.  “I’ll keep going till she tells me to stop.”

What had begun as a trip to get my highlights redone (yes, I know you’re shocked, and no, I’m not naturally that beautiful!) had turned into quite the adventure.

“It’s the East Side Marios!”  one of the hairstylists had gone out scouting.  “There’s smoke down that way, and all kinds of fire trucks outside!”

Shops closed.  Thousands of disappointed Saturday shoppers made a beeline for the next mall down the way.  The lines of the song ” should I stay or should I go now,” ran through my head.  My stylists fingers became a blur as she raced against time and possible evacuation.  They closed our salon, and all of the hairdressers, myself and one lady in the middle of a mancure, slouched low in our seats so as to be out of sight from the hallway.  Perhaps the firemen wouldn’t notice us.  All the while the alarms bleated and blared.

In the book “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” by Richard Carlson, one of the chapters is entitled “Life is Not an Emergency.”  That phrase has become one of my favorite mantras.  Weekly, daily sometimes, situations arise that trigger my adrenaline, my flight or fight response.  Whether it’s a national issue requiring fervent prayer, bills that are coming due, or Hannah staggering under the weight of a grade 12 courseload, my internal alarms can crowd out other sounds.

I’ve heard it said that there is no panic in heaven, only plans.  Consequently, I’m learning to dial down my response.  Learning to hunker down, to find the secret place.  Learning to just keep “steady as she goes.”  Sometimes I do it well, sometimes not.  Yesterday I did all right.  Though the alarms were loud, the danger wasn’t immanent.  We were alert, but stayed on course.  The enemy’s plans to wreck my day and hair were “foiled” again! (ha! couldn’t resist).

Life is not an emergency.  And I’ve got the ” new doo”  to prove it!

Bread and Whine

I came limping into the prayer room the other day, feeling bruised by life circumstances – a downturn in my daughter’s health and a car repair that seemed unattainable.  Knowing that I needed, as David did when confronted by Ziglag, to strengthen myself in the Lord, I opened to the Psalms.  Psalm 16 seemed to jump out and bite me on the nose.  Here it goes…

“Lord You have assigned me my portion and my cup.  You have made my lot secure.  The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.  Surely I have a delightful inheritance.” (v. 5 & 6)

My first impression was to grumpily turn to one of David’s more whiny Psalms, so I could find a partner in gloominess, but something brought me back to the first verse.  “You have assigned me my portion and my cup.”  Jesus referred to his life circumstance and his “cup”, and also Henri Nouwen, in his book Can you Drink the Cup? challenges us to drink fully from the cup of our lives – to be fully present to our lives and to God in the midst of every circumstance.

And then I thought about Psalm 73.  “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”  Jesus is my portion – my goal, my reward, my prize in the crackerjack box of life.  2 Peter says “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and Godliness, through our knowlege of Him..”  So not only is He my portion – He is a sufficient portion – He is enough.

I love the order of Psalm 16.  God assigns us first our portion – all the resources of heaven, accessed through knowledge of His Son.  Then He assignes us our cup.

Gideon was assigned his portion.  “The Lord is with you!” and then assigned his cup – the task to save Israel from the hands of the Midianites.

Isaiah was assigned his portion.  A revelation of God and a consecration~cleansed lips.  Then assigned his cup – to speak to a hard hearted people who likely wouldn’t listen.

Likewise, Ezekiel recieved knowledge of God and then the assignment to speak to a rebellious nation.

Joshua?  The promise of God’s presence, and then a lifetime of war, after 40 years of dragging around in the desert!

My cup?  The cup of full time intercessory missions & running the House of Prayer.  The cup of caring for husband and daughter with chronic and sometimes debilitating health issues.  The cup of my ongoing personal struggle with an eating disorder.  Assignments carefully selected for me in heaven before the foundation of the world – my unique position in and contribution to the planet.

My portion?  His grace that is sufficient for me, His strength that is made perfect in the midst of all my weakness. He  who promises to make all things new.

So I’ll eat of the bread of His presence, and drink from the cup of my life, and stop my whining!

Getting Naked – Dismantling and Re-mantling

I’ve got a love/hate relationship with fasting.  Who doesn’t?  I love the spiritual benefits – an increased sensitivity to the voice of God, a quickened spirit, a soft and mushy heart.  The hunger isn’t really an issue, at least not after the first couple days, but the physical weakness I can do without, as well as the brain freezes (2+2= um, let me think about that for a minute), or when your sentences just trail off, unfinished, and blow away on the breeze.  I have girlfriends who refuse to get in a car with me behind the wheel after a certain number of days, cause I’m definitely a driving hazard!  And certainly for me, body image issues sneak in, and I can easily be drawn into over enjoying the weight loss part of the journey – losing a pound a day makes me want to hop on the scale ad infinitum – c’mon ladies you all know you do it!

I gave up fasting food recently, because it was just making my already eating disordered mind too squirrely.  However, God in His kindness, has invited me into another kind of fasting (gee, thanks!) – giving up sleep.

Actually, fasting sleep is an ancient monastic tradition.  One of the most famous of the Desert Fathers was called Alexander the Sleepless!

God has been waking me up daily at 2:30 am to pray.  Every day.  For three weeks now.  Without alarm.  I thought that maybe my body clock had just adjusted to the new time, and I was waking up out of habit, until daylight savings hit and I woke up, at 2:30 on the dot, daylight savings time!

For me fasting is about being dis-mantled and re-mantled.  Being dis-mantled means embracing weakness – laying down our natural capacities, giving up you’re A game, so that we can get out of the way of the resources that are being released from heaven.  Because, quite honestly, it is easy to run a moderately successful ministry by virtue of your own charisma, strength and soul power alone.  Hopefully the prospect of that frightens you as much as it frightens me.

When I’m fasting (sleep or otherwise), I know that my brilliant, encouraging word is not really a word from me at all, cause frankly right now I can’t even spell my own name! (thank God for spellcheck).  It’s all God, cause I’m a mess.

Elijah’s School of the Prophets weren’t looking for “soul power” in Elisha.  They weren’t looking to his natural ability as a leader.  What they wanted to see was that when Elijah (now Elisha’s) mantle hit the water, that the power of God was demonstrated.  “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” was their cry.

May God’s power be demonstrated in the midst of our weakness, and may we have the courage to lay down our natural capacities to position us to receive His supernatural ones!

Sleep is over-rated, anyways (yawn!)
the passing of the mantle