This morning as we left the house for school, I was determined to make it in record time.  Due to the recent flooding in our area, our morning commute had increased dramatically.  I’ve had the Waze app on my phone for some time now, but have only been using it for trips into downtown Houston, (because attempting to drive into that without help is downright scary).

When I typed in the address of the school, Waze reassured me it could lead us there in 35 minutes.  (The day before, it took us an hour and a half).  The kids and I laughed.

“Do you think it will work, Mom?”

“If this works, it will be a miracle from Jesus.”, I said.

So off we went.

If you’ve ever used Waze, you soon learn that it requires an incredible amount of trust.  It will send you in the opposite direction, down dark alley ways, through someone’s backyard, and then ask you at the drop of a hat to turn around and retrace your tracks.  But any user of the app will tell you, “you’ve got to just trust the wisdom of Waze”.

See, the app keeps track of traffic, accidents, inoperable lights…all of it.  Plus, it knows how fast you and other Waze users are moving.  So, in an instant, it knows when changes occur.  Immediately, it calculates when changing your route all together is time-efficient. And sometimes, it sends you in the opposite direction to have you arrive at your final destination faster.

This morning, Waze led us through small winding streets, on the Hwy headed south (when ultimately we wanted to go north), and zig-zagging neighborhoods I didn’t even know existed.

As we turned off one little street onto the next, we suddenly saw it: yard after yard filled with rolled up carpet, dismantled wood flooring, piles of sheetrock, and couches stacked upon one another.  Kids were waiting in their front yards for the school bus next to piles of destroyed belongings.

It took us by surprise.

The car fell silent.

All the air was sucked into our lungs by our gasps.

Eventually, someone broke the quiet.

“I wish we could do something.”

Suddenly, our commuting challenges of the past few days didn’t matter.  The unacknowledged rains of last night (the ones we slept through), now seemed cruel and  senseless.

“Kids, if it hadn’t been for Waze, I wouldn’t have even known this was back here.”

“Maybe Jesus is in Waze, Mom.”

Maybe.  I don’t think He is literally living in the phone app.  However, I think Jesus absolutely used Waze this morning to guide us down a path of humility, compassion, and gratitude…the ways of Jesus.

As we continued to follow the directions offered by my phone, we saw house after house, family after family in need.  We discussed plans to come back after school, maybe toting pizzas, or cleaning supplies, or just prayers and consolation.  The kids were no longer arguing about who ate the last breakfast bar or debating whose fault it was that we left 10 minutes late that morning.  Our hearts had been shifted.  Our perspective had been flipped.  My words came back to me: “If this works, it will be a miracle from Jesus.”

Jesus, in all His ways, miraculously turns our selfish hearts outwards towards others.Tweet: Jesus, in all His ways, miraculously turns our selfish hearts outwards towards others. #WAZEofJesus  The Holy Spirit guides us down paths previously unseen.Tweet: The Holy Spirit guides us down paths previously unseen. #WAZEofJesus

But if we don’t trust Him, in all His seemingly awkward and backwards-pointing directions, we just might miss the opportunity for a dramatic change of heart.  We might miss the hurting and the broken.  We might miss a whole world of opportunity to serve as the Church.

When we don’t trust His promptings, we find ourselves taking our route back into our own tight-gripped hands, only to be frustratingly locked in a spiritual stand still.Tweet: We find ourselves taking our route into our own tight-gripped hands,only to be frustratingly locked in spiritual stand still #theWAZEofJesus

Think of Noah.  Think of Jonah.  Think of Lot.  Think of Jesus!  “Go towards the cross…”, even when Jesus asked the Father for a different way.

Lately, I’ve been feeling the prompting of the Holy Spirit to act in specific ways–to head in a specific direction.  But I’ve been putting action off, straight-up ignoring His voice, and allowing myself to be distracted by the selfish conveniences of life.  Today’s little adventure to school not only filled our car with compassion, launching us into a plan for service, but it also helped fix my eyes on Jesus…His voice, His direction, and His ways.

(And we got to school in 35 minutes.)

“Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths” (Psalm 25:4).Tweet:

 

I’ve been reading through the life of Noah repeatedly over the past week or so.  As I’ve been reviewing the account found in Genesis 6-9, the finer details are unsettling to me.  They’ve been messing with me.  There are so many lessons in the life of this one man.  Honestly, it makes me a little frustrated with him.  Noah’s rocking my world.

I thought I’d share some of these lessons with you in today’s post.  But as I began to type, I uncovered more and more golden bits hidden in these 3 chapters.  So it looks like I’m writing a multiple post series on the man, Noah.  Through this one story, my heart is not only being convicted, but also being led to a new richness found in God’s character.

Most of us, whether Jesus-follower or not, have heard the main details of this story:

God told Noah to build an ark.

He obeyed.

He put lots of animals aboard.

It rained…like forever.

He got stuck on a mountain.

God invented the rainbow.

Or something like that…


LESSON ONE: Invisible isn’t ineffective.

Genesis 5:28-6:9

First of all, let’s just look at how old this guy was when he fathered his first child:

“After Noah was 500 years old, Noah fathered Shem, Ham, and Japheth” (Gen. 5:32).

500 YEARS!

I realize that the human lifespan was dramatically longer back then, but that is a ridiculously long time in the world of family planning.  This is the first we hear of Noah, except that his father was comparatively a spring chicken at 182 years old when he was born.  Therefore, we can only assume that those first 500 years of Noah’s life were not noteworthy.

This is where Noah begins to rock my boat.  I can hardly last 20 minutes feeling I’ve no purpose or significance.  If I’m “wasting” time, not getting something done, or not working towards a goal of some sort, I feel lost.  I feel slothful.  I feel irresponsible.  I feel without purpose.  I feel invisible.

Noah was invisible for 500 years.

Sometime during Noah’s invisible life, the world went crazy…like Spring-Break-Nephilim-(giants)-Gone-Wild type of crazy.

“The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5).

Yet, in the midst of that, Noah remained righteous and faithful.  Genesis 6:9 says,

“Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.”

While he didn’t do anything noteworthy, he remained faithful in very difficult circumstances…blameless.

Noah’s blameless invisibility had great purpose.

God doesn’t keep Noah out of the pages of Scripture forever.

God is so disappointed in the evil ways of the people, that He’s willing to blot out mankind and hit the restart button.  But, Noah, through his blamelessness finds favor with God.  He has remained invisible, yet faithful.  God shows his compassion to the world through Noah.  This is a foreshadowing of Jesus, who saves mankind from sin and death because of His righteousness.  Jesus, the only man to walk the earth and be completely blameless, saved the human race from annihilation by dying on the cross in our stead.

Noah’s invisible years spent in faithfulness effectively preach the Gospel.

Noah needs to sit down. He’s rocking my canoe while I’m at the bow trying to navigate my dreams and desires with a splintered paddle.  I don’t want to be invisible.  I am daily flapping my arms in all directions to gain some momentum, or at the very least, just make a splash.  Whether I’m organizing a closet or serving on a grander scale, the evil motivations of my heart creep in.  I want to be seen.  I want to be appreciated.  I want to have importance and purpose far greater than my current standing or situation.

And if I have to be invisible, do I really have to remain faithful?  That’s no fun.  That’s too hard.  That’s not fair.

Others around me are “sleeping” with social media giants, propelling their platforms and selling their message to the highest bidders, regardless of motive or heart.  It’s very tempting to abandon faithfulness to God’s timing, and turn allegiance to the world’s fast-paced self-promotion.

I firmly believe that God works through His people, building networks of varying talents, to accomplish His work.  I undoubtedly believe that He uses social media to do this. However, I also believe there is a fine line between God-orchestrated opportunities, and man-orchestrated promotion.  Simply remaining faithful, at the risk of being invisible for a really long time, is a challenge.  Noah forces me to ask myself the question:

“Could the Gospel be demonstrated more effectively through my invisible faithfulness, than through a visible stage or amplified microphone? 

Now I get that platforms and promotions don’t apply to everyone.  That’s just my jacked up reality right now.  But invisibility and purpose applies to us all.

Maybe you are a stay-at-home mom who feels hidden under 500 years worth of laundry and dishes.  You are struggling with thoughts of value and purpose.  You are sacrificing big dreams for seemingly little insignificant daily chores.  Could the Gospel be demonstrated effectively through your invisible faithfulness?

Let me encourage you, sister:  Your invisibility is not ineffective.  He is working His message of sacrifice through your daily grind.  That purpose far outweighs current standing or situation.  That is a holy calling.  Remain faithful.

Maybe you are a hard worker climbing the ladder of success.  You’re daily laboring to be noticed and appreciated by producing the next big idea, close the next big deal, or impress the big-time boss.  Perhaps you come home at the end of a long day and wonder, “What did I just do for the past 8-10 hours?”  You are exhausted and feel like every day valuable time is lost with nothing gained.

Ponder on this:  How many fields did Noah likely plow in those 500 years?  500 seasons he had to sow, nurture, and harvest. 500 years worth of toiling and laboring he spent in the heat of the sun.  500 winters worth of wood he gathered.  Through it all, he simply remained faithful.  His faithfulness was more effective than yielding the greatest crop of 2348 BC.  Could the Gospel be demonstrated effectively through your invisible faithfulness?

My fellow tired friend, hear what Noah’s father said as he was naming his son:

“Out of the ground that the Lord has cursed, this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands.” Genesis 5:29

Noah would do just that, but 500 years later.  Be faithful in your labor, and know that God will bring you relief…in His time.  Don’t give up on His trusted timing or on doing good.

Maybe you have retired after years of parenting or holding a career and you find yourself lost.  With more time and freedom than ever, you struggle to know if you are spending it wisely.  Perhaps without the children at home, to-do lists to complete, or business reports to write, you struggle to know who you are anymore.  The majority of your life has been devoted to a career or to raising children.  Now that those activities don’t fill your schedule, you find your identity, value, and worth being challenged.  Perhaps your health has begun to limit your physical abilities.  Could the Gospel be demonstrated effectively through your invisible faithfulness?

You, wise friend, have spent a lifetime being faithful with what God put before you.  While your daily work load has changed, Your call to remain faithful has not.  Be faithful with the people He has placed before you.  Be faithful with the message of His love and grace.  While you may feel invisible, you are not ineffective.

This past weekend, my husband shared a message based on the following verse.  (I think God wants us to hear it if He placed it on multiple hearts this week.)

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).

While Noah was invisible for 500 years, God was using his faithfulness to point to Jesus.  Don’t grow weary of doing good, my friend.  In the midst of tempting escapes and fast-tracks, let us be content to trust His timing and His plan.  Let us remember our greatest purpose in life is to make Him visible, not ourselves.  In due season, we will reap, if we do not give up.

Day 40: Sesame Street Seder

Today is Maunday Thursday, the conclusion of Lent, and the embarking of the journey to the cross.  Today we add to Lent the remembrance of Passover, of the meal that Jesus shared with His disciples, the bread and the wine, the body and the blood.

This evening, I plan on putting together a small Seder for my family.  The meal remembers the story of Passover, how God rescued His people from Egypt through Moses and brought them to the promised land.  Each food of the meal has meaning and purpose.   A roasted lamb shank bone, the Z’roa, is the culmination of the meal, symbolizing the lamb that the Jews sacrificed as the special Passover offering when the Temple stood in Jerusalem.  Most Jews celebrate this feast, and as Christians, it is an important part of our story as well.  Jesus is the final passover lamb that was sacrificed once and for all.  We have no need to make further sacrifices to our God.  Jesus paid the ultimate price.

This morning as I sat down to write, ironically, I overheard Sesame Street explain a Seder Meal.  Grover was on the hunt for horseradish.  It’s the maror, or bitter herb that represents the bitterness of the Israelites slavery in Egypt.  He was looking in all the wrong places, like a horse stall, for example.  It had to be explained to Grover that horseradish is a root vegetable that grows underground.  It would have to be dug up.

I often look in all the wrong places for the source of my bitterness.  My slavery, my sin, my discontent–I think it might come from my vocation, or lack thereof.  I sometimes blame finances or lack of opportunities.  I look to others, my spouse and my kids, as the reason I am chewing on potent bitterness.  But the fact is that I have to get on my knees and get a little dirty to dig it up.

Usually, the bitterness that I live with is found deep in my heart of hearts.  It is usually grounded in an untruth about God and His sovereignty and provision.  It is usually rooted in a distrust of God and His love for me and His promises.  I don’t see my circumstances as part of a larger divine plan.  Even the Israelites’ captivity in Egypt was purposeful.  It was a part of a bigger plan, a greater story…one that pointed to freedom, one that whispered the name of Jesus.

Did you know, in the middle ages, horseradish had medicinal purposes?  When I am on my knees in prayer, digging up roots of bitterness, I usually find that identifying my erroneous view of God has great healing qualities.  Bitterness is replaced with contentment, even joy, because what is false is replaced with the sweetness of truth.  And, the name of Jesus is usually whispered into the dark places of my heart.

I am grateful for this “adding to Lent” journey.  I have noticed blessings that, had it not been for Lent, would have gone unnoticed.  The great redemptive power of Jesus, to replace all bitterness and death with sweetness, beauty, and life–this is what I long for.  This is what I search for daily: His pulling out of the dirt that which is intended for my good.

Happy Digging 🙂

“O Lord, by these things men live,
and in all these is the life of my spirit.
Oh restore me to health and make me live!
Behold, it was for my welfare
that I had great bitterness;
but in love you have delivered my life
from the pit of destruction,
for you have cast all my sins
behind your back.”

Isaiah 38:16-18

Day 28- amnesia

The weekend was so full that I got behind on writing.  Now, I honestly don’t remember what I did on Thursday.  I do remember it not being a very great day for the Goeke family.  A lot of hurt was incurred.  It’s probably a good thing I can’t recall all that happened on that day.  Even in my forgetfulness, I am reminded of all that I receive because of Easter morning.  Namely, God’s merciful amnesia:

 “For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” Hebrews 8:12


Day 29- pow, pow

We surprised the kids by taking them to the Rodeo after school.  Paul and I had a chance earlier in the month without children.  Now, we wanted them to experience all the drama and excitement for themselves.  As the rodeo began, the stadium lights went out and fireworks were set ablaze.  Judah, stood in my lap, bug-eyed and jaw-dropped.  When all the smoke of the indoor explosions cleared, in a faint voice he said, “pow…pow…”  I said, “Yeah, Buddy, that was cool, huh…” To which he replied, “Mo…mo…”  Unfortunately, he had to wait 3 hours through all the rodeo events for more fireworks.  We took in the dust and the smell of livestock waiting for more big bang action.

To be “powed” by the Maker, by the display of His glory…this is the effect the cross and resurrection can have on us, if we are willing to bear our eyes wide to the expansive explosion of all time that occurred there.  All Old Testament prophesy collided in the man, Jesus, who proved His God-nature by rising from the dead three days later.  It all met at the cross, at the tomb, there with Mary as she looked up to the glowing face that knew her name.

Honestly, I never rest in that moment very often or for very long.  I rarely think about that morning, when she ran to tell all the others that their beloved Jesus was no longer dead.  I’m not taken in by the ‘pow’ daily.  I focus more on all the manure of the mundane life I live.  If only I could marvel more at the resurrection and take in some spiritual “pow.”

“Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?’  Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’  She turned and said to him in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means Teacher).”

 John 20:15-16


Day 30- showers

Today, I took a shower then went to a bridal shower in a rain shower.  The day seemed to be covered in showers.  Sheets of water fell behind window panes set as a backdrop for the future bride as she was showered in gifts, blessings, prayers, and words of wisdom.  I was reminded of The Red Tent by Anita Diamant.  Women of all generations festively helping to usher the next young bride into the tent of marriage.  Such joy, such hope, such beauty.

Adding these varying kinds of showers to Lent has been a helpful reminder, yet once again, of all that is showered upon me through Jesus: His joy, His hope, His beauty.

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.”

Isaiah 61: 1-3


Day 31- worship

This morning I had a chance to be a part of the worship team at church.  What joy it is to worship.  I am thankful for the opportunity to humbly worship Jesus, whether from my seat, or the stage, or by the side of my baby’s crib.

“Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.”

Psalm 29:2 

 

“I’m learning a lot about God from my kids.”  I think every Jesus-following parent says it at least once.  It is true.  Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18: 3-4).

This morning when darkness still loomed over the house, I rose to my oldest daughter already awake.  She had set her alarm for 5 AM so as to not miss the much anticipated lunar eclipse.  It was supposed to be first visible at 5:25 AM, but in an effort to not miss any of it, she was awake nearly a half hour early.  The rest of the family wasn’t that interested in the phenomenon, so she planned her rising all on her own.  She could hardly sleep last night, so it was not a surprise to me that she was already awake when my alarm went off at 6.  The time she chose to wake up did not startle me. What did shock me was the place she chose to watch.

I assumed that she would venture out on the front driveway or walkway and peer into the moon-lit sky.  I figured she’d take it in for a minute, get tired, and head back to bed.  But, no, my child knew better than me…

She pulled a chair and pillow from the living room over to the front door.  She made herself comfortable and sat, marveling at the moon through the glass insets.  Any reasonable adult would say that chair was an annoyance and was placed in a dangerous spot, in the line of doorway traffic.  But it was the perfect venue to focus on something almost magical, something that my mature brain can’t wrap my mind around.  The sun, which we can’t see at night-time is yet right behind us–behind her in that chair.  Its strong rays of sunlight reflecting over our heads on the surface of the moon millions of miles away.  The earth, on which we stand, on which she sat in that chair, mysteriously floating in the space in between.  The orbits of the moon and the earth in such synchronization and alinement that before her very eyes, the shadow of earth, orb on which she sat in that chair, appeared before her over the face of the moon–it’s light slowly burning red.  What an amazing event that is so much grander and substantial than a walkway ridden with chair.

As we went on with our day and I returned home from morning errands, I saw the chair unmoved from the wee hours of dawn.  The sunlight, now cascading through the windows bore such sweet light on that seat, on that place of tiny miracle.

photo

My daughter has taught me something today.  I have learned, and have been told over and over again, that I need to sit and marvel at God.  Others may be annoyed with me.  Others may think I am in the way.  My resolve to sit and take in Jesus as I see Him throughout the day may irritate those who think it odd and silly.  Some might deep down feel the sting of resentment that I have gone to such measures to encounter God.  But I long to be like the carefree and uninhibited children.  I no longer want to be an adult with to-do lists, logical answers, and cynicism.  Jesus, teach me, like you taught the disciples, to humble myself, turn, and become like the child.

I have for far too long walked with the shadow of reason and logic hiding my heart from the everyday glory of Jesus.  How can I follow His Spirit, if I shield my eyes from seeing Him?  How can I soak in His words and ponder His parables if I block my ears from hearing Him?  How can I sense His presence and act on His urgings if I cover-up my feelings with puffed up arrogance and pride?  I, and most “Christians”, have been walking around in a “total eclipse of the heart” religion.  We have covered ourselves with our performance and success, rather than being “hidden in Christ”  (Col. 3:3), reflecting His glory, not our own.

Last night, my eleven-year-old delighted in asking questions of astronomy and selenology, of the heavens and their movement, just in anticipation for what she hoped to see.  She didn’t presume to have all the answers.  Her eyes doubled in fascination with the size and wonder of it all, even before witnessing.  Are we adults even asking questions anymore?  Do we think we have it all figured out?  The mysteries of Jesus are beyond any human mind.  His wisdom and knowledge deep.  We will never exhaust all that He has for us.  How boring and mundane to be the one who has forgotten this simple truth!  What a dull and joyless, responsibility-driven, task-filled adult life!  We need not live this way.  He wants us to have life to the fullest, to marvel at His love and His Spirit, to wait in eager anticipation for just a glimpse of Him.

The chair will remain in it’s new home today.  I want to be reminded to seek out all of the wonder and joy Jesus has for me.  Even amidst my daily work, I will pass by and catch a glimpse of the Spirit’s reminder to me.  He loves me so well to know that I need reminders and nudges.  He understands my failing heart and fleeting zeal because undoubtedly, I will trip over it at some point.    Thank you, Jesus, for telling me again.

photo