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Prophecy and nail
A woman gets the credit–
Deborah, Jael

Trust in him at all times; [ye] people, pour out your heart before him: God [is] a refuge for us. Selah
Psalm 62:8

Hi, God.

I’m trying to do what You said to do with my heart–pour it out before You–but I kinda have a problem. See, I tip it over to pour it out, and nothing comes out. I think it’s dried up and caked in there, maybe a little like spices do when they’ve been sitting in the cupboard too long and gotten a little moisture in them. And, well, I’m not really sure what to do now because I can’t really pour it out, see?

I took my heart to someone I thought might care to see this strange phenomena that is going on in my heart, but . . . well, she was ready to pour out her heart at the moment and mine wasn’t exactly pour-able. Actually, it wasn’t really like she poured out her heart. It was more like just shaking some of its seasoning out to flavor my life. And I really was glad for it. It’s fun to hear her adventures.

I called another friend today. Wow! Was she ever busy! I really wasn’t expecting that she’d be able to scrape free the caked stuff in my heart. I was hoping that I’d hear a little of how she was doing. I think she needed a little encouragement, and it was really nice to hear a few sound-bites of her life. The call made me smile. I hope it made her smile, too.

Another friend was a bit confused by it all. She was a little panicky, too, as though I was panicky about what in the world this stuff was and was hoping that she would fix it. She really didn’t listen but kept suggesting recipes that I could sprinkle it into. Not quite what I think I’m supposed to do with it . . . hm.

I took my heart to another friend. As I showed her the dried-up stuff that used to be my heart, she listened and tried to understand; but she really didn’t know what to do with it any more than I did. And, frankly, I’m a bit tired of talking about it all. That’s part of the dried-up-ness. It’s like “what’s the use?” Ya know?

Another friend was better able than I to “pour out” her heart. I suspect that I didn’t know what to do with her heart any more than my other friend knew what to do with mine. But somehow the act of listening and trying to understand produced a little moisture. I think the shared moisture helped, but it didn’t last long. I’m dry and caked again.

So, here’s my heart. I was bringing it to You all along; I just had some stops along the way. I’m not sure what to do with it, it’s so dry. It doesn’t want to laugh or cry but it wants to do both; it’s both frustrated and content somehow; it’s tired but doesn’t want to go to bed; concerned but not worried. What do You make of such a heart? Shouldn’t it be crying out to You right now?

Hm. It shouldn’t, huh? This is normal? You say that this is what happens sometimes to hearts that have been working hard and pouring themselves out and opening themselves up to face the elements? So. I guess this means You know what to do with it, then? Whew! What a relief! I was getting a little tired of trying to figure it out. Make something good with it, ok?

I’m going to bed.

=)

“You need to blog again,” they said. I guess it’s about time.
But literally, this post is about time. As the saying goes, “time is money.” And it literally is . . . that is, unless you’re salaried =) When you’re not salaried, you think twice about taking time off of work. An hour off of work is an hour of lost revenue for you.
And how valuable is my time anyway? Setting prices for my tutoring services is always difficult for me–I don’t really have much of a head for money.
So, God has been teaching me these last couple years that He can provide for me monetarily. There have been (and still will be, I’m sure) some more than close calls and some worries and even some tears. But I can look into my heart and see that the seed of faith has at least sprouted there when it comes to money.
Now I just need some more time. There’s really never enough.
And I wonder: if time and money are really so closely related, could God provide time as He provides money? Of course He could! He’s God. But would He?
I’m still asking Him this one. Don’t know the answer yet. Maybe I’ll keep you posted on it . . .
 . . . if I have the time.
=)

I learned a new word last week: “gangrel.” It sounds like it ought to be a cookie. But it’s not. In fact, I must begin by apologizing for cheating with this post. This post is not about a cookie at all–it’s about cookie dough. I am fully aware of the fact that “cookie dough” is not its own type of cookie. I can offer no excuses for writing about cookie dough this time. But I can humbly beg your patience with me as I write about this rather sticky subject (pun intended).

When did cookie dough become off limits? I think I remember eating cookie dough as a child. I am sure my mother “scolded” me every now and then for eating too much; however, she would let me lick the beaters for just about every sweet dessert she made, so I know she did not mind my sampling the wares before they were cooked. So when did cookie dough and any raw batter with eggs in it become off limits? Now it is a threat for salmonella because it contains raw eggs. I used to get after my brother and sister for eating cookie dough, and I stopped eating it myself. That is, I managed to hold to my principles of not eating it until I moved in with my cousins. At their house, everyone eats cookie dough, it seems. And eventually I, too, fell victim to the batter for Chocolate Chip Oatmeal cookies. I realize that it is still as dangerous as it was before, but I go ahead and eat it anyway, figuring that the odds are against me getting salmonella every time I take a bite of that dangerous, uncooked concoction.

What is it about cookie dough that attracts us? It’s sticky. It’s goopy. It sometimes has a little bite to it from the vanilla flavoring that has not been cooked into submission yet (at least, I am speculating that it’s the vanilla which creates that slight tingling sensation on my tongue when I eat cookie dough). What is it about cookie dough that has made it one of the leading flavors of ice cream? Maybe it’s all of the above. I honestly do not know.

But I do know what a gangrel is now. And it is the opposite of cookie dough: cookie dough is popular–gangrels are not; cookie dough is tasty–gangrels are usually rather unsavory; cookie dough has immediate potential for happiness–gangrels often seem to have passed their expiration date. In fact, about the only visible connection between the two (besides the word itself sounding like some sort of Scandinavian sweet) is that both of them look like a mess. What’s a gangrel? Maybe you should ask “WHO is a gangrel?” A gangrel is a vagabond, a homeless person, a vagrant. When I read the words “homeless person,” I picture the people on the streets and in the parks of San Francisco, some of them sleeping in boxes, some of them pushing shopping carts of tattered junk down the street. They’re unsightly and generally considered a problem. And the most annoying thing about them is that many of them do not truly have to live that way; they want to. Only God knows what it is in them that makes them want to live lives of homelessness. But they are hard to help and hard to love (as another author has pointed out). They’re a mess!

But we all are sometimes. I certainly feel like one sometimes. Sometimes it’s when I am sick, nursing a cold like I am as I type this tonight: everything seems out-of-sorts, and as much as I want people to help me, I also want them to leave me alone. That happens sometimes when I am heart-sick, too. I feel tattered and worn and dumpy–sticky and gooey, too.  And there is an instinct within me that makes me want to hide away from the world and those that love me, especially when I seem to have forgotten how to be lovable.

But I think that God must look at us like we look at cookie dough: irresitible. Even when we are a mess, He comes after us (not to eat us, of course). If we look at His dealings with the nation of Israel, we see that He has a special place in his heart for gangrels–the nation of Israel certainly acted like that at various times throughout their long history–they needed help, but they made themselves helplessly un-helpable and unlovable. They wanted God and they didn’t want Him all at the same time. By the time Christ came on the scene, the nation was longing for their Messiah–their deliverer. An old Latin hymn captures their longing. “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”: its words and music sounds like the mourning of someone who is inconsolable.

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
O drive away the shades of night
And pierce the clouds and bring us light.

Rejoice! rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

~ Latin hymn trans. by John M. Neale 

After a while, we lose patience with those who are inconsolable–we can’t help them, so we fade away. But God does not. He even came to live the life of a gangrel Himself–homeless and poor–for a little while in order to Help His people. And when He came, they rejectied Him–crucified Him, in fact, and rejected Him and the fact of His resurrection later. But He still has not rejected them. He will still fulfil the promises He made to them.

And God did not just do this for the nation of Israel; He came for the whole world, too. He ignores the mess and the goop and the danger that He knows we human beings contain. And the Bible promises that He will continue to do that for us our whole lives through, following us with the most love we will allow Him to pour on us–even if we will only let Him get close enough to bless us in those unseen ways He blesses everyone. But if we let Him, He will be to us as He has been to His people through all the years: “a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” He might get His hands sticky (but c’mon! isn’t getting a little sticky part of the fun of cookie dough?); I think He must kinda like being sticky like that. Even when we are gangrels.

Next time you sneak a bite of cookie dough–or next time you don’t because of possible salmonella problems–think about gangrels (even though they’re not cookies).

From: elijah@brookside.net
To: undisclosed recipients
Subject: news update (or not so news)

Dear praying friends,

Thank you for keeping my whereabouts a secret all these months. You have put up with the inconvenience of having no return address at which to contact me; and for those of you who had been getting my e-mail updates, I have a special thank you for your patience and puttin gup with my bad spallings and infrequent contact. The internet connection at the particular brook where God has chosen for me to reside has been patchy at best. Some days I have spent all day typing a letter only to have the computer freeze up before I could hit “send.” The fact that any lights in the wilderness would be suspect also limits the times I have to work on my correspondence: a computer screen emits more light than a low campfire does!

I greatly appreciate your prayers. I realize that by now many of you must have my letters memorized: nothing much changes for me in this desert place where God has placed me. I try to make my life a bit more exciting by relating the incidents I have had with the ravens (whom I have finally named–thank you to all those who sent in suggestions). But basically my prayer letters have all boiled down to the same things: I’m here at a brook being fed by ravens; Jezebel and Ahab are still looking for me to kill me; and there’s still going to be no rain. I wish with all my heart that my message could be different, but it’s not going to change.

However, even though the major things have not changed, the smaller details of my life have been adjusting. First, as the famine is getting worse, I have been noticing that my brook is shrinking–almost by the day, it seems. Also, the ravens–Hustle and Bustle and Sneeze, I’ve named them (if you want to know how I finally settled on those names, you’ll have to ask me sometime when this is all over. You can try to e-mail me, and I will send you the story if I can . . . you know the drill: running for one’s life makes leisure time a tad sporadic–kinda like my internet connection). Anyway, the ravens have been becoming a bit edgy lately, too. One of them even began trying to share my meal with me the other day. He flew off when I threw the meat on the fire–guess he wasn’t too keen on sampling my culinary skills. Now that I think of it, that was the night I set off the fire alarm. Guess he has a bit more than just a bird-brain after all.

I am writing to let you know that nothing has changed. And perhaps I am writing to tell you that life really isn’t any easier when you’re a prophet than it is when you’re not one. I know that each morning you get up and wonder when the rain will come and where the food will come from until then. I just want you to know that I understand the pressure you are facing and that I don’t have the answers right now any more than you do. So, as you are continuing to wait and wonder with me, take courage that God is looking out for you as He is for me–and be glad you’re not wrestling Sneeze for your breakfast.

We may not know what to do next when the brooks dry up, but I am hanging onto the fact that God does. But waiting till He shows the next step is still a challenge–even for me.

Hang in there!
Elijah

Oh, God of dust and rainbows, help us see That without dust the rainbow would not be. ~ Langston Hughes

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