Friday, March 31, 2006

Random Definitions

  • Contentment is when you can thank God for what tomorrow will bring
  • Trust is when you conquer a mountain in someone else's strength
  • Love is when you desire the highest good for someone else, even at personal sacrifice
  • Pain is the object lesson of learning by experience
  • Faithfulness is when the joy remains long after the task becomes mundane
  • Joy is when you can say "God is good" regardless of circumstance, regardless if you understand
  • Giving is being willing to inconvenience yourself
  • Sincerity is when the outcome is less than expected, but nothing changes
  • Patience is having purpose even while waiting

Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Front Row

With what force could I hold back the tides of the sea? When the storm builds, when the wave strikes the rock, can I hold it back with the palm of my hand? Could I build a wall that would keep the waters neatly tucked in?

With what force will the music be held back from these unhearing ears? Does the music need an ear in order to be heard when the sound penetrates through every other member? Dead ears will not bar out the sound when the music is pulsating through the floor, when I can even feel the vibrations in the air. The music would not be denied. I heard it. With every part of my being, I heard it.

If I can read lips to hear words, if I can read eyes to hear expression, can I not read fingers to hear music? As I watched the fingers skip over the finger board, as I watched the delicate balance between bow and string, my mind filled in the notes my ears had rejected. The unified sound took on its individual character unique to each instrument.

I'm not a brass person, but even I had to appreciate the experience of sitting not three feet away, staring up the bell of a trumpet, as the notes of Hayden's Concerto for Trumpet poured out.

The interaction, the concentration, the precision, and even the delight.

This is why I sit in the front row.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Are you the ruler?

There are a few things I can't get used to as a dorm sup. Primarily, the power that accompanies the title. Speaking of titles, I had a visitor stick her head in my apartment and ask hesitantly, "So, are you like--the ruler here?" A year ago, I was a student. A year and a half ago, I wasn't even on the approved chap list. And now, suddenly almost everyone knows my name. Anyway, about this power thing--I can walk through Old Main and couples respond like two northern poles of magnets and I wonder which one just got electrocuted. Girls are constantly fidgeting with their skirts to tug them the extra fraction of an inch below their knee. But the most remarkable though happened on the Calvary bus. (Yes, I ride the bus. I have a car, and I ride the bus because I'm a nerd, and I'd just as soon save on gas). So, I'm on the bus and everyone starts singing which is all good and well until the music they were singing was not even near checkable. I didn't say a word. Didn't need to. It's this power thing. So I just turned around and looked back. That's all. Midnote, the entire bus went silent. It was as good a cut off as I've ever seen Dr. Budahl make. So I'm not sure if I like this power thing. I'm certainly not used to it.

I do like the randomness. You never know what question you'll get asked next. It's not the easy questions--"how do I fill out a pass." It's more like--"how do I fill out the pass when I don't know the name of the place we're going and we're only going to be there a little while because then we're going to go somewhere else and yes we'll be in a mixed group, but half of them are off campus and half of them are meeting us halfway there. Some are driving, some are walking, and a few are hitchhiking. But half the guys can't fill out passes because they don't know we're going and it's supposed to be a surprise. Oh, we need a chap? Well, does so-and-so count? He graduated three years ago. No, he doesn't know he's going either."

When it comes down to it, I love what I do. I love the talks that continue until 3:00a.m. I love the mattress surfing down the stairs. I love the girls that come to raid the leftovers on Tuesday nights. I love the laughter and the hallway commotion. I love the weekend parties. I love the singing. But mostly I love the testimonies. I love to hear what God is doing and and how he is breaking the hearts of my girls to do it. I love to hear them proclaim the goodness of God. I love to hear their passion and their humility as they stand in awe of His majesty, as they learn to trust. Thank you ladies, your testimonies were a blessing to me last night.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Lord, I trust you with yesterday. Looking back, I can see how your hand worked. Even in past valleys Lord, I can trust. I can see why you allowed the pain, the heartache. It had to be there. You had better things in store for me, but I needed to cross the valleys to reach the highlands. Your plan is evident. Your purpose is good. I can see what you were doing, and I trust you. With all my heart I trust you.

Lord, I trust you with today. Surrounded on every side by your blessings, I am confident that you are good. You are in control. You give good gifts. You have my best interests in mind. I begin counting my blessings, and I cannot stop. I am overwhelmed. I can see what you are doing, and I trust you. With all my heart, I trust you.

Lord, I cannot trust you with tomorrow. After all, it may not be what I have planned. It may not be as full of riches and blessings as today. You may not work the same way you did yesterday. So, you can have yesterday. You can have today. But tomorrow is mine. I just don’t know if I can trust you.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

To Understand

I once asked--
If I could understand music, would I lose my love for it? If I knew what made it do what it does, would it replace some of the awe? If I could unravel its secrets, analyze it, view the sound through an equation, would it then cease to amaze?

And so I wondered, intrigued by sounds I could not decipher, with the extent of my musical knowledge limited to mere appreciation.

And now--
I by no means understand music, but with every secret revealed, the love for the sound is heightened. Every time some notation on staff paper begins to make sense, I crave more. Every time I hear a musician play a theme I have heard before, I listen with expectation, hearing not only the beauty that was already there, but the interpretation, and it adds a brilliance I could not see before. It's like I had once appreciated a painting through colorblind vision. And for the first time the colors have taken on their own unique hue.

I once asked--
If I could comprehend the mind of God, would I still seek Him? If I devoted my life to studying His Word, would I still desire the moments spent in His Word? If I sought a deeper understanding of theological issues, would I lose the quiet awe of His simple truths?

And so I wondered and realized that as I grow content at where I am spiritually, the passion dims. The excuses form. The apathy sets in. Even the need is somehow hidden. It's still there, but willing ignorance and spiritual contentment keep it from view.

And now--
I by no means understand God. But, the more I seek Him, the more I want to know Him. The more I understand of Him, the more I realize I have yet to learn of Him. A passage memorized becomes my companion late into the night. Messages preached from beloved verses are blessings unique to my heart. And I can embrace the truths of Scripture, not with full comprehension, but with a desire to know more. I can meditate on His promises without fear that such thinking will grow old.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

His Tapestry

Woven together
On the tapestry of your perfect will
The doubts, the deliverance
The hurts, the hope
The tragedy, the triumph
Each thread meshed together and deliberately chosen
I didn’t understand
Could not see the purpose
Could not see the image
I would not have chosen it
I would not have chosen the black threads
Threads of despair, of anguish
Yet they outlined your image and made it more vivid
I would not have chosen the gray threads
Threads of uncertainty, of solemn thoughts
Yet the shadows were produced by the light
And the contrast perfected the light
I would not have chosen the red threads
Threads of anger, passion, confusion
Yet mingled with the rest, they were vibrant
Woven together
On the tapestry of your perfect will
I would not have chosen it
I could not have planned something so perfect.

Friday, March 10, 2006

The Shrub

I read in Jeremiah today--Jeremiah 17
It's an interesting passage.
Already I've read about a nation that rebelled, a nation that would not listen to the voice of God, a nation that would not come despite His beaconing, a nation that would not cease their sin. They were a nation that triggered a prophet's tears and a mighty God's chastening.
Then chapter 17 paints some interesting imagery

Cursed is the man who trusts in man
and makes flesh his strength,
whose heart turns away from the Lord.
He is like a shrub in the dessert,
and shall not see any good come.
He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness,
in an uninhabited salt land.
Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose trust is the Lord.
He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of draught,
for it does not cease to bear fruit.

This passage, quite sadly, is my name sake. I discovered it last year when a preacher in chapel spoke on the shrub. And my friends wouldn't let me live it down. I'm not saying I don't like my name, but when I looked up Heather in a name book and saw that it meant "shrub," I did ask my mother why. The blessing in this passage goes to the tree. Why couldn't she name me Spruce or Oak? Okay, maybe not....

Actually, I like this passage. It reminds me of my human tendency to be like the shrub, the urge to put trust in man when it ought to be in God. It serves as my reminder to trust God, to be a shrub that is like a tree planted by the rivers of water, rooted in His Word, drinking in the rich truths of Scripture, being built up, and bearing fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Prayer Ironies

I prayed for someone who did not understand
and for another who did
I prayed for one to learn patience
and for another not to wait
I prayed for one to learn to speak
and another to learn to listen
I prayed for one to think
and for another not to think
I prayed for one that You would provide
and for another that You would take away
I prayed for one to learn to serve
and for another to learn to be served
I prayed for one to learn to laugh
and another to learn to cry
I prayed for one to be protected
and another to be exposed

And for myself
I prayed that You would teach me how to rest
but not be apathetic
I prayed that You would remove my guilt
but not allow me to be casual towards sin
I prayed that You would give me courage
but that I still would depend on you
I prayed that you would teach me contentment today
but not to fear tomorrow

Sunday, March 05, 2006

On a Hill Far Away

That dear old hymn--"The Old Rugged Cross" cannot be fully understood until it's heard on a violin. Miss Betsy told a story tonight with wood an strings, and it was the most beautiful story I had ever heard.

My mind does not understand how such beauty and hideous reality merges together into one. There was nothing ugly in what I heard, but with every note, I thought the wood wept, and my heart cried with it.

Sufficient is the cleansing fountain.
Completed is Calvary's work.
Forgiven are all my transgressions.
Defeated is death's sting.
Vanquished is the grave's victory.

And I am victorious.

Thinking about Thinking

Thinking about thinking.
It's the curse of the analytical.
You know it's interesting--everyone wants to be analytical except the analytical. If you think you are analytical, you probably are not. If you wish you were not, you probably are.

I had an interesting conversation with someone the other day. We were talking about how much thinking is too much thinking. Is this normal? Well, what is normal? How much thinking are our minds actually capable of? Because when you start thinking about God, the mind becomes overwhelmed. How much thought were our minds designed to obsorb? Too much thinking has the ability to confuse even the most foundational concepts. Bear with me becasue I'm about to ramble and this probably isn't going to make any sense.

I believe every thought is circular. If you think about it long enough and hard enough, you can carry the concept around and around and eventually you're going to end up right back where you started. This is a dangerous thought because it leads to the idea that everything is relative. You can talk yourself out of every absolute. Reason allows it. Truth does not. This is the boundary between faith and experience. If I lived my life by experience alone, I probably would not be saved today. Salvation does not fit in the picture of reason. The whole concept just doesn't work. Then there is hope. Not a hope that things will get better, but the hope that there is a truth that cannot be seen.

Even the analytical's mind begs to believe in something it cannot see.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

How to Respond?

What do you do
when someone thanks for your godly testimony, but you know that your heart is decietful above all things and desperately wicked?

What do you say
when someone tells you your life challenges them spiritually, and yet you know you are lacking. In fact, this individual is one whose prayer life and love for God you have long admired?

How do you respond
when someone tells you you are a blessing, but you know a dozon opportunities completely passed you by when you could have been a blessing but missed that privelge, distracted by self?

How do you respond with humility, when your heart is so poisoned by pride you can taste it?

How do you smile graciously and say "Praise God," when you don't believe your life has lived out to the praise of God?

And when have you started thinking to much, and need to to just let it go and except your own lack of understanding?

Chin Rests, Quarter Rests, and Perfect Rest

The silence is interrupted, stillness invaded. Behind the closed door, a dialogue of sounds emerges in balanced contrast. The first is a replica of beauty—honest, sure, and confident. The second is beauty in the making—determined, confused, and hesitant. The two voices blend in the inseparable dance of master and apprentice. And for a moment there is only the teacher and the pupil and the music that passes between them.

The younger clutches a violin in her arms, the instrument slightly large for her. A look of determination is deeply etched in her young brow, and with each concentrated effort, the child raises the violin slightly higher. Despite sincere attempts, her fingers will not produce the sounds that her instructor has demonstrated.

Young eyes squint to see the music buried beneath the black notes of the page. A small hand grips the fingerboard tightly, the effort holding back the sound, preventing its release.

She stands at the threshold of quitting, the desire to give it up arguing the determination to make it happen.

And with experienced wisdom, her instructor observes the battle in her mind.

With quiet knowing, he plays a few measures, and her mind is transported by the music. His song captivates, and though his technique she cannot comprehend, she holds her breath as the music pours from his soul through the wood and strings. As ribbons of rosin rise above the strings, her eyes are transfixed; her attention is riveted to his hands.

Graceful hands that have danced with music, caressing each note. Strong hands, molded in perfection, that have felt the very breath of angels’ songs. Aged hands, creased with time, marked with scars of past pain, hardened by labor.

The music stops, the final note still hanging suspended in the air.

The lesson continues. The instruction of his voice, which a moment ago was not understood, is replaced by the instruction of his hands.

With a patient touch, the master takes the child’s novice hand in his accomplished hand. With delicate precision, large fingers press small fingers against the strings.

“This is what it feels like child.
This is how your hand should feel.
This is what the position feels like.
This is what vibrato feels like.”

Tightened fingers relax in his grasp as she submits to the control of the master. It’s an active surrender.

How many times in determined frustration have my eyes gazed upon the black words—His Words, searching out the song that will fill my heart with understanding?

How many times have I gripped my Bible tightly, the tears flowing freely, or in anger not falling at all, not understanding how to pour out my soul in the music of the Christian life?

How many times, by concentrated effort, have I attempted to control my circumstances, my attitude, my future, my comprehension, not finding the balance between active resting and passivity?

And then the Master, the Virtuoso, the Divine Maestro, who knew every song before it had ever been sung, takes my novice hand in His accomplished hand, and presses my fingers against the strings, saying:

“This is what it feels like, child.
This is what is feels like to follow Me.
This is what it feels like to live the Christian life.
This is what it feels like to rest.”