Beach in Berlin.

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“Beachen” in the middle of Berlin. So fun. Okay, I was exhausted after one game, but still. So fun.

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Reality check.

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Found out yesterday I am taking a 25% cut in pay, effective immediately. So much for three months. Spent all of last night confronting denial. I had been holding on to the hope of some kind of rescue from the inevitable, waiting for my fairy godmother or handsome prince or some other mythical being to sweep in at the eleventh hour and set things right.

It’s 12:01. Time to acknowledge that the only check I’m getting right now is a reality check.

My friend Arthur tells the story of facing a critical funding deadline for a project and praying desperately for the money to come in. When the usual pleas proved ineffective, Arthur tried a new tactic. He asked God to show him where he was in Scripture. As it turns out, he was behaving like the older brother of the prodigal son–you know, the bitter one. The one who was jealous of his formerly philandering younger sibling’s welcome home party. The one who whined about how his father never served him a decent steak. The thing is, the older son could have had fatted calf any or every day of the week. He owned the ranch. But he chose to obsess over his lack, disregarding the resources of his father’s estate at his disposal. He could not see the inherent potential in the raw materials available to him.

So here I am. Whining because the solution to my crisis is not appearing before me wrapped in pretty paper with a sparkly bow on top when the truth is I have been flat out lazy about developing the resources my Father has provided me. In fact, I’ve never even taken any kind of meaningful inventory of the raw materials He has placed within and around me. I’ve had my eye on a finished product when I have no idea whether the parts I’m working with even lend themselves to my idealized (fantasized) outcome.

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Big God…big heart.

Shelley Hundley from IHOP just came out with her book A Cry For Justice about Jesus as our advocate against injustice. I read the sample on my Kindle (best gift ever from my amazing sister) and really, really wanted to buy the book. The thing is, I will be officially unemployed in about two weeks and am trying not to spend money on any extras. So no book.

But the sample gripped me and I knew I had to read the whole thing – so I went to the Kindle store just to see how much it was.

Kindle Price: $0.00 includes free wireless delivery via
Amazon Whispernet

That’s right – $0.00 – FREE! Woohoo! Quick, go get a copy before Amazon changes its mind.

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This upcoming journey will be all about trusting God’s provision for what I need instead of striving for what I want. This won’t be easy. The truth is, I feel like I have to scramble to provide certain things for myself because I’m afraid God might think they’re too frivolous or indulgent. I mean look around – these are sober times and God has more important things to do than think about what I’d like to read.

When I was little, I used to recite a German bedtime prayer that went like this: “Come Lord Jesus, come to me, make a good child out of me. My heart is small and no one can come in but You, my little Jesus.” In German it sounded cuter because it rhymed. Maybe that’s why it never dawned on me until recently how weird it was. Who teaches children to pray for a small heart and a little Jesus?

I know in my head that God is big. Huge. Enormous. And omnipresent. But sometimes it’s like my heart got stuck in that prayer about the little Jesus.

It may sound kind of silly, but this whole thing with the book is big shift for me. It’s not that I’ve never experienced God’s love or provision, but this was really specific and completely unexpected. So God, I pray You would create in me a big heart that can know Your immense goodness…and make it known.

A table in the wilderness.

20130315-002959.jpgSo last night I dreamt there was a large wild hog in my entryway. I can’t explain why a feral pig would show up in my dream. I don’t live in Texas and until today I had never heard of hogzilla. Yet there he was, a giant hog running circles around me as I tried to coax him out the door.

Usually I forget my dreams as soon as I wake up, but this one stayed with me. I felt like the dream was significant, but didn’t really know why. So I did what I often do when I don’t understand the meaning of something – I looked it up in the concordance.

Surprisingly, there are only a handful of uses of the word swine (aka boar) in Scripture. You have the usual Hebrew prohibition on eating pork, and then there is Psalm 80:13 depicting the destruction of God’s choice vine:

The wild boar from the forest devours it, and the wild animals feed on it.

Commentators describe the wild boar as fierce and savage, just as I experienced in my dream. His nature is to dig up anything and everything edible from the ground. You do the sowing, the watering, the weeding and sometime just before the harvest the beast comes in and tears up the garden – sort of like the Midianites who devoured the Israelites’ crops, leaving “no sustenance in the land.” But the wild hog doesn’t just go after the yield; he uproots any potential for new growth.

As if that were not enough, Psalm 80 also throws in other undefined wild things just to keep things interesting. Recently a well-meaning colleague warned me of the dangers of amateur, armchair exegesis using online Bible software. Nevertheless, I’m going to throw caution to the wind and point out that the particular word translated wild animals in Psalm 80:13 is ziyz, which is used only three times in the entire Old Testament. Twice it reads “wild beasts” – as in lions, tigers and bears – and then utterly unexpectedly in Isaiah 66:11 it is translated “abundance.” Huh? It doesn’t take a professional theologian to see that one of these things is not like the others.

Now we’re not talking about mundane, run-of-the-mill abundance here. Ziyz expresses the fulfillment of being restored to the tender and extravagant heart of the Father.

How could the word for something that is literally eating your lunch on one occasion be the same word for the over-the-top provision of God on another?

And consider the paradox of Leviathan. He is portrayed as a terror-inducing, fire-breathing dragon; yet God created him to be food for His people in the wilderness.

Imagine a number line from minus one hundred to plus one hundred. God is not content for us to move from whatever negative position we once occupied only to stop at zero. The tragedy is that a lot of us are so damaged that zero looks like paradise compared to the minus sixty we came from. We lose all incentive to advance into positive territory – that promised land teeming with giants, leviathan and wild hogs. But the place that looks so treacherous and foreboding is exactly where God invites us to partake of the lavish banquet He has prepared for us. Pork chops, anyone?