God watches

Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands;

Isaiah 49:15-16

Can you even imagine that God is so intent on giving us his attention that he’s inscribed us on the palms of his hands? Keeping us ever before him and making our names ever in his sight. The Message bible says, “I’ve written your names on the backs of my hands. The walls you’re rebuilding are never out of my sight.” The Amplified bible says “I have inscribed [a picture of] you on the palms of my hands.” Think about the number of times in a day one glances at the hands. How accessible are the hands? They’re right in front of us most of the time. Glancing at the hands is an easy thing, not that God could forget us any way. Exciting right? No matter the imagery, the fact is the same. God loves us so much he keeps us, as well as our borders, in close proximity so he can watch over us and protect us.

Mercy me

O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; and his mercy endures forever.

I Chronicles 16:34

Can we turn our attention to the mercy of the Lord that he extends to us…fresh mercy…every morning of our lives? My elders used to say the Lord’s mercy “suits our case.” Of course I had no idea what this meant when I began to hear these words as a young child.

But as I matured as a woman and as a Christian, I began to understand that as uniquely dark as my sin is, so uniquely overpowering is the mercy of God that overwhelms my sin with kindness I in no way deserve.

Fresh mercy tailor made to me and freshly renewed every day of my life. And that mercy never runs out. There’s no shortage of the supply. And there’s no shortcoming in my life that God’s mercy cannot overcome. Overwhelm. Beat down. And if this thought does not at least elicit thanksgiving then, back to the drawing board.

Mercy without measure. Mercy for me. Mercy for me every day. New mercy for me every day. Fresh unique mercy that suits my case, fits itself into every crack and crevice of my soul, makes me look like something other than what I would be without it.

Oh thank the Lord. Thank the Lord.

For the Lord is good; his mercy everlasting.

And his truth endures to all generations.

Don’t y’all forget about us!

One of the poignant moments of our travels happened during a visit to my husband’s aunt in South Carolina. I think it was for his father, her brother’s funeral. As we were giving hugs and goodbye kisses, she said, “Don’t y’all forget about us.”

I’d never heard that as a parting request before. And yet more than 20 years later, it still echoes in my soul.

I learned through study of the southern traditions that this was said by those left behind when friends and relatives ventured north for freedom and even later, for relocation for education and jobs. A keepsake from the African notion of being tied to each other for eternity, this request demanded remembrance as an exercise to keep the bond alive. Remembering in the heart and mind is so much more than recapturing an event or a story. It is actually placing oneself again in the vibrant and organic relationship with those to whom one is bound. Even after death. Because death is merely life after life on the African continuum.

Even now this statement shakes me to the core because of the pull I always feel to remember the names of the children, the Black males especially, the folks who are slaughtered on our urban streets as if their lives don’t matter. I make a conscious effort to remember. It was easier, of course, in the early days when those deaths were still shocking and so few and far between. Tiffany Smith on Poplar Grove Street in Baltimore. There’s a silhouette of her on the street sign that bears her name. Three-year old James Edward Smith III who was having his first hair cut. We coined the phrase, “drive-by shootings.” So much easier when the shootings were few. Now the names roll in so quickly from all over the country that I have to stop and consider the conditions of their death in order to place them in my collection that’s growing too heavy for my heart and mind to bear.

Don’t y’all forget about us. Everyone wants to be remembered, to have been significant in someone’s life. And the remembering gives us completion even in the pain. When Jesus instructed the disciples to remember him, he linked it to something they would do on a regular basis – the breaking of bread. So simple. Every time you break bread, every time you pass the cup, remember me. Remember my love. Remember my teaching. Remember the sacrifice I’m about to make on your behalf.

And in return, when we bow at his feet in worship or in request for intercession from his seat at the right hand of the Father, we moan the same theme we’ve heard down through the years, from our grandfathers and grandmothers, from our aunts and uncles, from our neighbors and fellow worshippers:

Remember me. Remember me. Oh Lord, remember me. As if he could ever forget us. As if anything could snatch us from those nail scarred hands.

Oh Lord, remember me.

Fragments? Leftovers?

And the peculiarity in John is that he put the “found” food in the hands of a little boy. Apparently his mother had sent him off well prepared to follow Jesus all day long. She’d given enough food for himself and to share with someone else. He surely couldn’t have consumed seven loaves of bread and five fish by himself. Somehow the Spirit of God gave her a push that day to make sure she’d pack exactly what Jesus would need to feed every one of the five thousand who found themselves unable to tear themselves away from the powerful words Jesus shared with them.

So the disciples instructed them to prepare to eat. I’m sure they were equally curious as to how, great teacher that he was, Jesus was going to feed so many people. They sat “at tables” on the ground and spread something to receive the food they were instructed to expect. The women and children sat together. The men sat in segregated tables. And they waited. Obviously the background sound was the growling of stomachs that hadn’t been fed most of the day. And probably there were some growling temperaments. You know there have to be some in every crowd. And in spite of whatever their expectations had been, and I’m sure the disciples were as surprised as everyone else…everyone who was in attendance ate as much as they desired. And as the disciples settled themselves to recuperate from the miraculous challenge they’d endured, Jesus stopped them mid motion.

“Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.” {John 6:12}

Fragments? Leftover? How? Kingdom economy. We don’t ascribe to it because it makes no earthly sense. We don’t ascribe to it until we need a miracle, that is. Jesus demonstrates that the submission of the little we have can open us to be recipients of an abundant return our finite minds cannot comprehend. And it doesn’t just refer to the things we have, but also to who we are and the gifts and graces with which we’ve been entrusted.

{Excerpted from Jesus in the Key of St. John}

Pray what?

Pray what?

Ever been led to pray for something that made no sense at all at the time?

One morning I couldn’t resist the urging to pray for Herbie Hancock. I kept hearing the name as I had heard other names to pray for. But I didn’t know this one. The only one I knew by that name was the popular pianist, bandleader and composer and I had no way of knowing what he needed prayer for.

But I’d grown enough to know to be obedient to what I heard while in prayer.

Anyway, I prayed aloud and called his name. I prayed for his healing and restoration. And moved on to the next prayer.

After the prayer hour ended, the leader thanked me for praying for his friend who was seriously ill. And guess what? His nickname was Herbie Hancock. Who knew? Herbie Hancock recovered.

Maybe the musician got a blessing too.

This is precisely what praying in the spirit entails – even more so than praying in tongues. It is prayer that is completely directed by the leading of the Holy Spirit. This vital, inspired prayer can only happen as we yield all that we are in the prayer moment to the One who is the Divine Initiator.

This is the Day

This is the day

This is the day the Lord has made. Let’s rejoice. Let’s be glad. Let’s let go and be as children. Let’s laugh. Let’s dance. Let’s shout. Let’s tell the entire world.

This is the day.

Today is what we have. Tomorrow is a maybe. Let’s get it in today. Today is the gift. It’s ours. We can rejoice. We can sing. We can fill our space with laughter and joy. We can tell everyone we meet that we’re God’s children, that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. We can tell everyone we meet that the joy of the Lord is our strength.

This is the day. We can work. We can play. We can love. We can create. We can fill our space with peace and justice. We can stand. We can speak. We can walk. We can defend. We can share. We can spend. We can tell everyone we meet that God loves all his children and is no respecter of persons. We can tell everyone we meet that God is love and can be no other than love. And that we love him because he first loved us.

This is the day.

We might have no other. Let’s rejoice. Let’s be glad. Let’s be joy. Let’s be peace. Let’s be love!

Today.

{#36 from Mustard Seed Mondayz Too}

Have you heard of the Holy Ghost?

Remember, after all the training Jesus had done with the disciples, he instructed them to be still, to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Ghost. They were not to begin their ministry without Jesus until they were filled to overflowing with the power and presence of the Holy Ghost. Once this happened they would minister with every task enhanced, every memory provoked, every encounter perfected by the Holy Ghost, their helper. He gave them the appropriate responses for the people they encountered once they began.

“Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have I give unto thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk,” to the lame man at the temple gate in Acts 3.

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved,” to the high priest and council who threatened to silence them in Acts 4.

The Holy Ghost so powered their prayers that when they were finished, “the place was shaken where they were assembled together: and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spoke the word of God with boldness,” at the end of Acts 4.

Have you heard of the Holy Ghost?