Four Conversations…

*Ringing phone

“Hi, Kathy!”

“Hello, Father.
It’s me, Katherine, your daughter.
I hope you remember me?
I’m your youngest child.
I have blue eyes and mouse-brown hair, except that I bleach it so it is looks blonde.
I am sorry to bother you this morning but I have a few matters to discuss with you if you have the time.”

***********

*Ringing phone

“Hi, Kathy!”

“Hey, Pops!
What’s happenin’, dude?
Not sure if you’re really there or not but, hey, if you are, figured I should give my old man a shout out!
Not that I think you can really do anything about anything at all – but, you know, it seems like a nice thing to do to chat with you every once in a while and all…”

***********

*Ringing phone

“Hi, Kathy!”

“Good morning, Dad!”

“Good morning, Daughter!”

“So Dad, I need new shoes, world peace, and some money to pay that unexpected bill. My friend is sick and she needs help, too. Not to mention my church and everything that is going on there. I am struggling to fit everything in to a day and I am worried about the future.  So that’s it. Talk to you later!”

************

*Ringing phone

“Hi, Kathy!”

“Good morning, Daddy!”

“Good morning, Beloved.”

“Daddy, I just wanted to call this morning to tell you that I love you. You are so faithful and so very good. I am amazed at your character and your heart for me. You are an amazing Dad. Just wanted you to know.”

“I love you, too, sweetheart.”

“I wanted to say thanks, too, for the gifts you have given me! I loved the sunrise this morning and the bird that is singing right outside my window. You have given me so much, starting with the very fact that I am alive. I had a great day yesterday. Got to help some friends, make some new friends, and had the money to get some stuff I needed at Walmart. I saw Your hand all over my day and I am so grateful!”

“You are welcome, sweetheart. Is there anything I can do for you today?”

“Well, as a matter of fact, I do have some things I want to talk over with you. I need your insight and wisdom in a few areas. There are some people I love who need to get to know You, too. And then there are my siblings in this large family of Yours. I wanted to chat with you about some of what is happening with them, too.”

“I’m listening. Let’s talk.”

**************

Four completely hypothetical phone conversations between Father and Daughter.

Four different takes on prayer.

Because prayer is simply me talking to my Heavenly Father.  Of course, there is no phone involved.  But imagining how I might talk to my (wonderful) earthly Dad on the phone – and how he might respond –  helps me to correctly picture how I want to talk to my (perfect) heavenly Dad in prayer.

But because I cannot see Him and do not completely understand Him, I can fall into several traps.

I can forget that He knows me intimately and is passionately for me. When I do that, I treat Him with formality, not born of respect but a result of distance. Distance that I have created – not Him.

Or I can swing the other way and view Him as some sort of impotent elderly figure, worth a “shout out” but not worthy of respect, let alone praise.

A third option? Recognizing He is God but treating Him like some sort of cosmic vending machine. Prayer becomes simply a laundry list of my problems. And then I am frustrated when He doesn’t tick items off the “honey do list” I have given Him. So I work harder at being good, doing good, trying to earn some answers from Him. Or I swing the other way and give up on prayer, thinking, “It doesn’t work, so why bother?”

But then there is the fourth conversation.

Me talking to my Father who adores me.
Not because I am fabulous.
But because He is my Daddy.

And because I adore Him, the first thing I do is tell Him that.
Tell Him how grateful I am for Him.
For His character.
His worth.
Who He is.

And then I am careful to thank Him for the specific things He has done for me.
Recognizing and acknowledging His fingerprints all over my life.
Lifting HIM up.
Exalting Him.

Not exalting my problems – not focusing first on all that is wrong. All that is bad. All that is frustrating, ugly and sad.
But instead, bringing those things to Him as my loving Dad.
And listening to His replies.
Those in my spirit, by His still small voice.
And those in His Word, already given to me.

Having a conversation.
Treating Him with all the respect that is due Him.
And acknowledging Who He is more than exalting my concerns.
Laying the issues and problems at His feet in perfect trust that He is God.
And that He is good.
And that everything He does is right.

Trusting Him with all my heart.
Leaning not on my dim perceptions of reality.
Believing that He will guide my path. My day. My decisions. My conversations.
If I will let Him.
He is a good, good Father.
Do I treat Him that way?
Do you?

***********

And a P.S. for some….

You may not have a great earthly Dad.  So that makes these conversations even harder to imagine.  But please remember this – Your heavenly Father is perfect and He loves you with His perfect love.  He longs to be everything to you and for you that your earthly Dad was not.  Run to His arms – He is always waiting, always ready to listen, always willing to guide you. Don’t believe me?  I can’t prove it to you – but He can.  Give Him a chance – I promise, He is worth the risk!

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Reflections…

I Corinthians 13, Amplified Bible

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not a profound thoughtfulness and unselfish concern for other believers regardless of their circumstances or station in life, growing out of God’s love for me, then I have become only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal [just an annoying distraction].

My Response:  

If I write amazing blog posts and pithy, thoughtful memes, but have no thoughtfulness or unselfish concern for you, then I am just another annoying voice on social media, clamoring to be heard.

And if I have the gift of prophecy [and speak a new message from God to the people], and understand all mysteries, and [possess] all knowledge; and if I have all [sufficient] faith so that I can remove mountains, but do not have love [reaching out to others], I am nothing.

If I can use the most eloquent language to try to persuade you to follow God, explaining His Word in fresh ways, and demonstrating an immense knowledge of Scripture; and if I have faith enough to believe that God can do the impossible, but do not put actions with my words, I might as well not exist.

If I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it does me no good at all.

If I sponsor orphans in Guatemala, support missionaries across the globe, and give faithfully to my church in every way – time, talent and treasure – but do not have love, all those things are utterly pointless, completely useless.

Love endures with patience and serenity…

Rude people, arrogant people, racist people, perverted people, mean people, angry people, frustrated people, sinful people, hurtful people – all are met with patience and serenity…

…because my value does not rest in them.  My value comes from being loved by Love Himself.

…love is kind and thoughtful…

Love recognizes that hurt people hurt people. It remembers that I have no idea what has shaped them into those rude, arrogant, racist, perverted, mean, angry, frustrated, sinful, hurtful people. And love answers their sin with forgiveness. With kindness. With love. Because that is how Love Himself answered 2000 years ago.

…and is not jealous or envious;

Of your new car. Your new house. Your new spouse. Your pregnancy. Your promotion. Your anything. Love rests in the promise that my God will supply all my needs. And if I don’t have it currently, I don’t need it currently. Because His promises are true and everything He does is right.

…love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant.

Even when I am right. Even when you are wrong. Even when I am declared the winner. Even when my post gets a million “likes” and half a million “loves”. No matter the score.

It is not rude; it is not self-seeking,

Love opens doors, says “Excuse me”, “Please” and “Thank you”.  Love picks up trash and puts shopping carts away. Love seeks your good over my own. It allows you to cut in line, to fumble with your purse, to drive slow in the fast lane. Love looks out for you over myself.  For your best interests above my own.

…it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured.

Love is not provoked. Not because the world is not provoking – but because it chooses not to be. It is not overly sensitive. It is not easily angered. It only becomes angry over the things that make God angry – but even then, it remembers that HE is the judge, the jury and the executioner. He will see that justice is done. He will not miss one wrong done against me and someone will pay. Either the perpetrator of the wrong will die for that sin, or my Savior already did on the cross. Sin will be paid for, one way or the other. So I can choose to harness my emotions, using them to propel me to good instead of evil – and I can keep my cool, even when the world runs hot.

It does not rejoice at injustice, but rejoices with the truth [when right and truth prevail].

Love exalts in all that is good. I rejoice when justice is done, but always with an eye to what I actually deserve. And because I remember what I deserve, I offer mercy as much as I possibly can. After all, I want all the mercy you will offer me. And, no matter what, I rejoice when good wins because God is exalted.

Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening].

Love bears being misunderstood. Being maligned. Being hated. Love believes the best even when it is hard to see. And love holds fast to Love itself, knowing His power is made perfect in my weakness.

Love never fails [it never fades nor ends]. But as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for the gift of special knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part [for our knowledge is fragmentary and incomplete].

Love is eternal. Words will fade. Eloquence will wane. Abilities will diminish. Even what I think I know will prove, in time, to only be partial, incomplete at best.

But when that which is complete and perfect comes, that which is incomplete and partial will pass away.

Love is coming back again. Riding a white horse, with the name Faithful and True on his thigh, leading the armies of heaven. He will conquer all evil, once and for all. I don’t have to protect myself because the King of All Kings is on my side. Or, rather, I am on His side. And Love always wins in the end.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.

I have thrown tantrums, both as a child and as an adult. They look different, but the impetus is the same – a lack of love for the people Love loves. A lack of vision for how Love sees. A lack of understanding of how Love will conquer all. But I am growing. I am changing.  And each day I am becoming more like Love.

For now [in this time of imperfection] we see in a mirror dimly [a blurred reflection, a riddle, an enigma], but then [when the time of perfection comes we will see reality] face to face. Now I know in part [just in fragments], but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known [by God].

And one day, I will be complete. I will see Love face to face. What I need to understand will be understood. What I need to forget will be forgotten. He will wipe every tear from my eyes as I fall into His arms. He sees that day clearly and knows exactly when it will come. I do not – but I can make out a glimpse of it in the foggy mirror that is my life.

And now there remain: faith [abiding trust in God and His promises], hope [confident expectation of eternal salvation], love [unselfish love for others growing out of God’s love for me], these three [the choicest graces]; but the greatest of these is love.

Trusting God is great. Relying on His promises is life-giving. Looking ahead with confidence, fully believing He will do all He says He will do, that is power. But the greatest gift, the greatest grace, is Love. And because I know Love personally, I have everything I need to choose love in my actions. In my words. In my posts. With my family. My coworkers. And perfect strangers. The same power that raised Love from the dead is at work in me, giving me all that I need for life and godliness.

So, because of Him, every time, I choose to choose love.

Because the greatest of these is Love.

Living Water: A Modern Parable

Once upon a time, far away and long ago, three brothers set off to find their fortune. They wandered together, seeking adventure, glory and a good living. But they soon determined that it would be best for each of them to go their own way. So they set off in three different directions.

The youngest brother found a beautiful meadow nestled in a valley and decided to build his home there. The sights and sounds of the meadow filled his senses with joy.

But he quickly discovered the problem with his meadow. There was no water source. The meadow was completely dependent on the rain that fell – and so was he. He diligently set up a water barrel, intent on catching every drop possible. And in the rainy fall, snowy summer, and damp spring, his system worked adequately enough.

Until the scorching heat of summer. The meadow turned crispy and the wildflowers that had brought him joy shriveled and died. But worse than that, he had very little rain. What did come was always in a brief downpour, never enough to fill his water barrel. He was constantly thirsty and constantly in danger of shriveling up himself, just like the grass in his field.

The second brother was a little wiser in his choice. He, too, found a beautiful spot to build, on the side of a small mountain. His property sat in a spot where the elements had ripped away rock, leaving a protected wall of mountain and a flat space for his home. He loved seeing the eagles soar overhead.

And, unlike his little brother, he built near a water source. At the bottom of the mountain there was a river rushing through with plenty of water, even in the hottest times of the year.

The problem was the “bottom of the mountain” part. It was easy to go down to the water. He quickly wore a path that got him safely to his refreshing, life-giving water. The hard part was getting the water back uphill. Water is heavy and the man quickly learned that he could only carry so much of it back at one time. He exhausted himself, traipsing up and down that trail with his buckets, day after day – and sometimes more than once in a day! He was not as thirsty as his younger brother, but he still found his life to be draining, unfulfilling drudgery. The eagles still soared but he had no time to enjoy them because he was constantly making trips to the river.

The third brother made a much, much wiser choice. He, too, found a beautiful spot. But he also made sure that it had its own water supply on his land. A fresh spring bubbled up onto his property and formed a small, clear stream. He had only to step out of his back door and walk a short distance to get water. No matter the season, no matter the weather, the spring bubbled, always immediately accessible. Because he had a continuous source for water, he was able to turn his attention to other things. Soon he not only had his snug house but he was able to plant a garden, build a barn and buy livestock. In very short order, he was thriving.

————–

Do you get it?

The first brother had no water source at all.
He represents the person without Christ.
Without the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Without the strength that comes from the Master who says, “You can do all things through Me.”
There is no Living Water in his life.

And so he gets his joy, his peace, his fulfillment from whatever good comes into his life.
Which works when the weather cooperates.
But when it turns hot and dry, when the gentle rains don’t fall, he is truly out of luck.
Out of resources.
Out of strength.
And when the person without Christ finds herself lacking, she turns without to fill that need.
Fill that hole.
Quench that thirst.

Sometimes the fake water comes in the form of good things.
Volunteering
Working hard
Giving generously
Being an active participant in community
Doing good things to frantically try to quench the thirst.

Other times it comes from good things that morph into bad things.
Shopping to excess
Eating to fill the void
Exercising to extreme

And still other times it starts out ugly and gets worse.
Addictions to drugs, both legal and illegal
Addictions to power, leading to abuse
Addictions to physical pleasure
Addictions to pain

Empty.
Thirsty.
Shriveling.

The second brother is the man or woman who knows where to find Living Water – but only uses it sporadically. And always in his own strength.
He uses it socially.
A meme on Facebook.
A scripture thrown into an argument.
A sentiment that sounds biblical touted as the answer.
The occasional attendance of a church service.
A religious song here or there.
Engaging on Sunday and checking out the rest of the week.
Engaging when it is convenient but never really giving into the flow.
Never really allowing Living Water to be a part of every day.
Every moment.
Every decision.
Every activity.
Never fully surrendered to the flow.

That life is exhausting.
Because when you do not consistently tap into the Source, you quickly get burnt out.
Life in this fall world is hard.
Draining.
Frustrating.
And without Living Water flowing through, you find yourself trudging at least half the time – and wondering why Living Water is so hard to access.

But the third brother found the secret.
Jesus said, “I have come to give you life – abundant life.”
He said, “If you know me, you will have streams of living water flowing through you.”
He said, “I AM Living Water.”
“I AM The Source.”
“I AM all that you need.”

Living Water flows continuously.
Regardless of the “weather”.
The circumstances may be scorching.
Like they are right now.
The threat of nuclear war
Leaders that make you shake your head at best and make you furious at worst.
Protests turned deadly
Hearts turned ugly
People turned vicious
Words slung like arrows
Actions that speak even more loudly than words

The circumstances are scorching.
Maddening
Enraging
Frustrating
Hurtful
Despairing

But Living Water is available.
He is always available.
Living Water flows with forgiveness, even for the unforgiveable.
With love for the unlovable.
With peace in the midst of the storm.
With hope in the midst of despair.
Living Water is available.
He is available.

But you have to access The Water.
Accept the gift of Jesus.
Surrender to Him fully.
And then allow Him access to every part of every day.
Every corner of your life.
Every thought in your head.
Every emotion in your heart.
Let Living Water flow.
Get to know Him.
Read His Word.
Study His Word.
Talk to Him.
Yell at Him if you must – He can take it.
Choose to praise Him in the storm – or in the heat.
Choose to consistently meet with other believers to be encouraged, exhorted, changed.
Choose to filter every decision through what His Word actually says. Not what you want it to say. But what it says.
Yield to the Spirit when He says, “Delete that post”, “Rethink those words”, or “That attitude needs to be changed.”
And let the Living Water flow.

Surrender.
Engage.
Drink deeply.
Drink often.
And be changed.

Let the Living Water flow.

 

On Dreams, Disappointments and Dude Ranches

 

 

 

Once upon a time there was a boy named Jason.
He was your typical three-year old ball of energy mixed with dirt, determination and a charming smile.
And one day, Jason fell in love.
His Mom got him a book about cowboys from the library.
And the obsession began.

After that, Jason loved all things cowboy.
Horses.
Cowboy hats.
Shiny brown boots.
Lassoes.
Anything and everything cowboy.

His parents even decorated his room with cowboy sheets, and cowboy curtains, cowboy pictures, and a full set of cowboy action figures. His prized possession was his pint-sized Stetson, which he only took off for baths and bed – and even that took quite a bit of persuasion.

Everything cowboy. All the time.

So it was no surprise that when his Kindergarten teacher asked Jason, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” he promptly replied, “I’m gonna be a cowboy!”

Fast-forward.

Today is Jason’s 18th birthday.
Today he is an adult.
He has big dreams.
He wants to become a doctor, specializing in pediatric oncology.
He knows that means years of schooling and tons of student loans.

But he also heard a whispered conversation in the kitchen last night that has his heart soaring. He heard his Mom ask, “Is it ready?”
And his Dad whispered back, “Yep. Went to the bank today and got it all taken care of. Who knew we’d be able to save so much money! Jason is going to be so surprised!”
Mom replied, “I’m just so happy to know his future is secured and he won’t have to borrow any money!”

Jason didn’t give even a tiny hint that he had overheard them. He just went around with a HUGE grin on his face, knowing that his dreams of going to medical school just got a whole lot closer.

So now it is evening. Dinner has been eaten, the birthday song has been sung, the candles blown out and the cake devoured. Jason’s Dad grins at him and reaches into the inner pocket of his suit jacket to pull out a long white envelope.

“Son,” he says, “we know you have big dreams. And we are so incredibly proud of you. So I am happy to say that your Mother and I were able to make some investments that paid off – and because of that, we can give you this. Since you want to be a cowboy when you grow up, this is the deed to your very own dude ranch!”

____________

So I have to give credit where credit is due.
No part of that story is real. It is based on an illustration I once heard Tony Campolo give, many years ago. But it has stuck with me.

Because it is a beautiful picture of my – of our – relationship with God.
You and I, we are Jason.
We have big dreams.
Big ideas.
Lofty goals.

But there is a big difference between our three-year old dreams and our all-grown-up dreams, isn’t there? With time, with perspective, with growth, with that wondrous thing called hindsight, we can look back and see how times have changed. How we have changed. How our dreams have changed.

And we can look back and say, “Thank You, God, for what felt like unanswered prayer. For what seemed like You not listening to me. For what felt like You not understanding my heart. Thank You for closing the doors that needed to be closed. Even though it hurt at the time. Thank You for not buying me a dude ranch when You knew I would need a college education.”

It is one of the reasons that God calls us over and over again in the Scripture to “Remember.” He had the Israelites set up altars, standing stones, and places of remembrance throughout their journey. He gave them the Passover, an entire holiday of remembering their bondage in Egypt and how He brought them out. And then Jesus fulfilled the Passover by becoming the perfect, sinless Lamb of God, sacrificed on our behalf. And he gave us the Lord’s Supper to help us to remember that. Remember his death. His resurrection. And that we now have eternal life waiting. That this life is not all there is. That we live for a higher purpose than our own pleasure. He calls us to remember.
Remember, remember, remember.

And, with the Psalmist, I can look back into my life and say, “I have seen in my history the faithful love of the Lord.” (Psalm 107)

But here’s the tricky part.
Applying the memory to today.
Today’s hurt.
Today’s disappointments.
Today’s changed plans.
Broken dreams.
Shattered hearts.
Actively remembering the goodness of the Lord in the midst of the “valley of the shadow”.

Remembering that I am still growing.
I am not a three-year old any more, dreaming of being a cowboy who would love to live on a dude ranch.
But my good, good Father, who sees the end from the beginning, who has a good plan for my life, who loved me enough to sacrifice His only Son on my behalf – He sees and understands the future. What I need. How I will change. How my circumstances and even my dreams will change. He knows the difference between cowboy dreams and doctor dreams.
And so He is sometimes silent to my requests. Even when I am hurting.

I don’t know if He is saying “No” or “Wait”.
I do know He apparently isn’t saying, “Yes”.
And I know that I don’t like the feelings.
I don’t like the struggle.
I don’t like the pain.
And my heart is tempted to forget.
To forget all that He has already done.
To forget all of the wonderful gifts He has given to me.
And to only focus on the pain.
The current lack.
The “unanswered” prayer.

Worse than that, my heart is tempted to listen to the lies of the enemy, the same lies he used in the Garden with Eve.
“Is God really good? Or is He holding out on you?”
“Did God really say…?”
“Can you really trust God? Or should you take matters into your own hands?”
I doubt the character of God when I forget.
I forget His goodness.
When I focus on me. My pain. My feelings. My circumstances.

And so my challenge to you and to myself today is the same one David gave himself in Psalm 103:
“Let all that I am praise the Lord;
may I never forget the good things he does for me.
He forgives all my sins
and heals all my diseases.
He redeems me from death
and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
He fills my life with good things.”

Life is hard for many of those I love right now.
They are hurting physically.
Mentally.
Emotionally.
Spiritually.

My prayer is that they – that we – that I – remember.
That we CHOOSE to remember.
Remember God’s character.
His heart.
His unfailing love.
Remember what He has done in the past.
And that we have the hope of Heaven in our very near future.

Remember we are dust.
A “flower quickly fading”.
With limited eyesight and understanding.

But that we are beloved dust.
Cherished dust that Jesus died to save so that we could have this eternal hope.

Cling to that, my friend.
Cling to Him.
And remember that God knows the difference between a dude ranch and a college education.
You’ll see.
One day we will all see.
And we will say, “Thank You, God. For all of it – thank You.”

 

 

 

On Avocados, Splints and Walking With God…

1,560 avocados.

I estimate that I have sliced 1,560 avocados for my at-work-lunch-salad over the last 10 years.

And I have never, ever cut myself doing it.

Until last week.
I was missing a piece of information – which caused me to miscalculate the pressure I was using to slice the avocado as it rested on my hand.

I didn’t know that the knives had been sharpened.
And so I managed to go through the avocado, its peel and a piece of my left pinky in one fell swoop.

Thank God for a compassionate co-worker with first aid training! She got me bandaged up quite nicely and off to the ER I went to get my one – yes, ONE – stitch. I didn’t go wide with my wild slice of the knife – but I did manage to go deep.

So, three hours later, I toddled home with my one stitch, securely bandaged.
And splinted.
Yes, splinted.
Because the cut is right at the crease on the inside of my pinky, just where it bends.

And let me tell you, that splint is a nuisance!
It forces me to hold my pinky at a just-so, ready-for-tea-mi’lady angle.
All the time.
And it makes it so my finger does not bend at all. Makes it impossible to hit the left shift key.
A complete and utter nuisance.

For which I am very grateful.
Because that same annoying splint also keeps me from banging the cut against something when I go to pick it up. It helps to keep the bandage in place. It reminds me that something is wrong and that I really want to avoid hitting that spot at all costs. It is incredibly annoying – and a real life saver.

Which reminds me of other “splints” in my life.
Things I have put in place, not because something is broken, but in order to prevent damage from occurring.
Certain self-imposed rules.

You see, there are dangers in my life. Things that seem to be innocuous but could lead me down a path I don’t want to travel. Temptations that come my way. Like you, I am constantly in a position to make choices. For good or for bad.

For example, the books I read. I love, love, love a good piece of brain candy! Give me a story about a dashing young man, a damsel in distress and “they all lived happily ever after” and I am a happy girl. Throw in a hint of mystery or set it in the Wild West and I am even happier.

The temptation? To read books that will cause me to want what I cannot have. Books that put images in my head that would rival any porn movie out there. Books that have characters who do not honor God and His design for marriage by their actions.

They are enticing, luscious, even intoxicating reads.

But they are not good for my soul. As a single woman, determined to live a pure life, saving sex for marriage because that is what the Bible says to do, those books are the start of a very dangerous path. Because what I take in saturates my thoughts. And my thoughts lead to actions. And my actions have consequences.

So, I put on a splint to help me avoid that pain, avoid even getting to the edge of that path. Not because a break has already occurred – but so I will prevent a break in that area. For me, I choose to only read “brain candy” that I know will NOT have sex scenes. And if I inadvertently get a book that has a scene like that, I put it down as soon as I realize where it is going. And I don’t pick it up again. Not because I am some sort of super-saint but because that is a protective measure for my mind and my heart.

A splint.
Annoying? Yes, incredibly so.
But, like my pinky-splint, incredibly helpful in keeping me from pain.

Want another example?

I have a very, very, very active imagination. I always have.
When I was a kid, I would lie awake at night and make a plan for WHEN the house caught on fire.
Who I would wake first.
How I would save the animals.
What I would do next.
It never had caught fire. And it never did. But I just knew it was going to at any moment.

A very active imagination. And a very good memory.
So, when I watch something on TV or at the theater, it sticks with me.
I remember it in vivid detail.
And so I have set a splint there.
I choose to not watch movies or shows that will leave me scared. Tense. Anxious. Afraid. I choose to not watch things that feed my fears or my overly vivid imagination in a negative direction.
Some movies and shows in that category glorify things I don’t want to glorify.
But others are simply well-written suspense thrillers.
Not inherently sinful.
But, for me, a dangerous thing to put in my brain.
I know those images will clog my brain. Feed my fears. Make me jumpy. And give me nightmares.
So I “wear” that “splint” of not watching them to keep me from going down unproductive paths and the pain of reliving horrific things in my mind.
I find it much easier to “Be anxious for nothing” (Phil. 4) when I have not fed my mind with anxiety-increasing stories, images or ideas.

A splint.
For my own protection.
That I put in place.
Not from a sense of guilt.
And certainly not because I am trying to make God love me more.
That would be impossible.
But to make my own life better.
Easier.
More pleasant to walk.

Other people I know have different splints.
Who they’ll hang out with – or won’t.
What they will drink – or not.
Where they’ll go after work – or won’t.
Who they will spend time alone with – or not.
Splints.
In place for their protection.
Not because of fear.
But simply because of wisdom.

Are the splints annoying?
They can be.
Just like the one on my finger.
But I am grateful for what they keep me from doing. Thinking. Becoming.
The protection they give.

How about you?
Do you have splints in place?
Should you? Where should they be?
Not sure?
Ask the Holy Spirit to show you.
He will. You need only to ask.