A Word to the Faithful

I had an idea for a blog. But, in light of the recent school shooting in Florida it just seemed so trivial. The other day while re-filling our pretty pepper shaker for probably the third or fourth time since being married, I found myself encouraged by my progress as a cook. You see, I’ve never claimed any amount of expertise or even much interest in the culinary arts. I used to joke that I’d learn to cook once I had kids. And then I raised them all the way through to the other end and still didn’t know.

Don’t get me wrong. I cooked. People ate. Nobody died. I just cooked very simply without much concern for seasonings, presentation, or anything that took too long. We also ate out a lot which was a nice luxury, but only served to further delay the beautiful emergence of my inner chef.

By way of full disclosure, this was no secret when Carpenter Husband married me. In fact, to be completely fair, I even worked it into my vows committing to love him “sacrificially, respectfully, romantically, and domestically – including cleaning, laundry, and light cooking.” Yes, I actually used the word “light” right there in my vows. I took no offense to the chuckles that followed from our guests that day. I always figured I got a free pass in the kitchen because girl can write good songs, right?

So, I was going to write about how one can still learn new things even at this age. And how it’s about progress, not perfection. The multiple refills of said pepper shaker was physical evidence of that progress. And that made me feel good about an area that has not been a particular strength for me. And how we should celebrate growth, however incremental it might be. Yay, me, etc.

Anyway, this week I posted a sentiment on Facebook that garnered more likes and shares than normal. The lady who hosts the Bible study I’m in has it in a little frame on her bookshelf. She showed it to us one night and I promptly copied it in my journal.

Because it spoke to me…

God did not call me to be successful. He called me to be faithful.

What does all this have to do with the tragedy in Florida? Joining the throng of so many who have been praying for these suffering families, I found myself thinking, “What can I do? What difference can I possibly make?” And that led to another train of thought…I should be doing more. Contributing more. Making a bigger impact. If only I had a bigger platform, more resources, more gigs, more education. I should have written three books by now and can’t even finish the one I’ve already started. And how many years have I been “working on it” now? (Can anyone say: procrastination?) There’s too many books in the world anyway. Too many artists. Too much noise. Nobody buys music anymore. What’s the point of doing another album anyway. Nobody will hear it. They don’t play my music much anymore. Should I even be doing this? Is it time to do something else? Blah. Blah. Blah.

This was my self-talk, complete with feelings of guilt and insignificance that often follow such an indulgence. On top of that my “problems” are peanuts compared to the families whose lives have just been shattered into a billion gut-wrenching pieces.

And the Lord burdens me once more to pray for all who have lost their babies. For all who are drowning in grief. That God would bring comfort in the midst of devastation.

In the middle of all this, a radio guy who used to spin my tunes back in the day asked if I’d record a video of myself singing “Not With Jesus” from WHAT MATTERS MOST. He’d be sharing his testimony for 300 people at a Food for the Poor event and that song was part of it. In relearning it on the piano this week, I was reminded of the painful places I was walking when I wrote that song. And aware of how much it ministered, not only to me, but to countless others. The song went #1 on Christian radio. I’ve got a plaque in the garage somewhere.

Haven’t had too many #1’s lately, but I can still write a good song. That sure was a good one. Thankful it’ll minister to someone at his event in Florida at the end of the month. He mentioned the shooting was only about five minutes away.

And that gives me motivation to finish a new song I’ve been working on. It’s almost finished. And the phrase keeps coming back to me...God did not call me to be successful. He called me to be faithful…

To the faithful You show yourself faithful…Psalm 18:25
The Lord preserves the faithful…Psalm 31:23
He will not forsake His faithful ones…Psalm 37:28
He guards the lives of His faithful ones…Psalm 97:10
He protects the way of His faithful ones…Proverbs 2:8
A faithful man will be richly blessed…Proverbs 28:20

Thanks for listening. I hope there’s something useful here.

Love to each of you,
Cheri

 

 

 

Peace, Anticipation, and Posture for the New Year

Woke up early. Blog brewing though not yet birthed. Thinking about getting ready for church, making broccoli casserole, and still pondering a devotional I read the other day from Max Lucado.

Celebrating our one year anniversary.

Not yet light outside, I slip down the hall to what we’ve come to call the reading room. One of my most favorite spaces. We both love reading and have designated a space in our home to practice that privilege. Pulling out ‘My Utmost for His Highest’ I discover a new word. Imperturbable. That’s a lot of letters. I had to look it up.

The context…how our lives are hidden with Christ in God from Colossians 3:3. And how the imperturbable peace of Jesus Christ is imparted to us. The definition…very calm, very hard to disturb or upset; marked by extreme calm, impassivity, and steadiness; serene. And sometimes a synonym or two helps as well: unflappable and unshakable.

“When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the Child with His mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped Him.” Matthew 2:10-11

Remembering my first visit to the Holy Land several years ago, I could picture exactly what Mr. Lucado described in an excerpt from his book, The Applause of Heaven…the small cathedral outside Bethlehem where behind a high altar in the church is a cave, a little cavern lit by silver lamps. You can enter the main edifice and admire the ancient church. You can also enter the quiet cave where a star embedded in the floors recognizes the birth of our King. There is one stipulation, however. You have to stoop. The door is so low you can’t go in standing up.

I recall hunching over in descent to this dimly lit space, merging with another tour group already present. Huddled together I quickly recognized the song they were singing. A familiar melody in an unfamiliar language. German, I think. And as they sang “stille nacht”, I joined with them singing “Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright.” And in those moments it felt like a glorious foretaste of Heaven…every nation, tribe, people and language, only smaller. And not as many tribes.

Max continued his word picture, “The same is true of the Christ. You can see the world standing tall, but to witness the Savior, you have to get down on your knees.” 

Wow.

As we celebrate CHRISTmas and prepare to ring in a brand new year, I find myself pondering…what will it look like to stoop low this year? How can I best bow down to my Lord and King?

I don’t know.

But, if I know my Savior, I’ll find out soon enough.

Grace and peace to you, dear ones. Grace and imperturbable peace.

Your friend,

Cheri

P.S. To bow. Another good word. Only not quite as many letters…to cease from competition or resistance: submit, yield; to bend the head, body, or knee in reverence.