Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Old Shoe Box...

   Everyone has an old shoe box of memories tucked away in some secret spot in their closet.  Perhaps its not really a shoe box, but maybe a small tote marked "Keepsakes".  Or a file folder labeled "Special Memories".  Its that secret little place you keep those old photos of the past, memories of people and places you never want to forget.  Maybe a dried rose from your first date, or your first love letter, or perhaps a child's drawing that you wouldn't sell for all the money in the world.  That little box is priceless, irreplaceable, the first thing you grab if the house goes up in flames. 
   I have such a box.  Johnston & Murphy, Size 11, Burgundy.  Yes, a plain, black shoe box.  In it I keep my most precious keepsakes.  Things like a little white Bible with Rebekah's named engraved on the front.  A CD of her baby pictures, along with CD's of my other two children. (Believe me, there are other copies of THOSE floating around out there too! :)  A dried rose that Rebekah's uncle Brad gave to her at the hospital, along with a few other special dried roses.  (Andy's corsage from our wedding finally had to go. :)  Oh, there are other items in there such as letters, notebooks, and things I'm saving for our children.  But one of my favorite items is a battered black notebook with a little silver butterfly in the bottom corner.  It holds a whole lot of memories, some good and some bad.  I've had it for years!  I never could write a diary growing up, so I penned down my thoughts and feelings in another way...through poetry.  That little black book contains 40 some poems that I've written over the past 20 years.  Most of them were penned in the middle of the night.  There are tear stains in that book, tears of anguish, tears of joy, tears of sorrow, and tears of longing and hope.  A few of those poems only two people on earth have ever seen, and I am one of them.  My heart speaks in those poems, as if it were a normal diary.  Now, I'm not big on poetry and I don't really get a huge thrill out of reading it for fun.  In fact, I've never read poetry!  :)  I never could handle Shakespeare and some of those others out there.  Can't even understand them half the time!  But mine were different to me.  They were my heart.  I loved putting my feeling on paper as if I were painting a picture. 
   Every now and then I dig out my special box and that little black book, and I sit back and read my past.  I like to remember.  Our life really does tell a story when you think about it.  It seems as if God takes you down a path, custom made just for you, to get you to the place that He wants you to be as an adult.  And there is a reason for everything that happens on that path.  Its for our good, and His glory.  The good times and the bad are for our benefit.  And we can look back and pull certain situations out of the past to use in a present situation or to benefit someone else who may be going through the very same thing.  My life tells such a story.  From an early age, God was working on my heart.  Oh I didn't see it then.  Its kind of like being confused and lost in a corn maze.  Acres and acres of corn and all you can see is the next bend in the path.  You have two choices, go forward and hope you get somewhere, or go backward...and still hope you get somewhere!  But, supposed you climbed into a plane and soared above the problem.  Suddenly, it doesn't seem quite so confusing.  You see the beginning and the end of the maze and the path between quite clearly.  You want to holler down at the confused folks still wandering aimlessly along that the end is just a few feet away, just a few more turns and it'll be over.  You see the big picture now and its so clear!!!  That's how it is looking back over your life.  Its a real good thing to do every now and then.  You see God's hand in places you hadn't before. 
   As I read through those poems, I remembered.  I saw God trying to get my heart in my early teen years.  The very things I said I hoped would never happen to me were the very things that DID indeed happen.  God was trying to get my heart.  The things that were most dear to me.  Oh, it was a long process, with very difficult lessons to learn, and relearn...and relearn.  Ok, I'm kind of hard headed at times.  :)  But God finally cornered me and I had to make the most crucial decision of my life...to trust him, or to give up.  I couldn't get out of it.  God wanted my dearest treasure.  He wanted my heart.  If He had my treasure, He had my heart.  It was the hardest time of my life.  A peak of sorts.  As if my whole life before was preparing me for this one moment!  I decided to fully trust him and I surrendered my treasure to Him.  He taught me His love.  I fully understood for the first time the love that sent Him to the cross for me. 
   After that, there have been some hard times, some struggles.  And there have been times that God has asked again for my treasures.  Only this time, I gave them willingly because I had learned how to trust, and I experienced the blessed peace that comes with trusting.  I saw the richness of His blessings and the greatness of His power and strength that He pours out on those who lean on Him. 
   My life is still telling a story, I'm sure, as is true about each one of you reading this.  We just won't know the ENTIRE story til we get up a little higher.  We won't fully know what God was trying to do with our life until we get to glory and see it revealed from that angle.  That is why it is so crucial for us not to quite, not to give in when the going gets rough.  You just DON'T KNOW what He's trying to do...a week, a year, maybe 10 years down the road.  You just don't know who will need to hear YOUR story!  Your SUCCESS story.  And by success, I mean, you stuck with it until you reached the end of your maze and were able to see God's hand in your trial leading you all the way, even when you had no clue He was there.  When you thought the world was crumbling around you.  There's someone out there now who will need you to remember....   So pull out your old shoe box every now and then an go over your life and see how God led you to the place where you are now.  And don't be too ashamed to cry a little.  I did... 

One of my favorites...

Jewels In His Crown
A hard, stubborn heart,
just a piece of cold stone,
I longed to be king, 
my whole life to own.
I acted content,
I wore the mask well,
Of the battle inside, 
no one could tell.
Yet something was missing,
a hole deep and wide,
I oft' tried to fill it
in my own empty pride.
I couldn't give up
that one little part,
I hung on tightly 
to that key of my heart!
"I've given you plenty!"
I cried to the Lord,
This one little thing
I just had to hoard!
I couldn't let go,
it was precious to me,
So I selfishly sat
and clung tight to the key.  
Then to my surprise,
I felt a hard blow!
The hammer came down,
the process was slow.
I knew it would come, 
but I felt so alone,
As He began to work
on that cold heart of stone.
I cried out in anguish,
I couldn't understand!
And the tears flowed freely
at the touch of His hand.
As the Master chipped away,
the stone began to break,
He smiled as He thought
of what He strove to make.
Even though it was painful, 
the purging of trial,
He ever so gently
said, "Wait just awhile."
I longed for a reason,
"Why must I go through?
Why have You forsaken
this child of Yours, too?"
The answer He gave 
was gentle and kind
"Just wait til you see
what I have in mind!"
I knew I must trust 
His plan as He willed,
I cannot hold back,
my heart I must yield.
So I reached deep within
and pulled out the key,
That would unlock the chain
and set my heart free.
With freedom comes joy
and a love for the Master,
No more to myself
am I now a prisoner!
For I've yielded my life,
I'm no more on the throne,
Whatever He wills,
I'm now His to own.
I watched as He finished 
the purging of fire,
He wiped away tears,
the dirt and the mire.
His plan was fulfilled,
and to my surprise,
He held in His hand
a jewel of great price.
He said with a smile,
as it glistened around,
"Now, THIS I can use
as a jewel in my crown!"

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