You’ve Just Got To…

Encouragement

I’m tired of writing about cancer.

I decided that when I was laying flat on my back in a fresh cut field a few weeks ago. There’s nothing quite like that smell. Earth. Grass. Saddle leather. Horse. Sunshine. One arm was cradled gently across my chest. Puffy white clouds floated across the blue sky. I thought about how sometimes we’re lulled into silly assumptions about life always staying as we know it. As we like it. Which leads to conversations with God. Like the one I was having there on the soft ground.

“You know, God, I’ve been through a lot. And you’ve been really faithful. Amazingly so. I try not to take it for granted. But sometimes, I guess I do.”

Wispy clouds crept across the vibrant  blue stage high above. It seemed a bit hazy. It may have been the sun, or tears in my eyes. The situation had completely taken my breath away.

“You’ve restored my health. And you threw in horses for me to enjoy riding. That was clearly a gift from You – that special thing you’ve provided all through my life through family and friends at different times.”

It was true. When I was six or seven, I prayed in my aunt’s living room on Canisteo Street and asked God to give me a red barn with horses in it. We lived on the outskirts of town and my dad was a hard working auto parts guy by day and gifted musician by night. Horses were a dream on Spencer Avenue. A few years later, God gave my aunt a husband and me an uncle. And he came with a barn, and horses. And more cousins. Blessings all.

Eventually I got bucked off enough to have a healthy fear of riding. “You’ve got to get back on,” my uncle would say. I was afraid. But love of riding outweighed the fear.

Love does that, doesn’t it? Draws us past the fear of life’s hurts to climb back on and finish the ride?

“So, Father God,” I continued. “You certainly wouldn’t let my horse spook today, lurch violently to the side, and leave me in mid-air, only to crash to the ground and break a bone, right?”

Silence and blue skies all around. It had been 27 years since I was separated involuntarily from a saddle. I was trying to remember where my, “You’ve-Been-Through-Enough-You-Can-Pass-Go” card was; instead all I could come up with was, “Be-Glad-You’re-Alive-to-Realize-You’re-Old-Enough-to-Be-More-Careful-What-Were-You-Thinking”. saddle

Moments before my conversation with God began, my friend and I rode happily out of the corral. I was relaxed and had just settled into the Australian saddle. It’s really comfy and has these great leg guard things that sit you down good in the seat. I’m always on high alert when riding. Careful. Good at staying on even when the horse jumps sometimes, and…. well, then. I was in mid-air watching my horse lunge to the right, taking my comfy saddle with him. He had spooked and was in a dead run, over a ditch, up a bank and into the field. He passed my friend. She was on another spooked horse, but masterfully stayed in the saddle.

In between painful gasps for air I noticed my wrist had an awkward lump. Weeks later I’m told the broken wrist is healing nicely. I’ve graduated to a short cast and can put a waterproof sleeve over it to swim. It’s awkward. But I can get in the pool and cruise around slowly. That makes me happy.

One day last week a co-worker stopped in my office doorway. She had kindly asked me about the wrist and about the horse. I looked up from paperwork and spreadsheets.

“You’ve got to get back on, Sharon; you’ve just got to.”

I know. I’m not quite ready to; but I know. For me, today, it’s about getting back on a horse. For you it may be climbing back into life after cancer. Or coping with the loss of a loved one from cancer. Or choosing how you want to deal with cancer.  Or some other life bruise that has thrown you and left you broken.

I don’t want to write about cancer anymore. But I do want to write about life.

You’ve got to get back on. john 10:10 life more abundantly

 

 

 

Billion Dollar Brackets

General Thoughts

photosustainme_header.jpg“Are you any good at picking NCAA brackets?” I asked hopefully. The guy sitting next to me was sipping  coffee. I watched the ticker running across the television screen announcing that Warren Buffet and Dan Gilbert (owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers) are teaming up to pay one billion dollars. That’s “if” someone can predict, exactly, the outcome of the NCAA tournament. All 32 games with 64 teams, then 16 games, then 8 games, then the Final Four. Chances of winning according to CBS Sports are 1 in 9.2 quintillion. Simple. Simply unattainable.

“I wish,” Tom muttered. He took another sip of his morning coffee and read the paper. I opened my Bible to Isaiah. Our planning session to be the 1 in 9.2 quintillion ended. The dream of winning one billion dollars was tantalizing and unrealistic.

Do you live with cancer or another long-term illness? Love someone who does? Ever feel like you’re picking brackets and hoping for a win? Or like you’re following one of those books popular in junior high? You could choose the end of your story by going in one direction or the other. You could preview every option to control story’s end. In real life all it takes is a wrong decision here, luck of the draw there, and bam. Your bracket loses and your dream seems to dribble away.

bridgeYou do know that you weren’t designed for this place, right? You are worth so much more than billion dollar dreams. Life is designed to move us towards something beyond money and whatever we think a currency windfall can make right on earth. We’re moving towards eternity. It’s hard for your heart to believe past what the eyes can see. So God gave us a gift called faith lived out by an even greater Gift, his only son. Jesus lived among us and walked with us and died for us to make things right. He paid the price for our wrong decisions, our wrong turns, our sin. He’s alive and he’s the only Way over a black bottomless chasm of mis-picked life brackets and eternal regrets.

God has good things planned for us. No perfect brackets required.

“Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you.” Job 22:21-22

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

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