Monday, January 8, 2007

Searching for Truth

Searching implies an active, engaged pursuit of something. A person involved in a search is consumed with wanting knowledge, information and direction. Other tasks are set aside to look for what we are hoping to find. Searching for truth in the Bible is an overwhelming and daunting task. Not to be taken lightly and not to be minimized. The more we try to define the God we seek, the smaller He gets, until we fnd what we're looking for in the shape of what we have made it to be. Too often, we sit back and wait for God to beat us on the head with His truth. We ask for signs from heaven, voices in our dreams or nifty cliches on billboards to help us along. We want Him to do the work of proving Himself to us.

To aid us on our quest for truth, there are thousands of books to read written by others on the same journey. Some profess to have made it to the end, and thus spout platitudes from their mountain top. Others are full of fluff, lacking the substance gained from years of searching. Commentaries, lectionaries, dictionaries, workbooks, videos, chants, opinions and thoughts on paper. All wonderful tools to aid in the search, but take care that you are not searching these books for the truth of the Bible. For only in the Bible will you find that.

Be prepared to find things in your search that you may not like. Open yourself to changing an opinion or view you already have. You will never find all the answers to the endless questions. If you did, you would be God, and therefore not need faith. And you certainly need faith in the search for truth.

Searching for truth in the Bible requires some outside support. Latching yourself to a person or group of people further down the road of discovery is essential. Allow them to teach you and guide you. Allow them to discipline you and love you. Be honest with them, and you will find that you will mature into knowing the truth about yourself as you search for the truth in God's Word.
I doubt we will, any of us, ever find truth completed in the written canonized Word of God. It is truth in itself, if you accept that with faith, but it is not over. Rather, in the search for truth, we will find God. In his fullness and majesty. We will make a great friend, find a fair judge, dwell in the shelter of his grace and sleep in the arms of his love. And we will never, ever tire of the search. We will know truth personified.

Copywright 2006-2007 Audrey Gilger/Divine Graffiti

Unashamed Desire

I have fallen in love many times in my life. At least, I think so. The heart fluttering, sweaty palms kind of nausea that we come to recognize as falling hard. I have never been a man, but I imagine these feelings are similar for them. I have watched otherwise normal men I know get really foolish in the presence of women and can only imagine they are ready to buckle any minute. It’s great! If only it could be bottled and sprayed on every morning, the aroma of that kind of fresh new love would sustain us all through each crazy moment!

I remember the night I met my husband, I didn’t actual fall in love….I jumped feet first towards it and landed hard! And then I pursued this man. I called him all the time. I sent him balloons. I worked night shift and would stay up all day if it meant I’d get to hang out with him for a while. I memorized his voice, the way he walked, and I couldn’t get the thought of him out of my head. The first time he held me I nearly fainted, I felt so safe. He’d say things to me and I’d believe everything he told me about myself. He told me I was pretty, I was fun and one day that he loved me. I was relentless about wanting to be with him in every imaginable way. Nothing else in my agenda mattered if the promise of his time was there. I wanted to get to know everything about him. To learn his likes, his dislikes and what his dreams were. Every day I was excited to learn something new and I couldn’t wait to build a future with him!

I have begun to feel that unabashed, unembarrassed, anxious, impatient desire again. This time though,not with any man, but with my God. Jeremiah 1 says that before I was even a thought in a woman’s mind, He knew me. It doesn’t say that I was an afterthought or that I was someone He’d like to get to know, but that He already KNEW me! Wahoo! He has always known me, now I want to know him. He wants that too, and has made it really simple for me to do. In my hands, I hold His words and thoughts. He has written me a love letter and each morning I read another page. I have begun to read His Word as though it was written just for me. Each letter penned with love and a passionate desire for me to learn to know Him and everything He dreams of. I want to immerse myself in Him. Not only to hide His words in my heart in order to stay blameless, but to turn to his Word for everything. My first answer to any question should come from His heart, not my own. I want to drown in his love, to breathe out everything that I breathe in from his letter to me. Each night as I lay down, I tell Him that I can’t wait to talk with Him again in the morning, and the excitement I get when He wakes me is awesome! It’s that fresh new love, sweaty palms, crazy excited feeling again. I can’t wait to hear what fantastic thing He’ll teach me about my life and his desires today.

I have found in Him my perfect friend, wholly sovereign authority in my life and the lover of my soul. In the words of Moses to the Lord, “You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you.”

This article appears in my other blog as well.
Copywright 2006 Audrey Gilger/Divine Graffiti

I Talked To God Today

“I talked to God today.” My son’s small voice stopped me as I tried to quietly sneak out of his room. After tucking him under his covers for the third time since he had gone to bed, I had hoped that I wouldn’t wake him. He had been unusually cooperative about settling into his bed tonight and now his soft little voice caught me.

“I talked to God today, Mommy.”

Brushing this comment off as another attempt by a 3-year-old to stay awake a little longer, I said, “That’s nice, Honey, now go to sleep.”
As I turned again to leave the room, he spoke up again, a little more insistent.
“I talked to God today. I really did.”
There were no lights on in the room except for the light of the blinking Christmas lights. He insisted on keeping these in his room long after the holidays were over. They cast a funny orange-green light on his face, and I could see that he was serious. The mischievous twinkle in his eye that usually lets me know that I am in for a bout of his wild imagination wasn’t there this time. This time he wanted to really tell me something. I walked back to his bed and helped him sit up.
“So you talked to God today, did you?” I asked, “Where were you when you talked to Him?”

“I was right here in my room. God comes and sits on my bed sometimes. We talk.” He said this as though it was the most common thing in the world.

“What do you talk about?” I asked.

“My day. I thank Him for my buddies at church, for my pizza, and for my orange bedroom. Sometimes God holds my hand.”

My heart started to melt inside my chest. As a church-going family, we try to teach our three children about God, but lately I had been feeling like God had not been around when I needed help. I had not opened my Bible for a very long time. It seemed like the busy craziness of life had taken over, and God wasn’t around to help me sort it out. My husband and I hadn’t prayed together in months. While we prayed with our children before meals, we didn’t make an effort to pray with them about their lives or their worries. Now here was my 3-year-old talking to God and holding hands with Him like this happens every day. I began to feel a little twinge of guilt.

“How do you know that it is God you’re talking to, Honey?” I asked.

“Because I asked Him to come talk to me, Mommy. That’s all you have to do, you know. God lives in heaven, but anytime I’m lonely he comes here into my room and talks to me.”
“Do you see God when He is here or do you just pretend?” I questioned.
“I see Him. He has dark eyes, big hands and He is a little taller than Daddy. He’s nice. Is it okay to talk to Him?”

I almost cried. “Yes! It is wonderful that you can talk to God! You know that God loves and cares about you very much, and I am so glad that you can spend time with Him. Maybe Mommy should try it sometime. What do you think?” I asked, barely holding my tears in check.

“Yeah,” he said, suddenly sleepy. He yawned and lay down, clutching his blanket to his cheek. “I’m tired, Mommy. Good night. See you in the morning.”
Bending down to kiss his cheek, still sticky from his spaghetti dinner, I thought what a lucky little boy he was. I was spending so much time waiting for God to come to help me out and to comfort me while all the time my son had been having quiet conversations with God right here in his own room. “All you have to do is ask, Mommy.” He had said it with great assurance that it was that simple. I had to believe him.

I tiptoed out of the room and left the door open a crack. The blinking Christmas lights illuminated his face. He looked so content and peaceful. Love and thanksgiving surged up inside me. I stopped to watch him, hoping that I would never forget this moment. Tomorrow he would go back to being the messy-faced little boy--jumping and climbing and laughing--that he usually was. But tonight he had been my teacher.

As I went to bed that night, instead of picking up a book to read or turning on the TV, I humbly bowed my head and asked God to come and sit with me for a while and maybe hold my hand as we talked. That is really all it takes, you know.
Originally written in 1999, this article has been published and republished multiple times in many church and faith based newspapers and magazines.
Copywright 1999-2007 Audrey Gilger/Divine Graffiti

Friday, December 29, 2006

The Family in My Mind

I touched my swollen belly as I sat at the dining room table. Inside of me was a little life growing strong and, soon, I would be a mother. Someone would be alive in this world that looked like me! I had never known that before. My husband’s family all looks the same with their deep blue eyes, black hair and broad shoulders. A small part of me hated that. I remember being jealous of my friends growing up because they all knew at exactly what age they would go gray, or how tall they would be. All I had was a non-identifying physical description of my “birth father” and “birth mother” written down on some legal papers. Any identifying information about them had been crossed out with black magic marker before the photocopies were made and sent to me. I was planning to initiate a search for my birth family and I had just finished devouring all ten pages of medical records of my birth and life in Richmond, Virginia as a newborn in 1971. According to reports, I was happy, healthy and well adjusted. My adoptive parents seemed eager for a child and ready to take on both the responsibilities and the stigma that went with adopting a bastard daughter whose “birth parents” had no resources or ability to care for her. I began to feel like a charity case. I began to get angry. I began to cry.

That was more than ten years ago. My search was delayed as I gave birth to two more children and, along with my stepdaughter, brought the total of children in our family to four. Each one of my children has a little of me in them, but I have to say, they still look more like their dad and sometimes I get a little jealous of that. But each year I would read over those ten pages of records again. I learned that my “birth mother” wrote poetry, short stories, played the flute and attended college. All of those things I have done. She had dark hair, dark eyes and dark skin. My “birth father” was green-eyed, sandy-haired and short. I must look like him.

My anger began to subside and the desire to find them surfaced again. To touch her, see him or find out anything about them that I could. I was sure I had missed out on siblings and nieces or nephews. Instead of living as a child of Mennonite missionaries in Asia, I could’ve been brought up as the All American girl and had a more normal life! The more I imagined what I had missed by not having this “birth family” the larger and more wonderful they became in my mind. They would be big and happy. Laughing and living close together where they all got along all the time. I wanted to meet them. I asked again for the state to search for them.

But as I waited for the Goochland Department of Public Welfare lady to conduct her court sanctioned search I started looking around at my life. I have the most amazing husband. Many women feel that way, but mine is really the best. Without him, I would be only half of what I am. And I wouldn’t have these great kids that sort of look like me. I also have experienced so much richness in my life. Growing up in Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Malaysia is not an every day life for an American kid. Vacations in Singapore, Thailand and the USSR were our family’s norm. I have inherited a rich Mennonite heritage that smacks of community to a depth that some only dream of. Each time I turn around I run into someone who loves me. I am successful in my business, firm in my faith and delighted with my life. My brother is Korean, my niece is Chinese and it doesn’t get more diverse in one family than that! I would not have any of this richness if two people in 1971 had not been longing for a child and willing to take on the responsibility of a baby they had to learn to love and been ready to commit their lives to that. I would not have this wonderful life if I had not been adopted.

When the lady from the Goochland Department of Public Welfare called a few months later, she quietly told me that she had met a dead end in her search. She had tracked my “birth mother” to Mexico and then lost all record of her. Welfare lady had my “birth mother’s” name, but was legally barred from giving it to me. We were done searching. Nowhere left to look and no one left to try. I thanked her and tearfully hung up.

Then, I called my real Mother. I told her the search was over and she cried with me. She asked if there was anything at all she could do to help me find them. My father apologized for not remembering vital information that would have helped me in my search and agonized over this loss. It was then that I realized how incredibly and unconditionally these people loved me. Not flesh of their flesh, but heart of their heart. They didn’t have to, they chose to, and they did it magnificently and still do.

The family in my mind is still there, only now they are also the family in my life. And nothing could be more real than that.

Copywright 2006 Audrey Gilger/Divine Graffiti