Tag Archives: Lot

Seed in the Chaff

“I will scatter you like chaff
    driven by the desert wind.
This is your lot,
    the portion I have decreed for you,”
Jeremiah 13:24-25a (NIV)

The community where Wendy and I live, and our local gathering of Jesus’ followers, is experiencing a season of acute grief. This past week a young man, the youngest son of our senior pastor and his wife, passed away unexpectedly. He should have been experiencing the prime of his life. It is unnerving when tragedy strikes like this. There are so many unanswerable questions.

In Sunday morning’s message the teacher gave us a word picture of a man who initiated a controlled burn of his lawn. The teacher watched as the fire spread across the grass turning the lawn into a field of scorched and blackened death. Confused, the teacher stopped and spoke to the man. “I don’t understand,” he said. “You’re killing your lawn.

Oh no,” said the man. “The seed’s already in the ground. Come back in a few months and you will see how lush and green it is with new life.”

I couldn’t help but think of that parable as I read Jeremiah’s prophetic poem this morning. He foresaw that God’s people would experience unspeakable tragedy. They would be conquered. Their city and their Temple would be destroyed. They would be “scattered like chaff driven by the desert wind.” This was their lot in life.

Why me? Why him? Why us? Why now?

So many unanswerable questions.

Then in the quiet this morning I pictured and watched the chaff driven and scattered by the wind. What Jeremiah did not see in his vision is that there is seed mixed in with the chaff. Jeremiah does not see Daniel raised to a position of unbelievable authority and honor within the Babylonian palace. Jeremiah does not see Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego standing with God in the flames of the fiery furnace without getting one hair of their head singed. Jeremiah does not see the repentance of Nebuchadnezzar, doesn’t read the handwriting on Beltshazzar’s wall, does not hear the beautiful lyrics of the psalmists’ lament from exile, and does not see the incredible ministry and visions the prophet Ezekiel will have in that land. Jeremiah does not see the return of the remnant under Nehemiah or the miraculous work of his people rebuilding the Temple and the walls of the city. The prophet’s does not foresee Jesus entering the walls of rebuilt Jerusalem, God’s Son sacrificed for sin once for all, and then resurrected to new and eternal Life.

We all experience tragedy along our our life journeys; We all will have times when we are shaken to the core of our souls. In such times our eyes become intensely focused on our lot in life and we ask unanswerable questions. In the moment, Jeremiah just sees himself, his people, and their lot in life; Their lot in life that cannot be changed any more than a leopard can change his spots. He stands and looks out and all he can see is dry chaff scattered on the scorching desert wind.

Look more closely.

There’s seed in that chaff.

The Sower is not finished with the Story.

 

Embracing Our “Lot in Life”

“…but the hill country shall be yours, for though it is a forest, you shall clear it and possess it to its farthest borders; for you shall drive out the Canaanites, though they have chariots of iron, and though they are strong.”
Joshua 17:18 (NRSV)

Yesterday afternoon my sister, my father, and I met with a medical professional in the retirement community where my folks live. We met to discuss my parents current needs. We needed to talk about my mom’s progression of Alzheimer’s, how it’s affecting my dad’s health in his fight against cancer, and to map out thoughts and ideas for how we monitor and address the situation going forward.

These are strange conversations that we weren’t even contemplating just a few years ago. It’s strange when things in life don’t turn out as you had envisioned. It can be unsettling, to say the least.

On the drive home my daughter asked me how I was doing with all of this, and what I was feeling. I was honest with her that I’m feeling all of the natural stages of grief that come with such events on life’s road. I then shared with her something that I feel God has been impressing on me in recent days.

Jesus said that He came that we might have “abundant life.” We often interpret that to mean life that is void of pain, sorrow, struggle, tragedy, or suffering. Yet, elsewhere in God’s message we are told to rejoice in our suffering, to consider it joy when we encounter trials, and to give thanks in all circumstances. We are told the godliness with contentment is the “means of great gain.” I’m beginning to understand that abundant life is not the absence of pain and struggle but the contented embracing of life in all of its diverse circumstances from tragedy to victory.

In todays’ chapter the family of Manasseh were not content with the inheritance they’d been given and they complained to Joshua. They wanted more. Joshua told them they could have the forest (which would have to be cleared), and a valley filled with strong enemies that would have to be overcome. The tribe complained that they weren’t happy with what Joshua was giving them. Joshua countered that his decision was final. In essence, Joshua countered their complaints by saying: “This is your lot in life.”

Today I’m reminded that we don’t always get to choose our lot in life. Things are not always going to turn out the way I planned. I can gripe and complain and play the victim. Or, I can embrace life in all of its diverse moments. I can learn to find contentment amidst the struggle, to consider it joy in the trials, to rejoice in my suffering. I’m slowly learning that an abundance of life includes the tough lots as well as the easy ones.

 

chapter a day banner 2015

You Heard Right…We’re Moving

Wendy Sold on Bos Lot

So, the word is out. Wendy and I have been regularly getting asked if it’s true that we are building a house. Yes, we are! Here’s the scoop:

Be careful of saying “never.” When Wendy and I bought 607 Columbus in 2005, we vowed we were never moving again. We absolutely love our cozy little brick Tudor and had planned on living here until death or old age forced us out. I even wrote a post about it a few years ago as we began ambitious plans to renovate.

Wendy and I both work from home offices and Wendy’s office has been located in a corner of the living room for years. There were a number of things we wanted and needed to make the house work for us in the years to come. We wanted to add a larger master suite, an office for Wendy and a laundry room on the main floor. For two years we embarked on several projects to shore up the infrastructure of the house, and we worked with architect Rod Curtis on a plan to put on an addition that would maintain the character of the house. It was a challenge.

As we put the plans out to bid early last spring, two things became clear. First, the plans we’d dreamed up with Rod’s help still contained compromises. It was never exactly what we really wanted. Second, the cost of the addition and renovations were much costlier than we anticipated. It just didn’t make financial sense to pour that much money into renovating and still not end up with exactly what we wanted from a space and layout perspective.

We’ve both learned over the years that God sometimes directs our steps towards places we never intended to go. There is more to the story than is necessary to share here, but suffice it to say that over the course of a couple weeks it became clear to both of us that we were being led to build rather than renovate. Things quickly clicked. We purchased a lot in Bos Landen (interestingly enough, it was owned by our church) on Utrecht Laan, hired Davidson & Goodyk, developed plans, and construction began in August. We’re planning to move into the new house in late February or early March 2015.

607 Columbus

While we are understandably excited, we also grieve saying good bye to this wonderful house. We have been working diligently on getting things ready to sell and plan to officially put it on the market in early October. We plan to start by listing it ourselves for sale by owner. I’ve also been putting together a website about the house for anyone who might be interested:

http://607columbus.wordpress.com

 

Chapter-a-Day Psalm 16

The land you have given me is a pleasant land.
    What a wonderful inheritance!
Psalm 16:6 (NLT) 

Wendy and I have been thinking a lot about our land in recent weeks. We’ve been dreaming about some things we’d like to do with our house and garage. To that end we’ve been looking at how our lot is laid out. We’ve been talking with our city’s Building Inspector about lot lines and property pins. The abstract to our house and land is sitting right next to the computer here at my desk.

We love Iowa with its beautiful rolling hills and landscape that constantly changes color and texture with the seasons. We love this quirky, quaint little town with all its Dutch heritage and small town silliness. We love this little lot and our little brick tudor house.

When I read the verse above this morning my heart sighed an “Amen!” God has given us an inheritance in a pleasant land. Today, I’m thankful for a pleasant land and a wonderful inheritance.