Bursting Open


I’ve been fascinated since Sunday afternoon watching a friend’s Facebook post going viral. When I first saw the video, it had been viewed close to 50,000 times. Convinced I’d misread the number, I examined it several times. But then my very own eyes saw it jump by hundreds and then thousands. Right now, Wednesday morning, it’s over 233,000 views.


No one person could even begin to know 233,000 different people. But 233,000 people will all know some people…who know some people…who know some people…who know…


It reminds me of the time my elementary school teacher asked our class if we’d rather receive $10,000 one time or be given a penny that would be doubled every day for 30 days. Virtually everybody wanted the $10,000 because what kid could have ever guessed a penny would grow into $5,368,709.12?


Networking and compound interest share something in common with the gospel—they all work just like seedpods about to burst.


Satan, the god of this world, gets credit for all the evil he is and does, but the buck always stops when it reaches my infinitely wise and loving God. And God does surprising things with it.


You intended to harm me,

     but God intended it for good

         to accomplish what is now being done,

               the saving of many lives.

Genesis 50:20


…said a weeping Joseph to his brothers who had tried to kill him.


God is different and he uses strange methods to spread his gospel.


…Saul was going everywhere

   to destroy the church.

He went from house to house,

     dragging out both men and women

          to throw them into prison.

But the believers who were scattered

     preached the Good News about Jesus

          wherever they went.

Acts 8:3-4


And the church grew. Just like a bursting seedpod. So if I tell some people…and you tell some people…and they tell some people…and they tell…


Good Stories


Faith is the confidence

     that what we hope for

     will actually happen;

it gives us assurance

     about things we cannot see.

Hebrews 11:1


Object permanence – a developmental concept stage reached when a baby comes to understand that objects continue to exist even when they cannot be seen, heard, touched, smelled or sensed.


Sitting in the pew this morning between Rylan and Faith, two adorable busy little bodies, reminded me of Sundays when I was growing up. It was so much fun being in the age middle of 27 cousins from a large extended family. Christmas, Easter, family reunions, dinner on the church grounds, Friday nights, Sunday dinners—the list could go on and on naming occasions when we all got together with good food, funny stories and laughter.


As time passes, more and more of my cherished memories are populated by those who’ve left the gatherings here for The Gathering over there. And after each departure, over there gets more and more weighted—with grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws, and husband.


Although I don’t currently see, hear, touch, or smell them, I do have a very clear sense of their continued existence. And their laughter and fun resonates through me in the stories shared by those of us still here. Jesus said:


So you have sorrow now,

     but I will see you again;

          then you will rejoice,

              and no one

                    can rob you of that joy.

John 16:22


Jesus said it. I believe it. And there are a lot of good stories I’d love to hear again.

Collier Christmas 1960

Time In a Bottle


Time in a Bottle.


I love that song and I’ve a story about it. It was my high school senior (’74) class song and Jim Croce had been killed in a plane crash just before the song was released. One evening that May, my entire family was in our car together when it played; and everybody sat there and listened until it finished. Mother commented that the words were so true…


…there never seems to be enough time

       to do the things you want to do

           once you find them


My daddy had just been diagnosed with bone cancer and he died 19 months later. He was only 43. I thought a lot about that the year I turned 43. We just never know how many more breaths we’re going to get.


For they are like

     a breath of air;

         their days are like

               a passing shadow.

                  Psalm 144:4



But there’s a whole next life coming after this one. And I know, beyond a shadow of any doubt, I’ll see him again.


Till then, I’ll keep praying.




Years ago Dan initiated a family Christmas communion at our church. Speaking softly to each family gathered around the candlelit table, he’d give them a word…maybe peace, possibly love, perhaps commitment…a different word for each family.


God gave me a word back in the year before Dan was killed. My word was exhilaration. I really liked my word and it wafted around in my thinking at odd times. My mental image was of diving into a clear blue pool of spring water and also of surfing over the tops of waves. I’m not a good swimmer, but I loved thinking about my word and wondering about it.


My mother-in-law used to say she was homesick for heaven. An interesting thought really—being homesick for a place you’ve never been. Then one day I sensed a yearning for something more—and I immediately knew what it was.


“There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus” (Pascal 1623-1662)


And Jesus said…


There is more than enough room

     in my Father’s home.

If this were not so,

     would I have told you

     that I am going to prepare

     a place for you?

John 14:2


What an amazing invisible God I serve. He created me to want to be with him PLUS he’s already reserved me a room in his Father’s house.




(Sunset over the Mediterranean)

Dec 2012 Israel 2 585

Perfect Storm


A perfect storm—either plain old weather-related phenomena or somebody’s real life events. The weather story seems like a great script for a blockbuster movie, but the real life story not so much—especially if it’s your real life.


I had a perfect storm year a while back. Happenings just kept piling up in ways I couldn’t control. I worked hard and stayed busy, but sometimes realized I was really only an observer in God’s bigger picture.


I learned it’s possible that, at the end of the day, the outcome of a perfect storm might not be the worst thing.


John Piper, in The Pleasures of God, shares a wonderful analogy explaining the fear of the Lord. He suggests imagining hiking across a glacier and getting caught in a huge storm. Then seeking shelter in a cleft where you can safely observe the storm:


Even though (you are) secure, the awesome might of the storm rages on, and you watch it with a kind of trembling pleasure as it surges out across the distant glaciers. Not everything we call fear vanishes from your heart, only the life-threatening part. There remains the trembling, the awe, the wonder, the feeling that you would never want to tangle with such a storm or be the adversary of such a power.




In my perfect storm year, I did my best to make the outcomes different, but they weren’t. It bemused me that, even though there were a lot of unknowns, I wasn’t afraid.




I continue to learn new lessons and I don’t think storms are very scary anymore—because I know God is doing for me what he did for Moses:


…I will hide you

   in the crevice of the rock

       and cover you with my hand…

Exodus 33:22


Along the way