notesbynora

Walking by Faith Alone

Archive for June 28th, 2011

Your Sunday is coming

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I love to be challenged, not in a competitive way, more in a personal way. Challenged by God to give more, to learn more, to see more, to listen more, to understand more, to hurt more…yes, to hurt more.

A friend of mine recently lost her husband in an automobile accident. I say recently although it has been 1 year and 8 months. She requested I clean out her husband’s desk. He kept it under lock and key. The key was attached to his car key chain. No one ever touched his desk.

His clothes had been donated to Good Will months ago; his many books to the local library; his ties to his best friend and golfing partner; but, the desk remained in a mysterious, somber, silent state in his office attached to the garage. She had placed the key in her jewelry box.

Her instructions to me, “If you find anything that could disparage his image in my eyes, will you destroy it?”

“I won’t find anything,” I whispered.

“If you do, give me your word. I cannot accept he wasn’t who I thought he was.”

“You have my word,” I stated confidently, “but I won’t find anything. He was as good as it gets.”

We all experience doubt – doubt in ourselves and in those we love. It is almost a defense mechanism to prepare us for hurt. Raw, open wounds are just too painful, and the inevitable scars that are sure to come from those wounds are the visible symbols of why we doubt.

She left her house not to return until I texted her “all is clear.” I must admit as I inserted the key and turned the lock, I silently prayed, “Please be who we believe you to be.” Sudden death gives a person little time to cover up messy tracks. Were you an adulterer? Maybe a gambler? Did you harbor a past of which she is not aware? A child from another relationship? Were you an international thief?

I tried to imagine why he would have this secret world locked in a drawer. Who does that? A rational person would have to conclude that there was something very bad in the drawer. What could be good?

As I pulled open the brass handled drawer, my eyes fell quickly on its contents – filled with cards and gifts- every anniversary covered – jewelry he had found in his travels with sweet notes attached. My favorite was a pair of sterling silver Hershey’s kisses earrings with the words written on a card, “I found these in Pennsylvania 3/11/07 and thought what a perfect gift for my lady on our 25th.”

I laughed aloud and cried all at the same time. Of course! Always the planner, why wouldn’t he have such a secret drawer of treasures?

The night of Christ’s arrest and later crucifixion, His followers must have felt so defeated. Everything He’d promised defied – everything He was about held in the limp, lifeless body covered in blood and despair. He was their God, their savior, their deliverer. Even though He told them Sunday was coming, that word, that insecurity, that hurt filled their souls. Doubt must have consumed them. There was no rejoicing but complete resolve – their King was dead.

Ahhhh, but Sunday came.

Faith is challenged and learned only when our doubt wants to consume us but we do not allow it. There is no obstacle, no problem, no struggle, no pain that God cannot handle. It is our unwaivering belief that He is in control and will turn it for good that buries our doubts and builds hope in the possibilities ahead.

His arm is long enough, strong enough, comforting enough, gentle enough, and secure enough to rescue us  from any situation in which we find ourselves.

Believe…your Sunday is coming.

 

Written by Nora Hatchett Almazan

June 28, 2011 at 10:18 pm

The Right Stride

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          There is something about New York that is different from any place I’ve ever been. It is a beat, a rhythm that resonates along the streets, questioning who you are – challenging you to fit in. There is a walk that distinguishes the New Yorker from the tourist, almost instantaneously. Even the dogs on their leashes strut in like fashion.

          It isn’t hard to master once the ebb and flow connects with your feet and the pavement. I felt it when the gait finally kicked in and a person stopped to ask me for directions. “Ahhhh,” I thought, “I’m walking like a New Yorker!” It was about the time I stepped in a pothole and fell. Although I didn’t hear the word “tourist,” I’m sure it was uttered by someone.

          When I was in my early teens, my best friend Laurie Vinson and I used to ride our bicycle-built-for-two all over Sea Island, Georgia. Laurie had shorter legs than I did, so I took the front and she took the back. The front was hard to steer, which forced me to concentrate so that I did not hit an acorn and have the two of us sailing over the handle bars. It wasn’t so much the injury that concerned us as the appearance of a bicycle accident. We were one acorn away from total humiliation, if the right person was looking. No, I kept my eyes on the pavement, scanning for possible wipe-out disasters. We rounded a curve on the sidewalk and found ourselves face-to-face with a six year old boy on training wheels. He swerved left, I swerved right. He made it in the clear; I hit an acorn and flew over the handle bars.

          There is always someone or something lurking in the shadows to throw off our “walk.” Always some unexpected pothole or acorn thrown at just the right time to make us feel derailed. It is usually at a time when we are trying our hardest or putting forth our best efforts.

          In the Bible, several men are mentioned as people who “walked with God.”  Enoch, Noah, and Abraham are some who visibly walked with God on a daily basis. In my morning prayer I often ask God to place each step that I take in the direction He wants me to go. So, where do the pot holes and acorns fit in?

          The more I study the Bible I have come to realize that life here on earth is actually preparation for eternity. This “earth journey” is the cover page and table of contents – the chapters begin when we cross that finish line. We are here to learn compassion, empathy, obedience, trust, submission, forgiveness and humbleness. Those pot holes and acorns are tools to redirect us and allow Him to use us for a much bigger plan of which we are totally unaware.

          Surprisingly, that pothole, on the streets of New York? At the time I tripped, I was actually talking to God wondering where He was in this big city of millions of people. I guess He answered me. Five people stopped to help me, one of whom runs a missions home for people who live on the streets.  

          Asked and answered.

Written by Nora Hatchett Almazan

June 28, 2011 at 1:14 pm

The Inevitable Voice of Change

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        My Dad had a red Ranchero back in the early seventies. He bought it about the time we moved from the only home I’d ever known to a colonial styled 1906 two-story brick, in desperate need of remodel, on 20 acres. “Chapter 3,”  as my Dad liked to call it  He paraphrased life changes as if writing a book. (The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, for I do as well). 

          We were waiting in the driveway for a herd of Dairy Cattle to arrive one muggy summer night in 1973. I was sitting on the edge of the bed of the truck listening to the bullfrogs sing when he uttered, as if delivering a soliloquey, “You know bug (my nickname), every seven years something difficult happens in a life and it changes us dramatically.” He paused as if in deep thought and then walked away, leaving me to wonder what he meant. As I’ve grown older, I’ve found there is truth to his words, at least in my life..

          Seasons, Chapters, Cyclical Rotations, Redefining stories, whatever term one might use to describe the process, unexpected changes are an inevitable voice in everyone’s life – sometimes by choice and other times arriving as unexpected as a violent storm.

          That’s where I find myself today in my life. Ending a very long, tough season. Oswald Chambers noted, “Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time.” I’ve often wondered if Chambers meant to say “change.”

          Many of us find ourselves in unchartered waters at times. Over the last few months I randomly murmur at any given moment,  “Ok Lord. Here I am…now what do I do?” A family home burns to the ground; a car accident takes a life; a marriage of 26 years ends; the nest becomes empty; the job of 15 years terminates; it all finds us standing in the middle of the grocery aisle, wondering, “What do I do now?”

          It isn’t so much the depth of the heartache or the adjustment of lifestyle as it is the direction of movement – and movement must occur. Somedays I have counted the steps I made the entire day and written them in my journal just to prove I actually made it through 24 hours. I’ve found the people in my life that I appreciate most are those whose words are neither cruel nor nice but real. And while change is daunting, scary at times, and painful, it can be positive if given the opportunity to be by those who are experiencing it.

          What my Dad failed to mention to me however is how we deal with the changes of our lives, probably because there are no clear cut answers.  Job put it best in 29:3, “By His light I walk through darkness.” 

         That rod and staff is not just for comfort, sometimes it is the only thing left to grab…and I’m holding on tight.

Written by Nora Hatchett Almazan

June 28, 2011 at 12:35 am