Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Where is Mr. Dobrich?

Encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 

1 Thessalonians 5:14

I love receiving personal mail. I am quite a mail "geek". Daily I look for envelopes with handwriting that has my name inscribed across the center. I relish the moment when I know I will open the envelope and savor each word, as I allow it to saturate my parched, longing soul.

When I was in fifth grade, I had a teacher who would become my daily "Hallmark" card. His name was Michael Dobrich. He was from Yugoslavia, so his accent was "thick". And although his "t's" sounded like "v's" and he was difficult to understand at times, I completely understood the language of his heart.

Mr. Dobrich offered me more than an education. He believed in me, a scrawny, shy, and lonely little girl. Daily he served my longing soul words of kindness, greeted me, and engaged me in conversation. He convinced me to uncover my head and come out of the coat closet I had stood the entire morning in fearing what other's might say about my new hair cut. Through his persistence, he convinced me I looked okay. He drew a full size portrait of me in front of the entire class, conveying to me that I was lovely enough to portray and display. Each day, this kind man loved me for who and what I was.

Mr. Dobrich was an artist, and what he "painted" on my heart would prove to be a masterpiece. He gave me hope. Each day this kind man loved me "as is". He saw my untapped and unformed potential and convinced me I was worthy of his time. I started to believe and act in accordance to his appraisals of me.

So, where is Mr. Dobrich? He is everywhere. He shows up each time I validate the worth of another by choosing to respond in kindness versus anger. He is there when I remind someone how lovely they are, both in spirit and in form. He is there each time I coach someone to step forward and leave fear behind. Mr. Dobrich is the embodiment of one word-Encouragement.

Today, will you be someone's Mr. Dobrich? I know this is my thank you back.

Father, thank you for Mr. Dobrich. Thank you for encouragement. 

To Mr. Michael Dobrich: I do not know if you are still alive, but if you are, thank you. You made a difference. I live different because of your kind, daily encouragement. You were a good teacher and a great mentor.  

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Where Are You Looking?

Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are.

Genesis 13:14b

I recall my years spent in graduate school. I was working part-time, homeschooling two children, hosting  a house guest, and running a household. The years spent earning a higher degree where both challenging and wearisome. My girls could not wait for me to finish school, but their reasons for me to be done where different than mine. 

My children had longed wished to experience Disney World. They had seen the commercials of Disney's magic, and had counted how many times their friends had been and they had not. They spent many moments envisioning themselves walking alongside of Disney characters, riding exhilarating roller coasters, and wearing Mickey Mouse ears. Each year they asked if they could travel to this "dreamland." So, I gave them a vision of a future and a hope to hold on to during those long days of graduate school. I promised them we would take a once in a life time trip to Disney World after I completed my degree. 

What this promise did for my girls was what God had done for Abraham. Abraham had been promised a great land, along with a great name filled with blessings and descendants to numerous to count. But when his nephew Lot took the best portion of the land, God reminded Abraham of His promise. God told Abraham to look up from where he was. In the midst of standing on an inferior portion of land compared to Lot, God told Abraham to look up. He was not to focus on where he was standing at the moment, but to look toward where he would be positioned when the promise would be made complete. Further, God instructed Abraham to arise and walk about the promised land. 

We too have been given a promise filled with the hope of a future filled with both blessings and prosperity, along with the presence of God himself. Regardless of where we are right now in our life, God wants us to look up and see the promise. He wants us to arise from our present circumstance and "walk". By "walking" we stake claim to the promise and shake off the "blinding chains" of the moment. When we arise we are refusing to allow our "inferior" circumstances to blind our vision of our future in and with Him. Unlike my promise to my children, which depended on my completing my degree, this promise is dependent upon God's words, which are "faithful and True." Revelation 21:4 reminds us that "all things" will be made new. 

So, why do we not "lift our eyes" to Him? Because we are reaching out for man to fill our hands with the promise of "grain and wine" (Hosea 7:14) that only God can give. Today, please, "lift up your eyes" and let God lift you up and take your heart where He has promised. Walk in His promises and His hope. Cling to God and not man. Look into His eyes, for there you will find rest and assurance in the midst of your barrenness. Better to have our bellies empty then to have our hearts barren of the hope we have in Christ.  Death by hunger is temporary. Death by hopelessness is eternal. Today, eat of Christ and live eternally. Today, "lift up your eyes" to one who can save your soul. 

Today, Lord, you have reminded me that when other's look to me for their hope, I am to redirect their gaze towards you. My promises are temporal, but Yours are eternal. Eternal God, lift the gaze  of  our hearts toward You, the God of Hope and Promise. Let us hunger for you and not the "grain and wine" of man.  Amen.