Saturday, August 8, 2009
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
All my friends keep getting married. I understand that I am in that stage and chapter in life in which it is inevitable. Fine. But I have felt as though everyone else's story is being written, progressing, and mine is...not. It's like a bad moving ending: one that leaves you hanging with all sorts of questions unanswered and absolutely no closure or clue as to what the ending could possibly be.
I know I know. My life isn't a movie, nor is it over. "It's just beginning." Thank you. I simply mean that, while everyone else's life seems to take a patterned turn, mine is on another track. And if I were the kind of person that craved adventure, spontaneity and the like, I'd be pretty excited. But I am, in fact, a very scheduled, routine, and at times I suppose fairly boring person in comparison. But I am happy that way. I like the predictability of my life. Because when things are predictable, I am always prepared. I can't be caught off guard, I'm on top of it all, which is actually, one of my many downfalls. I find myself supplementing God with, myself. Oops.
So, as a means of correcting my misguided mindset and behavior, the Lord has thrown me a curve ball, a breaking ball, one high and outside (I like baseball)... and I swung like a girl.
My lack-luster imagination has been blown away at the story that the Lord is writing in my life: the setting, the characters, the adventures, and the trials. And more than anything else, as someone who prides myself in being able to see beauty in the muck and the mire, to find the diamond in the rough, even I am anxiously anticipating what He is leading me to because at present, I'm having a hard time getting my vision to focus.
About a week ago, while out to dinner with my roommate and friend, I verbalized something that I had stifled for a while. I feel like a personified Catch 22. Here's why.
*Disclaimer: The following is really really honest and raw... I'm just saying*
I've never dated anyone. I've been on dates; few of which were ever seconds. I've never been in a dating relationship with someone though. And sure, there are "pros" to that I suppose, or say people say. No baggage. No drama. No heartbreak recovery.
I was recently talking to a friend of mine and when were describing the kind of guys we were praying for, and one thing we both mentioned was that we hoped that they were "experienced." Experienced in the sense of, they knew exactly what they wanted, they knew exactly where they were going, and they knew how they were going to get there. All of this "knowing" obviously referring to their imaginary relationship with us, their love-at-first-sight girlfriends. (feel free to laugh here... we did)
That's when it dawned on me. I don't bring that to the table. I don't have any experience. I don't know what I want in a relationship, I don't know where I am going in a relationship, and I don't know how to get the undeclared destination. I realized that all those things that I am looking for, (a) I don't possess and (b) would most likely be wanted by the guy, right? It's only fair.
So, if you follow the cyclical but irrational, reasoning, then you could probably determine that I came to the conclusion that no one will date me if I have not dated, but the only way in which for me to gain any understanding of the dating world is in fact to date. Round and round I go.
Back to the table at which I shared all of this with my roommate. The look on her face broke my heart. She literally heard me say that I had come to terms with giving up hope on ever changing my relationship status. Her eyes began to water; her chin quivered, and suddenly a single, lonely tear trickled down her freckled cheek. And with soft, genuine, and determined voice she said to me:
"Meredith, I wish you knew how much the Lord loves you. How enthralled He is by your beauty, your heart, and the way that you think, love and laugh. I was praying for you the other day and was overwhelmed to the point of tears at His zealous joy and jealousy over you. He revealed to me His passion for you and it is big."
Then I started to tear up. I know Sunday School teachers tell kids that all the time, but at some point, I guess with age and bills, that fantasy begins to fade. It becomes diluted and categorized into a fairytale because, let's be honest, it seems childish.
But I believed her. And I believe Him, wholeheartedly. She went on to say that the desire of my heart for a relationship and a husband was there because He put it there. It is purposed. And when He fulfills it, in His timing, praise and honor and glory will all be for the Lord, because He is faithful. He works all things together for good: that means singleness is good for something, just like every other stage or season of life.
I was in a wedding this last weekend. It's becoming somewhat of a hobby. A really expensive hobby.
It was my first military wedding. A friend that I met at Compassion International married an incredible man that graduated from the Air Force Academy a few years ago. It was perhaps the most beautiful, exquisite, elegant, and timeless wedding I have ever been too. "Stylish, yet classic. Lavish, but tasteful. Cheap, but expensive." (from the movie Sabrina with Harrison Ford)
The best part of the three day event was the moment that the french doors opened at the end of the impossibly long aisle to reveal the bride. This part I will never forget.
As she walked slow and steady towards him, the groom was utterly fixated, completely focused on this beautiful woman, clothed in glowing white. His shaky smile was boyishly endearing, and the tears that trickled down his face simply illuminated his pure love for her. I will never forget that look because it is what I hope to walk toward in the future.
And there, on the alter, as I witnessed two people commit to love one another above all else, a subtle hope returned for my own story. A hope that I thought perhaps had evaporated with faulty rational and shady logic.
My roommate's testimony of how the Lord revealed to her His love for me is not the first I have heard. Several other friends I have, who's walk with God is something I aspire to, have told me on numerous occasions that the Lord has told them how much He loved me. How He adored me and how big His plans were for me.
So, while I wait for the next chapter, single or not, my primary prayer is that, in the same way He keeps telling everyone else, I want Him to tell me, in my ear, in my heart those same truths.
And He will... I just need to shut up and listen.
Over and out.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Before you think that I am some sort of bitter, cynical, recently burned young professional who graduated without an engagement ring (an uncommon occurrence at my Alma Mater), I'm not. I'm just saying it seems to be a reoccurring theme in my life right now. And I'm OK with that.
I love "love" actually. I'm a HUGE fan. I'm fairly confident that if you met me in person and we could sit down and catch up over a cup of coffee, you would come to the conclusion that I was the biggest, sappiest most hopeless romantic you had ever met. And I would take it as a compliment.
So the fact that the subject of love has been somewhat saturating and all encompassing doesn't bother me in the slightest. It actually inspires all sorts of new thoughts, ideas, dreams, and truths that bring an extraordinary amount of joy and freedom.
Here's an example: I saw a romantic comedy this evening and, for all intents and purposes, it was the same as every other romantic comedy. I think most men would agree with me when I say that they are all the same: predictable, really cheesy, and completely unrealistic.
Whatever. I still like them.
In this particular movie, the main characters were in no way, shape, or form attracted to one another in the beginning. They loathed each other as a matter of fact. Long story short, the more time they spent together and began to see the root of why personality quirks and character flaws were what they were, an intense understanding, empathy and bonding formed. And of course, they fell in love and when unavoidable circumstances took the girl away from they guy, he did everything to find her, declare his love and sweep her off her feet.
Same song, second verse.
For whatever reason though, I discovered something new about myself that I was surprised by. I think that, in the middle of watching this ridiculous film, I came up with something I want to be able to say about/to the man that I marry... someday.
"I would rather be driven crazy because of you then be sane without you."
Ok, now for a bigger revelation that I feel like the Lord opened the eyes of my heart to see recently.
I'm willing to bet the most famous love story would be that of Romeo and Juliet. Written and rewritten countless times and in countless variations throughout generations. It is the one story that seems to be the foundation for most movie and novel plots if you really think about it. If ever there are two characters in love, there always seems to be an outside force trying to keep them apart.
Give it up to William Shakespear for leaving his mark on world literature. Romeo and Juliet is unparalleled. Love has never been made to feel more real or more jaded. What woman, or person for that matter, can read it and not be able to identify with a character? Who has never been at odds with their family? Who has never yearned and longed for such an unbridled, pure and passionate love? Call me crazy, but is there not something in every heart, every soul, that knows that there is a love, a relationship, and a communion with another soul that they were meant to partake in? Is there not something about the selfless and reckless abandon to love someone more than yourself that is so innately intoxicating it can not be stifled, despite our efforts?
I dare say there is.
In a moment of daydreaming, it dawned on me: I'm Juliet.
And my Romeo is God Himself.
From a different family; another world that collided with mine when he abdicated His throne for me. Ignoring the questions and silencing the lies, he has pursued me. He has sought me out among the scoffers, the pious religious elect, and those who's bloodlines would be far more worthy and right for such a calling; for such a union.
He saw me and loved me in that moment; at first sight. His untamed love and fervent pursuit of me has filled in me something I did not know was empty, thus creating a longing and desire only for that which He offers. Nothing else is needed nor is anything else desired. What He has freely and graciously showed me and bestowed upon me is unlike anything I have seen, felt, heard, or experienced in my years here; in a broken and despairing world where love has no standard of measure. It is simply an accessory.
But where there is such romance, there is war. War for my time, attention, affection, and life. The Enemy is at odds against me. He is jealous over me not because he loves me, but because he hates Romeo. And what Romeo seeks to save, the Enemy would seek to destroy.
I am unable to save myself. I am not strong enough or equipped to fend off the onslaught of lies that would tell me all the reasons that Romeo and I can not be. I have a hard time believing it myself some days. So the constant reminders of my downfalls, shortcomings, and lack of breeding takes it toll and I grow tired of trying to fight back.
It's really not even my battle.
But Romeo: the embodiment of strength, truth, love, and salvation, layed down his life in order to ransom mine. What I could not do, He did... for love. For a burning love of me.
And where the story would end in our realm, continues in His. Defeating death, conquering the grave, and overcoming those things that would keep me from him, I have now run away with him.
I escaped the lies; I was rescued from death. I was delivered from a loveless life.
I was saved.
And now, that love which first so captivated me and drew me in has flooded me completely and is teaching me, allowing me, to love the same way; to be fully alive. I never knew I wasn't living, I didn't know I had not experienced love and life until Him. Until Romeo redeemed me from the dark.
What your professors will never tell you is that Shakespear was the first to plagiarize.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Ok, slight exageration.
I have thoughts. A lot actually. Lately, they just seem short and obscure, or sometimes so simple that to admit that I have only now just come to understand them would be embarrassing. And yet, not getting them "out"or processing them outside of my own head drives me crazy. So instead of writing, I have been talking to almost anyone who will listen to everything that I am thinking about. And I am exhausted.
And this week I realized why.
For starters, the most obvious reason for my exhaustion and resulting "writer's block" is that I have simply over-talked, over-thought, and over-analyzed every situation, circumstance, conversation, glance, and all other forms of verbal or physical communication. And I'm really good at it. I can break down just about anything. I disect nearly everything, trying to find the root, the purpose, the metaphor, the allusion, the meaning, the spiritual context of any encounter with a friend or a stragner, a thought that popped up out of nowhere, or emotional reaction that is uncharacteristic.
To be in a constant state of analysis and observation, from the inside out is neither productive, beneficial, or I dare say healthy. I don't think I am a mental case, though some may argue, but I do think that I need to learn to let go, relax, and just "roll with it." Why that is so against my natural state is beyond me because my parents and my brother are all this way. They are all strangers to worry, stress, or over exageration of thought, so it seems not to be genetic... it's just me. Thus, I am often a source of comic relief to them. We all have our roles I guess.
This week brought some much needed enlightenment though. During my quiet time one morning, I read out of Streams in the Desert, a personal favorite.
I implore you not to give into despair. I tis a dangerous temptation,
because our Advesary has refined it to the point that it is quite subtle.
Hopelessness constricts and withers the heart, rendering it unable to sense
God's blessings and grace. It also causes you to exagerate the adversitites of
life and make your burdens seem to heavy for you to bear. Yet God's plans for
you, and His ways of bringing about His plans, are infinitely
The italized part is what hit home for me. The more I talked about life in general, everydays happenings, questions, etc. the bigger they became, the more insurmountable they appeared to be, and the more out of control my life felt. And, to a certain degree, I did begin to despair. Because in my mind I felt like a failure. I couldn't answer every question. I expecially could not answer every question with a really deep and spiritually proufound Christian answer. I simply shrugged my shoulders. Then, suprisingly, my despair turned into a desperation for direction, truth, and wisdom that would pull me out of this apparent slump, this foreign land of "Uhh, I don't know."
"When will I have it all figured out? How much longer until I know everything so that I won't have to worry about not knowing anyting?"
To be desperate for the Lord is good, yes. But my desperation wasn't one of healthy hunger. It was a desperate plea for salvation and deliverance from what I have now discovered is simply the faith journey. And what I couldn't see then was and is the beauty of the mystery of a really really big God. The instrinsic and almost romantic way that the Lord keeps things hidden, covered, and tanalizing so that we continue after Him, yearn for Him, and wait on Him to do what He does best: be God. Be sovereign, be perfect, and most importantly be endlessly overflowing with grace and patience.
I called my dad in the midst of my inner turmoil. To know my dad is to know more about the Lord; to hear wisdom and to see sanctification. I always call him on matters of the spirit. His response didn't take effect until a few days later when I sat still long enough to ponder it as opposed to continuing the spiritual running/striving that had been wearing me out. He, in a simple yet eloquent way, reminded me that God is infinitely patient and infinitely merciful. There is nothing that we can do to earn His love or be granted His forgiveness. It just is. It is lavished upon us and to not accept it ( the way I discovered I wasn't) opens wide the door for the enemy and his firey arrows. To essentially say "Hey God, thanks for the offer, but it's just too easy, I'm gonna go ahead and decline and then try to make up for it on my own," is well... real stupid.
Needless to say, I am paying more attention to resting; sitting still and letting Him do what He wants. Because here's the thing: He only wants what is best for us and what is best for us is what will bring glory and honor to Him. It is all about Him, always. What we do, who we are, where we go is always and only about and for the praise and worship of Christ. That is what is best for us because it is for that very thing for which we were created.
What I am finding is it will be a natural outflow of myself, my mind, my spirit, my thoughts, my desires, and my heart if I will simply stop trying to make it happen. In my attempt to produce in my own strenght, I actually negate it. Ooops.
So hands off, Mere. The course has already been set. Open wide your eyes, let go of the reigns and enjoy the ride.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
There we go. Moving on.
"Why has it felt so long?"
Funny you should ask... Reader.
The last two weeks have been somewhat of a spiritual "funk" for me. Not necessarily bad... just not great. Still. Quiet. A little awkward honestly.
For starters, after moving into a new apartment (shout out to the folks for lending a LARGE helping hand) I was emotionally and physically exhausted. I don't know what it is about moving, transition, change, etc. that is so hard on me. I hate it. I hate going from comfortable routine, predictability, and familiarity to ... not those things. I hate quickly and suddenly losing those things because I am forced realize that I crafted a small but very secure identity in those things. To lose them is to lose myself. I don't like starting over from scratch. What then am I left with? I don't like uprooting. To dig another set of roots takes time and well… I’m busy. Perhaps more truthfully, I make myself busy because I inwardly know that where my time, energy and focus goes is not where it should.
Change just doesn't feel right. It doesn't feel natural. It's not fun.
Exhaustion for me typically turns into an “entire being” issue. Here’s what I mean. When I don’t get enough rest physically, I lose my ability to concentrate well. I lose focus easily, which then creates stress because I become overwhelming aware of my “offness” and I am just sure that everyone around me is appalled at my humanity. Then the water-works start. While I may be an emotional person, very rarely do I express it through tears. Some doubt my tear ducts even work. My mother has in fact made the statement (semi-seriously) that she thinks I’m heartless because she hasn’t seen me cry in ….*counting in my head*… a long time.
Needless to say, a few consecutive nights with little sleep typically ends in a meltdown and a blubbering call to Mom asking her to fly me home.
I didn’t quite round all the bases of this routine, but I did make it far enough to compromise my time with the Lord; I did get tired and distracted enough that I let me guard down just long enough to vulnerable.
Like clock work, I began to question everything from my performance at work to the solidity of my closest friendships; from my ability to do any job anywhere (because I was sure I would get fired) to ever really knowing where I was supposed to be and what I was supposed to be doing with my life, ever.
Same song, second verse. Been here, gone through this a time or twelve. And yet, it caught me by total surprise and had me completely unraveled. I couldn’t believe I was back here, dealing with, fighting off, and thinking twice about the unoriginal lies that I had heard more times than I’d like to count.
Sunday morning rolled around and I fled to church. I wanted to be nowhere else. I wanted nothing other than sanctuary.
It was the refreshing and renewal I needed. Worship was poignant, saturating my parched spirit; the message was simultaneously comforting and challenging. Then, in the midst of the moment, I felt an urge of holiness. “Lord, please reveal to me my sin; show me what it is that it holding me back from pressing forward into you. Break my heart. Strip me and make it clear what the hindrances are that are blocking my path to you.
Sure enough, He heard. Then He answered. Awesome.
Turns out I’m more screwed up then I had anticipated. And instead of immediately being relieved that He answered my prayer so quickly and clearly, I become almost instantly discouraged and horribly flooded with guilt.
“Good night nurse! All of that Lord? All those things? That big, fat, massive, list…? Those are my sins? Those are the things that are setting up road blocks to you? Need I remind you of my delicate emotional state? I was irrational when I asked you to reveal my sin. You should have known that this would be more than I can handle. I mean honestly.”
Instead of divine sympathy, He gave me a verse. Again, not really what I wanted, but given my desperation I looked it up.
2 Corinthians 7:10 “Godly grief brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret…”
Huh. That’s a good one. I feel pretty grieved at the moment… and yeah, turns out I do want to repent. I would like to repent and be reintroduced with fresh eyes to the truth and power of the free gift of your salvation. And while we’re at it, let’s go ahead and leave my large load of guilt by the curb. Yeah, good call God.
As I read and reread the verse, stunned that I really heard from the Lord so directly, I discovered something that caused me to pause.
“Godly grief.” M’what? Sorry, but when is grief a “Godly” attribute. Why would God grieve? You lost me.
Then, in the same way as before, as if He were sitting right in front of me predicting my next question like a chess player predicts his opponents next move, He said “Isaiah 53.”
*flip flip flip*
Isaiah 54:3- “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief… 4Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows…”
Oh yeah. You were fully human once. You were tempted. Probably a little more so than I will ever be, so I take it you know how it feels. You were separated from your Heavenly Father but were still in perfect communion with Him…so yeah, you probably had moments/days that you felt a little off. And then, the big one, you lived as a man in a fallen world. A really imperfect, messy, overwhelmingly sinful world in which you were the only one of your kind; hardly conducive for being able to relate to anyone else. You were alone.
Can’t say that I’ve been there.
And then, the truth of His Word began to sink in; He has walked where I am barely crawling. He has faced and defeated the same lies, deceit, and fears that have clouded my vision. He does know how I feel, what I’m thinking, and just how tumultuous my emotions are. He is Himself an emotional God. How then could we not be emotional? Reactive? Impacted by our circumstances and surroundings.
I loved how an author put it recently. In Genesis we are told that God created man in “His own image.” Basic, 1st grade Sunday school material. Not earth shattering by any stretch of the imagination. But it dawned on me that God’s image is not a mere reflection of His outer appearance. He is a spiritual and emotional being; filled with love, joy, peace, patience, etc. Those attributes and characteristics are hardly tangible things. Rather they are instilled; intrinsically and purposely planted in our souls that we use them for His glory.
My emotional outpourings are reflections of the Lord in and of themselves. When I am hurt, He hurts. In the same way, as a believer, when I see or hear something that mocks my God, I am burdened because it burdens His heart.
What an extraordinary and intimate relationship! What a phenomenal way that He would reveal more of Himself. What an incredibly close way to draw us nearer to Himself, than to allow us the privilege to feel the feelings of His heart.
So I came to the conclusion that, whatever my emotional reaction to the moment, person, etc., it creates an opportunity for me to draw closer to the heart of God. To see Him more clearly, to know Him more dearly, and to follow Him more nearly.
And it might be a little overwhelming, but that only opens the door then for Him to overwhelm me with more of Himself.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Check this out...
Thursday, April 9, 2009
I bring the subject of loneliness up for three reasons: (1) I was really lonely last week, so it’s on my mind, (2) I think that loneliness is a way in which we come to identify with Christ and (3) I think loneliness has been around longer than anyone realizes and thus is not a negative thing, but rather a natural outflow of something divinely instilled.
Why would loneliness be a way in which we come identify with Christ? Doesn’t that imply that God is lonely? Well… yes and no. I don’t think God was lonely and so decided to create us, humans, for fellowship. That would, in fact, imply that He is not wholly and completely perfect, without need, desire, etc. in and of Himself.
I think we come to identify with Christ in our loneliness because when He came to earth, He took on humanity in all its’ depravity and yet maintained His total divinity.
I would imagine that being God and simultaneously being man, would be a lonely state of mind and heart. How do you connect with someone else? How would you manage being in perfect communion with God, while concurrently being completely removed from unity with Him in literal presence? No one could understand. No one could relate, sympathize, or offer consolation. How could they? Doesn’t that illustrate loneliness?
Webster defines loneliness as “destitute of sympathetic or friendly companionship; standing apart; isolated.”
“Destitute of sympathetic or friendly companionship.” Nailed it. Not how the church likes to paint Jesus’ stint on earth, but I think it might encapsulate it perfectly. No one on earth, could really, truly, or literally say that they could share in His sorrow or affliction.
To me, that is the worst feeling.
I hate it when you tell someone about something that you are going through or experiencing and they say “I understand” when they really can’t.
“No you don’t,” I think defensively. “Have you literally walked in my shoes this past week? Have you actually had the same, identical pain in your heart and burden on your spirit that I have carried? Then you don’t understand.” That to me is loneliness. When you are utterly alone in your experience or understanding of a situation or circumstance; when no one has walked beside you through the slush and slime of a distinctly crappy season in your life’s journey.
That’s a lonely place. That’s where I was last week. And that’s where I think we identify with Christ. When no one can honestly say they have “been there, done that.” No one but Jesus. And that is enough. At least, it should be enough to offer us complete consolation. It needs to be enough because I have a feeling there will come a time when that is all the only offering of comfort we may have for a time; Jesus saying “I know.”
Come to find out, I wasn’t alone at all. In totally desperation, I took a step into a sea of vulnerability, told someone exactly what was going on and instead of saying “I understand; I know just how you feel,” she sat there quietly for a moment and recounted her personal testimony of an eerily similar time in her own life.
Did not see that coming. And suddenly the loneliness lifted.
I have been reading Donald Miller’s “Searching for God Knows What” and this subject of loneliness was given its’ own entire chapter. In it, Miller noted that loneliness was not necessarily an outcome, or consequence of the fall. Before sin, man lived in perfect relation with God. And yet (this is my favorite part) “there was no suitable helper for Adam” (Genesis 2:20b). Let’s break it down.
Adam, created perfectly in God and for God, was placed in a perfect setting, daily walking with and communing with God. And what? God said, “It is not good for man to be alone.”
So even when we are in a right standing relationship with Christ, even when we are walking with Him, talking with Him, even then, we can be discontented, we can feel …without. Adam was lonely. Go figure.
I can’t begin to tell you just how much encouragement and comfort this brought me. I often mistake my feelings of loneliness for a lack of faith; a gap in my walk with the Lord. This then, creates in me a nearly frantic feeling of having (as opposed to wanting) to spend more time with Him in my quiet time. But the catch is that my quiet time is then no longer about Him, but about me, and filling my need for companionship.
So this realization that no matter at what level our relationship with Christ stands, the feeling on spiritual yearning, physical longing, and emotional want for someone is addition to Him… that, that is normative. It’s not a reflection is something we’re not doing right or haven’t done enough of. It’s there now because it was there in the beginning.
My hope is this: the way in which God satisfied Adam’s longing, so He will also satisfy mine.
I only hope He doesn’t make me do something as time consuming as naming all the animals to buy time. My biological clock is ticking.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Going back to bed wasn't an option; I had already downed about four cups of coffee. So I grabbed my computer and went to Panera for some free internet... and more coffee.
As I sat in Panera, with about 20 gentlemen who kept looking at me like I was some sort of alien, I grew increasingly irritated. "All I want to be doing right now is working 'on the clock' and making up for the hours that Mother Nature selfishly stole from me last week. My next pay check is going to be so small. This is rediculous. I have things to do, meetings to go to, emails to return, and reports to edit."
As I sat thinking about how out of control I felt over my life and how it may just being unraveling before my eyes and slipping through my fingers (dramatization is a actually fairly accurate portrayel of my feelings.... which is so sad) I felt God gently whisper, "This is just where I want you."
"You are in fact not in control of your life. I ordain where you go, how you get there, and what you do. What may seem to be unfortunate weather patterns that prevent you from 'clocking in' are in fact my ways of keeping your dependent and focused on me, not your pay check."
Then it dawned on me; I'm just like my dad. "Daddy" has to hold the remote control, even if he doesn't change the channel. I don't know what it is about having it in his hand that makes the whole experience of watching TV that much better... but it is a non-negotiable. He has to hold it.
I'm just like my dad, only I my "remote control" is my planner, my calender, my time, and my bank account. It was a sobering realization at 6:30 in the morning. I didn't want to think about just how small my faith was and how much I don't act like I trust in His provision when I say that I do.
Just one more thing to work on. One more thing to overcome. One more way in which I realized don't look like Jesus. And all I want to do is look like Jesus.
So I'm frusterated about that. And yet, I feel as if I have reason to rejoice. Because what if I never realized that fault? What if my eyes were never open to those things which are hinderances to the progression of my faith? I would never look like Jesus. I would never become more like Him, the way that He has called me to.
So I'm ok with this restlessness; I'm ok with being unsettled about those things that I need to work on because at the end of the day, I think that's the Spirit stirring up in me what He desires and stifling what it is that I desire.
John 3:30 says that "He must increase and I must decrease."
Easier said than done. I want it anyway.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Here are some lyrics to a new song that is rocking my soul right now... By Tenth Avenue North.
Why are you striving these days? Why are you trying to earn grace? Why are you crying? Let me lift up your face, Just don't turn away.
Why are you looking for love? Why are you still searching as if I'm not enough? To where will you go child? Tell me where will you run, To where will you run?
And I'll be by your side, Wherever you fallIn the dead of night, Whenever you call, And please don't fight These hands that are holding you, My hands are holding you
Look at these hands and my side, They swallowed the grave on that night, When I drank the world's sin So I could carry you in, And give you lifeI want to give you life
And I'll be by your side, Wherever you fall In the dead of night, Whenever you call, And please don't fight These hands that are holding you, My hands are holding you.
Cause I, I love youI want you to knowThat I, I love youI'll never let you go.
And I'll be by your side, Wherever you fall. In the dead of night, Whenever you call. And please don't fight These hands that are holding youMy hands are holding you.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
But I like it. A lot.
And I pretty sure I agree whole heartedly. Because if someone is holistically satisfied in Christ, doesn't that mean that they are wholly and completely consumed with Him? Wouldn't that mean that they are totally abandoned to Him and prepared to be radically obedient to His call and His will, no matter what it is? I think so... but that's just me.
I think that to be satisfied in God, we must be content to be unsatisfied with everything else; there is nothing else, here on earth or in this life, that stirs our affections for Christ and to Christ like Christ Himself.
He is a jealous for us. What an odd picture of a Holy God. He is jealous for me, my time, my thoughts, my desires, etc. He wants all of me, all the time. The Creator of the universe... is jealous over me?
Thinking of Him in that way, in that light, makes dim every other offering presented to me on a daily basis. The internet is not jealous for my time, yet in it consumes most of it. Few of my friends would say that they are in fact jealous for my attention and conversation, yet I freely give it to them.
Imagine then, the satisfaction that awaits our souls if we give to God of ourselves the way in which he craves. Could it be that if we were to transfer our attentions from those things which do not satisfy to Him who does, we would finally find what it is that we are all so desperately seeking?
And if in fact we simply did this and found true and complete satisfaction at its' source, I would then venture to say that our praise and glory of God might be that much more genuine, in spirit and truth.
At the end of the day, is that not our total purpose? To worship, praise and glorify our savior? Whether in word or deed? Are we not simply asked to love Him with all that we are?
So it comes full ciricle: Find satisfaction in Him, glorify him more completely, find continued satisfaction, continue to glorify Him.
And no part of the cycle is of our own doing or in our own power. We do it because He has freely bestowed the grace on us which makes our unworthy pursuit possible. And we can only continue to pursue by the strength that He supplies, so as to continue to give us reason and evidence to praise Him for His grace and provision. Round and round we go.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
In searching for a new understanding and vantage point on the subject, a thought came to mind that may be a little unconventional. By this I simply mean that, more often than not, it feels as though the Church is looking for the list of things to do as opposed to understanding what it is that we are supposed to be. In Romans 7, Paul says that we are released from the law and are now under grace. The Law is representative of all the things we used to do when we were captive to earning salvation. But grace released us, prisoners to the law, from the bondage of earning redemption; grace lavished salvation over our souls at no cost; outside of anything we have done, beyond what we would ever be capable of doing.
In chapter 8, Paul writes it this way: “For the law of the Spirit of Life (grace) has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Again, the “law of sin and death” are those laws which, while the Lord gave us as standards, the church (in my opinion) has made ultimate; and they are no longer standards and guidelines for living or being, but are rather absolutes for doing.
Why the emphasis on doing versus being? I’ll tell you. I think that the misunderstanding and mingling of the two is, at the core, the problem that birthed poverty.
To “do” or the act of “doing” according to Webster means to “perform, execute, or accomplish.” According to our very action-oriented, output-obsessed society, these are all good and praiseworthy things. The equation seems to be busyness = productivity = holiness. But won’t the well run dry at some point? If you are only ever and always doing this and that, at what point and where do you renew your source of energy, passion, vision, direction, etc.? When do you stop to remind yourself the reason behind all the doing? Because if you are anything like me…the reason behind much of what I have done in the past morphs into a less-than-noble form of habit.
On the other hand, to “be” or the act of “being” means “to exist or live; to belong.” Call me crazy, but that sounds a heck of a whole lot more appealing than “doing.” To “exist” is something that happens outside of your own ability or will. If you exist, it is because Someone created you to exist at this appointed time and in the appointed place where you while you read this. In other words, it is outside of your control; you had nothing to do with it.
A few of my favorite verses have to do with this very subject. For example Philippians 1:6 says that “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ.” So not only is God doing the “doing” but is in fact a continual process. Our role: to simply be. Be available. Be obedient. Just be.
The other verse that relates to this is found in 1 Thessalonians 5. After giving a list (Remember, I didn’t say that we weren’t give a list of to-do’s, I just said that they are not ultimate; they are not bigger/better/more important than our relationship with the Lord) in verse 16-18—“rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances”—Paul then says in verse 24 “He who calls you is faithful and He will surely do it.” So again, God does the “doing” and we are called to “be.”
So here’s my take. If we, believers, seek the Lord wholly and completely, above anything and everything else, would not the natural outflow of our hearts, minds, bodies, money, time, etc. be spent on and given to those things, people, places for which the Lord is absent? If we were so utterly consumed, from the inside out, with the Word and the Holy Spirit, would not our sole desire be to be Christ to those who do not know Him? Would not we feel totally compelled to share Him in the way we live, as testimonies, in the darkest places?
I think we would. But being pre-occupied with “doing” these things, instead of letting them naturally pour out of us, takes the divinity and sovereign control out of the hands and responsibility of God. In other words, I wonder if, in our “holy intention” we don’t steal from the Lord what is rightfully His (i.e. our complete surrender and total obedience) and make it look like what we think it ought to look like. And in doing so, we actually accomplish less. We get overwhelmed. We get confused. We run out of resources. We run out of time. We run out of ideas. We run out of strength to press on because our strength is never enough. In relying on ourselves, we find our attempts unfruitful, broken, and ultimately, we find that they fail.
So let’s connect the dots then to poverty.
If we, as a body of believers, stopped striving in our own ability and strength to be the hero of different situations and circumstances, and instead simply allow Christ, dwelling within us, to do what He wants through us by our simple obedience…how much more might He be capable of doing by our being?
If we are to look like Jesus in our living and being, then shouldn’t we compare ourselves to Him? Fine, let’s start with the obvious. When was the last time you fed someone on the street?
Jesus fed 5,000.
I don’t look like Him. Do you?
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Please tell me I’m not alone.
Well, I had a dream like that last night and I can only remember a small fragment of it. But it was the most amazing thing. The magnitude of it, the incredible picture that it painted for me, didn’t come to light until mid-morning when I was sitting at my desk.
I wish I could remember how it started or what led up to this, the only part that I remember, but I guess I’ll just have to start with what I know.
It was dark. Pitch black. And I was alone. Running. I don’t know if I was running from something or just running in order to more quickly discover where exactly I was.
Then, suddenly, still in the dark, I literally ran into the arms of a man. Bigger, taller, stronger. He completely encapsulated me. And it wasn’t an abrupt run-in either. It was as if he saw me coming, opened up his arms, and gave in with his body to ease the blow.
It was so real I could feel it. I could feel him standing against me, holding me up. I could feel his arms firmly and gently wrapped around my waist. I felt his breath on the nape of my neck as he rested his cheek against mine.
When I opened my eyes, I was no longer in the dark. It was bright out.
And we were dancing.
I wish I knew how to properly express just how many ways this registers with me on a deep and unbelievably personal level. It hits home emotionally, physically, but primarily spiritually.
Maybe I’ll expand upon it later… but for now, I want to keep it just for me. It’s somewhat of a treasure today and a hope for tomorrow.
Friday, January 9, 2009
Paul, while being denied every comfort, wrote the above statement from a dark prison cell.
A story is told of a king who went to his garden one morning, only to find everything withered and dying. He asked the oak tree that stood near the gate what the trouble was. The oak said it was tired of life and determined to die because it was tall and beautiful like the pine tree. The pine was troubled because it could not bear grapes like the grapevine. The grapevine was determined to throw away its life because it could not stand erect and produce fruit as large as peaches. The geranium was fretting because it was not tall and fragrant like the lilac.
And so it went throughout the garden. Yet coming to a violet, the king found its face as bright and happy as ever and said, “Well violet, I’m glad to find one brave little flower in the midst of this discouragement. You don’t seem to be the least disheartened.”
The violet replied, “No, I’m not. I know I’m small, yet I thought if you wanted an oak or pine, you would have planted one. Since I knew you wanted a violet, I’m determined to be the best little violet I can be.”
Others may do a greater work,
But you have your part to do;
And no one in call God’s family,
Can do it as well as you.
People who are God’s without reservation “have learned to be content whatever the circumstance.” His will becomes their will, and they desire to do for Him whatever He desires them to do. They strip themselves of everything, and in their nakedness find everything restored a hundred fold.
Now I know what you are thinking, “Does this girl write any of her own material?” Yes, I do. But more often than not, what I write about is inspired by something else I have read. Thus, I feel obligated to share with you what stirred me to write the things that I do. That being said…
I have a love-hate relationship with “contentment.” I love the idea. I aspire to be content in almost all areas of my life. I want to be content in my place at work, where I live, my relationships, and who I am. I’m not like everyone else. In fact, like the story, I am like no one else at all. But often times, I like oak and pine tree, wish to be another version of a Compassion employee, a female, a friend, or to have another talent of gift set. Like the grapevine, I sometimes wished I produced a different kind of fruit.
You know the saying “Jack of all trades and master of none”? I think I personify that pretty well. There are days when I find it encouraging. Sometimes I like the idea that I can do many things fairly well; I’m diversified, malleable, and equally as excited about this thing as that thing. However, the older I get and the more I find myself in the world of adulthood and business, I wish that I were brilliant in a very specific, useful, and extraordinary way. I wish that I was talented or gifted in such a way that made me renowned, important, respected, and sought after. I understand that this perhaps is not the most holy or humble desire. I’m not proud to admit it either…I’m just saying.
Granted, I am still young. Perhaps the Lord is developing something in me now that will result in me being used in a big way in the future. Is it just me? Does not everyone want to be a hero in at least one chapter in their life? Does not everyone wish to be the person that has the right answer at just the right time? Not necessarily for personal glory, medals of honor, or 15 minutes on Fox News, but rather for a more tangible confirmation of their intrinsic value. God tells us over and over of our worth; of our inherent significance simply because He made us. We are priceless and purposed simply because we were born by His grace. While this is truth, I still, in my flesh, want to taste it.
It is this discontentment within me that I am disgusted by and I’ll tell you why. It is entirely possible that I will never be known by the masses for anything that I have ever said or accomplished. It is likely that the only people I may impact will not remember my name. My mailman knows my name but not my heart. My co-workers know my principle responsibilities while I’m at the office but they don’t know who or what I am beyond our building walls. If I don’t get married, no one may ever know my thoughts or suspect my fears by simply looking into my eyes or holding my hand. I may, just maybe, leave this earth completely undiscovered.
More tragic than that is this: being so self-involved in my own popularity, being so consumed with my future glory; being so nearsighted that I miss even the smallest opportunity to love my neighbor, to serve the stranger on the corner of the street, to simply sit in the stillness and majesty of a mountain range and realize how little I really am. I fear that my selfish discontentment with whatever my current circumstance, will blind my eyes and distract my heart to the beauty, freedom, and joy of living beyond myself.
This leads, ultimately, to the kind of discontentment that I want to bear; the kind of discontentment that I pray for. I never want to be content in my current spiritual standing. I don’t want to fall prey to the allusion that I have figured it all out, that I have nothing more to learn, and that I can coast into heaven on my accrued spirituality. I pray that I never grow so comfortable, so complacent in my walk, that I simply stop seeking to grow and realize the Lord in a new way. I pray the same for you dear reader.