Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Message to Myself

"UGHHH!!!"

Yup... that pretty much sums it up. Oh, what is that you say? You don't understand? Well, let me explain.

Have you ever had a day that was just pretty much awful?!! Yes? Well, then maybe you can sympathize with this feeling of your stomach being twisted, in ALL sorts of knots, your heart pounding just a little harder than normal, your head feeling like it might have been hit with a giant brick, your tear ducts apparently having a leak, and your eyebrows furrowed in a worried expression like that... well I they just scared away your cat.

PROBLEM: You didn't eat anything funny, didn't do any cardio workouts, a brick never hit your head (that you can remember anyway), nothing is wrong with your tear ducts, and about the eyebrows, dude... you don't even have a cat. So if the things listed above are not the problem... something else must be causing all this turmoil. Hmm.

Sooo what IS the problem? Well, it might just be a crazy guess, but... maybe it has something to do with this: any of this sound familiar?:

"Good morning, welcome to--OH MY GOSH is that you in the mirror? Oh my, you look awful! Gotta lose that weight... but oh yeah, you've tried that before. Didn't work too well for ya now, did it? By the way don't forget, most of your friends are leaving for college next week! Figures, they will probably never think about your unworthy self again. New place, new friends, right? Ha, so you're gonna pick up your guitar now, huh? I bet you'll never improve. After all... you CAN'T teach yourself right? And how in the world are you gonna get lessons? You don't have a job. Gah, what a loser. And even if you did have a job, good luck gettin' there without a car! But of course, none of that will happen if you can't  even get a complete transcript! Geez... look at you, GRADUATE! Yeah, right. Graduate of what? Must be graduated past the opportunity for success! Cause you for sure didn't finish that highschool stuff! Oh but SHHH.... don't tell. You just keep that one too yourself. It'll be way to embarrassing to tell anyone. You just keep all of that stuffed down wayyy deep inside, and you can swallow that load by yourself. By the way, did I mention you're a FAILURE AT LIFE? Haha! Yeah... and ya know... you can pray to change all you want. But you know you always get distracted when you're praying. God's gotta be sick of that now, don't you think? After all, it's frustrating for you too. Don't you think you'd better save that brain power for something else?"-- Sincerely, the Devil.

Why is it... that when those thoughts enter my mind, they seem so accurate. So true. But when I see them here... it's so easy to spot the lies! And to think all the time... God's right there, just waiting for me to turn around. "Daughter-- my love, over here! Don't worry, don't fret, I'm right here! Fall into my arms, I'm here!! I love you so deeply, don't you remember? Don't you remember what I have given to you? Do you remember when you  saw my love for you? And how you loved me?? Come back to me!"

 Today, for the first time in a long time,  I saw a glimpse of him. His presence stopped me in my tracks, and caused me to just... stay. It was during a time of worship at my church. Around me some people around me were standing, some were sitting, but none of that mattered at the moment. I felt God right there with me. You know, like when you speak to a child, how you will get down on your knees, level with their eyes, and speak to them in a tone and manner that you know they will understand?
That's how I felt God speaking to me. I was sitting there, helpless to give anything I deemed worthy of praise for him, and he met me there. His comfort enveloped me like a blanket, and it was as if he just said "I know. I know. Trust me. Trust me" I know your heart, your mind, your cares- and I want you to only trust me! I couldn't speak. I couldn't open my eyes, but his peace flowing into my heart was almost tangible. Just like when the widow received healing from touching the hem of Jesus' robe. In that moment, nothing else mattered but Him.

But sadly, it didn't take long to lose sight of Him again. You'd think I wouldn't forget so easily. You'd think it would at least take longer.  But even as I began this blog, I didn't have that same peace. But I'm praising God that I do now. That I can always return to him. He never gets weary of stretching out his arms wide for me. And I hope that every time I return to them, it gets harder to turn away again.

With all these things going on that could tear me apart, God remains my fortress. My peace. If I remain in him, none of that can touch me. And all the things that I fail at? "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me"! Phil. 4:13

This was more of a personal kind of blog. I don't know if anyone (who had the patience to read through it ;-) can relate. But I hope that if you've read it, you can take something away from it.


You Won't Relent

I don't even really know how to start this blog. I don't have any wonderful insights, or knowledge. I pretty much don't have a thing, besides just typing what's on my heart. Which is a lot. My goodness, you'd better tighten your seatbelt there... here goes a deep dive into one incredibly boggled mind.

Have you ever heard the song "You Won't Relent" by Chris Quilala & Kim Walker? Well, I have. Many times actually. It's one of my favorite songs on the album. We've sung it at church on multiple occasions (shortened versions, of course, as it is about a 13 and half minute long song). There's something about the full version that I love. But here's the funny thing. As many times as I've listened to it, laying in bed, listening to my iPod the other night, I heard something I hadn't really heard in the song before. Well, don't get me wrong, I'd heard the words, and even sang them word for word before. But never had they resonated like this. The words I heard were these:

I don't wanna talk about you
Like you're not in the room
I wanna look right at you,
I wanna sing right to you

... All of a sudden, it felt a little harder to breathe- like a 20lb weight was just laid on my chest...
"I don't wanna talk about you like you're not in the room..." I pictured looking out into an empty room, singing into a mic with all my might... looking straight ahead, knowing that the room was, in fact, not empty at all. The presence of God, so strong and powerful that it took everything I had to stand there and sing. "I wanna look right at you..." wait, look right at God?! "I wanna sing r--"... I choked. My tongue couldn't form the words. Sing... right to... God?

The words sat in the forefront of my mind for a few moments, then began to form again in my mouth... "I wanna sing... right to you, God"... will you have me? Something about it felt strange. But incredible.

Now, the concept of singing to God wasn't a new idea to me, and if you've ever sang a worship song or attended any kind of worship service I'm sure it's not to you either. But this was different. This, is looking deeply into the eyes of the God whose love and passion for you is unparalleled by any other. His eyes that have seen every shortcoming, every sin, but look on in forgiveness, love, and longing... for you. How undeserving am I, how ugly must the scar be that I left on the back of Christ, BUT STOP. This isn't what He sees. When I sing to my Jesus, to my God... he sees my weak expression of love, and he loves it. He rejoices over it! What amazing love, amazing grace. The father picks up his robe, and runs, unashamedly to his dirty, smelly, undeserving, humbled daughter... and embraces her without the slightest hesitation!

I don't understand it. I don't. I wish I did. And I'll keep trying to, as long as I live. But you know what I love? I don't have to understand it in order for it to be so. The closest I've come to understanding God's love for me, has been seeing Christ's body, battered, and hanging on the cross, and thinking... that has to be enough... to make anything possible.

So I will sing to God. Right to God. And strive to let his love change me.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Clich├ęs and Constants

Everyone has heard the phrases "be real" or "be yourself" at some point in their life. But in a world that's become so near-sighted and superficial, that's not as easy as it sounds. Nevertheless... whether it be easy or not... the advice is no less important.

I believe, with all my heart, that every person is unique. (Don't worry, I'm not gonna compare anybody to snowflakes here). My intention isn't to create warm cozy feelings. Sure, those are great... and kinda come with the territory. But here's a question that might pause the cozy for a sec. What good does being unique do, if all we try to do is modify ourselves to look like every other unique individual??
I don't know about you, but I've never seen a snowflake looking around at all the other snowflakes, breaking off little bits of ice here and there, until it resembles one which it considers to be the optimum snowflake. (OK I didn't say I wouldn't use ANY snowflake analogies).

It's so incredibly easy to look around and see what other people are doing, and become intimidated and almost scared! At least that's the way it is for me. This thing we do, comparison, is a tricky little bugger. Teddy Roosevelt said once that "Comparison is the thief of joy". I couldn't agree more, Teddy.
Being a Senior in high school, getting ready to graduate, it's seems like the opportunities for comparison are reaching record levels. 'Tis the season for "so what do you want to do?" and "so-and-do is doing...[insert incredibly ambitious endeavor here]". Friends are applying, and being accepted to schools, working jobs, driving cars, etc. It would be more than easy to look at my life currently-- not really being sure what I want to do at all, not having applied for any scholarships or schools, no job, no PERMIT much less a car-- and see... failure. It appears as though while every one else is riding their 10-speeds off into the sunset... I'm still huffin' and puffin' my way up the hill on my little tricycle.

But is that really how it is? Let's go back to the warm fuzzy's for a moment, shall we?

I was created by God for a purpose. I was purchased with a high price. I am nothing, and yet when God looks at me, he sees the beauty of his son in me. This being said... I am a Christian. First and foremost my purpose is to worship my Father, the King of Kings. Yeah, that's right. He's my daddy. Secondly my purpose is to love my neighbors. Tell them about my Father, and about his love for them.
Wait wait WAIIIT. Hmm. This means my purpose in life isn't a degree? Not... money... or a car... social circles, or even finding my Mr. Darcy?? Lol.

Yeah... I guess not. Now hold up. This doesn't mean that you have just been relieved of any of these tasks/endeavors. Every single one of those things could be an instrument used for fulfilling God's purpose for you. It may be very clear to you that God's directing you toward a very specific vocation, whether it be sports, medicine, craftsmanship, philosophy, or ministry, etc. And if so, that makes it a responsibility. But if not... don't be discouraged. Live life to honor God. The word says "Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will lift you up in honor".  Whether you're a shoe-shiner, or a entrepreneur... it shouldn't make a difference in your ultimate goal- your ultimate job description. Love God... love people.

Don't get so caught up in titles and what other people may say you're supposed to do, that you forget what has been done for you. How you've got to respond to that, is more important than anything. I'm talking to myself here. What we've talked about here, is just one aspect of a much larger issue. This calling of "being ourselves" or better yet who God made us to be, applies to all of life. One way that God's been showing this to me, is in the area of worship leading. Maybe I'll post about that another time. But meanwhile, I'm praying that I'll be able to see my life, my circumstances, in the right view- from God's perspective; to the best of my ability.

Here we go!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What kind of love to live

Have you ever thought about the fact... that when Jesus and the disciples were getting ready for the passover meal, and Jesus, in an act of awesome humility, got down and washed their feet... that he washed Judas' feet too? I mean, he knew already that Judas was going to betray him. He even said that the disciples were clean, "but not all of you". What kind of feelings must Jesus have had when he was washing the feet of this man? At least three more times after that he makes reference to the one who will betray him. What were those moments like when he said those words? What was Judas thinking? How did Jesus feel? To fulfill the scripture that says 'the one who eats my food will betray me',  he handed Judas a piece of bread, dipped in wine. What must have been felt in that moment! When Judas had eaten the food, Jesus sent him to do "what he was going to do". 

Later in the passage, Jesus told the disciples: "Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples." John 13:34-35

Little did they know the extent of what that meant. Jesus had just washed the feet of the man who would betray him to his death. His undeserved, sacrificial death... the death that he willingly went to, 'as a lamb to the slaughter'... out of... love. 

What love is this? How amazing. How perfect, and pure is this love. That Jesus, the God-man, the Holy Son of God, the King of Heavens Armies-- Would not only wash the feet of, but die- a brutal, torturous death- for who? A betrayer. For who? A sinner. For who? For me. 
And we, his children, are supposed to love... like this? Yes.  How? Only by the grace of Jesus Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit!  Look at how Jesus loved his disciples-- look at how he has loved US! With amazing, self-sacrificing, unconditional, unassuming, immeasurable love! That's what he wants us to do as well. To act as "little Christ's", as C.S. Lewis puts it in Mere Christianity.  Think hard about what that means for you.