Wednesday, December 22, 2010
I am feeling seemingly lost.
Where do I begin....?
I realize that this post may be more cathartic. Meaning... more for me than anyone else.
That isn't normally me. But today... tonight... I need it to be.
I am hoping that someone... somewhere.... may be able to connect. To hear my heart and find that it resonates with theirs.
But I am not writing with the intent to hold on... I am writing tonight with the hope of letting go.
This may not seem "Christmas like".... but I think it may be closer than you think.
I have been praying all night.
Asking God to show me things.
To be honest, I didn't really want to know. Because if I did, it would mean unpacking once again the things that I try so hard to keep neatly folded up in the recesses of my heart. The things that I don't want to deal with. Especially not now.
Things that are kept where only I can peek in and see when I need to understand the deeper parts of who I am. The me that only very few people are allowed to see. The me that I would rather stay hidden from everyone.
God sees it all.
No matter the season or the day.
I know that He sees it now. And he knows me. Better than anyone.
I know that I can trust Him... but even He at times isn't allowed in when it hurts like it does right now.
Over the past few days I have tried to push down the "stuff" and sit on the overflow that has been trying to seep out of my tightly kept case.
Telling myself that I am dumb. Ridiculous. And just needing to try harder to be who it is that I am trying so hard to be.
But I can't do it. Not today.
And it isn't until I am faced with the reality of the seemingly insurmountable hurts that I have dealt with my whole life that my tightly wound control begins to slip, no matter how hard I try to grip it for control with all that I'm worth.
I know that those around me don't understand it. I hardly understand it myself.
But I am so grateful that I do know the one who does. Especially now... especially tonight.
Tonight I asked Him.
As I closed the door on the last guest, my heart whispered it with the click of the door.
Why do I feel this way... the way that I do every time I am face to face with something that brings me into clearer focus?
Especially right now? During one of my most favorite times of year?
This isn't exactly the right time for me to be delving into "my stuff" right now.
God has an interesting time table. One far removed from our own.
Have you ever wanted to understand? Even if it is at the most inconvenient of times? A time like now?
Have you ever really wanted to understand why you hate it when someone jokes a certain way?
Or isn't considerate of how you may feel about those certain particular things?
Or why it is that you sometimes feel lost in a room crowded with people?
Why you feel unloved when you know that you are?
I have asked. I am still asking.
I don't always get the answer that I am looking for.
But tonight... tonight, for whatever reason He chose to, I did. He answered me.
I wanted to fall to my knees with His response.
My pain.... past and present has been due to a lack of faithfulness.
From those that I trusted.. and from those that I have wanted so much to be loved by.
I guess I already knew this... I can venture to say that I had an inkling of what it may look like.
But for some reason, His giving it it's rightful name put a whole new perspective on how I need to allow Him to deal with things... with my past... with my present... and ultimately with me.
I was deeply wounded as a child due to unfaithfulness.
I have been deeply wounded as a grown woman due to that very same thing.
And in the midst of this revelation and before I could really analyze further, I saw me as He does....
And in light of this, I also saw my own unfaithfulness.
In seeing what I hate from others... I saw what I myself am guilty of.
In seeing what I am wanting from others, I saw what I struggle to do in my own relationship with my God.
My lack of wanting... of really trying to be the best that I can in my relationship with Him.
The one relationship that I have deemed more important than all others.
He has never stopped being faithful to me.
He has never stopped loving me. Or trying His very best to show me that love.
My parents have failed me.
My family has failed me.
My friends have failed me.
My church has failed me.
My husband has failed me.
And even my children have let me down.
But the One thing I can count on... the Only thing that I can ever be sure of... is Him.
He sees me at my worst... and hopes for my best.
He watches as I fall... and is there when I reach out for His hand to pick me up again.
He mourns at my losses, and bears with me in my pain.
He is gentle and loving, and tenderly wipes my tears every time they wet my face.
He corrects me when I need it and doesn't flinch at when I get angry.
He listens when I cry and try so hard to figure out the things that I just can't understand.
He patiently waits for me to see... to truly understand that He is enough.
That He always is and will be enough.
It doesn't minimize my pain, or make me have more clarity in all the things that may confuse me at times.
But it brings a comfort, and a humbling, in knowing that in my own unfaithfulness.... He is still faithful to me.
From the moment my life began... His faithfulness was already in motion with me.
During this journey that I have been on... while I have struggled and failed... tried hard to make things right... striven hard to try and figure out who I am and what it is I am supposed to be doing with this life.... He has stood steadfast in His belief of who I am, and what He has created me for.
It adds significance to who I am becoming.
This knowing brings clarity to the really cloudy moments when emotion has murked up the crystal waters of my life.
When the storms have raged in my heart, He reminds me that only He can calm the storm.
Only He has the power to change and govern over my situations.
And He understands.
He understands it all.
Even when I don't.
Even when I am feeling like I do today... lost, and just a little bit alone.
I know that I am not.....
Who is like Him?
What other god cares like He does?
What other god shows me my own faultiness and unworthiness, but still lovingly wraps me up with His assurances that with Him I am going to be okay? If I just trust Him. And if I just allow Him to be who He needs to be in my life.
What other god would see me for who I am... as I resist and wallow in my own torments, whether they be past or present, and comes to meet me to tell me that He still loves me?
Reminding me that although many have hurt me, and many more may wound me, He will never leave me. Never forsake me.
I am asking myself now... how faithful have I been to Him?
How many times have I clocked in my time, to only go back to my "other" life?
How often do I reconsider decisions based on my own wants... my own desires... and not on Him alone?
How often do I try and satisfy my own needing to do "things", instead of acting out of a heart fully devoted to loving Him and wanting more than anything to serve Him with everything that I have?
How often has He wept over my unfaithfulness?
How often has He mourned my walking away, not fully understanding that He is left standing longingly... wanting more than anything for me to love Him more than I have? More than I need to... and more than I should?
Sitting here... with Christmas all around me... with visual reminders of the One who chose to come for me.
Who still comes for me every single day.... to save me. Who gently takes my feet in His hands and washes away my dirt and filth from where I have been.
Who wipes my tears and Who's gaze never ceases to make me fall on my face in abject gratefulness when I am hit with the impact of His love for me.
The one who is so undeserving of it all.
The one who doesn't deserve His faithfulness because I am fully aware of my own.
I don't know what you have been asking....
I don't know where you have been searching.
And though it may sound so cliche to say it.... I am going to venture out and say it anyway.
He is the only answer to every question.
Jesus IS the only One who can heal your pain.
He is the only One who knows... really knows what it feels like to be hurt... beaten... left and forgotten.
And only He knows the deep things that you and I wrestle with and can sympathize because He has felt them too.
It's true you know?
He really did come.
He really did live.
And He really did die so you and I can have the hope that I am so desperately clinging to right now.
In this moment.
He IS my hope, that I will someday stop running from the things that nip at my heals and try to devour me at my weakest points.
He is my hope, that I will be able to share, and stand victoriously knowing that He is all that He is, and all that He has ever been.
Me standing confidently because I've watched Him do it. Over and over again.
I can assuredly believe that because He came into this world, a light to our darkness, that every single one of us can take a deep breath, resting in the knowing that nothing and no one is outside of His control.
That He has it all, and holds it all in the palm of His great hand.
My worry... my fret... my pain... my suffering... my joy... my sorrow.... my laughter... and my tears.
All of it was taken on in the form of a baby that no one knew... that no one really understood, so that I could live.
So that I can cry out to Him, in complete trust and vulnerability, knowing that He cares... that He already knows.
And so that I can on my own have a relationship with the only living God, who can listen and hear when I speak to Him, because of what Jesus did for me. It is more than a possibility. It is a reality.
All for love.
All for us.
I want to be worthy of that love.
I know that I never can.
But even in knowing that... I know that my Savior has made a way for it to be plausible.
He is as alive today as He was that night so long ago.
I am sure of it.
I have been reassured of it.
And even as I am made more aware of the unfaithfulness in my own life... I am made more aware of His faithfulness to my life in this most profound of seasons.
This Christmas isn't just about birth.
It is about resurrection.
It is about hope.
And it is about the One who has been trying time and time again through the ages to get our attention....
He is asking us to listen.
I am asking Him to quiet me.
Even in my hurt, and with these tears.
In the middle of it all.... He is here.
He hasn't left us, but is still very much present in our lives.
What are we going to do?
Are we going to listen?
Are we going to stop and allow Him to finish the surgery that He has already started?
We can't run to be healed.
We have to be still.
We have not been forgotten.
By those that are tangible... maybe.
But not by the One who didn't leave us forgotten.
We are found... when we are found in Him.
He isn't far. It only takes opening up your eyes to see Him.
I pray that as we enter into the next few days of celebrating His birth... whether this season brings joy for you or not...
I pray that your hope will be found in Him.
In the impossible situations... and the unfounded and unjust circumstances... that you will be reminded that on that night so many years ago, that He entered into impossible situations and faced unjust circumstances, and overcame them all.... for you.
He is more than able to handle whatever you and I may face.
But we need Him to face them.
We are all going to different places... faced with different circumstances.
But we are all under the same God.
The same ageless and faithful One.
The One and only God who has and ever will love you and I with a love so great that He was willing to live so that He would die to save us....
Whatever it is that we need saving from.
God bless you this season.
May it bring in a fresh revelation of who you are.... who your meant to be... and a far deeper and greater understanding of just how Great your God really is.
... until another tomorrow.
"Praise the LORD, all you nations;
extol him, all you peoples.
For great is his love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever.
Praise the LORD." Psalm 117:1,2
"Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.
Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the LORD makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
After he has suffered,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors." Isaiah 53
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Note: I wrote part of this post on 8-5-10.
This word has been echoing in my head for the past few days... weeks... and even years.
A week ago I felt the pull to read it again. To revisit what God is saying to me... to you.. to us all.
A few days ago I felt more than heard His still small voice.
And today... today He confirmed that I needed to say it.
And nothing less.
What is too much?
What is too much? Or too little..... to give to God?
It is easy... saying, "I'm a Christian. Of course I love God."
But do we really know what that means?
Do we comprehend the reality of what it means to know God? To love Him?
Fully. And completely.
When things don't go our way... if something or someone is taken away from us.
If God doesn't "do" things in the manner in which we think it should go?
Then do we still love Him?
What is too much?
How much will we take until we throw our hands up at Him and say enough!?
Or do we stand with arms raised high... hearts surrendered....
And worship Him.
I know what this is asking.
I know what it requires.
And it scares me just a little, as I'm sure it must scare you.
How much will He take?
How much does He want?
And how much will I be required to give....?
And before you shrink from this as I have at the mere thought of it, I want to share my journey with you.
A cliff note. For the tale in whole would take hours and days to tell....
I was born with much and was left with little.
I was raised with heartbreak and raised on adversity.
So it is no wonder that when I found myself with a family of my own, that I held tight.
In the midst of my deep mistakes I staked out my claim for what was rightly mine. What I had been given.
But He is the one who has given it to me. All of it. And I lost sight of that. I don't know if I was ever willing to see it at all.
It was His from the beginning.
When I gave my heart to Him, I became His.
My pain became His.
My heartache and heartbreaks.
My adversities and my pain.
My good and my bad.
My joy and my laughter.
My gifts and my burdens.
All of it.
It was His even before I gave it to Him.
But I had missed something bigger.... I thought I could hold some of it back for myself.
Keep it hidden.
Or in better terms give Him what I thought He deserved and reserve what I thought should be mine.
What I deserved. What I had suffered for... what was my right.
A yearning wells up in me as I write....
How foolish of me.
How diluted... and how wrong.
Who am I?
WHO AM I?
He is God.
EVERYTHING belongs to Him.
All the earth and everything in it.
I can no more hold back from Him what isn't already His.
And it took my own tearing and breaking to wake me up, to truly understand that all belongs to Him.
All of it.
And no amount of hoarding or tightly grasping is going to change that His hand holds me as I hold tight to all that I think I can't loosen my grip from.
And so He began to speak to me... way back when.
"Do you trust Me?"
On a day I finally listened... I wept.
I wept harder than I had ever wept before.
Because I knew... I knew it better than anything else.....
And I was crushed with the truth of my heart.
I wasn't willing... not really... to give Him what was most important to me.
Hadn't He given them to me?
Wasn't I allowed to hold tight to them?
Hadn't I given Him enough?
I felt like He had taken it all.... so much.
And now He wanted them too?
It was too much!
It was too much for me to give.
And as I gripped harder... I began to feel His hands over mine.
Sure. Strong. Gentle. Kind. Loving.... and gently beginning to infuse understanding in the ability that He has... and that which I don't have.
As I pictured each precious face in my mind.... my oldest daughter, born out of my ashes and bearing His beauty... the one that I held closest and tighter than all the others. My youngest daughter, given back to me after losing so much... the joy and song in my heart. My baby... my son.. the child of promise....
All of them, gifts of redemption for my broken soul.
And then the one that I held away and pulled close when I felt the need... my husband. The one I feared the most to rip my heart from me. The one I struggled with the most and longed for with confusion.
These are the ones that He was asking for.
This is what He really wanted me to give....
And for so long.. for such huge amounts of time in my life... I couldn't. I still wasn't ready.
I thought I could take care of them myself.
Deal with what life held for us.
And do it better than Him.
I don't think I consciously thought this. What an absurd thought.
But I acted it out as though I could.
Fighting Him... myself... and my husband for the control. For the reigns of our lives.
I thought my intentions were altruistic.
They were noble.
To protect. To love. And to hold them tight so that none would get hurt... lost... or be abandoned.
All accurate descriptions of me. Of the me for so long.
My struggle with God to keep control. To keep it all together.
And then one day... all of it came crashing down.
It all broke... and with it... I shattered into a million pieces.
I got in my car, and I drove.
I drove and drove... and I cried and I cried.
My tears filled every crevice and every pore.
"What more do You want?! I've given it all to You!"
I remember shouting it at the top of my lungs as I drove.
I pounded on my steering wheel with my fist.
And as the pain of my life poured down my face I heard Him whisper to me. I felt Him quiet all the chaos surrounding my heart....
"You haven't given me everything.... I want it all."
"But the one thing I want the most... I want your trust. Because in that is where your heart lies. In that is where you will find Me again. And it is only in your trust in Me that you can be found again. It is only then that I can do what you have been crying out for your entire life. I don't wait to hurt you. I'm not hiding from you... waiting to strike you with everything wrong that you have imagined from Me."
"I love you.... why have you not believed Me?"
"You asked Me to break you... you asked Me to show you who you are... who your supposed to be. I am honoring your prayer."
"Are you ready? Are you ready to finally know? To finally see? And to finally stop telling ME what you think I should be doing instead?"
"Are you done fighting Me?"
Sitting here... so many days from that one... I can feel like new the pain... the profound excruciating moments of that day that began a journey and season for my family that I feel we are coming to the end of.
I smile at how deep the love of my Heavenly Father for me... at His heart for me. For us. That He would intervene for me... fight for me. And do what He did on my behalf.
"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ," Ephesians 1:7-9 NIV
It has been slow for me.
A painstaking process of giving Him back what I had held from Him. What I had taken.
Whatever that looks like for you.
I was willing to give Him everything else... everything except what I thought what I deserved.
What I thought was owed me.
The entitlement shames me.
The pride overwhelms me.
And His grace and love that He held out, and still holds out for me still brings me to my knees.
So I am asking....
What is your "everything"?
What are you holding back?
Your most costly treasures?
Your most intimate secrets?
Your crisis.. your debt?
Your way of thought?
Your wrongs... your rights... your life?
What is your everything?
Anything held back hinders us in way of relationship with our God.
If we are willing and if we choose, it will rip... it will tear.... and it will hurt.
But it will sow and plow... it will root out the weeds... the things that are holding you back. That have continued to hold you back... wondering if you will ever get to where you know that you should be.
And in those places that we thought were filling us up and giving us purpose, He will begin to grow and begin to bear sweeter fruit than we could ever try and produce or grow ourselves.
Are we willing to give Him everything... even at the cost of losing it?
If we aren't, then we really can't call ourselves His.
Though we are still His... we are divided.
The requirement hasn't changed.
He requires it all.
A heart completely His.
Is your ground too sacred for Him to walk on?
Is He even allowed to walk where you don't want Him to?
Will it be easy?
Will it be hard?
But is the reward of knowing Him, fully loving Him, and serving Him... with everything, far outweighing than our own benefits that we have deceived ourselves into thinking that we will receive....?
Yes. Yes. Yes.
"31What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?
32He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?
33Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies;"
Romans 8:31-33 NIV
Do you want it?
For you... for those you love more?
We can not continue to our own... we were bought with a price.
We are His.
And because we are His and He call us His own, we can settle into it... hold on tight to Him and not our circumstances and shortsightedness.
He is worthy of our trust... worthy of those we love.. worthy of our hearts... our lives...
We have to stop trying to do things our own way... on our time tables... and begin to allow Him to BE everything to us.
Do we really want Him?
Do we really want Him and all that He hold for us?
As we enter a time of thanksgiving... I pray that it will also be a time of surrendering... a time of hope renewed... and a new and fresh revelation of all that He is... all that He has been... and all that He needs to be.
All that He should be.
All glory, honor and praise to Him who sits on the throne... to Him who hold it all... And who is worthy of it all....
.... until another tomorrow.
"21 Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:21-23 (I've listed this one before... it bears repeating.)
"11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; 14 for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust. 15 The life of mortals is like grass,
they flourish like a flower of the field; 16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more. 17 But from everlasting to everlasting
the LORD’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children— 18 with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.
19 The LORD has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all." Psalm 103:10-19
"16 On that day
they will say to Jerusalem,
“Do not fear, Zion;
do not let your hands hang limp. 17 The LORD your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:16,17
Monday, November 22, 2010
Forward: I have been holding onto this post for five days.
Praying... wondering... and thinking. A lot.
So after days spent in bed (with a nasty head cold), I finally feel released to share it.
Here it goes.....
I have been long in this journey....
Like so many of you, on this road of life I have encountered so many things.
Days when my faith is burgeoning... and days when it is waning.
So many days like a buoy on the ocean.... tossed back and forth.
Not really realizing that I've compromised my stand until I become aware of the ugliness inside of me seeping out into the areas of my life that are sacred... that are right... that I unknowingly pollute with my own selfish desires.
Finding myself at a distance from where I was before.
Something happened on Sunday...
Something that hasn't happened in a while... and I am disappointed at myself for admitting that.
In the middle of worship I felt it begin... a seed of knowing... a feeling that began to grow and then wane with my self doubt.
I began to beg God to show me absolutely, positively if I should move... if it was Him that I was sensing and His words that were pressing on my heart.
Or was it just me? Was it the emotion filled moment? Was it from knowledge that I possessed and wanted so desperately to help with?
I began to cry out in my heart... "Please Father... don't let me step out and fail."
Fail.... seems to be a big deal for me right now... maybe always.
And in an instant only known between He and I, I was sure... not of me... but of Him.
Banking on His faithfulness... on His love and mercy... and on His ability to cover any part of me that would seep out from what I felt was Him in me.
Although I am not confident in me... I am confident in Him.
I know my ability to be wrong.... I know it well.
He has taught me my faultiness without Him over and over.
And I am so thankful that He has.
With the reassurance of my knowledge of Him I stepped out... I placed one foot into the isle... knowing that going back now was not a choice I would make.
And with legs shaking and heart beating hard I tried to give what I felt welling up in me... pouring it out... from a place that I myself am walking in the midst of, and what I know my Father is wanting to break me of... break me through... and ultimately bring victory in.
I know that God has been asking me continually to let go.
Let go of myself... let go of my peace, knowing that He'll give me His... let go of my securities and my insecurities...
Of my resolutions... and my absolution's.
To trust Him in the midst of uncertainty.
How much do I really want more of Him?
How much am I willing to risk? To give?
How much am I willing to stand up for? Even at the cost of relationships... or comfort?
And how often have I missed the mark or just not done it for the sake of playing it safe?
There is something welling up from somewhere so deep within me that I can't even begin to describe it.
A feeling that the something bigger is right in front of me.
His call for me is not just a request anymore... it has become like a decree.
And I know that as I stand on the precipice of something greater than myself that it is going to cost me.
I feel it.
I can't explain the fear that I have been feeling.... and it's crazy in light of the fact that I have been praying for this very thing for so long.
Now that I am here... still not really knowing the details of this calling... I find that I am a little bit afraid.
I don't know if others are going to like it.
If the words that I speak will offend... will cause some to shrink back from me.
I don't want to be hated.
I don't even like being disliked.
I don't want to be thought of as something negative, or called names that I cringe at the mention of.
But this is where I stand. It is how I have always stood.
Trying to rack my brain and understand His standards of right and wrong.
Deciphering between the graces of God and the knowledge of how He views our sin.
And as I become more and more aware of our state I am more profoundly affected with the urgency to speak.
The lines have been blurred... and the differences have become shady.
The difference between Christian and non.
Am I willing to surrender all of it... all of the things that I hold close.... my need to be accepted... my desire to be loved... every single speck and detail of my well planned out and very comfortable life...
Am I willing to risk all of that to be true to who He's created me to be?
For what I am destined for?
Deep calling to deep.
Am I willing to risk it all for Him?
This has led me to so many thoughts the last few weeks... and even days since Sunday.
When His children are walking in the truths of His standards... in the light of His precepts... we are something special, and we are different. We should look different.
But when we are mirroring the world around us... trying hard to keep in sync and in step with those that we are not called to live like... we become disgruntled and confusing.
I feel that my time to step out is now.
When has there been a better time than the present in any one persons life?
No matter the generation... or the century... it has always been the now for the sake of the future that holds the most importance.
When we fail to take the moments that God has set before us and miss the opportunities that He has laid out, to reach out and love a world so desperate for healing, that we miss the very essence of what makes us His.
Has there been a person you walked by and knew... just knew that you were supposed to turn around and say something to ... knowing that all it would take is a few well said words to reassure them of God's love for them.
And have you like me... reasoned the "feeling" away, putting your head down and eyes straight forward shaking off the notion... because really, what would you say? And worse... what would they think if you actually brought up the name of God?
I have had these moments so many times.
Wondered on end at what could have happened had I listened... and obeyed.
The moments I have dreaded the most are with those ones that I belong to.
Saying what needs saying to someone I don't know is hard... but it is so much easier than those that I know... even those that I love.
Especially when those words are hard ones... not fluffy or feel good.
I don't want to offend.
I know that I am not much different than them...
But His word has become increasingly louder.
And if we continue to ignore it, I fear more than my own petty concerns, facing His judgments.
God is gracious and merciful.
Slow to anger and abounding in love.
But He is a righteous God.
A just God.
I would be only telling a half truth if I only spoke to the things that made us all feel "good".
We are a people... a nation... a world... who have come dangerously close to forgetting Him completely in everything that we do.
Excluding Him in some things and inviting Him in where we find room. Where we feel comfortable with Him to be.
Calling it progressive... and outreaching... yet neglecting the very essence of Who He Is.
How can we praise Him with our lips but not serve Him with everything else? Only giving Him what feels okay to give and reserving our right to reject what doesn't look or seem right to us.
We have tried to give Him our agendas and asked that He not disturb or disrupt it too much so that it won't get "messy".
If we continue to plow this particular road things will get messier than we can imagine.
Neglecting God and allowing Him to move, limits what He wants to do.
But be mindful... He is God... and He will not be ignored or neglected.
It is throughout His Word. Over and over.
History of a chosen generation.... a people called by His name... that choose their ways over His.
And the end result is always the same.
I don't mean for this to sound gloom and doom... not at all.
In fact the hope that I hold out for is so easily accessible that it makes me ashamed to think that we have convoluted it so much.
But I honestly believe that He is calling us to a place of honest and sincere repentance.
And to just make sure that I am clear... I am referring to us. His people.
We need to rush to the place of examining our lives through the sifter of His Word.
To understand who we are... and Who He Is.
And in the light of that, allow Him to change us.
Do we want to be truly His?
Do we want to have His heart for a lost and dieing world?
Are we willing to let Him "disrupt" our church services... call us to love on people that we don't necessarily see as worthy of that love?
Are we willing to risk offending to speak out the truth so that light can shine on the lies that we have bought?
Are we even willing to stand for that truth in our own churches? In the places that we know are supposed to be the beacons of light of that truth?
Or do we want to just conduct our business as usual?
Clock in our time... fill our pews and smile at our numbers...and just press on our buttons of forgiveness?
My husband used to tell our youth group this...
"There is more to salvation that a get out of hell free card. What do you think the more is?"
He left them with that one many times...
I am left with that one myself right now.
Who are we as a people?
As the people of God?
Are we really affecting the world around us? And how are we made different from them?
How are we being different from them?
Or is Christian just a title that we place on our profiles to make us sound good.
Are we really motivated to see the changes of God and the move of God to rise?
We can't even begin to see those changes happen without hitting our knees, putting our faces to the floor, and getting our hearts right before Him first.
Admitting that we don't know it all... and that we don't hold all the answers.
Like the temple of old... we are called to be sacred and holy....
Set apart like a beacon of hope and light in a dark place.
It does take everything... all our effort... all our time... and all of our hearts.
I've always wondered why other "religions" and false doctrines can require and demand complete obedience and passion.. and get it... even to the point of extremism and wrong thinking... and we as Christians struggle to stay faithful to the One that we know is the only way. The only truth. And the only life there is to live.
I have to think that it is because we falter in believing it at all.
His way is contrary to all the others.
His way speaks life... and not death.
Truth... and not lies.
Joy... and not sorrow.
Peace... and not fear.
Hope... and not uncertainty.
Why are not more of us standing?... But disregarding those who are even now laboring in the deepest forms of love for our Savior... risking it all... giving it all... and not playing it safe for even a minute of their lives... displaying what true passion for God looks like.
Why do we balk at speaking out to a stranger about God's love for them... or harder yet.. tell a brother or sister in Christ that acting like the world is unacceptable... when others of our brothers and sisters are dieing for their faith. Willing to lose everything to serve and love God with everything that they have.
And willing to love Him with everything that they are.
I am left speechless.
Forgive us for making it okay to do the things that our flesh cries out to do. And for making up our feeble excuses for doing it. Knowing that it is our own foolishness of not knowing Your Word that leads us to a place of deception. Being self reliant and not fully relying on You for all things.
Forgive us for choosing whats easy. For neglecting to teach our children to fear and revere You even in the very public places...
Forgive us for allowing those around us to dictate what is deemed acceptable instead of measuring every action, word, and deed by the standard of Your Word. For conforming to this world instead of standing out as the standard to be measured by.
Forgive us Father for not truly understanding and realizing just how deep Your love is for us...
Because if we did... if we really knew... then we would be a people that would shine brighter than the world around us.
We would be a people more confident in Who our God is.
And we would know beyond a shadow of a doubt that what Your Word says is true.. it is alive... and it has the power to change and move nations.
We would be different.
We would look different.
Thank You Father for those in my life who have been unwilling to play it safe.
Who have been willing to sacrifice their time... their energy... and their lives to model what it looks like to serve You.
And thank You Father for those that continue to speak truth into my life... even the hard truths. Your truth that doesn't diminish or change... but has stayed the same from the beginning of time.
Help us to see You... seek You... and cry out for You like we never have before.
Work in us... change us Oh God... that we might be a people worthy of Your name.
A people of hope.
A people of love.
And a people who know Who their God Is.
I have taken my toes from the shore...
Father keep me tight to You as I wade into Your waters.
... until another tomorrow.
“This is what the LORD says—
Israel’s King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty:
I am the first and I am the last;
apart from me there is no God." Isaiah 4:6
1-2 "So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
3I'm speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it's important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him." Romans 12:1-3 The Message Bible
"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,
12instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,
13looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus," Titus 2:11-13
“Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15 But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
Friday, November 5, 2010
It's been a day. I think I've said that before.
Weeks... years... moments... gathering like sand falling quickly and soundlessly.
I want to stop it so often. I want to reach out and catch the small granules, capture them and hold on until I am ready to let them go.
There will always be those moments that we wish for. That we want to grab back.
I don't want to call it regret... but maybe I will.
I find myself in a lot of moments of regret lately....
I wish I would have said that different... or done that better.
I wish I would have taken more time for what I know is more important and not wasted my time like I do so often.
I wish I hadn't missed that moment.
I wish... I wish... I wish....
God has had to put a huge Stop sign in front of me as of late.
As of yesterday to be precise.
I hate that I fail Him.
I really really hate it. And I hate to have to say the word hate at all.
But honestly... there is no better word for it.
I dislike failing and feeling like I've failed more than you can even know.
It is like gall in the back of my throat. Gross.
I know that I can't control others... how they feel... and what they think... but I try really hard to control me.
And I don't do a very good job of it. At all. Mostly never.
I don't mean self control. I'm pretty good at that. At least I hope so.
But I do doubt myself a lot. I live in a perpetual world of "I guess." and "I hope so."
I get the impression that most people don't think that about me.
I go back and forth about what I should and should not say. Who I should and should not be.
And no matter how hard I try to censor myself... I fail. All the time.
I need a Handy Mandy kind of guy to come along side of me for every moment to "fix" the mess ups and foibles that I seem to be really good at making, and point out when I go "astray".
I just saw a huge likeness to the helper that God has already given me by the way. The One that I so easily lose sight of and forget.
I feel like I have offended Him the most.
I feel like I have put Him off to the biggest extent.
I have been replaying in my head how months ago I was in a different place... a different season... and a place of profound and deep conviction.
What has happened?
What has happened that I feel it a little less....? Where have I stepped out wrong that I am failing fast?
And why is it that everything in me just feels a bit.... lost... and huge amounts of weak?
I know the answer.
Just in case you were already hitting the reply button and ready to respond... which by the way, I love. So if you were... please do.
I need to hear the truth more than I need any amount of pats on my back.
I actually revel in correction.
I know... weird. But I know what keeps me on the narrow path.. and I don't want to get to the point of being on the wider one.
But I do know where I have digressed... I've been at this a very long time. My life.
I've been living it for quite a while now.
I am seemingly a very disciplined person.
How does a disciplined person get to a place of complacency... and ultimately a place of feeling condemned by that complacency while all the time knowing the truth. Having lived it... and being taught it from the time I was cutting my teeth on the meat of my belief and standards?
I'm not lazy... but I'm really good at being it.
I don't forget that often... but I forget what is most important quite a lot.
I can be the most faithful person to the very core of my being... but then why do I act faithlessly and allow my being tired to interfere with knowing Who I should run to when I am feeling worn out?
I've been here before.
I cringe to think that I will be here again.
In every moment lately I have been hearing my Fathers gentle voice... I have been feeling His reassuring nudges.
"Don't look there...look Here...."
"Remember what I've taught you... what I've told you... What I have been and am saying right now."
None of His promises have changed.
Nothing has swayed what He has ultimately said to me. Confirmed in my heart. What I know is true.
Am I stalling it?
The desires to do what He has placed so deeply within myself?
And what is any of that in light of knowing Him and really truly loving Him?
What if I had stayed more faithful than I am right now?
What if I had continued to put my face to the floor every single day with the tears washing down my face like I was doing every day before that?
What if I hadn't started turning to the "easy" things to ease and soften my weary heart and mind?
As my sweet husband would say to me, and by the way he says it to me quite a lot...
"Is God still God? Do you believe that He Is? Who is in control Melissa?"
"Your not Him."
(And we should all heave a huge sigh of thankfulness for that one!) :)
No I'm not. I'm not God.
I do believe in Who He Is. I do know that he is in control.
And just as much as my faithfulness isn't contingent on whether or not He chooses to do anything in my life.... my unfaithfulness doesn't change Who He Is, and what He has promised.
I wish it did sometimes.
I might feel better about myself if it was.
I might not feel so utterly crushed to know that this woman who fails more than I succeed, is loved so profusely... so abundantly... that I shrink and weep as I am doing right now with the knowledge of it.
I don't deserve it.
I don't deserve this love.
I don't deserve this kind of grace.
I deserve the condemnation.
I deserve the regret.
I deserve the punishment and the looks of derision....
I deserve it all.
But He won't give it to me.
Not since the day I called out and He made me His own.
He has claimed me.
He has called me His.
And when I look at Him with my head bowed down and finally sneak a glance from lowered lids, what I see and what rushes into me like a swift and fast moving wind a look of utter undefinable love.
Eyes that are filled and overflowing with a grace and compassion that makes me drop to my knees.
"Father.... You shouldn't... You shouldn't love me like this."
"I fail you... so often. All the time."
"I know who I am... and I know what I am capable of.....and I don't understand this kind of love... this kind of grace....
"I don't understand."
And as the thoughts tumble over each other in rapid succession His Word rushes over them. Running them through.... taking them with It to leave a level piece of land. Ready to be plowed... ready to grow what is right and not leaving anything that shouldn't be there.
I want to be effective.
I want to be worthy of Him more than I want anything else in this world.
I tell my children all the time... I drill into them in every moment that I can teach it to them.
Nothing else matters.
Not what they want. Not what they need. Not even what they may think is more important.
Nothing is more important than the most high God in their lives.
And if I'm going to say it... then I need to model it.
I am not a do as I say kind of person. If I can't live it and do it... I won't expect you to either.
I am smiling at the remembrance of days long past. Day's when that phrase was one I used often with a group of girls that changed with the passing of time.
Coaching came natural to me. I loved it. I miss it more days than I don't.
And now, today, I can see so many things that I would have done different.
So many things that I would like to change. About myself... and about many other more important things....
But the one thing I would change the most... the one thing I would want to go back and do better....
Is to tell them this. To beseech them with these words.....
Don't let anything come in the way of you and God.
He is and will always be the most important relationship you will ever have.
A lot of people will promise you things.
A lot of things will hold the possibility of what you think is better.... things that might bring you what it is you think you want and the pleasure that you are seeking in that moment.
But it's not going to last.
Those people are going to let you down. The pleasures will only be for a little while.
Eventually it is all going to go away.
It will leave you empty.
And if what you are left with is anything less than Him... you will pay the price.
It is too high a price to pay.
Don't do it... please don't do it......
Please don't move away for one single second away from the One who will love you deeper than any lover that promises you the world. Or any way that seems more fulfilling or worth risking it all for.
Their love doesn't have the power that His has.
No way can fulfill you the way His way will.
Their promises can only accomplish what it is in their power to give. And they don't have it to give. Not really.
But He does.
He has it all.
All that you need and will ever need.
And just in case you do.
Just in case that you scoot away from Him... and someday find yourself far far away.... please remember what I've told you before this.
He is faithful. And His love is unfailing.
The moment you cry out... no matter how feebly, how quiet or how loud... He will be there.
He will come running.... down that road that you may have taken without Him. The path that you thought was greener... the way that you thought might be better than His.
And with His arms opened wide He will welcome you back. No questions. No regrets.
But with unfailing love that will cover every mistake you could have ever made.
Grace for every moment.
Every single one..... forgiven.
Just like today.
Just like my today.
He is hope.
He is the hope of my salvation.
And He is yours..... He has always been yours.
I know I haven't always done it right... and I will make many more mistakes.....
But I am moved at how His love far outweighs and eclipses all of them.
I'm not enough.
I'll never be good enough.
But He is enough.
And He is more than good.
...until another tomorrow.
"19-21I'll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,
the taste of ashes, the poison I've swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—
the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there's one other thing I remember,
and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:
22-24God's loyal love couldn't have run out,
his merciful love couldn't have dried up.
They're created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!
I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over).
He's all I've got left.
25-27God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits,
to the woman who diligently seeks.
It's a good thing to quietly hope,
quietly hope for help from God.
It's a good thing when you're young
to stick it out through the hard times.
28-30When life is heavy and hard to take,
go off by yourself. Enter the silence.
Bow in prayer. Don't ask questions:
Wait for hope to appear.
Don't run from trouble. Take it full-face.
The "worst" is never the worst.
31-33Why? Because the Master won't ever
walk out and fail to return.
If he works severely, he also works tenderly.
His stockpiles of loyal love are immense.
He takes no pleasure in making life hard,
in throwing roadblocks in the way:
34-36Stomping down hard
on luckless prisoners,
Refusing justice to victims
in the court of High God,
Tampering with evidence—
the Master does not approve of such things.
37-39Who do you think "spoke and it happened"?It's the Master who gives such orders.
Doesn't the High God speak everything,
good things and hard things alike, into being?
And why would anyone gifted with life
complain when punished for sin? 40Let's take a good look at the way we're living
and reorder our lives under God." Lamentations 3:20-40, The Message Bible
"25The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different." Romans 7:25 The Message Bible
"1Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
3For what the Law could not do,weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,
4so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
5For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.
6For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace," Romans 8:1-6 NAS Bible