Saturday, August 17, 2013

Quoted: Little Pirate Man

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Broken

Before God could bring me to this place 
He has broken me a thousand times.
- Smith Wigglesworth


We want to avoid suffering, death, sin, ashes. But we live in a world crushed and broken and torn, a world God Himself visited to redeem. We receive his poured-out life, and being allowed the high privilege of suffering with Him, may then pour ourselves out for others.
Elisabeth Elliot

               When you sit quietly and listen to the world, you hear the grief of breaking hearts being borne in utter silence as a fake façade puts up a front and says,
                “No, I’m okay.”
                They lie. But they are so longing to be vulnerable, and so longing to know truth. 
                And yet they do not speak……until they want to. And when they speak, it rains. And when it rains, it pours. But sometimes rain is good because it causes me to stop cold in my own self-serving path and listen to a person tell me how painful was their break.
                Breaks are never clean. The heart is like a window-pane that shatters in a thousand tiny spider-webs when life hits it with a force.
                I think I have it hard sometimes with my own heart, you know. I sob a lot over Poor Old Me who thinks she’s just stepped across the line to the point of no return. And "poor old me" commiserates with "poor old me" a lot, not remembering that "poor old me" was purchased on the cross.
                I’m hit with utter mourning, realizing just how blind I often am. How blind and deaf do I have to be – how blind and deaf have I been – to fail to see or hear the corpse-like, crying, living dead the world around me is?
                They’re looking for an answer. They’re begging me to hear.
And where am I? Am I involved? In tune? Alert? Or am I with my own agendas, selfish purposes, and fears that keep me far away from hearing all the breaking hearts around me that are longing to finally speak. Finally cry. Finally bare their broken soul to someone – anyone – who is willing just to nod and hug and shout in quiet urgency:                                             
                “There is hope, God is alive, and healing happens even here!”
                When I sit quietly and listen, I hear my own heart beating, and I so long to hear the hearts of every person I hold arms-length, far, or dear, beating through the healing grace Christ has showered down on me.
                So many want to talk. Want to know. What to hear what is the answer for all the hope and all the seeds we try to sow. How much then do I hate them to know the answer and to hide?
                Hide away where I am safe, where I am happy, where the troubles of this world don’t touch or pull upon my heart.
                For how much, how utterly much, do we have to hate the world to know there is eternal life and not to tell the wandering soul?
                There is a way to heal all the spider-veiny breaks.
                So don’t lost heart, and don’t resign to the hiding of your faith. 

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” 1 Peter 3:15

Thursday, April 18, 2013

You Can Find it Anywhere

            The world is up in arms. Facebook has become the ultimate hub for prophetic quotes and end-of-the-world status updates and second amendment war cries. Facebook, go home. You talk too much and solve too little.
            This week we were shocked with the bombings in Boston and the explosion in Texas, making social media and world news spring to action. We mourn the deaths of free, innocent Americans. I mourn. My heart goes out to the parents and the brothers and the aunts and the coworkers and friends who lost, perhaps, the most influential person in their lives, or are now watching by their hospital bed.

            The events were, and are, very horrific. Do not suppose that I make light of these tragedies. They took human lives, and these lives were dearly valuable.

            But I found this last week interesting. Does it really take two bombs and an explosion to see the brokenness of the world? 

            The woman announcing on the radio today sent her heartfelt sympathies to Texas, which was comforting to hear. 
            But when was the last time the radio sent their heartfelt sympathies to the girls sitting outside planned parenthood? 15 people were killed yesterday and it made national news, as it should have. But 4,400 babies were aborted yesterday, and no one said anything. And Facebook didn't erupt. And the Mayor didn't come out to calm his worried townsmen. 


            Thousands of people in our nation volunteered their help, time, and money to the victims in Boston.
            But when was the last time a child died and a twitter page was immediately set up to alert the public of the 16,000 other children who would die of hunger before midnight? Or we rushed to the grocery store and cleared the shelves and set up food lines until all who needed to be fed were filled? The help flooding towards Boston and Texas will not cease until it's deemed that all who need help have been helped.


            Right now the news is saying that 75 houses were leveled in Texas, therefore leaving 75 families homeless.
            They will join the 635,000 other Americans who are homeless. Those invisible people aren't a daily blip on our middle-class radar. We don't wake up and hope that the people who slept under bridges last night are okay. We don't interview them or post pictures of them on CNN. Or what about the 123,000 orphans in America? When you're surrounded by affluence, you tend to only see affluence - unless something like a bomb forces you out. 

http://www.showhope.org/home.aspx

            The president issued a public address following Boston, promising that he would find the perpetrator and bring him to justice. 
            What about those who are trafficking the 14,500 – 17,500 people into the United States every year? Are they being brought to justice? There were a lot of TV shows on last night, but I don't seem to remember a surging amount of popular media bent on ending sex trafficking. Most people would agree that this is an injustice.
            But what's anyone doing about it?  Why isn't social media erupting every single second? According to statistics, around 75% of Americans identify themselves as Christians. That's about 235 million people. 
            235 million people who say they believe the words in James 2:16-17: 
            "And one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead."

            Or Matthew 25:35-40 
           “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
 

            I have come to the conclusion that we are apathetic. We don't like doing in secret. We don't like getting our hands dirty if no one is going to see all the dirt.
           These tragedies are captivating. They captivate our emotions and our energies - not joyously - but as if we cannot pull our eyes away, no matter how horrific the scene. The world likes to be shocked, but there's nothing shocking about a statistic. We forget that those statistics represent very real people. 
            And we should be shocked. We should be shocked by babies being ripped from their mother's wombs. We should be shocked by malnourished children dieing in gutters. We should be shocked by the depravity of humans and the injustices forced upon trafficked victims. We should be shocked with the amount of orphans who are never adopted. 

             Don't let Boston and Texas raise up your emotions for a few weeks, and then in a month of two, let it slip from your mind. May this brokenness stay before us and awaken us to the hurt that was happening before this week, and will continue on even after Boston is swept up and Texas is put back together.

             Let these tragedies actually change who you are and what you are doing with your life. Let them change me. Because we can't just wait for a bomb to go off to spring to action. We have to be working anyway.
           
            If you have not gold or silver ever ready to command, 
            If you cannot toward the needy reach an ever open hand,
            You can visit the afflicted, O'er the erring you can weep;
            You can be a true disciple, sitting at the Savior's feet.
 

            Do not then stand idly waiting for some greater work to do;
            Fortune is a lazy goddess, she will never come to you.
           Go and toil in any vineyard, do not fear to do or dare;
           if you want a field of labor, you can find it anywhere.
          Ellen M. H. Gates


            You are forever my judge, and I'm forever your witness, 
           And I pray that I'm always found on a mission about my Father's business.

            - Janette Ikz



            Therefore to him that knows to do good and does it not, to him it is sin. James 4:17

(I am deeply affected over the events of this week, and I do not discount their magnitude or importance. If you know, or were close to, anyone who was injured or affected by these tragedies, my sympathies are wholeheartedly sent to you. I am praying for all of you. 
I do not mean to make light or offend. I mean to beg myself - and all who need an excuse to begin serving - to find that excuse right now. It's right in front of our eyes.)
 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Pretty sure none of that's real.



                There will never be any angels. God has not promised angels. No verse states:

                “And your calling shalt be made known unto you, upon completing 12th grade, by a heavenly host singing: ‘Myra, Myra, Myra, harken unto our plan.’
                And you shall walk diligently in the words these angels tell you, and thou shalt never be confused, neither shall your steps wander, neither shall you ever question the future. The angels shall deliver one purpose, and that sole purpose shall drive you from youth to adulthood peacefully, just as the angel’s words drove your fellow brethren to be physicians and missionaries and psychologists." 

                Uh, pretty sure none of that’s real. Actually, I am quite sure that I just made all that up. I am promised no cloud of heavenly hosts shining with light, singing my purpose out over my head on graduation day.
                And I know why, I just don’t like owning up to it. But I should. Because knowing the answer means I can stop this frantic searching.
                You see, my mind has been stuck in a rut. A rut of thinking that I have one occupation waiting for me, and all other occupations are wrong. When I put it that way, it sounds reasonable and follow your-inner-star-ish. But when I say occupation, I actually mean, “I must know I’m supposed to be a school teacher until I die.” Or a nurse. Or a chef. Or a clown. Or a garbage man. I’m searching for that “degree-able” thing.  That thing.           
             
                I’ve missed the point. I’m so caught up in searching for the point that I have actually missed it. I have been too close to the mirror.
                Because, well, I was born with a purpose. Before the foundations of the world, God knew I was his Child, and God has given promises to His children. Our purpose has been determined, set, and planned for eternity. And it’s not something “degree-able,” or “certifiable.” But it is a result of salvation.
                And it is this:

                “Seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

                “Let your Light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your father which is in heaven.”  Matthew 5:16

                “…visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” James 1:27

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27

And that’s just four verses.
                It doesn’t matter if I am a cook or the president. It doesn’t matter if I end up teaching or writing or playing a kazoo. God has given me gifts and talents, and I need not fear following the “wrong” road, or being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I cannot thwart God’s plan! If my heart is set securely on honoring God, everywhere I walk or lean or grow, I will seek Him, and He will lead me.
If I am walking humbly, and loving the Lord my God, and letting my light shine, I can literally be anything.
Anything.
I don’t need to wait for angels,
Or rainbows,
Or eyelashes,
Or dandelions,
Or shooting stars,
Or birthday candles to do their job. The job’s been done. No more wishing! God set my purpose, and how I live it our need not give me angst.
For if, at 100, I can say “life was good,” maybe it’s not because of how many jobs or degrees I have or had.
No, it’s because God was good. And the end of highschool isn’t the end of the world.
For every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Unchangeable




     Change.
     I don't like it. I rebel against it. I exert myself in trying to hinder the ultimate inevitable of life. There is nothing I can do, though, to stand against the oncoming rage that this river holds.
     And it's a river called change. And change makes me weep.
     That sounds dramatic, even for me. It sounds desperate. But it is, because I often am desperate. Because I lose sight of what change truly is. Of what change truly means. And all I can see is how change is affecting my plans and how those plans are going to come crashing around my head like an erupting Mt. St. Helen. But I so often fail to see change for what it truly is.
     They tell me change is normal. The media. The scientists. The brains of society. They say that my body is in a constant state of change. (I wonder, then, why I am not in a constant state of weep?) In order for our physical bodies to remain healthy and functioning, they must constantly be turning themselves over and creating newness.
     Donald Miller discusses this concept in his book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, as he quotes a friend:

     “People get stuck, thinking they are one kind of person, but they aren't. The human body essentially recreated itself every six months. Nearly every cell of hair and skin and bone dies and another is directed to its former place. You are not who you were in February.”

     My body is adept at change, and yet still my mind doesn't like it. Or perhaps that isn't even possible, because my mind is just as adept. Every word I say, every person I meet, every book I read, changes my mind. I am as a machine that only gets smarter if you show me something new.
     We all are.
     And yet, even as my mind grows as I write this, I still claim to hate change. And I am tempted to say that hate comes from my heart. But how can my heart hate that which it knows strongest through Christ: change?
     I was changed by a God who I could not resist. I could not stand against His change in my life. Then why do I buck so fiercely against all other changes? What is within me that hates it, that despises it, that accepts it reluctantly if I come to accept it at all? 
     Something was very strongly impressed upon me this summer that I had thought little about before I mean, I'd thought about it some, but not much. Not really. And that altering truth was this:
     God is unchangeable.
     And not just that He doesn't want to. It's not just that people haven't tried.
     God cannot change. It is not in His nature. It is utterly impossible for God to change in any way whatsoever.
     I watch a movie. I see a new actor I had previously not seen. I change because something new has entered my mind that had not entered it before. I listen to a new song. I meet a new person. I breath a new breath.
     And yet God knows all. There is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9) He is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)
     I am the same NEVER. Nothing about me is ever the same as it was before. And yet I serve a God who knows no change. A God who is unchangeable. And that bring immeasurable hope, because my hope is founded in One who cannot possible change the reason that I hope in Him. Heartbreak, rejection, betrayal, fear, divorce, murder, dishonesty, sin. They are all a result of change.
     Of people changing. Of decisions changing. Of plans changing. Of hearts changing.
     But God exists outside of change. Change is not a part of Him.
     The author Sheldon Vanauken says this in his book, A Severe Mercy, in regards to another aspect of the earthly condition:

     C.S. Lewis, in his second letter to me at Oxford, asked how it was that I, as a product of a materialistic universe, was not at home there. 'Do fish complain of the sea for being wet? Or if they did, would that fact itself not strongly suggest that they had not always been, or would not always be, purely aquatic creatures?' Then, if we complain of time and take such joy in the seemingly timeless moment, what does that suggest?
     It suggests that we have not always been or will not always be purely temporal creatures. It suggests that we were created for eternity. Not only are we harried by time, we seem unable, despite a thousand generations, even to get used to it. We are always amazed at it – how fast it goes, how slowly it goes, how much of it is gone. Where, we cry, has the time gone? We aren't adapted to it, not at home in it. If that is so, it may appear as proof, or at least a powerful suggestion, that eternity exists and is our home.

     He is questioning why he hates time. Why he does not feel at home in it. Why it bothers him so. And he realizes it is because He serves and strives to be like a God who is outside of time. He realizes he was created for a timeless place to be a timeless person. And so he longs to be outside of time like his Father. 
     He longs to be timeless as God is timeless.
     And Vanauken's claims made me wonder if that is the very same reason I cannot grow accustomed to change. The same reason I hate it. Because I long to be like and be with an unchangeable God. Christ has changed me, yet still my heart long to be where I will never have to change again. Where it will not creep up on me like a foreboding shadow. Where what I love won't have to be traded away for something else.
     Where I will be perfect.
     In an eternity that does exist, and is most definitely our home.