let Him redeem it as His

Posted: February 21st, 2016 | Filed under: God | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments »

“The time has arrived—I mean right now!—when dead men and women will hear the voice of the Son of God and, hearing, will come alive.” – John 5:25 MSG

I have a deep fear that visits me almost every day. It’s dark and empty like the vast nothingness that I imagine Hell to be. It’s an old reality that threatens me with revisiting. It’s anxiety and I know how to keep it at bay.

But some people don’t. Some people recoil into a figurative fetal position and find anything that will tell them they’ll be okay. With adults, it could be a bottle of burning liquid, a dosage of pills that was never meant for them, or a warm body that they don’t even care about. They’re still the little kid under the thumb of human indecency and they’ve not learned to stand up to it. They’ve not learned to be okay in their own company.

Silence’s thoughts are the scary what-ifs that torment the soul into hiding. But silence is weaponless and it can’t take you captive on any level in any form. Solitude is a brutal prison for the tortured. But solitude can introduce you to yourself and teach you that not only are you worth knowing, you’re worth the fight. If you know you’re worth the fight, then you won’t damage yourself trying to keep what wants to walk away. You’ll be thankful for the clarity.

For the one sobbing and spent. You haven’t cried like this since you were little, when the pain first showed up. I know it hurts. I’ve been there. Many times. The cries of a child who still sobs even though he knows no one is coming to save him ring in my ears as though it’s still happening. I wish I could save him. The evil twist of cruelty is when the big sister has to hear the pain of her siblings in the middle of her own. Like children in a concentration camp. Her imagination can’t come close to the reality of what is happening in the spaces she can’t see.

You’re an adult now, but here you are again. Maybe you keep circling around to this place because He wants to redeem it. Maybe He wants to show you that you were never without Him. He was a pallbearer in the death of your light.

When my darkness comes calling, I raise my chin. When the thoughts threaten, I say, “So what?” There is only so much that life can do to you. I’ve been through much of it and I don’t want any more, but I refuse to let my days be stolen by my fear. I don’t remember my own giggles. I don’t remember my own twirl. He was the pallbearer in the death of my light, too.  But He lets me use His. He’s my light now.

Stop using bandaids to do what only a surgeon can. This isn’t the playground. This is a war zone. Say goodbye to what you lost and stop trying to stick your limbs back on your bloody stumps. There is life for the wounded, but you have to acknowledge that you are wounded. There is no such thing as normal. Stop using someone else’s “normal” by measuring yourself against it. It’s an alien standard that will never apply to you.

No one can take away what happened to you, but you have a choice. You can accept it. It happened to you — pain that makes the spirit of the child long for the womb — yet you’re still here. You are not still under the thumb of cruelty. You’re not umbilically attached to the evil you endured.

You are stronger than you think you are. I know you’ve done things trying to heal yourself. Damaging things, trying to free yourself from the pain. The best and worst thing that ever happened to me was when I lost everything. I didn’t know who I was, I didn’t have any friends left… It was awful and I couldn’t see any future. I was pissed off at myself for ruining my life. But I had this deep feeling that there was more for me. I knew I wasn’t trash, I just didn’t have any evidence.

I know you’re hurting and I don’t know where you are on your journey, but it is just a journey. You can do and be anything you want. It’s not dependent on anyone else. This is all you. I believe in you. I wish we were taught how to navigate life better than this, but my best lessons came when I had to rebuild.

You’re looking for something to keep you from slipping away into obscurity, and your Savior is standing right in front of you, asking for you to hand it over. Your pain is a gray-lipped child. Let Him redeem it as His.

It’s lonely, but you are never alone. There are some parts of our journey that we must walk without anyone else. Otherwise, we never become. It’s like cracking out of a shell or breaking through a cocoon. It’s personal, and this grand design was made with you in mind. Like a new mother in labor, you are strong enough, but you have to push.

You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.– 1 Peter 5:9-11 MSG

breaking through


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when weeds bloom

Posted: July 7th, 2015 | Filed under: life | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him… – Hebrews 2:8-9 ESV

This scripture makes clear the sovereignty of God and the human inability to really get it. God has put everything under the control of Jesus, leaving nothing out, and we walk around with the illusion of control. There’s this underlying belief that bad things happen to bad people and good things happen to those who must be doing something right. The language of the Bible expects its readers to not have to question the authority if Jesus. The Law put us all on the side of “wrong” and Jesus put us all on the side of “justified”.  The people who wrote the Bible understood that you wouldn’t be able to make the ends of what you know and the beginning of what you don’t know meet. They show you Jesus and that should be enough.

Life is not linear, but we make judgements and attribute value as though it were. When we’re weighing the truth, our minds dig up some nasty dirt to test against the limits of His jurisdiction. Like we’re trying to convince ourselves that He’s not really who He says He is, we think of the worst things imaginable to try  to see if it matches our idea of what the God we know would allow. It brings up existential questions about His goodness, or lack, and we wonder, if God is in control… then why do bad things happen?

Life is multidimensional. There is so much that we don’t see.

A straight line of cause and effect is rudimentary, but we fail to think past it. The second dimension adds height to the length, third dimension adds depth, and the fourth adds time. That’s where we live our reality and even with that, there are too many cause/effect variables and outcomes to be certain about anything. What we understand makes up our reality. When you are surrounded by people who agree on the reality, then you have a group. But, having a group of people who agree on a reality doesn’t make it true. It just makes it manageable. The reality that exists beyond our understanding goes much further into more dimensions.

You don’t have to understand all that. You just have to see Him.

Instead of conjuring up stories that you’ve heard from a distance, just focus on the ones you know first hand. Think of the bad things you’ve done, the broken parts of you that enabled it, and the healing that took place once you could no longer hide them. Sin makes you own the broken places like fruit makes the farmer acknowledge the roots.

My husband is mowing the lawn while I type this. My daughter and I are sitting outside with halos of clover flowers in our hair I picked them before he mowed because it all looks the same until it grows. Sometimes you don’t know you’re dealing with weeds until they bloom. I think Jesus allows your sin so that He can heal your roots.

You only know your story, and is scripture true in your story? You don’t know the eternal view of your own sin, much less anyone else’s. Is God in control or are you? Scripture backs everything up with the identity and finished work of Jesus. Scriptures expects for Him to be enough.

But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. – Hebrews 2:9 ESV

Don’t doubt the power and authority of Jesus just because people are experts at hurting one another. You might not see or understand all that is under His feet, but you know Him. He experienced death in every single person’s place. Because of this, God has given him authority over absolutely everything. There is nothing left to lose, no price left to pay.  It doesn’t mean that bad things won’t happen…, it does mean that the story isn’t finished unfolding.

 

flower child

 


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anatomy of a butterfly wing

Posted: June 12th, 2015 | Filed under: life | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

The Message is as true among you today as when you first heard it. It doesn’t diminish or weaken over time. It’s the same all over the world. The Message bears fruit and gets larger and stronger, just as it has in you. From the very first day you heard and recognized the truth of what God is doing, you’ve been hungry for more. – Colossians 1:5-6 MSG

The Message, in a single word, is Jesus.

We spend too much time trying to pick the right answer and be better than we were yesterday. We create order that trips our freedom and practice self-control while continually failing. Our dreams dangle two steps out of reach and “doing the right thing” is the saboteur. We push to be adults so that we can be better children. Always two steps behind. We try to make our kids who we think we should have been and are disappointed when they’re just like us.

…for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began… – Titus 1:1-2 ESV

He’s our promise.

The struggle is a distraction because the Truth is too simple. We think we’re so wise, outsmarting ourselves like we’re divided Could-Have-Beens stuck in bodies of sin. We ignore the miracle of ever-expanding creation from the microscopic frenzy of cellular production on our skin all the way to the vibrating black matter of the tiny ignored galaxy we inhabit.

For just a moment, turn off the autopilot and look around you. You want something deeper, you want something more meaningful, but you don’t even understand what is right in front of you. You’re not two steps behind, you’re exactly where you’re trying to be.  We have to learn to balance micro moments of peace on the cusp of quake.

We had nothing to do with it. It was all his idea, a gift prepared for us in Jesus long before we knew anything about it. But we know it now. Since the appearance of our Savior, nothing could be plainer: death defeated, life vindicated in a steady blaze of light, all through the work of Jesus. – 2 Timothy 1:9-10 MSG

It’s not about you. It’s for you.

If even the slightest glimpse of Jesus doesn’t cast such a blinding light over yourself that you disappear into it, then you’re not seeing Jesus. He’s not the light that illuminates your flaws. You were made for Him and through Him. To Him, you have no flaws.

This offends those who look at people to measure Truth. This angers those who would drag another into the street of public opinion. Those who scream “Heresy” upon hearing the simplicity of the Gospel are speaking to their own unbelief. His “yoke is easy” because He’s already done the work. His “burden is light” because He’s already carried the weight. The ache for more will never go away.

When God wanted to guarantee his promises, he gave his word, a rock-solid guarantee—God can’t break his word. And because his word cannot change, the promise is likewise unchangeable. – Hebrews 6:17 MSG

He is the source of Truth.

This whole thing is set up so that you can’t mess it up. You can’t make God change His mind about you. Actually receiving the gift, as opposed to just hearing about it, will change your mind about you.

People live flaccid lives feeling shortchanged and forgotten. Their eyes have not yet opened to the always expanding creativity swirling around them. It’s to small or too fast or too vast and they can’t see what they don’t know. There is a life just beyond the mundane and it’s right in front of you.

All of life is layered upon itself, dependent upon the layers below and above. Life has always been illustrated by linked circles of intricate interconnected dependence and beauty. Take, for example, the anatomy of a butterfly wing. A delicate piece of microscopic lace with details the size of a single bacterium is one of several thousand microscopic scales on a single butterfly wing and each creature has four. It aids with light and flight. Chances are, you’ll never get the opportunity to see the beauty outside of pictures, but how often do we stop to look at fluttering butterflies anyway?

But it’s more than butterflies. It’s hidden layers of beauty, purpose, and meaning. Because of the interconnected pushed-and-pushing nature of molecules and the ever more illuminated fact that there is no such thing as nothing and every space is taken up, the unnoticed flitter of a butterfly wing is the response of a series of reactions and is responsible for it’s own set of subsequent reactions. The mid-flight turn of a Chinese butterfly has the potential to shape the curve of an Oklahoma tornado.

Everything that moves has to first be moved. Atoms do not animate themselves. Somebody had to move first. Aristotle’s explanation of God is “The First Mover”.

What is your word?

You are a response to His movement. You are a word spoken by His voice. If you knew that you couldn’t mess up His intricately laid plan what would you do? If you knew He was just waiting to hear your voice, what would you sing? 

We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf… – Hebrews 6:19-20 ESV

butterfly scale

A magnified butterfly scale.

Butterfly scales.

A magnified butterfly wing.

butterfly effect

The butterfly effect illustrated by light simulation.


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half full

Posted: March 20th, 2015 | Filed under: life | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

So clean house! Make a clean sweep of malice and pretense, envy and hurtful talk. You’ve had a taste of God. Now, like infants at the breast, drink deep of God’s pure kindness. Then you’ll grow up mature and whole in God. – 1 Peter 2:2-3 MSG

It’s so easy to find fault in anything. Focus gravitates to the shortcomings of others because it offers an excuse for our own shortcomings. It’s an unconscious tool to cope with the disappointments we have with ourselves. But what about the lives we affect? Are there others pointing out our faults to find an excuse for theirs? People who lack point out the lack in others. It’s a cycle of negativity that sucks the joy out of life and uses shame to obscure the view of the lesson.

But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. -Galatians 5:22-23 MSG

There is good and bad in everything. You can choose where you spend your energy by choosing where you put your focus. You’ll find what you’re looking for. So, instead of looking for why something isn’t working, look for what will make it better. Finding the flaws gives you an excuse to fail. Finding the opportunities gives you something productive to do. The glass is either half empty or half full. Your focus is entirely your choice.

“But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings… into our lives… a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people.” There is no escaping the interconnectedness of life. We are all parts of the whole. Scripture tells us that Jesus is the “whole” and we are His parts (Romans 12:4-6, 1 Corinthians 12).  There is a larger narrative that includes the redemption of all on a much larger scale than we are used to including in our day-to-day perspective. We have lots of little things to keep us from finding peace in the larger story. It takes practice to change the habit of our focus. We have to look for Jesus, The Bigger Picture, in one another… His Parts.

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.– Phillipians 4:8-9 MSG

 

Jesus


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broth of truth

Posted: February 23rd, 2015 | Filed under: life | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Failure is a pandora’s box of debilitating lies. It’s not enough that you fell, failure has a slew of insults to keep you from getting back up. There are so many ways to dismantle a human. Too many to count. A blameless lack of knowledge leaves you without knowing where to look for your enemy. How can you fight when you don’t know what weapons you’re fighting against?

That’s why I want to keep it simple for the moment. You’re like a battle wounded soldier hiding in the shed of a farmer’s widow. We’ll search for meaning later. Right now, you just need to sip the broth of Truth.

Cynics look high and low for wisdom and never find it. The open-minded find it right on their doorstep! – Proverbs 14:6 MSG

You’re accustomed to a culture of distrust. Your social circle nurtured group-importance by finding all the ways they were right and the rest of the world was wrong. If another wasn’t part of your group, then there was something wrong with them. Cynicism.

But look at you. Your group doesn’t know what to do with a broken soldier and you’re bleeding out on an outsider’s wooden floor. Your tiny box of existential “rightness” has been smashed by the headlong rejection of your comrades.

A blown mind opens the door for Wisdom. You can choose to reject the Truth or let it swallow you whole. It’s a fearful thing to be swallowed whole. Instead of becoming inflicted with the Fear-of-God, many hide until the Truth gets explained away.

The Fear-of-God is a spring of Living Water so you won’t go off drinking from poisoned wells.Proverbs 14:27 MSG

It’s human of us to balance incoming information with what we think we know. That’s why denial is always the first step. We unconsciously think that we are the authors of wisdom. We think we know all the words. We confer with ourselves. We consult with others. But you only confer to affirm that you’re okay. You only consult so you can be approved.

But what if you’re wrong? Reality is only a socially agreed upon attribution of meaning to the acknowledged narrative. Don’t you want the Truth? What if you’ve been drinking from a poisoned well? The Fear-of-God is a spring of Living Water. How do you get your hands on some of that Fear?

Failure is a pandora’s box of debilitating lies. The only goal of the enemy of the soul is to keep you from getting back up. The fading backside of your friends is evidence that they were not there to help you up. The midnight insults and accusations stealing your sleep are not there to lift you up. The blank stares of the answerless leaders reveal the gap between the Truth and the counterfeit.  The curtain between the actors and the audience has crashed to the stage and you stand there in a noiseless gasp of mind blown denial. The basis of your assurance could not carry the weight of reality.

The gullible believe anything they’re told. The prudent sift and weigh every word. -Proverbs 14:15 MSG

Solid Christians sin. They knowingly, openly, unabashedly make choices that are contrary to what they know is right. This is the introduction of Truth that time reveals.

You can spend years thinking that you are the one holding yourself together. Skin seems impenetrable until it’s sliced. The only thing that can stand the weight of time is the bedrock of Truth. Sip your broth. You are not the source of Wisdom. You are Wisdom’s vessel. You cannot hold yourself upright. “Upright” is a proclamation. Grace points to the man on his head and proclaims “Upright!”. Not because he is, but because “I AM”.

We are insufficient and our failures make sure we know it. Not to destroy us, but to open us. Grace gives the failure a purpose. When that sinks in, you will know the Fear-of-God; the spring of Living Water; the broth of Truth.purpose


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