A Call to a Weary Bride

We had an interesting conversation in small group last night.  The topic of surrender was brought up.  It’s an interesting topic for the Bride right now, we’re consumed by surrendering all we can to please our God.  We read books about being radical and outrageously abandoned for our King…we’re consumed.  Though these can be good things, we’ve forgotten our identity as the Bride.  Our relationship with Christ is not based on how much we give up or what we can do to fall more in love with Him.  Our relationship is based on Him and Him alone.  We can’t conjure up enough strength, abandonment, sacrifice, love for our community, or knowledge to deserve Him.  We are called to love Him.  Trust Him.  Worship Him.

All in HIS strength.

We cannot glorify God without God.  I’m leading our Bible study through a book on freedom and though I’ve gone through this book many times, I’m finally seeing that freedom is not about me being perfect or finding myself.  Freedom is God taking the things of our flesh and melting them off of us.  Showing us that He is greater than our biggest obstacles.  His love casts out all that holds us back.  When we abide in His love, we rely on Him to make the most of Christ in our lives.  He turns the gray skies blue.

We are not a prostitute bought for her works.  We are a Bride.  Chosen and loved.  And I think our Bridegroom is calling us back to Him.  Whispering our names in a world full of chaos and asking us to sit at His feet, to know His voice.  He is releasing us from our chains of “duty” and asking us to just know Him more.  And when we know Him, He will be known.

It’s time for our guilt-ridden, acts-motivated hearts to rest and know our God.  The words of the world are not our driving force, we dirty and bruised souls redeemed by a most generous and loving King.  We are ever-transforming, never-have-it-perfect humans who function with an all knowing Spirit as our guide.  We are messy and it’s ok.

Starry-Eyed

Where do you see Jesus in the purest form?  When your spirit looks up with stars in its eyes, wide awake and more alive than ever…what makes your heart scream and cry and your flesh feel as though it’s tearing at its seams?  That’s a question I’ve been scared to answer lately because with knowledge comes responsibility.   So when I seek the answer to that question I must take responsibility to live that “thing” out.  I must choose to break from the walls of comfort I find myself worshipping in.

This Sunday during our service we sang an old song that I generally cringe at because I have honestly sang its depth away.  The words “When the music fades and all is swept away and I simply come longing just to bring something that’s of worth that will bless Your heart…” have meant so little for so long until this week.  The Spirit touched those words and brought them to reality.  And maybe that’s when responsibility comes in…the moment the Lord, himself, comes down and opens our eyes…either way, I have to be honest with my Lord and with my heart.  My worship has been only when I find it convenient and as a great friend wrote in her blog, “I gave up convenience to follow Christ…” or something of equal power.  I just hadn’t grasped that to the fullest and still have a ways to go.  But the Lord has been pushing so deep on my heart to go deeper into His that I cannot ignore that my current life does not allow me to go deeper.  My current fear of man hinders the depths my dried arteries long to reach, because only there is the true life I know the Lord has for me.  Only there can I truly live to glorify my King.

So…where do my spirit’s eyes shine like stars?  I think it’s more so about who I am with.  Only when I am surrounded by the dirtiest and broken, the hungry and poor do I see clearly the shining face of Jesus.  I’ve fought this for so long but this morning as I read the fore-mentioned blog I was forced to look back and see what I’ve been missing all along, what fear has kept me from.  There were 2 specific scenarios that leaped to the forefront of my mind and they were both in the midst of the homeless and hungry. Both swept me off my feet and made me fall so deeply in love with my Lord that I don’t know how I ever turned back.

The first was in a food pantry/soup kitchen while I was in YWAM a few years back.  I was quite literally swept off my feet in this one, as a dirty and quite smelly old gentleman in his torn suit coat twirled each of us girls around the cafeteria floor.  His smile is ingrained in my mind forever.  He was the perfect dance partner and had the sweetest of hearts.  I might as well have been dancing with Jesus Himself in that moment.

The other was an unexpected prayer in the midst of the “homeless park” (or that’s what I would call it because that is where the homeless quite literally found their home) in Denver.  We were on a local outreach and had found ourselves playing music and hanging out with whoever would stop by.  First we had a local college student join us, One who had been broken and burned by the religion some refer to as Christianity.  We had community with him as we all had been burned at one point but all loved the same God.  They must have been watching and waiting for just one person to join because just a minute after he joined in on our “jam session” we had a small crowd.  Possibly the dirtiest crowd of people I’ve ever seen but boy did they shine.  All of us so different but so similar…different life experience but all dirty and broken.  We sang and talked and laughed and some cried.  Some watched from afar and others quickly violated the bubble of our personal space.  It probably looked odd from the outside but I think it was a glimpse of Heaven, all of us different but all working and moving as one.  As we ended our time of fellowship we asked if anyone wanted prayer before we made our way back to our home…and that’s when it happened.  That’s when my heart was broken to the depths like it hadn’t before…did they want prayer? Yes, of course they wanted to know and hear that Someone loved them, Someone cares, Someone is watching over them…but what I didn’t expect was their prayers for us.  Through their slurred words, their skewed theology, and loud shouts I received the most beautiful blessing I’ve ever known.

As the Lord reminds me of these life-changing moments I wonder how I closed my eyes to them, how I shut my heart off for so long.  Maybe because after those nights I went back to my warm bed, ate my food, and stood between 4 walls raising my hands in thanksgiving for material blessings while they went back to their urine-soaked stoops, covered up in their tattered belongings, and drank their hearts content.  In this heart-breaking moment I’m realizing those situations are no different.  My drunkenness may not come from the bottle and my homelessness may not be without a roof but I have found myself lost and out of control of my desire for comfort.  I let my heart sink into my comfy pillow while my spirit wept in the dirt.

My friends, I urge you to know where you see Jesus the clearest and to chase Him.  Do not let the temptations of convenience and the 4 walls of a building hold you into the binds of religion but be released to love without boundaries and let the Spirit break your heart for what breaks His.   We are not bound to anything but made One with the blood of Christ, we are free and have new eyes to see what He sees, let us not forget that we have been made to glorify the Lord with every part of our being.

Intimacy > Perfection

There’s been a series of events lately that have opened my eyes to see life differently, more clearly.  None of these things have been easy or pleasant but they have drawn me closer to the heart of my Love and set me free from my old perspectives.  

Perspectives make all the difference in how you live your life.  You can see the glass half empty and expect the worst of situations and people or you can see the glass half full and trust with certainty that no matter what comes, the Lord is good.  As followers of Christ we must trust and know (just as Christ did when He was being lead to His death) that no matter what could ever happen, we have a Father who redeems us, loves us, and watches over us.  Common song lyrics to the Christian church are, “You make all things work together for my good…” and there are no truer words but how we see them and what they truly mean are 2 different things.  Somewhere in our belief system we found the idea that within the will of God is a safe bubble where nothing can harm us.  This is the saddest belief that we have attached ourselves to.  Not because we fail to take risks because of it (it’s often the contrary among my friends) but, because we think we are doing something wrong when life falls apart, we condemn ourselves and others to this false idea.  Just because we get sick, our plans fall through, a ministry fails, or our prayers go unanswered does not mean we have fallen short of obedience or disgraced the Lord.  Sometimes it might mean those things but, often these things happen because we are living in a fallen world!  This place is imperfect and painful.  We are free to embrace life for whatever it brings us and know that the Lord is with us every step of the way.  Ultimately He is for His glory which is always best for us.  

I was talking with a new mom the other day and she shared her hardest prayer with me and I think it is something that will stick with me until I have my own children.  She prays for her son to be lead closer to the Father’s heart no matter what happens in His life.  She does not ask Him to protect her boy or make him happy or spare him from pain…just to draw him in so that he may lean again the Holy Chest and know that He has an intimate God.  What a hard but beautiful prayer!  This mother knows what it means to love, to put aside her desire for a “perfect”, easy life for her children and trust Father to guide them on the narrow path. This is a woman that knows being a Christian is not about convenience or comfortability but relationship and righteousness.  I don’t think I could be prouder to have anyone else raising my nephew. :) 

Since I don’t have children I try to apply this prayer to my own life.  Lord, draw me in!  Show me what it means to love unconditionally and trust in complete vulnerability.  I want to know You and be known by You!  Show me the straight and narrow and guide me in this beautiful mess of a life.  I don’t want to waste a day worrying about my comfort or fearing what could happen, I want to hear your voice and follow unhindered.

Faith is Blind to Logic

Faith is blind to the world.  If we are to have faith in anything, especially an all powerful, all knowing, all present God, then we are to be blind to logic.

I find myself battling logic every day. If you ask my family they’d probably be surprised to hear that since I’ve made some completely illogical decisions in my life but, it’s true.  Somewhere down the road I became a realist who dreams.  I think we may be the worst of the realists because we desire more than what we will ever deem as possible.  I have big desires that I will never pursue because they are out of reach and out of touch with reality.  There are relationships that will never further because I do not see the people involved as trustworthy.  And I will only attempt what I see has possible in my own logic.

There are different reason a dreamer becomes a realist but for me there is only one.  Fear. I have embraced fear as a truly deep part of my identity and I question the ability to ever dig its entirety out.  The last few nights I have questioned how my life got here.  I believe it started with a broken heart, which lead to distrust then, to a hardened heart, to anger, then to fear and this fear is just breaking my heart even more, therefore, starting the cycle again.  The biggest problem is that the more the cycle goes around and around the deeper it digs into my soul, emptying me of the girl I used to be.

It’s interesting how the emptier I become the more desperately I long to be blind again, to question those who live by logic, and run into the arms of the unknown.  That feeling of desperation is the only glimpse of hope I can cling to.  A hope that the girl who shaved her head, the girl who loved without thinking, the girl who packed up her whole life in one suitcase, the girl who said, “Here I am, send me!” is still alive and fighting to be free.

When You Run…Because You Will

“When you run make sure you run to something and not away from”
-Avett Brothers

What beautiful kisses our Father gives us when He whispers words of encouragement and gifts us with dreams of the future.  I was once told that I was standing on the opposite side of a glass wall from the fullness of what God has for me.  “You can see the beauty and fully know of it’s riches but cannot experience it.”  At the time this word was not received as one of encouragement or favor from the Lord but of punishment and agonizing frustration.  The vision was of truth and complete honesty but my heart dropped to think of this impossible situation.  The wall was just there, unidentified, and holding me back.   The glass would have to break, making a mess…a mess I didn’t know how to clean up, a mess that would surely cut my core.

So, I ran.

I sprinted as hard as I could in a direction that could only glimpsed the fullness of God in my life.  I ran and I ran and I ran.  I ran until I could no longer move my legs.  I ran until the whole of my being was so weak that I broke.  And when I broke, I broke hard.  But do you know what stayed in full contact?  That stinking wall.  It followed me everywhere I went.  It took long easy strides and stayed at my heels, sometimes getting in my way.  I could feel it.  I could hear its deep, smooth breaths in my ear.  I could even taste its poison on my tongue.  It crippled me even when I was unaware of its presence.

So, I laid there.

Unable to run anymore I could only lay and hope to go blind and forget the life on the other side of the wall.  Rest was the only thing I could manage.  But in my rest, the Lord came and spoke to me.  He lifted my arms, He gave me water, and He strengthened my body.  He covered the wall to shield me from the pain while I drank from His cup.

And now the day has come.  The hour is here and the curtain pulled back.  My eyes can see the hinges and the nails.  This tiny wall is held together by bitterness.  A bitterness ignored grows but this wall has only gotten smaller.  It seems my Father has been chipping at the glass while He put me back together.  Strength is in my favor now and the tools in the Lord’s hand.  I can run again, but this time, I will run to something and not away from.

A Declaration of Dedication

There seems to be a whole other world in my head sometimes. A world where words swirl in rhythmic dances and colors collide in bursts of light.  This world was formed at such an impressionable stage of my life where joy was confused with the happiness of others and peace was seldom found so I created this place deep inside, full of beauty and things only imaginable.  Only recently have I realized this world even exists.  Every event I attended or party I held I would take double that time to “recuperate” and sit alone.  In that place of alone time I would write, draw, paint, sing spontaneous songs of peace and joy, and occasionally dance around the house.  Every time.  That time that I am alone with Father and letting Spirit move in me is the time that I am most alive, the time that my secret world becomes most vibrant.

A few years ago a friend was praying for me and God called me out.  He pointed me out in front of my students and other staff members, declaring the creativity that I hold so tight to my chest to be released.  This sacred world I created of vibrant landscapes I had immersed myself in was not mine to keep secret.  Spirit created it within me to share with everyone.  In fact, I think this is His place of residency within my heart.  I can hear His voice and know His touch much clearer when I allow myself to enter into this place of “imagination.”  And for the last few years I’ve tried to let it go.  The attempts at releasing my deepest secret into this dark world have been feeble and failing.  There are things (like insecurity, a man pleasing heart, and lies) that filter the depth of each color and slow the dance of each word to the point of returning to secrecy.

Using this imagination and creativity for the glory of God is part of what I was talking about in the last post.  Father is planting me deep in His truth right now.  Giving my roots the nutrients they need to grow strong so I don’t sway back and forth, losing sight of who I am.  So this is my somewhat public declaration of dedication to that releasing.  In chasing God I choose to chase the things He has given me.  I choose to live unhindered for the purpose He has placed me here for.  Whatever that looks like. There are doors opening all around right now and I just need to let go of thresh hold and purposely collide these 2 very different worlds.

Rooted Deep

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.”
-Psalm 1:1-3

The words of Psalm 1 are so rich.  Our delight can be found in the Lord’s guidance and direction.  His Word is our light and joy.  His truth grounds us so we don’t sway back and forth.  When we abide in Him we are planted in rich soil, ready for each season that comes.  We bear fruit in harvest but stand strong and full when winter winds shake our leaves.  We are rooted deep and never have to worry about our supply of nourishment.

I can never get enough of the beauty of this earth.  The mountains, the oceans, the long stretches of open field, and the sky…oh that sky.  But often I forget that when God made us, we were just as beautiful to Him.  He designed us and formed us just as He formed the mountains.  If I celebrated the people around me as much as I celebrate the mountainous horizon of the Rocky’s I know I would be a more loving, kind representation of Christ.  I want to be able to see the oak tree growing inside of each person I know.  For quite some time I sat in the seat of scoffers and judged those in the church but if I truly soak in the truth of my King then I will be a tree rooted deep in the rich soil, able to see the roots in others.

Looking back at the last couple years I can see exactly where I fought against His waters of truth and He used the rough waves to erode the dirt I had surrounded myself with.  He washed out the soil I packed in and made room for the new.  As painful as it was, every moment was worth the place I’m at today.  I’m far from where I need to be but my roots are digging deep and my leaves are starting to sprout and I know I am supplied with the richest of nutrients.