Thursday, September 27, 2012

rich in love


09.26.2012 
Serving popsicles to our new neighbors and friends


We are all moved in.  Well, sorta.  And by sorta, I mean that all of our belongings [that would fit] are in - and there are boxes everywhere.

Tonight, we had the sweetest reminder of why we are where we are, why the path has taken us to this place.  As we passed out popsicles on the playground, between giggles and grins, our hearts were overflowing.  Walking back home, I realized that even as we are just beginning to live with less than we ever have before, we are already living so richly in His presence.  

There have been moments, especially during the move, where it has been difficult to not look at what we have given up.  Oh, but how it all pales in comparison when we catch just a glimpse of what we have gained.  "If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it.  But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it."  Mt 16:25


Tonight, I was reminded - again - that God doesn't need our ability, only our availability.  Our willingness.  Our life surrendered to Him.  He came so that we would have life - and live it to the fullest  - not for ourselves, but for Him - and in Him. 

Go. Live. Love. Serve.  
You make known to me the path of life;
 in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. 
Psalm 16:11

Thursday, September 13, 2012

freedom from the wait

"There's a place my eyes can't see, where my spirit longs to be
It's a place of healing, it's a place where I find freedom."
it wasn't long after surrendering my life to Christ that i began to feel as though He was leading me to a season of waiting.  all of us, in some way, at some point on this path, experience the longing... and the waiting.  and so, i struggled with waiting well.  sometimes, i struggled with waiting at all.  sometimes, so many times, [more times than i can count, actually] i ran ahead of Him full force, forging my own way, my own will, my own plan - desperate to conform His will to my agenda.

yes, He had saved my soul.  rescued my life from the pit.  but in so many ways, i was still the same foolish woman, the foolish builder, so desperate to create some semblance of a beautiful life, hastily constructing a beautiful facade - on sinking sands. crashing down.  again.     

the very first verse He spoke to my heart back in early 2008 was simply, "Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10).  His very first instruction to my heart is the one that i am still struggling to trust - and obey.  because here's the thing:  i want it all planned out.  like, right now.  i am desperate to know the unknown, desperate to plan out every detail of my life.  desperate to control the outcome.  desperate to control others.  desperate to do anything other than the one thing He is calling me to do - the one thing He has continually called me to:  be. still.

stillness.  silence.  trust.  these things do not come naturally for me.  these things are difficult.  and it is usually when i've ran so fast, so furious, so very far away from Him that i grow tired.  and weary.  and He whispers words of life to my very soul when he says, "Come to Me, [you] who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."  (Mt. 11:28) and truly, as the lyrics above:  His presence is a place of healing, it's the place where i find freedom. 

yes, even freedom from the wait. 

because what if i already have that which i have been waiting for.  what if i have everything i will ever need and it's in Him and Him alone.
and what if...

"What if we ... had learned early on that having Him was everything, not a means to the life we think He would want us to have." ~ via http://gracefortheroad.com/

what if he isn't calling me to the wait, but to the stillness of psalm 46: still. in the greek, it is רפה râphâh, which means properly to cast down; to let fall; to let hang down; then, to be relaxed, slackened, especially the hands: It is also employed in the sense of not making an effort; not putting forth exertion; and then would express the idea of leaving matters with God. (Barnes Commentary)

true freedom isn't the freedom to do whatever we want to do.  it isn't the freedom to chart our own course, plan our own lives, forge our own will and way.  no, it is the freedom to ה râphâh;  it is the freedom to be still; the freedom to rest.

it is freedom from the wait. 

the freedom to fall in love with Jesus because when you do that - and the more you do that - the more you learn that "'in Him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28); that "He is before all things, and in him all things hold together" (Col 1:17); that He will "supply every need according to His riches" (Phil 4:19). 

i don't want to live in the wait anymore.  and after all these years, i've just realized He isn't calling me to live in the wait.  He's simply calling me to LIVE in Him.  to find LIFE.  in Him.  the place where i find freedom.  

"I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."
John 10:10

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

the darkened path

 Without the light of His word, the my path darkens...

a strong line of storms came through a few weeks ago.  it was predicted days in advance but because we live in an area with underground utilities, the power rarely goes out... until lightning strikes a transformer.  and then you wake up in the middle of the night sensing something is wrong.  it's eerily quiet.  you're all alone.  in total darkness.  completely unprepared.  blindly feeling your way through a home that was once familiar.

yea...  life's like that. 

in the ebb and flow of this walk - and this life - i often, all too often, lose sight of the path that God has set me on.  quite frankly, some days, all too many days, i don't want to be on the path He has set me on.  it isn't what i would've chosen for myself.  in fact, it is - all too often - in direct opposition of what i want for my life in the present.  and yet each time i turn from it, He is faithful to bring me back.  over and over.  and over again.  and i am learning that this, this path and this life, is about so much more than patience and perseverance and even obedience.  it is about total, complete and utter dependence on Him.  His Spirit.  His Word.

Ann Voskamp writes, "without the lens of His word, the world warps" and i resound in a similar vein that without the light of his word, the my path darkens...

storms of life, predictable as they are, inevitably come and unlike like a real storm, you know, with a real power outage that sends me rushing to find the the way to the candles and matches or a flashlight - the proverbial storm, whether plowing through my heart or head, paralyzes me.  in the darkness. sometimes for days. and i find myself unable, if not unwilling, to turn to the only source of light and the only one whom the wind and the waves obey (Mt. 8:27). 

only silence.  only darkness.

the very same silence and darkness the psalmist wrote about in Psalm 39:  "I was mute and silent; I held my peace to no avail, and my distress grew worse."  and in Psalm 32:  "When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long.  Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me.  My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.  Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt.  I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.”  And you forgave me!  All my guilt is gone."

and just like that, the light meets the dark.  power restored.  the path transforms before my eyes as my heart transforms within me, conforming my steps - and my desire - to walk with Him.  always.  only with Him. 

and just like that, i write.  more.  again.  my story.  bits and pieces of grace.  tattered and torn by my own inconsistency and woven together by His grace.  His mercy.  four years ago i sat, head buried in hands against the kitchen table, sobbing that i was unworthy of this calling - and of His constant pursuit of me.  it took a long time to realize that yes, even in my unworthiness, He is worthy of my everything.  His words heal, slowly mending the gaps.  and I'm reminded that it is here, right here, in the midst of my own messy story, He meets me....        
"It is in story, we meet the Spirit of God. The reader meets the Spirit of God in the reading of story — the word made flesh in your life. The writer, you, meets the Spirit of God in the writing your story – the word made flesh in your own life.
The Word God wastes nothing and He heals two broken hearts with one story – the reader and the writer
Us who are fighting for joy from behind the laundry heap and in the trenches with the crying kids and with the bruised marriages and the crushing debts and the battered, frayed dreams, and we. Don’t. want. To. Get. Out. Of. Bed — we need your messy, real, authentic, unmasked stories.
And you who are fallen and broken and scraped– you need your messy, real, ugly stories. Because in the hands of the Spirit, story becomes a salve to the skinned souls. 
The first person that any words ever heal — is the writer of those words.

Because our words aren’t wholly our words. 
They are from the Word God Himself."
Ann Voskamp 
Amen, Ann.  Amen. 

"Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect your decrees!
Then I will not be ashamed when I compare my life with your commands.
As I learn your righteous regulations, I will thank you by living as I should!
 I will obey your decrees. Please don’t give up on me!"
Psalm 119:5-8 (NLT)