Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Good morning!

I mentioned in my last blog that God loves being creative. The next day after writing that, He proved Himself yet again in that way!

When I visited a new church Sunday morning, I heard worship and a sermon with a strong theme of submission to God's plan. They cited several passages of scripture as examples of the fact that sometimes a period of darkness precedes a time of understanding, awareness, and celebration of God's great grace. Sometimes darkness is a step we go through in learning submission. The speaker mentioned that to God, there is no difference between darkness and light--or should I say, they are different to Him, but He sees past all that. Darkness doesn't change Him the way it changes me--He remains faithful. I can bank on the fact. Darkness seasons were heavily on my mind in the last writing I did!

Even the Scripture passages (Psalm 139 was one among them) were some of the same that came to my heart while I wrote my last post. God knows I tend to forget or doubt His message of teaching and encouragement. He also knows the best way for me to learn is repetition! Thanks be to Him. :)

Help me to listen!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Time to Sing a New Song

You know the feeling of losing a battle, yes? Maybe hitting snooze for the 5th time so there's no time left for that workout you wanted to achieve before getting the day started. Maybe losing your temper with the bitter coworker you swore you wouldn't let get to you. Maybe surrendering to that strong-willed toddler when you just can't be more stubborn anymore. Maybe a literal, larger-than-life, ugly battle as part of a war that you can't even justify to yourself. Realizing that for all the time you spent carefully presenting a good image as a Christian, you feel you destroyed it in one moment of hypocrisy, publicly showcased.

Sometimes we fight hard. Then other days, it seems like it might truly be best to just surrender. Sometimes we just give up because it got too hard and confusing. This is when we are our own worst enemy.

I've definitely lost a few big battles in the past year. There isn't much I can say that I'm proud of that I've achieved. It's mostly defeat, surrender, laying down arms because it doesn't make sense any more.

If knowing the depth of my weakness makes me a better person, maybe I've grown in some way. But I don't really think that's what it's been about.

For all the ways I've given up and failed, I think of this Proverb: "If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small." (24:10) I have fainted. My strength is small. I agree with the Bible.

This seemed shameful to me, but I am writing to tell you that my shame is not worth discussing in comparison with the faithfulness of God. I have slapped him in the face and pushed him away with all my heart, soul and mind. I have believed and declared that he failed me. When things got hard in life and in my spirit, I did not trust him. All the while I have been devastated because no matter what else I lost or said farewell to in 2011, the loss of my Dearest Companion and Holiest Friend was ripping my insides apart and hurting me worse than anything else. I doubted him so much. I was so angry at him for departing from me. I didn't ever think I would lose my faith in him, but let me tell you, I did. This was the Valley of the Shadow of Death, to me. Complete, unknowable, unsensible darkness. Why did this happen? It came on so suddenly. Where did he go?

And when he was gone, I couldn't make sense of anything anymore. I didn't really know how to love anyone properly. What is life without love?

Thankfully, miraculously, wonderfully:
If I say, "Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night," even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.

I agree with the Bible again, from Psalm 139.

God appeared to me again. He made Himself visible when I had stopped looking for Him. I said, "YOU will have to reach down and pull me out of this quagmire, because I don't even believe it can be done so I've decided to stop trying." So He said okay, and how is that different from what I've done before? I defied Him with a prayer of challenge. He humbled me to the ground by answering me lovingly, unmistakably, immediately and creatively. He is such a Creator -- He can't help Himself. He can't resist the rebuilding with beautiful intricacies the house of my heart that I'd already condemned. When I knew Him and hated Him, He knew me and loved me back so tenderly I couldn't hold onto my anger anymore.

You hem me in, behind and before,   and lay your hand upon me.Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;   it is high; I cannot attain it. Where shall I go from your Spirit?
   Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
   If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
   and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
   and your right hand shall hold me.

More things from Psalm 139 that have been proven in my life.

God has given me so many good things and I am so thankful for the rich blessings of my life. The biggest blessing I have received from Him, I believe, is that my life means nothing to me when I refuse to acknowledge Him in everything I do. I need Him so badly, before any other thing or person in this universe. He has given me a small life, with no celebrity status. He has created in me a craving to tell the story of His love for me so that others can know that He is still living and active in this world, just like His Word. I want to tell the stories He has entrusted to me with more clarity. That is what this blog is all about. If no one ever reads it, no matter. It is my offering to Him. It is my scratch paper to work the equations of life events that yield a solution illuminating the reality of Him.

The story is just beginning a new chapter. I am following the steps of Jesus into a new area. I am admitting the places where the difficulty of living in community with my fellow man has resulted in my turning off of my brain and my soul instead of asking Him to help my answer the hard questions to myself. It is time to throw off another layer of fear that's cloaked on. It's time to go deeper into the Book that is living. It is time to receive a great gift of love that He just won't stop showering on me. Adam and Eve were naked and without shame -- they had no fear. To be fearless... the lifelong goal of this storytelling. To stand bare and fearless under the raining down of God's love... My ultimate end.

Thank you for reading... be encouraged in your own dark and fearful places. God is designing an elaborate floodlight for you, as well. 


Truly God is good to Israel,   to those who are pure in heart.But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled,   my steps had nearly slipped. [...]But when I thought how to understand this,   it seemed to me a wearisome task,until I went into the sanctuary of God; [...]When my soul was embittered,
   when I was pricked in heart,
I was brutish and ignorant;
   I was like a beast toward you.
Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
   you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
   and afterward you will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
   And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
   but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;
   you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
But for me it is good to be near God;
   I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,
   that I may tell of all your works.

(I agree with Psalm 73 as well.)