Fear

I am afraid to write because, “what if I don’t really have any words”?  What if all the ideas and insights buzzing in my brain amount to nothing.  What if in the transition from mind to document, these epiphanies and insights of mine become empty and pointless?  If to be alive is to think and imagine and create, then why am I afraid to put brush to canvas?  To destroy white perfection with counterfeit art.  I am afraid to make my far-from-perfect mark because I will see myself for who I am.

There is beautiful imperfection and there is this ugly, gaunt imperfection and I think I tend to view mine as the later.  Beautiful imperfection is flawed thinking, flawed words, flawed art that is made beautiful by the blood of Jesus.  Ugly imperfection drips with self-hatred and raspy whispers from the enemy “You are nothing.  Unlovable.  Unintelligent, A hopeless case.”  Beautiful imperfection is anchored in my value in Christ who paid quite a large sum for my soul.  Ugly imperfection harbors guilt and shame.  When I can’t look at myself in the mirror…

Sometimes I think if I just keep moving forward I will somehow erase where I am lacking.  If I am to distracted by the present to dwell on past shortcomings, then maybe they will go away.  Maybe God will forget them too.  Putting it in writing causes me to see the ridiculousness.  Maybe I think I am a bit ridiculous in general.  That my perception of having worth is really an illusion and I can’t look in the mirror because then Ill see through my own delusions.  Like if I realize my efforts and time and convictions and passions have been all for something that I imagined, I might implode and collapse from the inside.

Melodramatic?  Probably.  But I don’t think I would make a very good atheist.  I need a purpose for the pain.  A direction in the chaos.  A cause for the confusion.  And to know that there is absolute truth, despite what the world says, makes all of it 100% worth it.  To understand that the reason I don’t understand a lot is because I am not made for this temporary world, but for eternity.  I am not created to survive here, but to thrive in heaven.  Additionally, it is okay that I don’t have this day to day life thing down.

I should be afraid that I would spend this life trying to master the art of living in this world and then be horrified when I find that heaven is nothing like it, instead of being paralyzed by the fear of living with eternity in mind, of putting my pen to paper.  

“We do the best we can, don’t we?”, I said to a friend last week in reference to discussing the potential dangers of sun damage.  Yes, we do.  There are plenty of fears in this world and the media has done an outstanding job at making sure we are aware of every. single. one. We don’t have to seek out things to fear.

I want to fear God.  I want to fear wasting my life by avoiding potential failures and exposing frailty.  I want to be able to look in the mirror, and not see an illusion.  I want to be able to see that selfish child who hated to be controlled, that unwise teenager who made poor choices, that newly-wed who screamed in rage because her husband wasn’t meeting her expectations, that new mother who thought she should feel complete and fulfilled as a mom, but had never felt more lacking and confused in her life, and this 31 year old wife and mother and a dozen other titles who fears her own imperfection and doubts her purpose from time to time.  I want to see her, and I want to love her.  I want to see her and know her because she has been fully known by her Creator and He still wants her.  I want to  love her because I cannot hate and devalue that which God has placed such a high value.

I want to live unafraid of my own imperfection, because that is one of the enemy’s favorite games.  If I am to paralyzed by fear to move and make my mark then I am giving victory to Satan.  That’s the crux of it.

So be bold today.

6For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. 7But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.  2 Corinthians 4:6-11

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In The Morning

sunrise

I would leave everything for You.  Just to be with You.  Dishes unwashed.  Bed unmade.  Coffee undrunk.  Yes, all that, just to seek You out before my time of receiving is over.  Before the sun rises too high in the sky.  Before the screaming to act, to fix, to mend, to put away, becomes unbearable.  Before it is too late. 

Just like there’s a place between sleep and awake where I remember dreaming, but am also aware of being in my bed.  Yes, like that, there is a place between waking and starting where my soul is open.  When Your Spirit and mine commune with ease.  Where untouched places of my soul yearn for transformation instead of affirmation.  Not stagnation and temporary bandages.

This is the window of opportunity.  The pivotal point of the foundation of the day.  The time where I see my rags for what they are.  I recognize my need before the lie that I can make it enough because I am resourceful starts to grow.  The temporary crutches and bandages I have constructed that seemed to work so well at the time, become tethers that bind and casts that restrict.  They are no longer the solution.

With the day booming with lists and challenges, and the time that was too short stretching out before me, the day becomes long, and I know there are far to many hours in the day to navigate on my own.  Getting by takes second place to getting alone with You.  To survive today seems oddly pointless when I get eye to eye with the Sustainer.  Not enough becomes overflowing abundance.  Words like hurry, rush, complete and done are replaced by words like security, rest, peace and strength of soul. 

So for this, I will leave beds unmade and floors unswept to chase after you.  To exchange my eyes for Yours.  If only just for a little while…

Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed You.  What then will we have?”  Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you…everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for my names sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. ”  Matthew 19:27-29

 

When Things Seem Desolate

So I think I have a pattern established.  Since being on some new medication, I feel like I can do life 75% of the time.  But “that week”…you know that week.  The one where you want to rip out the throat of everyone that dares to disagree with my all-knowing, all-powerful word.  Needless to say, that’s about where I’m at this week.  I immediately regret my hasty words.  Words that tear down and bring tears.  No thought given beforehand.

I want to feel an extreme besides extreme sadness and extreme anger.  I have a desire to lie on the ground in the woods as the wind whips through bare trees and the sun sinks, when everything in my common sense tells me it’s time to go inside.  Perhaps I want to stay just to see if the laws I assume in my mind have any logical premise.  If there is any truth to the notion that dark and cold produce desolation and danger and destruction.  What if I’m already feeling desolate?

There are parts of winter that I love.  Curling up on the couch in the evenings with a book and a blanket.  Watching Cardinals and Blue Jays scrounge for food.  I feel like the Cardinals in that I am scrounging for nourishment.  For any sort of refreshment.  Because the days and nights are feeling a bit less cozy and more and more desolate.  Empty.  Void.  And I wonder things like, “What if the bleakness of the days go on and on forever?” and , “What if I never get to feel the warmth of the sun on my face again?”.  Some of you know what I’m talking about.  That niggling fear that lends itself to questions like, “What if this becomes my life?”

I enter my yard from my dutiful run.  Exercise is supposed to help, although lately every joint in my lower body has been rebelling. I look down into a drift of leaves and there is a birds nest.  Empty of course.  I examine the intricate weave of the pine needles and string.  Birds are instinctually beautiful.  Even their scrounging is beautiful.  I don’t feel beautiful in my scrounging.  I feel hollow and haggard and clumsy and stupid.  Unworthy of love.  Maybe that’s a huge part of it.  How unworthy I feel sometimes.  Oh, to make the head knowledge, heart knowledge.  To transcend the monotony and glimpse eternity.  I’m convinced that’s all it would take.  One glimpse.  Like lying on the carpet of crunchy leaves in the woods in the dark.

The chickens haven’t laid in months.  I just bought 3 dozen eggs at the store.  An act of resignation.  Their inability to produce also reminds me of myself.  Like I have nothing to give to anyone.  Barrenness.

Something prompts me to look in the laying b0x.  I somehow find myself looking expectantly.  And there…there in the middle of that rounded, worn, sat-in nest are three, perfect, little, brown eggs!  This means the chicks that were born in late summer are starting to lay!  I am so delighted as I carry them to the house.  I can’t wait to show the kids.  Those long months of just being an eater.  Not seemingly contributing.  Not earning a “keep”.  Now she is producing something beautiful.

The next morning, Graham goes out into the woods right after breakfast.  Partly because that’s his favorite place in the world and partly to escape the surety of school work.  He comes back in a few minutes later with a smile beaming from his face and two yellow tulips clutched in his hand.  “Look what I brought you and Aubrie!”, he says, clearly delighted with himself.  We put them in a blue glass vase because I love yellow and blue together.  I ask if there are more and he says, “No, just those two.”

I’m sitting in the hallway outside her room…listening.  It’s late and she’s coughing. Another cold turned respiratory.  We made the decision to take her off her steroid last month because she had been doing so well.  My heart pounds with anxiety as I quickly  run through my available resources with no possitive results.  Are we going to end up back in the emergency room?  I wonder.  I selfishly dread the disapproving comments we will more than likely receive from the allergist should we have to go.  Somehow, someway, I start to practice gratitude.  I start thanking Him for His care and ability to see situations in ways I never will.  I ask Him to forgive my doubt.  I told Him that, yes, I believe, but help my unbelief.  I asked Him to heal my baby girl.  To touch her lungs and throat and make her airways clear.  Then, I also told Him that I will praise Him whether He takes this cup from us or not.  I told Him I would celebrate His faithfulness whether we got rest tonight or not. Because I will not allow this situation to turn into a battle of wills.

I listen to her cough gradually become more intermittent.  When I crawl into bed, I am prepared to get up again.  I am willing.

She sleeps straight through from 1am to 9am.  No coughing.  No throwing up.  No breathing treatments.  She greets me with a smile in the morning light and I tell her what I asked of the Lord.  She smiles, unsurprised.  There’s that faith and expectancy.  Not just because she has child-like faith, but from personal experiences that make her wise beyond her almost 7 years.

And I think about my desolation and my barrenness and how He never really sleeps like spring does in winter.  He is always working.  Sometimes just under the surface where we can’t see.  And we shouldn’t be surprised when miracles spring up.  We should expect them.  And we shouldn’t think it trivial or miniscule when He uses 3 little eggs, 2 tulips and one healthy, smiling girl to teach us something about Himself.

December 24th- Our Gift

 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Romans 8:32-34

Jesus is our gift.  He is the gift of life, joy, and right-standing with God.  No more offering sacrifices, no more “doing our best and hoping for the best”.  He paid it all in full.  There are no other actions necessary but for us to accept it.

We can’t out-give God, because He has already given the greatest gift of all.  LIFE.  Not just any life, but eternal life with Him.

15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! Romans 5:15-17

December 23rd-Giver of Grace

It’s easier for me to listen to a sermon where the pastor is “stepping on toes” and really challenging me than to listen to a sermon on grace.  Want to know why?  Because those “toe stepping” sermons often times are about things we need to DO or stop DOING.  I can do something in my own strength and will to achieve the objective.  Grace sermons are on just that, grace.

Grace-the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.

We can’t earn it.  We can’t obtain it any other way than to admit that we can’t earn it and that we are hopeless without HIM.  Accepting grace is the most humble thing we can do.

We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved… Acts 15:11

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. Hebrews 2:9

December 22nd-Redeemer

O goodness, this may be my favorite.  God as our REDEEMER has to do with not only our souls being bought back and our hearts made into dwelling places for His Spirit, but also His unique ability to redeem any situation and turn it into an opportunity for…you guessed it…His glory to be displayed and our good to come to pass.  So that means, any mistakes you make, any plans the enemy has to snatch you from HIS hand, any ill gotten gain anyone else has concocted from your demise, it can ALL, 100% of it, be used by HIM.  He can redeem it.  That just took a whole lot of pressure off me!  He has me in the palm of HIS hand.  All I have to do is be obedient and repentant when I have gone against Him.

Sometimes it’s easier to follow a list of rules than to accept that it has so little to do with what I do and so much to do with what HE does.

But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead; he will surely take me to himself. Psalm 49:15

Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalm 103:1-5

18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 1 Peter 18-19

December 21st- HEALER

Yes, our HEALER.  The Healer not just ultimately in heaven, but here, now, in our lives.  He heals and turns wounds into double-plated armor.  Re-inforced with His healing balm that somehow causes us to end up stronger than before we started. He uses wounds and sickness and hurts to shape us to be more like His Son.

Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me. Psalm 30:2

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3

[ Israel Unrepentant ] “Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. Hosea 6:1

12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 “Make level paths for your feet,”[a] so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. Hebrews 12:12-13

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.  Revelation 22:1-3