Holy Broken

My dark heart, on blast in my actions, drives me to glimpse God’s heart in fasting. He reveals much in Isaiah 58, Behold you fast only to quarrel and to fight….Is such the fast that I choose?….Will you call this a fast and a day acceptable to the Lord? It pleases Him when we commit to restraining our flesh that His Spirit may grow stronger within us, but never at the cost of peace. Never at the cost of justice. Never to turn our eyes inward, but to turn them Upward.

So I know, that in seeking Him, I have been a Pharisee (that nemesis of Jesus we all pretend not to be). For the family member who intrudes on what has become “my” time receives a snippy retort. And suddenly I have not loved God, but myself; for every human who walks on this planet, and in the halls of my home, bears God’s image on earth ((for good or for evil)). It is revealed that my seeking is now motivated by what I can get instead of Who He Is. How I yearn to be available to His call. How often I miss the mark by the log in my eye (Matt. 7:5).

Anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.~1 John 4:8

Oh, that my days may be acceptable to Him.

It is imperative that I live broken because of the paradox of Christian existence. This paradox is that though my days on earth will never be flawless & sweet aromas to Him, yet, in Christ, they always will be (even in my legacy of sin & hypocrisy?!). How can it be so?

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.~Psalm 139:6

What mad contradiction it is as I cry out with the saints: I BELIEVE; oh, help my unbelief (Mark 9:24)! Like roots & weeds, the good & bad exist alongside each other within us. In our Lord, the weeds can be strangled, and the plant can grow strong, sending off seeds on the wind in every direction, until He gathers us all, in holiness, to His rest. But we must acknowledge our imperfection. We must live with two realities before us: 1) my sin, 2) His glory. The sin to make us broken, the Glory to lift up our heads, to be a gentle palm beneath the chin saying, “smile, HIS is the victory, ain’t no grave gonna hold you down[Crowder].”

But He Himself [Jesus] will be refreshed from brooks along the way. He will be victorious.~Psalm 110:7

I can measure His love as tidy as a tablespoon of turmeric: Jesus came, He lived covered in woodchips & sinlessness, He set into motion a movement of followers that would bring every nation to Him in worship & then…He died as a criminal.

For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of His cross. ~Colossians 1:19&20

Teach me to feed my body with food & my soul with Your word. Free from trying to nourish my soul with the temporary food of this life. Only sometimes overlapping the two when my body is sustained by the strength of Your Word (may it be so!) in a fast that pleases You.

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. ~Galations 5:24

For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar.~Psalm 138:6

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All of Us Down Here

I bury my face in his Word, overwhelmed by a handful of unhappy people who I love with genuine, concerned heart. Face buried in familiar pages, I receive the phone book smell of Hosea chapter two. Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her~Hosea 2:14.

And the children who dance erotic, letting go of sexual urges planted by obscene songs and scenes they’ve seen in carpetless homes? Will you allure them too? Will they ever know the joy of God-strong in them? “I have seen his ways but I will heal him; I will lead him and restore comfort to him and his mourners, creating the fruit of the lips. Peace, peace to the far and to the near,” says the Lord, “and I will heal him. But the wicked are like the tossing sea for it cannot be quiet, and its waters toss up mire and dirt”~Isaiah 57:18-20

The angry one, Lord, who sees herself only as a victim, never as an overcomer? The one determined to beat odds and blow past highest grades in the class? The one who wants bad to see justice served by men who will only fail him? For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.~Romans 10:12b

And me, Lord, your tired, joy-filled servant, so often wandering in pursuit of lies, so often doubting and tarrying in shame? Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning~Psalm 30:4-5

“If God is on our side, who can be against us?

In this wasteland where I’m livin’

there’s a crack in the door filled with light

and its all that I need to shine.”

~NEEDTOBREATHE

Audacity to Ask

54 days ago:

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom~Psalm 90:12

The last journal started in struggle and ended in burn out. A lot was accomplished in between. But no amount of productivity is worth the forfeit of my soul’s health. I want this journal to be full of all the joy and health that comes from living Coram Deo [in the presence of God]. I hope it is peppered with instances in which I put down what I am doing at the slightest urging, and readily join God in whatever He is up to. I want to follow Him in all things, everyday submitting myself to His great self. Every day an expedition into grace and He is my Captain. Where will we go, Lord? What will happen? Only You know, and that is what is best. I hope to be renewed by deeper connection to the Fount of Living Water. You can make these dreams come true in my life, Lord, and I pray that You will, knowing that even as I pray You have already answered. 

On the last page of the same journal I wrote:

My God overwhelms the giants. He slays dragons. He gives us what it takes to lift trembling sword in the fact of monsters unimaginable. He puts the war cry for justice deep in our throats. He sets fire in our belly so we can stand appalled and indignant in the way of abuse and terror. It’s His breath in our lungs anyway. Let’s praise Him with it.

Amazing that He answered my prayers even before the journal was spent.

Receiving God’s gifts is a gentle, simple movement of stooping lower.~Ann Voskamp

DecaGratitude

There are days when I just need a minute to breathe. These are usually the days when a list of thanks is in order. Emotional fatigue is a sure sign of discontentment. It is too much for one girl to desire what the world says she should have AND the Lord’s will for her days. I am that girl and I cannot do it. I either have to stop and re calibrate, or I will wander exhausted for weeks, months, years.

My history instructor firmly declared last January that human beings are good at 2 things: complaining, and reproducing. Now I can’t say much about the latter, but as for the former, I am human through and through. This is me offering an Ann-Voskamp answer to my own trouble.

1) Nutella covered fingers, dancing to worship music alone in my room with You.

2) Legs that kick strong through water, bubbles that come up from my nose.

3) Hair that does somersaults on blustery days.

4) Neon Steeple Radio (Spotify), words that remind me of the only One who is promised to be present at my dying breath.

5) Scripture: I am hungry, thirsty, deranged in pursuit of Truth. I want to gobble it, consuming even the long organized lists of Leviticus and Numbers. Thank you Jesus for this flawless piece of yourself.

6) Laughs shared with co-workers, hymns to sing when medicine will not let me rest.

7) White tangerine flesh cracking as I bite from pit.

8) Parents bent over to create fronds like shields, halting fiery darts hurled my way.

9) Tears locked behind my eyes, denying death her bounty.

10) Friends who text to tell me I am loved, turning grief tears into sunshine drops.

My Jesus has won.(( Shout it! ))The battle against my other list (the one not worth sharing: it contains the things I cannot do, the gifts I do not have) is already finished. Why should I carry the burdens of warfare already fought for me?

Rejoice; He came back alive!

I am terrified to receive the blessings my God has for me. After the manner of a solemn Muslim addressing Allah, I pray eyes wide, palms open. I flutter like a dry fall leaf.

When I called, you answered me; you greatly emboldened me.~Psalm 138:3

I go to soak in His Word for though I cannot always see His footprints or hear His voice,

I will always remain in His love.

Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen.~Psalm 77:19

Pop Vulture

3 Quick Responses that I must articulate:

1) Love & Basketball

              SUCH a popular movie. If you have not seen it you are probably not American. That being said, I was not American until about a month ago. I watched it and have been reeling ever since. GASP. Woman desperately pursues man! Woman is a great basketball player with a decent family yet all she wants is Man. Man sleeps around unapologetically and takes no action towards pursuing Woman. In the climactic scene, Woman challenges Man to a game of basketball with his heart as the prize. She plays for HIS heart!? I watched open mouthed. (I’m being serious here: flies probably gathered, I was oblivious.) Man was made to pursue Woman. No woman should have to desperately pursue her man.

I perceive this mentality as result of a break down in society that has removed man’s drive to provide and left women desperately trying to lead families–a position no woman wants to find herself in. In my life and the lives of my friends, it is prevalent. ‘Merica.

Let him come after you, ladies. We were made to be hard to get. We give a man permission to be a man when we wait for HIM to pursue US. If he does not come, then he ain’t the one!

2) Stay With Me

           I recently acquired a Spotify account (https://www.spotify.com/us/) and the very first song I downloaded was, yes, Stay With Me by Sam Smith. Why? Because I adore this song. It has been upwards of a month since I downloaded it and I have listened to it nearly every day since. Yesterday it occurred to me (as I sang at the top of my lungs…) how deplorable the lyrics are.

Guess it’s true, I’m not good at a one-night stand But I still need love ’cause I’m just a man These nights never seem to go to plan I don’t want you to leave, will you hold my hand?

[Chorus:] Oh, won’t you stay with me? ‘Cause you’re all I need This ain’t love, it’s clear to see But darling, stay with me

[Verse 2:] Why am I so emotional? No, it’s not a good look, gain some self-control And deep down I know this never works But you can lay with me so it doesn’t hurt

(http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/samsmith/staywithme.html)

Tragic. These words break my heart. According to a potentially reliable source (The Daily Beast, you be the judge) the songwriter/performer, Sam Smith, wrote these from personal experience. We are seeing into this precious man’s soul. And do you feel his sorrow? I can close my eyes and taste his desperation, his longing for something to fill the void. (I can taste it because I too have been desperate, broken, and full of longing for love.) He stays with someone he knows does not love him. What else can he do?

When I thought, “my foot slips,” your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.~Psalm 94:18&19

Because he holds fast to me in love, I will DELIVER him; I will PROTECT him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be WITH him in trouble; I will RESCUE him and honor him. With long life I will SATISFY him and show him my salvation.~Psalm 91:14-16

3) Divergent

         In contrast to #1, Divergent offers the kind of love story that reflects the ideals behind a Biblical relationship (the kind that makes me sniffle.) Girl kicks butt (girl power, love it.) Guy notices Girl. Guy starts protecting Girl. Girl notices but is cautious. Guy kisses Girl. Girl acts like a lady and bids him slow down. This makes Guy want Girl more. This causes Guy to respect Girl. Girl and Guy protect and sacrifice for each other.

Enough. I might throw up. I am a fan of it because I am tired of seeing girls play ball for their man’s heart and get left in the ruins of abuse and neglect.

SHE: Draw me after you; let us run. (1:4aa)

HE: As a lily among brambles, so is my love among the young women. (2:2)

SHE: My beloved is mine, and I am his. (2:16) Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. (8: 7a) ~Song of Solomon

What the Tornado Took

He bolstered me for a trial of which there was no foreshadowing.
God was so near. In the blue lights, His Spirit took hold and spoke through me, when my shock was great.
Those are moments that I ask for the strength and memory to hold in my head and heart as pillars of faith in a living God.
Selfishness, frustration, and lack of faith bares its ugly teeth,
All while I seek to enter the pain again and again, to be rid of it.
It hurts now to laugh as family and friends seek to cheer me up;
Their support is invaluable.
May Jesus’ people be mobilized to support those with no (loving or living) family.
I had forgotten how physical the pain of a broken heart is.
There is a a heavy rawness in my chest
That wells to the forefront of my emotions when I see the wreckage, see the swathe of destruction.
My mind takes me to the place where the curtain was torn in two;
How much worse was Christ’s pain?
I could have washed my friend’s feet many times over with the tears that I have shed for her.
Let me live in such a way as to be washing the feet of those I love
(everyone)
Daily by my actions and sincerity of heart.

He takes our transgressions away, as far as the East is to the West.
He loves us to the sky and back.
(Psalm 103)

If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord
more than the watchmen for the morning
more than the watchmen for the morning.~Psalm 130:3-6

Put Together the Moments

I rang in the new year below the border. My 2014 was greeted with pops of confetti, 12 grapes, and music all in Spanish.
January 2nd: I’m grateful to the point of tears for this moment. For Your peace. I look out of the window and I see rolling hills, arid ground clothed in dusty shrubs. Baja, Mexico. I look inside myself and I see darkness being rolled away, even as old habits fight to stay. I see You making Your home in me. My story is such a great one. Lord, I am unworthy to have you near me.

We will this year gather celestial fruits on earthly ground, where faith and hope have made the desert like the garden of the Lord~Charles Spurgeon

January 3rd:
Thank You for challenging me
Hold my feet to the fire
Put the right heart in me
Search the depths of my soul and know me
As no man ever could
Reveal my sin-the immensity of my depraved nature-
And comfort me with knowledge of Yourself
When I search the Scriptures
Seeking to find You
Let my heart be open and raw
Give me sight to see and understand the whole message
Answer me out of Your loving kindness
Or my whole life will be in vain.

Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground for it is time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you~Hosea 12:6

(Still January 3rd:) The weight of what God is calling me to do starts to sink in…My understanding of the cross-cultural life starts to be fleshed out. How immense the bridges to be crossed are. How alone I shall feel in a culture 100% different from my own. I ask God to strengthen me for the coming challenges and support me as my heart is heavy for the unreached, and for what I have to do. I ask Him not to let me turn tail and run, as is my first instinct.

The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down~Psalm 145:14

January 4th: The world is too big. People are too blind, corrupt, selfish. And I am one of them.

January 6th: I want to move into another culture. I want to make my (small, concrete, dirt) home there. I want to marry the culture and have its children. I want to surmount the difficulties of living in another culture by time and trial. I want to die there. None of this because that culture is better, or because I grew tired of the U.S. I will be there because that is where God wants me. I will sew seeds of the Gospel where none have sown before. It will be the most difficult initiative of my life but God will guide me through all the tears, discouragement, and frustration. I will love people as my own family, and they will become my own.

Make Way

Walking out of the gym I hear a man ask, “you did not get a snack?” I stop him as he tries to walk back in the door. I peer into the rainy, street-light-orange night. Round heads on stick necks, all dark silhouettes with white eye balls, turn towards me. I address the first pair of eyes I see:
“Did you just straight up lie or did I not give you a snack?” I ask in a slightly too loud & accusatory tone. He shakes his head. He can’t help it, his eyes dart to the boy beside him whose head is hung. I had noticed this boy trying to get a snack from someone else earlier in the night, though I know I gave him one. I approach the little boy, full of disappointment and fear that he does not get enough to eat.
I bend over, wanting to read his eyes to discover the truth. I address him by name, “are you hungry or do you just want another snack?” He does not answer or look up. I try to raise his face to mine but his chin is glued to his chest. His mouth is set in a deep frown, certainly his eyes are full of tears. I’m afraid of squeezing his cheeks too hard. When I see that he is adamant in his resistance to my efforts, and horribly ashamed, I kiss him on the head and walk away.
Seconds after turning my back I regret not trying harder or praying for him or reminding him to ask us for food if he is ever truly hungry. I re-hash my actions all the way to my truck but I know that what I did was right. He knows that lying is wrong. I showed him a tiny glimpse of redeeming love in the face of sin (in the tangible form of a kiss on the head.) I wish nothing so deeply as for him to see that as a reflection of Christ’s loving, atoning sacrifice. Now I ask and plead that the Holy Spirit move in his little boy’s heart. That his guilt be turned into a quest for forgiveness, instead of to apathy and selfishness. I long to know that he stays up, even now, considering the futility of his sin, and recalling the Bible verses we have led him to so carefully store away in his heart.
I have done my part. I have fought against barriers and made room for revival.
There is nothing I can do to ensure a desire for forgiveness in his heart.
No card I can send,
No money I can raise,
No verse I can quote.
This is the part where I submit his oppressed soul to God,
And intercede on His behalf
The way I am sure someone interceded for me on the night I was saved.

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom~Psalm 90:12

Righteousness will go before Him (the Lord) and make his footsteps a way.~Psalm 85:13

God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”~Galations 4:6

Real Talk

Living counter-culturally is going to be harder than I thought. Because the American church  is blending in so well with the culture (and forfeiting the ideals of Jesus) it is hard to say what really should be going on in a Christian’s life. And it is oh-so difficult to live with a Heavenly mindset in a culture obsessed with being comfortable right now! Less sinning should not be the only thing that’s different between the life of any given Christian and any given Unbeliever. There’s so much more to being a Christ follower. Hear it from the lips of Jesus Himself:

…Come you who are blessed by my father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. Then the righteous will answer Him saying, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? and when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?” And the King will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”~Matthew 25:34-40

 

It’s difficult! Living the way Jesus did is super hard. It is hard to do lots of good things (sans earthly reward) and not begin thinking to highly of yourself. Dying to self is just that…dying. It is hard to know where to start in a world as wide & wild & wrecked as this, It’s challenging, grueling, difficult.

But wait.

God planned for us to do good things and to live as he has always wanted us to live. That’s why he sent Christ to make us what we are. ~Ephesians 2:10

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.~Matthew 11:29

He’s got a plan. And a promise. If you believe in God and all the words of Jesus above…then why do you hesitate to let it all go? Forget temporary “comforts,” go for gold, and find rest for your soul! Ask Him to send His Good Spirit to lead you on level ground (Psalm 143.) Follow Him like a sheep, not turning away for the sake of earthly desires or security. Step into your new life.

Enjoy the wild ride.