The Best Argument

Another excerpt from A Severe Mercy (Sheldon Vanauken, p.85), written before he accepted Christ:

The best argument for Christianity is Christians: their joy, their certainty, their completeness. But the strongest argument against Christianity is also Christians-when they are self-righteous and smug in complacent consecration, when they are narrow and repressive, then Christianity dies a thousand deaths. But, though it is just to condemn some Christians for these things, perhaps, after all, it is not just, though very easy, to condemn Christianity itself for them. Indeed, there are impressive indications that the positive quality of joy is in Chirstianity-and possibly nowhere else. If that were certain, it would be proof of a very high order. 

Oh how much there is for someone like myself to learn from unbelievers! Particularly about evangelism and accurately reflecting the face of God. Regardless of the spiritual state he was in when he wrote this, I call it a pep-talk! It brings fire to my heart-they do notice! Joy and certainty triumphs over doubt and sadness. Exhibiting the traits that God desires to see in me can catch the eye of, and maybe one day earn the oppurtunity to share the Gospel with the unbelievers around me.

This excerpt is a blessing!

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He Whispers

There have been times when I have needed guidance, and screamed at God to give it.

There have been times when I have known exactly what I was supposed to do.

Also, there have been times when I have received good counsel and applied it, others when I have thrown it away.

In this short chapter of my life I have heard and received good counsel. I have done all that I know to do. I have gently told God that I am content, but I that I need answers. God knows that (though I have yet to understand the true meaning), my life is an offering to Him that I am ready and willing to pour out on whatever ground He sees fit. I struggle every day. My faith is weak. It is young and passionate yet ever impatient. I want adventure now. I want to run, I want to climb. I want to travel and I want to live for others. I want new, edgy places and experiences. I am a wandering soul. Often this wanderlust overcomes my love for God and I make idols out of the few things that I cannot have. He is merciful. Though my immature and over-anxious heart be goading me towards deep discontentment, His truth holds onto me, and I will not flounder.

He reminds me of how He has cared for me through all my days. He whispers His promises in my ears. All this so that in the moments of His silence, I will know in my heart that He means more to me than any tree I could have climbed, any child I could have fed and any prayer I ever offered.

Soul Healing

Currently I am reading The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. Corrie and her sister Betsie were Dutch spinsters who were sent to prison during World War II for harboring Jews. In it, Corrie outlines the time that she and her older sister spent in prison, and the struggles they underwent there. Elderly women forced to stand naked in the elements for hours, constant lice infestation-almost unimaginable horrors! Corrie details how every night they poured over a Bible (that had been smuggled in) with women from different European countries with whom they shared a barracks. She talks about how the tribulations that they endured made the Bible come alive. Made the ancient stories become reality.

Reading this, I stand in awe. Corrie voices a phenomenon that I have been experiencing over the last few months: how God makes Himself known through the trials that dot our lives, how the Bible really becomes a part of our lives-becomes more than just truth, but real truth-when we walk beside the people of God who have fought an uphill battle for centuries. Struggles of every sort help illustrate more actually those of the Bible’s heroes. David, Hannah, Job, the virgin Mary all wrote lengthy ballads in honour and blessing of God’s name even in the midst of mourning, life as a fugitive, or humiliation. They had come to know God in a personal, intimate way and He had drawn near to them during the hard times of their lives.

Last summer when I got back from a nine day trip that was undoubtedly the hardest journey I have ever taken, I prayed to God asking Him to show me more of Himself. I, like Job, decided that just hearing about Him with my ears was not enough, I must see Him with my eyes. See more of His goodness, mercy, power-all those lovely attributes of His. I now realize that He is answering my prayer. Through the pain and trouble that I am experiencing I am coming to know God more, and to truly lay eyes on His majesty. The Bible is no longer just truth for me. It is reality.

What a God He is, to answer prayers unfailingly. To break hearts, to make new. Through the suffering of my body, He is answering my prayers for healing. Soul healing. I am so grateful, for I am so sick.

People Say

So many people say to me, “I wouldn’t go to that country. It’s a war zone.”

The same response always pops into my mind, “I wouldn’t adopt twins with health problems. I wouldn’t become a pastor. I wouldn’t marry at the age of 18.”

You be brave in your way, I will be brave in mine.

Everybody’s fighting something. Some people pick their battles, others cop out.

I love individuals who are a part of something. Who find a role and fill it. Whether in the local pastel society, the garden club, the Democratic Party. People who seek out those of like interests to befriend, and who begin discussions on behalf of their beliefs. These people live. They are not just on this earth,  they are a part of it.

As humans, we were created to believe in things. Opinions, deities, people.

I believe that battles against evil should be waged. Inner peace can be maintained in the face of chaos. I believe that if I don’t go, no one will. If I wait until the war is over, what will have become of my battle? How many more will have died?

May my life be a flagrant testament to certain refusal of bad things everywhere. Happiness will not be mine until the world looks less like Hell and more like Heaven.

 

 

All things work by good design for those who would believe…

A Leper at Peace.

On His way to Jerusalem, as Jesus walked through a village, a group of ten lepers spoke to him from a distance. They raised their voices saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” Jesus healed them then and there-all ten of them. One of them, just one, turned around (as the excited men all scattered) and praised God loudly. He kneeled before Jesus and thanked him with strong words.

Jesus’ response to this was to ask, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give thanks to God except this (man)? Rise and go your way, your faith has made you well.”

{Luke 17:11-19, paraphrase}

I want God to heal me. I want my struggle to be over. I want to be able to do all the things that nameless adventurers, heroic sojourners, and my friends  and family do. If only Jesus would reach down His sweet hand and work a miracle on me. I have lifted my voice to Him, as the lepers did, and now I want an answer. More than anything right now, I would love to hear the words: Rise. Your faith has made you well.

Jesus knows this. He knows my pain, He knows far worse. Most importantly, God the three-in-one knows how much I can handle. He has not, and will not desert me. He is as real as the pain that I now feel.

Whatever His plan is; whether I can walk pain-free tomorrow, or never walk again, I want to be the last leper. I want that thankful heart. I must strive to always come back with a grateful soul, pledging life-long service to my gracious Master.

I have handed my dreams, my life, my fears over to Him.

Peace, even in this, is mine.

Could you love this bastard child, though I don’t trust you to provide? -Derek Webb

Humbled to the Dust.

Sometimes I entertain arrogance when I think about all the stuff that I don’t buy, or don’t go do. When I think about how my parents live as opposed to so many other church members who do things like drive huge cars for no reason, and live in wealthy neighborhoods. I think I am better for wanting to go to every empoverished nation that I can while they stay at home and fight “lesser” battles. This always-always-yields a face-palm moment. A “Seriously?” moment. I am so wrong. Everyone fights battles, and most are battles that I can’t begin to understand. As for my desire to travel, when I think about it, what am I actually going to give those people? I want to help them, but even more than that I want to see different places. I want to smell different smells, and I want to be free from the shackles of materialism. It’s easier to fight the temptations that I normally struggle with out there. So many things appeal to me out there for no reason other than, they suit me. I embrace the cultural differences. I like the pulsing lifebeat. I enjoy sand and revel in bright sun. It’s my personality and I need to be sure that I am trying to do more than just  feed my desires. See, I am no better than all the people that I so wrongly judge. I do what I can to satiate my desires, and so often leave God as an afterthought while taking credit for going to great lengths to expand His kingdom.

 Time and again He shows me how simple and foolish I am, time and again He shows me His love.

Living Coram Deo

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Currently I am writing a paper on modern day slavery (human trafficking). It seems cruel in my overly metaphorical mind to sit here, the sun shining in and try to write something about the plight of women and children living in complete darkness. The sun may be shining where they are, but in darkness they remain. Curled in an alley, expecting nothing but more cruelty, more torture. How can this be? Life is so wonderful for me now. God is answering my prayers one after another while their’s seem to go unheard. I wish I could tell them that He hears, that He knows. I wish I could hand them my Bible and whisper to them the stories of how it has been a light in dark places to people for generations past, myself included. If only they knew, if only the truth would fall on their open ears, into their open hearts.

No complaints from me.

Life is a gift.

Tribulation is a lesson to be learned.

Peace is within the grasp of us all.

Isaiah 6:8

Lesson Learned.

It struck me today how the human tendency is to, when one is upset or miserable, pull the people by whom one is surrounded down too. It’s like when we fall, we grab on to things to try and pull ourselves back up. When that doesn’t work we grab onto people and try (usually with success) to bring them down with us. If we lose an argument, we start pointing out the opponent’s flaws, just to make it known that we are not the only one at fault. Perhaps this is because we were not made to suffer alone.

Today has been a rough day for me. It really has. Lots of pain, lots of exhaustion, and lots of emotion. I tried to handle it with strength and dignity, but this morning I had to stop and slap myself because I realized that I was grabbing on to the people around me, and when they didn’t respond the way I wanted them to, I started dragging them down with me. It is shameful. Now the converse of this is suffering in silent stoicism. I don’t believe this is Biblical either. God did not make us to suffer alone. The things is, believers should be ever on watch for needy, suffering people. We should be ready to jump up and meet their needs, to be supportive. I strive to be a person who does that, and it helps to know that when I am in pain, people who fit that mold are the only ones who help make everything a little bit easier.

Long day’s lesson learned.

Cover With the Moon (My Heart)

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under Heaven.

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek and a time to lose; a time to tear and a time to sew; a time to speak silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

Children of God generally accept that there is indeed a time for everything. A time for all the things listed above, and, I’m afraid, a time for me to be in high school. Right now is that time. God does not tell me that my beliefs, thoughts, and actions can be relative to what season of life I am in. He knows that I am ready to move on, but He does not accept my foolish desires to waste these next few months. Just as last week was the time for me to be in Jamaica on a lovely trip, so now is time for me to focus on my studies, to be a hard worker, deep lover, and content student. Knowing that He has great things in store for me sometimes makes contentment harder to grasp, but I am determined to harness that knowledge to move me towards dedication and pursuit of holiness and excellence in every area of life.

He will empower me. He covers my heart from temptation and darkness. He is everything.