More Than a Brouhaha

All I want is Christ and to know that I belong to him.

Ever felt yourself spiraling away? You’re sad and disappointed even over the smallest thing and you start to hear yourself say negative things, and then lash out at your loved ones. Even if you don’t saying anything, know that you are answering the Devils onslaught with your silence. If you don’t speak back he has control. The lashing out is your heart’s plea for help. You have to acknowledge the daily unseen battle before you can don the full armor of God. The wily devil convinces many that there is no battle, and to those that do fight, he whispers: there is no hope for you. But God has told his children how to ask for help in the fight, and though it is often a painful process, his faithfulness abides.

I do not ask that you take them [my people] out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. ~Jesus, John 17 (emphasis mine)

Think of young people who run away from home, knapsack all packed. It’s a cry for someone to come get them. They need to know that they are worth fighting for, worth running after. They aren’t running towards anything, they’re just asking via their steady footsteps away from home: does anyone care?

What if Jesus had been silent before Satan and ignored the battle at hand? Instead of using Scripture, he could have just stood, counting the hours until he could eat again, and pretending that Satan wasn’t there in his presence.

Satan: “To you I will give all this authority and their glory [of the kingdoms of the earth]…If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.”

Jesus: “You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.” (Matt. 4:6-8)

Don’t marinate in your misery. Fight to hear the still, small voice that says: I will lead you back, You are my darling child…my heart yearns for you (Jeremiah 31:9, 20). It requires simply a tuned-in soul and the scriptures, from tip of Genesis to tail of Revelation. Those ancient words are our only weapon. All we can do is knock on the door of Heaven and demand our birthright now, by the blood of Jesus Christ.

He did not die only to be your savior. He died to be your Lord: the Lord of your waking up and lying down, the Lord of your hope and help. He is the Beloved who wants to shepherd you in green pastures and be your anchor in the oceanic conflicts of your soul.

The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.~1 Thess. 5:24

We make him small when we ignore the battle. He fought for us, are we not willing to rouse our spirits for him? Are we unwilling to fight to know the Love that shed himself on the cross many dark nights ago?

He came for us when we wandered away like restless children, begging the starry sky for deliverance.

Do we desire Jesus? Do we know his voice?

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me. ~Jesus, John 10:14

Have you agreed with the Devil? Has he whispered that the bed is more comfortable? That you don’t have a problem? That even though you’re not hungry it’s OKAY to return to the pantry over and over? That it is OKAY to relax in front of the TV…hour after hour? That since your future is secure you’re just along for the ride from here until death?

The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy.~John 10:10a

We must fight as though our lives depended on, we must endure the upheavals of battle and with blind trust follow the  Officer higher-up. Ignoring the spiritual combat is submitting again to the devil’s rule, which is death. Standing up, fighting to hear the voice of the Lord, waiting on him to deliver, those are all reflections of a heart seeking submission to the Spirit’s rule, which is life.

Like children, accept the hand that reaches out to help you, and believe him when he says…

I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly.~John 10:10b (emphasis mine)

Oh the joy that is in store when over the hills of idolatry and petty disbelief his love ushers me!

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Fireside Tribe

In a dark lodge with wood paneling like chocolate/vanilla swirled ice cream, and cool stone walls, seven women sat facing a fire. The fire was burning inside a stone nook, slightly below floor level, naked. The grate had been moved aside. Big logs whose bark was cut into black and white square patterns by ash periodically shifted, popped, and crackled.The women were gathered before the fire like chocolate chips that have fallen to the bottom of a muffin. Four sat in a row on the brown leather couch, puppies lined up in the cradle of their mother’s shape. Two sat perched on chairs, staring into the dancing flames, enshrouded in fleece blankets of blue and white.

In the corner next to the fire, as if at the helm of a six-man ship, sat the eldest. A rustic woman with silky hair pulled back to the top of her head, held there by one band of rubber, durable and tight like faith after a long hospital stay. The firelight illuminated her perfect hairline, reflected off her earlobes. Athletic pants were tucked into the top of duck boots, and she sat leaning forward. Her eyes were wide, horrified by the weights still balancing on the backs of her young crew members. Suddenly she stood.

“Alright,” she said. She threw three small packages of Kleenex at the women on the couch. She flicked off the overhead light. “This is what we’re gonna do.”

The girls stared up at her, lips ajar. Firelight now reflected off the moisture in their eyes. One fingered the package of tissues, sealing and unsealing the round sticker at the lip of the envelope. The standing woman continued:

“Get a piece of paper and write down your sins. All that junk you have been hangin’ on to. Your parents sins, your sins. Write it all down and we’re gonna burn it. You owe it to the world to accept healin’. God has forgotten those sins you keep bringin’ up. He is ready for you to move on.” She stomped out of the front door, letting in a chilly fall draft.

In a moment, pens were down, flying across torn pages held close to dimly lit faces. Two of the girls looked up, peeking (with marked hesitation), towards the woman who wrestled large chunks of wood outside.

She returned, bold captain for the day, and placed wood on the fire. The only energy emitted besides the Joules eking from flames were in the music notes gently playing:

Boldly I approach your throne, blameless now I’m runnin’ home…

The indention in the stone floor became an altar. The blaze a throne. The wood their unburning God, ready to speak through flames of his creation and control.

One by one each woman folded her piece of college ruled paper corner to corner and knelt before the flames. The orange tendrils kissed their bundled knees, heated the concrete under their feet. Each one offered silent pleas: “Let me live free from the burden of these sins,” “Let me be done with this yoke.” And before each piece of paper curled up and disintegrated into dark ash, bright light shone from the brittle kindling of penned sin. The brilliant glow shot up the wall above the temporary altar, then disappeared. Each woman sat where she had been before, sniffling, grabbing hand of co-heir wedged on couch beside her.


May that be our sin: placed without hesitation into the fire of God’s love. Then may we watch delighted as that burning bush turns it into a bright light warding off the world’s deep darkness.

Wildsmolder

There is a taste of what is coming in the diet of my week.

A foreshadowing lurks between
the moments when I am admiring how high the women hold their heads and eyebrows
and the moments spent wondering why hot funjuns for breakfast?

The small sacrifice of spare moments and 10% has turned into a portion of my earnings and the precious commodity of the American Sunday Afternoon. I wish I could be with my family. I wish on a grey day that I could be in PJs watching Drake & Josh with my sister. Where is the pleasure in exiting my parent’s warm house to traverse a dreary, thirsty city?
Could he ask of me any smaller task? Is there anything so precious that requires less effort?
That which I lay on the altar now is like a goat compared to Isaac under his father Abraham’s blade. (Genesis 22)
I give up hours;
He has called me to give up a lifetime.

My thoughts are cast forward to when my call will be demonstrated:
I’ll move overseas,
I’ll follow God farther than I’ve followed before.
Farther than Yakama, Washington
Much farther than Jamaica
Or Mexico.

I’ll say goodbye to home and heartland until my visa is due to expire.
I will doubt and question my decision and He will remain faithful
Amidst a myriad of scenarios beyond my most wild imaginings.

I can no more imagine the barrier of a sea between my family and I
Than I can fathom the barrier of a language between my heart and my neighbor’s.

My faith is small.
It’s a rock balancing on the tip of a formation lost in the desert. In the sun and wind it is strong and balanced. But the slightest rain, a little drizzle, and the rock falls down down, breaking into pieces of red slate.
That’s me.

Perched happily (precariously) atop my savings, my network, my job, my school,
Until the rain comes. The slightest trickle:
A hydroplaning incident (including my reaction to said incident) that may cost me my dream vehicle, a portion of my college savings, and a precious relationship.
How many of those things matter?
I would venture to say only the third.
Which of those things do I have control over?
In this scenario, only the third.
Sin is the destroyer. Not rain on the road or a swerving semi-truck, or insurance fraud or an unjust system. Sin makes the things that matter topple. My sin causes real issues. Yelling because my trust is gone. Crying because I am tired of trying (we call that a pity party). These are the problems.

Money is secondary.
Higher education is tertiary at best.
The Father’s love is primary. The Father’s glory is on level with his love.

My faith is smaller than a mustard seed, and not nearly as powerful.

For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the hearts of the contrite.”~Isaiah 57:15-16

Giant Leap

The sun filets the blurred green countryside. I’m driving too fast. Sun-bleached hair whips my cheeks, coarse.
Pumping gas I realize that everyone sees the same me that they saw last summer; a kid lifeguard in that not-quite-full-fledged-adult stage. $32.98. I get a little discouraged as I hang up the nozzle. Have I gone nowhere since last year? Is the only difference between me now and me then the few thousand dollars in my bank account and the restored air conditioning unit in my truck? Is that all I have to show after the most challenging year of my (short) life?
I recall the thoughts of this morning: how heavy my wrongdoings now weigh on me, some more than others. I see how destructive my foolishness has been more clearly than ever before. I feel God’s displeasure when I make sinful mistakes. Ouch, for I slip so often.
Decide what to be and go be it.
That’s just it. You have to know Right to know wrong. The weight that I feel, the tears running down the window panes of my heart, those are of God, not the Devil. Recognizing those blunders is a step in the right direction. Maybe even a leap. I care; I care more than ever that what I do be glorifying to God. I believe I know a little better what pleases Him now than I did last summer.
No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him! 1 Corinthians 2:9
The chasm is wide between me and eternity. Happiness is far away, but it is closer. Closer than ever before!
The ache, the roughness of shame feels like a noose tightening on my neck, threatening me now. The good news? It only gets better as the noose gets tighter. God’s redemption becomes more dramatic, His love more radical. Messiah Jesus draws closer, I am made new.
Sometimes I wish that I was under the sun in Africa instead of Arkansas, or at a pool in Chicago instead of Chenal, but I would not change this story for that of another. It’s so exciting, it’s so amazing.
I don’t know about you but I am definitely staying tuned to see what happens.

“Go, and sin no more!”~Jesus

Cloudy Eyes

I have broken,

Broken Your commands.

I see it now;

My eyes have been clouded with

Sin,

And I weep

Weep

Weep;

So evil,

So wretched,

So dark is my heart.

I am so sorry.

Hear my pleas for mercy once again

And be gracious-

Do not pass me by.

Teach me not to exhaust Your boundless grace.

I love You.

I love You.

Forgive my despicable behaviour.

Make me new

Again.

Replace my guilt with boldness,

Amen.