overwhelmed

This morning I am overwhelmed. There are no tears, only a deep longing and ache for those things of which I have boldly presented, wholly, completely, and seemingly invisibly upon the altar of God.

Broken dreams. A scarred heart. Shattered ideals in the wake of the selfishness and depravity of those to whom I have committed myself to.

Almost an out of body experience, it is as though my very soul is diminishing beneath the weight of things that seem they will never be, to the point where I am not even certain I recognize the voice or face of the one I have known my whole life.

It is in these spaces where the only direction I can look is up. To dive into the internal would be to never return, and to look horizontally is to be disillusioned by the inadequate compassion of those with a narrow understanding, often overshadowed by their own preconceived notions and human shortcomings. Worse yet, to be rejected altogether by those who would judge, or call my weakness out as an inability to walk in faith – like Job, accused of suffering by way of lack of repentance, or unwillingness to learn the lesson meant for me in this season.

The reality for me is that there are crossroads in life when I am allowed the opportunity to judge for myself whether or not the salvation of Christ, a relationship with the Creator of the universe, is sufficient. A friend’s dad once told me, wisely, that people will always disappoint us, but that God never will. Oh, how that truth is more apparent to me now than ever.

No one is exempt from being the instrument of harm.

In the light of this truth, how much more valuable is our faith? How infinite is our need to find that truth which would recalibrate our life? The truth, is, that I am not an accident. My life is not inconsequential. God is not unaware and in due season, all of my questions, doubts and fear will wane in the glory is His timely and loving answer.

Overwhelmed by love.

 

 

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There is power in the waiting. The listening. Do not be turned to the left or the right…forgive, grace, love…and wait. There is no shame in the waiting. In the quiet. The loneliness. It is great strength to release the burden of expectation, of taking on responsibility that does not belong to you. Wait. Be courageous. Take heart. Perfect love casts out all fear – let the lover of your soul be your compass. Hope never fails.

death

In Genesis 1:16-17, God told Adam he could eat of any tree in the garden, with the exception of one. The consequence of such a choice would bring certain death. Those of us who have attended children’s church at some point in our lives know, that his wife Eve, was later tricked by the serpent to eat of it, and instead of covering her as a husband should, Adam not only didn’t stop her, but he chose to indulge with her. They both instantly felt shame, and it resulted in a broken relationship with God. BUT, they did not die.

At least not then…

In the New Testament, we are taught that all things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial. Through the grace of the sacrifice of Jesus, we are free to choose, but there are still long term, often inconspicuous and festering consequences to our choices, which long-term, result in death –

death to relationship…

emotional, relational or mental health…

stagnation of spiritual growth…

loss of stability..clouded vision of our purpose…

For whatever reason, human nature tends to draw us towards those things which are bad for us. We can choose 99 of the things, but the one we want is what inevitably brings death. Most likely it’s why so many turn from a life with God while others draw up their own list of rules – WE want to choose.

We become enslaved to our own free will.

To every action, there is a reaction, and while God is faithful to warn us of what is not good for us, He is also so gracious as to bail us out, without an “I told you so,” when we do choose the wrong path. Mistakes of long ago can echo into today, and sometimes we don’t even recognize that we are reaping a seed sown long ago.

What have you lost as a result of choice? Where are you struggling to find success? Even poor decision making in the wake of something another has inflicted upon you can bring with it consequence. Regardless of who is at fault, ALL things can be redeemed. Perhaps never returned to their prior state, but we CAN move forward when we accept the death, grieve, and then allow the Lord to pick up the pieces.

Be authentic in where you are, and allow yourself to walk in freedom today. Don’t allow pride or fear or an unwillingness to forgive, keep you from being all you are designed for. The liberty that comes from operating in safe spaces is infinitely more freeing than any choice made outside of the love of our God.

Shalom.

 

trashy relationships

I stayed at home today with a sick 8-year-old, thereby giving me ample time to get caught up on some email, a little article reading and some Facebook trolling. While I typically would enjoy such a leisurely day, the closer we get to the close of the day, the heavier my heart becomes.

Relationships are rarely easy, and yet I find even the most challenging can be deeply rewarding when given the opportunity. I may stand alone in this assertion.

What I am discovering as years pass is a deep sadness for the loss of relationship, or tension within, for the sake of unmet expectations, unreconciled misunderstanding, or the result of having taken sides with another. Chasing the heart of one who does not wish to be found is heartbreaking, and I struggle at times between the desire to pursue and love at all costs, and choosing to allow the free will of others to engage when, and if, they find fellowship with me worthy of pursuit.

An interesting trend in our culture is that in spite of research indicating we are lonelier than ever before as a general population, relationships are seen as disposable, optional, and often take a back seat to our own desires, ideals and need for absolute autonomy. Somehow we have come to believe that in order to pursue our own lives, those around us must agree with all we do, and act and respond 100% in the manner with which we would like, or they are as easily disposed of as last week’s trash.

In the end, many of us are left to pick up the pieces – weighing what we could have done differently, condemning our own shortcomings, longing to connect – while others move on to greener pastures of personal indulgence and self-righteousness.

It would seem that the more freedom humans have, the less grace they extend to others. Our deepest need to control propels us towards a lifestyle of condemnation for anything we find contradictory, different or challenging. If it doesn’t look like us, feel good or feed our ego, it is discarded as bad. Unworthy. In the end, our desire to walk our own life dictates an intolerance for anyone wanting to live theirs differently.

Absolute freedom in the world easily ushers in delusions of grandeur, which deceivingly brings us into bondage.

From the creation of man, God said it was not good for him to be alone, and throughout scriptures we are admonished to be in relationship for our own personal protection, comfort, and growth. Iron sharpens iron, and in all forms of diversity, we find our truest version of self. Our best version. Despite the occasional discomfort and risk.

Who have you dismissed? Discarded? Discounted? Is there someone who genuinely loves you that is possibly worthy of the opportunity to walk in authenticity, AND alongside you?

The good news is, garbage day isn’t until Tuesday – there is still time…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pastor shepherd

The other day I shared how I was feeling about religion and what it would mean to be authentic in my walk. This morning, along the same vein, I was meditating on what it means to be a shepherd. And, what it means to be sheep.

On occasion, I have heard people lament that their pastor doesn’t “feed” them; the message is too surface, too seeker friendly, not deep enough. As one who has followed Christ for a while now, I too, long to go deeper.

But whose job is that?

A shepherd leads his sheep to pasture – he protects and directs. He looks ahead for the best grass, water, and assesses opportunities for danger. Often, he has a helpmate (partner or shepherding dog) to direct the sheep, and to help him reach the intended destination. Sometimes they follow their flock, gently urging them forward, and at other times they take the lead and the animals instinctively follow.

Similarly, we as believers can choose to buy in to the vision of the pastor as he moves toward where he feels called by God. In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul admonishes us to follow him as he pursued the Lord. He didn’t offer to hold our hand; he said to watch what he did, and do the same. Paul openly admitted he didn’t have all the answers, but he knew who did. He just said follow.

We are led by our pastors, but the work is actually ours.

When Jesus appeared to Peter on the seashore, he told him to “feed his sheep.” He first prepared a meal, then told his disciple to go and do the same. Again, he expected Peter to learn by example. Go, and do.

So what does that look like for those of us following and feeling dissatisfied? Those of us wanting to go deeper? Given that a one on-one-daily devotional at the hand of a single pastor for each member of his congregation is unreasonable, who in our community is responsible to feed, nurture and mentor those ready to grow?

We are.

Jesus said to go and make disciples – go and build relationship. To make a disciple is to walk with another in intimate relationship, to fellowship, grow with and share. To go deeper means to link arms with another believer as you both pursue Christ.

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of disciple is:

1:one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another: such as
a Christianity :one of the twelve in the inner circle of Christ’s followers according to the Gospel accounts
b:a convinced adherent of a school or individual 
2:capitalizedChristianity :a member of the Disciples of Christ founded in the U.S. in 1809 that holds the Bible alone to be the rule of faith and practice, usually baptizes by immersion, and has a congregational (see congregational 3) polity                                                                                                            
We are all called and anointed, specifically designed, to connect with and reach, and to be reached by, unique individuals. No one person can be in relationship to all. Jesus himself had 12 close disciples, who then taught others, who then taught others…                                                                                         
Even the Son of the Living God could not attain to be all things to all people.       
So, today, I encourage you to find those people who need YOU. And in return, to ask God to send your way the people who will lead and walk with you in your own journey. When we each take up responsibility for that which we are called to, we not only find the answers to the questions we seek, but we release the burden off of those picking up our slack. When we operate in our fullness, we lend that freedom to all.

slanders and blunders

Recently, in my quest to pursue more writing opportunities, I have considered watering down my page a bit; appealing to a more diverse audience. Or even, possibly, having two blog sites – one for random musings of the more “palatable” sort, and one where I could dive deep into the spirituality that I am personally experiencing.

Ugh.

I have never been one to sell out before, and the Lord has been nothing but gracious to me and my family. If I were to become easier to swallow for some, I would miss the opportunity to connect with, and encourage, those chasing hard after the life that Jesus has promised them. If there is anything I have learned more clearly in recent years is that those seeking truth will never attack me – it is only those stuck in religiosity and their own need to have “arrived” who have words of doubts or criticism for my journey.

So, I write.

I wonder how we decided that the God who created the entire universe was so finite in His capacity. Why we ever allowed ourselves as His people to shift from a free relationship with a living God who was a part of our daily existence, to confining Him to a time schedule, certain days, communicating within the confines of our choosing – allowing Him to only show up at the pre-assigned time and ultimately silencing His prophetic voice when the sound of the clock thunders…

…When those who claim to long for His power and grace stand with arms crossed at the sound of His Spirit.

I don’t know about you, but I need more than a pre-packaged, overly processed, or brilliantly packaged religion. Please, something other than a list of do’s and don’t’s; judgemental faces and pointless arguments about the non-salvation issues. There is a place for order – as God is a god of order – but I need a messy, tear-filled, gut-wrenching, life-changing, sin-exposing, light-revealing, experience with a living God who knows every part of my being and knows even more than I do, what my life means in the spectrum of this hateful world.

I. Need. Jesus.

Not a man. Not a list. Not another book. The Designer of the universe and Creator of my heart. The One who knows my innermost being and would do anything to captivate my attention. Christians often wonder why they don’t lead others to Jesus – it’s often because they themselves have lost their way in the wilderness of rules and religion.

People know a facade when they see it.

If you don’t know Him, please feel free to ask. Ask away. I don’t want to be marketable, I want to be meaningful. If I die tomorrow, it will matter not how many people liked my posts or followed me on Facebook – but if I leave even one person with a deeper understanding of the Christ that has won my heart,  and that He loves them, too, THAT will make this life worth it.

 

 

 

rest for today

In the midst of current diverse changes and challenges in my life, time spent in the quiet is absolutely vital to my mental health and capacity to function effectively. This morning’s sun brought with it the warmth and projected hope I desperately needed for today.

After several weeks of time spent on the phone, in email, driving around town to pick up and drop off paperwork, I am now in a holding pattern. Holding patterns are not easy – at least not for me. Were I to be perfectly honest, I relish the opportunity to feel like I am in the driver’s seat – stressful or not. My long list of to-do’s makes me feel like I am viable, important, destiny-driven…

Whether or not I actually am.

In this moment, I am acutely aware of my inability to move forward today in any of the areas that weigh heavy. It is now time to let go, and let God.

So, I practice the art of resting. Resting in the knowledge that I have done due diligence. Resting in the belief that God knows all the things and can and will move when and how He deems necessary. Resting in the experience that God brings ALL things to good for those who love Him.

Life has not brought all roses, but He has never left me to manage the thorns alone. Wherever YOU are in your journey, my prayer is that you might also allow yourself the opportunity to look back and how far you’ve come, and maybe take a moment to rest while you are waiting for what is to come.

Shalom.