Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Time to be Real: Wrestling to Be Broken.

Some days, I break away from myself and step back. I analyze this person…personality, attitude, heart, mind, the emotional, physical…being that I am. Is this me? Or is it that I just do not recognize who I am becoming? Did those ugly words really just come from my mouth? Did I really just explode like that? That was not really me who just threw the spatula because I am not even capable of making scrambled eggs without messing up? Oh yes that was me.

On the outside looking in, I grow agitated. I know this is all temporary…made for more…a greater purpose. Is that why it is so hard to move through the routines? Is this why I come undone and lose control? Dodging and sifting through the robotic-surface-level-monotonous beings always moving…those who are missing life?

Allergic to wheat, dairy products, strawberries…and most of all…small talk…fake, false, fa├žades.

I have to remind myself to breathe.
I turn green. I become Hulk. Angry.

We, all living lives, have issues, complications, struggles, triumphs, victories, joys, celebrations, gifts, disasters, chaos, mistakes, failures, temptations, aches. We all live stories…yet when we gather, in a time when it should be embraced to express the chapters of our lives, all of a sudden we turn into models for the next Colgate commercial. People plaster on a smile as big as the moon and start vomiting small talk and good cheer. Let’s all just hold hands and sing if you’re happy and you know it clap your hands. And, at the same time, I cannot handle the people who always have grumpy pants on. The people who make mountains out of mole hills and always have an issue they need to dump on out. Can you stop grumbling please?

The small chatter, the grumbles…it is loud. It is deafening. It is debilitating to the soul.

(I know I am misunderstood. Half the time I do not even understand myself. Complicated is just one of the many qualities I would pin on. And because we live in a world where people get riled and fired up over a comment, I’ll go on to say)...No, it is not wrong to be happy. It is not wrong to smile. I am not saying everyone who is happy is faking it and really hiding a deep dark tragic secret. I know sometimes people want to hold hands and sing and talk about the texture of the chairs they sit in or chicken casserole recipes. Also, I am the first person to admit that there are some weeks where I wear my grumpy pants without washing them…over and over. So we all have been on either side.

I am just saying…it is time to be hungry for the real.

I am sick of us making everything in life all about our selfish selves.

I am tired. I am hungry. I do not feel good. I need coffee. That person looked at me weird. I must be fat. I am too complicated. I am too emotional. I cry too much. I should cry more. I should pray more eloquently. I should read this book. I should go talk to that person. I am bored. I will never amount to anything. I didn’t like the songs we sung this morning. I should have worn something else. I am lazy. I have a headache. I need more caffeine. I should have done these things today. I need more sleep. I should do more. I am not enough. I failed again. I am too angry. I was not challenged enough today. I am facing too many challenges. I am weak. I am caged. I am too shy. I should be more organized. Things never go my way. That person always gets their way. I am a loser. I must be doing something wrong. I must be too quiet. I am unworthy.

This mindset…a piece of our fallen human nature...
"An underlying, gut feeling of failing...I am not enough, and I am too much at the same time. Not pretty enough, not thin enough, not kind enough, not gracious enough, not disciplined enough. But too emotional, too needy, too sensitive, too strong, too opinionated, too messy…shame…”
-Stasi Eldredge Captivating

How many thoughts go through our head, on a daily basis, always about “I”? How can we be better? So…how do we change this heart and mindset? How can we save our lives? Lose it.

“If anyone is going to follow me, he must deny himself,’ Jesus would say repeatedly. In a world where everything revolves around self—protect yourself, promote yourself, preserve yourself, entertain yourself, comfort yourself, take care of yourself—Jesus said, ‘Slay yourself.” –David Platt Follow Me

“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it…” Luke 9:23-24

The themes of this year have all been surrounded around boldness. Following the Lord, with radical actions and losing the life so we can gain true life…the real life. Defeating lies with truth…equipping and engaging the heart, mind, soul in the Word so we can be obedient, willing servants—always hungering for more of Him…doing it all with and by the power of the Holy Spirit who abides within.

How do we do this? What does it look like to actually live a life that is all about, for, with, directed and centered on God?

It is wrestling season in my life right now. God and I have been spending quite a lot of time in the rings. Always wrestling. So many questions, so much I do not understand, challenges, doubts, anxieties, fears, worries, future, circumstances. I am not ok. I am angry. I am overwhelmed. I am frustrated beyond belief. And all this—I give to God. And we wrestle…because He is Father and I am stubborn daughter.

I remember Jacob...“a wrestler like us…refuses to let the man go. He doesn’t even really know who the man is, can’t clearly see his face, but he begs, ‘I will not let you go until you bless me.’ And the man turns to Jacob and gives him a new name. Names him Israel, the God-wrestler. Says to him, ‘You’ve wrestled with God and you’ve come through’…in the black, all that night, it was the face of God over him that he was struggling against. God is behind the faces…”

“There’s always more to the story…the exact significance of God’s touching Jacob upon the sinew of his thigh? The sinew of the thigh is the strongest in the human body. A horse couldn’t even tear it apart…The Lord has to break us down at the strongest part of our self-life before He can have His own way of blessing with us…” -
Ann Voskamp 1000 Gifts

I am wrestling to be broken. My friend reminds me, “He always wins”. And I strive and yearn to lose…to be broken. Isn’t the breaking…part of the blessing? Done so we can lose this life…to embrace Christ? Lose the “I”. To live Radical. To live obedient. To live ready and willing.

It can be easy to come up with excuse. Refuse. Immediately: at once; instantly; without any intervening time or space; in direct relation; as soon as. The word, it describes an action. Over and over it is used to describe the actions of Jesus and the disciples in the Bible.

Why do we drag our feet? I do not always know where it is the Lord calls me to go…but I do know nothing will ever get done by just sitting. We are not saved by works…but do not let that be an excuse for your behavior. Faith always ignites action. We are required and commanded to be obedient…belief should give way to a willing heart.

It is never about us…because we are not worth it. Always about the One who satisfies the languishing soul…Jesus.

It is hard. It is confusing. It requires sacrifice, discipline, brokenness, faith, trust, hope...remember the bigger picture. His will. Because just the thought of being separated from Jesus makes the lungs collapse and heart hurt. Lose the life.

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but He who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform miracles? And then I will declare to them, I never knew you, depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.” Matthew 7:21-23

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

He is so Grace. We are so Blah.

Awaken my soul to sing.
Awaken my heart to beat.
Awaken the hands to give and feet to move...

It is so very difficult...this whole life thing we have to face...

The more I live--the more I realize--there is no recipe or formula for an uncomplicated life. I start the "ifs"...If the Lord only spoke more clearly, if He only gave more specific directions, if He would only just whisper the right choice I'm supposed to make...then I could follow Him more efficiently. 

But it is all about the saving-faith. We wouldn't have to trust. His purposes always include shaping, molding us to be more like Jesus. Why is it so hard to remember this? Why is it so easy to focus on the painful-problems instead of the Solution.

"Simplicity doesn't mean we will live uncomplicated lives. Simplicity is a matter of focus--the grace to focus our lives simply on Christ. Be our sole focus, our only Hope, our deepest joy...That we may abandon all the worries...and abide in all Your word..." -Ann Voskamp

No secret...I love words. I love looking up their meanings, reading through the different definitions, and seeing how the apathy of the world has seeped in and killed most of the original meanings. What if we lived the definition? What if we lived to the fullness of the words? 

Isn't it so like us..humans...to do it all half hearted?

We read verses quickly, we have them memorized--love the Lord your God with [all] your heart, mind, soul...love the Lord your God with [all] your heart and lean not on your own understanding..."all"...do we ever give "all"? What does this even mean?

Do we give God our [whole] heart?

The opposite of whole--damaged, broken, incomplete, in pieces, separate--all of these things are descriptions of who we are when we refuse to go to the One who can complete us...make us whole.

Giving it all is scary. On earth, hearts can be easily bruised. Likes and loves...can leave a heart hurting. Because life is complicated...because my heart aches...we lose focus...take eyes off of the Planner. We start to push our shortcomings and insecurities on Christ. 

If only we could see finished products, that things surely lead and work together for "good"...then maybe I could more easily give Him the "whole" of my heart. If only I knew the aches would pass...then maybe I could surrender my all and trust.

"Faith is the unwavering trust in the heart of God--in the hurt of here..." 

We cry to God...so faithless when He remains so faithful. 

Even when He is silent. Even when He gives an answer we didn't want to hear. Even if His will is different from mine. He is good. He is enough. He is love and I am child.

The only thing that keeps a heart beating, a soul singing, hands and feet moving is the truth that He is God. He is sovereign. He knows it all. He is bigger than the troubles. He is deeper than the pain we feel. Do not let truths grow foggy amidst the complicated life-thing.

We lose friends, people, dreams, plans...disappointments...The hard and ugly can chase one down an even uglier path...or it can lead to rest. When all else fails...His love remains. He is so grace when we are so blah. 

Thankful that He fulfills His part when we fail...weak...too often.

We are so broken, fragile, in pieces, when we try to do this alone...in our own weakness. He is the only one who can make us whole if we give Him the whole. He can make steps lead to good. He can awaken a song to be sung--in the complicated. 

The most heart-wrenching words said are the ones we say to let it all go...surrender. Do we trust Him?

Ephesians 1 The Message
"Long before He laid down earth's foundations, He had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of His love, [to be made whole and holy by His love]...it's in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for..."

1 Corinthians 13:13 The Message
"Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love." 

Romans 8:26-37 The Message
"Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. 

[That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.] 

God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun. 

So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us."