Thursday, June 23, 2011

Near

As Christians we have the hope of "But God..." Knowing that His grace is enough. Believing that we won't be given more than we can handle. Trusting He provides a way out for us.

It's all there in black and white - God-breathed and Holy Spirit-inspired. It's not that we doubt; but am I alone in my honesty when I admit that at times I've lost all hope? Or that I can't find the escape? Or I feel it IS more than I can bear? The point when I've reached the desert. The bottom has fallen out. The walls have crumbled down. Hope seems futile. Peace is long-forgotten. Comfort doesn't come. Alone. Destitute. This may be the onslaught of the "ugly cry" I referenced last week.

I find myself like the panting deer. "O God, you are my God and EARNESTLY I seek you. My soul thirsts for you and my body LONGS for you..." (Psalm 63:1, emphasis mine)

It's not for a lack of searching. I know what I need. I'm desperate for it. A touch. A word. A supernatural intervention. From the depths of my soul, I cry out for Him. "From the ends of the earth, I call...I call as my heart grows faint." (Psalm 61:2)

I want to curl up in a ball, shriveling like the hope I once had; but I cling to the promise in James that when I draw near to Him, He will draw near to me (4:8). "Oh please, Lord," I beg. "Be near."

James continues: "Be afflicted and mourn and weep. Turn your laughter into mourning and your joy to heaviness." (v. 9)

Why would He want my laughter to be turned to tears? Why should my joy be replaced with sorrow? Why this command to mourn? Mourn my sin. Mourn my foolishness. Mourn my lack of faith. Mourn my fallen flesh. Weep over the depravity of my life. Grieve because of who I am a part from Him.

And then the rest of the promise: "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up." (v. 10)

In the middle of the dryest desert, I long for Him. In the depths of the deepest pit, I reach for Him. Surrounded by the tossing waves, I search for Him. When I am broken before Him, desolate and humiliated, desparate and pleading...there He is. My fallen flesh witnesses His perfect presence. In this humbled state where I am face to face with the reality of my existence, He is near.

May this song minister to you as it has to me.
For your nearness Lord I hunger
For your nearness Lord I wait
Hold me ever closer Father
Such a love I can't escape

For your nearness I am hoping
For your nearness Lord I long
Have no need of any other
I have found where I belong
Yes, I have found where I belong

So draw me nearer Lord
Never let me go
Closer to your heart
Draw me nearer Lord
Draw me nearer Lord

In your nearness there is healing
What was broken now made whole
Restoration in its fullness
Lasting hope for all who come

In your nearness I take shelter
Where you are is where I'm home
I have need of only one thing
To be here before your throne
To be here before you throne

So draw me nearer Lord
Never let me go
Closer to your heart
Draw me nearer Lord

And keep me here, keep me here
There's nowhere else I rather be
So keep me here, keep me here
There's nowhere else I rather be

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I Will Trust Him

I love a good thunderstorm. When the sky blackens with fierce clouds. The thunder starts to roll, echoing across the expanse. Every now and then a deafening clap out of nowhere resounds with such force that it seems to shake the foundation. Spears of light crackle through the sky, piercing down to the ground. I like them best when I can be curled up on the couch, or lying in bed listening to the pounding rain.

But it wasn't always like this. Every kid has a fear of thunderstorms at one point or another, right?! During the midst of a thunderstorm when I was scared underneath my covers and my mom came to comfort me, it may have in fact been the first verse I ever learned by heart.  Of course mom and the bible, what could be a better comfort. She shared Psalm 56:3, "What time I am afraid, I will trust Him."

That means in the middle of the scary thunderstorm; I will trust Him.

And now as an adult, that verse still holds true. For whatever I fear. Whenever I'm afraid. Yet I will trust Him.

In the middle of my trial; I will trust Him.

In the midst of the unknown; I will trust Him.

Through the black clouds, so dark I cannot see; I will trust Him.

In the midst of the raging storm; I will trust Him.

Despite what pierces me; I will trust Him.

Amidst the deafening thunder; I will trust Him.

There's a song that says, "Sometimes He calms the storm and other times He calms His child."

As I look across a dark sky I can hear the thunder rolling in. Downpours have already come several times this summer morning. The forecast calls for thunderstorms popping up all day. It's true. The storms will come. Sometimes He will calm them. Sometimes He will calm me in the midst of them. And yet, I will trust Him...

Friday, June 17, 2011

Refined

Disappointment. Heartache. Pain. Failure. Grief. Everything seems to be crashing down. One thing after another. Over and over and over... You can't seem to catch a break. Each day you wake up wondering "What else could go wrong?" He promised not to give you more than you can bear...but you begin to wonder just how strong He thinks you are. You say to the Lord, "What more can I handle?" You pray for relief. You pray for comfort. You pray for peace.

We consider ourselves "modern-day Job's." This is Job with a long "o" (pronounced "oh"). The biblical example of testing and perseverance. His name is literally translated "hated." Oh, I bet there were days he hated his life. I am sure there were moments he hated a lot of things.

And then there's the short "o" pronunciation for the word job (pronounced "ah"). Not the person but the thing we do. In Genesis man was cursed to "till" the ground, which translates to labor or work. It's our job. We're required to do it. And "job" is defined as a responsibility or duty, something we're expected to do.

When we read biblical facts that we will face trials in this life, or thorns are given to keep us humble, or we wrestle with warfare, it can only be understood that trouble is expected. But just as we persevere through the job of life, we can hold fast to the promise found in Job's life (23:10):

"When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold."

We till the ground, we produce a crop. We work our jobs, we earn an income. We face trials and become refined.

You may hate your present circumstances. You may not see the plan. You may not understand the purpose. But be prepared; just as you face the testing of your faith, it is producing the fruit of your labor.

We go through tests that deliver results - a purification process of our thoughts, feelings, and inner strength. Until we come forth refined. Free from coarseness and impurity; cultivated and polished.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Just LAUGH!

LOL! We text it, IM it, email it, and use it to the point of abusing the "Laugh Out Loud" expression. We can insert the little laughing emoticons and show our expression of hilarity. We share when something is genuinely funny enough to evoke a legitimate "laugh out loud" response.

With my admonition from yesterday to grab the kleenex and let the tears roll, there's certainly a time to cry. But there is also a time to laugh.
Of course the depth of the laugh can range from a giggle to cackling. In between are the snorts, the belly laughs and the chuckles.  

You may have overheard one of the thousand times this year when I've said, "If I don't laugh, I'll cry." In all reality, I choose joy. Despite the tears that can come (yes, I admit I've had a few ugly cries recently), it is my response to the out-of-control-circumstance that I can control. Even when I choose joy - despite the pain I may feel - there are moments when you just need a good, hearty laugh.

No, I don't have any deep spiritual meaning for today. Just a simple reminder ... When the tears have dried and the tissues are all balled up, give yourself the freedom to laugh. Laugh at your mistakes. Laugh at yourself. Laugh at jokes. Laugh at life. Let your lungs open up and your belly shake and LAUGH OUT LOUD! Let laughter take over - even if just for a brief moment - and maybe, just maybe there will be a different set of tears streaming down your cheeks! Be blessed today!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Just Cry

What can I say? Sometimes you just need a good cry. I'm not talking the tiny trickle of a tear tenderly rolling down a cheek. I'm talking about what I once heard Oprah call "the ugly cry." (No, I don't endorse or particularly like Oprah but the description works.)

When I say "the ugly cry" I don't just mean the whites of your eyes are bloodshot. I mean your eyelids are nearly swollen shut, your cheeks are blotchy and puffy, your nose is red and inflamed, also pouring forth liquid that only adds to the ugliness, body shaking, chest heaving, trying to catch your breath because you've gotten so caught up in your convulsion of tears that you can barely breathe. But in this state of solitude and despair you find the ability to release the hurt and pain through your streaming tears. They come hard and fast. Uncontrollable and volatile. You've worn your brave face for a long, long time. And now it's time to cry.

This is the release of every emotion you've bottled up. It's the cry that comes from the depths of your soul, and every cracked and tattered crevice of your broken heart and shattered dreams. They're the tears that come from being pulverized, powdered, stripped of it all and the only thing you have left to give is a waterworks display of your broken-down state.

"In my distress I called to the LORD; I called out to my God. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came to his ears." 2 Samuel 22:7

"Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice." Psalm 55:17


"But I cry to you for help, LORD; in the morning my prayer comes before you." Psalm 88:13

I love this one...
"My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God..." Job 16:20

Just Cry. Let your eyes pour out tears as you pour out your heart to God and cry to Him for help. The second verse in Mandisa's song "Just Cry" says "God can handle your honesty." Oh, I'm so glad to know He sees every tear. But even more than that, He sees every wound, every scar, every shattered piece of my broken heart.

"It doesn't mean you don't trust Him ... or believe ... It doesn't mean you don't know He's redeeming everything." Oh praise Him! In my despair He hears my cry...and REDEEMS ME!

You know me - music floods my soul. So here's the song I referenced. Just do me a favor - grab some kleenexes (you're going to need a handful and I recommend the ones with lotion) and let yourself cry.

Just Cry

Why you gotta act so strong?
Go ahead, and take off your brave face.
Why you telling me nothing's wrong.
It's obvious you're not in a good place.
Who's telling you to keep it all inside
And never let those feelings get past the corner of your eye

You don't need to run
You don't need to speak
Baby, take some time
Let those prayers roll down your cheeck
It may be tomorrow, you'll be past the sorrow
But tonight, it's alright...
Just cry

I know you know your Sunday songs
A dozen verses by memory - yeah, they're good
But life is hard, and days get long - you gotta know
God can handle your honesty
So feel the things you're feeling,
Name your fears and doubts
Don't stuff your shame and sadness, loneliness and anger
Let it out, let it out

Just cry...

It doesn't mean you don't trust Him
It doesn't mean you don't believe
It doesn't mean you don't know He's redeeming everything

You don't need to run
You don't need to speak
Baby, take some time
Let those prayers roll down your cheeck
It may be tomorrow, you'll be past the sorrow
But tonight, it's alright...
Just cry

Friday, June 10, 2011

Overwhelmed

Overwhelm. Definition, please:
1. to overcome completely in mind or feeling.
2. to overpower or overcome, especially with superior forces; destroy; crush.
3. to cover or bury beneath a mass of something, submerge.


Are you overwhelmed? Facing a situation that may have seemingly taken over your feelings and thoughts. Are you feeling overpowered by your circumstances, left defeated and destroyed? Do you feel so buried beneath the looming darkness that seems to be drowning your joy? Overwhelmed. 


It can happen to the best of us. It can happen when we least expect it. It's the point we reach when we simply feel as if we cannot go any further. Feeling so overcome with your circumstance and the emotions that overtake you, moving forward just doesn't seem possible. 


This is when "overwhelmed" takes on the form of everything that feels like the world is crashing down.


But could overwhelmed also be when you're so overcome with the thoughts of God? Could it be that your heart is overflowing from His goodness and outpouring of grace? Could overwhelmed be the "superior forces" that destroy and crush - not your spirit but the grief that once gripped you? Maybe overwhelmed is being covered by His wings, buried beneath His lavish love...


Overwhelmed. In the times when I am overcome by my circumstances, I want to be consumed by Him. Still in His presence. Speechless in awe of His love. Captivated by His mercies. Assured by His grace. Overwhelmed not in the midst of my circumstances, but overwhelmed by my Sovereign God.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Where do you pitch your tent?

Disappointment. It's a feeling. And I'm allowed to have it. After a thought-provoking and heart-felt discussion at bible study, I was reminded that disappointments come. Circumstances that cause pain are not always avoidable. My emotions aren't wrong. They're real. They're valid. They're MY feelings. I am allowed to feel them. What I realized, though, is I must not camp there. I cannot pitch my tent in the eternal land of disappointment and discouragement. I must know and realize I am just a traveler passing through.

As I navigate through the curves and turns and hurdles, I am reminded to count it all joy. How? How do I turn to joy in the midst of pain? Because joy is not based upon my circumstance. Joy is not dependent on my feelings. Joy is not dictated by my state of disappointment or contentment.

"...in Your presence there is fullness of joy..." Psalm 16:11
I find joy by being in Your presence; sticking closely with you. Could my joy come from knowing You are with me?

"If you obey my commends, you will remain in my love...I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete." John 15:10-11
In my obedience to His word and His will, my joy is complete by remaining in his love. Again, basking in Him and His goodness so that no matter what I face, I am whole and full because of what He provides.

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him..." Romans 15:13
My faith in Him brings peace and joy. I trust in Him - not in what He will do - but in HIM. Knowing full well that He is good. Knowing that He gives peace that passes understanding. Knowing that hope can abound because of my response to trust in Him.

You might be facing disappointments. You might have hit rock bottom. But rest assured, His joy comes in the morning. His joy is full and abounding, making you whole and complete. His presence goes with you, no matter what you're facing. When nothing seems sure, rest securely in His grip. Sovereign God knows. He sees. He feels. And so can you. Just don't pitch your tent there!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Choices & Consequences

"Beware of...going back to what you once were, when God wants you to be something that you have never been." -O. Chambers

Knowing and doing are two different things. I'm all the more aware of this as I train and discipline and deal with a 3 year old. Everyone was right - "terrible 2's" were nothing compared to the "trying 3's." He's discovered his own will and his own ability to make choices. I can't tell you how many times a day he hears: "Make good choices. Is that a wise decision?" He knows there are consequences - good and bad - to the choices he makes. But it doesn't always help him choose wisely. He still battles his will of defiance and disobedience to test and see the limits.

As he is but 3, my prayer is he has a full and happy life to live. One that will surely be FULL of choices. Some he will make wisely and some he will suffer consequences for. I pray everyday over those decisions yet to come. And I'm also reminded that who is he right now is not who he'll be.

Even as I type that, do I understand that even in my now (ahem) 30's, who I am right now is not who I will be? Who I was 10 years ago is not who I am right now? Everyday that passes, every life lesson, every choice, every consequence - it's all shaping who God wants me to be. As long as we're given breath we're meant to be growing. There may be bad decisions and there may be consequences. But my only real fault is the minute I choose to stop growing, stop becoming and stop letting Him use those choices and consequences to shape who He wants me to be.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Welcome

I've kept a journal since I was in high school. We won't talk about how long ago that was, but let's just say there's already been one formal reunion.

The blog you now read isn't meant for anyone. It's mine. My private thoughts. My talks with God. My discoveries of life. My lessons and experiences; my joy, my pain.

So why would I put it online for all the world to see? This is who I am. Wired for sound; amped up on life; bringing people along my journey in the process. More than that, it is who God made me to be. It's not about the attention. It's not for feedback and affirmation. It's because I'm real. It's because I experience hurts and disappointments. It's because I feel excitement and happiness. And through it ALL, I know that God is in it. Through all of the "life" that I've experienced, and in what I choose to share, I am hoping that you can experience HIM.

This blog exists because as long as I exist I answered the call to bring Him glory. Because his love is better than life itself, in all I do I seek to glorify Him.