Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Ache of Trust

Do you trust God?

If asked, someone who believes they are a Christian would most likely answer yes.  What else are you going to say?  But think about it. 

It sounds so simple, so obvious.  Actually, it's colossal.

Trust isn't about understanding, about liking what's happening, about being happy about what God is doing.  Trust is about accepting His plan and believing His way is best even when its hard.  Even when it seems impossible.

Today, I am learning to trust.  It's not easy today.  There are so many things I want, good, godly things but He isn't providing them.  Sometimes, that makes me feel hurt and confused and sometimes, it makes me feel mad.  But even when I'm mad at God and don't like what He's doing, I know that I still need Him.  Usually, it's when I'm mad and confused that I feel most desperate for Him because that's when I really feel how little control I have.

I am a nobody in control of nothing but am loved by the God of everything. 

In Romans 11, Paul reminds us that God has given us His Son.  Jesus is the best gift we will ever receive.  If God is willing to give us His Son, He probably isn't going to hold out on smaller blessings unless it's for our good. 

At the end of the day, I don't need those good, godly things I want so badly.  All I need is God and no matter how many times I get mad at Him or don't trust Him, He's never leaving!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Never Stand Still

The Christian life is never meant to be stationary and that is its beauty.  Sometimes it can be frustrating - no matter how far we've come, we still have more to go in this life.  BUT it is so awesome to know that even when I mess up and sin and deny my Savior, He's still waiting for me to climb back up to my feet and keep going.  Satan wants more than anything for us to stop moving forward towards Christ.  Guilt is one of his greatest weapons.  It feels godly because we are feeling sorry for our sin but actually, it has us frozen in the middle of the road and looking back at how bad we've been.

Guilt tells God that we don't trust Him enough to cover our sins.  That we have to emotionally flog ourselves to be clean again.  That His sacrifice just can't be enough. 

This isn't the same as repentance.  Repentance is godly and sometimes, it can take more than thirty seconds.  It is good to prostrate yourself before God and beg forgiveness for your own sinful stupidity but after you have poured out your soul to Him, get up and keep moving.  Repentance is an action, a turning from sin so stop looking back and get on with your walk. 

Christ hates sin but He loves a repentant heart.  We don't have to say we're sorry five million times over two weeks for that one sin we did.  Repent and believe that He's good enough. 

Don't let anything keep you standing still.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Promise Forever

Overwhelmed by the goodness of my God today.

I have been reading a novel lately called "The Gift" by Bryan Liftin.  It's the second book in a trilogy set centuries in the future after a virus and the ensuing nuclear war decimated the human population.  New civilizations with medieval technology rise up and Christianity is basically wiped out.  The two main characters accidentally stumble on a copy of the Old Testament and this begins a physical and spiritual journey that is absolutely amazing.

But the best part of this book was the end.  Since the two main characters find the Scripture, all they want is to find the New Testament as well.  They find a copy but enemies of Christianity destroy it and for a little bit they think the rest of God's story is gone.  Then, they realize that a mentally challenged man in their company has perfect retention and literally has the entire New Testament memorized. 

Now this is a fictional example but we can see in the Scriptures themselves how God works to keep His words alive.  Reading this, I was overcome by the glorious goodness of my God.  He has promised that His words will endure forever.  No matter how much we are persecuted or how many Bibles our enemies destroy, the words will never be lost!  Those words which are life and breath to us, which offer us the only way to salvation, which teach us of our amazing, loving Creator - we will never lose them!  It is a solemn promise!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Black Bubbles

Oil: black, slippery-slidey all over me.
On my hands, dribbling down the sides of my face
It bubbles up from deep inside me
I cough and cough and cough.
I can't get it out of me

I need it.  I want it.
Smiling at the blackness running down my arms
I'm revolted at myself.
How can I crave something so deadly?

Don't I smell its rotten odor?
Can't I taste that acid warning?
It oozes inside me: the oil out there magnetizing to the oil in here.
When I'm angry, afraid, alone - it comes pumping out,
spraying everywhere.

I weep but the tears can't flow right
Blocked by the oil on my face.

I live in a world of oil-people who tell me its okay.
The blackness is good
Just go with it - you'll get used to the smell quickly.
It's so easy to just ignore how filthy I am.

I live half blinded by the oil
It covers my vision like a cancer.
I'm in desperate need of Light
but the Light will kill me.
The oil will destroy me - the Light will unmake me.

Sear it off me!  I'm scraping, scraping but it's too sticky!
Burn it away.
Never mind the stench of crisping hair and smoking flesh.

My body is rank with death.

Sometimes, the oil chokes me so I can barely breathe
My smeared hand trembles towards the sky
The blackness bubbles as I whimper: "Save me!"

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sin: A Deadly Anesthetic

Narrow: of small or limited width; especially in comparison with length

The Bible refers to our walk of faith as 'the narrow road' but sometimes, I think we forgot what that means.  We don't realize that the image is similar to a foot path or in other words, it isn't much wider than your feet breadth.  That's not a lot of space and there are acres on either side that you can so easily side step into.  Acres that seem just a hair off: 'it's only one day skipping my Bible reading', 'I can pray extra tomorrow', 'I need sleep for my big test tomorrow', and the list goes on. 

Now, there are times when Bible reading or extensive prayer just can't happen.  Watching my mom raise five kids has taught me a lot about praying on the go or being okay with five minutes of Bible here and there on the miracle seconds when no children need her.  That's not what I'm talking about.  What I mean is when we have time and we don't take it.  We let the world distract us and we forget God and it is only a very few steps before we are tumbling down a cliff and suddenly, we are miles from where we should be.

This is my personal experience.  College has taught me a lot more than just the education in the classrooms and in some ways, it pushed me closer to God and my family but the every present pressure for more time got to me and I let my devotions and prayer time dwindle till it was practically nothing.  And I barely noticed.  I was really in a dangerous spot but God is more merciful then my faithfulness and He smacked me in the face enough that I woke up and realized what I'd been doing.

Even then though, it was hard because sin is an anesthetic and I found that my heart had begun to cool and while I knew how much I had been given by my Savior, He felt like a stranger.  A friend who I hadn't seen in so long that I didn't really know them anymore. 

So now, I am reintroducing myself to my Savior.  Bible time and prayer isn't easy.  A lot of times, I just want to go to sleep but I know that the effort will be worth it. 

I don't care what it is: food, money, a relationship, your kids, your parents, TV, school, NOTHING is more important than God and NOTHING will satsify you the way He does.  If you can see yourself in what I'm talking about, read Psalms and really think about them.  Look at the joy of the righteous and the ultimate sorrow of the wicked who thinks his sin is not noticed.  Americans aren't encouraged to have an eternal perspective but as Christians, we MUST!! 

No matter how hard it is, no matter what 'fun' we supposedly miss out on, no matter what we must sacrifice, a life of faithfulness is so worth it!  This is the Being who created everything, who died for your sin.  How can any created thing measure up to an intimate, eternal relationship with Him?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Spiritual Amputation

Burn. Singe.  Sear the darkness from my bones.

Irradicate.  Amputate the chaos within me.

It is overwhelming me.  Drowning me.  I'm dying in my own sin.  The Light is in me.  You said that.  I believe You.  But the darkness hates the Light.  It wants You dead.  And if it can't get You, then it wants to take me with it.

No. No. No.  I am tired to listening to darkness.  Sick of being blind.  No more lies.  No more cowardice. 

Take the scalpel to my life and carve away everything that is not from You.

For I know that it is better to enter Your glory maimed then to be thrown whole into the anguish of hell.  And You will love me, broken and worthless as I am.  You will kiss my scars and I will see Yours.  Is any pain too much for that prize?

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A+ Life Because of an A-

Breathe a sigh of relief....

I have successfully completed my second year at college. So glad to have a break for a while. It is excited for me to watch as I grow into a stronger person through every semester at school. It's funny. When I was in my late teens and even into this past year of being twenty, I figured that I was about the person I was going to be. I was wrong. Since January, I have been amazed by how much God has honed me, changed my dreams, even shifting major tenets of my personality.

I have always been a very introverted person, content in my own world of words and characters, and I didn't really feel the need for people. That has changed so much. God has used these past few months of 2012 to give me more of a drive to experience life and not just write about it. I want to be in the world, meeting people, engaging with beings who bear my Lord's image, and while I still want to write about it, I also am way more motivated to do something with that writing.

One big leap for me this semester has been a shift in how I value myself. I've always been basically a straight A student. Even in college, I had a strong 4.0 GPA and for a while, that was one way that I considered myself of value. I was proud of that perfect score and it became an idol. Last year, I pushed myself so hard and stressed so much that there were times I couldn't sleep and was constantly getting headaches. I ended up finishing the semester with that 4.0 but was so mentally frazzled that I was barely functioning for the first two weeks of break. All I did was sleep basically and had little energy to do much else.

An amazing contrast to this year. I had two very difficult classes this semester but instead of freaking out, I kept putting them on the Lord. I prayed a lot and committed myself to not worry about the 4.0. If it stayed, great. If not, I was still loved just as much. I did not get that 4.0. I got an A- in one class and I was okay with that. There are still moments where my perfectionism pops it head up, but I just keep giving it to the Lord. Because of that, the day after exams were done, I was working around the house and helping my mom with some chores that I hadn't had time to do during school. I was busy, active, and felt awesome. By letting go of my idol, I ended up happier and more satisfied with my life then if I'd clung to it. When I trusted in God with my future, I had more energy left to serve Him and enjoy time with my family.

And guess what? I wouldn't exchange it for perfect grade for anything in the world. The A- taught me about trust. It's the best grade I've ever gotten!