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Archive for the ‘faith’ Category

I’ve been spending some time in this desert place, and Jesus has showed me some neat things, calmed some fears, and encouraged me to press on. In fact, the Not-So-Casual Observer and I talked at length about what this feels like, some dangers along the way, and what to do when I feel like it’s never going to end. As amazing and eye-opening as our sessions are, Jesus has been showing me some stuff that’s even better.

The first beautiful part of the desert has been what I’ve noticed about myself. I realized that when I slow down, stop working, and just sit awhile, I hurt. I hurt in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening. I hurt down deep, such that I feel tears prick behind my eyes for no discernible reason. I hurt enough to press both hands to my chest, hoping to quell the bursting in my heart. I can safely say that this is pain, and I’m in it.

Why is that beautiful? Well, because I don’t have to actually DO anything. Could it be that my healing here has nothing to do with my activity, but everything to do with my rest and surrender? Is the mystery really that I don’t have to perform any action, rather simply make a place for pain in my life and let it find its own place to pour out? I think I love this. And if you know what a performance-oriented person I have been known to be, that alone should evidence the massive change in my last few months.

This morning I felt like I should read the account of the Israelites’ time in the desert, and wow do I have some amazing things to look forward to. While they simply moved from place to place at God’s behest, He did amazing things even for this grumbling and unfaithful people. If my desert experience looks anything like theirs, it’ll be an awesome adventure.

Sandals that never wear out to keep my feet from burning
Fresh food each morning delivered to wherever I am in the journey
The impossible–the sea parts as I pass through, washing away all that seeks to harm me once I’m safely on the other shore

Sabbath
Consecration
Feasting
Teaching
Sacrifice

A visible covenant
My face shining after time with Him
The glory of the Lord
An established rule and reign
Authority

A cloud for direction
Rebuke and pardon
Restoration

Healing through obedience
Prophecy
Zeal

Cities of refuge
Songs and blessings

This is going to be amazing.

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I am a lover of symbols. When I’m going through a season, I like to have a reminder of it. It also serves as a way of having stories to tell when my children ask about a particular piece.

In this desert season, I’ve been particularly interested in what it means to grieve. I looked at some Victorian mourning jewelry, but that didn’t seem exactly my style. Then I found a neat website that lists symbols of grief. It may seem a bit macabre, but I find it comforting that there are established symbols for this sort of thing. In any case, I decided that the knot would be my personal symbol for this season because it represents resurrection.

Now I needed to decide what sort of jewelry. For some reason, the thought of a necklace and a bracelet felt too much like being shackled to grieving, and I didn’t want that. I decided on a ring, a ring with a knot. Sounds complicated, I know, but I guess that’s why I love Etsy so much. I found a neat ring and ordered it, but the artist was delayed due to Hurricane Irene (totally understandable).

My ring came yesterday. Actually, she sent two because of the delay, which I thought was awfully kind. I find it interesting that yesterday Jesus asked me to take a step into the desert, and yesterday this symbol of grieving came to my house. Coincidence? I think  (k)not.

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Last night at girls’ group, we had a super brief discussion on Luke 9:62,”But Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

I fancy myself a bit of a theologue and, as such, have spent time studying over the years what exactly I believe and why. Why this verse in this place? Wanting to consider the positions I heard last night, I decided to turn to a couple of commentaries I trust. This is the one that struck me:

Those who begin with the work of God, must resolve to go on, or they will make nothing of it. Looking back, leads to drawing back, and drawing back is to perdition. He only that endures to the end shall be saved.  –Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

I love how God honors my desire to know Him more and confirms His rhema word with His logos. Just this morning we were talking about the desert valley of pain, this place both the Not-So-Casual Observer and I feel Jesus is calling me. This morning, I asked Jesus what He would have me do to walk this out, and He said,

“I want you to step onto the scorched earth. I want you to notice the grit of sand as it fills every empty space between your toes and rubs your flesh smooth. I want you to feel your lips go dry and your throat parch, how one step into this and you’re already thirsty. I want you to gaze down into this valley and see how far it is and wonder where the midpoint is, when you’ll begin your ascent, where the top is. What do I want you to do? Walk.  Look back at the lovely meadow you’ve spent the last few months in, then look at the colorless expanse before you, and choose this anyway.”

If I walk away from this, the work He’s doing in me is for naught. And since I believe that He will bring His good work to completion, and that His word will not return void, then this is what I must do. Choose this anyway.  Let it hurt anyway. Feel the pain anyway. Walk through the desert anyway. One step at a time.

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As one who has been relatively emotionless, I haven’t had the capacity to really look at the cross. It’s been too much, too much cruelty to look upon. But now that I’m feeling things and actively working on integrating emotions into my life, I have come face to face with the truth of the cross, the Truth ON the cross, and it’s breaking my heart.

They whipped You, they beat You, they spat on You. They shoved thorns onto Your head and into Your skin. Because of them, Your own mother hardly recognized You, except of course that a mother always knows her own child. They drove stakes through Your wrists. They stacked Your feet and nailed them down, then raised You up. You, beautiful Jesus. They jeered at You, blasphemed You, denied and deserted You. And what did You say? “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

I have murdered many times over, and the truth is this:

I whipped You, I beat You, I spat on You. I shoved thorns onto Your head and into Your skin. Because of me, Your own mother hardly recognized You, except of course that a mother always knows her own child. I drove stakes through Your wrists. I stacked Your feet and nailed them down, then raised You up. You, beautiful Jesus. I jeered at You, blasphemed You, denied and deserted You. And what did You say? “Father forgive her, for she knows not what she does.”

Grace.

 

(Listen to the bridge. It’s amazing, truly amazing.)

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Mercy

Lately Jesus and I have been talking a great deal about the breath of the Spirit, and this week it was specifically about Ezekiel 37, the valley of the dry bones. I reflected on how He starts with my bare bones, then adds a layer of sinew, then a layer of flesh, and what you have LOOKS like a person, but there’s no life until God breathes.

He was telling me that that’s how He works on every unevangelized area of my heart. This is important because when I feel stuck, I start to feel hopeless. Jesus reminded me that this is how it always works for me. I’ll work and work and feel like I’m not making any progress, but then one day I’ll just wake up and get it. The moment that I got it was when God breathed.

Mercy sees what I’ve become. It sees all the death in me, and it chooses to rebuild anyway. Isn’t that beautiful?

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Y’all, I’m just tired. And you know what they say in the Anonymous programs–don’t get too hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. I’m pretty good on the first three, but I’m flat exhausted emotionally. This feelings business is serious, and the cost is high. Worth it, but costly.

When I get this tired, I’m more susceptible to lies. The one I’ve been wrestling with the most lately is that I’m just too broken to be fixed. There are too many pieces of me smashed into jagged shards, left in random locales, lost forever. I’ll never get fixed, get healed, be what I’m supposed to be. But this morning, I felt like Jesus said, “Grace is what says it doesn’t always have to be this way.”

And so I’ll accept, without knowing the why and wherefore, that grace means I don’t have to stay fragmented forever. Let it be so.

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