Fearing Him Is A Valley Job

Lord,
I’m recognizing
that I need
to fear You
more…

Barely begun,
my prayer
morphs into
a mental image of
God and I
cresting a mountain
from which He
unlocks for me
all the secrets
of His glory
and I stand,
dazed by His
brilliance
and might.
And it is
while
I am on
visual overload
that the fear
of the Lord
takes over me.

…To fast forward
a little bit,
so far God
hasn’t taken
my daydream HD,
but He has been
showing me that
He’s heard my
prayer
and He knows
exactly what the answer
needs to look like.
My heart has needed
some work–
a LOT,
to be exact–
and God has
been doing it.
None of it has been
natural
or sit-back-
and-watch-the-
show kind of relaxing.
But every moment
of it has been
a minute
detail
of a much
bigger miracle.
I am being changed
by the only One
Who could do what
God’s doing–
and that’s life
at it’s best,
isn’t it?

So Just WHAT Do I Need to Change?

Look at this:
Another
suggestion.
“God,” I whisper,
“You know that isn’t
what it felt like.”

I’m agitated about
the substance
of a conversation
with an acquaintance of mine.
She showed a keen interest
in learning my answer
to the Big Question
(“What are you doing
with your life,
hah-ney?”)–
that is, until she heard it
from me.

Then she seemed to
jump into gear,
prepared to fix
what wasn’t quite right.
Her advice came with a
subtext I had no
trouble absorbing
along with the words she spoke
(“This wasn’t a task
I was looking for tah-day,
but since you’ve
foisted
it upon me,
let’s try to work with me,
huh?”)

I don’t believe she ever heard
my heart.

Have you had a similar encounter?
You started out,
pleasantly surprised
by the attention
you were receiving
from someone
you didn’t know well,
but almost immediately
found yourself repenting of
your earlier gratitude–
wanting nothing more than
to welcome the disappearance
of your adversary.

Oh! The worst part
is when they do leave,
and we are left
feeling chained to
all the things they
said with the
skimpiest of words.
Where is the advice for that?!

I’ve been asking
that question,
and searching for its answer,
since the days
when I was
the little lady
the average adult didn’t
understand.
I felt the punishment
of every comment
informing me that
my atypical behavior
had not gone unnoticed
and, of course,
would not be free from
whatever
suggestion
seemed appropriate.

Years have passed
with little changing.
I’ve decided
there isn’t really
a promise
of escape
out there
waiting for me.

Instead, I’ve been learning
to walk through these
continuing confrontations
looking for God,
expecting Him to use
each one
as a backdrop
for the revelation of
something that only
the poor in spirit
wait to see.

Because I’ve watched Him do this
again and again,
I’ve learned to end
the prayers I begin
like the one above
with something like this:

“What could I gain
from this,
Lord?
What would you like me
to work through,
to learn by trying,
to act upon
that the change
You want in me
might take place?”

Where is Amazing?

Amazing. I like that word. I also like the idea of it labeling all the particulars of my life. It would just sort of be…right, you know?

Yet, the life I live is not always loaded with amazing. Sometimes the concept actually seems quite removed from what I am experiencing.

There is just too much boring and stressful and confusing–maybe even heart-breaking–in these days to match the dreams I had while I was growing up.

Rather than living what I have imagined, I am living something…else. I don’t really have words for it–beyond discussing what it is not.

It frightens me to realize that my lack of control over my life even extends to an inabilitity to describe where I am, what I’m living through, and why it’s not more in line with what I was expecting.

But, maybe all my problems with reality are one: I’ve been insisting that Amazing must be more than just the identity of my King, but that of my whole life as well.

In the end, though, I have to ask myself: What is my life, besides a vehicle for the Amazing One to make Himself known?

Needy-one, meet The Needy Meet-er

The lock slips into place with the ping you’ve been anticipating since the last time you were here.
Instinctively, your head falls back and your chest rises–doing all you can to obey the inward demand for oxygen.
The darkness settles on your shoulders, quieting the ache of being so long un-held.
Hushed and waiting, this atmosphere offers privacy in exchange for the secrets you’ve been keeping.
Fear, rejection, the-sense-that-no-one-hears-you are foreign here; you’re too busy meeting the One who’s welcoming the real you.

This started as a description of the moment we slip into seclusion, inviting sin to be our companion for uninhibited expressions of our deepest lusts.
As I typed and retyped, trying to figure out where this sketch was going, God tinkered with my perspective and loosened my hold on the ending.
I began to see that the point in time I was illustrating was not necessarily one that was “fixed” as an instance of compromise. Instead, our encounters with temptation are often preceded by an acute awareness of our deepest needs and the failed conquests we’ve made concerning them.
But it is not as if there are needs we hold inside that may only be fully addressed in the darkness, out of the way of interference from anyone. Our sense of need is, ultimately, designed to invigorate our pursuit of relationship, intimacy and increasing vulnerability.
When we accept an alternative to drawing toward another, we dismiss the very object of our need. It’s true, our fellow men and women often leave us adrift rather than welcoming us aboard the beautiful vessel Fellowship. This is painful, but is it not purposeful? Our hearts look about with renewed expectation–wanting nothing less than to meet the One Who is deeper than all of our needs.

I Am Still Here

Night has not come
in the wings
of this darkness.
Though the sky above yields
no
light
and surfaces about show
no
color,
somehow the bleakness speaks
and the silence teaches.
I have not come here alone.
I do not have to be afraid.
The end has not yet come.
Something is here.
My Father, my Keeper
speaks one thing:

Know, dearest one,
that I have not
called the day
done.
You can remain in it,
at peace.
I am yet weaving
life into this moment.
The day is not done.
Retreat and let your soul
be still.
I AM STILL…HERE.

God: The only roofer you should trust

Perceived control. What a comfort it is. We clutch it with both hands, afraid to let anything come between it and us. Indeed, what we believe we understand about our circumstances, our relatives/friends, and ourselves becomes our home; the place that protects us and that we, in turn, must protect.

The only problem is that God is not on the same page about protecting our sense of sovereignty. He knows that our “home” is a fabrication of self-protecting illusions and God-restricting doubts. To remain in this habitation is to eclipse the joys of being wholly kept for and by Him.

So what does He do? Bit by bit, He painstakingly sets us free. Yes, it is painful. Of course, we are often screaming, “No!” But, in those moments in between, may we let our hearts be held and possessed by the prevailing reality that God will not rest until His child is sheltered properly–in no place other than the shadow of His roof.

If obedience didn’t strain, could it really offer gain?

Okay, I’m back from my blogging sabbatical. Though my time away has been, for me, extraordinarily intense, I will not attempt to describe what made my heart too dry for blogging. Rather, in my gratitude for the ways I have learned to cope as well as blossom in this season of stretching-without-end, let me share one of the points of beauty I’ve received along the way.

Obedience can be a scary thing. For me, the scary part is that obedience is hard and God offers no excuse for the fact. Sometimes He asks the very hardest things of us when we are already in the midst of the hardest situations we could imagine. This does not seem right. Most days it does not even seem possible.

Yet, if we think of obedience as our hearts working out agreement with God, we cannot be surprised at its uncomfortable elements, its self-wearing-down results. We should expect to find the elements of an excellent work-out firmly implanted in its very nature.

Is obedience not designed to stretch us where we are inflexible so that we may become fully flexible? Would devotion not take us into realms that are un-mastered so that we might master them? Should my soul and flesh not be torn down more and more that my spirit might reign over them?

In short, if obedience did not introduce strain into our lives and hearts, could it truly afford us lasting gain?