One Thing…

I like walking on the beach when it’s windy and cold, and dusk is quickly coming on; the sun has all but disappeared behind an endless expanse of sea, and I feel so small before all this depth of sky, sea and shore.

I like things that make me wonder, and teach me that there is so much I just will never know…

Yet, one thing I do know; one thing all that is greater than I can never take away — I have within my heart the life-defining Spirit of the Earth-Breather and Heaven-Christen-er.

The voices of external forces whisper that I am nothing, and internal voices scream “this world is too big to face for someone so small” — but this mighty Spirit, almost imperceptible within my heart, tells me that I am His.

I belong to the Star-Sustain-er, the Wind-Reviver, the Life-Protector, the Eternity-Divider. And somehow, in some inescapable manner, I belong to His earth-shattering, heaven-establishing plan. We all do — whether you have been running from God for longer than you can remember, or coming to Him with too many broken-pieces-of-who-could-have-been to count, you belong here.

God is a God who does not shy away from problems or complicated births, deaths and anniversaries. He is able to enter into all of it with us, and build a bridge from the rubble of our hearts to the beauty of being wholly His. You may not be there yet, but as long as you’ll let Him be with you now, He will certainly make your end more blessed than the good you began with.

A Lanuage I Can’t Translate

Why do I feel like I always have to be running when I don’t really have anywhere to go? Why does being still and waiting feel so abnormal, when I need direction anyway? No matter how far I come in my relationship with God, His ways will still be foreign territory to me; a language I can’t translate without Him near to replace my insight with His.

There are so many things I want to have Him involved with in my life, yet my first reaction when I see Him in something is always, “Oh, God, You’re messing everything up!”

Why are my plans and ambitions so important to me; so much more important to me than what He has had planned for me since before time began? You would think with all that time and all that infinite wisdom, He would know a thing or two, and I would revere that, but is that like me? No.

I get excited at the good ideas I come up with for myself, and try to shelter them from damage. But is letting them be replaced really a bad thing? Especially when God sees down the road and knows where I would be going if I followed plans that offer me such a foggy hope.

Yes, God knows best…if only He would continue to make my heart know and live by that too!

God, will You follow my rules?

I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains?
No, my strength comes from God,
who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.

He won’t let you stumble,
your Guardian God won’t fall asleep.
Not on your life! Israel’s
Guardian will never doze or sleep.

God’s your Guardian,
right at your side to protect you—
Shielding you from sunstroke,
sheltering you from moonstroke.

God guards you from every evil,
he guards your very life.
He guards you when you leave and when you return,
he guards you now, he guards you always.

Psalm 121 (emphasis mine)

A couple of weeks ago the Lord was dealing with me in how I like to try to separate the secular and the spiritual. I like to think that God can be found in little windows of time and place, and no where else. I like to think that I only find God when I am looking for Him; that I’m the one in charge of where things go with us.

But, how could I think that? How could I want to think that when I need Him so much? I go through a time in my life when I don’t know what it means to emerge from the other side of the tunnel, and I hold onto the idea that God is with me everywhere, knowing everything, for dear life! Yet, when the tunnel disappears in the background, I forget what it was like to be there. I wonder if it was all real, or just my gut response to things I didn’t like about my life.

But even if everything in my life is not much more than my response to things, I cannot explain why I am responding better now without saying that God did something I still do not completely understand. He gave me faith that He will see me through to the other side, and hope that this will all turn out for my good because I love Him, and He is loving me in all that I’m going through.

So, my question is not really am I where God wants me to be, or am I doing what I’m supposed to, but what is God trying to do with me? Though there is such mystery in my life, and I am often so unsure when I take a step ahead, God doesn’t mean for me to figure it all out and make the best cut of my life, but to give me every reason I need to trust Him and let Him lead me where I need to go.

Valued Servant?

God’s Message came to me. It went like this: “Get out in the streets and call to Jerusalem,
‘God’s Message!
I remember your youthful loyalty,
our love as newlyweds.
You stayed with me through the wilderness years,
stuck with me through all the hard places.
Israel was God’s holy choice,
the pick of the crop.
Anyone who laid a hand on her
would soon wish he hadn’t!'”
God’s Decree.

Hear God’s Message, House of Jacob!
Yes, you—House of Israel!
God’s Message: “What did your ancestors find fault with in me
that they drifted so far from me,
Took up with Sir Windbag
and turned into windbags themselves?

It never occurred to them to say, ‘Where’s God,
the God who got us out of Egypt,
Who took care of us through thick and thin, those rough-and-tumble
wilderness years of parched deserts and death valleys,
A land that no one who enters comes out of,
a cruel, inhospitable land?’

“I brought you to a garden land
where you could eat lush fruit.
But you barged in and polluted my land,
trashed and defiled my dear land.
The priests never thought to ask, ‘Where’s God?’
The religion experts knew nothing of me.
The rulers defied me.
The prophets preached god Baal
And chased empty god-dreams and silly god-schemes.

“Because of all this, I’m bringing charges against you”
—God’s Decree—
“charging you and your children and your grandchildren.
Look around. Have you ever seen anything quite like this?
Sail to the western islands and look.
Travel to the Kedar wilderness and look.
Look closely. Has this ever happened before,
That a nation has traded in its gods
for gods that aren’t even close to gods?
But my people have traded my Glory
for empty god-dreams and silly god-schemes.

“Stand in shock, heavens, at what you see!
Throw up your hands in disbelief—this can’t be!”
God’s Decree.
“My people have committed a compound sin:
they’ve walked out on me, the fountain
Of fresh flowing waters, and then dug cisterns—
cisterns that leak, cisterns that are no better than sieves.

“Isn’t Israel a valued servant,
born into a family with place and position?
So how did she end up a piece of meat
fought over by snarling and roaring lions?
There’s nothing left of her but a few old bones,
her towns trashed and deserted.
Egyptians from the cities of Memphis and Tahpanhes
have broken your skulls.
And why do you think all this has happened?
Isn’t it because you walked out on your God
just as he was beginning to lead you in the right way?

“And now, what do you think you’ll get by going off to Egypt?
Maybe a cool drink of Nile River water?
Or what do you think you’ll get by going off to Assyria?
Maybe a long drink of Euphrates River water?
Your evil ways will get you a sound thrashing, that’s what you’ll get.
You’ll pay dearly for your disloyal ways.
Take a long, hard look at what you’ve done and its bitter results.
Was it worth it to have walked out on your God?”
God’s Decree, Master God-of-the-Angel-Armies.

“A long time ago you broke out of the harness.
You shook off all restraints.
You said, ‘I will not serve!’
and off you went,
Visiting every sex-and-religion shrine on the way,
like a common whore.
You were a select vine when I planted you
from completely reliable stock.
And look how you’ve turned out—
a tangle of rancid growth, a poor excuse for a vine.
Scrub, using the strongest soaps.
Scour your skin raw.
The sin-grease won’t come out. I can’t stand to even look at you!”
God’s Decree, the Master’s Decree.

“How dare you tell me, ‘I’m not stained by sin.
I’ve never chased after the Baal sex gods’!
Well, look at the tracks you’ve left behind in the valley.
How do you account for what is written in the desert dust—
Tracks of a camel in heat, running this way and that,
tracks of a wild donkey in rut,
Sniffing the wind for the slightest scent of sex.
Who could possibly corral her!
On the hunt for sex, sex, and more sex—
insatiable, indiscriminate, promiscuous.

“Slow down. Take a deep breath. What’s the hurry?
Why wear yourself out? Just what are you after anyway?
But you say, ‘I can’t help it.
I’m addicted to alien gods. I can’t quit.’

“Just as a thief is chagrined, but only when caught,
so the people of Israel are chagrined,
Caught along with their kings and princes,
their priests and prophets.
They walk up to a tree and say, ‘My father!’
They pick up a stone and say, ‘My mother! You bore me!’
All I ever see of them is their backsides.
They never look me in the face.
But when things go badly, they don’t hesitate to come running,
calling out, ‘Get a move on! Save us!’
Why not go to your handcrafted gods you’re so fond of?
Rouse them. Let them save you from your bad times.
You’ve got more gods, Judah,
than you know what to do with.

“What do you have against me,
running off to assert your ‘independence’?”
God’s Decree.
“I’ve wasted my time trying to train your children.
They’ve paid no attention to me, ignored my discipline.
And you’ve gotten rid of your God-messengers,
treating them like dirt and sweeping them away.

“What a generation you turned out to be!
Didn’t I tell you? Didn’t I warn you?
Have I let you down, Israel?
Am I nothing but a dead-end street?
Why do my people say, ‘Good riddance!
From now on we’re on our own’?
Young women don’t forget their jewelry, do they?
Brides don’t show up without their veils, do they?
But my people forget me.
Day after day after day they never give me a thought.

“What an impressive start you made
to get the most out of life.
You founded schools of sin,
taught graduate courses in evil!
And now you’re sending out graduates, resplendent in cap and gown—
except the gowns are stained with the blood of your victims!
All that blood convicts you.
You cut and hurt a lot of people to get where you are.
And yet you have the gall to say, ‘I’ve done nothing wrong.
God doesn’t mind. He hasn’t punished me, has he?’
Don’t look now, but judgment’s on the way,
aimed at you who say, ‘I’ve done nothing wrong.’

“You think it’s just a small thing, don’t you,
to try out another sin-project when the first one fails?
But Egypt will leave you in the lurch
the same way that Assyria did.
You’re going to walk away from there
wringing your hands.
I, God, have blacklisted those you trusted.
You’ll get not a lick of help from them.”

Jeremiah 2 (emphasis)

Do we really consider how God sees our sin? Do we take any time to consider that this God who judges what we do, and affirms who we are in Him, has a personality, and a voice fraught with emotion and power?

When He speaks we have the option of listening, or declining His calling on our lives.

Yet, why do we let our lives crumble all around us, so that we can have the satisfaction of saying that we did it all our selves? Why does pride and its assets look like such a valuable commodity to us?

I don’t know that I’ve ever felt so affected by a passage in the time that I’ve been writing here. But, to be given a glimpse into what God sees when He looks at us, is changing the way I look at myself.

Why am I so content to use sin as a cloak, boasting that I can cover myself with a barrier that won’t let God feel He is too much my superior? To convince myself that He really has no case with me — I am beyond reproach?

I should embrace His discipline with all my might — relishing the fact that He would correct me when I’m on my way to destruction, and lead me in the way that is true and everlasting.

Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be— you get a fresh start,
your slate’s wiped clean.

Count yourself lucky—
God holds nothing against you
and you’re holding nothing back from him.

When I kept it all inside,
my bones turned to powder,
my words became daylong groans.

The pressure never let up;
all the juices of my life dried up.

Then I let it all out;
I said, “I’ll make a clean breast of my failures to God.”Suddenly the pressure was gone—
my guilt dissolved,
my sin disappeared.

These things add up. Every one of us needs to pray;
when all hell breaks loose and the dam bursts
we’ll be on high ground, untouched.

God’s my island hideaway,
keeps danger far from the shore,
throws garlands of hosannas around my neck.

Let me give you some good advice;
I’m looking you in the eye
and giving it to you straight:

“Don’t be ornery like a horse or mule
that needs bit and bridle
to stay on track.”

God-defiers are always in trouble;
God-affirmers find themselves loved
every time they turn around.

Celebrate God.
Sing together—everyone!
All you honest hearts, raise the roof!

Psalm 32 (emphasis mine)