never going deep enough

Do you ever think of God’s delight? When you are sitting around with nothing of any depth occupying your mind, do you contemplate the things that God delights in? If you do not, then it is no surprise that you grow bored easily and find great excitement to be impossible in simple moments. If you did, you would never know the baseness of these things we so ignorantly call normal.

It is not normal to be empty and then find nothing to fill ourselves. Is it so contrary to our natures for us to know of this God whose testimony is love, and not look there when the luster of our soul is worn thin by the world.

How can we race around with dull minds and sit about with frantic minds? We were not meant to survive on so little. We need more than stimulation, we need to immerse ourselves so deeply that we lose sight and perception of the meaningless drivel that we naturally default to.

We have minds, and hearts and spirits and bodies so distinguished by God and designed for Him that we are actually committing the greatest offense against ourselves to live in any way contrary to that.

Yes, this is about disappointing God, but do we realize that He is still disappointed when we deprive ourselves of what He always planned to have? Do we think so little of God that we assume He does not know us so well and love us so carefully that He would miss such a thing as whether we enjoy the meaning of our very existence. Yes, I think we do, and how much more a shame it is because He is nothing like the One we imagine.

It is not that we do not spend enough time thinking, it is that we do not think rightly. I could spend an entire day thinking about

something I don’t want to do,

something I’m afraid of,

something I can’t enjoy today,

something I wish I could change,

something that may never happen as I dream it. What a waste!

I could spend every day of the rest of my life thinking of

the highest possible thing,

the least remote concepts, and

the most regenerating realities that may possibly be known to man.

Is the choice really that hard? Is God and His ways so raw in their composition that they are uninteresting, or so familiar in their presentation that they are detestable? Have we gotten so disillusioned by the wrapping paper, that we forget that there are still new and different gifts inside each parcel? Has Christmas morning’s greatest occupation grown dull because we have grown dull?

We are so obsessed with manufactured beauty constantly advertised to us that we believe beauty does not exist unless it is freely exposed. What about the hidden nuances of all the things in our world that know nothing about. We pass by treasures in favor of trinkets because we never truly see what comes before our eyes.

So what are some of the things that we can set our minds and hearts on? A good place — in fact, the best place I can think of — to start is God. We must look at God to learn who He is according to the specific and highly unique substance of His heart. We hear these terms all the time, but what does God mean when He describes Himself as holy, unchanging, loving, and full of mercy. We cannot expect to have a corner on any of these things simply by reading its definition or memorizing verses that house its description. Let’s invite God to lead the introduction for us. Let’s go beyond merely hearing, merely seeing to knowing and believing.

Then the knowledge of God and His ways would arrest us with conviction, such that His delights would supernaturally take over and agitate our hearts. And by all this we would be moved toward more love for the One from whom every enjoyable thing does spring.

Romance sustained on a shoe-string

In the beginning there was mystery and romance and plenty to fill my thoughts and hold my interest. Any trial can present intrigue to a person who would like to grow and sees the spiritual value to be gained. Whether it is large or small doesn’t matter; you could face the trouble every week, or day-in-and-day-out, yet learn to revel in the gifts God has for you there — even if your only comfort is a bit of His presence to book end each of your weighty days.

But, there comes a point, as with anything when your own personal strength gives out. You didn’t ask it to, it just did. You enthusiasm runs off to revive underground until you come out of this lonesome wilderness. And your spirit begins to shows the wear and tear of life in the desert. This is not your home and it is often unpleasant. You now that the Lord has more for you, but “when, O Lord?” is you cry of despair.

I am living at this point right now. I feel as if I have sucked the bones of romance till my death have hurt enough to stop. I want to quit and allow myself to forget that it exists, and sink into disgust at what God has chosen for me in this window of time. I want to relax, to lower myself to the lowest level of expectation. I don’t want to put all my efforts toward a cause I wish I no longer had to fight.

I struggle to take every thought that seeks to defeat the purpose for my suffering, but I am weak and it would be easier to take down the ship than it would be to continue patching it up and hoping-against-hope that despite every new stormy gale, I will arrive with God at our destination.

I must admit that though the mystery is still there, it now seems cruel without the romance that once came packaged with it to my door. Living with mystery is more work now. It is faith on a shoe-string that’s about to break, rather than a steel girder that has passed every ship-yard test.

I don’t want to go where the shoe-string leads me. Faith is most truly faith in the dark, and just before the dawn when it waits with great anticipation for what it has never seen before. The thought is full of imagery — and pure romance, if I was still willing to see it — but by this time, I’m just not sure I have enough of that anticipation left to see me through.

I want more, but the wait is not over. I want redemption, but it only becomes real for me when I am looking for its evidence not in grand scale productions, but in the infinite number of daily opportunities for beauty from On High to be revealed. When I’m wrapped up in God, He renews my vision for another day and the dailies of my life can be seen for what they are little, unsolicited pieces of His puzzle falling silently into place before my eyes.

Yes, even on the lonely days, when I wake up already feeling in league with traitorous heart attitudes of bitterness and discontentment, a choice lies before me. I have the opportunity to make my day or ruin it. I could be like the woman in Proverbs 9:13 who is described as

brazen, empty-headed, frivolous

or I could be like the lady described in Proverbs 14:1 who for herself

builds a lovely home

and does not behave like the one who

comes along and tears it down brick by brick.

Both choices are open to me. And it is at times when I feel most akin to Mrs. Fool (or Madame Whore as the Message Bible calls her) that these life-giving words are most sobering. And for that moment, that is their power; to wake me up and insist that I climb back up on the Rock, even if I scrape my hands and make a bloody mess of my knees. It is worth it. It is essential. My house, no matter what, must stand.

So, for today I will rise up again and call my Lord blessed. I will live in gratitude for the gift He has given to me in the opportunity to be His every day, all day. I will come to Him and let Him be my Refuge and Strength. I will let myself remember and experience once more that nothing can compare with knowing and being loved by Him. And isn’t this the substance of the romance that I am looking for?

What do you want to be: dead or alive?

What do you want your life to be? It’s that question that runs along behind us wherever we go, chattering all the time: “Is this what you need right now? Is this going to get you where you want to be? Is this really working out for you, or is there an easier/better option?”

We want the best for ourselves, but what is that? We are all racing to figure that out, but where has it led us? Regardless of whether our life is more pleasant or purposeful today than it was ten or even twenty years ago is not the point.

There is so much more to life than goals and speed and efficiency and success. Life is a person. If life as you know it is still measured by you — who you are and what you do — than you haven’t met Him yet. Let me have the pleasure of introducing you; in fact, I’ll even let Him speak for Himself:

Hello, lost one. I have been looking for you.

No, I didn’t lose you, but you lost Me — so I have been doing everything I can to get you home.

That’s right. Home. It sounds lovely, doesn’t it? That’s where I am. That’s where you belong. And considering how long it’s been since you’ve felt what that is like, it’s about time.

See, in all the time that you’ve been missing I’ve seen you walking around with a broken heart, and it’s broken Mine. I don’t want that for you; that’s why I did something about it.

I died. No, I’m not a nihilist. I know completely the sanctity and meaning of life. I am Life. But, I died because you did not have Life.

It is so important to me that you know Me and live forever with Me, that I died, going into the death you live out and rising up out of it, that I might bring you out with Me.

You have an adversary and an internal dictator that you are powerless to dethrone. But, I hate him and the sin you commit under his rule far more than you.

So much so that I took your place under him and defeated him. Now I am calling you to come live in Me and you will get acquainted with the freedom I have bought you at Calvary.

You can’t make a judgment on what I’m offering you by comparing what I say with anything you have experienced because this is not like any of that.

I want so much for you than what you can get by living life your way. You don’t even know where you’re going, for heaven’s sake!

No, instead I want you to trust Me more than you do yourself or any of the other voices you have been listening to. I am living, everyone else is dead.

Only I can save you from dangers you have not yet seen since I have stood in your place for the ones you can’t fight.

Take Me and I will transform all that you are and can hope to be: I will be your Life and the Hope of all you want to be already complete.

If Heaven were Here

A caught a new thought on the winds of words from a woman I just met. As I watched the Youtube video featuring her voice slow-dancing through the verses of a poem entitled Figuring Life Out I myself figured something out. Ann said life is not an emergency, though we treat it like such.

If I made for heaven and reborn to enter into it, why can’t that be now? Why do I have to live any longer like I belong to this long lost world of fearful mistakes, and God-less days? Why do I have to wallow in self-pity and forget about the joy that came from Him just for me on the wings of this day that sin and sorrow paint so morbidly? Why do I have to miss everything that God meant for me to see and surrender to today?

If God has welcomed me into the kingdom, doesn’t this mean that He has asked me to receive heaven’s ways as my own? If anything is the standard there, why can’t it dictate its beauties of revelation and experience here to? I want to be so in the realm of God, that I hold onto what I don’t need to let go of, and release what I need to be let go of.

Why can’t I treat the world this body occupies like a moment in time that can’t and won’t distinguish every thing I do for all my days. Teach me, Lord, to wait; wait for the vision You’re processing in these dial-up days of mine. Let me watch out for what is being moved in heaven, so that I will not fail to claim the same here. I want Your reality to be my reality; so long as I am in You, they are the same.

What if…I am just afraid

A new creation. The old losing its place to the new. This is us who are in Christ. Our story is brand new — the work of a saving God who searched out the depths of our depravity in sin and has renewed our story for His glory to take hold of us this time.

I don’t always know if I believe in this new reality idea. Sometimes it seems a long way off from what I know to be true. Can this be new, a new revelation of what I am supposed to be and know in Christ?

I am not always sure that I like what I’m seeing. I often feel like I’m much the same as I was before He brought this change. I wonder in discontent,”What if I never see the end that He promises?”

But, what if I am just afraid? What if I’m afraid to trust God because my soul feels weary and I don’t want to be dragged through the mud another time? What if I don’t feel filled up inside, and I don’t know how to live when He lets me be filled with just enough for today? What if I just have a problem with knowing I’m imperfect?

Being a new creation is not a fresh reason to boast about myself. Truly nothing God does can be expected to revitalize my pride. Surely its vital signs are strong enough for all of us at this point. Instead, He works to bring about that death – this is that new creation continuing to be revealed in all its providence.

Humility is the beauty of this new existence; this living that is no more for self, but now always for Christ. Humility is only accomplished when the bane of our regenerated existences is crushed. Every trial, sorrow and pain can accomplish this. Watch those instances when you are maligned, disrespected and granted an offense, and you will find God working in it all to make of you who He wants you to be.

Now, don’t mistakenly boost yourself up in the hope that He is making you a better person from all this. He is not building you a stage from which you can stand and project to your new-found enemies: “look how godly God has made me because of you — watch how I exalt Him!” Rather He is building Himself a stage, and you make up the total of raw materials. He is calling you to praise Him from wherever you are, that His (not your) enemies may find out who He is while they are in your life.

We have new creation not merely for our own sake, but for the world’s. So, if it seems like it’s not doing much for you, maybe you should ask yourself what it’s doing for other — particularly those who don’t know the One who is responsible for all of it.

Let’s not forget that everything that God gives us has a high and holy purpose. We must cease to look at these things with our low and unclean purposes or we shall surely find that we cannot enjoy or execute the heavenly intent behind them. God is the One that moves these things, making them appear to all around that they are what they are.

The work of redemption is alive within our bodies, may the death around us not distract us from it. The life is in Christ and not in how well we feel, or how compelling our sense of it is. Our mission is pushing us to go beyond ourselves to the place where we can meet Life face to face — and  then run out to tell every one we meet all the details we have been given of the One we all long to know.

I’ve found a peace here, come see

God, put an end to evil; avenging God, show your colors!
Judge of the earth, take your stand;
throw the book at the arrogant.

God, the wicked get away with murder—
how long will you let this go on?
They brag and boast
and crow about their crimes!

They walk all over your people, God,
exploit and abuse your precious people.
They take out anyone who gets in their way;
if they can’t use them, they kill them.
They think, “God isn’t looking,
Jacob’s God is out to lunch.”

Well, think again, you idiots,
fools—how long before you get smart?
Do you think Ear-Maker doesn’t hear,
Eye-Shaper doesn’t see?
Do you think the trainer of nations doesn’t correct,
the teacher of Adam doesn’t know?
God knows, all right—
knows your stupidity,
sees your shallowness.
How blessed the man you train, God,
the woman you instruct in your Word,
Providing a circle of quiet within the clamor of evil,
while a jail is being built for the wicked.
God will never walk away from his people,
never desert his precious people.
Rest assured that justice is on its way
and every good heart put right.
Who stood up for me against the wicked?
Who took my side against evil workers?
If God hadn’t been there for me,
I never would have made it.
The minute I said, “I’m slipping, I’m falling,”
your love, God, took hold and held me fast.
When I was upset and beside myself,
you calmed me down and cheered me up.
Can Misrule have anything in common with you?
Can Troublemaker pretend to be on your side?
They ganged up on good people,
plotted behind the backs of the innocent.
But God became my hideout,
God was my high mountain retreat,
Then boomeranged their evil back on them:
for their evil ways he wiped them out,
our God cleaned them out for good.

Psalm 94