Why, this must be home…

“Just thought I would say hello, God,” I breathe. The stillness stirs me up inside; my heart desires His fellowship–communication with Him in the deepest places I possess. “I don’t know what You have in mind for today, but before we begin, could You come and be with me for a while?” This has become a familiar, though not perfectly consistent, refrain of my heart. He hears it and draws near. I don’t know how to explain it, but I can tell that I have His fullest attention; that He is here to be with Me and let Me know Him now.

I am excited. I don’t know any other way of responding. He is gentle and He is quiet, yet I do not find Him boring or unable to relate to my heart. Instead, the opposite is true. He relates to my heart in a manner that bares no resemblance to anyone who has ever interacted with me. He has no match in His ability to draw me out and draw me near, all at once. He handles me as though I were His expertise, as though He could not go wrong with me–could not fail to understand what was right concerning me.

If such things delineated the bearing of someone else I had not yet fully come to know, I think that I should be quite uncomfortable but it is clear that such knowledge and purpose are His prerogative because I am His and have always been His. Truly, I have not known this for any time equal to eternity, but it matters not: He has known and imparts the security of that reality to me in His own way. You see, in being in His presence I have found what I did not know I was looking for; what I did not know was missing or must be relocated; what must be Home. God is here and I know that I belong with Him…so what else could I call it?

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A certain calculated risk that shouldn’t be avoided

Have you ever carefully contemplated a situation…decided what you needed to be careful to avoid…but then, when it came down to it…God got you right in the middle of the very thing? He seemed to say, “Thanks for narrowing it down for me–I definitely don’t want you to be trying to avoid anything!”

What is He thinking?! Why won’t He let us live our lives as risk-free as possible? How can He think He’s doing us a favor when what He goes against conventional wisdom? And why doesn’t He ever seem to like it when we feel comfortable?

Could it be that we would be missing something very important if we avoided risk? Could it be that something inside us, something inside Him has to respond to our risk? Could it be that we are wed with Him in risk? Perhaps faith can only spring from this.

And, what if we need to not only live with risk, but live on risk? Is there something innate about the risks He asks us to make that He may understand better than we do?

I hope so.

Could it be that in many cases the very things that are risks in our world are actually the  privileges of people belonging to another place, possessing a deeper life than can be contained here?

I think it could be possible because I have hope. Hope seems to be central to risk…otherwise, we wouldn’t risk. Otherwise, I’d like to assert, God would not ask us to risk. If He thought we were really going to lose something we really needed, certainly He wouldn’t ask. But, our problem is most often not with the things we need, but with things we desperately want, am I right?

We want to avoid risk because its not safe, comfortable or predictable. We may learn to live with the result, but we will never know the surety we do right now. Our steadfast hope will likely have to be built somewhere else–on something we’ve not yet seen. My soul cries out in horror at this; it says, “avoid that way at all costs! You will die there.”

Yet, if I’m quiet, another part of me can be heard whispering, “I want you to go there. There is no other place where you can find such peace. I don’t want you to listen to your fears. I want you to find what is hidden there for you.”

Yes, there is a powerful invite and surprisingly, it is perfectly able to match the urgency my soul gives me. Surely both parts of me are in tension; the matter is that important. I must no what is going on here, why risk seems to be such a central issue.

There must be something to this risk, this hope that we need to know more about.

I think there could be much more to life than the simple, comfortable existence. We are alert to nothing because we settle into living amongst already-cozy mates who don’t get what life’s really about either. But, certainly, since we are all amateurs at this life-deal, we should seek some sort of coaching. We should sense that instruction is one of our greatest needs. We should be looking for help from someone qualified to help. Someone.

Yes, that’s right, I believe He can help. You may find this hard to believe for a variety of reasons–reasons that are not without significance. But my reason for believing that He can help us with life is not based solely on a need for something to be true. Instead, I am convinced that this would be true regardless of whether I wanted to believe He could help or not.

You see, I know that if you could look back over my life you would recognize that I have not always been one running in this direction. Though it provides me with comfort now, there was an extensive time in my life when I was committed to running in every other direction. I had no desire to make this my anchor. I wanted a more liberating “proposition.” I strongly favored Godlessness.

Yet, after I searched everywhere else, I was still wanting comfort. I was still without a steady hope. Coming face-to-face with reality, sporting all its blemishes and faults, made me wonder how I could ever live in such proximity to this if faith did not become real for me.

But, you must recognize that I was led here–I did not guide myself here. I chose to make this way my own only when I realized I did not have a way worth following. He promised we would be going somewhere, together. He promised He’d help me “make” it.

I didn’t make-up this scheme because I thought it made for a pleasant delusion that would serve me in preserving my psyche. I believe He can help because He has proven to me that in Him is life. I have not set out to believe that; I believed only that this world, ultimately, was life. I had no reason to seek engagement with Him, except He sought me and I realized there was plenty that was missing inside and He just might be what I was missing.

He is what holds life together–I think this is a very clear fact when we consider that we’ve each had too many experiences and heard to many stories that testify to the fact that life does not hold itself together. Though He holds life together, this does not mean that He sanctions–is behind–everything that we experience in life. He allows it, but He does not call for, what is evil. No, instead, He uses evil–which flows down to us through the stream of man’s rebellion against God–to turn us back to Himself. To teach us that where we are is not where we belong and we cannot make it home.

And, because this is not home, we can lay it all aside in favor of finding home, finding Him. We couldn’t do worse than avoiding this. Truly, it’s all we have here.

 

 

 

My mistaken home: Learning how to live where I don’t belong on the way to where I do

I don’t think I realized till today just how unintelligent I am of the waiting process. I look at everything as preparation for something else. Hardships are good because they always lead to something bigger and better. But, there’s a part of me that hasn’t been acknowledging that some of the difficulties that I face each day are “just life.” I can expect things to be like that. I can expect to struggle–that is the nature of things here.

Yeah, I don’t like it, but that doesn’t mean I can invent a theology to overcome it. I learn to live with it. I learn to embrace the fact that there is more to my experience than this life. I learn to bless God for redeeming this world that is so complicated with sin and strain. I thank Him for providing heaven, though I so invest so little of my hopes there. I learn to look up more. But I also learn to look into my struggles and say, “Hello, soul–yes, they’re still there.” I’m not going to escape them because I’m really good and I’m not going to override their affect by acquainting them with profound spiritual meaning.

I’m just going to live with them. I’m going to hang on to God and do the best that can be done. The circumstance is my temporary boundary–the magistrate that reminds me I’m human and this is not my home. I am not a superhero because of Christ; rather, I have a superhero because of Christ. This is not the home-place that defines me, it merely the wilderness-place that refines me. I look to a higher place and yet I’m still humbled by this place. I wait for the very best, yet I rejoice amidst what is not the very worst–because of Christ. I hold onto hope and breathe–this is the place God still has me in, and I don’t want to miss Him while I’m in it.

Let Me See You, O God!

God, it seems you’ve been our home forever; long before the mountains were born,
Long before you brought earth itself to birth,
from “once upon a time” to “kingdom come”—you are God.

So don’t return us to mud, saying,
“Back to where you came from!”
Patience! You’ve got all the time in the world—whether
a thousand years or a day, it’s all the same to you.
Are we no more to you than a wispy dream,
no more than a blade of grass
That springs up gloriously with the rising sun
and is cut down without a second thought?
Your anger is far and away too much for us;
we’re at the end of our rope.
You keep track of all our sins; every misdeed
since we were children is entered in your books.
All we can remember is that frown on your face.
Is that all we’re ever going to get?
We live for seventy years or so
(with luck we might make it to eighty),
And what do we have to show for it? Trouble.
Toil and trouble and a marker in the graveyard.
Who can make sense of such rage,
such anger against the very ones who fear you?

Oh! Teach us to live well!
Teach us to live wisely and well!
Come back, God—how long do we have to wait?—
and treat your servants with kindness for a change.
Surprise us with love at daybreak;
then we’ll skip and dance all the day long.
Make up for the bad times with some good times;
we’ve seen enough evil to last a lifetime.
Let your servants see what you’re best at—
the ways you rule and bless your children.
And let the loveliness of our Lord, our God, rest on us,
confirming the work that we do.
Oh, yes. Affirm the work that we do!

Psalm 90

The Price of Intimacy

I told the Lord I wanted intimacy with Him — intimacy that far exceeded anything I would know with anyone beside Him. I wanted to know the depths of His love that may only be discovered when one puts her hand in God’s, giving Him permission to take her wherever He wants. I longed to experience Him in everyday life, and know more of what life really is — to grow and blossom according to influences that were more than what I could arrange on my own.

I told God that I wanted His best, and I was willing to take His way to get there; I just wanted Him, and to know by experience that He was more than enough for me — far better than any other thing. I saw my need to go beyond trusting God when I was sure everything He did made sense, and I could be an expert on His activities. I believed that love for Him needed to grow out of the sacrifice of what was most precious to me: I prayed that if it be in the loss of all things, I would be certain to have gained Christ.

The reality that we will face trials, temptations and various forms of torture, focused me on Him. I wanted all my struggles to count for something: If I be in pain let it be for Him; if I should wrestle with sin and evil and doing good, let it be a fight that brought me closer to my Savior, one that made my bitter tears sweet and my broken heart secure.

Let me see all I shall of grief and joy, but let it be at Your side. I do not want pleasure that steers me farther from you, when I have so much closer I need to get. May I not be deceived by joy that springs from wells that I have dug, unconscious of the well of never-ending joy waiting for me in You.

Prayers only He could answer, only He knows how. The reply has not come as I expected. I requested the reward without knowledge of the path to get there. I knew I wanted God, but I didn’t know how much competition all my other desires were creating, desires that would have to be diminished for Him to be increased. My heart is only so big, and natural laws here apply. He must take over all, and I must surrender shares of all the real estate that’s currently in my name. I want Him to rule, I must offer Him the kingdom that I would rather keep to myself. After all, what other kingdom could I offer Him? My neighbor’s does not offer the parts of me He requests.

Surrendering my life to God puts me in a position of needing Him more than I would ever need Him otherwise. Unable to control, but forced to face, my circumstances creates the greatest opportunity to recognize God that this life on earth can support.

God is at work where my strength and rights are challenged. He knows that I need Him more than I need permission to clutch His rivals to my chest. He requires a higher cost of fellowship because the riches to be found there are the fruit of a covenant that divorces me from every threat to the bond between us.

His love is strong, but can’t be fully known until allowed to grow — and as it does, to reshape my life. I do not need to understand this, or expect to steadfastly support it at all times, but to trust that the God Who weaves my heart in love with His, knows me, and counts all my needs as nothing less than tickets granted me to explore His love and mercies deep.