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?

I obey, and this is what I get!

So, what’s the worst thing that could come from obeying God? Think of the most awful thing He could ask You to do, and then write it down.

Okay, now that we’ve taken a deep breath, we are ready to invite God into this little exercise. What, Father, is the harm in following You?

Yes, believe it or not, we can be this open with God. He would rather hear these thoughts that possess our hearts, than be forced to wrestle with silence that keeps us apart.

You see, He knows what it is you and I spend our time thinking and fearing and trying to pretend doesn’t exist. We think that if we let God in, He will either condemn us for our lack of faith or prove our ignorance by making our worst nightmare come true.

But, we must consider: Are there really any nightmares with Christ? Hasn’t He come to overpower the darkness and make void the lies that hold us in captivity?

If this is true, then can we really curse Him for accomplishing this in ways that we do not understand? Isn’t it the light that scares us more than the darkness, and the truth more than the lies?

Let’s be honest here, it’s not that anything that God could ask us to do would be so unexpectedly wretched, but that everything would be intentionally set up to be redeemed.

Walking with Christ, there can be no limits to what He asks of us, where He chooses to lead. Because we know Him, we have no excuse for disbelief and resistance.

No, He is perfect; He is pure; His knowledge cannot be searched out; and His purposes are absolute. Where do we have to run from that? To maintain our trifling control, we must beg to remain ignorant and purposely uninvolved. If we don’t, He will woo us, and every part of us will strain to respond to the One who brought us into being and filled us with the breath of His life.

And would this One who first conceived us, then rescued us from the curse of our rebellion against Him, turn against us, to destroy us in the end? No, this would undermine His marvelous character, His great plan. We are His worshipers, whom He has gathered and regenerated to rejoice in His holiness and boast in His mercies.

And from this our obedience springs — not from grudging duty, but from unrestrained love. When we know the Son, and get close enough to glimpse the ways of the Father working from the throne of heaven, we long to be connected; this is where we belong, and these activities of His are what we were meant to do with Him.

So we do God’s acts because we join God’s plan. We see His objectives, and are schooled in His motives until all doubt in us has lost its place to the love that wells up within us. This is the worst that can happen in obeying God — we would lose the doubt and fear that we have always known and still so comfortably believe. Oh, WHAT a loss!

A Truth We Can’t LIVE Without

I daily forget how simple salvation is meant to be. I want to be sanctified, made holy so I can be satisfied. Yet I fail to realize that I am seeking to lay hold of a feeling that comes from me, and not God.

I am looking for self-affirmation, and delight that comes from taking stock in all that I am, and being able to say, without reservation, “This is what it’s all about! I am on the right track, I do the right things, and I am known and accepted for being all these things. Where is God? I need Him no more.”

I believe that I will be happy when I am sure that I am perfect — or at least when I am so distracted from all my petty imperfections (yes, that’s how I naturally see my sin!) that I can think I am safe; safe, from all reproach and anguish over any lack in me.

Without the reminder that my joy in beauty and majesty can rest upon me, though it rest not in me, I look for ways to prove that beauty can begin and end with me. I think that that will be all the comfort I need when I feel dull or empty inside. I will need only to pinch and wake myself up to the reality that I am more than I think.

Yet, the truth is, as much as I try over and over again to prove my theory, I grow disillusioned by it’s inability to satisfy my cravings for real beauty — Beauty that doesn’t depend on who I am or what I do; Beauty that just is; Beauty that invites me to sit down and enjoy it, or lose my breath as I get close to inspect it’s traces of the unseen and untainted.

I can only hold beauty to the extent that I hold fast to Him who is Beauty and grace. If I am wrapped up in myself, and what I want to be, I miss it. Beauty has passed me by, or rather, I have missed Beauty because I never thought to look about me.

In resigning myself to worshiping who I am rather than who I was made for, I have missed the point of who am: A vessel, with the privilege of possessing the living water, which is Christ; a temple, to be filled with the very Presence of the Spirit of God.

This afternoon God pointed out to me that I miss everything — and I do mean everything — when I don’t treat Him as the One He is.

In Him I have all the Beauty and Perfection I could want, all that my spirit craves, and yet I wander around, wondering why my spirit thirsts for more, when every where I look the emptiness remains, seemingly designed to convince me that I am misled about there being anything else.

But, turn around! Christ is; He never changes, and He does not cease to be interminable simply because I stop choosing to recognize it.

Salvation according to Christ really looks like Him, and not me. I am most aware of life and what it means when I am most aware of Him, and who He is.

Rather than being caught up in listless living, let me be caught up in Life and all that He declares Himself to be.

He says He is Light — then why do I keep praying like He might be darkness if I don’t continue to petition Him?

He says He is Salvation — where then do I get this idea that I will be lost or left alone because He may not be willing to rescue me?

He says He is Strength — how then, do I think it is possible for Him to be anything close to the weakness I see in myself?

He says He is Life — Oh, when will I forsake these lies that living and abiding in Him could somehow produce death that would not ultimately mean more life?

Let us therefore set our eyes on Him, who is all that we long to know and need to experience, by learning 1) to rejoice in who He proclaims Himself to be, and 2) forsake who Satan would proclaim Him to be. Having done these things, we will find ourselves overwhelmed by His love — the Truth that we have cast ourselves upon.

Waiting, Trusting, Watching

It’s one thing to give your life to God, and it’s another thing to follow Him through everything that comes next. I like beginnings, personally — that fresh-faced excitement and seemingly boundless vigor that identifies so many things that are in their infancy. I don’t often like that awkward stage that follows, when we’re not really sure what’s going on and what comes next. Everything we had come to expect while we were in that first stage now seems completely irrelevant. The future is not as crystal-clear as we once thought it looked. We wonder what we should be doing with ourselves, now that everything we once recognized as our normal course appears to be missing in action.

Should we abandon the mission altogether, or just try learning to adapt to a temporary shift in priority?

Have you ever had these questions about your life and what God is up to so mysteriously? Perhaps you are feeling a little disgruntled right now because you don’t remember getting His heads-up memo. You liked how things were not far back and you are not taking too kindly to all the sudden change in your life. Maybe you even thought that you and God were partners, meaning that He would clear anything new He wanted to do with you before making a move.

Well, might I suggest that He already is? Think about it, if you are working with God — that meaning you are seeking out His purposes and perspectives — then He could be revealing to you what you asked to know, as we speak.

You see, God will not always map-out for us everything He has in mind for our lives — sometimes what is most important to Him is our trust. Yes, we could feel better right now if we knew we could sign-off on the whole thing He’s got planned for us, but why can’t we?

God’s not getting in our way, we are. We think that trust needs to be earned and can never just be warranted — even by God. But why not? Because we want to believe that we are the ultimate judges of character. But what does that say about our own? We only trust what we can see and fully identify; we trust only what we can know by our own calculations — we are a long way off from faith. We are sight-dependent believers who don’t really know their God.

Faith in Relationships

Faith in relationships…what does that look like? For me, it is being able to trust God that He is working out all the big and small details that I can’t handle on my own — details that concern more than me, and what’s going on in my heart, but someone I love who seems to see things so entirely different than myself.

That’s what it starts with at least, but from there God consistently leads me into the next stage, pointing out the lessons He has set up for me in this misunderstanding or apparent distance between me and another.

There is always so much to learn through the daily dynamics of our interactions with the people we share this life with. The experiences we have together are what pushes us to work on more than just what will improve ourselves, but will make us more focused on the interests of others.

It can be easy to pursue growth that makes us look good, serving as personal accessories, to trump up what already makes for a wonderful person. It is far harder to choose to see ourselves in the light that others see us, accepting their observations as being capable of being legitimate representations of us.

No, what others think of us will not ever tell the whole story, and their sentiments should not discourage us with the idea that we are not worth anything unless we live up to someone’s expectations of us, but we should not dismiss them either. We should take theĀ  assessments we receive from others to our Father, who is faithful to present to us our true identity along with all the flaws that He is not lax to confront and correct.

Waiting Here

So many of the lifestyle skills I have become proficient in are proving to be a hindrance to truly living. I want everything that is good for me, but I don’t know how to get it. I can’t go by appearances, though they can often seem so reliable, so desirably representative of the outcome I’m looking for in everything I do.

Yet, instead of waiting to find out the end of these things, I live in the hope of even greater possibilities — possibilities too great for me to have the ability to dictate. I should not even be anticipating such broad planes of blessing, except that when I go with God, none of my limitations can limit what God has chosen to give me.

For truly, this is all about God. If I could totally control what I got from/with God, I would undoubtedly miss Him completely in my hustle to obtain endless rewards and resources. I would miss the fact that He is my one true reward and resource.