Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Truth About Fear.

If I had to put a name to the thing that's dogged my heels my whole life, I'm realizing I would have to call it fear.


It's a liar and a thief and it will destroy us if we feed it long enough. Like a weed, it will begin to choke out all the things we long to grow in our lives and in our souls.

But fear has never been my Savior- He is. Fear is not my Abba or my ever-present help: He is.

Maybe I was raised by fear. Maybe its words were the ones I replayed as I lay in my bed at night and maybe its rules were the ones I gladly followed.

But fear is a terrible, terrible master (and an even worse father). It's a thief (of joy), a liar, a destroyer It lies and makes you believe the worst is lurking up ahead for you. It wants to keep you small and unsure and tight in its unholy embrace. It does not free us or heal us and it cannot love us.

When has fear ever saved? When has fear ever given us all we long for? When has it ever encouraged us to dream, to be bold, to live freely? It cannot. Because it is not God.

But I can tell you I've made it a god. That whole don't-make-an-idol-in-your-own-image-thing? What is fear but a bundle of my own worst hangups and impulses- and I'm holding that up like it's something to follow (worth following)? Exalting it to the status of being who I consult to make decisions and lead me toward becoming who I long to be. I've been following its voice, its rules, its guiding instead of the LORD's. And it has led me nowhere worthwhile and given NO life. [There is a difference between fear and wisdom.] It has given no life because it cannot. Yet I hold it up like it is wisdom, like it is worthy of my following and my devotion. Like it will lead me where I want to go, fulfill me in ways that are real and lasting and build the kind of life I long for. When in reality, fear can only steal and lie and destroy- because it is from the Enemy of our souls.

So I will listen to his voice no more. It won't be easy but my God is for me and so I can. And it will be worth it because I was made for more than fear's embrace. I was made for the arms of God.

Friday, June 29, 2018

"And when He answers.."

I don't know how to say this except to say it straight: I am deeply afraid to ask.

It came to light on Wednesday. I met this lady- this wonderful woman who knows and loves Jesus so deeply. Who was saturated with the Holy Spirit to the point that to meet her is to know that He is the center of her world. And joy practically oozed out of her pores. It sounds cheesy to say but I can promise it didn't feel cheesy. It was honest and real and hard fought and hard won, through stories and journeys that aren't mine to share in this space.

I mostly sat and listened to she and my friend (who is the reason we met) catch up and share. When I talked, I mostly asked her questions about herself or added to my friend's observations.

And then she talked about doing what she was made for, both the struggle to accept it and to feel like she was enough for it....and the joy in it now. 

And I felt my heart groan under the weight of how much I longed to be her. 

Not because I want her story, but because I ache to know what I was made for. It makes my eyes fill with tears just to type those words. 

I'll admit there is a piece of me that believes that knowing that will make all paths straight and smooth out the way before me. And that's a lie. And it's idolatry. Because it's trusting and putting my hope in the future, not in the God who is sovereign over it and over me. And that's something I have struggled with my whole life. 

But back to Wednesday. My heavy heart led me to break the silence with ten little words:

"I just wish I knew what I was made for."

The conversation moved on, with me downplaying that desire as I'm prone to do. But later, as we prepared to leave, she moved closer to where we sat on the couch and said:

"You're applying to all kinds of things, aren't you? Like throwing darts and just hoping that something will stick somewhere and that something will fall into your lap and that will be the right thing. And that's not what you were made for. He wants you to go get with Him. To ask Him what it is He wants you to do. And when He answers, you set your face like flint after that thing."

And those words brought me to tears and stifled sobs, because she was so terribly right, even to the point of using words I'm positive I have used myself over the last few months. And they've been swirling around my head on repeat since then. I don't remember if she ever called it fear, but I know she knew the truth: I'm terrified to ask Him. And as much as I love knowing the "why" behind almost everything in the universe, I don't really think it matters here. 

Because the problem here is not why I'm afraid to ask so much as it is that I don't trust His heart. I don't trust Him to answer. I fear if He does He might lead me into something that might take everything from me and still find me wanting, or something I would not understand, or something that I would hate. I'm absolutely petrified He will lead me to a place of failure. What if I can't hear Him? What if I get it wrong? What if there are walls I cannot move? What if I ask, really ask, and He doesn't answer? What then? How do you move on from that?

And even if I sit in counselor's offices or over cups of coffee with friends or in a pastor's office for hundreds of hours each, it won't heal me. Not alone. What I need is faith. And I can't produce faith on my own-faith is a gift. And it's one I'm longing for. 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Sitting in Saturday's Dark

It’s Saturday.

That awkward space that lies between the Friday when Jesus died, when we look at the Cross and all He experienced, and Sunday, when we celebrate joyfully His resurrection.

This day is my favorite. This is the day I need to reflect on perhaps more than any other. This is the day that challenges me.

Because this is the only day in all of history that Jesus didn’t breathe. This is the day that every hope was truly dead. This is the day that it looked impossible to redeem.

This is the day of waiting, the day that the disciples woke up and tried to figure out how to keep breathing when their hearts were shattered. And they couldn’t distract themselves with work or business; it was the Sabbath. They were left to their thoughts and their sorrow.

Where had they gone wrong? Where was God? Was this all that was left- broken dreams and a dead Messiah?

They had left everything, banked every hope on the man they watched die yesterday. Maybe they understood, maybe they knew what was coming.

But I don’t think so.

They were just human. They saw the man they believed to be God die. How can God die? Don’t you think they questioned their judgment, their belief that He was the one they had been waiting for? Maybe even that He was who He said He was? I would have. How could they not? He was dead and laying in a tomb. They saw the blood. They knew.

This day is dark and full of uncertainty, questions, and brokenness…but God planned it this way. I can’t say for sure why, but I have a suspicion. I think He knows that we need to learn how to wait. To lament. To learn to rely, to be stripped down. Friday was so emotional and I’m sure it seemed insane, but this was the day of emptiness. Of brokenness.

This is the day that tells me God is ok with the broken places. This day reminds me that God is ok with questions and aching hearts who are trying to understand. That God planned a day of waiting in the middle of the worst and best things, respectively, to ever happen on the earth, says that He is patient. There will never be a worse day for this world that the Saturday when Jesus lay dead in a grave 2016 years ago. This is the day that tells me over and over that nothing is beyond redemption. The One who planned all along to redeem the death of Jesus- perfect, both God and man, who wrapped the fullness of God’s character in flesh and bone- still redeems. So even when I am sitting in the dark, in places that haven’t seen redemption yet, I can wait in hope because this darkness is real, but it cannot compare to the light that is coming. That even though the death is real, the life that is coming with the dawn is what speaks the final word.

I don’t want to miss the wait.

Naturally, I hate waiting- especially for answers. I want to understand and I want it yesterday. I want to feel better. I want to move forward. But seasons of wait, just like the Saturday before Easter morn, stop me and remind me that my hope is not in the good that is coming, but the God who comes close and sits with us in the dark, in the silence, in the loss. He is ok to wait—the One who never has to wait, who created the very concept of time. He says waiting is good. He sent Jesus “at just the right time”, the Bible says. And He saw fit to leave a day between the death and the resurrection. There was a reason, and His Spirit whispers to me not to miss it.

So I will wait. Here, with Him, I will stay and remember and wait for the dawn to come.

Sunday, April 19, 2015


We try to define you, to make you easy to understand. To grab and yank and push and pull and try to control you. We wrap you up in ideas and sayings and anything that looks nice and pretty because the unresolved is painful to our Western souls.

But You are so much more. You are ever so much more. And I wanna know you as you are, not as I want you to be. I want you to be bigger than a list of characteristics to rattle off, deeper than a formula for a way to live. Get down deep in my heart. It's cracked and beat up, scarred and totally imperfect, but if you'll have it, it's yours. I have only the tiniest glimpse of how beautiful it could be, you here with me. Cause these cracks? They can be the start, like the first tear in a birthday present, of you getting down to what's inside. The bruises? They can find the grace to heal in your hands. All my weariness? I'm told there is rest where you are. And oh how I want to believe that: that I can lay down, and stop striving. That I don't have to be anything, anything except with you.

You whisper again that you know what it is to be scarred. And as you reach your hand out, I feel the tissue where they healed, and the imperfection of it all--how can you, holy and perfect, wear imperfection still? I forget you still choose to be like me in this, that I might remember: that's how far you came. And that I don't have to be perfect or tied up in pretty ribbons or even whole because nothing is yet as it will be. You wait, and you long for us, until you can come and take us from all of this. When finally there will be nothing in between us but love and joy in one another forever. And you yearn, from the deepest part of you [and how deep is the heart of God? Is there any measure for it?] for us to know you now. To delight in you, because you have loved us with everything you are. [And what is the measure of that?] You gave everything, absolutely everything, up to come and take our hands and all our brokenness and lead us home. And you still wear those scars, the scars of my rebellion, to remind: that you came that far. That you chose me, knowing the cost, and would choose me all over again. You wear those scars like a tattoo, a declaration to all who see of just how far love will go. You wear them still to remind me that it's ok to bring my scars. That I will be scarred by this world, this life. But that just as you rose from death to life, and just as you later brought us with you, wounds don't ever have to be the last word with you. Your scars, they display your power. They're memorials of the day when you flipped everything upside down and death itself turned backwards- so what can you NOT do?

Surely my weak knees and frail arms and fickle heart are not too much for you. Surely they can't turn back your love, love that came so far and already paid the fullness of its cost. Surely those scarred hands that hold me close even when I squirm and fight and yell like a four-year old that I don't want you and can take care of myself and when I am a broken 7 year old who just needs and needs and when I am a 20-something who thinks she knows far more than she does and is slow to actually learn-surely those hands, those arms, are big enough, strong enough, to take me-all my weaknesses and scars and fears and shame and pride included- and make me whole. Not flawless. Those aren't the same thing. You leave my scars, my limps, because they are testimonies of what you have done. Could you make me whole and leave no trace? Of course. But then I would miss every bit of the beauty, the wonder, of pointing to my scars and saying, "See that? That was a deep wound; it pained me for years. He healed it." and "This one? This sin kept me wrapped up for a long time. It owned me but I didn't even know I was enslaved. It's still healing, you can see. Isn't He so good, to set me free? To teach me how to live free?" The scars are the stories of your faithfulness. You didn't have to heal us-but you did. You could have left me lost and broken-but love is never content with less than what's best for the beloved.

You wear your scars because they are the proof of what you went through to bring us home; and if we live this life trying to look like you, laying ourselves down, dying to all our selfish pride, and suffer for any and all if that's what it takes (and it does) to love like you, then we might just have some to match yours when we get home.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

He: An Easter Reflection

He bore my shame so I didn't have to.

He was forsaken by God so I never would be.

He was crushed so I could be healed.

He suffered without cause so I would never suffer meaninglessly.

He was punished so I could go free.

He died so He could raise me from my grave.

He was condemned so I could stand in mercy, not judgement.

Though He was the rightful Son, He was laid low and disgraced so I could be spared such disgrace.

He was perfect and covered my imperfection with love and sinless sacrifice.

He chose a grave to break my chains.

He walked a path of suffering, loneliness, and sorrow so that road would lead me to life.

He embraced death to bring me home.

His loving arms guide me to the Father and lift my face to see His eyes of love on me.

Because He fought death and beat it forever, I am no longer held captive by fear.

Now face to face, heart to heart, I am accepted, beheld as righteous, adopted, and free-
                                    This day proves the promise
                                    that I am and always will be,
                                                His beloved.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

When Christmas doesn't feel like Christmas {for every hurting heart}.

It doesn’t feel like Christmas.

It doesn’t feel like Christmas,
here where strife and shame have a standing invitation.

It doesn’t feel like Christmas,
here where hurt has overstayed its welcome by months, years.

It doesn’t feel like Christmas,
When traditions are overturned and stability is void.

It doesn’t feel like Christmas,
When parents become children and children become the caregivers.

It doesn’t feel like Christmas,
When quarreling has a plate set at dinner.

It doesn’t feel like Christmas,
When extravagance is pursued to cover what is missing.

It doesn’t feel like Christmas,
When you are surrounded by “family” who are strangers.

It doesn’t feel like Christmas,
When hate seems to have won the day.

It doesn’t feel like Christmas,
When we are lonely.

It doesn’t feel like Christmas,
When sorrow steals the light from our eyes.

It doesn’t feel like Christmas,
When nothing shines like it used to-

Not the lights or the tree or the gifts or the stars
That wait with anticipation.

It doesn’t feel like Christmas,
When nights are sleepless, aching, empty.

It doesn’t feel like Christmas,
When bitterness has dug its roots into your soul.

It doesn’t feel like Christmas,
When love is far from sight,
Far from our arms,
With no return ticket.

It doesn’t feel like Christmas,
When we fight instead of sing,

When we throw words like flaming arrows,
And scar hearts made for eternal love.

It doesn’t feel like Christmas,
When the sky is dark,

And we are sitting in the ashes,
Cold and shivering,

Wondering when, or if,
Dawn will ever break.

 It doesn’t feel like Christmas,
When we are crumbling under the weight

Of worries that bend our backs
And break our spirits.

And it doesn’t feel like Christmas,
When we are worn out,

Threadbare from hurry, needs unmet,
Grief, depression, suffering-

Name the poison.
It doesn’t feel like Christmas when life is this hard.

But the truth is Christ still came,
For exactly these reasons,

For the aches in our souls
that we can barely endure-He came.

Because He knows us;
He knows that we are dust,

We are weak and lonely and poor in spirit,
Whatever else in the world we may be.

And He saw us, and loved us in our broken state.
And so He came.

To deliver. To renew. To right every wrong.
To comfort. To redeem. To give life,

Where we had only ever tasted death,
To bring the love of God to us.

When we could never reach His heights,
He came to our depths.

Because He is pure love,
And love will not be deterred.

Love will not rest while the
Beloved groans in chains they cannot break.

So He came.
Laying down all His glory, He came.

Becoming one of us, opening Himself
Up to the suffering we face.

That He might love us,
And give us hearts to love Him back.

So Christmas is still here,
The morning still comes,

Though it may look nothing like we
Once had hoped,

Hope still lives,
Because Christ still lives.

And here after the manger
And after the Cross,

We wait with longing in the “not yet”,
To see the “yes” to every promise He has made.

Even as we ache, we can wait with full hearts,
Because we have seen and tasted Love Incarnate

Because He came,
And He comes again,
Not as a babe but as a beautiful King,
Who sustains galaxies with His words,

Who is redeeming all things even in this moment,
When we can’t see it yet,

And who will make everything right
and better than we can ever understand.

‘Til then, we wait with hope,
Even though tonight that first Christmas seems a universe away.

Because Love has come and Love will return,
And Christmas is real here-

because Jesus came. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Lift your drooping hands, love.

It's not about us.

We forget.

If you think we don't, I would ask you to ask yourself: do we feel as though we get to choose who we love?

Because Jesus didn't do that. 

Jesus didn't walk around, secure in his Father's love, love a select few, and dismiss the rest.

He died for the ones who were dead in love with themselves. And he breathed life into our empty chests and taught us how to love by experiencing the way he loves us. He called us his own and promised to always be loving us, every moment from the moment we first breathed until forever. 

And why I'm sitting here writing about this instead of out there living it, I don't know.

Yes I do: it's called fear. 

I don't trust Him to come through, and my love has grown so cold. I don't know when it happened or how it happened, but here I am, somehow thinking I get to choose who I love and who I don't. 
Like I earned this or something. 

But you can't earn grace. It's poured out freely, a gift given. He didn't spare any expense in His quest to have us; He didn't try an easier way or give less to begin with. He sacrificed what was most precious to Him. Because that's what love does. We know that, deep down, don't we? Love gives whatever is required for the good of the beloved. It's the theme of our favorite love stories, the real life heroes that break our hearts; when a man dies for the woman he loves, we hold it up as a beautiful ideal. It is the nature of true love to pour itself out.

Jesus did that. Literally and sacrificially and willingly.
Before we knew his name.

Who dies for someone who doesn't love them back?

He did.

And what if when he says follow me, he's asking us to do the same? Because he is. 

And I think for me that's why following Jesus is the hardest thing ever. 

Because I'm selfish. And fearful. And I somehow forget that I had no part in this whole being rescued thing.
I mean, I was dead and he brought me to life. It's not like I could control that.
But I wouldn't have stopped him. I wouldn't ever want to give up this life I've found, even when I forget that I wasn't the one who found it- it was given to me. 

Don't you want that to change the way you live? I do. And can't you see just the tiniest bit of how beautiful it could be if we did live that way?

What if I believed him, that all he says is true, and lived like it?

Even though I'm terrified, I know deep down I want love that gives everything away. I have tasted what this world has to offer, and it leaves me worn out, bitter, and empty, cold as stone. 
But You, Lord, give life. You have loved me my whole life, even when I fight you. And you promise that loving like you is what's best for me; otherwise You wouldn't call me to do it. 

So Jesus, teach me how to have love like that. Love that is thoughtless as to its own needs, trusting You to provide. Love that doesn't discriminate or play favorites. Love that is radical and real and doesn't care who is or isn't watching. And love that will give everything away because it understands that everything it has is grace, and grace is meant to be poured out. Because real love is not afraid to bleed.

I can't fix my own heart. I cannot "get over" my own selfishness. I'm forever broken without You. I am not there yet, but you are faithful and you will be faithful to teach me. me to remember that you teach not with words, but with life. Give me grace to choose to love, to embrace every chance that comes, and let those actions form that love in me. Forgive me for all the times I've held back, all the times I've chosen my ways over Yours.

Jesus, you are worth it all.
Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees,and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. (Hebrews 12:12-13, ESV) (really, the whole chapter is incredible)