Monday, July 28, 2014

Always//Never

It has been a day of deep thought. The kind that stirs the soul ... almost in a literal way, scraping the sides, bringing down what was stuck up ... making something new. A new thought. A new way of thinking. My mind and heart are overwhelmed. I felt God near and I heard His sweet voice. He reminded me of things I already knew, things I'd forgotten, and things I was just learning, and fit them all together to form something new.
It was like that moment in a crime show when they're about to solve the mystery. A new piece of information comes up, seemingly unimportant, but they look into it. They dig deeper. They remember another obscure fact from earlier on in the case. They weave a story that makes sense, and then they fight to find and prove the truth.
Excuse how my brain works, but I am going to invite you into the full reality of my thought process. It's scary. You've been warned.

A friend told me this past week that our God is the only One who can say "always" and "never." His promises are the only ones that hold eternal weight. He alone will never fail. {As a side note, you can imagine that this thinking has greatly curbed my addiction to using the word "always."} We can't depend on anyone else.
I was praying, and I named Him "the God of always and never." I began to run through the promises He gave me that used those words. "I am with you always." (Matthew 28:20) "I will never leave you nor forsake you." (Deuteronomy 31:6) I focused in on these two and was reminded of His omnipresence. I think of His infinite nature. He is not constrained to earth or our conceptions of time. He holds them both in His hands. I've always believed that in His power, His unlimited knowledge and presence, He is as much in yesterday as He is in today.
That line of thinking leads me to the cross. Where else could I go?
How did I not come to this before? He is ever-present. He has won the victory in my life, but I picture Him on the cross, and thinking His all-knowing thoughts, looking into the future. I picture Him today, looking into the past.
"... but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)
On the cross, He saw the victory.
On the cross, He saw my sin and utter depravity.
In my disobedient rebellion, He died for me.
He looked at me as I caved in to temptation, and He poured out blood and water on my behalf.
He wept in Gethsemane, and He knew what a disaster I would make of my life on my own, and He prayed for me. He succumbed to His Father's perfect will.
He hung on the cross and felt the spit of the people He was dying on behalf of. He thought of us. He thought of me. He knew full well my weakness would be evident and my flesh would fail, yet He cried, "It is finished." (John 19:30)
It is finished. Not it will be finished. His name is I AM, not I WILL BE, I MAY BE, or I ONCE WAS. Present-tense words from an omnipresent God ... the God of always and never.
His blood and love intermingled, pouring out for me, even as I broke His heart in my sin and rebellion.
Never have I come across a truth so significant, so relevant. I can do naught but live in this reality. Entirely and wholly, in every minute.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Living Sacrifice

The words are in me. I am full of them to brimming, and if I do not pour, I will burst.

I pray they are not my own.

We hear of presenting our bodies to God as living sacrifices. It is a pretty vivid picture, right? But we've turned it into a mere cliche. It stirs us, but do we even think about it? A living sacrifice. We have the idea of a dead sacrifice somewhere in the corners of our minds, at least. A bloody lamb on an altar. A naked Savior on a cross. But when we think of a living sacrifice, we become much more tame. This is us, after all. No need to be graphic. We form simple thoughts of handing ourselves to God. Constantly. Because if we're alive, then we're obviously moving, right? So we must keep coming back to God and offering up our desires and opinions.

But where are we returning to, again?
Where do sacrifices go?

Oh, right. An altar.
The image I get is of Aslan tied to the stone table. Of Jesus nailed to the cross.

We weren't supposed to have gone anywhere.

A living sacrifice.

Life lived on an altar.

How's that for graphic imagery?

That was the image I had in mind as I prayed for my day. God looking over me, as I sit on this altar. No ropes or nails on me {that whole 'free will' thing, remember?}. But I stay anyway. Because that's what you do when you radically love someone. You lay yourself down for them. My love is fickle and flawed, but oh, may I remain on this altar!

Let every part of my life be lain on that altar. My time - help me strap that to the stone; I don't have the strength to tie that knot tight enough. My work - may I tread on this altar even as I do my chores, as I make food for customers, as I sweat in the sun. Accept even my art as a living sacrifice - not just the pieces I deem 'spiritual;' affect it all. Saturate my life. Me stretched across that altar, all I am and have before you ... covered in and atoned for by Your blood. Literally dripping in crimson grace that so defies logic that it dares make my stains as white before You. Free from condemnation. Bind my wandering to Thee. Amen.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Five-Minute Post

It baffles me how in the most extraordinary moments, God uses the most ordinary things. I sat here, begging for Him to move and speak, and the words, "oh, how He loves us so" played through my headphones. It doesn't get any simpler. Nor does it get any more revolutionary. It is His love that defines all else. Every significant thought or action in my life must first be rooted in His love. This is the love that overwhelms me. That wooed me to repentance, then drew me back to Him when I was most fully aware of my undeserving self. This is the love that died for me, but didn't stay in the grave. The love that moves mountains. Love that calms storms and stirs hearts.
He is love and He is here, and what else matters, really?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Distracted

I am numb and distracted. Inconstant and inattentive. When faced with pain, I have tried to drown it out or become unaffected by it ... and in the process I have lost much more than I bargained for. And I dare confess that I didn't even mind the absence; I hardly noticed.
And then one day, I did.
I heard His voice clearly, and I realized He had been speaking all along ... I had simply drowned Him out. I didn't listen. My prayers were performances and duties, rather than intimate conversation and bloody battle. In the midst of struggles, I ran elsewhere. In the midst of pain, I sought other comfort. In discouragement and drought, I went to those who had been to the Well, rather than to the source Himself. My every act ignored His name and lordship.
And He still speaks.
He still waits for me.
Still, He loves me with a Love unlike any other.

I've counted up the cost, and You are worth it. 

Worth everything He could ever ask me to give up. Worth losing my reputation or my very life. Worth giving up control and plans. Worth letting go of my ideas, opinions, and conceptions. I have caught a glimpse of my Savior and the sight made me drop all else. How could I have ever wanted anything other than?

He holds my hand as we look over my life. I cringe as I see the things I have placed above Him in my life. Some well and good, just far from best. Abused by my hands. Placed over their stations. People whose opinions I placed with or above His. Mindless things I spent hours scrolling through; dumping my time down the toilet and flushing. {At the end of our lives, which of us will be wishing we had spent more time browsing the internet?} Fiction books that I gazed at longingly over the edge of my Bible. TV shows that I stayed up way too late watching, until my eyes were too tired to cry myself to sleep. Movie worlds that I escaped to on hard days, lazy days, too many days. Friends that I ran to when I should have ran to God. Outfits that I spent ages picking out and fretting over. Coffee that I used as a crutch on days when sleep was short. Games that I turned to, in hopes of easing my boredom. The list stretches on and on. Some essentially harmless. Some things good and beautiful ... turned into idols by my doing. Some things worthless.
I resist the urge to turn away in shame - that's not why we're here. I invited Him into my ugly, and He is not here to fill me with guilt. I put these things into a place in my heart that was meant for Him; trying unknowingly to fill a hole that can only be filled by an infinite God.
I am still in this emptying season ... making room for Him in my life and heart.
I'm limiting my distractions. Removing some in entirety. Making others succumb to rules. Seeking my Lord first and consistently.
As I quiet my life, His voice becomes clearer.
As I let go of control, things work in mysterious ways, the results better than I could have planned for.
As I seek Him, I find Him.