Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Not sure if you're anything like me. I grew up in faith. That is my mom says my first word was Jesus and my childhood was surrounded, saturated by church and Christians and God. As I grew my faith grew and then I became a teenager with a rebellious streak a mile wide and to use the Christianese vernacular...I backslid. And as I did, as the shimmer of this world seduced me, it also, as it always seems to, caused me to wonder if God was angry at me, disappointed or even disillusioned by my moral lapses. I would return to Him, a little (or a lot) worse for the wear. Try hard to win His favor back. Only to repeat the whole sad cycle again later.
And so it was, much later, after one of my longest lows that God tenderly loved me back to Him by the Spirit. Without judgment, or anger, and certainly no disappointment. And from then on it's been a whole lot easier for me to come to Him with my struggles, to trust him with my failures. I know He loves me. His tenderness saved my life.
But to be honest, it's Jesus I've always had a little trouble with. Not the cross, or the dichotomy of His nature, or any of His miracles. Jesus just came across to me as a little terse, harsh even, and in my broken-heartedness I have always been a little fearful that He might become exasperated with me, or at the very least, that I wouldn't have been one of the guys He would've wanted to hang out with.
I go to a small believer's meeting called Ekklesia here in south Mississippi. The "pastor" Michael Dixon goes to great lengths to explain the person of Jesus in the equation of: Jesus is God and God is love and therefore everything Jesus did, said, and was can and should be understood in that context, viewed through that lens of love.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have been confronted anew in Isaiah and 1st Peter by the humble, silent suffering of Jesus. How He did not blame me in my guilt, but for the joy before Him endured it. I have been falling in love with Jesus these past few days in a special way.
This morning, top off the jeep, fall in the air, sunshine like a tidal wave I was kinda blindsided by reality. The dead dark moon of impossibility eclipsed the beautiful blazing sun (Son) of His promise. My faith wasn't going to cast that mountain into any sea....I was probably gonna just crash and burn into the shear face of it. But then....
The Holy Spirit showed me Peter, trying as he might on stormy seas, to reach out in faith to a Jesus that he sometimes couldn't understand. Peter sinking in an impossible situation and immediatly Jesus....reached out....right where Peter was...to lift him...to rescue him.
But then Jesus said to Peter one of those phrases that always put a wall between me a Jesus, made me think He wasn't very tender, "You of little faith, why did you fear?"....As if God the Son didn't know.
It was for Peter he asked, not to castigate Him, but to reinforce to Peter, that rescue was never in doubt, there was never any need for him to fear, for me to fear. Impossibility isn't a bad thing, it's that place where only a miracle will suffice, where only God will get the credit, and where our faith will grow.
And so I fell in love with Jesus again this morning. He is my hero.
Monday, September 20, 2010
When your wallet's fat and full, when the light, the weather, the very timbre and tenor of the day defies description. When laughter is your constant companion, and gravity has no claim on you as you float from place to place....it's on those days when you say things like...I think I'll go to my favorite restaurant, order my most favorite meal, and then of course the decadence of some dark chocolate dessert chased by darker espresso!
But there are other days. Empty pocket days, dead channel days, static on the airwaves kinda gray days when you'll eat anything anyone offers, as long as it's free....just to quiet the rumbling and the nausea...just to be done with it already.
And so it with other things...the days when love is worth the wait, worth any price. When your list of non-negotiables is long and sacred and without a shadow of compromise. When your heart is happy to be held in His hands and your eyes are fixed on things above. Heady days, days of looking at yourself straight on in the mirror, days of self respect and contentment. Days when she might be about to turn the corner, but even if she's not, days of peace and patience and the lingering of longing and the promise of love.
Ah, but there are other days....the dead letter days, free-bleed nights, when a hand to hold is more preferable than oxygen, when a hug could save your life...it's on those days when it would be so easy to make some concessions...so easy to tell yourself that you've deluded yourself with romantic notions, adolescent and pathetic. It's on those days when the temptation to give your heart away is greatest that you have to rage against that urge the fiercest....for if you are His than your heart is His and only His to give....
And He who made you...well he knows where you fit...He knows who is your other half...the last piece to the puzzle of you...the picture finally coming into focus....
Thanks to J- for opening a window this morning and letting hope back in...hope you find that perfect seashell...or that someone perfect finds it for you...
And to everyone one else....if anyone's out there....if You can trust Father with your soul for all eternity....well than trusting Him with your heart for just one lifetime is nothing too hard.
And if I might be so bold....might be allowed one moment of gratuitous self-promotion....if you're out there....I'm waiting....empty pockets and notebooks full of poems....a little more lost in Him....on a day like today...
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
We live in the fear of being found out. Of being unmasked, of having our secrets spilled, our truth held to the light and exposed for the thin, counterfeit it is. It could be the things we do in secret, the things we hate, but feel compelled to do. It might be the shame of failures that haunt us, that visit us at the most inopportune times and steal our joy. It might be the self-loathing that is borne of years of insecurity or the gray fog of depression that never lifts (and the sunny smile we wear to hide it)......it might be all of these and more.....
And if this were our lot in life.....to struggle alone against the onslaught of so much sorrow....well then I'd of pulled the trigger a long time ago....I'd of run my Jeep into a concrete embankment.....
But as Isaiah prophesied "He was lifted up even though many who were appalled at him. His appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and His form marred beyond human likeness.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Men hid their faces from Him, He was despised.
But yet still He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows. He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and yet His Father laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so He did not open His mouth."
Sorrow, shame, self-hate, addiction, depression, disappointment, and despair were nailed into the cross....through the tender wrists of Jesus. And because of that I adore Him.
And because He never said a word, because though He was innocent he did not speak up and cast the blame where it was due...on me.....He is my hero.
And because He ripped the mask off of hell and death and the grave. Because he exposed the philosophies of men for the counterfeits they were. Because He allowed Himself to be stripped bare.....I am a little braver. I can face the day.