Christian, Uncategorized

Celestial Dance

In dreams, one night, I traversed a cosmic ballroom—unmatched in opulence and charm. Every passage, arbor, and column contrived to hold my gaze as I stood perplexed before divinity. Every god and goddess known appeared to grace the dance floor. From Aphrodite to Vishnu, the tapestry of holiness unwound before my eyes. A gala of the gods, I thought. A bal masque of supernatural glory—how is it that I should be here? 

Bemused and somewhat frightened, I hastened through the hall—my dizzied head unwittingly keeping time to ethereal twirls. But amid the commotion, my gaze abruptly set upon a captivating figure standing alone in the recess. The spinning stopped. The room stood still. And then there was nothing. Nothing save his piercing eyes on mine. Nothing save to come to him.

Slowly and deftly, his eyes led my feet toward him, ’til finally I stood in his reach—knowing not why. Was it the intensity in his stare? The kindness in his smile that had drawn me near him? Maybe, I thought. But as I paused to look back upon the heavenly scene unfolding, I couldn’t help but wonder something else. Maybe it’s because of all of them, he is the one who most resembles myself. 

Suddenly, his hand beneath my chin swept me away from my thoughts—and my eyes returned again to him. “Dance with Me,” he said.

Oh, what else could I do? What else could I do but yield forever to his requests?

I gave him my hand and surrendered to his warm embrace, returning his smile as we joined the throng of celestial dancers. Clumsy and stiff though I am, not once did he allow my feet to flounder—not once did he let me fall. On the contrary, in his arms, I was the image of poise and serenity. A miracle, I whispered aloud.

Then, something recalled me, again, to his eyes—his eyes which pervaded my soul. I searched deeper within their intensity—and found there ultimate suffering. Our dancing ceased as I looked once more at our entwined hands. There were scars at his wrists. I could scarcely believe it. A god with scars? I looked away and tried to mask my shock. But the scars didn’t end at his wrists. No matter where on his body I set my eyes, they seemed to be everywhere. Forgetting myself, I reached up and traced a line across his head.

At once, he caught my hand and lowered it slowly toward his heart. He gently placed it there to let me feel its beating… The resonance overwhelmed me, and then, at last, I knew. He’s human, I whispered in my mind. My God has a heartbeat. 

I struggled in vain to give voice to my feelings. In vain because He knew them already. Then, inclining his lips tenderly to my ear, He whispered—as though He were breathing His very Life into me.

“It stopped once for you. That’s why you’re here with Me now.”

I could bear it no longer. My whole body trembled as my tears spilled forth, for I could somehow feel everything He’d felt. I looked up and saw that His eyes were wet, too. Then, falling to the floor, I asked Him, “Oh, God, what do You wish? Please, tell me what You want. I’ll do anything.” 

“I love you,” He said as He reached for my hands. “Will you dance with Me?” 

 

 

Christian, Uncategorized

The Nature Within

“I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate” (Romans 7:15, NLT). I find myself captivated by this verse. I identify with it, and I think that in some way, there has never been a more compelling piece of evidence for the skeptic than the experience of it. If we were able to peer into each other’s minds, we might discover, perhaps comfortingly, that we have all experienced this—often, on a seemingly incessant basis. In the absence of Truth, how could we even begin to explain this phenomenon—this thing that Christians call sin?

Even in knowing, there isn’t much comfort. More likely, there are only intensified feelings of  frustration, self-loathing, and shame. And if we experience those things often enough, we might eventually come to the place where we start to rage, not against the destructive patterns that caused such feelings, but against the feelings, themselves. Sick and tired of trying to squeeze ourselves into a mold that we clearly aren’t meant for, we might ultimately choose to embrace the patterns in our lives that had previously caused so much stress. Unapologetically, we declare that this is who we are, and at once, the striving ceases. We might even be praised for our courage and determination to love ourselves, as waves of calm wash over us.

The problem is that in doing so, we sell ourselves short. We surrender to the distorted version of us that sin created, rather than continuing to reach for the hand of the beautiful God who can remake us all into what we were truly meant to be. This is exactly what Satan wants, and every time we choose it, we play right into his hands.

The verse I quoted was not the end of Paul’s musing on the subject. For, beginning in verse 21 of the same chapter, he writes:

I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord…” (Romans 7:21-25, NLT).

It’s never going to be easy. It’s war. But if the apostle, Paul, who devoutly led the early Church at the time of this writing, was not exempt from this conflict, then we won’t be, either. It’s normal. And the comforting part about it is that it’s not for us to end. We are absolved of that responsibility. All we have to do is keep reaching for Him, and He is sure to carry us the rest of the way. He loves us, and if there is one fundamental truth that we can never afford to let sin take from our awareness, surely it is this.

 

 

 

 

Christian, Uncategorized

Render unto Me

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about milestones. More honestly, though, I’ve been feeling quite accosted by them. Maybe it’s the stress of having turned 30—and of truly realizing for the very first time just how rapidly my life is flying by. I’ve come to a point where I’m beginning to feel a tremendous amount of pressure to attain certain things that didn’t seem so important not long ago. Should my husband and I buy a house soon? Should we have a baby? It used to seem like we had all the time in the world to figure things out, and now suddenly, it’s as though we’re racing the clock. A mortgage will take another 30 years to pay off—meaning that, if we literally bought a house within the next 24 hours, we’d be 60 years old by the time we finally finished paying for it. The typical retirement age is about 65, so we definitely don’t want to still be in debt by the time we get there! Likewise, a baby will take 18 years to raise—meaning that if we had one right this second, we’d be 49 years old by the time he or she graduated from high school. Not to mention, I’ve already heard plenty of things about how risky it can be for a woman to conceive past the age of 35—leaving us less than five years to safely consider this incredibly life-altering choice. Seriously? It was 2012 the last time I blinked!

Everywhere we turn, it seems like we are constantly striving to hit that next milestone and to attain the status that our world demands of us at every crucial fork in the road. Five years ago, it might have been marriage. Five years before that, it might have been a career. And we’ve just kept forging on—always goal-oriented and never truly satisfied with being exactly where we are. It’s just the way life works—but oh, is it ever exhausting! And when I stop to think about it, I understand how futile it is. I realize how much time I’ve spent wishing my life away and focusing so much of my attention on the pursuit of things that can never last. In that moment of truth, everything stops. And the only thing I want is to follow His voice.

Our Savior never troubled Himself with the pursuit of such milestones. Career? He was born into a caste system with His occupation chosen for Him before He could take His first steps. Marriage? Although this has been an issue of some debate, the general consensus seems to be that He never hit that target, either—which means the prospect of having children probably never entered His mind. And I’m fairly certain that He never owned property. He lived with His parents until He was thirty years old and basically spent the rest of His life being homeless. Yet, what a beautiful life it was—the most beautiful life that has ever been and ever will be.

I’m not saying it’s wrong for us to want all those other things. But why should we define the value our lives by whether or not we attain any of them? Why should we consider so essential that which He never experienced? Is it not enough just to live every day as He did—giving ourselves completely to God and being thankful for anything He chooses either to grant or deny us (in His timing, not ours)?

Above all things, He would have us remember that our lives are not our own. On the temple grounds in Jerusalem, He once rebuked our thoughtlessness this way: “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God” (Luke 20:25, NLT). In the context of our modern world, I can hear Him saying the exact same thing. No matter what anybody else says about what we should or shouldn’t be doing—about what’s important and what is not—His image is the only one we bear. We belong to Him. So, we shouldn’t consider ourselves at liberty to be led by anything else. We shouldn’t waste another precious moment.