Christian, Uncategorized

Passion

I’ve always had a kind of fascination with words, and passion has been one of my favorites for a long time. Mysteriously, its very sound can evoke its meaning—bringing profound emotion to our minds and hearts. When we hear it, we’re bound to liken it to others, such as ardordesire, and love. We might conjure our own personal sense of what it means to be alive, or imagine that one thing which we could never live without.

Passion can be a very cathartic word, and the mystery within it only deepens when we realize its hidden value. I say hidden because we might not think of it too often—the way in which passion is synonymous with suffering. More than likely, when we think of it this way, there is only one person—and one unconscionable event—with which we are associating it. I think it’s because no one else in the history of anything has ever felt passion like He has. Passion so strong, so deep, and so intense that it could endure anything for the sake of its muse—the insanity of such a thing should move us! It should haunt our dreams until it lives in us as well, our passion for Him ever nourished by His for us.

Christian

Walk with Me

This will probably be one of my shorter posts. I have something to share, but for those who will receive it, I’ll spare the personal details and focus on the simple truth. I have often heard the testimonies of other people who speak profusely of the joy they feel in knowing that God guides their steps. God has given me joy throughout my life, but only in these recent days have I finally begun to understand this particular joy. I’ve come to recognize the difference between walking in my own will and walking in His. And this difference might seem pretty basic in a logical sense, but it’s not just about what we can perceive intellectually—it’s about what we can experience.

Regrettably, I’ve chosen to walk within my own will throughout the vast majority of the precious time I’ve been given on this earth. In consequence of that choice, I’ve experienced a lot of strife. I’ve been victimized by fear, I’ve stumbled in frustration and resentment, and I’ve grieved in terrible heartache. I’ve spent so much energy trying to break down the wrong doors and wondering why they won’t just open, when, all the while, He has been waiting for me to take His hand—wanting so much to lead me down the path He cleared for me long ago.

At a certain point, I hope we all become broken enough of our own stubbornness to finally take His hand, because when we do, we will all know what it is to experience miracles. We will see our fear give way to trust, our frustration yield to peace, and our heartache transform into the most wonderful joy—a joy born of love experienced both from and for our beautiful Creator.

We have a God who cares for us, I think, far more than we have the capacity to understand. The desire of His heart is to make us whole—to provide for us and keep us safe so that we’ll never have to know the pain of being without Him. “Look at the lilies and how they grow,” Jesus said. “They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are” (Matthew 6:28-29, NLT).

I have felt the hand of my God as He lovingly adorns me with all that I need for my warmth. In spite of every false security the world has ever seduced me with, that Hand is what I’m thankful for.

Christian

The Suffering Servant

My husband and I attend a congregation that is quite active in community outreach. So, a few weeks ago, we were sitting in church and listening to an announcement about some upcoming  service projects, when one in particular caught my eye. An out-of-state farmer had generously offered up some of his produce to be given to our local food bank, and we were supposed to go and harvest it. I’ve had very minimal exposure to projects of this nature, and my natural inclination has always been to shy away from things I’m not experienced at, for fear of getting in the way. For some reason, though, it sounded like fun, so we signed up for last Saturday morning from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

As it is August, temperatures have been pretty high lately, so when I received the email advising us to wear long pants, long sleeves, boots, hats, and gloves, I was a little worried. I have a condition that prevents me from perspiring in heat as well as the average person can, so my body will kind of trap the heat—forcing my skin to turn a vibrant shade of lobster-red. Sort of funny, in a way, but I’ve always had to take extra precautions against hyperthermia. But as much as I considered how miserable it would be to wear warm clothes in the sweltering heat while picking corn for an hour and a half, I was also kind of grateful for the challenge. Anyone who knows me can tell you that I can’t stand challenge. I am perfectly content to admit that I would much rather have a stress-free life than a stress-filled life—and that I don’t feel much of a need these days to prove myself to other people. Still, I felt grateful.

By the time we’d arrived on Saturday morning, the temperature was already pushing 90 degrees. After leading us in a brief prayer, our group leader released us into the field—clad in our wintery apparel. It began easily enough. I felt energized, and it really didn’t require too much strength to pull the corn from its stalk. The hardest part for me was bending the stalks backward after I’d finished. I also had a little bit of trouble discerning the good ears/husks from the ones that should be left alone, so I kept asking my husband to judge for me when I couldn’t figure it out. He was nice about it for the most part, but eventually, he started getting irritable (he’s sensitive to heat, too!). It didn’t take long before I noticed that I was running out of breath. My steps were becoming more weighted down, and it was difficult to move. I put my hand on my chest, and my heart was just pounding. My body seemed to be begging me to stop and take a break, but all the while, there was this strange struggle happening in my mind. There was a part of me that wanted to acquiesce to my body’s signals—but then, there was this other part of me. It was telling me to feel the discomfort. Feel it, but keep going anyway. Feel it, and learn to perceive it as good. Feel it, and think of Me. Because if you can’t learn to endure in something so small, how will you ever endure in a circumstance that is truly harsh? How will you ever be one with Me?

The thought encouraged me onward for a little while longer. I came to a wall of thorns that separated me from the rest of the stalks, and I was so frustrated with the whiny pangs of my body compared to the resolute desire taking hold of my mind that I started pushing right into them. Every time I felt one of them prick my skin, I just pushed harder, trying to make it through to the other side. I didn’t even bother trying to avoid them. I didn’t want to avoid them.

About forty minutes in, we finally stopped to get some water before going back for a second time. I’m sure my voice must’ve sounded incredibly lethargic and annoying as I kept pestering my husband, asking about the quality of the produce I was gathering. I’m sure I snapped unbecomingly at him a time or two in response to his friendly reminders that I needed to keep bending the stalks backward when I was finished with them, and before we knew it, it was time to go home. I was, indeed, quite happy to find myself back in the air-conditioned car as I immediately started removing my layers. But I was also disappointed in knowing that I could’ve stayed longer—that I could’ve pushed myself further if I hadn’t given in so much to my longing for comfort.

Hopefully, there will be other opportunities. Hopefully, I’ll recognize them, and hopefully, I’ll take them—because although I’ve had ease and comfort lavished upon me throughout most of my life, what I really want most is to emulate my Suffering Servant. I want to be willing to suffer, if only to be like Him. Maybe I can even learn to find comfort in pain—knowing that pain is sometimes an expression of love. I hope He’ll show me how.

 

Christian

You are Mine.

Last week, I wrote about God’s unchanging nature in comparison to the ever-changing world around us. Today, I want to write about a very specific change that I’ve seen in the world of late. It’s one that weighs heavily and constantly upon my heart and mind, and I haven’t written about it until now because I believe that doing so requires a great deal of care—and tenderness on my part.

I can’t remember the last time I ventured outside my house and didn’t see an American flag waving at half mast. Not so long ago, to see such a thing would have been rare. I know that it would have, because I’m old enough to remember when it was. Yet, each new day seems to take us further away from that time, and sometimes I fear that the generation to come will have no memory of it at all. Children will come to see the image of our nation in mourning as a normal part of their daily lives—just as I am beginning to do now.

I have to feel that. I have to stand in the midst of this new reality and understand what it makes me feel—what it does to me. But I also have to stand outside of it in order to stay within the will of God. Deep in my heart of hearts, I know that to be true. I keep thinking lately about Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, on the night before he was killed. I have this image in my mind of him going to that place—that beautiful garden on that moonlit night—just trying to find a sense of relief. A soothing balm to hush his pain in knowing the agony to come. I see his body trembling as he falls to his knees, desperate for the softness of the grass as he soaks it in his sweat and his tears. But he finds no comfort there. The tranquility surrounding him mocks the terror within him, and in his anguish, he cries out: Please, don’t. Don’t make me do this. Don’t let them hurt me. I’m frightened!

Oh, that someone would have held him in that moment—that I had been allowed to calm his trembling. But I digress. I can’t imagine what that must’ve been like. I’ve been afraid for my life before, but I’ve never been God. I’ve never been God in human flesh, waiting for a violent death at the hands of my beloved. And it’s so amazing to me that, as a man, and in spite of the torment he was under, he was ultimately able to say the words: “Yet not what I want, but what you want” (Mark 14:36, GNT). In the love he had for his Father, he was willing to submit to this suffering—even if it meant he had to die. And I know that I can do no less. If I claim to love God with all my heart, then how can I defy His will? How can I defy His command to love my enemies—to see them through His eyes—and to know that He died for them, just as He died for me. How can I ignore His words to Israel, when He told them, “Do not fear; for I am with you. Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Surely, I will help you…” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB). …”Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1, NLT).

These things are much easier said than done. God knows that. Jesus, himself, knew what it felt like to be afraid. But he put his fear behind his love—behind his devotion and trust in the will of his Father. So, as I go to look upon the cheerless image of my lowered flag, I pray that I will also bow. That I will fall to my knees in humility before my God, saying: Not what I want, but what You want—for I am Yours. We are Yours.