Monthly Archives: February 2012

Beyond these walls

I’ve had an awful day.  I woke up with a horrible pain in my arm that nagged me all day.  And then our best friends’ daughter decided to use a drawer in our home as a trampoline and broke it.  But the worst of it was when my husband and I discovered that we had lost a $1500 money order.  We spent 2 hours searching with no luck.  And finally, during a break from our hunt, our pizza caught fire in our oven.  It’s not been a good day.  And the whole time I was searching for that darn money order, I just kept praying that God would lead me to it.  That He who knows all would point me in the direction.  That He who does miracles and wonders would make it appear in the drawer I had checked six times already.  But He didn’t.  And it made me sad.  I couldn’t see God’s hand in my day and it grieved my spirit a bit.

And then my husband turned on a live feed from the middle school retreat my oldest son is attending this weekend.  And I watched over 2500 middle schoolers, including my 12-year-old son, raising their hands in worship.  Singing with abandon and passion.  Eyes closed and hearts wide open.  And God was moving.   Powerfully, profoundly, clearly.   Although God didn’t seem to be moving in my day, I didn’t have to look very far to see Him moving in ways mighty and undeniable.  I imagine a similar phenomenon took place in the apostle Paul’s life.  Paul spent roughly 5 to 6 years in prison during the course of his ministry and I imagine that those were grueling years.  But I wonder if the worst part of his stay was the feeling of abandonment he must’ve felt at times.  He was imprisoned for his faith in a God who did miracles.  A God who fed thousands and healed hundreds.  A God who raised the dead and saved souls.  A God who could, if He so chose, shatter chains, disarm guards and throw open prison doors.  And yet, for Paul, He didn’t.  He remained silent and unmoving in Paul’s cell.  But thank goodness for the mail!  Letters that Paul received in jail assured him that God was moving outside those prison walls.  That He was moving faster and farther than Paul ever could’ve dreamt possible.

Sometimes, when we don’t see God moving in our small worlds, the very best thing to do is take a step outside.  God is moving. God is working.  His hand is sweeping magnificently and beautifully across canvases all around us.  And when we witness such glorious progress, such exceptional activity, there is no response but to fall on our knees, lift our hands in the air and thank the God of wonders that stagnation and silence is not in His repertoire.  That although He may appear silent and unmoving in our world, He is more than likely speaking clearly and moving dramatically right next door.  And while that is often frustrating and sometimes even discouraging, I find that it is also comforting.  It gives me great joy and solace just knowing that God does move.  That He acts in the midst of brokenness.  That He speaks into pain and loss even when it’s not my own.  That He prompts hearts and bends spirits beyond what I can see.  That His hand creates brush strokes that are far broader and deeper than my own small world.  And I am left confident that this is enough for today.  Outside these immediate walls, my son is growing, his heart is softening and his spirit is deepening.  And that is more than enough.


The Weight of It All

There has been an idea, or rather a dilemma, swirling around in my head for quite some time, but today it finally surfaced and demanded to be heard.  Something happened today that hurt a little.  It wasn’t a tremendous wound but a small sting that caused me to go down a fruitless path of question and self-doubt.  I found myself singing the same old songs of inadequacy and inferiority that I know all too well.  And it got me thinking how easily I took those steps, how readily I gave in to the whispers and subtleties that made me question who my God says I am.  And as this reality sunk in deeper, I realized that this is the burden and the curse that all of humanity seems to share.  We are so quick to carry the lies and belittlements and yet so slow and apprehensive to embrace all the truths scripture declares over us.

We all do it.  We proceed through our day and when we encounter something someone says or does or even something we perceive, we pick up a piece of self-doubt, or self-judgment or even self-loathing.  And the pieces are so heavy aren’t they?  And what’s more shocking is that we don’t just pick them up.  We actually pick up these virtual cinder blocks and then sling them over our backs and carry them for days, months, even years.  It is staggering to me.  And it is heart wrenching.  Christ spread his arms wide on a cross to tell us that we are loved, that we are forgiven, that we are holy and blameless, that we are chosen, that we have an inheritance, that we have purpose and hope.  Just read Ephesians 1.  It’s all there plain as day.  But it’s not enough is it?  Instead of choosing the wings that these truths can provide, we elect to shoulder murderous weights day after day after day; weights that convince us we are insignificant and small and unworthy.  I have done this more times than I can count.  I have embraced lies about who I am and who I am not.  I have bought into fables telling falsehoods about what I’ve done or what I haven’t done.  I have believed that I am not good enough and that the very sum of all I am falls terribly short.   And then, after a while, the weights transform.  Though they may have initially been an incident or a word, they quickly and powerfully morph into much larger contenders.  Fear, worry, guilt, anger.  And as I walk through life with these massive burdens, I am exhausted.  I am sore and tired and sick of my willingness to aid and abet the enemy.

In Matthew 11:29-30, Jesus invites us to take his yoke and, in doing so, find rest for our souls.  He utters the glorious words we have heard throughout Sunday school and Sunday sermons.  “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  And while my heart leaps at the truth of this, my head is a slow follower.  My memory, my humanness, my sin wants me to carry on with this agonizing yoke I’ve chosen.  But His yoke is so easy, so light, so inviting.

I find it is a struggle every day for me to choose what is easy.  It’s so ironic.  There is such painful irony in our reluctance to throw off what is damaging and wounding and grasp, with open arms, that which is freeing and redeeming.  But I also find the struggle is worth it.  Every moment that I am victorious, every moment I allow myself to swim in the truth of my identity in Christ brings me that much closer to my Father.  Every step I take away from condemnation is a step I take towards love and forgiveness.  Every word of judgment I reject is a promise of holiness and worthiness I accept and cling to.  So I will move forward.  Towards truth.  Towards the cross.  Towards the voice who speaks my identity and longs for me to believe it.