Tag Archives: Jesus Christ

How to get work done – fall in love

26 Mar

I was listening to this video on friendship with God and he quotes someone else (whom I had to look up and found was influenced by the 24/7 movement), who says “lovers will always get more work done than workers.”

You tap into something else when you have the complete, total love of someone. When they have yours. You’ll make things happen, you’ll follow, you’ll lead, you’ll make time for them, and for the things on their heart – if you have to lose sleep, lose everything else. You’ll do it. No?

My students are always good examples because they’re the people I live with 🙂 They’ll be up at 5 am in the morning after a 2 am goodnight from writing a paper. I see them toiling on their work and then suddenly a couple of them – not all, but the ones who are in committed relationships and miss-miss-miss their girlfriend or boyfriend. I’ll hear them outside my hallway again for a quiet spot to talk to the one person they wouldn’t miss for anything.

The thing is God means so much more.

Doesn’t he?

Shouldn’t he?

I don’t know, but I’ve shortened prayer time so often. I’ve slept instead of staying up and praying. Not even one hour. And I’ve always known it is wrong – that the first thing to be taken for granted, the first thing to be cut in on is the thing I love more than life itself.

Is this what happens to relationships even if it should not? You’re in love for about three months – depending on who you are, you stay in love for about a couple of years… Because that was how I was for years after being saved. And then you love but you’re not quite a lover anymore? You haven’t tapped into the intensity the speaker talks about.

You’re on track, you’re doing the things you have to do… You take the garbage out, you give a goodnight kiss, you hold the door but – you wouldn’t give anything up for it. You wouldn’t let yourself get uncomfortable. You’ve never denied love or lost it but your serving the other is a little… off the map, shall we say? My last post is part of all this thinking on the subject… As you can see, I fail.

I don’t know how grace extends to me but it does. And I know that I have never stopped loving and can only be more and more shocked and blessed that God loves me, and how. And yet – I easily forget falling out of my comfort zone into his arms. Feeling his presence for the first time. Knowing that there is nothing I wouldn’t do to keep this. Knowing there is nothing I could do.

And knowing that he could. He wanted to. And there was nothing he wouldn’t do.

Still crazy

20 Mar

Sometimes I leave home and there is this funny feeling that I’ve forgotten something.

And it’s really hard to put my finger on what. So I walk through the hallway a couple of times, trying different doors, looking busy. When I’m struggling to remember, I can’t really do much else.

I forgot something today.


I forgot about being in love. Like – if someone asked you – you couldn’t really find a moment in your day when you haven’t been thinking about him. Checking your phone, checking your latest letter. I forget how perfectly he understands and I know it when we’re together. How my heart slumps down in relief like a body after a marathon because I know he’s got me covered.

You know when people are in love. Right? And I flatter myself I can tell when it’s real.

And I wonder if they hear it – this sigh of relief when I’m home not because I have a comfy, worn down, old armchair, or because I have my mug and coffee, or even murukku in it. But because I can hear his voice over my shoulder, by my side, and it doesn’t startle me. It’s old, familiar, loved.

It’s gentle.

A while ago, I wrote this and it turned out to be my most popular post. I called it crazy that I forget about this man who would and did give his life for me, this God who gave me life. I forget.

What makes me cry?

Looking at love.

You

16 Jun

Father, all of my dreams have been, from their inception, out of Your imagination. They have been yours, never mine. This path that I want to take – I want to take it because slowly, when I was ready to hear, you whispered it to me. This path, before me, that is even now so unattainable, so far from the tips of my fingers.

I relinquish control back to you – this desire to photograph the vision you stole into my head, and to force an unwieldy brush in my fingers to repaint it. I’m letting go. You tell me what to speak, and what to do, and what to pray, and how to cry. It’s You I long for, after all. It’s You I long to find along and at the end of every road. And it’s You that hold my hand anyway in this hoping and waiting.

Because when I am holding on to all of these things, I struggle not to let go of You.

Father, I want you to carve out my destiny. Because my destiny is You, Your glory and Your purposes. Carve out my destiny as you see fit. The visa questions, the travel questions, the course questions, the place questions… I am sorry that it seemed to take the ripping away of something close to perfection for me to see that the perfect job was not the answer, nor the perfect sponsor, nor the perfect finances, nor the perfect people.

You.

You alone deserved my trust, and maybe for that one moment when the perfect everything-else shone bright, I nearly forgot. One evening perhaps – or longer. In seeking any of those things, I have been seeking You. In the changes I have made, I have been following You. And then I forgot whom they came from. And I am grateful that even though your purposes are being fulfilled, because You are ready to perform Your word (Jer. 1:12), this moment when I could not see the things I am used to seeing has stripped away the layers before You. Because in my inadequate praying, Your Spirit can break in and redefine parakletos to my dulled sensibilities. He can take the human words and vision that I so struggle with, my humanity perhaps faultier than most – and change them for His. And I am so grateful that You can.

So take this, whatever it is. Give me Your words, Your grace, Your spirit.  Give me You. There is nothing else I have ever wanted, in all my wanting. Nothing beyond You.

The love of God

12 May

The love of God is brutally honest in its claim of your everything. God never wanted a casual relationship – ever. He has never once, in all of history, asked for it. You will never ‘date’ the bridegroom of your soul. He knew, he purposed, he chose, he sought!

When I was a young girl – 13 or 14? – I asked his Holy Spirit to know human love from this example. I wanted purpose from the start of a relationship. I still do. I didn’t want the other way around because we only compare the two loves because God made it a metaphor… And this example was so pure and so perfect and so undeserved and yet so indispensible to me.

Indispensible for survival. I cannot imagine my world without Christ in it.

It has never been a passion of a moment. He knew before we ever remembered him that he would find us. It’s never been the fluttery, heart-warming, giggle-worthy emotion we now, sadly, often associate with love. To show you I am not on a high horse, I will say this – human love is a beautiful thing. It is a metaphor of God’s love for us. No less.

This God-variety of love is a love that courts your utter vulnerability because he has become irreparably vulnerable.

The veil was never un-torn.

The stone was never rolled back.

And in his eternal, willing vulnerability – a God that I can wound, a God that I can reject, a God that I can embrace with all that I am and in whom become fully who I am – I am now always, unchangeably, and forever, myself… slowly understanding there is no fear. Not in such perfect love.

He is strong enough in his desire to prise open my closedness. To draw out the aching, gaping shreds of flesh that I choose to hide under old gauze. There is pain in that release, but only because I hold on so hard. Until, gently as he holds me and unfurls my clenched fists, clenched in fear and unbelief, the realisation hits me that I am home and I can let go of the props of sojourn that I have foolishly turned into my weary foundations. Bag, shoes, the inertia of motion, the tokens of travel – down. I am home.

If, in this love, you will touch and taste and leave behind because you find the pain of release too hard, I have learned this – God would only have your all. It is a choice.

Just the way he calls my name

24 Apr

I walked into the garden with a strange emptiness. I wanted closure – the trite rituals of the third day, the cloying smell of funeral flowers, the neatly tied-up threads. Then, I could pretend this was all… normal. All of it. Friday, today – the worlds inbetween.

I longed to be able to weep.

You see, it didn’t even hurt. I didn’t know what to feel. My whole life had revolved around this one thing, and now it wasn’t there.

I remember when it wasn’t there before. But that was different. Then, I didn’t know joy. I thought I did, I laughed and danced in the shadows and thought I found love, and yes, also did find it. The whispers I always heard, it was easy for me to think they were because I was too beautiful, too far removed. Every whisper, whether it was better or worse, than my reality was never the truth. It was never me. So I didn’t even remember to hurt – after a while. I didn’t recognise pain or loneliness. Really.

Because when you’re alone, you don’t miss yourself. You run away from it. And the people who don’t know you, but think they do? In the temple, at the well, in town – I revelled in their knowledge and their knowing grins with this unholy glee. It was easy to escape when you didn’t hear any reminders. The sins they conjured up – those weren’t mine. They were at the door of the village’s official outcast.

Me? I was the only one who knew what I had really done. What I had left undone. What I had said, and the moments I had chosen to turn away from the compelling of my heart, deliberately, uncaringly – because it was easy, and because I was tired. Moments preserved like specimens in ugly jars in the great, churning laboratory of my mind. Nobody guessed my soul-weariness of expected sin, of the convenience to never face yourself because no one knows you and it is easy to forget yourself. Nobody guessed, they had their own wearinesses.

Or so I thought until the day he came. Steady, unfazed and definitely – yes, definitely – looking me in the eye. Few men did that to women, let alone ‘forgotten’ women. It was a long time since I thought of myself as one – a woman, that is. And yet, in his eyes, I suddenly saw my reflection and, for the first time in my life, the brokenness showed. That and compassion.

And he knew me.

When I saw that in his eyes, I got to talking. Really fast. In short, sharp, staccato sentences. Brash talk, the fast kind. The kind that hides any realness, you know. Like you meet a stranger, at a bar, and he’s a little too intense for you when you’re vulnerable. Yeah, that – magnified several times over. So you toss your hair, you laugh at them, you treat them with anything but seriousness. You challenge their assumptions, you say harsh things, jaded observations – and pray he doesn’t notice you’re trying.

Well, you’re obviously a foreigner. Don’t you know I’m not the kind of lady you should be chatting to? So who do you think you are? Seriously, who are you?

No… Seriously, who… are… you? I want what you have with an aching I didn’t know I had.

Because then he goes and says something about water that will never let me thirst again. And I never knew I wanted it – but suddenly I do, with a loud lunge of my heart against ribcage. You know all those times no one ever hears that, and you’re thankful for the privacy of your pain? Well, this man – with his quiet eyes, his knowing eyes – he stripped away all my neatly set-up filters and I didn’t even know until a long while later that they were gone. The tears surprised me. I didn’t know I could cry.

He knew my secrets. My real secrets. It wasn’t that they were better than the ones the town gossiped about. But it was just that they were mine. Old, familiar ghosts that had the right to haunt.

Just like that, he knows me. And I am not afraid any more.

The true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.

And, incredibly, he smiled. For the first time, I saw his tears. And for the first time, I was a part of the conversation. He wasn’t talking about someone else. I drank that in. Noisily, all my graces and sophistication in the well with the old water.

When I carried the story, I was so excited the town forgot to whisper.

I want to cry now. To wail and touch the evidence of death, to finish this impossible hole in my heart. I cannot see the body, the stone is rolled away. The tomb is empty and there is just the sound of someone walking, working in the garden.

The soldiers…? But why? The twelve? But surely, surely despite all their misgivings about the ‘strays’ he picked up, they would tell… I… All of us, we miss his voice, we miss his laughter, we miss his sorrow, we miss… Him.

Where is he? Perhaps you would know? Did you see what happened, did they come to take him when you came in to work on the flowers?

Mary.”

Mary.

And just like that, I know Him. The wealth of knowing in the sound of my name, it holds the key to life, my life, ours. He knows me.

And because of that, I know who he is.

“Rabboni.”

And with two, they covered their eyes…

21 Apr

Someone asked me why I cried at church. But I expect to cry, so I didn’t know the answer.

Because beauty breaks your heart. You look, at the beauty that even angels fear, you love, you sense the presence of Someone infinitely bigger than you, yet infinitely gentle, and then, as the hairs on your neck begin to re-sensitise, you know His eyes are on you. That’s all. He is just… looking at you.

And He’s not looking at anyone else. And the breakage happens – just as you look back.

He takes my defenses down. Every time.

In the ministry, I think, God allows you the overwhelming honour of looking with Him. As you see what He sees, as you see the broken roads those tattered sandals have trod, or the memories of day-long trips for fatal water that those young eyes hold, or the suspicion of a life that has never known an unbroken promise, or the shocked immunity of your child who learns that others have died for rice… and as you look back and see the reflections glinting in His steady eyes, the breakage happens.

But it is only there, as I sit in that presence, as I let myself look into those eyes, and trace the shape of its shadows and stories and suffering and grace, that love hits me – and the impact barrels through my chest, past my diaphragm into the world that I saw with his eyes.

Every time someone weeps out of less than joy, every time a friend has sold their dignity, every time someone hates and knows it, every one someone cannot shrug away the sin, I must sit and I must look into those eyes. For the beauty to break through the calluses.

In the reflections, the stories make sense.

Ecce, Dominus.

Today, my heart was broken by this

iAnalyse

7 Apr

I analyse. Incessantly. Mostly myself, mostly critically, ‘most all the time…

Here is what I have come up with. I have upper-middle class sympathies and inclinations, I am quick to recoil from the failings of society that can be massed into a statistic, I have several of my own failings that sadly are less open to scrutiny. I don’t know if analysing my categorisability will make me want to fall into another category… In fact, I don’t think it will. But I am intrigued by the quirks of judgement that go with categories and labels.

Teen pregnancy, alcoholism, addiction, lack of a college education – Lord, may it never come into our lives. And I agree – amen! I don’t want it there. But but – there is little said about the domestic friction, the violence in Indian homes, the gender dominance, the deep-seated resentment of familial structure and dependence – these things, we will never bemoan openly.

I’m not bringing down the standards. Far from it. I’m saying in giving ourselves obvious standards, social standards, we find it easy to be the new ‘genteel unhappy’…

The Lord weighs the heart…

And then there is more to my self-analysis. This is the real cruncher. The level at which I analyse most of the time… Just plain ol’ me. I don’t know where you are on this spectrum – but you can be objective about your thoughts, about your beliefs, you can tell when you’re irrational, you can tell when you’re instinctive, you. can. criticise. and be your worst opponent in an argument.

This is a blessing. I kid you not. I mean, it’ll take you a while to find out but it really is… Because when it comes to accountability, you’ve already done the hard work. I am also grateful for the times when this isn’t self-induced but instead I am listening to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, convicting, moving and gently nudging to acknowledge truth, to hear His heartbeat and not my own.

And although it hurts, and although your self will try to take over and be merciless, I love that vulnerability in the presence of God.

I give you all my pieces, Lord. Hold me together. And take the unbroken parts and break open the flaws set in stone… Change my heart.  Find it here, as I lay myself before you. I give you only broken worship. There is no one else I trust, but You – Your Holy Spirit and His revelations, and the people you use and nudge me to listen. Hold me close into wholeness then. I do, I really do – I give you all my pieces.

Churched Christianity

24 Mar

This happened several days ago. She told me I was getting old. For certain things in life… Most of my friends in the workplace and at university were/are older than I. I am older than her by a year. Everyone in the course last year that I want to join next year was four years older than I, at least. I say these things not to defend myself. My first reaction – like yours – was to wince and nod. It was to accept the constraints. I do think I am getting old. And I know with another part of me that that is untrue. There is a difference between realism and this willingness to believe the least of yourself. But it hurt to hear it because most other people outside of church do not think so. Most of my friends don’t normally share this view either!

But I have a pretty convenient system of half-forgiving things and forgetting about them – I mean things interfere less with your to-do list that way. I don’t know if ‘forgiving’ is the right word or if there is such a thing as half-forgiveness either 😉 I mean, what I did was basically be ungracious in my own mind.

I simply decided to think this friend was perhaps not as mature as I was, had different definitions about culture and society than I did, had different constraints on what it was to be a woman and different ideas about “having life and having it to the full”. ← That’s all. All beautiful things to have, and all rather easy for me to think and not remember this little commandment.

Ah but look at the new NIV’s rendition of this, which sometimes – some very few times in my life – does make sense.

I think it does especially for people who are used to considering themselves below everyone else, less than average, less than ideal, not anyone’s idea of beautiful… So many women I know do this. I know some men do too, but I don’t know enough who will tell me to say ‘so many men’ 😉 We forget how much God has planned for us and we cut ourselves short. We imagine we’re incomplete without that house or that car or that husband.

We accept the constraints that people give us.

What is horrible about all this is that nowhere does it grow as much as it does in the church. We live in accordance with the church, not God.

We worry about how ‘churched’ we look and are. Our witness fails to be about God’s calling on our lives.

NO – I was not equating a husband, a car and a house but I am trying to point out that we do equate them. To often. As if everything in life is about planned acquisition, the next step, moving on, the natural stages.

Who gave us natural stages? Not God. Not really. Isaac was born well beyond natural, people laughed at Noah’s idea of building a home, Eli’s sons didn’t pick up on the whole dynastic paradigm of churches today… they went pretty wrong and God saw it, unlike our churches… Jonathan would rather have put his life in danger, let God’s purposes be fulfilled than be his father’s son. David chose to follow God out of the expected life of Jesse’s son, out of his sheep and his music, to building up a nation that needed it.

In my generally three-cornered conversations, this was one of the times I managed to stop and listen to God and to be honest with my friend. To be more gracious. Oh – that does not come naturally for yours truly as it does for her friends 🙂 ! Sigh. I told her we were only too old/frumpy/inadequate/whatever other excuse for some ‘Christians’ – it was the saddest thing I had to say. She agreed. Because, of course, it’s not ‘good’ to want more, it’s not ‘good’ to want to change the world, it’s not ‘good’ to be loud about poverty and homelessness and illiteracy and oppression, and it’s not ‘good’ to be discontent with wrong and injustice… Oh, discontent is sin… of course.

Think again. Pray. Again.

These ideas we have about a person’s possibility in the world – they come from a limited idea of what God can do.

You know that willingness to believe the least of yourself? It sounds to God like you’re believing the least of Him. And He’s fighting for you because he thinks

you

are

wonderful.

Stat.

Obedience (again)

27 Feb

I read this today over at (in)courage. Always a blessing.

Hurthle cells are mostly benign, but until they’re removed it’s impossible to know.

It’s about a type of cancer that I hadn’t heard about either, like the author – but what’s interesting to me, outside of the thrust of that post, is that one sentence.

How many things in my life are ‘probably’ benign? How many things do I allow to fester because I think they might go away, they won’t cause harm – not really? Sometimes ‘good’ is an enemy of the ‘best’. These are cancerous cells – they need to be removed. Sometimes we flirt with danger, not because we like it but because we think it won’t touch us.

This obedience is also obedience but it takes a lot of work on our parts too.

 

Lord, help me to throw out the little cells that may not be bad but are not good either. Those things that do not give you glory, and I assume are harmless. Those things that seem to have no purpose and therefore seem to work no wrong. Father, help me to be wholly yours. Take away the pain in the pruning. Take away the desires for the things, people, interactions and life that aren’t in your perfect will, that do not seek to give you glory and are not what You want for me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Obedience

26 Feb

I found some kindred-spirit poetry today. This little treasure:  http://lucishaw.com/poetry_obedience.html. It is always such a delight to find soul that one can befriend in writing. I have had moments like Luci Shaw’s in that poem.

I have been thinking a lot about focusing on God, leaving behind distractions, seeking to hear His voice. It sometimes seems easier to come by on the mountaintops, than at your office desks or family homes.

In hearing God, we are free. We are liberated. Because it isn’t us any more. It is him. In my interactions, in my relationships, with the people I love, in the goals I pursue, into the sticky idea of being that has come about by my clumsiness, dark as treacle but bitter. He speaks. He speaks, and I cautiously expel a long-held breath because the weight of my inadequate words isn’t holding me up any more.

No, his words are, instead.

And I am free.

To me, where I am at now – words form the substance of this morass of all my to-do lists, and of course, my conversations. Conversation is central to living, I think. And the most beautiful conversations are those with this God we serve, however they happen.

Recently, I’ve also been having several conversations about what I believe and why. A part of me is very glad about this. Yes, it hurts when you find you must explain yourself so fundamentally to a friend who must know you well… and yet, for that same reason, I am reminded of the beauty of God’s own word. And hold fast to the hope he brings through it into our hearts! And I am glad to have this friend close enough to talk about it 🙂

It also reminds me that God never tires of our words and our tears. He is infinite enough even for the introvert in me. And the joy of finding his understanding is my special token of peace. That is why I am glad about obedience. I think that is Luci Shaw’s reason too. Among others.

My to-do lists are filled with applications. I am gladder still about obedience and I pray I remember that!

And I am so blessed that he has promised this.

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