Without Words

img_0369I long for the words to write. I write in order to understand. I write to attempt to makes since of the uncertainties. I write to share the hope I know, and the truth I find. Once I’ve put it into words, I gain clarity and certainty.

I hate the chaos of unwritten words. Those words left to bounce around in the head, just trying to decipher where to go, what order they belong, and mostly, what they mean. A million started sentences in mind, but they can’t seem to be finished.

I’m reminded of my God. A God who is bigger than my lack of words, my lack of certainty, my lack of concrete understanding. He knows all, He sees all. He knows the order and the meaning of all the unwritten words. Yet, for now, they seem to remain inside my own mind.The Lord teaches me the power of the unwritten word, the words I’m still figuring out. The Lord teaches me in the silence that there is a time to speak, a time to listen, and a time to be quite. There is value in tuning out even your own voice to clarify His above all. He reminds me the importance of relying on His Spirit, and pouring the entirety of my unfinished sentences into His hand, and letting Him finish them for me.

Becoming His Child Again

I have spent an unreal amount of time surrounded by children this summer, and through this, God has reminded me of the simplicity of life when I choose to live it as His child.

It seems that as far back as our memories can recall we were wanting to grow up, to gain respect, permission, authority, and even responsibility.

And soon enough, we find ourselves carrying weights far too heavy for us, weights we were so eager to accept. We find ourselves with more questions than answers, more task than time, more doubt than faith,and more words than thoughts. We find ourselves in a cycle of striving, reaching, and falling short. We discover that no matter how hard we try, someone is always going to want more from us, disagree with our perspective, or disapprove of our choices. We wanted to be strong, but all we feel is weak.

But Jesus beckons us. He sings a melody far different from the world’s. He sings a bit softer, yet, so much clearer. He entices us to be still again, to listen more, to speak less, to wonder with amazement, and to stop our questioning and doubting. He reminds us it’s ok to be tired from running, and need to walk.

And as we respond to His beckoning, we find ourselves secure in His arms just like a child. We find strength, strength that allows us to be weak. We find rest, rest that gives us permission to make more time. We find peace, peace that reminds us we don’t have to have the answers. We find perspective, perspective that overpowers the realities of the world. And we find joy, joy that cuts through even the darkest night.

“Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” ~MATTHEW 18:12

 

Hide and Seek- He Finds Me, Always

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“I can’t outrun this heart I’m tethered to. With every step I collide with you. You don’t hold back, relentless in pursuit, at every turn, I come face to face with You.”

I’m constantly running, constantly hiding. I busy myself, my mind, and my environment in an attempt to avoid the silence and the isolation. Because in silence and isolation, there is room for questions, and room to ponder the honest answers, and I fear the honest answers will reveal my inner human. The one who is weaker than I want, more flawed than I imagine, and more influenced by circumstances than I care to admit. In my mind, pain is weakness, and sadness is only a product of succumbing to pain. With this mindset, I allow pain to reside for only a moment, and then begin to pretend it no longer exist.

I know, this mentality has some value to it, we do have to move on, and not wallow in pain. However, if we’re not honest with ourselves, and even more importantly, others, we can never heal. If you want a wound on your body to heal, you can’t just pretend it isn’t there. You have to treat it, which hurts. And you have to protect it. Of course, you can’t coddle it, and just stop living either. Our souls are the same way.

I’m learning how to live outside this irrational belief, but it’s hard. It makes relationship building difficult. I don’t know how to let people into my “real” world, because, honestly, I don’t always know how to get there either. Maybe I run so much, I don’t always know where to stop and call home. I have a hard time in friendships letting people know what I need from them, and sometimes what I need is more than they know how to give. I need people to come after me, to pull me out of the places I hide, to stop me from my constant running. To call out this fleeing spirit in me, and encourage me to stillness and grace. I need them to take the first step that I often can’t take myself, and show me the pattern of grace, of friendship, and of loving.

Not everyone gets this, and not everyone can do it, and that’s ok. But I’m learning my Lord is the master of this hide and seek game I constantly find myself in. He always finds me. I am His daughter, and He knows me. He knows how my mind works. He knows the places I hide, the times I run, and He knows all the things I avoid. He brings them to me, wrapped in grace, peace, and perspective. In His arms, I know I have found a safe place. I am reminded I don’t have to run, I don’t have to hide just to avoid the things that give me fear and grief. Pain is not weakness, and sadness is more than a result of succumbing to pain. Yet, I still run and I still hide.

Yet, His grace doesn’t stop. He is always there. Every turn. He is waiting for me where I hide, and He is running beside me when I run. ALWAYS enticing me to be still. To be honest. To be real. He calls me out of hiding, and teaches my feet to hold their ground. He loves me, and shows me how to be loved, by Him, others, and myself. He shows me the pattern of His dance, and holds my hand as I find my balance. He never leaves me to dance alone. Even when I try to run, thinking it’s safer, He won’t let go of my hand, and He always sends the right people to join in the dance with me, just when I need them. He shows them the steps too, and teaches us His rhythm.

I’m fragile, and I’m delicate. I don’t have all the answers, and I don’t always understand. But I don’t have to run, I don’t have to hide. And when I do, He is always going to find me. I can’t hide from Him. I can only hide in Him. 

 

 

The Distance

 

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“And when I feel a million miles away, still you connect me in all your ways, and create in me something I would never have seen.”

We’re taught that He is closer than our skin, ever present, never ignoring our pleas and questions. We learn to feel His nearness, know His presence, and hear His voice. And these feelings, these earthly sensations, ideas, and concepts shape our reality of who He is.

But sometimes these things we learned and once felt so confidently, feel far away and unattainable. We wait in silence, feeling the the distance imposed void in our souls. We read with no understanding, we speak with no connection, we listen but hear no response. We feel empty, though we haven’t poured into. We feel empty, but can’t be refilled. No words can be found, and our tears run dry. Only a silent distance between us and our Maker, the Lover of our souls.

We ask ourselves what we are doing wrong, we ask ourselves what we need to change, add, fix, or sacrifice. We work. We strive. We get tired. We cry. We loose heart. We feel the burden of the world without His presence near enough to lay the burden down.

When did we forget that our God is a God of reality greater than feelings, greater than fears, greater than earthly ideas and concepts. He has not left us, He has not abandoned us. Though He may be silent now, He will speak again. We will not miss a thing as long as our ears remain attentive through the silence. Though He may feel far, He isn’t. He is not a God to run when we fall short or find ourselves in crises. But instead, He chooses to draw nearer in these times. We often just don’t know how to perceive Him in bigger and more abstract ways. But He is here.

He is a God of freedom and a God of grace. Not avoidance and abandonment. He wants us to run freely, knowing His presence is near, and bigger than our own understanding. Run in freedom, your Father is near, and He loves you.

 

…..

“Well I’m embarrassed to admit, the distance I’ve been feeling, has all been self imposed.”

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Please don’t forget. Please don’t forget God is good. That He has a plan for you, and for the confusion you feel, the pain you face, the weakness you struggle with. Don’t forget He is big enough to hold your future, and hold it securely. Please don’t forget all He has done this far in your life to prove that to you. Don’t forget the fulfilled promises, the restored hope, the unexplainable peace, and the blessed assurance of eternity on His shores.

I know, today might be hard. Today you failed. Today you were betrayed, rejected, and abandoned. Today fear wrapped it’s crippling arms around you, and you struggled to find release.  Today the voices of inadequacy were loud and constant. Today you struggled to forget a painful, yet ever present memory. And today, you could’t quite grip that sweet, yet ever so quickly fading memory of His presence.

And today you feel the need to hide. To lie. To run.To wear that mask that says everything is ok, and that you are fine.

But please don’t. Let down your walls. Open your heart, and speak the truth. Speak honest, vulnerable, strength giving truth. Let others into your world to help you carry that load that you’ve never shared before. Let others come in and speak life to you. Let them hold you. Let them see you. The real you, behind the mask, behind the fear, behind the insecurity. Let them in.

“Oho, come rushing like a hurricane
Come lead me through the flood and flame
Don’t let me walk away
Oho, I need you like the iron needs fire
Come lead me through the final fight
Till we see brighter days, oho”

‘Brighter Days’ Eddie Kirkland

Taste And See.

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“In the darkness I’ll dance, in the shadows I’ll sing… There is strength when I say I will praise You.” -Rend Collective

God is good, no doubt. I’ve experienced and felt the incomprehensible reality of this statement in my life over and over.

But truth be told, sometimes life is still hard.

Sometimes prayers go unanswered.

Sometimes dreams shatter.

Sometimes sickness takes over.

Sometimes confusion leaves us broken.

And sometimes fear feels crippling.

I’ve walked through each of these valleys. I’ve felt what it is like to not know, to not know why, to not know how, to not know when. As I know you have too. And I’ve sought God in these times, I’ve looked for Him in the pain this life brings. But if I’m to be honest, I don’t think I ever expected to truly find Him. Or at least, I didn’t know what it meant to truly find Him. I’ve merely called out for and expected an artificial version of God to show up. A version that calls to me from a distance, and merely encourages me to “get through”.

But this artificial version of God is not our reality. We serve a God who does not call out to us from a distance, but one who walks right beside us, in the darkness, in the valley, and in the desert. And He does not simply encourage us to “get through”, but calls us to stand up, and walk with confidence, knowing that His sovereignty reigns above our circumstance, and that because of that, we can find joy and peace in the midst of our difficulties.

We have to remember that He is just as good now in the confusion as He was in the triumph. He hasn’t changed. Don’t forget the days He redeemed you, the days He spoke to you, the days He showed you His great favor. Take heed to the words of David when he said, “I will remember the deeds of the Lord, yes I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works, and meditate on your holy deeds. ” (Psalms 77:11-12) Because that God is the same God that is walking right beside you now, and He is the same God that is going to finish with you.

So stop expecting pain. Stop doubting the promises of God. Stop doubting the sovereignty of God. You don’t have to wait for this struggle to end to regain your perspective, to regain your hope, to regain your joy. Find it right now though the presence of God that over powers your situation. Take hold of the presence of God from which all good things come.

So worship Him. Worship Him for all He has done, all he is doing, and all you know He will do. It doesn’t have to make since, but choose to put your faith in front of your pain. And worship Him. Worship Him widely.  Worship Him relentlessly. Worship Him not from the place of fear and doubt you may feel, but worship Him from a place of faith and hope that you know. Worship Him like your already on the mountain. Tell Him He is good. Tell Him You trust Him. Even if you are broken, tell Him He is good. Because He is, and if you keep telling Him, you will remember too.

 

“Oh taste and see that the Lord is good.” ~Psalms 34:8

Letting You Love Me

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“But if I refuse to feel, I’ll never bleed, but I’ll never heal.” ~JJ Heller ‘Sound of a Living Heart.’

I was a master of camouflage. Learning how to hide away, deep inside myself. Eyes down, head down, behind layers of skepticism, doubt, and bitterness, I hid.  Away from humanity. Hiding from the potential of community. Because my experiences had always taught me that that community comes at the cost of vulnerability, and vulnerability results in betrayal. So I did’t seek you out, and when you sought me out, I approached you quickly through the eyes of a skeptic. Doubting you, resisting you, and making sure the wall between us was not compromised.

This wasn’t always conscious. I became so accustomed to doubting people, their intentions, and their sincerity, that I didn’t even realize what was happening, nor did I realize the extent to which it was happening.

The condition of my heart progressively transformed my interactions. Not only did I begin to doubt the sincerity of those around me, but I also began doubting the importance of what I had to say, what I had to offer; therefore, constantly redirecting the conversation back to you, for fear of loosing both your interest and your validation. I didn’t realize how much I needed you, how much you could offer me. So I never sought more than surface level encounters, because that was all I believed in.

Then, the loneliness crept in. The isolation became too strong. Suddenly, I was not protecting myself anymore, I was only hurting myself by trying to suffocate this essential human need for community. In broken surrender I had to learn to forgive in order that I could learn to love and be loved. I did this the only way I knew how, by following Jesus’ example of love. We love because He first loved us. This love is not circumstantial. This love is not a response to good deeds. This love is not a attempt to gain some kind of mutuality.

That truth was all I could hold on to as I bridged the gap from my island of insecurity and skepticism to the land of the living.

But it was enough.

As I surrendered, He broke down my walls of bitterness, and I learned to forgive. He broke down the walls of doubt, and taught me to trust again. He broke down my walls of defense, and reminded me I was not dependent on the love of other’s. And he broke down my my stubborn independence, and taught me of a community stronger than my self.

God changed my perspective of who He was, and therefore redefined my expectations of people. I learned God’s desire is to flow through all my empty places, leaving me with no voids left for others to fill. Because of this, I could let them into my life, not dependent on the outcome of these relationships. 

Cause that was never the goal of community anyway, for us to get what only God can provide from others. Community is a gift, but not a replacement for God. Bring to Him your broken pieces, painful memories, and empty places. Let Him invade these places. Then, and only then, can you can take a hold of the hands around you, allowing them to be your support.

Sometimes I still forget this though. Sometimes, I still forget that God wants me to let people in, and I realize yet another layer of my doubt and skepticism. And in this, I instinctually flee towards the old, skeptical version of myself, and remain hidden, using my instinctual quiet personality as an excuse to shut the world out of my heart. I have to be reminded, by both God and others, that this idea of community is part of God’s plan for us, and it is well worth the risk.