Sunday, January 22, 2012

I almost missed it

That sounds like a pretty loaded title for a post. one that MIGHT have even made you wonder long enough what it was about that you just HAD to click on it and read it. sucker!
just kidding...thank you for reading.

(i just thought this was funny)
what did i almost miss? Why, my blogger anniversary date!!! and since honesty is a good policy, i must be honest and say...i did in fact miss it. i'm 2 days late.  my first blog post was January 20th, 2011.   also it's been nearly 2 weeks since i've posted. i figured maybe it was time to post. 

in honor of my 1 year blogger anniversary, i went back and read my first official post...ya know, the one after you announce to the world you're actually bold enough to publish your thoughts outside the realm of a facebook status, or a #.  (Twitter)  ;)  yea. that one.  it spoke of yearning.  and as i reflected, because that's what i do, i reflect on things. and so as i reflected i thought, "i must be so much further than when i first wrote that post."  and while that remains true, i still find myself snug within the confines of yearning. by the time i reached the paragraph that desicribed my state of yearning, i realized that as i read the way in which i described it, i'm still there.  kind of.

when i wrote that post, i wasn't going to church.  i had just started a new job.  i was helping out a hockey team.  i was busy.  i concluded that my yearning back then really was for God...but not in the way i yearn now for Him.  Today.  Today i have a church. i have new friends. the same job viewed in a different light.  no hockey team.  incredible leaders over me...and for me <---(thats most important). i have a greater depth of understanding, knowledge, love, grace and forgiveness of the Father.  He really is for me. 

And though yes, i still yearn, my yearning isn't necessarily the same as it was a year ago.  i still yearn for the things of God. but most importantly, i yearn for Him.  not just the 'things' that come with it.  (those are an added bonus!)  And although, yes, i could still describe the depth of my yearning, sometimes Jesus is the only One who really knows how you feel.  whether i write a million words, or just a few. 

So. In honor of this marvelous occassion, i'll share again my yearning.  with a greater understanding, a new depth. and even when i grow old and wither away, i will have never even grasped the cusp of the newness of God.  He is infinite.

"The kind of yearning that sometimes only a song sung to a quiet strum of a guitar can describe what you feel so deep inside. The innocence of each chord picked, like the breath of a newborn baby as it enters the world for the first and only time, it echoes the yearning that stretches out across your heart.
And though at times, the yearning is even painful, having that sense of yearning completely satisfied is something that i don't ever want to experience while on this earth. Save it for eternity. I need Him. So desperately. So desperate in thoughts fumble around searching for the words to come splashing out over my lips that would cause Him to understand the validity of my plea. Rest, you fluttering, floating, feeble faith,
He already knows. "

Thursday, January 12, 2012

When you don't fear...

When you believe Him instead of fear. When you fear something, you are ultimately giving your heart to that thing. You worship what you fear. Living in fear really isn't living at all. It's dying. Slowly closing off the emotions in your heart. Sucking out the oxygen from your lungs. Darkening every doorstep. Pulling down a dark curtain of distrust over the face of Grace. Truth. Freedom. Jesus. And He already tore the veil. The curtain has been rent. But we errect our own divider again. In the face of Grace. Truth. Freedom. Jesus. As if to put up a hand and say, "No no God. I've got this one." We become God in our own lives. We decide what's best for us in the midst of swirling chaos. Fear. Our choice is based on the fear we feel. Based on the zero trust we have in Him. We I have...decided many things based on my fear of the unknown. I've become God in my own life. I've held up that hand to His face and said, "No no God. I've got this one." Did I really? Did I ever really? No. Im not saying fear doesn't exist. It truly does. It's real. And it's paralyzing. It shuts down reality. It clouds your mind. It confuses your thoughts. It freezes you in time. It adds a thick layer that isn't really you. As it piles up on your heart, it strips away the real you. You can't feel. You can't think. You can't react. You can't move. You can't know Him. Fully. Perfect love casts out fear. And God is perfect love. Therefore He is the only One that can cast out your fear. If you let Him. When you don't fear...when you believe that He has already defeated fear and death, when you believe that, then you are free.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

When you fear

Ive never realized until very recently what fear does to a person. There are some pretty fearful memories I have as a kid. And most of them are of the physical nature. But now I know how damaging fear is to the emotional piece of a person.

 As I recall it, I was absolutely frozen with fear as I stared into those little beady eyes. Those beady eyes that seemed to stare a hole right thru me. I stood frozen in fear. It really was like a grip that I couldn't get out of. And yea, I thought about running. But it was like the circuit from my brain to my feet had shorted out and my feet stayed planted. Just like those eyes stayed planted on me. Like it just knew I was tapping into the greatest amount of fear ever felt by a human. I could hear my cousins playing in a sandbox only about 20 feet away. I screamed as loud as I've ever screamed before. But no one answered me. I knew they heard me. How could they not? I screamed again as I stared at those dreaded eyes, staring back at me. Gripped with fear. Paralyzed. Frozen. Alone. Surely I would die. Standing in my cousin's yard, only a few feet from them. I'm not even sure why I wandered to where I was in the first place. We were all playing together and I decided to leave. I don't know what I was doing. Maybe retrieving a baseball or some other toy. But whatever it was, I found something else. I found my greatest fear. The fear that only existed in the scariest of nightmares. The fear that I was certain would never find me. It had only ever found me in my dreams. And now, a snake lay before me. Right before my eyes.

My fear stared me in the face. And I stared at it. Impending doom. My greatest fear had come upon me. It was a garter snake. And I knew that even if it did bite me, it wasn't poisonous. And I wouldn't die. But even the truth of that couldn't penetrate past my heart that was tormented by that fear of being bitten by a snake. All those animal planet shows my dad insisted on watching. Snakes swallowing whole animals. Snakes sinking their venomous fangs into the ankle of an unsuspecting hiker. Snakes were my greatest fear. I didn't get bitten. I didn't get swallowed up. But I do think I ran like hell...and so did that snake. Well...slithered. I remember making a b-line to the house. Or maybe the sandbox. I only remember the fear.

When I got to where my cousins were playing, I remember asking them if they heard me screaming. And for some reason, I remember them saying they had. I was so confused why no one came to my rescue. It was then that I decided that I was the one who had to rescue myself whenever I was facing impending doom. Paralyzing fear. I would be the best person to rescue myself from fear.

My other big fear as a kid was being taken or hurt by a stranger. I never went anywhere alone. Sometimes i ran to the bus stop because I was afraid someone was behind me. No one ever was. And I may have looked silly with my heavy back pack heaving back and forth on my back as I pumped my arms and legs harder and harder with each stride. But I didn't care. I ran anyway.

One specific day after playing a successful game of street hockey in front of my house with all the neighborhood boys, I was gripped with fear again. One of the boys convinced me that that day would be the last day I lived. How did he do that? With a story that wasn't true. But I believed him. He was my friend. Why would he lie to me? As we sat on my porch, probably drinking some sort of juice box, a car drove by extremely slow. There were at least 2 men iniside. The driver rolled down his window and he slowed the car to a complete stop. I thought he knew the boy I was sitting with. He didn't. Or maybe he did. I'll never know. The man reached out his window and pointed up at my house. And looked at me. Then he pulled his arm back into the car and rolled up the window and drove off. I looked at my friend and asked if he knew those men. He said no. And then proceeded to tell me a story of impending doom. And I was paralyzed with fear once more. My 'friend' told me that the same thing happened to someone else. Some strange man stopped on front of a house and pointed at it then drove off. I asked what happened. He told me that that same night, when everyone had gone to bed in the house that the men stopped in front of, they broke into the house and hurt the people inside. I was young. Gullible. Stupid. And a girl. I believed him.

For the rest of the that day, I prayed that nighttime would never come. When my dad got home, I told him what was going to happen. He didn't believe me. No matter how much I tried to make him believe me, he wouldn't. That hot summer night, I didn't sleep. My room was in the back of the house. I couldn't see from my window where those men would enter the house. The only place where I would be able to see was in a closet that had a tiny window facing the street. But I wasn't allowed in there. My mom hid Christmas presents in there. And the door creaked. And the floor did too. I would wake everyone up if I tried to sneak in there. So I sat in my bed. Door closed. Blankets up over my head. And I listened. And I baked under my blankets. Sweat built up around my forehead in little beads as I awaited my impending doom. I tried not to breathe as deeply because the men would see the blankets moving up and down. Every little noise. Every crack of the house settling. My heart beat out of my chest. My thoughts raced. They sounded like the feet of horses beating the ground on a race track. Images from crime shows and the most heinous criminals from shows like America's Most Wanted filled my little active mind. I told my dad how much I hated that show. How much it scared me. But he loved it. So he always won. And I always went to bed on Saturday nights, fearing I'd be taken from my bed. Hurt by scary, bearded men.

I didn't get bitten by that snake. And those 2 scary looking men didn't steal me and hurt me like my friend said. But I believed the worst in both situations. It was me versus my greatest fear. I was the rescuer.

I came upon a blog post tonight that talked about the torment of fear. All of a sudden, as I nodded my head fervently in agreement, I became keenly aware of my fear. The annoying ticking of the second hand on the clock was the only thing I could hear. And after 90 minutes of sitting in this hospital room with a sleeping patient, I became aware of the annoying ticking sound for the first time. It made me anxious. I don't know why. I sat frozen in my fear. As I recalled the snake stare down. The night I spent awake. Fearing for my life. It became so real to me again. The fear enveloped me. Like a tsunami wave crashing over an unsuspecting shore. Swallowing a big gulp of sand and sun-bathing starfish.

The blog post mentioned the top 3 relational fears; being wrong, failure and rejection. Oh man. That makes me tremble more than that dumb snake. I've experienced those 3 relational fears. They suck. No warm fuzzies. Those 3 fears errect a great big wall of protection around your heart. Impenetrable. Thick solid bricks. Hiding the warmth of sunlight. Blocking truth. Defending against anything that might try to break through or scale its tough exterior. Crossing its cement arms in the face of love and freedom.

But Jesus. He can bust thru at any moment. But He won't. He's patient. He'll wait until you're ready. And maybe he'd bust thru. But maybe he'll remove the fear one brick at a time. Until finally the last brick of fear is no longer. And then there is only Him. Truth. Love. And Grace.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

a real generation

so i'm kind of stealing this...well, piggy backing an already existing idea.  tonight, as i remembered that 'hey, it's New Year's's 2012!" while working alongside some amazing youth leaders, setting up for our unveiling of a new name for a new year, i became...a bit, well, nostalgic. ONLY KIND OF!!! haha!

something God has been totally bringing me back to, as well as other staff on the youth team and even amongst our entire church, is the bare essentials of...Him.  He's the only real thing in this world.  He's the only real and true thing there ever will be.  our stupendous youth pastor referenced Inception. you've seen it...where they live in a dream in a dream of a dream...while they're dreaming in their sleep...yea that one.
well...they each have a thing called a totem.  it's something that is 'real' that allows each dreamer to know whether or not they are in a dream or in real life.  only they know the weight and the feel of it in their hands.  it's the only real thing that connects them to reality. 

as she wound down her message, she had each in attendance close their eyes and imagine ourselves real. before Jesus.  whatever 'real' looked like to us.  i closed my eyes, but got distracted. there was a girl sitting in front of me...sobbing.  As sarah continued to speak, she asked us to see ourselves looking Jesus in the face. square in the eyes.  to finally see Him.  really.  then she said..."He is your totem, guys."

bam.  it felt like the big bad werewolf had blown the 3 little pigs brick house on top of me.  it. hit. me. so. hard.  but then i got distracted again.  by that same girl. now using the back of her sweatshirt sleeve to wipe the tears off her cheeks.  I think Jesus was real to her. and if 1 person experienced the totem of this world, Jesus, well then, i can lay my head (which feels like a thousand pounds) on my pillow tonight and be happy that one life was impacted by the work i've partnered in with God and some of the most amazing people i have ever had the privilege to serve Him with. 

this generation is looking for real.  it's tired of searching and being let down. again. and again. and again. and still more times.  but Jesus will always be real. and He will never let us down. 

Happy New Year, generation real.  i love you