Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sufferer, Meet Love

It's about time His Word be lifted higher in my life.

He'd been whispering it to me all this time:
in the inkling that maybe one morning quiet time just is not enough to nourish,
in the cravings to crack open the sweetest filling Word when I'd just sat down to study,
in the desire for a lullaby laying there a blink away from sleeping, the desire for that God-breathed melody,
in the mealtimes where I settle for a Pinterest escape on the cell phone, while my antsy soul is being pinned when it longs to escape into Him.

Finally, into His Word, and this is what a heart with a Savior-sized chasm drank in:

"The thought of my pain, my homelessness, is bitter poison.
I think of it constantly, and my spirit is depressed.
Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing:
The Lord's unfailing love and mercy still continue."
-Lamentations 3:19-22

Thoughts take us captive and we wonder. 
We wonder why this loving God would allow us to fall into the traps and schemes of the Enemy, the thoughts taken captive by the oppressor rather than the one who frees and loves and reigns forever. Wouldn't it just be easier to be guarded, shielded, taken away from these thoughts that still come, even after we are His for eternity?

The answer?
Did you not read? He asks breathing peace through the pages.
My unfailing love and mercy still continue.

Even in the struggle, the pain, the suffering that beats and bashes the heart into a disfigured question mark as to where our God has gone, 

His love does not fail.

Oh, quite the contrary.

"He is patient with you,
because He does not want anyone to be destroyed,
but wants all to turn away from their sins."
-2 Peter 3:9

He is patient. 

Patient though He cried out on a cross under the furious anguish and unimaginable pain that should have been ours,

Patient though He did all this and we still roll around like helpless swine in our own mess of sin, helpless and bathing in the vile as if there were not something better freely offered.

With outstretched arms He made purity, clean, and perfect possible for us,
and with those same outstretched arms the loving Father eagerly calls to us stumbling like toddlers, trying to walk in freedom, imagining that the full-fledged walking we strive for is an eternity away, even though Daddy calls to us: "My child, eternity is here!"

What patience!

What patience, and what love! Because, "He may bring us sorrow, but His love for us is sure and strong." -Lamentations 3:32

That's right.
His love is strong in the suffering.
 In the sorrow.
 It's the treasure that gleams so bright because in the failure of the struggle, unfailing love always wins.

Every time.

Without fail.

 The love that was on the cross and overcame the sorrow in death and the pain in sin.

Because He is love and He is glorious and He is worthy and He is the biggest and that's all His love is!

"Because He was humble and devoted, God heard Him. But even though He was God's Son, He learned through suffering to be obedient." -Hebrews 5:7-8

Let us learn from a Savior faced with the greatest suffering yet was humble and devoted and reaped obedience, to believe with suffering smiles that God's unfailing love does not fail to help us now, to teach us now, nor will it ever.

No, not even close.

Because in the suffering the love shows it's unfailing-- it is expanded, brought to life, set aflame, proven invincible, defined in a masterpiece from my mess, never faltering, never failing.
Even in the struggle to walk in the freedom we're called to.
Even when we question.
Even when we think it's too much.

Love, He never fails.

Saturday, November 16, 2013


'Tis the season to be overwhelmed.


What overwhelms you?
What is it this moment that crashes over your existence like a tidal wave, that consumes your thoughts, drowns your focus, and rocks your once-sure footing in the sweeping violent undertow, like you don't even know what hit you?


For this heart it is the pieces of paper stapled together into multiple choices and essay questions.
It's the scan-trons bubbled in, and the letters of the alphabet that hold the potential to become perverted into the expression of my worth, and, oh how I hate to admit-- God's ability to answer prayer.

Final exams.

It is the high-stakes fork in the road of this semester: the choice to be overwhelmed.

The overwhelming in itself is not the poison-- its the thing that the heart is overtaken by in its overwhelmed state. 

I chose wrong that Friday morning where the heart beat too fast as the Professor described the Final Exam, as I looked over the chapters we'd gone over and begged the memory to just whip up the concepts like they were fresh once more.

I chose to be overwhelmed by a powerless final exam, by a stack of papers stapled together.

I chose stomach-knotting worry.

I chose fear and doubt.

But this God I love, He is a merciful God, He never closes the door to the path that leads to the overwhelming life of fullness He offers when you just trust Him.

I realized it then: Am I more overwhelmed by His love or by this final exam?

I long to be so overwhelmed by His love and the way it was displayed on a cross and the way He offers it with such abundant grace it'll keep you fuller than a Thanksgiving feast forevermore.

I long to let that glorious, gracious gift of His love overtake my thoughts, to be the reigning factor that every other thing has to compete with.

Because in Him all things are held together regardless of the outcomes of the odd mesh of joy and chaos that is the final exam/holiday season-- because in His love my final outcome, the real outcome, is set in stone and sweeter than anything.

I don't know about you, dear friend, but I would rather be overwhelmed by the vastness of the ocean of eternal, churning, invigorating love than the wanna-be tsunami that is just a ripple in the tide pool of this life by comparison.

This love, it's the real thing to make one become lost in breath, to be wrapped up in, to smile till cheeks burn and know peace that rocks this crazed heart to sleep.

Hunt for His love in the Word, in your life, in His presence-- you'll find it at the cross, and from there you'll find it everywhere in everything.

Be overwhelmed by the only One offering something to truly be overwhelmed by.

Be overwhelmed by the one who keeps you from stumbling,who has the ability to take you into His Holy, Mighty, Glorious presence faultless and filled with joy!!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Praise like Breathing

Few things delight me more,
few things send more sparkling thrills through my spirit as if it were suddenly carbonated with bubbly joy,
few things warmly whisper home in such a satisfying splendor, or are milky smooth like chocolate melting into the hungry heart,

than going on a walk with God.

This grace, of walking to class, to the store--anywhere--and talking to the Mightiest, the Strongest, Love Himself, the Creator and Love of my Life, is the honeyed part of my day that I crave.

And here's the treasure I found in it today: the wind.

Call me silly, or a naive, overly imaginative little girl living in a 20-year-old woman's body, but it seems like whenever I pour out my thanks and praise in this time of prayer, the wind picks up.

The wind picks up and gently plays with my hair, reminds me of its power as it whips across my skin, upturns my lips into a smile as I am reminded once more of its presence in a world where it is not clearly seen, oh but it is felt.

I'd like to think my Maker remembers how he crafted my heart, with its poetic longing to make analogies and metaphors and meaning out of every nuance, detail, and subtle moment. I'd like to think the wind is more than some silly coincidence.

After all, when we're in union with Him, are there really any coincidences?

How when I empty myself in praise I am filled with the reminder that He is there even when I do not see Him-- like the wind.

How when I empty myself in praises I know Him more, sense Him more, feel Him more and there in His presence I see more of His glory and can't help but smile-- like when that good ole wind picks up my hair and turns up the lips into a secret grin.

How when I empty myself in praises I know His power, His ability to make things happen, to move, to direct a symphony of events that seem unrelated but compose a masterpiece of His glory, and all I have to be do is be still and feel this fact on my heart-- like the powerful gust picking up the leaves, wiping its brisk impression across my face and the lessons from God are etched on my heart in the process.

I wrote just twenty-four hours ago about this praise, this thanks.

And today I say again: He.   is.   gracious.

Gracious in that we pour out praises, and that glorious God whom I love, He grants us the priveledge of knowing Him more, seeing Him work, communing with Him, letting Him mold our hearts and open our eyes and be filled.

Praise Him like breathing, after all, it's the gift in this gift of life:
To praise and know the Savior, to be humbled to an instrument of His magnificent glory and praises.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Coping with Being Okay


This "being okay" thing.

What do I do with it?

When I pray and pray for freedom from disordered thoughts being the reigning idols in my life,
 when I seek God's help on the knees, when every shuddering breath and surrendering tear drop are the proclamation that I need His help to conquer this parade of lies once and for all.

And whoa.... it actually happens.

And whoa... I'm surprised that the God of the universe actually did what He'd do.

Now what?

Can you relate, friend?
Did you find your Savior in the deepest pit you've ever been in?
Did you get to know Him in struggles and pain and radical healing of very visible wounds?
Were you chained, hopelessly stained with addiction? An eating disorder?

I was.

And I believed the lie that the struggles were the only place I could find God.
 That I could not know intimacy with a Savior when I was okay. 

In fact, there were times when I strangely feared the coming day when the anorexia was not my security blanket any longer.

But I am not identified as the struggling one who turns to Christ.

No, in Christ my identity is Christ. 

And He was fiercely fighting to free me from the bondage to that wretched disorder, and He shows me every day how that freedom is absolutely possible by His victory.

Then why the anxiety?

Why the anxiety when I stood in line for a meal and didn't agonize over my choice for the first time? 

Why the anxiety when I didn't care about the cookie I ate during prayer group?

Why the anxiety when I took a deep breath and thought, wow, is this what a normal person feels like at meals?

What if my "okay-ness" makes me complacent? What if I lose touch with God? These are the thoughts that rival the taste of freedom.

And those, my friends, are filthy lies from the pit that want to deceive and destroy, to keep me chained to a disorder that died on the cross with Jesus Christ.

I find myself tasting more freedom each day, and I find myself growing in Christ despite those lies. I find myself doing what James said to do in his writings in the New Testament: happy people, praise Him constantly. 

And so I will live here and know that my identity is in Christ.
That it is more than okay to be okay, to dwell in the Lord's victory and praise Him.

Will trials come again? Yes, but I have a Savior there too.

Freedom is not being identified by the struggle, by the past sins, by the successes, but by the name that is above every other name, who conquered sin and crushes the lies that tell me otherwise beneath His mighty victory!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Answer to the Question Everyone is Asking

As the winter winds rolled rambunctious, tangling the locks on my hair and causing rose buds to bloom on the nose and cheeks, and a chatter to erupt within the teeth,

the weight of my purpose was realized. 

What is God's will for my life? 

It's the battle cry of the college student,
the question echoing off the walls of the halls named after co-founders and contributors,
it's the frantic rhythm of keyboards completing assignments in the library,
it's the furrowed brow over coffee as two friends spill their uncertainties.

I live on a campus of people scrambling to answer this question with the declarations of majors and the projected path of careers and engagement rings placed on fingers and job applications and internships.

It's all a big game, I realized one day after a conversation that violently pried open eyes to a truth God was just dying to flood into a heart seeking Him.

Really, these things are not God's ultimate will for my life.

Really, these things are garbage if the ultimate will for my life and your life and all His children's lives is not the thing we're chasing after as avidly as the majors that will get us the jobs that will get us the dream houses and the perfect marriages.

Here it is, what God in His utterly mind-blowing grace showed me: God's will for my life is not to have some job, even if it is a full-time ministry. And God's will for my life is not to have a godly husband either. They may appear along the way, but these are not the answers to the questions about God' will for my life.

No, God's will for my life is to lift His name higher, to bring Him glory in every way. 

That's it.

It's like this world is a great playground where all the things we worry our silly little human heads about are just apparatuses to climb on and props to play games with, but they are just the instruments for the grand plan:
to give the most Holy, most High, most magnificent God all the glory He deserves!

This will is so sweet, this will is so worth savoring and chasing after with a pursuit more passionate than any known before, because it is eternal. Because in Christ, we are eternal.

Why then, would His will be something that dies when we go from this Earth to be with Him?

No, His will is better than all those things. Those things are just the details, the side facts, the miniscule mentionings.

His will is to worship Him with a life where something great is made of Him and we dissolve into the background sweetly, with all joy and peace, as we raise up disciples and praise Him and build His eternal city.

I don't know about you, but that will sounds a lot better than a declared major, a job choice, or an engagement ring.