It Is Finished

Earlier this year I thought that starting was the hardest part for me. I said it was. I always had to put more thought into it. It just seemed that it was more work, but I always did it with no problem. As much as I tried to pride myself by saying it was hard it wasn’t. Starting never was. I just didn’t want to admit my faults.

The beginning of the story is perhaps where the most thought occurs, but it is also the easiest thought. I said that starting was the hardest part and then proceeded to not finish at all. Starting may be hard, but at least I can do that. I can’t end at all. Maybe the beginning is difficult sometimes, taking new steps and not knowing where your feet might land. But the end is even more terrifying. The end is the moment you realize that a new beginning is on its way. It’s the way my mind races as I attempt to figure out what to do next, where to go, how to seek hope – how to seek life from its very creator. It’s learning how to move on, how to let go of the old and wondering what the new might bring.

The end is the moment you take things away, when you’re supposed figure out what you’ve learned, when you realize that you can’t always do that. It’s seeing what has been set in front of you the entire time. Starting is thought, it floods my brain but it doesn’t matter nearly as much. Thinking about being vulnerable is not being vulnerable. Thinking about seeking my Savior is not the same as actually seeking Him. And, in truth, that’s what will always be the hardest for me, what I will always need to be reminded of over and over. It’s what will make me start again and again. The end is the hardest part to believe – that there’s nothing more I can do, nothing more I need to do.

It is finished.

And sometimes I just don’t know what to do with that.

 

 

 

 

This is Five Minute Friday. Join the party: http://lisajobaker.com/five-minute-friday/

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On How I Imagine Water

I don’t know why but I always imagined the ocean to be smooth. I always pictured the shore consistently being washed by the tide and then drying as it left. There were waves in my image, yes, but they were calm, peaceful. Long before I even imagined any of it, water has been a symbol of hope, of love, of cleanliness, the washing away of all that stains our broken hearts.

 

But it isn’t always smooth. It isn’t always consistent and it isn’t always calm. And it terrifies me to no end. I always loved water, the kind in pools and lakes, rivers and raindrops, filling my cup, but I hate the ocean. It’s rough and unpredictable and exciting and I hate it. I want peace that doesn’t come with so many waves. I want to imagine that I don’t need that much water.

 

My life flipped upside down a few months ago. I felt as though all of that water was being poured over me all at once. I can be reminded over and over that it was for my own good, and it was. I can feel joy and happiness about what it brought me. But I refuse to be happy about the way it was poured. I go back to that day in my head all the time and I remind myself that the one dunking me in the water did it with good intentions and I like to think that her words didn’t hurt, but they did. And I’m done lying to myself about that.

 

But still, the water washed over my mind and it was thick, like paint, leaving markings of hope and love. It’s like instead of taking things away like I always imagine water to do, it’s putting more on me. It’s better but if I’m being honest, I hardly notice it. It’s made me admit a lot about myself to myself, things I always knew but imagined I could keep hidden. I never expected the water to wash all of that to shore.

 

Maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be. Maybe that is peace or the start of it anyway. It’s not the taking away of the old and unwanted, but bringing in the new and needed. I don’t know, but I do know that it is good. It is everything I imagined it to be and everything I didn’t. It is both calm and rough, both consistent and unpredictable. Water drowns us, but it also quenches thirst.

 

And as much as I hate to admit it, it is good.

Oh

I am not happy today. I am not sad, angry, excited – I can’t figure out how I feel today. I know I feel, I feel so so much. I feel the way my heart beat speeds up when I have to spend fifty dollars on various vitamins and supplements just to get rid of a cold that has been plaguing me for the past three months. I feel the way my hair just barely blows across my face when I am laughing and running outside with the best smalls I know. I feel the way my eyes water when I think about the things I regret most. I feel the pain from when I bite my finger out of stress and the relief from when I stop. I feel life and death, sin and redemption.

Oh to be loved by Jesus. Oh to be loved by Him. Oh to have joy and peace within. Oh to be loved by Him.

This hymn just started playing as I am typing this, like a small whisper saying “This is what you are feeling.” It’s funny how that happens, how as soon as I acknowledge that I don’t know something about myself I learn it. I feel love. I feel the way He provides so that I can get better. I feel the way He brings laughter and sunshine. I feel the way He forgives when I do not. I feel the way He brings hope, the way He chooses to be my Savior daily.

Oh to be loved by Jesus. Oh to be loved by Him. Oh to have joy and peace within.

There’s a certain way the sun shines sometimes that lights up everything and makes it impossible to see all at the same time, like I know of my surroundings but I feel blinded nonetheless. In these moments I know the world is beautiful. I don’t see it, I just know. And I am right, it is. These aren’t necessarily the moments of ecstatic happiness or passionate anger or necessarily anything in between. These are the moments of joy, when my soul tastes the breath of its Savior and it moves through every fiber of my being.

Oh to be loved by Jesus. Oh to be loved by Him.

It’s sweet, the way it feels when my heart sings that Oh. It’s relief, a long journey ending, a coming home. It’s relaxation and excitement all at the same time. It’s my soul dancing around and staying still at the same time because I am free and I grow, but I don’t float away like I always feared I would when storms approached. It is my anchor. It is the way I am inhaling His Spirit and the way I pray it will move. So no, maybe I am not happy today. Maybe I can’t pinpoint any sort of deep emotion, but I can find joy. That’s what there is today. I don’t have a great conclusion or a verse handy to share that would connect all of this in the way a pretty ribbon completes a gift. I don’t have a call to action or anything of the sort. There is joy and there is peace and today, that has to be enough.

Oh to have joy and peace within. Oh to be loved by Him.

 

Happily Ever After

The Old Testament ends with a promise, one that I needed so deeply to hear today, in a passage in Malachi that feeds my soul like no other.

“I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.

This promise is foretold. That’s the thing about promises – we desire them before we even know of them, like the small who doesn’t know he wants ice cream until he hears Do Your Ears Hang Low? playing in the distance. This is the promise that created us.

But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap.

This promise is truth. We all want to say we’d be that person, the one who would be able to stand. I believe we also want to admit that we wouldn’t be able to, because who stands when the earth is trembling under their feet, but we would be lying if we said that sin didn’t run deep through our veins.

He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver.

This promise is ours. It defines every strand of our very souls. This is His gift to us, not only to give us treasures, but to make us into one. And so He came down to us, not only to live at our level, but to push us up to His.

Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years.”

This promise is our offering, our ultimate sacrifice. It is the sacrifice He poured out for us, so we wouldn’t have to. It is Him giving us an offering that will never fail. It is Him turning us toward Him and teaching us how to run.

So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty.

This promise is courage. it is the way we are able to stand when we have the weight of a thousand stones sitting on our shoulders. It is the way He makes our eyes sparkle, like newlyweds sharing their first kiss. It is the way we dance when standing still would be so much easier. This promise is a story given to us by the Writer of the Story of all stories. And as happily ever after has followed me throughout playgrounds and freeways, throughout crowded trampolines and lonely beds, I have learned that all the best stories end with a beginning. This story ends with life abundant; it ends with a love like no other. This promise is our happily ever after: Amen.

 

Baby Names

Most days I’m content to just let the future be. I know that my future has been planned, every detail of it, so I don’t have to worry, but then there are days like today when I sit on Pinterest designing a nursery for a baby who may never exist and I’m suddenly worried it will never happen. Yesterday I didn’t care, but that’s the thing about worry. It doesn’t care about your past or lessons learned, it’s only there to eat away at whatever peace and trust you still cling to. It rots, destroys from the inside out, but there is Hope and that begins by saying this: For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

If I should ever have a daughter, I’d like to call her Esther, so that she may be a star that points to the Heavens. And I’d want her to experience the depth of the King’s guidance, to follow the light of a star much brighter than her own. But when I think about the possibility of something so important being entrusted to me by its very creator, I am petrified. Worry will always come back. It’s at the root of my sin, my deepest struggle. I worry I can’t do this thing called life on my own, and I can’t, but Hope continues: Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.

If I should ever have a daughter, I’d like to caller her Eden, so that she may learn of Perfection. I’d want her to know, to always know, what it’s like to have the Giver of Life breathe into her. I’d want her to know what it’s like to look to Him for comfort when she stresses like I know she will. As much as I want to pass on my faith, I know that sin is inherited, too. I am learning to trust, however, that Hope is stronger than fear and it continues: You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

If I should ever have a daughter I’d like to call her Eve, not so she would be stuck in hiding but so she could know what it’s like to be found. She’ll experience insecurity, she’s my daughter after all, but she’s His even more so. He’ll find her as He found me. She will experience imprisonment, she will know what it is to be broken. But Hope will continue and she will experience freedom and redemption: I will be found by you and will bring you back from captivity.

I plan. I worry because I forget I don’t have to. I either trust or I dream and I’m learning that it’s okay to do both. Before I should ever have a daughter I’d like to learn to call myself these things, always and forever. If I should pass on Hope and Love, I pray I’d pass them together. I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.

If I should ever have a daughter I’d like to call her His, but first, that’s what I’ll call myself.

The Beginning

I don’t know what it is about starting that makes me freeze, but the beginning of something is always the hardest for me. I do know, however, what I want to get out of this.

I want growth. I want to experience something new. I want to change, to become more like Him, the writer of all beginnings.

I want peace. I want to be comforted on this journey. I want to see His control in all things.

I want community. I want to see active joy in the lives of others. I want to love like He loves.

I want to see. I want to look into the world and find my Savior. I want this month to be my Esther, to reflect the gifts of my Savior, as He says “When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”

I want this to be a leap of faith. I want to take chances. I want to trust Him completely.

This is my prayer for the month. I’m starting simple, because I really don’t know how to start. But I’m trusting Him to use this month to His advantage. I’m trusting Him to help me grow in a way that is encouraging to others, in a way that points others to Him because if I’m being honest, I need that, and if I’m also being a bit blunt, so do you.

So here’s to reflection. Here’s to vulnerability. Here’s to nerves and getting them out of the way. I don’t exactly know what this journey will entail, but I hope you’ll join me on it anyway. Maybe we’ll learn something together.

Here’s to Blogging Every Day in April.

Just Us

God blessed me with an amazing opportunity to start sponsoring a darling little girl through World Vision this week. I’ve been having a hard time deciding how to start this post and I think that’s it – the good that God creates where I cannot find any. There is a girl, a family, a community who will be shown the love of Christ through tangible good deeds and I get to be a part of that. I am amazed at how great He truly is and I think that’s what I am coming here with, what I am placing on the table to share, and what I am keeping all at the same time: He is good.

This post feels late to the party and I’d like to start off by saying I’m okay with that. I needed to take some time to process through the events of this week before sharing my thoughts with you. I think that’s fair. This is not me jumping on some sort of bandwagon. This is me still trying to fully understand what I am feeling and being vulnerable in sharing those feelings with you, so bear with me, please.

Earlier this week World Vision released a statement saying that they would not take a side in the Homosexuality vs. The Church issue and that they would allow their American branch to hire employees in same-sex marriages. I think that sounds completely reasonable. The evangelical world, however, was up in arms. It was deemed unfair for World Vision to do this to their sponsors. People began pulling sponsorships left and right and well known evangelists rallied for others to join them in doing so because heaven forbid we serve alongside people with whom we disagree. Thousands of children who were counting on these sponsorships for various life necessities were caught in the middle of a battle that shouldn’t exist in the first place and is in no way their fault. That is not fair.

Like the few other bloggers I have been able to find that are on the same page as me, I feel like I am reading a different Bible than these people. My Bible teaches unconditional love and faithful giving and it is so much better than what I am reading online this week. It brings a hope so much stronger than I think people are willing to share.

When did homosexuality become the end all be all of sin? That’s a boat I don’t recall getting on and I want off. I’m not even convinced it is a sin, but that is almost irrelevant at this point. The point is that there is no such thing as a sinner that cannot be redeemed, there is no such thing as a sin that Christ did not die for. The point is that this is not an us vs. them issue. At least, it shouldn’t be. This should be an us issue. That’s it, just us, because there is no them. This should be us, the Church, reaching out to the world and welcoming it with open arms, welcoming the world, the whole world, to be a part of the us.

Here’s my hope in this: God is unchanging. He knows every single person who has become involved in this issue – the people pulling sponsorships, the people adding sponsorships, the children they’re impacting, you, me – and He is working in all of our lives. I truly believe that.

He sent His son to die specifically for this issue. He died for the people on both sides and those caught in the middle. I truly believe that.

He brought His kingdom down to us so that we may have hope. He is good and loving and faithful. I truly believe all of that.

So this is not me abandoning my faith in any way. I want to make that clear.

I want the evangelism described in my Bible. I want the Church coming together, through disagreements, to reach the world, the whole world. I want us to work as one body to expand our family in Christ. I want to see people remembering who and what God died for. I want to see myself remembering that. I want to see myself actively praying for those who make me so angry. I’m at fault here, too, after all.

If this is how we’re going to react when we disagree, I’m not sure that’s something I can be a part of. If we are going to isolate people, if we are going to look past or over someone because we disagree with who they are, that’s not something I could ever be okay with. If we are going to continue to create a them where there isn’t one, I no longer want to be a part of the us.

I want off of this boat; I feel like it’s going under and I hate the ocean. I’m getting on the boat my Savior is steering because I feel safe in His control and this can’t be it.