Nature

I am completely lost, and I mean that literally, not in the sense of not knowing where my life or my soul is going. I mean, I don’t entirely know where my life is going, but you’re not supposed to, I think. It’s just one of those things. I’m lost a lot though, literally and metaphorically (if that’s even the right word). It’s in my nature, I guess.

Being lost is usually something I would spend time writing about. I do that a lot – write about what I don’t know rather than what I do. Because, frankly, the rule “write what you know” is stupid to even exist and maybe writing about all the things I don’t know will help me understand them. Usually that’s the order my mind goes: Question. Write. Understand.

But sometimes there are things I do understand first. And I have to write them anyway, as a reminder for myself but also for you, dear friend, because I want you to understand them as well.

So, for once, here’s what I know:

I know that the people I’ve seen around here have a purpose – the man walking his dog, the police officers ticketing cars, the women kissing on the street corner. We’re all loved, we’re all here. I know that we’re all offered, given rather, grace. And we all have a habit of using too many unnecessary words to confuse that, but it really is that simple.

We’ve confused a lot.

I recently listened to a man speak about heaven and salvation and it should have been good, but it was disappointing at best. He shared about a man who had recently passed, someone who had chosen Jesus as his savior. And he questioned the man’s salvation because there were some sins he just couldn’t fight off.

I watched as people’s hearts streamed out of their eyes, as they questioned their own salvation. because they didn’t do this or they did do that. But that’s the point of having a savior, we don’t have to be perfect. He isn’t a question, He’s an answer.

Because we all get swept up in battle grounds and sometimes we’re soldiers and sometimes, more often, we’re civilians. We watch the explosions, the breaking of souls – our own at first, and then others, because we don’t always know what else to do. We let ourselves be mended and we can rest in that.

Because this is what I know:

It is impossible for our souls to re-break. You cannot be unsaved.

I found a bench to sit on while I wait. I’ll watch the world around me and I’ll think of the ways I work with it and I’ll know that I am more than that.

Because, while I’m lost a lot, I’m always found. It’s in my nature, I guess.

And that is not up for debate.

On my new tattoos

Over the weekend I got my second and third tattoos. It was important to me that I got them together.

cross tattooThe first is a cross because I will always need a reminder of God’s love for me, of His ultimate sacrifice. As His word says, “…God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.” Nothing better has happened in human history.

We hear so often that the world was created and the world broke, shattered by the depths of our imperfections, but we don’t hear often enough of how the world was saved. We don’t question enough why the worst thing that could happen to a person happened to the perfect person. To not do so is selfish, it’s us thinking only of ourselves. We become our own idols and we can’t live that way. It’s impossible to breathe if you refuse to let the oxygen into your lungs. It’s impossible to stand while refusing to let your legs hold you up.

We were created with galaxies roaring inside of us, with stars so bright we could see all the way up to the heavens above. And when those stars burned out we died, buried by our sin, and He took His cross and used it to give them light again.

The cross is a symbol of how He saved us all. He’s not my savior because He died. He’s not my savior because He rose again. He’s my savior because He’s taking me with Him. The cross is for me, so that I may have a ladder that leads directly to Him.

Fish tattoo

The second is what’s known as a “Jesus Fish” and is often seen as a cliche in the world of tattoos. And maybe it is, but what it represents is anything but. The idea behind it is not used nearly enough.

Historically, it was a symbol used to mark a safe place for Christians in severe danger. Today it’s more simply used to label a disciple. I don’t think it should end there though. It’s not enough to call myself a follower of Christ if I don’t live it out. I can’t keep all of the air for myself.

When He rose He told us to go and make disciples of all nations. Who am I to not listen? TO not do so is to be the child who breaks their toys so that no one else may play with them. It doesn’t make sense. It is the greatest blessing to get to be a part of God’s redemption plan.

I don’t believe He would reignite our stars if He didn’t want them to shine. He’s not my savior because He died. He’s not my savior because He rose again. He’s my savior because He’s taking me with Him. And He can take you, too, if you wish. The fish is for you, so that you may know you are safe to ask me where my ladder can be found.

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.

 

 

 

 

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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.

The Tower of Babel

They said to each other, “Come.”

The world’s people, all moving as one, came together and they built. They built their own thrones.

Then they said, “Come.”

They named themselves. They defined their very souls. They reached and they reached and they reached. The sky seemed like it was always getting closer, as they made themselves higher. It was beautiful, right?

The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” – Genesis 11:6-7

Come, let us go down and confuse.

Why?

That’s where I always get stuck.

Why?

Why was it necessary to tear down the tower we built for ourselves? Why erase the beauty we created?

Because maybe there is some truth in a few cliches. Maybe beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Maybe in a world full of blackness any shade of grey would be blindingly bright, but that doesn’t make it the sun.

They said to each other, “Come.”

But there was no movement. They didn’t come together, they were stuck together, and they attempted to piece together Comfort and Joy where they were foreign. They built their own thrones out of the golden lies that sheltered their childhoods.

Then they said, “Come.”

They defined themselves by who they were, not who they were meant to be. They never knew a difference. And I think that alone answers any why.

I build my own tower and He knocks it down before it’s tall enough to fall and hurt me. I get angry. I build it again. He knocks it down again. Again, I am furious. I question Him, “Why do you do this?” And he answers, “They never knew.” I realize the difference between them and me: They never knew.

They never knew the peace that is sitting in the arms of Someone enthroned in Truth.

They never knew their souls were called beloved.

The sky never moved for them, they just couldn’t comprehend its vastness.

And they never knew because they never questioned.

There it is. A question. The one thing we were never meant to have to face, that now guides us through every darkened alley. We were created in a world full of answers – a world full of so much truth the questions didn’t need to be. Sometimes I forget that things can be better, that things are supposed to be better. Sometimes I forget I’m not home.

How do I go home if I don’t know I’m gone? I don’t.

He comes to me and invites me back, but I stop to question Him before I go. “Why are you here? Who are you?”

That’s a question they never knew they could ask. They never knew their Savior; they never knew their way back home. They never went with Him because they never understood they were lost.

Confusion stops to greet me and I try to ignore it. It seems a little rough around the edges and I wonder what it wants with me. I expect it to attack me and it doesn’t, but it also doesn’t leave me alone. With every wrong turn I make it is there, pestering me Where are you? Confusion never seems content until everything lost is found.

We are beings made in a world full of possibilities, yet lost and wandering through the dark. Maybe, in this house we have built for ourselves – the one we forget isn’t home – confusion isn’t something God did to us, but rather something God did for us. Because He didn’t just leave it on our front porch and run.

No, the Lord said, “Come.”