Friday, June 25, 2010

Shaken not Stirred

I've had this post in my head a couple of days. Only problem is... my head doesn't seem to be working very well of late. So forgive me if this doesn't quite come out as I imagined it.

In the past few weeks, my life has felt like a snow globe in the hands of a 4-year old. Stuff is falling all around. I am upside down. Just when things feel like they might settle for a bit.... here we go again...

Can someone please take me out of that kids hands? And I wonder how much more of this can I realistically handle?

Truth is.. this won't kill me. God has promised to be more than able to meet every need I have. He has promised to take any burden I may be carrying off my shoulders. And He gave Truth and Love as an eternally stable foundation to stand on when everything else is topsy-turvy.

I titled this post shaken not stirred (thank you James Bond) because our lives can feel like they are in the hands of some unseen force (whom I know as God Almighty). We are all on a journey throughout our days. Sometimes we are filled with hope and anticipation, skipping down the path and smiling. While other times, we try and dig our heels in and get dragged along. And sometimes there are stirrings... when we feel nudged to make some changes, or stretched a little outside our box. It's a little uncomfortable, but the stirring is there to blend the things in our lives together, making us more whole.

What happens when it's not stirred? It's shaken. Worse than some small earthquake tremors, the pieces are flying everywhere and you don't know where up is. The only thing you managed to say is "Why?" What is the purpose of this? we ask. Couldn't I just have been stirred again?

I don't know the answers as to why there are times when we are shaken to our very essence, in all the multitude of ways this can happen, and we are forced to examine the damage all around. I have found that sometimes God allows us to be so shaken because we will run to him in a much deeper way. In that place He can love us and set us back on the one True foundation that cannot be shaken. We can see our beliefs for what they are and who they have made us. When we are shaken we see just what falls apart and what is so firmly planted that nothing can move it. God shakes us up and then brushes away the loosened unnecessary, creating space to be filled with the more eternal.

Do I want to be shaken? Not really. Who does? But do I see the hand of God in it? I have to.
Please... little 4-year old..... can you go find something else to play with for a while?

Monday, June 21, 2010

The beauty of true friendship

Treasure... there are so many words that come to mind when considering what this friendship means to me, but it’s the one I come back to time and time again. Treasure. When one thinks of treasure, they might see it as receiving something of great value and that the gift is in the receiving of it, it’s a one time thing... you receive it, you have it, the end. End of responsibility, end of blessings. Blessing. Answered prayers. This is how I see the gift you have offered me. Just when I think our friendship has gone as high and deep as it can go, when it seems love has reached its limit.

This is so much more. There is always more.

That’s what makes this friendship beyond measure – you are my treasure, but the gift of treasuring you is what gives incredible depth to this friendship, it’s what gives me immense joy. We are connected in the Spirit. You seem to know when I am hurting even when I try to hide it. You know when to hold me and keep me from falling and when to let go so I do. God uses your inadequacies for my good. When you smile, my heart bubbles with joy. When you cry (a little too often) I cry with you (a little too often).

Being given this treasure, treasuring it, being entrusted with it, relying on God completely and depending on the constant connection from Him in order to pour into the treasure of you and care for you, to learn how to love you... learning from Him, learning from you, learning from myself... This friendship, it’s a gift from Him, but also to Him... it’s a gift from you, but also to you. In the giving and receiving of this treasure, this gift, I have been thoroughly blessed with lessons on how to love, give, grow, teach, lead, pray, seek, pray, worship... I am honored to spend time on my knees talking to Daddy asking him to bless you. It brings me such pleasure when He whispers in my ear just what you need for the moment. I ask him to continue to bless this friendship. He reminds me to be ever mindful not to take one moment for granted. Each one is a blessing. Each one is fulfilling a greater eternal blessing.

You’re a companion for the autumn of my life, someone who somehow makes the already glorious colors of life intensify into the deepest, most brilliant shades and who sees them the way I do and yet teaches me how to see them from a fresh perspective. I knew the kind of friend I was longing for, but didn’t think I would ever find you. Someone who understood me without much explanation and appreciated all the crazy quirky things about me. Someone who knew the beauty of the 'little things'. You walked in, shining your personal sunshine into the dark places that just needed a little attention and made yourself at home.

It is said that when two or more meet in His name, He is there, and I have seen this, felt this, experienced this every day with you. I’ve felt so incredibly close to Him when I’m with you. His presence is breathtaking. Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. (1 Sam 18:1) My spirit, as well, swells in overwhelming awe of this grand orchestration.

This friendship has shown me and taught me about the relentless passion of God’s love in ways that will never be given justice by mere words. The meaning of this friendship is in the beauty of experiencing it... together... with Him. (((No words….. just my heart…. Just His heart.)))

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Where Are You Running To?

What do you do when you get to the point you feel you have absolutely nothing left to give? All you want to do is crawl into bed and sleep numbly for just a couple hours. But even there... there is no rest. You are tortured by nightmares, flashbacks, and should-have-beens that play unsupervised in your mind. Where do you go?

When I get there... I go running. Out there I can usually hear God a little clearer.

I'm running. I'm angry. I am so angry I am saying the "f" word in my head (sorry Jesus) and wanting to kick or punch a tree (don't worry I didn't). Running... running.... I hear nothing.

I look up to the clouds and think, "The heavens are as steely as the clouds today. Guess God has nothing to say to me today." Then I hear, "Where are you running?"

"I don't know"

"Tia. What are you running to?"

"I said - I.DON'T.KNOW!"

"Do you have a destination? Or are you just running from something?"

(I ponder... a little humbler now)

"If you don't know where you are running TO, you will never be able to stop running. Run into my arms."

"But daddy, something keeps pulling me out of them."

"Keep your eyes on the finish line. You will find rest."

At this point, I turn around and start running back. Just when you think you got nothing left again.... God runs up along side you. (Ok... so I'm pretty sure the guy wasn't really God. But God was making a point) He says, "That was a good pace. Keep it up."

"I'm running out of steam."

"Come on. You just started. I'm on mile 8." He encourages you keep going.

Then for the next little bit we run side by side. "How long you been running?"

"2 years."

"I've been doing this 25. Take a really big deep breathe every now and again you feel a lot better." He reminds you, you are still learning. He's been at this a long time.

He gets you through the middle and then runs on ahead to meet you when you cross the finish line. Into his arms and find your rest.

Life is always moving. We can't stop it. We are in constant motion with it. Do you know your destination?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Hanging onto Hope

Do you ever have Sunday School bible story flashbacks? For me it was the old flannel boards, and Moses never quite would stay up there while God was talking to him through the burning bush. Even all these years later he was still trying to run away.... but I digress...

This week I was out for a run on the most perfect day for running. I had a lot weighing on my heart and I felt its heaviness as I tried to out run it. It happened. I was crossing the street and bang the story of Naaman pops into my head. Do you know that one? I'll get back to it.

Last weekend I felt broken and emotionally so exposed that there was no hope of recovering anything feeling like wholeness again. In fact, God's been drilling the "hope" thing into my heart a lot over the last few months. In areas that were quite arid, there has been the beginnings of tricklings of rains of hope. But this place still reeked of despair. My argument: I've been here before. I've worked to get free of this before. I've begged for relief before. And IT HASN'T WORKED! Look, I'm right back in this same place once again. I will never be free.

How often does that reel play in our heads in all its forms, even when we don't admit it?

That's where I was wondering how do I hope and trust that somehow this time would be different. ...... Enter Naaman.

His story is found in 2 Kings 5. It's always great to go read the whole story for yourself, who knows what God might show you in it, but I will summarize here.

Naaman was the commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a big shot and looked up and God had used him in battle. Only one problem... he got leprosy. In his house was a Jewish servant girl who suggested that if Naaman went to see Elisha he would be cured. So Naaman went. Let me just insert one small point here... this young servant girl was able to give hope to a wealthy leader. Never underestimate that the little you can offer won't be enough to give someone hope. One seed of hope planted is enough.

Eventually, Naaman gets word from a messenger of Elisha to go wash in the Jordan River 7 times and he will be healed. At first, Naaman was furious. He basically says, "Are you kidding me? I thought he would just come out here and wave his hand over me and I would be cured. At the very least couldn't he have picked a cleaner river!" And he stormed off. Just like we do when things don't go exactly the way we want.... the way we planned. He was willing to give up being healed because of pride. I know I have been guilty of that many, many times. I have shaken my fist at God and said Why won't you just take this away. I know you can and you've done it for others. He scooped me up and reminded me that He is God and is not required to play by my rules and as God, He knows what is best.

Once again the servants step in. Those with him stop him and say "Listen, if he told you to do something great you would have done it no problem. But all you have to do is wash, why wouldn't you do it?" And so Naaman goes down to the Jordan and dips in 7 times and comes up clean.

The part of the story that God impressed upon me while I was running isn't actually in the story itself. It's the part between his first dunk in the river and his 7th. He was already kinda pissed when he got to the river. Maybe he thought... he said 7 but now that I'm here it will only take one or two. Dunk 1. Nothing. Dunk 2. Not even a little difference. Dunk 3. Shouldn't I see some improvement? Dunk 4, 5 and 6. Thinking about giving up?

He had to hold onto hope all the way through the 7th time. If he quit on dunk 6, he would not have been healed.

When the world says, "Give up,"
Hope whispers, "Try it one more time."

We must hold onto hope despite the depair. It just might be lap 7 or 24 or 150 that brings the freedom and healing God can give us. And all the laps in between, He's using them for His kingdom and glory. Let us be hope givers and hope tenders, always.

"Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark.” George Iles