agape

Self-sacrificial love is laying your love for that person down at the altar, knowing that they’re not yours to love, and hoping that God will use you to love them.

“God, I love this person. But I know that you love him so much more than I ever will and you can love him so much more sufficiently than I ever could. So, I’m giving my love for him up to you, because you can love him so much better than I can. I trust your ways of loving him more than I do my own. So please use me to fulfill your ways.” Amen.

touching his robe

Never have I ever felt more connected to a biblical character than the woman who sought the hem of Jesus’ robe to be healed in Luke 8.

She wasted her life to find the ultimate source of healing, and when she saw it, she did whatever she could to get to Him, crawling throughout the throngs of people in the streets. And when she touched the edge of His robe and felt His power, I can only imagine she wanted to cling to Him for the rest of her life because she immediately knew she was healed. When He asked (though He already knew) who had touched Him, she told Him incomplete honesty, believing that He would have nothing but the best of intentions for her.

His reply to her simply was “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your disease.”

jehovah shammah

Jehovah Shammah: The Lord is there. This is the last name used for God in the Old Testament in Ezekiel 48:35. It beautifully describes the promise of the Lord’s restoration and faithfulness in our faithlessness. When the Israelites were rebelling against the Lord, God said He would remove His hand from them. And He did, but not completely. His love; grace; and mercy were always there with His people, and He was constantly drawing them to Himself. He promised through the prophet of Ezekiel that He would bring restoration to Israel and they would be the city of Jehovah Shammah.
I am that city. I am constantly failing and doing things for myself and out of the righteous love that I believe I have for others. But thank God that His promise is true. That He is there. He has already redeemed my future and ultimately won the battle. He is holding my hand to walk with Him into tomorrow, even after I already screwed up today Not only that, but He is here. Jesus brought that promise to life when He hung for me- a sinner who nailed Him upon the cross two thousand years ago. He is here. He is holding my hand, constantly drawing me near to Him, inviting me into His glory.

gluttony (lusting)

Habbakuk 2:5

…like death, he never has enough.”

I read this today, and I was full of shame. One thing that has been revealed to my heart lately is that I am not letting Jesus be my satisfaction. I’ve turned gifts into idols: adventure, experience, love, good coffee. They’ve all become idols and they haven’t been satisfying me the way my sweet Jesus does. That’s why when opportunities for adventure have been falling through lately, I’ve been becoming so incredibly sad about it. I’ve been living as death: greedy and ungracious.

But God,

Being rich in His mercy and abundant in His love, is giving me the grace and the faith to believe that He is enough. And because He is a good Abba, He will give me my desires (which are ultimately His desires) without delay, because they will be fulfilled in His perfect timing.

he thinks I’m beautiful

How do I not doubt that you think I’m beautiful when you’ve only told me a handful of times? Because I see it in the way you look at me. Every single time. There is no hesitancy or glossy gaze. You’re enamored. And I don’t say this to be prideful, I say this to say: you look at me like I’m a work of art, delicately crafted with skilled hands, and when I see it in your eyes, it helps me better believe it for myself.

hallelujah

I’ve found my true cry of hallelujah to be born in the complete climax of turmoil with myself. It comes when my acute awareness of my depravity and my soul’s ardent yearning to choose and please Jesus eclipse. And my hallelujah’s cry begins to bleed and shake when I accept failure is inevitable because I’m the epitome of “worst of these.”. But my hallelujah will be made complete when I remember that He has already seen my monstrous unfaithfulness and He’s relentless in loving me just the same.

idolizing clarity

I think we need to learn to be content with obscurity.

We’re completely consumed with praying for God’s will and for His plan to be revealed that we’re not asking for the faith to walk into the fog. God’s will will prevail regardless of our human insolence and our lack of faith in him. The word says “His eyes run to and fro throughout the earth to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.” He doesn’t need us at all. He doesn’t depend on us, but he wants us. He wants us to experience the euphoria of being able to step forth in the fog into an adventure knowing he’s right there with us. Yet when we’re so paralyzed with fear of being out of his will that we don’t take a step in the darkness, what use is our faith? It’s as futile as praying for God to take away our free will (which I am completely guilty of doing). Trust isn’t moving forward when we see him there with a flashlight, it’s moving forward knowing we will see him eventually. A life in love with Jesus is manifested through our actions that prove we trust him.

twenty-seventh of may two thousand fifteen

I’m almost compelled to ask you why are there some days I believe it and some that I don’t. I want to ask you how doubt seeps into my imprint, raising as the water has in this city for the past three weeks, because now it’s drowning me.I want to say ‘what the hell, God? Why don’t you build dams? What happened to your carpenter’s hands? Why us it that I face doubt more than I face you? Why do I see murky waters instead of your reflection?’ What the hell, what is this hell? This back and forth in the waves reminds me of myself and my capacity-as large as the ocean- to wave® back and forth. I hear “imprint” and I almost- I do- get furious because my life isn’t as wonderfully glorious as yours. And you tell me ‘to lead a life so glorious, one among the heavens, you must die first. It’s the upside down kingdom, darling.”

transitions

I wish I could write my prayers on my skin. They would appear on my forearms in lovely gray ink and be something that only I could see. Then I would remember in moments like these to rejoice for an answered prayer rather than believing that my good, good Father is holding out on me.

For this is an answered prayer: He is presenting opportunities in which he can break all of my paradigms of what his faithfulness looks like. He can’t show me how immeasurable his faithfulness is when I’m staying comfortable, for where would my need for him increase?

No one expects to get laid off at twenty, especially when it’s a job in the service industry. Especially, especially, especially. I can think of dozens of them, but the truth is, they don’t matter. If I learned one thing in the service industry, it’s that specialties never last. They are different from truth in that way, always changing.

This transition is only one in one million that I’m facing right now, but as my eucharisteo sings, I’m thankful I have a steadfast God because it gives me the freedom to change. So I’ll sing it as I walk from door to door in the rain, seeing which one opens next. I’ll sing it as I write my prayers on my forearm: “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord, be strong and let your heart take courage; and wait for the Lord.”  I’ll sing to sleep the lies that tell me I’m forgotten, inadequate, and not good enough. And I’ll sing it all to the melody of selah and be forever amazed at a God who brings the greatest exhilaration from trusting in him because I have absolutely no idea what he is doing, but I know whatever it is, that it is good. It isn’t promised to be safe and secure or easy, but it is promised to be good. He is the King after all.

 “And so my prayer is that your story will have involved some leaving and some coming home, some summer and some winter, some roses blooming out like children in a play. My hope is your story will be about changing, about getting something beautiful born inside of you about learning to love a woman or a man, about learning to love a child, about moving yourself around water, around mountains, around friends, about learning to love others more than we love ourselves, about learning oneness as a way of understanding God. We get one story, you and I, and one story alone. God has established the elements, the setting and the climax and the resolution. It would be a crime not to venture out, wouldn’t it?


It might be time for you to go. It might be time to change, to shine out.

I want to repeat one word for you:
Leave.

Roll the word around on your tongue for a bit. It is a beautiful word, isn’t it? So strong and forceful, the way you have always wanted to be. And you will not be alone. You have never been alone. Don’t worry. Everything will still be here when you get back. It is you who will have changed.” Donald Miller, Through Painted Deserts

the upside down kingdom

The pain of change comes and goes in waves. Over the past few days, I’ve found myself getting pulled under. I’m not a strong swimmer, figuratively or in real life, and more often than not, I find myself washed up on the shore, choking on fish water, wondering how on earth I got here.

This last year of my life, I was continuously dared to be a fighter by my truest friends because they loved me enough to not let me stay the same. They were my commissioners on my search for joy, leading me in hard and holy talks about why I couldn’t seem to grasp the fact that I am worthy enough of an abundant life and that with Christ, I’m stronger than the one that fights to take it away. They helped me exercise my belief in hands that can move mountains and a breath of life that can raise the dead, reminding me that Jesus has promised me’ immeasurably more’ because there are ‘greater things in store’ (Ephesians 3:20; John 14:12). They were catalysts in helping me begin the greatest adventure of all: learning to love and be loved.

But twenty-one, all four days of it, has brought on a different sort of feeling. The past few days have been blanketed with the haunting stillness after a fatal storm- change. I can’t blame anyone for the way things have happened; it’s inevitable and relentless, just as I have been and just as I will be. But I am learning this time around that when you’re pulled under the current, fighting the waves can actually make things worse. You will grow anxious and exhausted in the flailing of your arms trying to hold everything you know close. Things will slip, you’ll lose control, and you’ll drown.

Instead this time around, I’m trying to embrace the pull, praying for the grace to see a new perspective of beauty found underneath the water. I’m learning to hold gifts loosely because only good is promised and that is the very essence of Christ himself, nothing else. When I take the humble position of a holy Nazarene man, coming forward to be arrested with wrists outstretched (John 18:4-5), I’m promised someone will be saved, and I believe that someone will start with me.  That’s the way of the radical Upside-down Kingdom: losing your life to find it.

Over My Head by Bethel comes to mind. Definitions of the character traits of God are being redefined, and with that come new definitions of what it means to live.

Here is to a year dedicated to redefining what you already know.