altar’d state

I couldn’t help but title this one ‘altar’d state’ even though it’s the name of a store. 

 

I begged God to send me tools to

Build an altar of remembrance.

Desperate for a place to rest

When my mind often forgets.

he answered me through hallowed ground;

the holy earth opened wide and swallowed

I fell in

I fell into him

into the deep black swirls of mysteries that man hasn’t solved yet.

“What hell is this?”

In a still small voice,

He answered, “build it”

So I took what I had in the pit,

myself,

yielded.

I built from the mud of my suffering,

As I was building,

He was with me

In the soft wet earth under my fingernails

And the grime on my skin

sprinkled gold with his light from heaven

As the altar grew taller

The earth sunk deeper and deeper into herself

Like we all do under suffering.

And I got angry at God

Shaking my fists,

“I asked you to remind me of heaven

Not of this forsakenness”

And his still small voice said,

“This is it.

The upside-down kingdom.”

My suffering was my altar,

Bringing me close to Jesus

Because in an upside-down kingdom,

When suffering takes us under,

And fights to bury us in the earth

We grow closer to heaven.

the weight of glory

Preface: I’ve been learning about the glory of the Lord recently. These are just my honest thoughts about it. They’re messy and confusing to read through, but I needed to write them down. Also, usually by doing so, I can turn them into a poem easier. 

“Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?’ And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, ‘Weep no more; behold the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David has conquered so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.’” Revelation 5:1-5

I’ve been learning more about the glory of the Lord: the magnitude of his limitless power; the astronomic diversity his presence manifests itself; his incomparable holiness that brings man, made of iron and dust, falling to his knees- the weight of his glory.

This is the first time I do not haste when I take a drink. Instead I let the living water touch my cracked and bleeding lips and saturate my skin as I feel matter itself rush down my throat. I drink and I’m satisfied.  I feel the Spirit stirring in the atmosphere, making his presence known and the glory of the Lord illuminate the greyness I often feel. Reflections of light are dancing on the surface of this water because it’s alive.

Because it brings life.

I know this to be true, and that’s why the revelations of holiness concede justified anger. There are so many times when I throw a royal fit and I scream and kick and beat my fists against his solid chest of righteousness because I don’t understand how my loving and gracious Father can let love die between a couple of twenty years, can let a woman taste the force of a man’s fist, can let children be eaten up by their own stomachs…

The list goes on. I don’t comprehend.

Come into play: free will. Not just me, but every single person on earth that has ever lived, lives, and will ever live, has the gift of free will and whether we like to believe it or not, the way I exercise my freedom will often affect your life and vice versa. My God isn’t an advocate for violence or hunger or suffering. He’s an advocate for freedom; He’s given us the freedom to live as we choose.

There is blood on my hands.

But God.

I choose you and I say ‘I do.’ I’m draped in robes of righteousness. I take the weight of glory on as my own, my responsibility to magnify, and it becomes even more pressing. It’s hard to breathe and hard to stand. Your weight of glory is so heavy, God, and I am to bear it? But this weight of glory is something my hands cannot weigh or hold for its overflowing abundance of holiness is something that burns me to the touch. My eyes cannot see it for it is blinding. It’s not a matter of a lacking in human capacity- it’s a matter of humans simply can’t.

It (You) cannot be defined. It (You) cannot be limited.

Come into play: faith.

C.S. Lewis said “This is why He warned people to ‘count the cost’ before becoming Christians.” I’ve learned that this is a radical man’s faith- one that goes against every natural instinct I have. I’ve learned I’m in love with a lamb that is also a lion. I’ve learned there will be a wedding day, but first a war, and like with any war, there will be casualties. I’ve learned that the more I fall in love with the flawless, holy, immaculate character; I discover just how depraved, corrupt, and perverted I am. I’ve learned although I will spend my time in this present flesh striving to reflect your pure blinding light- a light void of darkness- it will never be so.

I remain unworthy.

But that’s why I’m here: because I know you’re the only one who is. It’s a hard process I don’t fully understand, and I can’t articulate it beautifully, or simply, or even at all.  I can’t measure the weight of his glory. And sometimes it sucks. It sucks to play the role of “believer” when all I want to be is the “seer,” but my God, it’s worth it.  For one day, I will see.

two dollars & fifty cents.

Before today I thought that I could write this
and tie some loose ends to emotionally connect me with a Syrian.
But yesterday, as I read through the stories of eighteen humans
who have been blown out of their homes,
I found myself taking breaks on Pinterest
looking at ‘53 Ways to Decorate the Modern Home for Christmas’
because my heart couldn’t handle the photos of shrapnel embroidered children
for an extended period of time.

But that’s the new skin
their mothers kiss
goodnight.

And I’m disgusted at my ignorance
that I thought I could ever relate to a family of seven
living in a junkyard camp,
the taste of iron thick in their mouth,
as if they’re constantly bleeding out
because I’m a “wanderer” too wandering through
my days until graduation
wondering where I’ll be working
in the land of opportunity…
as a white woman…
with an education…
broke, but with more money than two dollars and fifty cents.

I watch their faces as they share their stories and I see bodies
that are slowly returning to God.
Eyes wanting;
spirits burning;
haunted hearts left floating
in the body bag
that transported them across the sea.
I heard the stories of people who have wandered for years in their modern day exodus.
A Syrian man told me he smelled like he was running out of time,
and I thought that was something I could relate with, but listening to his story,
I realized the stench didn’t stick to my clothes the way it stuck to his,
like a little child pulling on your coat, asking “are we there yet?
Daddy, are we there yet?”

God, are we there yet?

No, son, because
home is the barrel of a gun;
home is the mouth of a shark;

home is a friend to whom we write, “Don’t forget me because you’re the one who has changed.”

I heard the story of a woman who watched a man fall from a roof because he couldn’t stand upright any longer.
It hit me in the same way bodies hit pavement; we all wrestle with God.
Knees knocking, I have stood with that man on that roof
because hopelessness doesn’t discriminate.
And I know that somewhere in your twenty something years, you have stood with him too.

Living days wanting to die are days that will reappear in the history of mankind
until death is defeated once and for all.
Until then we wait.
And we wrestle with God,
trying to pull our future from the same hands we feel like sometimes we’re falling through.

And I want you to understand- trust me; I want to understand better too-
that this is why it’s important.
This is why it is our fight too
because it has never been a war against flesh and blood,
but against fear and hopelessness.
And if I’m being honest,
I can’t always see twenty million refugees fitting in the palms of God’s hands.
It’s easy for me to believe that he has forgotten them;
that he blinked and he missed them.
I want to yell at him, beating my fists in the hollows of his chest,
crying out “where are you in the midst of this?”

Emmanuel; God with us, in the midst of this.
God with the milk tea skinned orphans.
God with the widow in her sorrow filled mourning.
God with the man, wringing his hands, choking on the dust of his country.

God with them.

Jehovah Shammah; God is there.
He is there, in the tomorrows the Middle East will raise its weary head to see. He has gone before and only He knows how to get there.

And so where are we?

If we can’t see Him working in this—are we really in their midst?

And that’s the question I’m left with these days. This is the question that I wrestle with and I ask God, where do I belong in this. I personally believe that He is there in the Middle East, working & bringing people to him by his glorious power, and it’s up to us to meet him there (literally or figuratively) and join him. 

Renovate

Somewhere along the way, we’ve placed this “FOR SALE” sign around our neck and we make people believe that we are so notably remarkable that they should pay to look at our exquisite detailed trim when actually the light fixtures have never worked and the sink stopped

Drip

Drip

Dripp

ing

Because the well ran dry quite some time ago.

But if you advertise that it’s new, they will believe it’s new and we will too (I’m new). But I wonder how many regretful tenants it will take for us to realize that we need to change the sign to “UNDERGOING RENNOVATIONS” and let Surrender welcome the hands of another to help.

Yes my dear, these fixtures are nothing to be ashamed of

Found God Crying
I found God crying in the middle of the night
And I asked Him what was wrong
He said “I’m mourning the loss of one of My sheep; a cherished one who once sung My song.
She’s shed off her wool coat
And has cloaked herself in gold
A wild mane to rule the kingdom in
Disregarding her own home

But I can hear her calling out for rest
Desperate for peace for a place to lay her head
But she won’t easily find Me
Until she opens her heart to bleed.”

I knew I was that sheep
When He turned to me and said
“My sweet treasured sheep, when will you come out of the lion’s den?”

Simultaneously

I bit off flower petals
And stood at the shore of the ocean
Beating against my chest
“Am I missed?
Can you hear me in this wilderness?”

Desperate for just one kiss
Of hallelujah
From a perfect pair of broken lips
That understands the ebb and flow of life:
The celebration that follows consumption
With that first breath of air

Simply because it’s a kiss that understands
Supernovas in their climax of light,
Simultaneously exploding,
Ultimately dying
The paradox of a man
Pleading with His final breath
For those who shouted “crucify!”

It’s a kiss that sees me hungry for life at the ocean’s edge
Beating against my chest
Entrenched in the hellish mysteries of wilderness
Lands on my forehead and whispers tenderly
“I’ve been through this.”

Bread

I have this hunger pain whose growls drown out the people trying to feed me

They may as well crucify themselves next to Christ

Because I can’t hear Him either

When He’s begging for my life

“Father, forgive her for she knows not what she has done.

This disbelief came upon her like an ulcer

Layered in worry and stress.

Now here she is, chewing on her own hand

Much easier to eat than this two thousand year old piece of bread

Loosening her belt as a glutton

Yet tightening the noose around her neck.”

It’s taken me too long to see

That I’m feeding this hunger that’s eating me from the inside out

With doubt in the only One who can satisfy me.