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.

disbelief

I spent my spring break in South Padre. In fact, I’ve spentmy spring break in Padre for the past three years. I’ve seen God move mightily.I’ve seen His scripture come to life, and I’ve felt the breath of the Spiritbreathe life over an island that was damned.

Yet, last week (and this week) I was plagued with disbelief in a way that has never made me so sick.

By disbelief, I mean the belief that falls short in God using me. The belief that says He is holding out on me. The belief that says I have no purpose here. The belief that says I’ll find one somewhere else.

“Help me with my disbelief.” A simple prayer as brutal and honest as the cross that I was wrestling with.

I can’t help but wonder if disbelief was just as much a part of a disciple’s life as belief was. I look at Peter who was close to Jesus, Peter who not only denied Jesus three times, but was the rock on which the church was built. Peter, who went up on a mountain to see Jesus transformed, also went up on a mountain only to fall asleep while praying during one of the most climactic moments in history. Peter, whose feet walked on water with Jesus, also sank out of fear He wouldn’t keep him. A man who physically walked with Jesus battled disbelief.

Isn’t Peter’s lack of trust in Jesus to keep him safe on the water the same as my belief that Jesus is holding out on me? Isn’t all of this disbelief rooted in the lie that He isn’t good? And doesn’t doubting His goodness mean that I’m distrusting the exact manifestation of His existence?Goodness.

Disbelief must be acknowledged in regards to the distrust that burned Eden. “Did God really say?”

It’s easy to play the mute. What believer wants to contradict their character and confess unbelief? But the beauty of all of this is: Jesus was brutally slaughtered on a cross to make it acceptable for a believer to know disbelief. That’s the kind of love I will only find in an upside down kingdom; disbelief begetting belief.

Peter’s lack of faith in Jesus to keep him safe on the water is what led him to pray the shortest, but one of the most powerful prayers in history: “Lord, save!”

As a good Father, God knew I would need more than an explanation for my questions, but an experience to change my questions completely. The crucifixion does that. It takes the focus off my insecurities in myself and nails them to the cross.

Doubt of my purpose transforms into the fact that Jesus wouldn’t have willingly given up Himself for a void life. God wouldn’t have degraded Himself to the form of a man in order to walk with me, if He wanted to withhold good things from me now.

Today, I still pray that prayer. Although the cross took the penalty and the power of sin (anything that separates me from God), I’m still in this world which is full of it. It still grabs at me, and I still willingly give into it sometimes. But He’s not surprised. He doesn’t say “Really? After all these years and all we’ve been through, you still don’t get it?” He walks me quietly to the cross and lets me sit in the presence of belief. Because when He died for me, I think He truly believed that I would say “yes.” And that was enough for Him