I’ve blogged off and on for years now. I’ve written commercially about fitness, how to grow your gym, and how to motivate your clients. Somehow when it came time to write this blog (my first for #ThisIsLiving) I lacked the ability to motivate myself to do it. I’d write a few sentences here and there that I’d quickly go back and delete. I’d stare at my computer screen with the cursor flashing, daring me to write something. I even got a whole paragraph in comparing the spiritual pursuit to running- something that has way more parallels than you can imagine. Yet, I still found every excuse under the sun not to write a blog entry – something I had volunteered to do. Why?
After staring at the blank page for the better part of two months, I came to realize the reason I couldn’t write this is that I feel inadequate to impart any type of spiritual wisdom. I am in no stretch of the imagination what you’d expect a Christian to be. I am tatted up with a half sleeve, live in yoga pants, I curse more than I’d like to, I’ve been divorced, and I loathe the societal stigma that has somehow attached itself to being an Christian. So, who am I to write to you about anything to do with holiness?
…I came to realize the reason I couldn’t write this is that I feel inadequate to impart any type of spiritual wisdom.
On Sunday, the message at church was on Jonah. During which it became abundantly clear that like Jonah, I had been running from doing something that I feel God has called me to do. Don’t you hate that? When people say stuff like that? “God told me.” I used to hate that, too. It sounds totally cliché, but I assure you it is also totally legit. When I say that God called me to write this, I don’t mean I audibly heard him say it. It is more like something on my mind and in my heart that I can’t quite put into words. Obviously, it wasn’t something of my own creating. I’ve fought hard against it. Where is all this leading you’re wondering? Don’t worry I’m finally getting to the main idea.
Like Jonah, I was afraid and I had taken hold of a pagan idea and pretended it was true. I was afraid to put myself out there by writing and being vulnerable. I had taken hold of the pagan idea that Christians are supposed to be perfect. Since I don’t fit that mold, I felt I had no business in writing this. Then I recalled how Hebrew literature depicted some of the best of the best: David, Abraham, Jacob. None of these men were painted to be holier-than-thou and perfect. God used them in their imperfectness, and with their many sinful blemishes, to do amazing things. They knew what I’ve come to realize in writing this and through the message I heard…what I hope you’ll explore as well: “We can keep trying our plan, or we can yield to God” and “Sometimes, the thing you feel uncomfortable doing is the thing God’s called you to do.”
God was there in the beginning and God is Love, but I wasn’t there in the beginning…and I don’t feel that love right now. There are days when it’s hard to love others, but God says that those are the most important days to do just that. I stand with this reality in front of me on those days, and it’s difficult to say yes to a love that I do not see in action in others. I do not exist seeing the fullness of time knowing the eternal insignificance of my anger and the importance of love. I don’t want to see the fullness of time because the momentary affliction is too strong for me to wrap around my mind.
It is not easy to be the one sitting on the inside trying to look out at these issues. When the ones that I am called to love are fighting me at every opportunity they get, how can I be expected to love then? Sometimes I sit and wonder if it wouldn’t just be easier to not love at all. I wonder if I could exist in a world of solitude knowing that I don’t have to be hurt when my brother in Christ turns to me and looks me in the eye and lies. I wonder if it’s easier to exist in a world without commitment and accountability when he takes that advice I give him and spits it in my face. I wonder if it’s easier to love without covenant when my loved ones and I fight to the point where it gets too personal and too direct. When the resistance gets so strong I can’t stand, where is God’s teaching of love?
When the resistance gets so strong I can’t stand, where is God’s teaching of love?
What exactly am I expected to do? I turn to the books and I re-read them, but what I’m reading has lost its meaning long ago. I flip through the pages of my bible looking for the answer but the Spirit sends me back only with the commandment to, “love as I loved first.” These words sting in my ears because they are the very reality I am fighting against. Love. What a word to come from someone I have cursed out in my prayers and yet He stays there. Am I expected to understand the depths of love from Someone who knew my every action while sitting on the outside of time and said yes? How can I stand in between the pain of my brother and the ones I love with this knowledge in my brain and say nothing?
I come back to the depths of my mind and ask, “Where am I to go?” God sends me back to the beginning and asks me where I am. I look into the depths of Him and see myself there. In the beginning of time. When God was love, and I was on His mind. He loved me first, and I chose to fight Him every opportunity I got. He loved me first, and I looked Him in His all-seeing eyes and I lied. He loved me first when I cursed His Spirit as He called my life and made it personal and direct. He loved me first when the resistance got so strong and I said no to the forgiveness of His Son, and yet He still called me back with those three words. Love Me first.
“For in Him we live and move and exist.” – Acts 17:28
Being pregnant, bathroom stops are frequent and unavoidable. I was on a work errand that was further away than I expected, and when I finally exited the interstate, I knew I had to find a pit stop fast. I kept looking at different gas stations, but for some reason, none of them seemed appealing. Honestly, there wasn’t a legitimate reason, each one looked nice. I just found myself continuing to drive, looking for something different. When I saw a Chick-fil-a in sight I figured I could probably use some fruit and a water along with the bathroom break. I stopped and immediately made my way to the restroom.
Walking in, I noticed two workers standing outside the stalls talking. I apologized as I rushed by them, slightly bumping into one. As I was in there, I heard one asking if the other was ok and explaining to her that she looked really pale. I could hear the concern and panic in her voice as she asked a question that stopped me in my tracks: “How far along are you?” My mind immediately went from viewing a young sick girl at work that just needed to go home, to a young pregnant girl that might be having some major complications. The manager then decided to call for an ambulance because the expectant mother could no longer walk and was extremely nauseous.
Continue reading “An Unusual Bathroom Visit”
There I was. Faced with a significant decision to make. One of those life-altering decisions.
Of the two options on the table, only one didn’t look foolish. The “smart” option involved minimal risk. It required zero hard work. There was no chance of failure, embarrassment or heartache. It would be comfortable and safe, and best of all, easy.
I knew which one was the “smart” choice, and I knew which one Jesus was calling me to.
The “smart” choice wasn’t the one Jesus was calling me to.
And I knew I wasn’t being called to make a decision. I was being asked to obey.
Continue reading “No Guarantees But Jesus”
“Will you give me your hopes and dreams?” I heard these words spoken in my spirit several months ago as I was walking out of my house. I was perplexed and annoyed, and my response was, “Really, Lord? After all that’s been going on, that’s all I feel I have left.”
Later, I read the story of the rich ruler in Mark 10:17-27. In this story there was a man of great wealth who eagerly approaches Jesus and asked, how to have eternal life? Jesus explains about keeping the commandments, which the man says he has done from an early age. Then the story says, Jesus looked at the man and loved him. Jesus, tells him to go and sell what he owns and give it to the poor and then to come and follow Him. The man then walked away saddened because he had wealth and things, and he didn’t want to let them go.
Oh, how I can relate. Continue reading “Will You Give Me Your Hopes & Dreams?”
“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23
Nobody does this for me, no accountability partner, friend, child or spouse. “Above all else”, beyond everything else in this world I am to guard my heart. Sounds simple, but dag gum it’s the hardest reality in and throughout most of my days, and I work at a church! Continue reading “Above All Else”