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I’m the kind of person who doesn’t worry.

Instead, I PANIC.

This week, I woke up and decided it was high time for some panicking.

Just kidding. But really, I did panic.

It was like for so long I (and we) have been in the dramatic upheaval of marriage and missionary training and moving and starting out support raising that I didn’t have time to panic, only to keep my head above water.

But slowly, things have settled. We’ve unpacked our things. We bought a comforter. Our rings became less shiny and our stuff less new and our marriage less novel, and suddenly I wasn’t just surviving.

And when I finally had enough time to stand and look around, I panicked. Not just panicked, but PANICKED. Like, freaking out, crying, full-blown angry-thrashy-sweaty-nightmare-filled sleep panicked.

Like a child who suddenly realizes they’ve swum into the deep end on accident, I’ve lost my footing. Spluttering, choking, gasping for breath.

How are we ever going to do this? Missionaries? What were we thinking? Really. There are people far smarter, far better, far more spiritual and qualified for this than us. Trust me, we went through training with them.

But here we are. With the title “Missionary” on our marriage license and our tax forms. Doing just that.

But for some reason, God chose us for this. I definitely don’t always appreciate it (last night as we were getting ready for bed, I told Clay that I really wish God could have chosen to make us something more stable, like an office-worker or full-time vacation-taker. He told me the first one isn’t all that stable and the second one doesn’t exist. Dang.) But I know we’re right where we’re supposed to be.

And honestly, it’s a scary place to be. I wish I could say that I wasn’t scared, that I was trusting God completely, that I was at peace. But I’m not. But I’m getting there.

Every day I wake up, I’m dragging these reluctant feet a few more steps, urging this stubborn heart to soften just a little bit more. I’m getting there. I am. I’m just slower than you might expect.

“I believe I will look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13)

I have clung to this verse like it is life itself. To me, it says so much. It says not only will I see the goodness of the Lord, but that I will see it in the land of the living. Did you catch that? I won’t have to wait until heaven. I will see it here. Now.

Oh, that gives me so much hope!

To know that it’s not the interminable waiting. To know that I’m not stuck on “this side of eternity”, a phrase to me that sounds like being a toddler stuck behind the baby gate, watching all the fun happening in the other room.

To know that I can, right now, in this place, in this situation, experience his goodness, no matter how scared or small or insufficient I feel.

I love that. I need that.

I BELIEVE I will look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of living. In the land of missionary support raising. In the land of newly-married-ness. In the land of Columbus, Ohio (aka far, far away from the ministry and the students I love.) In this land, right here, today.

I believe I will.

I believe.

 

 

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I’m getting married in 2 months. Actually, 69 days to be exact. On May 24, 2014, I will make the most solemn vows of my entire life, and officially become Mrs. Clay Selway. I will commit to not only share, but entirely give my money, my possessions, my future, my body, my soul to one man. Forever. No way out.

And he’s not “The One.”

Now, don’t misunderstand me. I love Clay with everything I have. He makes me laugh. He makes the bad days good and the good days better. He challenges me to be a better person, and comforts me when I’ve failed that challenge. He’s the kindest, gentlest, sweetest person I know. He’s my best friend, my hero, and the only man I’d ever want to be my husband.

But he’s still not my soul mate, and definitely not “The One.”

Not that I didn’t spend the first 18 years of my life longing to meet my “One.” Growing up, like any good midwestern girl, I was fed a steady diet of the idealized American romance. One boy, one girl – two star-crossed lovers who fight across space and time to fulfill their destiny of being together. From Disney movies to romance novels, I ate it all up. I had my own copy of “Romeo and Juliet,” that I read until the pages started to fall out. I literally watched “The Princess Bride” so many times I could have recited it in my sleep. I loved it. And I wanted it.

But no matter how I tried, I just couldn’t seem to find it. Even the best boyfriend I had failed my weighty list of expectations. No man in the world seemed like they would ever fulfill the ideal I’d built up. I sat around and lamented to my girlfriends ruefully, “I think God made me a man, but somewhere along the way he got hit by bus.” The humor was a thin veneer for some very thick disappointment.

After wading through the smoking rubble from a broken relationship with someone I thought was “The One”,  I met my now fiance, Clay, through some mutual friends. After a year of friendship, we began a careful dating relationship. 2 years after that, he asked me to be his wife. And in just 2 months, we will become one. But he isn’t “The One.”

You see, Clay will never be “The One.” In fact, I don’t even think there is a “One,” not on this earth at least. The very concept of a “One” implies that there is one, singular person out there that will fulfill every single desire of my heart, meet every single need, and heal every single hurt.

What an incredible burden! Actually, what a crushing burden. No man, not even Clay (and I admit I think he’s the best man out there) could do that. Think of who many needs, wants, desires, and hurts you have – could just one person ever take care of all that?

As a Christian, I believe that human beings have eternal souls. Souls that are filled with an immense, infinite amount of desires and wants. We need to be loved perfectly, to be known perfectly, to be cherished perfectly. But, as the they say “no one’s perfect.” And thus, no one, not even your spouse, no matter how well matched, will ever be able to fulfill you fully.

But our culture has told us this lie, and we’ve ate it up. And so we date, and break up, marry and divorce, all the while searching, searching, searching for someone, anyone to fill this aching hole inside of us. But they can’t. And they don’t. And they never will.

I think C.S. Lewis got it right when he famously said, ““If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

You see, I think we were made for another world. A world with no longing, no sighing, no searching, no pain. No disappointment, no unmet expectations, no broken relationships, no emptiness. A world with a perfect relationship with a perfect God; an Infinite being to fill an infinite need. And though we haven’t lived in that perfect world since Genesis 2, I believe that through Jesus, we can still have that relationship with God. And through Him, even while I struggle through this broken world, I have an infinite source to fill my never-ending need.

This is something Clay and I came to realize before we dated each other, and something we realize a little more every day. Because we both have a relationship with Jesus, we have all of our infinite needs, wants, and desires fulfilled. We don’t have to turn to each other for them.

This means that while I still receive things like love, affection, friendship, and affirmation from Clay, I don’t have to. I don’t demand them, but rather can receive them as a gift. On the bad days (or weeks, or months, or years), I don’t have to receive anything from Clay. Fulfilled in my relationship with God, I can choose to serve Clay when he’s not serving me, give when he’s only taking, and love when he’s nothing but unloveable. And on the good days (which, by God’s grace, will outnumber the bad) I will receive his gentle service, gifts, and love with a sense of undeserving joy and gratitude.

He’s not “The One.” The unchangable, unshakeable, never-failing God is “The One.” And Clay is a wonderful, beautiful, completely undeserved gift given to me by The One.

On May 24, 2014, I will become one with someone I love more than my own body. I will happily join with the one God has given me, and together, as one, we will serve The One.

I’m getting married, and he’s not “The One.” And I’m grateful for that.

Wrestling with the sovereignty of God is never an easy task, even in the abstract. Doing it in the real, everyday, muddy details of life is like trying to thread a needle while riding a bull. Recently, I've been wrestling with this idea, once again. It seems to be a theme of my life this year.

For those who might not know, next year I've taken a position as an intern with Cru at OU, a Christian organization with a focus on sharing the Gospel, disciple-making, and world missions. It's literally a dream job, and I'm so excited to get to go back to the campus I love and share the love of Jesus, full-time.

But, before I go, I face a pretty big challenge. Cru staff, like a lot of other missionary organizations, raise their own financial support, by partnering with individuals and churches. I have to raise my own between now and August 1st. If I don't raise it, I don't go.

This is what's been really tough for me. I can put up post-it's with verses of God's promises of provision. I can memorize passages of Scripture that tell me of how He will not forsake those who seek Him. I can fall on my knees everyday, acknowledging my very real dependance on Him to provide the means for me to fill my mouth with food. All of those things, I am doing. But what's been hard, is acknowledging that He may choose not to.

I haven't even let myself think along these lines. But He could. He could choose not to bring the support in. He could choose, come August 1st, to keep me off staff. (Just writing those words was so hard, I started to cry.)

This is where faith gets real. Yes, it requires real faith to believe that God will provide me the financial support for an entire year. But I think it requires even more to believe that He is good, kind, and loving, even if He chooses to not allow the support to come in.

What will I do, if that happens? Will I hate him, and curse him, like Jonah? Or will I stand with Job, and say, "The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."?

As of now, I'm fairly certain I would curse Him, just to be honest. It would be so excruciating to see yet another dream die, another hope deferred.

But I must, I must, believe that He is in control of ALL things, good and bad. I must believe that He works all things for my ultimate good. I must believe that if He did not spare His own son for me, then neither will He withhold any other sort of good from me, (no matter what I think good looks like.)

Oh, God, change my heart that I might be able to say, no matter what happens this summer, "Blessed be the name of the Lord."

 

Lover, win and woo me.
Healer, bind and soothe me.
Father, love and choose me.

Longing to feel the warmth of the sun on my face, the joy of a soul at rest. Angry at myself for my inability to be who I want. Frustrated at my life for giving me what I don’t want, and withholding what I do.  Bitter, tired, ashamed.

Crying out with the rest of creation, “Come, Lord Jesus, Come!”

    “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
(Matthew 13:44-46 ESV)

Graduation fast approaches, and I’ve been confronted with the choices that follow.  Where will I go? What will I do?

Most days, I wish very badly that I could give the standard answer.  Contrary to popular belief, I am neither brave nor immune to the opinions of others. I wish I could say that I’d taken a job worth bragging rights. I wish I could say that I was moving into an apartment in a trendy part of town.

But I can’t, and I’m not.  As of now, the answers are all in the category of, “I don’t know.”

But I do know.

I’ve found the treasure hidden in the field, the pearl of great value.

Now I’m confronted with what’s next.  Will I sell all that I have to buy it?

Will I trade it in? The approval of my parents, my sisters, my family, my community. The respect of my professors and peers. The comfortable life I was raised to know. The certainty of a husband, children, a career. Everything.

Will I sell all that I have?  The price is high. It is very costly, and very painful, and very hard. Do I believe the pearl, the field, to be worth that much?

I think that I do.

Question: (And this is embarrassing)
You ever been scared you had no idea what you were talking about?
Yeah, me too.
Honestly perplexed.
I’ve lied and so have you, Christians.
Lying.

Like you never had questions?
Like you never had a moment
when your inner dialogues
were all of a sudden in third person like,
“Are you really buying this?”
You’re lying.

Like your eyes are 100% always satisfied by your spouse
and you don’t need accountability
neither of which is biblical, by the way.
YOUR EYES ARE NEVER SATISFIED.
Us, overgrown primates with egos, lying.

You quote the devil when you declare yourself okay!
You get it but you don’t get it.
Like you’ve never planted your Chuck Taylors firmly in the sinking sand…
You’re lying.

We for centuries sing hymns of grace,
and THIS IS WHY IT’S AMAZING!
And if it’s not, you don’t understand…

Or you’re lying.

Which is why your friends don’t believe you.
There is just as much Jesus’ blood on your hand as there is his.
You sure you understand the cross?

Forgive me for asking.
Forgive me for asking.

And Muslims— excuse my boldness— but what if you’re lying, too?
Like you don’t ever have questions?
As if you’ve never wondered why Allah’s ears only hear directionally,
and if you accidentally point it slightly north easterly then you’ve blasphemed?

As if the thought has never crossed your mind
that the Jihad has interpreted the Quran correctly
and you are what we Christians would call ‘lukewarm’?
Which makes you much more like my evanjellyfish churchianity would allow me to admit.
And you call me on it; I’ll deny it, just don’t believe me
because I’m lying.

I strain at gnats; I focus on silliness; I act like God has joined a political party— just like you.

As if you’ve never thought,
“What if I was paralyzed and I can’t make my pilgrimage to Mecca—
yet I follow the text better than my whole family? Is there enough mercy for me?”

Forgive me for asking.
Forgive me for asking.

I know it’s wrong for me to front like I understand your theology
as well as I think I understand mine,
but I know we can agree on this:
Something is deathly wrong with us.

And you, smarty pants, don’t front
Like the little you know about our universe
you ready to draw conclusions about it’s origins?
Maybe we don’t know as much as we think we do…
Science still can’t explain yawning.
Like you never took your world view to it’s furthest conclusions?

That if human behavior is just what protoplasm does at this temperature,
then there is no need for humanitarian effort,
because these atrocities weren’t wrong,
IT’S JUST THE UNIVERSE WEEDING OUT BAD GENES.

Them is fingernail-on-chalkboard words, ain’t ’em?

You’re lying.

Maybe I’m wrong, maybe you’re right.
Maybe we’ll find out the day after the world ends.
Yeah, I guess we’re all a little inconsistent,
SO MAYBE WE CAN JUST SHOW EACH OTHER SOME GRACE.

Forgive me for asking.
Forgive me for asking.
Forgive me for asking.

You ever bury yourself in self-righteous guilt?
[Huh, me too.]

Are there fresh tally marks on the walls of your brain’s prison,
[Mine, too]
hoping that the count of good deeds outnumber the bad ones?

Are your miserable failures your badges of honor?

And when you count those tallies,
and the day the good outnumber the bad,
pat yourself on the back:
YOU HAVE JOINED THE REST OF HUMANITY.
You, too, are lying.

Like you never thought,
“Someone might catch me in my contradiction.”
Yeah, me too.

You ever think to yourself,
“I have no idea what I’m talking about”?
Yeah, me too.

Forgive me for asking.
Forgive me for asking

-by Propaganda

Forgive Me for Asking

On Saturday, I watched two of my friends get married. Everything was beautiful, and it was all a blast, but one part in particular struck me – the beginning. Now, I know that might seem like a silly place to start, but trust me, I’m going somewhere with this.

After all the guests had been escorted in, music began to play. Everyone stopped talking, and an excited hush fell over the church. Slowly, the wedding party began to file in. Mothers, the groom, the groomsmen and the bridesmaids. After everyone was in, the doors to the back of the church closed. The music began to rise, and everyone looked backwards, necks craning, waiting for the bride to make her entrance.

Finally, just as the music hit it’s peak, the doors opened, and everyone stood. The bride stood in the doorway, dressed in white. We all watched as she made her way dow the aisle to the altar, where her groom waited.

As I watched her, the obvious question of “I wonder if that will be me someday,” arose. But then, I thought. “No, that will be US!”

As I looked at the friends who surrounded me, all of whom dearly love the Lord, I realized that one day, we would all be doing this. My mind turned to thoughts of Revelation 19 and 21, and the excitement I had for my two friends turned to excitement for all of us.

One day, Jesus will return, and he will call his Bride, the Church, to come. Made pure by the Blood of the Lamb, we will be clothed in white, ready for our wedding day. The entire universe will watch in eager anticipation as we stand, ready and waiting. The gates of Heavenly Jerusalem will open, and we will be ushered in.

As we make our way in, we will see him.  Sitting at the right hand of the Father, the one who has brought us here. Our savior. Our lover. Our groom. Jesus. And in that first moment when our eyes lock and we see him face to face, everything will change.  Every ounce of suffering, every tear, every cry, will seem like nothing compared to the weight of glory we are now experiencing.

Nothing else matters.  All our tears will be dried, and there will be no more pain, no more crying, no more death. Nothing else matters. Because we are here. He is here. And we are finally together, to be united forever.

And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
(Revelation 21:2-4 ESV)

“Zion” by Jonathan David Hesler

Teddy had it right when he wrote these words. Lately, my joy has been MIA, and I know that comparison is to blame.

It’s really hard to watch your friends do all of the things you want to do – graduate, go on missions trips, join ministry, get married. All of those things I eagerly want, and yet, when I look at myself, I can’t help but to think, “What do I have? A summer at home and then another year of school.”

 My mind starts to race, and runs away.
“They have so much to look forward to – weddings, honeymoons, new jobs, new homes. And what do I have to look forward to? Classes, tests, papers and projects.”

My heart sinks, and my eyes water, and it’s all I can do to hold myself together. And then, no sooner does the wave of jealousy and envy burn in my stomach than a wave of guilt and disgust at my sinfulness hits my like a train.

“Why can’t you just be grateful for what the Lord has given you? What kind of friend are you if you aren’t happy for them? You know this is wrong, so why do you keep doing this? You’re doing a terrible job at being a Christian.”

So there I am, sitting in my living room, wallowing in envy, jealousy, guilt, and self-disgust.

“Oh, wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24)

I know there is but one answer – Jesus. For me, there is one cure for my soul. I need him, his grace, his love. I know this.

I wish I could wrap this up by saying that because I know this, I’ve figured it out. That I’ve found peace, that I’m clinging to Jesus and learning patience. But I haven’t. I don’t know what to do. I’m not sure of my next step.

So if you’re disappointed with your summer, discouraged by your future, disgusted with your sin, I’m right there with you.  And I don’t know what to tell you to do. But I do know one thing – there is grace for this, too.There is grace for my envy, my jealousy, my self-pity and self-disgust. There is grace for my lack of gratitude and my inability to do what I should. There is even grace to cover when I don’t believe that grace will cover my sin.

So no, I don’t know the way out. And yes, I’m still stuck here. But there is grace, and I’m going to cling to that.

“Grace, grace, God’s grace,
grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
grace that is greater than all our sin.”

The Lord has dealt a bitter hand,
and though it fits some theme or plan,
that does not stem the flow of grief
or dry my tears, nor
bring relief.

And though I walk a desert path
God guides me still, and with His staff
He makes a spring from boulders flow
to whet my lips, and heal my soul.

And though this life brings strife and pain
I know that all my loss is gain.
For knowing Christ, and him alone
is enough to bring me, ever home.

Onward, to the Eternal Kingdom march!
with tear-streaked faces
and broken hearts.

Oh, soon, we’ll arrive
in our heavenly home
where our tears will dry
and our hearts will mend
and all things painful will see their end.

So cry, red eyes!
And grieve, sad hearts!

But hope, ever hope,
for Christ’s return
and eternity’s start.

 

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Past Musings