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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 apologize if it seems all I write about any more is my wedding. It’s consumed my thoughts and thus my writing. That said, I’m going to talk about it some more.

A week from today, I’ll be getting married. A year ago at this time, I was dealing with the emotions of realizing that it was going to be at least a year before I got married. At first, it made me upset. I was finally engaged, and now I had to wait some more?!

It made me angry, and a little bit sorry for myself. I’d long ago learned that complete honesty in prayer with the Lord was better than half-hearted but religious platitudes. At the time, I couldn’t pray that He would make me happy to wait. I just couldn’t.

So instead, I prayed that the longing I felt to be married to Clay would teach my heart what it really means to long for Jesus’ return.

If that seems like a non-sequitar, let me explain;

Throughout the Bible, God’s relationship with his people is depicted as being like that of a husband and a wife.

In the very beginning, in Genesis, it is said that God created humans, both men and women, “in the image of God,” meaning that they, at their very essence, reflect key things about who God is and what He is like. Man is made first, and then women is created for man, to be his mate.
“The man said ‘This [woman] is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’for she was taken out of man.’ That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” – Genesis 2:32,24:

Later, God continually refers to himself as a “husband” to his chosen people, Israel.

“In that day,” declares the LORD, “you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master.'” (Hosea 2:16)
“For your Maker is your husband– the LORD Almighty is his name” -(Isaiah 54:5)
“”Return, faithless people,” declares  the LORD, “for I am your husband.” (Jer 3:14 )

In the New Testament, the references continue, now with Jesus being referred to as the “bridegroom” to his faithful people. Paul even goes so far as to say that the major reason that God created marriage like He did was to provide us with a living picture of himself;
” ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery – but I am saying it refers to Christ and the church.” – Ephesians 5:31,32

Finally, the references conclude in the final book of the Bible, Revelations. In this book, the future return of Jesus is described as  “wedding” – where the Groom, Jesus, will finally, once and for all, be fully united to the people who have chosen to love Him – His Bride, the Church.  (Revelation 19, 21)

This picture has long been one of my favorites. It brings tears to my eyes to imagine the day when Jesus returns;
A triumphant Groom, the long, weary battle won, comes to claim His radiant bride and take her away to live with Him forever.

But for now, we live in the waiting period. As His church, we are engaged to Him – but the final marriage hasn’t come yet. And it is oh-so-hard.

I know that feeling.

I’ve been engaged for over 14 months now. I understand what it means to wait. Fortunately, God has been kind to me, and I actually really enjoyed the majority of my engagement.  In fact, I often wished it would slow down – I was comfortable being engaged. Liked it, actually. I didn’t see the need to hurry my wedding! Sometimes, in the middle of all the “engagement” and wedding planning activities, I would forget I was even getting married! But still, I often prayed that it would teach me what it meant to really long for Jesus’ return. And for most of my engagement, I felt like that prayer went unanswered. In the past two weeks, though, something changed.

Two weeks ago, I moved home to begin working on support and finish up wedding details, while Clay stayed behind in Athens to work. Of course, I miss him terribly. And somewhere, in the middle of that, my heart started to shift.

This past week, I’ve acutely felt the longing just to be with Clay. I want my wedding to hurry up and get here – not because I want to wear a pretty dress, or put my hair up, or even to celebrate with loved ones – but because my wedding will mean he’ll be here, with me. I’ll be able to not just hear him – but see him. Touch him. Be with him. And I won’t have to say goodbye.

That’s what it means to long for Jesus’ return.

So often, we get trapped up in the insignificant and the momentary, we lose sight of the eternal. We get comfortable on this earth – enjoy it even.  We occupy ourselves with things, good things even – family, church, ministry, jobs – and forget what we’re really waiting for.

How often have you heard someone say, (or perhaps even said it yourself) “I’m not ready for Jesus to come back, I haven’t (insert unfulfilled desire here) yet,” ?

What silliness! What bride should say, “I’m not ready for my wedding, I haven’t cleaned the grout in my bathroom yet,”?!?

None of the things we think we’re waiting for could be better than spending eternity in Heaven with the God who loves us more than any groom has ever loved any bride. 

I don’t long for Jesus’ return the way I should. I don’t ache for Heaven with the intensity and the fervor that I should. And this side of Heaven, I probably never will.

But in this gift of my year-long engagement, I have learned a little bit how I ought to. A little more of my heart everyday is learning to cry, “Maranatha! – Come, Lord Jesus, Come!”

Yes – Come, Lord Jesus, Come.

Almost 4 years ago, I wrote this post about being a Christian with ADHD. It made much more of a splash than I could have imagined, and I still receive comments and emails about it almost weekly. I’m still stunned that something I wrote in an attitude of humorous exasperation over my own personal condition has been so helpful to so many people!

That said, I’ve learned a lot in 4 years. I still stand behind everything that I wrote in that initial post, but I want to make some clarifications that I hope everyone, including those who don’t have ADHD/ADD, will find helpful!

1. My condition is not a mistake, but it’s not “how God intended” me either.
I hear people say this a lot, and I know their intent is good, but it irks me. Yes, this is technically “how God made me.” But I am of the firm belief that this is not how he intended me, at least not in the sense of how he intended humanity to be. It’s like looking at a person paralyzed from birth and saying, “That’s ok, it’s how God made you!” Technically, you’re right, but it’s not very nice to say, and it actually communicates a pretty serious falsehood about who God is and what He wants for us.

You see, without going into a full-blown explanation of Genesis, when God created the world, everything was perfect. When Adam and Eve first sinned, everything was thrown into chaos. From then on, the world we live in has been fundamentally broken. My messed-up brain chemistry is just another example of that. Yes, God is sovereign and knew it was going to happen. But He didn’t intentionally create me this way, and He won’t keep me this way. One day, I’ll have a new body, and I’m pretty sure it won’t include a brain with ADHD. Which will be awesome.

2. My condition makes my spiritual life different, but it’s not an excuse for a lack of spiritual discipline or maturity.
So I have a hard time focusing, my ability to sit still is limited, and I struggle with consistency. These things mean that my spiritual life will always look differently from someone with a normal brain, but I truly believe that they don’t give me license not to try. I won’t go into detail about the things that I’ve found helpful for maintaining spiritual disciplines (stay tuned for “Part 3” for that), but I will say that there are things that I’ve found helpful. I am fully capable of studying the Bible daily, praying consistently, and engage in group settings to grow.

3. My condition is NOT an excuse for sin.
I think this point is pretty self-explanatory, but I will elaborate. As tempted as I am to blame my sin on my ADHD, I know that’s not right. While it’s true that my propensity towards being impatient is caused by my ADHD, it doesn’t give me a free pass to selfishly force others to hurry up, not follow proper procedures, or otherwise make rash decisions. Yes, I hate waiting. I hate it more than I hate almost anything else in life. But the scriptures tell us, again and again, “be patient!” It’s one of the fruits of the Spirit. I don’t get to just excuse my lack of it as a “brain chemistry thing” and waltz on by. It just means that I’m going to have to pray more, repent more, try more.
I don’t get a free pass to sin, I get another opportunity to repent and rely on God to help me do what I know I cannot do on my own. 

4. I am fully capable of being a successful, mature, responsible adult who walks by faith and fulfills God’s purpose for my life.
My life will look different. I will probably never stop losing things. I will almost certainly need daily medication life-long. But I can, and I WILL be the person God made me to be. With the proper medication, a good support system, healthy Scriptural teaching, and a daily dependence on God – I can be all of the the above. I can have a life full of the good things that come from trusting God and working hard. I can learn to live life in the ways that God has prescribed. I can learn to let the truth change me for good. I can, as Jesus commanded us, “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Not even the most severe ADHD could stop that. And I’m grateful for that.

5. The prescription for how to live the Christian life with ADD/ADHD is GRACE
For YEARS, I wondered how to live the Christian life as a woman with ADHD. And then one day, when I wasn’t even looking for the answer, it hit me – GRACE. Grace, grace, grace, and more grace. The answer of how to live the Christian life as a person with ADHD/ADD is the same answer of how ANYONE is to live the Christian life. We’re not special, and we’re not different. We’re sinners, and we’re desperately in need of grace.

I might sin differently because of my ADHD, but it doesn’t nullify God’s grace. I am to repent and cast myself into His arms, same as anyone else. And I know that He will accept me, because Jesus died for that. He died for my failure to be patient, for my volatile mood swings, for my lack of self control, for my wandering affections. He died for my sin. And He died that one day, I might see Him as He is – beautiful, loving, ever-patient, slow to anger and full of steadfast love and mercy. For now, I see that only in part. But one day, I will see that in full. And in that day, my brain will be healed, along with my body. I will be perfectly patient, perfectly at peace, perfectly controlled, and all my affections will be set in their rightful place – with Him, in a never-ending day of praise to the King of the Universe.

Looking forward to that day, right alongside you. Until then, Brothers and Sisters, take heart in this –
“…I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12

I hope for heaven. All my longings and desires are pointing there, pulling there, drawing me ever forward.

Because of heaven, I can live with the fact that my earthly body is permanently broken and often in pain. I have a sure hope that one day, I’ll be in a body that is perfect and whole.

Because of heaven, I can live free from the fear of losing the ones I love. I don’t fear for my fiance’s safety, my friend’s cancer. My fiance and my friend will live eternally in heaven with me. Even if I have to live the next 60+ years without them, those years of missing them will pale in comparison to an eternity with them.

Because of heaven, I can put aside lesser things that I love in favor of greater things that God loves. I can forgo a large salary to take a job that serves God’s kingdom. I can give up stability and safety to do what God asks me to do, when He asks me to do it. I can forgo living near my family, seeing my dear friends, living in the places that I love, in order that I might share the Gospel with those who most need it. I can even give up my own life, because I know that nothing I say “No” to now will compare to the infinite “Yes’s” that I will have in eternity.

Because of heaven, I walk in peace, sleep in comfort, and live in joy. Nothing – from a bad day to incurable cancer – can touch me. A present comfort with a promised future. I am, of all people, the most truly free.

“But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” – Hebrews 11:16

Oh, how I’m longing for a better country. It’s been one of those weeks where I’ve acutely felt the ache of living in a fallen, broken world. A beautiful, but broken world.

A freshmen student at OU lost his life just days after moving in. A good friend was diagnosed with a brain tumor. My sweet great-grandma passed away.

At night, I lay awake and stared at the sliver of light creeping under the door and prayed. I prayed for the students I work with, my family, my dear friend. I prayed for hope, for healing, for comfort. But all the while, my deepest ache was crying, “Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus, come!”

I know that all my prayers are temporary. No matter what I pray, decay is an inevitable part of living in a world of entropy. Death will come to claim us all, tomorrow or 50 years from now.

And no matter what anyone claims, we were never meant to die. We were never meant to be separated from the ones we love, or the One who loves us. Our eternal souls were made for eternity. To experience anything less is excruciating.

They were longing for a better country.” Come, Lord Jesus, come, and with it bring Your eternal kingdom!

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

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.”

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Past Musings