Tuesday, April 14, 2009

gripping love

One particular morning last week was spent fighting anger and frustration… hoping that joy would prevail. After a few things caught me off guard and I was a bit edgy, I had a meeting with a flood of details and responsibilities. Jeremy, being the great leader that he is, knew I needed to process and simply let things out. Almost simultaneously to his suggestion to walk, were the tears that began to roll down my face. When we got to the end of the church lot, I almost fell on the grass from emotional exhaustion. This is when things began to surface. I first realized that I have not really gotten away lately… in nature… with God. Things have been building up the last few months I guess and I haven’t had much of a release. So as I began to let out some of these possible reasons for being overwhelmed, it came to my mind that it might not be these at all. You see, it was just all of the details and such that were causing me to be frightened in some way… but it was by those very things that God was drawing me near to him. He allowed that moment to be a breaking point and allowed these things be a tool so that I would fully be able to recognize the end of myself and see His amazing unreal pursuit of me.
As we walked and a truly compelling story of God’s love was shared, I started to see little signs of “wooing” from the Lord. Throughout his story I would see a flower here a something there and God would say, “I grew that for you today.” Then I thought about the spectacular double rainbow that He had given me that very morning. Then I recalled the speaker talking about his wife’s name (Rebecca) meaning captivating and faithful… that’s my middle name. And then I realized that I was captivating to this unbelievably great God. And that even though he would whisper to me to get up and spend time with him and I would respond by just standing there… He continued to run after me in heavy pursuit with all of these beautiful things. My heart began to break as my eyes became truly open to his glory and my heart became full.
On our walk back I had to fall down in the grass again. I could hardly handle this love that I was experiencing. All I wanted to do was lay in a field somewhere and bask in His love and glory. To feel the warmth of the sun and just soak all of this in. Then it really hit me! I was troubled with all of the “details” and “responsibilities” because my heart was not here. He was holding it. Somewhere in all of this processing and realization of His unfathomable love for me, I had completely fallen head over heals for my lover in heaven. I felt as though I finally understood what it was like to be here on earth, but not be here. I began to feel this tension in my heart between just being with my lover and being here on earth living out the purpose he’s called me to live. As Jeremy was praying for me He saw Adam walking in the garden and said that all he had to do was walk around in the garden with the Lord and hang out in communion with God. THAT’S CRAZY AWESOME. I mean, I knew this… but to see how God is wanting me to know this garden experience on earth is so cool. This is my desire… to be in this constant garden with him in the kingdom of heaven in the world. My ultimate heart’s desire of course is just to be with Him in the garden. But knowing I need to be here now… this will do, and it will be spectacular. After the conversation and prayer and revelation I just wanted to run away and be with Him. My heart is so excited for that day when nothing else will be in the way of his pure sweet love for me, but until then… I’ll take as many of these garden moments as I can… and cherish it for eternity.
It’s so unbelievable to me that (like this picture), God reaches out through His kingdom and grabs hold of our heart… desiring that we know this amazing love on earth. I suppose the next step to knowing this love would be to spread it. This great responsibility could be burdensome if this true love isn’t received in the way it was created for. But when the magnitude of this love is realized and accepted, the reply is not only easy but full of joy! The response to this love is a natural outpouring that cannot be contained. It will overflow into all areas of your life… including the uncomfortable ones. The uncomfortable areas are the places we would normally fear to tread. These are the despised, hated, hurtful, crazy, angry, dangerous, risky ones to love. The ones that may never love us- or God- in return. But guess what? We are still called to love them… WITH NO AGENDA. And we don’t ever stop loving them! Jesus didn’t did he? And he never went with a personal agenda other than pointing to the Father. He took His love for us all the way to the cross, then hell and back again. I can’t imagine a deeper more unconditional love than that. You see it’s not always about heaven or hell, but more about this lifelong separation without God thing.
So this evening.. before you rest your head.. think about God’s pursuit of you. And then give Him permission to grab your heart. I have a feeling you’ll never be the same.

no time

There never seems like quite enough time in the day to get done what you want to do, let alone what is pressing and NEEDS to get done. Why is this? Why, in generation of shortcuts and quick solutions, do we need more time? When I was back in the states, i remember a pretty consistent answer i had to the commonly asked question "how are you doing?" to which i would reply "good, busy... but good." As i would ask the question myself and observe other conversations, I found that this type of answer was being said A LOT. One day I felt a little tug from the Lord where he asked me a series of convicting questions..."why are you so busy", "is what youre doing that is more important than me", "when did stuff become more pressing than people?" So... I began to pray into these things to really see what He wanted me to do with this. His solution? Stop giving people that answer. I felt like he was telling me, that even if I was asked that question... and even if i really was busy... that i was not to say it. So I took it out of my vocabulary and the funniest things happened. A- I became less busy... and B- People became more interesting to me and C- they felt more loved bc i was choosing relationships over "stuff" by my answer. This revolutionized everything for me! My "stuff" became stuff again... but would now get done. People became important. I became less busy.
And my relationship with God became more intimate.

What was meant to save time... has now enslaved us to duty. Shortcuts will never effectively accomplish our goals or enrich our lives like going the full mile. God deserves our full heart... people deserve our attention and love...and our thirst for the holy spirit will only become dry if we continue to find other ways of fulfillment rather than the true source.

Deep calls to deep

I've heard it said that we've explored more of the universe than the depths of our own sea. This pretty much blows my mind. Sometimes I wonder why we settle for what is right in front of us instead of searching for more. Do we (in a sense) loose part of the knowledge of what truth is, when we don't go looking for more of it? Just like all of the beautiful life and mysteries that are in the deepest parts of our ocean that will never be found if we don't risk something and go looking for them... is the great mysteries of Christ that we miss out on because of settling for what is being fed to us sunday morning... or for what the bible study leader brings up in class... or what our daily devotion shows us. How many people reading this think there is more to God than what you know right now this very second?? Because there is more... there always is. We will never know ALL of who God is until we are with Him, but we can go deeper on earth. How much it pleases our Father when we dive in to go deep and uncover mysteries! As we find these treasures of wisdom and knowledge of Christ (col 2:2-4) he rewards us with a rich intimacy with Him and a love that surpasses all love.

I feel as though, for quite some time now, God has been calling me to a deeper place with Him. I hear Him whisper, "Daughter, come away with me...let's spend time together" beckoning me with His undying love. I hear Him in the gentle breeze, the warmth of the sun, in laughter, the rivers current, the light rain on my face, the bright stars in the elegant universe.. and almost audibly at times. At these moments i'm captivated by his love and my heart must skip a beat. Sometimes i'm speechless and stand in awe and other times i burst into tears. But every time I answer back "yes Lord, here i am... please send me, thank you for loving me the way you do". In the stillness of this intimate moment nothing else matters but him. The person of Jesus is what drives me to seek Him to love like He loved and to lay down my love completely.

So... for the past few months i've felt this longing to go deeper with Him. God's ben asking me to get up earlier so he can have my first moments and He can be the first to say He loves me. If i wait... it seems that I find mixed messages of love throughout the day and not the TRUE love that he can give me. He is our foundation... and he wants to reveal that to us first thing. (Ps 5:3) This is our precious time with Him to really press in and wait.

Then one night i had a very vivid dream. I was pregnant with Jesus and it was the second coming. When i realized who i was pregnant with, I was overwhelmed and humbled with God using me as such an important vessel of life. When I woke up I started listening to an old sermon of my pastor from nashville and was a little startled when it was about Mary and her humble realization of God using a simple servant like her to bring the King into the world. Please read her poetic response to God in Luke 1: 46-55.
It was pretty evident that the Lord wanting me to go deeper and identify with mary some how. Many more things came up the next few days with mary... whether it was a song, verse or vision. As I was speaking with the base leader, He felt I was supposed to identify with Mary's availability... and that God had unbelievable plans for me if I stayed willing and available to his calling. This will involve much sacrifice, but when we identify with His sacrifice... ours doesn't quite compare does it?

A few nights later I showed the new Invisible Children movie (invisiblechildren.com)
to the students for mission night. Afterwards we asked everyone to go on a walk to not only make an effort to identify in some way with these children who suffer so much but to intercede for them as well. As I began walking i felt like God wanted me to go a step further to identify. I threw off my shoes as I passed by the house and began walking the rocky road with bare feet. The pain was almost unbearable at times as it felt i was walking on broken glass... But as much as this hurt, i knew it compared nothing to what they endure every single day.

As I go deeper I discover more wonderful mysteries of who he is... and the more i enjoy my time with Him. We have a choice. We can settle for a normal mundane life.... or we can search the depths of the infinite universe searching for more truth of who he is and become overwhelmed and captivated by his love, making our existence one that knows no normalcy only an extra-ordinary life full of adventure, and a life that's dedicated to the most creative creator that has ever humbled himself to walk this earth.... this journey with us, his creation... his children... his pursuit.

I leave you with this: "Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me. By day the Lord commands his standfast love, and at night His song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life" Ps 42: 7 & 8

Hold on

I hardly know where to begin with this blog because it's so packed full of little treasures that i truly hope will be used to encourage your spirit to acknowledge and hold firmly to the promises of God. It's pretty fantastic how God can speak to us through nature, symbols, visions, and stories. And even more insane when he uses all of those things at once. This story began the day i landed on this isle and the exciting adventure continues...

The familiar story of the rainbow that began way before our time involved a man and a strong calling, lots of rain, a family, a bunch of animals, death, a dove, lots of poo, an ark, a promise in the form of a rainbow.... and new life. Most of us have heard this story a million times and in some ways it's become mundane. In my case, God has brought this story back to life.

Many years ago in Nashville I had a dream of a tornado the same night as a good friend. The following day we realized the significance and decided to look it up. We did some research and realized that tornadoes in dreams could mean that the ground was being dug up, the soil was being turned.. so that new things could grow. This made so much sense in both of our lives at that time. Right after that we went swimming. As we were visiting, I began to read from a little devo book and couldnt believe what i was reading. The verse (which i have not been able to find since) was about a tornado/ storm and something about how he used it for his good. The devo was about a man on a mountain overlooking the aftermath of a tornado. This man was upset as he asked God "why"? Why all of the destruction and pain? The next day the man went up on top of the mountain again and began to see all of these new beautiful things things that were now growing because of the storm that took away the old and uncovered the new. He realized that God did know what was best for us, and that even though things seem painful at the time... He's allowing it to make room for life. As we were reading this devotion the clouds began to almost circle above our heads. We stood there in a long pause of AWE before we ran to the car to escape the rain. As we drove away I told her of what God showed me through rainbows years before that.... and that they are always there in the sky, we just don't see them unless the conditions are just right. It usually takes the Sun, rain... reflection and perspective. Just like rainbows are God's promises. We have evidence in the story of Noah as we do still today. God's promises are solid... they are always there, but sometimes we fail to see them unless the conditions are just right. Our perspective plays a huge part in this... are we going to choose to seek His promises through the perspective of our salvation in Christ?? Or believe the lies that contradict all of the beautiful colors of who He says He is?? And sometimes it's the reflection of his promises we see through our tears and the brightness of the Son. Nevertheless, remember that they are behind the clouds you see in front of you... His promises are TRUE AND STRONG. Sometimes when we think we can't see or hear Him we tend to doubt Him. Why do we continue to stand on the ground as the waters rise screaming out to God "where are you, where are you??", instead of walking on to the ark of safety He's created that's right behind you? Or maybe some of us have accepted His will and are on the ark screaming "how long God, how long?" How much do we miss out on because we are so busy searching for God instead of simply believing what He said in the beginning to be true and following through with His calling on our lives?

As i was finished telling my friend this story I mentioned how cool it would be if we saw a rainbow. Right at that moment at the stop light a big truck turned in front of us and plastered on the side was a GIGANTIC RAINBOW. I love God's sense of humor and precise timing :)

Moving on to present time: The first week I was here in New Zealand I had a dream about a tornado and a flood. The tornado was most likely representing God's powerful presence rooting up the soil in our lives - turning it because it's gotten stale and nothing can grow. And the flood seemed to be the holy spirit saturating our life. Several others dreamed of rivers flooding, etc. Not to mention it had been raining non-stop. Other staff got visions of God raining down, that we would all be drowned in his mercy and hold on to the promises. From the building of the new building, to the raft race our staff participated in, to a guy named noah who was going to help with a ministry we had... I felt like God was trying to tell us something. One day we had a time where we were drawing pictures of visions on a giant piece of paper and I found one more empty place and began drawing an ark, a flood and a rainbow. As I'm drawing it i realize there were already raindrops coming down, then someone started praying that we would be drowned in his grace and mercy, then as i was drawing the rainbow someone else was praying we'd hold on to his promises! Then someone else had the vision of Spring- a new season for us and the students... and I had the vision of God's glory shining through the clouds with a rainbow on the other side. The next few weeks was God showing me rainbows all over the place! I've heard songs about rainbows... seen pictures... and even in the square in downtown Christchurch where we do ministry was a huge rainbow made out of flowers. (As we were doing ministry there one night we began to draw an ark underneath that rainbow and struck up many conversations as they helped us draw the animals in chalk:)

One day there was a group of backpackers who took a hike up to Mt. Oxford. They came back with a beautiful picture of a rainbow over Oxford which we could not see... but they could from a "higher perspective". Since then, i've seen REAL rainbows almost everywhere I go! God is so good, He loves you and will NOT forsake you! Hold on to his promises- believe He is who He says He is!

dusty wings.

I picked the dying butterfly up off the garage floor in a heroic attempt to save it's life. All i did was wipe the colorful dust of it's wings. I couldn't bare to watch this beautiful creature die all alone on the floor of a dismal garage, so i took it to higher ground. I took it to the exact place i'd want to be when i die. I delicately placed the insect on top of a flower overlooking the sunset.

You know, I don't want to waste my last few breaths talking to friend on the phone, trying to get my mom to see my point of view, reading the latest best-seller, or shopping for a new dress. No, i think i'd spend it here. In this place. Doing absolutely nothing... but taking my last breath praising the one who gave me life.

And as i watched the sun disappear into the horizon i would quietly reflect on this life i'd lived to the fullest, letting go of my temporary past...embracing the eternal bliss that awaits me on the other side of the sun (son).

i keep wondering why that butterflies dust was rubbing off on my hands... then it hit me. butterflies werent meant to be held. they were meant to fly.