Sunday, July 20, 2008

One Week, and All Eternity

It has been a week. One beautifully crazy, busy, insane, life-changing week. The kind of week that reminds me of my travels and foretells future comings and goings.

I drove 673 miles in the BluVader. Without air conditioning.

I spent 45 minutes sharing with a Muslim customer that Jesus Christ is, indeed, fully God and fully man.

I slept one night on a couch, three nights on the floor in a church sanctuary, one night sharing space with a girlfriend, and two nights in my own bed.

I ate four meals at home, five at Starbucks, one in Wal-mart, and one in a gas station.

I watched God withhold sufficient preparation (in both time and content), and then place words in my mouth as I shared with 50 girls that Christ is always good, always faithful, and fully satisfies, even when His goodness feels like pain.

I participated in our annual shaving cream fight, directly followed by a plunge into a nasty pond.

I prayed for my mentor who underwent open heart surgery in the physical realm while I underwent it in the spiritual realm.

I saw God draw a precious 12-year-old girl to Himself as she surrendered control of her life to Christ.

I danced in my chair to the "Numa Numa" song.

I smiled as God actively rearranged my priority lists. I only took 400 pictures, only wrote 14 pages in my journal, and only spent 120 minutes with my cell phone to my ear... but spent at least three hours every day in heart-level, face-to-face conversation with the real people in front of me.

I smiled at and captured portraits of girls who, firmly confident of their position as daughters of the Most High King, applied make-up, primped and dressed up, and walked in gentle beauty because of that princess position.

I saw God make beauty from the ashes of pain in my heart. I saw Him tenderly and faithfully break what sin had built and heal what sin had broken inside of me.

I spent a lot of time with good friends. I tackled and wrestled Meredith in wet grass. I jammed with Holly. I laughed and reminisced under the stars with Kathryn. I saran-wrapped a car with Natalie. I washed Jenn's feet, and sobbed for joy at the precious privilege of sharing such friendship. I spent a whirlwind 24-hours with Christina in coffee shops, playing with Canons and Macs, and enjoying our random kindred-spirit relationship. I enjoyed a ride from and to DC with Jonny. I spend many precious moments on my knees in prayer with Linz. I finally had a phone conversation with Sara. I ran into friends at coffee shops, picked up friends at airports, talked until 1:30am with friends in my kitchen, took pictures of friends, took pictures with friends, and enjoyed the mutual fellowship that comes from mutual pleasure in God.

I worshiped God with my eyes closed, my hands raised, and my heart open.

I watched God captivate my heart.

One short, crazy week in our time. But who knows what this week meant for Eternity.

Blessed are those whose strength is in You, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. -- Psalm 84:5

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

What do you do when God says no?

What do you do with emotions that hold on, that refuse to let go, that keep hoping against hope for the impossible?

What do you do when the pain keeps resurfacing, and every time you think you've dealt with it, it comes back again?

How do you walk in obedience, fully confident that God will fulfill Hs promise, when His promises feel like dry crumbs because of the hardness of your soul?

What do you do when your brain agrees with your spirit, but your feelings pull in the opposite direction?

What if the warm, rose-colored dreams you loved and cherished turn out to be only a cheaply-tinted window that cracked and shattered, and now your vision is only comprised of cools and grays and questions?

What do you do with unanswered questions? What if there is no reason why, just the cold facts?

Deep down inside, I know that I want to know God more than I want my dreams, more than I want to love. But my brain keeps telling me that I want my dreams, and my feelings keep telling me that they want to love and to be loved, and my poor will is trying so hard to pull the other two along, but in truth, it's not even sure which way to pull. My soul is one twisted, confused mess. I don't want to be, to feel, to live this way. I cannot.

So, how do I work through this? How do I go from emotional pain to confident expectation?

Oh my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. Yet You are holy, dwelling in the praises of Your people. -- Ps. 22:2-3

My emotions do not change God's character. He is holy when He answers. He is equally holy when He is silent.

There are times in my walk with Christ when my response must be one of determined purpose, not emotion-driven exaltation; times when I remember the work of God in the past, and trust that He who was faithful, still is faithful, and ever will be faithful... regardless of how I feel.

In You our fathers trusted; they trusted, and You delivered them. To You they cried and were rescued; in You they trusted and were not put to shame. -- Ps. 22:4-5

Yes, He is always faithful, and always sufficient. Even when it hurts. Even when the tears won't stop. Even when the pain must remain in the corner crevices of my heart. Even when no one else understands.

My flesh and my heart fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. -- Ps. 73:26

But whatever gain I had I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. -- Phil. 3:7-8

I have tasted of God's grace and mercy, and I find it sufficient. I long for more of His goodness and His faithfulness, in whatever ways He desires to display that.

Things are not as they appear. His grace may feel like judgment, and sometimes His mercy feels like pain and broken hearts. But I do trust Him. I have no reason-- EVER-- to doubt Him.

Begone, unbelief, the Savior is near,
And for my relief, will surely appear.
By faith let me wrestle with God in the storm,
And help me, my Savior, the faith to adorn.

Though dark be my way, since He is my guide,
'Tis mine to obey and His to provide.
Though cisterns be broken and creatures all fail,
The Word He has spoken will surely prevail.
-- John Newton