Look At All The Tiny Mirrors

kitten_lion_mirrorGod is not like us but we are like Him.
God is not like us, but we are made in His image.

I have often made the mistake of thinking that being like Him means I can look at Him and see myself. But this is not true. In fact, it is so incredibly NOT true, that the earth should shake with the weight of its falsehood. It’s a falsehood, and it’s weighty because so many of us have bought into it at one time or another.

We buy into it and then we make God small. We look at Him and think we see ourselves — our anger, our selfishness, our weaknesses. But God is not like us.

He does not get angry like we do. He is not selfish like we are. He is far from weak.

When we fail and fail and fail some more, He does not get frustrated, angry with surprise that we still haven’t gotten it right. He does not turn His head in disgust because His expectations of us are unmet. Frustration, surprise, disgust, unmet expectations – these are not characteristics of God, they are characteristics of US and He is not like us. We are like Him but He is nothing like us.

His desire to be worshiped and loved by us is not motivated by selfishness or conceit; it’s motivated by love of the strongest and purest kind, love that knows that our ultimate happiness will be found when we delight in Him — delight, which IS love and worship. He desires our love and worship because He desires our joy. He wants us to experience joy and He has created us to be most fulfilled in Him. But I have bought into the lie before, that God desires – no, demands – worship because He is the Ultimate Selfish Being. And I shudder that I have ever thought such an atrocity. The most beautiful thing is the way God has loved me DURING my own atrociousness. Is that selfish of Him, to love me when I am thinking the absolute worst of Him that I ever could? No, it’s love, it’s love, it’s love. He loves me selflessly even while I shake my fist and accuse Him of being selfish for wanting me to delight in Him…But He is not selfish and He is not conceited. He is not like us.

He is not weak like we are, incapable of changing this evil world, incapable of assuaging all pain. I look at Him sometimes and think I see myself; I think I see Him failing to overcome evil with good, failing to heal hurts and comfort the broken. But He is not failing at that, I’M failing at that. He is, every day, working good out of evil (who can do that??), turning Satan’s horrible acts into vessels of love and hope (really! Who can do that??) and He has even promised that, in the very end, He will make ALL THINGS RIGHT. Now, He is either the worst kind of liar or He is a majestically powerful Being who is capable of strength that could turn every last atom of my physical existence inside out. He could do that, but He doesn’t because He loves me. He makes it very clear in His word that He HATES sin, hates it and He will destroy His enemies with a vengeance, and EVEN THOUGH I have sinned terribly against Him, more than once, He doesn’t turn my atoms inside out — He loves me. Do you know what that’s called? Do you know what it’s called when strength is restrained? It’s called gentleness.

God is not like us. He is not sinful, He is not self-seeking, He is not condescending, He is not mean or cruel or hateful.
But we are like Him, made in His image, so that everywhere you look are little mirrors walking around, mirrors reflecting God’s Person.

His creativity, demonstrated through millions of painters, dancers, sculptors, and architects.
His physical strength and capabilities, demonstrated through base jumpers, breakdancers, gymnasts, and athletes.
His nurturing and compassion, demonstrated through nurses, mothers, pastors, and The Good Samaritans that pop up in every disaster.
His talent, demonstrated through musicians, vocalists, composers, and conductors.

We love because He loved first.

We love art and music because God loved art and music first.
We love creating things in groups and with our bodies because God loved creating things first.

God is not like us, but we are like Him. Look around you and see all the tiny mirrors, the laughing, the dancing, the practical jokes, the hugs, the romance, the reaching out, the creative expression. Look at all the tiny mirrors and see tiny reflections of God.

Tiny reflections of a powerful, larger-than-the-universe, creative Being who LOVES…

This God loves me.

He loves you, too.

I know this more fully than I know anything else and I do not know it fully enough.

Just Do It.

I’m getting it over and over: do something with your writing. For the last several months, I’ve been getting this message but like a shy 1st grader getting a compliment on her dress, I just smile and nod. In my head I think, “What could I possibly do with my writing? I don’t feel driven to write a book—I barely feel driven to blog!” But the message came yet again today; every time it comes, I’ve felt that little nudge that comes from the Holy Spirit but honestly? I’m waiting for Him to push me. Nudges are so easily mis-perceived, you know? I mean it IS a nudge, it’s slight and barely there, so later I wonder if maybe I was making it up after all…but of course, God gets through all that by nudging me over and over so many times that I start to realize, I am NOT making this up.

Or, like today, He nudges me and then He follows up with another one, a little stronger but not quite a push.

One more person to add to the list of People God Has Nudged Me With. And I had the same response: “Hm. But what? I don’t know what to do…” and then I let myself get distracted with something else. Funny thing was, God didn’t. And since I was expecting Him to let me get away with distracting myself (like He has been the last several nudges), I totally didn’t see it coming:

“Have you walked this path? Deep within the recesses of your soul you know the Lord is leading you to do something in particular. Though the impression is unrelenting, you’re at a significant crossroads in your life.  Should you or shouldn’t you?

I’ve stood in this threshold as well, transfixed by the possibility of what could be yet mired in the fear of being wrong. How will I know this is what I am to do, I wonder. I don’t want to get it wrong.

The thriving Believer encounters this on a regular basis.  But even the Israelites who had the benefit of messages given directly from God, from God’s anointed and from God’s angels still wondered if indeed they had understood correctly.

Zechariah’s response in Luke 1 doesn’t surprise me. The angel Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, appeared to Zechariah explaining he and Elizabeth would have their long time prayer answered. A child.

What were his first words? “How shall I know this?” I see a lot of me in that answer. It’s rife with doubt and hesitation. And it cost him. He couldn’t speak until the baby was born and named John.

Yet we are called to trust, to a life buoyed by ardent belief. Ebullient faith.” (from http://wp.me/p24pA6-aM)

Okay, so God wasn’t letting me table it again this time. Phooey.

Earlier in the post I just quoted, she talks about how her husband prayed and asked God to confirm it for them four different ways. It was on the tip of my tongue to do the same thing, but I could almost hear God audibly say, “Uh-uh-uh…” and I sheepishly realized I was STILL just trying to find a way to table it; because God had already confirmed it and I knew it.

“Okay God…what am I supposed to do, really?”
Just start writing.
Really? That’s all?
But of course that’s all; I keep forgetting that doing what God nudges me to do is not about pulling off some amazing fireworks display of whatever He tells me to do. It’s not my job to wow anyone or get published or anything. He hasn’t been nudging me to put off fireworks, He’s been nudging me to “do something with my writing” and if I’m honest, I haven’t been doing anything. I put words in my blog when I think I have something worthy of telling the world—and yes, that’s doing something with my writing but that wasn’t what He wanted because it was manufactured and polished. He wants all of my writing, the unpolished, the heartfelt, the what-seems-to-me-to-be-meaningless writing, all of it.

Because it’s not my job to put on a show; that’s His job and His alone because He’s the only One who should ever be ooh’d and aah’d at in the first place.

So I have absolutely no idea where this road is going to take me but I’ve finally made my choice; I’m going to write and I’m going to wait and see what God does with it. And I know that, whatever it is, it’ll be exhilarating cos that’s the really interesting thing about God: when He uses you to bring glory to Himself, He makes it exhilarating and always, always in the end, worth it. Almost always painful, too, but still exhilarating—and the joy makes up for the pain, kind of like giving birth…

So here we go.

Runs To Meet Me

I’ve been overwhelmed, agitated, moody and mean.
Everything has been “going wrong”. Or it seems that way. Possibly it’s my attitude? But no really, things just keep going WRONG. Wrong = not the way I wanted them to go. They’re breaking or dropping or spilling or not coming out clean. The dog poops on the carpet, babyMan dumps his bowl of mac and cheese on the carpet, the toaster oven won’t toast, darling Bear got the wrong thing at the store…Oh dear, and I FORGOT….I forgot that Thing and it’s super important and holy whoa, now all the laundry and dishes and everything else will fall behind because I have to be on the phone for the next five hours in panic mode…

It’s time for dinner and I don’t feel like cooking. I’ve yelled at my kids entirely too much today. I’m mad at myself for that and somehow, that just makes me yell more. I’m snapping. Snapping at my husband, snapping at the kids, snapping at the dog — whoa, did I just snap at God?? I think I did. :(

Night after night of struggling to sleep, struggling through anger, struggling through frustration, wrestling with anxiety, wrestling with control. Each night, hoping that the NEXT day will be The Beginning of Better…

Today, I woke up. The day was…a day. There was stress and anxiety. Errands to run and missions to accomplish. Discussions on Facebook adding to the steadily increasing sense of Being Overwhelmed. And then something broke. No, it popped.

A revelation in my brain: everything — all of this — can be traced back to my pride. My what? My pride? Really? My pride is that bad?

Like one of those do-it-yourself movie books, where you flip all the pages, my mind is flipping flipping flipping through all the Things and it links them all to one Thing, to pride…it happens lightning fast and That Feeling Of Being Overwhelmed spikes.

I have so far to go.
I’ll never get there.
This journey is so LONG…it’s BEEN long and it’s going to be LONGER…

I’m weary. I have nothing left. I’ve HAD nothing left, for days now. There was a bright spot the other night, while serving my church family but I have no doubt that was ALL Holy Spirit. I have no doubt because I spent the whole drive to church begging and begging, pleading with Him to work through me because

I had nothing.

 

 

I’m in the car and driving, tackling more tasks, eradicating more errands, watching the flip-movie in my mind. I cry out to God. My heart overflows into the confines of the van, a deluge of remorse, regret, repentance. And then…a song. A song plays on the radio and  my focus shifts off of me and onto Him…His creativity. His awesome Mind in creating music, creating human beings, creating voices…beautiful voices, thousands of sounds, millions of melodies…even when they’re just singing about the rain in Africa, they are so beautiful. He is so beautiful in His creation, His people. This is what I had forgotten — enjoying Him. Not stressing out, not snapping, not being overwhelmed — being in awe of Almighty Creative God. This is where my joy is.

And the flood in my van from my overflowing, over-burdened heart turns into a flood of joy-filled tears. My God is so amazing. And so mighty.  And He loves me! And there’s grace! And, and, and…

Suddenly, I realize the journey back wasn’t that long. “God!” I say out loud in my van. “You’re so quick to BE there! I take one step and wow….after these horrid, horrid days and my horrid attitude, I thought it would take at least as many days to retrace my steps and get back to where I’m supposed to be…but I’ve only taken one step and here I am, with You…”

A vision fills my mind, of the prodigal son trudging home. Such a long journey home…so far to go…the winding, dusty road stretches out ahead of him…

…but wait. His father…he’s running! To meet him! And just like that, the journey is over. The son is home, where he belongs.

 

I, too, thought I had this long, terrible trek ahead…by myself…long, winding, dusty…

But I take a step
with tears
with weariness
with full awareness that there is nothing good in me
with full awareness that all the good is in Him and He is beautiful…

…and He doesn’t wait. He doesn’t watch.

He runs.

He runs to meet me.

It’s so fast, that I’ve only realized it in retrospect; no time to have noticed it in The Happening, only time to realize that it happened.

My heart is brighter than the sun, with the revelation that He loves me enough to run. He wants me, enough to run.

I will be horrid again. My pride will rule again. But today my heart is shining.

He runs to meet me.

I will snap again. I will feel overwhelmed again. But I will turn, again…

And He will run…again.

I am broken. Always.

Broken Flame by Thien Bao

I remember attending a meeting at a church several years back and woman there making the comment, “We are all broken!” And in my heart, I rebelled against that statement. We are not broken, I thought. Jesus has healed us!  I was right in my thinking; but I found out this week that I was also wrong.

Jesus has healed us. But we are broken. Always. On this planet, in this flesh, we are broken.

It’s been a very long and difficult week. God, in His Sovereignty brought me face-to-face with the fact that being saved by His Son’s blood does not mean I can walk upright without falling. Yes, I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me, but do you know what I learned this week? There is always a little bit of something in me that is resistant to relying on Christ’s strength. Whether it’s a Rebellious Something, which wants to have its own way or a Proud Something, which wants to prove its ability or a Doubting Something, which thinks I’ve fallen on grace one too many times…

I am a broken gal this week. While I recognize (now) that I am forever in need of Christ’s rescuing from sin on this earth, the Proud Something in me is still kicking and screaming. But I WANT to be capable of pleasing You on my own! I can’t face You if I NEED You!!! It sounds silly to you, probably? It sounds silly to me. But so true, at the same time. I am not just painting a picture of a silly, rebellious child here; I am that child.

So why am I here today? What am I trying to say? This is definitely one of my lesser-prepared posts — okay, completely unprepared. A stream of consciousness, if you will.

I suppose I’m here today to let myself off the hook — and to let you off the hook too. I’m not perfect; I don’t have it all together; I love Jesus with all my heart but I still want to sin sometimes. A lot of the time. Several times a day, I want to sin. And I can not take ANY credit for the times I successfully resist sin, because even though I may be choosing to rely on Christ’s strength, I would FALL if He weren’t there. And I can claim no part whatsoever in ensuring that He is there for me; that is all Him.

So. Those of you who keep your distance because I paint too pretty a picture of myself, come closer. I am dirtier than you think, and quite possibly dirtier than you. If I have, in any way, led you to believe that there are trophies to achieve on this walk or leveling up to be done or successes to strive for, I apologize from the deepest depths of my heart. There is only one Trophy and that is Jesus. There is only one level you have to “pass” and that is embracing Him. There is only one success to be had, and it belongs to God. He successfully reconciled us to Him through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.

If you don’t believe that I am all that dirty, I will humbly muddy up a private message for you. But it’s not about me, so be prepared for a diligent mopping up with the gospel of Jesus Christ and how He has forgiven me.

*sigh* I’m still sad, inside, at just how…incapable I am of doing the right thing every time. However, I’m also thankful and filled with peace. My Deliverer is coming, and until then, He is standing by. My Jesus is mine and I am His.

I Have No Idea What God Is Doing.

I have no idea how long we’ll be unemployed.

I have no idea if we’ll end up in a house of our own or renting again.

I have no idea why I’m constantly so tired, sleeping terribly, and feeling physically miserable in spite of improved eating and almost daily exercise.

I have no idea why a certain friend suddenly stopped communicating with me.

I have no idea how God intends to use me at our new church.

I have no idea how happy or miserable my marriage will be in five years—or even next month.

I have no idea how much I’ll like having a poodle or if I’ll even get to have one.

I don’t know what God is doing in each of these areas of my life.

There, I said it.

I don’t know.

So dear brain, please give up trying to figure it out. Stop chewing on every possible angle; stop creating what-if scenarios; stop presuming upon God; stop thinking you can see how it’s all coming together.

Because you can’t.

And today, I decided I don’t want to.

Today, the sun is out. The air is literally the perfect temperature. The kids are healthy and safe, Bear is in love with me and I’m in love with him, I have stunningly precious friends, there’s plenty of good food in the house, lots to entertain or exercise with—in short, it’s a good day.

So today is enough. I don’t need to think about tomorrow. I have chosen to be happy with right now. 

(Sometimes I just have to put it out there and hope my brain reads my blog.)

dear God, what are You doing?

i ask this question every day.

sometimes with anger.

sometimes with deep sorrow.

sometimes with giddy anticipation and excitement.

sometimes out of pure and simple curiosity.

i have yet to get a straight answer. there’s never a booming voice in the clouds or a gentle whisper in my spirit.

lately, there is absolutely, inconceivably, thoroughly frustratingly nothing.

i’m left to my own devices, which consist primarily of doubt and fear.

“what if God isn’t real?”
“what if i’ve got the wrong God?”
“what if He’s not really engaged in my life at all?”
“what if everything is made up, psychological flukes, genetic predispositions toward religion, etc.?”

i can almost guarantee you there is not a doubt out there that hasn’t been one of my own at some point in time.

but i’m not really left to my own devices, even though it often feels that way. God’s word is living and active. His Spirit lives in me. and those two things together create a powerful force to be reckoned with.

i remember that, when i DO what the Bible says, it works. i have never seen it not work.

the wind reminds me of His power and the sun reminds me of His love.

my own delight in my children reveals His delight in me.

“what are You doing?” i ask this question at least once a day and i never get a new answer. but His Spirit within reminds me of old answers…

…i know that He is doing good things.

i know that He is never sleeping.

i know that He is weaving all things for my good, because i love Him.

i know He is feeding the birds and clothing the flowers, so how much more is He taking care of me?

i know He is disciplining, training and strengthening me.

i know He is smiling at me and crying with me.

i know that He is.

and i know i am His. †

In the Beginning…no, not that one. This one.

How do you start an Introductory post? I suppose that will suffice, actually. But now I need to continue…

This is yet another blog. I think I said that on my last one, too. I never start a new blog for the same reason I started a previous one, and I always start a new blog for a *good* reason – at least, in my opinion. Which, thankfully, is what a blog is all about, generally speaking. Also thankfully, a blog is not required to maintain strict adherence to grammatical and linguistic rules. (Was that redundant?) I have rarely, if ever, strictly adhered to any rules regarding language. In fact, if I ever have adhered to a rule, it was probably an accident. I even buck the rule that punctuation stays inside the quotes; I’m sorry, but if the statement I’m quoting didn’t end with a period, then the period gets to sit very nicely on the outside of the closing quote mark.

But I digress. Severely. I think my original intent was to illuminate what the purpose of this new (and millionty-th) blog is, so let me do that.

I’ve been encouraged from a few different angles to *do* something with my writing. Yes, I’ve started other blogs in the past but they always peter out because I get too self-conscious and start freaking out about how much of myself I’ve posted to the Publick Internetz. So, this one has a few new approaches: less personal stuff, more consistent posting and more intentional posting. I’m going to treat my writing a little more like a commitment and a little less like a hobby. Aaand…we’ll see where it goes.

It might be fun! It probably won’t be any more embarrassing than any of the other stuff I’ve posted…

So. This post was the PERFECT example of a post that started off intentional but ended up mostly unintentional. Here’s to the future, and learning how to be a better writer, strict adherence to rules notwithstanding. (Hey, that’s progress right there!! I used “notwithstanding” based on contextual understanding only! I had to ask my darling husband to confirm I used it correctly! Oops. I’m unintentionaling again.)