Tuesday, February 28, 2012

the unending surrender

jesus-carrying-cross

All of the doubts and questions and echoes of mystery that swirl about my soul are clarifying themselves in one clear, singular, resounding chorus:

“Will you surrender every moment in its uncertainty, its overwhelming wave, its acute reminder of your insufficiency to Me?  to the Lamb of God who was slain and who is WORTHY of your everything now and forever?”

And I sheepish, helpless and weak yet somehow knowing that this complete undoing leads me closer to the pathway of life, the ONLY path of life, the ONLY LIFE as the vision of He WHO IS {LIFE} becomes all that I see, say ‘yes’.

I think of those who modeled the unending surrender as they lived before God’s Son came incarnate and every promise of the ages was fulfilled:

I think of Noah and the absurd plan of God that branded him crazy to the world yet was the provision for his life and his family’s and all of mankind’s existence.

I think of Abraham and the waiting of decades for the promised son who was the sum of his own worth in such a time and culture.  And I remember how he walked a hill with faith, a knife and wood for an altar and only his long-awaited son to offer as a sacrifice.  Obedient fully to the unthinkable with trust in the God to whom he owed everything…knowing his promises were true and that was all he had to see.

I think of Joseph when wrong upon wrong was committed against him.  Sold into slavery by his own brothers.  Falsely accused.  Years in prison as an innocent man.  Forgotten by those he saved.  Made prince in a foreign land with every power to take vengeance on the brothers who had hated him and wished him dead.  Only to declare in meekness ‘what you in intended for evil, God intended for good to bring about the salvation of many’.

I think of Rahab, the prostitute, a Gentile yet possessing a heart for God.  Risking her life to hide Israelite spies knowing their God was the only God.  Honored by Him in being grafted into God’s family and the lineage of Christ.

I think of Ruth the Moabitess, a daughter of pagan faith, who left all of the comforts of home to care for her bereft and weary mother-in-law and embrace Yahweh as her God.  Honored, as well, grafted into the faithful of God and the lineage of Christ.

And then I think of Mary.  Giving birth to the Messiah and struggling with her flesh, often not winning, as she had that clear revelation her son, Jesus, was the Son of God.  Called to be his mother yet showing us all what it is to surrender that which is most precious to our hearts even the very promises of God declared over our own children.

But mostly, I think of the Savior.  Winning every time over his flesh.  Tempted and tried in ALL WAYS AS WE yet without sin.  Being handed over to death while each moment possessing the full power to obliterate every enemy.  Standing in the face of jeers and the deepest blasphemy as he, in infinite irony, was accused of the same.  Coming from eternity past, the infinite length, in the most perfect, beautiful and clear manifestation of unending surrender and looking into every weary eye that has ever lived and saying

 ‘Come, Come to Me…I am meek and lowly of heart and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’

And laughter fills where the battle has waged.  A light-hearted joy springs up that flows from the Perfect One through these spirit veins.  And there is peace in a world that rages.  And there is hope to speak into the darkness.  And there is the vision of the Kingdom of God that is forever and victorious when all others will crumble and fall. 

And there is the promise that each new day will bring the same question and choice and eternal fruit that only comes from the unending surrender…

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SoliDeoGloria   

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Friday, February 24, 2012

True Grit…God’s Way

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When I first hear ‘grit’ I think of the grinding out life and when the going gets tough the tough get going and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…

And I have known this grit and things have beaten me down and many seasons of life have been hard and especially for those I love and there was a time when I just lived to ‘not quit’ because that was unthinkable.

But then, then, I saw so quickly how all of this not being a quitter could become all about me and soon I would be beating my head against my own walls and I would be shutting out love, from others, for others, not receiving ultimately, His Love.

And I realized that this wasn’t the ‘grit’ that I wanted at all…I wanted Jesus Grit.  The One that was so in tune with the will of the Father and so full of a holy zeal for His Glory and a deepest of deep desire to please the One who He loved as Father and knew eternal communion with that He looked into the deepest, darkest, infinite cup of wrath and death and alienation from all that was the life of God in Him to drink it.  He did it with that grit that is staking its all upon the reality of a love so vast and full that NOTHING can overcome it and so is willing to lay down EVERYTHING to preserve it.

And I have embraced this grit and I cry out with deepest soul cry that I would live with such a deeper grit that won’t quit not for my pride, or glory, or even to please others BUT to make so, so much of Him because NOTHING could ever compare to what it is to give it all to and for the One who has given His Infinite All for me.

This is TRUE GRIT…GOD’S WAY.

Stop.

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Monday, February 20, 2012

when there’s no turning back

It’s a good place to be.  The place of no-turning-back.  But it is NOT a comfortable place and as we grow we learn that the truly good things that last forever come in the risk. the fire. the surrender.

These words that were a part of the sermon text on Sunday have always been a balm for my soul::

So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?”  Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

~John 6: 67-69

I feel the heart beat and passion of Peter knowing that they have staked their all on THIS ONE. THIS JESUS.  This statement comes on the heals of many of Jesus’ followers deserting Him after he has told them that they must eat his flesh and drink his blood.  It was apparently too much, too all-out, too incomprehensible for many.  And so they left, but the twelve remained.

The better part of humility and perspective knows that I live in a different time and the sacrifices that we are making to stay the course and move overseas are far less than all that those first followers faced.  But I also embrace the ache of my heart as it resonates with a full knowledge that there is no other path and NO OTHER ONE on whom to fix my gaze and tune my soul.

And so I thank Him for the awesome privilege of having a path of obedience so clearly defined.  In this season of waiting as we run the final leg of this part of our race and prepare to embark on a complete life change, I have been tempted to look at many things. 

The endless unknowns of how I will adjust to life in Budapest.

The fears of my gaping inadequacies to do any of it well.

The roiling emotions of the permanency of our commitment.  {We will not return in six months, a year or five.  We are on his timetable and if we serve overseas until we die, then, Praise Him.}

But He reminds me that LIFE is where it has always been.  In Him.  Abiding in Him.  Feasting on Him with the full counsel of His Word as to what that means.

So gentle and so kind and so patient, He is.  Calming my fears with the truth of His Grace and that it is always one step, one moment at a time.  And filling my heart with thanks that the things I face beg the same question He asked the disciples.  Will I go away?  Will I turn back because it is just too hard?  Will I pursue this path ahead with my own willpower and strength?

And even before the question comes I know the answer echoes Peter’s.

Oh LORD, where else can I go?  You ALONE have the words of life.  I thank You that there is NO turning back.   I thank You that You have given my life purpose that can only be fulfilled by Your Strength.  Your Life flowing through me.  And I ask You to keep me on this full-out path all of my days, wherever I am, whatever you call me to do until I am Home forever in Your Arms.  Amen & Amen

{Ever since we sang this song during our overseas training last summer and I joined the voices of many going all around the world, many to places where it is forbidden to preach the Gospel, it has transported me to a place of passion and purpose that I share with all who embrace the path of no-turning-back.

I have dubbed it The Missionary Anthem.  I hope it encourages and challenges you!}

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

how to really {L}ive secure

As I was reflecting on some of the things that have gripped my heart more deeply these last couple of weeks, I remembered that my word for 2012 is secure.

And yet I’ve been writing about the absolute all-out worthiness of Christ to command whatever He pleases of my life AND what it is to live {L}ife with a Capital ‘L’.

I wondered if I was being true to my word.  What can any of this kind of surrender and boldness have to do with dwelling securely?

Then I realized that the kind of security that I am meant to know has everything to do with a fullness of living, a fullness of giving ALL to Him.

“I bless the LORD who gives me counsel;
   in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the LORD always before me;
   because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
   my flesh also dwells secure.”

~Psalm 16:7-9

This same One who I purpose to give EVERYTHING to, Who I follow where He leads and sacrifice all that I have that NOTHING be held back from Him, yet with ALL HE IS AND HAS PROMISED TO BE set ALWAYS/CONTINUALLY before me gives me a ‘glad heart’ and causes me to ‘dwell secure.’

And my life bears testimony to this truth.  I have lived, in shadowy ways, a mere ephemeral representation of what I am destined to be.  These days and seasons are the ones where I have held back and made problems BIG and the God who holds this infinite universe together by the word of His power small. These days are the ones where I have set what I can control before me and the predictable that is the great mirage of security that, especially our culture, can solely define itself by. These days are the ones that I hope and pray to see in swiftly diminishing number as I step forward in the journey.

And so my heart is bearing a ‘weight of glory’ that is defining more and more of this life.  The unseen has become my increasing security and the unknown embraced as I look to Him who holds this universe and every minute detail of every day I will ever live and my forever in His loving, able hands.  I say it humbly for I fall down and forget and falter but the vision of the only Life that can ever satisfy and its breathtaking backdrop of an unshakable security bound fully in ALL OF the promises as ‘YES AND AMEN IN HIM’ is becoming so glorious and overpowering that I cannot fathom looking away.

{photo source}

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SoliDeoGloria


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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Five Minute Friday :: Trust

Go:

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‘There is No LIFE without TRUST’

I remember saying those words to a friend when I was in college?  And I’ve {hopefully} been really living because I’ve been really trusting.

For me it usually involves the willful child kicking and screaming that I know the way that it should be and He

the Gentle, Kind, All-Powerful Lover of my soul speaking to me the truth of His Life found only in trusting Him.

It has walked with me through mom’s cancer, heartbreak, teaching 160 teenagers {not in the same class;}, choosing a path around 7 or so years ago that has led to full-time missionary support and many uncomfortable steps into unknown countries and relationships and teams and more relationships and more walls of faith and trust that have reminded and tested if I really want the only life that there truly is.

Trust is the breath of the beating heart for God.  We cannot live in Him if we aren’t trusting Him and I am no exception and while I would love to say that it gets easier, it doesn’t;} It does in the sense that things that used to be hard to trust Him with once continually let go, they do become easier to do so BUT there are always the bigger steps coming…the living, truly living, that will not let us stay where we are, but grows into the constant unknown and trusts it is always His best to do so…

Stop

photo source :: flickr creative commons

{P.S. If you have not already done so, would you please consider liking my Facebook Page? I’d like it even more than a comment, if you have to choose;}

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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

when love fills time and space

2 (1 of 2) - Copyyou sunshine girl with light-kissed hair holding so much in you and I stop the cleaning and the organizing because I know this moment will be gone with this tiny next breath.

and you invite me open-hearted into your world full of joy and happy and life and all of the fun that just can’t wait to get out and I just come along for the sweet ride of my two year-old girl.

and we sing the songs together.  ones you learn by seeming osmosis so quickly they become your own and I gaze in wonder at how the life in you bursts forth.

and we draw pretty flowers together and I don’t know what is more, the beauty of our togetherness or your little button nose:)

and soon you jump high on your bed and dance to the songs that still play and smile and sing happy and when you ask me to jump too, I say ‘mommy’s too big’ and you furrow quizzical but then accept that this kind of fun is toddler-shaped and mommy’s fun is just to open eyes and heart and soul wide to receive.

then when mommy’s creaking back is hurting and I lay on my tummy you come for a horsey ride29 (2 of 9) - Copy - Copy - Copy which I cannot quite give so you tumble off and stretch to push-up form with all of your teeny might {which is none too small} and I marvel at your itsy bitsy muscles at work.

and when we find the pink ball that you got for Christmas we stand and bounce and sit and roll and you are fierce in your ideas of how it all should be and I smile for the strength yet visible in you.

when afternoon comes and so does your nap you toddle down stairs to get your water ‘my by self’ and you pad back up and curve to your room and I read your current favorite and we dip ‘my little pony’ hooves in paint and make the flowers and butterflies on the page and then we get you into your sleepy-time place.

‘Dalia the Dolphin’ your pillow pet that we name together gives her usual greeting with kisses and hi’s and sentiments of how she’s missed you! and you cuddle happy with your blankie, lovie, and best little stuffed friend…

…and I sing the song today that first came to my heart when you were jello-limbed newborn resting in my arms

Baby Susie, etc 244

You’re my precious, precious, precious little baby girl

The only one, only one, in this whole wide world

My precious, precious, precious little baby girl…

{then this verse added last summer}

You’re His precious, precious, precious little baby girl

daughter Susanne Elizabeth

consecrated to the Great I AM

princess of the King of Kings

daughter of the Abba Father God

And He REJOICES OVER YOU WITH SINGING

Yes, HE REJOICES OVER YOU WITH SINGING

You’re His precious, precious, precious little baby girl

and while my voice quiets and you ready for sleep I walk out of this sacred space of the slowing and being present with what is gone as soon as it is but the song, the song, remains tucked in heart of hearts and lifted in worship for the miracle of this life.  this unimaginable privilege of being your mama.  this joy shaped only by love that is as deep a part of me as soul and spirit and the eternal perfect imagination of God.

 

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and this new meme, kd continuing Emily’s amazing community::

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Monday, February 6, 2012

Life with a Capital ‘L’

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So I’ve been thinking a lot about this kind of Life.  It’s one of those thoughts that swims around in my brain and never really leaves.  But lately, lately, I’ve been thinking about what it means to live FULL, ALIVE…like all that I believe is real.

The same sermon I mentioned last week made me ponder this Life when Tim Keller read this excerpt:

"How can you cope with the end of a world and the beginning of another one? How can you put an earthquake into a test-tube, or the sea into a bottle? How can you live with the terrifying thought that the hurricane has become human, that the fire has become flesh, that Life itself came to life and walked in our midst? Christianity either means that, or it means nothing. It is either the most devastating disclosure of the deepest reality in the world, or it’s a sham, a nonsense, a bit of deceitful play-acting. Most of us, unable to cope with saying either of those things, condemn ourselves to live in the shallow world in between…"

- N.T. Wright, For All God’s Worth

And then I listen to this sermon and it’s all about the TRUTH of the resurrection and there is no desire that is ultimately left unfulfilled because Jesus really did rise in flesh and bones.  Life is with a captial ‘L’ for the Redeemed or we condemn ourselves to that ‘shallow world in between.’

And so the question begs to be asked, do I experience life or Life?

I had a sweet answer {of sorts} to this on Sunday morning.  My husband and I were sharing an update of our journey overseas at our home church.  And Life was there.  Undeniable. Unquenchable. Ours.

It was there in the Sunday School hour when we interacted with some amazing middle & high school students who are living the mission that has become the heartbeat of our calling.  Loving their neighbors who are their classmates in the vast mission field of the public school.  Happy and at peace and yet wanting to know more and more what it is to follow Him.

It was there when we shared with the church the core lessons of our extended time here completing our fundraising in order to move to Hungary.  We danced a dance of the heart as he began remembering that fireseed that entered our hearts in that very place eight years ago and I continued and he concluded.  The Spirit melding our words, our journey, to speak an authentic message of what He gives in the waiting and surrendering and learning to live in the light of His unchanging, eternal Glory.

It was there as members came and laid hands on us and our son and interceded, for us, and when his name was mentioned in prayer he looked up at us with this exquisite smile.

And as we sat down in the pew and I held my beloved’s hand, I felt the smile of Heaven.  Dreams that were dreamt a  long time ago were resurrected and I saw how with this man I am living that vision of bearing witness boldly side-by-side as ONE of the reality of this God being ALL He says He is and the Life He gives as we give Him ourselves.

Then, in a sweet benediction of this Life we were led into a deeper understanding of Communion, as sacrament. As our pastor said multiple times it is ‘a symbol’ and ‘more than a symbol’ of the TRUTH of the Life bought with the body and blood of Jesus and given FOR us, TO us, come to live IN us.

We shared with each other later how the Presence who is LIFE was palpable and we tuck deep to raise high an ebenezer of remembrance, of the Life He intends.

And I thank Him for this answer that opens more questions as this holy haunting swirls about this heart and mind and I plead for Life to mark more moments and fill increasingly the breaths of this time, this journey, I walk here and now and into forever.

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SoliDeoGloria

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Friday, February 3, 2012

Five Minute Friday : Real





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And so I've been thinking about this real relationship, both human and divine.


It's weaving into me and I into it and so I am changing and softening and growing and falling down in worship for the beauty of the real.


This husband, who I love, yet who sees the deepest reality of my need for a Savior.  Who is there in the moments that I can hide from the rest of the world and in the spaces that the Spirit has yet to speak into and he bears witness to the ugly.  And in the face of it, though at times shocked by the real, he stays and we learn about some of those deep places and about the unharvested terrain of that which has laid fallow and without fruit.


But in the face of this real, this real relationship, we also discover that which could not be found if the journey were in quiet spaces, singular.  We embrace the real that refines and Our Great God's means of perfecting him and perfecting me.  I cannot imagine another person that I could be so deeply real with and where all of the dark, hard, wounded and hurting would be so deeply exposed.  And while there is still a big part of me that reels for the reality laid bare, here the voice of that which remains resounds stronger for the ultimate healing that lay on this path for me, for him, because of the Great I AM present in it all.


Stop.








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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

you weave within

Gossamer Sunset, & Life! 017spins up up
and strong
intricately woven
gossamer
that with but
momentary
dip from the
divine Hand
you
transfuse brilliance
and I am

hushed.
stilled.
transfixed.
beyond the raging
surging
doubt and the
pervasive worry
that dizzy makes
the small into
big and
forgets you


Gossamer Sunset, & Life! 022above in
and through
it all you
broad brush
stroke and kairos
fills the sky
my vision
all that is
and was and is
to come
manifested by
breathtaking
splendor
and the deep
places quiet
and I see all
hideous and

skewed that
darts out disjointed
Gossamer Sunset, & Life! 024from this
dark and hard
yet wounded
hurting place
and you paint the
beauty to kiss
away the distortion
clear away
the haze to the
single focal
point of your love
your high-and-lifted-up
your effortless wonder
your being
you’re mine.

AWA 1/26/2012
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