Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Silent Treatment


It seems, unfortunately, that we are always keenly aware of what we are missing (even to the point of overlooking what we do have). This time of year, especially, it seems the thing that is lacking feels that much more lacking - or the thought of going on without it seems that much more unbearable. I'm not sure why, really - maybe its the family gatherings and togetherness that remind us of where we are in life (and the gap between where we would've liked to have been with another year close)? Or perhaps its all this wonderful awful vacation time that leaves us with too much time to think and worry? Or maybe there is more going on that we are aware of, maybe we are decieved with our own thoughts and self-pity in order to distract us from the real mystery of this time of year?

A person I care very much for is not talking to me and it makes me sad...and frustrated. Sad because I feel this whole thing could be cleared up with one conversation...and frustrated for kind of the same reason with the additional aspect that I can't do anything about it. I think this is the most disheartening part about it and possibly the reason it occupies so much time in my mind. I've laid this one at the cross so many times in prayer only to turn around and pick it right back up again. Why is it so hard to relinquish control? And then in frustration I start to get angry with God (who also seems to be giving me the silent treatment right now).

In my more rational moments I know that good-weather-only friends are not worth having (myself included, sorry God). And that there is an ultimate plan and purpose to my life (and it is good).

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"(Jeremiah 29:11)

And I also know that I need to "wait"...

"This is what the LORD says: 'In the time of my favor I will answer you, and in the day of salvation I will help you...'" (Isaiah 49:8)

"...but those who wait on [or hope in] the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."
(Isaiah 40:31)

And further that "waiting" doesn't mean sitting still - the original Hebrew word for "wait" in that last passage is "quavah" (pron. ku-vuh) and is associated with "look for" and "gather" "to collect". I'm not pretending to know anything about Hebrew (other than what concordance will tell you) but the collection of those words makes me think "study". And I'm reminded of this looming project that I have yet to finish. I may only think I'm waiting on God, but He may actually be waiting on me.
Something happened the other night as I was furiously typing an angry prayer or rather an angry blog (I knew I would never post). In the middle of my asking "why" - I suddenly felt more hopeful. I didn't receive any specific answer to what I was asking but I was suddenly reminded of all the things that were good in my right now. My family, the familiarity of home, all of my very sweet, very good-and-bad weather friends, my job (I had a semi-scare about losing that recently), my health, and the hope I have for the future. And I found myself thanking God (rather than being angry at Him). What occured to me next was in Psalm 22 - its the famous scripture that Christ quoted on the cross "My God, My God why have you forsaken me?" That Psalm starts out on that tone (sad and angry) and continues on that note for several stanza's then suddenly takes and upward leap in verse 23 "You who fear the LORD, praise him!" and David praises him for the rest of the Psalm. I always had the impression that was what you were supposed to do (praise him despite your feelings or circumstances) but I wondered this time, if David too had received his hope right in the middle of his prayer. The thing that he needed more than the answer to his question; his daily bread.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


I feel like I've had more than my share of frustration when it comes to romantic relationships (pity party of one). It seems they all start, run their course and end in a circular pattern. If I could just break out of this cycle. And then, in the midst of the disappointment and hurt I make a pact with myself- never again. How much easier it would be to write off behaviors, circumstances or people forever; I rationalize surface-level intimacy is better, honest communication is not really paramount its actually quite dangerous. Isn't it safer not to get emotionally involved by putting yourself out there?

The problem is that I am involved - whether or not I like to admit it to myself. The Bible tells us we should love one another and submit to one another and always put that person first. In context it means we should be loving to our spouses, other believers and to the world - but it sort of leaves us guessing about what our romantic relationships should be like - how much of that is appropriate for dating? And what if they don't put you first? Or you perceive they may be acting in their own best interests rather than your own? Should you overlook it because, after all, only God knows whats in a man's heart and there could be more going on there than you're aware of? But wait - Is that really good advice when you're not married to the guy? Kind of makes me wonder, though, if turning the other cheek is a Biblical code of conduct for responding to everyone else, shouldn't Biblical truths like that also be relevant for every person in my life (and in every aspect of my life)?

The thing that keeps getting overlooked is that God placed this desire in our hearts in the first place, "Its not good for man to be alone". This urgent need to be known, accepted and loved is strong enough for us to risk security. But then, when disappointment after disappointment happens, we begin to question if its worth the risk. We stop hoping, "if it happens it happens and then after its happened I'll get excited about it." We're scared of our God-given passion - not just for relationships, but for life. Desire is just too risky. Hope can be crushing.

So what's the answer? How can we freely desire as God intended and as we were able to do before the world slowly broke us - yet avoid being leveled by disappointment?

I think the problem started with our "never again" pact. Instead of letting God pick us up and clean our scraped knees - we try to fix it ourselves. We decided it makes more sense to amputate the whole leg to keep from feeling the pain. We callous our hearts and prevent ourselves from truly experiencing our most innate desire, love. The Bible even tells us "We love because he first loved us." How could we possibly expect to do this right without His help?

15For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.
Matthew 13:15

Lord, I renounce all of these plans and formulas I've created to make life work on my own - for believing I could take care of what only You can do - for not having faith that You are good for Your word - the root of unbelief I planted a long time ago. Please forgive me - heal my wounds; heal the places in my heart that have felt hurt and alone and that life was up to me. Teach me how to love generously, to love as You designed me to, as You love us.

Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength...
Isaiah 40:31

Love is here, Love is now
Love is pouring from his hand
With streams of mercy flowing from his side.
-Tenth Avenue North ("Love is here" lyrics)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Foolish Pride

Something I read recently impressed me significantly. It was a article about control and the statement had to do with claiming surrender yet fighting for control. I guess the part that struck me was more than just the truth in it, but rather the source it came from. I don't know I've ever been very a modest person although I've considered myself this way on several occasions (that should've been my first clue). My love for Christ has this last year lead me to deeper and more intentional studies, more focused socializing and seeking to somehow further his kingdom. It seems though, that I stopped studying for the purpose of growth and started studying for other people. I'd read some truth and think "oh so-and-so should read this, they really need to hear it." Somewhere in the middle of these good intentions I stopped thinking I needed God's help in my own life. "I got this one, God - I can take it from here." I don't even think I realized when that changed; a collection subtle agreements. Isn't this always the way it happens?

So this article about control and actually a few more with the same author were written in such a authentically honest, and humble tone they touched me so deeply. It crossed my mind briefly over the next few days and then before I knew it, I had looked it up and was reading it again - there was something convicting there - the words were so powerful. I realized I was missing the power in my own life. I had charged ahead with my good works and didn't stop to ask God if I was even going the right direction.

Those who know me well know that I struggle with depression, and like diabetes (as I've heard it compared) it doesn't really ever go away; it requires daily 'medication'. My medication being constant communion, prayer, reflection and study. And now that I've gone so long without my medication I'm back here again, a complete wreck. Starting again from square one; so wrapped up in my own problems and feelings that I'm missing the opportunities Gods putting right in front of my face. Opportunities for REAL life. Not just happiness (based on happenings) but true joy regardless of circumstance. Rather than focusing on that person who let me down, the situation that didn't go the way I wanted it to, or any uncertainties with my future and its direction I should have my eyes on the road (the narrow road). Worry IS meditation - Even thinking of solutions, is still thinking about the problem and focusing on it.

Psalms 1:2-3 (MSG)
2-3 Instead you thrill to God's Word,
you chew on Scripture day and night.
You're a tree replanted in Eden,
bearing fresh fruit every month,
Never dropping a leaf,
always in blossom.

So if I'm so good at meditation why not focus my mental energy in the right direction? After all if wrong thinking is the root of depression, wouldn't it make sense that right thinking could be the cure?

James 1:25
25But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

Lord, I'm starting over and this time I'll do it your way. I'm turning over a new leaf again with your power break my crutches - the pathetic gods I put in your place. They'll never hold me up. I'm at Your feet Lord and I need a reminder of hope right now more than ever. I'm desperate for something from you. Please forgive me for all the ways I've failed, for the ways I'm continuing to fail even as I tell you this. I long so desperately to be comforted by You. Give me clean hands and a pure heart. I love You.

Ps. 24:4-54 He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to an idol
or swear by what is false. [a]
5 He will receive blessing from the LORD
and vindication from God his Savior.

"Even when rain falls even when the flood starts rising even the storm comes, I am washed by the water"
-NeedtoBreathe (Washed by the water lyrics)