Monday, January 26, 2015

When Oceans Rise

My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours
And You are mine

Such a good song.  It was incredibly hard to sing this song when we came back from Venezuela.  In fact, it's probably only been within the last month that I've been able to sing it at all without getting choked up and/or frustrated.

You see, some of the other parts of the song are what gets me:
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever you would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Do I really want to go where my trust is without borders?  That may require a pretty big step of faith.  One I'm maybe not willing to take right now.  Is that ok?  Maybe I don't want to go wherever he would call me.  Because that can be really scary.  I'd have to put my money where my mouth is.  And that's terrifying at times.

Here in the next month we'll come up on one year since we've left Venezuela.  A decision that impacted our future, our hearts, our faith, our family.  What do I do with that?  How do I sing this song with honesty?  Well, it depends on the day.  And I put stipulations on where my feet could wander.  See, I'll only go as far as I'm comfortable with.  I need an adjustment period.  That's ok, right?  The average person would say so.  The problem is, I'm not married to the average person.

So tonight I sit and listen to this song, tears rolling.  I want to sing this song honestly, but I'm terrified too.  What does it mean for our family, our marriage, our walks with the Lord to truly follow God WHEREVER he would call me?  It might just be incredibly painful.  Do I trust that I'm in the presence of my Savior?  Whether I take big steps of faith or itsy bitsy teeny tiny ones?

One thing is for sure.  Romans 8 states:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?  As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 
No, in all these things we are more than yconquerors through zhim who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

In a lot of ways, I prefer the kids' Storybook Bible version from Paul.  
"God loves us!" he wrote from prison.  "Nothing can ever - no, not ever! - separate us from the Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love of God he showed us in Jesus!"

There's just something reassuring and calming about those words.  It's so simple.  I can wrap my heart around this.  And maybe, just maybe follow that God.  Because he sure does seem like a really great guy.  Perhaps sometimes it's just a matter of having a childlike faith and knowing that no matter what, God has it all under control.  And he loves me.  And the best is yet to come.  And a lot like the Storybook Bible's ending, our story is to be continued...

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Am I too Grumpy?

I've been wrestling quite a bit lately with what seems like my general state of grumpiness.

It hasn't been an overt, or even excessively visible, grumpiness, but anyone that's been close with me over the last year or so would tell you that I've been a bit of a grump.

Here's something that I've read recently, and it put quite a bit into perspective for me:

"A person has to be thoroughly disgusted with the way things are to find the motivation to set out on the Christian way.  As long as we think the next election might eliminate crime and establish justice or another scientific breakthrough might save the environment or another pay raise might push us over the edge of anxiety into a life of tranquility, we are not likely to risk the arduous uncertainties of the life of faith.  A person has to get fed up with the ways of the world before he, before she, acquires an appetite for the world of grace." - Eugene Peterson, Under the Unpredictable Plant

Peterson nailed me here.  I am, and have been, "fed up with the ways of the world."  I am "thoroughly disgusted with the way things are" and have no hope in elections, scientific breakthroughs, or pay raises.

So what, then?

Well, I've realized I'm just sad -- and that is ok.  To be sad is a doorway, not a destination.  To be sad is to be in a place where hope can bloom.

I've been sad that life hasn't worked out the way I've wanted.  I've been sad that my relationship with God, and even the Christian Life hasn't worked out the way I've wanted.  I've wanted and yearned for what we were all created for -- a life of peace and joy and beauty and deep intimacy.  I've wanted a life void of stress and pain and hurt and disappointment.

But the hard things have come in spades and the good things have come far too sporadically.

So I'm coming to embrace my grumpiness.  My grumpiness is sadness disguised.  And my disguised sadness is actually a pathway to hope.

All this is to admonish you to embrace your grumpiness.  Be the Grump.  And recognize that it stems from a deep sadness and from broken hopes and dreams.

Then take the sadness before a merciful and loving Father, one who proved his care by taking on flesh to bear the weight of all the world's sadness.  And let's praise together when 3 days later that sadness is broken and hope restored.