Sit

storm (2of 1)

We sit.

Isn’t that what benches are for? We find them in parks, on busy street corners and in places where you are encouraged to take a moment and sit. Taking in the beauty that’s around you – in the people that walk by and in the vistas laid out before you. Places which speak to you and take your breath away, a sunset, a waterfall – a mountainside oasis.

Sometimes we are perched beside the ocean, and witness the storm rolling in – we recognize the darkened sky, we feel the wind whip up and we see the rain along the horizon. There we are, present and watching as the approaching storm tumbles in and we continue to  sit – and wait.

Wait?

I don’t know about you, but I sure have a few storms in my life. Storms I expected to head on out to sea, blow over,  move on and dwindle off into a small rain cloud rather than an ongoing monsoon. But here they are, dodging me, not letting me go and becoming a source of constant pain. Why would I want to wait for that? Seems to me I’d want to run!

Yet, here I am.

I know the signs. Like when I sit on that bench and see the rain clouds moving in, I sense a storm brewing.  So too, I witness the relational dynamics that toggle my horizon askew as I see a storm rising within.  The question is – am I ready?

Am I ready to face the storm?

Am I ready to fight the battle? Am I ready to stand firm and undergo whatever the storm clouds bring? Am I ready to be still and ride out the storm?  Perhaps your storm doesn’t come with pouring rain and thunder, but with subtle words and inaction. Maybe it’s not the beating rain upon your back but the constant subtle drip of an unsatisfied life. Regardless of what’s on your horizon, and what you see, there is one truth that anchors your soul.

Jesus knows.

He knows what you struggle with, knows where you fall and how you do. He knows how tired you can be, how worn out you can become and loves you anyway.  No matter how you have acted. No matter what you have done. No matter what you will do. Jesus loves you. YOU. Yes, you.

So sit with Him.

See those storm clouds coming and call out in the only way you know how. Holler to Him. Cry out to Him. Whisper to Him. In whatever way you speak – speak. Just go to Him. Him. Jesus Christ who offers hope in a darkened world. Jesus Christ who promises to love you even as the storm blows.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30

Sometimes as we sit – we see.

The longer I sit in a storm the clearer my vision can become – eventually. Rather than wishing for the storm to pass we need to keep company with Jesus. He asks me to get away with Him and in doing so I will recover my life. Getting away with Jesus is as simple, and as difficult – as being still with Him and waiting on His timing.

Waiting might be what we are called to do. As we sit by the sea andsee the storm rage on, it can call us to drink in the creation that affirms one thing – our Creator. We are not alone in our storm. We are invited to sit with Him and learn the unforced rhythms of grace. So grab a bench, a chair, any perch will do.

And sit.

 

Peterson, Eugene H. The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2002.

Surrender

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You stand there, feet firmly planted and you lift your feeble hands up. When you choose to lay it all on the line, exposing every single part of who you are – you find yourself risking to lose – well, everything!

You remember every broken promise, every shattered dream and you find yourself so worn out that you can’t even cry out for help anymore. When you can’t find the words to name the pain that casts shadows over the depths of your heart.

That’s when you know – it’s time – well it’s probably way past time.

To surrender.

Surrender, it sounds so defeating doesn’t it? We want to raise a white flag and make it all stop, just stop. Maybe throw in the towel and give up. Perhaps we just choose to wallow in the doubts of who we are and beat ourselves up for failure once again. Know this, that’s not surrender, that’s shame.

Let’s call how we see it.

Shame grips our hearts in fear and tries to get us to believe lies about ourselves. Shame does not free us, – oh no – it shackles us! Binding us with insecurities we don’t need nor even think upon. Shame sucks the joy out of our lives and it’s time to put an end to it.

Surrender, true surrender, frees us. It doesn’t come easy and there is definitely  a price to be paid. We often want to skip that part, miss that payment due and just gain our reward – rest. R.E.S.T. Moving on so quickly in our search for peace, we often aren’t willing to take that long hard look in the mirror – and reflect, remember and release it and place it at God’s feet, in full surrender.

Somehow we wear the self condemnation like a warm blanket and think this will bring comfort to us. There are words etched upon our hearts and minds we’ve repeated over and over to ourselves in the past. “I am not worth it. I don’t deserve to be loved.” Whatever your doubt, whatever your fear  – it’s time to call it like you see it.

Lies.

You don’t believe me, fine. Don’t listen to me, listen to Jesus.

“Jesus went across to Mount Olives, but he was soon back in the Temple again. Swarms of people came to him. He sat down and taught them.

The religion scholars and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery. They stood her in plain sight of everyone and said, “Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery. Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something incriminating so they could bring charges against him.

Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger in the dirt. They kept at him, badgering him. He straightened up and said, “The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.” Bending down again, he wrote some more in the dirt.

Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest. The woman was left alone. Jesus stood up and spoke to her. “Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?”

 “No one, Master.”

“Neither do I,” said Jesus. “Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.” John 8:1-11

Oh there is so much in this story Jesus told – for now, let’s just focus on this – surrender.

This woman was caught in the act of adultery. Here she is dragged into the temple and is placed before Jesus. How do you think she might have been feeling? Shameful. The Law said to stone her for her sin. This woman was an adulteress and rather than shove her deeper into her own shame about her choices – Jesus encourages her give it all up. Not just the sex my friends, or the sin, but the shame too.

He lovingly looks at her and poses this simple question. “Does no one condemn you?” Jesus gets right to the heart of the matter. He looks around as the dust has settled from the stones gathered at His feet and clearly sees no one. Jesus looked into her heart in this very hard place and proclaimed, “Neither do I.”

Wait. What?

Neither do you condemn me? I am ….. free? This question whispered  from her battered past and her life of shame. “Teacher, you don’t condemn me?”  I wonder what was going through her mind and heart as she was prepared for the stoning – the shame and self condemnation must have been overwhelming. She had prepared for the worst and now she is free. Free. FREE.

Jesus says “Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.” It’s not a get out of jail free card, He did tell her to sin no more. But that wasn’t His point. It wasn’t to tell her to stop having sex, he could have just stoned her if that was his concern. No. The concern was her heart and her mind – her self imposed prison of shame. He wanted her to see it, experience it, feel it and embrace this fact.

Freedom comes in letting go.

He asks her to surrender and let go of the shame that binds her in continual bondage. Today, I encourage you with His words, with His truths and with His love.

Open the doorway to your heart and the riches of your mind. Drink of the cup of mercy and grace. Pour it down straight and hard. Let this truth settle within you. Look into your own mirror, stare long at your own reflection and let the Spirit speak. Listen.

Unclench your fists, open your heart and let the love of Christ dwell deeply inside you. Find the shame that binds you. Jesus has the key to those shackles, let Him use it. Unlock His love and rest in Him. Entrust yourself to the One who can heal you. Release your shame, reclaim your true sense of self and worth – in Him.

Don’t let those doubts rise up, nor fears can grab ahold. Oh no. Not today. For today we trust His words and His example. Today we believe – for it’s in believing we can offer our hearts back to him in full surrender.  Let go. Be.

Leave your life of sin and surrender yourself to Jesus.

Today.

Peterson, Eugene H. The Message. Bible Gateway. Web

Holy Mess

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I confess – I am a mess.

This unbridled, totally chaotic – mess. If you walked into my home right now, you’d see it. If you sat down and talked with me, you’d hear it. If you heard the constant stories of my life, you’d know it. Just a total mess. Often I think about Jesus and the words He would say to me as I strive to find balance in my life. When the storms rise up and I can’t see clearly, I wonder – what would my Lord say?

Consider this story:

The boat was in the water, some distance from land, buffeted and pushed around by waves and wind. Deep in the night, when He had concluded His prayers, Jesus walked out on the water to His disciples in their boat. The disciples saw a figure moving toward them and were terrified.

Disciple: It’s a ghost!

Another Disciple: A ghost? What will we do?

Jesus:  Be still. It is I. You have nothing to fear.

Peter:  Lord, if it is really You, then command me to meet You on the water.

Jesus: Indeed, come.

Peter stepped out of the boat onto the water and began walking toward Jesus.  But when he remembered how strong the wind was, his courage caught in his throat and he began to sink.

Peter: Master, save me!

 Immediately Jesus reached for Peter and caught him.

Jesus: O you of little faith. Why did you doubt and dance back and forth between following Me and heeding fear?

Then Jesus and Peter climbed in the boat together, and the wind became still.” Matthew 14:24-32

Sometimes in my mess, the clutter and chaos call to me. They become my own storm in life. The waves crash, the wind whips in my face and the sights and sounds overwhelm me. I hear Jesus’s voice calling me to come out to Him as He stands smack in the middle of my own storm. Often I cry out loudly to Him, “Is that you Lord Jesus?” My vision gets clouded as I ask and question in this mess of mine. Perhaps it’s not really to understand if it’s Jesus out there, but if it’s me still safely in the boat.

Hear him?

Jesus:  Be still. It is I. You have nothing to fear.”

Nothing. To. Fear. Ha! If I believed that, would my life be such a mess? He’s calling me to come out to Him in the middle of all the storms in my life and I balk at Him. I don’t jump out of the boat. At first I don’t even say, “Is it you Lord?” I just stay focused on the mess. Maybe if I straighten this here, or fix this over here and perhaps change right here. Oh. All these ways I try to manipulate my circumstances to bring me peace. That’s what I tell myself.

I find sometimes my mess is so familiar, so comfortable and personal that it’s easier and less challenging to be different. To chart a new course. To expect a different response. To challenge a long held belief.  Henry David Thoreau wrote, “The path of least resistance leads to crooked rivers and crooked men.” We can live our lives passively and just go with the flow. Whatever thoughts or feelings come our way, let them overtake us. The storms that surge upon the shores in our hearts, just let them wash over us. My friends, that leads to crooked rivers and crooked men.

I think I am misshapen and twisted enough.

Which road would Jesus choose? The one of least resistance? Just look out from that boat you are in, past the swells of water and the battering rain and see Him walking on that water. O what little faith I have. He beckons me, He beckons you. Come! Can you hear the voice of Jesus calling you? It might be a loud voice piercing your ears or a quiet whisper that won’t let you go.

Do you listen? Do you heed His call? Will you obey Him? Even if it’s water you are called to walk upon, will you trust Him? When it makes no sense that you will stay upright. When your logic tells you it won’t turn out well. Will you walk out to Him anyway?

It’s not my own will, or anything I will ever do that would allow me to walk upon water, or rise above the mess of my life. Oh no. It is the power of God, and only the power of the Almighty God which allows such a miracle to happen.

Our God loves us so much that He emptied Himself into His Son Jesus Christ and we partake in this wonderful, bountiful mystery of grace and love – when we take the first step. It’s a daily moment by moment transformation and participation in the divine nature of our Holy God.

“Now all of us, with our faces unveiled, reflect the glory of the Lord as if we are mirrors; and so we are being transformed, metamophosed, into His same image from one radiance of glory to another, just as the Spirit of the Lord accomplishes it.” 2Cor 3:18

So go ahead.

Move.  Walk. Run. Crawl – do whatever you have to. Just go. Don’t look back at the boat. Don’t look at those waves. Ignore the rain that blinds your vision. Focus on Jesus and take a step – just one.

These holy messes that are our lives. They are the very places that the Creator of the Universe and the lover of our souls can inhabit, renew, rebuild, recreate and resurrect life. We must let Him. Our lives are about transformation, going from the mess and muck of sin and strife to the ever increasing glory of being His child and finding hope that resides in Jesus the Christ.

That is why my life is a HOLY mess.

For it is set apart by the One who walks on water and calms the storm. As soon as I call to Him, He is immediately there. As soon as He steps into my boat, into my life, the storms raging quiets. It’s not that the messiness is over. No. He often beckons me to come to Him in the darkest part of the storm. It’s the truth we are no longer alone in it.

It is Him and I have nothing to fear.

Scripture taken from The Voice™. Copyright © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.