Do you thirst?

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Being alone.

That’s where she flees to.  Where it’s quiet and all the noise in her head is drowned out by the stillness of space. She has to get outside from the everyday moments where people talk and cast glances her way. Remove herself and run.

Some might call it discipline, others self preservation – yet maybe it’s just plain fear. A feeling of no longer being able to control the expectations and thoughts of what others think – and just trust who she is – and be. This is a daily ritual that she’s come to embrace in her routine. She runs, or rather, walks….

“In a small Samaritan town known as Sychar, Jesus and His entourage stopped to rest at the historic well that Jacob gave his son Joseph. It was about noon when Jesus found a spot to sit close to the well while the disciples ventured off to find provisions. From His vantage, He watched as a Samaritan woman approached to draw some water. Unexpectedly He spoke to her.

Jesus: Would you draw water, and give Me a drink?

Woman:  I cannot believe that You, a Jew, would associate with me, a Samaritan woman; much less ask me to give You a drink.” John 4:5-9

Just like that – He spoke to her.

She escaped to the well in the middle in the day. The hottest and most difficult time to attend to this chore was the time she chose to go. Why not go earlier in the cool of the morning? Why not find comfort in community as she tends to the daily task of drawing water? Perhaps there was no community and no comfort for her? There was no place for her to find rest.

In a culture when women had no voice, no place to call there own, no value – the first thing Jesus did with her was invite her into community with Him. He didn’t just ask her for water. No.

Jesus had a conversation with her.

“Jesus: You don’t know the gift of God or who is asking you for a drink of this water from Jacob’s well. Because if you did, you would have asked Him for something greater; and He would have given you the living water.

Woman: Sir, You sit by this deep well a thirsty man without a bucket in sight. Where does this living water come from? Are You claiming superiority to our father Jacob who labored long and hard to dig and maintain this well so that he could share clean water with his sons, grandchildren, and cattle?

Jesus:  Drink this water, and your thirst is quenched only for a moment. You must return to this well again and again. I offer water that will become a wellspring within you that gives life throughout eternity. You will never be thirsty again.

Woman: Please, Sir, give me some of this water, so I’ll never be thirsty and never again have to make the trip to this well.

Jesus: Then bring your husband to Me.

Woman: I do not have a husband.

Jesus: Technically you are telling the truth. But you have had five husbands and are currently living with a man you are not married to. ” John 4: 10 – 18

Just like that. Jesus looked her straight in the eye and spoke honest words, hard words but transparent ones. He saw the woman for who she was, all her imperfections all her sins, all her scars. He reveals this to her in the most gracious way by asking her to bring her husband to Him. Of all the things the Messiah could have said to her in those moments about Living Water, all the lessons about its life giving flow. Rather than teach, he reached. Reached into the depths of that Samaritan woman’s heart and uncovered her greatest shame, her darkest place and invited her to step out and speak. Use her voice

Jesus didn’t reject her or neglect her. He loved her. Her. Not the woman she could be, or would become or could have been,  but who she was now. Now, in that moment, He loved her so much that he chose to commune with her in the very depths of who she was, and hold her close. He loved her by the choices he made.

He did have a choice.

He could have adhered to the culture of the day. He could have remained at the well and let her go about her business. Ignored speaking to her or seeing her for who she was, just plain ignoring her as a person. Yet Jesus was counter culture, rebellious and willing to go against the social and cultural norms of the day to welcome this women into His heart. He went straight to the heart of the matter in their conversation – her heart. By exposing the ugliness that’s inside, it made room for the Living Water to well up her soul. But here’s the thing, He didn’t leave her there to remain in the ugliness, He invited her to drink. Drink long and deep of Living Water that comes from Jesus Christ

How often have our lives been this way? We get busy with our days and our circumstances that we just choose to go about them like any other routine and miss the opportunity to drink from the Living Water? This woman at the well, she didn’t recoil from the secrets Jesus exposed, rather, she struggled to understand what He was saying, how He was living, what He was doing in that moment – with her. Any encounter with Jesus can bring us to our knees in wondering who we are and what we are about. The very fact Jesus loved her, talked to her, engaged with her drew her into the Light of His Presence and the joy of knowing the Messiah. It was in her deepest shame and weakness, and looking them straight in the eye that she recognized Jesus Christ as the Messiah who was to come.

Upon meeting Jesus, we see that this encounter changed this woman’s life.

This woman who went to the well mid-day, who had chosen this time of day and hour to remain quiet and alone, keeping herself from community. This women, she returned from the well so full that she faced the thing she feared the most and spoke to those who rejected her, the community. She says in John 4:29, “ I met a stranger who knew everything about me. Come and see for yourselves; can He be the Anointed One?” She faced her shame and her fears and spoke right up. She left Jesus questioning – Can this be? Could it be? Is it true?

Don’t ever think your voice doesn’t matter.

With just one question, she engages the whole community to hear about the Messiah. Scripture says, “Meanwhile, because one woman shared with her neighbors how Jesus exposed her past and present, the village of Sychar was transformed—many Samaritans heard and believed.” John 4:39

Because this women, who was often alone and rejected  – heard the call of Jesus and responded to His love. She shared this hope with others and an entire village was transformed due to the faith of just one voice questioning His truth. She let Jesus expose her past and her present, she allowed Him in and in doing so He invited her to drink from that Living Water.

Are you thirsty? Bring your questions, saddle on the shame, let’s find the Living Water.

Drink.

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

The Veil Is Torn

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Sometimes we don’t see clearly. Do we?

We live our lives in an understanding of who we think we are. We tell ourselves we’re products of our environment, dependent upon the circumstances in which we live.  Our life as a child growing up created this framework in which we now engage and view the world. We are caught in this reality of a brokeness. No matter what you experienced in your home –  neglect, financial instability, additive behavior, abuse – difficult, oh so difficult life situations – whatever life threw our way, we feel like victims. Victims. We all have our own story don’t we?  Often there are things we have experienced that we wouldn’t wish on anyone, yet here we are. Hiding behind the curtain that shrouds our vision, our thinking – our very being. We’ve swallowed the lies.

I am not good enough.

I am not worth it. I am not lovable. I got what I deserved. Can you hear it? The doubt, the fear – the desperate need to be loved. It’s cries out from our deepest longings. We see glimmers of light shining as the curtain sways. We grab its edge, gently move it so we can peer out – yet all we see is skewed, distorted – untrue.  We have this veil covering our eyes, our minds – our very hearts. We just can’t see ourselves for who we are – or for whom we can become.

We move within our lives in ways which reflects what we believe. I think I am not good enough, so I act like I am not good enough. It’s a self fulfilling prophecy. I won’t eat right or control my tongue and certainly not cut back on my internet use – I can justify these as ways that serve me – however do they not enslave me? I can’t speak for you – you will have to name the ways in which you do this to yourself. I am asking when did taking care of ourselves become a sinful thing to do?  Choices I now make reinforce this thought pattern in my mind. I say to myself, “I’m not going to take care of myself, no one cares anyway.”  If I think I don’t deserve to be loved I will allow myself to be treated as unlovable. Those in our hearts we long for to treat us differently, will choose to continue to treat us as we believe about ourselves.

It’s time.

It’s time to confront the lies we live in, the thoughts we combat, the ways in which we doubt. Sometimes the doubts keep us in that valley while we are eager for the mountaintop. We yearn for acceptance, we work hard to gain love,  we serve in a multitude of ways and we just get busy. These can be dark times and we keep ourselves enslaved by believing the lies. That veil covering keeps us from understanding who we are, and whose we are.

We must take off the veil – and see.

“But Jesus, again crying out loudly, breathed his last. At that moment, the Temple curtain was ripped in two, top to bottom. There was an earthquake, and rocks were split in pieces.” Matthew 27:50-53

The very moment Jesus Christ died upon the cross at Calvary, God moved. Immediately! Scripture says that the Temple curtain was torn in two from top to bottom. There wasn’t one jagged edge left to rip apart, it was completely torn in two – separated and a new way was born. In death life sprang forth. God ushered in a new way for us to be intimate with Him. In former times only the High Priest could enter the Most Holy of Holies but once a year. Now Yaweh has torn away the dividing wall and brought us, you, me – into our true identity.  He invites us to be one with Him in the most sacred place. We are His.

His.

Because we are His it’s time to embrace who we really are let Him mold our true identity. To live not as victims but as victorious. Rip away the curtain you are hiding behind, tear off the veil shrouding your sense of vision, let the Light shine deep into your soul. Because of Jesus Christ we can be intimate with the Father, we can have sweet, deep, intimate fellowship with Him. Your vision of the world can change my friend. But first, let Him change you.

It’s long past time.

 

Out Of The Shadows

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I can’t seem to find my way.

I see the light, it’s inviting me to step up, out and go onward.  And yet, my feet, they just can’t grab ahold. I take a step, the rocks they shift and scatter as my weight bears down on them. My foot, it slips. Sometimes I fall. I try to move, just move – my feet, yet when my feet fail me, what do I do? I could just sit there, gazing up and thinking how beautiful that light is. But, no! I stretch out my hands to grab ahold and feel for the rock under my grip. Maybe between my arms and legs I pull myself up and can climb out – and be free.

So why am I still here?

Sitting in my cavern of doubt, this place I know so well – questions rise to the surface faster than any sense of peace. I look up and see the light shining and I want to go to it, climb out and sit it’s in warmth. I want – the light. The warmth it brings, the comfort I find, the hope of being able to see in the darkness. That’s the thing about light, it shines like a beacon. Calling us to it’s presence.

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.” It is just that simple. Jesus is the light. He is the source of warmth, of comfort and of the hope that I seek. He is the every glowing, nonstop energy source we can cling to, we can hold onto, yes – we can trust. Trust.  As you sit in your own cavern surrounded by doubt and fears, you have a choice. You do! Take one more step- just one. Who cares if you are standing on the rubble of a battered life, of broken promises and shattered dreams?

Jesus does.

Are you grieving? Then grieve my friend. Feel the pressure of the rocks under your feet. Let the wounds they inflict bleed. As you reach for another cleft in the rock looking to climb out – know this. Remaining in that cavern may be the place that you need to be. The step you want to take to climb out, in fact may be the one you need to take to step out of the shadows you are hiding in and place yourself into the beam of His presence.

Step my friend, into the light.

His light. You may be wrestling to climb out when He is inviting you to sit with Him. The light Jesus can shine, it can move into every crevice in that cavern, every place of darkness can be aflame with His truth. But first you must step out of the shadows of the doubt and into it. Let it cast it’s beam right into your personal pit of pain and insecurity. He’s there, with you, now. No matter what you face, no matter how much you feel overcome or are discouraged. His light shines forth.

Its an invitation!

He is the light of the world. That word light in Matthew 5:16 means, “the light by which true life is gained.” Jesus is proclaiming that He is the way in which true life is gained. LIFE. Oh, Jesus is the way. It reminds me of this verse in John 14:6 when Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He is calling out like a lighthouse beam on the oceans shore – shouting out His Majesty that He is the Savior of the world, and through Him you can have eternal life. It’s a ray of hope revealing the goodness and the mercy of God’s favor, His delight. His love can reach us into the darkened places of our hearts, reveal our doubts and is present in moments of weakness.

Can you see Him shining through?

Sometimes you might have to be in the process and grieve. Feel the pain – endure suffering. Your dreams you had, they may not be what has played out before you. You may find the walls of your cavern scribbled with words of despair and loneliness. You might be keeping yourself cloaked in regrets of the past. You may be blinded by fears of the future and of the unknown. Whatever your situation is, regardless of the circumstances – it doesn’t matter – we all have our own caverns and pits -our places where we are more comfortable in the shadows than in the light.

I encourage, my friend, His light can shine through that hole in your heart, my heart, and cast a beam of hope. Don’t get comfortable in the darkness, place yourself in His care. Trust Him. Let Him shine into your heart. Invite hope to rise.

Maybe the way out isn’t up, but through.

Follow the Light.

In the most unlikely place

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I was sitting in a courthouse of all places –  a courthouse.

The place were laws are made, upheld and enforced. Peering into the reality that what I was about to face -well – it’s wasn’t going to be pretty. I owed a debt. Not a large debt, but one that had gone unpaid. Questions surfaced and attacked my sense of reality – just how had this debt accumulated that I was unaware of?  Why hadn’t this been handled earlier? I had always been a responsible person. Exactly how did I get here?

Perhaps that story is for another day, for what came from this experience is so much richer than how I got here. This story needs to be told, why else would I admit such hard things?

My arrival on the courthouse steps wasn’t this scene from Law & Order or anything significant. When I walked in, not one person recognized me or was there to fight on my behalf. I walked in – alone. As I opened the doors to the crowded courtroom I could hear the judge as he read off the names of people waiting in the gallery for their turn to speak and be heard.  When my case was called, I somehow needed to find my feet and rise up to stand. All eyes from that sea of faces were upon me, gulp, yes me. I knew in that moment, I was no longer alone. I was a part of this plethora of people who hurt, who are broken and have fallen and just might need a new contract on life.

Make no mistake I was there to take ownership and  be responsible for the things that transpired. Yet somehow I realized this debt that accumulated over time, had brought doubt and shame to my own sense of who I am as a person. Who had I become that I let a small amount of money determine  my sense of self and purpose? This is what I truly had to face – not the debt.

Myself.

As the judge dismissed us, more waiting began outside in the lobby of the courthouse. The benches filled up with souls awaiting their turn to speak their story, to tell their tale – and to be heard. I sat among them and as I looked out at the morning sun, I smiled at the beauty of another day, even the hard ones. The benches filled and chatter ensued. Yet I stay enclosed in my thoughts, sitting on my bench all alone, just me. Until.

Until she sat down.

We both looked more alike than the rest of the crowd, our clothes were a bit cleaner, our hair a bit neater and our conversation much quieter. I don’t remember how it happened, but somehow we talked, sharing our stories with one another. I found this such a gift to prepare myself to speak to the lawyer when it was my turn. As our stories unfolded I found our lives intersected in so many ways, our dreams similar and our hopes just as dashed. At one point she leans over to me quietly and says, “you know, you should really talk to the free legal team here, they have really helped me.” As I awaited justice, judgement and punishment, I heard the first whisper of mercy.

Mercy.

I thought for a moment, could this be? My questions were answered as quickly as I posed them to myself. The free legal team was searching me out, they called my name. We met and discussed my case. In fact, I didn’t have to discuss much at all. I walked in alone to the courtroom but now I had someone to defend me, someone who heard my story. Next thing I know I am filling out paperwork and they meet with the judge.

Case dismissed.

Just like that. The wheels of justice turned and once set in motion, they blew right past me. Not only was my case dismissed, it will now be expunged from my record. My name, my good name, is back intact.  My years of hard work and reliability, of consistent payment of debts, restored.   Erased. Redeemed. Forgiven. Like it never even happened.

Mercy.

Mercy is defined as compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone when it is within one’s power to punish. This is what I experienced today, awe inspiring mercy. It was within the courts rights to hold me to this debt, yet I was freed. I can’t ever express what this has done for me. Not for my bottom line financially, but for my spirit. I tasted mercy and forgiveness and now I am  called to offer the same. Freely I have received and freely I must give.

Parable of unmerciful servant.

“At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?”

Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

“But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

Mercy.

I was now walking within this very parable, in God’s story for my own life. Like the man forgiven of his debts, I too had been forgiven. Okay, so I didn’t owe 10,000 bags of gold, but I had a debt, one I couldn’t pay. What would I do? Would I return home from the courthouse, renewed with hope, and show mercy? Or would I be like the unmerciful servant who demands from others more then he himself could give? Could I truly grasp the gift of mercy God had bestowed upon me? I. Couldn’t. Breathe. I needed to stop and take it all in –  and weep.

This wasn’t about money, oh no. It was about me.

About me loving, trusting and believing in God  – and receiving mercy. The most precious gift of all, compassion touching my heart in places that laid bare before Him. Places I didn’t even know existed, but He did.  Remember, I had let money define and determine my value. Money is a currency – but not one of the heart. There is no price tag on our value, no balance sheet that can hold all our debts. No. We are valuable because of His love. We are valuable because of His mercy. We are valuable because we are His.

His.

I don’t know what debts you owe. . What situation you have in your life that might throw you into your debtors court. This I do know, it’s humiliating. But if I had never walked up those courthouse steps, I wouldn’t have been able to experience the incredible mercy of the Living God. YWHW. Perhaps your debt isn’t financial – but you feel it. There is forgiveness that needs to be offered, hope that needs to be restored and hearts to love and encourage to turn to Him.

Just take one step. Let mercy win.

 New International Version. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986 

 

Living in truth?

Denial

While all this was going on, Peter was down in the courtyard. One of the Chief Priest’s servant girls came in and, seeing Peter warming himself there, looked hard at him and said, “You were with the Nazarene, Jesus.”

He denied it: “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He went out on the porch. A rooster crowed.

 The girl spotted him and began telling the people standing around, “He’s one of them.” He denied it again.

After a little while, the bystanders brought it up again. “You’ve got to be one of them. You’ve got ‘Galilean’ written all over you.”

Now Peter got really nervous and swore, “I never laid eyes on this man you’re talking about.” Just then the rooster crowed a second time. Peter remembered how Jesus had said, “Before a rooster crows twice, you’ll deny me three times.” He collapsed in tears.” Mark 14:66-72

Denial.

Flat out, straight from our heart – nope, I didn’t know it, didn’t do it, didn’t say it and even didn’t think it! Denial, refusal, rejection – ways in which we deflect ourselves from dealing with the reality of the situation before us.

In this story from Scripture, Peter was faced with the ongoing questions about his relationship and his commitment to Jesus the Nazarene., “I never laid eyes on this man you’re talking about.” Here Peter denied knowing Jesus, the Christ, three times before the rooster crowed. His denial was not a one time occurrence, oh no! He refused, again and again, to acknowledge his relationship, his experience and his love for Jesus.

Wow.

Just drink it in. The man Peter who did so much for His Lord Jesus, had this moment where he couldn’t accept the truth that knowing Jesus would hurt. Admitting He knew Jesus at the moment left him open for accusation, shame, distrust and mockery. Peter didn’t want to feel it, experience it or go through this public disapproval. I believe he feared it. Jesus was before the Sanhedrin that very moment, standing silent against their false testimony about Him. (Mark 14:61) And Peter, in his denial of His Lord, spoke volumes.

Denial, it does that.

It starts with one refusal of the truth  and next thing you know it is planting and growing seeds of mistrust and disunity wherever it lands. We all could confess to some denial in our lives, don’t you think?  We often refuse to admit the truth of who we are in our very inner being. We share part of ourselves with the world, to the communities and even to our families. Perhaps our marriages are a mess, or maybe we harbor an addiction we try to keep under wraps. It could be we just don’t want to face the pain of our past so we just keep looking forward thinking that will “fix” it. We focus everywhere we can, pointing fingers of blame elsewhere, rather to face the truth we find in the mirror.

We are afraid.

Fear is the bedrock of denial. We fear what others think. We fear what might happen to us. We fear our reputations to be amiss, our family life to be torn asunder and our belief in who we are, rejected. Rather than speak truth and shine authenticity into the world around us, we deny the power of truth.

It is when we choose to speak the truth that invites transforming power and hope of God to a life filled with denial. Fingers may continue to point your way, self rejection and shame may consume you and make you want to flee. You do have a choice.

Choose truth.

Let the warped sense of reality that denial brings fall away.  Invite Jesus into this place and let the power of God’s Spirit  speak into a dark, dry place. This place in our hearts which yearns for hope, craves acceptance and desires freedom. I encourage you today, from someone who is a Peter. I’ve lived in denial and shown only part of who I am to those around me. There is freedom in being you. Don’t deny being the person God intended you to be.

Face your fear, and live!

Peterson, Eugene H. The Message. Bible Gateway. Web. 15 Jan. 2014.

Happy New Year?

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It’s a few days past from all the Happy New Year wishes, the resolutions, the goals being set and the reality of the true new year sets it.

It’s just another day isn’t it? Any step along the road you trod. A walk along the journey of your life where you are privileged to be – you. With each new year there is this sense of a new beginning, a fresh start, a chance to be made new. Dreams are remembered and hopes are set before you once again as you try to prioritize and discern the essence of who you are and where you are headed.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could just plan it all out and it would fall into place?

Yeah – right! I know, I know, but please just stick with me for a minute. For years I lived my life thinking I could organize this shelf, pick up that room, move the clutter about and somehow it would dethrone the anxiety off the seat of my heart. If things had a system,  if I could manage paperwork, errands, shopping – oh the list could go on and on! Mine certainly could, how about yours? With the start of a new year, there is this yearning within me to gather my thoughts together and order them on paper. Somehow stream them into a nice, neat and orderly list. I can write to-do lists, organize clutter in closets, clean out things not worn in over a year. It may take some time as the things have stacked up, but sure, I can do that.

But the heart, just how do you gather that?

It’s like somehow believing you could heal yourself as you reflect upon broken lives, unfulfilled promises and shattered dreams. How do you reign in and order, chaos? It’s not with lists written on paper with pen and ink that transform our thinking. It’s not with resolutions that we muster strength for obtaining goals in our lives. It’s not with unfailing strength that we fortify ourselves against painful experiences.

No.

That would be trusting in yourself. While it’s true, there is beauty and freedom in finding who you truly are and have been created to be. There is a sense of purpose and of dignity as you gain hope not in lists or in items scratched off. No. There is freedom in releasing yourself from the expectation of measuring who you are against such a list. Each moment you strive to better yourself or to unlearn a behavior you are in fact, accepting that perhaps the way you have handled it all along may not have the best. But handle it you did.

It’s with our mistakes, it’s in our brokenness and with these unfulfilled lives that we become seekers. Searching out purpose and meaning. It’s these moments in our lives that we find ourselves asking questions we didn’t even know we wanted the answers for, that we begin to see light in the darkness.

We see, even when we didn’t know it was dark.

As you begin your new year and the resolutions you penned in ink are dry, yet they are ablaze within your heart. They kindle like a burning ember reaching down to deepest part of who you are. I encourage you today, this moment, to seek out and not depend on your own understanding, oh no.

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
Run to God! Run from evil!” Proverbs 3:4-5

God is real. He is true. He will be there for you. You can trust Him.

There is peace in not figuring it all out on your own. There is hope in knowing you can trust that if the dreams do shatter  – God can pick up that shard and graft it into piece of art taking away the sharp painful edges and make you a new creation. He is a transformational, renewing and redeeming God.

In this new year, let Him make YOU new.

Mountains to climb

Faith move moutains.

Repeat after me –

Our faith can move mountains. Our faith can move mountains. Our faith can move mountains.

Whew, that’s a mouthful. But here’s the question, do you believe it? I mean really, really, believe that faith can move mountains?

Hmmm, me either.

I want to believe it, I yearn to believe, I intellectualize it, I ponder it. But I do I believe it?

Like placing one foot in front of another as we walk along the mountain terrain is the dance of these words as they carve themselves into our hearts. We can lay them out, reading in succession and focus on their flow. Our. Faith. Can. Move. Mountains. Repeating the mantra over and over again and somehow it becomes true, right?

Riiiiiight………..

So often I have found myself, stuck in my circumstances thinking, why? Why do I have to deal with so many physical problems? Why do I have this constant pain in my body?  Why don’t I have the energy to live life the way I desire to? Why do all these medical tests cost so much?  Why do I live so far from devoted friends and family?  Why did this happen? Why? Why? Why?

You see, the questions linger on the tongue, waiting to be asked, but the moment the words are uttered we stare directly into that faith, the one that moves mountains. Yeah, that one.

Somehow the messiness of the trail we are walking on obscures the view. Branches of doubt creep in, thorns of insecurity poke and prod and the rotten fruit of promises broken litter the trail. We focus our eyes are what we see, ponder what could have been and desire dreams that were lost.

We can’t even see the mountain, let alone make it move!

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you. Luke 17:5-6                                                       

Faith. That which we believe in, trust, hope for, live in. It can define us, chart our course, change our minds, strengthen our hearts and propel us.

But first, we must find it, and focus it.

No, not grabbing ahold of the newest positive quote to get you through the day. No, not focusing on all the good and letting go of all the bad. No, not journaling all your experiences and processing your thoughts. Oh no! See, these are all good and powerful tools. Wonderful ways that prepare your heart, move within your mind and bring you focus.

Focus.

Ah! The focal point of our vision is not what we do,  but whom we believe. Jesus, the Christ. We gaze squarely on who He is, who He says He is and what He says He will do. This shifts our focus. Our eyes no longer linger on the fallen fruit of the trail. Our newly defined eyesight shakes the doubts right off those branches and takes the thorns out of our vision. Keeping our thoughts totally focused on Jesus Christ allows faith to grow in our hearts and our minds.

When our hearts and mind collide in agreement, well then, we just might envision the trail. That rock we thought was a boulder really was just a pebble after all- just walk on by. That tree smack in the middle of the trail is merely a root upcropping that you just don’t want to trip over -just step on over. You see? Oh how much easier when the vision clears and you focus.

When the road seems long, the trail gets steep, the walk seems endless and the questions emerge. Know this. There’s someone just up ahead, bidding you to come. He was blazing that trail for you to walk long before you were born! Just keep on walking. When the road gets hard, call out to Him. When you can’t see His face, feel His Presence. When the inclines come as you venture higher on up, follow Him.

First He reveals Himself so you see, then He calls you to see the unseen. This is not a game. This is your faith walk.  As you learn more about Him, see more of Him, hear Him more, feel Him. You find that gem of belief, that nugget of truth hidden in your heart. Holding onto you faith, your belief, just WALK.

That mountain you wanted to move?

You turn around in the trail to claim victory over it and it’s then that you realize. You are just about to grab the cusp   of a ledge, so you settle yourself upon it and rest. Wait as you catch your breath. Enjoy the view! Then get back up, and walk. The summit awaits!

There will be more mountains to climb, valleys to bridge, and victories to be had.  And you one you wanted to move will be overcome, and another will take it’s place.The climb is your victory, your belief, that with each step you can claim the truth.

Faith. Can. Move. Mountains.

Reaching

Reaching

Reaching.

Upward, onward, forward and often, backward. This constant process of reaching, of moving and of trying. A never ceasing, unending, constant sense of chaos. Looking for answers to long asked questions. Ever searching.

Like the cattails that sway in the breeze and never sit still. Are our hearts as we search them in the midst of pain.

Pain.

I rarely talk about it. In fact I was reminded as I shared with a precious friend just this weekend how little I do talk and contemplate the turns in life that have come my way. It’s not that I haven’t let them mold me, challenge me, grow me. But, have I spoken to free myself from the fear? Have I spoken so that maybe someone else might gain strength? Have I spoken to find my own voice?

Have I spoken?

I live with daily pain, the kind that takes your breath away so immediately your chest feels like it’s caving in. It hurts to breathe. Yes, read that again. It hurts to breathe. The very thing we take for granted, that sustains our life, brings me pain. That’s the thing about pain. We surprise ourselves on what we can truly endure.

This can also bring me much fear. Not fear in the sense of I can’t catch my breath (although I’ve had a few of those moments), but fear in losing time. Once you have tasted the sweetness of the brevity of life, oh how you want to rewrite the story! I desperately yearn to be reaching.

For more.

Reaching inward, yes. Rearranging my daily activities, responsibilities and priorities so that I honor this life I was blessed with, again.

Reaching outward, yes. Seeking to build a holistic support system around me, calling out for help when I need it.

Reaching upward. To the God who allowed this all to happen in the first place? Not so much. It’s a constant tension to reach out. There’s a cycle of doubt which creeps in, fear takes over and I cave. Like the breathe caught in my chest, is the love I offer my God.

Painful.

Rather than look up, I look backward at what could have been, should have been, on what I had planned. The “if only’s” choke out and I gasp for air again. This time, not because of a clot in my lung, but a clot in the relationship I have with my Father.

I reach. I grasp. I struggle to see His face, to hold His Hand. As I reach out, I find it empty, soaked with tears of grief. Of moments put on hold, memories missed and time lost. There I am, reaching backward once again. I know this path.

What will it take until I learn to no longer look backwards?

Perhaps that’s the point of the pain in the first place.

To trust.

To embrace this clinging, breathing, calming, moment by moment life of rest. That’s where my Father is, waiting for me, in our relationship together. Calling me to come.

Be.

Then the breeze blows, the wind moves and I feel His touch again.

This time, I reach up.