Sunday, March 24, 2013

Stirrings of the Heart - Faithful Today

There's something stirring in my heart these days. God at work, I know. Sanctifying through and through. And questions rise to the surface. So many questions. They threaten to drown me. I know the feeling too well. Anxiety and panic. It's hard to catch a breath. But maybe it's not what I think it is. Maybe it's not fear reaching to clutch at my throat and strangle. Maybe it's just me trembling at His touch, at the intimacy, the mystery of love, the adventure of a life together, a life I can't fully understand, a life of deep and complete trust. 

How can this small life amount to anything? How do I pour out every ounce of this one life when my heart is so selfish some days? What of the failure days? What of the running on empty days? What of the 20% days? And here it is: faithful today

Here and now, faithful. 

When I am not, He is. 

He never runs out. 

I do. He doesn't. 

And I ask Him to make me faithful. To help me to live dedicated to that which He has placed before me today so that which does not look like much might amount to much in His hands. 

There's something stirring in my heart these days. My breath catches like when the stars catch my eye and stop me in my tracks. It is mysterious and I want to clothe it all in words, but I can't. It is God at work, I know. And I am thankful.

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Whisper for the Weak - Beloved Before the First Step

Live for today.  Hear the whisper again and feel the assurance: you are My Beloved.  Don't take a step until you've heard it, felt it deep.  You are My Beloved and you always will be.  Before you do anything, I love you.  Be faithful today.  Be full of the kind of faith that trusts enough to walk one step at a time and gathers manna, relishing the "what is it"s.

The way she said it rings in my ears.  It came in response to my anguished question, a question too big for me, too big for now, about this life I'm trying so hard to live daily... "What IS it?!"  Her laughter, an upside-down kind of laughter, one of joyful surrender, it rang warm.  "That is manna. You just said manna!"  And I feel pressed for time as I try to clothe it all in words.  I'm about to be swept into the swift current of the day, but right now I'm thinking about manna, listening for the Whisper.  I forget my need sometimes, or I just get it wrong.  I don't need the answer... I need the mystery.  "What is it?" sustains because He whispers that I am His Beloved (And what a mystery it is!  God loves me?!).  Sovereign God, has chosen it to be so.  When I give up the clawing for the answer, I find that the mystery - that which God always, faithfully provides out of His love, the manna - it sustains.  And I don't know how or why, but I am filled.  Beloved before the first step.  If I have nothing else, it is enough.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

French Press, China, and the Flow of Influence

She left my favorite cup full of fresh french press coffee sitting on the table before she rushed out the door.  I see it and the tears start to flow.  Those five letters scrawled in red that grab my heart - C-H-I-N-A.  I pour the cream and the memories and the heart cries pour forth.  One Thousand Gifts words come like a flood. "I am blessed.  I can bless."  I missed it the first time, but it's so clear today.  And sometimes we need to read things twice, thrice, or more.  Read our lives over and over again, praying that we will see.  What miracle is this!  I am blessed, and I can bless.  And it is not for me to manipulate and strive, for God, never-ending God, makes a way... always a way.  So I pray, and I trust that He will use me to bless just like He uses the pianist, and the roommates, and the dear friends, and the children, and the colleagues, and the boss. The flow in my life becomes clear before my eyes.  I would hear the words later and they would ring true and help shape my Sanity Manifesto.  Influence (and that's precisely what I am praying for... for influence, to bless) is just that, the flowing in.  And I look at what's flowing into my life.  So many blessings!  And I wonder what's flowing out?  Could I be the blessing?

And the Spirit warms more than the coffee, and she may never realize how God used that simple action.  And maybe I... maybe I don't want to know how I'm blessing because pride creeps so near, a constant companion.  Perhaps God hides some things from us to save us from ourselves.  I long to stay humble, to savor the miracle, to call it that, because I am a mess.  One blessed mess!  And tomorrow I will be impatient and I will grow angry and I will forget to be thankful and He will love anyway and grant me the grace of two.  Such glory I am allowed to walk in!  Such glory flowing all around, flowing in, influencing my every move.  And I thirst for it.  I long for His Spirit to flow into me.  I long to see the blessings flowing in and to call them what they are: miracles! And I long to remember that my life can influence too.  Blessings can flow on through me because He lives in me, just like He lives in each of them.  So I ask myself: What's flowing?  And I open hands and heart that it may flow on.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Learning How to Live - My Own Sanity Manifesto

For over a month now, I have been meditating on Ann Voskamp's Sanity Manifesto, trying to live it, to absorb it, to make it my own, to let God use it in my life.  But when I fell back into a battle with that old foe, thorn in my side, anxiety, God began to work and here are some elements that I pray God will use to transform me.  These are the 15 phrases that make up my own Sanity Manifesto, the thoughts that drive me back to the throne of grace, keep my feet grounded, let my heart soar, remind me of the eternal, of the divine, of the full life that I am trying so hard to find, and of the gracious God who loves deep and constant.  These are 15 prayers of transformation and sanctification, and the next many posts will be my story, plain and simple, as I try to learn to fully live here, because it looks good on a page and it sounds good the way she clothes it all in poetic language, but to live it... to live it is hard.  To believe it is hard.  And I am so thankful for the way the Spirit moves and provides insight and precious companions to walk by my side.  Perhaps this will inspire you... I pray it does.  But if nothing else, it is teaching me to listen, to fight, to choose life and trust and daily bread.

1) Rehearse the refrain - Repeat the things you know.  Sing them over and over.  God is good and faithful.  His loving kindness endures forever.  He calls you to purpose and He will do it!
2)  Gather the Manna - It's all about DAILY bread.  Look and see what God is providing because He does and He will every single day.
3) Beloved before the first step - Before you make your first move, listen for the gentle whisper of God calling you His Beloved.  Find your center, your identity in this: you are His beloved son or daughter before you do anything.
4) Faithful today - Don't worry about tomorrow.  Be faithful in all things, especially the small things, today.  Devote yourself to prayer being watchful and thankful.
5) One at a time - Focus your attention on one thing at a time.  Build one brick at a time.  Love one person at a time.  Don't give in to the temptation to multitask.  Live one thing at a time.
6) Sing your song out loud - It's just cathartic to sing the songs you love, that refresh your soul with beauty and truth.  Sing them out loud.
7) Influence: What's flowing? - What's flowing into your life?  What's flowing out?  What influence are you having that you may not even realize?
8) Marvel in the mystery - The things of God are beyond our ability to grasp.  Mystery makes them God-things and they are good.  Marvel at it.  Let it drive you to worship.  Surrender your need for control so you might enjoy it.
9) Give it up, Give it over - Could've, should've, would've, what if, if only, am I enough?  Give it up.  Give it all over and lay it on the altar.
10) Count gifts - The little, beautiful reminders of God's love.  Set a goal for the number of gifts you'll thank God for each day.  Look for three things a day that stir your soul to thank God.  Stay thankful, stay joyful, find grace.
11) Breath prayers: Kyrie Eleison - Make "Lord have mercy" a prayer you breathe.  Center yourself on it.  Remember your need, your weakness, and let it keep you humble, for God draws near to the humble.
12) What the heart knows by heart, the heart knows - This is Ann's, not mine, but it is so crucial.  Memorize scripture, let the truth sink in, meditate on it day and night.  What the heart knows, you can stand firm on, no matter what challenges may come, or how your mind might rebel.
13) Questions sustain - Manna literally means "What is it?"  Don't strive for answers in this life.  They may never come this side of eternity.  By the grace of God, we can eat the questions, the mystery, and find nourishment for our souls.
14) Give bad days to the Redeemer - Some days are rough.  Happens.  Give them to Jesus and let Him redeem them.  It's what He does.
15) Light a candle - Feel the weight of darkness closing in?  Light a candle, remember you are the light of the world and He is the light in you and He will light your way.