Monday, April 22, 2013

A Lifeline for the Worn - What the Heart Knows by Heart...

I click on the video and it makes me smile.  Big.  These two sisters whose words have changed lives, laughing as they stumble through this Word that gives Life.  And I am reminded.  It's the joy in their words and faces, the way they can't stop themselves from injecting "Wow!" and "I love this!" and "This is my favorite part!" between every single verse.  The way she punctuates the phrases with her hands and closes her eyes as if savoring each syllable.

She says it in a way this musician can understand: "Your life can't sing unless you play... and you can't really play unless you know how to play through the hard parts... but if you want to make music through the hard parts - play the left hand alone... because when you can really write out the left hand from memory, you can really play!"

These Words I am learning to write out by heart are Life.  They are a Lifeline.  They are rich and sweet, like honey on the lips.  It is the Word of God, and I need it desperately.   I am reminded of how much I long for the Truth of God to abide in me.  I long for it to change and transform me.  And it's not just memorization for religion's sake.  It's not memorization because it's right or expected.  It's like inhaling, learning a new language, a heart language.

And it's this: What the heart knows by heart is what the heart knows, and I want my heart to know God is perfect and worthy of all my trust and thanks in all things.  I want my heart to know this jar of clay holds a treasure, that God loves ALWAYS, that He is my source of peace and joy and... all.  And so I memorize and learn His words by heart so I might know.  So I might LIVE.

Monday, April 15, 2013

When there's no new song - Rehearse the Refrain

Some days it's harder to put on the lenses.  The flame just doesn't want to light.  I listen for the whisper but my ears seem deaf.  And so I put one foot in front of the other, let dog out, brush teeth, make bed, change clothes, then sit before the mirror to do hair and makeup... and sometimes that's the hardest, best moment.  The hair won't lay right and the makeup just won't cover it all and I have to look weakness herself straight in the eye.  And I don't know how to pray or what today holds, and it's hard to remember why I'm getting up and doing it all again.  So I force my lips to form those same ancient words, the ones I've been repeating daily for months, the ones Jesus taught us to pray two thousand and some years ago, because I am a woman in deep need.

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name...

I say the words slowly, try to savor them, and after that final "forever," I keep going and I feel like a broken record, crying out for eyes to see and for daily bread and I'm begging God to redeem my brokenness and bless those I love and meet their needs and I've been here before... yesterday, last year... and I've said the same words and I'm here again.  And I long for a new song and, without a doubt, there is a place in this Becoming life for just that, but today... today I have nothing new to offer.  Just the same life that I placed on the altar yesterday and keep taking back up and giving back over, hoping I'll leave it there longer this time.

Today, and maybe everyday, I just need to be reminded.

I look in the mirror and I wonder if people see in me something I don't or if I see things in myself they don't, I feel the fear of being exposed rising, I ask the "What's next?" question... I need to be reminded.  So I rehearse the refrain, the part of the song that keeps returning, that we always come back to.  And it's the first part of the song we learn by heart and the last part we forget.  I rehearse the refrain...

God is always good and I am always loved.

Great is Thy faithfulness!  Great is Thy faithfulness!  Morning by morning new mercies I see!  Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not.  Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!

This God, His way is perfect! (Psalm 18:30)

And of course, always coming back to that one word - I wear it around my neck now, a counterweight to keep me balanced - Eucharisteo.  Grace. Joy. Thanks. Grace. Joy. Thanks.  And again, and again it rises.  When circumstances change.  When I grieve (and I always will for it is the reverse side of that treasured coin, Love).  When I'm at a loss again, I do this with lips, with heart, with tears, with guttural groans.  I sit, just like I tell my babies to do at the keyboard, and I practice.  I rehearse the refrain.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Why Seeing IS Believing - Count Gifts

I need to confess something.  I am deeply afraid of being alone.  I am afraid that those I love and am coming to depend on will leave, walk away, grow tired of me.  I'm afraid I'll never find the Adam to my Eve, that help-meet.  I'm afraid I'll prove not good enough to be loved and cared for, not good enough to build lasting relationships and find people who want to walk life with me.  And as I write these things down, I feel almost foolish, because hasn't God proven over and over that He is faithful and never leaves and His timing perfect?

But the fear is real because faith and love, as Luci Shaw says, are intangible and unseen and I can move in that direction but never achieve full certainty.  "God Himself, a Spirit real but invisible calls [me] to live this Adventure guided by a hand and an arm that [I] cannot see or prove in irrefutable terms."  So how then, do I follow?  And perhaps Ann is right.  I feel it deep now, deeper than the beauty of the words on the page: If perfect love casts out fear, let me count the ways He loves!

I can't see this God or the arm that guides, but I can see 1,000 and more gifts.  All around, 1,000 reminders that He loves.  Oh how He loves!  My heart sings.  And so I count the gifts and I whisper thanks and I recite Psalm 18:30, "This God - His way is perfect, the words of the Lord proves true, He is a shield for all those who take refuge in Him."  And I believe.

And this is what it all comes down to: Eucharisteo, this trifecta of joy and grace and thanksgiving, is all about love.  Call it what it is! Because it's not enough to keep a list or give thanks or name graces or seek joy.  I must call it what it is!  Because ultimately what we are thankful for, what grace is, why we have joy, the Eucharist itself comes down to love.  Why did Jesus, when facing death and unrelenting suffering, betrayal and rejection, give thanks?  Because of God's deep love for us!  The breaking of the body, the drinking of the vine comes down to love.  And this isn't  new; it's just finally clicking.  And if I am to LIVE, I must live in light of this:  God loves deep and real.

And it is not the trite "God will never leave you" that gets me through.  It is the fact that God loves deep and relentless and shows it 1,000 ways.  And if we who are evil know how to give good gifts, how much better are His?  And I can even suffer broken like Jesus, like Job, and still give thanks, thanks in the brokenness because HE LOVES!

Lord, teach me to live this language of love, to use Eucharisteo to lead me back to your arms, time and again.

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Art of Remembering - Light a Candle

What if I could get back to a place where I fully believed that I am taken care of?  What if I once again started living, as Sarah Young suggests in Jesus Calling, as if God had written out in careful detail every aspect of my story, laid out a path of purpose before me.  What if I truly believed - and lived like I believed - that this God, his way is perfect and his word proves true and he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him? What if I lived as if He takes me by the hand step by step and I am eternally loved and secure regardless?  What if I approached each day looking for ways to respond to God at work, instead of thinking the day is a blank page that I need to fill myself?  What if I viewed it as a new piece of music ready to be played one breath, one phrase at a time, or a book to be read one sentence at a time?  What if it's already there before me and I need only to trust?  Can I?  Please?

Yes.  Yes.  Yes!

And here it is: light a candle.  When darkness closes in and fear grips strong and you feel like the next step will lead you off the edge of a cliff, when you forget (like I am so, so good at doing), light a candle.  Light a candle and remember that His word is a light to your path, and you are the light of the world, and his way is perfect and he will light the way one step at a time, just like he always has, and all those things you heart longs to believe and you spirit longs to live... they're all true!  Light a candle and remember this!

Enough light for now, for today.  Enough hope to get through the night without fear.

It. Is. Taken. Care of.

Live like you believe it and when you need to be reminded... Light a candle!