Archive for April, 2014

Why We Run

This past week has been challenging.  I feel as if I am physically, emotionally and mentally broken and exhausted.  I’m in pain, yet I refuse to let it show.  I crashed a UTV.  I busted my knee.  I am stressed out beyond belief for no reason whatsoever.  I don’t want to be around anyone.  I don’t want to talk.  But I need to get it out somehow.

I am confident.  It is one of my greatest strengths and most fatal of flaws.  I know what I am capable of, how much I can take, but now I don’t know anymore.

Last week, I wrote about the cross and who was beside our King when He died.  I asked myself why all of His followers, disciples ran.  Why is it that only one of His chosen twelve stood at the foot of the cross.  I know that they were afraid.  They were scared.  They were broken.

We know that our Savior rose from the dead.  But yet we still run from His grace.

I don’t think that we don’t trust Him, I believe that we cannot trust ourselves.  We have fallen and failed so many times.  We just cant seem to get it right (whatever ‘it’ seems to be).  We find ourselves flawed and unworthy of love.

I run for this very reason.  I run from His grace and love because I see what I have done, who I have become and I am ashamed.  Like Adam in the Garden, I have hidden myself in shame.

I don’t always say what I’m thinking or feeling because it is just to hard to put into words.  I run from those who have put their trust in me.  I hide from those who love me for who I am.  I shut others out because I am afraid to tear down the walls that I have built around my heart.

But that is not the end of the story.

It never was.  It never will be.

The story of grace is so much more than that.  And as I sit here on the roof of my apartment, listening to the yells of children and drunken people on the streets below, I know that this story is so much bigger than myself and my own fears.

We are children of God.  He has adopted us into his family exactly as we are.  He has taken us in, all our fears and failures.  And He loves us more than anything we could ever know or begin to comprehend.

Even after we run and hide from Him, He showers us with grace and love.  He sends down His blessings on us over and over again.

He sends His peace to calm the voices that consume our thoughts.  He sends the daylight to remind us that no darkness can ever prevail if we allow the light to shine.  And He puts people in our path that remind us who we really are, His children.

Yes, I am still frustrated with myself for the stupid things I have done (both this past week and all those things that others have long forgotten about), but I know that He has already taken me in.  He has offered forgiveness with the open arms of a father who loves no matter what.

At the Foot of the Cross

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.  When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple who he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.”
– John 19:25-27a

Today is Good Friday, the day that Christians and followers of Christ reflect on the crucifixion and death of Jesus.  There was a darkness that fell over the land and as Jesus breathed his last breath, the temple curtain was torn in two, from the top down.  Jesus’s death was a sacrifice for us all, whether we accept it or not.

We all know the Easter story, when the women found the empty grave on the third day.  But that is a reflection for a different day.

Lets look back at the cross.  Religion focuses a lot on the pain and suffering of Christ our King.  I cringe each time I think of it, but look closely.  Who is standing there at the foot of the cross?

Some women were watching from a distance.  Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome.  In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs.  Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.
– Mark 15:40-41

But those that knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.
– Luke 23:49

They were watching from a distance.  Nobody but the guards mocking him were at the foot of the cross.

Why?  Where were his disciples?  His chosen few who followed him everywhere?  Why, in all the Gospel accounts was it only mentioned in one that a single disciple of his was within speaking distance?  Were they afraid?  Did they all run and hide?

Like them, many times we find ourselves running away from God.  Be it shame.  Misunderstandings.  Fear.  Or persecution.  We have found ourselves no longer at the foot of the cross, but hiding in the upper room.  We are just like His disciples.

And God does funny things when we run from Him.  Look at Jonah and the whale.  Look at what happened to the disciples.

We may feel as if God abandoned us.  We no longer have a physical being here beside us, guiding our hands and feet.  But God sent the greatest gift to the terrified hearts of those who followed him.  Tongues of flame.  The Advisor.  The Spirit of God settled upon them.  And He has made His dwelling in each of us.

Even though we have run away, He still accepts us.  Even though we have sinned.  Even though we still sin.  He has called us His own.

Jesus told his disciple that His mother was now part of his family, we are brothers and sisters through faith.  We are a family because we have each been accepted by our Father.  He takes us as we are, where we are, and makes us precious in His sight.

We are washed by the blood that flowed forth on that cross, and for that I am thankful.

Some Thoughts on Writing

I’ve been writing all day.  Or at least attempting to.  I’ve been working on some essay questions for an application that is due in the morning.  It’s frustrating.  It’s thought provoking.  And I am easily distracted (I’m writing this blog instead of finishing).

I’ve been writing for weeks.  On and off.  I’m trying to document my story.  My adventures.  I’ve been doing this for almost two years now, and I feel like I’m no closer than when I started.

Journeys: the adventures of a Nomad.  Some people have already heard the title.  But there is also We Live, We Love and Images of Service.  These are all working titles of books that I wish to publish.

But it’s difficult.  Finding the words has never been easy.  It never will be.

Writing is like art.  It takes time.  And I can tell when it is rushed.  I choose each word carefully, to make the most impact.  To make the tapestry of the story.  And while others may see it as beautiful, I am constantly finding little things that make me cringe, that I want to retouch.  I want it to be perfect.

The thing about writing is that I don’t feel as if I am worthy to complement.  I’m not a good writer.  I pour my heart out onto the page and people are moved by it.  I’ve been told that I’m a great wordsmith, but all I am trying to do is share my story.  The thoughts that are in my head are so different than those that flow out onto the page.  It’s frustrating.

When I’m nervous, I stutter.  My words sound foreign and uncomfortable.  When I write, every word feels that way.

But I continue to tell my story because this is what I feel like I’ve been called to do.  I write to share my struggles, dreams, hopes, joys, and fears.

I don’t want to be well known.  I don’t want to go on tour or speak in front of crowds.  But I do want to share my story.  To shed light on the path that I have troubled.  To encourage others.  And to show others that their story matters too.

I am just a single voice in the crowd.  But aren’t we all?

I write each week not because I have to.  I don’t write to build up my stats or to see how many views I get each week.  I write because despite all the fears and the discomfort that comes with it, there is a joy of sharing.

Something About Spring (and Love)

The weather is warming up.  The plastic sheeting that insulated the windows have been taken down.  The rain has begun to fall (along with the pollen) and the rivers have begun to swell on their banks.  Storms scatter the dark clouds across the sky and we keep our eyes open and feet swift for that instant that the warnings alarm us to the wrath of nature.  Plants pierce the damp ground beneath our feet, springing forth like a thousand spears that blossom into a million petals of differing colors.  The world is waking from its sleep.

The grasp of winter has seemed to have been broken.  The long nights have shortened, revealing the majesty of creation in new light, as it unfolds before us.

I spent several hours this weekend driving.  On Friday (after a trying week due to a breakdown in communication and weather) I packed my bags and departed from our project site as the sun struggled to rise over the horizon.  I headed down to Atlanta to celebrate by cousin’s wedding.  On the way down, I blasted my music and sang along at the tops of my lungs to love songs.

There’s something about spring that makes us all go crazy.  We sniff too much pollen.  Drink to much water (or lemonade).  And get too much fresh air.  We are through with hibernation and we emerge to a strange world that is sprouting out from dead branches and cold corpses.  It’s spring.  And it’s the season of love.

It’s infectious.  Like a disease.  Or a virus.  A plague.  And once you contract it, you’re no longer the man or woman you once were.  And every year it happens.  Couples holding hands as they walk down the street.  Laughter flowing forth from the park.  Late night kisses on doorsteps beneath the stars.  Then it evolves into dinner dates and movies.  And weddings.

The love songs that I sang along to as I traveled were love songs to God.  I sang along to Group 1 Crew, Sanctus Real, and Kids in the Way (several others were included as well, it was an 8+ hour drive each way).  I’m pretty sure I got some weird looks, but I don’t really cared.

I’m sure you’re wondering what I am rambling about here.  Spring?  Love?  And Worship music?  We can leave springtime out for now and focus the core of my thought process:  Worship music is one of the purest expressions of love.  And if we can learn to love God, then we can learn to love ourselves and others.

Love like I need the rain on dry days like I, need oxygen to make way for my lungs to inhale the air from your atmos-phere here and now I’ll wrap this up and trust I’m not, goin no where you can be my king, and I don’t care who’s watching me, I’m so in love with the way you believe, that I’m worth everything that you gave to be close to me, didn’t matter what it cost your supposed to be, everything that I need to live happily, its no wonder that you got my heart feeling free, now take me away, just take me away, I wanna be lost in you
– Need Your Love, by Group 1 Crew

We can learn a lot about Love from God.  And if we pay attention, we may even be able to show this same love to those around us.

I’ve messed up countless times.  I’ve been too shy, so I never told people that I cared deeply about that I love them.  I’ve been scared of how they will respond.  Too frustrated that the words don’t come out.  I stutter.  I bite my tongue.  I tell myself that they already know.  That my actions are powerful enough.  But I believe that God is just sitting there shaking His head at me.

Love is more than an emotion.  It is more than an expression.  Love is a way of life.

We all know the Bible verses: “Love is patient, love is kind.” (1 Corinthians 13).  And love is so much more.  It is passion.  It is life.  It is the very breath that we breath and every word that comes out of our mouths.

I’ve messed up with that one too.  Love is supposed to consume us, but too many times I find myself angry, frustrated, upset, and concealed by darkness.  We were created to love, called to love, and destined to love.  We must constantly fight for that love, because if we do not wage war against the darkness it will consume us.

Like the plants emerging during spring, we tend to see more examples of love when the weather isn’t as bleak and the world as cold.  We smile more.  Enjoy nature more.  And everyone seems happier.

So, let your heart be full of joy, as mine was as I watched my cousin get married this weekend.  Let the infectious laughter fill your ears and consume your thoughts.  Smile.  And love with reckless abandon because God loves you just as you are.  Broken.