Archive for January, 2016

A Glimpse of a Bigger God

In my travels around the world, I have seen some amazing things. I have seen thousands of sunsets and hundreds of sunrises, each one a reminder of how beautiful creation is, as God paints the sky in vibrant color. I have experienced the miracle of life and the mystery of death, celebrating in each moment. I have seen the smiles of those our society considers poor and saw the richness of their pure, unending joy. I have felt God move in my heart, drawing me towards the path He has placed at my feet and have heard the gentle whisper calling my name.

I have rejoiced in the blessings that I have witnessed and taken part in. My path has allowed me to live and discover joy in each and every moment. But my path has not always been on the mountain tops.

There have been times in my journey that have dropped down the the lowest of lows and have been shrouded in darkness.

It’s easy to fall into the belief that everything good comes from God and everything bad is the product of the Deceiver. For a long time, I was convinced that this was the truth. But recently, my mind was blown when one of the gentlemen from the body of Christ challenged this belief. He opened up his Bible (actually, he pulled it up on his smart phone) and revealed the following:

I am the LORD, and there is no other;
apart from me there is no God.
I will strengthen you,
though you have not acknowledged me,
so that from the rising of the sun
to the place of its setting
people may know there is none besides me.
I am the LORD, and there is no other.
I form the light and create darkness,
I bring prosperity and create disaster;
I, the LORD, do all these things
– Isaiah 45:5-7

Another translation states “I send good times and bad times.” Another, “I make well-being and create calamity.” “I make peace and create evil.”

Now there is something that should shake the foundation of who you think God is.

I was sharing these words with another brother in Christ, and he shook his head and stated that this changes everything he ever thought about God. It widens the frame.

You see, God is bigger than just being “good.” Yes, He sends prosperity, well-being, peace, and good times our way. We can easily see Him working in those moments. So often these are the things we associate with God. But He is so much bigger than that.

He not only formed light, He created darkness.

This changes everything.

I’ve had so many people ask me how God could allow bad things to happen. I’ve had people ask how God could allow us to suffer and to die terrible deaths if He truly loves us.  I never had an answer because I don’t know the extent of God. He has always been (and will continue to be) bigger and more complex than anything I could wrap my head around.

But I know this: God created both the light and the dark. He gave us, His children made in His image, the option to choose. He allows us to decide between the two. He could have easily made us as robots, and directed our every moment in this life, but He gave us the choice to live because He wants us to experience life and love to its fullest.

We have the choice to follow the light or dive into the darkness. And when we begin to understand that God has created everything, even the moments of intense pain, death, and suffering, we have the opportunity to open our eyes to see Him in those moments as well.

Looking back, I understand that God was there every step of the way, even in those darkest moments where part of me thought He had abandoned us. He allowed me to be resent when He chose to bring home a child as she slipped from this life before my eyes. He revealed to my heart the value of life and the gentle blessing of death. He allowed me to hear a mothers cry of anguish and sorrow so that I would be reminded of the lessons He gave me.

After Job looses his oxen and donkeys in the fields, after flames fell from the sky and devoured his sheep, after his camels and servants are put to the sword, after every son and daughter were buried beneath the ruins, he fell to the ground and worshiped God (Job 1:13-20).

Naked I came form my mother’s womb,
and naked I will return.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
may the name of the LORD be praised.
– Job 1:21

And after all this, after he is afflicted with painful sores over his entire body, when his wife tells him “Curse God and die!” He replies:

You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?
– Job 2:10

You see, God creates good and evil. Light and darkness. He provides good times and bad. And He is always present in it.

This is something that was revealed to me, and I continue to process it. I am still yet to comprehend what it all means, but it is part of the larger picture of faith.

Until next time…

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Learning to Give Thanks

Sometimes we get carried away with all the woes of the world. Our news feeds and media outlets are filled with stories of death and fear, anger and hatred. Every day we are reminded how weak and vulnerable we are. And every once in a while, we forget to be thankful for what we have.

A couple years ago, I ran across a quote from Chief Tecumseh of the Shawnee Nation that read as follows:

Live your life so that the fear of death can never enter your heart. When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the morning light. Give thanks for your life and strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. And if perchance you see no reason for giving thanks, rest assured the fault is in yourself.

These words have echoed between my ears every day since I have heard them for the first time. They are a mantra that reminds me to pause and remember to thank God for the small things in life. And this is how I want to live my life.

Earlier this month, I made it my resolution to live my life each day with these words echoing throughout my life. I want to live my life thankful for each and every breath.

I am still learning how to live so that the fear of death cannot echo throughout my life. I think, to some extent, I will always be afraid, but I don’t want it to affect how I live my life. I believe that if we learn to be thankful for everything we have, then we teach ourselves that we can live with fear and not have it control our lives.

Every morning, I pause. I stand and find my center. I give thanks for another day and the opportunities that each breath brings. I am thankful because I have the strength to see the light of another day.

So, I challenge you to see the words of Chief Tecumseh and be challenged to live in a way that you are no longer controlled by fear. Not just fear of death, but a fear of failure, fear of change, and fear of the unknown. Embrace the small moments that we often overlook, smile a little more, and stop every once in a while to say a simple “Thank You!”

Lost in a Dream

A number of years ago, I woke in the morning and had an urge to write out a dream. It was a vivid sequence of images and emotions that has stayed with me for the past several years. There are times when I can remember every moment, every color, and every heartbreak that that vision brought me.

On New Years Eve, between emergency calls at work, I found myself writing once again. It was an uncontrollable urge to free the beast from within. And I wrote. And the words just flowed forth. And I think it is time to share them once again…

STKerr_NewYears

There was a time when dreams told the stories of our hearts and souls, revealing the will of God and the answers to prayers that were unspoken other than the cries of our hearts. It was a time when giants walked among us, heroes were born and revealed, and men could see and feel the power of demons and angels.

The darkness was more than the absence of light, but a physical manifestation, a force of power. The light held back the nightmares of the night and the dark forces of evil, fear, and pain. It was a time when faith could be seen, and moments that were frozen in time for all eternity.

I saw it once, in a dream; The mountain shrouded b shadows. Before the path was a tattered temple, its orange cloth flowing loosely in the wind. A grizzled old man, his cloak pulled tight around him, his face and hair untrimmed by the long years in the wilderness, stood before us. His warning echoed in our ears, “Death awaits those who travel the path up the mountain.”

We pressed in close, as he showed us the path that led down the gully and through the gates. He told us of the demon that lived on the mountain, shrouded by death and fierce in battle, who slept in a hole at the end of the path. Hundreds had ventured down the path in an attempt to kill the demon, few had returned. None had succeeded.  But we were certain that where others failed, we would be the ones to succeed.

We knew that to kill this demon, we would have to carry a log up the mountain to place on his head, so we grabbed the log and charged down the path. In our haste, we were unable to maneuver out way through the gate that guarded the path.

After pausing, I watched the group peel the bark from the log and strip extra limbs and material off to reduce the weight. As they worked together, they began to pray together and write words of inspiration over the surface of the wood. I watched from a distance, an outsider to a strange ritual and expression of faith.

I sat there on a rock outcropping, watching from above, until a girl with long hair extended her hand to invite me to join them. The acceptance into the mystery lifted me to join them. I knelt down to write a prayer in the wood, but all that would come out was one word: “Thanks.”

Before I knew it, I was swept to my feet as we dove through the gate and charged up the trail, the log lifted up onto our shoulders. The trail was lined with signs warning us to turn back, to flee before we lost our souls. Soon our path began to get darker, as trees reached up to block out the skies and thorns reached out to grab our ankles. The signs fell behind us and were replaced by ghostly eyes that stared out from behind the underbrush, their voices pleading for us to turn back.

Darkness covered our path as our numbers dwindled off; several people stopped to turn back and others just disappeared as we raced along. I found myself in the front of the log, leading the way down the trail when we came to a fork in the road.

On the right, the path led through a marsh, before twisting behind a bend in the road. To the left, a bridge that led over the water. I turned left to head across the bridge, a safer route, when the man behind me, a tall guy with shaggy black hair pulled the log from my grasp and motioned for me to follow him as he turned right and headed into the marsh. As he balanced the log on his shoulders, it didn’t seem as large as it had been when we set forth on our journey.

I jogged along behind him, alongside a couple others, as we slowly fell further behind. The water became deeper as the man rounded the bend and we lost sight of him. We waded through the murky water as it came up past our waists and up over our chests.

Fear reached out his hands, grasping my limbs as the waters around me started to ripple and several reptilian heads emerged. Even in the land of dreams, where ones thoughts are revealed as truth, one can sink into despair  as I did. I sank into a pit of darkness, of numbness that pulled me under into the blackness. What little light was left faded as I sank beneath the surface.

Everyone says that drowning is peaceful, but the panic that sets in as the darkness grips you, as you struggle to breathe, as you fight to live is exhausting. And after the rush, the silence sets in and you are stuck in the middle of nothingness. Everything goes still and nothing matters anymore. It all just disappears.

In that moment of stillness, I saw a light; a pinprick in the black. It was a pain so intense, a burning of an unquenchable fire that I couldn’t turn from. The searing light that consumed the darkness and unleashed the fear that held so tight onto my limbs, that immobilized me for that moment, for that eternity.

And there, behind the light was the hand reaching out for me, and I had no energy or will to outstretch my own; I was too weary from my battle with the darkness. I watched, as if removed from my own body, as I drifted through the mist of conscienceness, lost in all time, but nor a moment passed as she reached through the fog and pulled me from that pit of darkness.

I was blinded by the darkness and the light was too painful to see, and even with my eyes closed, the light pierced the darkness that had consumed and accepted me. She pulled me from that watery grave and I gasped for air as I lay there on the bank of the marsh. Minutes and hours passed in that moment as I was thankful for the cool breath of life. I lay there, holding her, my savior in my arms as day turned to night and sight returned to my eyes.

I looked on her, and all I could see was the love radiating from her eyes. I realized that the light that had fought off the darkness and freed me to continue living was shining from her chest, pulsing with the beat of her heart.

And when I awoke to the world I was a part of, I could still feel her presence guiding me, teaching me how to love. And I have carried her with me from that day forth, until we meet again…