The Narrator

If I don’t write I’ll die
But I write because I won’t die

Let me explain:

There was a woman named Late. Who was never on time for anything. She wished for something she already had and if she took it, she would wish it to go away. She was a piner who loved attention more than she liked it. In fact it was horrible for her, but she craved and sought it anyway.

"I want to be obedient to the Lord!" she lamented.
“I fail. I fail. I fail. I fail.
Wanting even more, yet I fail.
I ask for His wisdom and find myself within my own- 
Even though I hear Him through the noise of my thoughts, 
My flesh, battling to hang on and save face. 
Trying to make me do things I do not want to do
I lust for pleasure and I yearn for Love. 
Though my Love runs deeper than the deep
I lack imagination to express it. 
While the one I love is not the One I love.
As of now. 
But alas, I do not know when to stop and when to start.
I need to go.
I'm Late."

Crazy how much I need to write but how little I can actually make any sense due to the 1,000,000 thoughts swimming together like minnows. Synchronized but not.

Such is my flesh with my soul.

Stirred

My circumstances tried to drown me today.
Like a rip current, my misery pulled me into the torrent of my own self pity and I was left with a rage like no other I’ve ever felt.
I was making a spectacle there on the battleground of my heart, pressing charges against my life’s trials and pain.
Arrogantly demanding recompense. Acting as a malcontent.
I Despised my life and the life I’ve been called to.
Crying out in anger of my losses and chronic pain.
My confusion and disposition. 

All the while forgetting that I was heading to a place of surrender.
See, I was driving towards a place where a group of us would be lifting God’s name.
“How can I worship with such rage?” I asked myself as I realized the purpose I was even out of my house.
And I became shattered.
Unworthy to even speak to my King let alone praise Him just moments after I cursed my life. 

But, the broken words came through tears,
“Holy Spirit You are welcome here”
“You can have my soul. Just like Jericho. Come and tear down my walls. You are the Promised Land. I am in Your hands. You are the King of my heart” 

He loved me. He made His presence known. He  gave me direction through the group as we began reading His Word in Ephesians 3-4:15. I didn’t fix my outlook; He did.
 He turned His ear to my cry for help.
In the midst of my anger.

 I’m stirred. 

Nothing has changed
Except my rage has been replaced with peace.
My seemingly senseless trials have been shown their worth.
Perseverance is having its way in my heart and joy is my promised reward.
God is my strength. Please be my strength.
So I guess something has changed.

Because I cannot encounter God and be unchanged.

Sprout

Don’t think this journey to joy is going to be taken lightly or that it will be refreshing, like an Indian summer breeze whipping across a field of tall yellowing grass
or flowers delivered by surprise with a vague note and a hint of something grand.
But the journey of joy is
a poured-out widow reaching for her coffee after finishing her third cup.
Red eyed and sore from a promising  pilgrimage that resembles
worn down perseverance
and useless flattery
and consequence
and lostness
and losing.
Joy awakens from suppression-
Emerging from a chronic sick feeling that causes the aches of the bones and muscles to draw forth in salient dissonance.
Even in the grandeur of being a chosen daughter of the King, she sips her coffee and stares blankly into the violet sky wishing she knew the secret to attain joy.
All the while, in its famously unbeknownst fashion, joy’s seed was planted in the melodious dirge.
Sprouting through the fertilizer that seemed to have extinguished it.

Joy comes inconveniently on time.

The First 30 Minutes of Church

I sing “Christ is enough for me” but I don’t actually always live in that truth because I lack faith… and am constantly trying to come up with solutions for myself that make what I feel I am missing, “enough.”  If I look at it coldly, I don’t believe He is enough for me.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Cor. 12:9

I sing “I will call upon your name/and keep my eyes above the waves/when oceans rise/ my soul will rest in your embrace”  but in reality, my eyes are not at all above the waves.  My soul is restless and seemingly fighting His embrace.  I drown in my sorrows and fears and I do not call upon His name as the oceans rise.
“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.” Ps. 55:22

I sing, “God you pursue me… with power and glory…unstoppable love that never fails” but I only wish I lived like I knew His love is unstoppable.  I don’t though.  I live as if His love will end imminently, without warning and fully gone.
“Praise the Lord! He is good! God’s love never fails.” Ps. 136:1

I sing, “I am a tree bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy” but I’m not actually bending!  I am standing straight up and staring at that wind and mercy and rebelliously shouting to God, “I’m the unbendable tree! You made me this way and I can’t bend!”
“Who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it?” Rom. 9:20
“Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.” Ps. 100:3

I sing, “My hope is built on nothing less/Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness/I dare not trust the sweetest frame/But wholly trust in Jesus’ name” but my hope has not been in Him “all the day long”  My hope has been shaken by drought and storm.  I doubt the name of Jesus.  My hope gets lost…
“And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.  You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.” Rom. 5:5-8

This is the condition of my heart.  I fall again and again.  I forget to trust my Maker.  I forget that He died to set me free!  I forget His unending mercy and love.  I forget every day!  I hear His mercies are new every morning, but in the morning, I despair.  His praise is on my lips and in my heart….but life begins to happen and I forget!

In his book, The Practice of the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence challenges himself to remain consciously in God’s presence at every moment.  Whenever he realized that he was not spending any given moment in God’s presence, “he addressed himself to God saying ‘I shall never do otherwise if you leave me to myself; it is You who must hinder my falling, and mend what is amiss.’  After this he gave himself not further uneasiness about it” (P.19).

Unless I practice what I am saying during worship, and truly worship in those moments outside of church…the situations when worship costs…I am just a clanging gong, noise, endless babble, useless, lying.

Worship at church is to remind us of Who He is so that we do not forget!
It’s easy to say those wonderful worship song words; it’s not easy to live them.

Live a day…. constantly in His presence.  Remembering every word you said to Him in worship.  Do you still mean it?  Do you want Him to “break your heart with what breaks His? Give everything you are for the Kingdom’s cause?”
So, my prayer today & this week & and this lifetime is:
Lord, make me aware of my afflictions becoming eclipsed by your glory.  Help me realize how beautiful you are and how great your affections are for me! Spirit! lead me where my trust is without borders. Take me deeper than my feet would ever wander. Lord, if left to myself, I will forget that Christ is enough for me.  Hinder my falling and mend what is amiss. Drench my soul as mercy and grace unfold ~I hunger and I thirst. I know you hear my cry. I surrender. No turning back.

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. Lam. 3:21-23

Praise and Worship

 

She danced before the mercy seat gracefully performing for the Holy One.  He watched her with great pleasure, not at the beauty of her movements or the wind her body created causing her unblemished gown to flow and glide with every twirl and twist; His pleasure was in what was to become of her. Naturally, it was a beautiful dance.  Her feet bounced and tapped at every beat.  Her arms displayed the beauty of the music that surrounded the atmosphere.  Outwardly, she gave Him her apparently flawless performance, working hard to please Him with her dance of praise.

But inwardly, her heart moaned.  She felt inadequate in His presence.  She saw His splendor piercing her through her peripheral vision as her body tasked itself to please Him with a flawless dance.  She wanted to show Him her love and allegiance through this deliberate, preconceived, rehearsed, and perfectly timed performance of devotion to Him.  Then He would see.  Then He would know.  He has everything.  All of her.  Her heart softly whispered to Him, See how hard I’ve worked for you?  See how I’ve practiced my steps for your pleasure?  See how my body memorized these steps to entertain You?

He just watched, waiting…

One, two, three, four….repeat

One, two,three, four….repeat

She delighted in the flawlessness of her praise. One, two, three…. NO! 

The pain of the misstep was severe.  On her knees she fell, left ankle throbbing, music still blaring. The King watching intently.

Jesus!  Jesus! She screamed out. Jesus. My praise! My King.  I wanted to delight you! I wanted to praise you! I wanted to show you my love for you!

He turned His eyes from her.  His eyes turned downward.

She read disappointment.  She read failure. He is displeased. 

Unable to walk, she crawled to Him. On her hands and knees she crawled. Her tears wet the floor as she eased her way towards Him.

It was as if every wound in her heart paralyzed her body.  Every scar removed, every bandage unwrapped, all medicine flushed.  She was raw and exposed.  The consequence of feigned and failed perfection coupled with the realization that her sins splattered out across the floor. He can’t see me like this. 

Oh but He did.

She edged to Him.  Hands shaking to grasp Him at His feet. Her hands edged their way up, gripping his ankles. She opened her eyes and looked straight through the holes in His feet. Reaching down to touch the wound, she realized she had caused his foot to become dirty. She began to wipe away the stain from His skin. The more she wiped, the more stained He became. She wiped harder, and He began to bleed! Oh Jesus! I’m sorry!  I’ve caused you to bleed. 

He reached down and touched her head. “Rise up. Come to me.”

She lifted herself off the floor and reached into His embrace.

…and they danced.