lost to the depths of sin

To be lost, is a dreadful and disheartening thing. It causes distress in the most frantically inclined way; and frustration to its core, growing and building from a hindrance of disorientation. It leaves a lasting imprint too, rather than a temporary wandering that is forgotten and omitted.

We feel that sensation every moment that allows a memory to stroll through our veins- yes veins, not mind. That would be too simple. To have felt and experienced the truest sense of the word “lost” then you know that it penetrates.

With that truth though, means the release of that state of mind is nothing short of exhilarating and peaceful all at the same time.

I have been captivated by this existence half my life, as most of you have. But not long ago I experienced the greatest saving I could ever imagine, and from the darkest, most mislead place there is.

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nightlight

I think it’s an instinct, even a reflex, to fear the dark. It’s an environment of complete unknown, taunting our creative minds to depict a stranger lurking in the corner, a monster under the bed. The worst deception is that of a ghost, or rather an evil spirit that you can’t physically defend yourself from. How would you run, what would you say, and would you survive?

You can see how quickly our perceptions allude us. Our mentality is not equipped to handle this world’s intellect, being an arrangement of angst, darkness, and temptations. In what perfect scenario could we find joy amidst a combination like that.

Think back to your childhood, clinging to your blankets in a very dark room until your mom comes in to turn on the nightlight. That tiny, solace of brightness is a source of pure tranquility. With that on, your world is untouchable. A soundless, dreamless sleep Read More

not one day, but the rest of our lives

I look around this life, caught in the glimpses of loved ones; hanging on to excuses that allow love, passion, and thought to flow freely as if it was the norm. I blink, a new day has dawned, and we move forward with a new idea of normality, accepting new circumstances as a “blessing,” and continuing down the path that our flesh designs. For days and moments that are desired to be extraordinarily more heart pounding, I find are the most broken.

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lifting weights

Weight tends to be measured by the number of dumbbells in your routine; the pounds on the bench press; or the steps made across a track. Discouragement lingers in the air, leaking from the sweat of a beginner just trying to get through one more pound. Addiction to power as the motivation for the expert. How often are there judgments across the room by who can do what, and how. This is not a gym I am describing, but every day interaction.

I cannot honestly say that I do not judge those weaker than me, nor can I say I do not criticize those stronger. I am a sinner, and comparing myself to others is something I was born with, and constantly learning to pray against. But what’s the standard? On what basis, can I put someone or myself?

There is no pedestal to be reached. There is no timeline to be met. There are zero levels of accomplishment in God’s eyes. Jesus is our standard. He who was no sin, set the tone.

Yet, I have found myself caught in the innate discouraged response, when someone around me seems to have it all together. No one has it all together. We forget how instinctive it is for us to assume our problems are the only problems. That those “experts” lifting 250 pounds have it easy. We peer into their movements yearning to have that supposed bliss, and simplicity; in reality, they are using their strength to run, to hide, and to lull the insecurities that rock their world just as much as the person trying to start from the beginning.

Our imperfections, are wired specifically and earnestly by our God so that what we perceive as “levels” are in fact stepping stones of the journey. Instead of picturing dumbbells, I challenge you to picture that man holding a box of lies; or what about a sick child, an addiction, an empty bank account, a broken heart.

We try to lift those things ourselves, grunting, training, desperately clinging to these arduous aspects of our life and expecting to hold it all together through the blood, sweat and tears.

For the beginner, just trying to start somewhere. What if that girl is staring face first into her enemy, and afraid to take that leap. She wants to make progress, but realizes the strenuous path it’ll take her on.

This thing we call weight, chains us. And instead of judging those around me, not knowing their burdens, their hesitancy, or even triumph; I remember it is not our job to carry it.

Psalms 55: 22 cast your burden to the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

That person trying desperately to lift everything he can, tearing his muscles, straining his back, and still feeling defeated- needs to drop it all, and lift his jaded hands to the Lord.

The one that is new in the room, starring uneasy at the equipment before her, should fall to her knees in prayer. Asking the Lord to be her strength, and carry her through it all.

Psalms 18:6 In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.

You see we are not equipped to handle this life on our own. As inherently stubborn beings we strive to seem strong, independent, reliable- but we are those things through Christ only. On our own, we will always fail. But Jesus bore it all on the cross, so that we may set the weight down, unburdened by sin, and continue in line with Him.

 

 

when God strips you of comfort

To be un-moving, idle- a pawn of my own life where routine is what I know. That is the person I don’t want to be, but sometimes don’t know how not to. I find myself, too often, unchallenged with the world around me. What I mean by that is, not being involved with God’s people. It’s a habit that I too easily fall into, choosing my comfort, my normal, my stable ways over the fearful, unpredictable, and the dubious.

My relationship with God is dynamic. He gave me a personality that can’t make up its mind, knowing who I want to be and how I want to do it is an impossible choice, and the ratio of dreaming and acting is so inconsistent its unhealthy.

So, when I need God to reach me, He does so in the most personal and intimate of ways. Where it is impossible to explain, as if it is our own language.

This stagnant way of living tends to sneak up on me. And to be honest, I am still trying to understand it. But God did something to me last weekend that is beyond my comprehension, and so worthy of sharing. So bear with me as I attempt to discuss this.

My prayer that tends to align with this still sense of time is for God to show me what it truly means to trust in Him. Because what happens to my heart is wonder and doubt on the strength of my faith. I ask myself, if it wasn’t this easy for me, would I give it all to Him, the way I remind those around me to do.

Like always, God took my prayer, threw me in my deepest fear, and met me there.

Last weekend I went solo backpacking for the first time as a trial run for future planned trips. As I have spoken before, my love for nature and the outdoors comes with the love for a God who created it all. So when I hike, I pray- I talk to Him, walking right there beside me on the trail. This trip, I prayed that prayer.

Little did I know what I was asking for. Many things went wrong on this trip- from the weather, to the gear, to the camp site. Nothing was too terrible until the moment I realized the research I had done, failed to properly explain the campsites. Essentially, there were none.

Long story short, I ended up having to set up camp in the middle of a national forest, where I wasn’t supposed to be, with a dog, that I wasn’t supposed to have in the forest, because of the wild bears and hogs, both of which, therefore, I was not prepared for.

Once I saw the sign that said I was entering the national forest, I froze. Taking out my map I was a solid hour and a half away from the nearest road, and it would have been pitch dark in 30 minutes. My best option was to toss my food, because I had no bear canister to hide it, and hope for the best.

Because of this time of year, I had almost 13 hours of darkness, and it was terrifying. The first couple of hours I spent holding my dog, trying to keep her calm from all the noises she didn’t recognize, and keep her from growling at potential predators. But I wasn’t brave for her.

Every time I heard sticks crack nearby, my heart beat so fast it could have burst, my body shook so hard I couldn’t control it, and the fear that overwhelmed my body was something I’ve never felt before.

Finally I realized the only comfort I would find is in the only one I’ve known- I cried out to God for hours. Asking Him to calm me, telling Him that my life is His, and that if something were to go wrong that night I would trust Him.

This may sound ridiculous to some. But that kind of situation is quite a fear of mine- and God decided it was time to strip me of my comfort, of my normal, and throw me head first into the unpredictable and the dubious.

I am still processing the emotions I felt those hours of darkness. I am sure there are many things that it taught me, but one is for sure. This is not some miraculous story with a deafening plot line and crazy ending. It is simply a story of how God is in control, and that my flesh and securities stripped away means surrendering to Him, fully and completely.

 

the last straw

img_1202The night air is cooler than the last few; this time with a light shiver wandering about my porch. My mind full with a little bit of everything, so I pause to realize I can’t keep up with myself. A habit, you could say, to let life get in the way. Where all of a sudden, every inch of material, sorrow, hatred, disappointment, busyness, and greed fall into my hands as liquor, a drug, or tears. They’re laden; numb to the tips and my thoughts are still rampant.

Suddenly, inside a crashing noise sounds and my body turns to full throttle jumping inside to see the glass shards of whatever unique, expensive antique you want it to be, lying on the floor.

An emotional outbreak erupts within my soul as I feel the last straw break my strength. Falling, fast, to a floor that is burning with mockery and so far down I cannot see it.

And then I ask the one question that inevitably invades, “why, God?”

 

Defeat comes in strides, or moments, if you will. A time of our life that feels out of reach, as if you could be looking at yourself from a distance and still feel smothered. We tend to lose ourselves in specific attributes- work, love, money- and then place them on a pedestal so that it consumes our entire heart.

And then we yell. We blame God for the struggle and for feeling abandoned- for not understanding our needs and our prayers.

But let me ask you something: are you as quick to anger when you realize your trust in God has fallen? Or when you recognize the desertion of your relationship with Him?

One of the greatest faults in our human nature is the constant inattention we have towards intangible things. We can’t touch it, so it’s not as important; we can’t hold it, so an emotional connection is stagnant; it is complex to grasp it, because we cannot physically see it.

God, and our relationship with Him, is elusive to the naked point of view. We are constantly putting our conversations and emotions with those in flesh above our creator, why? Because automatically we know that they are without any question alive and real. But God, being impalpable to us here, allows the enemy to attack our trust as easily as it would be to flip a switch.

Two points of thought:

  1. Our relationship with the Lord may not be embodied, but that does not mean we can act like it is not there. It is easy to convince ourselves that giving Him attention can wait another night, because there isn’t necessarily anyone to hold you accountable. Accept there is. Romans 1 verse 20 states “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made, So they are without excuse.” Essentially, God holds us responsible for the refusal to choose Him, acknowledge Him, and follow Him. If this is so, and if we as believers accept this fact, then why is building our bond, and learning more about who Jesus is, not a priority in our lives. Because if it was, then there would be no room for anger over something so simple as a glass tipping over.

 

  1. One of the golden questions about choosing to believe in God is, “if there is a God, why do bad things happen to good people?” There are a few different takes on this but one of mine is this: why would the devil attack those that are not a threat to him? The closer we get to God, the more the devil tries to win us back. To me, that’s simple. But here’s why. Satan is not all knowing, he is a coward and has already been defeated. His time ends with the return of Jesus; therefore, I find triumph in knowing that because of God’s amazing grace I have already surpassed Satan as well. If that doesn’t work, then I remind myself that he cannot do anything without God’s permission. This reassures me of God’s purpose for everything in my life and gives me courage to stand my ground when those battles arise.

 

James 4: 7 submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you

 

So the moment that lamp breaks, TV, antique, whatever the last straw is for you, let yourself first fall to your knees before God, praying for His glory- nothing will destroy the enemy more than that.

Fun fact: the definition of “moment” is an indefinitely short period of time, an instant. God, our Lord, is eternal.