Needing the One who Knows All

I have a confession to make.

I like to run.

Not in the “let’s-go-for-a-nice-run-outside-while-it’s-still-nice-out” kind of running, or the “did-you-know-I-burn-12,000,329,310-calories-when-I-hit-the-treadmill” kind of running.

No, I run away from the unknown. Because the unknown terrifies me.

I like safety, I like comfort, I like having answers. I like to know what I’m going to say before I say it. I like being able to offer answers in a world of unknown. Because here, in the world where I have answers and knowledge and all those lovely things, it is safe. It doesn’t require much of me.

But it’s in places of unknown where much is required of me. In those places I am most vulnerable, offering up a humble reply of, “I don’t know,” and trusting that in my weakness, He is strong.

But I still do it. I run away from the topic of homosexuality, because I just want to avoid the inevitable question, “But doesn’t the Bible say that because I love another man I’m sinning against His Word?” I run away from the topic of knowing what God’s Word says about divorce, and yet knowing that no matter what it says, it never seems the right answer amidst heartache and pain and unfaithfulness. I want to run away when a Believer dates a non-Christian, because although the Bible warns that darkness has no place with light, and that we are not to be unequally yoked, my answers seem weightless in the light of the imminent response, “But you can’t judge my relationship – who am I to judge their beliefs and whether or not they believe in God? Who am I to tell them that I can’t be with them, just because their beliefs aren’t the same as mine?”

And in those questions, in those unknowns, I sink backwards towards where it is safe. Back to my world of knowing the answers, of knowing where I stand, of just simply knowing.


But I have to think sometimes. I’m not sure that’s where God always wants me to be.

I’m not sure if He wants me to live my life in the safety of my comfortable place, in the place where I understand everything.

I don’t think He thinks less of me because I know so very little. I don’t think He’s disappointed in me, when in those times of confusion, when I just don’t know or have any answers, I surrender my not knowing up to Him.

In fact, I think He may love it. Because if we didn’t know so very little afterall, we’d never need the One who knows all.

A Lovely Paradox

In 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, Paul writes:

We are troubled on every side,
yet not distressed;
we are perplexed,
but not in despair;
persecuted,
but not forsaken;
cast down,
but not destroyed.


I read those words last week and they’ve made an impression on my heart ever since. There is a lovely paradox in these words. And I’ve wondered since then, what kind of a religion or faith will promise those things? We are promised we will be troubled. We are promised we will be perplexed. We are promised we will be persecuted, and even more, we are promised we will be cast down.

But yet.

We will not be distressed.

We will not be in despair.

We will not be forsaken.

And we will not be destroyed.

What beauty in those words.

As I’ve walked my journey these past couple years, I’ve wrestled with that great, big, ugly question of why. I’ve wondered: isn’t my Christian life supposed to be good? Isn’t God supposed to take away my horrible circumstances, and have everything fall into place the way it’s supposed to happen?

But God has gently shown me I’ve got it all wrong. Life is tough. And although I’ve looked, there’s nothing in the Word that says it will ever be easy. Or the way we want it to be. And when I choose to follow Him, I will be persecuted. I will be cast down. I will face adversity at every corner.

But through this darkness shines a great light, and sometimes I wonder whether or not that light can shine as brightly without walking through darkness. Through that suffering I am offered promises that are so great. That to me are worth walking through trials and pain to see the beauty of my Savior.

For I will not be distressed, even in times of trouble. Even when life goes nothing like I’ve planned, and anger and pain and heartache chase me wherever I go.

I will not despair. Even when I feel the world has fallen from underneath me, even when I feel my head has not a warm place to rest at night. My hope rests in Him.

I will not be forsaken. For even though my closest family my forsake, He will never leave my side.

And most importantly, I will not be destroyed. For the power that rose Christ from the dead lives in me, and neither pain nor death nor trial can ever take that from me.

Pornography is NOT the Problem

As many of you may or may not know, I have been researching for my Honors thesis in the area of female pornography use and its effects.  It’s been a highly enlightening journey as I’ve spent hours reading, researching, and writing. I am not done writing, although the research part is finished.

During this journey, what I have found is a heartache deep within me for the devastation that pornography, or any sexually explicit material really, causes. It destroys and distorts something God created uniquely and inherently beautiful. It dishonours He who created love, and brings shame and pain to those who walk in its path. It never satisfies what it claims to satisfy, for lust is never satisfied. It always leaves us wanting more.

And yet as I’ve read statistic after statistic, as I’ve read cries from woman who are broken by their addiction, as I’ve read the beautiful redemption stories of Christ redeeming those shattered by pornograpy’s grasp: I am reminded that pornography is not the problem.


Let me explain myself when I say this. All the research I have read is good. All of it! It sheds light on a dark, hidden area so many of us struggle with. But unless we deal with the heart, taking away the pornography will never heal anything. It’s the same when men say that if women were to be more modest, it would prevent them from sinning lustfully in their hearts. One man commented on an article that I read that men are designed with a deep desire to “see a woman naked.” (And that is directly quoted!) And therefore, “While not good for the women, the Taliban understood how to keep men from having sexual thoughts … cover the female with layers and layers of heavy cloth. The most sexually pure time I ever experienced was the summer I spent living among a strict Islamic society.” (You can read the original article and find this man’s comments here.)

And I am reminded, Women are not the problem here. 


Pornography is not the problem here.


It’s something so much deeper. So much harder to deal with. So much of a painful process of being broken and vulnerable before the only Healer, of opening our hearts up to the painful sin that resides there and letting HIM make us clean. If we forget to deal with the heart’s sin and deal only with the outward behaviour, we are missing a huge part of the picture here. We need to recognize that struggles with porn and lust and any sin is a heart issue, and allow God to cleanse our hearts and make us pure … and then the outward behaviour will follow suit.

Kindness In Its Rarest Form

There’s a man who walks the streets of our town. He wears an oversized coat, giant rain boots, and always carries a garbage bag. With thick glasses and an unruly mop of white hair, he walks through the town, picking up garbage and chatting with whoever crosses his path.

This man has fascinated me since we’ve moved here. I’ve only been home a handful of times since the move, but I’m curious to know his story. What is it that causes him to pour kindness into the community around him? As far as I know, years ago he and his wife and daughter were in a car accident. He lost both his wife and daughter on that fateful day.

And now, he fills his time serving the community. Just this afternoon, he walked by our home, noticed a dishcloth that had fallen off the line, picked it up and came over to hang it back up in its rightful spot. I watched him from the window limber slowly over, his age showing as he made his way across our porch. And I couldn’t help but swell with gratitude for the small act of kindness towards my family.

It’s just a dishcloth, maybe. But it made me think about the acts of kindness I do. Do I look for thanks? Do I do them to be noticed, to be appreciated for my good works? It seems to me that this man shows kindness without ever asking for thanks. He does it without regard for whether or not there is a woman peering at him through a window noticing as he walks up to her porch; he does it not so I would run out and thank him. It was selfless. It was pure. And it was kindness in a rare form.

He doesn’t even know it, but by picking up that dishcloth he challenged me to pursue kindness in that rare form. To show kindness not because one deserves it; not because I deserve thanks in return. But show kindness because it is rare. Because it is precious. Because it is lovely.

Ephesians 6:7 – With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men.”

Hidden in Disguise

I’ve been wondering something lately. Having turned 22 a couple months ago, and never been in a relationship, there are many times that I have questioned why. I’ve looked ashamedly at my past and hidden it away, failing to mention my never-been-in-a-relationship status. I’ve looked to the Word in search of encouragement for my long-standing singleness. And I’ve blissfully eyed Matthew and Mary on Downton Abbey, hoping some day a Matthew might come into my life!

But lately, God has been pulling on my heartstrings with a few thoughts. What if my lack of a relationship has been a blessing?

What if God has protected me from heartache for a reason? What if, the entire time I’ve thought God had forgotten about me, He was intensely looking out for my well-being?

Maybe it’s been the breakups that have surrounded me in my friends’ lives lately, but I can’t help but being grateful I haven’t experienced regretted kisses, or stolen moments of intimacy, or intertwined lives that never break easily. I can’t help but be thankful for my single status, for the fact that my heart had been safeguarded by the one above who will know when it’s the time for me to share. Sometimes, it seems, God’s greatest blessings are in disguise … and I am thankful for the times when he pulls back the curtains and let’s us see.

A Little Lesson from Nehemiah

I hate waking up with the feeling that something is wrong. I had waking up being reminded of the brokenness in my life. I hate that weight on my shoulders as I climb out of bed, the punch-in-your-stomach kind of feeling that something is just not quite right.


But this morning, as I woke up to those feelings once again, my mind wandered to the prophet of Nehemiah. I love that guy. If you’ve never read that small book in the Bible, do it: right now. He is a man of God who carried a great burden to see the walls of Jerusalem rebuilt. And this burden he cried over for forty days. Forty days! Day and night he wept for the burden that had been placed upon his shoulders. Day and night he interceded, and woke up every day with the same reminder: something is just not quite right.


And he reminded me: maybe I’ve been hating this feeling for so long I’ve failed to appreciate it.

Maybe what I should be doing instead of praying to be rid of these feelings is to pray a prayer of thanks instead. Because it is good to be reminded when something is not right. It is good to be reminded of the pain that surrounds us. It is good to be reminded, like Nehemiah was, to intercede.  Charles Spurgeon wrote, “When God puts a burden upon you, He puts His own arms underneath.”

Nehemiah was never once alone carrying that burden. Every morning he awoke to the reminder that something was wrong, God met with Him there. Nehemiah wrestled with that burden, interceded for that burden, and as He did, God put His own arms underneath.

He put His arms underneath.

Homesick

The other day, Alece put words to my thoughts in this post: Heart Homelessness.

I hadn’t really thought about why I have been feeling the way I have been. I’ve felt like I was floating. I have felt like a part of me has been missing … that the roots I have placed in this life have been uprooted. I don’t feel like I belong anywhere, really. Not here, not where I used to call home. And I don’t feel at home any of my friendships or relationships. I just feel like I’m here … but not really.

And of course, I am reminded that this is not our home. We are made for a greater Home, where someday I will travel to and meet my Saviour.

But here … right now, I still desire that earthly home. I still desire to feel a place where I belong, where I feel safe. Where I feel protected from the chaos and turmoil that constantly flows around me.

And so lately, my heart too has felt homeless. And I haven’t quite figured out what to do about it.

But yesterday, I went on an adventure with three girlfriends. We travelled to a town nearby, and walked by a river late at night. It was dark, and spooky, and there were Canadian geese threatened by our invasion of their home. And at first, my heart felt anxious. It was a place unknown and a dark night.

Yet as we walked along the river, and turned back to head towards where we were parked, we wandered along a row of houses. Each were silent, blanketed by the darkness and late hour. But one house stood out to me, a house with candles in each window. It was welcoming. The candles shining through made me imagine that if I were to knock on that door that very moment, the mom of the house would welcome me in, allow me to have a shower in one of the bathrooms filled with potpourri, and show me to the guest room. And would have welcomed me, a stranger, in.

And for some reason, something in my heart shifted. I didn’t feel so homeless anymore.  It was like that house reminded me that someday, I would be home. I would find my place where I would let my roots once again settle. I would find that place somewhere in this world where my heart would be at rest, I would feel welcome, I would feel safe. Safe.


And it’s okay that I don’t feel that way now. But someday, I will.

Forgiven

Yesterday in church, I heard a message that resonated deeply within my heart.

Painfully so, however. It clanged and echoed and pushed its way inside the depths of my heart. It pushed up pain, hurt, anxiety, until tears trickled slowly down my cheeks.
The message was about forgiveness. I have always thought of myself as someone who forgives easily, who easily confesses to God above that I have forgiven someone who has wronged me.
But I have come to learn I tend to put restrictions on my forgiveness.
I say, “I will forgive you, but I can never forget what you’ve done.”
I say, “I will forgive you, but I will never trust you again.”
And still I say, “I’ll forgive, but I can’t ever let you close to me again after how you’ve hurt me.”
But is this how we are called to forgive? Always adding a “but” clause?
The pastor used an illustration yesterday. He spoke of a woman who’s husband had cheated on her, and she told him, “I’ll forgive you, but I can’t ever be close to you again.” And in my mind, I agree. It’s justifiable. How could she, after what he had done to her? But after a pause, the pastor added, “What if God said that to us?”
What if God said to me, “I will forgive you – but I can’t ever be close to you again”?
We are called to forgive as He has forgiven. And putting those restrictions on our forgiveness is not how we are called to forgive. And that is a hard realization – allbeit a good one – but definitely a hard lesson to take to heart. I can’t put restrictions on my forgiveness. I need to keep no record of wrong. It certainly isn’t an excuse for the other person – and I struggle with this – but I cannot keep record of wrong if I have forgiven them. How hard that is, though!

For He First Loved Me

They broke me.


I will never forget what the pain of selfishness causes.

They can tell me over and over again how proud they are of me, what a wonderful woman I have become, but in the end, part of me desires to spite them. To be a horrible person. To yell instead of speak softly. To fail in every one of my classes. To show them in every way that they broke me to the very core of my being. To show them that they stole what meant the most to me in this world, and I will never forget it.

I want them to know what it feels like to know the people in your life who are here to protect you, to give you security, to give you shelter in this turmoil of life, weren’t there. I want them to know what it is like to see the people you love with all your heart harden their hearts and become different people.

I want them to know that missing them, who they were, missing what was stolen from me causes me to weep at night. I want them to know it. I want to break them as they have broken me, for maybe in doing so they will finally realize what they’ve done.

I just want them to feel. I want them to act. I want them to see. I want them to hear.

Can’t they see how this mistake, how this sin, how this selfishness, how this pride has broken their very own flesh? Has destroyed my heart in pieces? Has taken my security, my hope, my family?

Yet they sit silently. They act as if nothing has changed, when the very world we live in has shattered.

Are they so foolish as to not hear the cry of the broken? Their own child, weeping alone at night? How can they turn a deaf ear, a blind ear, to their own flesh and blood that was created out of their love?

But yet, there is a whisper that softly says, “Grace.”

And I turn my ear away.

It whispers still. “Forgiveness.”

And I resist.

It urgently insists, “Love keeps no record of wrongs.”
And I cry, “But of course it does – they need to know. They need to know what they’ve done to me.”

But still the voice replies, “Forgive as I have forgiven you.”
And I shake and tremble, for the Voice is true. He calls me to a higher place, but the road to that place is so hard. But I will walk it, I will stumble to the place that He has called me to. I will persevere to the place of forgiveness, the place where grace will permeate every word I speak to them. I will love, no matter how hard, not matter the tears I will cry, for He first loved me.

Word of the Year

I am inspired by this website, http://oneword365.com/ that asks a simple question: what one word can you choose to describe who you want to be or how you want to live or what you want to achieve this year. Scrap new year’s resolutions: choose one word that I can focus on every day this new year.

And what is my word for 2012?
Wait.
I want to learn how to wait.
I want to learn to rest patiently before my Lord and wait.

I want to wait on His plan, on His timing, instead of running on my own.
I want to learn to wait before I speak. To be quiet, and not speak words of control on others’ lives.
I want to wait on the Spirit, on His leading and His guiding.
I want to learn to be silent and wait. Instead of speaking too soon.
There is so much waiting to be done in this life, yet I am not content to do so. I am impatient when I wait in line in a restaurant, I am impatient to have grades returned to me on time, and I am impatient when my cell phone’s service seems to take forever to load.
But even more importantly than that: I am impatient in my relationship with God. I choose to believe I know what is best instead of trusting Him and His timing. I choose to run ahead and try to pull Him along, instead of listening to His warning, “Wait: for my ways are perfect. Not yours.”
I choose to speak to Him before waiting on Him. I choose to be loud, to be anxious, to pour out my thoughts to Him before He even gets a chance to open His mouth and share with me.
And what kind of a relationship is that?
This year, I need to learn patience. I need to learn grace and humility, and all of these things are summed up in my learning to wait.