Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Between the Holy & untouchable.

There's something about words that have the ability to unlock what's hidden.

Just the other morning I sat down, reached deep in my gut, and pulled out one of the million stories hidden there. I dusted it off and began playing it over and over in my mind until I was sure I was there in that moment again.
Then I wrote it out.
I gave it words.
I gave it space.

I let the Lord speak and tell me what He saw in the story.
I shared it with my mom for a project she is working on.

And then I took it back, tucked it back into my gut, and went about my day.

But the thing with words, at least in my history with God, is that they bridge the gap between the supernatural and the natural, the inside me and the outside me, the unseen and the seen.
Once they've been written, or spoken, or read, they don't go away. They sit in me, silently working their way to reality until I can grasp them, see them, touch them, understand them in the natural.

They're a way of the intangible and personal becoming tangible and collective.

After writing and sharing that story, I have been undone by a Jesus who comes close to me, who fills the room with perfect peace.
I have sat with the wild Lion and realized that he draws in nearer when I am still, not when I am frazzled and anxious and desperately pacing for answers, confirmation, provision, or a way out.

In short, this was the story I shared. I hope it unlocks something for you, too:

If you've known me or read this blog for any length of time, you know I spent the summer of 2015 quietly coming undone in a remote Indian corner of the world at a leprosy and HIV/AIDS mission hospital (for a description of leprosy click here).

It was there that I quickly began to see myself as the leper.
Numb to sin and wrong thinking.
Numb to pain.
Numb to heartache.
Numb to feeling anything, and allowing the numbness to spread, because that was easier than dealing with the issue and acknowledging that I had a problem or two or three million.

As I began to realize the trillion areas of my life that needed restoration, I dug in my heels and fought even harder to come close to Jesus. I would spend hours each night lying on my cement floor, crying out for His presence and restoration, begging for his voice, longing for something tangible from him.

Because, in India, that’s how it is.

I was unclean and He was clean.
I was an outcast and He was the Highest of the high.
I was untouchable and He was Holy.
The only way for me to get his attention was to beg, to make myself look pathetic and desperate and cry out for his touch. And if not his touch, maybe just the corner of his garment like the woman with the issue of bleeding in Luke 8.

The funny thing with wrongful thinking is that we often don’t know we’re thinking it until we find the truth. In all my hours on the floor, I never considered that what I was doing was misguided or wrong.
I was desperate. 
I needed Jesus, and this was my way of showing him that. I was hoping that my desperation would attract his presence.

And then one day, on a walk through the village the Lord introduced me to a young girl named Monica. We laughed and played, held hands and swapped sentences in broken English and Telugu. As the sun set, she went home to her hut and I went back into the walled, guarded, gated compound, walked through another gate and security station, into the inner compound, past the gate for the guesthouse, climbed to the second story, and finally reached my guest room.

The next morning I woke, dressed, and readied for my day. I unlocked my door, stepped out, and gasped as I saw Monica sitting on my balcony. Shocked, I asked her what she was doing and, with a beaming smile of pride, she announced, “I got past the walls and the guards. I was desperate to see you again.” Ignoring my slight terror at our lack of security, I quickly wrapped her in a hug and thanked her for coming to see me.

And then it hit me. This is Jesus.
This is what he does.

He breaks through every wall of self-protection.
He walks right past every guard.
He opens every gate.
He comes to us.
He risks it all.
He pays every price.
Because He is desperate for us.

No amount of begging or pleading will make him come.
Not because he doesn’t care about our desperation, but because He is already there, sitting on our balcony, just waiting for us to open the door.
His presence is a promise, no matter how untouchable we are.


After putting this story back in my gut that day, I went on to emphatically whimper and desperately demand things in prayer as I paced about my room.

And then I stilled.
I let the story resurface.

And I prayed, "If there's anything thing I'm certain of, Jesus, it's that you're here, that you're with me, that you're in my midst, and that you've paid every price to get here." 

...&, even if I didn't believe it then, I fully believe it now. 
Because words unlock things, 
& words have purpose, 
& words have weight,
& words bridge the gap. 

Not just my words. 
Your words, too.

What do you need to say?

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

when I have not seen

Has Jesus ever been hard to hear?
To see?
To feel?
Does it ever feel like he's far away?

He's felt like that a lot for me lately.

Today I feel overwhelmed.
There's been a lot of life happening these last several months
-a LOT of ups and downs-
& more days than not,
I feel weak, empty, & confused.

Often I find myself
aimlessly wandering,
desperately striving,
& scrapping for something to hold on to.

When I quiet myself before Jesus
I often just see my own problems,
thoughts, & frustrations.

I don't see Jesus.
I don't see Heaven.
I don't see angels.
I don't see the throne.
I don't see gold dust.
I don't see burning fire.
I don't see miracles.
I don't see the fruit of promises.
I don't see the path before me.
I don't see goodness.
I don't see kindness.

I. Don't. See. Him.
Or feel Him.
Not even one bit.

& that can be maddening.
It can wreck your theology, & challenge everything you ever believed about a God who comes close, who never turns his face in anger, who never pulls away.

But, one thing is for sure: I do not want to be an Israelite.
I do not want to see the goodness of the Lord one day,
and then turn from him the moment I no longer see it.
I don't want to be led out of captivity by the Almighty,
& then get stranded in the desert because I've found other gods.

So while I don't feel him or see him,
I've found much comfort in the pages of my well worn bible,
a concrete and tangible reminder that he is still speaking.

I've been reading through the gospels for the umpteenth time,
and this time I'm seeing something new.

People got to be with Jesus.
They got to reach out and touch him,
to feel him.
They got to hear his audible words,
and breath the same air that he breathed.
They were close- in the very same place.

& yet they didn't see him,
nor did they understand.

He spoke in parables,
& confused the crap out of people.
His own disciples didn't even understand him most of the time.

He was present, there in their midst,
yet he hid himself from them.


To see who would really come after him?
To see who really wanted what he had?
To reserve the inner sanctum for the ones who proved their devotion, who wanted it most of all?

I don't know.

The only thing I do know is this:
the gospels are full of Jesus saying things that cause confusion.
He leaves loose ends.
He doesn't answer the why questions.
He doesn't give three point sermons with explanations and diagrams.
He says things and walks away before people even understood what he meant.

The only people Jesus really sits down and spells himself out for are his disciples, and ohmygosh I swear they hardly ever understand him either.
And, yet, when all is said and done, and Jesus has breathed life after death, and his disciples are finally starting to see what's going on, he says to them,
"Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
Oh, Jesus. You are so backwards.

In the midst of this season of not seeing him, & in attempt to not be an Israelite,
I've learned a trick from the Psalms-
I get my trusty journal
and I write.
I write to lay myself bare before the Lord,
to remind myself of who He is,
to recount my history with Him,
to retell my soul the stories of His goodness,
and to reunite in right communion with Him again.

So today I remind myself:
blessed are we-
the ones who persevere in the midst of chaos and confusion,
the ones who don't see him & still choose to believe,
the ones who Jesus has left with loose ends for a time,
the ones who feel the weight of despair closing in, yet command their soul to sing a song of victory,
the ones who hold on to hope, declaring that he is forever faithful.

Blessed are we who have not seen & yet still believe.
He is here, in our midst, doing a good thing, and teaching us something that will only make sense in retrospect.
He is trustworthy and GOOD, even when all evidence says otherwise.

"I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. 
Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." 
-Psalm 27:13 &14

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