Musings

/Musings
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Formica Counter-ing Culture

“Above all else, guard your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it.”   -King Solomon. Prov 4:23.

I grew up in the mid-2000s, hyper-purity youth group culture of Christianity. Youth group emphasized saving yourself for marriage, dating was implied to be bad, and everyone was always wondering whether or not you “liked” a guy because you talked to him for more than eight seconds. I remember specifically attending a conference on relationships as a teenager where the entire emphasis was, literally, about keeping your pants on. They were selling checkered suspenders in the lobby.

And then I went to Bible College.

Cue confusion over courtship, paranoia about sneak-attack coffee dates (“Is is a date? Does he like me? WHAT DOES THIS MEAN”), and engagements left and right. It’s a strange arena to attempt navigation, and the Starbucks counter down the street has witnessed many a DTR

Broken Batteries

“I’ve been told I’m just a body.”

“I struggle feeling like I’m too broken for God to actually use me.”

“I think God sees me as a piece of dirt.”

“I look so ugly unless I wear makeup.”

“I never want to be raped again.”

Heartbreak, over and over again. I am sitting across Starbucks tables, carpet floors, couches, cups of tea and coffee when I hear these words. My spirit is continually rent by the twisted lies coming out of the mouths of these women, young twenty-somethings who have been repressed and depressed and caged by various turmoils.

I am small. So. Terribly. Small. What on earth am I supposed to say, when the backstories come out and I haven’t lived through half of the nightmares of half of these voices? What do you offer souls that have been busted? How can I reverse a lifetime of degradation at the hands of an abusive father,

The Heart Pumper

Oftentimes, I feel like there is nothing more to say.

What is the significance of “my contribution” to any of this world? Writing, thoughts, opinions, convictions, definitions, loves, hates?

What on earth do I have to offer? Hasn’t everything already been felt, expressed, acted on enough times?

I am a small woman attempting to serve her Maker. I have been given gifts and circumstances, but everything I am doing is because of God working through me. It is a humbling gestalt to realize that, despite my abilities to create, illumine, influence humans, do a good work here or there–I am incapable of doing anything outside of God, who gives me a breath and a heartbeat, a breath and a heartbeat, but I am furthermore incapable of doing anything to please him unless he changes me and works goodness through me. Praise his name eternally, for he has, by the blood of his Son

The Door Opener

It’s funny how He does it.

My life has consisted of a progressive unfolding, a journey of steps and many, many doors. My heart has been rent and reformed dozens of times–expectations derailed, God switching my direction, people hurting me, me hurting people, disillusionment, and other assorted inconsistencies with my fallen logic about how things are supposed to be. The Lord always uses it to grow me into a deeper disciple.

This moment is a moment of sweetness, a door that has been steadily opening in segments with little slits of light peeking through. God has been showing me glimpses of the future by intersecting my present: affirmations that I am gifted and blessed, future plans falling into place, expressions of love by my family and dearest friends, reminders that our God is the Lord of all.

I sometimes stare into space, mentally pinching myself because it’s hard to believe that I am

Pieces

Crumbs. Pieces. Fragments. Slices.

The Bible, when you think about it, doesn’t offer us that much. This book is, by its own attestation, God’s complete self-revelation, everything he believes is necessary for us to know about him, ourselves, and this world in order to live the way we were meant to. And all we have? Some history of an obscure people group in the Middle East, poetry, strange prophecies from even stranger times, and some random letters written by preachers on the run. Not much.

But this is everything. Life, truth, light. We can KNOW GOD through these seemingly-random desert scribblings. This is how the Creator and Redeemer of the universe has decreed it, and the fact that he used the vehicle of language is shocking. When you examine the Bible through the lens of humility, of knowing God, this is what you see.

Currently, I am staring at a dusty passage from

Wonderstruck and Bothering

I’ve been pondering this one phrase that has so completely captured my imagination:

God bothered.

This Incarnation Celebration Season, aka Christmas, we rave about the commercialism and the church services, the cookies and the presents, even our fiercely-held traditions of being with family or reading the Story itself, but shame on us if we neglect the powerful condescension that fuels this entire thing.

There is a God, and he has bothered to make himself known to us. There is a God, and he has called himself our Father in Heaven. There is a God, and he came.

As J.I Packer writes so plainly and beautifully in his book, Knowing God, despite the magnanimity of Him, we have made God so common, so base–we have lost the sense of awe and reverence for him. God has bothered! The fact that the God of the entire universe wants to know us demands a response of absolute love

Wounds and Boxes

There are several storage tubs currently sitting under my bed. They hold things of mine: gloves, an extra hat, shoes, summer clothes neatly folded and laundered.

We tend to associate storage with organization, or unneeded items, or solved predicaments. Our closets hold possessions that are not necessary for regular use, or perhaps they keep hidden things that shouldn’t be seen by visitors in our lives.

Each one of us has a heart closet. In his great redemptive work of love, Jesus cleans out our souls with his blood and enters inside. He takes up residence (Eph 3:17-19), and as we grow up spiritually, he travels further, requesting access into more and more chambers of our closets.

Sometimes, though, there are scars. We make mistakes that leave deep wounds. We run to disobedience, lusting after idols and sin. We bury a hatchet instead of dealing with it. We overlook our offenses against others. In

They held feasts in their homes on their birthdays

Tragedy comes in different packages.

It’s a suicide bomber at a Parisian concert hall. It’s a phone call that dad has brain damage from a slip on the linoleum. It’s a cursory glance at the Bible instead of a long drink. It’s an alcoholic beverage or a frosted sugar cookie or one more click on the computer even though you vowed to stop and “just do today” in God’s grace. It’s realizing that you got something really, really wrong.

For Job, tragedy was a gaggle of breathless messengers who delivered the worst news of his life. I wouldn’t ever be able to hear running feet the same way again if I had been him.

His life had been idyllic, blessed by the hand of God for being obedient. And yet, in his sovereignty, God destroyed his life: his children, his material wealth, his personal wellness.

Friends came, sat in silence for an eternal seven

She had a four-bedroom house once

“I left him four months ago.”

I don’t know how much of it is real, but the Lord has led me to talk and pray with M several times while doing street evangelism. Her life is incredibly broken, marked by abusive relationships and disease and too many children left to fend for themselves while their mother tries to beg a few dollars.

Women like M make me want to curl up and weep. I cannot fix her problems, and so I want to run away. I have none of her problems, and so I feel a sense of shame. But still I sit with my legs politely folded as she updates me: how she might be getting housing soon, how she’s so excited (she then proceeds to pull out photos of her children). And I give her a dollar and encourage her and then our group pulls her into our circle for

Altar Altercations

It was straight from the Enemy.

Right as communion was about to be served, a commotion began in the front of the sanctuary. A man was yelling something, the worship pastor and the ushers formed a net around him and tried to calm him down until a security officer could escort him out. The organist began to play a tune to smooth everything over. I was dumbfounded as the man continued to put up a fight, shouting, “This church sucks!” as he was led quickly down the main aisle.

Right before the most important celebration believers partake in, when our minds were fully focused on the sacrifice of Christ and the goodness of God. The most holy moment during the entire service. Coincidence? I think not.

How often does a dirty wrench get tossed into our lives right in the middle of sweetness and spiritual growth? Sometimes it’s from the Enemy or our