Wednesday, October 22, 2014

For the Times of Insanity

Many days I battle fiercely with insanity.

I'm not referring to the popular Insanity workout craze.

Although I wish I had the endurance for the frog hops, burpees, and other jump moves, my middle-aged joints buckle under the jarring exercises.

It’s a similar sensation to my knees being beaten with a sledge hammer.

Interestingly, I think of the powerful jarring my brain has taken in years past (and present) when my thought life is not under control-- leaping from to one worry to the next, until I'm immersed in darkness.

Insane thinking.

Rationalizing, reasoning, worry, and doubt.

Proverbs 3:5 instructs us to lean not on our own understanding.

Because we will never have it all figured out.

The whys and wonderings are physically and mentally tiring.

And unhealthy.

Certainly not the life of rest He intends (Matthew 11: 28-29).

So, why do I often choose to jump aboard the loops and drops of out of control thinking?

Often it has skyrocketed into such a habit that I give no thought about my crazy thought life.

Sometimes it's my fleshly desire for control that catapults me into the crazy mid-air flight.

Airborne in a freakish free fall of insanity, I ruminate situations and circumstances— trying to make sense of my world from above, looking down at every angle.

This is me in 1995.  Just kidding.  I only skydive mentally.  ;)

At the core of my flesh is an ugly layer of mistrust and pride-- thinking my ways are best.  My sinful desire to be my own God and in control of my circumstances and those of others.

It's not just a fleshly sin pattern.

Wrong thinking is also a very deceptive tool the enemy uses to send me to a trail of darkness— a twisting, turning path of wasting time mulling and reasoning.

Our minds are a battleground where the enemy wishes to stake claim.  There are often patterns and valleys evil has ingrained in our minds since childhood.

Our minds can be the entry point for the evil one who desires to penetrate the full terrain of folds and crevices of gray matter.

I desperately need light to shine into these recesses daily— expose the lies.

Without the light of His word shining into these areas, a thick war-torn jungle of despair and insane thinking can rapidly grow and multiply.  The enemy loves to encamp here, setting traps and means of torture.

If my mind is absent of His word, then my heart and spirit cannot fully experience the full life the Father desires.

Surrender is difficult for me.

Yet, as His spirit moves and I consciously remember His faithfulness, my hands release.

His hand ultimately descends to open mine.

Strength to open palms and let go.

Any surrender is because of His gracious pursuit of my heart.

Because of this grace, my mind can be transformed and renewed by an intervention of the Only One who is able— through intentional prayer and time in His word renewing my mind (Rom 12:2).

This is not a task of me trying harder or attempting to change myself.

Instead, it is a mysterious dance of Him guiding me to throw myself at the foot of the cross.

I don't fully understand.

The gospel of grace never makes sense.

I just know it's real and true and good.

His word timeless, reliable, and illuminating.

For He is greater than evil and I must be willing to delve deeply into the waters of truth and soak in it daily.

In the joys, the sorrows, and the things we can’t understand, may His light shine in and through us!

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.  (Isaiah 26:3)

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Friday, October 17, 2014

For All the Times I Doubt

It's there.

Buried underneath piles of french fries, cookie-crumbled ice cream, bacon burgers, and hot apple pies.

Beneath the smiles and laughter.

Jumping off swings into a pile of pine bark.

Riding metal playground equipment until the springs nearly break.

The prayer of the oldest boy before the meal.

It's unspoken-- but it still rides the swells in my heart.

I say, How was your day at school today?

He responds with dark, averted eyes, smile suddenly vacant, Not good.  I don't want to talk about it.

The undercurrent trickles.

His breathing shallow as he wildly takes ownership of the playground.

I remember his asthma and ask if he's seen a doctor about his cough, How long have you been coughing?  Where is your inhaler?

We send someone to the car to get his medicine.

He rests.

We talk about World War II and Belgium.  And a girl that helped other children escape the Holocaust.

And I wonder, Where are you Lord?  Will you rescue this precious boy?  Will you give him a mama and daddy?

I listen and smile.  I ask questions.

But I know what happened yesterday.

That's what is sandwiched between us.  Yesterday.

The news he an his brother received-- the undertone of our two-hours together.

Their little lives bear raw wounds and unrelenting grief from living in a way that no child should.

Shuffled.  Moved.

Asked to carry a load and fill a space that children shouldn't occupy.

Promise after promise.  All broken.

Shards buried deep in a teenagers heart.

That same boy, as tall as me, asks if he can keep his little sister's Happy Meal box and stickers.

Because he's never fully experienced the freedom of just being a child.  Doing the things children normally do.

Sleep may bring rest, but by morning they quickly remember.

Different sheets.  New room.  A different home.  A new school.  A new foster mama.

Loss upon loss.

I want to rescue.

I also want to run-- pretend this doesn't exist.

In His mercy, He reminds me of a story told about an old woman in an inner city church.

She would walk down the road every Sunday to pick up two little boys and carry them to church with her.

The boys had a hard home life, but they grew in their faith.

That's grace.

And that's not all.

When they were removed from their home, their first foster mama loved Jesus, prayed with and for them.

And she still does.  Still involved.
They were active in their choir with her and diligent about memorizing scripture.

Right now feels really dark and absent of His presence if I only look at the current circumstances.

If I don't remember how He's fought for them in the past, I will despair.

He is our intercessor.  A father to the fatherless.  The lover of justice and mercy.

If I forget truth, the trickling undercurrent becomes a gushing hydrant.

And I drown in circumstances that seem bleak.

May He come quickly to rescue!

And may the church rise to the call to care for the least of these

 Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.  (Rom 8:34)

Our soul waits for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield. (Psalm 33:20)




Thursday, October 16, 2014

If I Could Kill My Heart

Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  (2 Cor 4:16)  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  (John 14:27) 

Sometimes I wish I could uproot my heart.

Toss it into the fire pit in our backyard beneath our large oak.

Douse the throbbing muscle with gasoline, light the match, watch the explosion of colors as it ignites.

Feel the heat against my skin and watch as my heart turns to dust.

To kill the heart, would kill desire, love, grief, longing, joy, passion, purpose...the wellspring of life (Prov 4:23).

Life is hard and some days I want to numb out and let the rhythmic beating turn to ash.

To live unengaged is uncomplicated, painless.  Right?

Tears sloshed into my lap yesterday as I drove away from a DHR meeting.

A surge of memories washed over me like the undertow pulling me out to the ocean depths.

One wave flooded me, uncovering the tiny face of a 7-month old baby girl with wispy black hair.

The awkwardness of a language barrier as I approached her mama in the same downtown parking lot.

My hands the ones to take her baby from her arms.

Observing the mama walk away on foot as I strapped her daughter into the infant seat in my car.

The mama strolled down the sidewalk alone.

It was last summer.  Hot.  I wondered where she was going.

A sluggish lift of her arm, extended fingers in my direction, as I drove past her in my SUV.

I wept the 45-minute drive home in rush-hour traffic.

Her infant daughter in her car seat behind me.

I can't disconnect my heart.

It just bubbles up.

At the dark-brown table in yesterday's meeting, among a maze of hallways, elevators, and glassed-in rooms, I sputtered strong words.

I couldn't hold in my heart.

Words dropped heavy on the table.

There was an insane desire to wildly bang my head on the table, the wall, the floor.

Anything solid.

It's hard to show grace when I'm overflowing with anger at injustice.

Or maybe that is grace, after all.  Fighting on behalf of the fatherless.

His grace spilling out of my mouth.

A grace for these brothers to be fought for.

A grace for a strong voice to rise up on their behalf.

May those words not be lost among the mazes of beige walls and shuffling paperwork, cubicles, ringing phones, and brokenness.

But, if the words are lost and nothing is changed, I have a hope outside of messy circumstances.  My hope can't be in myself and my efforts.  It surely can't be placed in the desperately broken lives of two little boys.  I'm buoyed by a faith of remembering how He's fought in the past.  He often shows up when I least expect it, least believe it, and least deserve it.

He fights for the least of these and holds them near His heart.

That is my hope-- nail scarred hands and blood spilt.

To slay my heart would be a serious insult to His heart-- He cares for me and desires wholehearted living.

What His heart values, mine should as well.  Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me (Matt 25:40).

And I pray for two brothers in the inner city to deeply sense His presence and love for them.

They are worth the fight.  But, even more, Jesus is worth it.




Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  (Pro 3:5)

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