I have learned so much, and I will - at some point - write you an incredibly lengthy post to tell you a bit of my journey, but unfortunately I've had too many short nights this week and not the time to tell the whole story. BUT - there are two things I want to tell you:
1) my anonymous friend and i have patched it up
2) somewhere in the middle of all of this...
they changed their minds.
I get to go sockfoot. :)
A friend of mine claimed he was being translucent the other day - to which I said, "sigh - define translucent." He laughed at the bold sigh, and said: "Translucent is a state that allows only certain light to pass through, either creating a tint to our perception or a distortion of the original image passing through. Stained glass is a great example of glass that is translucent."
This word makes me think of Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 13:12 - "For now we see in a mirror, dimly..." I love the Message version of this verse: "We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!"
And "translucency" expresses so well the lighting in my "spiritual environment" at the moment. There's something I'm missing, a way in which I'm seeing true objects/concepts in a slightly distorted fashion. Some of it is beautifully lit - blues and purples casting fun patterns on wooden pews and stone floors... and some of it is just bizarre - weird shades of green and yellow that almost make you feel ill...
I had a weird experience last night. I was spending time with a group of people I love deeply, and with whom I am generally pretty open... and last night, I just didn't feel like talking. Everything I've been writing about this week (published and non-published) - they should know this stuff. But I didn't really explain it to them, not well. I gave them the five second cryptic update on the Battle of the Shoes and generally vented about a couple of other things... and they responded in love and compassion with true responses to what I told them... but I couldn't shake the feeling that what I'd presented was a slightly distorted view of reality - distorted largely because I'm so far past exhausted I can't see straight, I was starving and dizzy and light-headed, and because I'm not seeing clearly to begin with, and not because I lied or meant to... what I said was true, but it wasn't the whole truth - I don't think I know what the whole truth is...
They gave me good advice - it was biblical, it was godly - and it felt off.
Not sure what to make of that.
But I came away from it thinking, "Okay, something needs to shift. I need to be able to see more clearly."
So I am taking a week off. Not from life, much as I could use a vacation. But from blogging, from making decisions that matter, from everything I can think of that may be aiding in this distortion. I am going to go back and read everything I can find that I've written since August and see if I can trace the trajectory I've been on, what it is that God has been doing in me and maybe why, and see if I can guess beyond an hour from now what's next... I think I looked at the Promised Land and decided to run last night, and it felt like Israel said "go for it" - but I'm not sure...
So here's where you come in. Will you help me? Will you go back during this week and read what I've written here and tell me what you see God doing in the life of this girl you've been getting to know? What you've seen Him teach me? I need to remember the deeds of the Lord this week. (Psalm 77 again.)
Thank you, my friends.
And Happy Easter!
I will "see" you in a week or so.
I may print this off and post it on one of those kitchen cabinets I keep leaving open so I remember it more often... Maybe if I hit my head on it daily, it'll stick...
Love is patient when it could be easily frustrated.
Love is kind when it could have chosen to be cruel.
Love isn't envious of the blessings of others even in the absence of blessing to itself.
Love is humble and quiet, not boastful and self-centered.
Love chooses to forget the wrongs done to it.
Love refuses to stay angry, even though it has every right to be upset.
Love rejoices with everything that is good and true and right in the world, and weeps over that which is not.
Love protects fiercely, trusts unyieldingly even when it doesn't understand, hopes unswervingly against all odds, and perseveres no matter what.
Love refuses to fail.
Love embraces grace, extends it, doesn't give up.
Love recognizes it can't be earned.
Love mourns sin and celebrates repentance.
Love is meek enough - gentle enough - to both hear and tell the truth.
Love hungers for righteousness.
Love extends mercy.
Love is pure in heart.
Love seeks peace, at great cost to itself.
Love will not shy away from persecution of any kind, because its purpose is greater than any temporary pain.
This is how God loves us.
And it is how I want to love.
"Most women need a room of their own, even if it is outside their home." - Germaine Greer
A Fundamental Shift is my room. It is where I come to sort out all the shifting that goes on in my heart and my soul and my head. The Shift has an open door; anyone can come and visit, and anyone may say what they like about what I have to say. Until now, I've never felt even slightly uncomfortable with that.
Today I actually took down a post because of something you said. Obviously, I've put it back up, but it was almost instinct to withdraw. I seriously thought about deleting your comment altogether, but then I thought... no. Let's see what comes of this. A small skirmish over Tennyson's merits wasn't quite what I expected. :) But there it is.
So let's dispense with Tennyson and get that over with: "Ours is not to question why; ours is but to do and die." ???? No. I will stand with Job on this one: "But I desire to speak to the Almighty and to argue my case with God." (Job 13:3)
Have you read Isaiah 43:1-44:5? Check out 43:26 - "Review the past for me, let us argue the matter together; state the case for your innocence." In the context of addressing their sin, and explaining how He's going to save them from it, God still invites His people to come and talk to Him. Abraham argues with God to save Sodom (Genesis 18:16-33) and while God still destroys the city, He never expresses displeasure with Abraham's questioning. And in Hebrews 4:16, we are invited to "approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." If what we need is an answer, I doubt God will turn us away. "In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence." (Ephesians 3:12) As adopted sons and daughters of God, we've been given the right to go to Him, just as we are, completely fallen - but "the wise trip on grace," as the song has it (it's "All Fall Down" - I can't remember who sings it... Erin O'Donnell, maybe?). And it is what I've tried to do here.
No. I do not need to understand God's plan in order to obey it. I do, however, need to know what it is. You can't do what you don't know to do. Every child needs the security of knowing where the boundaries are, and they will test them boldly to make sure they are where they're expected to be. I am no different.
I need to know - from the Lord, and not from anyone else - whether it is still okay for me to not wear shoes on stage. I need to know - from the Lord, and not from anyone else - whether my friend who had the guts to look me in the eye and say, "look, this is idolatry" - is right. It sounded right on. He had a point. But he can't know my heart. He can only make an educated guess. He's usually dead on about me - especially when I don't want him to be. But I'm not sure about this...
And that is all I've been trying to say. I don't really give a rip what anyone - even my elders, honestly - think about me leading sockfoot. This has always been between me and Jesus - something we have that's unique to our relationship. Because I can honestly say that I worship with my shoes on - when I'm biking, or reading, or taking a walk on the beach to watch the sunset - I'm not sure it can be claimed that I must be sockfoot in order to worship... yes, it's an issue in church sanctuaries, but that's the only place it is. And to be honest, I really think I have some pretty solid reasons (as listed in the link back to last year's post on the issue) for that.
I think the logic as to why the leaders want me to wear my shoes is a little off - tho not in its heart, mind you. I know that they genuinely want people to encounter the Lord. What concerns me about it is all the logical conclusions you could take it to, and it leaves me wondering where it ends: if you use any criteria other than "this is a biblical form of worship and therefore acceptable practice" to determine what does and doesn't happen on stage, you run into a lot of subjectivity. I'm personally really distracted when someone wears baggy shorts that are practically falling off or socks with sandals - but if they're comfy in God's house, and obviously enjoying God's presence, then I'll shut my eyes and praise God that they're meeting with Him. Yes, we need some sort of a dress code, but seriously... socks with sandals are much worse than my very surreptitious black socks. but there we go, being subjective...
And at the end of the day, it's arguing semantics. Do I disagree with them? Yes. Do I think they're out of line asking me to do what they think is best? NO. Do I want to argue with them about it? You bet I do. Am I going to? Probably not. What I am going to do is the right thing to do: I am going to wear my shoes. And I am going to worship. I am going to worship the way I did last night - BY CHOICE.
We sang this song last night at Torch called "Waste My Life" by Misty Edwards. It says, "I am in love with You; there is no cost. I am in love with You; there is no loss. I am in love with You; I want to take Your Name. I am in love with You; just let me cling to You, Jesus."
I had a really hard time singing it at first. I don't feel like I'm in love with God. I know I am, but I don't feel like it. Instead, I feel like we're arguing, and I don't know exactly about what. I've known, as Sara pointed out, that there is something in all of this that I am still missing. Something I'm to learn, to understand, to finally GET that I haven't yet. I want to know what that is, and I want to know it sooner than later. So I am arguing. I am worrying this issue to death. I am not letting it go. I am knocking, seeking, asking continually and wearing myself out in the process. But this is something I need to know. In some odd way, the very wrestling that I am doing right now is sort of an act of worship... I am declaring, through my struggle, that God is worthy of my worship, and that I want the worship I bring to Him to be acceptable. To be offered up in spirit and truth. To do that, to worship that way - is why I need to know His heart on the matter, and the truth about whether or not I'm an idolater or a follower of Christ.
And I am not condemning anyone, my friend. Or if I am, it is only myself - for my failure to learn the lesson I'm supposed to more quickly. Or less publicly, maybe.
My friend who thinks I'm an idolater... what I appreciate so about him are his courage in saying it to my face, and his honesty about his own struggles in his walk. He's recently been in a place where he's felt so emotionally distant from God that it's made him want to weep at times. He's bewildered by that seeming "absence" of presence... but he's pressing on. God has still been speaking to him, and working in his life in some pretty amazing ways - and he can see it, but doesn't feel it (or hasn't felt it) the way he's wanted to. So I know that at least on some level he knows what I mean when I say, "I find myself unable to worship." Tho I probably didn't explain it to him very well. What I mean by that is simply that I don't feel the emotional connection I am accustomed to feeling when I lead worship. There's a weird disconnect going on - and there has been for a few weeks. It's like I'm objectively watching myself grow as a worship leader and engage more freely - and I'm not actually doing it... but I am. I just don't feel it the way I want to. And the shoes question has made it worse. Because I want to be doing what I'm supposed to be doing to honor His heart, and I'm not sure what it is, because I'm not sure if this little ritual is wrong or not....
Every couple has their own special things. Jesus and I have always had this. Being asked to give it up is hard. It's an honest struggle. Having someone I love and trust say that it shouldn't be a struggle at all has made me seriously question. So I am seriously questioning. Out loud. In my room.
And you attacked me. Or I felt that you did.
The way you wrote about the situation makes me think you are someone I know. I'm not going to call you out here in my room. But I'd appreciate it if you'd email or call or something and at least give me the courtesy of knowing who you are. And if you're not... well. You are still welcome in my room, and I can't make you state your name. You can hang around as anonymously as you want. But please be careful with how you phrase things. Even if you believed what you said about me condemning people... you could've found a way to say that in love that mightn't have hurt quite as badly as it did.
(HT: ASBO Jesus)
And trust? I'm with Job on that, too... Job 13:15 - "Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face."
He's welcome to set me straight. In some ways He already has. And I'm sure there are still things I'm missing. But I know He loves me, and will give me the mercy and grace I need - both to get through this struggle, and to lead with my shoes on. At least for one weekend, anyway.
It's kind of amazing how easy it is for something to become an idol without a whole lot of fanfare. Oh, sure, we don't make big productions out of melting down all our jewelry into golden calves - but that doesn't mean we don't have idols. An idol is anything we look to for something when we should be looking to God. Put that logically, sounds rather silly to be an idol worshiper, doesn't it? Yet we do it anyway... and not always intentionally...
An icon, on the other hand, is something that points us to God. Iconography is something that's become a bit lost, especially in many contemporary churches, but throughout history there have been hundreds of icons that have helped God's people to remember Him. Some are still hanging in our churches - crosses, banners, paintings, statues, signs, things carved into the woodwork or the masonry of our buildings... symbols that point us to Christ.
But, as Madeleine L'Engle once warned, "An icon can far too easily become an idol. Idols always bring disaster to the idolater. An icon is an open door to the Creator; when it becomes an idol, the door slams in your face."*
I have a ritual that has served as icon in my life for the greater part of my worship leading career. (I wrote about it here.) There are two things that almost inevitably happen every time I'm about to get onstage: 1) I totally want to throw up, and 2) I take my shoes off.
The whole nerves thing - I have always dealt with that. I am totally fine as soon as the lights come up - but talk to me five minutes before a service is about to start, and I'm liable to be fighting waves of nausea. I've gotten pretty good at hiding it. And I don't always even notice it myself - it's just part of how it goes.
But the shoes.... the 2 seconds it takes me to kick off my shoes are often the holiest part of my day. It's a ritual that marks a mental shift... an "okay, here we go!" as I take a deep breath and focus for the sprint ahead. And it's as habitual as saying hello to Orion, or going back to the coffeepot for a refill... it's just something I do - it's a part of who I am.
But right now I'm questioning whether it should be.
I have an opportunity the weekend after Easter to lead worship somewhere other than where I normally lead. At my church home, it is widely known and accepted that I lead sockfoot, and it's something that honestly, most of my congregation really loves, or at least respects. But I've been asked to put my shoes on for this particular service, and I've really been struggling with that. The conversation was incredibly gracious. They know where I'm coming from; they understand that it's a serious matter and they're not taking it lightly. But because the height of the platform (which is a whole different can of worms for another day) is at eye-level to the front row, the concern is that my sockfeet might be a distraction to someone in worship, and so, out of love, and an honest desire to help people engage in worship, the church's leadership has asked me to wear shoes.
I cried off and on for about 48 hours about it. Partly because I'd been hoping against hope that God would make a way in this. And partly because I am certain that there is something to be learned from this experience, but I don't know what...
So on Wednesday this week I went shoe shopping. I bought a relatively light weight pair of tennis shoes; they're comfy. They look cool. They're beige and brown so they'll go with about 1/2 my closet. I wanted something to be special still - a pair of shoes to change into, or to wear just on Sundays - something to hold onto... to remind me of everything I usually think about before I go on stage. I seriously thought about buying a pair in several brilliant shades of green, or a pair of ridiculous flip-flops with rhinestones all over them, or something equally hideous... but that would have been following the letter rather than the spirit of the "thou shalt wear shoes" law, so I didn't. I bought respectable shoes that I would wear anywhere.
And I slipped into a ridiculous funk.
We're talking melancholy artist funk of the worst sort. The sort of funk that if it wasn't Lent would probably have involved an entire 1/2 gallon of ice cream. Instead it involved me attempting to metaphorically smash a few bricks in that wall around me, only to fail visibly and miserably. So a friend showed up with a sledgehammer to help.
I think I'm grateful. Except once I started talking about it, my friend ever so kindly suggested that perhaps I've made an idol out of this particular form of worship. He's got a point. Taking off my shoes has always been an entrance into Presence for me - but it isn't some sort of magical formula. Shoeless-ness is not equivalent to Samson's hair in terms of being some sort of power source. The ground on which I stand is holy because God is present, not because I've taken off my shoes to stand on it.
"Why would it be disobedient to lead with your shoes on?" he asked. The only reason I can think of is that I feel like it's something God's asked of me - but I don't know that there was ever a "Hap, thou shalt do this no matter what" from God... I think it was simply a resolution on my part, a habit I chose to embrace as a spiritual discipline of sorts. And yes, it's a biblical form of worship (and in my book, therefore an acceptable practice) but it isn't sin to not take my shoes off either... I don't think. It feels like it, tho. In spite of the fact that it would be sin to defy the leadership by taking my shoes off - or walking out on my commitment.
I tried to "practice" wearing my shoes at rehearsal on Thursday. I only got about 1/2 way through rehearsal before I had to take them off. All I could think about was how hot my feet were. And tonight I led at our evening service, and I left my shoes on... and it was weird. I didn't like it. I had to fight the temptation to just kick them off all night long. I could've - no one would have cared tonight. But somehow I need to learn to do this... to be able to focus and lead well with shoes on. I don't know why. And I don't want to.
God can work thru me whether I have shoes on or not. I go around proclaiming that worship and music are not the same thing, that worship is a lifestyle. So either I should never wear shoes, or I should be okay with going shoeless as a form of worship that I do not need to engage in every time I lead, any more than I need to be flat on my face or raising my hands or clapping or shouting every time I lead...
But I'm not okay with it. And I'm not sure anymore if going sockfoot is an icon or an idol. I know God will honor the fact that I'm submitting to those in leadership over me. (Objectively, anyway.) But I am still desperately... un-Happy about it.
* Penguins and Golden Calves, by Madeleine L'Engle, p.39
It has been an angsty couple of days; lots of emotions, mostly sadness - some explicable, and some ... just there. Wrestling with more than a few things mentally, spiritually, emotionally... Some of it I will post on later this weekend, I hope (time permitting).
I am learning not to do this:
(HT: The Ongoing Adventures of ASBO Jesus)
And to maybe begin to do this a little more frequently:
(again, HT: ASBO Jesus)
and learning that I can because this song is true:
Some of my favorite lines from the song*:
how long you have traveled in darkness weeping
no rest in language, no words to speak
but there in the wreckage beneath bricks and bindings
love has come, love has come for you
everything worth keeping comes through dying
so lift up your heart now, to this unfolding
all that has been broken will be restored
*This song is called Ten Thousand Angels. It was written by Sandra McCracken and is performed here by her husband, Derek Webb; I believe it's a bonus track on the latest Caedmon's Call album, Overdressed. Don't quote me on that, tho.
Yep. Pretty much.
Thank you for putting up with it... :)
Desire - It was two things, really.
1) this quote from Secrets of the Secret Place by Bob Sorge: "There are times when my soul is being blown about with winds, and I don't even understand the nature of the warfare. If I knew where the warfare was coming from, or if I knew how to defend myself, it would be a lot easier. But I'll find myself caught in a swirl of emotions and uncertainties, and I won't know what to do next. " Yep, pretty much there. Glad I'm not the only one who's been through this...
2) a picture Jake painted: "Song of Solomon 8:5 says, "Who is this coming up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?" That strikes me, and I'll tell you why (surprise!). In the imagery created in that verse, I see a woman holding to her beloved, just looking to him as he moves forward. She doesn't care where she's going; she completely trusts him to lead the both of them true, and she isn't trying to influence the direction. She's just loving him, captivated by him, and willing to go wherever he leads, so long as she can stay with him. " I need to be there with Jesus right now. I so know what direction I want to go about something, and I suspect He's waiting for me to get over it, so we can just move on to what's next. And I don't think He's mad about it, per se, but I imagine He's more like: *deep sigh* "YO." I don't know. Could be wrong. It's early, I'm tired, and I've been an emotional basketcase for a couple of days.
A Great Post... - the title of which speaks for itself.... :) (And you can also find it here...)
Two things (again) - leapt out at me:
1) "Reaching the next generation means change. It means that while the message never changes, the method will. In fact, it must." I believe this with all my heart. It has always been that way. And I have discovered that it is as possible to be a stick in the mud about change as it to be so about not changing... if that makes any sense...
2) "John Wesley...when told he was no longer allowed to preach in Anglican parishes because of his contemporary style, announced: "The world is my parish". He took to the open fields were crowds came to hear him in their thousands..Wesley declared: "I love the rites and ceremonies of the (Anglican) Church. But I see, well-pleased, that our great Lord can work without them.”"
"Like Wesley, there's nothing wrong with loving our particular styles and church fashions. We all have our particular preferences. But we must never forget that God can work without them. Dare I say it, sometimes and in some circumstances God can only work without them."
I think I've probably quoted this before, but one of the Briscoes (I think it was Stuart) talks about exercising what he calls "personal deference" in worship - recognizing that just because something isn't worshipful in the slightest for you during a service, doesn't mean it's that way for everyone; in fact, what's really bothering you is probably quite worshipful for someone else, so instead of being critical, you should look about, find out who it is who's encountering God in that moment, and praise Him for working in that person's life, and allowing them a moment of worship that morning that suits their personal preference. (You might even thank God for allowing you the opportunity to think about someone other than yourself.) zing.... ouch! I'm usually (I think... I hope!) able to do this fairly well when I'm just part of a congregation... but when I'm leading? That gets a little trickier, and I'm not hitting this one out of the ballpark yet. Want to, tho. (Should probably replace the spear collection with baseball bats, then...)
We Are God's Children - I won't say much about this one. It'll speak for itself. Nice, Sara. :) I think what I loved most about it is that somehow my heart just got quiet, and added a fairly... centered ... amen to it. I don't know... maybe it's because I'm about to get a bit of help with my own laundry. :)
i will not throw spears...
i will not throw spears...
i will not throw spears...
i will not throw spears...
i will not throw spears...
i will not throw spears...
(...um.... is archery an option?!) (just kidding!! . . . . mostly. . .)
Back in September, Linda wrote a post entitled The Horrible Art of Javelin Throwing. It was about a book she'd read - one I'd read in the past as well - and it got me thinking that it was probably high time I went and got myself a copy. (I'd read it on loan from a friend.) So sometime this year I finally did; it came a few weeks ago, and I thought as I opened the box, I have a friend I should give this to... and then I thought, no fair! I just got it. I want to at least read it first!!! So I kept it. And read it on the train on the way into the City yesterday. Got almost all the way through it; finished the last three chapters on the way home, and had a good cry the rest of the way. Yes, on the train. (Hey, what's the use of living near a big city if you can't provide as much people-watching entertainment to others as they provide for you?)
The book is called A Tale of Three Kings, by Gene Edwards, and I would highly recommend it to anyone. It isn't necessarily theologically nor historically accurate straight through, but the message of the book is priceless. It's billed by Edwards himself as a book that should be read by Christians who are suffering at the hands of other Christians. Which says something, right there.
It's the story of three kings: Saul, David, Absalom - and how they related to each other. The book extols David's brokenness - and his humility in allowing God to teach him that brokenness. It also warns against the foolishness of an unbroken life, as demonstrated in the various prideful and arrogant attitudes displayed by Saul and Absalom. Much of the book cut me to the core, in terms of convicting me about my own heart towards a couple of people, and how completely self-centered I can be in general.
God sent Samuel to anoint David king years before David set foot in the palace. When David did go to the palace, it was as a giant-killer and a musician, not as king... but David waited. He didn't plot, he didn't plan, he did not usurp authority and take the kingdom by force. He waited on the Lord. He trusted that if God had anointed him king over Israel, God could make him king of Israel. Over the years he spent in Saul's service, the king went mad, became incredibly jealous of David, and began to throw spears at him, trying to kill him. What do you do when someone throws spears at you? Well, you've got a couple of options - you can duck and see what happens next, you can run as far and as fast as possible, or you can rip the freaking spear out of the wall next to your head and throw it back.
David chose to duck. (He was pretty quick on his feet.) He also acted as if it hadn't happened. Forgiveness on a very literal level. "Spear? What spear? Hey, I wrote this new song yesterday, want to hear it?"
Why did he do it? Well, Saul was God's anointed king at the time. He was David's king. You don't kill your king; you shut up and do what he says. So that's what David did. And it's what we're to do. Edwards suggests that we should always ask ourselves, when we find ourselves the target of an authority-bearing spear, "Is this the Lord's anointed?" Only God knows, and time will tell, he says. But you still need to ask, and you still need to act as if the answer is yes. "Asking this question may not seem difficult," he writes, "but it is. Especially when you are crying very hard...and dodging spears... and being tempted to throw one back...and being encouraged by others to do just that. And all your rationality and sanity and logic and intelligence and common sense agree. But in the midst of your tears and your frustration, remember that you know only the question, and not the answer." (p. 22)
So David did not throw spears, and he did not run until Saul forced him to. He did not take advantage of any opportunity to take the kingdom by force, and he wept when Saul died. Then he stepped into the role God had called him to years before. And years later, when his son rose up against him and staged a rebellion, David walked away from the city, because he knew something that few around him understood. Edwards puts these words in his mouth: "The kingdom is not that valuable. Let him have it, if that be the Lord's will... God put me here. It is not my responsibility to take, or keep, authority... If He chooses, God can protect and keep the kingdom even now. After all, it is His kingdom." (p. 78)
I am in a situation right now that is breaking my heart, but I will not engage in the horrible art of javelin throwing. I refuse. I would rather stand here and get nailed with spear after spear until I literally shatter than actually act on my stubborn, selfish, hell-bent pride and fight back.
"The throne is not mine. Not to have, not to take, not to protect, and not to keep." (p. 98)
God can have it. He can take it. He can protect it. And He can keep it.
I really don't have to do anything... except maybe this:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect." - Matthew 5:43-48 (NKJV)
Mike tagged me in a meme ages ago, and I'm just now getting around to it... what can I say, I'm a bit of a slacker sometimes. (just ask the drain in my shower, which is now finally over its identity crisis and behaving like a drain instead of a stopper, allowing water to, you know, drain again...)
Here, forthwith, are the rules:
1. List at least two posts (with links) that have resonated with you. Do not include your own posts!
2. Give a brief explanation why you like the post.
3. Tag four other people.
Here, forthwith, are the posts:
Funniest Worship Leading Blooper Ever - no matter how badly it went, it could always have been worse... no explanation needed, really. just go see for yourself.
Sometimes - Jon's cartoons are always thought provoking, and I often find them at quite opportune moments. :) This one really spoke to my heart tonight actually - both on its own, because I find it very true of myself at the moment - and because of the conversations. Something really cool, and well... this, actually, happened at ASBO Jesus this year, and I love it.
Two posts I re-read periodically because they're just that good - and because they have spoken so much truth and hope into my life (Rach, I am so blessed to know you!): Give Me This Mountain and God Is Good....And I Believe It!!
There are, of course, about a zillion others. Hit almost anything on my blogroll, and you're bound to turn up something pretty sweet.
So here, forthwith, are my tags:
1. Jake - because you need to post something, brother... the song wasn't that fun....
2. Rob - because he's always reading something interesting
3. Ruth - because she's my kindred spirit
4. Valorosa - because you finally commented, and are (forthwith) tagable :) plus i think you're fun, and i've seen you around any number of blogs i also (silently) frequent, so i know you'll have some great posts towards which to point us! :)
Mike, over at Simply A Night Owl, recently quoted Abraham Lincoln, who said this: "Character is like a tree and reputation is like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing." That stuck with me, and I've been kicking it around in my head for a couple of days now.
It reminded me of something Rob (over at The Spyglass) said in one of his political posts that I actually read and sort of understood - applauding anyone really, for "caring about the reality of honor so much that you're willing to let your reputation swing in the wind." He goes on to say, "As the sci-fi/fantasy author Lois McMaster Bujold has one of her characters say, "Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself. Guard your honor; let your reputation fall where it may."
Reputation. Oh, my goodness... How often do we inadvertently get caught up in our concern for our reputation?
Jake quoted Rick Joyner from his book, The Prophetic Ministry, to me the other day as we were chatting: "If we are to accomplish the purposes of God, we must come to the level of maturity where "the love of Christ controls us" (2 Cor 5:14). Love does not take into account wrongs suffered and is not motivated by rejection, which drives us to retaliation or trying to prove ourselves."
To which I said, "Huh. I never thought about trying to prove myself being a reaction to rejection... tho i suppose that makes sense... preservation against it and all that... Part of this whole "being way too concerned with my reputation" thing that God's been driving home for months now is an almost desperate need to be understood- i knew both things existed, but i didn't realize they were connected until just now..." And I don't think I really had.
But it's true - I so just want people to "get" me, and it drives me crazy when I think they don't.
But reputation is just smoke and mirrors - illusion, subjective. And while I want people to think well of me, I need to become okay with the possibility that they won't. Not all people thought well of Jesus - but He didn't live for the praises of men, although He certainly deserved them. He lived for God's honor and glory, and that is how I want to live. It is how I want to be known by God - as a woman of honor and integrity, as someone who puts Him first, before anything or anyone else. And while I would love for the reputational shadow I cast to be representative of the honorable tree I would like to be (Psalm 1, Jeremiah 17:7-8) - I'd rather just be the tree... standing strong, being steady no matter what winds, storms, or whatnot may come, bringing God all the honor and glory due His Name for Who He is. I need to be living for His opinion of me, and not anyone else's. Until I really start doing that, I'm not going to be able to kick this fear of failure thing I've been wrestling with for years, and writing about since December.
So again I say, "Oh, Lord, help!" and "Thank You for grace."
The Road to Spiritual Authority and Leadership
"It is not won by promotion, but by many prayers and tears. It is attained by confession of sin, and much heartsearching and humbling before God; by self-surrender, a courageous sacrifice of every idol, a bold uncomplaining embrace of the cross, and by an eternal, unfaltering looking unto Jesus crucified. It is not gained by seeking great things for ourselves, but like Paul, by counting those things that are gain to us as loss for Christ. This is a great price, but it must be paid by the leader who would not be merely a nominal but a real spiritual leader of men, a leader whose power is recognized and felt in heaven, on earth, and in hell." - Samuel Brengle, Salvation Army
I got thinking about all that last night, in a conversation with a friend who's just feeling the weight of his call right now. Following Jesus and living into our calling is the most adventurous, fun, joy-filled, exciting thing we can do... and at times it is really hard. You're responsible for what you know - and to whom much is given, much will be expected. It's part and parcel of how it all works. And it's a joy and a privilege to be entrusted with much, but it also comes with a good deal of responsibility, and there are just days we don't wear it lightly. (And sometimes I wonder if, on the days when I do wear it lightly, I'm being flippant or simply unobservant.)
I am not looking back - at least not in a way that would get me turned into a pillar of salt. (I don't think.) But I have found myself, in a couple of situations recently where people were praying over me and my calling, shrinking back a bit as they prayed boldly, honestly admitting that I'm not sure I can do this... It is a road I want to take - a road I've been asking to take for quite some time - and now that it's here... I'm afraid.
I am not so afraid that I don't have what it takes. I've seen how God's gifted me, and I've seen how He's blessed what I'm doing.... this is the call. But I'm afraid of getting caught up in that. I'm afraid of being too focused on my call and not focused enough on Him who called me. I'm afraid of letting the praises of men take precedence over the opinion of my King... I'm afraid of allowing my motivation to be wanting people to like me rather than resting in the fact that He loves me...
Which I suppose, as long as I don't let it paralyze me, might actually be healthy. (I am still not quite sure about this.) But maybe if I'm afraid of all that, I won't allow myself to end up there.
If God launches me onto any kind of platform from which I can share the gospel and declare the greatness of His Name, I don't want it to be because I planned and strategized how to get there, or because anyone else did. I want it to be because I've been face down, sold out, and totally committed, and He knows I can be trusted with it. And I want it to be because it cost me something to get there - so that I will never forget that it is not about me, for even a second.
It is the 17th anniversary of the day I became a follower of Jesus. Wow.... 17 years. In so many ways it still feels like yesterday... 'course, in light of eternity, it kind of was...
I led worship this weekend at my church, and it was just sweet - not just worship in general, tho it truly was - but to be leading worship - to be doing something I am so confident I am called to do on a day this special.... it was just sweet. Add in 4 hours in a coffee shop, several conversations with good friends, the sunshine this morning and 50 degree weather after weeks of bitter cold, and I would have chalked it up to a good day as is....
Orion has always been my favorite constellation. Ever since I was a kid and learned how to see him up there, I have always (fancifully) thought of him as my protector. I no longer see it quite that way - he is an icon now - a reminder in the heavens that I have a Protector... but I still say hi. :) So I paused on my front walk on the way in tonight, and turned to say hi to Orion while loitering in the spring breeze... and there was a sky-wide arc of white misty cloud right over Orion's head that looked ever so much like a rainbow.... and I heard God's whisper to my heart: "I promise."
*happy sigh* and He's to be taken at His word....
It was a good day.
Happy Anniversary, Jesus. And thank You for this wonderful gift of life with You. Amen.