My alarm went off at 5:30am. On a Saturday! There's a workshop on spiritual disciplines at my church today, and it's one of a series of classes that everyone's going thru, and I was supposed to go.... so I got up. Made some coffee, read for a bit, got ready to go. And then didn't.

I'm not sure why. It just feels a little off to go - like maybe there's something else this day holds that I'm supposed to do or say or experience that I wouldn't if I were at the workshop. I have no idea. But here I am, up and dressed and raring to go at 7:47am on my one day to sleep in, and I have no idea why. :)

It's kind of fun, actually.

And at the end of the day, this may actually be about rest. I didn't have a very busy week, but I am very tired at the end of it. And I have a mountain of art projects to get to, some of which have deadlines. So maybe today will simply be a day of quiet creativity. Or maybe quiet conversations - with Jesus, with friends, with my heart. I don't know. But I am looking forward to finding out. And relaxing into a day upon which there are suddenly no expectations except Presence and Providence. It feels... nice. :)

on being a nickel

it was announced in church yesterday that two new positions have been created to replace my old position as worship director. one of those positions is that of worship pastor, and the other is that of a creative director. it's become increasingly evident over the course of the past few months, through prayer and through plain common sense, just watching things unfold, that God is calling someone else to lead our band, and i am so excited to see the ways in which God has already grown him as a leader and will continue to do so. he's very gifted, and this role shift will only bless our church.

i'll be taking the role of creative director. my job description? well, i think it's still in process, but it includes not only helping with creative planning for our services and finding new ways to incorporate the arts into our worship, but creating "sacred space" from the moment you walk into the movie theatre until the moment you leave. this is no small task. actually... it's a bit daunting. (and if anyone has any ideas, i'll take them!)

i will miss leading worship. i will. but a dear friend wrote to me yesterday and reminded me that i will still be leading worship - just in a different way. i'll be creating a worship environment. i'll be helping artists in our congregation tap their gifts and offer them to the Lord. and as i do it, i'll be learning what Sacred Space was always meant to teach - how to worship God not just thru a song but with my whole life.

and as John Wimber once said, "i am just a nickel in God's pocket, that He can spend any way He wants to." i think it is good for me to remember that.

this new path i am on - it is a good one, because it is His path. i wanted change. i got it, lol. and i think, as i start down this road, i will only continue to see more and more of the beauty that surrounds me in this new place i am in. and there - just over there around that corner - something amazing is still waiting.

expectancy, hope, and anticipation

how do those three words make you feel? expectant? hopeful? anticipatory? :)

maybe they create for you this feeling like something is about to happen - something incredible, something amazing. it's just around the corner, over there, and you can hardly wait to see what it is...

i've been thinking a lot about expectations this week, as i've watched a lot of mine fall flat. i had a plan for this week - and it involved getting a lot of stuff done that i haven't gotten done that i've wanted to get done for awhile. and the only thing i can check off my list is that i moved a lot of stuff out of my room in anticipation of finishing that painting project i began a couple of months ago - and it's now sitting in the hallway, and if i don't paint today or tomorrow, i'm going to have to move it all back in without painting.

there was this one thing that had to get done this week - and it will get done - but i underestimated how much time it was going to take. by a lot. and as day after day passed by this week, and it became more and more evident what a project this one task was going to be, i watched my dreams of getting "so much done" fall, one dream at a time. and i wrestled with so much disappointment. i mean, it was depressing really, to have this amazing expectation of all that i was going to accomplish come face-to-face with the reality that most of it wasn't going to happen at all.

and i almost missed what God is doing in the middle of it. teaching me patience. showing me the weight of the expectations i put on myself that aren't necessarily His. reminding me that while having goals and plans and agendas and whatnot can be a wise way to live, that only the plans of the Lord succeed, and i would be wise to ask Him about them before i try to live them out.

i was up at 4:30am today. no idea why. i'm tired. but i am so much more at rest internally than i have been for most of this week. i spent some time on the front porch swing with my Bible and a cup of coffee, and i could hear His call to come and rest.

"Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)

"Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to Me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare." (Isaiah 55:1-2)

and then:

"Is it because there is no God in Israel?" (2 Kings 1)

It's quite the story, 2 Kings 1 - one of those stories that makes it impossible for me to understand how anyone could think the Bible is boring. I mean, have you read it? If this was a movie, it would be an incredible scene. I've linked to the whole story above, and would encourage you to read it, as I am about to leave out a lot of detail. But the short version is this: King Ahaziah's fallen thru a lattice and broken his leg, and he thinks it's a good idea to send off to some other country's god to see if he'll survive it. Probably not the smartest thing the guy ever did. So God sends Elijah to meet the messengers, and Elijah says something to the effect of, "Is it because there is no God in Israel that you're doing this?" Seriously, people... And the messengers go back and tell the king, and the king sends for Elijah, and Elijah reiterates the message to his face.

I can't take credit for these insights - I heard a sermon Tim Brown preached on this years ago, and it's stuck with me - but they came home this morning as I read the story. Typically in the Bible, when something shows up three times in succession it's kind of a flag to say, "hey, pay attention, this is important!" So here it is three times in one chapter: "Is it because there is no God in Israel...?" And in the NKJV, there's a slight variation on the third question: in verse 16, Elijah asks the king, "Is it because there is no God in Israel, to inquire of His word?"

And that, Tim said, is what the story is trying to teach us. That when we have something for which we want an answer, we are to inquire of His Word. Which for us, I think, means both reading His written Word and inquiring of the Living Word, Jesus, as well. I hadn't done that about my plans for this week. And how dangerously close I come some days to not doing that about my plans for my life. I settle in, expecting things to go according to my expectations, and when they aren't met, I am disappointed. How much better could this go if I really sought the Lord and inquired of His Word?

And so I turn and repent of not having asked, and thank Him for the lesson, and His patience in teaching it. And I begin this day anew with these words, prayed by the saints for ages past:

"In the morning, O Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning, I lay my requests before You and wait in expectation." (Psalm 5:3) I wait in expectation for what You have to say about this day and all it will hold.

And while I may not listen perfectly, I will be trying to listen. And the hope and anticipation for what might come of living this day His way rather than according to my plans fills my soul, and I can almost see it - just over there, around that corner - there is something incredibly good. I can hardly wait to see what it is...

another shameless plug

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Happy reading! :)

this straightly winding road

"Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." - Proverbs 3:5-6

God is the Way-Maker, the Path-Straightener - it's who He is - but maybe for us the key to experiencing that is simply trusting Him. Maybe it's giving up what for me feels like such a natural desire to understand what's going on. I want "the plan." I want to know where we're going, and why, and how we're going to get there. I can be spontaneous (I say defensively) - I can...!

Sometimes I wonder just how long it's going to take me to get it that He's probably not going to fill me in on all that much, and that it's probably mostly because I will try to get where we're going by myself, and that isn't the point.

This is the learning curve my path is currently taking, and in case I wasn't getting it, my friend Rob penned these words this week:

[Jesus] says to us, “Give up your life—give up your plans, your desires, your ideas of how things should be—and I'll give you something better.”

Jesus doesn't call us to stay where and what we are because he's not much of one for staying in one place; he calls us to follow. He calls us to a journey, and a relationship, and like any journey and any meaningful relationship, that means change. It means leaving things behind, and getting new things in return.

And yes, that includes the things of which we say, “God couldn't possibly want me to give that up; he can't possibly mean that I'm not allowed to do that.” In fact, it especially includes those things, because those—whether sinful in and of themselves or not—are the things in our lives that most interfere with his lordship: they are our idols. They are the things which which we must give over to him if we're to follow him; clinging to them is nothing less than idolatry....

And yes, that includes our money, and our careers, and our other family relationships, and our gifts and talents and aspirations, and all the other things that matter to us. He calls us to surrender to him everything of significance in our lives, to do with as he will. This is not the price of his acceptance, but its consequence; it's what it means to be accepted by Jesus, because to be accepted by him is to be invited to go with him, to go where he's going and do what he's doing, instead of going where we want to go and doing what we want to do.

Change. I have such mixed emotions about that word. I love change - I need it. (Hence the ongoing home renovation project, which I hope to finish next week.) I go stir-crazy if I don't have enough of it. But at the same time, I don't like it. I like knowing the status quo. I don't like having it change up on me. It means learning a new set of rules, a new set of parameters. A new way of thinking about things. I wish I understood this paradox a little better. It's right up there and tied in with another major paradox in my life: this crazy wanderlust-filled need to travel paired with a deeply-seated need for home.

I don't know what to do with any of this right now. But it's today's chapter of my story. There is change on the horizon - change I am pretty sure is ultimately coming from the Lord. I am flailing a bit against it right now, trying to find my bearings in what I thought was familiar territory, but suddenly doesn't look quite like I thought it did...

But maybe there are some things I need to leave behind that I have held onto too tightly. Maybe there are new things He wants to give me in return for letting go of my "plan-o'-life."

Maybe this gift He wants to give me is actually a new map - a better one than the map I had last week - the one I was pretty sure I could read and follow without needing to stop for too many directions. And maybe - just maybe - the roads I thought were winding will turn out to be straighter than I thought.

There's only one way to find out.