Saturday, March 29, 2014

The River - My Life

No two rivers ever look the same. Rivers run fast, they rush over stones and smooth them, they rush through turns and straiten them, and often they have a lot of rapids. The land around them is never the same - the same tree, or bush, or rise will never appear twice. But somehow, they all empty into the ocean, in a cascading of water.

Life is very much the same. Each person, just like a river, never will be like another one. We are all different. Life has troubles along our paths, and honestly they often seem to be boulders. Later, I'm sure, we'll see them as mere pebbles. 

Fast balls seem to fly at us from all angles, throwing in twists we weren't expecting. I often find that these huge turns in the river always bring me back around so that I am no more than a degree off from where I was headed - just like a river that seems to have great big turns, but on inspection of a map, it seems to be going almost strait.

Turbulence, what is life without it? Rapids knock us out of the life boat, and sometimes you have to ride them to the end before you can get back in.

We have to experience moments as they come, just like the scenery along the river. No matter where I go in life, I will never catch that one moment again. Just like I will not see the same tree further down the river.

Just like the rivers, every human life has a different path - a different story to tell - but no matter what stones we have to smooth, or turns we have to maneuver, or rapids we have to ride, we are all heading towards our eternity. This eternity, just like the ocean, has no depth that can be found, or ending we can ever see. But it is certainly full of beautiful mysteries for us to explore.

It's so easy to obsess over times in our lives, or decisions we have to make. And often, I think we are so close that we see only the turn, instead of the entire picture. We have a beautifully painted map if we will only take a look. Scripture shows us how seeing the entire picture can change your view of an event. I want to see the picture God is painting of my story, not only treasure the moments along my path, but have the eyes to see His big picture too.

As water runs over my hands, I am reminded of this picture, reminded of the "river of my life". But then I smile, because I'm also reminded of something else. In God's masterpiece of my life, there is no drain, and no moments "go down the drain" and no efforts are worth nothing. Because all those moments that seem to be doing just that - going down the drain - they are simply moments in which my rocky character is being smoothed out. And so, I let this river run it's course, I hang on tight, enjoy the scenery, and remember that a renewal of hope is a map look away.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Lent - a heart law

I fail. I utterly fail. I fail the people I love, I fail my job, I fail my home and my pets. Over and over I see it. I can not measure up.

The week before Lent, I sat in bed pondering what it was really all about. The more that I asked God, the more I began to understand. In order for God to get it through this thick scull of mine, He let me know what he wanted me to give up...then he lead me to the answer of why. It was pressed into my heart that for lent I should give up Facebook and novels.

Why God, why those? In that moment of asking why, I knew why. It was because I had to ask. I had to ask why I had to give those up for him. Didn't I love him even when I had those things. This is what I learned - the reason I gave up those things in particular.

 My Facebook was my door into the lives of others, and their door into mine. I wanted to feel like I was apart of those big moments in their lives - even though I could not be there. And the farther I go into Lent the more I see - I was not willing to invest myself in those moments. I just wanted to say I was there without the work. The heart work of dedication. And my family? I was no better off with them because I was buried neck deep in "trying to sort of be there" rather that just....just being there.

 And the books? Let me ask you this - do you want to read a book if you're not sure the author will give you some sort of satisfying ending? Even if it's bitter sweet, there must be an ending. And I love that last chapter of a book, where everything comes together. Oh, I've never read a chapter so slow as the last chapter. What our hearts need to learn, what mine must learn even haltingly, is that the story God is writing in our lives will have a glorious ending. I don't need a book for that beautiful ending, and I don't need to fear.

Oh that my heart could learn these lessons and learn them well. The beauty of Lent - it's in the ugly things. It's in the torn apart, the broken, the failings. In these things I see a need for a savior, and isn't that the point of Lent?

I thought that giving up the books and the Facebook would be easy, and at first it was. What a small law to keep. But God is pressing into my heart that this agreement I made with him was not about an item or a web page. It was about a heart matter, a point of view, a heart law. And my heart has broken this law that I agreed to.

And so I tell myself no. I will not allow myself to bury in and hide my head. I read his word and sharpen my sword. I invest and I live with as much hope as I can.

But still I fail and pick myself up over and over....over again. My family I have failed, I'm not good at this raw heart lesson God is teaching me. So I reach out again and try to hold onto Jesus in the waves instead of hanging onto the boat.

And I laugh and cry at the same time. I know that this - this undoing of the heart, this opening up - this truly is Lent, and though I've failed in Law, I have overcome through my salvation. I have experienced Lent to the full - failing until you see that you can not keep any law, that Christ must keep it for you. Humility and salvation - there is beauty in the broken here.