Faith Part 1: Outer Space

We’re all trying very hard.

Growing up we believe what we’re told, or we rebel against it because faith costs more than it appears to be worth. Nevertheless we wrestle. We make “I’ll nevers” for ourselves and “He’d nevers” for God.

This plus that equals another thing.

We’re creating math equations of existence with only a few digits, a few thousand denominations. God must be and yet… who is he?

I go spinning, like those horrifying movies set in outer space. Bouncing slowly along the outside of the ship to batten down some hatch, tethered by a life line. Then a meteor comes, some shift in the weightless darkness, and a man who used to be a boy, or a woman who used to be a little girl, goes spinning. Spinning forever into the coldest, darkest nothing. No air, no ground, no more going inside where it’s safe….

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Paul’s Secret

During discussion group last night we went around in a circle talking about what we have learned from studying the New Testament. The students finished Revelation this week and will begin with Genesis on Monday.

It was so encouraging to hear the answers from the students because they are the reason that we, as staff, are here. I know that my part is a small one, but I’m grateful to have a part.

The staff shared, as well and I was glad to be last in the circle because I had no idea to say. I had some words floating around in my head and was also trying to listen to what others were sharing. It wasn’t until the person before me wrapped up that I grabbed ahold of the bones of a thought. Then the most unfortunate/wonderful thing happened. The truth I was trying to convey hit me as it was coming out of my mouth. Which, of course, means I cried.

Here is what I learned this last quarter:
Early on I was wrestling with the Apostle Paul…

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What God Says

I am inexorably attracted to people who know how much they are loved by God and they allow this knowledge to change them.

This Spring I will have been a Christian for twenty years. In that time I have met all kinds of believers; the bitter but tenacious, the happy naive, the fearfully upright, and the broken beggars who walk around amazed to be so beloved by the creator of the Universe.

“If we know how great is the love of Jesus for us we will never be afraid to go to Him in all our poverty, all our weakness, all our spiritual wretchedness and infirmity. Indeed, when we understand the true nature of His love for us, we will prefer to come to him poor and helpless. We can be glad of our helplessness when we really believe that His power is made perfect in our infirmity.” ~Thomas Merton

Honestly, I still spend much of my time with my forehead wrinkled up, carrying this weight of worry around with me. Every once in a while I look up and realize how truly ludicrous is this posture…

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Mental Digestion

I‘ve been mentally digesting two important thoughts today that seem to oppose each other.

Thought number 1 came this morning from the Twitter world. It struck me so soundly, that I typed it into a sticky note on my computer. It’s been staring at me all day.

“Hyper-individualism leads to spiritual homelessness.” -Bevin Ginder

This makes so much sense. I have walked that particular road, although I have also seen God pushing me ever toward interdependence with other believers.

Thought number 2 came this afternoon in class. Ron Smith, the founder of SBS is here teaching the Gospel of John to us. Today, in the first four chapters, he touched on several great things about Jesus, but one that got stuck right in my throat. In John chapter 1 Jesus is baptized. John the baptist (who dunked the Lord himself), says that he saw heaven open and the Spirit descend upon Jesus like a dove. He saw the Spirit, and it was like a dove.

Ron pointed out something that makes the dove particularly unique among birds; their flight pattern is unpredictable….

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Old Acquaintance

I‘m that lady who alternately weeps and cracks jokes. It looks like insanity, but it is actually exactly how to stay sane.

Today I met a 70yr old version of myself.

Every week, some of our students and one of our staff go next door to an assisted living home to lead a Bible study. Every week, whoever goes comes back with full hearts and good stories. Those people are amazing. Sometimes only of a few of them show up, sometimes more than 5. Sometimes several people leave in the middle. It’s not just a place for old people, it’s for anyone who needs assistance in living, so there are people as young as 18 and one lady who is 97 and many of them are noticeably “different.”

Today the 97yr old woman came (I’ll call her Beth), as well as two other women (I will call them Cindy and Lily). Cindy left early because her bipolar disorder was making it hard for her to sit with a group of people. She apologized profusely, but exited quickly. Lily was the old version of me and she spent part of the time cracking jokes, noticing random things (“Look out that window! There’s a plane that just flew over the peak!”), and the other part of the time, she wept openly….

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The Good Portion

Lately I’ve been thinking about this word, “intimacy.”

The official definitions I find don’t seem to convey much depth,

  1. Close familiarity or friendship; closeness.
  2. A private cozy atmosphere.

How would you define intimacy?

When I think about my closest friendships, I see intimacy with them in the same light that I see vulnerability. I can admit my faults and struggles to just about anyone (even to the world wide web), but how I feel right now is probably the most sensitive. What’s going on inside of me in the moment is the most vulnerable thing for me to share. I think this is because once I have thought through things, I can find a way to accept myself and communicate to others in a way that is more likely to ensure their acceptance of me. When I haven’t thought through something, I may discover that I don’t like myself and then it’s a danger that others might not like me, as well.  I’m not sure it’s the same for everyone, but I do know that when I choose to be vulnerable a kind of intimacy takes place with the person I’m sharing with. Especially if they aren’t horrified by what I’ve shared….

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What it Takes

Last week I had my first meeting with a Life Coach. You know what that’s all about, right? Of course.

I don’t want to speak too soon, but it’s pretty awesome. Digging deep into the root of problems is one of my favorite things to do. No, really. I mean it. I also like to eat ice cream and lay near the ocean and listen to the surf come in and out. I won’t say they’re all equal, but since I’m not eating sugar and the beach is several hundred miles away, I’ll settle for poking at inward hurty places.

Here’s why; God shows up. He just barges right into these situations and speaks the truth….

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The Greatest of These

Obedience and disobedience.

It wasn’t until I was talking to a friend the other day that I realized something really good has shifted in my heart and mind concerning obedience. It goes along with the post I made about dancing or being a dog.

I went through this period of time last year when I felt like I kept hearing God telling me to do the most seemingly insignificant, in-the-moment things. While I had been longing to hear him constantly and obey him always, this almost felt like micro managing.

Typing that out it sounds like I’m complaining about God. The truth is… I felt annoyed. It seemed like being followed around by someone who was constantly correcting and judging me.

And I wrestled with this. I didn’t want to ask God to leave me alone! That’s the very last thing I want to ask God. And I didn’t want to tell God he was annoying me. Can you imagine?

Was it even God?…

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In Your Eyes

This picture was taken a few years ago in a moment of creative randomness with a friend. I don’t remember how it started.

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I’ve used this photo for a profile picture in a forum where he frequents because to me it was a photographic representation of our friendship- we enjoy being creative with available material, even if that is just ideas or thoughts. I didn’t visit the website with this picture for a long time because I was immersed in studying, but in the last few weeks of being back in Washington I have visited it several times.

Now the picture is beginning to mean something else to me- it is this; learning to see better by listening to those around me. I don’t know if that says it perfectly….

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What to Expect

Without planning it, my room decor and bedding all match. I noticed this as soon as I cleaned up a little.

Maybe there will be surprises like this around other corners.

It’s not that I put a lot of stock in the much anticipated new year. They happen with increasing frequency. What I do put stock in is God’s character, which I have recently discovered to be wild, deep, loving and fearless. I want to be like him, sure, but more than that I want to just keep seeing him more and more. And somehow the year ahead feels like a clean canvas upon which he will paint something beautiful….

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