Monday, October 22, 2007

"You don't throw away a whole life just 'cause it's banged up a little." I just finished watching Seabiscuit. An amazing story of despair, of brokenness, of defeat. More than that, however, a story of hope, of faith, and of victory. The whole movie strikes a chord with my soul because I too have been a person of despair, brokenness and defeat. But I long to be the triumphant overcomer who will run with abandon the race set before me, casting off everything that hinders and entangles and fixing my eyes only on Jesus so that I do not grow weary or lose heart. Yes, my life has been banged up a little. There have been times when it seemed I would not recover from my brokenness. On my own, I will not. Perhaps I am not supposed to. For, after all, I am only a jar of clay. It is my weakness that is to display God's strength. And God is faithful. Even in the midst of tribulation, He has walked by my side, leading me and comforting me with His presence. And though I my never be the same as I was, I suppose that's probably not God's plan for me after all. Whatever the case, I am not going to give up on life or give in to defeat just because I have been banged up a little. You never know what God will do, and you never know what victories may come.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I've heard the sentiment so many times. I know they mean well, and I know that in a way, they're right. But what frustrates me and, yes, even scares me is what lies beneath it. It all comes down to neediness and our insatiable desire as human beings to avoid it. I hear the words once again. It is time for the Lord's Supper, time to focus our thoughts on the intense passion of the One who gave all He had for us. I hear the words: "We take this bread and this wine, not because we are hungry, but because we have been commanded to do so in order to remember Jesus and His sacrifice." Yes! And NO! How ridiculous to think that a crumb of nearly flavorless cracker and a sip of wine could satisfy! How ridiculous to contemplate coming to this remembrance "supper" in need of sustenance! And yet how perilous not to! For this is no ordinary bread we eat -- this is the Bread of Life. And it is no common juice we drink -- it is the Blood of Christ, who is the True Vine. How dare we come to this Feast of Life with such mistaken assumptions?! Not hungry?! Physically, perhaps. And I know this is what is meant. But I look at those around me, I listen to the voice of the one praying over this communion we are about to take part in, I even listen to my own heart, and I see that, truly, we are not hungry in the more important spiritual sense either. Oh, we take part in the ritual, and we congratulate ourselves on a job well done and lives well lived. Perhaps we do consider the sacrifice of Jesus and thank God for it. But this is nothing. Because three minutes later, we move on with our religious lives, forgetting what we have just been called to remember. Because we are not hungry. We are not hungry. When we ought to be ravenous, craving the Bread of Life and the cleansing Blood, when our souls ought to be crying out for the only Food that truly satisfies, the Manna of Heaven, sent from above to save us from spiritual starvation and certain death, "No," we politely say, "we are not hungry." Again, I understand what is meant. Physically, we are not partaking in the Lord's Supper in order to satisfy our bodies' needs. But we are doing it, or rather, ought to be doing it, to satisfy our souls' needs. For there is no other food that can compare, nothing of any spiritual nutritional value. Nothing but Jesus.

Why? My heart demands to know! How have we become thus? How have we fallen into this trap of spiritual complacency? Why are we not able, or perhaps not willing to be hungry, truly hungry for the Life that Christ is and gives? Why do we give His sacrifice only a few minutes' thought, even in the midst of our time of worship, of which it should be the central focus, and move on quickly, as though we don't want to dwell on it too long?

There are those who get it. They understand that without Jesus, they are nothing. Absolutely nothing. But with Jesus, things are different. Life is different. They are different. Because with Jesus everything matters. Because of Him, they have not only been forgiven of sin and freed from darkness, they have been empowered to live lives of light and righteousness, lives of truth and goodness. And living as victorious conquerors in a world which once held them captive, they rejoice over the One who has given them life. They take part in the feast of His Body and Blood not as a dispensable ritual, but as an absolute necessity for survival. For they crave the sustenance it provides, the sustenance He provides. They cannot live without it. They know it. And you can see it in their eyes, hear it in their voices, read it in their lives. They live with passion for the One who lived and died with passion for them. They are hungry.

Monday, February 5, 2007

do not fear

It's been a while. And a lot has happened. I'm not even going to attempt to go into it all, because, well, besides taking forever, it would just be too difficult to describe. So we'll just say that life has gone on for a few months, not necessarily as planned, at least as planned by me, that is. These past few months have been some of the most emotionally and spiritually diversified of my life, with highs and lows beyond words. At times it has been a struggle, one that I was absolutely sure I would not survive. But then there were the times where God's presence could be seen, shining through the seemingly impenetrable clouds that had gathered. I am thankful that my Lord and Father is faithful, even when, and especially when, I am not. He and the people He has put in my life have carried me through the last couple of months, and for that I am exceedingly grateful.

When you pass through the fire, you will not be burned. And the flames, they will not all consume you. Do not fear, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by name. You are mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. And the waves, they will not overtake you. Do not fear, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by name. You are mine! For I am the Lord, your God. For I am the Lord, your God. The Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I am the Lord. Do not fear. I am the Lord. Do not fear. I am the Lord!

Proverbs 3:5-6
Jeremiah 29:11