Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Beginning of Another Short Story

So, I have this problem with finishing stories. I currently have two ideas for books started on my computer, but once I open the document, convinced I am going to write I hit a wall. I just sit and stare at the cursor...hoping that the next part of the story will come. I started to write another short story a while back and got stuck again, but I decided to share the beginning of that story here, with you, my loyal blogosphere compadres. Warning: it does not have the happiest ending right now but I'm hoping that in sharing it here I'll find the motivation to finish it off! It's also just a draft, so bear with me loyal friends.

Richard paced around his room, his hands clenched by his side and his face covered in sweat and tears. He had been pacing around his bedroom for hours. He paced from one side to the next, back and forth, around and around. His heart ached within him pounding furiously, he had a headache from crying and his body was exhausted.
He knew he couldn’t pace for much longer, but the thought of crawling into bed, again, without her, tore him apart. The thought of going to bed and having memories run through his head again and again was unbearable. Memories of good times and times that he wished that he could go back and change, memories of heartache and joy. It didn’t just stop at his own memories; he would get pulled into news articles that he had read, stories from hurting friends that they had shared with him and then up he would get, in the middle of the night, and pace. The pain in his heart felt unbearable, and his inability to understand the pain, the hurt and the suffering that surrounded him on all sides frustrated him.
“How long God? Seriously how LONG are you going to let this go on? We’ve been waiting and waiting for thousands of years. Do you here us crying? Do you hear your people? Oh God, we suffer and we break... do you really suffer and break with us?!”
Richard threw his hands in the air. This was the question he was asking, night after night, day after day. As that heartbreaking day moved further away and new pains were added in he was not sure how God could stand it. But yet, he knew, somewhere deep within him that God was suffering with him. That, as much as his pain felt like it would break him that he was not experiencing it alone. He knew that on that night when he picked up that phone expecting to hear his wife telling him that her and their daughter had arrived safely at his in-laws but instead hearing the unfamiliar voice of a nurse from the soon to be very familiar hospital that God was there crying out with him, wishing to stop the pain. He knew that when he slipped onto the floor beside the bed and cried for hours when the battle was finally all over for his wife and his precious little girl that God sat with him and wrapped him in his arms, crying over his pain and crying with him in his suffering. He knew that God understood how much he missed his daughter.
Richard’s heart ached as he thought of his daughter dancing in the living room, laughing outside in the sun as she ran through the sprinkler, sitting on the stairs and pouting up at him with her arms crossed refusing to clean up her toys, sleeping peacefully in her bed. His heart also ached because of all the moments that he no longer would experience with her, so much that she never got the chance to do but yet also, so much pain that she never had to experience. But when he thought of his daughter and her smiling face he could not help but se his wife, her optimism, joy and zeal for life.
His wife, whom he loved quietly but deeply. Oh! How he missed her. He missed her laughter, her comfort, her warmth. This hard journey may have been easier if he could walk through it with her. But she, the love of his life, had also been taken from him. Yet, in these moments of pain when he could hear no other voice sometimes he would hear hers, whispering to him softly, reminding him where to turn.
But at times it seemed impossible to escape the ache the filled his heart. He longed to see them again, longed to say one last word to them, laugh over one last moment with them, and hug them one last time. He knew where to turn but at times he would turn there to God, to his friends and family and he wouldn’t find what he felt he needed. At times he would turn to them and would find anger instead of comfort. Anger that they were living their lives as though nothing happened, anger with God for taking away from him what he loved most in the world. But his anger would quickly turn to a desperate plea to God to let him be with his daughter and wife, or a peace would consume him that let him know that God understood his pain.

Richard sat down on his bed, his elbows on his knees with his head bent forward. Tears streamed down his face, he had long ago stopped brushing them aside, knowing that more would follow. 

Old Journals

So, I keep a journal on my computer. I've had it since first year university and it is the journal that I have gone to when I needed to type quickly and get a lot of ideas out of my head. This means that many of these thoughts are not really one for public consideration, but I stumbled across this one tonight in my browsing and thought that I should share it with you all. It's more of a prayer to God, which is what my journals tend to be, but I guess that really means it's more honest.

God you are so good! I know that right now there is so much pain in the world. I understand that you never desired for us to live in a world of imperfection, and that your heart is breaking more than our own at the destruction in the world.

 We shut you out, yet cry that you do nothing; we push you out of our lives, but then ask why you are doing nothing in them. We scream in the face of control yet wonder why you gave us free will. We are  an undecided humanity, holding onto our control like a child to its security blanket, yet wanting so badly to give it up. All our control is, is a ratty old cloth with holes and little strength or purpose. Without you we are lost yet we are convinced that we know the way. We look to other things to guide us, yet your hand is always showing us the way. You're gently whispering in our ear that we have gone the wrong way, that we are heading down the wrong path but that you will guide us back. With a steady and gentle hand you will take control. Yet again we fight back, convinced we know ourselves better than our creator. I can only imagine the pain in your heart as we make the same mistakes over and over again in each generation. You will to hold us in your arms, yet we push away like an angry child, refusing to admit our stupidity and our mistakes. We are ashamed, yet too proud to admit our shame. We find more to cover up our brokenness all the while creating more brokenness in our wake. We do not take the time to look beyond ourselves and our “nation” to look to your nation that exists beyond, our family that is struggling just as we are to uncover our shame. 

When will we allow you to strip away our shame, to break down the walls our pride has built up? Why are we so afraid to embrace the breaking world in our arms, to allow your love to flow through us? Are we afraid of being vulnerable of not being loved in return? Do we not realize that we all long for love and that we are all searching for someone to make themselves fully open so that we feel safe enough to become vulnerable ourselves?  When will we rid ourselves of this pride? 

It will hurt to open ourselves, to not back down when someone lashes out, to love them just the same, and to stand strong in peace when others advance in war. You did not promise a life void of struggles or pain, you promised a life loved and full. When will we rise up with you behind us? When will we finally realize your power?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Dependency

Where is my dependency? Where do I go for comfort in trial and to celebrate in joy? Who do I run to first when I feel my heart break? What do I do with my anxieties and fears?

God calls us to depend on Him first, that He is always our first love, that we put nothing else before Him. I'm reading a devotional right now that's all about putting God first, it's a devotional based off the book "I am Second". As I was thinking about that idea this morning I wondered at whether it's really that I have a problem placing myself in second or whether my problem is placing others before God. There is a comfort of having someone sit physically beside you, take you in their arms and hug you when you are feeling low. And I don't think that there is anything wrong with that. I know that God has given us others to support and encourage us, to give us hugs and sit with us when we need it. He has given us fellowship and relationship for a reason, because He has made us relational, He created us to be WITH others. He also created us with a need for Him.

So, what do I do with this? As a person who loves God, but also gains greatly from my friendships with others, how do I find the balance between going to God and going to others. I think it truly matters where I go first. There are times I believe where we will go to God and His response will be to give us a friend. There are times also where we may feel unable to go before God ourselves, sometimes we need others by our side praying with us and supporting us as we tremble before our Father. Other times we may feel so surrounded by darkness that we can see no way out and we need someone to come alongside us and pray for us, intercede for us so that we may see the light again.

God is truly the bringer of peace, comfort, joy and all good gifts. I believe that when we go to Him, He hears our prayers and He responds. Although, He does not always respond when we want or how we want. I think often times we are so focused on immediate relief or response that we forget about the growth and depth that comes from wrestling through things WITH God. That out of moments of pain, trial, anxiety, sadness, or frustration can come a greater understanding of who He is and a greater depth to our relationship with Him; and a deeper love for Him will be discovered.

He does not ask for us to "go it alone" but He should be our primary support and strength. It should be the case that He is always there, that we are inviting Him into our every conversation, moment, struggle and joy. Then with Him we will walk, we will understand the goodness that comes from Him, that even in our "worse" moments we will feel ourselves drawing near to Him as we work things out with Him by our side.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Sleepless in Waterloo

Before we get down to business I  would like the share a few thing with you:

1) I dislike Rob's keyboard. I'm trying to be quiet but it is oh so loud and the only way to make the keys work is by pressing them hard. This will not do...

2) Sometimes I feel like my body likes to play tricks on me. This is how I imagine the conversation taking place...
"OK guys let's make her nice and calm....That's it."
"Move onto phase two, let's make her eyes feel nice and heavy and her brain feel nice and fuzzy."
"Good! Good! She's thinking of going to bed early so she's well rested...right on schedule."
"Keep her feeling tired guys we don't want her to realize our scheme..."
"Ah, good she's feeling the comfort of her bed...curling up under the covers...and GO! GO! GO!"

3) I don't so much mind being awake, it's the being awake and knowing I have to get up at 5:20 that I don't like so much.

4) This is how I picture the conversation going with the cashier at Starbucks tomorrow, "Hi...I'd like a cafe americano with an extra shot of espresso added to the extra shot of espresso..."

5) I'd also like to point out that I didn't even drink that much coffee today, IN FACT I drank LESS than I desired. I only had one cup, it may have been a large cup...but it was just ONE!

Moving on, moving on as I'm assuming you do not normally come on here to read about all the things that run through my head when I sit down at my computer after trying to fall asleep for an hour. Though, to be honest, sometimes when I can't fall asleep I work through a lot of things in my head and it's really good.

For the past few days a line from a song has been running through my head over and over. So much so that I ended up putting a memo on my phone that said, "Lost and found in you...blog?"

The line is from a song titled Alabaster that is on an album by Rend Collective. The line that has been running through my head for days on end is as simple as that, "I am lost and found in you..." This got me just pondering and mulling this idea, of being lost and found in God. Colossians 3:3 says "Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on this earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God."

I remember reading this verse years ago at camp one time and just sitting and pondering that idea for my whole break. What does it mean for our lives to be hidden with Christ in God? What does it look like to be lost and found in God?

I'll tackle the second question, as it is easier for my mind to think about at this current moment. The picture that it bring to mind for me, to be lost in God, is one of someone who is really taken with something. Being lost in God is like being lost in a thought or a good book or a picture or a conversation. You are so taken with Him, that you are "lost", it's hard to tear you away or distract you. You are just desiring to know Him more, seeking after Him in all moments, you are searching for Him in every moment, everything you see relates back to Him, you spend hours reflecting on His word...in prayer with Him.

Being found in God is this idea that He finds us. The thing about this phrase that I think is so awesome is that it kind of has two meanings. We are lost and then found in Him, but we are also lost and found in Him. Does that make sense? I guess it is kind of just semantics! In God who we really are is found, He finds us and takes us in. He has searched us out when we were lost and wandering without Him and has proclaimed us found. We are FOUND in Him. Only in Him can we truly be found. It makes me think of just walking along one day and all of a sudden being like, "Hey! That's me! I've found me!" You realize who you really are, who you were created to be, who you were created for, and the worth that you have. You're made complete, your eyes are opened and YOU are revealed because of HIM.

Guys, am I making any sense?!

Just think about those things for a while. What it means that we are hidden with Christ in God because we have decided that yes He is our Saviour and we desire to do His will above all others and also what it means to YOU to be lost and found in Him.

I pray today you realize that you are found in Him and that you desire to be lost in Him.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Friedrich the Opossum

This is a story that was written for my friends Katie and Hannah while I was in my Theology of the Human Person class. Basically I told them that I would write a story that started with the next three words that my professor spoke and whatever character name and back story they wanted. If you knew my theology professor you would understand the risk I was taking in starting a story off his next three words. Luckily, they were "was sent off" and the rest of the story follows. 

Friedrich was sent off to the cheese factory one day to buy some apples. He thought that this was a little strange as he thought that apples grew on trees. Friedrich figured that this was just another strange quirk that Canada had. Even though Friedrich had come to Canada to study the art of apologizing he found he was learning a great deal about the world and it’s cultures as well. In fact, Canadians enjoyed eating apple pie and cheese...so perhaps it was not strange for apples to be sold at a cheese factory. He found that Canada was very different than Bavaria but he was glad to have met some wonderful kind Canadians who spoke German, which was his first language. 

As Friedrich walked along he thought of all that he had learned about apologizing. He was so glad to have come to Canada to learn this art, as they specialized in it.  "There is no country better," he thought "at apologizing than Canada."

As an opossum he had never felt a great need for apologizing but as he watched the Canadians interact with one another he began to realize how many apologizing opportunities he had missed! Why, he had not realized that one could apologize for so many different things! He could apologize for having a different opinion, for looking at someone, for talking to someone, for handing someone something for being kind to some. In fact, Friedrich had noticed that sometimes Canadians apologized for nothing at all, or so it seemed. It was very complicated and Friedrich had much to learn about this more subtle art of apologizing when nothing has really seemed to happen at all. This was something he wished to study more before he left Canada. Actually,  he hoped to study it while out to buy apples. 

Friedrich swung from tree to tree on his little opossumy tail, happily breathing in the fresh Canadian air and humming a sorry song.

"I love being sorry and I apologize for that. I really like to wear a touque, but will never wear a hat. I'm sorry that I said that. I'm sorry I apologized. I'm sorry that you've heard this song and I'm sorry you're surprised. I'm sorry I'm Canadian, I'm sorry that you're not. I'm sorry for apologizing but it's really all I've got."

With the end of his son Friedrich looked up just in time to see another opossum swinging toward him at full speed. But he could not stop in time and they crashed straight into one another... tune in next time for more fun adventures with Friedrich the opposum from Bavaria. Will he grasp this opportunity for ample apologies or will he get swept away by the beauty of Olivia the Ontarian Opposum?!

(I apologize for the weird formatting, I don't know how to fix it!)

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Battleground

Wow! It's been a great hiatus from the internet world, but Lent is over and I am back! This blog post is one that I began thinking and pondering over the Lent period and these are just some of my ponderings from the Lent period...I hope to post more over the next week but with the end of the term rapidly approaching I may not be able to follow through.


The other day as I was reading my massive textbook on Revelation- I say this not so you are impressed but instead that you might mourn and pray with me ;)- and listening to some worship music a certain song came on that I have come to love, a lot. It’s called “Never Once” by Matt Redman. The first time I heard this song was at my parent’s church and I remember that the imagery just hit me. So often over this time of Lent I have been looking back on this past year, and sometimes far beyond that, and I have just been seeing God’s miraculous and incredible work. The problem is that whenever I attempt to explain it and all that He has done I am at a loss for words. In fact, whenever I start I pretty much always end up saying, “It’s just awesome y’know?!” How frustrating... yet at the same time amazing to be rendered speechless.

I feel as though I’m “kneeling on this battleground seeing just how much [He’s] done” and know that none of it could have happened “without His power in us”. Us... the church, the body of Christ, the bride of Christ who awaits His coming with excitement and anticipation. Yet, this path we walk is a battleground.

I think we can all look back at our lives and see a battleground. Some of ours may be a little messier and bloodier than others but we have all fought our battles and we all have had victories and, unfortunately, some defeats. Sometimes these victories happen amidst pain and suffering and sometimes the victory releases us from a time of darkness. Sometimes it’s the defeats that bring us heartbreak.

I've been learning a lot about suffering lately. I’m writing a paper for my theology class on depression, we've talked in Revelation about the fact that God suffers with us, I've had conversations with people about the suffering that they have faced or are facing in their lives- as well as realizing the heartbreak I feel at times in my own life, and in just reading the news it’s easy to see the suffering that takes place all around us. Yet, while at times in all of this I have felt heartbreak and sadness I have also found relief.

I have found relief in the fact that the God that I serve and worship is not distant. He does not turn His head away from our suffering. He does not stand awkwardly off to the side, unsympathetically patting our heads. He does not shy away from me in my suffering. In fact, the wonderful thing that I have been realizing is that He draws near to me in my suffering or He draws me nearer to Him. It is not that He stops my suffering, though I imagine that He wants to just as close friends and parents wish to take away our hurt and pain, but He supports me and comforts me in my distress. Sure, there are definitely times when this does not feel as though this is the case but when I look back I KNOW it was!  

I have found myself asking the question, “How long Oh Lord? How long?” a lot this past month or so. At times the aching in my heart to be in the presence of God- the great, glorious, loving, comforting, Holy, amazing, awesome and terrifying God has been so great I didn’t know how to stand it. But this aching has just sent me running even more passionately and fervently into His arms. “God’s loving presence is never more real than in times of suffering and persecution”, says my Revelation textbook...who knew I’d find a statement that reverberated so deeply within me in my Exegetical Commentary on Revelation?

The thing is, pain and heartbreak is just part of the human life, but we can find solace in a God who understands our pain because He experiences it with us. In fact, He experienced our pain as He walked in human form on this earth, He experienced our humanity. So, originally I had one passage here but on Good Friday a friend of mine e-mailed me notes from the sermon at her church and the pastor had focused on Hebrews 5:7-9 and it just seemed to fit so much better. :)In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.  And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him". 

Christ understands our suffering because He also experienced it, He came and walked on this earth and understood just what it took to live a life of obedience to God here in this world. We have a God who walks, suffers, and cries out with us because He UNDERSTANDS. How incredible to remember. One of my professors gave a sermon about this idea and I want to end off this post with a point that he made in the sermon. In reflecting on his own life experiences he wondered at how he could stay angry with a God who suffered with him in his suffering? He quoted Dietrich Bonheoffer who says, “Only the suffering God felt my suffering...” and my professor ended with the idea that only heavens tears can really heal our own deepest wounds.
May you find comfort in a God who never once allows you to walk alone.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Some Late Night Thoughts

Tuesdays are turning out not to be a good sleeping night for me, which is unfortunate due to the fact that I have to wake up at 5:15 in the morning to get ready to leave for school. If I had a bad night sleeping on say, Thursday, Friday or Saturday it wouldn't be so bad. But, alas, Tuesdays seem to be the day. 

Last night before I went to bed I decided to read through some devotionals because I knew that I wasn't tired and that my mind was racing. First, I read through My Utmost for His Highest, which I really enjoy, and it was talking about how sometimes we need to pour ourselves out as a sacrificial offering and that there should come a time in our walk that we are willing to do this without receiving any recognition for our work. Oswald Chambers was talking about how there are times where we will "be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering" and that we will feel worn out with nothing left to give. He was saying that this is something that we should rejoice in, to be able to be used for the work of the Kingdom without any recognition of our work. 


I mostly agrees with this. We should desire to work for the Kingdom without recognition and we need to realize that sometimes  this  means that we will be poured out and have nothing left to give, only to find that God gives us more strength, joy and hope in those moments. At the same time I think that it can be detrimental if we think that this is how it should always be and never give ourselves the chance to rest, to be filled again so that we can pour ourselves out again. We need to be sure that our focus stays on God and there comes a point when we have been pouring ourselves out and serving and offering ourselves as a sacrifice for so long that we need to go into peace and rest in God's presence and take a break from our service. 


Next, I picked up this wonderful devotional called The One Year Daily Grind by Sarah Arthur. Y'all this book is fantastic. I think I've mentioned it before, and I cannot tell you the countless times that God used this book to speak to my heart where it was at. Such a blessing. 


So, I picked it up again last night and found this happening yet again. She was talking about Job and about the fact that at the end of the story when his friends, the ones who "have it all together", are told by God to repent and go to Job for prayer and the fact that God was sending Job's friends to him...the one who was brokenhearted and hurting. Sarah Arthur was saying that this is opposite to the way we think, we do not often go to those who are brokenhearted for prayer. Which, you know, to a certain extent makes sense. But this is what she said, "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; which means that if the rest of us want to get close to God, we seek them out-not because of what we could possible offer them, as if we're the spiritual first responders on the scene to save the day, but because we recognize how much they have to teach us about who God really is."


She then went on to suggest reading Psalm 34:18-22. Which reads:


The Lord is near to the brokenhearted

and saves the crushed in spirit.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
He keeps all his bones;
not one of them is broken.
Afflictions will slay the wicked
and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
The Lord redeems the life of His servants;
none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.

Now, in my silliness I left my journal out in the car and am not feeling the desire to go out and get it so I'll just go for it anew here. There is something about this Psalm that rang so clear in my heart yesterday. If I look back at some of the harder moments in my life God was definitely more present to me. Even when I look back at times where God did not feel present to me I realize how close he was to me in those moments. He has often saved my "crushed spirit" renewing me and healing me when I felt that I was unfixable (apparently not a word but whatever) and not worth fixing. 


The other thing I love about this passage is that while the afflictions of the righteous are many that they will be delivered from them...whereas the wicked will be slain by their afflictions. The thing that I am realizing is that when I have poured myself out and am brokenhearted and "crushed in spirit" that God is near me to restore me and refresh me...all I have to do is go into His presence. The Lord will redeem us when we are brokenhearted, it may not be in the timing that we desire but it will happen, we have to trust in His timing. There was something else I was reading the other day that talked about the fact that trust sometimes proceeds faith, that in the moments when we cannot feel His presence we need to TRUST in His presence. We need to go through trails for our faith to be strengthened and while we would prefer that this not be the case, who are we to question how God works? God knows our "inmost being" and knows when we rise and is "acquainted with all [our] ways" (Psalm 139). How amazing, to have someone who knows us so intimately...also how frightening! Yet, in knowing us so intimately God stilled loved us in our imperfections and mistakes and junk. In fact He loves us so deeply that "while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). How amazing!


I'm amazed by the way that God continues to reveal to me the ways in which He has been working in my heart that I had not even noticed. Something that I have read hundreds of times all of a sudden has new meaning and depth, I love the way this happens. I love the way that God works where and when we least expect Him to be. 


"The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost." (1 Timothy 1:15)