The Ride

I’ve always wondered about rollercoasters. I admire the people with teflon stomachs who can ride them. I know some of them are fearful of the ride, nervous and full of anxious anticipation of the thrill of the experience. Some of them are completely confident knowing the ride is going to give them a good scare but a great deal of joy too!

I’m not that person!!!!! My stomach may be teflon coated for school things like blood and barf, but that level of teflon is the very thin variety. I can stand on the sidelines and watch a rollercoaster and not feel so good from the experience. I’m not even on the ride and my stomach is moving to places where it has no business being. To be honest, Disneyland may be called the happiest place on earth but it gives my stomach the heebie jeebies from thousands of kilometers away!

How do I sum up the month that has been my Write 31 days challenge? It’s been rollercoaster. There have been highs of great experiences and absolute bottoming out lows of grief. Highs of rejoicing in the beauty that God has created. Lows of rediscovering how sinful I am and how desperately I am in need of constant forgiveness and grace. Steady inclines of reminders of the grace of God and the provision He has made that I can be in relationship with Him. Cresting the top moments where joy has poured through everyday experiences that have been given to me so that I may have a glimpse of His face. Downward trends where I have wanted to apply the brakes but He has held my hand, reminded me of His love and pulled me through. Straight paths that have confirmed things I know and been blessed with. And more, so much more.

Rollercoasters have an entrance and an exit. There’s the measuring stick – if you are this tall, you can go on the ride. Then welcome aboard, belt yourself in, and hang on. There is an end where it all comes to the finish as the brakes are applied, the safety harness released and you get off the ride to go enjoy something else.

In a way this describes my month too! It turns out I was tall enough for the ride. I didn’t think I had this many words! And what is interesting to write about my life for 31 straight days! Nothing! Of that I was sure. However, it turns out there has been plenty to say, many lessons I’ve needed to learn and re-learn again. That’s been the ride. Now it’s a wondering about what is next, what thing am I meant to experience that is waiting for me. As November begins with the mysteries it holds, I know there are to lessons to be experienced and learned. It’s an exit but an entrance at the same time.

Where it all leads, I don’t know. I am grateful and relieved that He continues to direct the course. May I be faithful to walk in the directions He points me in.

Fear Not

Before the throne …

I carefully joined the queue not wanting to barge in front of someone else. Not wanting to miss what was ahead of me. Each sign shouted warnings and not so gentle reminders to put cameras and any recording device away. Through the metal detector and around numerous corners the line wound its way. Security personnel were stationed throughout the complex with each one looking at the goings on and the hordes of people snaking through. A quiet murmur broke through occasionally but for such a large group of people, the volume was remarkably quiet.

The destination was The Tower of London with the Queen’s treasures secured inside. There was stunning wealth enclosed within each case. Gold, diamonds, jewels, encrusted everything from sceptres to crowns to dinner services, each seemingly larger and more impressive than the other. I would have loved to have snapped a picture or two but the starched looks of the guards had me leaving my camera safely where it was. I was impressed, taken aback by the wealth enclosed within those walls.

Another throne room is awaiting me. I have no idea what it will look like but I know it will put to shame any of the earthly majesty and beauty that we have imagined to date. This throne room beckons me to enter, to come and experience the full bounty. The King seated on the throne is the One who has paid the ransom for my life with His. Because of Him my soul has been freed. In His great love and mercy He has bought my pardon with the shedding of His Son’s blood.

Oh there is much that should keep me out. I so often give in to the temptation to wander my own way seeking the joys and jewels of the life that I know. There are entrapments set up all around to snare my feet and drag me off to parts unknown that seem dark with despair.

But the Pursuer of my Soul is One who will not let go of me. He calls my name again and again, finding me in pits of desperation, hands bloodied and raw as I attempt to release myself from my circumstances. With His mighty right arm, He reaches in to free me from what has bound me. He carefully lifts me out, sets me on my feet again, and works with me to remove the stains that seem to have worked their way in so deep as to become permanent. He knows that I will carry some marks from these experiences but He has a different destination in mind. His forgiveness and grace are right there being extended to my wounded soul again and again.

And so the throne room awaits. The jewels the Queen has worn are spectacular but the presence of Almighty God will put all the glitter and gold to shame. Before the Throne of God I have no need for expensive jewelry but am called to bask in the redemptive grace that has rescued me from the wreck of my life, has washed me clean and invites me to praise Him for being the rescuer of my soul.

Heaven peeks through

My hands rested on the keys and I wasn’t sure what the evening would hold. I love to play piano for worship. It fills my joy tank like almost nothing else.

Tonight was a little piece of heaven. There was joy! It showed up on the faces of singers dancing. It resounded in the kick from a drummer. It tentatively revealed itself in the chords from an electric guitar. It danced in my fingertips across a keyboard. Heaven opened for just a bit and a taste of future delight was revealed.

There is a beauty found in the words and music of worship that is hard to find anywhere else. There is something about being together in one heart and mind as you open your heart to Jesus in song that is unique and precious. There’s a vulnerability in making music. A mistake is hard to hide, but a heart abandoned to worship before the throne, that’s precious and unmistakably vulnerable.

So when the heaven’s open for those moments of transcendent beauty, I want to be present. I want to be accounted for. I want to remember the moment. I want to experience this often, more often than I usually do. Every once in a while, the divine and the ordinary collide.

Open up the Heavens

When Wednesday feels like it should be Friday

The week is only half done but it feels like it should be over already! To quote my third grade teacher there has been “so much to do and so little time to do it in.” Things have been checked off the list of to dos. But as soon as one gets checked off, three more eagerly jump on the list erasing whatever sense of accomplishment I had achieved. The list keeps getting longer and the respite I crave is some time away from now.

Lists of things to do never seem to listen to the weariness of my soul. They ignore the demands of the other parts of my life. Instead, when I am craving a break, they are ramping up, emphasizing the need to get it done and done now.

And then God’s word breaks into the chaos of my lists and brings much desperately needed perspective and hope.

Psalm 5: 1-3, 7-8a

Listen to my words, Lord,
    consider my lament.
Hear my cry for help,
    my King and my God,
    for to you I pray.

 In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;
    in the morning I lay my requests before you
    and wait expectantly.

But I, by your great love,
    can come into your house;
in reverence I bow down
    toward your holy temple.

Lead me, Lord, in your righteousness

The Giver of Life knows about my lists. He knows the things that keep calling out to me and He is waiting for me to bring my needs before Him. The need to get it done, the need to rest, the need to be refreshed, the need for His peace. He is listening. He knows the desperation in my voice and the frantic-ness of the pace and He is never too busy to listen to this daughter of His. His love is larger than my list. It equips me and gives me strength to weather the onslaught and survive, even dare to thrive in the middle of it all. What a beautiful place to be, surrounded by His love, listening to His voice speaking peace and being lead by the One who knows the path better than I ever will.

When God hits repeat …

The Song of the Morning was familiar. Two songs that have been digging into my brain in the last weeks were stuck on repeat.

They didn’t leave. Throughout the day, in the middle of activity, they appeared again and again. Not the whole song, but fragments or a chorus returned in ever increasing volume.

There’s a message I am meant to retrieve from these songs. A call to bask in the presence of God. A call to go deeper in Him. A call to let Him lead me in ways sure and dependable and in other challenging and risky. He is the God of both the sure and risk. Safety is not what He is after but rather a faithful pursuing of the steps where He has already walked ahead of me.

God is a fan of the repeat button. All over the Scriptures there are examples of His repetition.

Days begin, end, begin and end.

He tells three day stories. Daniel in the lion’s den. Jonah and the whale. Jesus and the tomb.

He spells out seven day stories. Creation. Joshua, the people of Israel and the walls of Jericho.

He uses 40. The number of days and nights it rained for Noah and the flood. The number of years the Israelites wandered in the desert. The number of days He fasted prior to the temptation.

The Bible’s writers have favourite sayings. Ezekiel’s all about “then you will know that I am the Lord.” John’s emphasis of the Word is hard to miss.

All of these moments, their repetition and emphasis are meant to draw me in. To call me to the reminders that I have been missing. To bring me back to the heart of God, my Father, whose heart beats with love for me. There is a lesson to be learned. A practice of faith to grow in. God keeps hitting repeat because I need to hear the message again. I am forgetful. I am busy. I too often brush aside these reminders as trivial when they are crucial. His reminder could not be more clear – pay attention. This is important. Remember this!

God keeps hitting repeat! I hope I get the message.

Listen

Called Me Higher

I talk a lot. The nature of my career calls for it. Talk, share information, exchange ideas.

I listen. Learners have fun facts about their lives, their weekends, connections they have made to what we are learning about. I often ask them to wait a moment. I want to be sure that I am fully listening, not just half listening, but all in.

I find people so much easier to listen to than Jesus. (I may have just hit the heresy button.) I can clearly hear people. I don’t always hear His voice clearly. It’s often lost in the shuffle and busy moments of my day. But when I stop. When I genuinely pay attention, it often quietly resonates in my heart and mind.

Recently, I have been unable to escape this idea of calling. Called to continue in the career that I have been blessed with. Called to be involved in ministry in my church. Called to be obedient and write. Called to step out of my normal and try new things. Called to grow in my walk with God, to go higher and deeper where He continues to lead me.

Sometimes I respond readily to the call. It is that resounding, that impactful that I must move straightaway. Other times, I waffle in indecision. I can’t figure out the way to go, even though He has it spelled out for me. Other times, I dig in. I am far from obedient. I don’t want to do it, so I won’t do it, so there and a defiant posture is assumed. When I throw my little, and sometimes big, moments of defiance at His plan I miss so much of what He has intended for me. I miss the blessings that walking in His way will bring. I miss hearing from Him clearly because I have chosen to ignore Him. When I finally do abandon my own plan and come around to His, I am grateful my gracious Father listens to me, forgives me and continues to build a deeper relationship with me.

I’ve made a career of talking and listening. If only my relationship with my Heavenly Father was full of quality communication too.

Content

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Content

an adjective meaning in a state of peaceful happiness, satisfied … and not wishing for more

a noun meaning a state of satisfaction

The place known as content sounds beautiful. Things are good there. It is filled with just the right stuff, not too much, not too little, the perfect amount.

I’ve not parked there often. I have been in too much of a rush to arrive at the land of more. I have often looked at the place of content as a place that is missing things that would make me happy and satisfied and so have sped on because a surface glance left it wanting.

You see I am adverse to the land of less. That place of comparison leaves me with the conviction that I have missed out, that I do not have enough. That if I arrived in more I would be better off.

So in my rush to leave less and arrive at more, I’ve missed the subtle beckoning of content. The land of content finds my heart at rest. It inspires peace. Comparison is avoided because it is not needed. There is a level of soul satisfaction that can be found here because He inhabits the land of content. He has always wanted souls to find respite there because He has always been enough. It is a place to go deeper and fuller with Him because that is what He continues to call me to. “Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord …” Philippians 4:1a