reflections on rest

Father, I come to You today broken. Broken and shattered in my identity of who I thought I was.

Most times, I do not see the ways Your grace has carried me through and the abundance of mercies that are too great for my mind to fathom.

I cannot to understand the goodness that you have provided. You have given me an a portion too large for me to take of; i will praise your name as long as i have breath in my lungs.

You have given me the breath in my lungs. You have given me peace in my heart. You have given me glimpses of your goodness.

Then, why? Why do I forget your promises? Why do i forget how good it is to gaze upon your beauty in silence? Why do I never understand that your rest is essential for me?

You tell me to stop. You tell me to slow down. Over and over again.

I am on treadmill, moving faster and faster, pushing myself so I will finish what I started on my own terms and my own time and my own strength. But I am not moving anywhere. I do not see the masses infront of me or behind me. I do not allow myself to rest in Your Word which will give me strength. I am not seeing Your glory transcend the world around me.

I look at others’ lives and see how blessed they are. How blessed You have made them and how much grace You have given. And I become jealous of how You were present in their lives and how smart they are and how spiritual and beautiful and fit and talented they are.

And then I stop. And I feel ashamed. Ashamed because You have blessed me beyond measure. You have surpassed my dreams and I am living the dream and the will you have for me. And I should do nothing but rejoice. REJOICE.

Jesus, wash over me with shalom. Someone will always be better than me. Your measuring stick of grace and goodness is not the same.

You are perfect and perfect in Your love and wisdom. Never has there been a time in which I have lacked a thing. Not once have I been hungry or thirsty or without love or without home. You have been releentless in love , overbounding in mercy and patient with my sin. You keep perusing me, over and over again more than I deserve. And although I mess up- one thousand times over, You give me the chance to be good over and over again.

Even when I am cold, You choose to melt my heart. So now, teach me. I am foolish for not trusting you. Only spending time with you will satisy this hunger and this thirst and this insatiability and unsatisfaction. Teach me Lord and grant me patience and hunger to extend my hand out toward you. For I know You will hold me.

 

 

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re: brokenness

Jesus, how lucky Peter was to have only denied Your name 3 times. The earth should swallow me up because I have disappointed You again and again. I deny Your goodness in my life, and take all Your grace as mine own wisdom and insight. I claim my broken life as mine own, although there is really nothing to claim. My redemption is shallow, and I forget Your goodness. I sin again, again, and again.

Jesus, I cannot pray today. I haven’t been able to pray lately because life has just been so overwhelming. I have become an tangle of emotions and have become so distraught that I just can’t feel anymore.

Jesus, I failed today. My friend came to me, in faith, that I would help her. But I didn’t. I didn’t have time, or energy, or money to help her. And so I justified my own self service, and refused to feed the hungry when I am full.

How can I love my enemies when I cannot love my friends and family? How can I love anybody one else, though I long for it, when I cannot love myself? I fail to love well. I am fickle in my passions and relationships, especially with You.

What have I done to end up in this misery? I know that is only Your power alone that I can thrive on this earth, or even survive. You have taught me that it is impossible to do this on my own and that your power is made perfect in my weakness.

So why must I learn, over and over again, the same lesson? I cannot do this on my own. I cannot melt my calloused heart or open my clenched hands up to You. I cannot lay my head down or accept your easy burden. It would be so much easier I leaned on Your strength and Your rod.

Jesus, you tell me to go the extra mile to love others. Jesus, teach me what that extra mile is. When did I did helping others become a chore? When did I learn to love like you loved only when it is convenient? When did i become heartless and conceited, self serving and self centered?

I despise myself. I weep because i am more broken than I thought. My pride is higher than I thought and I am broken beyond imagination. I never think it can get worse, but it does. Lord, why do I fall? Why cannot I be good?

 

There is a way to be good again.

There is a way to be good again.

There is a way to be good again.

 

The words reverberate through my bones, but I do not believe their truth. They remain true because you remain my true, despite my shifting soul and heart. You Father are steadfast when I am not. I think You are human and forget that You are the Lord of all creation. You will not fail as everyone else does and I fail others.

It is You that gives me the chance to be good over and over again, and like a waterfall your goodness washes over me and drenches me so that I am saturated and brimming with goodness. You love me and You stitch me back together. And every time you pick up the needle, I flinch and I know that You use pain as part of Your plan to strengthen and deepen me.

And my cup runs over. One thousand times over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall live in the house of the Lord forever.

re: vulnerability

You listen to me over dining hall pizza and cold black coffee. You listen and I see the sympathy in your eyes. You don’t say a word. Minutes earlier you were the one talking and I was laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe, and I thank you for these moments of joy and unconditional love.

But you stopped and listened when I said I had something to tell you. Your eyes were intent, bearing into my soul, oblivious to the people bustling around and this crappy coffee. You didn’t say much; you understand first. You listened with your heart and I know that you cared.

You listened to me over hushed tones in the fifth floor of the library; we whispered and somehow it made it easier to share. And after I finished, I heard your story about today. Your struggle is my struggle and mine, yours. I almost cried when I heard when I heard what your today was like. Mine is still significant, but it doesn’t seem as bad.

I was reluctant to tell you, but I’m so glad I did. You said you would pray for me. Right now, I can’t pray because I can’t find the words admist my frustration. So, it means so much to me that you will pray for me. It means so much when you respect my confidentiality and vulnerability. I know this beause you confide in me as I do in you.

When I tell you the parts of me that are hurting and my embarrassing moments, you acknowledge my miscomings, not afraid to give me truth. But we move on and do life together, and you give me measures of grace as I fall and rise.

I sometimes am afraid to trust people. I do not want them to hurt me. I have been hurt so many times after I have told the bitter and honest truth and the things that people never want to hear. I can be too direct. But I also do not want to pursue people because I fear that  they will not like the mess they find. I do not want them to feel cornered or like I am intruding on their personal life with my brokenness. For their sake and my sake, I turn away so many times. But when I do show you my soul, it is clear that God is listening to me and to you and that it is His love that binds us together.

We need to intrude. We need to infiltrate each other’s lives with love so that no one is alone. Fears should be quenched with love, lonliness should be sutured with kindess and uncertainty should be contronted with truth and grace. There is power in being honest with one another. It doesn’t matter if where we are; I know you will stop and listen when I need.

Sometimes I am so worn from hearing about other’s pain. I feel so burdened by mine own that I cannot sit in front of you and listen to your struggles when I am on the point of tears myself. But that’s where the Father lifts our worries, commanding us to have peace and be still. That’s when grace happens to your soul and mine, and life becomes a bit easier.

re: science + meaning

I can analyze and  I can synthesize. I can predict the motions of molecules and calculate the velocity of a pencil dropping and make drugs that will make your diseases go away.

We scientists, we can play god. We have dreams and visions of a world without cancer and diabetes and eye degeneration and we make this world a reality; we can resuscitate and kill with the pull of a plug, we know death’s secrets. We imagine a world where knowledge has no price and communication has no bounds and now, now we cannot escape these technological gadgets connecting human to human so that we are never truly alone.

But although we can reduce the mechanisms of the cosmos into measurable objectivity and test the limits of innovation and creativity, we do not understand the basis of human experience. We have missed, and perhaps will always miss, the greatest truths of human life.

I cannot measure the depth or height or width of the love God has for me, or that I have for my family or friends. I cannot weigh the sacrifice of my parents when they raised me. I cannot reproduce a pixelated Himalayan mountain sunset. I cannot quantify the hopes i have in my heart nor analyze their incompatibly with the fears I have in my heart. I cannot calibrate my weakness and my strengths and I cannot gauge my place in my world. I cannot compute the joy in my heart when I am with the ones I love most and we are laughing and love is a tangible force in the atmosphere.

And so, as I learn the value in reproducibility and accuracy of the scientific method, i remember that I must never forget how to feel deeply. I must remember that to have a cold, hardened heart is perhaps more scary than death itself. I would rather be placed in a grave, or burned to ashes, than to not love and be loved, or appreciate truth or beauty for as they are.

I want to feel the wind on my face and the joy in my heart, but not for the feeling itself. I want to be convicted in my heart of hearts and the freedom and courage to live out my convictions. I do not want to be trapped my fear or insecurities; I am young, but I am dying. I have been dying since i have breathed my first. The only difference between me and the elderly is that they have less time- wait. My days are no more guaranteed than their days. I could die any second, and every breath is by the grace of God.

Do you believe that?

If you did, would you trust in science or your heart? Would you believe yourself when you said that that people were more important than things? Would you find courage in your heart to stop chasing money, success, and popularity and the dreams that society says are so important and instead choose love? Would you trust that your dreams are worth the continual striving?

The heart reasons. We do not understand the reasons for we pay more attention to other people’s thoughts contained in hardbound, heavy textbooks that dull our eyes, harden our hearts, and nullify our dreams.

We have lost the ability to wonder. We have lost the ability to wonder not for the sake of wonder itself, or the sake of flighting emotion, but for our convictions themselves and the love that surrounds us.

re: politics

I ignored the news. I tried to at least. I didn’t want to see the hate and bigotry and the lies and I was so confused.

I didn’t know what to believe. I wanted to stay true to my values and true to my family. I cannot betray these principles that I and everyone I love have placed our faith in.

But staying true to my values, my deepest convictions, meant that I was wrong. I was wrong– I couldn’t ignore the news. I couldn’t ignore the pain, the tears, and the utter injustice in this world. Because the principle of love was forgotton. We love because He loved us, and we were not loving our neighbor.

Oh, how could we have deceived ourselves so long? We worship on Sunday mornings, proclaiming God’s love to the whole entire world, but we fail to act justly and love mercy. We will give our tithe and volunteer in our own safe and secure community, but we are afraid to speak to our dark skinned brother. We do this in the name of “national security”, the emblem of selfishness and self interest. We say it is responsible and wise; and while it is true that we need to be safe, it is a false hope. Is not every breath of air we take a gift from God itself? Every waking moment is spent by the grace of God. Life is temporal and our days are numbered. We, lacking in faith, do not trust that God will care for us. Do we really trust Him with our eternities?

I must have missed the passage in the Bible when Christ taught us to value our lives over another’s.

When did our own sense of false security become more important the life of a fellow child of God? My deepest convictions shouldn’t be polictical ideologies or economic principles, but a philosophy of love and dogma that mercy trumps justice every time.If we don’t have love, we are nothing.

Lord, have mercy. That’s all I can say. Lord, have mercy on me. I am a hypocrite. My community at home believes that I agree with them, and I am ashamed to tell them the truth. I do not want to be another self-righteous “liberal” college kid who comes home estranged from their upbringing and from the ones they love. My community here at college believes that I see eye-to-eye with them and that I always saw the truth, that I’m not confused. I know a Republican and a Democrat. They both respectively would say that I am a Republican and Democrat.

I didn’t lie, but I hid the truth. Because, maybe, I am not sure myself who I am. I do not want to pick a side. I want to choose love, every time, without knowing the price. Isn’t what what Jesus did? I want to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. I want to love my neighbors. I want to love all my neighbors. Who are my neighbors? Jesus said, if anything, that our enemy is our neighbor. For, if we love our friend, what gain is that? But to love our enemy is a testament to God.

We enter this world the same way. We exit the world the same way. We cannot take anything for granted and we have nothing; we are nothing. We did nothing to deserve this life where everything is in sickening excess. We are not better, or smarter, or more hardworking, or more righteous than the millions of refugees fleeing war, violence, and terror. Terror. We do not understand nor can we pretend to understand the horror of the situation and the bigotry of our hearts.

We say it would be foolish to open our doors. But we are never going to be immune to evil. It is unsafe to live here in America. How much safer could we possibly be?

If we die, we die. Let us live and die as Christ commanded us to: in love.