It’s Not About What I CAN See, Anyway!

 

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For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Romans 8:18

The other day I shared how shattered my heart gets at times ~ especially lately. The way it twists and turns and then sinks to the pit of my stomach is becoming all-too-familiar of a feeling when I look upon the headlines, immerse myself (rather than glaze over) in the agony others in our world are facing, and continue to watch things as they seem to keep unraveling in this world we live in.

I shared with you my feelings about the bubbles we find ourselves nesting in at times – the ones that provide a false sense of comfort, peace, love, and even joy. I shared my hatred of the bubble, yet the equal disdain I feel when I am faced with the discomfort our present reality offers upon popping it and moving to the outside of the falsity of that womb-like environment.

But a friend reminded me of something extremely important, that I don’t think I emphasized enough in my last post.

Here it is:

It’s easy to find ourselves ~ in the endeavor not to live in the bubble ~ in the commitment to keep our eyes wide open to seeing and discerning the truth rather than operating under the illusions offered by “feelings” ~ to start looking at the world and what’s going on (the evil, the ugly, the dark) for what it is, but forget that our focus needs to be on Jesus and the way that HE looks upon the world.

Jesus and His victory.

The victory we already have in Jesus.

JESUS.

HIS power. HIS grace.

HIS comfort, peace and joy.

And yes….seeing sin and evil for what it is comes with that as well. But we always need to emphasize that He’s already won the battle ~ many just don’t realize it yet.

We must emphasize that He has won!

You know, the death of my mother helps me….even today… to see that being grief-stricken and rocked to the core by all that seems wrong, unfair, or filled with sorrow can be met with a peace and a joy that surpasses all of that. Yes, we CAN feel terrible, be in agony, pain, at the end of all that seems even humane, while SIMULTANEOUSLY knowing the joy and peace and comfort of a God who knows the end of the story.

Our God – He has written the ending of the story already!

And He’s here with us through it all.

I walked around filled with a grief and a dark pain after mama died that I can’t fully express in words. At the very same time, I was filled with the love and hope and peace of Jesus. I had His joy to sustain me. I may not have been laughing – but I had his joy. Until you’ve experienced that, it’s hard to fully grasp it. But that’s the stuff of life, friends. THAT is the kind of stuff only Jesus can provide us with to sustain us and make us thrive. Regardless of circumstances, this is how “our rock” carries us, molds, us, teaches us, and conforms us into HIS likeness, not that of the world.

I’m all for laughter and happiness. But if I had to choose, I’d take that Jesus joy any day over all of that other stuff. Sometimes, we get to have both, and that’s a special blessing for a time. But these days ~ these recent days in which I find myself sad about the heartache out there…sad about the struggles and the pure evil – these days, the joy of Jesus is what sustains me.

He delivers us from darkness. How would we know that if we never experienced the cold and the black in the first place?
He comforts us when nothing else can – when we feel we can’t put one foot in front of the other or stand a minute longer of the torment.
He loves us in the midst of the truth – all of it – the good truth, the ugly and hard truth – the edges of utter despair.

And he lifts us up – on wings like eagles, friends.

He lifts us UP.

I haven’t found the secret yet, if there even is one, of how to stay out of the bubble and look at what is happening around me (and even in my own little dark crevices of my sinful heart) – as to how to do so without ever slipping into the abyss of gloom and doom. Sometimes my toe crosses over that line and God faithfully draws me back in to Himself.

He knows just when to pull me back, and I learn something beautiful in that process every time.

This is the stuff we can’t see with our eyes.

Jesus. Faith in Him.

His divine intervention.

His love – His triumph over the grave. His grace and His mercy.

But I beg anyone to try to even think about convincing me that we can’t know it – that we can’t feel it in the most deep way (in the Spirit).

That goes beyond any feelings I could ever experience in this world. It goes beyond any knowledge my finite mind could ever grasp. It is the truth and love of God all permeating every aspect of my being that screams at me “Now you really have your eyes wide open!!!”

It’s when I close my eyes and look for HIM that I really get true sight. You could poke my eyes out, take away my sense of smell, feeling, even hearing. But nothing can take away my communion with Jesus Christ.

Not ever.

So as I find myself wanting to shut my eyes, I will remember. I will remember what my friends Heather and Chuck both reminded me not to forget:

That I am to speak the truth in love the way God leads me to do, and that we are meant to look for Jesus in everything (even if we have to close our eyes to see him better).

It’s Jesus who holds the power. The enemy will do his best to knock us down, but he will not prevail. It may seem that way at times, and yes, this will make us sad. But we are already conquerors in Christ.

This girl is continuing to open her eyes when she’s supposed to, and close them and look for Jesus when that’s what He calls her to do and she’s getting distracting or pulled off of His path.

I just pray for the wisdom to know the difference. I pray for none of us to be deceived, and even if we are, that the Lord will pull us back. He uses friends to help us with that, you know. He gave us the Holy Spirit to whisper and nudge us when we go astray.

May we all stand firm in the knowledge that He has us in the palm of His hand. If you really listen and really seek Him, you’ll know you’re there (and you won’t need to be able to “see” a single thing to know it).

Thanks Chuck. Thanks Heather. I love you both ~

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,  while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4: 16-18

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I Want to Shut My Eyes

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This last couple of weeks I have been struggling – deep, deep heart struggle. I can’t stand what I am seeing in the world, my friends. It wrecks my heart to the core. The cynics say many things that make my heart hurt even worse.

**Suffering has gone on in the world for millenia – why does this bother you so much more than other stuff?
**It’s none of our business – we need to stop meddling.
**What about our people here in our own country? Things are just as bad here and we don’t seem so sad about that.

I get it…what the cynics say. I understand the thought process. And that crushes my heart, because it is so very deceitful. They are being deceived with such thinking – I know, I have been there. I still find myself there at times.

See, it’s not either/or when it comes to this kind of stuff, friends ~ Our conviction about the sin and suffering we see in the world is not limited to either/or.

It’s ALL OF IT.

It’s the increase of it. It’s the callousness of it. It’s the intensity and frequency of it. It’s the in-your-face aspect of it. It’s the almost celebratory “look at what I can get away with” of it all – and most of all – it’s the shutting of our eyes to protect ourselves part of it that gets my stomach turning and twisted in knots. It’s not the horrible photos. It’s not that at all. It’s the facing – the IN YOUR FACE facing up to the truth and reality and the way that we coldly stand back and do nothing (not even really pray that much) of it that makes me feel sick. Yet we get our panties in a bunch if the Starbucks guy looks at us sideways (must be because I’m gay, a Christian, a democrat, or whatever) junk that we focus upon instead!

Yes, it’s always been present – evil and twisted sin. Yes, it’s part of the human sin nature – cruelty, lies, murder, terror, and apathy. But I see it increasing. And no – it’s not only due to the fact that we have practically real-time news flashes at our fingertips. It’s an overall change in the way sin is see in our world coupled with the increase in intensity that is present.

I feel it in my soul. I know it is real…this change. Satan knows the end is near and he’s ramping up his games.

Matthew 24:12 ~ Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.

We are cold – indifferent – consumed with something as stupid as the fact that our neighbor looked at us funny and we think that spells discrimination. Simultaneously, we turn a blind eye to the really wicked stuff that’s going on around us all in the name of “mind your own business.” It’s crap. All of that justification we provide for ourselves so we don’t have to act…care….be deeply disturbed.

We don’t want to burst the bubble or anything like that, do we?

I’m sick about it. That bubble is such a liar. It makes us feel warm and protected. But nothing real gets inside. So it’s all false – all deceit. All an illusion. It’s a scheme of the devil, there’s no other way to explain it!

It is inside of these bubbles that our love will grow cold. But we won’t even know it’s happening, because we feel so warm and pretty. And lest you think I am spewing judgement out upon the world without looking hard at my little self, you are mistaken.

How did I title this blog post? It’s the opposite of the title of the entire blog. I titled my entire blog site Eyes Wide Open for a reason – a personal reason, friends. It’s because I like the bubble vision too much. I like it very much to close my eyes (and my heart) to the reality of what is going on, whether it’s something horrific in the world or something even worse inside of my own heart. So I put myself on the hook by naming it that way. I am on the hook with Jesus to let Him search my heart and open my eyes (heart) to the truth….even when it’s very, very ugly.

See…he does great things when we are willing to take a look at the ugly along with Him. If we are willing to see it, let it twist our stomachs up for a moment, let it pierce our hearts and prod us and twist us until we wonder if we will ever “feel” comfort again, we get to then turn it over to Him and experience true comfort and peace. That is not the stuff of feelings at all, a lot of the time – rather it is this God thing that surpasses mere feelings. It is better.

But the flesh still battles hard. It battles for the feelings part of it all – it wants comfort. It likes the bubble.

I want to shut my eyes to what I see growing increasingly wicked by the day in our world because it reminds me of just how dark our human hearts can be if we turn away from the Lord. I want to shut my eyes and not be reminded of the horrible things that man can do to one another when he seeks his own way instead of following afer Jesus. I want to shut my eyes when I can’t do anything much to help others that are suffering unimaginable things at the hands of the evil one. I want to crawl in my bubble and shut my eyes. Seal them. Hibernate in my own little happy world.

And this last couple of weeks, I find myself unable to do that. And that is GOOD. It’s a bad feeling kind of good to have my eyes wide open lately.

Matthew 24: 6-8 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all[a] these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences,[b] and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.

Do not be troubled? I don’t know what the original greek or hebrew word for that translates to, but I don’t think it means what it would to us today at first glance, because later Jesus says “these are the beginning of sorrows.”

I think Jesus means that we can have confidence in the FACE OF THESE SORROWS that He IS going to come back and all of this evil will be put to an end. It will be done, over, finished forever. He has already paid the price for us on the cross. That part is already finished if we have accepted Him as Lord and Savior. But we will get to go home and live with Him one day in a place where there is no evil. We will be in a place where feelings meet truth and it is a whole new way of living. The real life begins in this place.

Revelation 21:4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

In the meantime, morbid as many may think that I am, I am not going to shut my eyes. I am going to look in the face of the evil that is happening and remember Jesus’ words to us. “This is the beginning of sorrows.”

Only He can heal.

While we stare in the face of love growing cold, do we stand strong and firm and rooted in the love of Jesus anyway? What is it today that may be stopping you from loving others as He first loved us? Are you afraid to come out of the bubble for fear of being troubled? Are you turning to Him in the midst of the sorrows and allowing His peace, His comfort, His joy to weigh heavier than the light and airy feel-good stuff the bubble provides? Do you want to shut your eyes to something today that you know you are supposed to see, even if it’s ugly, life changing, and scary? You are not alone, friend. You are NOT alone.

He tells us to watch many times – there’s a reason for that, my friends. Please watch. Look and watch for Jesus in all that you do. It may seem sometimes like all you see is evil in the world as you open your eyes and peer outside the bubble. But do not be deceived. God is at work. Do not be deceived into being lulled to sleep. Watch for Him, friends. Find Him where you are and watch for His return. I highly urge you to immerse yourself in Jesus’ own words about watching for His return. To me, if Christ Himself emphasizes something over and over again, it warrants considering it and pondering it and immersing ourselves in it deeply. You can find what Jesus says about this in many places, but Matthew 24 is a great place to start.

Study it…ponder it. Look with a discerning eye as to what Jesus is saying. Don’t be the virgin with the lamp that ran out of oil. Don’t be the servant who partied at home while waiting for His master to return. Be ready. He is coming.

And I must say, if I make some people angry or uncomfortable with this brazen blog post today, please know I speak only out of love. It can’t be all hearts and flowers when it comes to getting our attention fixed upon Christ in the midst of a very distracting and very cold world. It just can’t. This is my attempt at helping us to remain vigilant and STAY AWAKE. I feel Jesus urging me to become even more bold for Him. So, if I made you uncomfortable today, I think that’s a good thing. Please send me a note in the comments below if you feel you need to talk more with me. I will get your contact information and we can chat.

Our pastor reminded us last night of something very significant: The Bible ends with an exclamation point. Embedded within that – all wrapped up in the end of God’s word – is this:

He is coming back soon and we are to look forward to it.

To do that, we must watch.

Revelation 22:20
He who testifies to these things says, “surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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Gettin’ M’Gear On!

Recently (as in the last two days) my family and I have had a triumph in Christ – the details of which I plan to share in full as soon as I am able. It’s time to rejoice about this special thing, and we are doing just that.

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So as always, this morning I am going to begin it all by asking the Lord to direct my steps and the path He has set before me, because enjoying the fruits that come out of this triumph does not come without some action steps on my part – things the Lord would have me do to do in relation to all of the things involved. But I need to do it along with the help of my Lord – I realize I cannot do it alone. I will rejoice in that as well, but I am pausing each morning to set the day that lies ahead right into His hands…

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As I have much to do, I must remember that the Lord is the one who will choose the plans and how to go about achieving the goals He has in store. So I shall proceed, most prayerfully, with what I think I am supposed to do, but always remember, that HE, the Almighty and most Sovereign Lord, has the full power….He owns all my “rights”…..He is the Mighty Director. And He can change things any time He sees fit.

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I feel excited about this and a huge weight is taken off of me and my family, friends. New things are happening, and I have never really been one to look forward to change – not until it has come to fruition. In this, I am excited about what the Lord is doing right as it is happening. I see the new growth now…..and I know there is more to come. I can enjoy the journey of it all – the trip He is taking us on – instead of only looking forward to the destination. I kind of have a feeling that idea of destination is only partially true anyway when we are walking in the Lord’s will for us. We may land somewhere temporarily, get to hover a while…but He will continue to move us according to  His will.

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There is peace to be found in that…in Him. In the midst of all the unknown and the chaos. In the midst of the times in which things will run smoothly – like the well-oiled operation that the Lord is capable of making this part of our journey, and also in the midst of the parts that will be frustrating, chaotic, and just plain hard. It’s His kind of peace. That’s the kind that I am really into, friends. ‘Cause it’s the only kind that’s real.

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I have been warned….the enemy will try to attack, so I will be putting on the full armor of God each and every morning. I will be checking in with Him throughout the day to do the safety check that is always needed with one such as myself. The armor, if kept on, is impenetrable by the enemy. I have a tendency to take pieces of it off at times. So, I pray that the Lord will keep me geared up every step of the way, since I tend to be an undisciplined soldier. I realize to the full, that for me, this starts in the mind. So I am giving that to Him.

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This is not my darkest valley, but it does entail a lot of unknown. But I am not afraid. AT ALL. I am free from fear right now. I pray the Lord will remind me of this when I start to get a little scared, as I know it will happen. Sometimes it may be a test of faith. Other times it may be a full scale attack or sabotage carefully planned out by the enemy but that comes upon me when I wasn’t looking for it. We can be on guard for what we know to watch out for, and even try to anticipate the element of surprise, but we are not children of the enemy, friends. We don’t think like he does. But instead of this making me afraid, it makes me know all the more how very much I need to trust in the Lord. He has my back….even if or when we get a major or minor injury, He has our backs.

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And as much as I know that the Lord has our backs, there will be the need for courage. This kind of courage can only come through Him and reliance upon Him. I look forward to having my backbone tested. I also look forward to the times that I am standing strong and don’t have to undergo much of a test. All of these things are blessings from the Lord and part of His plan to make us the disciples that we need to be. All of it prepares us to be better soldiers for Christ. We don’t know what may be around the corner, friends. Actually, if you read Revelation and follow the news, the truth is that we do know. We just don’t know when. And we need to be prepared. Practicing courage is one way the Lord admonishes us to do just that. And he lets us practice through these small, little life changes that may seem like a big deal to us right now, but that will pale in comparison to some of what may come our way before we leave this earth.

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There is beauty in that – a kind of beauty I never really saw before. Isn’t it wonderful how the Lord continues to open our eyes to things? His truth is not something that we can ever get enough of or fully tap out – it it eternal. And although the Lord is unchanging, we are creatures who are limited in what we can, or are willing to see. We can only take in so much at a time. But when we submit, and when He deems us ready, He reveals new truths to us to enrich us, embolden us, prepare us, and to bless us.

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In all of it, none of this really is what matters most anyway. Because there is only one truth that really is significant and lasting. And that is Jesus Christ and the salvation He offers us. That is Jesus Christ and the blessed hope that we will live with Him forever and reign with Him in a kingdom more glorious than we could ever truly imagine. That is Jesus…Jesus….Jesus, my friends. I love the truth of Jesus Christ.

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Always remember…even He looked up. He modeled that for us – how truly important it is. To look up and give the glory to God. To look up and ask for guidance. To look up and seek His will and direction. To look up and worship, praise, thank, and bask in awe. To look up for every single thing……big or small, when it’s easy and when it’s not. Because we CAN. If Jesus thought it important….and if HE thought it a privilege, shouldn’t we?

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More than anything else, the Lord reminds me that the most important gear of all is love. Let’s get suited up, friends. There is a long day ahead. There’s a lot of love to show. Let’s do this thing!