Monday, April 20, 2015

Love Story

Do you ever grapple with deep longings for intimacy that you think can be fulfilled if something in your life would change?  If you're married, it might be...."If my husband would just tune in to me and understand what I really need!"  If you have children, perhaps...."If only my kids would appreciate me more, acknowledge their need for my counsel, guidance, etc., or open up and share their deepest thoughts and feelings with me!"  If it's about friendships.... "If I could find a true kindred spirit, or if my friend didn't live so far away, or if so-and-so just had more time to spend with me."  If you're single, like me, then very likely...."If  I could only find the love of my life!"

Do you find yourself in moments where you want desperately to experience a degree of intimacy that you have not known?  It could be a life experience you have not yet had, such as marriage, and you're dreaming of how wonderful it could be.  Or perhaps you are married, or enjoy a close friendship, or are blessed with healthy, growing family relationships, yet you feel let down, disappointed at times, like there should be so much more in this relationship than what you already have.

I'm going to be personally candid right now.  Sometimes I really miss a man I have never met. Sometimes I lie in bed at night and long for experiences in intimacy that I have not had.  I imagine things that are not healthy for me to imagine because I'm coveting something that is not mine.  I want fulfillment from someone who will never realistically be able to give it, because no person on earth can satisfy my soul.  And I know this.  I know the difference between reality and fairy tales, but that doesn't stop me from wanting the fairy tale.

What do we do with this desire?  Where do you go with your craving that has been disappointed by the realities of wrestling in relationship?  Where do I go with my cravings for something I've never had, something I make too much of in my imagination?

There's an answer.  It's not easy, but it's real.  Psalm 37:4  "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart."

Jesus created us for relationship and intimacy.  He created us with these desires, and so they are good. But they are meant to be satisfied (humanly) in relationships with real people, through self-giving love that is rooted in His love.  And our soul's deepest need for intimacy was never meant to be fully satisfied in another human being.  Our human longings are really just an echo of something much deeper, much more real.  It is the echo of eternity and absolute intimacy that has been placed within our souls by our Maker.  This longing is for the perfect, eternal intimacy with the One who formed our innermost being, who breathed into us the breath of life, the One who knows us fully and loves us perfectly!

So today I am practicing a new thought pattern.  Directing my desire toward Jesus.  This is the response of a soul to its maker, of a heart seeing glimpses into the realm of eternity.  Perhaps your soul will resonate with this as well.

Jesus, it is to You I belong.  You tell me who I am and give me incredible value.  You complete me and answer my existence.  You are the Love who pursues my heart, who is always coming for me. No matter where I go, no matter how far or how long I run, You will find me.  You have never lost me.  I can't hide from You.  I can't get away from Your presence.  Even when I feel light years away from You, Jesus, You are with me.  It is only a delusion of the enemy that I have chosen to believe, that You would ever be far from me.  You gave Yourself so I could be one with You and never be separated from You again!

What love is this?

The greatest Love Story ever.

And I am the bride.

I am the harlot, and I am the bride.

I am the rebel and the redeemed.  The lost and the found.  I am the runner and the greatly desired beauty, wanted by the King.

I am the outcast and I am the chosen.

I am the filthy made clean.  I am the walking dead raised to life!  I am the hopeless sinner made righteous!  I am darkness overcome by Light!

I am the hater turned lover.

I am the fighter and the slave of Love.

I am the orphan and I am the beloved child of the King of Kings!!!

Jesus is my Maker, my Righteousness, my Lover, my King, my Wisdom, my Light, my Bread and Water, my Joy, my Hope, my Exceeding Great Reward, my Counselor, my Author, my Way, my Truth, my Beginning and End.....and my LIFE!!!

The greatest Love Story ever.  The Story with no end.  I am the beloved one.  You are the beloved one.  This is the Story of the Lover who has always been coming for us.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Turning Off The Noise

Hey there!  If anyone is still sticking with me here in blog land, and you've read many of my previous posts, you may remember that I did a media fast a couple years ago, after reading the book Seven by Jen Hatmaker.  Although I adapted my fast quite a bit differently from the ones described in the book, I called it my Seven fast because Jen had inspired me to do it.  Media was the main area where I had an issue and needed to clear space in my life for deeper relationship with God.  In fact it still is.  And I have not fasted media since the 21 days I set apart that October.

Therefore I have decided it is high time I take myself in hand again and make the choice to do some hard things for the sake of seeking Jesus more purposefully.  I'm doing another fast.  And I'm putting it out before whoever reads this blog, again, as a way of holding myself accountable.  This will be similar to my Seven fast in that it focuses on pulling away from media and setting times to purposefully spend with Jesus instead of entertaining myself.

In thinking about the concept of Seven, I was reminded that God spent six days creating the earth, and on the seventh day, He rested.  I think it is fitting to call this a fast of rest.  It is a time to rest from the constant noise, bombardment, and distraction of media like movies, Facebook, and endless internet surfing.  You know how sometimes when you have been surrounded by constant noise input and then you turn it all off, you feel this sigh of relief.  You can feel the silence settling on you like the feeling of sinking your head into the pillow at night.  I have an addiction to noise.  And sometimes I know I need to just turn it off.  Because how can you hear God when you always have the noise on?  I also have an addiction to virtual reality.  I like the way I can escape into a dream world when I watch a movie, or let myself get lost in Youtube.  I like the way it makes me feel.  But it inhibits me from living fully in reality.  From being engaged in my real life.  From investing in my real relationships, the greatest of those being my relationship with my Creator and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

So this fast is about rest.  It's about clearing out some of the worst noise and distraction that keeps my attention off Jesus.  It's about coming to rest in Him instead of escaping into a virtual reality or just drowning everything out.  It's a focused time to center myself back on Jesus and His greater reality that is unseen, but more real than what we can see and hear and touch right now.

I'm keeping it simple.  I'm limiting my Facebook time to one day a week.  Except for the couple minutes it takes to link a blog post.  Because I have a lot of thoughts going on that I want to write about.  And I think part of my fast should include making time to write more regularly.  I'm limiting my computer time.  I need to be on it for business and personal emails, and I still want my worship music, but my goal is to spend less time on the computer altogether and to shut it down by 9:30 at night and do something different before bed.  There are some good spiritual things I could read or listen to online that I won't necessarily abstain from completely, but come to think of it, I should try leaving the computer off at least every other day!  Even the good things can be a big distraction.  We simply don't need that much input.  I don't believe we were built to take it all in.

As far as movies go, if my family is going to watch something together, I'll participate, but otherwise no movie watching on my own or with my little sister for pure entertainment.  It's just too much of a habit for me.

And the most important thing is not simply to abstain from these things for a season, but to replace them with something better, something that has eternal rewards.  Built in with that is some much needed discipline being reinstated in my daily routine.  Getting up earlier so I can spend at least 30 minutes first thing in the morning focused on Jesus.  Going to bed earlier so I can handle getting up! And ending the day with another focused rest time with Jesus.

I started on Resurrection Sunday and I'm doing it for the rest of the month.  And hopefully you'll be hearing more from me on here as I'll be creating more space for my heart and mind to think and hear from God and write!

On Resurrection Sunday, we celebrate new beginnings.  Life out of death.  Beauty out of ashes.  Joy out of suffering.  So I find it fitting to begin again to practice saying yes to Jesus.  This fast is one way I can do that.  Saying yes to Jesus isn't easy.  But it is an adventure.  And it will bear fruit.  There hasn't been much useful fruit coming out of the default mode of my life these days.  So it's time to regroup.  It's time to pull out and rest from the things that weigh me down.  It's time to let God redeem the time.  It's time for a new beginning.