Saturday, September 29, 2012

Rocky Places

Today, I walked barefoot on a slimy, rocky river bed.
It was a completely unexpected adventure, but a necessary one all the same.
So, I rolled up my pants, ditched my shoes and waded into the cold water alone, as my family stood watching, safe and dry on the shore.

A razor cut, fresh from the morning's shave, stung like a thousand needles.
And then, the rocks.
It didn't look so bad, but the sharp little suckers were hidden from sight under the sludge of sandy river bottom...but not hidden from the tender soles of my feet.
I felt every one.

I don't like the rocky places.

Being barefoot, sole exposed, on the smooth sandy places, now that's where it's at.(excuse the grammar)

But when the path gets rocky and painful to the exposed soul...ahhh becomes ouch, and every step reminds: this is not a smooth place.

And so steps are taken with intent and care, but still bearing the weight and the pain...always, the pain.

The necessity of the rocky places.
None of us long to embrace that necessity, but it calls us to all the same.

As I stepped gingerly across the rocks, an image I recently took came to my mind.

It was a geode.
At face value-ugly, forgettable, even worthy of disdain beneath the feet...but when time is taken to look at the rock, turn the rock, treasure can be found within.
Crystals-shimmering beauty-reflecting light with brilliant color, yet, all hidden to the sole too focused on the pain of it's rocky outter surface.

These hard places that bruise our souls are rocks of purpose placed beneath our feet.

If we will take time to see them as just that-treasure that enhances the path-we may come to discover the beauty of the rocky places.

So, when you find that its time to wade deep into the cold, unexpected waters of life, even if it is all alone...roll up those pants legs, ditch your shoes, and know...
...know that there is beauty and purpose ahead for your soul.

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."
James 1:2-4 ESV

"You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,
and a royal diadem in the hand of your God."
Isaiah 62:3 ESV

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Change Your Question

"Don't look for shortcuts to God.
 The market is flooded with surefire, easy- going formulas for a successful life 
that can be practiced in your spare time.
Don't fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do.
The way to life- to God!- is vigorous and requires total attention."
Matthew 7:13-14 (The Message)

Formulas. Phrases. Steps. Methods.
It is so easy to get lost here, stuck here, confused here, condemned here.
There is so much out there-even good things and God labeled things- vying for our attention...all with the promise of making us who we think(or they think) we should be as Christ Followers.

But NONE of that matters unless your motive is to know HIM more.

We have to change our question.
It's not about WHERE these formulas, ideas, and methods take us.
It's not about WHEN these things will make us "arrive" at some religious destination labeled "Godly".
It's not about HOW these things will hopefully make us appear to others.

It is about WHO these things are meant to lead us to.

When we are fixated on the where, when, and how, we lose sight of the Who...and, sadly, that is when it all becomes about shining our own glory, not God's.

I long to see more Christ Followers simply wanting HIM.

When that becomes our desire above all else, then the formulas, ideas, phrases, steps and methods can become tools to aid us in getting to that place of intimacy that we crave.

It is so easy to get caught up in the next best thing, rather than just finding more of our Lord.

You see, His presence effects change.
Life rearranging,
Paradigm shattering,
That is what happens when you truly encounter the presence of God.

Maybe that is why it is so much easier to sing about Him, talk about Him, learn about Him, rather than actually go to Him.
We are afraid of what that may actually look like and do to our nice, neat religious lives.

So what about you?
Are you caught up in the formulas, rules, theologies, and methods so much so that you have stopped relating with the Lord on a personal level?

No, it isn't easy.
And yes, the world and your enemy are going to do everything possible to make it inconvenient and uncomfortable.
But it is worth it.
Because He alone is worthy.

Don't settle for the world's distant, watered down, regulation consumed, grace-less version of God.

Don't let your desire for comfort rob you of His completeness.

Don't let simply "looking the part" be the frail and shifting foundation you rely on to set you apart.

Be "vigorous" about experiencing the TRUE fullness of God in your day to day walk and relationship with Him.

He can't just be another option in your life.
Make Him your life.

Yes, there is a place for the where, when, how of it all.
But, start asking the right question first today: WHO?
It's all about my Jesus.

My prayer over YOU today:

"When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth.
I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.
Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.
And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.
May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen."
Ephesians 3:14-21 (NLT)
Just DO it. :)