Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Dark Days

"I don't even know where to start. Except from this emptiness I feel trying to suck me into it like a black hole. I really am trying to get out. But it pulls so intensely on me. Jealously, fear, regret, failure, despair, loneliness, anger... they scream so loudly that I cannot hear...I just want to run and hide. But I can't. I am supposed to be the one who is always ok. I am supposed to be the one who just sucks it up and deals with it...I'll eventually be ok right? Sure. And so no one notices this gaping hole in my heart and spirit that is gushing blood so rapidly that I am pale and weak with emptiness."

This is an excerpt from my journal.

I share it because I bet that, even if you don't journal, somewhere in your life there is a piece of paper with similar words and similar heart hurts written all over it.

I share it because, I bet that you not only read those words, but you felt them with me.

I share it because, I bet you've never openly shared the intimate thoughts of your "dark days" either.

I share it because the "dark days" like to stay in the dark. They breed in the dark. They thrive in that murky hidden mess of my mind and yours. 

All those things we know and have learned seem to seep out of our grasp when dark days descend.
Our grip on the reality of who Jesus is and who we are in Christ all of the sudden feel slippery and unsure.
And so we are tempted to take up residence there. 
Worn and drained from the suffocating darkness, it feels safer and easier to stake our tent, hunker down until it all just passes us by.

But the other side doesn't come to you...you have to journey to it

Sunsets and sunrises are beautiful...but there is a reason nobody ever takes a picture of the dark. 
It is an ugly place to see.
But oh my...
it can be a lovely place to hear: to hear the voice of your Savior.
The dark amplifies what we cannot see. 
So we must choose to listen to the voice that not only is calling us to the light, but IS the light.

Tuning our ear to His voice is determination to travel toward the dawn.

When the darkness wants to envelope you, remember Jesus wants to embrace you.
When the darkness wants to blind you, remember Jesus wants to bind your wounds.
When the darkness wants to silence you, remember Jesus wants to sanctify you.
When the darkness wants to isolate you, remember Jesus wants to invigorate you.
When the darkness wants to berate you, remember Jesus wants to beautify you.
When the darkness wants to frighten you, remember Jesus wants to free you.
When the darkness wants to confuse you, remember Jesus wants to comfort you.
When the darkness wants to incite you to anger, remember Jesus invites you to peace.
When the darkness wants to taunt you, remember Jesus wants to teach you.
When the darkness want to stun you, remember Jesus wants to strengthen you.
When the darkness wants to paralyze you, remember Jesus wants to promote you. 
When the darkness wants to stay, remember Jesus came to SAVE

The simple truth is, 
there is always a dawn, even to the darkest nights.
But just as there is sunrise, sunset will come. 

And when, not if, the dark descends, we have two choices:

Let the darkness chain you
Let Jesus change you.

I don't know about you, but I am not going to sit down in it.
I am not going to make this my permanent address.
I am walking through.
And if I must walk through it, I don't want to walk out the other side the same as I walked in! 

So how do we move forward from this place? 
Do the next thing.
Give thanks. 
Dive into the Word.
Actively exchange truth for the lies.

And one day, when you open your eyes, you'll blink wildly at that glimmer on the horizon, and you'll see a sun coming up in your soul.

You may not even recognize yourself...but you will have become so intimately familiar with Jesus, The Lover of Your Soul, that you actually are thankful for the dark days...not because you loved them, but because the most amazing thing happened there: you fell further in love with Him

Don't allow your dark days to chain you.
Allow Jesus to change you.

"Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way."
James 1:2-4, The Message

"Show me the right path, O lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you."
Psalms 25:4, 5 NLT

Monday, July 7, 2014

What to Wear

Changing out clothes. 
Let's just say me and "The Great Swap" have a love/hate relationship.
Yes, I'm thankful that I have clothes to swap out(for those of you reprimanding my shallowness in your mind).
But it's the changeover itself that I wish I could just snap my fingers and have completed. Done. Over with.
The sorting, the tossing, the decisions, the piles, the "oh my word, did I actually purchase and wear that" moments...bleh. 

I usually know it's time for "The Great Swap" when I find myself on the edge of or in the midst of a new season standing in my closet lamenting, "I don't have anything to wear!" 
And I dream about filling my closet with anything new and wonderful that I could find to fulfill that gaping hole in my wardrobe.

But we all know in reality, what I am really saying is that every outfit I've tried just doesn't work. 
It's not that I don't have clothes in my closet, I just haven't found the right clothes.

It's that "what to wear" moment that plagues us all.
And every female reading this knows how that affects not just your appearance but your whole mood and attitude! Can I get a witness?!? 

I face that question every day. And I answer it-sometimes better than others. Yikes. (Especially in the 90's- I mean I answered that question so horribly, so often.) 

I wouldn't dare randomly and blindly grab from my closet with just a mere hope that what ends up in hand works for my day and destination ahead.

And yet...I do it every day in the spirit.

My spirit. My heart. My true self. My life. The most important part of who I am...do I ever stop and contemplate the "what to wear" moment that faces me each morning for my spirit? 

In Luke 24:49 Jesus says,
"I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high."

Over and over in scripture we are told to clothe ourselves with Christ Jesus and the character and power found therein: compassion, humility, strength, dignity...and the list goes on. 

So what am I allowing to clothe my life? 

Just as I choose to put on physical clothes each morning, I choose to clothe myself spiritually as well. 
Or even worse, I walk around spiritually naked, exposed, unprepared.
In this passage, Jesus makes a promise: a promise of power. 
Not a power that we can muster on our own, but a power from on high- a supernatural, heavenly power. 
A never-failing, ever present, perfectly portioned power.

But instead of picking up this gorgeous garment that is exactly what I need, I stand in the closet of my mess and pilfer through the ratty torn and tattered pieces and convince myself they I will do. 
They are comfortable. And they don't draw any attention. 
I can just blend in and auto pilot my way through life as usual.
That is the effect of the absence of Holy Spirit clothed power, after all.

So here is the real question:
Why clothe my life with the enemy's reject hand me downs when in reality I am a daughter of the One true King?!?

I have full access to His unlimited power in every area of my life.
Every. Stinkin. One.

So will I reach for it? 
Will I choose to wear it?
Or will I leave it hanging there in the closet amidst everything else I've tried that doesn't work, doesn't fulfill...and go through my day whining on the inside that all too familiar, 
"I don't have anything to wear!" ? 

You may be like me, standing on the edge of a new season- or even smack dab in the middle of it- wondering what to wear. 
Feeling like nothing works. It's affecting your mood, your attitude, every atmosphere you enter.
It's time for the The Great Swap.
I won't lie, friend. It isn't easy.
There is work involved.
And some moments, it may seem like that pile never ends.

But when you pick up the Holy Spirit's power, you'll find yourself perfectly clothed for the season you are in.

Come rain or shine or heat or cold of life, you will be prepared to face it with strength and joy.

When you outfit from Victory, you no longer have to worry about trying to attain it- it's woven into very the fabric of who you are. 

Changes and choices are never easy.
Clothe yourself with power.
Jesus made a way for you to wear the ultimate power suit. 
Don't settle for rags. He died to give you riches.

What will you clothe yourself with today? 
I choose Jesus. Praying you will, too.