Sunday, July 29, 2007

On the Wheel

When I was in Chicago this summer, it seemed as though there was a nice little heat wave for a few days. Then, the day I decided to go to Navy Pier, cold wind started to blow. I went anyway and I'm glad I did. Sometimes, reality hits you like a brick...

I got on the Navy Pier ferris wheel with nervousness and anticipation as the wind was whipping through the crossbars. Did I mention I am pretty scared of heights? I try to face that fear any chance I get, but the fear remains. I got in the car which I had to close the doors on because the worker was chatting and missed securing me in. That instills confidence! :p As I started up, the view was breathtaking--skyline, water, people--just gorgeous. Around the top, I noticed my car wasn't moving.

Panic set in as the wind rocked my car back and forth. Sweat began appearing as I pictured a mechanical problem. This ferris wheel is continuous--it is not supposed to stop. The fear of plummeting started to take over. I breathed short prayers and gripped the sides with my sweaty hands to secure what I felt I could secure. I sat like that for a long minute when I felt the whisper of God, "Turn around and look."

Slowly (as if any sudden movement would detach my car from the railing) I turned around to find we had been moving the whole time--the car is attached to the spokes, so you aren't able to have a stable focal point besides the sky. Peace rushed over me as reality dissolved my fear. My anxiety was perception-driven, not based on reality.

How much of life is faith in God's goodness!? Sometimes it is a matter of ignoring how circumstances are creating a false reality. God's truth and promises are like the breath that says, "Turn around and look"; "Take your eyes off of the perception and drink the dose of reality." Peace is instantaneous and bitterness can't take root when truth dwells in a heart.

"Wait for the Lord, be strong and let your heart take courage...Yes, wait for the Lord..."

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The Last Crayon Standing?

My friend and I were talking in one of our late night sessions that we always do when we visit twice a year, and some of these thoughts were sparked from that conversation.

I wrote this to expound on her comment and this journal entry is regarding the feeling that many "aging" Christian women have toward singleness, pickiness vs. standards, and the like...

She mentioned that she felt like the odd color in a box of crayons. You all start out in the same box--uniform shape and representing all the colors of the rainbow. Then, as each one chooses his favorite color, you develop emptiness around you...a void in the crayon box. The popular colors are snatched up--red, blue, green. But, you are the obscure one, different from the rest. You are "violet red"--on the surface you look like regular red--like the others. But, when you put your vibrant color to the paper, you represent more than your surface shows. You are really more purple, so you are put back, because they really wanted just plain red.

The world of men (even Christian ones) seem to want red, but you are more complex than that. Your standards--following Jesus--makes you more violet (but not purple), therefore a rarity in the crayon box. It takes patience and confidence to keep standing proud of your color as the space in your crayon box grows with time.

Disclaimer: This is not a complaint, merely an observation from the collective whole of women I speak to all over the world.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The word Holiness looks a lot like Loneliness

I have been journaling a lot on my travels and have been thinking about my views on life, my walk with Jesus and other mind boggling thoughts. I will post a few of these journal entries in the next few days/weeks (depending on how together I am). :) This was the first "realization" that stemmed out of my spring/summer this year and a dear friend helped me crystalize it before she left this summer...

My Christian life (I'm going on a 10 year anniversary now) has certain "rules" that keep me from doing things that I know I don't desire--God never put them there specifically, but they stemmed from my understanding of "walking uprightly". They are good when followed with the right intentions. I am not advocating cheap grace, but only true dependence on a real God. Well, this year, these "rules" I had created over the past 10 years started becoming a noose around my neck. One move in any direction and the life was strangled out of me...I know that is dramatic but literally how I felt. I saw my self-righteousness and it was like looking at an ugly picture of myself--barely recognizable, but definitely me. How did it get like this?? I thought I was following Christ...

I prayed for humility in certain self-righteous areas and God is quick to answer that prayer (praise Him for that). Here is the start of my journal entry in response...

I love that you showed me that my "rules" were first created by me at a time when I was close to sin, rather than far from it. Purity was purposefully protected because I saw my potential for botching it all up, not because I was so amazing and put together. Therefore, it wasn't legalism then. But, somehow it morphed. Somewhere it twisted--in my own mind--to a set of guidelines that I felt made me "better," more evolved in my faith. Really, it just stunted my belief in You [Jesus]. I no longer needed Your [God's] grace--I coasted on my own synthetic version of it...a 30 minute quiet time here, a conference there, like a 10-year anniversary pin to keep me thinking I was on the right track. Thank You for de-railing my rule-bound train--it was headed for a mountain of loneliness that I had misread for "holiness." Holiness is not walking to a set of rules that make you look good--it is walking with a compass that points to the face and heart of Jesus. May I only look at my True North. Thank you again for humbling me in this area. I want never again to build another self-sufficient railway where I travel in a lonely car of bitterness.