Coming Back

My blog has been sporadic at best. My first posts were written with such intention and purpose and then so suddenly I fell away from writing. Work, school, responsibilities consumed my life and I left little time for reflection and writing. Now that I have come back and wish to create again it has been so difficult to begin. I’ve stared at the page over and over again, trying to will a post to appear. What do I say after two years? How do I jump back into the conversation?

What an analogy this has been in my walk with the Lord. After what seems like months of radio silence in my soul and sporadic prayers, here I am trying to restart the conversation. I’ve never lost faith, but I have lost touch. I’ve traded what I want most for what I want now and allowed the most important relationship in life to be overrun with meetings, friends, work, family, entertainment, and rest. None of those things are necessarily bad but when put in a place of priority above God, they become a special type of cancer. This spiritual cancer has inundated my heart and ruled my life for longer than I should have allowed. It has changed so much and now, on the road to recovery, I must pick up the pieces and begin anew.

I like to be in control, and I like to be right. These tendencies in my personality have now been challenged as I give up control to the God of the universe and relinquish my facade of power and correctness to be corrected and molded by Him who made me. I have been reading Psalm 51 the last few days and it has spoken volumes to me. Verse 17: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” and verse 12: “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit” have been my plea, my prayer, and my inspiration. I have let go of the joy of salvation and desperately want to get back to that place where I am filled with gratitude and joy for Christ’s work in my life. I am also reassured by David’s words in verse 17. God redeems us and if I approach him sincerely repenting and seeking a restored relationship, He will be faithful in His response.

I hope that in sharing my journey, I may be a comfort to you as well. We have all fallen short of the life that we ought to live. We have all placed things of the this earth and this life above our Holy Heavenly Lord. But we are all welcomed back if we believe in Christ and in His salvation. You are not alone in your journey, and you are not forgotten.

Psalm 51
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.
1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!

3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
5Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

7Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.

13Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
14Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
15O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

18 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
build up the walls of Jerusalem;
19then will you delight in right sacrifices,
in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.
Holy Bible, ESV
Emphasis Added
https://www.bible.com/bible/59/psa.51

Early Bird Photo

I drive about an hour to get to work each morning. For most of the year, this means traveling on the interstate in complete darkness. The dark interstate is definitely not my favorite place to be and there are many mornings that I reevaluate my career decisions. However, it is all completely redeemed when I pull into the parking lot to a glorious morning sky painted to perfection. I’ve grown to love being an early bird and this picture is just one of the many reasons why.

IMG_0112

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Early Bird.”

Connections

I love social media.  I completely understand how many people don’t like it – they find it invasive or a platform for soapbox political or religious views or a place to brag about one’s life.  I get that, it happens and sometimes I get caught up in that part of it.  As much as I love it, you won’t find my best moments plastered on facebook.  Sure, sometimes this bothers me because my profile picture is over 3 years old and I did really cool stuff the last few weekends and should have a picture of that.  Still, I have made peace with the fact that my online image isn’t as cool as I’d like to think I am.  I’ve come to terms with being out of the loop sometimes and  am happy with an old picture and stale posts.

Why?  I learned something recently.  My friends don’t live online.

Maybe this is obvious.  Maybe you are reading this and thinking, “duh, I know that, didn’t you?”  Well, no.  I used to be caught up in my image, in what people read and saw and thought of me and I tried to present my online self in the very best light possible.  My life in the past year or so has taught me that while that is okay to a point, I have real relationships in my everyday life that are far more amazing than having a bunch of strangers think I am cool.  So you might not see sweet pictures of everything I do in my life.  You might look at my facebook page and think I’m pretty lame.  That’s okay.  Tonight, I sat in a room with 5 awesome people sharing stories and life aspirations and talking about how God has called us to live out the stories and passions he gave us.  The reality of that time is better than any picture I could ever instagram and any tweet I could ever compose.  God is changing my view of how to live and what to place importance in and he is doing it using some of the coolest ways possible.

Invest your time and energy into people face to face.  Go to coffee with someone, have a few coworkers over for dinner, visit a parent or a sibling and spend an evening getting to know each other again.  Maybe you will find that your friends don’t live online either.

prayer is simple

Tenth Avenue North is one of my very favorite bands.  Not only is their music great, but they are awesome people who have constantly been inspirational in my life.  Mike, the lead singer, produces these video journals and his thoughts on life blow my mind every single time.

This one is on prayer.  Prayer is simple.  Prayer is so hard.   I have a really hard time with prayer.  It should be so easy, but it never is.  Sometimes I feel like I’m asking too much.  Sometimes it is like no one is listening.  Sometimes I’m too tired to think.  Sometimes I don’t know what to say. 

How can I view prayer not as a means to an end but an end in itself?

There is no real resolve in this post…just a challenge to myself and to you.

Easter Musings

Today is Easter, and that is a pretty big deal in the Christian tradition.  Without the resurrection of Jesus, Christianity would basically not exist.  Today we went to church, remembered Jesus’ sacrifice, celebrated his life and work, and stood in awe at the grace that his resurrection has brought into our lives.

Today is also a big day for families.  Easter is one of those holidays where large meals seem to be the norm and everyone comes home for dinner.  For me personally, I got a lot perspective today.  To sit and talk with family members, to share in the love and joy and also in the pain and frustration of life is a gift that we all too often overlook.  Jesus died for us so that we could become members of his family, so that we could do life with him.  How many of us take advantage of that?  I know that most days I don’t look at my life that way.  I also know that I don’t recognize the blessings of all the people that God has put into my life.  Life is a journey, and I hope that like me, you have found a few great traveling companions.

Live Loved

Have you ever wallowed?  Sometime its nice…wallowing about in a shallow pool in the summer.  But usually wallowing is all about feeling bad for yourself and hanging on to that because you think somehow it makes you feel better about your situation.  I wallow.  It is satisfyingly terrible because wallowing never allows for forward movement.  It keeps me right in the scene of depression or failure and while complaining may help for a moment, moving on never seems to come.

Watch Mike’s explanation of living loved in the video above.  The following are just a few points that I pulled out because they especially impacted my thinking.

I was so bad that Jesus had to die for me. This knowledge robs me of my right to be proud.  I am so loved that Jesus was glad to die for me.  It robs me of my right to be depressed.  God knows what is good and right and best for us.  If we can acknowledge that He loves us and understand what that means, he can show us a way of living that is so vastly different from what we are used to wallowing in.  Living out of this knowledge that I am loved by God changes how I interact with the people and situations in my life.  This is so simple, right?  So why does it take so long to really believe it?

perfect fit

Matthew 11:28-30 has appeared in my life several times in the past few days.  It reads:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you.  Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.”
– Jesus (NLT)

If you have ever been hiking with a pack that does not fit well or worn a pair of shoes that are too tight, you know the discomfort that an ill fit can cause you.  The perfect fit is something that we all look for – whether it be with our clothing, our relationships, or our career choices.  So for Jesus to say that His yoke – the one he gives to us – fits perfectly is a pretty impressive statement.  I don’t know about you, but I often find myself trying to squeeze into the things that I think I should be into in life.  I try to make myself work in a situation that is clearly not what God had planned.  Sometimes, the squeezing is out of convenience (we don’t like to get up and move if sitting on the couch is feeling nice and cozy) and sometimes it is born from pressure from others.  Either way, it is not what we were made for.

I have heard and read this verse countless times, but I must have always missed the fitting perfectly part.  True, it is probably a quirk of the New Living Translation, but being that my go-to study Bible is written in this translation, I know that I’ve seen it before.  I had always focused on the rest for the weary part and been puzzled at why we would find rest if Jesus were just going to give us another burden.  It seemed counter-productive.  Now, something finally clicked.  This verse is not about getting off easy.  It is about putting down trying to squeeze into a situation that you were not made for and taking up what God has for you instead.  When something fits you well, it is not cumbersome.  I have a camping backpack that fits my back like it was molded especially for me.  I can carry a heavy load without feeling bogged down.  Yet somehow my run of the mill school backpack makes my shoulders ache if I carry more than about twenty pounds.  I could argue that this means I was made for the wilderness and not academia.  I doubt that there is much truth in that.  It is all about what  fits best.  And let me give you a hint, what Jesus gives you will always fit best.  He should know, he made your shoulders.  He knows what they can handle.