“You, God are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs
for you in a dry parched land where there is no water.
I recently picked up a journal. These are the scripture verses I had written in March 2017. I abandoned the book putting it away in a box. Fast forward to January 1, 2019 and while I searched for a journal to accompany a new bible reading plan, I again picked it up; both the bible app and journal began in roughly the same places. Diving a little deeper, I learned there are 150 poems in the Psalms, 73 are written by David. It is organized under five "book" headings: the first three written primarily around words of lament, while the later two books of praise.
This website, for me, has been a self-discovery of just how much I need faith. This past year, in particular, has been a tearing down of any exterior facade. It has been both a year of lament and one of praise. Would an outstretched hand and God’s promises be sufficient enough to push me toward God’s redemptive shoulders where He, alone, is enough? I am led to the dichotomy of God’s words: be forgiven and get up.
"Get Up" is not always easy. It seems the tension between lament and praise is exactly the thing that is necessary for a deeper and more authentic prayer life. The illustration of no water implies a certain level of pain, or at least a subtle awareness of something that has been missing, water. In order to get to the rejoicing, there exists the conditions of "a dry parched land" where precisely the depth of the stirring and self-awareness exists so that we turn toward the promises of deliverance.
Why would a savior go to so much trouble? To save us - that is, from ourselves? That is the reason we worship. For knowing in our own brokenness there is found hope, we discover freedom and out of that "thirsting" we extend our hand to others through a savior who redeems, discovers and transforms. There is no getting around depth - it simply doesn't come from living life only in the blessings but in a weaving of the burdens AND the blessings. In the raw and vulnerable thin membrane of our soul, comes a whimper which beats toward a yearning which, in turn is satisfied by an answer. It is there that praise is born.
What does "get up" mean outside of the scriptures written 2000+ years ago in the age of accessibility? Where do we turn when we have failed? Where the church has failed? Where we, as collective people have failed? Doing a simple "google" search, I stumbled upon a myriad of ideas from meditation, exercise, facing fears, accepting responsibility, trying something new, reaching out to friends ... the list goes on. With January, a new year, i sought a new plan of renewal. I presupposed that even a soft and gentle adjustment of my rudder might effect change.
I invested in new routines: a devotion/reading plan in a bible app, breathing/calming techniques in a headspace app, a gym, an on-line budgeting/finance seminar, a yoga, and art class. Where I once poured over involvement in marriage and parenting, I pressed into the hurt and loneliness of being alone. Taking risks meant the possibility of opening myself up to mistakes. There was no getting around that. I pressed into something tangibly new. I lamented and I praised.
At the gym, I participate in a timed obstacle circuit where one of the stations has a large and heavy rope looped around an anchor. Feet planted, knees bent and gluteal muscles out, I swiftly move the rope up and down. At first the ripple is fluid but as the repetition and weight continues, my arms get tired and the wave becomes unsteady; my breathe is weighted and lofty.
In Psalm 49, we hear a sermon; it is a re-occurring theme throughout the bible to not put too much emphasis on that which does not last. It is always about the relationship - one with the savior and the other with those who come our way. There is a third one, however, it is a calling to be gentle and patient with ourselves.
As I think of the rope, my soul seeps deeper into the weight of gravity: a full-time job, plenty of material possessions, a home, I swiftly move the rope and down - at first the ripple is fluid, "the foolish and senseless alike perish." I continue to move the rope: finances - where does my money go and how do I establish new routines? I continue to move the rope. A headspace app: just how much worry, guilt and responsibility do I allow to take residence in my brain and can I re-orient my perspective? The ripple of the rope is getting heavier now. An adult art class: can I move past self-critique and learn something new? Yoga: can I bare the weight into the floor so I can experience a lighter upper body?
Change takes time. It is either an explosive interruption to our daily lives or maybe it is a slow and gradual realization that something must change.
The marbles in the jar are not all one color. There are many facets of life; it is in the lament and praise that the marrow of our souls get chiseled from the dust of the cross to the sculptured beauty in His hands. In order to be transformed and redeemed, there is a breaking and a piecing together. It is what the Psalms are all about. It is a crying out for ourselves and His people.
A soft and pillowy reminder that change and transformation takes patience and timing. I picked up a tiny and little book in a hotel lobby this weekend. It was: Taming your Tongue, by Deborah Smith Pegues. It, in combination with the self-realization of my words - spoken and written which may or may not have caused alienation, where the wound is open and oozing; it hurts. It is a deep and yearned introspection that allows God's truth and wisdom to dust over my soul with delicate intimacy.
Just as the cross is not about me, so too this website is not about me. First and foremost, the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross was not only for your salvation but so that you can be transformed into his image. Out of an intimate love relationship with the savior, good works are born. Not the type that points back to your achievements, but the kind that points to your character being broadened and deepened so that your captivity to love others in and outside of your radius is enlarged and expanded. If that is true, then the internal work of the cross must be wrestled with - through His word and fellow sojourners along the way. Maybe the sharpness of tongue is NOT something God is working on with you. Perhaps it is an inability to speak up for yourself, or the lure of addiction in its many facets or maybe sexual impurity, or something more subtle like gossip or comparisons; the list is endless but God's pursuit is not. He will penetrate the darkest hour or the brightest moments in order to adjust your rudder toward the wind of his unending love.
Whether you are in the balance of lament or praise, my gentle prayer is an offering up of hope through faith. It is not by accident that you stumbled upon this website, this post. It is not by accident that God has planted a desire in me to be as open and raw as I can in order to communicate to you the sense of community. I have a deep and abiding yearning to be transformed from the inside out for the specific purpose of sharing hope with you. The good news that is available to you, through the abundance of joy, found through the pursuit of God through Jesus and the acceptance of the holy spirit. The work of the cross done in you for the sake of eternal life and his kingdom now on earth.
So, where do you go from here?
Get-up ... take whatever positive steps you can toward the light of His cross. Even tiny and deliberate baby steps eventually translate into forward motion. Choose to forgive; choose to ask for forgiveness. Enroll in a class; begin to face problems. Seek the company of community that is uplifting, supportive. Volunteer - whether in a class or in your neighborhood. Think big! I used to think the word dreamer was a character flaw but I have come to realize that the man and woman that dreams comes to the cross with open hands and a vulnerable heart; it is precisely there that God whispers his wisdom into the veins of your soul; a childlike faith is enough. You are enough!
God is not finished ... not with you, not with your circumstances. Perhaps it is a gentle tweak in your life. Maybe it is a major overhaul due to loss. Get up - your future is dependent on your small, and seemingly insignificant baby steps. God can use even the tiniest mustard seed of faith to transform and redeem lives. To be honest, I have no idea where my life is going or where I will end up but i do know HOW it will end up. My character will be chiseled into an intimate and loving one intertwined into His purposes and plan. The relationship of the father son and holy spirit (trinity of the cross) in communion with him for the purpose of spreading the good news of the gospel to you.
This is January, a new beginning to the year and a new opportunity to experience His great love in ways you do not yet understand. Embrace change; deepen love and get up. May you hear the quiet and still hush of snow falling softly upon the inside of your soul: you are enough, just as you are. Get up, my friend.
My prayer is twofold: that you will learn of your intrinsic worth and value in the eyes of God and out of that love relationship, you will experience His love.
Go in peace, my friend.
Inspiration about Psalms found in a program I stumbled across called, Bible Project - check it out. Photos purchased on Adobe, song may be purchased from i-tunes, quotes found on twitter and google, scripture found in Holy Bible and stories uniquely my own. Copyright 2019
A fellow point guard for the faith; a writer, deep thinker, music loving, jeep blazing ... follower of Jesus.