Archive for the ‘life’ Category

Falling.

I’ve mentioned the book Who is This Man? by John Ortberg before, and I’ll probably keep mentioning it, because it has me falling for Jesus.

I’ve heard people speak like this before, and to be honest, I’m not much one to fall for anything. I’m generally dubious at best, but this book… this Jesus…

Let me start by saying that I was raised Catholic. Catholic school, Catholic Sundays. I heard it, I got it, I attached myself to it. But until I went more E-free, I never understood the personal relationship, and personal ownership, inside Christianity. Even with that being said, until I read this book and learned more about Jesus – what it truly meant to be him inside the society of that time, and what kind of influence he’s had since – I think I’d been missing a piece of. . . something.

Because now I’m falling for Him in a different way. Like a follower would.

And again I’ll say, I am not much a proponent of following anything. I would be the first person to not drink the kool-aid. Perhaps I pride myself on that, even. But this time, I get it. Christ-follower is a term our pastor uses a lot, and I identified with that. But until I read more about Jesus, and his “unpredictable, inescapable” impact, I may have thought I was in 100%, but it had only been intellectual.

Now I’m in with my heart.

Before He was just God – I know, the “just” is kind of hilarious, but hear me out. He was just out there, above us, this huge deal. Just meaning He’s hard to touch, to reach, even inside the personal relationship. He has His place and, though ever-reaching and all-powerful, in my mind He was just . . . wherever it is He is. He was/is set apart (holy). Just implies, perhaps, that I don’t feel Him close to me.

The point is, now He has a face, a reality to me as a person on this earth, in a different way, in a way I can really see and understand.

This was the whole point and I’d been missing it all along: Jesus gave God a face, that we could see, relate to, and grasp. He is something we can grasp and understand in our way, because God is not something we can grasp or understand. He’s too big for that. But He gave us Jesus, put Him here, made Himself small, so we could see it. See Him.

This book was my window into that understanding. Because reading a book that puts His life in context the way this one does, made him more human to me. In the Bible, it’s hard not to see Jesus as God – it’s hard for any of those people in the Bible to not end up bigger than life, even though they were, at one point, small as life. Anyway, for whatever reason, this book allows me to picture Him on earth, as a human, and what He’d be like today, if He showed up. It helps me relate, and it has me falling.

If you think I need to put my kool-aid cup down and join you back in reality, then you need to read this book. Read it, and if you still think I need to get off the juice, then fine. But first read this book, believer or not. Jesus is a historical figure that changed SO. MANY. things for us. So many. You have no idea. Unless you’ve read this book.

Is there a book you feel this way about? That changed everything or clicked it all into place?

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Sometimes I think people are a little too worried about what they’re getting out of their marriage. Are they fulfilled? Is their spouse meeting their needs? Etcetera. I think some of this is important, being assertive enough to share your feelings, needs, and desires, but I also think it can be the start of a long and messy path to discontent.

Marriage isn’t about what we want, when we want it. Unfortunately, nothing much besides infant-and-toddler-hood is really about what we want, when we want it. If we aren’t happy or getting what we need, it’s not always because our spouse or significant other isn’t fulfilling their part. One person cannot be everything, and though there are probably cases of this, it most often doesn’t work out that way. You need friends, and experiences, and other things in life besides that one person.

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What I think happens <sometimes> is that people get bored with their life, or unhappy with themselves, and what they’ve done or are doing with their life, and then they decide it’s because they married the wrong person. Or, you think you lost yourself to this other person, when really you lost it to your children.

No offense, children. It’s just what you do sometimes, if a parent’s not careful. We love you anyway.

But back to the marriage thing—> You don’t think about each other for long enough that eventually you aren’t getting along very well, maybe you’re even being outright jerks to each other, and then you assume you’re a bad match. But you will always be a bad match if you’re only thinking of yourself and what that one person is doing for you. Everyone will be a bad match, and history will likely repeat itself.

I’m not at all saying marriage should be easy, or that there aren’t some low times in the best of them. As with everything in life, this is how it goes. What I am saying is that you have to look at your life as a whole, and see where other people or things – passions, hobbies, activities – can help you fill it. It’s up to you to be who you want to be, not up to your spouse to help you get there.

We are puzzles, with different pieces that don’t always make sense together, which means it’s unlikely that one person or passion will be able to fill all of our hungry places. It just doesn’t make sense to not branch out and reach for more baskets.

Besides, it’s easier to love when you’re content, and easier to love someone who is content.

**As I wrote this, I kept thinking of posts I’d read over at In Your Corner, particularly, Would You Marry You? And since she’s the professional, you may want to check her out.

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Why would God let this happen?

He wouldn’t have, if we hadn’t wanted the apple so badly. But when we collectively chose the fruit (and let’s be honest, we all would have—it was wisdom! awareness! ripe for the picking!) and walked out of the Garden of Eden, He gave us over to our humanity.

Anyway, I think there are two possible answers to this question, both of which are plausible to me, so here you go:

1. We live in a broken world, where evil persists, and God ultimately finds a way to use our (collective) wickedness and the other general crap in this world for a purpose – He finds a way to twist it into something better.

Joseph is the prime example here. His brothers, fueled by irrational jealousy (or maybe rational, since Jacob wasn’t so quiet in his favoritism), were going to murder him. One relatively sane brother, said, “Nah, let’s just sell him to slavery.” So, golden boy gets sold to slavery, then gets thrown in jail because his owner’s wife wants to sleep with him (he refuses her and she’s so ticked that she lies to her husband and says he came on to her). Then he’s stuck in jail until the king finds him, desperate for someone to interpret his dreams. Joseph does the interpreting, the king believes him, and golden boy ends up saving Egypt from a 7 year famine.

God sees big picture. We see a tiny dot in the corner. It is beyond our comprehension and we have to trust that He will find a way to bring something out of the misery (not that everything happens for a reason, and not that he planned the evil, but that He’ll find a way to work with the evil already pervasive in this world and twist it to good, eventually). We see now, but He sees where it’s all going and what He can do with it.

2. As parents, we need to teach our children many things, for their own good. Is this what’s happening with us and God? Is He letting us learn from our mistakes—letting us find our way out on our own—in order to improve our character? Is He letting us fall, so that later, when the things that trip us get bigger, we won’t make bigger mistakes?

Or, to take this even one step further, would He actually ever have a hand in “breaking” us? The bible says God does not throw evil in our path, He does not motivate our struggles, He is never the reason behind tragedy, but let’s go with this for a second. Jacob, for example, particularly Genesis 32:22-32 (Basically Jacob wrestles all night, with a man who he believes is God and who then vanishes into thin air, after giving Jacob a limp for life). It doesn’t sound like much, and I never looked twice at it until I was forced to. Because what does it mean, anyway? Well, this is what my bible has to say about it:

“A good shepherd will relentlessly search for a wayward sheep. Sometimes, if the sheep refuses to follow his master, the shepherd takes drastic action. He breaks the sheep’s leg, places it on his shoulders and carries the sheep until it learns total dependence. At this solitary place, God wanted to make Jacob into a different person, so he took drastic action. He initiated a wrestling match that lasted from dusk till dawn. Jacob’s willfulness would not allow him to give up. So the man “broke” Jacob, touching his hip so he would walk with a limp the rest of his life.”

My meager interpretation is this: God knows that sometimes, after being broken and repaired, we are better. Maybe He lets our hearts break to make room for Himself there, or our will so we can discover His will for us. Or maybe He just knows we need something we can’t find unless we are changed. Also, if we are so willful that we refuse Him (like Jacob), He will keep looking for a way to reach us, because we are that important to Him.

Regardless of how you look at it, time is not laid out for us to see the final act. We may never know. This is why (I think) we have to trust and keep moving forward, rather than letting anything get the better of us. Also, even though God loves us, we cannot escape the consequences of our actions or the broken world we live in. What we can do is be humble, vulnerable, and open to Him, so He can work.

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It hit me one day that the Garden of Eden could be a metaphor for our souls. God created, organized, and beautified it, then handed it over to us to care for. Yet we chose the fruit, the things within our reach, the outward. Thus we are now overcome, struggling with the weeds.

(I also think Noah’s rainbow is a metaphor for grace – multifaceted, unending, beyond our comprehension, and coming after a storm has washed things clean. <Grace being the rainbow, coming after the storm of Jesus on a cross, which has washed us clean>.)

In our life and in our soul, there will be fruit and flowers and weeds, times of drought and times of plenty, toil and even renewal, just as there is in a garden. It is cyclical. Life is cyclical. We are cyclical. In it all, God is balm to the chaos. Or He can be, if you let Him.

I’m also hit by the seventh day, which was meant for resting – pausing, reassessing, recharging, and wiping the slate clean. Did you know the Jews had instructions to do this not just on a small scale every seven days, but also on a large scale every seven years? Debts were forgiven, slaves were freed, all was to be reset, every seven years. This is beautiful, I think. Mind-blowing. We need this – it’s good for us – we need to pause, reassess, and reset.

 

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Know what Jesus said a lot?

Your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be free of your struggle.

Yah, I know, that sounds like Him. And sure, I’d heard it a million times and pretty much knew all the pieces already, but for some reason the chips fell into the machine in all the right places the other day. This was His message, in a nutshell. And really, he was saying it all the time. He was saying it all the time.

1. It is on our faith, and our faith alone, that we are healed.

Not on what we do. Not on our good acts. Not on how little we sin. This is because of grace, which is like mercy—a clemency, a pardon. And faith is belief that is not based on proof. It’s a leap, I’ll give you that. But if it weren’t, it wouldn’t be faith. (If you don’t want it to be such a blind leap though, check out The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel).

2.We are to go in peace. This is a directive.

Not go in hatred. Not go in bitterness. Not go in judgment. Instead, go in peace.

Our faith has healed us, now what? Now we spread the word, now we serve others, now we what? Sure, that’s good too. But right here it says to go in peace.

Go in peace, even when you run into someone you don’t particularly like, someone who doesn’t agree with you, or someone who is downright not peaceful toward you, and hopefully all that peace will spill over into your healed soul.

A healed, peaceful soul? Sounds kind of fantastic.

3. He is giving us permission to be free of our struggle.

What’s left? Giving ourselves permission to be free of it.

Yah, sneaky, that one, right? I believe God wishes for us that we don’t struggle. Yes, the world is broken and no, our lives will never be perfect, but I believe He wants us to lean on Him, to let go of the things that bind us, because often we cling tight to them, use them as a crutch, even while we’re hating on them. Why? Maybe because in their familiarity we find some distorted sense of comfort. You have been wounded, you have been hurt, but He wants you to let go and let Him, let Him heal you, let Him make it not matter.

 

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