Saturday, October 29, 2005

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majestic thou in ruin by draven-clark

Here I am

There is a spirit of deservedness that has crept into our culture. It has found its way in through our desperate struggle to gains rights that have been denied, have been trampled on. Through those people who finally decided to stand for themselves because too few would stand for them. It snuck in as a negetive side effect of deep issues being corrected. It has come through the wealth that our culture has become accustomed to. Not just monetary wealth, the wealth that allows us to be a culture of consumers, but also a wealth of freedom; to do, to be whatever our heart calls us to. Rights have moved past being treated fairly, and freedom has moved past priviledge, they have moved into what each of us deserve.

I have in the past heard the message, to myself as well as to others, when something hasn't worked out, that there will be something better, that something better is deserved. And while that message might have been appropriate in its context, it always makes me wonder if this is a false hope, maybe a misplaced focus. What if I, you, any one of us, hears this message, continually dreams of that something better that we deserve, but is not meant to experience the things that our culture tells us we should desire.

What if, and I know I'm not the only one who has thought about this, my life is meant to be something like the prophet Hosea who God instructed to marry an adultrous wife in order to illustrate, to demonstrate a message to others. What if I am to be denied the good things this society tells me that I deserve, just so God can speak to humanity a message? I'm not saying my life has been a tragedy, although many interesting situations have crossed my path; I have enjoyed the wealth of this culture, and yet have experienced shadows of the heartaches that no one can escape wealthy or not.

Why is it that this mindset has so grasped the lives of North America? Why do we continue to believe that we deserve all the good things our culture hopes for? Maybe if we realized that we don't deserve them we'd appreciate them more and handle it better we become disappointed.

Are we willing to accept that some of us may never acheive what we are taught to consider the"good life" without bitterness or believing that we have been jilted out of something that belonged to us?

In most of those interesting situations that I have passed through I have been able to take consolation in knowing that I might not like the outcome but I followed God in what I believed to be His plan or stood for what I believed to be godly principles. There have been other cases where I just needed to recognize that I've been foolish, not following God, and accept the discipline or circumstances that befell me. But recently I came to a situation where I prayed and I believed that God was leading me into. It's turned rather messy, and it hurt. And it catapulted my heart into a place where my heart was in a state of tumultuousness. While in that state I continued to try to stand strong and follow in what I thought God was asking me to do. Something that I wasn't meant to follow through with and from there I began to question how I hear God's voice. Questioned many of the things that I believed God led me into, including the situation that led into all of this.

It is plain and simple that we will never completely comprehend why God asks us to do some of the things that He does, and often we need to own that we could be wrong in what we interpret to be His plan. But it did occur to me, and this could just be optimistic thinking, that if I hadn't followed in what I then believed God wanted me to do I would not have been in a position for certain other things to happen. It wouldn't be the first time God has asked someone to do something He didn't intend them to follow through with. If I have infact been hearing God's voice correctly the implications are, at least to me, huge. If that is the case that means God has brought me to places that are harder, scarier and more precarious than my foolish could ever manage to stumble into, and may very well continue to lead me to places that are as such. On one hand it seems obvious that this would be so, we like to keep ourselves safe. But then again we'd like to think that following God in something that is right and good would be easier to bear and would appear as a wise to everyone.

I don't know that my life will involve a large amount of hardships, I don't know that my life will be filled with what our culture believes that we each deserve; I don't know that I want that. God is a good God, and He has a good plan for humanity that He wants us all to join Him in. And it is my hope that I will be able to rejoice in that plan even if it seems to be filled with tragedies in contrast to the "good life"; rejoice that though it may not be a life full of 'blessings', but it will be a blessed life, a life that blesses others.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

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to see in one's soul by animamira

going back and stepping foward

There is so much to say, I don't know where to start, how to say it all. There is always so many little details to every story that it becomes impossible to find words that explain to others, to express to the world, the weight and the wonder of what it is one walks through. And often it isn't just one story, it's one part of a story that intersects with this story and that story, and it expands into other aspects of life. It effects so many things that we can't pack it all into one simple explanation. In the struggle to try and share with others, particularily here, I've become good at discussing a thought, picking up a theme, without telling all the details or all that has happened to bring that thought or story about. It's the truth that I am an open person, an intimate personality, as has been observed to me over the years. An unfortunate side effect of this is that many come to think that they understand you maybe better than they do.

The past month and half has been interesting for me, I've run a gamut of emotions, had many moments of confusion, just a general feeling of running amuck. Things have begun to clear up; I can't tell you how wonderful it feels to be me, to feel like I'm put back together. But there are some crucial things that have come of this. From that state I began to question my being here, whether or not I followed God here or whether I've chosen some flight of fancy. I began to question how I hear God's voice. As I brought these concerns to God He had already been pressing this concern to look back at the point of when I came here, that He wanted to restore in my heart the innocence that I came here with. That came back to my mind as I was also reminded of what it was the drew me to Briercrest specifically, and how I went about choosing to come here, which was with a great deal of prayer and listening. I have never taken the choices that I believe to be God's leading lightly and never wish to misrespresent His name by calling my own choices His.

I have come to feel disdain, maybe just frustration, with the image of innocence. Often I feel like a child, patronized, underestimated, but reality is that I'm respected and admired far beyond what I deserve. This perception of being a child comes from my own heart and God asks me, instead of seeing it in a negative light of childishness, to treasure in it the state of vulnerability and innocence. In a place that thirsts over respect and power, that fights for its equal rights and demands freedoms, choosing to live in a state of humility, to admit weakness and vulnerability would surely be an anomaly. It begins in the realization that I am not my own island, I belong to God, and I belong to the church. We keep preaching about the body of Christ but I think in our individualistic society we miss the concept of having every detail of our lives being laid bare, being subjected, to a community. Living at a deep level of vulnerability creates a huge risk, a great probability, of becoming completely open to being wounded, judged, or misjudged; but could you imagine the intimacy?
This is only part of the story.

Monday, October 10, 2005

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night butterfly by dream traveler

not myself

For you long term fans of the life of jo, you may recall the analogy I sometimes use of a butterfly when I explain how God has transformed my life. It's not a totally uncommon analogy, I remember as a kid listening to those songs about bullfrogs and butterflies and how they've "both been born again" (as the song used to sing). I was crawling along until about 8 years ago when I became slightly depressed and wrapped myself self in layers of self-pity. After spending most of the school year in that state I began to realize that God was calling me to follow him, and he began to pull away those layers that I thought would protect me. I was indeed as Paul said to the Corinthians, "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone and the new has come!"

This time a year ago I shared with you that I felt like I had come to another one of these cocoon stages. It was not quite like the one I experienced years ago, I knew God was with me, I knew I am His, and it was not about wrapping myself in self-pity. This time I, for one, needed to rest and to heal, but I also became more reclusive; while I still liked people and wouldn't object to them being around, I wasn't exactly keen on spending time with too many people; they could come visit me, I would invite them over, but there were few that I would go out of my way to visit. That cocoon stage has come to an end, I can hear God calling me out of resting and thinking and into action, and I am now remembering how much this stage of God pulling layers off is just not any fun. There are some fears deep in my heart that I've used to wrap around myself this time around and He's been stripping those away from me.

He calls to me again, not that I ever turned away from Him, but there is a whole new adventure that He's asking me to go on with Him. He calls me to follow Him in this, despite the fact it feels like everything around and in me works against what He asks me to do. As He calls me out of my layers there is quite a bit of spiritual battling going on, and I just haven't been myself as I walk through this, despite my attempts to retain composure; He tells me that I'm not meant to be myself right now, because He wants to pull out something that is so much more.

On a wider scope, it seems that there is a common feeling in the body of Christ, that there are many of us going through this stage of God pulling away layers, of transformation. I think that is really cool how God works, that He never makes us go through anything alone. Whether we can share in a common present experience or how he surrounds us with those aren't feeling a common experience so that they can bear with us in love.