Indelible Security

With glorious light in my face

I look over to

Love that delights in

All that I am without hiding.

He walks with me in plain sight,

Illuminating my frame.

This joy. It’s so much a part of my soul.

My body, spirit and soul.

Valuable beyond my control.

Worth set in stone.

Loved before I was known.

Joy is my story.

The certainty

of indelible security.

Unforgettable

Irremovable

True.

My Savior’s love defines me.

His righteousness assigned to me.

Now there is freedom to rest and do

With nothing left to prove

Or earn,

Only His love to return.

Four! pt3

Passion: Envy / Fixation: Melancholy

Part 3 of a series of posts I am doing on my Enneagram type. Read the intro here.

That really threw me off. When I started reading type descriptions, I resonated with so much of the Four, but… Envy? I don’t consider myself to bean envious person. So to understand this passion, I had to take a step back.

Before I continue, let’s define passion and fixation briefly. The “passion” is often described as the deadly sin of the type, and the fixation is the method by which one justifies or feeds the passion. Some will contest to that terminology, but that is the general understanding. Either way, it’s cyclical. For example, envy feeds melancholy which in turn produces more envy. 

I don’t envy what people have materially so much as their confidence and ease of social interaction. Their will-power and appearance of comfort within their own skin. But even more than all that, most of my experience of “envy” is intangible. It is better encapsulated by the word “longing.” And when I focus so much on what I don’t have, that’s where the tendency towards melancholy comes in (gloomy or depressive state of mind). 

What do you do with that? Generally, I try to remember that I am not alone in my feeling of lack. A good friend of mine once told me after witnessing my desperation, “You don’t need more of Jesus than anyone else.” And that was supremely comforting. Whether my need is more or less visible, it is in the same measure that all humanity needs Jesus. 

On that note, here is a song 🙂 – All We Need is Need – Jimmy Needham. 

So instead of fighting this need, I can see it as an invitation to go deeper.

To quote The Classic Crime, “My heart’s a hole that needs to constantly be filled with love.” And that can feel debilitating, because we know that people can’t provide that constant flow of love. We are limited, finite creatures who cannot fill an infinite need. 

We were made to be filled with infinite love from an infinite Savior. This overwhelming longing and need are not signs that there is something wrong. Rather, it is supposed to be this way. God has blessed me repeatedly with the weight of my need so I turn to Him to satisfy me continually.

“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”

C.S. Lewis – Mere Christianity

And when I see that my human companions don’t satisfy my longing for love, I can thank God. My friends are wonderful people, but they make very poor gods. And placing them on that pedestal, asking them to fill me, will only destroy us both. They would either become crushed by the demand, or their egos would become inflated with self-importance. And I would be as desperate as ever, prone to despair; still unsatisfied, scrambling for love and acceptance when it’s already mine if I would only look into the hands of my Savior. 

Let’s go back to the passion, which I will call longing rather than envy. I can keep it from flowing into melancholy if I find it’s fulfillment/purpose in Jesus. 

I can take the weight off my friends and family, and let the Only One who can carry it do that for me. I can free those relationships to be places of peace and mutual care. And I can take the weight off of me. I don’t have to feel ashamed because of my need. I have a Savior who took that shame for me, and He doesn’t hold back His love for me when I ask. 

The Art of Asking

I resisted the impulse to turn on the car radio. I sat in the car going to work, and I submitted to this beckoning to silence and listening.

My devotion time prior to this was very unfocused. Really, peace eludes me often when I am praying for myself. Then, when I listen to the ache in my spirit for specific people and I press into to prayer for them, my own burden lifts. And it did some this morning.
Still, I wanted to hear what God had to say to me concerning my life circumstances; what I should/shouldn’t do; how I ought to think about all the above. Sometimes, praying for myself (filling space with words) doesn’t help me hear.
 
QUIET YOUR HEART & ASK
I tend to want God to give answers to questions I didn’t ask. In my hurried mind, I don’t have time to ask the question. Give me the answer first, like some sort of Divine Jeopardy game. Now, I know it can work like this sometimes (He gives an answer to a question before we ask). When I haven’t known what to ask (or my questions don’t get to the heart of the issue), God has opened my eyes to truths I didn’t know I needed.
But when, if I took the time to quiet my heart, I would know what to ask, and I don’t, I hinder my own ability to receive. The folly in my impatience is that I refrain from quieting my heart before God to present my concerns in humility, and stubbornly expect to receive with clenched fists.
LISTEN 
Technically, it is still praying, but it’s not speaking so much that helps. Surely, He could speak above the noise of my own excessive pleas and grab my attention, but He knows what I need. I don’t need Him to be louder. I need to be quieter. I need to quiet my mind, intentionally; ask the question and listen for the answer. It seems obvious that in order to hear, I need to listen. But I neglect that essential element, as obvious as it may be.
NO, REALLY, LISTEN
Ask the question. Be silent. Listen for the answer. Sometimes the Holy Spirit speaks plainly, and I make it more confusing than it ought to be. I hear an answer I don’t like, and say, “I don’t think I heard You right.” I ask others to pray, I beg God for wisdom, and I refuse to listen. I have refused to listen.
Sitting in the car this morning, I asked a question, and in His kindness, He gave me an answer I didn’t like. He loves me too much to spare me the momentary pain of “No.”
His “No” is like a big hug to me. It stirs up a lament that only He can soothe, and He loves to care for me in this way. He is kind enough to speak exactly what I need to hear without fear of my response. His love is strong enough to lean on. I can put all my weight on His all-knowing goodness.
I can believe and trust Him completely. Even when it hurts. This resting & trusting  in Him began today with a silent car, a quiet heart & asking.

How I Look At You

You love when I’m hurting
How I look at You
When my soul is yearning
How I look at You
And I am delighted by Your Presence
Fulfilled in Your Presence
Even when the pain is still present
I will look at You
And when I do
Your smile down on me
Your heart bursts to hear me sing
The fullness of my every feeling
And You delight in and You love me
And I delight in and I love You
My King
I am amazed by You
My gaze is for You
And You dance around me
A whirlwind around me
Together in the Throne Room
My Bride Groom, My King

Tree of Life

landscape photography of tree and sea
Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Pexels.com

In the Garden, there were many trees, but two were mentioned specifically. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and the Tree of Life. Because Adam and Eve ate of the former, they could not eat of the latter and life forever. (Genesis 2&3)

That is the tree of life, only referenced again in Revelation. And it’s amazing. From Genesis, we learn that this tree grants those that eat of it to live forever, but Revelation tells us more. It is the paradise of God (Rev 2:7).

And then this next part is too marvelous for me to paraphrase.

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” (Rev 22:1-2)

Did you catch that? The “river of the water of life, bright as crystal flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb” feeds this tree that bears TWELVE kinds of fruit. And its leaves were for the healing of the nations. I told you I couldn’t paraphrase it. I basically just quoted it again. How good is our God?! He gives fruit for each month and leaves for healing. This tree is never not producing goodness and health for all who are granted to eat of it.

light nature sky water
Photo by Mabel Amber on Pexels.com

Did you catch the description of the river? Flowing with the water of life, bright as crystal coming from the throne of God! I love rivers. Who could hear of this not be amazed? But it feels like a special kiss from Heaven, because He knows how I love rivers, so He delights my heart with particularly joyful expectation.

And can you imagine a different fruit each month of the year from the same tree? And healing leaves! Sweet Jesus, is there going to be tea in Heaven?! Can I have tea made from the leaves of the tree of life? Okay, forgive me. I got a little excited. Tea makes me happy. 🙂 Now I am imaging a cup of healing tea under the tree of life by the bright crystal river flowing from the throne…

food healthy nature water
Photo by Ryan Baker on Pexels.com

And I am sure now beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is something else I am missing. The glory of God in Heaven on His throne will certainly be more awe-inspiring than any created thing – even this delightful river and tree. Will I ever tire of bowing before His throne? Or want to take my gaze away from my King long enough to look at any other living thing? I will be surrounded by so much beauty, but He alone will forever be the most beautiful thing.

Goodness! I was planning on writing about lesser “trees”, but God knows this is the meditation I need.

If you want to look up what I was going to write about, here are the passages: Proverbs 3:18; Proverbs 11:30; Proverbs 13:12; Proverbs 15:4.

Hope

Sure of what you hope for
Certain of what you do not see.
I’ve tried to muster up faith for
years without hoping.

Without risking
disappointment.
Reaching, whisp’ring
Healing ointment.

And hope for what?
What could hold the weight?
Longings glut
and eternally satiate?

In Christ alone
my pain abates.
My desire, my shalom,
Joy anticipates.

Timely Reminder

When I got home last night, I knew I couldn’t go straight to bed. My mind was running, going nowhere but going in a frenzy. “Well, if I cannot make another’s heart my home, might as well make this room more like a home,” I said out loud to no one, as awfully melodramatic as it sounds. But I proceeded to turn on a couple lamps and sit in my arm chair with my journal.

It was a dark place. And I gave my thoughts room to roam. This is how I journal. I write down my feelings and ask for God to lead my thoughts. Though I didn’t get full relief, I did settle on knowing that God made me for Himself.

I slept restlessly and fought the morning until I had no choice but to get up. But then I got outside. It was cloudy, with a slight breeze. The greens seemed greener, and I wanted nothing more than to roll down the windows and drive with nothing on my mind. Just me and the wind, traffic roaring and birds singing.

Though I longed to keep driving, responsibility stopped my wheels. I sat down at my desk inside. When I opened my e-mail, cup of tea in hand, I found the link to this article – Will I Be Single Forever?

And the words hit home.

The reason we grow discontent in our singleness (or our job, or marriage, or car, or children, or anything else) is because that person or thing (whatever it is) looks so big and eternity looks so small. If you hold a coin close enough to your face, it will obscure an entire city skyline.

That’s what I was doing. And it happened so seamlessly. I lost focus on eternity with as much ease as a toddler losing focus on his green beans.

When our present circumstances look bigger than eternity, we have lost perspective. When we lose perspective, we tend to load too much of our contentment onto something never designed to bear the weight. We look to a spouse, a friend, a vacation, or an accomplishment to give us the happiness they never can.

I’ve known this. I could have written this article. How quickly I forget! Even in my despair, I knew I could not rest my hopes on a man. I literally said those words last night, but my heart wasn’t hearing it.

The more restless we are for the new creation — the more our thoughts and emotions are captivated by it — the less we’ll be shaken by disappointment in this life and the more we’ll see every present blessing not as a final destination but as a signpost pointing toward eternity. The more restless we become, the more contented we are.

God is so faithful to remind me of truth I am so prone to forget. This world and all it’s pain does not get the final word. And every blessing is only a taste of an unshakable reality to come.

Eden was lovely fragility. The new creation will be gorgeous stability. Eden was like an exquisite china bowl — beautiful but breakable. The new creation will be like the Alps — breathtaking and immovable.

Like Those Who Built Cathedrals

We went around answering the question, “How would you like to be remembered after you die?” As someone who loved well, someone who risked all, someone who lived unafraid… And my answer surprised them.

I want to live a fearless life filled with love and risk-taking, yes. But I do not long for the memory of me to be glorified or praised. In my death, I do not desire to have your view of me elevated.

I love the story of the people who built those massive gorgeous cathedrals. The ones who never saw the completion of their work in their lifetime, who never received accolades or their names in history books. I want to devote my life to something bigger than me; that I care about more than my reputation.

Unless I am mistakenly assumed to be dead, I won’t be reading my eulogy. And the praise of man won’t mean a thing to me while I am kneeling before the throne of God in Heaven, basking in His beauty.

At my funeral, people can say whatever they want, wear what color they want, and grieve however best serves them. My eulogy can be as simple or complex as the person writing it wants it to be. In the end, what matters is not what people remember about me, but that God gets the glory in my life and death.

The world may never mention my name again, but if people are changed by the love of God through me, that is enough. I need no credit. All I have done or will do that is good, is not of my strength but His.

I want to lay some bricks in the cathedral of His glory, where people may walk in and be in awe, but not in awe of me.

I remember a small part in The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis in which he describes a woman given honor, unbearable beauty, and a grand procession in Heaven…

“Is it? … is it?” I whispered to my guide.
“Not at all,” said he. “It’s someone ye’ll never have heard of…

“She seems to be … well, a person of particular importance?”
“Aye. She is one of the great ones. Ye have heard that fame in this country and fame on Earth are two quite different things.”

I want to be like this woman. You might think I am contradicting myself now. Do I want the glory or not? Yes and No. Yes, eternally, in Heaven with Jesus. Not here.

Phil 3:12-14

12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Other related links to check out:

As a footnote, I just found out the this quote “Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History” wasn’t intended to be used as it is these days. Read more from DesiringGod.org

Also, this poem by C.T. Studd with the ever-applicable lines “Only one life, twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.” Read the rest of the poem here.

 

Live New

Stop hating yourself before
You accept what you hated you for.
You’re tired of fighting, I’m sure,
but step away from the anchor
you want to drop in these
poisonous, restless seas.

It’s the waves you must fight,
while you rest in the Light.
Speak peace to the wind
And sail on from your sin.

Because it’s not who you are,
though it rises from within.
You’ve been given a new heart.
Stop hating your own skin,
as you war against your sin.

You are new. Live new.
Free from condemnation,
Free to deny what is no longer you.
Accept this liberation
and live new.

 

Tell Me Why

Tell me why I should pry
these hands apart and try
to make and maintain
a hidden peaceful terrain
that no one else sees,
if it only blesses me.

My child, let Me explain.
Your home is my home.
The places you roam
are under my reign.

I plant flowers undiscovered
in fields under covers of snow.
Where only I know, they grow.
I make stars and galaxies
far from the sight of technology.
And I swing planets on a string
beyond your wildest dreams.
I form wonders on the floor
of oceans yet unexplored.
I set the path for birds to fly
where no heart can know to sigh
or lament its fall from the sky.
My thoughts and my creative care
reaches there.

What do you believe about Me?
I do not neglect the lonely.
It blesses me to bless you with peace,
And someday you will share
what has been hidden with care.