Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Balaam moments.

Of the times God reminds me of his character he's occasionally more specific, for example to remind me that he's my Father. And he does this with the most loving sense of humor. The uncontrivedness of those organic moments in which he speaks most clearly and unexpectedly--you know the times when God's Spirit wants to mess with ya a bit--only make them seem all the more divine. Like Balaam's talkin ass.

On Aug 8, 2007 I learned childlike faith from a child. Not to liken Katie to a donkey but catchin up with Ed I was reminded of this recorded appointment that I had with an 8-year-old and with God. I was nannying/tutoring her and her sister that summer, and her assignment/project for that afternoon was to let me drill her about what she learned at our church summer camp the weekend before. My tears confused her during our mock interview and she asked why I was crying. Between heaves I wanted to explain because Katie I love you and you're breaking my hearts in ways that big words can't... And you're telling me things I don't want to hear. Why? Oh wait, because I asked you. Duh...

Level 1 Katie is in the purple life jacket.

It had to have been the Holy Spirit speaking.
If you knew her at all you'd know.
If you'd been there at all, you would have seen her fidgeting over her elementary-school attention span, you would have seen my jaw drop and my efforts to hold back or hastily disguise the tears.
She would get up and start pacing, come back and flop on the couch, lay her head on my knee and tell me that GOD LOVES ME EVERYDAY.

E: Are you sure God doesn't think I'm silly for being so scared?
K: No! He LOVES you. Why would he think you're silly if he loved you a lot? very much a lot?? ... He loves you only at a point so much that it's like more than six hundred thousand miles! Well it's not a number! But... more than that! (The faucet leaks.) What are you crying about?

E: I'm scared of how and when and if I'm gonna get there. I'm scared of God.
K: Oh... well just remember. That God is always with you. Esther?

E: Do you think God would listen to us right now?
K: Yes. I'm guessing He feels really sorry for you.

(O_o and =X)

K: Sometimes, you're just kind of a little bit mean. But, then, you are like our sister. And when you take us out to eat, I like it!
E: Do you think God is like that?
K: No, He won't be mean. He will love you everyday (all-out weeping at this point) That's a good thing, why are you crying again? He will let you rejoice and...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

abrasion, disruption, and discontinuity

Mature personhood does not come by pilgrimages of continuity,
but by abrasion, disruption, and discontinuity
which shatter our grasp of things and make us, at key points,
not the initiators but the recipients
of gifts and surprises
that we often do not want to receive...

// Hope Within History -- Walter Brueggemann

Sunday, July 25, 2010

21. An invitation from your Kinsman.

And as for your birth, on the day you were born...
No eye pitied you out of compassion for you,
but you were cast out on the open field,
for you were abhorred,
on the day that you were born.
An invitation to be born, and so to live,
to feast on fine flour and honey and oil,
to dine at the table with your King.

And when I passed by you and saw you wallowing in your blood,
I said to you in your blood, 'Live!'
I said to you in your blood, 'Live!'
I made you flourish like a plant of the field.
Dress code: birthday suit.

And you grew up and became tall and arrived at full adornment...
yet you were naked and bare.

When I passed by you again and saw you,
behold, you were at the age for love,
 and I spread the corner of my garment over you
and covered your nakedness;
I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you,
declares the Lord GOD,

and you became mine.
Répondez s'il vous plaît while ye may. =)

Remember the days of your youth,
when you were naked and bare,
wallowing in your blood.
I'm 21 today.

Marianne & Hinda outside Fat Cat.

For all the year and all of "adulthood" ahead I pray,

Spread Your garment over me.
Be my Redeemer.

When just a corner of His robe will do,
He bestows splendor in abundance!
Then I bathed you with water
and washed off your blood from you
and anointed you with oil.
I clothed you also with embroidered cloth
and shod you with fine leather.
I wrapped you in fine linen
and covered you with silk.
And I adorned you with ornaments
and put bracelets on your wrists
and a chain on your neck.
And I put a ring on your nose
and earrings in your ears
and a beautiful crown on your head.

How could You be so good?

Thus you were adorned with gold and silver,
and your clothing was of fine linen and silk and embroidered cloth.
 You grew exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty.
And your renown went forth among the nations because of your beauty,
for it was perfect through the splendor that I had bestowed on you,
declares the Lord GOD.

For thus says the Lord GOD:
yet I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth,
and I will establish for you an everlasting covenant.
I will establish my covenant with you,
and you shall know that I am the LORD,
that you may remember and be confounded,
and never open your mouth again because of your shame,
when I atone for you for all that you have done,
declares the Lord GOD.
YES!!!!! // Ezekiel 16

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Just like last Saturday

Last night and this morning were difficult. To think that summer camp was only a week ago, and yet the blessings and truths ascertained there were already fleeting fast... Added to my growing feeling of disjointness between IL and NY, but more immediately just... how frustrating it's been this summer to feel really disconnected in general because of the very intense and isolating experience that the Greek Institute has been.

It often feels like two separate lives. It can get easy to forget about my family or LWEC while I'm away. On the other extreme I can be so enmeshed and so wishing I were in the other place that it prevents me from being fully present where I'm at.
A sign on our co-ed summer camp dorm floors.
Whose great idea was that?
I visited Times Square Church with Cat now-here-from-back-there today, and was sharing some of these things with her...

The pastor spoke on John 12:23-28...
And in response we sang "In Christ Alone."

I felt reassured as though re-receiving that same gift. In simple ways, God reminds me that His work in me is continuous, that his word to me is unbroken and uninterrupted, and that He is ONE God. So I must worship Him with my one life.

I liked something else the pastor said today that's ringing true as I think back on when and where I've most clearly encountered God: "If you want to experience the resources/power of God, move toward human need" (since God's in that business of saving and healing and all that).

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

God really really really desires freedom for me!

LWEC Summer Retreat 2010: Surrender.

St. Mary's College, Notre Dame, IN.

Sunday night in small group I asked my girls what they'd share if limited to only one sentence, or say, 140 characters, about what God had been speaking to them throughout the weekend. It was cool that as a church we'd all been hearing the same messages via Dave Kang and yet it was clear that God was specifically speaking in unique ways to each person as well... Here are tweets from my small group and Monday breakfast/lunch tables.

Jessica C - God's love knows no boundaries.
Christina Y - When you surrender to God, you find peace.
Michelle X - God accepts us in our brokenness.
Yifu Z - It's okay to break down in front of God.
Pearl H - It's time to give God all of me, not just parts.
Christina H - Peace found in Jesus Christ beats any feeling, person, or thing.
Jane X - It's not all about me.
Steph L - God delights in me.
Jon P - Unconditional surrender to Christ not only leads us back to the heart of worship, but also gives God supreme glory.
Calvin C - Time to grow up.
Andy C - God continues to be faithful to LWEC.
Jimmy K - Whether I deem myself useful or not, if God is using me, I will serve wholeheartedly and fearlessly.
George H - How can I please God if I don't know what his heart wants?
Michael H - I need to surrender my fear of failure.

Comment with your own :)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

In a world already dark to me, I closed my eyes and would not see.

I scorn, scoff at, spit on You. Mt 26.67
Utterly unfaithful then I added anger to my sin...
And still Your death... it saves me every day.
(Syntax is p resent tense for progressive/repeated aspect as HH DG and BP would say)
"S'all good, praying sure does beat sleep. Im glad that you came back this weekend, and not just because we could see you or whatnot... But seems like He was really speaking to and through you. Ill miss you, but I know you are in the best of hands. We are prone to being rebellious, but its the turning back to Him thats the key. He is forever faithful. Take care, friend" 2:55pm text from bro made me cry in Greek class. He gets it. Prayer works. Lord, you win the hearts of men.

I'm slightly ashamed and embarrassed still that he had to witness my rebellion and refusal to talk to You. But LORD I thank you that it is not my example or faithfulness that convey any power, but yours. I thank you that he follows not me but you. Let him... let all of them... see not that I am/appear faithful, but that You remain utterly faithful in my rebellion.

I need You, God!

Thank You, for equally yoked friends. I don't know when that happened with Franklin but what I do know is that You alone did it. Thank You for not leaving me alone in my anger and doubt and for my friend's boldness in administering Your grace to me... especially for how simply albeit... nervously?... he opened the dialogue with you. I wonder if he was scared to... or how he saw/sees me, I guess I can be hard on him at times... wonder if he picked up on it that other night at camp.

I guess... like... how can I be praying for you?
And I sighed and shrank into the drivers' seat of James' car which we'd hijacked and I wanted to yell or fight or cry... but met Your mercy there, in sticky hands and melted cones, 2 to 4AM in the McD's parking lot. I gripped the steering wheel, 10 and 2 and pushed against it as if to push your invitation and his away... And felt the weight of my rebellion. Again.

How could I have denied you again, so soon after retreat. But You always bring these to these moments of horrific awareness at my stark denial of you, Jesus--leaving Michelle's party saying fia and getting trashed... sweet repentance with Konny... news of Mrs. Shiou the next morning and sobbing through my OT Narrative midterm--how could you make me contemplate your character in that pain? how could you? i wanted to deny your love. so lost in my lostness i crossed west side highway without even looking... GAh. God... drowning in Your mercy then and in your jealous love all that next week in south bx. And even this weekend chucking my journal across the room at what You were asking me to do, at how You wanted to make me more like You... how You showed me how I was like him. like him, the one who doesn't even realize he needs my forgiveness, who if he knew i'd given it might even sneer at it and reject it?! the one who continues to live as though never having tasted or understood your grace. how could You make that comparison? and yet how am i not he... battles between grace and pride, mang. but you show a mercy that i don't understand... Then last night dying and despairing again by mom and dad...

And so I struggled there in the car against you and myself, betrayed your worth to my brother... Lord thank you for speaking through him to me... foremost of sinners.

I shrank at Your touch every time he called upon You, "Father God." But You are not like any earthly dad... Why even now is it so hard to call on You this way, Abba. Heal my heart, Jesus.

Always turn my heart back to you, Lord.
Make it in grace to stay.

Why do I resist You, Lord??? I who have glimpsed Your glory, tasted Your goodness ... am so quick to forget and rebel.  I completely invert what James 4.7 says to submit yourself therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Merciful God, though I resist You, you have not fled from me. Though I flee from You, where can I go from Your presence????? Thank You for never letting go of me... Thank You thankyouthankyouu. For bringing me to these places where I realize it was I who crucified the Son of God and yet it is I who am shown mercy... I kill You, and rather than let me have the final word, You resurrect in my heart and You let me worship You freely, remembering that it was for me that You died... You let me deny You and You pour out forgiveness...

Lord You are good to remind me of the truth through these moments of denial and rebellion. I am that sinner You died for. I am the one yelling crucify. Mocking, scoffing, abandoning you. So loud that I don't hear You gasping my pardon. You are good to turn my heart back to you. But please, Father, grant me a steady and submissive heart that doesn't just... flare up and forsake You. Not first that I might be/seem faithful, but because You are, and You deserve love and devotion. You're so. Freaking. Faithful.
on a different note its like a bajillion degrees out. and i had set down to write a reflection on camp, but hey this is it, isn't it, God? you say something, like at camp, and then you do it. you pour out your mercy and forgiveness and grace. you're such a patient teacher to send a word, then give a test. if i have failed, You teach me gently. You're SO good.

this is so long and rambly but God i really don't want to forget Your grace or deny You again anytime soon.

I stood in Peter's shoes today. i have never so closely identified with him and the rooster and your reconfirmation of him. you knew he would deny you, just like you must have written all these events like last night into your story... and you let him stray and brought him back, that he would know your grace so deeply that he would never shut up about it the rest of his life. how many times did i deny you in one night before the sun rose? you warned him Lk 22.31, that Satan would tempt him to despair, would sift him like wheat. and you prayed for him, that his faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.

I am Peter. I am without answer when you ask three times "Do you love me?" for the three times I deny you, hearing your call to feed your sheep. I will, Lord.
I'm astounded at how well you keep me, you pray for me that my faith may not fail, you teach me.
Is that what my life will come down to? Always turning back to you, and strengthening my brothers.
May it always be. in your worthy name.