Place of My Own

(This post is part of Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday community where we write for five minutes on a weekly word prompt from Kate)

Place

So many implications in such a small word.
It’s a building, a dwelling, position or rank, a specific space, an action.

A place in life is much sought after:

A place to belong,
A place to call home,

maya angelou place

A place to find meaning,
A place in this world that only I can fill.

This place for me in this world, it’s a specific space,
A position that Abba designed for me,
A space he has specifically created for me.

rumi place

This place Abba has dreamed for me,
This place, it makes where I call home just a transient waypoint.
This place is where I belong, it’s where he promises I will find my meaning.

helen keller place

This place, an action to which he is calling me.
This place to which he draws me,
I am the only one created to fill that place in his Masterpiece.

place of true healing

Photo credits: Google Images

Comfort: (FMF Link-Up)

This post is part of Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday Link-Up community:

Image result for comfort in grief

Comfort in the wake of a loss that rocked my world,

Comfort not through words but actions,

Hold my hand in this journey through grief.

Please just sit in silence with me; cry with me.

Words aren’t needed to comfort my weeping heart.

Your presence is comfort to my soul.

Comfort in the soft nuzzle of my horse and the kisses of my dog.

Comfort in the routine of life when grief claims the joy of a new day.

Comfort in the memories of the loved one I lost.

Comfort in the arms of Abba Father:

“I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you.”

Comfort in the midst of my grief.

 

The Day of Waiting

His friends had just witnessed his brutal death.

Their visions of greatness in his earthly kingdom sealed in a tomb of stone.

Three years of faithful discipleship and they’re all alone.

They left the comforts of family and business

And for what?  To get ridiculed in the end?

Against the majority, they believed in his cause.

They all agreed he was the Messiah.

But that was then.

It was easy to declare sworn allegiance to the cause

When he was walking on the water and visiting with celebrities on the mountain.

Now in the emptiness of grief and loss

The life of before beckoned as comfortable and predictable.

Even though it meant eking out a living on smelly fish.

But anything was better than sitting and waiting on stirrings of the heart.

The boats with their tangled nets beckoned.

The call to the safe comfort in the mundane of daily action

Action that would squelch the holy call to follow the heart of the Father.

Monotonous work that he had called them away from,

Called them to a higher cause, filled them with a burning desire.

But that was then.

Here in the now, in the dark of the waiting

The questions quench the fiery zeal of mission.

The doubts drown out the call of their Master.

The hours drag on, the day grows long and still they wait.

They sit in their grief and the pain of hopes dashed.

The sun sets on their tear-stained faces.

The dark sorrow of the night shows no promise of joy in the new day.

This day of waiting, day of abandonment, it visits us all.

And in the in-between space we wait with heavy hearts.

The questions, the doubts, the tears hang low over our souls.

The loneliness of sorrow erases the Presence of our Master.

The day of dark sorrow leaves us feeling betrayed.

We thought we knew the plan of the Kingdom

But suddenly our Master is gone from our presence.

God is silent and we have nowhere to go.

We left another life behind to follow his call

But the call goes silent and the former life beckons.

The life that was predictable and comfortable, it seems like the only recourse.

In the waiting, our hearts yearn for the silence to cease.

In the waiting, our tears course hot down our cheeks.

Tears of confusion, grief, possibly even tears of the anger of abandonment.

In the waiting, the heart is haunted by the doubts.

Doubts of is God really who he says he is?

Doubts of have we really been following the real Messiah?

In the waiting, the questions threaten our hope.

In the waiting, the questions drown out the still small voice.

The voice of our Master.

The voice we thought we knew.

The voice that used to bring us comfort and direction.

In the waiting, our souls despair

And yet the darkness of the night brings the promise of the dawn.

The dawn of a new day.

A day in which we hear his voice once again.

A day in which he reveals himself once again to us.

A day in which he calls us to an even deeper discipleship.

In the waiting, may our souls find peace.

In the waiting, may our hearts grasp onto hope.

And in the waiting, may we sense the Presence of the Master.

 

Wholeness for All

brokenness

“I cry to the Source of all life, to the Eternal One whose Plan is Wholeness for all…Help me to live the Oneness we are eternally with Love Consciousness.”  –from Psalm 57 in Psalms for Praying by Nan C. Merrill.

Wholeness when brokenness is all I feel;

When shards of regret cut to the quick;

When bad choices of the past shatter the good intentions of the present.

Wholeness, when who I thought I am is in pieces all around me.

Broken walls of the soul scattered on the ground

Exposing the brokenness of a life being worked over by God.

How long until the pieces are crafted into a beautiful mosaic?

How long will I sit here holding the fragments left by surrender?

How long until I feel this wholeness promised by the Master Artisan?

How long, O Love Eternal, till the wounds of brokenness become beautiful scars of the warrior?

How does the soul in shards live the Oneness of Love Eternal?

Who around me will display their brokenness being made whole?

Who will offer to hold the pieces of my brokenness?

Where is the community of broken souls being pieced together into one with the Trinity?

In the midst of grieving the broken pieces can I sense Love Consciousness?

Can I welcome the promises of wholeness even though I don’t understand?

Can I welcome the Presence of the Healer even through the fog of pain?

Through my tears of pain I see the broken body of Jesus embodying wholeness.

I see my broken soul, he sees my beauty.

I feel the sharp pain of the pieces, he feels the pliancy of surrender.

I sense the silent cries for relief, he hears the desire for healing, the longing for wholeness.

Surrounded by the pieces, I invite isolation but he offers the invitation of Oneness.

Love Consciousness pushes away the dust of the pieces to reveal the beautiful mosaic of a broken soul being made whole.

“Help me to live the Oneness we are eternally with Love Consciousness.”

 

 

Redefining Sin

I’m currently reading Richard Rohr’s book Breathing Under Water .  He presents the idea of looking at sin as a disease instead of limiting the definition of sin to something that is unpleasing to God and is punishable.

What if we were to expand our mindset about sin?  What would happen if the church would approach sin in people’s lives as an opportunity to deliver God’s healing presence rather than an opportunity to just deliver the diagnosis of terminal effects of the displeasure of God?

What if we would concentrate our efforts in providing a healing atmosphere instead of diagnosing all that is wrong with the sin-sick soul?  What if we would provide as many doctoring visitations as needed?  What if we stop pointing fingers at the bad choices leading to the havoc of the disease and instead offer an open outstretched hand?  And in that outstretched hand we hold nothing but a promise of connection, of accompaniment on the path of healing.  An offer of healing hope rather than a fateful diagnosis of terminal condemnation.

If sin were recognized as a disease, the church would become a hospital.  A hospital that opens its door to all, withholds treatment from none who seek entrance.  A place full of people displaying their wounds and admitting their need for help.  A place full of people who trust others to treat them with respect and a caring nurture.  A place where the homeless drunk is given the same level of treatment as the affluent CEO.

If sin were recognized as a disease, we would look for the Physician, for the Specialist who has the remedy.  We wouldn’t only look to housekeeping to simply keep our rooms clean.

If sin were seen as a disease, we wouldn’t limit the healing process to recommendations of more prayer, more Bible memorization.  We would admit that the disease is an on-going condition benefiting from multiple healing modalities.  Prescriptions tailored to each individual, not religious placebos handed out en masse.

If we acknowledged sin as a disease, churches would offer those in need of healing, a place to stay for however long they need and the time needed for adequate healing.  They wouldn’t expect instant recovery.

What would happen if sin would be approached as a disease?  We would say “me too!” when someone dared to seek healing.  We would grant the space for healing, the empathetic consideration for the hurting, the gracious offer of time to heal.  We would visit the sick and offer our presence in their healing journey.  We wouldn’t condemn when the symptoms came back, we would offer our sympathies that once again disease had the upper hand.  We would open our doors to all and drive no one away by our insensitive condemnations.

May the proclamation, “Love heals”, invite the diseased to seek the healing presence that can only  be found among those of us who display the wounds of our own diseased but healing souls.

Where is Heaven?

On days when heaven seems too far to find,

On days when grief shrouds the sun

On days when not even the clouds will cry for you,

Where is God?

On days when the battle is too hard,

On days when lust overpowers love,

On days when doubt crowds out belief,

Where is Freedom?

On days when exhaustion rules over zeal,

On days when the soul aches,

On days when loneliness floods the heart,

Where is the Comforter?

On days when addiction sucks you dry,

On days when your drug of choice seems the only way to cope,

On days when temptation surrounds the way of escape,

Where is the Savior?

On days when loss of a loved one cuts to the core,

On days when the honest truth exposes the heart for all to see,

On days when past mistakes slice open the wounds once hidden,

Where is the Healer?

When heaven seems to far away to find,

When God seems to have hidden his face,

When Freedom seems to slip your grasp,

When the Comforter seems to disappear,

When the Savior seems to forget how to rescue,

When the Healer seems to have lost his healing touch,

Lift up your head; raise your eyes to see Love.

Open your clenched fists; reach for Hope.

Find your voice; cry out for Peace.

Get up off those knees and stand to your feet.

Stand to receive Grace and Mercy.

Step from the arena of hell into the chapel of heaven,

The Savior and the Comforter illuminating the path to the presence of God.

 

Worship at The Exchange

I went to worship that night battle weary and just burned out.

I wondered what I had gotten myself into but then I looked around.

And all I saw were weary, thirsty warriors,

Just like me.

Ragamuffins of the Kingdom, all,

Leaning into Words of Life,

Catching the breath of Grace blowing across our faces.

Meeting with our Jesus, as one, no disparity in the diversity.

The invitation came to worship my Abba as though it’s just him and me.

“Be still,” the Voice whispered to me.

Pastor reading the Father’s words over us.

Breathing slow, focus on stilling my heart and mind.

And then these words…

“Never for a moment have I once regretted My choice in you.”

“But what about….?” I protest.

I try to remind my Abba of all the reasons he should regret choosing me.

But again he whispers, “Be still and listen

Listen with your heart

All the logic in your busy brain will refute My Love.

But ‘carrier of My glory’, believe My Love.”

“I believe, Abba, please help my unbelief!

Teach me to be still in Your Love.

Teach me the ‘unforced rhythms of Your Grace’

Help me to sit with You in the invitation of Your Peace.

Abba, I rest in Your Presence

With You in my heart, I am still.”

Still redeemed, still free.

Still chosen, still loved.

Still Yours.

–thoughts after attending a service at The Exchange

Challenged by Muslims

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Yesterday I was part of a school activity for our class on cultural perspectives.  We visited the Islamic Community Center of Lancaster and interacted with a few Muslim women who talked to us about being Muslim in our community and also explained some of the basic tenets of their faith.  I went there with the thought of being educated on what it’s like to be a Muslim but I did not go expecting to be challenged by them in my own walk of faith.

One of the Pakistani ladies who spoke to us was so vibrant regarding her faith.  The excitement of worshiping her Allah radiated off her face and permeated her words.  She was so excited that there was an app on her phone to show her which way was facing east no matter where she is currently.  No matter what she is doing, she is very punctual with her prayers five times a day.  And to her it’s not a burdensome requirement, it’s a personal privilege to be able to do that.  She repeatedly said that faith practices are about a personal journey and choices; it should never be about requirements and have-to’s.

In listening to her, I realized that for most of my life I’ve been approaching my faith journey as 50% have-to’s and about 50% of personal want-to’s.  And I began to envy her enthusiasm for her faith and her dedication to the worship of her Allah out of a heart of pure desire untainted by drudgery.  If I’m honest with myself I have to admit I’ve never had that level of dedication to my God.  But I want that kind of pure desire of worshiping my God.  In fact, I crave that joy of faith.

Another lady who was there was an American who was raised in a Christian home. I was curious as to her story and personal journey of faith.  And so I asked her what drew her to the Islamic faith.  Her response was intriguing.  She said what drew her was the fact that the Muslims incorporated their faith into every area of their life.  It’s not just about Sunday morning rituals and church rules.  It’s about every day living out the tenets of their faith, practical applications of the five pillars of Islam.  It saddened me that Christianity didn’t have the same connotation for her.  What stood out to me is that she embraced what was calling her even though it meant strained family relationships and the breakdown of her marriage.  Her eyes looked at peace and happy and eyes don’t lie.  She said two years ago she finally came to terms that life is short and finally you have to take that step and come into the space of being on the outside who you’ve known all along you are on the inside no matter the cost.  I asked her if she wears her hijab all the time or just for worship like some of the ladies said they do.  She said with the recent tensions and biases toward the Muslims since the election, she decided she wants to visibly identify herself as Muslim.  Because she said she realized that she was taking the chicken way out since who would guess a blond American woman as being Muslim so now she wears her hijab all the time.  thBN12HE0M

The way she was all in with her faith really challenged me and convicted me.  I currently am struggling with my faith journey and feel at odds within myself and the outward expressions of my faith.  I realized that I too need to take that step and say, “this is who I am and this is where I am currently”.  Pretending to be someone that I’m not and believe something that I don’t only heightens the tension within and is not conducive to really living out my faith before God.  The fact that when I look at my eyes, I don’t see the peace and joy radiating like I saw in her, jolted me to face reality.  Is this space going to be easy to step into?  Absolutely not!  But the question that I’m now wrestling with is this – do I have the kind of strong desire to enhance my relationship with Jesus that I’ll take that hard leap and follow the beckoning of my God?  No matter the cost, no matter what others say.  Regardless if others feel they know better how God is calling me.  Regardless if others try to make me doubt the calling of God.

Is this process/journey going to take time?  Yes, because no genuine journey is easy and streamlined.  Seeking the true God and following his calling is at first a wilderness experience.  And there’s difficult, dry times of feeling lost and alone.  Times when you question the direction you’re headed; times when you lose the sound of the voice of God.

But I firmly believe there’s also times of reaching an oasis just when needed to be able to keep on.  Wells of refreshment where Jesus is sitting and waiting to talk with me.  And so I keep taking one step at a time and I cling desperately to the hope that the wilderness ends, the journey becomes vibrant.  And one day, I too will have confident peace and vibrant joy that invites others to enter into the challenges of their faith journey.

 

 

Kept Taut by Hope

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I was reading from Colossians 1 in the Message yesterday when these words gripped me:  “The lines of purpose in your lives never grow slack, tightly tied as they are to your future in heaven, kept taut by hope.”

Am I alone in feeling like sometimes those lines of purpose in my life are so taut I’m holding my breath waiting for them to snap, the ends zinging past my ear?

Am I alone in feeling like sometimes they are taut and yet I feel like I’m walking a tightrope that’s about to go slack preceding the inevitable fatal plunge?

What does it mean to believe that the lines of purpose never go slack, but they stay just the right amount of taut measured by hope?  I don’t know about you but I have to go back a step further.

To look at the words “lines of purpose in your lives”.  When I think of lines, I think of order, of boundaries, of clear linear definitions.  When I think of taut ropes, I think of the thick ropes tying a boat fast to the dock, the cable pulled taut when the anchor reaches the bottom, or the belay rope as a tight safety mechanism for the mountain climber.

But what do I do with the dichotomy in my life?  To be told I have lines of purpose in my life that don’t grow slack and yet to feel tangled and chaotic.  To feel as though the rope slipped off the dock tie, leaving me unmoored at sea.  To feel as though the anchor never reached bottom.  To feel as though my belay buddy has left go of my safety rope as a I climb my way up this cliff called life.

How do you follow the boundaries of lines guiding you when all you see is the chaotic tangle of doubts?  How do you follow the clear definitions of purpose when you’re wandering in the darkness of doubts?

How do you believe in the safety of heaven’s belay rope when you don’t feel the tightly tied future?  How do you moor yourself with the anchor of hope when you don’t see the cable you tossed out grow taut?

How do I abandon my fears to walk the tightrope of Purpose kept taut by the Hope of my future in heaven?

Silence Louder than Chaos

be-still

There’s a quote that hangs in my sunroom:

“Let us be silent that we may hear the whisper of God”.

But what of those times when you are silent and yet there is no whisper of God to be heard? What of the sense of betrayal your heart feels?  What of the desperation and despair your heart is left to sink into?  What of the awful inner voices unleashed in the presence of the silence?  What of the turmoil that knocks you off your feet while you’re standing on holy ground?  What of the heaviness of your sins that weighs you down, pressing your knees even further into the floor as you gaze up at the figure of Jesus hanging there on the cross in the pain that you inflicted on him?  What of the silence that cuts your heart open more than the chaos of daily living?

I attended a silent retreat last weekend.  I went with great anticipation of a peaceful rejuvenating experience.  But as I left, peace eluded me and yet gratefulness for the experience washed over my soul.

I entered the hushed halls of the spiritual retreat and my soul breathed a sigh of relief on that Friday night.  Peace was there to be found but not an ocean of peace like I had expected.  Instead peace came in fragments, just enough to keep me searching, keep me present in the silence.

I pleaded with God for just a breath of His presence to enfold me if even for a brief moment.  When my heart woke me at 0400 each morning, was it my inner restlessness or was it the invitation of the Spirit moving over me in my room?  When leaves danced in front of me as I walked in silence, might it have been the passing of the breath of God?  When the wind sighed through the pines, was it God moving through nature telling me he was here?  When the sun shone bright on my face, was it the presence of God inviting my soul into his warmth?

As the turmoil increased in the wake of the silence I entered into, my instinct response was anger with God.  How dare he be silent when I had intentionally put aside time wherein to seek his face?  Where was he now that I was sitting in silence asking him to reveal himself to me?  Was he not interested in me and the desires of my heart?  Didn’t his heart ache for me and the pain I was feeling ever increasingly while in the silence?  If he couldn’t honor my silence, would he react to my anger that dared him to reveal himself to me?  Where was his promise to remember me as a mother remembers her child?

The question was asked, “what is it that you are so afraid of?”.  And in that moment I heard a voice say, “Come”.  “Come sit with Me.  Come and learn of my grace.  Come and be, just be in My presence.”

I recoiled in fear. “I can’t come and sit in Your presence, Jesus.  I am too unworthy.  I am too unlovable.  I have rejected You too often; You can’t possibly want to get to know me!”

At the close of the weekend, I sat in silence and listened to the prayer of Psalm 46 be read over me in blessing, in Lectio Divina.  And once again, the word “Come” gripped me and something within my reluctant heart broke in response to the gentle, relentless invitation.

Again another question was asked of me, “If you were in a season of being able to pray and converse with God, what is that you most desire of him; what is it that you would ask of him?”  My answer from the heart was instant – “Peace even amid this turmoil, this season of pain I am in presently”.  The peace that comes of knowing that he is patient with me. He won’t disown me in this time of my anger at him, my reluctance to draw near to him in intimacy.  The kind of peace that invades the questions and doubts ripping my soul wide open.  Peace that flows through me like a river in this desert time of wandering.  Peace that enfolds me tenderly in the struggle.

The silence of the weekend seemed to unleash the turmoil of the soul typically kept at bay through the chaos of daily living.  And in the shouts of that silence, I felt betrayed by the One whose face I seek.  But yet in gratitude I look upon that time of silence as a way of awakening within me a need to practice the spiritual discipline of expectant silence in the Presence of God.  For the Intimate One of my soul cannot break his promise of being found by those who are sincere in seeking his Presence.