Thursday, February 17, 2011

No Safe Places

Don't you just love it when God "shows up"? If you want to get technical, God always shows up in His world and to His children, but I am referring to those times where God clearly reveals Himself through something in particular, or in a specific place. I have recently blogged about how God has been clearly speaking and revealing Himself to me through a book that I'm reading to my residents at a program at work. The book "The Hiding Place" was pulled off of my bookshelf to read to them "for such a time as this". In the book, we are coming to the beginning of the hardship that the Jews experienced during World War 2, an event that never fails to help me put my personal hardships into perspective. As I read through the chapter, I eventually came upon the following quote:

"There are no 'if's' in God's world. And no places that are safer than other places. The center of His will is our only safety - let us pray that we may always know it!"— Corrie ten Boom (The Hiding Place)

Have you ever considered the truth of this quote? As I moved on with the chapter, my heart kept mulling over the power of that quote. I had never considered that the only "safe" place was in the center of God's will. If a person is in the midst of a natural disaster, they will run for some kind of shelter or do whatever they can to protect themselves. But what if being in that natural disaster is being in the center of God's will? Is it really a safe place to be when everything around you is threatening to take away any sense of safety? The answer is: yes.

This truth gives me a deep comfort, but an odd pang in my stomach. It goes along with the solid truth that as Christians, our lives are not our own. We have been created by a creator for His purposes. To acknowledge such a thing is to be our life and is to transform every single perspective that we acquire as human beings. This original quote was spoken by Corrie Tenboom's sister, Betsy, after Corrie almost died by running into a 10 inch piece of metal that had broken off of something during an air raid. If a woman who is in the midst of one of the greatest hardships and tragedies of our time can speak such truth and have such faith, what stops us from doing this in our day to day lives?

Instead, we protect ourselves. We seek those "safe" places, which can take many different forms. They can be relationships, physical locations and certain decisions that we make, just to name a few. When our emotional, physical or spiritual safety is threatened, we seek a safe place; a place where we can be left alone, a place that is familiar, a place where there is little to no chance of experiencing any danger. If we could only grasp that there is no such place. That even those places pose danger, all be it not all the time, or right away. That even in those places of safety, we are vulnerable to intense pain and experiences that leave us questioning if there really is a safe place.

The lyrics to the old worship song "You are my Hiding Place" states this truth beautifully."You are my hiding place, you always fill my heart with songs of deliverance, whenever I am afraid. I will trust in you, I will trust in you, let the weak say "I am strong", in the shadow of your wings."

As children of God ( or my new favorite name for Him, "Papa") we are always safe. As we cling to Him, He keeps us in the center of His will. When we listen for His voice, He gently whispers His reassurance of the fact that He is alive and present in our lives. That even in the midst of pain, tragedy, uncertainty and injustice, we are safe. May this truth resonate in your heart, and prompt you to extend your hand to an unseen God as He leads you and keeps you safe in the shelter of His mighty hand.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Living in Grace is Learning to Live

What is the difference between living and surviving? Sadly, so many people view living and surviving as the same thing, but the truth is that they mean two different things. To survive implies a "released into the world on one's own devices" mentality; "The survival of the fittest", doing what it takes to remain physically alive, where "living" implies that step beyond simply surviving. In our broken world, so many people only know how to survive, rather than how to live. Ever heard that popular phrase "Live a little"? It is a phrase that is often directed at people who are viewed as rigid "fuddy duds" who are more concerned about following the rules and playing it safe, then "letting loose" and having a good time.
I used to view the concept of grace as mainly applying to those people who colored outside the lines. Those people who consistently made poor choices, but hid behind "cheap grace". But the more years that I live on this earth, I have come to realize that just for the mere fact that we are alive warrants our desperate need for grace. That even when our intentions seem honorable, our choices are made out of what we believe to be the right inclinations, or we are trying to be completely selfless in a situation, we sin. Although sin can often be intentional, it is also the unintentional sin that is in need of grace. It is through our humanity that God proves His majesty.
It seems to me that in the realm of humanity, there are two kinds of people. The people who think that by coloring inside the lines, they won't have a need for grace, because nothing"wrong" has been done, and those who color outside the lines think that that is their way of expressing their choices and even if it is wrong and distructive, God's grace is there to color them back into the lines. Both acknowledge grace, but neither of them understands grace through God's perspective design; they only understand through the selfish perspective that caters to their human understanding.
When we experience the grace of God, we are reminded of how desperately we are in need of a Savior. By just being alive, just existing as a human being, we are in need of grace. It draws us back to the truth that God has created His children for His purposes. We are not merely puppets on a string, but by His Holy Spirit we are guided through the existance of living in grace.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Falling Short

The phrase "falling short" is not connected to very many positive connotations. I don't know a single person who likes to "fall short" of anything, whether it be a skill, money, an obligation, a relationship, etc. When we "fall short", we tend to view it as another way to say "failure".
God's creativity of speaking to us never ceases to amaze me. As of late, one of the ways He's been consistently speaking to me about my utter need and dependence of Him in all things have been some new and challenging aspects to my job. From the beginning of my time at Twin Rivers, I was always feelings like I was falling short in some area, because I was juggling so many balls at one time; one was bound to drop somewhere, and trust me, they did. Now that I have an assistant and a pay raise, (two blessings that I am in constant gratitude for) things in my work life have been taking a positive turn, but have proven to have some very new and challenging dynamics. I always leave my office feeling like somehow I fell short in at least one area, only to quickly remind myself that as one person juggling three different areas in 40 hours a week, I will fall short. It's just part of the package deal.

A lesson that God is constantly teaching and reteaching me, is that in my own strength, I do fall short. In my own abilities, I will only see past and understand things to a certain point. That despite my title of "activity director", there are many times where I feel as if I can barely direct myself to the next step. Recently, God has been teaching me in a very real way that my utter dependence on Him is key in the concept of simply living and doing. That as a human being, God actually designed me to fall short, because if I never fell short, I would never fall into Him. It's such a beautiful reminder that I have not been put on this earth for my pleasures and self gratification, but for His.

Friends, remember that when you "fall short" in any area of your life, it is a blessing. It reminds us of what we truly are, and who God is. I don't know about you, but I get pretty sick of me. I'm thankful that through Christ, this fumbling woman who is constantly falling short never falls short of her Savior... and thank goodness.

Poetry for Papa

        I can feel you pulling me closer
I can hear your voice and see your hand
Slowly, I begin to understand
My life is not mine own, to you I belong
The melody of your grace is my life, my song
I am completely yours, forever this will be
In my pain, it is you I seek
Your creativity of love leaves me weak
and in my weaknesses the truth is clear
that in the midst of all my wandering, you are always near
Trusting you is becoming my life
Trusting you in the midst of pain, agony and strife
In my own strength, I will fail
but your love and faithfulness continue to prevail
So Papa, into your lap I crawl
Trusting you with it all.