Dance – Still Saturday

ballerina

 

Dance when you are broken open…dance, when you’re perfectly free.” Rumi

When I think of dancing, my thoughts are turned to the song I learned as a young girl, ‘The Trees of the Field will clap their hands’ taken from Isaiah 55:12. There was always a lot of singing and clapping when we sang that song.

And this idea…that one can dance in brokenness and in freedom…so resonates.

Peace today.

Linking with Sandra for Still Saturday

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A letter to…the tired.

Matthew 11:28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out?…Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.

Oh how this verse resonates deep…it speaks to that place in me that just wants to know true soul rest.  You feel it to, don’t you? How that place of an extra minute of breathing space might just come in handy before it all falls apart? How you wish your mind would just be blank for an extra second instead of whirling with everything you need to remember or get done.

And when I read this verse, it calms my heart, it lets me breathe that extra gasp that seems to settle me right down…because He knows the ‘unforced rhythms of grace’. He knows how to show us ‘a real rest’. And I’m finding day by day, that its only in Him that this is possible. Because unless I make a consistent attempt to stop and listen to him, to rest in Him, I know that life’s going to be full of the crazy and chaotic and I’ll start feeling the panic settling in.

I have been praying about attending a retreat that takes place in April, and that thing that totally helped me say ‘I’m all in’ was this verse. This verse is on of those that God laid on the heart of my friend who is planning the retreat. And it resonated into my heart so deep, that I almost felt an exhale aided by the hand of God…as his presence settled deep and warm around me.

So I see you there. I see you worn, frazzled, barely hanging on…and I offer you this….hope, healing and peace. Because IN HIM these things are found. There is no substitute. Drink deeply of Him. Breathe him into every piece of your being. Fill your mind with His Word. And while the circumstances of your life might not change, you will be bolstered up to face what lies ahead. Dear tired one, seek Him…seek his peace, seek his rhythm, seek His rest.

from a tired fellow wanderer

Linking up with Ruth Povey for her ‘A Letter to..’ series

letters too

Just follow the rules

I like rules. I always have. They give me a guideline for how life should be lived.

I’ve always been ‘a good girl’…except when it came to relationships with the opposite sex, but that’s a story for another time.

When there are set in place rules of how one should do things…it is my expectation that others think that they are important as I do. And i also like consequences, not so much for me…but for other people, who fail to meet these rule requirements. I have to be honest though. I do love rules, but then there are those I don’t deem as necessary and that I’m okay with breaking, even though there is a little niggling of discontent with the idea at the back of my mind.

This has been more than evident to me lately at my place of employment. There are multiple chances given to people whom I feel should have been let go around their third or fourth chance. But that doesn’t seem to be the way things go here…at least in most situations. As a rule follower, this is very frustrating for me. However, because I am not a manager, I am only privy to the information that I see, not what is actually happening behind the scenes.

I realized lately when an anger burned in my heart towards someone that I like rules and the boundaries that they create. You do this, you don’t do this. and its pretty straight forward. When others don’t follow that it messes with my order of life as it ‘should’ be. Mostly because I can’t begin to understand the choices that would lead some people to break these particular rules.

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Watching the ‘If:Gathering’ last weekend was a challenging time of being fed in God’s word and called forth by some amazing Christian women. One of the sermons that specifically spoke to me was Ann Voskamp’s. She made a very shocking comparison, of our making our relationship with Christ into a business transaction, like that of a prostitute. Like we have to do something in order to have something given back to us, and we don’t live in hope but rather a constant yearning to ‘get it right’ and make sure that our payment (Actions/deeds) are enough. ** And it burned deep. I know that I am sinful, but its a head knowledge and not a heart understanding. It doesn’t usually cross my mind how utterly undeserving I am of God’s grace and the fact that I’m living and breathing on this earth, because usually I’m convinced that I’ve done what I think is necessary to guarantee that I’m living right.

We were reading the book of Judges a week or so ago in our Bible study for church and all I could think was ‘God is giving WAY TOO MUCH grace’ in these situations. I didn’t voice my opinion, because I didn’t think that I would be able to explain where my heart was, and at the moment I was feeling particularly surly…so it might not have come across anyway. But it shocked me that I could see God’s continual deliverance of his people, time and again, even though they returned to their former ways, as something that was excessive and I didn’t agree with.

And one day as I was driving to work (where so much of my conviction and heart conversations with GOd happen, my car) I came to the realization that I don’t think that grace is necessary in my life. That the reason that I think that God’s grace is excessive in these Old Testament recollections, is that I see them continuing to resist the rules that He so clearly put in place…and they keep being given people to rule over them and bring them back to God…for a little while. And I think….why does he allow this? And I wonder, because I’m sure I don’t have the whole picture.

But this picture of the prostitute, and our relationship of earning our relationship with God, making sure that something is given so that something can be recieved…this resonated deep. Because the story of Gomer, it is one that I just can’t wrap my head around. I don’t get it. She’s loved with a crazy love, and she keeps running back to substandard love time and time again, and she is taken back…and loved with a love that only God can restore.

And I don’t see myself in this story….but that’s because I don’t want to see myself here. I want to see myself as the upstanding woman in white, whose hands are unstained and whose eyes have not seen this debauchery. And yet who am I fooling. Heard deep, and just below this ‘perfect’ surface lies the true heart beat of a sinner…unacknowledged. Because I’m sure that the red ‘Harlot’ burns brightly on my chest, my fingers are covered in the blood of my own brandishing against others and there are bruises and distrust on my face from where I’ve run looking for what I perceive to be truth.

Because in my life, its easy to fill my life and time with things that reflect Him into my life, but are NOT His words that I should be steeping my life and heart in. Conversations that seem to go so deep, and yet I wonder is heart and life change in them. Because really, after all this..do I see my sin? So i see the depth of it? Do i see grace as undeserved, rather than a gift I’m just sure I’m going to get? and I know there isn’t a place necessarily for grovelling in the hollowness of it all, after all He took them all upon Him, and yet by not acknowledging my need for a Saviour in the first place, in some sense I make the cross void of its purpose in my life.

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And so this week, with startling clarity I realized that I have no sense of the sin in my life. Of what a sinful creature I am and that is this un-exhaustible grace that continues to be lavished on me that is such a blessing and completely NOT something that I deserve. I am thankful for this conviction. But what will I do going forward. How will it change who I am, how I live? Will I see the beauty of the cross, and not just a place of horror and grace, but something that I need to make a life change reflection? I step forward in this knowledge, that I’ve thought its all about what I can do but instead its all about what He’s done…and how I need to see freedom and life change in this.

**Ann’s conclusion was that our relationship with our Father should not be lived in this ‘giving to get’ manner but rather in the freedom found in grace given and accepted.

Joining up with Jennifer and Emily for their link-ups this week.

  

Are we divided?

usvsthem

” John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. For the one who is not against us is for us.”  John 9:38-40 (ESV)

This weekend I was watching If:Gathering and one of the many things that resonated so deeply with me, was calling us to be unified in Christ. So many different denominations were present, so many stories that seemed to be so different and yet when spoken out has so many similar threads running through. There was the challenge to not let those things that had set us against one another to do so any longer. Because while those differences would still remain, we had unity in the  THINGS that mattered most: salvation through Christ and a deep love for Him.

The sermon this Sunday was taken from Mark. In our church we work through a particular book of the Bible for as long as it takes us to finish it. But it fascinated me that God so orchestrated events that this particular passage would be the one I would hear after being fed and challenged so much by the conference. This series of verses pretty much reiterated so much of what had been said this weekend.

John is concerned (well all the disciples are concerned, but John speaks up) that there is someone who is ‘not one of us’ who is doing things in Jesus name. At this point in the book of John, we have seen that the disciples are often more concerned it seems with their status in the kingdom to come than with the sacrifice that Christ is heading into. They seem to not get some of his basic teaching, and yet at times with declarations like ‘you are the Christ’ seem to get it all at once. This is one of those times which seems to indicate they are preoccupied with the wrong things.

I can imagine that as John approached Jesus to let him know what they had done, he had a bit of pride in his heart. After all, he had stopped something ‘bad’ from happening. This person had the audacity to be doing healing in the name of THEIR Jesus, and they were not having any of that. After all, it seemed that this particular person was not part of the group.

Previously in this series of verses, we had been reading the story of the man who comes to Jesus to seek healing for his son that had been demon-possessed since a young age. This demon was so fierce in the boy, that the man and his wife had been fearing for their sons life every day, as the man indicates “And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid” (Mark 9:18) Interestingly enough, when this man had brought his son to the disciples for healing, “I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.”  It seems that the disciples had conveniently forgotten this little point.

This man, who was not ‘one of them’ was casting out demons in Jesus name. He was setting captives free. He was giving hope to people who had been unable to live without fear of what might happen to their child, to themselves. And all that the disciples could see…was that he wasn’t part of the group.

How easy is it for us to see what others are doing that ‘isn’t right’ in our estimation, instead of seeing that we are unified in Christ and to uplift each other in stepping out in faith and power. Now, this doesn’t mean that we are to condone the skewing of the Scriptures, or letting other false teaching into the church. But we are often divided across denominational lines, to a point that we can’t see that so many of us are brothers and sisters, united under the saving blood of Christ and a belief in His prominence in our lives.

My pastor described it like this. We have an entire country called Canada (or the United States), and that is our national boundary. But we also have smaller parts IN Canada that are set apart by provincial boundaries (or state boundaries). We are still Canadian in those boundaries, but we have the specific provincial identities that set us apart as well. In turn, this could be loosely applied to those united in Christ. We who profess faith in the redemption offered through the shed blood of Christ and our acknowledgement of a life steeped in sin and death without His cleansing power are united under the broad banner of Christian. But we are also part of our particular denominations and callings that are so diverse under this heading. But just because we are diverse under this headings, does not mean that we are not to be united under our main gathering point: our love and need of Christ.

Jesus points them back to that, when he states “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. For the one who is not against us is for us.”  As mere humanity we do not have eyes of the heart to see the heart and motivation of what the other person is doing. Only Christ can do that. And he reminds them here: I know his heart. I know that if he does these things in my name, and they are taking place with authority, he is not to be stopped. Just because he isn’t doing things how you are used to, or how you expect, He is still making a difference in the kingdom. He is still being used of the Spirit to set people free.

And this reminds me of the verse: “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matt 7:3) We need to check our own heartbeat where this is concerned. Are we so consumed with seeing what others are doing ‘wrong’ that we are convinced is not of Christ, that we are not aware of what God is actually doing in this situation. Are we so obsessed with pointing out what everyone else seems to be doing wrong, when we’re sure we’re getting it right, that we fail to see where sin is tripping us up every day, especially in our pride?

There is a humility that is needed to truly take in those words, “For the one who is NOT against us is FOR us.” There are so many diverse people being used in different situations and callings for the setting free of prisoners to sin, and to the redemptive work of the Cross, but if we are so consumed in seeing what is merely in our eye sight, we will miss celebrating what He is at work in doing around us and around the world. And we will miss out on an opportunity to encourage our brothers and sisters in what they have been called uniquely to in HIS name.

May we seek to find unity in those things that matter and “…consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds…encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Heb 10:24-25)

 

joining together with Michelle deRusha and her Monday post ‘Hear it on Sunday, Use it on Monday”.

I’ll pray for you

When I said I would pray for you that day…I really meant it. And I had good intentions.

But then I got to thinking…when you asked me to pray for you…were you asking specifically for me to pray guidance for you and wisdom or were you asking me to pray that God would have things line up how you wanted them?

And really I am sure that I have offered this same type of plaintive request with little background and just assumed that people were praying what I was. It rarely crossed my mind that perhaps what they prayed for me was just what I needed…truth shining bright, a new journey left upon, a change in season.

And its only in your asking me to pray, in the midst of a situation that tears me open right to my core, that has me wondering if you really want me to pray for you.

Because I am operating on the assumption that you operate alot like me and assume that perhaps my prayers will echo those in your heart…but I am not so sure they do.

And I haven’t prayed too much cause I don’t know much of where to begin…except for plaintive cries of “God, what do I DO in the midst of this?”

So when I pray it will be that He will be MADE KNOWN in your life, that you will SEE TRUTH and yearn for it and that whatever lays ahead that HE will remain your first love.

My friend reminded me the other day, when I shared how deeply my heart aches for you, that our Father loves you more than I do…that He is a God that woos in a still small voice, that He longs for you and relationship with you even more than the friendship that we share.

So I will strive to pray whole-heartedly for you, to lift you up before Him and to surrender you into His hands.

You are loved dear one.

where I can breathe


where i can breathe
“My poems are trying to find a place where I can breathe” – Kay Ryan

Can you see it there
just beyond the horizon
around the corner from
that leafy shade?

There is a bench there
I find a cushion and glass
of sweet tea beckoning
my pen aches for the page

and I sit in the midst of
the oriole’s song
and sun streams of rainbow color
and I breathe deep

The words tumble fast and hard
my pen etching truth finger deep
I can barely keep up
my breathe shallow

I can’t believe these things
these words, these revelations
that are spilling forth
things I had barred up

and its in these poems
that I find space to breathe
and a place to speak
truth in a spill of guts.

 

by Janel Andrews  //written Feb4.2014