Sunday, March 30, 2008

Empty Canvas

In the past month, due to a lot of circumstances, I've found myself drawn back to writing. Am beginning to want to pick back up the journals I placed down quite a while ago. I am very slowly also starting to put pencil, colour and paint to paper and draw and paint my prayers, frustrations and dreams.

A few days ago, I drew out an image which had been in my dreams the previous nights before. The truth is that a lot of people would probably look at it and not understand why I would draw it. But, once it began to take shape, clarity began to come, in terms of what it meant. I drew a pencil outline of an image of half a Gerbera daisy and the other half of the sheet of paper was painted black.

The prompting of what the picture meant was that we are beautifully created by God. There's a part of us already visible to ourselves and the people around us, but there's still a whole other part that is yet to be discovered. He deeply knows every part of us, especially that darkened part and in His perfect timing, will reveal more and more pieces of the puzzle to us and those around us.

As I've continued to look at this image over the passing days and contemplate on the meaning, I realize that there are many decisions we are called to make. They make no sense at the time...they might very well cut deep and hurt to make them...they might cause anger, confusion, pain, etc. But even as we make them, He knows what the end result of the picture will ultimately be. That decision is one small piece in a huge puzzle yet to be uncovered and pieced together.

In the end He wraps round us with deep love and understanding when those hard decisions are made, simply for the fact we step out in blind faith, despite how hard the results of those actions might feel afterwards. For me, there's great comfort in that.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Engulfing Presence

I Cling to the Cross
(by Paul Baloche)

I cling to the cross and everything it means
I know it's the only hope there is for saving me
For without Your great mercy
I would be forever lost
With a thankful heart I come
And cling to the cross

Standing at the empty tomb
Promises I have in You arise
I was made alive in You
Everything You said was true
You suffered, died, and rose to bring us life

I cling to the cross and everything it means
I know it's the only hope there is for saving me
For without Your great mercy
I would be forever lost
With a thankful heart I come (Jesus I come)
With a thankful heart I come
With a thankful heart I come and cling to the cross

The world behind me, the cross before me
The world behind me, the cross before me
The world behind me, the cross before me
No turning back, no turning back

I had the chance to listen to this song this morning. It ministered to me and reassured of His deep presence right now. This morning, I sat in quietness of His presence. No matter what might be on my heart, I'm so very grateful for the cross and I cling to it. It's the foundation that wraps around even when nothing makes sense. Some days there is a sense of joy and other days are those where that uncertainty and those questions are heavy and you simply cry out for His presence to wrap around and engulf.

"Be still, and know that I am God"
~ Psalm 46:10(a)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Disheartened Spirit

He told them, "You don't get to know the time. Timing is the Father's business. What you'll get is the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world."
~ Acts 1.7-8

I have been praying up a decision for a while. I came to a really hard conclusion today. Have to say that I haven't felt this way since we made the decision to move a few years ago. My heart hurts really bad tonight.

There are a few reasons for choosing this picture to accompany my post. First, the decision involved where this picture was taken. Second, this was a very peaceful place for me. It was quiet and refreshing. Lastly, it portrays for me the mixture of the heart I'm feeling right now - a place that's a little dark, disheartening and resigned, but yet is peaceful and securely in the hand of God.

I'm still trying to get my head around this decision. I'm still trying to get my head around where God's direction will lead next. If it will ever lead back to the place so firmly on my heart. I'm trying hard to understand and simply rest in the 'peace that passes all understanding'. I have to admit that I'm struggling big time with it.

As I sit here, I truly believe He understands those disheartening feelings, those feelings of resignment. He calls us to make decisions we don't always understand or like. I don't think He expects us to always be able to do it with a joyful heart and spirit. It's just simply expected we'll follow on what is felt that He's leading and know that even though we might not understand things now, the picture will unfold in His perfect timing.

The minute I said, "I'm slipping, I'm falling," your love, God, took hold and held me fast. When I was upset and beside myself, you calmed me down and cheered me up.
~ Psalm 94.18-19

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Rhythms of Life

"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? 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."

~ Matthew 11.28-30

I'm currently in the midst of a Bible study assignment, where I'm supposed to find verses which speak of resting in God. Seems really fitting for me...I was actually relieved when our study group took a turn this way. I think sometimes people think I'm clueless in observing the chaotic nature of my life. I'm not...I'm very well away of the chaos which is so often there. There are many moments when I long for that chaos to be replaced with peace and gentler rhythm of life. And sometimes it does simply happen on its own and other times there needs to be a push in some way, shape or form, in order for that change of pace to occur.

I guess what keeps coming to my mind lately is the fact we so often want to be a help to the people around us. We want to be that support and help with taking some of the chaos away from someone's life, but it's not our responsibility. Even though we might see it and know that they are heading to disaster, sometimes lessons simply have to be learned. Many times those lessons come in ways we might not understand at all or like.

I was away for a few days with my family. It was truly amazing to me, how simply by taking us away from our environment and responsibilities, that rest came. We were able to live at a slower pace...just hang out and actually have time to talk. It also gave time for silence and time with God. And many revelations came from that time.

The realization came that you don't always have to be talking when you are meeting with God. There are times when there might be complete and utter silence. That's okay...maybe it simply means that it's been way too long since you've met together and you need to get reacquainted before conversations starts.

I'm really resting in Matthew 11.28-30. It's one of my favorite passages of scripture. It brings much comfort and peace...

Monday, March 10, 2008

Unique Blockheads

Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!" On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
(1 Corinthians 12.14-26)

This passage of scripture was one of the ones read yesterday in the sermon. I've been thinking about it a lot. It actually hit me quite hard, as I read it. I try my hardest to make sure I don't portray an attitude of being better than anyone else. But the fact of the matter is that as I walked into church yesterday, I was having trouble seeing my purpose. I was battling through what tangible things I actually offer to those around me. So as I sit here today, I still am contemplating through those things.

This picture was on the cover of our bulletin this weekend. I really liked it. And the cool thing about a picture is the fact that depending on who looks at it, we will get a wide variety of commentaries on what it stands for.

Anyone who visits this blog knows I talk quite often about thinking outside of the box. But when I look at this picture right now, it brings to mind the fact that we all have a box we live in...they are all unique...some longer, some wider, some tall, some short, some newer, some ragged...but no matter what their appearance, they are all special and all have a purpose. They are specially chosen for the person who lives within it.

This past year I've been trying hard to reach to the far corners of my box and have been trying hard to be content with where I've been placed, no matter what the circumstances. Honestly, that's easier said than done some days. I have days where I can't see the purpose of my box even being where it is. I have days where I question whether or not I'm the correct person to even have ownership of that box.

But we all have a purpose. I know it would be a much easier life if we all knew that and believed it all the time. But I also think that there are times when He's okay with us questioning that purpose and place. For me, that questioning allows a fair amount of growth. It allows me to seek out the strength I need to endure a situation which is occurring. It allows me to find the faith to carry on, even when I can't fathom that it would lead to anything positive.

Right now I'm 'contemplating the medical maze'...trying to understand what makes no sense. Trying to deal with what's dealt in a positive way, so that despair doesn't set in. I'm looking at the blessings in my life, as then the spotlight is taken away from what I can't change.

As I look at the picture again, I'm also trying hard to carry my box in my arms, as then I'm not totally consumed with me. Then I will be able to see the people around me and serve them in whatever way I can at the time.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
(Romans 12.3-8)

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


Romans 12.1-21
Place Your Life Before God

So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

I'm speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it's important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.

In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we're talking about is Christ's body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn't amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ's body, let's just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren't.

If you preach, just preach God's Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don't take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don't get bossy; if you're put in charge, don't manipulate; if you're called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don't let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.

Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.

Don't burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don't quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.

Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they're happy; share tears when they're down. Get along with each other; don't be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don't be the great somebody.

Don't hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you've got it in you, get along with everybody. Don't insist on getting even; that's not for you to do. "I'll do the judging," says God. "I'll take care of it."

Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he's thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don't let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.

I know I've probably posted this scripture before. I shared with the older kids of our church on Sunday, that this is the passage I go to when I'm angry or sad. Then I went into a talk about Sri Lanka, sour skittles, masks and loving people and being there for them in all circumstances.

Really, this is the passage I go to in all circumstances, especially when I'm wanting to 'turtle' and put a mask over my life. Right now I'm in this weird twist of sadness, questioning, a lot of tiredness, some anger and sheer frustration. I asked a friend today about discouragement and how it works into the Christian life. Their answer was that it's a honest response to what's taking place. That you can't stuff it or deny it or it will live within you and turn you into a person of despair. They ended with these words..."the trick is to meaningfully express it in such a way that God is honoured."

So I sit and contemplate as to how I can meaningfully express things and honour God, especially when I'm fighting that urge to just 'turtle' and mask...basically stuff and deny it.