Posted in Living this Life

I still believe

I stood there the other night and remembered… I remembered the day I ran away from it all.

The wind tickled my face as I stood at that outdoor concert and watched these three faithful men sing truth and proclaim the power of that truth. And my heart remembered.

I remembered a time when I almost lost my way. A season when nothing made sense and it was hard to know who or what to believe anymore. A time when choices danced before me like mirages and I couldn’t find solid ground.

I remembered the words pounding through my head as my feet pounded the pavement. “I believe in God the Father Almighty…” It feels like yesterday in my heart and soul.

bruge streets

“Creator of heaven and earth…” These thoughts crowding my mind – racing so fast, they can make you fear for your sanity sometimes. “I believe in Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son our Lord … MY Lord!” How had I ended up here? Trying to escape the cycle of bombarding thoughts, walking the streets of Brugge, Belgium, simply because I didn’t know where to go or what to do? How to quiet the noise inside my head – screaming at me from the moment I woke up until I finally found escape in sleep? “He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried”

It had been a long journey to this moment. Months in Amsterdam, telling people about my Jesus – the One who promises freedom. All the while, crumbling inside from my own lack of freedom. Trapped in my insecurities, in my doubts, in the dysfunction I had come to see as “normal”. So I ran away to Brugge, and I walked those streets.

I remembered those days when I was a kid. Long Sundays in church, reciting a liturgy I thought was old and “dead”. They called this the “Apostle’s Creed” – it didn’t mean much to me back then – just words we said every week. “He descended into hell. On the third day, He rose again. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father…” I remembered sitting in that college cafeteria, telling a wise professor that I was beyond all that now. I was exploring new ways to worship. He didn’t say much, only gently reminded me to not forget those who had gone before me – “You are standing on over hundreds of years of history…”, he said.

“I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic (universal Christian) church” Suddenly the scrambled thoughts started slowing down. I found myself mouthing the words, savoring each precious morsel… “the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, and the life everlasting”

bruge 2

There are many ways to worship, but in this moment, walking those old cobblestone streets, God began to set me free from the tyranny of the new. He brought those words to life in my heart on that day in Brugge, Belgium, and I no longer had to figure anything out – I knew. And that simple knowing quieted the screaming voices in my head.

My God showed me that as long as I clung to what I knew was true, He would lead me through what I didn’t know. Though emotions may soar to great heights and plummet to sordid depths, nothing can shake the reality of this foundation. I BELIEVE IN GOD THE FATHER – I wanted to shout it from the rooftops… and I still do.

Here is where I can plant my feet and not be shaken. In these days of confusion and fear around the world, it doesn’t take much to feel like a “wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind” (James 1:6) Headlines scream terrifying news at us, the pundits on TV tell us what (and who) to believe, people are displaced, having to flee their homes, politicians ask us to put our faith in them – it’s hard to know who to follow and what to trust in anymore. “When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened” (Lk 21:9) I still believe in God, the Father Almighty”

We are surrounded by the constant shifting shadows of life – today I choose to plant my feet on the one thing that will never change. I still believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord” “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (Mt 24:35) I still believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, and the life everlasting

And in the threatening waves, Jesus whispers, “Peace, be still”.

Posted in Living this Life

Normal

It’s been about 6 months since my life has seen much “normal”. In the midst of unexpected life situations at home, we have found ourselves travelling with our family more than we usually do. We have crossed through 28 states and through 12,000 miles since the end of June, and suddenly I find myself at home again, trying to return to some sort of routine.

car map

I have to admit – for all the joy and discovery I find as we travel, it leaves me feeling a bit untethered.

It’s been just long enough for me to kind of forget what “normal” is. Long enough for the edges of my days to feel a bit frayed.

I begin my days unsure of what to expect. And I end my days not knowing if I’ve accomplished what I was “supposed” to do.

I’m sure you can relate? It happens to all of us – these days of unpredictability and inconsistency.

It’s an unsettling kind of feeling, isn’t it? Because most of us like our parameters. We like to believe we have some sort of control over our days. It gives us direction, helps with discipline, and isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Life is so much simpler when lived by rules – it is manageable. But what do we do when it is suddenly taken away?

I didn’t know I was doing it, but lately I found that I have been sub-consciously waiting for this season to end. I told myself I would start to work out again when life was “normal”. I would find time for more “planned” romance in my marriage when our schedule got organized again. I could excuse being impatient with my family because the uncertainty of my days caused an undercurrent of stress in my spirit. I would start memorizing Scripture when I could do it in a more consistent way.

I was putting life on hold, waiting for the right time to start living it.

stopwatch

We often fall into this storybook mindset of what “normal” should be, and though we all seem to define it somewhat differently, it makes us feel safe. So when the unexpected happens, we are often left undone.

So I wonder? What happens when we flip this notion that life needs to follow our pre-ordained pattern? What does the Bible say about how we pattern our lives? “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Ps 90:2)

“Do not boast about tomorrow, For you do not know what a day may bring forth.”  Prov 27:1

“Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes.” (James 4:13-16)

I find myself wincing a little at James here. Please don’t tell me my beloved schedule is an arrogant scheme! I have never thought of my plans as boasting, but when we make our schedule into our god, this is our downfall. And I think this is James’ point – our calendar and our plans, are not organically bad or arrogant, but they must always be held with open fingers, fully submitted to the will and direction of God.

wonder

So here I go, stating the obvious. We live our lives in a frenzied rush, waiting for a return to “normal”, when the reality is, we have no guarantee of anything beyond today. This moment is what we have been given by God, so how am I going to live it well in the situation I currently find myself in?

What if, in the midst of our routines, we insert those key few words that James suggests – “If it is the Lord’s will”. For all our plans, all our lofty dreams, are simply a part of a greater plan being worked out by our God. I wonder how many moments God has planned for us that we miss because we are following our own simple idea of how this day should go? I am not against schedules and routines – but I don’t want to be bound by them. Let’s shake off the shackles of our own expectations and awaken to the wonder of God’s greater plan.

So as we go about our “normal” days – sitting in traffic, working at the office, conducting a meeting, flying across the country, or washing that 10th load of laundry, let’s remember that “When our [plans] are interrupted, His are not. His plans are proceeding exactly as scheduled, moving us always (including those minutes or hours or years which seem most useless or wasted or unendurable) “toward the goal of true maturity” (Rom 12:2 JBP).” – Elisabeth Eliott.