A time to change

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

In my 21 (almost 22 years) I’ve often wondered why we make resolutions for the new year. I thought it was ridiculous because most people break them anyway, right? Most of my resolutions have been rather silly and then I didn’t actually keep them. Probably because I made it on a whim . . . which isn’t really a resolution is it?

I’ve thought about it a lot over the past few months. Every season has a time and my season is changing. I’ve been considering all the changes that are coming up. . . graduating college, moving, trying to get a job, making new friends, actually adulting. . . sometimes it’s rather terrifying. But, it’s also exhilarating. My time now is a time of transition, a time of change.

With all the things floating around in my brain (One semester left of papers, tests, and being with the people I know. How will I deal with leaving this place I’ve lived for 4 years? Should I buy a car for myself? Where should I look for an apartment? How do I get that job? What about utilities? I want a cat, how long should I wait? Will I be able to start working right out of college? Or will I have to live with my parents for a while?) sometimes I forget to rest. I forget to give myself space. I forget to trust. And then, I go back to the verse above…

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”

And I take a deep breath as I read the rest of that passage in Ecclesiastes 3.

“2 a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.”

It’s still stressful. And my season is still one of change. But each season has its time, and mine will shift from change to something else. There are a lot of unknowns, but there were a lot when I prepared for college 4 years ago too.

I guess my resolution this year is to keep my head up during this season of change and keep trusting God to bring me through as He has before. He has the unknowns that try to worry me in His hands along with all the seasons of my life. So, I’ll keep my head up, my life and heart on His altar, and do my best to love Him and love others in my time of change (and after).

 

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God Come Near

God come near

come near to the lonely heart

near to the wandering child

to the soul seeking you

 

God come near

near to the troubled brow

to the sorrowful and hurt

near to the breaking spirit

 

Powerful Savior draw us near

as we travel this road

you’ve laid before us

that leads into your presence

 

Rescuer draw near to us

heal our hearts and our minds

remind us of your love and peace

for you are here to draw us near

 

When we cry out, as you

promised, God come near

 

*a short poem/prayer inspired by a sermon from my college church’s summer series. The picture is one of mine from a few years ago at the summer camp where I worked.

An Excerpt – “Through the Eyes of Mary Magdalene”

It was a spring day, warm and with a gentle breeze. Birds sang, flowers grew, and people laughed together as they worked.

I had not been working. The demons were restless that day. They took me and threw me against walls, made me rip at my hair, clothes, and skin. They screamed through my voice, tossed my head like a raging animal, shook me until saliva bubbled out of my mouth and trailed down my chin. People had thrown stones at me and cursed at me. I had fled wailing and crying.

I woke from the fit of the demons in an alley. Cuts and bruises littered my arms, legs, and face. My breath dragged through my throat like rough wood. So, I sat in the alley quietly to recover.

I heard voices and I shrank back in the darkness. A group of men passed following a Man.

I felt the demons stirring again. His love seeped out to touch me as He stopped at the entrance of the alley and looked at me. I stood – surely, this Man with mercy in His eyes would be able to help me. I limped toward Him, pulling my ripped clothes around me. He didn’t move until I was standing before Him.

I saw His companions. Twelve men. They drew back when they saw me.

I focused on His face; I didn’t trust what I’d see on their faces.

His face held mercy and forgiveness. The demons were raging inside, trying to get away. I lowered my head as I fought to keep control of my wits and my body. He held out His hand. “Look at me.”

I strained to lift my head, but the seven anchored my body.

“Be still.”

Muscles relaxed as the demons stilled. He lifted my head. A sea of kindness and love ran loose in His eyes.

“Daughter, do you want to be free?”

The demons strained, but they couldn’t move. I had come to Him from the back of the alley with just that request in my soul. Now, my mouth refused to budge. Tears trickled down my face. It seemed impossible to voice my request. My heart shrieked what my mouth could not. He rested His hand on my forehead.

“You are free.”

The demons screamed wildly through my voice, desperately trying to escape this Man.

“Peace, be still. You are forgiven.”

Light and peace pierced my soul. I slumped to the ground.

Strong hands caught me and drew a tunic over my ragged clothes. I raised my head slowly. He was walking away.

Wait! My heart cried. Take me with you!

He stopped and smiled at me.

The man kneeling beside me smiled, “Don’t worry. He told me to bring you with us.”

Tears washed blood from my cheeks as I faltered to my feet.

The man steadied me saying, “His name is Jesus.”

Jesus, what a beautiful name. The Man who looked at me with love and mercy not hatred and disgust.

I smiled and wiped away my tears. No tears of frustration, sadness, or anger would spread over my face again, I vowed. Not while I was with Him.

*An excerpt from a short story I am working on, currently titled “Through the Eyes of Mary Magdalene”

Lenten Thoughts – Finished

As the end of the semester draws near and many of my friends are graduating, I realize how close I am to finishing my undergraduate education. I’m not quite done yet, but I know the time will fly by. As I think about it, I’m dwelling on a poem I wrote for my church a few weeks ago for their Lent blog series. Here it is:

Finished. The sound of the word soaks into my being and seeps into my soul
whispering comfort and encouragement
soon it will be done, have courage and to Me be faithful

Immortal God! How could You love us such that You became flesh and visible
taking on our anguish and hatred
to teach us love, joy, and peace – things to us invisible

Never – I must say it! – Never will I fear what is to come in my life and in this world
for it would dishonor and blaspheme
my Savior – Jesus – the Man with that sweet, sweet Name

Incredible His love, power, grace and peace permeating my heart and mind
that in the depths of despair
still I can say of my weary and wandering soul how well it Is

Saved by His compassionate love and patience, and continually thankful for
His leading me in His way
I can press on in His power and in His Service

Hopeful – O that the day will come –  till the day that I have been made complete
and am finished in His eyes
having been made by Him and for Him, Holy

Eternally bound to Him by His love and my trust will I continue in the Way
seeking His will in the world
until the day He calls me home and my journey Ends

“Deliverer, I’m home” I’ll cry having passed through the world to His presence
“in Your house let me dwell,
let me sing and dance and worship You forever, for it is Done.”

*poem originally written for Park Place Church of God blog

 

Lenten Thoughts – Thirst

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Darkness drags back painfully. Hard, crackled earth peeks into blurry vision. Clarity inches in and soon all that can be seen is pained land that goes on and on and on.

Wilted flowers, that should be full of color, slump against the dirt that had sustained them. With the last of their energy, they cling to their petals having already lost their leaves. Deserted, they slumber.

Tall, burdened trees stand their ground eeking out what little life is left in the earth. Branches hang from weakened joints until, with a shivering crackle, they are rent from their base to smack and burst on the dry, dry ground below.

Coarse flurries of air stagger over the land dragging persevering roots of flowers from their beds and sweeping the litterings of the trees away.

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The land creeps into your eyes, your mind, your soul. Oppressive air invades your malfunctioning lungs and bits of dust cleave to your throat. A cough sends some racing out raking the tender skin inside.

The sun has made sucking all the moisture out of your aching skin its goal.

Your eyelids embrace your eyes every time you try to blink so you stare and stare and stare since you have been robbed of the ability to lubricate your eyes.

A haze wafts through the air causing the landscape to twist and wave as it waits for you to die. Fissured lips grind apart to ease the departure of a single, impotent word. “Thirsty.”

An image sways through the haze. Closer and closer it glides until it casts a meager shadow across your eyes. Scarred feet pause just before your face. Too faint and too pained to raise your eyes, you murmur that word again.

Defaced hands wriggle beneath your smarting body and grasp your raw skin securely. As you wheeze in pain, a sweet sweet voice coasts into your mind, “My child, come with Me for you are weary and your body is damaged. Trust in Me and I will replenish your soul. Let me give to you My living water. You will never thirst again, for this water will become in you a ‘spring of water welling up to eternal life’ (John 4:14).”

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*Originally written for Park Place Church of God’s Lenten Series

Lenten Thoughts – Solitary

Solitary…it’s not a state of being that I like to think about. It implies that you are alone, isolated, without companions.

This state of being – solitary, alone, isolated – is like a dark cloud to me. It weighs on my soul causing me to drag my feet and grasp for love. It reminds me how hard it was moving to a school where I knew no one and was nowhere near my family. I hadn’t even visited Anderson before I moved on campus.

I felt alone in a crowd of people. Isolated. Forsaken by what I knew…

aloneIt was a rough year. But in my time of need I dreamed of the cross and Christ’s suffering. He cried, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” (Matthew 27:46)

“My God, My God, why have You forsaken me? Why are You so far from helping Me, and from the words of My groaning?” (Psalm 22:1)

Sometimes, we feel that way. We cry out in anguish “Why have You forsaken me, God!!?”

Why do we say such things? Why do we confront God with our state of being solitary?

The more I think about the years that I felt alone and forsaken (even though I had a loving family and church) the more I think that my soul was begging for God’s presence.

It’s gotten me thinking…

If we were made to glorify God, what happens when we don’t fulfill our calling?

It creates an emptiness inside. An emptiness that, I believe, can only be filled by God’s presence.

There was a book I read (a Christian-fantasy novel) that put forth this idea that without God’s presence, without His breath, we would not be able to function. We would cease to live. We would be solitary.

What would it be like to be forsaken by your Creator? Would there be physical pain? Or just spiritual pain, I wonder?

But, then again, I don’t actually want to know. Even beginning to imagine being forsaken by God makes my soul curl into a fetal position whimpering and begging Him to never let me be without His presence.

See, all that time when I felt alone taught me that I’m never truly alone for He is always with me. And when I feel solitary I am to follow in the Psalmists’ footsteps and glorify Him despite my being or feeling alone.

Psalm 22 doesn’t stop with the questions. It goes on to give glory to God:

“You are holy.” (vs. 3)

“I will declare Your name to My brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will praise You. You who fear the LORD, praise Him! All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him, and fear Him, all you offspring of Israel! For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; nor has He hidden His face from Him; but when he cried to Him, He heard.” (vs. 22-24)

worship

 

*Written for Park Place Church of God’s Lenten series

Lenten Thoughts – Mother

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.” (Exodus 20:12)

I’ve often thought that this verse meant so much more than just respecting your parents.

To me, respecting your parents entails obeying them, listening to their advice, caring for them as they grow old…things of that sort.

But to honor someone just feels heftier to me. It means that you are taking it upon yourself to consider that person as deserving the absolute highest respect and admiration and sometimes even love.

Honor implies not only the greatest respect you can muster but also a mindfulness of that person’s importance in your life.

The other thing in this verse that stands out to me is the promise that comes along with honoring your parents – “that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.”

As is often the case, God doesn’t urge us to do something without reason.

In other words, honoring your father and mother is good for you.

Jesus, made sure to honor His mother. Though He was dying, He thought of her.

“Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ From that hour the disciple took her into his own household.” (John 19:27)

What strikes me about this is that, even at the worst time, Jesus was mindful of His mother, her needs, and her love for Him.

How often do you call to mind the woman who nurtured you, taught you, laughed and cried with you, maybe knew you better than you knew yourself? Do you think of her in the good times and the bad times?

Do you honor her in your thoughts? The lessons you learned from her, the love she poured into you…Or do you let it all go to waste?

What would you have done in Jesus’ situation? Mary had no one left (that we know of) and she most likely wouldn’t have been able to take care of herself. So Jesus made sure that sure would be looked after and supported.

If Jesus can do that from the cross (in extreme pain, I’m sure), then surely we can make the time and mental space to honor our own mothers to the best of our abilities.

 

*Written for Park Place Church of God