Monday, September 26, 2011

You may not want to read this...

...the whole way through, but trust me, it should get better. Challenging things always do, don't they?

So here is my challenge to you (and myself, haha always myself included in this) : Consider that you are small. Realize that you are small. Accept that you are small. And then...well I'll get there ;)

Earlier today, I was talking with a friend about how life is beautiful. More than that, she was explaining to me how life is beautiful, because, I'll be honest, it is hard to see at times. And lately, it has been one of those times. I have been going through, well, no. I know people who have been going through tough times lately, and that weighs on my heart.
And she mentioned how it feels to stand at the base of a tall building and feel small, almost as if the building is about to fall on top of you.

And here we are.

A couple weeks ago, I went to Chicago. Twas my first time there, and I was in the downtown part of it, as I understand things. I saw taller buildings than I have probably ever seen (not counting the Space Needle in Seattle) and it was fantastic. I mean that in the etymological (with the root of 'fantasy') sense as well as the common-societal sense (as in being wonderful or something). It was hard to walk while looking up at the buildings, because I felt like I was going to fall over. Even just standing still and looking up at the top of one of them made you feel like you were falling over if the clouds were moving behind the building. Crazy stuff!

A couple weeks ago, my grandma passed away. The only other death in my family I have experienced was my great-grandpa, but I was significantly closer to my grandma. It is an odd thing when someone who has always been in your life is gone, and for a long time. As in, until I go to where she is now. It may seem ironic, but death is a part of life. Everyone, no matter your wealth, skill, social influence, popularity, or anything else you can think of, will die. Even God, when He was a human on this earth, experienced death. We seem to get so used to life (Tangent: What is it to really live vs. just survive?) that we are almost surprised by is a reminder that what we have here is temporary.

Have you ever tried to take in the vast complexity of our planet? (please forgive me for the potentially cheesy vernacular) Have you thought about the different cycles and processes that allow it to continue to do what it does? Do you think about how weather is the way our planet circulates heat around its surface? Do you realize that the primary source of energy for our planet is about 93 million miles away, but that to be any significant distance nearer to or farther from it would be to end life as we know it?

We are small. Yes, we have made it outside of our own planet's atmosphere, but at a significant cost: it uses money, time, resources (materials like metal and oxygen and whatnot), and even the very lives of some humans and other animals. We have to be concerned about falling a distance that is more than our height. How many people die each day because they do not get adequate food or clean water?

And how many of those people matter? If 10 people die in an accident, how many lives are affected?

Have you ever watched the ripples in water when a single rock is tossed into it? Have you seen what happens to the ripples when multiple rocks are tossed into it? The resulting ripples from throwing stones increase exponentially in complexity when more rocks are thrown. Humans are more complicated than water. What do you think happens to us when 'rocks' are tossed into our lives?

We are small. And we are of such great importance. We were made in the image of God. Now, what that means, I am not entirely sure. But what I do know is that nothing else in all of creation was made in the image of God except humans. Stars and galaxies were not made in His image. Mountains and forests were not made in His image. Angels and oceans were not made in His image. But we were!

When God decided that He was going to come to this earth, to limit himself and become a human, with human qualities - physical and otherwise - He knew what was going to happen. He knew He would be rejected and scorned, insulted, beaten, spit on. He knew He would pay the price that was deserved by many. He knew that He would take the wrath and punishment that the Father directed towards us. And He still planned on it, from the day before creation (see Ephesians 1). He counted the cost worth what was to be gained (Isiah 53) - our hearts, our minds, our entire being.

You are more than the choices that you've made
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes
You are more than the problems you create
You've been remade

Cause this is not about what you've done
But what's been done for you
This is not about where you've been
But where your brokenness brings you to
This is not about what you feel
But what He felt to forgive you
And what He felt to make you know...

You are more. (by Tenth Avenue North)

We are small, and we are more than what we are. haha funny how God seems to cause seemingly contradictory things like that. We are wretched and beautiful, sinful and righteous. Although, to be fair, we are wretched and sinful, but God makes us beautiful and righteous. Right on :)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Thoughts on God and Our Perception - ish

God loves us, yes. And we want to see that, we want to have evidence of His love. We always do; we find it hard to believe that someone really loves us when we don't see them showing that love in some way.

And we sit here and pray and sing and read, and we keep wondering, where is God's love?

But I think we too easily forget the most significant display of His love, as well as the experiences we have had in our own lives of His love and compassion...
We also forget the 'small' things He puts in our lives every day - food, (warm/cold) water, couches/chairs, cars, clothes, stuff like that.

But, it is still harder to seek Him and praise Him in the times of bad....isn't it? It is easier to praise God for being loving when we feel that love. It is easier to ask God for help when we feel His presence in our lives.

Keeping our eyes on the prize, does God's love or presence in our lives change? Or is it just our perception of those things that changes?

So why does our perception change? If we are not feeling the Lord in what we do and think, what are we doing wrong? Maybe it is what we aren't doing that is wrong? Jesus often went to solitary places to pray. He sought His Father more than anything on this earth, and He stayed focused on His Father more than anyone else on this earth. That seems logical, right?

What would happen in our lives if we earnestly sought the King of Kings and Lord of Lords? And what does that even look like, anyway?

And now, change the perspective. What are things like from God's point of view?
Obviously, we don't know. But can we speculate? I honestly am not sure about that either..

Let's start with what we know... God wants to be with us, right? I mean, He wants to be with us so much that in order to be with us He took the punishment that was necessary to bridge the gap (so to speak). He wants to be with us so much that He even sacrificed His own Son to the wrath that was due to us. Wow.

Now, in order for that to have its full effect, we first have to understand our sinfulness in the light of God's goodness. We may think we are 'not that bad of a person' by a human standard, sure. Maybe even a 'good person' by the human standard. But on God's standard, we are all evil. We have all fallen short. We all fail to meet the requirements of holiness. And so, we deserve punishment. We deserve separation.

But God doesn't want us to receive those things....isn't that something? God doesn't want us to receive what we deserve. The wages of sin is death, but instead God gives us the gift of life through His son.
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saves a wretch like me!

Yet we always feel encouraged by that? If the joy of the Lord is our strength, what brings the Lord joy, and therefore brings us strength?

How long must I wait, must I wait for You?
How long till I see Your face, see You shining through?
Cause I'm on my knees, begging You to notice me
I'm on my knees; Father will you turn to me??
[Hold my Heart - Tenth Avenue North]

Thursday, September 8, 2011

What I think I have in common with you

I think we have a lot more in common than we realize.
I think we both have struggles. I think the things I struggle with may be different than the things you struggle with, but I believe that both you and I have something we have a hard time with in our lives. I am not going to say that my struggle is any harder than yours, or vice versa. But I think we both have a struggle in our lives.
I think you feel good when someone that you care about reciprocates those feelings. I think we have that in common. I think you want someone to be with, even till 'the end.' I think you don't want to be alone, even though you still want time to yourself. I want you to know that I care about you, and I want to be here for you, even though you may not feel the same to me. I don't expect everyone to reciprocate those feelings, but it still hurts when a friend isn't there for me.
And I think you feel that hurt as well. I think we have both had times in our lives when we dearly wanted someone to talk to, but either that person was not there, or you did not know who 'that person' was.
I think we both know friends who are hurting. I think we both want to help those friends, but sometimes we don't know how. I think there have been times when we would have liked to take even some of their pain in order to ease theirs.
I think we have both had at least one point in our lives when we were upset at a friend for something they did, either to us or to themselves. I think we have both been at the point where we want to rant at a friend for the decisions they have made. I think we have both wanted to show where they took a wrong turn and how to get back to a good road.

I think we both want more in our lives, if we are honest. I think we want to do more with what we have been given, or maybe just more hours in the day. I think we both long for intimacy, but are also scared of the vulnerability that requires. I think we both have walls that have been built up, but will be torn down (or scaled) by the one person we are meant to be with.

I think we have more in common than we think. And I think we have more in common with the rest of humanity than we realize.

I think we are all human before we are America, Asian, European, or anything else related to country. I think we are human before we are smart, poor, talented, tall, or well-dressed. I think we need each other more than we realize.

What do you think?