I settle down in the sun, back leaning against a tall ponderosa and mind soaring to converse with the One I love. It is only after I've been there for awhile that I notice the dates on the gravestones around me.
I read and all of a sudden it strikes me that these are not the graves of men who have faded from old age into peaceful sleep. These are men who still had twenty or thirty years ahead of them. Men who were killed because they believed in something enough to fight for it. Men who lived a life that was anything but ordinary.
My mind wanders and I see them fighting, wounded, taking their last breath. I see their families heartbreak at hearing of the lives cut short... of living decades without them.
It's then that I realize that the thread of longing that He has been touching in my heart is becoming a chain that is pulling me higher... Because yeah, I can live an ordinary life and just follow suit of the way too much of our generation lives and maybe I will have an uncontradicted life and fade from old age to peaceful slumber with hardly a finger lifted against me.
But deep down, I know that is not what I really want.
I look at the grave stones around me and I know that I too want to stand up and fight for what I believe in. I too want to live a life that is not popular even if that means that bullets (tangible or intangible) are sent my direction.
I'm not content to sit back and settle with twenty percent of the companionship with God that we were intended to have. I want a hundred percent. And I want it for my generation.
So yeah, I'll fight... for all of Jesus in my life, for all of Him in the lives of my kids, my peers, and my friends. And if one day my heart is stopped because it is deemed to beat too out of sync with the opposing side, I will give thanks that He taught it just a little about beating in sync with His.
For now, thank you Veteran Norman for not being content with an ordinary life and reminding me that I am not either.
When was the last time you laid aside all distractions and went and did something special, just you and Jesus? I don't mean reading your Bible while checking Snapchat between verses or praying while thinking about all the things you have to get next time you go to town. I mean, a date with just you and Jesus for the purpose of connecting with each other in a deeper way than happens in our day to day routines.
Today was one of those for me. It's my day off work and I couldn't resist the longing to use my time for some kind of adventure with Jesus. I decided to explore one of the trails in the beautiful wilderness here in CA and lay aside all my work related thoughts and just enjoy His companionship.
As we walked and He and I talked, I was amazed at how refreshing it was to step out of my normal routine and do something special with Him. Not only did it help me get my focus back on track, but He inspired me to aim for heights I hadn't even thought about for months.
And that's when it hit me... why don't I do this more often? Why doesn't anyone talk about doing this? Why is it such a novel idea to make time for a date with Jesus?
We talk about serving other, following His laws, and completely relinquishing sin... And we should. Really, we should talk about them a whole lot more than we do.
But why do we neglect to talk about making space in our schedules for special outings with Jesus? Why don't we go on adventures with Him, purely because we want a deeper connection? Why does that sound so unusual?
Maybe we will only find the power to serve others, follow His law, and completely relinquish sin when we are actually willing to make time in our schedules for dates with Jesus.
Because really, I don't think our generation's biggest lack is knowledge of the right, but lack of motivation to do it. Motivation comes from love. Love is born in friendship. And friendship comes from moments spent together.
So yeah... I'm looking at my schedule and clearing more time for adventures with God this year. And if you want my suggestion, I'd say maybe we should do this together as a generation.
Because it only takes one generation who has fallen so deeply in love with His heart that they follow every bidding to enable Him to come back. And that could be us.
It’s funny how growing up is never anything like we think it will be. I remember going through grade school and dreaming of those days when I would be done with college. I envisioned myself as this confident grown up person who drove to work each morning, had their life under control, and never had problems.
Somehow the future had this magical glow and Iooked ever so much brighter than anything in the present.
Truth is, life doesn’t exactly pan out magically. We don’t grow up and turn into completely different people who have no problems. The reality is that our battles grow as we grow.
Life doesn’t exactly get easier when we grow up and sometimes it looks nothing like we expected it to.
A few weeks ago I found myself walking along the little snowy road outside our house and finally finding words to explain to Him the jumble of thoughts that had been going around my head for awhile.
“God, it’s just that this is nothing like I thought it would be. When I left my peaceful meadow in the southwest, I never expected to find my heart torn between people and places and occupations.”
You thought it would be easier?
“Yeah. I never imagined that almost every single thing in my life would change except you and that sometimes all the shifting would blur even my vision of your face.”
I paused and then slowly…
“Really, you are my only anchor now. Everything else is changing.”
Gentle as always He replies…
Kiddo, I know this is hard. But really, did you expect more? Haven’t you said all along that you wanted me as your anchor?
I’m silent now. He’s right.
We sing the kids songs about the man who built his house upon the sand and when the rain came beating down, it fell. We contrast it with the man who built his house upon the rock and no storm could destroy him.
But what about when it’s our life? What about when location, friends, and occupations shift? What about when life changes and we find ourselves grappling for something to hang onto?
Maybe it’s then we learn what our anchor really is… maybe then that we discover whether our faith is genuine or whether we follow simply because our parents have.
All throughout my teen years I have looked around me and ached as I saw peers leaving the God they had loved. I’d wondered how it was possible. Now I think I’m starting to understand.
When life shakes us up and everything changes we have a choice to make— try and pilot our own restless ship or hold onto the anchor.
Sure, sometimes piloting our own ship can look a whole lot easier. After all, doing our own thing and seeking our own happiness and being in charge of our days can seem mighty appealing compared to handing it all over to God and taking whatever He chooses to hand out.
But as snowflakes blow through my hair and land on my eyelashes, I can’t help recognizing that no matter how much easier it may seem to take charge myself, there is something unbelievably beautiful about opening up my hands to whatever He desires and giving Him the reigns… even if He hands me thorns.
Because sure, I never expected my life to look like this when I was 11… I never expected Him to ask for some of the things He has asked for and take some of the things He has taken. I thought it would all be easier and more magical. But at the same time, I never expected Him to be so real and lovable. I never imagined that He would become such a tangible friend and win my heart in the ways He has.
Snow squeaks under my boots and I know deep down that no matter how hard this road gets, I can’t stop walking it. I look ahead and I wonder how I will be able to do some of the things He is asking but I look behind and see that He has already led me over insurmountable obstacles because His love sees no limits.
Really, this is where the rubber comes down to the road. It’s decisions like this that form the trajectory of our lives.
Will we choose Him when everything is shaking and we’re aching, and life isn’t just about preschool lessons and learning the alphabet? Will we love God even when He directs us down impossible roads?
Growing from magical childhood days to the responsibilities of adult life isn’t easy. Change never is. I look around and see the turmoil but I look up and know that my ship doesn’t have to be wrecked on the rocks if I hold onto the Anchor.
And so I will, Jesus. I will. This road may descend into the lowest parts of the earth only to turn and climb up the steepest mountain… but it’s okay. Because “even there shall they hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.”
The music swells in my earbuds as I walk and I sing along…
Take my life and make it Yours, Lord.
Fill me with Your love.
You are all I need.
I surrender all of me.
So the first week of the new year is almost over and sometimes we all just want to run off to a tropical beach and escape all the responsibility we face in the grind of the work week.
Let's just say that was me today. I whispered it to Him as I poured another cup of tea to soothe my burning throat thanks to the flu that's had me in bed the last few days. I told Him that I really just wanted to go sit on a beach somewhere and be with Him.
He smiled and whispered in His still small voice that He'd like that too, but right now He needed me here. I knew He was right, so I crawled back in bed to catch a few more hours of rest before my next assignment.
It was then that the music playing on my iPhone started to sink into my consciousness...
"My house is full, but My field is empty
Who will go and work for Me today
It seems My children all want to stay around My table
But no one wants to work My field."
I don't want to be the child who stays at the table all year when there's work to do in the field. Sure, there's this part for me that would love to sit and watch the waves crash on the beach but really, I just want to be where He needs me most.
We start the year with so many plans of what we want, but maybe it's time to be perfectly content with whatever He wants. Sometimes that might be sitting at His table, or resting on a beach somewhere, and other times that might be serving in the trenches.
But you know what struck me today? If we love Jesus best it won't matter whether we are relaxing on the beach or fighting in the trenches as long as we have Him with us.
Because the greatest heroes don't have supernatural strength and never want a break. They simply love Him so much that they are perfectly content to be wherever He points.
I take another sip of my tea and return to work with a smile because today, He needs me in His field. And this Hand that cares for the sparrows? He's well able to let me rest at His table when He knows I need it most.
You know how sometimes God points at a path that goes right through the middle of the fire and we're sure that in walking it we will be completely consumed? Yeah, it's precisely in that moment that we have a choice to make. We can choose to look for another path-- one that looks easier and less agonizing--and can temporarily avoid the breaking we feared. Or we can choose to embrace the fire and walk the path He's offered us, no matter how much we break in the process.
And you know what I've realized? It may be easier to run from the fire. It may not cost as much. But it will never never be as rewarding. In saying no to the fire we also say no to the priceless jewels He wanted to give us through the experience.
I don't know what path God has asked you to walk right now, but if it is through the fire... embrace it. Count yourself blessed.
Don't fight the breaking. Don't resist the pain. It may be that those very things are the biggest gift He could give you right now.
I've long said that pain is one of the biggest gifts God can give His children, but tonight as I look out over all the possibilities of this new year, I know it all over again and my prayer is simple...
"God if you have to break our hearts so that we love you best, then please... break our hearts. It is worth it. You are worth it."
20. Lover of Jesus. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Servant. Fan of the kitchen. Graduate of Masters of Biblical Counseling.
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Hands Open. Heart Full.