There was a metamorphosis of motivation. My dreams and hopes for my future remained but the whys and hows were worked and reworked and still are working themselves out.
I’m calling on the worn-out, tired, hurried souls. I have a story for you. In between laundry and dishes, ABC’s and 123’s, it was carefully crafted in the deep places of my heart.
On a search for worth and meaning a young woman, wife, mama, daughter, friend, found herself one dark night in a puddle of quiet sobs. Huddled over a sleepless baby in a big blue chair, face and eyes ruddy from the flow of feelings, she found herself at the glorious feet of Jesus.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the very beginning, since after all, it is a very good place to start.
My friend is teaching on the book of Judges this fall. She called me and told me how excited she was about it. I had been asking God what book was next. I definitely didn’t have Judges on my mind.
I don’t really like the word, “judge,” if I’m being completely honest. It conjures up images in my mind of a sour faced man with a gavel pronouncing condemnation. Perhaps this is why I haven’t been so keen to dig deep into this book of the Bible. However, when my friend told me how she's finding this book point to Jesus I thought I might give it another look, a deeper look and invite the Holy Spirit to open my eyes afresh to it’s Words.
Now, only a few short chapters in and sentences are jumping off the pages, illuminated and speaking a fresh word to this weary and prone to wander soul. My friend’s excitement has spread and I can’t keep quiet about it. I have to share.
First, let’s talk about this word: judge. You know, it’s the one leaving a bad taste in my mouth. Although this may be the case for those of us who speak the English language, there is far greater meaning and beauty when it is spoken in the Hebrew.
In Hebrew this word, “judge,” denotes balance, wisdom, ethics, integrity, all with which, if present, will enable a ruler to rid injustice and bring about the right things.
We often hear God referred to as a Judge and again, if I’m telling you the truth, that image scares me. In the fearful and small places of my brain, it makes me think he is waiting for me to make a wrong move and hand over my sentence. And if I keep telling the truth, I can say that is exactly what I deserve. I deserve a heavy sentence for all my wrong. I have sinned greatly and brought hurt and pain upon many people I love. That judge I see with the gavel and the grim expression has every right to condemn me.
But that is not a true reflection of the heart of God.
If we look closely at Judges 2:16 we see a very different image of the Judge of the Whole Earth.
In the first few chapters of this book the cycle is apparent. Israel sins, they suffer because of their actions, they can’t take it anymore so they cry out to God, He hears their cries, He delivers them. Over and over, this is the pattern. Over and over we see a God who’s people turn their backs on him and “Nevertheless” He always comes through.
He is a Never-the-less God.
No matter how far away we find ourselves from Him, He is never any less than who is…the same, yesterday, today and forever.
He is never less kind.
He is never less gracious.
He is never less merciful.
He is never less loving.
He is never less faithful.
He is never less good.
In our outright toddler-like tantrums and direct disobedience He still answers our cries like a Father. He brings us back to Him. He delivers because He is the Deliverer.
I don’t know about you but there have been days when I have been reminded of what I’ve been saved from. There are moments when I think about where I would be if God did not answer my pleas for help from a pit. He saved me. He can save you.
He is a Nevertheless God.
We are often too blind to be part of the miraculous unfolding.
But I didn’t listen to my own words.
I walked out full of not-good-enoughs and comparisons. I walked out wondering and weary. I walked out with my eyes to the ground, brimming with tears as I let my feelings and insecurities deafen and blind me.
This morning I found myself doing one of my favorite things. The Summer Blast crew trusted me with a stage and a microphone. With a little bit of help from Elsa, T. Swift and Pharrell I unwrapped a lesson. It was a lesson on Listening. And, I am learning it right along with all these kids.
I told them about the prophets: Isaiah, Deborah, Jeremiah, Miriam, Daniel, and Anna. I told them that God gave some people the job to listen to Him and then tell the world what He was saying. I invited them into the gospel of Mark where we meet one of these Listeners. I introduced them to John, John the Baptist.
I drew them in his camel hairy clothes and his diet of locusts and wild honey. Then I told them what he got to do because he had become so good at listening. He had the honor to baptize Jesus, himself, the one of which he felt too unfit to even bend down and tie His sandals. Because John had learned to listen so well and do what God was saying, he was given a great privilege. Because he learned to listen, he lived out the great adventure God had for him.
I want to listen like John the Baptist. I want to be so over the top obedient. I want to hear God clearly and go do what He says.
And, these days it's not so I can be well-behaved. I don't think that is what the end goal is. No, I want to recklessly obey so I can live this life with all it's adventure and vibrancy. I want to be more fearless because I am more faithful.
Join me. Let's open our ears, our eyes and our hearts today. God is still speaking. Listen.
I’m living in a tension. I clearly remember one of my college professors, with her wild hair, breezy dress and birkenstocks, writing in bold ink on the white board this word: Tension. She then continued to give weight to the word. With lines and events of history running parallel and perpendicular she passionately explained that tension is where we find the meaning of life.
I did not understand. I was captivated by her performance, her passion, her zest. I wanted so badly to engage in thoughtful dialogue with my classmates. I wanted to impress her with my own insight. But, I didn’t. I sat there quietly. I stared at the whiteboard with phrases and lines. I didn’t understand how tension could ever be a good thing.
Yesterday morning I woke I early to start the day. I have been pursuing my passions as the sun wakes up. Every morning is different with the little people in this house. Sometimes they wake up right along with me, as if they can hear me breathing from another room. And, then some mornings, like this one, the house is very quiet and still. Yesterday, on the other hand, the excitement began before I could write a word. From cheerios and bananas to a walk down to the park, I nourished and nurtured and never stopped. The Peanut had an early nap time coming her way, on account of the early rising. With one napping and the big two occupied pretending to be spies I found a few minutes at the computer to pursue this passion welling up inside me, the calling that I am coming to understand.
Yes, there were interruptions. Yes, it was only an hour. But, there was something simply marvelous about it. A few years ago, had you asked me what the future held, I would have said, “motherhood.” And yet, the answer is changing. Ask me now and I would answer, “Tension.” The stretching and elongating of and potential of so much is wrapped in this image. It is the fabric of this life being gently stretch for a story to be woven and thread right through. I think this future holds motherhood AND writing AND teaching the Word of God AND fulfilling friendships AND meaningful moments AND dishes and laundry AND dates with my husband AND trips to far away places AND not so far away places AND there’s more…
I don’t think I understood the lesson on tension that day because I couldn’t fathom the pressing and stretching and degree of discomfort in might take to live the most meaningful life. I feared pain and tension seemed painful. Shortly after that lesson I entered an intense season of learning and stretching. The problem was that I was the one applying the force. It was out of selfish ambition or a desire to be found worthy and loved that I stretched and strained. I pushed so hard that it felt like the cord just snapped and all that was left were pieces, stretched out, disconnected and tired.
It wasn’t until those nights in a Big Blue Chair, in the midst of a complete unraveling, when God began to take those pieces, broken and frayed and mend and heal. Slowly and gently He helped me back on my feet and set me back on that line. But this time He was my fulcrum. He was my support and my sustenance. He held my hand as I tried again.
Today is new and fresh now. With this picture and the lessons reeling in my mind I feel like I am stepping on to a tight rope, balancing all He has called me to in this day. I am completely aware that there will be difficult moments in my steps but as I learn what it means to live a life or walk a rope centered in Him and His Word, I tend to trust Him more. I step more confidently. I invite the tension, as without it there would be no rope to walk. The tension gives the cord meaning and purpose and I don’t want to live for anything less.