Some days are meant for passing

I never realized how much I desired significance.

Some people want affluence, achievement, power, materials, or romance…but I finally discovered that I want significance. How strange.

I want every minute of my life to be full of meaning and I want my life to be full of meaning that is meaningful to me.

But it occurred to me today that life is measured by years and moments. When people think and talk about their lives, we do so by units of years and moments–not minutes and days. Likewise, “fullness” of life occurs by the cup measures of years and moments–not the milliliters of minutes and days.

I have been measuring my life by minutes and days and weighing them. Subconsciously I had placed a scale upon my heart, pre-loaded with a determined weight of “value” to weigh out my days and compare them against my desired value and against one another. Though my rational mind knows that not all days are identical and my philosophical mind knows that value is subjective, I still carried the scale in my heart and I continued to compare.

No wonder my heart has been heavy.

Certainly, significance can be found in the (seemingly) insignificant if I keep an open mind, search hard enough, or meditate expertly enough. But what if sometimes, some moments in life are significant in that they are insignificant? What if sometimes, some moments in life are actually insignificant and not because I lack the ability or open-mindedness to perceive its value? What if, some days are simply meant for passing?

If I believe life is, indeed, a beautiful work of art, I must accept the concept of contrast and accept it as a method of God’s artistic technique. Without contrast value could not be established. Thus, sometimes in life we need insignificant moments to be able to see significant moments when they occur. We need insignificance to see the beauty of life.

If some days are meant for passing, then I must let them be as they are designed to be and let them go.

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Hungry to Eat

When was the last time you remember being hungry? …Really, truly hungry?

In our culture we are blessed to be able to curb hunger before it truly hits; and we actually encourage that people eat before true hunger strikes. We encourage this so that we can control our appetite, and not eat everything and anything in sight. While eating before true hunger strikes is a good and wise tactic to keep us from eating pastries and pizza all the time, this luxury of our culture can lead us to forget the experience of true hunger, which is a great experience our spiritual lives are missing out on. Below are the reasons why:

  1. Hunger humbles. When we’re hungry, we’re not picky or complaining. We’ll eat whatever is available. When experiencing a feeling as if your stomach is eating itself, suddenly our “beautiful body diet” isn’t as important. Suddenly, that food item we don’t like to eat, becomes the most delicious looking feast our eyes have ever beheld–and we’re hyperaware of its mouthwatering smells from five miles away. Suddenly, radiant health isn’t so much a concern as is keeping from death by starvation. When we’re hungry we realize different priorities…raw, foundational, non-excessive ones.
  2. Hunger drives. When we’re hungry, we’re not idle. Knowing that remaining in place will not feed our hunger, we get up and retrieve (or receive) our food. Knowing that our food is out there and that hunger does not improve over time, we will move with speed and focus–intentionality–to find and gather food.
  3. Hunger makes us eat. It’s a given. When we’re hungry, we will eat. When we’re hungry, we wouldn’t sit in front of a plate of food, stare at it, and then refuse it. We will eat. And when we do, it’s such an amazing, incredible, marvelous, and beautiful experience. Food has never tasted so good and blessed as when we eat when hungry. It is fulfilling when we eat when we’re hungry, and we’re satisfied.

God promises to feed His hungry sheep.

For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.

Psalm 107:26, NIV; bold emphasis added by me.

But why do we feel spiritually “un-full”, “unfed enough”, and still hungry? …Perhaps we have yet to experience true hunger before God.

…Are we humbled before God, to eat whatever spiritual food He provides? No matter how insignificant and uninteresting it may seem? No matter that the spiritual food may not be what we wanted or had in mind to eat? (Though God’s food is always good). Are we grateful for His provision? Are we hyperaware of all the spiritual food around us?

For example: What if our spiritual food was the very community around us, full of boring and un-relatable people that we dislike and disagree with. Would we be grateful for those people in our lives, that they are our spiritual food? Are we aware that community is feast-like spiritual food, that maybe we passed on because we weren’t truly hungry?

…Are we driven before God, to move to retrieve or receive our spiritual food? God provides the manna, but are we moving to gather it? “Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day…” (Exodus 16:4, NIV). Are we active in our pursuit to be fed?

For example: Spiritual food is all around us–in our church communities, our neighborhood communities, the random strangers we encounter daily, our work/jobs; in the Bible, our meditations, our prayers; in stillness, in sufferings, in praises; in books, sermons, the internet…but are we intentional about seeking our food? Are we actively gathering our spiritual food in the manna baskets of our heart? Are we actively, with focus and drive–with intent–pursuing human interactions and relationships as if they are spiritual food to gather? Are we actively reading Scripture with a focus and drive to be fed, by whatever God has available for us to gather for the day? Are we actively pursuing the bountifully available reading material and online resources that can help guide our faith?

…Are we eating? Are we truly hungry? Because if we’re hungry, we will eat. And once we eat, we will be full.

If it is of the Lord, It Will Be Clear.

I have been reading through the book of Exodus lately…and attempting to meditate upon it. But I confess; the book of Exodus has been a tedious read. I can describe several reasons why I find Exodus so tedious…

I’ve read it over so many times…the descriptions of the plagues are redundant…the specifications of the laws are dull…the Israelites’ recurrent stiff-neckedness is annoying…the details of the construction and utilization of the Holy objects are uninteresting…

Truthfully, I am glad that I am a few chapters away from finishing the book. Exodus has been a difficult book to stay focused in, and I have been wrestling with God, trying to understand what He is sharing with me through it.

Now finally, I have a breakthrough. Finally God, I hear what you are saying.

Through the book of Exodus, I see that if something is of the Lord, it will be clear.

…If it is of the Lord, it will be clear.

There will be no question of what is to be done, who will provide the necessities, who will be commissioned to bring the task to completion, how it will be done, when it is to be done, where it is to be done, and why it is to be done. God provides clear specifications, like He provided clear specifications regarding the plagues in Egypt, the laws and commandments, and the construction of the Ark of the Covenant, the Tabernacle, and the Holy objects…so that there is no mistake or question that His hand is upon us.

God does not intend to confuse our spirits. He wants our spirits to be clear, flowing, waters and not stagnant waters of murkiness.

Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.

John 7:38, NIV; bold emphasis added by me.

Confusion in our spirits occur when the enemy tries to sway us away from living in the holiness of God’s Spirit. And it certainly is confusing because the enemy would use God’s word against us to confuse us, just like he used God’s word against Jesus in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). That is why it is crucial for us as believers to know our God by spending time in His word, so that we may recognize and discern spirits of confusion and deception.

God’s clarity is seen throughout the entire Bible. But I have oftentimes wondered, why God’s way wasn’t always clear to me before. Why didn’t I get a clear sign like Gideon (Judges 6:33-40) or Ananias (Acts 9:10-19)? Why didn’t I have someone confirming my call was from God like Samuel (1 Samuel 3)? I realize it was because I was unable to recognize God’s voice and presence in my life, and because I was not in the environment amongst others who were familiar with God.

The more I spend time with God, the more familiar He is to me. And isn’t that how relationships in general work? We come to know the voices and characters well, those we spend the most time with. I could recognize the sound of my sister’s voice from another room, by the way she talks and formulates her words; I could recognize the sound of my best friend’s laughter from a distance away. I could predict how my sister would react to certain circumstances; and I could guess, fairly well, what my best friend’s taste is in regards to movies, shows, food, clothes, music, activities, etc.,  just by having spent time with them. This is not to state that I know every single possible thing about my sister or my best friend, or of God, but that I do, indeed, know them. I know my sister, I know my best friend, and I know my God.

Knowing who my God is, I know he wants to give me clarity in direction and thus, peace in spirit. For how can we be in peace, if we are confused and lost?

Thus, if something is of the Lord, it will be clear.

The difficulty is, sometimes God doesn’t give us the total picture at once. I imagine it could be because it would be overwhelming for us, because we need further spiritual and character preparation, because it is not yet His timing for certain matters to be revealed to us… But regardless of why He may not give us the total picture at once, He will give us the clarity and let us know confidently, by whichever unique way he speaks to us, when it is Him leading. We simply need to remain in faith and maintain our purity in Him.

For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.

1 Thessalonians 1:4-5, NIV; bold emphasis added by me.

Encouragement Mottos

I find it amazing that the greater the darkness is, the more visible the light is.

Encouragement is the light against the darkness, and though it may be a faint light at times, it is still something that is greater than the vast darkness that surrounds it. Encouragement is something we all could use more of in this world. It is something we could give more to others and to ourselves as well.

Here are some ‘Encouragement Mottos’ I’ve been living by, to keep my faith steadfast:

  1. Start where you’re at, with what you have.
    I think about how God used the staff in Moses’ hand, and the handful of flour and the small amount of oil from the poor widow to demonstrate His glory (Exodus 4:2-3; 1 Kings 17:12-16, NIV). God shows us that nothing is too small or beneath Him to use for His greatness.

  2. Have courage, to begin again.
    One kind of courage is to be able to start up again after meeting much resistance and failing numerous times. Another kind of courage is to continue doing what you believe in, over and over again, even if the world judges you. I think about how ridiculous the Israelites might have looked marching around Jericho, a fortified city, with their knees high and heads up. I think about how much courage it took for the Israelites to wake up and repeat that march every day for seven days, without fail (Joshua 6:1-21, NIV). Likewise, I continue marching in faith in God, doing what I do every day and every moment, with courage.

  3. Remain absolutely unbothered.
    Progress is slow and unattractive; struggles are many and often humiliating. But I have resolved to remain absolutely unbothered, for I know that the harvest season will come soon, abundant with good fruit. And, being unbothered, what power do failure, negativity, humiliation, etc., have over me?

When a farmer plows for planting, does he plow continually? Does he keep on breaking up and harrowing the soil? When he has leveled the surface, does he not sow caraway and scatter cummin? Does he not plant wheat in its place, barley in its plot, and spelt in its field? His God instructs him and teaches him the right way. Caraway is not threshed with a sledge, nor is a cartwheel rolled over cummin; caraway is beaten out with a rod, and cummin with a stick. Grain must be ground to make bread; so one does not go on threshing it forever.  Though he drives the wheels of his threshing cart over it, his horses do not grind it. All this also comes from the Lord Almighty, wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom.

Isaiah 28:24-29, NIV; bold emphasis added by me.

Let Stress Reroute You

When frustrating things happen in life, why are we so easily frustrated and stressed? When our plans our frustrated, why are we more inclined to fight our way through? It’s a common mentality in our society to ‘fight and struggle through’ until our goals and plans are achieved…so that when we’ve finally broken through to victory, we can say we deserve it because we earned it.

Maybe when frustrating and stressful circumstances occur, it’s God’s way of guiding us on another path. Maybe it’s God’s way of saying, “Look at me, and let me reroute your direction.” Maybe it’s His way of saying, “I don’t want you to fight; let me fight for you.” God’s guidance is a gift, that is given freely without us having to earn it or because we deserve it, and though His path may not be problem-free, I think the ‘problems’ encountered on His path are meant as gifts also. But on our own paths, our ‘problems’ are really just ‘problems’.

…I think about how God led the Israelites out of Egypt and took them the longer way to the Promised Land through the desert.

When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt armed for battle.

Exodus 13:17-18, NIV; bold italics added by me.

At first it seems that God isn’t even leading the Israelites to the Promised Land. It seems that He’s leading them directly to the Red Sea–an obvious dead end. But later on in the book of Exodus we see God’s deliverance through the miracle of the parting of the Red Sea. The difference between God’s plan and man’s plan is remarkable: What man doesn’t want to take the easiest and shortest route from point A to point B? Yet oftentimes it seems that God wants us to take the longer and seemingly impossible route in our lives. I think man likes to take the easiest and shortest route because we care more about the destination than the journey. But for God, the journey, and the process, is also important. And God’s way always ends up being the best way anyway. Maybe not the easiest, but certainly easier than our ways.

It’s curious: The Israelites had in mind to fight their way through to carry out what God had promised them, but God wanted them to simply be carried through by Him. He wanted to lead them on a path of peace rather than of fighting. The Israelites were so ready to be fighters and ‘win’ the promise that God had already given them; they were so ready to fight every obstacle until the goal was theirs. While that’s noble, God had a different idea…God wanted to give them peace.

I wonder what miracles God would work in our lives, if we stop fighting and submit to God’s sovereign control…if we stop thinking that we have to fight in order to achieve the goals/plans that God has placed into our hearts and has already given us. Perhaps He’d also lead us to circumstances that seem like the Red Sea. When He does, perhaps we might wonder why God would ever lead us this way, or we might doubt our faith and wonder if we heard God incorrectly, or we might regret that we didn’t fight it out and stick to our old ways. Like the Israelites, we might grumble and wish we were back in Egypt. But for those who let God lead–who choose to willfully submit to God’s love and Sovereignty–and for those who remain steadfast in faith believing that God will deliver, I think we’d have the gift of seeing God’s glory in our lives.

This is not to suggest that we give up and stop doing the good things that God leads us to do through our hearts and minds, whenever obstacles are in our way. Perhaps we need only to pause a moment, take a step back, and look at what we’re trying to accomplish from a different angle. Are we trying to fight, or are we letting God fight? Are we trying to deliver, or are we letting God deliver? We may need to address our obstacles in prayer and ask God for insight.

I think that any time we’re met with resistance or obstacles–or any stressors–in our lives, it’s worth praying about and considering if, maybe, there is another way. Stress is a signal in our bodies that something is not right, and it may be that God could be communicating to us through it as well. ‘Another way’ may simply be a different route to the same destination, or ‘another way’ may be a different route to a completely different destination.

To a Stranger, that Dirty Shirt is a Brown Shirt that You Know is Red Underneath

Could you force anyone to love you?

Barrage someone with enough rules and regulations…pester, harass, and assault him or her, and then maybe he or she would love you?

Perhaps I am limited in my understanding, but I have never heard of true love given that was given because of the force of another.

Many believe that God, as portrayed in the Old Testament of Scripture, is an angry God, who tries to force us into loving Him through destruction, curses, adversity, etc. Though it’s true that God is angry, it’s false that He isn’t loving and that He tries to force us to love Him. God is angry at the sin that ruined His heart’s greatest work–his good creation–and he hates sin, but He does not hate the sinner.

We often take for granted how much love God put into creating each and every one of us. We often take for granted how much God continues to love us, and miss us, even while we are temporarily on this earth to fulfill His purpose. We don’t often consider how much heartbreak God suffers, when He brings each and every one of us to earth, fully knowing that we are being placed in a world rampant with sin. We often dissociate God from ‘feeling’ because we view Him as an idea, rather than a being, and because we think that feelings only exist in sin and imperfection. But we were made in God’s image, and though humans ‘feel’ in imperfect, unstable, and sinful ways, God feels in perfect, stable, holy, and righteous ways.

The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.

Genesis 6:5-6, NIV; text emphasis added by me.

Imagine you’ve dedicated your entire life to a single project. This project is your most prized creation and it is, rightfully, your most valued possession. Now imagine that your project was dirtied and spat on by someone due to utter disregard…by someone who didn’t care enough to value your creation, who didn’t understand the love that was put into your creation. Would you not be angry? Would you not feel dishonored? Would you not be hurt? Likewise, God was angry, dishonored, and hurt…and He is angry, dishonored, and hurt, by sin. But rather than unleashing total fury onto us, who dirtied and spat on each other because we couldn’t see the value of God’s creation due to sin, and turning away from us forever, He chose to redeem us through Jesus Christ, who is God’s love incarnate. But the redemption is a choice that God gives us. God gives us Christ freely because: 1) He wants to be with all of us that much; and 2) It wouldn’t be a gift of love if we were forced to take it.

But then why are there so many laws and commandments in Scripture? God knows, more than us, how entangling sin is. In Jeremiah 2 God details how easy it is to fall off His path due to the subtle and deceptive nature of sin. Thus He provided us guidelines on how to love and honor Him–how to choose Him and walk with Him. The laws and commandments were provided for our benefit, so that we could learn to love God (and by loving God, loving His creation as well), in God’s righteous way. We must learn to love in God’s righteous way because otherwise, tainted by sin, it would be prostitution and idolatry (which also have love as key components).

Consider: A true red shirt is only red so long as it is not stained with mud and dirt. A red shirt can only be perceived as a brown shirt, if it is stained with mud and dirt. Try to convince a stranger that the stained “brown” shirt is red underneath. I’d imagine you would have some difficulty. Some may believe you, and yet others may challenge you and ask how they may know if it’s not a blue or yellow shirt underneath instead. Likewise, true love–God’s love–is only love, so long as it is not stained by sin. Love can only be perceived as lust, greed, idolatry…if it is stained by sin.

Both Christ-followers and non-Christ-followers alike judge Scripture as dogmatic. But in a book where rules, regulations, laws, commandments and decrees are mentioned and discussed abundantly, notice how few are the direct laws from God and Jesus himself. Also notice how much figurative language is used throughout a book that is supposedly primarily about laws and commandments. Notice the historical and cultural background Scripture provides, and also the futuristic details. Scripture serves a multitude of purposes, one of which is timelessness, and to associate only one purpose to it is misleading and limiting. It is important to understand and discern Scripture in order to learn to love and honor God. But we must search our hearts to check if maybe we have another agenda–to force others to love God.

We must ask ourselves, do we want to know more about God to judge and condemn others and be more knowledgeable than others? Or do we want to know more about God because we want to honor Him, be the light for His beloved creation, and pour out the love we have received from God onto others? For both questions, we desperately need prayer for discernment and wisdom of Scripture, and prayer to continue to live out God’s (type of) love.

People like to try to make Scripture fit into culture and/or make culture fit into Scripture. But culture is a culmination of ideas by generations of sin. Scripture portrays that, though it does not support it. Culture is a beast we cannot contain. Scripture is counter-culture and culture is counter-Scripture. They are not connecting puzzle pieces. Rather, Scripture was made for our hearts. Thus, when we try to make Scripture fit into our individual hearts and make our individual hearts fit into Scripture, we experience dramatically different results. For our hearts were made by God’s word and for God’s word, and Scripture was made for our hearts.

Rather than focusing on culture, may we focus on our hearts and God’s word.

One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

Matthew 22: 35-40, NIV; bold italics added by me.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

1 Peter 4:8, NIV; bold italics added by me.

You Can’t Un-Murder Anyone

God’s grace is a forward-moving phenomenon.

When Christ forgave the tax-collectors, prostitutes, murderers…etc., and loved on them in grace, I notice He never asked them to fix and clean up the disasters they made when they lived in sin. He never even asked them to try. Rather, He told them to go and leave their lives of sin. Essentially, to simply follow Him.

Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

John 8:10-11, NIV

This aspect of grace is difficult to accept sometimes, especially when we’ve been severely hurt and damaged by the sins of others. It’s also difficult to accept when we place a hierarchy on sin.

…How is it that Christ can equally forgive a murderer, abuser, exploiter, and me?
…How is it that we can all inherit the Kingdom of Heaven?

But according to Scripture:

Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.

1 John 3:15, NIV

It’s easy to condemn murderers because we can visibly see the horror they inflicted. But let’s say that Person A says hateful things to Person B and bullies Person B, and Person B is driven to suicide because of the emotional torture, is that not also a crime?

Consider the exploiter who manipulates and takes advantage of others less fortunate, impoverishing them further until they can no longer afford food, clothes, and a home? We don’t often hear about those who have died because they could not afford to eat; or those who became sick for lack of nutritious food and died because they could not afford medication. But is that not also murder?

Sure, Person A didn’t murder Person B directly, but his/her words and actions took seed in Person B’s life and caused death. Culturally and legally, crimes of bullying and exploiting do not have the same charges as murder, but Jesus says that all are the same.

Even one hateful comment or action can cause death. One hateful comment or action can impact someone’s life, and it can quickly destroy him/her. But you may never know.

I think about how many times I have said and done hateful things in my life. I think about how much impact those words and actions have had. I consider all that, but I don’t let guilt weigh me down and hold me against moving forward and living in love and purity. Having truly accepted Christ’s grace, and thus, Christ himself (for Christ is grace), I am forgiven and stand un-condemned.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished–he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

Romans 3:23-26, NIV

It is an amazing gift to real’-ize (make real) Christ’s grace in my life. But the depth of grace is often overlooked. Many Christ-followers, whether new or mature, think that once you’ve received Christ’s grace, you must do the “responsible” thing and go back and fix up as many problems as you can–clean up as much as possible, and then leave the rest to God, in faith. After all, we should be “good stewards” now that we are Christ-followers and set apart people, right?

But Jesus never asked the tax-collector to return all the money he exploited in his term, He never asked the prostitute to un-whore herself, and He never asked the murderer to un-murder all those he killed. Why? Because it cannot be done. We could spend our entire lives trying to fix our problems, but it would never make a true, and lasting, difference. Our sins are great and many. We would still be forever known as, the exploiter, prostitute, and murderer.

The true, and lasting, difference is made when we go forward and live changed lives. Rather than striving to un-exploit, un-whore, and un-murder, which we cannot do, Jesus calls us to live our lives in Him, as non-exploiters, non-whorers, and non-murderers. Thus, our identities would be known in Him, and we would be forever known as Christ-followers–those saved by grace.

It’s deceiving to think that we’re doing “good” things by trying to fix our problems–even if it’s only one, tiny, tiny, seemingly innocent problem we’re trying to fix. It’s deceiving to think that our problems are the obstacles holding us back from forward-opportunities, and that if we clear maybe even one problem, we can finally follow Jesus. But that’s not what God’s grace–Christ–is about. Even when one of Jesus’ disciples wanted to bury his father, Jesus said to leave it behind and follow Him.

Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

Matthew 8:21-22, NIV

It seems to be a cold-hearted response, but Jesus is conveying to the disciple that there is nothing back there for him, except an old life of sin–of death. The disciple wanted to take care of the simple matter of burying his father, but Jesus wanted him to move forward in His grace–in life.

Rather than trying to be “good stewards” of our problems, we are called to be “good stewards” of our new lives in Christ. Rather than dwelling on how to fix problems that were caused by our old lives of sin, we are called to focus on how to move forward with what we have right now. What we have right now, is Christ himself. This is not to suggest we ignore “new” problems that arise in our new lives, but that we no longer need to link our “new” selves in-Christ with our “old” selves pre-Christ. We should not limit our new life by the boundaries of our old. Instead, we are empowered by remembering Christ’s grace that lives in us and we move forward in Him, courageously in faith. In Christ–in faith–all things can be done.

I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:13, NIV

Steadfastly Listening

It finally occurred to me…that God is the perfect listener.

All those times I thought He wasn’t listening because I received no answer to my prayers, He actually was. I just couldn’t visually see Him doing so.

Have you ever had a serious conversation on the phone, in which you are sharing some deep matter of your soul, and then there’s an extended pause of silence on the line? Sometimes that pause is a bit longer than you’d like, especially for your aching and desperate soul that is in need of a solution or remedy, and you inquire, “Are you still there?”

To your relief, the other person on the line responds, “Yes. I’m still listening.”

When you’re in a face-to-face conversation with someone it’s much easier to see that he/she is listening. But when you can’t see that ‘listening pose’, it’s easy to doubt. We can’t see God, but He’s there, and here, still on the line. Even when He came to the world as Jesus Christ, many people still couldn’t “see” Him because they refused to see. But God is there and God is here.

It would certainly be nice if God would occasionally let us know that He’s still listening or if He would hurry and speak to us to guide us or solve our problems. But He does remind us of His presence through His peace, and He does speak to us, sparingly, after (patient) listening. He speaks to us sparingly, because His words are powerful and His words speak forth life. Powerful actions result from His words. After all, God created all of creation with simply His words.

Powerful actions result from even our words. Our words are impactful and that is why He teaches us to be careful with our mouths and our tongues.

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

Proverbs 18:21, NIV; bold italics added by me.

When God does finally speak, you’ll wonder and ask questions.

…”Is God leading me?”
…”Is this God’s will?”
…”I must be imagining things; this can’t be God’s will…or is it?”
…”Really God? There’s no way it can happen.”

When you wonder and start asking questions, fantastic! Hold those questions in mind and pray. Meditate upon the “answer”–how it would affect your life and others around you for God’s (type of) good–and carefully think it through and assess it for Scriptural soundness. Does the “answer” align with the core principles of Scripture? Is there any discordance with Scripture? Then assess your faith. Can you, without doubt, believe in the answer given to you and stand firm in faith until it is done? Finally, get another faithful person to pray with you and provide faithful perspective. There’s no need to tell your faithful friend how you believe, or what your opinion is, about the answer you were given (that you’re doubtful, that you’re scared, etc.); simply ask them to pray for discernment and certainty regarding the matter. If all these check out, then go forth.

So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

Romans 15:22-23, NIV

God listens, most steadfastly. Be encouraged that He sees the biggest picture and will give you the most perfect answer.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 14:27, NIV

Some random notes:

  • As I try to be more Christ-like in my daily life, I aim to listen more like Him–to listen like God listens.
  • I also aim to see life as God sees it.
  • As commitment isn’t really commitment if it’s not 100%, is listening really listening if it’s not patient?
  • Still going strong on the no-coffee lifestyle, but I admit that I really still do miss it and that I poured myself a cup of juice imagining that it was coffee. It wasn’t the same. Oh well, the juice was still delicious.

We Also Belong

People are vastly different. But we’re similar in that we’re all humans and we’re all unique.

But when did being different mean you don’t belong, or that you’re a misfit or an inferior being? Why does society like to pretend that differences are deviant and strive to eradicate them?

From the beginning of creation, God made man and woman as equally loved and cherished beings. Different, but equal in value.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Genesis 1:27-28, ESV; bold italics added by me.

It’s common to think that Scripture wants women to be viewed as inferior human beings, because of its portrayal of women throughout historical/Biblical culture. But from the beginning of time, before sin wreaked havoc and perverted all things good, God made both man and woman in His image. Furthermore, God blessed both man and woman and spoke to both of them. God didn’t take man and woman aside separately and blessed them individually. He gave them the original blessing together. God certainly did not view man as a superior creation and woman as a lowly and inferior one. He also reaffirms this in the New Testament of Scripture, that both men and women are coheirs, with Christ, of God’s heavenly Kingdom.

But though God made man and woman equally, he made them differently. He made them differently so that man and woman would complement each other, rather than woman to compliment man. Woman brought something to man, that man could not bring himself, and man brought something to woman, that woman could bring herself.

The man gave names to all the livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.

Genesis 2:20-22, ESV; bold italics added by me.

Adam needed a helper, a companion, but one he thought worthy could not be found. So God created Eve to be his worthy helper. We assume that being a ‘helper’ is an inferior role, but really, a helper is one who helps another because the work cannot be done alone. A helper is, essentially, a partner. God created Eve to be Adam’s partner. But He created Eve differently from Adam so that the work Adam could not do on his own, could be done together with Eve.

If God wanted us to be alike, why didn’t He just make another copy of Adam? Because God needed Eve, and He especially needed her to be different. Eve was the final touch of the masterpiece of life, and with her, God’s creation was complete–and perfect.

God created all of us on this earth differently because He needs us to be different. And He needs us to be different to complement one another in this life. Only in partnership with one another will the ‘work’ of life, the work to be done in this life, get done. What is the ‘work’ to be done in this life? I’m not quite sure…and maybe I’ll never know. But I know that whatever the work is, it needs to be done together.

I used to think that being an eccentric was a curse. Being on the more extreme end of different has squeezed me into the darkest crevices of soul (mind, will, emotions), body, and spirit. I’ve regularly felt that “I did not belong” and that I had nothing worthy to offer in this life. But now I believe that I do belong, just as much as the next person, and that my differences are worthy. Now, I’ve just got to figure out how my differences complement the life I’ve been brought into to live.

…Maybe you have a co-worker or boss whose personality doesn’t mesh well with yours. What do you think they lack that makes him/her so different from you? Consideration? Humility? Respectfulness? What do you think you have, or can offer, in your personality to complement his/her lack of consideration? And contrarily, how do his/her differences complement you?

…Maybe your goals/dreams in life don’t follow the ‘traditional’ path of your culture and society. Maybe your culture and society reject you. Still, how could your differences complement your culture and society? For your differences are worthy.