Monday, January 27, 2014

When the Cost is Counted

It's slated for the beginning of March.

That move that will take us closer to where our hearts are and his work is and my garage is starting to accumulate with boxes to fill.

Back in the summer, in the sweltering heat, my passion was ignited and waiting for the move felt eternally long...

but now that it's almost here?

There is a young woman, with beautiful eyes and a sweet spirit and every once in a while, across from those tables in the kitchen she'll ask me, Are you scared?

And for months I could look her in the eyes and truthfully say no.

But now, if He continues to open these doors over the next five weeks?

Yes, Yaz...I am feeling fear.

Proximity to something always seems to magnify it - the closer we get to the month of March, the reality of the area we are moving to seems a bit more obvious and we begin to count the cost and as I look at the lives of my children and husband, this decision feels weighty.

And it should.

Going against the pull of comfort always causes discomfort and when bullets and drugs and gangs will be the new reality, your eyes begin to see life a little differently.

Death has been a theme lately.

Not in a morbid sort of sense, no...though, I have wondered. Though I really have sat down in the middle of those moments and held them...because there is a cost to be counted when we say yes to the Lord.

I was driving home from somewhere last week, wrestling through the reality of the messes made and the brokenness of now and holding the thoughts of my own part and parcel of it all and wondering how it can all fit Jesus could work all of my mistakes out for good.

Because when Jesus calls out our name - when He says, Come, follow Me; When He comes near and speaks into a trembling soul, Whoever saves his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it, do we truly understand what that means?

Have we really counted the cost?

There is a man here who has loved us like a father and this past Christmas placed a book in my hands that he knew I had wanted.

I crack open the pages through this month that has felt like a wrestling of Jacob's - all done in the dark and as though morning will never come.

It's these words that I read, when He lets His peace wash over me, gives me a day to breathe, and I feel the truth of them deeply,

It's kind of lengthy, but please, bear with me,

He was a righteous Jew, and had made his way back to
Jerusalem in order to celebrate Passover. He had no idea what
all the commotion was, but he obviously got close enough to
see what was happening.

As he stood at the edge of a rambunctious crowd, he saw
a man making his way up the hill, a cross on His shoulders
and a crown of thorns cutting into His sweaty skin...

...Simon was plucked from the masses and ordered to help
this guilty man as He continued to His place of execution.

There are only two times we are told that someone is "behind"
Jesus. The first is the woman with the issue of blood, and the
second is Simon of Cyrene, carrying the cross behind the King 
of all kings.

Carry the cross that would eventually bring His death and our

Simon wasn't a disciple of Christ's, and it's not likely he 
even knew who He was. He was just one man, in a crowd, who 
thought he might escape notice. And as his hands lifted the beam, 
I wonder if he saw himself as a victim. Wrong place at the wrong 
time and nothing more...

What a horrific responsibility. To walk in the bloody footprints
of a man about to be executed, all the while painstakingly trying 
to keep balance and not succumb to the intense physical agony. 
Step after step, seeing enough of the man ahead of you to know
there is life in Him now that will soon be snuffed out.

In what we can piece together in the remaining narrative of Scripture,
Simon carried the cross to the place where Jesus was crucified, and
while we don't know the specifics of what he saw, we know he saw 
enough to believe Christ was the Messiah. He returned to his tiny 
hometown, where he informed his family of what he had seen and 
they too believed. From there a church began in Cyrene, and one of 
the members from that church would eventually gather with others in
sending Paul and Barnabas on their missionary journey years later...

So let me ask you this:

Was he randomly chosen from the crowd? Forced into submission
by an angry officer?

Or could it be that before there was time, God saw this town,
this crowd, and this moment?

~ Angie Smith Chasing God

I believe that God is doing something - and this thing He is doing requires a death of sorts. My hands tremble in time with the quaking of my soul as I type that out.

Take up your cross and Follow Me - His voice calls out from pages of my bible and I know that what He asks is necessary but sometimes, I just need to still under the weight of it to count out what it will mean.

In the middle of my fears, in the middle of that moment of now and the one where I will pick up one foot to set down in the footprints marked out by my Savior, my eyes fall to my wrist.

I don't know why the word for this year has felt the way it does - why I have felt the desperate need to have it wrapped around me - a still anchor of sorts for the uncertain days ahead.

I don't know why, and that scares me.

It does.

But Jesus - the Son of the Living God Who bled out on the road to Golgotha and gave up His last breath on that tree so that I could be found in Him alive and free - He remains steadfast. His love holds firm and faithful.

He doesn't give a map, He only gives a command spoken with love from a Heart that intimately knows that of what He asks,

Pick it up, child. That cross that feels so heavy and unwieldy that I have asked you to carry and die to yourself. Yes - it will be painful. But My yoke is easy...My burden is light. You won't do this alone.

 My Arms are carrying you the whole way.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

When I am Done

The snow falls the day after the last Christmas gift arrives.

He sheepishly holds it behind his back, says, Shoot. I thought you were in the other room...I was going to wrap it. But since you're here...

And his smile pulls me in when he places the book in my hands and I don't need gifts from him because I have him, but I love that in the last minute list I sent him, he knew which one would speak to my heart the most.

Fear straddles the old year and this new one and as I make a nest of blankets for Olivia at the foot of our bed and hold her hair back at midnight and then every 45 minutes until sunrise, this fear whispers in my ear through all the dark watches of the night.

I've known Jesus since I was 4...probably longer since my first memories are of counting the tiles in the ceiling above me while the preacher preached. I've known Him for 30 years and I've pushed away from Him and ran back to Him, I've been unfaithful to Him and returned broken and spent. My faith for years was yo-yo like, always moving, always trying. Always trying to figure out how to love Him.

The snow fell in these big clumpy flakes and winter was finally heralded in. My older two, they danced in the street out front of our home long past bedtime, long past the point of staying warm and dry.  This winter was lazy and late and I was fully unprepared with toques and mittens and so I grabbed a mismatch of things and thankfully fashion flew out the window in newness of white and Elias and I hovered close at the window while they twirled and spun in the glory of heaven falling.

I realize I'm tired. So tired of trying to search out how to love Jesus. So tired of trying to fill up my head in hopes of finally filling up my heart.  I'm tired of just sitting at the window, I want to fall out into grace falling and I want to let His glory just fall, just cover, just rest...

In between holding a bowl for her heaving and rinsing it out, bleary eyed at the sink - washing my hands for the 100th time it seems - in between crawling weary under covers and knowing that sleep is pointless because she needs her mama, I open the pages.

And had I known - had the truth of Who He is been unpacked like this before...would I have ever been tired? Would there ever had been a need to be?

He begins to name the coming year for me in the hot heat of the summer, begins to open my weary eyes and I track His prints through the Scripture. He leads and I long and I plead, Please. Please show me how to love You.

He speaks it through His Word, that He is steadfast and loving, faithful and kind and I see all the ways that I am not.

Until I see Jesus. Until His Incarnation is unpacked and my union with Him is explained and I can feel it - joy and love filling up my exhausted soul. And I want Him. I want to stop all the running and just stand in the realization that I am loved and He is loving and The Holy God Who created me steadfastly loves me because I am in His Son.

The Abundant God - He hears the cries of His children. He sees the weariness and all the not-quite-enough tries. He sees it, but when we are in Christ - He sees what Jesus has done.

There is rest here - rest for my heart that is done with the how's. I just want the Who.

Now, my track record for follow through has been a bit sketchy at best - but this book by one of my favorite author's is just that good. It is what I wish I had had 15 years ago when I first began all this trying - I want to unpack it chapter by chapter because I'm falling in love like I never have before.

Thursdays? Thursdays here (hopefully consistently) will open pages and underline notes and discover the beauty that Jesus is; feel the love that He has for sinners and find rest in the mystery of union with Him.

Thursdays will find my soul soaking in this truth: that I have undeservedly, incredibly, overwhelmingly been Found in Him.

There is a line in The Greatest Gift that held me steady throughout the beautiful and hard days of December - and it was this:

The answer to deep anxiety is the deep adoration of God.

A God Who has made Himself known in the face of Jesus. A God Who fills with The Holy Spirit...The God Who loves His own with an immovable love. A steady love.

We can know Him and in knowing Him we can find the deepest love.  And the deepest joy.

And we can stop incessantly searching because are already found,

we are found safe and whole in His Son.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Dear Zeruiah {A Birthday Post}

You turn one today as the fog rolled in over the hills around us and the only fanfare you heard was the song of your brother and sisters.

You turn one only once and this mama's heart aches and that candle was blown out by the two sisters at your side.

I wanted today to last forever and I want tomorrow to stretch out long too.

You are the fourth and the youngest and wildly unique and the laughter you were born on is the laughter you bring and as you napped this afternoon I listened to the song that marked your transition and I long for you to know Jesus as holy and good.

The days will come, sure and steady - roll faster and faster one upon the other.  There will be days that seem sluggish and mundane and others that will leave you breathless and reaching to wring out just one. more. moment.

But my prayer for you, sweet Zeruiah, is that in all the days that He gives to you, you will offer each one back to Him. That He will give you eyes to see that what seems mundane and worthless to the world around you are actually sacred places for His glory to shine...through you.

You were created to be filled - may you be filled with the One Who created you.

You will be hurt and your heart broken - may those broken places be where He shines His light most brightly.

You will feel lost and unsure - may your feet always lead you back to the very feet of Jesus.

I think back to the moments between 2 pink lines and your heartbeat fluttering on that monitor...I was so unsure.

And then you, my precious girl whose very presence embodies the meaning of your name. You truly are a balm of God.

Tonight under clouds and stars you sleep, and tomorrow you will wake up and wave your hands until you have a banana on your plate, but know this little one - your mama loves you and the God Who planned out your very days is wooing you even now with a love faithful and strong.

I love you, sweet baby. Always.

~ Mama