Category: God


Proof

Tonight I was listening to some old music.

By old music, I mean Lifehouse’s “No Name Face” album.
The year Matt and I got together, it was practically all we listened to.

There was a lot of spiritual significance the whole album. It will always be one of my all-time favorites, but the track I always loved best was “Breathing.”

I’m finding my way back to sanity again,
Though I don’t really know what I’m going to do when I get there.
Take a breath and hold on tight,
Spin around one more time,
And gracefully fall back to the arms of Grace.

‘Cause I am hanging on every word you say and,
Even if you don’t want to speak tonight that’s alright,
Alright with me.
‘Cause I want nothing more than to sit outside Heaven’s door and listen to you breathing,
Is where I want to be.
Yeah.
Where I want to be.

I’m looking past the shadows in my mind into the truth and I’m,
Trying to identify the voices in my head.
God which one’s you?
Let me feel one more time what it feels like to feel alive,
And break these calluses off of me,
One more time.

‘Cause I am hanging on every word you say and,
Even if you don’t want to speak tonight that’s alright,
Alright with me.
‘Cause I want nothing more than to sit outside your door and listen to you breathing,
Is where I want to be.

I don’t want a thing from you.
Bet you’re tired of me waiting for the scraps to fall off your table to the ground.

‘Cause I just want to be here now.

When I was listening to it tonight, I got to thinking about how your priorities shift when you really, truly realize what matters most to you.

The song really deals with that, about putting yourself on hold for just a glimpse, a mutter or whisper from that someone or something that matters the most.

The way I see it is that when you get past thinking about how everything God does benefits you personally, and go through a dark time in your life, you become more interested in knowing that at least He is out there somewhere. Regardless of whether or not you get to partake, enter the promised land, or what have you, it becomes important just to see His evidence. Proof.

It becomes an obsession to find Him moving somewhere, even if it isn’t with you. As long as He exists, life goes on.

I’m not sure what happens after that.

Matt and I are big fans of The Hard Rock Cafe. The closest one to us is 2-2.5 hours away, so needless to say, we don’t eat there often.
Aside from expecting an awesome bacon cheeseburger (real women eat cheeseburgers, thx), I have several things to look forward to.  If I were to be honest, I have greater excitement & anticipation in going there than to church most days (But don’t tell them I said that).

The truth is, there are just some things businesses (like Hard Rock) get that the Church, in general, doesn’t. Not to say that there aren’t exceptions to that statement (as it is a broad one) but these are things I have experienced.

The Hard Rock Cafe knows what people want & aims to give it to them.
HRC has found people want tasty, fun food, in a fun & unique atmosphere, enjoying great music.
Don’t give me that “what people want isn’t always what people need” thing, I understand that, but it just makes sense that when you go out to meet people’s needs, without tending to wants, people aren’t satisfied. Because at some point, wants become needs, and to avoid that reality means you avoid people. How the Church is missing the mark, is that they try to feed people (good), but they’re not feeding people palatable food (bad), and the atmosphere is dry (bad), so people may get nutrition (good), but if they don’t enjoy the experience, they won’t come back. If I didn’t enjoy HRC food and atmosphere, I’d be eating somewhere else.

The Hard Rock Cafe celebrates, & is enjoyed by the generations.
I, in my 20’s can go to the HRC and find something in the rock & roll memorabilia that I relate to and enjoy seeing. My brother, in his 30’s, can find something he relates to and enjoys seeing, and my mother, in her 50’s, can do the same.  Prophetically, the Church is still not quite on target here. There is still a disjointedness between the younger up&comers, and the older we’veseenit’s. One ministry always seems to receive more preference than the other (usually because of the pastor’s deference to one particular group), and so a bridge doesn’t seem to emerge. We must learn to appreciate the innovations & contributions of those who’ve gone before us, and to honor them; in doing so, we can’t neglect to honor the achievements and promise of the emergent generations. Hard Rock knows this, and as such, they are doing very well.

The Hard Rock Cafe Has a Great Mission Statement.
“Love All, Serve All” is the motto emblazoned on every restaurant they own. A hindu phrase, to be true, but that doesn’t nullify the understanding that comes with it. It was better conveyed by Jesus who said, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” “Do unto others as you’d have done unto yourself,” or “He who would be first, must be last.” Pick your favorite. Oftimes it seems that the message that comes from the Church (or those members who are just perhaps more vocal than the rest) is that of obligation, implying that Christ is owed obedience by the world. While true, it would seem that our words often attest more to this belief than our actions do. I’d much rather be occupied with changing the world than telling unbelievers what a disappointment they are to God (which is ludicrous) that they aren’t behaving themselves. Bottom line, the great commission states we’re to “go ye unto the world and tell the gospel.” Not “go ye unto the world and tell them how much they suck.” Trust me, in my B.C. days,  I knew I sucked. I didn’t need a reminder.

Overall, sometimes it is easier to feel more at ease and accepted inside of a restaurant than the house of God. But at both establishments, I essentially expect the same things: food, fellowship, and that I’ll give them money at the end. My only exhortation is that maybe we can learn a little bit from those who might have a slightly larger congregation than we do.

Not my job

The other night (my husband) Matt and I had dinner with a long-time family friend. Matt’s family used to go to the same church as his family did, and Matt’s father also worked with him at the local engine manufacturing plant.

I’d never met this gentleman before, but I was immediately excited when Matt said “…he played a big part in me getting saved.”

After sitting down with him and hearing him speak, I found myself a little disenchanted, hearing more Christian rhetoric & disillusionment than the words of faith I’d prepared myself for. I really started to feel disappointed, and found myself judging this man. I had no malicious intent in doing it, it honestly seemed innocent enough to me at the time.

Then, very gently, the Lord spoke to me. “Wait a minute. What has he done?” So that got me thinking:

– Because of his influence, my husband now knows God.
– Because of his obedience, my husband agreed to go with him to visit my church (1,000 miles away from here), and subsequently, Matt enrolled in their Bible college.
– Because of he enrolled in Bible college, Matt and I met and eventually married.
– Because of Matt, my life was changed forever.

And I sat in judgment of who I saw before me, despite all that this man did in his spare time.

I’m only seeing a very small portion of the fruit he’s borne in his life. How much more is there that I don’t see? Or that noone will ever see? What about all of the other people I’ve done the same to? That’s a little scary.

It put me in my place pretty quickly, to remember that even though he wasn’t what I was expecting, it’s the Lord that directs his steps. It’s not my job to judge him; he doesn’t work for me.

Finding God in a Discount Store

Belief doesn’t come easily to me. I tend to expect the worst, while hoping for the best.

Because of this trait, my husband thinks of me as a pessimist.

I, however, prefer to think of myself as a realist with pessimistic undertones.

Getting on with the point of all this, last year I found myself resting in a soaking prayer room of a (somewhat) local church. The soundtrack was a monologue from an unknown preacher speaking on the goodness of God. Now, to reiterate, I do not believe easily. It’s not that I doubt the probability of God’s goodness, I just don’t understand it (Which is probably why God’s attempts to convince me of it have grown so desperate as to employ squirrels).

The monologue went on for a good 20 minutes. Toward the end, the orator explains how he became convinced of God’s goodness, saying “I know, because God has been relentlessly and deliberately kind to me every day of my life. I literally expect to see the goodness of God every single day and I am never disappointed.”

This struck me. It had never occurred to me that this could happen.

Shortly thereafter, on our way to go Christmas shopping in Marshalls, I remembered his words. So, I asked God: “I want to see your love today. I accept that I should look for it, but please help me to see it and not miss it.”

While rounding a corner in the store, I came to an impasse with the most jolly, adorable-looking person I’ve seen in years: He was old, probably around 80, wearing a long black wool coat and a matching taxi cap. He would have been probably 5’7” or 8” except that he was hunched over a good deal, making him shoulder-high to my 5’5” frame. He smiled impishly at me, chirping “oops!”, as I moved to let him pass. In only 3 seconds, I’d fallen head-over-heels for this absolutely precious little man with an actual, true-to-life twinkle in his eyes.

I continued to watch as he and his wife shopped (presumably for Christmas gifts, as well). Every item he picked up, he seemed to take it all in for its potential: imagining the taste of every box of candy, the comfort of a pair of mittens, and giggling like a child with every funny Christmas card he saw. He was truly glad to be alive, thrilled by everything around him.

I didn’t have a clue what to do with the sudden swell of affection I had for this gentleman, but I was enjoying it.

It wasn’t until Matt and I were on our way home that the truth began to sink in. I’d asked for God’s love and I’d found it. At first I didn’t quite understand, because I wanted to experience, I reasoned, how God loved ME. Instead, I saw how God loved HIM.

I was then (politely) reminded of my nature.

“What would you have done, if I’d showered my affection on you?” the voice said.

And then I realized. I would have reduced the “showering” to mere chance. A gracious whim of the ‘verse.

But, because I felt the depth, joy, and gravity of His affection for someone I had no “reason” to love, I believed.

God, the Greeks, and Hancock

At the appreciable risk of sounding lame, I’ll share with you an observation I made on the way home during this Christmas season.

What if God was like us? There’s a song about it. Lyrics here.

But going further, what if God were really like us? Selfish, defensive, corrupt, opportunistic, and immature? Yes, you’d end up with a guy named “Hancock” (In the beginning there was Hancock and he was a jerk) but besides that?

Virtually all societies, like the Greek & Roman societies, made gods in their own image: conniving, angry, paranoid and quick to punish; putting an enormous price on their favor and goodwill which only lasted a brief moment.

This is what we do. We expect from God what we expect from ourselves…And we have all of those aforementioned traits. 🙂

In contrast, we read about a God who is willing to send His Son to die for us, knowing fully well that we’ll never measure up to the Son He gave up for us in the first place. And He loves me in spite of me. That’s much better than anything I could come up with.

Plus, it’s not worth believing in a god who is no better than we are, even if he would have cool toys like lightning to play with.

The Crazy Squirrel Lady

I’ve seen my future, and I’m the crazy squirrel lady. It’s ok, I’ve accepted it.

To begin with, I like squirrels. Luckily, where we live has a rather dense population of them.

I literally light up when I see one. One of the first things I do in the morning is look out my kitchen window to see if there are any in the yard.

Likewise, I get sad when one becomes road kill. I’ve tried warning them to stay off the road but they just look at me funny and scurry away.

Recently, Matt and I brought them a bag of walnuts from his parents’ tree. We left them by the hedge at our house where the squirrels would find them. They did. It was fun to watch the pile diminish and know they enjoyed them.

Then I started noticing how similar this must be to how God thinks of me. God doesn’t love me because I’m useful. He just does. Why do I like squirrels? They’re cute. That’s about it. Squirrels will never sweep my porch, wash my car or bake me a cake. I’m ok with that.

God tries to keep me off the road. Sometimes I listen. Other times, I make funny faces at God and scurry away. The tragedy is I fear Him when all He’s trying to do is keep me out of trouble.

He does stuff to make me happy. He leaves me gifts and hopes that I’ll recognize they are from Him. It’s sad when I believe I did something to deserve or earn them.

I just wish the squirrels would realize I love them and that they shouldn’t fear me; but, I figure if God is still trying to accomplish that with me, I probably have a ways to go yet with the squirrel community.

Hearing v. Listening

I was thinking about the ways God uses to speak: prayer, reading, visions, dreams, etc.

I’ve spent years chasing these, wanting the major experiences others write and speak about.

I’ve had some, but I’ve never had the more obvious or “fantastic,” like a vision or hearing the audible voice of God. After spending time pushing for something “big” and never receiving it, I got tired of knocking myself out.

Then, I became so desperate to hear God that I started looking for Him all the time. I really didn’t care how He’d say something, just that He would. I began noticing little messages around me that I hadn’t before. Music, movies, books and TV all of a sudden mattered much more than they ever did. I realized that God was capable of using anything to talk to me – and He was.

I stopped telling God how to speak to me and let Him choose.

So maybe that’s the point. I was putting all my energy into what I wanted to do and how I wanted to hear and that’s not what hearing is. Hearing comes from listening.