Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Waking up to the reality of Hope(and something about Sasquatches)

Do I have to?   

Yesterday I found myself getting up on the wrong side of the bed.  Same side but somehow wrong. With a foggy mind, heavy thoughts and sluggish eyelids I labored through breakfast. My husband tried to band us together to knock out a few chores before beginning our day but I only managed minimal output while groaning like a Sasquatch(apparently sasquatch is a proper noun) all throughout.  Only a few short hours later I crawled into my preschoolers bed to try to calm his difficult emotions and to shut out my day.  As I lay there half in, half out of the land of the living my mind began to sing a worship song about waking up.  I laughed inwardly, barely awake with the song growing in intensity in my mind.

"Awaken my soul, come awake"

I continued to try to sleep as my mind kept singing,  "Spirit of the living God come fall afresh on me.  Come wake me from my sleep.  Blow through the caverns of my soul, pour in me to overflow.  To overflow."

"Spirit of the...."

"Alright, God I'm getting up."

Holy Spirit with a sense of humor?  I think so.

I've struggled and thankfully walked through and out of bouts of depression, unexpected intense anxiety and a trauma that at times caused post traumatic stress.  I don't say this to get pity(or to scare you from inviting me over to your house) but because I believe that these things are so common and yet so taboo to speak about.  There are chemical and hormonal changes that our bodies go through because of pregnancy, lack of sleep, improper nutrition, and many other regular, everyday things that can cause our minds some sort of imbalance.  There are also difficult life changes and stress that can overwhelm us causing us to be susceptible to mental imbalance, like a virus.  These things should not be taboo, should not be shameful.  They are all too common and treatable.  Even the scarier imbalances are still a medical condition, an illness where the root of the issue needs to be searched out and taken care of, where there is hope.  The problem may be simple or multifaceted but there is always hope.

It might sound odd out of context of a certain sermon but recently the phrase, "God doesn't negotiate with hopelessness;" has stuck in my mind.  Knowing I cannot do that sermon justice in a few phrases I'll just tell you that the phrase was referencing Gideon.  Pointing out that some of the negative, insecure things that Gideon was believing about himself were not true but that God did not even address that.  He just spoke to Gideon as if he had already overcome, as if he was always the warrior of faith that God was calling him to be.

What I see is that in the Kingdom of God and within God is all Hope.  Hope is the reality, not a chance with a large possibility of doomed failure.  So God is working from a perspective that we cannot always grasp.  Where Hope is tangible and Healing is not out of reach.  And hopelessness is like a tiny, little thought terrorist, stealing our joy, wrecking our trust and ability to move forward.  So God's not going to negotiate with it because hopelessness is just a lie wrapped up in pretty packaging that makes us identify with it, not question it.  So he just speaks truth and it alters our reality and allows us to see more clearly.  To wake up.  Ha, like the Matrix or C.S. Lewis's The Silver Chair or that movie where you need bathtubs to help wake you out of dreams.  Except we wake up to see our real enemy and a much better reality where hope is real and heavens resources are endless(no bathtub needed).

Not real.  We're done now.

 In one of my hardest moments I was driving down the highway from my in-laws in what felt like the middle of a nightmare.  I was breaking at the seams and it felt as though my heart couldn't handle one more minute in my current reality.  I have no idea what I prayed but I think I asked, "God where are you?", my voice and thoughts flooded with anger and confusion.  I was clinging to the notion that God was Good because I could point directly back to places in my life where I knew he had come through but I felt myself slipping, grasping.  Then all of a sudden I felt lifted out of the darkness and almost placed on the other side of it.  I could sense there was another side, something I could apprehend past the pain and with that came peace.  No answers yet, just peace.

So here are some awesome verses:

Zephaniah 3:17 

“The LORD your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing."

Romans 8:37-39 

“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Jeremiah 29:11 

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

And.......there's more.  Like this one!  Ba-Bam Scripture!

1 Corinthians 13:6-8

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.

All this to say when you hear that whisper of hope listen closer.  Watch out for it, anticipate it because God is in relentless pursuit of our hearts.  Let it wake you from your weariness and let you see more clearly the hope of your calling, your hope in the darkness.  We all need a little waking up sometimes.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

5 or 6 barrels of wine

So I don't know if you've ever felt this way but whenever I've read the miracles of Jesus I've felt as if the miracle of Jesus turning the water into wine seemed odd or maybe like a side random thing Jesus did.  Not saying I don't see purpose in celebration but this miracle is so different than any of his other miracles.  No healing, no demons driven out, just lavish celebration.  

As I'd read my inner self would scrunch up it's nose and say- "Oh don't worry about that miracle.  His mom made him do it.  Doesn't mean anything." (I'm questioning right now whether or not to get snarkier with my comments.  Just thought you should know)

So I asked God because honestly, it didn't make sense to have an "insignificant miracle" and now I find myself wholly taken up with a word picture of Christs purpose on Earth. 

I haven't been able to get this thought out of my head.  This thought that Jesus Is the water turned to wine.  John 7:37 & Mark 14:23-24  The living water and the wine!  You see as much as I know and have experienced father God/Jesus Christ/Holy Spirit as loving , joyful, wooing me to repentance, Christs blood as wine has reminded me only of the crushing pain Christ went through on the way to the cross not the joy that strengthened him to get there.  

Christs 1st miracle was more than a wine bottle given as a hostess gift though.

This was an extravagant gift, gallons and gallons of the best wine with the host being surprised and remarking at this extravagance.  Without knowing about the miracle the Master of the banquet says in John 2, "Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.". 

If you were to buy one bottle of aged fine wine, it could cost hundreds of dollars.

Jesus gave gallons.

Six stone water jars each holding from twenty to thirty gallons each!  This was like the feeding of the 5 thousand but with wine.  If it was just the 20 gallons a piece that's still 120 gallons of the best wine!  And for what?  A wedding where they had already been celebrating for awhile.  

I felt a quiet joy welling up inside at this thought that I still can't quite comprehend.  Jesus's blood as an extravagant incomprehensible outpouring that defies logic.  Why this price?  Why so much?  Wine can represent that crushing but it also represents sustenance, joy and celebration.  

And what our we celebrating but the union or marriage between the bride of Christ back to God.  All separations between us and God are removed!

And to top this off what water did Christ turn in wine?

 It says in John 2:6 that they were stone water jars normally used for ceremonial washing.  When Christ died, the curtain in the temple leading into the most holy of holies was torn from top to bottom signifying the removal of boundaries keeping us from entering into Gods presence.  No more trying to clean ourselves up in every way possible to be able have relationship with the most holy .  Christs blood has given us access, has washed us clean. 

He is the celebration and we are his.  He is our extravagant joy and we are his!  This is the joy abiding in him and set before him.  This is some good news.