Tuesday, March 29, 2011

With My Face In the Dust

There are days and nights where it seems as if all of the world could be rooting for us to win and succeed, and others that seem as if all of the world could be rooting for us to face plant and eat dirt the rest of our lives.  The days and nights I have found to be the most memorable, the most impactful in all of my life are the blessed moments when I feel as if I am being summoned to eat the foundation of man.

This is not one of those posts where I will complain about how my life is going terribly and I have found Christ in the chaos (which I have indeed found Christ in chaos, or better yet, He has found me) but instead quite the opposite. I am in a season in life where things seem to be working out but the words of CS Lewis keep going around and around in my head.  I see him sitting in his chair with his pipe sticking out of his mouth and him wagging his finger at me saying, “you know, Chris, just as I wrote about in Screwtape Letters, the most greatest times in our lives are in the valley.  All the mountain usually does is screw us up”… and so what I guess I am doing with this post is doing my best at trying to let the Spirit still control me from the inside outside, to continue to move me and melt me and mold me although I am on a mountain.

It’s funny as I glance back over high school, for most of the years past I have been in the valley.  I have had to trust so much on the love of Christ and over the past couple of years I have found joy in the nights of weeping and hurting.  But this year, my senior year, as lives are being changed and Christ is moving, I find myself sometimes going far too flippantly through out my days. I will go hours before I even think about praying to my King.  I remember the days when the words, “ceaseless prayer” became much more than just a command but a reality to my aching heart.  I remember the days where I believed that no one was for me and those were the days I can point to and credit much of what God has done in my heart.  But today as I sit here in Starbucks (where I honestly have spent more time during my senior year than school), the Spirit keeps gently, but so strongly, whispering to me to make sure that I learn from the words of Jeremiah.

“Let them lie face down in the dust,
for there may be hope at last.” –Lam. 3:29

I need to taste more dust.  I need to eat more hope.

My sister often says how we read this verse over and over again but miss Jeremiah’s desperate plea with these beautiful words.  Not only is this hope full of sorrow, but a brilliant and monumental mix of sorrow and joy. In the valley (which Jeremiah knew as a best friend it seems like), we see the love of our great King.  In the valley, when we are forced by the world to eat the dirt, we taste the goodness of Jesus.

What the Lord has brought out in my life this year has been that even on the mountain (which is sadly, but on the same hand, joyously becoming all too familiar) God is God.  Whether I am winning or I am losing, God is always God. He is always there, always real, always moving.  It doesn’t matter at all whether I give Him glory for Him to be glorified.  He doesn’t need me.  If I don’t praise Him, someone else will (and is), and if they don’t praise Him, rocks will!  Our great God will get praise, whether it is from me or not… whether I am on the mountain or in the valley.

My friend Zac always talks about how modern Christianity has lost sorrow.  Meaning simply that we are so content with going to church and slapping hands with our “church family” that our hearts don’t break at the truth of people not knowing Jesus.  The deep truth that my brother Zac has helped me see is this: the men and women who change the world have intimately known deep and rigorous sorrow but also rest and walk in the undeniable and unexplainable joy of Christ.  Men like Paul who was constantly writing about how he had physical pain because people didn’t know Jesus but also was overwhelmed by the goodness of His Savior.  Men like Bill Bright who radiated the joy of Jesus but as I have often heard, would weep because of how many people died without ever learning to live.  Women like Mother Teresa who spent her life loving people with a broken heart and a full spirit.

I can only pray that Jesus keeps teaching me how to give Him and all the glory even on the mountain… I pray that He will break my heart more and more and let me see His goodness on my knees.

Pray for me my friends that I will die to myself each day and let Jesus live instead of myself.  I have such a long way to go but I am truly on the greatest journey known to man.  By the mercy and blood of Christ I am learning to walk with Him, to know the God of the Universe, and my heart can only stammer in response a small Hallelujah.  Pray for me my brothers and sisters, for my life is worth nothing except for praising our King and I know that beautiful fact… I want to know Jesus and to make Him known and for His words to be the only words I live by.  I want to one day, when I see Jesus face to face, be able to fall into His arms knowing I am at last meeting my Soul’s One Desire.  I want to desire nothing else but Him.  I am not there yet, but how sweet it is that we serve a patient and kind God who is furiously loving me and teaching me to die, in turn only to abundantly and eternally live for His Glory.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

daddy! daddy!

I hate to hear myself talk.  When I do, I cringe at the sound of every time I nervously say, “its kind of a big deal” because I don’t know what else to say.  I hate the shallowness of my voice and I actually find it funny that I can be a grammar Nazi all day on paper but when it comes to speaking, I have no such discipline.  A couple of months ago I got to speak at my youth group and a couple of weeks ago I was informed that my podcast was on iTunes.  I thought that was pretty cool… I mean, hey, I’ve never been on iTunes before.  So I took advantage of this once in a lifetime deal and downloaded my own podcast (can you imagine Brandon Flowers downloading his own Killer’s album?) and last night for the first time sat down to listen to it.  I couldn’t finish it though.  Like I said earlier, I hate to listen to myself talk and last night I just couldn’t take it.
            When I was speaking I shared part of my story and it’s humorous how Jesus used my own message to spark a something deep inside of me last night.  Every now and then I need to be reminded of what a colossal douche I was once.  Every now and then I need to be given the image of me spending long hours alone immersed in my sin and deep into misery.  It’s good for me to see my depravity.  And as I listened to the message I vividly was reminded of how for years and years I claimed Christ and spit in His face daily, whether that was by spending too long of hours learning plays, or shooting a basketball, or once again retiring to the snare of my best web friends.  He was behind me the whole time, begging me to just turn around.  And it wasn’t until He finally cut me open that I at last turned to see His arms stretched wide.
            Often, I imagine when I had ankle surgery that Jesus was the one cutting into my ankle with that scalpel.  I can see Him pushing into my skin as huge tears roll down his face and I scream as loud as I can to just make sure He knows that I am in agony.  I can hear His voice softly saying, “Chris. Chris. Chris.”
            This past weekend my family took care of some friend’s kids.  They are 3 and 1 years old and it was a blast.  This morning as my dad was bringing them on a walk, the little girl, Maggie, fell and scraped her knee pretty good.  I heard her start wailing as my mom carried her hurriedly in her arms up the stairs and into their room.  I was standing in the next room as I heard my mom try to calm her down.  Since she’s obviously not at her own home she kept yelling “Daddy!  Daddy!” and then what happened next cut me so close to the heart that I thought I was once again laying on the operating table. 
            When my mom started to clean her knee I heard Maggie start screaming, “No!  No!  No!  It hurts!  It hurts!” Tears started to well up strongly in my eyes as I saw so clearly the previous chapters of own story.  For years I said no to Jesus and then when He finally turned me eyes to see Him, I still yelled, just as Maggie was, “No!  No!  No!  It hurts!  It hurts!”  But the thing is that my mom had to clean her knee and Maggie didn’t know that if she didn’t clean her knee, it would all be much worse.  Maggie can’t see long term and she doesn’t know if it wasn’t taken care of now, infection could come.  The same principle is applied to the story I heard myself telling about me last night.  I didn’t know the long term when I was mad at God for taking sports away from me.  I didn’t know that unless he cut me open and turned my eyes towards Him, I might never have given my life fully to Him.  He knew that.  I didn’t.
            Jesus allowed me to hear and see a beautiful rendition of His love for me and us this morning through my mom and Maggie.  In the midst of Maggie yelling, “Daddy and it hurts”, Jesus painted a sweet portrait of how we may not understand pain and hurt now, but one day, one glorious day, we will.  He is so good, so loving, so real, so close.  And it scares me to even think of how my life would be now if He had stopped moving that knife when I kept exclaiming, “No!  No!  No!  It hurts!  It hurts!”

“And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as His children?  He said, “My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when He corrects you.  For the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes each one he accepts as His child.” –Hebrews 12:5-6