Tag Archives: Not My own

Sensei God

Hey Guys!  Meagan’s back with her brilliant thoughts! 

While my husband and I were on a backpacking vacation this summer, I poured out my heart to God, sitting in our tent. I have poured out my heart many times over the past two years, as we have faced physical, emotional and spiritual struggles like none I’ve never experienced. While I was in that tent, ferociously scrawling out prayers and thoughts into my tiny travel journal, a word came to me: Abide. It was unmistakably a word from God. Abide. What does that mean anyway? It means stay. To stay within, and partake fully in something. God told me to abide in him.

Specifically, he wanted me not to be looking for anything while I abide. Soley to know him better by staying in his presence. Over the past years I have been constantly seeking answers about my future, my past, how to deal with a lot of pain. I look for purpose, I ask for direction, I pray for all kinds of temporal blessings. All of those aren’t bad things until they become a laundry list of requests as if we are wishing to a Genie. God is not a wish-granting factory. He is a God of relationship.

So, I spent the rest of vacation pondering that word, abide, and how I might proceed to abide when I returned home. I began reading a daily devotional that is specific to experiencing the presence of God and how he sees, guides and nurtures us. Through scripture, the short daily readings have expanded my understanding of his character, and taught me to trust him with my life. That’s a HUGE step for a control freak.

Though, when you think about it, aren’t we all control freaks? We make every decision based on our belief that we can command the outcome of every part our lives. If something goes wrong in our master plan, we look for where we screwed up our system, or blame someone else for screwing it up.

In abiding, I’ve been trying to learn how to let go of that habit, and let God handle my outcomes. But like a classic control freak, I got wrapped up in the habit of “doing my devotional” rather than practicing the Presence of God. I went back to my usual daily treadmill, kind of half-praying to him when I “got the chance”  instead of truly listening to him. I let myself be distracted by every other thing.

This happens when we start feeling confident and good, doesn’t it? We forget to hang out with God. Or we remember, but put it off. Why IS that? Why do we forget to commune? We start relying on our own perceived strength and promptly forget he was the one who picked us up off the floor in the first place. Talk about lack of gratitude. Talk about abandoning and ignoring a friend that has helped, you, or rather, saved your ass.

When my life started getting disorganized and overwhelming again, I realized the auto-pilot habit I got into. I had a one-on-one date with God to just hang out. I need that radio-muted, inner-racket-muted, TV-off, chores-left, quiet, in order to hear him and really communicate — two ways. He doesn’t yell over my own noise. He waits for me to pursue him and gently reminds me that he is pursuing me.

This season, where I’m waiting and kind of wrestling with him to stop trying to run after some life that I find “meaningful,” is the abiding season. In a desert, there’s nothing else to do but talk to God. And drink lots of water.

The purpose is not to do anything but know him. Not to halfway know and then ask for something, but to really KNOW. Not to try to get answers, but just be still and know. Know his character, know what he expects from me, let him teach me His ways (which are so far from my ways, it’s laughable) and take those ways as my own. Sort of like a Sensei and his student.

There’s a scene in the movie Kill Bill, where Kung Fu Master Pai Mei teaches his student, Beatrix Kiddo, to punch a hole through a 4-inch thick wall. He says to her, “Now that your arm belongs to me, I want it strong.” She spends the next several months with a broken, swollen hand, learning to master the wall.

Displaying Pai_Mei_teaching_Bride_Punch.jpg

In the same way, our body, mind and soul belong to God. Like any good teacher, God shows us our weaknesses, through our own flailing attempts control our lives. When we end up in a puddle on the floor, he uses our utter dependence upon his mercy to rebuild us with divine strength. Strength that actually lasts. Strength that can beat any foe.

This process is going to take a LOOOOONG time for me. God has a lot to teach me, and is very patient. Meanwhile, I’m very flawed, very undisciplined, and incredibly impatient. I am going to have to hit a wall with my fist until I break my hand.

I  challenge you to learn what it means to abide in God and learn his ways as your Sensei.

I challenge you to discipline your mind so that you can give your full attention to the ultimate teacher.

More than anything, I challenge you to fully trust him. Every morning, choose to let go of your little dominion of control, and let him handle your worries, fears, and doubts. Let him show you the better way, through his eternal view.

I’ve been practicing these three moves, and I can tell you from experience, it’s been the most rewarding learning in my life. If God can redeem a disaster case like mine, he’ll do it for you, too. He’s made that promise in his infallible Word — Check out Genesis 28:15, Hebrews 11:6-7 and Psalm 37:4-7.

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Facebook, peer pressure, cold water, and what to do

It happened.

I knew it would, and I had been trying to figure out how to respond to it when it did, but, when it actually happened, I still didn’t have a clue.

See, there’s this thing, going around on Facebook where people dump water over their heads in support of a horrible degenerative disease that goes by the initials ALS, and since over half my Facebook friends are kids, well, I was gonna get nominated to dump ice over my head at some point, sooner or later.

But see, I’m in this thoughtful season of life, when I want to think about everything before I do it.  So, I wanted to know where I actually stood on this “challenge” thing before I simply lemming-style dumped five gallons of ice on me – in public (well, filmed, and then posted on Facebook, so the modern form of public).  I know, I know, I’m probably over-thinking it.  Or, as my brother would affectionately say, I’m “femaling it up”.

But I didn’t want to just mindlessly dump water over my head.  And no, it’s not because it’s cold.

See, I want my kids to think through something before they do it.  And if I want that from them, then I need to model it.

And I’m not really sure of the best response.  See, ALS is a degenerative disease where you lose control of everything.  And that’s horrible.  And if pouring a bucket of ice over my head will help someone research it and come up with a cure – great.  Pour five buckets over my head.  But see, pouring a bucket over my head means that I’m not giving money to fund that person to go find that cure.  So, I should give money.  Which I’d do if I had any (being a student will take all the money you’ve got – and then some).  But even then, even still, I wouldn’t feel comfortable with it.  Because, see, if I simply give money, than I can be done.  I don’t have to think about it anymore.  I can say I did my part and go dive back into school papers, or hiking in the mountains, or drinking coffee with one of my teens.

But that’s not really what we’re called to do as Christians.  We’re called to sit with each other in our pain.  We are called to help someone out – to take care of them – no matter what.  To stay there, where they are.  Not to throw money at them and then walk away.  Not to say, “Hey, look how much I care; I’m pouring water over my head” and then walk away.  I’m called to befriend those in pain, those who are uncomfortable, those who will ask much of me because they can’t give anything back.

So, how do I do that?  I don’t know anyone with ALS.  Do I go find someone who has ALS?  Do I just accept that God hasn’t put anyone in my life with ALS and focus on the people He has put in my life – and their needs?

Truth is – I don’t know.  I could dump a bucket of water over my head in solidarity or something, sure.  But…doesn’t that just bring more attention to me than to the thousands suffering?  I mean somewhere the video label will say ALS on it, and so everyone will know I care…but do I, really?

The only answer that comes to mind, as I wrestle with this, is one that feels trite because it has been a Christian cop-out so often – prayer.

I don’t know anyone with ALS; I don’t have anything to give; I don’t really believe pouring a bucket of watery frigidness will do any good, so what do I have?

I have God.  I have prayer.  And, in the long run, assuming I actually pray and ask God to do a work – in my heart at the very least – that might be the most powerful thing I could do.

Note – if I felt God was calling me to do something about ALS specifically, this would be different.  Maybe I’ll talk about that next week.

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Potential Prepping and Reflections on Open Hands

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This particular blog post is probably more for me than for anyone else, but here goes anyway.

I think God’s prepping me for something, and in His divine wisdom, He’s not telling me what for.  See, two of my closest friends left the state on Sunday, and will leave the country in a couple days, following the path that God has so obviously laid in front of them.  These are two of maybe five or six people who know me – the ins and outs of me.  Which hurts, their leaving – for they are taking a rather large chunk of my heart with them –  but at the same time, I am so excited for them!

But, oddly enough, over the last two and a half weeks, three books have made their way into my hands – one before this last Sunday, and two within these past couple days.  All from different sources, all kinda just showing up.  But all three books have a couple things in common – they all are stories of people saying, “yes” to God, no matter how ludicrous His request is.  One girl left the US and is living in Uganda, surrounded by hundreds of children who are no longer quite as hungry,  who are getting an education, and who are (most importantly) learning tangibly of God’s love for them, because of what God’s doing through her “yes”.  Another was the story of a Texan-stay-at-home momma whose husband started seeing things differently.  And when God changed her heart too, they as a family, started a house for teenage pregnant mothers in Kenya.  The third book is written by a lawyer who, while still definitely rooted in the States, has had many crazy adventures all over the planet because he simply says “yes” every time God calls him.

Seriously – all three books have landed in my path recently.  That, piled on top of my friends who are doing exactly the same thing, and I’m left a little bewildered at the possibility of what God is trying to do in me, or with me, or prepping me for.

I’m jealous of all of them – I want to be a part ofbig, crazy, only-God-could-do-this stories.  I want to hold everything that “belongs” to me with open hands, so that when He asks me to do…who knows what, I don’t mind giving the man on the street my scarf, or spending my non-existent savings to meet someone’s need, or, or, or I don’t know.

Sunrise at St. Malo's

But, as I was praying about this desire inside me (again) this morning, my eyes landed on a picture on my wall.  A long time ago (okay, so like, 3 and a half years) I was pouring my heart out to God at a little retreat center in the mountains, asking God what was next, asking Him what He wanted of me. One of the mornings, as I was watching the sunrise, I saw the sun coming up behind a tree, highlighting the tree.  And He reminded me that all He wanted of me – was ME.  That’s all He wants from me – for me to be the woman that He originally created me to be.  The story He has picked out for me is my own, it’s not going to look like anyone else’s.  But, in order for the story to be how He intends it, I need to be as fully me as possible.  Which, of course, is only possible through Him.  Oy.

So, I don’t know what God’s prepping me for.  If He’s going to ask me to move to Africa when I graduate (or before), or if (as I suspect) it’s something far more local.  But I think, for now, I get to learn to live a life that continues to pursue Him, and the passions and desires He has placed within me.  And I get to learn how to do that with hands wide open, allowing Him to take and give what He chooses (possessions, opportunities, friendships, time, etc.).  Which is hard in our rather consumeristic society.   But those around me need Jesus too, and they need to see someone who is not giving into the overwhelming (on so many levels) materialism that numbs us to our deepest need – God.

I don’t know what that looks like exactly yet for me, but that’s what I am going to strive for.  A life that is not my own.  A life that is not dependant on stuff (I say that sitting in my bedroom which is packed with STUFF – most of it stuff that I don’t want to get rid of).  A life of open hands.  A life of saying, “yes” and trusting that He will do what needs to be done.

 

Sunrise at St. Malo’s

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An Epic Life

I was driving home from church on Sunday, which means I was driving through the mountains, back down the hill towards Denver.  And, because of the time of year, the mountains are actually green.  This time of year is so pretty.  The mountains are like a girl in a new pretty dress – she wears it and feels pretty in it and shows off a bit in it, twirling and just glowing with the knowledge that she’s pretty and people are noticing.  The mountains are that way in late spring: full of vibrant green grass and trees and bushes.  It’s gorgeous.

And as you drive through them, especially when the morning is cloudy and slightly misty with rain droplets as it was Sunday morning, it feels like you’re in the middle of Middle Earth, or Narnia, or Damar, or someplace epic.  If you have any sort of imagination at all, it wouldn’t be hard to believe that you might see a centaur, or a faun, or an elf, or a hobbit, or a warrior-woman, or a man in a kilt, on the mountainside as you drive by, if you look hard enough.  When it’s misty, and the mountains are green, there is an air of epic-ness.  Something major, something world-shaping is bound to happen.  It’s just gotta!

And I realized today, as I drove through the story-inviting mountains, that something in me is drawn to the idea of epic-ness, of living a life story that is heroic, that is different, that is bigger than myself.

And I think that’s not only me.  It might be only a cushy-culture thing.  Maybe I live such a safe life in this Western culture that does not require a day-to-day striving to survive, that the inner strength that God put in me to get through times of survival, turns into a longing for an epic, larger-than-life story.

Maybe it’s only me, and I need to look into how I’m living my life.

But I don’t think it’s just me.

There are too many people out there who love epic stories, whether in movies or in good-ol’ paper-back form, for me to believe that I am the only one who longs for an epic life story.  There is something about a story with a supremely-evil, definitely-can’t-be-defeated, draws-you-in-and-then-kills-you villain that battles a little know-nothing, toothpicks-for-arms, just-woke-up-on-the-farm this morning good guy who doesn’t stand a chance.  There is something about a story where the good guy has a couple close friends who encourage him and who help him do battle (though, of course, he must do the hardest, most dangerous, impossible part himself) that calls to something within (I’d wager) each human.

We were made for something bigger.  Something in us deeply longs, more intensely than we can even realize, for a life story that is larger than our routines or jobs or love lives or furniture.  Some people just dismiss the longing; others silence it (or try to).

But if you listen to that longing, if you listen to that still, quiet urge that you were created for something larger than iced coffee drinks (it’s okay, I love them too), than your life is never going to be the same.  Because that voice is God, calling you to a life lived that isn’t spent completely or even mostly on you.  That voice is the Holy Spirit in you, reminding you of your part in this redemption dance.

So listen, and follow.  Who knows where it might lead? To green misty mountains, to the dumps in the Phillipines, to a camp in Ecuador, to the red light district in India, to your wealthy self-focused school, to the apathetic, comfortable people in suburbia America.  Who knows?

Listen!  And follow!  After all, no matter how hard you try, this life does not have to be your own.  It is so much more enjoyable when you give it away.

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