Tuesday, 14 July 2015

There is Joy in the Morning

Life has come out of death. In utter grief and pain, exhaustion and darkness, fear and irrationality there has come the birth of something new like I never imagined.

God spoke. And there was light. God speaks and there is. 

In this upside down Kingdom where the first shall be last and the last shall be first. Where love and hope and light win. Where lambs roar. In this place I have found that I collapse at the knees, the life I thought I understood swiped from within my reach and as I spin and tumble beyond any sort of control I clench my fists in anger and frustration. 

I was ready and expectant and open-minded. I had my hands, my heart and my eyes wide open as I took that step forward with trust and abandonment. 

So how did I find myself shaking as darkness sunk its teeth into my flesh and the life and hope and rationality drained right from the innermost depths of myself? I have never felt fear so acutely. Oh I have been scared before, I have had my breath taken from me and I have known darkness to cloud over and my normal reactions to vanish. But that fades into nothingness compared to this.

It starts slow, just a thought popping up and then another, until they build and build. Then the shaking and shaking, the breathing quickens and then it deepens and then it stops, and shaking. This fear that takes over beyond rationality. It comes with the darkness and then a long night stretches out and how do you face that without a numbness. 

I wonder if this is what God leaving looks like. If this is what overcame the world for 3 days as they hung their Saviour on a cross and then closed him out of sight: out of mind - behind rock and guards.

I wonder if I am just kidding myself along.

I go to church and I just cannot handle it. I have to mentally step back or have a melt down.

But, is that allowed to be because of the depth of my faith instead of the thin-ness?

I mean when it first all hit me in the face I just couldn't sing those words. I couldn't see the truth in them and they hurt. I couldn't even whisper them out of my mouth let alone holler them with my arms flung high.

But now? Now I feel the truth of them burn. Singeing the parts of me that were once happy with what was: now I see that this faith of mine has to take a new face on or it will collapse. Because it doesn't fit in that box anymore.

The doubt is not in a God who loves me but in the unknown. I trust and believe that truth shall prevail. That life and love and hope wins. But I doubt the how, the who and the when. 

Somehow this all reconciles, somehow God reigns. Somehow beyond the missed appointments, the unwritten reports and the miswritten ones too there is God, His Son and the Spirit - intertwining themselves, bringing together the spinning plates as they align and become beautiful.

Somehow in this place of lies, and death, and destruction. As hope and joy are stolen. Love reigns. God wins. Snatch from me all that you want: God has all this and more in abundance. 

There it is: strength simmering, until it boils over. He plants these seeds into the depths of me that I didn't know were there and the harvest is plentiful as life springs forth. The sun sets and the sun rises. And there is joy in the morning. 

Saturday, 20 June 2015

My Pacemaker

I'm not much of a sportswoman, in fact exercise is something I don't go out of my way to partake in. 

But a friend of mine, he enjoys it. He decides he's going to run a marathon, he's tried {and tried HARD} before but this time, he says, he's going to do it. 

So, for three months he trained. I voted myself his self-appointed personal trainer. Which actually just looked like me dropping him off to start his route, figuring out those training routes on google maps, picking him up on the days it just didn't work out, having my phone on loud whilst he was out and waiting up to make sure all was well. 

When I try I can make it sound like I did a lot. But really, when the day came, it was all on him and how fit he was. 

All this is to say: I went to a marathon. I drove round a city and did a terrible job of watching it, but {thankfully!!!} I didn't miss him crossing that finishing line. It was a bloomin' awesome moment. To me, it was utterly remarkable. 

I learnt a lot watching him train for that marathon. But I was just thinking about my closest friend - she's been away for a while and I've been trying to work out how everything fits together. 

She's not my soul mate, whatever that is. She's not my number one cheerleader. And she's not my partner in crime.  Though she is a bit of all those things, too. 

When I watched that marathon, my brother and I - we stood right by the finishing line and we hollered our voices hoarse, we clapped our hands until they stung. And we did not stop. Each person had just did something that we saw as remarkable. We did the cheerleading. 

If my life was that marathon - she wouldn't be those cheerleaders, not even the loudest, most enduring ones. What if she could be a cheer leader who ran along with me?

I've always had a problem with comparing life to a race. Does that mean we've all got to want to win? Because if I was in a race, no matter how much I pretended otherwise, I would definitely want to win. 

Being as I'd never seen a marathon before or any sort of similar sporting event I hadn't really heard of pace makers. But as we stood on that finishing line every half hour or so a runner would cross carrying a banner with a time on his back - and that was the time he would finish at. 

You know what my friend is? She's my pacemaker. And no not so I can finish life first. Not so that I win. Or to beat a personal best {ha!}.

Her banner says "life done well and life done full". And that's what we do for each other. Pacemakers are like an agreement - "this is how I want to finish, will you do that with me?" 

We lay out all of ourselves. We do the best things and the worst things alongside one another and then somehow we figure out how together we can finish this thing well and full. 

Sometimes that looks like slowing down - we don't stop, we don't give up, but we do slow. 

Sometimes that looks like celebrating the milestone - the finishing line isn't really the goal, the Kingdom here and now is where we celebrate.

And sometimes that looks like running and running hard - with everything we have and all the strength we can collectively muster. 

It's hard to pace yourself, especially when you're not really sure where you are up to - but in the most beautifully miraculous way having a friend looking in means you can figure it out together. And you can pacemake for one another. 

Her going away has forced me to keep track of my own pace, to try and work out where I'm going wrong from the insider perspective and its jolly hard. Sometimes I have pushed too hard and needed someone to call for a BREAK {Isachar style!}, other times needed someone to give me a kick up the bum and get a move on. 

The thing that matters is that you choose the right pacemaker. If your pacemaker is aiming to finish with financial success, fame or a highflying career path then funnily enough that could well be where you end out.

Check their agenda.

And then run. Together. Drop back and wait for a different pacemaker or run harder. Sometimes no pacemaker would be better than one with the wrong agenda. 

Run, and run well.

Honestly dude I miss you. For a while I thought it might be because you make me, me - and that wouldn't really be a good thing. Then I got it! You tell me when to slow and listen when I say it's time for a different pace and you remind me when it is time to get out there and run with all our might. The most amazing thing about pacemakers is that they're in it for the long haul. They remember the beginning and they dream of the end. Somehow we do that with each other.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Let's put God in a box...or two, or infinity.

I have this picture of God. And maybe it came from a sermon I heard long ago, but, to be honest, I don't remember. 

You know those boxes that you open up and right inside is another box, just ever so slightly smaller,  inside that one is another smaller box and then another and another and so on?

My faith - my understanding of God - started in the centre box, the smallest one. And you know what - being as it was all I knew - it was pretty comfortable. 

One day something came along and that box crumbled away, and I found myself in a slightly different box. 

And then a while later that new box got hammered down and this time I was in another box, a little bigger and a strangely different sort of shape. 

It sure felt different. 

I can only understand God to the point my experience really allows. And each time I break out of my current box I find a different sort of face to God. What I knew before is still there but somehow it's different, it's more. And sometimes it's harder. 

That breaking out of my current box sometimes looks more like me being shoved out, falling out: or even the box simply disintegrating before my eyes. 

Sometimes it is scary and it is shaking. 

Each time I find myself faced with a slightly bigger and maybe different shaped box it's that first box that keeps me grounded. In that first box is my belief that God exists and that God loves me.

So, whilst I can find myself drifting around in these bigger boxes not really sure what to make of this God: how to reconcile this God with the God I previously thought that He was, I rest on that first box and go from there. 

This picture allows me to be okay with my understanding of God right now, to be okay with the fact that other people understand God entirely different to how I do and it reminds me not to fall into the trap of thinking I know all there is to know about God. 

It also forces me to push for more. To refuse to let my faith become stagnant. It means that whilst some boxes are ripped from around me by situations and events, other ones I tear down with my bare hands: desperately seeking out more of who God is and what He is doing. 

What it also means is that whilst this picture helps me to understand God, I realise it in no way defines Him, because one day I might break down my box to find God doesn't fit this picture at all anymore. And that's okay. 

It's pretty ironic considering I really do not think we should put God in a box. But somehow these limitless boxes show me how God limits Himself, so that I may know Him, whilst still functioning in my life outside of the constraints my human-ness puts on Him. 

So that even as all that I am feeling and experiencing and going through is crumbling away and I don't see how the God I know can make that good. I, somehow, know that He sits with me here in the hurt and confusion as well as going beyond my understanding: fulfilling His promises to us in a cosmos-changing, intergallatically inspiring, pretty bloomin' awesome, most miraculous way. 

He always wins. Especially when I can't quite see beyond my little box.