"The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing —
to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from —
my country, the place where I ought to have been born. Do you think it all meant nothing,
all the longing? The longing for home? For indeed it now feels not like going, but like going back."

~C.S. Lewis

Friday, June 24, 2011

Being awaken to royalty

I feel I have nothing to write, yet, I wonder what makes me sit here, Bible open on my lap, compelled to write and yet not knowing any words, only longing to express truth to a world that is searching. The Lord says, write. So, I write, not knowing what will come.

I die inside. I walk down the street and I don’t see people; I see images of God. After knowing Christ, I can’t see them any differently… all people of such royalty. Kings and queens, princes and princesses, a glorious inheritance awaits them! But they do not know; they sleep. They sleep in the tower under an enchanted sleep while thistles grow up around the castle. They sleep; they need to have their Beloved give them the kiss to break the spell. I used to think that I alone could wake them up. If only I hacked through the thistles, broke through the door, fought my way up the winding staircase, I could be the one to break the magic spell and show them their glorious inheritance.

But it didn’t work. Time and again, even if I had fought my way into the castle, I could not wake them up. I know now, why.

I am not the Beloved—the true love—the prince—I am not the one who can break the spell. Did I learn nothing from those fairy tales? Only the prince can wake the princess.

 Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war.  His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself.  He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God….  On his robe at his thigh was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords…

[And He said to his bride,]  “No one had the slightest interest in you; no one pitied you or cared for you. On the day you were born, you were unwanted, dumped in a field and left to die…. As you lay there, I said, ‘Live!’  And I helped you to thrive like a plant in the field. You grew up and became a beautiful jewel…So I wrapped my cloak around you to cover your nakedness and declared my marriage vows. I made a covenant with you, says the Sovereign LORD, and you became mine.

“Then I bathed you and washed off your blood, and I rubbed fragrant oils into your skin.  I gave you expensive clothing of fine linen and silk, beautifully embroidered, and sandals made of fine goatskin leather.  I gave you lovely jewelry, bracelets, beautiful necklaces,  a ring for your nose, earrings for your ears, and a lovely crown for your head. And so you were adorned with gold and silver. Your clothes were made of fine linen and were beautifully embroidered. You ate the finest foods—choice flour, honey, and olive oil. You became very beautiful and rose to be a queen...

Then I heard again what sounded like the shout of a vast crowd or the roar of mighty ocean waves or the crash of loud thunder: 

“Praise the LORD!
For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.
 Let us be glad and rejoice,
and let us give honor to him.
For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb,
and his bride has prepared herself.
 She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear...”

And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband... resplendent in the bright glory of God.

~Ezekiel 16; Revelation 19, 21

Upon heartache

Psalm 18

1 I love you, LORD, my strength.

2 The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

3 I called to the LORD, who is worthy of praise,
and I have been saved from my enemies.
4 The cords of death entangled me;
the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
5 The cords of the grave coiled around me;
the snares of death confronted me.

6 In my distress I called to the LORD;
I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came before him, into his ears.
7 The earth trembled and quaked,
and the foundations of the mountains shook;
they trembled because he was angry.
8 Smoke rose from his nostrils;
consuming fire came from his mouth,
burning coals blazed out of it.
9 He parted the heavens and came down;
dark clouds were under his feet.
10 He mounted the cherubim and flew;
he soared on the wings of the wind.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

On living like you're dying

If there’s one question that made me want to curl up in the fetal position with guilt, disappointment, and fear (or maybe just run away screaming), it was, “If you had only one more day to live, how would you change your life?”

Could you truly ask me anything more stressful? There’s so much I would have to do and change and be. I would need to tell every person I knew (not to mention those I don’t know) about Jesus, love so much more, serve dozens of people, be far more holy (somehow), read the Bible at least twice through, pray for every missionary I could think of, and conquer every single one of my bad habits. Of course, all of that, to be perfectly honest, sounded rather miserable, not to mention it seemed to be a dreadfully stressful last day of life. But at its heart, I hated that question because it just reminded me about what a failed Christian I was, and, once again, how I was never, ever going to be enough.

At least, I used to think so.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Loving this world as the one I long for

I have spent a beautiful day today. I spent time with my horse, I spent beautiful time with the Lord, I read, I rested, I worked, I wrote a great deal. Those things—writing, reading, horsemanship, people—they are wonderful to me, they give me maia. But more than that, through the truth given me in Transformed Into Fire, I feel so much more alive, so much more free—life is so much more wonderful in Jesus than I ever knew possible.

And I know that, because I was reading a good book just now. Every other time, when I am in a wonderful book, when I “snap out of it” and come back to reality, there has been a small sinking feeling inside me. I don’t want to go back to my “normal” life. It is too unfulfilling, too lacking; there is the sense I am not where I am supposed to be. It is disappointing, and, to be truly honest, I wish that I had not left my reading so that I could escape the nagging disappointment of this world just a little longer.
But this time, when I came out of my book, it was a perfectly smooth transition. There was no “drop,” no check of coming back to reality, no sadness of leaving a better world for a worse one. This was the better world, this was as wonderful, peaceful, restful, and fulfilling as that other world the book brought me to. I am beloved, I am at rest, I am home in Christ.

There is the longing for another world that is the longing for heaven, for a sinless land, and that will be there until time comes to an end; that longing is a beautiful, true one that makes me even more present to this world, not less. But there is a longing for another world that is not right and shows me that I am not living as God intended. It is the longing where this world is disappointing, where I secretly want to escape from it, in a book, perhaps, so that I can get a taste of living somewhere else that is a better place. If the latter is true, then I am not living how God intended. David knew this; Psalm 66 is just one example:

1 Shout joyful praises to God, all the earth!
    2 Sing about the glory of his name!
      Tell the world how glorious he is.
 3 Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
      Your enemies cringe before your mighty power.
 4 Everything on earth will worship you;
      they will sing your praises,
      shouting your name in glorious songs.”                    

 5 Come and see what our God has done,
      what awesome miracles he performs for people!
... 19 But God did listen!
      He paid attention to my prayer.
 20 Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer
      or withdraw his unfailing love from me.

So that is, perhaps, one way I can know whether I am living in maia, in rest, and in belovedness.
It is when this life is the life that I long for.

Transformed Into Fire: Moving Into a Life of Living

I am drained, tired in an odd way. I feel lost and muddled, like life is work and it’s not supposed to be. Not work as in, work hard—I revel in missions and adventures and challenges. But instead, work as in, life is muddled, I continually live short of something. It’s this something that has me wondering—if I could find the something, I could go home. I don’t feel like I’m home. I feel like a guest somewhere, where you are constantly wondering about expectations and living on edge; you never fully rest, and no matter how nice it is, eventually, you just want to go home where you can just be.

I constantly want something. I am living in such a way that I am waiting for change; I think, “I can get through life like this now, but eventually, I want to change XYZ, and then—how wonderful that will be! I cannot wait for that day.” But living the former way, day after day, becomes life. That is life. If I would not wish my living of today on the rest of my life, why in God’s name—literally, for I do not mean that in disrespect—am I living that way today? The most important part of life is living. And today is life. So today, my task is living.

Yet I think I can stop looking. I think I know the next step. I have just finished reading and highlighting and writing my way through one of the most humbling, transformational books I have ever read: Transformed Into Fire by Judith Hougen. I would like to buy a thousand copies and