Tuesday, January 28, 2014

To Know and Be Known


For some, it is the scariest word in the world. It means vulnerability and sharing a life that previously had no accountability or transparency with others. We get so comfortable maneuvering around people without getting close to one another that we begin to transfer this over to relationships as well as the Lord.

Galatians 4:9 talks about being "known" by God:

"But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage?"

While this may not seem like the most uplifting verse about the lovey-dovey-fuzzy-feel-good feelings of God towards us, it illustrates a profound chasm that we must cross of our own mistrust and fear in order to enter into a partnership with others and with God. 

The greek word ginosko pops up fairly regularly in the New Testament. Strong's defines it as: "to learn to know, to perceive, to feel, to become known" and is also a Jewish word for sexual intimacy between man and woman. 
Vine's defines it as understanding and recognizing. It is also indicative of a relationship in which each person knows the value and importance of the person being "known". 

Let me clarify that I'm not talking about sexual intimacy with God, that's not at all where I'm headed. 
But when we are known by God, we are known by Him, UNTO intimacy with Him. God wants us to recognize Him and His movement in our lives. 

Emotional intimacy is a tricky thing. In order to know someone, we must also divulge our own fears, our passions, our regrets and that involves exposing ourselves in a manner that exposes us to the possibility of getting hurt. Let's face it, we're all human and we're going to get hurt and we're going to hurt others. Not that this is ever intentional or the ideal scenario, because it isn't. It's just imperfect humanity! When we begin to superimpose this fear of intimacy with other people onto God we start walling off our heart to Him and the reality that He will NEVER leave us, NEVER forsake us and that He is a GOOD Abba-Father! 

Once we conquer fear, we make ourselves available for the love of God to completely overwhelm us and we realize that He fulfills our needs, our wants, our desires in a way that could only comes from such a loving father! And in the midst of that, He gets to teach us how to love Him with the love that He gives us. 

I leave you with this quote from John Piper: 

Deeper than knowing God is being known by God. What defines us as Christians is not most profoundly that we have come to know Him, but that He took note of us and made us His own. 

Let's BE known by God! 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Rhythms of Pain

We've all been there: bloodshot eyes, heavy hearts, trembling hands and dry heaving. If you've ever cried, you've felt pain. Whether it be grief because of a broken heart and lost relationship, the death of a loved one or a bleeding head wound, pain is unfortunately a part of life.

Something I hadn't realized until recently is that there's a pattern and a rhythm to the Psalms of David. If read disjointedly, David's emotion makes no sense what soever and he seems to jag up and down. But read in succession? David really understood pain! He felt it intensely. He wrote about his feelings and expressed them to God.

I endeavor to read a Psalm a day to mediate on throughout the day. Somedays are better than others at keeping my word to myself, but hey! That's life! And through situations I was personally going through and felt completely unheard by the Lord I would open up the Bible and there it would be: validation. From: "God, avenge those who slander me!" to "God, heal my broken heart" there would always be a commonality.

I truly believe there is a rhythm to grief and pain. The rocking of our emotions and our prayers to God change in each stage we go through. The K├╝bler-Ross 5 stages of grieving is also present within the Psalms. We all go through this, no matter the severity of the grief.

The 5 stages of Grief:
1. Denial - This can't be happening to me! I'm righteous!
2. Anger - God! How could you let this happen to me? Why didn't you warn me?
3. Bargaining - Lord! I'll do anything for You if you reverse this/bring them back etc.!
4. Depression - The Lord has forsaken me and I will die here. I cannot return to the land of the living.
5. Acceptance - You are a good Father and You have the best in mind for me! You are faithful! Your kingdom come, Your perfect will be done.

This is merely an example of things I have said to the Lord, paraphrases of what David said and human responses to grief in general. It's natural, it's expected, it's even a little bit healthy! We can't bottle our emotions forever! When it becomes not-so-good is when we get stuck blaming God for our situations in anger or depression.

The Lord wants to speak truth into our pain and our circumstances. It's clearly evident throughout the Psalms that David heard clearly from the Lord in encounter after encounter in the midst of feeling stuck in the pit!

It's not the original intent of God for us to have felt pain or experience deep, life changing grief but because man fell, we cannot avoid it. The Lord created a system of grief expulsion through the rhythm of pain that actually forces us to come into complete agreement with the character of God, to declare who God is in the middle of the most gut wrenching pain we may ever feel. And it completely expels the pain and replaces it with hope and light and truth! Praise God!

Here's to Stage five,


Monday, January 13, 2014

The Promises of God

I want to end these years of silence from writing with a slightly paraphrased quote from Graham Cooke:

"Every problem and situation we face is in Christ, and so our problems are in Christ as well. They are under the authority of Christ."

This is something I personally have had the opportunity to walk through in this past season of life. I had no concept of how to deal with a major issue under the authority of Christ. When we encounter trials and hardships our first instinct as human beings is to completely freak out and worry incessantly. But that is not the way of the kingdom.

His promises are as faithful as the sun rises...

God puts dreams on our hearts for specific reasons and for strategic times. The dreams that He gives us didn't just pop out of thin air, they originated at the source of creativity and imagination; they were uttered from the very mouth of God!

And once we have that taste of dreaming in our teeth we're ready to run with it. But when the Lord halts it and says: "Wait, not yet" we think we heard from God incorrectly and abandon the idea all together. But that's not usually the case. The timing of the Lord is strategic.

What ensues in the waiting period is the building of character, the blossoming of intimacy between ourselves and the Lord and above all, the opportunity to hope and stay grounded in the promises He spoke over us. Sometimes it can be the most difficult time we experience, it feels like we're suspended mid-air with no idea when land might be visible. I heard it said once and I believe it truly fitting that the dogs of doom darken the doorway of destiny. It's so tempting to lose sight of the promises and dreams.

Then, all of a sudden, out of nowhere; the clouds break and light begins to shine on that which we once thought was dormant. The dream becomes a reality! It becomes tangible and possible! Behold the faithfulness of God!

We realize that timing is truly the thing in anything and that we wouldn't have been ready to handle such a task so many years beforehand. While carrying out dreams may be as laborious as carrying a child in our womb, as mothers will tell you every time: "It was worth it!"

Here's to dreaming big in 2014 and not being afraid of the journey!