About Me

Phoenix, AZ, United States

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Is this what it means?

Somedays, Life hurts, plain and simple. And this Christian lifestyle, this attempt to know and follow God seems insurmounable. To add insult to injury, we have an enemy who wants nothing more than to see our ruin... Walking by faith, holding to the unseen, well, it ain't no walk in the park. It's hard, really hard.

In all honesty, at the moment, I feel like I'm ready to let the tide overwhelm me... I want to give up...

It appears to me like i've been walking in lonely circles...having to learn and relearn, change and again change... only to change some more...only to find that what I've had is not enough...I'm walking a desolate trail, and finding the floor is full of thorns... and my shoes, well I lost them somewhere along the way... Last night, a friend sat with me on a cold, cement parking block and he echoed this sentiment. Not only did he feel like he was outlining a desert, he was doing so by night and being blindsided by obstacles... as he spoke these words, I stared into the late evening...into the abyss, searching desperately for the stars...or a satellite...anything that might reflect even a flicker of light...

Some days you feel on top of the world... like anything is possible. And you see God working...He seems close and real...He even speaks to you. And you feel His love in the sunset, in the rain, in His word and expressed through those around you...All of creation seems to shout of His presence...His relevance and goodness.

Other times God seems abstract, like a distant star, an idea...or loose concept...maybe even a fable... You feel alone and empty and like you just don't have what it takes to endure...at least for the long haul. You begin to question everything, even the progress you thought you'd made, it all seems pointless... and a strong impulse to runaway, to find a quiet place to hide overtakes you...

But perhaps this is what it means to be a Christian... this is the conflict, the grind. And it's not always pretty, or beautiful, but often messy and tumultuous. And our voices not only made for pleasant songs, but shouts in darkness...desperate cries for help. Perhaps our faith has to be tried by fire...and thus not always expressed in extravagant ways... perhaps sometimes, faith and hope are expressed in this:

That we come home...

After a long night of wandering the streets...

and though our hearts are broken, countenances burdened, prayers weak... through the thick haze of doubt, the shroud of heartache...we somehow manage to muster up enough syllables to call to the one, who saves.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Bless the Lord.

Psalm 103

Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies...

There's not much else to say today!


Monday, April 14, 2008

Driving through the gap.

I have put countless miles on my truck this last year. Of course, my work is greatly responsible for that, but I've also found driving to be a common past time for me. I love being on the road...and I tend to feel stale and restless sitting at a starbucks these days...so I drive.

I rarely have a destination and prefer to let the moment lead me where it may. Perhaps I've grown a little weary of planning. And while nothing is ever solved upon my return, I feel a strange pressure building on my soul from time to time and the long stretch of miles is like a slow, gradual exhalation.

Last night, I ended up in Fountain Hills, gazing upon the dark silhouette of a mountain surrounded by a sea of city lights, they twinkled in the night like lowly stars fallen from heaven... and I looked for meaning in it all. I watched two young lover clinging to one another, whispering empty promises into the wind and I waited patiently for nothing in particular.

Soon my heavy eyes told me it was time to head back, but I avoided the hurried highways and searched for surface streets, hoping to keep my thoughts from going too deep.

It was late and the city had long ago rested her heavy countenance upon a pillow of soft dreams...eyes calmly closed, a gentle half smile on her lips, she looked so serene but I couldn't relate.

The roads were barren.

I had "The Shadowlands" by Ryan Adams on repeat and opened the windows because the song needed air to breathe...it was cold, but soothing and I wondered where my soul was.
Sometimes you just can't be a man when you're living in the darkness of the shadowlands... - Ryan Adams

Many miles passed before I met another vehicle. I could make out the headlights from a distance, brightly displaced against the evening asphalt. We passed one another like lonely travelers and though less than a stranger to me, the passing cold steal and fiberglass, brought me a level of comfort, reminding me that there was other life out there...

It's been said that God communicates to us in our pain and this is something we must all learn. But sometimes I feel like there is a gap between the time we feel the initial sting and the time we find Him. These are the sleepless nights we spend tossing and turning, the hours we pace the floor wearing out the carpets of our minds... perhaps it is also this gap that causes us to stretch to the eternal.


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Author and perfecter...

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith...
-Hebrews 12:2

I have always sought to figure life out... I guess we all do, but for me this whole thing has always appeared to be like a puzzle, one of those 3-dimensional ones, with about a million jagged pieces. Consequently, I thought that if I could find the appropriate matches for each portion that it might start to all come together...each blob would build upon another to form something definite. Something polished. Life then, was a problem to be solved... and one that could be.

Perhaps this still rings true to an extent, in that there are truths once realized and applied, will provide a more vivid picture of what life is all about and how we might best go about enduring it. But what I'm learning to accept is that it will never come together like one of those cardboard castles, where every piece is used for the very purpose it was designed...and once finished looks just like the picture on the box... No, life is messier than that... through the building process, we will spill our coffee and ruin some of the parts, we'll lose others in the mysterious black hole that exists between couch cushions and some pieces that should interlock, just won't...and often at least in my life, entire sections that we thought were completed will have to be torn down to rubble...and it will hurt and the reconstruction will be slow and uncomfortable.

In the end, we'll have lop sided structures with holes in the walls, doors held in with scotch tape and entire wings will have gone missing... and perhaps this the best we can hope for...that something, anything at all is standing above ground when it is finished... when we have endured the long, arduous journey through the desert. And yet somehow, the promise remains that one day we will be perfected...

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
- 1 Corinthians 13:12


Monday, April 7, 2008

Thank You

I spent most of this weekend locked up in a 20'x 20' room, listening to the same four songs over and over again and trying my hardest not to lose my mind as I carried out the sometimes tedious tasks. It took a lot out of me, and it can be quite isolating, but I found a level of satisfaction in my work. On Saturday, I recall feeling lightheaded at one point. I looked up at the computer screen to check the time and it told me that I had skipped lunch and dinner without a thought... Sunday was spent similarly with the exception of service.

Church was thought provoking, it usually is and I've grown very fond of the ministry there. Pastor Don spoke on persecution...and even quoted the portion of Hebrews that I cited in my last blog....I smiled at the coincidence.

I was deeply moved during communion though. I kept thinking about how grateful I was to God for saving someone like me... for being so patient with me over the years...that somehow, in spite of the huge mess of a life that I have led, though my soul is so prone to wander, He still reaches out and rescues me... I felt overwhelmed at this thought and my eyes welled up with tears...under my breathe I whispered, "God, don't give up on me..."

The church band offered a song and I closed my eyes for a few moments to listen to the words. It was a beautiful song.

And then I tried to say "thank you," you know, to God. And though it was sincere, it somehow felt so empty like a feeble attempt at something grand...I say "thank you" when a stranger holds the door open for me at the convenience store...or when a friend buys me a soda...it is so commonplace... But to Christ what would these vague words mean? I struggled for a moment to consider it...how could I possibly express the gratitude that I feel for His amazing grace...?

And then I realized at that very moment, what this whole worship thing is all about.

We live a life of worship...when words are simply not enough...

Archbisop William Temple summed up worship in these words:

Worship is the submission of all our nature to God.
It is the quickening of the conscience by His holiness;
the nourishment of mind with His truth;
the purifying of the imagination by His beauty;
the opening of the heart to His love;
the surrender of will to His purpose -
and all of this gathered up in adoration,
the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable,
and therefore the chief remedy
of that self-centeredness
which is our original sin
and the source of all actual sin.


Thursday, April 3, 2008


I've been reading in the book of Hebrews over the last week. It's a profound book to say the least. Here is a portion that really struck a chord with me.

...Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned, they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated- the world was not worhty of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground... Hebrews 11:35-38

Upon reading this passage, I began to picture what the early followers had endured...and the suffering the cross embodies. It made me think about the groundwork that has been laid for us. Paid for in blood...and cries of anguish.

Consider the apostles and disciples for a moment. They were human just like you and I, but wanted so deeply to follow Christ and desired so earnestly to spread the truth, that they labored night and day, went hungry, fought immense lonliness, were shackled in chains and beaten, brutally murdered...

and I struggle with giving to others when it's inconvenient or when I'm tired...

I love the part about the world not being worthy of them... it wasn't. They loved a world that they didn't belong to...a world that hated them.

Paul would write this about his ministry:
...known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on, beaten and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possesing everything... 2 Corinthians 6:9-10

That is the foundation that has been laid for you and I that we might know God...how fortunate we are.