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faith

Faith

Why We Can’t Forget to Remember

July 3, 2014

I do my best thinking at night, always in that silent spot after the light is turned off and I’ve said goodnight to my husband. I roll over to my typical right side, arm under pillow under head, legs curled up, and eyes shut. And in that space, I remember.

I start venturing on this wild ride of maybes, ifs, and could-bes. I remember words spoken, dreams deposited, and promises given. I imagine myself years from now in the furthest hoped-for place, doing what I love and living what I dream. That’s always what my thoughts are in that safe, nighttime space.

I find, though, that my dreams and courage fade about the time my alarm goes off hours later declaring a new day. As I fall out of bed and shuffle my feet to the bathroom to start getting ready, my valiant thoughts of the night before become a soft hum as though we suddenly are miles from each other.

And as they fade, I so quickly forget.

From the first breath of the day, resistance seems to be a friendly companion, following me to each appointment, errand, and conversation, always ready to offer its pressing advice for how to give up, live defeated, and remain unsatisfied. Resistance is at every turn, exerting its strength and tactics to ensure that not one step more is taken towards those dreams.

If I’m not careful, resistance will be sure to keep me forgetting. Because when I do, my day becomes dictated not by the promises in my life, but my feelings in the moment.

See, when I wake up forgetting, emotions become the guiding force to my day. How I feel is the rudder that steers my course, keeping me in circles to eliminate forward progress. Before long, my own emotional teetering and wavering overflows my ship with water, forcing me to try to save what my feelings are sinking. By the end of the day, I did so much fighting with my emotions that I never actually moved anywhere.

Tomorrow, I say. I’ll get moving tomorrow.

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Photo Credit: Allison Johnston

But once again, resistance keeps me from remembering by using my emotions to sabotage my progress. And so it’s the same story on a new day. Trying to bail the ship I’m sinking myself by forgetting to remember.

This is why we must remember.

Because remembrance is like manna that keeps us sustained upon a course when we are not easily seeing or hearing.

Jesus once asked his guys, in the middle of their typical confusion, the question: “Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember?” [Mark 8:18]

Sometimes (or mostly) in life, it is plain hard to see. No matter our best efforts and prayers, we simply cannot see what we long for or where in the world we are heading. And equally frustrating is when we also cannot hear. God may appear to be muted or distant. And in that place, when sight and sound don’t seem to be companions on the journey, the question is if we can remember the promises spoken over us, the dreams deep with us, and the truth of our identity and purpose.

In Hebrew, the word for remember is zakar. It means to keep in mind, to boast, to invoke. And its purpose then, in encounters like Moses to the Israelites or David in the desert, is the same as it is now: to affect present feeling, thought, and action.

Remembering changes what we think. And when we think different thoughts, we feel different emotions. And when we feel different emotions, we act and respond differently. Remembering fixes our eyes on what is true in the spirit, not what is before us in the natural.

Remembering keeps us moving forward when the course no longer has visual markers, emotional highs, or cheering crowds. When we cannot see and we cannot hear, it’s time to remember.

Faith

Just How Pervasive Is Fear?

June 19, 2014

“Could it be fear?” he asked me.

I had spent the last thirty minutes sitting in one of those oversized leather chairs explaining how all the circumstances around were holding me back from moving forward with my dreams. The problem was timing, busyness, and other priorities I explained. I told how there’s no time, no creativity flowing, no money or resources available.

I felt justified in my immobility given my current circumstances. I figured this just wasn’t the season and maybe when situations are easier, the dreams will happen.

But his question that day caught me off guard. It implied that the reasons weren’t actually outside of me, which was way easier to pinpoint, but rather inside of me. Instead of circumstances against, maybe it was fear within.

“So just how pervasive is fear with your dreams?” he followed with.

Without giving my mind time to process, my words replied: “I think way more than I’ve realized.”

Because when it comes to our dreams, fear is right there waiting to keep us down and out.

It may come in different forms, as fear of rejection or failure. Maybe it is the fear of not being good enough, or even scarier, the fear of dreams coming true and carrying that weight of responsibility. Regardless, fear grips us by the illusion that we are paralyzed, overwhelmed, and unable to change circumstances around us.

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That day I walked out of the meeting realizing fear tries to convince us of two things:

That we are victims.
Fear tells us we are powerless to our circumstances. It’s like wearing glasses with tweaked lenses that portray a world where we are incapable to move because of the oppressive forces all around. We’re stuck, fear says, so no use in trying because there’s no way out.

That there is only lack, never enough.
Fear makes us believe in the lack of our today. It highlights all that is given to those around us as proof that there isn’t enough. Comparison is a tool used to emphasize what others hold and what cannot be ours. It gets us to believe there is no use in trying because all good things have been given elsewhere.

Fear steals. It takes our truth and it takes our power. Why? Because if we knew the truth, we would be stirred to move. And if we believed the Spirit’s power within us, immobility wouldn’t be an option. So it aims to strip the truth from our identity and the power from our dreams so we will likely remain paralyzed. Frozen by fear. Overwhelmed by defeat. No idea how to move forward.

But there’s something else fear does:

It indicates the direction to head.
Instead of giving ear to fear’s lies, what if those words are an indicator of where to move? Instead of slamming up against another wall of fear and deciding to fall down and be done – what if we decided that was proof enough we are on the right track? Because the place where fear pressures is the place meant for advancement by the Spirit.

The easy road is to do what I did and become a perpetual explainer of the whys of the immobility. It’s easy to list excuses. But it is also costly – because it costs traction in this present season.

It’s possible to believe in your dreams without moving one inch closer to them because, ultimately, believing isn’t enough. The question is: do we have faith? We may believe in the dreams, but to have faith in them is to respond by movement. Because faith always requires our action.

The way to silence fear in our lives is to move out by faith, expecting that mountains will move, waters will part, and storms will calm.

 

How pervasive is fear in holding you back? Maybe it’s time to get your heart racing by taking a daring step towards finding your rhythm and movement again.

Faith

Enough

May 22, 2014

On May 22nd, 2013, Mark and I left for our African adventure. We hopped that plane having no idea what was in store for us. The flight felt like the upward slope of a roller coaster when you’re moving higher by the minute, hearing the ticking of the track as your car approaches that final climax. Your heart is racing, breathing is suspended, and anticipation is mounting. You have no idea what is on the other side, but now there’s no turning back. So you wait with gripped hands. And, at the first feeling of downward momentum, you let out a good scream.

Our summer was a wave of emotions, with highs so great I will never forget the smells, sounds, and words of those moments, and lows so stretching I still cringe thinking about certain days.

Through it all, I walked away with some deep encounters with God. One of those moments came on graduation morning as we closed out our Pemba, Mozambique season.

Graduation day was a big deal in Pemba (especially the chicken and rice that followed) so no visitor, village mama, student, or Mozambican pastor was staying away from joining in the festivities. It was Sunday morning and all 1,000 of us were dancing our hearts out to African worship that included bright lights, loud speakers, and songs that switched from Portuguese to English within a beat of the drums.

No one was safe from the dancing chaos. Chairs were pushed back, Bibles and shoes strewn everywhere. It was a party – just as African worship is known to be in my experience.

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While my body was keeping in (relative) motion with the masses, my head was processing through some disappointments and unmet expectations from the summer. Specifically, I wondered why God had been so silent in a summer where I expected him to be  so intensely active.

I came in expecting crazy and supernatural moves of God everyday. But my summer wasn’t really like that. It was incredible and restful and full of Him, but it was quiet. And sometimes quiet can be disappointing when we are expecting loud and raucous.

In the middle of the worship chaos, I got to the end of turning my thoughts over in my head and gave a final exhale. It wasn’t conscious nor did it come joined with any words, but its meaning was clear: whatever was (not), it was well with me. In hindsight, I believe my exhale created space for the breath of His whisper.

Because in the same air, I heard Him say, “It was always about if I am enough.”

Sometimes faith can easily become about experiences, words, encounters, and feelings that we mistakenly start feeding off of those for fuel. But those aren’t food for us. He is. So sometimes, the stripping may come in the package of unmet expectations and disappointments to take us back to the simple truth of God as enough.

When we live believing God as enough, our spinning emotions, lives, and reactions can settle, allowing us to step into rest and ease.  Enough stops us from wasting energy on the things we cannot change, and starts us stewarding energy towards things that matter (like our relationships, health, or the Kingdom). We become stewards to life’s disappointments and setbacks, no longer victims to their effects.

Enough is the birthing ground for pregnant dreams. When we stop spinning and start stewarding, and when we stop running to noise and embrace quiet – life forms within us. It is hidden and unseen at first. But it is grounded in a truth unshaken by the world’s reaction or critique.

My season in Africa was about if He was enough in the quiet and the hidden, when all felt silent, distant, and withheld.

My instinct is to fight for the quickest way through the quiet, looking for the first sign promising an exit. But the quiet is where growth springs and revelation is cultivated. It’s where the deep stuff of faith gets settled into us. Though our instinct may be to rush our way through the quiet, wisdom and discernment will tell us not to wish too quickly for its passage.

Because in the quiet we settle into His enough.

Life

The Heroine

March 7, 2013

She’s a heroine of faith – one of the unnamed and undaunted in scripture who did as no one told her to do, finding what none could offer. Her moment of grabbing into an invisible reality before her tipped the entire circumstances around. And it all began with a simple thought amidst a ground of desperation and hopelessness.

It was the simplicity and potency of this one thought. That’s all she had as she approached Jesus and reached her arm beneath His shadow. And it was more than enough to alter her life’s course.

In the Kingdom’s economy, all is flipped upside down – meaning that which is small carries the greatest weight. It’s more than a simple principle; it’s an active promise.

When you find yourself unable to hope, believe, or pray the big mountains to move before you, holding deep to that one ounce of thought within – the tiny seed of faith in the middle of all else – can shift everything.

If you’re weary today, hear this: despite all you can no longer carry upon your shoulders, grip tightly to even the littlest bit of hope in the deep and safe within you. In the right place and moment, it can be that one unassuming seed that changes all that’s around you.

For it is the smallest seed of potent faith that contains within it the greatest of power to move the mighty that’s opposing before you. And it is the unnamed and undaunted who shape the course of history.

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Photo credit: Victor Bezrukov, Creative Commons

Click below to join into chapter 5 of our journey through Mark. It’s one of my favorites.

 

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