28 September, 2010

A Band of Delinquents

There is a man on my mind.  Well, there are several of them, a sort of band of brothers.  If you close your eyes for a moment, you can picture their tired, blackened, but determined faces.  Their hands are calloused, their feet blistered, their knuckles cracked open.  They are heroes, all of them, giving up their right to selfish perspectives in pursuit of the mission fulfilled, a vision accomplished.  A freedom achieved.

These soldiers, they love their commander.  He is a good lion--he has earned their allegiance, their respect, their loyalty.  He is the reason they believe any good, any valuable achievement, could come from this ugly, disheartening war.  His square shoulders, his shrewd strategies, even the hard stare of his golden eyes--everything about their captain is magnetic and persuasive.  Regardless of how many thousand bullets they face, the constant target of the enemy tyrant, when they fight with him they are strong, focused, and well nourished.  The winds are favorable, even when change brings earthquakes and criticism flies like dung.

And you?  You are nearly always on their mind.

This little band of heroes has shouldered a love for you that you do not understand.  They have joined together in a fight that keeps them awake at night, strategic assemblies with their commander for ways to make your freedom complete. They know that when you wake up, you accessorize your clean clothes with your shackles.  These kings, and their Guineveres, itch and chaff and bruise for you.  Their hearts bleed for your freedom.  They are lonely for your company.  And they are vulnerable, because they are weak for your resources.  Even these deadly heroes, with all their training and discipline, cannot do what you can do.  Indeed, you were designed to fight with them.  You were created to join them.  You are so necessary that without you, this band will almost inevitably fail.

This morning, before you opened your eyes, before your subconscious become conscious, the grace of the Father brooded over you, like He did at the beginning of time, a thick Spirit upon the surface of potential.  He hovered over you in travail, bringing forth a brand new thing.  He can get closer to you in your sleep, draw Himself more intimately upon you when your mind is not in motion to get in the way...when your autopilot is not engaged.  The Father was in birth, in labor, His entire self bent upon your spirit, creating something out of nothing.  He sees into your very makeup, into your core, into the foundational elements of you.  The parts that were made of dust. 

He does this every night.  Hoping one day you'll open your eyes and for the first time, you'll open your eyes.

I visited the camp of our heroes tonight and I have returned with tears running down my face.  My heart is broken that so much work is being shouldered by so few.  Have we become so accustomed to the theatre that we can watch the battle engage without a single sense of personal responsibility?

Where am I?  And where are you?

I suppose I feel like a crier on the wall.  How many of us are dangerously close to a collision with complete neutrality?  How many of us hold up our careers as a talisman, our official statement that should easily explain our absence, when in fact, all it demonstrates is ignorance?  We hide behind the duties of our children, neglecting our primary responsibility to set the example of a life that is disciplined and fulfilling.  If it is indeed an excuse you need, any one will do.  An excuse is merely the skin of a lie stuffed with a reason.  If one is so busy that they cannot respond when their gifts--or hands--are needed, a shift in priorities is desperately needed.  Each man controls his own schedule; he decides what he permits to consume his time.

There is a great need for the reanalysis of priorities.  What, by your actions, truly is important to you?  When did you last commit to something worthwhile?  A wise man once told me that if you showed him your calendar and your checkbook, he would be able to tell you what was most important to you.  If you say the kingdom is your first priority, then may I ask why other men are taking your fire?  If you truly believed yourself to be the arm, the ear, the lungs, of the Body, then why have you not poured yourself completely into it?  And if you do not know your function, why are you not consumed in the pursuit to find your post?  Do you think you need rest?  Then rest and rejoin the lines--don't just tune out.  Do not trade a rested happiness for Glee.

No one intends to become delinquent.  But we have a band of them among us.  And its time to ask yourself--are you delinquent?  Gondor calls for aid.  And these aren't the movies.  There is much at risk.  Even silence is a deafening scream.

Regardless of your choice, I honor the band of brothers among us.  I feel the Father's proud smile on them like warm sunshine and an afternoon nap.  If you are one of them, a warrior, I bless you with brand new energy and strength.  I am with you.  I will fight with you.  You can count on me.

11 September, 2010

Self Control

I sometimes wish I would have three wishes in life.  I like to think about what I’d wish for.  My husband says its obvious: the first thing you wish for is unlimited wishes.  Honestly, I think I’d be OK with three wishes—call me independent but I like to do things for myself.  
Sometimes I think that I’d wish for wealth.  I had a dream one time that I won two million dollars.  It was such an intense dream that when I woke up, it took a minute to realize that I was still sleeping between bed-in-a-bag sheets.  I confided to my pastor that I had the dream and his response really challenged me.  Did I know what I would do with two million if I had it?  Did I have a plan?
I just always assumed that when (not if) great wealth found me, I would be magnanimous with it, generous and philantrophic, in addition to being very well accessorized.  But when I did finally sit down to plan out what I would do with my (currently still in progress) two million, I realized it took a good deal more wisdom than I had imagined.  It became an incredible exercise in wisdom, discernment and vision.  It took a long time to consider the proper weight of things.  I do have a plan now, as challenged.  If I were to attain a two million dollar account tomorrow, I would handle it properly.
There are many things I would consider wishing for, from Solomon’s request for wisdom to my admittedly less honorable desire to be three inches taller.   We all have our list of things in life that could be so much better with just a little stroke of luck.  Or wishes.  
I was reading a book on parenting today.  The matter being discussed was teaching your children boundaries from infancy, instead of giving too much freedom too soon, and having to impose restrictions after they demonstrate an inability to tolerate unlimited possibilities.  The authors (Ezzo, Buckham) provided this formula:

Freedoms greater than self control = developmental confusion
Freedoms less than self control = developmental frustration
Freedoms equal to self control = developmental harmony

The book was focused on pretoddlers.  I, however, was hit between the eyes in revelation for MYSELF.   This formula was talking about ME.   I thought of all I wished for in my life, my big dreams and grandiose agendas, all held back by some invisible wall, a very frustrating barrier that I have been working to identify recently.  I have always imagined that my life would be one of great significance, and lately, I have felt stuck.
But haven’t we all heard the story of the lottery winners who within five years were worse off than they were before they won the prize?  Don’t we all sometimes catch ourselves parked in front of the TV or Facebook for a bit too long or too often and feel a tug as though the time were being misspent?  We eat what we want and many of us avoid the scales all together as though ignorance equals permission.  We show up late or not at all.  We avoid saying no by saying maybe.  We say one thing and do another.  We worship halfheartedly while thinking about anything else.  Wives avoid their sex lives.  Husbands avoid conversation.  No one sets a goal, writes down a date or holds themselves accountable.  And worse of all, we joke amongst ourselves, as though falling short were inevitable.  Corporate failure yields social permission, and we all agree to a society that lives beneath its potential.
In my behaviors currently, under personal assessment and an honest analysis, I am living with very little self-control.  I’ll admit it.
Could it be that my freedom in life, to achieve all that is within my potential, to become all I dream of becoming, to in essence, be who I was born to be, that I must first demonstrate a self responsibility?
God loves me so much.  I am handmade, fearfully and wonderfully.  I was carved out of God himself, made in His image, his authority on the earth.  It stands to reason that it is possible, indeed necessary, for me to transcend the barriers of humanity and live a supernatural life.  However, it is equally logical that a woman who cannot be trusted to discipline herself has demonstrated little ability to wield greater authority and influence. 
Would a God who loves me truly ask me to get my chocolate habit under control?
I’m kidding, but I’m serious.
We believers like to behave as though we’re exempt sometimes.  That we can just like everyone else, except righteous.  But I want to propose to you that any train of thought that allows mediocrity in your life is a lie designed to prevent you from shining, to hold you back from truly becoming extraordinary.  If that is not the case, tell me, what TRULY is the difference between you, one who is in theory free, and your brother, who is yet a slave to his old man or to religion?  You have been enlightened to the price what was paid to set you free.  It must require a great amount of arrogance, or an equal measure of ignorance, to pour out your potential upon the latest reality TV show.  We plead exhaustion, when we could celebrate renewal.  We are disorganized and careless with schedules, time and people.  We cry for mercy, when we could dance in grace.  It is because we plant our seed in the dirt and do not water.
Of course, in God’s design for you, there is design for rest.  Whole big chunks of renewal for your soul.  But do not be deceived—there is a huge difference between resting and loitering.  One is performed en route to your destiny, one is a barstool at a truck stop.  
I propose that God loves us too much to give us more than we can handle.  Without a plan, my dream of two million dollars was in that category (who knew?).  I would have had it and my foolishness would have been my undoing.  Could that be why so many of us are living with so little—we have demonstrated that we value excuses over faithfulness?   But I believe that many of us were designed to be storehouses, to be dream dealers, to be creative and potent in the marketplace.  We are to be the ones cutting the checks and bring revolution.
If I believe I was created for more, if I feel the tug of an unrealized destiny on my heart, then it is time to expect more from myself.  It is time to tap into God’s storehouse of provision for me and show that he can trust me with the gifts he has given me, the people he has placed around me, and the time and resources I already have.  Self control is trump.  I am not slave to my selfish whims; I am disciplined enough to choose the great over the good.
Perhaps my dream of two million dollars was a prophetic one.  I am, in any case, certain that a full realization of my life’s fulfillment is contingent upon my willingness to embrace a life of discipline.

08 September, 2010

He Already Knows--There is no hiding the truth from Papa.

I find my spirit searching for Ground Zero, as though an explosion has occurred, beloved parts of me have died, and now I am looking for purpose in all of it.  I am sifting through the rubble, begging to find a living spark.

Nick and I went to Philadelphia this weekend.  We have a history in this city...we have been here before.  We arrived once or twice to attend conferences for our business, eating peanut butter and jelly.  It was our Ishmael that was given up in pursuit of our Isaac.  Later, we were there working from dawn to stars for our second big adventure, which folded 24 hours later.  Without warning, I felt the scars of both visits begin to bleed as we passed so many things that reminded me of those visits.  Nick would point out a place that we had been, and nausea rose in my chest and I felt like I was suffocating.  Nick thought it was weird that I had such an adverse reaction.  I didn't understand it either but I couldn't deny it.

We have never been afraid to take risks, to dream beyond our current reality, to commit beyond our current ability.  We, as a couple, are unique in that neither of us fear adventure.  But as we passed these old landmarks, I felt like a gutted fish.  I had pursued both ventures with everything that I had.  Financially, physically, emotionally--I had held nothing back from my willing heart to give whatever was needed to achieve success.  And as time has passed, I have started to have days here and there where I don't think about the drought.  But it's still there, like the splinter in my mind that Morpheus talks about.  I have dreams that are so violent against my spirit that I wake up exhausted.  I see a label or hear a name and I feel my blood pressure rise.  Even though every part of me wants to take the good lessons and discard the rest as mere history, my spirit won't let me.  Every day I feel it branded into me, a burn that never heals.

I don't know how to do anything partially.  I wish I did. 

I find myself here on my little rotting deck, on a plastic lounge chair with my laptop.  My neighbor's back door is maybe 100 feet from mine and he's on his cell phone and smoking a cigarette.  The breeze is nice but it carries a slight wafting glance of someone's trashcan.  I could go inside, I guess, but I've seen those four walls as much as I can stand.  Its starting to feel like a cage in there.

I'm having a why me moment.

I don't understand how I am still here, renting this silly little townhouse.  I don't understand how anyone who has worked as hard as I have, served as selflessly as I have, loved as I have loved, pursued despite abandonment, sacrificed as much as I have...  I feel like I am Cinderella--a woman who has a royal destiny but her face is smeared with ashes.  I am hurting because I feel like I have been forgotten and overlooked, and I'm angry because that's how I react when I'm hurting.  Everything about this little scene of my life doesn't fit.  It grates against me like sandpaper on silk.  I am certainly not overlooking my blessings, but at this moment, they seem too few for all the seeds that have been sown.  So few people know what I have really done, where I have really been, all I have really accomplished.  What I have survived.

But Papa, there are no excuses for you.  You know.  You have measured the weight of it on my shoulders.  You know that I am an Olympian, that my shoulders are broad and that I take delight in the adventures you give me.  You have found joy in me.  You told me so.

But do you see the field of dry bones stretched out before me like a hideous opera?

This is not what we agreed to.  You promised life and freedom and blessing and honor.  You promised that I could trust you.  You promised a Great Adventure.  This better not be it.  At least, this better not be the theme.  I know where I was when you laid the foundations of the earth.  I was in your heart.  I was already in you.  I know your character, who You are.  I know You have not forgotten, I know You are already running to me.  I know you chose me because. 

I will not just sit.  I can't.  I don't know how and I don't want to learn.  I want every day of my life to matter.  Too many of my days are being drowned in status quo and I feel poisoned.  I know in your designed purpose there is room for rest.  But there is an enormous difference between resting and loitering.  I feel like I'm a newspaper writer, leaning against a wall of graffiti smoking a joint, ignoring a deadline.  I feel urgency but no clarity.

Wow, when I read back over this, it's the honest truth but its so uncensored.  Papa, thank you that you know my heart and that there is nothing to hide.  I'm crying out for you to renew my mind.  Refresh my spirit and bring revelation.  Fresh Jesus.  Give me something awesome to do that fills me up.  Give me faith to step out in spite of my unanswered questions.  I know you didn't create me to blend in.

I love you.  In Kelanie's words,  
all I wanna do is lose myself in you....
lean back in your arms and just let go now...
let it be to me according to Your Word...
Your ways are higher than mine.