When desolate means beauty is on its way

He’s met me in dark places; places that were unplanned, but necessary. His hand reached out to comfort, bring hope. And breathe life through His grip. I’ve had dark places in life – my early 20’s when I didn’t know what path to take, but my emotions ruled me. After heartache, when everything felt unbearable. Upon great change in life when newness was everywhere, and my emotions felt raw. And as a new mamma, desolate places can be as simple (and as deceiving) as the distraction of the things we feel we must do to keep up, portray an image, but no one has actually asked us to do. No matter how hard I try, I am desolate without Jesus. I am not enough. I am not perfect. But. He is.

I’ll be honest, I have this tick-tock dilemma where I want to make everything have a purpose. At our mom’s group at church last week we were talking about personalities. Our table laughed so hard I nearly peed my pants, no joke. I went home with sore cheeks and a full soul! (TMI, but I just don’t care!) I went online after the fact to try this quiz, and lo-and-behold, I’m the rarest personality, 1% of the population. Funny enough, that didn’t surprise my husband. 😉  And in this frame of a personality, I want everything to be romantic and have a purpose, and sometimes, well, that’s just exhausting. And I try so hard to keep up, to a lot of expectations I set up, that at the end of the day I wonder sometimes what I really accomplished that had eternal value.

As we approach Easter, I felt the pressure to add my voice to the myriad of blogs and worthy posts by fellow writers of how much we love Jesus. I wanted to write something New York Times worthy. I want so desperately to tell you how Jesus has changed my life, and continues to redeem me. But this week, I just can’t find the words. I laid on myself the expectation to have something beautifully written… and I’m speechless. Sometimes, even making a difference can become an idol.

I read this morning in some prayers of Jesus where the word “desolate” was a common theme. Desolate means barren or laid waste, deprived or destitute of inhabitants, solitary, lonely. Sounds awful! But Jesus pursued those places.

Mark 1:35 and Luke 5:16 are two of the verses, among many, where it says that Jesus went or withdrew to a desolate place. He seemed to do that a lot. Go to places where no one else would go, and He would change them. Bring life. Have you ever noticed that He never left a place, or person, the same after meeting them? Whether He taught them a truth, healed them, restored sight or brought children back to life – people were changed after Jesus met them in desolation.

So in this self-induced dance of expectations and trying to make everything purposeful, I choose to let the King I love meet me in that place, that desolate place of expectations, disappointment, exhaustion of perfection… and bring His life. I choose to let His life be enough, and know that I don’t have to prove anything here, but share my heart, and hope that it rings true for someone else. That is my desire.

As we celebrate Jesus this weekend, I hope that you let Him pursue you in your desolate place, whatever it may look like. That you quiet your heart, and mind, long enough to hear Him running to You, full of life and newness. Whatever that looks like for you, in what season you are in. Throw open the door of your desolation, and let Him pursue it.

And wait and see what He does. Because in my mind, desolate places also mean something is about to happen. They are quietly waiting for beauty to be restored.

Advertisements

Not just my idea

Ideals. Ideas. Perceptions. Can be so lovely or can lead us astray.

People around the world will have closed their offices for the day. Packed up, and perhaps gone away for the weekend with the family. Maybe planned to rest and eat some ham on Sunday. And some people may continue the tradition of going to church on Easter and Christmas Eve. Some of you who read my blog may passionately love Jesus and have been transformed by His work in your heart. And some of you may be here by accident or curiosity.

Whatever reason you are here, reading, I challenge your ideas. Your ideas of Jesus or church or what “Easter is really about”. Whether you’re a Christian since childhood or refusing to let Him in. I urge you to let God transform you through the gospel – a truth that doesn’t just penetrate you once, but if you let it, it will continue to shape who you are as a person for the rest of your life.

Romans 5:8 says that WHILE we were still sinners, Christ died for us. You see, the cross has nothing to do with what we can or ever will accomplish. It’s Christ loving us even in our imperfect state. Continuously. Holding us up. Moving us forward. The cross doesn’t just change us once and then we’re good. It’s a continual process.

I grew up in a Christian home, ‘said the sinners prayer’ when I was about four-years-old, but it has been an ongoing journey of choosing daily to let Him love me, seek and hunger for Him, and not just what He can do for me, but to truly know Him and His heart. Lord knows, it’s been a process!

So as you ponder whether to go to church this weekend, and think about what we are REALLY globally celebrating this morning, let God, not your previous experiences, shape your ideas about Him. I don’t know about you, but I want the real thing. Jesus. Not just my idea shaped by society or experiences. But Him.

Let the gospel change you.

4b131683152b3c91c44cad3bc639ada2

 

 

 

Easter Reflection from Bright Red Trousers

It’s been three years ago that I was living in England. What a dear time that was for me. I remembered a chapter from my book called “That I May Have” and I thought I’d share it with you. As we celebrate that Jesus really is alive and wanting a relationship with us, I hope you ponder the great truths of Who He really is….

And a plug….I still have books available for purchase with all proceeds going to Home of Hope Rwanda! 😉


“That I May Have” Chapter 11 from Bright Red Trousers

No surprise it was raining that morning.  Verity and I had walked downtown to join the annual “walk through High Street” and the Good Friday service. It is tradition throughout England for all churches in the towns to start walking at one point and carry a large wooden cross through the streets and end up at High Street (the main street of any town is called High Street). They sing. People come out of stores to watch or join along route.

The wind was cold, but I had my Starbucks in hand.  We huddled close to the crowd that was listening to the preacher speak about the importance of Easter and what it really means. The Pastor spoke from Philippians 3:8-9 and talked about “having Christ”. It seemed so simple, yet hit me harder than any other Good Friday service I’d ever attended. That is what Christianity is about – having Christ. I went home and, feeling so taken by the morning, wrote the below…

I was a shy 7-year-old farm girl who loved the garden and nice things. Light brown hair and dimples, I adopted at an early age a love for shoes. One day on a trip to the city, I fell in love with some shiny black “heels” that I thought would make perfect Sunday shoes, and I tried to convince my Mom of this. Little did she know I was also thinking – those would look great on the playground.  Unfortunately, the store didn’t have my proper size, but I told my Mom the size I tried on would work – really Mom, they fit fine!  I said through the squeezing pain of beauty.

Mom instructed that these new beauties were to remain on the shelf until Sunday morning, and I solemnly nodded in obedience. However, school mornings came and it was too tempting to not show them off to my classmates. I stuck the treasures in my back-pack, with a plan to take them out and wear them as my “classroom” shoes. Mom would never know.

Day turned to day, and I realized the ache of these new soles were not quite worth the pain. I confessed to my Mom I had worn them at school and that these brilliant heels were actually far too small and hurting my feet.

When I was 16 I fell for a guy at my small-town church. He towered over me at 6’5 and had the ability to draw me in with his athleticism and wit. He walked in a mysterious attraction that captivated me for seven years. I wondered day and night if I would ever have him, or if he desired me, even a tiny bit. My teen-age insecurities held me back in expressing my admiration, and so, for all those years, I lived in the land of wonder. Was I not pretty enough? Was I not brave enough? Was I just not enough?

Right before our friendship ended, I had a faint glimpse of hope that he did have feelings for me. We agreed to meet after three years of not seeing each other face-to-face. Those 48 hours of decision were the happiest and hardest for my inexperienced heart. In the same breath he gave me a yes, he then gave me a no. I’m sorry, I can’t do this. I lead you on, he said. It felt like my heart had been kissed then crushed and those seven years of wishing ended – forcefully and without an explanation.

I’ll have a grande, double-shot, sugar-free, extra-hot Chai latte. Please. I love a good Starbucks. I know I am paying mostly for ambience, but there’s something deeply satisfying about sitting in a plush velvet chair for two hours reading Jane Austen and watching people I don’t know walk through those glass doors. Shameless. I’ll have that.

Being a single, 27-year-old successful young woman, there exist many things in my sights I’d still love to have. I have had heart ache. I have had shiny red shoes that stop traffic. I have had quiet moments on a country road where I felt like God was literally standing right next to me. I have had problems I couldn’t fix and cars that were the same. I have had journeys over-seas and late night intimate talks with friends. I, have had many things.

Having insinuates ownership and property. It is yours. It can go with you, stay on the kitchen table or remain on the backseat of your car. Having indicates you have said “I want this in my life.”

Yet one thing, I am told, is the greatest thing I can ever have.

This past Good Friday the Pastor spoke from Philippians 3:8-9 – “Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have discarded everything else counting it all as garbage, SO THAT I MAY HAVE CHRIST. 9 and become one with Him. I no longer count on my own goodness or my ability to obey God’s law, but I trust Christ to save me. For God’s way of making us right with Himself depends on faith.”

What I have or do doesn’t determine my worth or decide who I am. It might be a reflection of my heart and interests, but what sits in my closet, or what to-do list I check at the end of the week isn’t what God wishes me to base my life on. My achievements are worthless in comparison.

So that I may have Christ. I get to HAVE Christ! Suddenly, this Easter my realization of how intimate Jesus wants to be with me became clearer. I get to have Him as a Saviour, Friend, Confidant, Redeemer and the list goes on. And He wants me to. Jesus wants to have me.

The acquisition of life-changing moments with Christ suddenly gained height on the ladder of importance; to the top. He is mine to have.

At the end of my life, may it be said: Lani experienced many great things, and had a life that touched many. But greatest of all, she had Christ.