Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Red Pen

This is probably the scariest post I’ve ever written. I broke into a sweat the moment I approached the keyboard with the decision made to go down this path.

My friend Holley has challenged all of her blogging friends to a 21 day challenge of writing the rest of our stories with Jesus. Each day she posts about an area of our life to think about and meditate on, then she asks one or two questions of us. The answers to those questions will begin to map out the story of our lives. (If you’d like to join us on this journey you can do so here)

I avoided the challenge at first. But over some really good Mexican food I caved. It’s a lot easier to delete an email than to look a fellow traveler in the eyes and say no. (Thanks Holley!)

So here I am, 3 days into the challenge with a racing heart and sweaty palms.

Today Holley wrote:
As women, it seems we're standing ready with our red pens. Rather than loving words, we want to cross through parts of who we are and rewrite until we're someone else.

But God seems to like who He made us in the first place. He just wants us to be that woman for Him.

The goal isn't eliminating parts of who we are but rather letting God gently move us closer to the positive in our stories.

So why I am so scared? Because the part I want to edit I now need to face. All my life I feel as though I’ve been trying to run away from who I am. I try to hide, slip into the shadows, shrink down, and become small. But, God keeps pushing me into the spotlight and telling me to shine.

That is my greatest fear. My most difficult challenge.

On the wall beside me is a bulletin board filled with pictures, flyers, mementos, and such. And smack dab in the middle, on a tattered piece of paper sits this:

Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is out light, not our darkness that frightens us. We ask ourselves who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us. It is not just in some; it is in everyone.

And, as we let our own light shine, we consciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear our presence automatically liberates others.

It’s not that I don’t want to shine, I do. I want to do great things for God. I want to be a light. But… what if I fail? What if I let you down? What if I mess up? What if, after you see me, you reject me?

It’s a lot easier to hide our shortcomings in the shadows than the spotlight. It’s a lot easier to appear to have it all together when viewed from afar than up close. It’s a lot more comfortable to work out your “stuff” alone with God that to confess it to the world.

If I could pick up the red pen and re-write my life I’d edit out the spotlight. I’d step into the shadows, where it’s safe.

The only problem with that is that God has not called us to a life of safety. He’s called us to a life of obedience.

So today, instead of running, I choose instead to release my grip upon the pen… to allow His gentle hands to take it from me… to give Him the right to edit my life.

Is it OK that I am still afraid?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


When we think of beauty we usually think of sunsets, butterflies, flowers. Sometimes it’s a sleeping baby, or the steady gaze from your true loves eyes.

Rarely do we think of sickness, disease, destruction, and death. But in the midst of the ugliest parts of life there is a deep beauty that often takes us by surprise.

This week has been filled with the hope of the gospel. And it’s beautiful. Breathtaking.

It’s in the face of a smiling child, rescued from poverty. No longer an orphan.

It’s in the touch of a loving husband whose marriage is restored. No longer living a lie.

It’s in the eyes of a peaceful mom, whose abortion led to her salvation. No longer living in shame.

Over and over again, beauty cries out to us amidst the ashes. Death bringing forth life. Light breaking through the darkness. Joy birthed in sorrow.

And this is the hope of the gospel.

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has
anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent
me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the
captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to comfort
all who mourn, to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.” Isa. 61

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Louis has a new home... and so do I.

It's 5 o'clock on Thursday and I just received an update that my friends, the Tugwell's, are on their way home with Louis. (If you haven't heard their story you can get caught up here)

This morning Lori & Noel stood on American soil, surrounded by beauty and safety and all the comforts this great Nation contains. But they, without hesitation, hopped on a plane and traveled to a land overcome with destruction and despair. They traveled through wreckage and faced danger all so they could hold their son in their arms.

As I type these words Louis is safe on a plane, flying to his new home. No longer a citizen of Haiti, but of America. All because he was loved, he was wanted, he was pursued.

I can't help but think of another Father who choose to leave the land of His citizenship and travel to a depraved world to rescue another child. That child was me. And like Louis, I will wait here in this orphanage called life until He comes to bring me home.

Today I saw the miracle of adoption.

And it made me long for Home.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Need is Not the Call

Lately I keep hearing a phrase “the need is the call” but I disagree.

I think that believing that the need is the call is what gets us trapped in positions that suck the life out of us and rob us of the joy of serving Christ.

The call should birth joy, excitement, passion, and zeal. Not obligation, exhaustion, and frustration. So many times we say yes to a need when we’re really not called to meet that need.

For example… the church nursery needs help, they are desperate, and they’ll put anyone in there. You break out in hives every time you’re around a crying baby. But you feel bad, they need help. So you say yes.

Should we serve? Absolutely. Should we be sensitive to the needs around us? Of course. The danger is in thinking that we are the answer to every need. We aren’t. I believe that we are the answer to one, maybe two, very specific needs. And when we figure out what the need is that God has called us to answer… (cue angels singing the hallelujah course here).

Believing that “the need is the call” says that we don’t trust that God is big enough to bring the right person at the right time to meet that need.

Believing that the call is the call aligns us to fulfill God’s purposes in ways that are so much bigger than we are.

We say yes to the need out of guilt. We say yes to the call out of love.

The need is great, but the call is sovereign. Pray about the need, fulfill the call. Chase God, pursue the Holy Spirits leading. And watch with wonder what God will do.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


One of my favorite lines from the Star Wars movies is when Yoda says to Anakin “Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering”.

I’m not sure how theologically sound that is, but I still get a chill every time I see Yoda’s gnarled green finger pointing at Anakin as he says those words. I think the thrill comes from knowing what the future holds for Anakin. Yoda’s words to him are prophetic. And Anakin’s fear leads him down a path of destruction. But it’s all OK, because just a few episodes later Luke will arrive on the scene and restore order to the Galaxy.

Ah… The magic of Star Wars.

If only real life was that simple.

Suffering is great, as a plot to a movie. But in reality… suffering is… well, painful. The scary thing is, the more I read God’s Word the more I realize that suffering is not only unavoidable, it’s to be expected. In fact, God says that unless we share in suffering we cannot share in His glory (Rom. 8:17).

Knowing that suffering is unavoidable doesn’t make it any easier to handle. When we turn on the news and see the devastation of earthquakes and famine. When we answer the phone and hear about a husband who’s decided he doesn’t feel like being married anymore. When the report says cancer. When the letter says foreclosure. When suffering comes we cry out… WHY?

Why would God allow this to happen?

The truth of the matter is, it’s me that allows it to happen. My sin. My depravity. My rebellion. I am the catalyst of suffering in this world. Were it not for sin, we would still live in the perfection of Eden. And we can blame it on Adam all we want, but in the end I’m responsible too.

Here’s the good news. The suffering of this world is not the suffering of one without hope. It is the suffering of one who will soon give birth. Our groanings and trials will lead to new life. The earth’s labor pains cry out to us, “This is temporary! There is more to come! There is a New Heaven and a New Earth. One day God will again dwell with man!”

That is our hope. It is our future. A future without pain, or tears, or suffering. A future with no orphans, or widows. The question is… are our hearts wrapped up in eager expectation of that future hope, or are we obsessed with fretting over our current sufferings?

I thnk I need a change of heart…

Friday, January 8, 2010


The last few weeks God’s been impressing upon my heart that it’s time to tear down the walls.
We all have them. Walls we’ve built. Some are taller and deeper than others. But if we were honest we’d all confess to at least a few extra bricks surrounding our hearts.

We build our walls with good intentions. We desire protection, safety, security. None of these desires are wrong. It’s the bricks we use that are the problem.

Brick after brick of fear… isolation… anger… hurt…

One by one they are pieced together until the world is shut out.

Pastors, counselors, and good friends will tell you walls are bad. But I think… maybe… that I disagree. Allow me to explain.

I was listening to a CD recently when a line from one of the songs jumped out at me:

Your walls are Salvation, Your gates are praise.

I googled it… It’s actually scripture. The words are found in Isaiah 60:18.

My walls are fear.
My gates are isolation.

God’s walls are salvation.
His gates are praise.

In ancient times city walls were immensely important. They protected the city. Provided safety and security to all who dwelt there. The gates were guarded and no one was allowed to enter the city walls without permission.

Imagine your heart as a city. In it dwells your emotions, your desires, your dreams. Imagine giving that “city” to God. Imagine Him building a wall of protection around that “city”. I imagine He would take great care in constructing that wall. Using bricks of love, peace, joy. Carefully fastening gates. Patiently building a watchtower. Then upon the completion of that wall He would take His place in the watchtower, guarding the gates to the city. All who entered must pass through his critical gaze. All who come in must first gain His permission.

What if we didn’t have to spend our days watching and guarding. What if we didn’t have to spend sleepless nights restacking bricks. What if we could simply rest, laugh, and love trusting that whatever enters has first passed through gates of praise.

A few verses earlier in Isaiah it says “your gates will always stand open, they will never be shut day or night”. How can we accomplish that? How can we live with an always open heart?

We doing it by tearing down the walls built by our own hands and hiding our hearts behind walls of salvation. We do it by walking away from our post as the guardian of our hearts and allowing Him who never sleeps nor slumbers to take watch. We do it by trusting that whatever He allows to enter through the gates of praise, though it may be painful, will ultimately bring glory.

It’s not the wall that’s the problem. It’s the builder.

Who’s building your wall?