Lent — day six

Too much to wrap my arms around,
yet, always, you embrace me and kiss me:
with the arms of your people, with water, wine,
and coffee, with dusky light and breakfast,
with chocolate cake, with tears and snot,
with puppy licks, and baby laughs,
the smell of flour, the first hour of day,
with that tall pine outside the window,
storm-grey skies, banjos and fiddles,
saxophone, the smell of paint,
the color of some people’s eyes,
each touch on my arm, each gasping breath,
sweat, tearing, rebuilding.

Arms to send it, arms to encompass

My heart flings itself against its rib and flesh home –
flings as if it could tear away from me and run to him.
It forgets that he made his home in that same
rib and flesh. Though, surely he calls
from the far-off green mountains. And that call is true
as the mountains are steadfast.
His voice comes – like the hand of a lover, home early, over your eyes –
as the sun sets simply between encroaching grey,
arms to send it, arms to encompass.

Choose.

Remember my grand Lenten plans? Remember how I was going to strip myself of everything I thought I needed and thus position myself to be filled only by God? Remember that? Remember also how I didn’t really do any of it? Because that happened too.

I think I managed to be faithful to my word for a week or so. And one day I stopped. And that day I decided I had taken on too much and I should re-evaluate and start again. I never re-evaluated, though, and I never started again.

God doesn’t think less of me because of it, he’s not disappointed because he can never be disappointed in me. He’s not shaking his head and sighing. I know this. I know it with my head and my voice.

Though, ever since I stopped and didn’t start again, I have not known it. Every time someone likes or reads that post that spelled out my desires for Lent, it acts a reminder that I didn’t do what I said I was going to. I didn’t do any of it. Questions rise and plague: Is this okay? Am I doing something wrong? Am I missing things in my relationship with God? Am I missing places where I am being apathetic? Am I just doing the minimum because I know I can get away with it? Is there a minimum?

They overwhelm. So, I stop thinking altogether. I avoid coffee and sugar and spending money, because they bring the same questions, and I stop thinking. I shut down my brain as best I can and the questions translate to a feeling on angst in my gut. My stomach has been in knots for weeks – and I couldn’t get it to stop.

I’ve been here before – I remember it. I remember asking those same questions and not knowing any answers and seeking refuge in God as much as I knew how.

And I remember what he said – you won’t miss anything. my love for you won’t allow me to stay silent when you’re hurting yourself or others – when you’re not choosing life. 

That was my fear, though – is God speaking and I’m ignoring it? Is that why I’m anxious – because I’m resisting God’s call?

Be still. Just for a second, be still, and listen to me.

I did. I fidgeted a bit, but I listened. And God said, “it’s okay.” He is working in me. He is undoing and recreating, and it rarely looks the same as last time.

Stop worrying about what you didn’t do and move now. Choose now.

This commandment that I’m commanding you today isn’t too much for you, it’s not out of your reach. It’s not on a high mountain – you don’t have to get mountaineers to climb the peak and bring it down to your level and explain it before you can live it. And it’s not across the ocean – you don’t have to send sailors out to get it, bring it back, and then explain it before you can live it. No. The word is right here and now – as near as the tongue in your mouth, as near as the heart in your chest. Just do it! Look at what I’ve done for you today: I’ve placed in front of you Life and Good, Death and Evil. And I command you today: Love God, your God. Walk in his ways. Keep his commandments, regulations, and rules so that you will live, really live, live exuberantly, blessed by God, your God, in the land you are about to enter and possess… and love God, your God, listening obediently to him, firmly embracing him. Oh yes, he is life itself” — Deuteronomy 30:11-16& 20 (the message)

Firmly embracing him, who is life itself.

Thoughts on Psalm 19 (ish)

The sun rejoices –
eager –
Like a bridegroom,
Bursting forth.
Day is a joyous thing
If only for the joyous sun.

God’s words revive –
Like cool water –
Spilling over
Cracked, dry, land
Deserts are a joyous thing,
if only for the joyous return
(to life)

The sky is magnificent,
singing –
Song not heard,
But felt,
Deep in our being.
Creation is a joyous thing,
If only for its joyous Creator.

Always be joyful in the Lord! And I’ll say it again, rejoice!

-Philippians 4:4

The Psalms have filled my morning (or late afternoon, or early evening, or whenever I find, or sometimes make, time) with their pleading, human, seeking, worshipful words. One a day…. or, one every third day because I kind of neglect to spend time in God’s Word on far too many occasions. They are true poetry. I’m not really sure how I missed out on their beauty for so long. There is so much imagery, so much depth, so much sorrow, so mush discovery, so much JOY. It is a rare occasion to find a Psalm that does not say something about rejoicing or joy or life. Even when the Psalmist is surrounded by enemies, demanding that God answer his calls, begging for relief, begging for a sign the God is listening, there is a resolve of “rejoice.”

I often try to heap guilt on myself. I often try to force myself to see how unworthy I am. Sometime ago I convinced myself that the best way to see God’s love was to view my own depravity. I try to view God’s love in light of my failure. I try to view God’s love as great because he loves me “in spite of the way I disappoint him.” I try to talk myself into feeling like a miserable being for days and weeks at a time, subservient to love of God that is ever held over my head because I am so unworthy of it. This is not Truth. This is the lie of the enemy. The Truth of God is this:

“Self-rejection contradicts the Sacred voice that calls me the Beloved.”
The rejection of being Beloved is the rejection of how God sees me – it is rejecting who I am.
God cannot be disappointed in me.
I cannot relate to God as the God who loves me unconditionally if I do not see myself as the child who is unconditionally loved.
God’s love for me is what gives me value. Because he love infinitely, I have infinite value. Because I have infinite value, he delights in me.

I am learning to live as the one in whom God delights. I am learning to live as the one on whom God spends his infinite, fiery love and devotion. I am learning to live as Beloved. I am learning the joy of the Psalmists. I am learning that living as who I am bears the fruit that is joy because being loved like that leaves no other option. I am learning to delight in God, to be delighted in by God. I am leaning to feel free in smiling and laughing at little things. I am learning to by fully human, which is to be fully loved by God. I am learning to live into what God speaks to every human being ever in Jesus, which is this: God and humanity in loving relationship. This is why I was created – delightful intimacy with God. This is why you were created – delightful intimacy with God. It cannot be denied – it is written at the very depths of our hearts and souls – it cannot be undone. God does not say to us, “I love you, though you are an utter failure,” God says to us “I created you to love you. You are the desire of my heart. I created you for LIFE and life to the fullest! How I adore you! How I love you! How beautiful you are! Oh come love me too! Come rest in my presence! Come fly with me! Come outside, breathe the air, feel the sun, hear the birds sing, see the blue sky, rejoice! for YOU are greater to me than all of this! You are my Beloved. YOU are my greatest desire!”

Rejoice! How, fellow human, fellow Beloved, could we do anything other than this when we are loved like this? How could we do anything other than live when we are created for such a purpose as this – to be loved deeply, intimately, scandalously, beautifully loved. Breathe. Listen. Allow yourself to be captivated. And rejoice! I’ll say it again! Rejoice!