Media Moratorium

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Today I start a one-month media fast to seek the Lord and find my next steps. I feel him calling me to prayer, beckoning me away from my couch and my TV. I sense him awakening in me old dreams. I can’t shake the inkling he wants to give me a greater life.

So I start this fast to pray and think—to rid myself of the barrage of distractions. Today I begin to listen to God through this no-media journey.

No TV. No movies. No Facebook. No Fiction.

I have a deep desire to start a blog and hone my writing skills, but it’s so much easier to sit on the couch. TV promises me a way to unwind and relax, to kick back and not think.

I’ll save you the lament about my mind going soft. But what I call “mommy brain” might more aptly be (insert Stephen King quote about TV being media tit)

Most days I long to escape into a two-hour movie or a novel instead of letting sitting before God and letting him teach me deeper truths through his word. Why am I so stubborn?

I know Jesus. I understand the truth, and I desperately want to do his will.

But sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I don’t want to pick up my shield of faith. Some days I don’t want to fight. Some days, I want the Promised Land without the battle. Most days, I don’t want to wield a sword or march. I just want to finish my bag of Doritos.

Even though the Israelites owned the promise of God, God left them the dirty work of driving out the Canaanites.

The lazy side of me hates this paradox of kingdom life. True faith usually requires that proverbial leap. God has promised it—but yet he calls us to activate our faith.

Take Jericho for instance. God had given the Israelites the city. Yet God required them to march that seventh time and shout before the walls started crumbling.

I like the faith part, but I can live without the work. Just as God called the Israelite to participate, he’s calling us to work with him.

But wasn’t the payoff good? The Bible says the Israelites lived in homes they didn’t build and ate from fields they didn’t plant. What a beautiful picture of new-covenant grace.

For the Israelites this grace followed their grit.

God has made us new creatures in Christ—but he left us with the need to daily transform our lives by renewing our minds with truth from his word.

I still lose the battle to my flesh and the devil more days than I want to admit. That’s another reason I’m beginning this media fast. I see how I’ve let cynicism crack open the door to my heart and slowly sneak in. I realize it when I mutter four-letter words and am tempted to slip them onto the page.

It’s trite to say, but the garbage I’ve been taking in through TV, movies, meaningless “chick lit” surprises me in its potency to corrupt my thinking, and therefore, my life.

Garbage in = Garbage out. I hope this cliché proves my point.

The amount of time I spend consuming trash cripples my dreams. My writing life suffers the neglect leaving an ache of what could be.

How many years have I wasted?

I sit and allow this grief to wash over me, hoping the anguish purges me from my other disease, fear. Old-fashioned, they’re-all-going-to-laugh-at-me fear.

I’m afraid to give myself to my passion for writing. What if I’m just another hack?

Worse yet is the fear I will write, but soullessly because I’ve divorced myself from real life choosing entertainment instead. Would I rather watch life unfold in a movie or live vicariously in a good book than flesh out an adventurous story myself?

Good writing embodies more than ideas strung together in interesting words on a page. Good writing emanates not only from the heart but from the gut. The process is more visceral than cognitive. I can feel the words, taste them, birth them. My best writing is like this. It comes from the soul.

It requires living and not just thinking. Visceral writing demands gumption and courage and cannot live where self-doubt and fear of failure remain.

What if Joshua and Israel’s forces would have given in to self-doubt and trepidation? Would they have survived on the east side of the Jordan? Maybe so but what a waste of potential and promise.

God wanted more for them like he wants more for us.

 

 

Give Us Eyes to See

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I see God everywhere or not at all. He’s either in everything or nowhere to be seen.

This morning I rejoice with Him in the pink and blue sunrise. The diving duck startles me. It breaks the silence sending ripples like an earthquake across the placid lake. A cacophony of birds calls and answers one another, endless bird banter. Their singing erupts from every tree, waking up the city. I glory in God. I stroll through His city.

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Other mornings, a nihilist, I walk quickly, not pausing to see God’s creation, not opening my faith eyes. Not hearing anything beyond the roar of ambition, pushing me to go and never stop. On these days I’m not truly hearing, not truly seeing. My eyes function to move leg to sidewalk; that’s all.

As a writer I must unearth the solution. We know the problem well. I have to be able to see the beauty. The ugly presses in, pushes in and asserts like paparazzi. My own faults and sin-racked yesterdays crowd my view of Jesus.

With no Jesus in my sight, I focus on problems and pain instead of grace and truth. My mind cloud to beauty. My faith eyes shut.

Everything I do starts with sigt. Without vision nothing gets accomplished. When I see little, I accomplish little. People perish where vision wanes, (Prov. 28:19).

The eyes act like a lamp to our body; Jesus taught us this.

“So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Matt. 6:22-23).

Are my eyes healthy?

Sunday I stood in church and sang the songs while my eyes began to heal. Sometimes I envision myself as a child kneeling before God’s throne. I take this attitude in worship, humble and low, but a new vision sprang to my mind’s eye.

No longer was I kneeling, instead the child in my mind was rushing her God. Her arms flung in embrace, her head buried in His belly! A new picture now replaces a worn-out, ill-fitting vision. God is father and I am daughter. I have always been.

Oh how vital seeing is to believing. Without the light, only shadows teach.

This shift in perspective changes so much for me. It makes all things new. With fresh eyes I view myself, able to reinvent myself with confidence.

The new eyes allow me to envision a better future. Each day my eyes widen, bringing in more and more light to my body.

In some ways the art of truly seeing ourselves and the world becomes the work of our lives. Not the day job that pays the bills, but the internal work of beholding God. It’s time-consuming work and won’t hold up under multitasking.

Sure, we can pray while doing anything, but receiving new eyes for a new day requires total focus on the One who remakes our focus. In doing so, He remakes us.

Childhood and Change

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I am selfish in this. I long to capture every second I can with my children.

I’ve always been conscientious, so the sagely voices that told me to treasure every moment, I believed and still believe. “Blink and they graduate,” the gray-haired women whisper.

I plant kiss after kiss on my boys’ soft curls. I squeeze them till they wriggle from my grasp. I snuggle them long past the moment I feel their bodies go limp, dead weight in my arms. I often think this time with them is too short.

Why do I dread them growing up?

I think it reminds me of my own mortality. I too am aging just as quickly as they sprout ankles beneath jean hems. I grow deeper brow wrinkles and new laugh lines as quickly as the number climbs on their shoe size.

I hug them as if to stunt their growth and pinch their cheeks just to enjoy how the pudginess bounces back to perfect roundness.

I heard the Chinese once wrapped girls’ feet in an effort to keep them smaller, more feminine. Like those little feet, I would bind my boys up from nose to knees if I thought it would keep them from springing up into adolescence.

But it won’t work, nor keep me physically fit and young. I really want to stop change, to send it a cease-and-desist order.

God’s purposes change. He incites growth in each of us be it physical, mental or spiritual. Why is it that we long to stand motionless, unaffected by the shifting?

Change shatters our comfortable habits like a wrecking ball waylays a decrepit skyscraper.

The sooner we can unclench our fists and come to God with open hands, the less pain we will endure. The Unchanging One demands total surrender. When we acquiesce, we grow more into Him and begin to see more as He does.

God’s Perfect Timing

We can only see God’s perfect timing in hindsight, never in the moment. In the moment, God’s timing always seems terrible, doesn’t it?

Recently I stopped to wonder how the Sovereign God of the Universe works everything in perfect time. Even beginning to think about this blows my mind.

Technically He is outside of time and space and thus sees all time at all different varying points. This gets confusing, and if your idea of a supreme ruler of the world doesn’t leave your mind boggled, your God is too small. But I digress.

He works everything in perfect time. Not my time. Not your time, but His perfect timing spins Earth on its axis and causes our solar system to revolve around the sun.

Even we his people, Christians, operate on God’s divine time table. He knows all and sees all, and it’s not coincidence provisions usually come at that eleventh hour.

From God’s perspective, sending Jesus after 400 years of His prophetic silence was the “right time.” After 4 centuries of waiting for God to speak, many lost hope in a Messiah. This was no super spiritual climate. God caused His son to be born for and among backsliders. People like you and me.

Romans 5:6 says it like this, “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly,” (NIV).

God’s timing often seems roughshod and unruly to us. It looks nonsensical, and sometimes I hear myself asking When is He going to act? When is He going to show?

I hear the ache of lonlieness in my friends who question God’s timing after waiting years for a godly spouse. When? How much longer do I have to wait?

You don’t have to be a seminarian to know God is in the habit of making His people wait. With God waiting translates into a kind of badge of honor.

Think of Hannah or Abraham and Sarah pining away for a baby. Think how long David had to wait for the promised crown. Surely they grew disappointed with God, doubting God’s character and their frail abilities to hear Him.

I can imagine David, hungry, desperate and on the run from Saul. By now he knew the inside of every cave from Gilead to Hebron. He lived in God’s shadow. When would God’s promise dawn?

Was that prophet Samuel only a charlatan? Was it dementia that caused him to anoint me, Jesse’s youngest and least-qualified son?

Those questions unhinge the doors of our hearts and creep in during times of waiting. It’s normal, garden-variety doubt, as common as dandelions in Dallas lawns.

God proved Himself to each of these people—and He’s proved Himself to me over and over again. So if you are in a season of questioning God’s timing, just know this same God will one day prove Himself to you too.

 

We see only myopically now, but one day our Lord, Savior and Creator will sit down with us for what I imagine as a face to face interview, and ALL the pain and suffering will make sense.

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known,” (1 Cor. 13:12 ESV).

Scripture declares one day time shall be no more. The God who painfully subjected himself to time and space will one day deliver us out of the conundrum of time and space.

On that last day the sun rises and falls, a new, endless day will dawn. Like time, night will cease too. In the New Heavens and the New Earth, hope awaits us a surely as Christ himself ready to wipe away all our tears.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Chasing My Own Bliss

This summer I endeavor to chase my own bliss like a comet chases its elliptical path in the cosmos. Like fireflies dance through the sky, these rock-at-the-core dazzlers seize our gaze and capture our fascination. But like us, they traverse the universe with numbered days. To the naked eye, they flare for a day or two before their light is swallowed up in darkness.

Scripture describes human life as frail as grass or a vapor. Here today and gone the next. So is our life compared to Eternity’s vista, outside of space and time. So I question myself today. Will I, like the comet, take every opportunity to enliven my sky with brilliant light or slowly fade away?

Will I chase my own bliss because in doing so I glorify the God of both comets and men?

This summer I will. I must. My life shall follow this blissful orbit. I will love God and make time to enjoy. Like a bee waits for spring, I will sit still waiting for Jesus. With a glad, thankful heart and seeking mind, I will still myself and listen. I will question and speak back worship and awe.

Like Thoreau by Walden Pond, I will find Him outside. Nature hikes, swimming and walking by the lake will enlighten my gaze and enlarge my view of God. Wonder is my aim.

I will commune at open-air concerts with a carpet of grass between my toes. Kids, picnics, swings will dissolve stress like Stevia in my coffee. The dissolving leaves only sweetness.

Playing, laughing and writing naked, dangerous prose will employ me, not tedious to-do lists. This is summer after all, and it demands full, life-saturated being. I won’t feel guilty to forego laundry or to read fun novels or Pulitzers if I please.

Summer abhors rules, and stodgy schedules can wait for winter. Summer lives today. Give it freedom.

Will you join me in chasing your own bliss whether it takes you across the world or to the sandbox in your backyard?

Chasing your own bliss isn’t about running from your life. It’s about finding it.

To our perspective, the comet’s glory has nothing to do with where it’s going, but everything to do with how it gets there.

Blogging While Afraid

I begin this blogging journey stricken. I fear writing. Afraid my truth, the way I see God and the world, won’t resonate. I panic to even look at the “publish” button. I am coward. I am running away. My 31 years on Earth echo my silence.

Petrified to be called a “hack,” “out-there,” or “super spiritual,” these labels pin me, paralyze me. Reverberating in my mind, they’ve hemmed me in for too long.

Today I grow steel vertebrae, and seeds of gumption and courage begin to root. I chase faith. Or does it chase me?

I laugh. God too is probably laughing at me, all lily-livered in front on my computer agonizing over which WordPress theme to choose. I suppose the words I write matter half as much as this seminal step into darkness, not knowing where this will all lead.

Yaweh’s taking me on a faith journey. Like an obedient toddler, I go where He leads me. Craven or bold, He’s never far away, so I will keep walking. As you read this, I’ve talked fear down and walked my way out of the boat to follow Jesus.

I listen, pray and stumble, but grace comes. Grace always comes. When I posture myself in front of this grace, faith supplants fear.

Now my faith rises like a nearly full moon. The orb seems whole, until you behold its splendor the next night—then you see it complete, fully glowing.

Today my faith begins to eclipse fear. I dare to write, to publish, to be scorned or adored. I risk failure and success.

Although the act of writing spells solitude, I know I’m not alone. I invite you to take this journey with me. Watch me hone my writing craft. Listen to my exegesis, no matter how profound or simplistic or flat out wrong I may be.

I will ask, ponder and think aloud. I will wonder and wander. I know the God of all wisdom, and I know He is able to lead me into all truth. This blog will seek truth and beauty in the One who is all-together lovely.

I pray you see Him on these pages and that His life—lived fully in me—calls out to you, in your deep places, thin places or barren places. May Grace abound to you as you let him carve your strengths out of the raw material of your weaknesses.