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Measuring yourself and finding true

“Measure twice, cut once.”

 

Whenever doing a project, this is the mantra to repeat. Because unless you get things lined up, level, square, and correct, the project won’t turn out. The end result will be frustration. It’s tedious and annoying and oh so important.

 

It’s important to make things true.

 

That’s the word chosen to describe this process. Things are true when they fit. When they are lined up. When they are where they are supposed to be.

 

True.

 

I often cut myself without measuring first. I compare, I rush, I seek accolades, without first defining who I am and what I was put on earth to do.

 

I am created by an artistic God. I am cared for by a loving Father. I am rescued by a beautiful Savior. I am strengthened by a powerful Spirit.

 

This is how I need to measure myself. Twice, three times, or more, in order to find my trueness. The way that I fit in this world.

 

Anything else puts me off-kilter, crookedly hanging on the walls of life.

 

Five Minute FridayThis post is linking up with Lisa Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday. A weekly prompt with strict instructions: write for 5 minutes and post. No over-editing. No do-overs. An practice of freedom. A way to let go of perfectionism. An exercise for some not often used writing muscles. Read more posts or link up over there. Today’s prompt was: TRUE.

Singing about the breaking point

The breaking point.

 

It comes at different times and various places, but most of us reach it at some point in our lives. The feelings of anguish, grief, and I-just-can’t-take-it-anymore frustration burst out of us.

 

A rant, a sob, the violent brushstrokes of tortured art- somehow or another, an outlet must be found before we choke on that which we can no longer keep down.

 


 

psalm 74The people of Israel reached the breaking point.

 

The Promised Land never really was the paradise they expected. There seemed to be a “but God, didn’t you say?” question with each battle and each disappointment that came their way. Their leaders waxed and waned in their faithfulness to Yahweh, which led to cycles of idol worship, sin, battles, and repentance among the people.

 

But still, God seemed with them. For them. Still leading them to a time that would be different.

 

Yet at the end of the tunnel, they didn’t find light. They found destruction. A take-over by an enemy people who destroy their sacred temple and lead them away to exile.

 

They reached the breaking point.

 

Asaph’s response was to write Psalm 74.

 

For awhile, this Psalm dances on the sharp edges between anger and despair, the quiet pleading of someone who has been shattered by life.

 

O God, why have you rejected us forever?
Why does your anger smolder against the sheep of your pasture?

 - Psalm 74:1

We are given no signs from God;
    no prophets are left,
    and none of us knows how long this will be.
How long will the enemy mock you, God?
    Will the foe revile your name forever?
– Psalm 74:9-10

 

Then, in strange contrast, the words make turn. The song marches on into a tribute to God’s faithfulness.

 

But God is my King from long ago;
he brings salvation on the earth.
– Psalm 74:12

 

You are the King. You bring salvation.  It was you who split the sea. It was you who created this earth. It was you.

 

I wonder if these words were sung through gritted teeth. What does praise in the midst of splintered emotion sound like? I hear him shouting, “It was you who did these great things! I think I still believe that, somewhere underneath this rubble. Yet that makes me wonder all the more… where are you now?!?”

 

God, where are you now, when I am at my breaking point?

 

Rise up, O God, and defend – Psalm 74:22

 

Help me. Please. I am broken and desperate and buried in my misery and need you. Rise up from wherever you are hidden.

 


 

Sometimes I forget that the Psalms are a sort of hymnal, recorded in the words of the Holy Scriptures.

 

These are words that would have been sung by the people when they gathered together for worship.

 

This breaking point Psalm would have been sung together by the people of Israel, years after they returned from exile.

 

Their hymnody, their liturgy, their songs of praise to their God, chose to remember the bad along with the good. The lyrics were complex and raw and aching with the reality of life.

 


 

I wonder what would happen if our modern worship songs reflected the kind of heartache that echoes in the Psalms. What if we chose to sing about the times God let us down right before singing about the 10,000 reasons we have to praise Him?

 

I wonder what they would feel like to a visitor, walking in off the street, wondering if church is worth it, if the people can be trusted with his pain. Would the accessibility of those songs bring some relief to his heavy heart?

 

What if our worship became a place of hope for the broken? What if our songs projected the hope that we are a people who have experienced loss and are ready to walk in the mess beside those who are in pain?

 

It seems to me there is value in singing about our breaking points as much as we sing about our highlights. Maybe that is a lesson the Psalms are meant to teach us.

 


 

That is my reflection on Psalm 74. Please link up below with your own thoughts, and read the words of others. Then join us next week for Psalm 75.

She walks in beauty

she walks in beauty“She walks in beauty…”

 

The opening line of Lord Byron’s poem is on repeat in my thoughts. The words linger and sink low. They weigh me down with a deep sense of longing that cannot be satisfied.

 

I want to be that woman. The one who would inspire poetry by simply walking in a room. Beauty and grace floating with her like an aura. Unavoidably knitted into the fabric of who she is.

 

I believe that looks do not define a person. I know that I am loved unconditionally by my Creator. I understand that I am not an accident.

 

And yet… and yet… it’s so easy to burn with jealousy towards those who seem so flawless. Who can stumble out of the house with a messy bun and a five minute make-up routine and still turn every head when they stroll down the aisles of a store.

 

Is it the brokenness of my own heart or the influences of our culture that cause my eyes to magnify my own flaws and see only the stunning perfection of others?

 

(I ran out of time, and had to leave this post unresolved. Just keeping it real today, I guess.)

 

Five Minute FridayThis post is linking up with Lisa Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday. A weekly prompt with strict instructions: write for 5 minutes and post. No over-editing. No do-overs. An practice of freedom. A way to let go of perfectionism. An exercise for some not often used writing muscles. Read more posts or link up over there. Today’s prompt was: SHE.
(Full disclosure: I write the post in 5 minutes, but I take a little extra time to create a graphic to go with it. I think that’s still okay according to the rules…)

On preaching, inadequacies, and life in Christ

If you would have asked me as a child or even as a college student about some future life aspirations, preaching sermons would not have made the list.

 

Especially because I am a woman, and I grew up a paradigm that would not allow for me to be upfront.

 

Yet here I am, having preached for the fourth time in as many months and wondering what crazy work God has done and is doing in my life.

 

Before and after speaking, I swim in a swirl of emotions from wonder to frustration to doubt to joy to regret to fulfillment. I love it and hate it at the same time. I never feel a clear call that I am the perfect person to speak that message- or a clear call that I am not.

 

But I know my main goals are to step in and to listen.

 

Sometimes that listening is difficult.

 

The preparation for my message this past Sunday was particularly exasperating. I felt completely under qualified. The subject was new life in Christ. Which is pretty much the subject of the New Testament.

 

What could I add to the words of Peter and Paul? And what could I say in 30 minutes that would even scratch the surface of this message of the Gospel?

 

As I read and sifted and processed, I often wondered if I should pass the baton to someone who would be better at this than me. But I didn’t. Somehow it seemed that feeling inadequate was actually the perfect place to begin.

 

If I authentically believe that what I do is through the power of the Holy Spirit, in the strength of Christ, for the glory of God, then it’s not about my adequacy. It is about my trust. I have to lean into God more than I count on my gifts.

 

So I did that the best I could.

 

Does that mean I walked away with a message I wouldn’t tweak if I had the chance, with points completely polished, and with a conclusion that would take your breath away? Not in the slightest. There are several things that went well, and many more that I would do differently if I were to give this talk again.

 

Yet I believe that God uses broken vessels to shine His light. I believe He can speak through me because of my gifts or in spite of my gifts, depending on the circumstance.

 

If you would like to listen to the sermon, you can find the audio here. It has my name below it, and is titled “Abundant Living.” Using the text of John 10, I talked about how Jesus offers us a full life in which we are saved, we are free, and we are known.

 

The message kicked off with this video called “Something more.” Definitely worth a watch.

Something More from Moving Works on Vimeo.

How would you describe life in Christ?

*Dear readers, would you like me to continue to link to my messages when I speak? Is it interesting or helpful to you in some way? Or does it feel like some sort of awkward plug not fitting for this blog space? I would love to hear your honest feedback if you have any. Either as a comment below or an email. Thanks!

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