Monday, February 11, 2013

A Child in the Battle

I've worked in a lot of ministry positions. I have never had to look the Enemy in the face as often as I do in this job. There is constant evidence of his attempts to steal, kill, and destroy. The battles are frightening, traumatic, bloody. And sometimes, I feel defeated. Sometimes (more than once lately), I walk off the floor mid-shift and go upstairs and lay down. I just lay face down on the floor. Not in surrender or faithfulness or anything beautiful-- just plain defeat and exhaustion and anger. And swearing. This job makes me cuss. A lot.

On a particularly bad day, I left work completely numb. I felt beaten up. I went to volunteer at youth group. I was a crappy volunteer that day. There was a time of worship. The youth pastor, Mike Snyder, asked the students a question. No one answered. And then Mike said, "Are you afraid to answer? You don't need to be afraid. You are powerful." And then he played music and talked simultaneously, because as you know, all the coolest youth pastors are also musicians. And he said, "You don't have to walk around like you are powerless. You have incredible power." Oh yeah.

I don't know how many more blogs I am going to write on this topic. Maybe a million. Maybe you will get tired of reading them. But I will write them until I know it by heart: the battles will be bloody, but the war is won. There is a great force of evil in this world, but our enemy is not of equal power to our great God. 

"You are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world." 1 John 4:4

I am afraid when I see the battles raging because I know the truth: I am a little child, and I am very, very afraid. I hold up my own abilities and quickly realize that they are dwarfed by the task and the Enemy. My small body cannot withstand these blows. I start fighting battles that don't matter just so I can win something. I freeze in my fear. I run away upstairs and lock the door and throw myself down in frustration.

"My battles," He whispers, "My armor, my people, my healing, my Son, my solution." And finally, "My daughter."

And He holds my small scared self, there on the floor. Here in this chair. Whispering again that He made me with Himself in mind. It is okay to be small and scared, I can make it, I can do this, with Him because He is big and strong and knows the ending. I praise this God, strong and kind and mysteriously in love with us.

Over and over on repeat:  "Whom Shall I Fear (God of Angel Armies)", Chris Tomlin

Friday, February 1, 2013

My First Love

I fell in love on the wooden floor between the second row of pews (right side if you're looking from the door) in the United Methodist church in Barnum, Minnesota. I remember everything about that place.

I fell in love and I stood and I sang and I lifted my hands and danced. I played guitar in my bedroom late at night and I sang love songs and I meant them. I cried and I wrote songs to Him and He heard me and we danced together. I saw it once, a vision of His feet, dancing over us, and I laughed for joy that He was with me and I knew it.

Restless this morning, I found my guitar and dusted it off, tuned it up. And I sang the old songs. The first songs. Jesus, Lover of My Soul.

I miss this love, this first love, unashamed and unselfconscious. I wasn't worried about my spiritual gifts or my best gifts. I was a gift. All of me poured out and I didn't think to do otherwise until later. Didn't think to hold back or be embarrassed.

And His love, it is so sweet to remember it. How we met each other in those moments of worship. How He whispered to me. How He loved and healed and held me.

Lately, I've been longing. It's the best word I have for what I feel. Wanting so much. I want adventure. I want passion. I want something new and brave and exciting, and I want to be alive. I've been looking everywhere trying to find an object, a solution, a next step forward. Maybe it's a step back instead. A returning.

A return to curiosity. Freedom from self-criticism. Permission to stop assessing what the people around me need me to be. A return to kneeling and hand raising, song writing and the untalented, passionate singing of songs. Maybe my longing is a reminder that I have been full before.

I have been empty and straining. Working. Trying so hard to love. So scared to do it wrong, not fit, not be good enough. 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Teach me from your lap, Father, how to sing again. How to rest. How to be filled up.