Embodied Living Hope

I sing of perfect love, who breathes dreams to the soul

This is a poem/song that I wrote primarily during vacation in North Carolina last summer. It was born out of a time of reflection, taking time to sit in silence, listening to what God was saying to me in that moment as well as attempting to summarize and articulate some of what God had been teaching in past months and years. These words continue to speak deeply to my heart of some of God’s truths and promises, and I hope you hear God’s passionate love as you read.

Embodied Living Hope

Oh hear, you weary ones
Come rest, you battle-worn
I sing of perfect love
Who breathes dreams to the soul

We bring our joys, our scars
They story His faithfulness
We long with yearning hope
To be made like our Lord

As I walk through the flame
Of God’s faithful acts I will sing

I play in the presence of almighty God
For I’m known by the scarred, exalted Son
Filled with Spirit of resurrection power,
I am embodied living hope

I gaze into his eyes
Eyes filled with passionate love
I feel joy rising up
As I’m named: Child of God

As I walk through the flame
Of God’s faithful acts I will sing

I play in the presence of almighty God
For I’m known by the scarred, exalted Son
Filled with Spirit of resurrection power,
I am embodied living hope

I’m clothed in his glory
In the power of his name
No darkness can hold me
No chain can remain

I’m clothed in his glory
In the power of his name
No darkness can hold me
No chain can remain

I play in the presence of almighty God
For I’m known by the scarred, exalted Son
Filled with Spirit of resurrection power,
I am embodied living hope

Generosity and Grace

I’ve been learning a lot lately about allowing myself grace. I have, for a number of reasons, chosen to take this summer to slow down. I’m being more strict with myself about taking a full day off every week, and am trying to figure out, as a workaholic, how to do this “rest” thing. Similarly, as much as I hate the term “people-pleaser,” I draw way too much of my perceived self-worth from being helpful and useful. I’m learning how unhealthy these tendencies are, and I believe it all comes back to worship and love.

When asked about what the top commandment is, Jesus gave two: love God and love others. However, I think I at least have a tendency to separate them too much. The second is an outflowing of the first. When a couple is in love, they are always learning more about each other. Similarly, as we love God, we grow in our understanding of who God is; it is by knowing and trusting in who God is that we are able to act in love towards others. A part of that trusting God, though, is trusting what he says is true about us. That’s the part I struggle the most with.

God is love, and it is through learning more about Love that we know what it looks like to truly and purely love another.

I’ve heard it argued that in order to “love others as ourselves,” we must learn to love ourselves. While it is true that it is only through healthy self-respect and boundaries we can love others (Brené Brown has some great resources on this), healthy self-respect doesn’t come because I focus on myself. We are healthy when we believe what God says about us. Though I may decide that I want to work harder all the time, God says I am made to have a sabbath. I have to decide to trust what God says over my own voice. It comes down to worshiping God, not myself, and trusting that God is good.

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. (NIV, Matthew 7:11-12)

I don’t always know what is best for my life. Like a child, I have to trust that my Father knows what is best for me and will give me good gifts. I love these two verses; Jesus goes straight from saying to trust God’s goodness to the “golden rule,” the second of the two most important commandments. I’ve been struggling with trusting in the goodness of God regarding myself and my future; perhaps for others the struggle is in a different area of trust. However, I believe it is only by trusting that God is a perfect father who gives good gifts that I will ever really love those around me.

What do you think? Do you struggle to trust that God is good? How have you found your view of God to affect how you love others? I’d love to hear from you!

From Worry to Wonder

What if we worry because we are asking the wrong question?

Worry loves to drag us down, convince us that we are drowning. Many things can be said about worry and its varied causes and symptoms. I think we try to make worry more complicated than it really is, often sadly (at least for me) in an attempt to excuse and rationalize our worry. However, choosing faith and trust over worry is far from easy, and perhaps those topics that are simplest yet hardest require the most unpacking.

One area where I struggle with worry is planning for my future. I (like most) had a dream when I graduated college. For me, it was to get a steady, good paying job, to make a home, and to spend free time and vacations learning and traveling. For a few years, it seemed like I was doing a great job of making my dream come true. Then life took a sharp turn that caused me to change my plans and reevaluate my priorities.

I question what I’m doing with my life. I crave some assurance my life is making a difference, that it matters.

All around me, the world asks, “What are you doing to get ahead? What is your 5-year plan, and what is your 10-step plan to get there?” Now hear me, I fully believe in actively working towards goals; I just think life progresses more slowly, more gradually than our pristine 10-step plan allows for. Personally I think that’s God grace towards us. I also think the path is messy and indirect, and that’s what’s so scary. However maybe that’s also God’s grace to us. Jesus instructs us saying,

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:31-33)

We are supposed to not worry about our needs, but rather seek God’s kingdom and righteousness trusting God’s goodness for meeting our needs. The problem is, I’m not sure we understand or too often forget what God’s kingdom is and what it means to seek it. See, I believe we each have a purpose; a unique way we impact the world in a way no one else can. But what if seeking God’s kingdom has less to do with what we do, even with impacting the world for God, than exploring who God is and who God created me to be?

Impact is the byproduct of seeking God’s kingdom, not the method.

Worry, then, asks the wrong question. I worry when I ask “Will I get to the place I picture myself being in 5 years?” When we seek God’s kingdom we ask “How do the hopes and dreams you are giving me reveal who you are, God, and who you have created me to be?” That is a question I am willing to spend the rest of my life wondering and dreaming about.

What do you think? Does this resonate with your life and areas where you worry? Do you agree or disagree with my definition of seeking God’s kingdom? I would love to hear from you!

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bossco/4419787203  used under Creative Commons.