Break it Down!

Now, normally, if I’m yelling “break it down!” the beat is probably just about to drop (either for real or in some song in my head) and it’s time to dance!  But God recently reminded me of another, rather different way of breaking it down.

As a freshman, I had a really hard time.  I’ve learned so much since then and sometimes forget how little me struggled so with God’s will being so different from what she intended, with finding her classes on what is admittedly a rather large (but wonderful!) campus, and with being simply exhausted at the end of the day, physically and emotionally.

At the end of one particularly trying week, I collapsed onto my bed, opened my Bible, and randomly found Psalm 25.  I hadn’t been looking for it, but God had been looking out for me, and it was just the cry of my heart at the moment.  But I did something unusual for me then that I would like to do more of now- I didn’t just read it.  I wrote it down and intermingled my prayer with it.  I broke it down, sometimes phrase by phrase, or verse by verse, and used it to help me pour my heart out to God.  I added my little comments in parentheses amidst the chapter and they ranged from simply reiterating the bit of Scripture just before, singing a little part of a hymn, to praying to my Savior.  I’ve put my “Psalm 25 Breakdown” below with a few edits.

~

“To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul (It’s in a lot of pain, God.  I’m just tired.); in You I trust, O my God (it was You that sent me here, wasn’t it?  I still can’t really see why, God.  But I’ll have to trust You.)  Do not let me be put to shame (as I wander helplessly about campus) nor let my enemies (those creepy attackers and taker-advantage-of’ers I’m so cautious of) triumph over me.  No one whose hope (my life is in You Lord, my strength is in You, Lord, my hope is in You Lord, in You, it’s in You) is in You will ever be put to shame, but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse.  Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long.  (All day, Lord.  In the morning where I wake up sticky, sweaty, and panicked [I had been waking up every morning panicked that I had missed all of my alarms and slept too late in my unconditioned dorm room]; during the day when my legs ache; at night, like now- when I’m hurting.)  Remember, O Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old.  Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you are good, O Lord.  Good and upright is the Lord; therefore He instructs sinners in His ways.  He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them the way (I’m pretty much a mess right now, God.  Please show me the way.  Keep me open to Your will.).  All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful (hallelujah) for those who keep the demands of His covenant.  For the sake of Your name, O Lord, forgive my iniquity, though it is great (I mess up a lot).  Who, then is the man that fears the Lord.  He will instruct him in the way chosen for him (You chose this route, God.  Help me to stay on it and follow Your instructions).  He will spend his days in prosperity and his descendants will inherit the land.  The Lord confides in those who fear Him; He makes His covenant known to them.  My eyes are ever on the Lord (He stays consistent and is always there for me and will always know what’s ahead), for only He will release my feet from the snare (amen).  Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted (wow, that sounds familiar).  The troubles of my heart have multiplied (hence the sadness); free me from my anguish (please!).  Look upon my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins (it’s not just the world that’s messing me up- my own disorganization and forgetfulness are dragging me down, too).  See how my enemies have increased and how fiercely they hate me!  Guard my life and rescue me; let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in You.  May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in You.  Redeem Israel, O God, from all their troubles!”

~

What a blessing it is that we have God’s Word, and that He knows exactly when we need exactly which parts of it to touch and motivate our hearts.  I’m so glad that I wrote this all down.  Looking back at it now, I can see that God has answered so many of those prayers and it’s encouraging to see how He’s taken me through that difficult time, among others in my life, and how faithful He has been.  I am confident that He continues to be good.

Is there a passage that you want or need to break down to help build you up?  (Sorry to be a bit cliche there!)  This is something that I might challenge myself to do again, even when it’s not driven by frustration and emotion.  It’s so incredible to be able to read God’s words to us and to express our hearts right back to Him.  Hosanna!  Praise the Lord!

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Event Planning

I love hustle and bustle.  Have 30 seconds for a set and costume change between scenes in a play? I’LL HELP!  Filling 250 water balloons for 75 children to demolish in 50 seconds? Count me in.  The chaos of preparing for order is just delightful, and I love being part of an efficient team.  Because of this, and to practice my leadership/planning skills, I agreed to help plan my campus ministry’s event of the year: Progressive Dinner.

One person should never have to plan this entire thing, so my jobs were shopping, making the playlist, and coordinating rides.  Making a playlist is not what it seems to be.  People come and ask you to play certain songs.  Sometimes they ask very wholeheartedly that you play a song that is simply not danceable.  Granted, we’re a group of very nerdy dancers, so we could probably pull just about anything off, but still.  There’s a limited amount of time, and you’ve got to get the most popular and enjoyable songs in while you can.  Furthermore, you have to time things properly.  A small demographic of the ministry I’m in LOVES swing dancing.  So I was obligated to put a couple of songs in that would allow them this opportunity.  But then you have to put something like a Cha-Cha slide in immediately afterwards to bring the people who shirked away back to the dance floor.

At some point during the night, I noticed that some of the songs were starting to replay.  The bring-people-back-after-a-slow-song was not what it was supposed to be.  I hurried over, disbanded the group hovered around my laptop, and tried to figure out what was going on.  Somehow, the whole thing had been put on shuffle.  I had to just stand by it for a bit and play particular songs that were in somewhat aggressive demand, then click back to the appropriate point on the playlist before some people heard even a millisecond of a song that they wanted to hear for the third time.  Silly, but slightly stressful stuff.

At some point later, another poor friend meandered towards my laptop, and stretching out his hand toward the trackpad, began to ask, “What if we play-”

At this point, I all but snarled, “DON’TTOUCHTHEPLAYLIST.”

He hurriedly retreated to a corner. (No worries- we immediately danced out our feelings and all was well.)

I wonder if God ever feels that way.  I’ve really been waiting all night to hear this song, Lord- is it on the playlist?  Can I rearrange it?  Thanks for playing such-n-such, but I was really hoping to hear this version- is that coming up?  Can we add it?  How am I supposed to dance to this, Lord?!  What on earth is the purpose of including it?  I’d just want to smack those little hands away and say, “I’VE GOT THIS.”

On the other hand, how do I react when He does do that, though much more gently and lovingly?  I feel like I react less gracefully than my friend, instead throwing a fit and literally crying and going on about how I don’t understand.  And just the way that I’m not about to sit and explain the hours-long process I used to make the playlist and what’s there for who and when your favorite song is coming, so on and so forth, God doesn’t sit and explain everything to me.  He just tells me to trust Him.  Just trust Him.

I’m reminded of the passage in Matthew 6 where Jesus tells us not to worry.  Not only should we not fiddle with the playlist, but we should also not even worry about it!

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 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. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

He’s got this.

It’s not an exact parallel- I’m not perfect.  I did accidentally put one song on the playlist twice, which may have led someone to accidentally hit shuffle in trying to skip it, and I did forget to put one favorite song on the list altogether.  I can’t please everyone, and apparently some people were disgruntled by some of the songs.

With God, however, despite the fact that we may be disgruntled, He’s always right.  He’s made the perfect playlist.

It’s funny how this parallel has brought so much understanding to me. I love the way that God knows so much about each of us and how we’re made in His image.  I love music, so this playlist analogy is something that makes sense to me.  What’s your playlist equivalent?  Keep an eye out for the little ways that God teaches us something by reminding us both that we’re made in His image and how we can trust Him.  Let me know what those little ways are- I’d love to hear them! =)

And thank you Lord, for making me in Your image, and for teaching me through even the little things.  Amen!

Snippets: 1 Corinthians Version

I’ve been meandering my way through the letters to the Corinthians and though I’ve had a rather busy day, I wanted to dedicate this post to some of my favorites passages for this.  I’m going to have to manage my time a bit better in order to write better posts, but two have been in the making for several weeks, so get excited for those! =P

In the meanwhile, however, please enjoy these selections.  And if you’re reading through a book of the Bible right now that’s got favorite passages that jump out at you, please share them!  Rereading these different chapters has brought to my attention so many surprising and enjoyable little passages that I want to keep in mind much more frequently- it’s my prayer that the same might be true for you with passages you find.  Enjoy!  (The last one is a favorite little find.)

 

Chapter 6, Verses 12-13: ‘Everything is permissible for me’ -but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible for me’ -but I will not be mastered by anything.

Chapter 7, Verse 34b: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit.

Chapter 9, Verse 24: Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?  Run in such a way as to get the prize.

Chapter 11, Verses 23-26: For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’  In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’  For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”

 Chapter 15, Verses 40-41: There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another.  The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.

It’s Kind of A Big Deal

If I told you that this weekend was going to be a big deal for me, you’d probably have any number of guesses as to what was going on.

Am I hearing back from the Dance Your Degree judges? (Oh, the nerdy shenanigans I get into.)

Am I somehow graduating a month early?

Am I singing at a fun event?

No- it’s actually much bigger than all of those things.  You see, I’m celebrating the resurrection of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It’s the event in time that has changed my life more than anything.

I’m currently taking a helping skills course in which we take turns acting as a helper (in a therapist-type position) and the client. Nearly every time I’ve been the client, if not every time, my faith has come up. I can’t talk about things I’m struggling with or seriously considering without discussing the role of my faith. It’s integral to everything good that I do, and it changes how I look at the bad.

If my God was dead, He couldn’t be active in my life today. I couldn’t talk to Him through prayer, know that He is watching over me or keeping His promises to me, or experienced His love again every day. To make matters worse, death would have defeated Him. He’d just be a nice guy who really encouraged people.  It seems a little frightening to acknowledge someone as Lord who had to acknowledge death as their lord.

But because He rose again after three days, everything is different. I have a hope for my life today, and even more importantly, for my life after death. As it says in 1 Corinthians 15:17-19, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.”

Easter Sunday is not about rabbits, eggs, pretty dresses, or pastels to me. My God died for me because of His love me (which I’ve discussed more in a recent post), and more than that, was raised to life.  Through His death I know the depth of His love; through His resurrection, I know the hope His actions gives; and they both inspire a natural reaction of faith and reciprocated love.

Thank you, Lord. Thank you for loving me as you do for so completely changing my life.  I’m reminded of the end of the “love chapter,” 1 Corinthians 13, which says, “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. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

I am so thankful for the truths of every single part of that passage. Happy Easter, everyone- it’s my prayer that this weekend will be a big deal for you, too