The Years of My Sojourning

Happy New Year!

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not really one for resolutions, but I understand their value. Culturally we measure things in years, so the beginning of a new calendar year seems as good a time as any to evaluate how we’re doing and what we can improve going forward. People may also do this at the beginning of a new school year or year of life (yay birthdays!). Some of my friends ask for advice on their birthday or reflections from others as part of this evaluation process. But in any case, we’re pretty good at measuring how much time has passed and trying to consider how much or what we have done in that time. The questions and answers are fairly simple:

What year is it now?

Well, it’s 2014!

What grade are you starting?

Oh, tenth!*

How old are you today?

Yeah, I’m turning 26!*’

(*Please note that these answers are not intended to bear any resemblance to particular persons, living or dead, and there are indeed no 26-year-old tenth graders running around as far as I am aware.)

Apparently on at least one occasion, and perhaps more, a similar question was posed differently:

How many are the days of the years of your life?

Okay, that’s a little odd, but it seems you’re asking how old I am. [Simple answer.]

However, on at least one occasion, someone answered very differently than I may have. His name was Jacob. Here’s what he said:

“The days of the years of my sojourning are 130 years. Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their sojourning.”

He then blessed the highly regarded person to whom he was speaking. Suddenly “I’m feeling 22” seems wildly inadequate. Factual, in some cases, but maybe not as informative as this response. There are a few things that jump out at me about this.

Firstly, Jacob is 130 here. He is also what some might call “a Bible hero.” At the very least he is referenced in the Bible and part of Jesus’ genealogy. This said, he describes his 130 as “few” and “evil.” That’s a very interesting perspective and basis for comparison for a 20-something struggling regularly with a bevy of things described on this blog and many, many more. Then again, his basis for comparison may very well be his perfect Creator and the ancestors that he references. These are people who were cited in Hebrews for their outstanding faith and walking in righteousness. In those cases (particularly the former), “few and evil” sounds about right.

Secondly, Jacob uses “sojourning” and “life” interchangeably. Life is a journey, some canvas on Pinterest tells us, but what does that actually mean? Is it even true? I’m not quite sure of the answer myself, but the fact that Jacob describes his life as “sojourning” gives me the idea that it’s not a time for being stagnant. All the more so when we don’t have a lot of time to get there (the days are few) and we’re constantly tripping over our own faults and those of others (the days are evil).

Well, this is a great New Year’s message so far, Marissa. We’re going to die soon and we’re evil disasters. Thanks. Sorry, sorry! But let me explain why this is actually making my new year happy.

1.) We have examples.

Another reason that I don’t really do resolutions is that I take commitments very seriously and I have trouble coming up with resolutions that aren’t too extremist. In response to an end-of-year questionnaire asking about what I might like to let go of in 2014, I thought of the single versus married people blog war (Don’t get married yet! You’re young! You’ll throw your life away! versus If you haven’t gotten married by X years of age, you’re doing something horribly wrong! Meanwhile, everyone’s insulted.). I thought of the times I flipped through someone’s pictures and lamented my own perceived lack of beauty. If I wasn’t doing so well at repressing school thoughts during my holiday time, I probably would have considered the times that I felt so unintelligent there. So I wrote “comparing myself to others.” Seconds later, I erased it.

In a sense, comparing myself to others is good. Paul offered his behavior as an example to the church in his letters (“Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about here things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me- practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”) as a point of comparison. I am constantly comparing myself to Christ and those who are striving to be like him. What about their faith encourages me? How can I be more like them, and ultimately, more like Christ?

2.) We have time.

I know, I know, I just said that the days are few. But there are days. The days are not zero; they are few. We are a vapor, but typically a breath is not indicative of death. This just means we need to “make the best use of the time” that we do have (Ephesians 5). This is why I’m a Christian. I don’t have a whole lot of time, but I have some. I look to the One who gave me that time, to the One who is good, and I am awed by what I see. I am in awe that He not only made me, but loves me, and loves me sacrificially- with the greatest love. Not only that- He loves everyone with that kind of love. So I seek what it is He wants out of the time He has given me because whatever it is, it is good and it is based in love.

So Happy New Year, everyone! I am thankful for the days given and those yet to come; I am thankful for the sojourning and praying that it follows the steps of Christ’s time on earth as closely as possible. His days were few, in a sense, but they were good. May this brief but new year be a time of growth, blessing, gratitude, and mirroring Christ all the more as He makes us new.

Wise and Thankful

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Gratitude is such a vital part of the Christian faith, and I’m so glad that it’s something that we take a full day to celebrate. We put everything aside and we make time for family and/or rest; I realize sometimes the two are mutually exclusive and that not everyone is able to take a break for the day. But with whatever time we do have for reflection on “what we’re thankful for,” we’re fulfilling the call in the book of Ephesians to “[give] thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” as part of the larger command to “look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”

I hadn’t previously thought of the two as being connected, but after we’re told to “walk wisely,” we see a “therefore.” Because of this, it says, do things like understand the will of the Lord, be filled with the Spirit, and give thanks always.

So even though you may be reading this when the day is done and the pie is gone, you haven’t missed your chance! There are endless opportunities for gratitude in “always.”

Each year I try to share a little bit of my “gratitude list” or a few things for which I am particularly thankful (see 20092010, 2011, and 2012), and this year I’m going off-script a bit with things that I haven’t added yet!

I’m thankful for:

– regional trees

– the feeling of familiarity that old music brings

– libraries

– the fact that our bodies let us know when something is wrong

– medical personnel who give us more knowledge than our bodies do when something is wrong

– history and a knowledge of it

– favorite foods

– the way it sounds when my mother and sister are laughing together

– gratitude, and the research base supporting it

– faith, hope, and love; the greatest of which is the lattermost

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Brokenness for Cohesion

I don’t know how people do grad school, or really anything, without God or a relationship with Him. A few weeks ago, things got really busy and while I’m normally very good about reading even the littlest bit of the Bible a day, I let that fall by the wayside. I realized that I was becoming more concerned with my needs and with whether I was getting credit for having done something, and just generally caring about school to a greater degree than I typically do. I didn’t notice anything was going on until my friend pointed out that I seemed “a little frazzled.” I grew up in the church, but I’m still reminded from time to time of what a mess I definitely am when I’m not putting my trust in my Savior and living like the truth of the good news is what motivates my life. I’m so glad to have a God who is making me new.

I’d like to share with you all a few songs that have helped me refocus. These are the songs that get stuck in my head and remind me, as John the Baptist said, “He must increase, but I must decrease. He who comes from above is above all.” As Colossians 1 continues, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” I love how this passage points out how worthy God is of the glory we’re called to give Him. He created everything and He is holding it all together. He is holding me together. It’s surprising how unwilling I sometimes am to sacrifice brokenness for being held together.

“Mercy, Mercy” by Hillsong United is a great song for singing my heart out in those times.

“Mercy, mercy, bring me to my knees

as the morning calls to light the dark in me…

Now I find my life in Yours;

My eyes on Your name…

Awake my soul to the hope You hold;

Your grace is all I need.”

 

I also love “Strangely Dim” by Francesca Battistelli. This was my “over and over” song right after that little rough patch. Oh, to spend more time marveling at all that God is.

“When I fix my eyes on all that You are

then every doubt I feel deep in my heart

grow strangely dim”

 

And if you want to get pumped up in a Mumford and Sons/The Lumineers way (or just in general), the spirited prayer/jam session “Build Your Kingdom Here” by Rend Collective Experiment has some great calls to action:

“Increase in us, we pray…

You made us for much more than this

Awake the kingdom seed in us

Fill us with the strength and love of Christ

 

But really, can you imagine a jam session with these people? How happy and sore would you be after this?! They even post their chords on their website like they’re just asking you to sing along.

Even above and beyond RCE, there is some amazing and uniquely genred Christian music today. I love that part of worship is taking the time to sing these songs to God and to one another, and hopefully to use them to encourage us to worship God with all of the other aspects of lives.

Nothing Left for You to Take Away

It’s one of those interview questions that you always prepare for: What are your strengths and weaknesses? We can usually quickly identify one or the other, and depending on who is asking and how much you’re trying to impress them, try to disguise weaknesses as strengths. For example: “I am a hard worker, I enjoy challenges, and I am rather meticulous. On the other hand, sometimes I put too much heart into my work and am too much of a perfectionist.” We want everything to be strengths, and we want them to be counted as ours. It won’t help me terribly much in a job interview if I talk about how my sister, who is not going to be doing my job for me, is very organized and a good leader. Those are strengths, but they’re not counted as mine.

The trouble comes when we’re asked to give up those strengths. I thought I had already done this- I have talked often about finding my identity first and foremost in Christ, and not in any of the adjectives that fall before my belonging to Him. I’d rather proclaim myself as a female, grad-student, book-loving Christian than a Christian girl, Christian grad student, or Christian book-lover. A good test of whether you hold onto something perhaps a bit too tightly is how upset you are when someone tries to take it from you. If someone marched up to me and said, “Marissa, you are NO GOOD at aerospace engineering,” I would not be much offended. I don’t claim that even slightly and am quite happy sitting back and watching other people be amazing at it instead. If someone said something like “Marissa, you are a TERRIBLE writer,” things might start to crumble a little more. Even worse, “Marissa, you are NOT good at school.” This would be a bit of a blow.

This is incredibly nerdy, but I claim academics as mine. By the time I’m through with this Ph.D. program, I’ll have spent more than two decades as a student, and loving a good bit of it! I am someone who fought for five more rigorous years of school. I enjoy doing literature reviews and fixing grammar mistakes. A love of learning is something that I’m pretty sure I was born with, that my parents worked to nourish (we spent lots of time at the library), and that I at some point subconsciously claimed as mine. In Philippians 3, Paul lists off a bunch of things that would be really impressive to his readers: “circumcised on the eight day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.” My equivalent of this list would be a bunch of nerdy things about school. But after Paul gives his list, he says, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”

A lot of good things (maybe not so much the whole persecuting the church situation, but the redirection of the zeal behind that, perhaps!) and productive things came out of Paul’s list, but that is not where he finds his value. Not only that, but he finds worth instead in knowing Christ as his Lord. He counted his earthly gain as loss “in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes form the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ.”

As Switchfoot (a band which, through how much I have referenced them on this blog, I have realized is one of my top three favorite bands) says in their song “Hello Hurricane,”

“Everything I have I count as loss

Everything I have is stripped away

Before I started building, I counted up these costs

As nothing left for you to take away.”

If someone tells me that anything other than Christ that I value is flawed, it shouldn’t shake me to my core. I might want to put some effort into improving it for His glory, but that’s just it- it should be for His glory, not mine. Honestly, when I start to feel like I’m not doing as well as I think I can or should in school, I don’t think, “Man, I am really not giving this my greatest effort and making the most of this opportunity to glorify God!” It’s something more like, “I am so much better than this, and it’s not being recognized. If I’m not good at this this, what am I?!” followed by some panicked pacing. This extends beyond my nerdiness and might apply to others in different ways- perhaps in wanting to be a good (or the best) friend, parent, spouse, runner, aerospace engineer, baker, employee, or any number of things.

God is constantly needing to forgive and reshape me in this. He sent His Son to earth so that we could have a personal relationship in which I am forgiven for all of my brokenness and to be able to strive toward the true perfection that I will never reach on my own. Even if I somehow became the perfect student- by whose standards am I perfect? From what I’ve gathered, God is the only perfect one, so if I’m going by someone else’s imperfect standards, I haven’t really worked toward anything worthwhile. (Note: C.S. Lewis does a beautiful breakdown of differing moral codes/the whole idea of “right and wrong” and why God’s is logically the “right” one. As he does this over the course of a great many pages in Mere Christianity, so I’ll just refer you to that incredible book. I think Lewis is a great writer. This is somewhat useless in the grand scheme of things unless the Greatest Writer agrees with me. See my carrying on above.)

I am so glad that God has given me relative strengths. I am better at spending my spare time reading than I am at playing video games (I’m quite bad at anything that doesn’t involve dancing). I am better at singing music than I am at writing it. This is only the case because God has been so gracious as to give me skills in these areas. They certainly contribute to my personality, but they do not define me at my core. The God who loves me more than any human being, including myself, has defined me. He has called me His. Everything I am needs to be built on that foundation. He’s not going anywhere, so there is nothing left for you to take away.

I’m praying that God will use whatever He gives me, whether it be a love of learning, a love of people, or a skill in any area, and that He will use it for His eternal glory, not my fading glory. I also ever so tentatively lift up my crumbly definitions of myself and ask that He would replace them with His perfect one that opens me up to so much more.

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think,” even regarding my schoolwork, my relationships, and my sub-par very best in everything, “according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21, emphasis added.)

When the Sun Rises

Grad school has brought many a good thing into my life, but it has been a fairly significant change, the most significant parts of which have been living several hundred miles away from the people that I have spent most of my life loving most dearly and not having the time and/or money to visit them as often as I would like. I had the joy of visiting some of my friends from undergrad while at the campus ministry that I was a part of and was reminded that spending time with them and planning and attending ministry events was once, basically, my world (alongside school and lab work, of course). And now my world is something very different, but also very wonderful, and it can’t help but encompass my love for that undergrad/homeland world.

In any case, visiting that previous world and the people in it that I love so very much requires either a plane trip (taking lots of money) or a long drive (taking lots of time). Driving that far creates a few options. You can A) Leave in the afternoon or evening and arrive in the very early morning, which isn’t for me, B) Leave in the late morning and arrive in the late evening, which I sometimes do, or C) Leave in the very early morning and arrive in the afternoon, which I gave its first try for my spring break trip home.

I was so beyond excited that I managed to get myself to sleep around 9:30 p.m. and wake up, alert and excited, at 4 a.m. This is an unprecedented time for cheerful alertness for me, even taking camp into consideration! If I left really early, though, I would be able to surprise my sister when she got out of school, visit my mom at work, and visit the campus ministry that I still love so dearly, and I would be in one of my favorite places in the world all the sooner!

The reason that such early rising is so unusual for me is because my daily routine is fairly strongly connected to sunlight, which I think is a very natural thing. I enjoy waking up to sunshine and other things and people that are awake. I wound up eating dinner at 9 p.m. a few times right after Daylight Savings because I just didn’t realize how late it was until the sun finally went away. I love the daylight. It is probably because of this that, an hour and a half into my drive, I started yelling, out loud, “IS THE SUN EVER GOING TO RISE?!”

Was this a little melodramatic? Perhaps. But some small part of me felt legitimately concerned about the fact that I had already been on my journey for what seemed like a long time and the sun hadn’t bothered to show up. Sure, there were artificial lights here and there, and maybe a few lingering stars, and I knew I wasn’t completely in the Twilight Zone since there were some other drivers on the road, but it was getting a little discouraging. And a larger part of me knew that at some point, the sun was going to show up. Fact: The sun rises each day.

Sure enough, some time a little after 7:00 a.m., the sun peeked over the horizon, with light beginning to spread everywhere a little before it even did so, and I obviously was moved to song:

The sands of time are sinking

The dawn of heaven breaks

The summer morn I’ve sighed for

The fair, sweet morn awakes

Dark, dark, had been the midnight

But dayspring is at hand

And then it all comes together-

And glory, glory dwelleth in Emmanuel’s land!

It makes a lot of sense why the Bible is constantly using night and day as metaphors. Night, and life in this terribly broken world, can seem to extend on forever. The sun hadn’t disappeared forever- it still existed, and I just couldn’t see it but for its reflection in the moon. Fact: God is still there and still working, and in the right amount of time, He is returning. The trial of this delay is that we have to live with knowledge of this fact. If I had just assumed the sun was never going to rise and the stores were never going to open, I would have had to make do with breakfast from a convenience store instead of waiting more patiently for the delicious one I bought when different establishments opened with the sunrise. I might have overindulged in caffeine as a day of driving in darkness might make one rather sleepy. Bu I lived and drove differently, because I knew the sun was coming.

C.S. Lewis did a lot of things well, and one of them is to expound on this idea of living in the darkness. In his book “The Silver Chair,” the second-to-last in the Chronicles of Narnia series, two children and a marshwiggle named Puddleglum find themselves in an underground land. The land had no sun, but it did have a kind of creepy lady who was essentially trying to make the little crew forget that the there was another world at all. Perhaps the “sun” they talked about was just their imagination’s rendering of the lamp in the room. Perhaps they had dreamed everything from this “upper world” they spoke of. Thankfully, Puddleglum managed to keep his head and give this little speech:

“Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things — trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play-world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia.”

As 1 Thessalonians 5:5 says, “For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness… But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.

Our very being as people is that we are made for the light, and our being as Christians seeks that out and embraces it. It changes everything about us. We go from constantly stumbling in darkness to living more fully, more knowledgeably in the light that we will one day live in entirely fully and with total knowledge. And in that eternal life that is the gift of God through the perfect sacrifice of His Son, “the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light, the nations walk, and the kinds of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day- and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21:23-27).

I forget sometimes that in the long run, everything I am is about the light, and the day, or more plainly, about Christ and my salvation in Him. I can taste it now. I know that He is coming back to make all things new, and that even now He is working in my life and lives of others. I can see it. And I pray that my daily life shows that I believe in a sunrise and reflects the light even in darkness.

To One Another

Probably unsurprisingly to most, I am a big fan of children’s television. Some of it I can’t stand, but there are other shows that I legitimately enjoy. One of them I found while scanning the channels the night before a college interview. Another is one that I started watching when I was actually a child. I don’t watch it regularly on TV anymore, but I remember it well. At some point that I can’t recall, my parents purchased a video (VHS!) with the highlights of the songs featuring two characters and I still sing those songs regularly.

There’s one song that a character sings as he’s getting into bed, so it makes sense that it’s very lullabyish and calming. Every now and then, I look it up on YouTube and listen to it right before bed to calm me down or to help my brain stop running through to-do lists from the day prior and the one to come. Typically, however, when I type in the search box for the song, I write the song title and the name of the show. I was already a bit tired on this occasion, and was lying on my side, so I decided to just type the name of the song with one hand instead. This shouldn’t have been unexpected, but this changed my search results. The video/song I was looking for came up, but something else joined it.

It was a video of one of my favorite actors singing the song, and doing so in such a raw and beautiful way that I was quite moved. I was recounting this story to one of my friends, who questioned whether a cover of a song from a children’s show could really be considered “raw,” but I think the issue resided in the fact that I had forgotten that other people loved this song as much as I did. I hadn’t really considered that other people might snuggle up and sing it quietly sometimes. So when somebody else took it and sang it just as quietly (this is not at all the first thing that shows up in a search for this actor’s songs), it had some effect.

I think this is a little bit of what good fellowship does. It is, in part, when another person takes something that is precious to you both and makes it more beautiful and meaningful for both of you. Specifically in terms of Christian fellowship, I have been so encouraged by watching people I know and strangers alike take this incredible faith and put it into action, or discover deeper meaning in the word of God and share it. It makes me want to strive more towards the goal of being like Christ, too!

I also find that this ought to be a two-way street, and that if one way is working, the other way sometimes starts working as a result. Because of how encouraged I have been by others, I feel all the more inspired to uplift them in the same way. That is one function of this blog, as Parakaleo means “to call out to one another” or “to encourage,” but we’re in real trouble if I think I only need to contribute to Christian community every other week on a steady basis. It seems that the best fellowship stems from the spontaneity of being encouraged both when you least expect it and when you most need it.

So even though we may be appalled by a horrific remix of a treasured song on occasion, let’s keep in mind that we are made for those times when an artist’s interpretation of the music or lyrics betters our own. Or in the terms used in Hebrews 10, “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

I like how this passage puts a good deal of responsibility on us. It talks about a number of things that Jesus has done- cleansing us, giving us confidence, being our “great priest,” and being faithful, but it gives us things to do as well. We need to hold consider how to “stir up one another to love and good works,” and then actually do that to an increasing degree. (Side note: This is why I love rereading Bible passages. I have read over this who knows how many times, and I think this is the first where I’ve really noticed the three calls to action- maybe more if you consider the breakdown of “considering” and “doing”- in this one sentence.)

I’m praying that God will open my heart and mind to do just that and be a blessing to His people, and everyone around me, as we work towards godliness and sharing His love together.

Knowledge for Action

The things that have gotten me through the last few days include, but are not limited to:

1.) My amazing cohort

2.) Cheery phone calls home to family and friends

3.) Motivational penguin

4.) Pictures of kittens

5.) the Word of God.

I keep a little list titled “Walk with Christ Passages.”  It’s sort of like my QuoteBook (which contains absolutely hilarious or particularly poignant gems from different conversations that I’ve had, TV shows, etc.), but it’s exclusively passages from the Bible that have been convicting or excellent reminders of important truths.

One that I reread today I labeled “Perspective.”

Perspective

1 John 2:16-17, 20-21 ESV

For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.

Here’s my little summary of the main points from this time around:

– “the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions” are a) not from God and b) not permanent

– the will of God, and those who do it, are here for good (in both the sense of good vs. bad and eternal permanence)

– those of us with the Holy Spirit have a knowledge that we need to be actively embracing and using

These things seem pretty basic, but I seem to forget them, or at least fail to employ them, constantly. “The desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions”- that sure covers a lot.  It probably covers most of what I spend my time doing and thinking about. It covers what I’ve decided I want for my life. It covers the adorable, but frighteningly-priced $200 dresses that I see on Pinterest. It covers my cravings for take-out and chocolate when I’m starting to get stressed out. And yet, these are the things that are frail and are passing away.  Why, oh why do we lean on the frail things when we have a strong, holy and perfect God who isn’t going anywhere? I’m supposing it has something to do with the brokenness that introduces these distracting desires, but the passage reminds us that broken is not all that we are.

We have the incredible gift of the Holy Spirit and the knowledge that we are frail and these desires are frail. That is a gift in and of itself. If you don’t know that it can be harmful to spend hours and hours under the blazing sun without sunscreen, you won’t take precautionary steps. You won’t change, and you therefore won’t get better, but rather continually worse. But we have this knowledge- and we can and should use it!  I love the wording here- “I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it.” For all that we don’t know about what’s happening tomorrow and what some of the significance of what happened today or yesterday may be, we know the truth and we can therefore discern what the lies are. We can tell that something is a little wrong with the cracking branch we’re putting all of our weight on, and then we can turn with confidence to what is surely right.

True Talk: I’ve felt a little bit like I’m at the beginning of a marathon with all of the busyness going on in my own life and around me right now, but this isn’t even the main marathon that I’m running. This is a jog halfway down the block that coincides with the race that I’m running to and for Christ- a race where I live according to His will and for His glory and can’t help but bask in the perfection of both.  This is a journey where my love for Christ and the people around me needs to radiate more than my love for my research interests or theory for practice.

I get really excited when I hear songs on the radio that have a unique sound and are still sharing the truths of the Gospel and Christian life. One such song is “Oh How I Need You,” by All Sons and Daughters. As they sing,

“Lord, I find you in the morning

Lord, I seek you every day

Let my life be for Your glory

Woven in Your threads of grace.”

I love this stanza. I find God in the morning whether I want to or not. I wake up breathing, mentally functioning, and excited about different things. I discern and reflect.  I seek Him whether I want to or not- I think that we all do. (C.S. Lewis worded it famously and excellently when he said, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”). And I pray that God will use me for His glory. I’m so thankful that He reminds me again and again that I know the truth. Through His grace and His love, I know the truth. I’m praying that He will continue to turn each of us more and more towards knowledge and towards action.