Thursday, May 18, 2017

When Your World Explodes

"Nobody wakes up thinking 'My world will explode today. My world will change'. Nobody thinks that. But sometimes it happens. We wake up. We face our fears, we take them by the hand...and then we stand there, waiting, hoping, ready for anything."- Meredith Grey.

Y'all (AKA my 3 readers ) know I love a good Grey's quote. Not all the lovely voice overs are worth repeating,
But this one is right.
Every single person on this earth is vulnerable. One phone call, one doctor visit, or one news story away from our world crumbling down.

Christ himself said "In this world you will have trouble." 
If you haven't had a moment in which you felt like you couldn't breathe after news you just received, I hate to say it...but it will come.

Some of you might be setting up arguments in your head. "But I'm a Christian. My faith is strong. I believe God will get me through anything." Oh, I know. But... I don't care how Christianly you are, you are human. As am I. And as humans, it means there are things that are too big for us to handle. There have been and will continue to be moments that knock us off our feet. 

So what do you do in that moment? 

Or what if it's a season of those moments? 
What if time and time and time again, you receive bad news? 
What if you hurt, then heal, then hurt again?

The quote states that we hold the fear's hand, standing there waiting for anything...I don't know about grabbing the fear by the hand, but So often we grasp at anything we can get our hands on to bring us steadiness, numbness, or a feeling of safety. The explosion is so abnormal and so scary that we reach for anything to calm the fears, even if for a second.

So what do you reach for...
What about Facebook? 
Or medicines and natural remedies?
Or what about people?
Food, perhaps?

The last time you thought you were walking on waves and  suddenly found yourself sinking, what was the first thing you did? That first thing will tell you countless things about your own soul. 

I make phone calls. Before I even suck in the next breath of air between sobs, I run through the list of people. I send frantic text messages and if none of those get answered I pick a person to call. 
It doesn't surprise me, because I have a habit of carving graven images out of my friends and forgetting my God. 

Some of you may numb your feelings with hours of television, or you may repeatedly refresh your news feed. Others of you may crave something sweet or something chemical. Still others may turn to sex, pornography, or romantic relationships. Some of you may pour essential oils in every diffuser in your home grasping for balance, and another someone may stare at something that will cause you harm contemplating if the harm will bring you relief. 

So barring all holds, look yourself in the eye and tell the truth. Think back to the last moment, day, or season of pain. Where did you go? To what did you turn instead of Christ? 
No one reading this is any more broken than the other readers, or the writer. We just have different brands of brokenness. But we all have a brand, and that's the point. Humans are frail, fragile idol makers with hearts that seek to anchor themselves to anything that won't actually work. 

But there is hope. 
There is an actual anchor that is solid, strong, and sure. 
This anchor  is eternal and eternally satisfying. 
He stands outside of our time and our world, and He is in control of it all. 
Christ alone, Cornerstone. 

That drink will not fix your soul. 
That friend will let you down.
This show won't fill the void. 
That pornography will destroy you from the inside out. 

Jesus Christ will breathe life into your soul like flowing water in a parched desert. He had the power at creation to breathe life into humans, and he can do it again. His Word is living and active and filled with hope and joy. Christ came so that his followers could have life more abundantly, so really we miss out when we turn to anything else. And above that,  things we turn to first and primarily are nothing short of idols just like the golden calf in Exodus 32. 

Oh, friend, hear me out. I get it, I've done it, and I understand. But it's time to do something different. Next time something threatens to make your world explode, hit your knees. Cry out to God and raise your hands to Heaven. I'm not saying it makes the pain less real or less valid. But it will make it less dangerous. Tear down your idols and trust your God. 

"In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world."-John 16:33

Thursday, April 27, 2017

When Darkness Comes

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls...."

Translation: I don't have what I need for today. There's no visible fruit. I don't have anything stocked up, and nothing is coming. Today does not look good. And ya know, tomorrow doesn't look good either.No blossoms promise of fruit still to come. l don't have much hope long term, either. No crops today means no crops next year. No cows and no sheep now mean no livestock later.

= My life is hard, it's dark, and don't see it getting better anytime soon.
(from Habakkuk 3;17, by the way)

Anyone ever been there? In that spot when things look bad and feel bad and sound bad and maybe ARE bad? Has anyone been in that darkness? Have you been there?! Certainly. Certainly and surely I am not the only one who has ever felt like I am in a pitch black room with no exists and no cracks of light and no air flow. Life can feel that way. You know how I know?
Not only have I been trained in mental health (50% of this nation are or have been diagnosed with depression-a constant darkness-by the way.) But I have listened to people who see darkness all around them, and hello-I've been a human for 23 years. Grief, trial, chaos, sickness, failure and sin plague this broken world. But just in case your own human experience is not enough to convince you, look at Scripture. In this verse, HABAKKUK FELT THE SAME WAY.

So did David when he cried "How long, Oh Lord?"
and Job when everything was taken
As well as Elijah, Hannah, Paul, and many others.

As Matt Chandler points out in a sermon called "A Glimpse of Maturity", darkness is a part of life. Our problems and pain do not always resolve quickly.

But, as I type that, I'm reminded of Isaiah 45: 7 in which God says "I create light and form darkness"
So, darkness is not a by product of light, but a creation in and of itself. Do you know what that means? It means the darkness has a purpose.

AND. Psalm 139 gives us a beautiful promise:

"Even the darkness is not dark to You. The night is as bright as day. for darkness is as light to You."

Okay, so here's the application. Does your situation look hopeless? Do you look around you and see nothing but destruction or loss?  Maybe circumstances are totally out of your control, or maybe you've been sowing a certain seed-praying a certain prayer, doing certain activities, investing in a certain person- and hoping to see a result but have none yet or it looks like your efforts have failed and you see no fruit if your labor. How dark does it feel?
Good news:  The darkness you're in, no matter how bleak and black it seems, is not dark to God.

I repeat. Your. Darkness. Is. Not. Dark. To. God.

When your boss fires you,
when your health fails,
when your family members die,
when your heart hurts,
when the future is unknown,
when your therapist or doctor doesn't know the answer,
when your church hurts you,
your friends betray you,
your family hates you,
or when you feel like God is distant
and before you know it you find yourself screaming at the sky and punching your steering wheel or crying on your bedroom floor asking "God, when are you going to do something?!"

Your darkness is not dark to God.
He is outside of time and space, so he sees so much more than you can. He sees the other side to your story...and I promise there is another side. Ecclesiastes promises that there is a time for everything and that everything is proper in its time. Beyond that, Philippians 1:6 states that God will complete the work he began in you. AND God promises in Romans 8 that ALL things work together for those who love God and are called. All. Every little thing. Every season of darkness. It will work for good. We serve a God who is faithful and good, and he sits on his throne high above any and every dark cloud that oppresses us so strongly. He's not scared by that cloud, not surprised by the cloud, and he is certainly not blinded by the cloud, like you and I often tend to be.

The rest of the verse I quoted at the top of this blog says this..."Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. Habakkuk understood a piece of the puzzle I often miss. Sure, the situation or season may be dark. Today may look bad and tomorrow may look worse, but God is bigger. Habakkuk understood. Habakkuk preached to his own soul and declared God's saving power in the midst of turmoil. Habakkuk chose to believe in the God who created darkness, can change things in an instant, and will carry us through when He chooses not to.