Friday, October 30, 2015


Sometimes I look out upon the world and I wonder who's really alive - who's awake and who is still sleeping. It's that feeling that everyone around you just may happen to be a robot. Cognizant or not. And perhaps each and every one of us feels that way at times? Is everyone else real?

I suppose we're all philosophers in that way. And if you've never dared to consider life so deeply, then, could it be, you've never really awakened? For indeed, we're all asleep till we're made alive in Christ. But once alive, how then do you live and move and breathe? With what awareness do you go through life? And if with none, then I challenge you to sink deep, deep, deep into your cognizance. For this is what separates us from beasts.

We can think.

And thinking must not merely be limited to choices. No. That requires little to no use of the mind. Rather, if we are indeed alive and capable of consideration, and if we are created in the image of our creator, whose mind inspired ours, then oughtn't we consider the world around us, and more importantly, the people around us?

Dive deep.

Instead, since those around us must not be robots, but cognizant human beings, then every person we encounter, must, in the words of C.S. Lewis, be a immortal, just as ourselves.
"There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations - these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendors" (The Weight of Glory).
And isn't that just incredible?

When I consider such a thought, each person I encounter becomes something of a wonder. All physical appearances seems to slide off like clothing or mud. What remains, is an essence of sorts - a true character. A character comprised of experience, wisdom, foolishness, kindness and stupidity. Something of a mix, with different percentages of each, you might say, comprising a whole. And to think that each is such a unique thumbprint, each designed specifically by the Almighty.

How can, in light of this, one ever treat another human being as a robot? But instead as something eternal... outlasting... with either salvation or damnation in store? And I do pray, that it be the former rather than the latter. For if we are indeed, such intelligent creatures, then perhaps we're all subtly aware of the gaping, gnawing hole that is our desperate desire to know if there is more to this life, and perhaps the next, than, eating, breathing and pleasure.

And if indeed there is, then how much more important is it, to find the Source of greater purpose?

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Kind and Ungrateful

Sometimes I wander around, going through my day, just wishing common sense on other people. Through my own philosophy of life, it just seems reasonable to treat one another fairly... to be considerate... to treat others the way I would like to be treated and so on. And quite honestly, it drives me crazy when others don't seem to do the same.

Maybe we're just a selfish lot - so focused on taking care of ourselves that treating others fairly goes out the window. Or maybe we just live in a world of senseless people. But then of course, I'm not really sure how much sense I've got. As easy as it is to question others, I question myself all the time.

And then there's this new thought: What if my idea of fair isn't quite the same as someone else's?

That one will keep you busy for days... trying to decide who's version is MORE fair.

But today, I really got to thinking about something that God's been teaching me for the last few years, and I really want others to hear this.

For myself, when I used to hear the golden rule, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you," I think, in my own mind, I was actually hearing, "do unto others and they'll return the favor." Like the golden rule was some kind of guarantee.

Imagine my surprise and frustration when no matter how many favors I do, or how many smiles I paste on my mouth, people don't always respond accordingly. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't even seem to notice the effort you put out. It's somewhat of a toss up.

To be honest, that sort of thinking developed a kind of "Cinderella complex" in me. I started feeling like I was slaving away for ugly stepsisters. And that's not an ideal place to be. While from the outside looking in, it's easy to romanticize what a humble, servant's heart Cinderella had, if you take her place... just you go ahead and try not to feel bitter!

It's an extremely difficult reality to face - that ours is a broken world, where kindness isn't distributed evenly. Not everyone looks after their own messes, and few people will step in to help you when your mess gets overwhelming.

But in the midst of disappointment and hurt, Christ calls us to something bigger.

Do unto others is not a guarantee of reciprocation - it's not actually about other people. Do unto others is a command for me. It's about MY heart and MY behavior. If I start handing out favors, expecting others to be sensible, it's a bitterness trap.

I'm supposed to conduct myself in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ (phil. 1:27) whether others are fair to me or not. I'm supposed to go out of my way to be helpful and kind whether or not I get a thank you. It's not about the thank you or keeping a list of who owes ME a favor. Because that's the gospel we've received.  It's a gospel of grace - getting what we don't deserve and haven't earned. We love because he first loved us. That's what sets us as Christians apart and makes us different. It's totally and utterly illogical. No sense at all. But it works. And it's amazing. And humbling.

So when your roommates don't take care of their own dishes, or neglect housekeeping... do it for them, not because you're angry and bitter, but because you love them. Because you can.

When you've spent hours taking care of your friends, but they weren't there to care for you when you needed help, and they call you up one day asking for help... we're called to give anyways.
"But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil." Luke 6:35 ESV

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Hardest Words to Speak

When I was a little girl, I used to climb into one of the apricot trees in our backyard and sit up there for hours. My dad nicknamed me, "Emily of the trees." But for me, tree limbs were a beautiful sanctuary where my love of storytelling and daydreaming began.

All alone, up in the trees, I crafted elaborate tales about all kinds of things. And when I came back down, I would play pretend with my little brother, often acting out the stories I'd spent time plotting.

They say the whole purpose of playing is to practice for someday. That's why we pretend to be doctors, teachers, soldiers and moms.

It's fairly easy to watch a child and discover their talents - enough to make a guess at what they might aspire to become someday.

Of course, somewhere along the lines, we come up with an idea of our "dream life." The "if everything goes according to plan," life we dearly wish for. And it's always such a GOOD plan, and God is a GOOD father who gives GOOD gifts to His children. Theoretically, those dreams we have, HAD TO have been put there on purpose. After all, God created us with purpose - to use our lives.

But what happens when, little by little, God begins to uncurl our fingers, and pry those dreams from our hands?

All that remains is an empty vessel, devoid of any idea as to what's going on.

Heartbroken and frightened.

What now?

I hate that feeling. I REALLY, really hate it. Because, in all honestly, I LOVE my dreams. I think they're beautiful and honest and good. There is nothing selfish about my dreams. They're God honoring and I want it so badly. God couldn't have put it there without a reason. And God is good, He wouldn't dangle a carrot in front of my nose just to tease me.

All I can do is wonder why my hands are empty. It's terrifying.

But maybe... Just maybe... God is a god who brings us to the end of ourselves... to that place where there's nothing to do but cling to Him and trust His plans... before He builds us back up again?

It's still a terrifying thought.

If God tears us down with the intention of building us back up again, then what if He starts changing things? Giving us new dreams, or similar, but different dreams? What if He takes those gifts and talents and rearranges them to show us something we are fully capable of doing, but never considered? Like scrabble letters. Like GOD and DOG. Same letters, different purpose.

When your dreams seem so good, it's hard to let go and let God. Of course His plan is good, but it's unknown.

And that's what's terrifying.

But when you've come to the end of yourself... and in your heart of hearts, you still trust Him... Three little words find their way into your mouth, but they're incredibly hard to speak out loud:


And thus the rebuilding begins.