Monday, January 12, 2009

Prettiest Girl At The Ball

Growing up, I wasn’t one of those little girls obsessed with the princess stories and ball gowns. I would rather go climb a tree or play football with my cousins then sit down and watch girls in pretty dresses. Even so, I found that I learned something from those stories. Remember the Cinderella story? She’s this poor girl, dressed in rags, and stuck being a maid to her evil step-mother and sisters. Then the price is holding a ball to find his wife. So her fairy god-mother comes and transforms her into this beautiful princess so she can go to the ball. There is just one itsy bitsy problem… the magic only lasts until midnight. Sometimes I feel that way. Like when I’m with certain people, actually pretty much all people, that I have covered my rags with fake elegance. Eventually though, the elegance fades away and I’m left running from the ones I love, afraid to let them see my plainness. Reality for me has always been something I try to mask. I find it very hard to be real with anyone. It’s not always because I want to be liked by everyone. Sometimes it’s because I want to be taken seriously and the more I watch the world move around me the more I realize that people wearing rags of weakness and vulnerability are often tossed to the side. Until now I’ve been complete content in my mask. I think the clock just struck midnight though. I don’t think I can be comfortable anymore. Recently, I’ve felt like God has been pushing me towards something. I’m not sure exactly what yet, but definitely to something less comfortable than hiding my rags. A friend of mine sent me a text today with lyrics from a song. “We were meant to live for so much more; have we lost ourselves?” I thought about those words the rest of the drive back to college. I was meant to live for so much more than where I am now. Sometimes in order to find satisfaction you have to give up things. To find your real purpose you have to forsake the shattered life you’re trying to hold together. We were meant to live for SO much more! I believe that; I have to believe that. At the end of the Cinderella story the prince sees her for who she really is and something amazing happens… he loves her just as much. Life never does turn out exactly how we expect it to.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Vine and Branches

God is really amazing to me. I think it’s funny, the circumstances he chooses to use to show himself. Last night a very good friend of mine was rushed to the hospital. He went into shock after having an allergic reaction of some sort. His girlfriend called me in emotional distress and confusion not knowing exactly who to call or what to do about the whole situation. To really understand how much God was working here you have to know some of the background of these two people’s lives. Todd, the one being rushed to the hospital, is an amazing man of God. He’s in the small group that I lead at the college. I was one of the first people to start coming and his non-traditional worship style got us kicked out of the dorms. His parents died in a car accident while he was in high school so he’s grown up pretty much on his own. His dad was a lawyer, and since Todd is an only child he inherited all of his family’s money; something you would never know unless you really got to know Todd. His passion is kids. He wants to be a foster parent and help get kids out of the system. He volunteers at orphanages over the summer; he just loves kids. I think the only thing he loves more than kids is his girlfriend, Angelia. Angie and Todd have been together for going on 3 years now and he would like nothing more than to marry her. There is just one problem. Angie was saved when she was very young, but when her grandmother died last year she started hating God. She has so much bitterness and anger towards him that she won’t have anything to do with him. Todd has talked to me about her and how much he wishes he could get through to her. He told me that he prays everyday for the opportunity to talk to her more about the love and grace of God that she has forsaken. I told him to be careful what he prays for. He didn’t listen. God decided to use his hospital extravaganza. When Angie called me the first time it took me a while to get her settled down and she was waiting to hear back from the doctors. I got off the phone and told her to call me when they figured out exactly what happened. Within the time that I hung up the phone the first time and she called me back the second time; a prayer net of over 200 people was created. When she called me back I told her how many people were praying for her and Todd. She couldn’t believe how many people that she didn’t even know would pray for her and her boyfriend. Not only that but she began to open up to me. We talked for quite a while about her and Todd and at the end of the conversation told me how much she appreciated me dropping everything just to talk to her. She couldn’t understand why I would do that. I told her that we are a body of believers and we take care of each other. When Todd called me this morning all he wanted to talk about was the door that was opened for Angie. I told him, “See I told you to be careful! God doesn’t always answer prayers the way we think he will!” All he could do was laugh; his faith just baffles me. This situation brings me back to a verse that the youth were looking at last night. It talks about how Christ is the vine and we are the branches. The more I think about that verse the more it come to light that as branches we are connected to the vine that is Christ but also, through Christ, we are connected to the other branches. That’s why so many people joined me in prayer for my friends; we were created to share each other’s burdens and experiences. We were created for community.

John 15:5-8 (The Message)
I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you're joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can't produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Be Near, Oh God

It’s a new year and I’ve made a resolution. Well it’s not a really a resolution; I never really understood the point of a resolution. It’s more like a new focus. This past year the one thing that I’ve been in a constant struggle with is my relationships. I tend to “inhale with great force” at relationships and I’ve never really understood why. I mean I pretty much put everything into my relationships. The way I show people that I care about them is by investing my time, heart, and service to them. So you can see why it always surprised me when my relationships fell apart. Being at college and away from all the friends I’ve ever know or had has not helped out my relationship issues one bit. It frustrates me and I find myself falling apart because of it. After being home and having some down time to slow down and reflect, I’ve discovered the reason behind my failure at friendships. The problem is rooted not in my relationships with other people but rather in my relationship with God. I’ve strayed away from him quite a bit. See, I got a little frustrated with him and pulled away from his embrace. I’m beginning to realize that if I don’t get my relationship with God straight then the rest of my relationships will follow that pattern. Jesus is the center and everything else flows out from that. So, how exactly do I fix my relationship with God? I think it actually requires me taking more of a passive role, because every time I attempt to control the situation I push God out of his place and mess everything up. I have to be willing to let go. I have to do the opposite of what I naturally want to do. I give up; I allow for weakness; I ditch fear; I follow instead of lead; I make mistakes; I become humble. Humility is what it really comes down to in the end. Humbly coming before Christ, everyday, and acknowledging my inadequacy. It is a constant refocusing of my eyes onto Him and away from me. I think that might mean that I lose some things in the search for Him, but I think I’m ok with that. I will wake every morning with one prayer- Be near, oh God, Be near, oh God of us; Your nearness is to us our good. Be near, oh God, Be near, oh God of us; your nearness is to us our good, our good.