Tuesday, June 12, 2012

on love and money

And now, I will speak a little more practically.  I wrote this at a time that I was struggling financially, due to situations that are out of my control.  But it's those financial situations - the ones that are OUT of our control - that prove to your heart WHO is really in control.  In the moments of worry, I was reminded of God's faithfulness to my heart, faithfulness to my family.  How am I easily forgetful?  (I blame my humanity, but that is a sorry excuse.) I had to go back to the basics: I do what makes my heart fully in love.


Why is it that money is such an issue when it comes to doing the thing that you love?  I think because money is such a driving factor - it can easily rival against God for our hearts' allegiance, without us realizing it.  It's almost as though money is not just mere currency for materials, but currency for life, for sustenance.  That's pathetic when you think about it.  So.Pathetic.  But, it's also the reason why money is an issue when doing what you love.  Will money or love be the currency for existence?  Do you survive because you have things, or do you survive because you are in love?

I want to survive because I am in Love.

Everything in this life is temporary.  I can't make a claim to anything on this earth - not materials, not sustenance.. not even relationships.  No, not even the husband I marry or the children I bear, I cannot call them mine.  Their lives aren't mine, I don't decide the circumstances in their lives or their durations or their choices.  Nothing belongs to me, I am only to be a wise steward of the things I have.  I am to treat all things - especially people - with gratitude and kindness, for they are all blessings from the hand of Abba.

It's the unseen things that remain.  Money disappears.  Love always remains. I will not let money steward my love, I will let love steward my money.  Love brings forth better wisdom than money.  Money typically brings forth fear.  Fear in between money and love?  what a bad combination.

All those thoughts to say, money is still an issue for me.  I work a low paying job.  I make art.  But I find ways to be wise about controlling my money, from saving my tips, putting things into my savings account, and giving my tithes (because God is deserving).  I scrape by, but nonetheless, I get by.  And sometimes I forget that I am scraping by, because I am doing what I love.

I will keep telling this til my dying day:
Yes, I am doing my ideal job, but it's not the dream of my heart.  The dream of my heart is to love God fully and to live a life that glorifies Him.  THAT is my dream.  My occupation is simply my ministry.  So if I make close to nothing financially, my dream is not affected.  If I climb this business ladder and succeed by worldly standards, my dream is not affected.  At the end of my life, when I stand before God, I will have known that I lived the dream life.  And my heart was fully in love.

But Godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.

1 Timothy 6.6-7


originally posted here.  revised for this blog.
currently watching: the world barista championship.  i'm serious.
currently listening: bill evans
currently reading: 2 Timothy.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

on the reality of small, great prayers

many things all at once.  transformation all at once.  prayers for a sustained transformation.


Faith is (truly) as small and great as a seed.  
Sometimes, whenever people pray prayers that invite the Spirit's full work (that is to say, requests such as transformation, freedom, Christ-likeness), there's a sneaky deception that taunts the day after, the week after, the month after - whether or not it was real.

"I prayed for freedom from _____."
"I prayed for more of (this virtue)."
"I asked God to transform (this area of my life)."
"Was it real?  I prayed a five-second prayer.  Is that enough?"
"I find myself still fighting temptations, I find myself still struggling with the same areas."

And then we fall into this belief that maybe we prayed these things out of emotional hype, or out of pressure from surrounding supporters.. or maybe we weren't sincere enough, repentant enough...
And there's that deception without a universal answer, that maybe God "doesn't" want us healed/ set free/ delivered.

It's hard to believe that a small prayer was enough.
There has to be more! We say in our minds.
But that, my friend, becomes work-based.  And it fuels the lie that His grace isn't enough, and that we've got to earn it:
Earn our healing, earn our freedom, earn our deliverance.

No- not at all.  The prayer that was fully honest, the prayer that was fully meaningful (repentant, desiring), those prayers are wholly present before the throne.  All prayers are present before the throne.  And His watchful eyes see everything, down to the measure of sincerity.

When you accepted Christ as Savior - was that prayer not enough?  Salvation is an act of receiving.  Salvation is an act of faith.  So small, so magnificent.  But until the end of our mortal life, we will constantly work out that salvation (Philippians 2.12).  Similarly, our prayers, however simple or grand, when said in complete faith, requires us to work out our transformation, work out our virtues.  Again, this is not a "work to earn," but rather a "work to pursue."

This freedom is so real!  But it now becomes your choice to actively pursue it.  Choose to embrace your identity in Christ.  Choose not to be affected by the words of others.  Choose not to let your thoughts dwell on the past or presuppositions.  Simple choices to say "no" to temptation, and "yes" to the glory of the Son.  These heart choices will steer your mindset, your words, your will.  And then you will see that transformation.

Will you see the results of simple prayers instantly?  Maybe.  Sometimes.  Instantaneousness is quite rare, but possible.  Nevertheless, accompanied by your choice and will to work out your salvation, you will see results eventually.

Consider a seed.  How silently it grows!  How quietly its roots make home in the soil, extending to great depths, soaking what water and nutrients it can.  Consider how quietly it sprouts by morning; how easily a blade comes forth from the ground.  How gently one leaf, two leaves, and soon its true leaves come forth.  And in time, a lovely, fragrant floret blooms in radiance, gracing the earth with a beauty only a Divine Creator could make.

Beloved, it is true with the work of the Holy Spirit in your life.  You have asked Him to plant Himself in the dark places of your heart, and you must trust that He is working in and through you, no matter how gradual the process, no matter how silent His affirmations.  In time, you will find the fruit of the Spirit borne in your life.  You will see how winsome is this garden that has enclosed you with Him.  You will see how actual and how true was that childlike prayer you prayed that while ago, the prayer you wondered if it was real, if He heard you, if it was more than emotion.

It is your choice to pursue it, to work the ground in your heart, to care for this gift, to be a steward of your blessings.
But in the waiting to see tangible results, remind yourself that those prayers of transformation are real.  Very, absolutely real.


currently listening: a variety of John Coltrane
currently reading: excerpts by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Monday, June 4, 2012

a heart at peace

I prayed for peace.

I did not ask for solutions, or strategies, or understanding, or good reasons.

I prayed for peace.

Because if my heart is not at peace, I will not listen.
God could tell me a gentle word, and I would shy away from His kindness.
God could tell me a rebuke, and I would cower in my unworthiness.
God could open a door, and I would reason why it is not mine to walk through.
God could close a door, and I would pry it open.

So I did not ask for a word, or an opportunity, or a confirmation.

I prayed for peace.

And with all the uncertainties in life, and the uncertainties of His plans and actions, 
there is one thing I have found certain:
that when I ask for peace, He gives it, 
and He gives it swiftly, He gives it willingly, He gives it lovingly.

He has given me peace.


But then, after He had given me peace,
some of the unthinkable situations happened.  
Encircling me were droves of situations that were out of my control,
situations that were results of my mistakes,
situations that could easily deceive my swollen heart.

He has given me peace.
I reminded myself of this truth.

This did not mean that I responded with shrugs, with a matter-of-factly grin, with insensitivity.  
No; for sorrow still visited me.  Joy still accompanied me.  Zealotry still devoured me.
Love had laid hold of me.

And He has given me peace.

When sorrow befell me, my peace was in trusting His intentions.
When joy overtook me, my peace was in sharing His pleasure.
When zealotry propelled me, my peace was in His victory.
When Love had laid hold of me, I laid hold of it, and my peace was in His unity.

Yet throughout, I had to remind myself:
Peace is possible.
He has given me peace.


And now, with a soul that is rested, a mind reposed, it suddenly came upon my spirit.  God told me: now is the time to ask.

Oh the repercussions of a heart at peace that asks of God, what will You have me do?
I suspect He will take advantage of this.
And I must ready myself for a great shift.

The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.
- Exodus 14.14


currently listening: "Pledge" by Misty Edwards, Immersed
currently reading: The Sympathy of Christ, Octavius Winslow