June 12, 2017

when the tears fall

WHEN THE TEARS FALL -- Tim Hughes

I've had questions without answers;
I've known sorrow, I have known pain.
But there's one thing that I'll cling to
You are faithful, Jesus, You're true.

When hope is lost, I'll call you Saviour
When pain surrounds, I'll call you Healer
When silence falls, You'll be the song within my heart.


In the lone hour of my sorrow
Through the darkest night of my soul
You surround me, and sustain me
My Defender, forevermore


When hope is lost, I'll call you Saviour
When pain surrounds, I'll call you Healer
When silence falls, You'll be the song within my heart.
And I will praise You, I will praise You
When the tears fall, still I will sing to You
And I will praise You, Jesus, praise You. 
Through the suffering, still I will sing.


When hope is lost, I'll call you Saviour
When pain surrounds, I'll call you Healer
When silence falls, You'll be the song within my heart.


When the laughter fails to comfort
When my heart aches, Lord, are you there?
When confusion is all around me
And the darkness is my closest friend
Still I will praise you, Jesus, praise you


/ //

This song started ringing out in my head today. Note: I haven't sang or heard this song in over... 7 years?! However. Its message ties in to the sermon I heard on Sunday (that we come to worship together because we are called to community), the prayers my friends prayed over me on Thursday night (that hope would be restored, and that my neck/back would be healed), and the pain that has been surrounding my heart in the last weeks and months (loneliness in leadership, false sense of responsibility, fear).

Okay, God. I'm listening.

when hope is lost, I'll call you Saviour
As the fierce and radiant Steffany Gretzinger once sang: "Sometimes we sing until we believe."

Dear friends prayed for me on Thursday night, and brought with them anointing oil and frankincense (what's good for Jesus is good for me! It felt nice, too.). As they prayed, I confessed my anger towards God... of feeling left alone in my pain. We prayed for healing. We prayed for relief. We prayed for my hope to be restored.

After praying, my friends told me they are committed to carry my hope for me when I can't. Wow! Think of that -- it's like they are holding up posters that say "giving up is not an option" or "we'll carry you if we have to but you are gonna finish this" as a run a marathon, or pushing a proverbial wheelchair across a milestone, because I don't have the strength to do it on my own. They'll help me carry it until I believe it, too.

Let this be a plug for community -- newsflash: sometimes having hope is based in excitement or is simple, but it's not always that way, and we are not realistically able to always hold onto hope on our own. Life is too hard. People lie to you, friends desert you, health fails, marriages falter, children are bullied, jobs are taxing or lost or not able to be secured. Seasons change. People who you count on as pillars of strength move away, or pass away, or fail, or grow apart from you. But, you still need to be known, and, sometimes, carried. You still need people to raise your banners up, reminding you of who you are and what you're called to. Plug in! Get connected to a place that is filled with people who know when you aren't singing from your heart. Who hold you up when you can't lift your head.

Hebrews 6:16-19 -- "People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf."

Hope is only possible because of Jesus. Freedom is only possible in Jesus.

when pain surrounds, I'll call you Healer 
Some days I am physically overwhelmed by pain. This usually is followed by a cloud of sadness (which usually looks like frustration). Real talk? It's really REALLY hard to hope for healing when you face pain everyday. Maybe that seems counter-intuitive... you might think: "But wouldn't you just be hoping all the time that the pain would go away if it is so bad?" Actually, no... when you're in pain, and you know how long the pain has been around, it's hard to imagine life without it. It's hard to believe in healing.

Chronic pain has kept me in a sort of submission where I am in a holding pattern of believing "this is what will be". Sidenote -- I can imagine there is a similar (but, of course, vastly different) feeling for the journey of suffering from depression, or grief, or social anxiety, or battling an eating disorder or substance use challenges. You feel beat before the day starts. But the truth is that God is a Healer. God is in the business of restoration. Even when you are not healed, and although I am still limited by my pain, God sees and knows the hurting. 

The truth that God is Healer is more enduring and more steadfast than the reality of my pain. Healing is possible!

when silence falls, you'll be the song within my heart
One of the ways my friends, mentors and family know when I am not in a good place is when I stop singing. I grow quiet. I play small. This is usually the point when they start encouraging me to reconnect, to seek God's presence. Rest in it. Stop moving and just dwell. Bask. To sing... even roar. 

Sometimes... if I (ever) get quiet enough, I am reminded that I only sing because he gave me something to sing about. Because of His goodness and the restoration and beauty He is working out in our midst. Around us. In us.

When silence falls, we often fill it. Mute it (2 x silence = loud?). Drown it. Squash it. Why? Because we don't believe that God has nice things to say to us. Because we believe lies about God's character, thinking that He has already abandoned us. We don't believe that God delights in us. We are not comfortable being serenaded by the Love of our Creator. So we work to make sure others say nice things to us, or delight in us, or whisper sweet nothings to us. We work. (Work, work, work...)

When it gets real quiet: Try to listen. Ask yourself what you believe about God in the quiet moments of your heart. Ask Him who He is. See what He tells you about himself. [Feel free to report back!!]

// /


Have you ever lost hope? Did it just slip out of view with some horrible news? Did the fog roll in as worry or pain crept into your everyday existence? Did you part ways with joy in a difficult season, begin partnering with fear or lust or shame, and never find your way back?


Come back. Work it out. Talk it out. Cry it out. Sing it out. Tell God you're angry or lost or lonely. Give it up. Lament. Shout. Roar. Let the tears fall.  

///

January 31, 2017

give us Your heart

When I started this blog in 2009, it was in some of my loneliest days of living far from dear friends and within a time that I was learning what it meant to sing praises even when I felt too low to smile. I named it 'Off With Your Sandals' because it was for times when I needed to come in close and listen closely to what God was telling me about Himself, about how He loves us (all of us), who I am in Him, and what I'm called to.

In its earliest form, Off With Your Sandals took the form of song studies, and I dissected the parts of the song that spoke to me and ushered me into a posture that changed my heart and/or mind. I usually listened to the song on the repeat, sang it loudly, and took an afternoon or evening to write about my response.

All this to say that I was brought back to my computer screen, loud singing and song repeating because of this song today


GIVE US YOUR HEART
by: The Emerging Sound (feat. Melanie Tierce)

Your eyes are on the lowly,
Though others look away
Your feet run to the broken
Your hands are quick to save
Make us like You, Lord

You walk with the forgotten
And offer them a home
Adopting the unwanted
And calling them Your own
Make us like You, Lord

Oh,
Give us Your heart, Oh
Give us Your heart
Let the Light of Heaven shine
As we step into the dark
Oh,
Give us Your heart, Oh
Give us Your heart
To see Your Kingdom come 
And death depart
Oh,
Give us Your heart, Oh
Give us Your Heart

Let justice flow,
Like a river in a desert
Let the nations know
That You will reign forever
As the earth beholds
The glory of the Saviour
Let justice flow

--------

'you walk with the forgotten' / 'adopting the unwanted' 

I've been thinking about how Jesus might have become the 'Friend of Sinners'. It takes a while to be known as someone's friend. I imagine that he was often found sitting with people that others would walk away from sooner than to join on the ground. He scandalized the rule-keepers with his grace. He saw that each one was needing love and acceptance and restoration. This is His heart. His heart standing with, walking with, identifying with the lonely and rejected (Prov 14:31, 19:17). 

'give us Your heart'

God's heart is kind and attentive. God's heart is mighty. God's justice is not half-full, it calls us to a deeper, higher calling of addressing the needs of others. God's heart, the knowledge of it's "reckless love" will energize us to do something. 

I've read a lot this past month, in a season post-Masters and pre-work, about justice according to God (I highly recommend Tim Keller's 'Generous Justice'). The rightness and fullness of God's kingdom is all about reconciliation, adoption, restoration, and God's grace, mercy, beauty and compassion. This is God's heart for His people, for creation... to be reconciled to their purposes and to be known fully, and to live fully as loved and accepted.

'as we step into the dark'

First of all.... we must choose to step into darkness. We are made to be Light, to share Light, experience Light, and then BRING it to the darkness. I am grieved as I watch dominant voices and powers within our societies reject and marginalize the 'least of these' (Mt 25:40) when Jesus says that it is to them we are called to show care. 

I want to be made like Him. Transformed into His likeness. I remember singing with my whole heart "break my heart for what breaks yours" all those years ago, and I still want that. But... here's the thing, God's heart does break, His desire is for Light to spill out into darkness. Darkness is no more when Light gets there. 

I have seen some darkness in the last few years and even (and maybe especially) the last few days. Sometimes I want to do is look away and stay comfortable. Things are far from what they are supposed to be. It is hard to go sometimes, we can get 'spent' and 'burnt out'... but... what I learned from my experiences is that we must be equipped and prepared, but we also MUST go. We put on the Armour of God, we walk into God's work for us, and we make sure that we go. We can be sure God goes with us just as He prepares us. 

'let justice flow'

Can you imagine what it would be like if justice were to 'flow'? Full justice. Full restoration, communities bursting with Light, and reconciliation of all the very many broken things. If justice were to flow... it would be approaching a land that has not known it as it was intended.. like a river in the desert of our darknesses.  

How do we bring that? How can we begin to break the fallow ground that is our hearts and our society and our own staleness, fear, anxiety? 

Isaiah 49:8-10 "In a time of favour I have answered you; in a day of salvation I have helped you; I will keep you as a covenant to the people, to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages, saying to the prisoners, 'Come out,' to those who are in darkness, 'Appear.' They shall feed along the ways, on all the bare heights shall be their pasture; they shall not hunger or thirst, neither scorching wind now sun shall strike them, for he who has pity on them will lead them."

God has enough justice, goodness, and faithfulness to go 'round. Let's share in His heart and generously bring justice with our eyes, breath, hands and feet, time and care, words and prayers.

January 6, 2017

what we need most

habit of awareness / pt 2

hope.
i have seen great beauty come from barren ground that no one could imagine would yield fruit. today i believe that God is active, despite what i experience as waiting.

and as i wait... i believe that, as image-bearers of Christ, i am called to be an agent of reconciliation despite being in a world that teaches us to isolate, fortify, and move on from/suppress/hide pain. lean in. listen, we embrace, & we stay despite it being difficult.


justice. 
i have a much easier time identifying injustice, actually. i have a keen eye for finding the parts of the whole that are missing, dysfunctional or broken. but when healthy, deep and full justice is present in someone's integrity, their advocacy of another, or the restoration of a broken reality, there is beauty beyond measure.

injustice makes me mad. justice is a symptom of shalom and heaven that i long for.

//
more things to think on...

forgiveness.
redemption.
restoration.
reconciliation.
healing.
truth.
understanding.
wholeness.
peace.
joy.
grace.
mercy.
safety.
wisdom.
freedom.
discipline.
JESUS.

\\