Archive for February, 2012

Visible light

Yesterday in Chemistry we were talking about the light spectrum. As soon as I saw the illustration I realized that just like most light is invisible to our eyes, much of reality is invisible to our eyes.

I think it’s common to feel like we can’t figure out our lives most of the time. We can’t make sense of what we see because we are mostly blind. It seems like we see everything, but in reality there is much more going on than we can perceive. We can’t always rely on our eyes for sight.

Before Jesus went to the cross, he predicted his death and resurrection to the disciples. Peter took him aside and rebuked him for what he was saying, but Jesus responded, “Get away from me, Satan! You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” (Mark 8:33)

If someone called me Satan, I don’t think I’d ever forget it.. much more if Jesus did. That would be traumatic. Talk about needing therapy! But Jesus wasn’t so much calling him a name as he was exposing the truth. Satan tempts us to rely on our physical senses, and we naturally tend to judge situations from a human perspective. And then we tell God how things should happen.

What if things had happened as Peter expected? What if Jesus sat on the throne as King of the Jews rather than dying as King of the world on the cross? Peter would have never seen the Kingdom, and neither would we. He wouldn’t want things to happen like he expected, he just didn’t know it yet.

How have you been disappointed? Did it seem as if the stars were lining up before the sky went black? Did it feel like you were kneeling before the throne of God until the golden streets turned to dust and you tasted blood? Did you look up to find a cross?

There is a light spectrum that has no end, but we only see a small range of wavelengths. When the colors we see don’t make sense, we must remember all the other wavelengths. Far beyond what we can perceive, God is doing greater things.

In reality, we wouldn’t want things to happen like we expect, we just don’t know it yet.

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It’s so natural to be caught up in ourselves at the expense of others that we barely realize it. It’s normal, and feels healthy. But if that were normal for Jesus, would anyone be saved? Would the bleeding woman who reached out for the edge of his robe ever have been noticed? Would the 12-year-old girl he raised to life soon after that have died? Probably, if Jesus were you or I…

If Jesus were like me, where would I be?

We have legitimate reasons to be preoccupied. We have goals to reach, friends to keep, deadlines to meet. But didn’t Jesus have plenty of good reasons to pass us by too? His greatest reason could have been the cross. Will people ever cost us that much? Yet we are busier than God.

‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.’ (Ezekiel 16:49)

When I think poor and needy I tend to think of the homeless people I pass on the streets of San Francisco, or the hungry children I see on TV. But is that the only place to find the poor and needy, or have I really had eyes to see? How often do I consider myself poor and needy and wish someone were there for me?

The poor and needy are everybody, whether physically or spiritually, whether we know it or not. There is only one who is not, and he is God. And he fills us up so we can be poured out, and he pours us out so we can be filled up. Half the blessing is to be filled, but to be poured out is to be fulfilled.

Our ministry is not at all confined to our role in church. We can be a stranger, a classmate, a co-worker, a friend, and we have a ministry. I like to think of ministry as administering care to a soul, like a nurse administers medicine to a body.

We all have good excuses to avoid the poor and needy, but we have much better reasons to care. To go in to church and then go out as the church. To pray for eyes to see, to have a heart that feels, to reach with hands that heal. To be the flesh and blood of Jesus, the same way he has been for us.

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You are the greatest man who ever lived, and lives. You are the truest lover a heart could ever know. You are the best kind of friend, a brother to the soul. You define the way to be beautiful.

You delight in loving me, but who can count the tears you’ve cried for love of me? Who can tell of the nights I didn’t come home and left you alone. Who can erase the look on your face as I walked away?

It’s not that you needed me, but I needed you. And only you knew.

I made you sick with despair. You fasted, but your prayers seemed unanswered. You grieved as though I were your family, your friend. When I was sick, you held me close. When I was well, I let you go. But I knew I was never alone.

I’ve never deserved you, but I was always worth it to you. I’ve only wasted time asking why… it must be because of who you are, not who I am. It’s who you’ve always been.

And now I breathe you in like oxygen. All that time I was gone, and you never left. I took you for granted, but you never loved me less.

I know until the end I won’t find a better friend. Time after time, you’ve proven yourself. Through and through, you are true. And if I dream to do anything well in this life, it’s to love you too, with love so true.

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The essential gift

Love requires all. Holding back, limits and conditions, calculating and speculating… that all means something, but it’s not loving.

Love is self-abandonment, not self-fulfillment. Yet to love is to fulfill your purpose. To love is to become like God.

Love should be given because of who we are, not who they are. Love knows no preference and goes beyond reason. Love is not fair. Love is not earned – it can never be deserved.

Please don’t work for love – you can never pay enough. Besides, it has been bought. Already paid for and signed with blood. You could never pay that much.

The essence of love is the gift of it. If you worked for it, and earned it on condition, you might win affection, but don’t call it love. Being loved was never your choice. You either are, or you’re not. And you are. Loved by God. God, who is sovereign and good. God, who is essentially Love.

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My saddest memory

Within a darkened world he lies
Dreaming about the brilliant sight
Of colored life and Mommy’s eyes
Yet he will never see the light

He sleeps within a sacred space
Peaceful as the starry night
He has not one to take his place
Or win for him this unfair fight

If I would allow him a voice
I wonder what he’d say
Wonder if he’ll forgive my choice
To take his own away

Silenced rests my son, unborn–
Unknown, the hero he could be
Though in a moment he’ll be torn
His secret is kept safe with me

So soundly slept my precious child
Hidden within my womb
Upon his form, God Himself smiled
Till it became his tomb

So sad to think, it brings the tears
His little heartbeat, pound by pound
In a moment could disappear
As if it never made a sound

So safely my sweet baby slept
Till dream turned to nightmare
Upon his form, God Himself wept
And rose to meet him there

My God, what else have I to gain
Than my son’s tragedy?
Though he is gone, he does remain
My saddest memory…

Written for a friend and former mother, whose wounds truly go deeper than words can express and whose heart still bears the scars. And voiced on behalf of the helpless millions who continue to be so brutally silenced.

My friend, may comfort come in time
In him forgiving you
But more importantly, you’ll find
Forgiveness in Him, too.

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Before the dawn

When I was prosperous, I said,
“Nothing can stop me now!”
Your favor, O Lord, made me as
secure as a mountain.
Then you turned away from me,
and I was shattered.
Ps. 30:6-7

I just wrote the last page of my journal, which I started last year. You could read through the whole thing to see what God has been doing in my life, or you could read Psalm 30.

It’s a lesson I continually learn.

When our needs are being met, we tend to give ourselves the credit. We have new found confidence. We feel self-sufficient. We forget that it is by God’s grace and favor we are where we are. We forget that God is the source of all good things, and apart from him we have no good thing. Prone to wander, Lord I feel it.

God becomes hard to find… is he absent? or have we just stopped looking for him? We are so preoccupied in what he gives that we neglect him. Then when he neglects us, we fall to pieces. We thought we got what we needed, but we’re even emptier than before.

Forget whatever has been taking so much time and energy. It means nothing if we can’t see God’s face. We can lose any person as long as we can call Jesus our friend. We can be anywhere as long as he will be present there. He can empty us of all else as long as he fills us with himself.

If you are shattered, come back to what matters. Fall down and cry out. “Hear me, Lord, and have mercy on me. Help me, O Lord.” (v. 10)

When the cry is sincere, the Lord will hear. He will help. He will turn mourning into dancing “that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.” (v. 11)

How long have we been silent? Maybe the cry must come before the song. Maybe bowing down comes before he can lift us up. Maybe we must be broken before he can restore us. Night always falls before the dawn, and “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (v. 5)

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When you think of conflict, you probably imagine two people who can’t agree on something. When you’re involved in a conflict within a group, you wonder why everyone can’t just get along for once. You might stay quiet but inside you cry, What is wrong with these people? When you’re in conflict with a person, you wonder why they can’t see their problem like you can.

But the fact is.. conflict without comes from conflict within. And most likely, we ourselves have something to do with it. You don’t even need to have someone else in the room to experience conflict. Just go to your kitchen and open the fridge… I need the salad today, but I want the triple-layered chocolate cake from yesterday. There are a ton more serious examples, but my point is that when I’m sorting out the problem of a conflict, the first place to look is my own reflection.

The conflict does start outside of us sometimes. Sometimes confrontation has to happen and we are right. But more often I’m reminded, “How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye?” (Luke 6:42)

“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight.” (James 4:1-2)

Conflict without comes from conflict within, and the root of it is wanting what we do not have. It’s not necessarily a bad thing in itself to want what you don’t have (it’s good to want food when you’re hungry), but we tend to sin in the way we handle it. We quarrel and fight and kill (sometimes by hating, which is murderous in God’s sight).

When we have a position that we want a person to fill for us, say, to be our spouse, or to be our friend, or to be our employer, we ask the person, but do we ask God? When we don’t get what we want, we blame the person or the situation. But, “You do not have because you do not ask God…” Your love life does not depend on a man, but God. Your work life does not depend on men, but God. Your social life does not depend on friends, but God.

When we do ask God, how do we ask him? Do we ask him because we feel entitled, or based on his grace? Do we ask him as if we know it all, or because all we know is he knows it all? Do we ask him, or do we tell him – do we end our prayer with “You must” or “I trust”?

“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (v. 3) At the end of the day, at the end of our lives, marriage is not ultimately for us. Friendship is not ultimately for us. A career is not ultimately for us. They are for, and to, and through Jesus. “For from him and through him and to him are all things.” (Rom. 11:36)

The problem is not the person who doesn’t like us back, or the friend who doesn’t invest in us, or the employer who doesn’t hire us. The greater problem is that we fail to see and submit to God’s will in the midst of it all. Our good is God’s will being done.

Deeper than the problem, we have a promise, “In all things God works for the good of those who love him.” (Rom. 8:28) Our good is not something we define or provide, but something we discover every day of our lives. Something only God himself is, and gives.

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