Watch and See

31 12 2016

Author’s Note:  The source for this reflection comes from 2 Chronicles 20:10-30.  Please feel free to peruse this scripture at your leisure, as I think an understanding of the scripture that this comes from is crucial to getting the entire meaning of this entry.  


If you know me, you know that there are a few things that I struggle with in my life.  One of those things is very personal and private.  In the age of the internet world, we often reveal so much behind this anonymous screen, and many people will feel so free to just word-vomit everything that’s going on in their lives.  If you don’t believe me, scroll through your facebook feed, twitter tweets or instagram posts.  You’ll see some pretty honest reflections of how people feel, and sometimes, they’re honest to the point of being too honest!  And if you’re like me, it’s almost eye-opening, to see what that person posts, because you do learn a lot about people.

I mention that, because this is not the case with me and this particular issue.  You’ll never see a facebook post about this content or this particular obstacle that I am facing, and the only way to actually find out about what is going on and through my head, is not to read the hashtags or scroll through my feed, it’s to have a conversation with me, to ask me, and to talk to me about it.  Which in this day and time, can seem like an extremely vulnerable thing for me to do, but I trust you, as a person sitting in front of me, than I do a computer screen.  So let’s talk!


Okay, so what’s the deal?

The deal is that in dealing with this mystery circumstance/difficulty, I have received an answer.  I have specifically received an answer for this situation, and I am so excited about it, that I surely need to tell someone!

That’s where you come in.  So that’s the purpose of this.  I guess you can already see what the answer was by the title, but let’s just humor me for a moment.  Pretend the title isn’t there, and pretend that you don’t know anything, except that I’m going to tell you all about the answer to some unknown circumstance.  Deal?

So let’s look at King Jehoshaphat, shall we?  So he took the throne at the age of 35 and would reign for 25 years.  In general, his reign is praised because the kingdom enjoyed mostly peace and prosperity during his rule.  However, he messed up once.  He pursued an alliance with another king, King Ahab, who is the king of the Northern Kingdom, and the way that he did that was to have his son marry Ahab’s daughter.  One thing we need to know is that King Ahab and his people were idolitors and they worshiped many other things beside God.  So of course, by creating an alliance with this kingdom, and because Jehoshaphat indirectly indicated that he approved of the way that the subjects of the Northern Kingdom lived their lives because he didn’t object to it, God got upset.

Meanwhile, the enemies of King Jehoshaphat assembled together to create  coalition against his kingdom.  They wanted to take over the kingdom.  So King Jehoshaphat assembled the people together, for the purpose of speaking to God and addressing him directly about what was going on.  So what did he say?  Well he first reminded of how God brought them out of Egypt and that he protected his people.  He reminded them of his faithfulness and how he helped them.  Previously, the people had a chance to take over these people and to attack them, but they didn’t, and King Jehoshaphat personally probably felt a little gyped because they had now turned on him.  So he called for God’s judgement, and he expected some sort of response because he had the faith that God would be good and he would give them strength.

So as they were waiting, this guy Jahaziel was used by God.  Now it’s important to note that this dude is never mentioned another time, so we don’t really know anything about him.  We don’t know where he was in the crowd, we don’t know if he was a trusted advisor, or a member of the poor, or an afflicted person.  We don’t know.  But I can tell you what probably did happen, and who Jahaziel was…and that was that he was an insignificant person.  God used an unknown person to speak to the King, and he told the King several things.

He told them that they don’t need to be afraid of the numbers, and that this is God’s battle, not the battle for King Jehoshaphat or his people.  He said that God was going to use this and that they were to march towards their enemies the next day.  But, God told them that the purpose for them to go was not to attack, but to observe.  They were gonna go and watch, and their eyes would see their enemy to be attacked for them.  And they were to just stand still and watch God deliver them from the threat of the enemy.

I can imagine after he was done speaking, the people just stood there, and they made plans for the next day.  They left the mountain that they talked to God and went back into their own houses.  I imagine that they were left with wonder and curiosity, and the thought of God fighting their battle for them.  What was he going to do?

The next morning, they got up and prepared to go. King Jehoshaphat, I’m sure was tempted to worry through the night.  If God didn’t come through, then the people would surely die.  Honest!  So as they were preparing to leave, King Jehoshaphat encouraged the people to be ready to watch God.  So before they left, they appointed a choir of people that would lead the group towards their enemy.  That choir was appointed the task of singing praises to God.  Which was contrary to any battle plan, because if you know the movies, they always shout out this war cry before they attack.

Now, it’s not clear as to what happened, or what went on at the battlefield, but the enemy was ambushed, and they were defeated.  I don’t know if it was angels or if it was some sort of herd of animals or what, but the clearest thing is that the people of God just stood there and watched, praising God.

The news spread throughout the area, of what they had done while their enemy had been vanquished.  The story of God protected King Jehoshaphat’s kingdom and the people of God.  Even though King Jehoshaphat had angered God, and did against him, he still protected them from the enemy, probably because his response had been a cry of help, and not a cry of “Why God?”


That was a long summary there, with a little commentary thrown in.

My point is this, when I began reading this scripture, I had previously prayed about this whole situation and circumstance, I prayed for some sort of resolution and I prayed for some kind of answer as to what I should do.  I prayed that if my heart was wrong, then that God would change me, but if it wasn’t wrong, that he would show me what I needed to do.  And then I found this scripture.  Then a few weeks later, I actually taught this scripture in my Sunday School lesson.

My answer is this, to wait and see, watch and see what will happen.  Watch and see what God will do, but in the meantime, lead in praising and praying.  Live your life in continual dedication and spend that time on God.  Don’t approach God, saying woe is me, but continue to pray for deliverance and continue to live your life just as you had before.  Wait and see.  Watch and see, what God will do.

I don’t know if any of you can relate to this issue, I don’t know if you can learn anything from this response, or if this even makes sense.  Maybe I seem crazy.  Delusional.  Whatever you might think.  That’s okay.  But here’s the thing, I’m told to wait and see.  I’m told to spend my time doing just as I’ve done and wait and see what God will do.

I don’t know what he’s going to do.  For all I know, he may be changing me!  He might leave the opposition the same and change me!  Or he might change them!

But the instruction I got was clear.  Wait and see!





Speak Truth

27 12 2016

Special Note:  The following Lauren Daigle song found here is somewhat of an inspiration for this post.  It has been running in repeat mode in my head for a few days.  Although the subject of this post is not spiritual in nature, the inspiration that it comes from indeed has spiritual roots.  I think it’s important for me to acknowledge that, if I am to share the words of my heart today.

We have makeup to cover blemishes.  Instead of initiating a conversation while we wait at the pharmacy, we hide behind our phones.  We put earbuds in our ears while we walk at the gym.  We’d rather sit alone at a table during the lunch rush and eat our lunch in solitude than to sit with another lonely person.  We attack behind the glimmer of our screens of our laptop, and we automatically have issues that make us put up walls that others have to destroy to get to know us.  We grit our teeth where we should be bold, and we water down our thoughts and feelings, so as to not reveal too much.

Sound familiar?

If you’re anything like me, yeah it does.  Honestly, so much of our culture depends on us not being fully ourselves and who we were made to be.  So much of our society hinges on us being mediocre reflections of who we really are.  So much of our society demands that we be polite where we should be angry, passive where we should be involved.

And so many times, we are shamed for our feelings, regardless of what we feel and how we feel.  I remember as a child, my feelings were hurt, and my grandma said “Hush now, Mary Beth, when you cry, your face swells up and you look ugly.  We don’t want that, do we?”  When something upset me, instead of dealing with the emotions, it is more acceptable for me to retreat and hide, than it is to really understand what I’m feeling.

And unfortunately, it is more socially acceptable to be apathetic than it is to be truly honest with what we feel, how we feel and what we think.  When we do take that risk and be honest, if it is not what the other person wants to hear, they’re mad and more often than not, they write you out of their lives, because doing so is easier than actually trying to take to heart what you say.

Are we so lazy that when truth is given to us, we turn and walk away?  Especially when that truth demands that we do something that is hard?  Are we so selfish that we don’t consider the risk that the truth-tellers have to say to us?  Are we so consumed by our own feelings that we devalue others’ feelings?

Truth is sometimes harsh.  I understand that it is often not what people want to hear, but the way I see it is that truth is something that needs to be said, regardless of response.  And when we speak truth to each other, I think we awaken inside each other the awareness of the pitfalls of humanity.  But when we are truthful and we say “Hey, I care more about your personal growth than how you think of me” through the sharing of our truth, we truly show each other LOVE.  We enlighten them and awaken them to being a better person than they are.  Unfortunately, people often are content to stay where they are, and unfortunately, they are able to more easily discount a friendship that is deep than heeding the truth to change.

The reality is, none of us are perfect.  We are more than willing do admit that.  But rarely, if ever, are we willing to do the hard work that is required to become a better person.  We all want to grow, but we are unwilling to do the painful work of growing.  

Growth requires truth.  It requires ourselves and others to be brutally honest with us.  And it requires that we change our way of thinking.  A simple thing such as changing our way of thinking, that’s a very hard thing to do.  But it is possible, if we are brave.  It is possible if we are transparent.  ANd it is possible if we destroy the walls that society tells us we need to put up.  But, we gotta be willing to work at it.

And if we work at it, and we consistently re-train our minds, we just might find that we are capable of being a more loving person.  We are capable of more love, and more grace than we ever thought.  We are more capable of greater things than we are at this present time.

But it all starts with honesty and embracing that honesty, and desiring the best for all.

 

And that’s just really hard.





Allegory: The Death of Half-Girl

23 12 2016

They called her half-girl.  Everyone she met, they only saw half, so they just called her half-girl.  Walking through the city, the noises were so loud, and she would pass them all in wonder.  They were on their phones and typing away on their glossy screens as they missed it all.  She boarded the subway, and she would get a few casual, momentary glances, and they would revert back to their gloss.  Those screens that connected them to another time and place.  Everyday, she made the ride into the city and each night, she made the ride out.  When she first got her job, she would board the train, and eagerly look for someone to talk to, to connect to.  Eventually, she realized that she was perceived as a bother, and began to stare out the window.  The ride got familiar and boring, so eventually she brought a book.

Once at work, she was a daycare teacher.  There, the anonymity of her ride in faded, and these students knew her.  She led her kids to the bathroom, to lunch, to naptime, recess, bathroom, and snack time.  The day was relentless, with dragons and knights, princesses and school teachers playing house. She’d clean up after the day was over, their mommies and daddies would retrieve them, they’d go home and she’d go home.  Just to do it all over again the next day.  Going home was a combination of exhaustion and loneliness, fueled by a desire to know the world as she knew her students.  But no one looked up at her, so she made the lonely ride again.

Until one day, their indifference didn’t bother her anymore.  She was numb to the fact that she was only half understood.  Numb to the fact that  no one desired to know her more than halfway.  Numb that no one was a knight, or a princess, or a schoolteacher that played house, numb that everyone was in a romance with the gloss instead of each other.  She was the half-girl, and that was her identity.  Called so, because that was all that they saw, and they called her that, because they knew they only saw half, and they recognized that.  She became content with that.  She became content with them only seeing part and understanding the exterior and what they wanted to think about her as being enough.  She became numb, like they did.  It didn’t bother her anymore.  She watched, as another rosey-eyed innocent dreamer boarded the train, and others shrugged, and she ignored her too.  She had become part of the masses.  She watched as day by day, the life was sucked out of that dreamer, and they, too, were a mass.

No longer were her students masses.  They no longer asked her details about her life, and they no longer wanted to dream.  Her job became numbers and letters instead of character and imagination and knights and dragons.  Her job, she was told,  was to “squish imagination.”  “Make them faceless, masses!”  She was ordered to “suck out individuality and squash it like an insignificant bug and burn it like a pest.”  So of course, she massively complied.  The job became a paycheck, and she conformed.

But they still called her half-girl, because they recognized that she wasn’t supposed to be this way.  Everyone else went by a number, but they never called her that.  It didn’t stick.  Half-girl she was known, and half girl she would stay.  Everyone recognized that she was different, and would always be different, never known as anything else.  But no one wanted to know her as other than half-girl.

One morning, she awoke with a start.  She had a dream.  And in that dream, she was walking through this house.  The name of the house was masses.  On this hallway, there were rows of numbered doors.  Behind door 3204, a boy in her class was standing, staring at a wall, she had squished his dream of being an artist.  She walked through door 7804, and she saw the girl that rode the train with her each day, the dewey-eyed dreamer she had ignored, laying on the floor staring at the ceiling.  She rounded the corner to go through 6423, and saw her boss staring out of a window, into a dark sky.  She saw 3271 cracked, and she saw a girl who lived on her street that liked to play with trucks, she was sitting on the floor, mindlessly staring at the door.  She closed that door and behind door 9843, a man who rode the train each day, holding a blank newspaper, sitting on a couch. Each of these people was faceless, with what looked as strips of linen across where their face should be, robbed of any detail that made them who they were.   Then, she saw 7373, her number.  She stopped at the door, staring at those numbers, how she had previously longed for them to call her that!  She grasped the doorknob and pushed it open, and saw herself.  Her hands were hanging at her side, lifeless and cold.  Her legs were limp and vacant of life.  And where her eyes should have been were cloth strips.  Her body was motionless, next to a tipped-over chair, hung by a noose.

As she was awaking, she pulled her covers off with a start.  She realized that being half-girl or mass was not enough.  It wasn’t who she was.  She was not destined to allow others to only see the parts they wanted to see.  To do anything less that be the whole of herself would be suicide, the murder of the best parts of herself.  She realized, what a gift it would be to be her whole self and to not rob the world of who she was.  So she bounded out of the door, got on the subway train and the car flew into the city.  With each person she passed, she got their attention, distracted them from the gloss for a moment and said “Hi, I’m Miranda Branson, who are you?”

It didn’t matter their response or their acceptance.  She would no longer be half-girl.