15 06 2017

Today’s Scripture is Amos 2.

This is what the Lord says:

“For three sins of Moab,
    even for four, I will not relent.
Because he burned to ashes
    the bones of Edom’s king,
I will send fire on Moab
    that will consume the fortresses of Kerioth.
Moab will go down in great tumult
    amid war cries and the blast of the trumpet.
I will destroy her ruler
    and kill all her officials with him,”
says the Lord.

This is what the Lord says:

“For three sins of Judah,
    even for four, I will not relent.
Because they have rejected the law of the Lord
    and have not kept his decrees,
because they have been led astray by false gods,[b]
    the gods their ancestors followed,
I will send fire on Judah
    that will consume the fortresses of Jerusalem.”

Judgment on Israel

This is what the Lord says:

“For three sins of Israel,
    even for four, I will not relent.
They sell the innocent for silver,
    and the needy for a pair of sandals.
They trample on the heads of the poor
    as on the dust of the ground
    and deny justice to the oppressed.
Father and son use the same girl
    and so profane my holy name.
They lie down beside every altar
    on garments taken in pledge.
In the house of their god
    they drink wine taken as fines.

“Yet I destroyed the Amorites before them,
    though they were tall as the cedars
    and strong as the oaks.
I destroyed their fruit above
    and their roots below.
10 I brought you up out of Egypt
    and led you forty years in the wilderness
    to give you the land of the Amorites.

11 “I also raised up prophets from among your children
    and Nazirites from among your youths.
Is this not true, people of Israel?”
declares the Lord.
12 “But you made the Nazirites drink wine
    and commanded the prophets not to prophesy.

13 “Now then, I will crush you
    as a cart crushes when loaded with grain.
14 The swift will not escape,
    the strong will not muster their strength,
    and the warrior will not save his life.
15 The archer will not stand his ground,
    the fleet-footed soldier will not get away,
    and the horseman will not save his life.
16 Even the bravest warriors
    will flee naked on that day,”
declares the Lord.

Taken from:  https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Amos+2 

Just to give you some context of why I’m mentioning these scriptures, I am reading through some of the Old Testament prophets, and Amos is my current stop.

To give you some biblical context, let me turn back to Amos 1, to tell you about the writer.  Amos is a shepherd in Tekoa, and while he’s tending his sheep one day, he saw a vision for Israel from God.  Amos’ name means literally burden-bearer.  I haven’t finished reading the book of Amos yet, but just from chapters 1 &2, he’s got quite the load on him. I wouldn’t want to be the one who had to share this message to the people.  He’s calling out the people for what they’ve done wrong and how they’ve wronged the people of God and how they’ve disrespected God.  I imagine that his audience would have rather killed him than to listen to him tell them how much they’ve done wrong.  Often, when you do expose the wrongdoings of the world, you are shunned or disliked.  But share it anyways, if you are so led to do so.  But don’t share it to highlight how awesome you are, but to push someone else closer to their awesomeness.

Anywho, let’s dig into Amos, shall we?

Chapter 2 has two very different groups of people.  And really, Chapter 1 and verses 1-3, is all about how the “outsiders” to God have desecrated God.  And then the rest of chapter 2 focuses on how God’s people are going to face judgement.  So I’d like to divide them in two contrasting sections.

1. God’s Judgement unto the nonbelievers.

First, I’d like to examine what God says he’s going to do with those that don’t believe in them.  God has called out these people for what they’ve done wrong.  There are many wrong doings in Chapter 1.  In almost every incidence, God is bringing down fire upon these people, and destroying pillars of their strength, whether it be a wall, a gate or fortresses.  I don’t think this is without symbolism.

When I was young, one Sunday morning at like 7:00am, my dad woke me up in a start.  He told me to put on my shoes, put in my ears and get outside.  My dad was panicked.  I hurried through everything, as my dad tried to get my sister up, and get her shoes on.  My whole family stood on the front yard as we watched my next-door neighbor’s house catch on fire.  It burned for hours.  When it was over and the fire was put out, nothing was usable anymore.  Later, we walked through the rubble, and the smell of burnt things, it penetrated the air.  We stepped on wood that evaporated into black dust and ask.  Wood that once was strong, and it was now dust.  Crumbling.  Fire destroys matter.  It burns it away until it is no longer any worth.  I was so moved, by the realization that my neighbors had literally lost everything.  It had been burned away.  Useless, worthless, ash.  In the same way, God says he’s going to destroy these entire cities.  He would leave people homeless, hopeless, with nothing.

That fire would destroy their fortresses, their walls.  He would take away every element of their feeling of safety that they had ever had or felt.  He would take away anything that made them feel like they were safe, and would leave them vulnerable to attack.  Essentially, leaving a lamb in the middle of a pit with a bunch of hungry lions.

At first, my thought was WHY?  Why would a loving God do anything like that?  Why would the God who sent Jesus down in love, destroy people through fire?  Why would he do that?  And I get angry that this is not the God that I love and serve.

But if you look at the first sentence for each judgement, God clearly describes what these people have done wrong.

For example, in the circumstance of the people of Moab, he’s judging them because they desecrated the bones of Edom’s king.  I don’t know what this means, or what this means that they did to deserve this, but it was pretty bad.  Edom’s king was seen, from what I understand, as a king of war hero.  So, to put it in context, I think of someone doing something awful to the grave of JFK.

And as I wonder why he would destroy with fire, and break their defenses, I realize it’s a judgement thing.  But, the hope is that they would use these situations to realize that they have put their trust in the wrong things to keep them safe.  I hope that they would realize that they are living their lives according to a sense of non-morality.  I hope that they would use this to turn themselves and change their lives.  But often, when those who have done wrong are called out and punished, they do not turn and change their ways.

2.  God’s Judgement unto the Believers.

When people are loved by God, I’ve heard the sentiment that they believe that they can live whichever way that they want, because God will never stop loving them.  I’ve witnessed this attitude, and it often doesn’t lead people to being good people.  While it is true, I believe, that when God loves you once, he doesn’t ever stop loving you.  The Bible frequently says that we cannot be separated from the love of God.  But I don’t think anyone gets an exception to the expectation that God’s people will try to live by producing the fruits of the spirit in their lives.

That’s kind of the attitude that I imagine Judah and Israel have towards this grace and belovedness.  According to this passage, they seem to think that their special chosen-ness has exempted them from living right, as you should.

This is not true.

Because they have rejected the laws of the Lord, they have not kept his decrees, because they have worshipped false Gods, God will destroy them with fire, and will eat away at the fortresses of Jerusalem.

Because they sell their people and exchange them in case of money, they oppress the poor and deny justice to those who are oppressed.  Because they use prostitutes and share them amongst family members, because they shame the name of the Lord, because they do not honor the offerings given to the Lord, and take offerings for their pleasure.  Because of all of them, God says he will not relent, he will not hold back on his punishment.

But look at all of the things God did for them!  He destroyed the enemies while they were standing there watching, he destroyed their crops, and made it so they cannot grow their food.  He took them out of Egypt, where they were enslaved, and led them throughout the desert, so that he could give them the land of the Amorites.  Not only that!  But he raised up their children to be prophets, he further showed how special that they are to God, and yet, they neglected their chosen-ness.  They desecrated their specialness.  No wonder he was going to destroy them.  No wonder!

Notice, he never says that he will not love them.  He never says he’s going to leave them.  But he does not say that he will protect them from the consequences that are going to happen because they  have done so many wrong things.

3.  No one can escape the consequences.

If we are honest, we don’t like the consequences that we have to face or that we experience.  We like to get off scot-free.  We like to not have to deal with the natural consequences.  I have this student that I taught this year….and nothing ever seemed to be his fault.  He would get called out for something  and immediately, his response was “I didn’t do it.”  In fact, in the last few days of school, I asked him to come to my desk because I was going to ask him to do something and he immediately said “I didn’t do it.”  A lot of times, I imagine that when we experience a consequence, I bet a lot of us look at God with that same expression.  But really, if we get down to it and break it down, we often do the things that deserve those consequences.

If I get caught speeding, which I have done before, I often liked to blame it on that hill or the traffic or whatever to make myself feel better about the fact that I have a state trooper in my rearview mirror.  But the reality is, I shouldn’t have been speeding.  The reality is, that we all are going to have the natural consequences to whatever we’ve done wrong.  No matter how strong we are, how fast we are or how accurate we are, we will not be able to escape that consequence.  Even though every time that I speed, there’s not always a state trooper nearby, you can rest that at some time or another, I will get caught.  Every consequence to what I’ve done wrong may not happen immediately, but it will happen at some time or another.

Closing Remarks

So, what do we do?

We live right.  We make good choices, and we do the right thing.  Nothing else really matters, does it?





Highways and Hedges

14 06 2017

Let’s look at Luke 14 for our Context today:

Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

Sometimes, the scripture that we read, the words that Jesus says, are very hard pieces of scripture to swallow.  This is one of those passages for me.  I first heard this passage when we got one of our new pastors after the pastor who stayed in my church for a long time.  And he preached a message on it that I will never forget.  I remember sitting there, and this pastor was using the month of August, his first month, to focus on evangelism.  And this was one of those passages.  I’ve been visiting a lot of churches lately, which coincides with God’s call for me to go away from my home church to find a new place to serve and be fed.  That’s for another time though.

This passage really has been something that my mind has drifted towards time and time again.  It’s just been emerging in my life over and over again, and so I felt the need to focus on this passage.  When I’m focusing on this passage, I find many parallels in this story.

Jesus is the “certain man”  who is hosting a banquet for many guests.
 He’s the one that has laid it all out.  He has made all of the preparations, prepared the food, found the chairs, clothed the table.  He’s lived the life like we’re supposed to, and he died according to this great plan.  I think we forget sometimes that these stories are not just stories, but they directly relate to the life that we live.

Jesus’ followers make more excuses than actions.  I’m sure you’ve said it before.  You’ve made an excuse, as your reason to not spend time with him.  If you’re anything like me, I make excuses of exhaustion to keep me from doing something.  I make excuses of being tired as justification to be unkind to people.  I make excuses of being too busy to keep me from serving the church.  I’ve heard it and you’ve probably said it.  Jesus hears all of our excuses.  But, let’s examine ourselves for a second.  We’re supposed to be the people that follow Jesus.  We’re supposed to be the worshippers of God.  We’re supposed to be the ones who are learning him and getting to know what it means to be a follower.  We use excuses of other priorities and other commitments to things and people to keep us from being there with God.  We use the excuses of family to keep us from doing the things of God.  If I’m honest, I’ve used my job, my busy schedule and my friends to keep me from doing the things that I am supposed to do with God.

On a corporate level, the church has many excuses too.  We use the excuse of people not being the “right” kind of people for us to love and help.  We say that just because that person is gay or trans, we can’t love them.  Instead, we spew words of hate and hurt.  We rebuke those who need social services, yet the church does not provide meals and homes for those who go without.  The church, us as members, do not invite the homeless in so that we can share our lives with them, like Jesus said to do.  We do not love those who are in prison, because after all, they got themselves there, even though the bible tells us to be there for them.  We excuse ourselves from caring for our neighbor, simply because that neighbor does not meet our standards.  I love the following meme:

Image result for love thy neighbor meme

We like to put qualifiers on grace.  But Jesus didn’t do that.  He didn’t say we got a choice in who we loved or how we loved them, he said to love them.  Period.  That’s it.  That’s the way that Jesus lived.  But we are pious and think that we can say who can get our grace and our love, our food and our presence.  What idiots we are!

God gave us no qualifiers.  He met us where we were.  That’s it.  Let us do the same.

Jesus’ response to our excuses.

So, let’s look at the story.  There were all of these excuses, and yet the food was still prepared.  No one who was invited was coming, yet the food needed to be eaten still.

Let’s think of the invited as church members, people who are supposed to be the ones who are eager to be in the banquet.  Those who are supposed to desire the one that made them.

Unfortunately, we often miss the mark, because the banquet table is full and the plates are empty, seats are vacant, and the host is lonely.

So, Jesus told his servants to go out to the city, go get the disabled, and bring them in.  These are the people who are often close by the church, but do not enter.  THese are the people who know about Jesus, but don’t have much experience in the church.  The people who stay home on SUnday mornings, but they watch church on TV.

Did you see what Jesus did there?  He rejected those who were in the church making excuses and went after those who don’t have that church.  He sends for them.  He gets them.  And they come.

But there was still room.

So he sends out the servants to get those people who are on the highways and hedges, and tells them to get over here, and enjoy the feast.  These are the people who are the “lowest of the low” those who are out there and we typically ignore.  He tells them to come on in, pull up a chair and eat plenty.  They’re foreigners to the gospel, and he tells them to come in.  He tells them to go for it and to come on by.  And everyone ate and enjoyed themselves.

Those are not the people of our modern churches.  These are the homeless, the smelly, the prostitute, the rejected….all of the people that we pretend don’t exist, they do at the table.  All are welcome to the table, but that doesn’t mean everyone is there.

Who do you want to be?

I don’t want to be the invited, who give an excuse for missing out on God.

I don’t want to be the adjacent ones, because they’re the ones that don’t have a relationship in the first place.  They know about Jesus, but don’t have a relationship.

I don’t want to be the highways and hedges, because they’re the ones that have no clue who God is.

I want to be the servant.  In the story, it’s the servants that go out and call everyone to the table to invite them.  It’s the servants who are reporting back to the master.  That’s who I want to be, inviting everyone to the table, because there is more than enough.

Are you a servant?  Are you the invited who miss out?  Are you the adjacent ones who don’t have a relationship?  Are you the highway or hedge?





2017-Looking Forwardresp

2 01 2017

This won’t be too long.

As you can probably tell from my recent posts, I’ve been busy writing!  I have a few goals to share with you for 2017!

  1. I am going to read 20 books throughout the year!  I’m about a third of the way through my first book!  Let me know if you have any recommendations as to what I should read!
  2. I am going to write on here more.  Often what happens, is that nice thoughts happen to me, but I either cannot write right away, or I do not record them so that I can write about them later.  So my thoughts get lost in it.  So my plan is to write more, and to keep a notebook or scrap piece of paper so that I can record them all.
  3. I want to become more faithful to take out time daily with God.  I used to be so faithful, but then I got busy, which is an excuse.  So I want to re-add that time back into my life.
  4. I want to be brave.  I have a specific way that I need to especially be brave, and so I want to continue to grow in my courage.  I also am being called away from a comfort zone, and I need the bravery to close the door on that, and the courage to open a new door.  The first is a continual process of bravery.  The second will most likely take place late August, early September.

What are your goals for the new year?

Peace and blessings to you all!





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.





So Much More!!

26 09 2016

“For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly.  For rarely will someone die for a just person–though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare die.  But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!  Much more then, since we have been declared righteous by His blood, we will be saved through Him from wrath.  For if, while we were still enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life!  And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  We have now received this reconciliation through Him.”  -Romans 5:6-11

I’m teaching Sunday School class at my church and these verses were my verses for last week and I taught them yesterday.

Taught is a very loose word in the sense of it all, as I honestly didn’t capture or plan out my words very closely, because I had a feeling that God was going to move, and God did!  He provided such a sweet spirit of conversation and sharing, and I am so grateful.

Then God spoke through me, which I know was all God because I didn’t prepare any special revelation of God.  He gave me three points:

  1. Salvation has nothing to do with us, what we’ve done, or what we could earn.  Jesus died for us before we could have messed up, before we could have earned our salvation, Jesus has already died! Salvation has nothing to do with us, it’s all about what God has already done for us.  It’s our job to take advantage of the opportunity that we have in him!
  2. When we are saved, the wrath is not the only thing we are saved from.    I don’t like the idea of hell as an eternal suffering place, but let’s set aside that idea.  A relationship with God saves you from several things, and we have no idea what we’ve been saved from.  In my life, I can imagine that if I did not have the relationship with God guiding me forward, I would probably be in a ditch of bitterness and selfishness and self-hatred, but for whatever reason, my life with God has saved me from that.  In addition, there’s no telling where I would be.
  3. If while I was without God, he is able to give me salvation, then the potential now that I am with God is so much greater now!  How much more can God do through me?!  Salvation is pretty awesome, and the relationship with God is pretty incredible.  The intimacy and the sharing that happens because I am now identified with God has brought me such peace and assurance.  Now, the possibility, the limits to what I can do when I am now identified with God is great!

I’m looking forward to seeing what God does through me and this class!

 

What has God been doing for you lately?  What has God done through you?  Be open to being used!