Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Imagine Me

1 Corinthians 2:9, "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, what God has prepared for those who love Him."

As with most young children, when I was a little girl I imagined myself becoming an array of things. The list could go on and on with all of the occupations I would dare to become.
A secretary, a mother, a flight attendant, a dancer, a nurse, a doctor, a missionary, a writer...
And I was certain that any of these was a very real possibility. In fact, I saw no boundaries or limitations, as I aspired and felt the sky was my limit.

I was someone important, and I would leave a mark in this world.
However, as I grew older I began to experience the dead ends, let downs, and even put downs that come with life, and my early perspective on life became a bit tainted.

I began to doubt myself. I began to second guess my thoughts and question the possibilities.
And although many may see this as a negative thing, it really isn't. You see as we begin to mature and develop, it is only natural to witness and experience the realities of life. And when we do experience those difficult times, we can acknowledge that we are limited and that there is a God on whom we must depend.

It is when we come to a dead end, that we can find a way out through God.
It is when our dreams are crushed, that we can appreciate what God has planned for us.
It is when our plans come tumbling down, that we can unravel the mystery of God's presence in our life.
It is when our hope is gone, that we can turn our faith to God.
It is in the unmet expectations and short lived aspirations, that we realize how human we are and how majestic God is.
It is in our shortcomings that we can truly appreciate that He is in control.

And so when I come to realize that my list of dreams was rather limited compared to what God has purposed for me, then I begin to "imagine me" in a way that I haven't before. Not since I was little girl, have I imagined myself this way. Victorious, strong, and capable. Encouraged, confident, and able.

When I think about the possibilities of what God has for me, I can just "Imagine me".

Monday, June 27, 2011

Free to be free of Me... Part 2

Ever wonder what someone else might be thinking of you?

Do you care?

Some people don't, I know.

but most of us do....

It isn't something I'm proud of, but I've always been overly concerned about what others think of me. Even worse, I am concerned about what I think of myself!!! I know it sounds crazy..... but my thoughts about myself at times have been destructible. And so I have found myself calling out... "I want out! Get me away from myself! I want to be free of me!"

To be free of me. What exactly does that mean?
Well, for starters it means that I no longer have to put up a front--- pretend like I am someone or something greater than what I really am.
The opinions of others... why do they matter so?
The acceptance of others and even of myself.... why is it so meaningful?

I can trace it back to early years and the experiences I have known. And so the internal conversation goes...
"Mirror, mirror... what do you see?
Am I pretty? Will I fit in?
Daddy, daddy... look at me
Am I worthy? Do you love me?"

"Hey world! I'm trying, I'm really trying to make you love me.
I want you to be pleased with me.
I'm trying to have you hear me. My words are so.... witty.
I can be smart and also funny.
I'm trying to show you just how great I can be."
That's my history.

And still I learn that the world... 'like grass...it flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more' (Psalm 103:15-16, paraphrased)
And I'm convicted by John 12:43, "for they loved praise from men more than praise from God."..... and by Hebrews 13:6, "...The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?"

Truly, what can man do to me?!
Yet as of lately. It's been a long while actually...
I've given up on trying to measure up.
The cost that comes with is just too much.
So much so that at times, I've lost myself.
I've been lost within myself.

To try to measure up, I've cheated and I've lied.
I've turned my back on others, and I've dared to walk the very thin line.
Facing the dangers of losing my life. Still forced by the fears inside.
The fear of not being enough.

And so I wish to be free of me, and then I read, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” Matthew 16:25

And in response, I call out... "Yes Lord, I want to find it! In You, I want to find it..."

And I do find it. You see this is what being free really is. I give up my will/my life/what matters most to me for the sake of finding a better life in Christ. I surrender what I've created and perceive to be me in exchange for the life that God has purposed for me. And I experience freedom when I am living out that life that He has prepared for me. Any other existence, keeps me always falling short. Any other person's perception of me cannot measure up to the grace God sheds on me. And the value I had placed on the opinions of others, tumbles down to nothing because of how God sees me. Nothing else matters because through God, I'm truly free!

Free to be free Of Me... Part 1

So the other night before going to bed, my husband and I talked about what it means to be free. And there are so many perspectives, as with most things. However, when we filter out the many variables, it becomes a little more clear. Hence, let's narrow down the question.
For a Christian, what does it mean to be "free"? I've struggled to understand this clearly for a while now. I've even made it the title of my blog spot. (Free free to be Me) And I wonder how much of it is being free to do whatever I want, and what does it mean to surrender my will to God? How can I be free, if I am surrendering my will? That's not freedom! Or is it?

And I yearn for that sense of just being myself without regrets or guilt. That I can be comfortable in my own skin. Yet, I struggle....
You see I've heard this message several times, and I just can't seem to get a grip on it. You will find freedom in doing God's will. When you begin to look outside yourself and settle your sight on God, you begin to free yourself enough that all you wish for is what God wishes for. And there is freedom in Him. The more you get to know who He is, the more you want to please Him. And when you please Him, you find freedom.
So we determined the difference between what we see as the freedom to do as we wish when we wish, and the sense of peace, conformity, and fulfillment when we are in Christ.

Later that night, I awoke at about 4:30 in the morning..... made a bathroom trip and went back to sleep. However, the first thought that came to mind when I awoke in the middle of the night was, "It's not 'free free to be me'. It's 'free to be free of me'". Obviously, I was still struggling with this in my subconscious.
And I pondered on these words for a while. So much so that I came to this conclusion. I am free when I am in complete peace about who I am and where I am knowing full well with all certainty that I am exactly who and where God wants me to be.

That comfort in my own skin that I long for, indeed, is found in being at peace with who I am in Christ. It isn't so much that I can do whatever I want because I'm free to do it, but that I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. That's freedom!

It isn't that so much that I am able to live a life with little regard for what others may think, as much as it is a to live a life where what matters most is how it brings glory to God. Indeed, when I am living and doing what pleases and brings glory to God, then I am free!
And I am no longer tied down by the opinions of others because what matters most is God's view of me. And I am no longer worried about how I look before men, and how I'm aging, and what will my friends think?.... I am free to be me because He loves me. And I am free to be free of me because of the price He paid for me.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

To Andy

Broken String

I gathered the courage to play you a song

With words on my lips

The beat on my fingertips

The rhythm was lovely

The sounds so strong

My heart overflowed

With love

As I strummed on the guitar

I poured out my heart

So fully

So long

But I felt the string snap

And the music was gone

How then shall I play it

The song in my heart?

How then to express it

Without coming apart?

I jumped to my feet

And gathered a dance

To the song in my heart,

I danced and danced

So freely, so swiftly

The breeze in my hair

Lifted and Soaring

I danced in the air

But then I came falling

Down on the ground

My knees so bruised

I couldn't move

So I lay there, with unstable legs and hands

Still with the words on my lips

And the rhythm in my heart

I whispered the words

“take courage, be willing, have mercy, and show grace,

yes there will be heartaches, and there will be hurts,

but you remain loving and faithful to the end"

So when your heart's string is broken, and you cannot move

Know that the love of God can still move through you.

That’s my song of love for you.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Happily Ever After

Nobody likes to suffer. And yet, it seems that suffering is a very fine way to get to know God. Is it because He too, suffered?

"It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees." Psalm 119:71. Good to be afflicted??? Good to be sick? Good to hurt and suffer?
I guess the answer depends on who you ask, but the word of God is clear on the topic.
Time and time again in the Bible, we find that through suffering, there is growth and recognition of God's sovereignty.

And if you are human, you have faced your share of hard times, illnesses, losses, and sufferings. For me, it has mostly come through marriage. I know some of you may think it harsh for me to say, but God knows.... that the most trying times in my life have come during my marriage and because of my marriage.

This morning my husband leaned over and said, "I love you very much. You inspire me so many times", while I responded with a half asleep..."Inspired you to do what? Run away?" He laughed.... (no comment)

You gotta keep your perspective and see things for what they truly are.... a good and lasting marriage does not come with a "free pass".... although we sometimes wish it did.

The hardest times came in our early years. Newbies... and yet, it's amazing that we outlasted the first 5 years of marriage.

I remember the words I prayed one night, not that long ago when my husband and I contemplated a separation. "Lord, you know he doesn't feel able to love me right now... he can't do it with his own strength, so will you please love me through him?" You love me Lord.... and enable him...

Strange right?... that one would have to pray to God to help his or her spouse to love...

Yet, sometimes that is what it takes.

And it's not like God feels sorry for us because we have to endure hard times. He uses those times to draw us to Him. And isn't that the sole purpose of our being? To draw closer to our creator and acknowledge that we are nothing without him.

And I've learned many things during these, soon to be, 20 years of marriage. The greatest lesson and most difficult to learn is that God much more prefers for me to become holy than happy. Yes, you read right, and I will reword it.
You see, God is more concerned about me being holy than He is about me having a happy life and marriage.
Don't get me wrong. God's blessings bring about happiness, and He longs to bless us richly. However and more importantly, He also wants us to live holy lives, regardless of whether that means we lose what we most treasure.

Like many newlywed wives, I envisioned the "happily ever after life". I treasured my husband to an extreme. I had him on a pedestal, figuratively speaking, until our marriage collapsed and I saw my husband from a new light. And I didn't like it one bit. I suffered for a long time. We both did.

And yet, through the hardships, God has never left our side. He has never turned on us. He has never forsaken us. And He has always been faithful to see us through. Faithful... although we weren't.

Do you begin to see how God makes us holy through suffering? You see, had I not suffered, I would never had learned about the character of a loving God. And about what He requires of me. I would never have learned what it is to obey God and take Him at His word. To believe, when nothing seems right. To trust, although the world seems turned upside down. To walk with Him, although I want to run away. To love Him, even when there's pain.
And all of these things combined...lead to holiness.
It doesn't mean that we can't be happy, but rather that it is more important to be holy.
You see being happy doesn't always bring about holiness, but becoming holy will always bring happiness in the end.

Hebrews 12: 10b-11, "...but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Simply Knowing You

Dear God,

Thank you for today...
well, I guess for right now

This moment of nothingness
of quietness
of simply knowing You

"When the music fades, all is stripped away
and I simply come"

Those are the lyrics to a worship song, but it's my prayer today

It's not in any glorious moment
Nor big and star-struck events

I simply come to you
My heart calls out to you
It yearns to be near you

Because knowing you is more than enough for me

Still knowing that I might just forget, as I begin the day
and the demands of my life begin their calls and pulls
I don't always get it right

And I'm not sure what the day will bring
or how it will end

Still at the end of the day, I come back to you
To the realization of knowing you

and that is enough for me to say, Thank you Lord for today...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Are you Waiting?

“so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” Hebrews 9:28

If you're anything like me, I'm almost certain you do not like having to wait for things.
In fact, I've been in America long enough to know that we really don't appreciate having to wait for almost anything.

I often think about how we train our children that their needs and desires will be met almost instantaneously. When the newborn cries, he or she is either hungry, tired, or uncomfortable. And we respond to his/her needs promptly, or at least we try.
As children grow, they learn that tantrums could be a successful way to get what they want in a more timely fashion.
And by the time they are teenagers, they have developed an urgency for what is to be had.
And we become adults that expect quick responses, immediate solutions, and short waiting lines....

I think this has a lot to do with the cultural factor. In fact, there are places----distant from us--- where children learn early on that they must wait before they can eat their one daily meal.... they must wait in dirty hospital beds for the pain to subside eventually.... and that sometimes the help, the healing, the nourishment may never come...

Although I was born in the states, as a little girl I lived in Puerto Rico. Now clearly Puerto Rico is rich in many ways similar to the United States. In fact, because of the United States, Puerto Rico is able to enjoy many of our riches. However, just like in any other place, there are still many places in Puerto Rico that remain very poor.

So when I lived there, my father moved us into an underdeveloped area where there was no running water or electricity. He built a wooden home, and we waited for about two years for the water and electricity to come.

Waiting.... at times we waited reluctantly, and at times we waited with much anticipation.
But we waited...
It is an irony to me, but waiting has to do with hope. We wait in hopes of...
We wait because we hope...

And none of this is even remotely close to the hope or expectations that we have for God's return.
Yet, I find that the verse above provides us with an abundance of hope... as we wait.

For the final call...
the last day...
the new day...
eternal life

I mean really, if you read it once and don't appreciate the hope it brings, read it again and again.
In essence, this verse encompasses the hope we have as followers of Christ. It defines our significance in Him. It assures us of our purpose, as we wait on Him.

It first reminds us about the reason and purpose that Jesus came to earth.
... to be sacrificed for our sins---to die for you and me because He loves us so.
I can't think of anyone else who would die for my wrongs.
The latter part of the verse predicts His second coming. And I see the grace of God written all over it.
...not to bear sin, but to bring salvation
...to bring salvation
Just for a moment, try not think of your sin and sinful nature and just focus on salvation...
Now imagine that for all eternity... Sin will no longer have its hold on you. You will no longer experience shame, nor guilt, nor blame.
How freeing!!!
You see, not only did He die for us, but He promises to return.
He has not forgotten us nor His promise to us. In our waiting, we are not forgotten.
And as we wait, we hold on to that hope of salvation.
And that wonderful and freeing gift of salvation will be made complete then...
For those of us who are waiting.

waiting... at times reluctantly, but mostly expectantly
with great anticipation because of what has been accomplished and what has been promised.... Salvation

Praise God!