Saturday, June 26, 2010

At Sunrise on Graduation...

With a quiet and thoughtful spirit, I awoke the morning of my graduation day. My eyes rested absently on the walls around me, and my mind sought to grasp the reality of the last thirteen years of my life. My heart was still beating; my mind still reeling; my eyes still seeking; my feet still moving; my hands still working; my breath still whistling; my life still continuing.

My childhood lived in the days when adulthood was the one and only desirable attainment in this world. My numerous public schools attended sufficed to represent a prison full of cells and walls that had no escape. My young adult years sent everything and anything I held as important and worthy of my time scattered and lying bare for all to see. My high school years struggled to be anything but of the world. My identity had suffered shattering into fragments and only being able to be put back together by the One. The me sitting there that morning was not the me I was a decade ago, a year ago, a month ago, a week ago, a day ago, a hour ago, a minute ago, a second ago. I was changing; I was being reshaped.

My heart warmed with an unspeakable joy. My friends, I was free! I had been trapped in the public school system for so long and with little to hold me steady to His word other than my mother. The cells I thought had no opening had broken and crumbled at my feet. The burdens of the last thirteen years were finally able to be fully dumped at the Cross. The oppressing atmosphere was lifted and carried away. I was never going to return, I vowed. How could I return to the place that held so much torment and anguish for me? Even before I was a Christian, the public schools shook my confidence to the core, pushing me into the realm of the outcasts.

I closed my eyes again, my mind drifting into an unconscious dream. I saw myself standing in the middle of the school building, patiently waiting for the escape I knew I would be provided with. My eyes watched the cracks forming on the walls, and the pieces crumbling all around me. The laughter and joy radiated from my face and my arms reached to the sky. And with little more than a simple thank you, I took off, running and leaping over those crumbled walls. I made it past the last piece of brick, and felt myself unwillingly coming to a halt.

My heart screamed that I must look back. I did not want to, but I did. My eyes turned and beheld names written on the pieces of stone, names that told of those that left those walls just as I had with no hope, joy, or future; they did not know Jesus. My eyes could only stare at the names so numerous that there was not a blank space. My lips let the only sound I could utter escape my lips, "Noooo...." I saw it now. I saw it then. I saw it from the outside, yet missed it while inside. Slowly an invisible pen began to cross out names, names that I had been able to talk with about Jesus. They were so few, so few. Then it all vanished into whiteness.

My eyes jumped open and my heart was pounding. I could only breathe, no words would come. How could I run and jump and be glad for freedom when there were so many more in that school that had not been reached? How could I leave the missions field God had placed me with such neglectance and gladness for that neglectance? Gently, He spoke to my heart: "My child, I am caring for that place; there will be another of my children there to care for it. You have been given a new mission field. I do not want you to look back and wish you were back there; I want you to look back and realize how much those people need Me." He knew me inside and out. He knew my desires to move on with life. At that moment, I realized that every moment I lived out in that school could have been for Christ, yet my selfish core always demanded recognition. If only His work in my heart would drive me to have more moments for Christ than for myself.

With my thoughts traveling in a million directions, my heart cried out to Him with one and only one desire for this day: "So then, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness" (Colossians 2:6-7)

Dare to Stand ON the Fence

As I sit here now and reflect on how many times I have crossed the electric fence and how many lessons I have learned, I often feel called to participate in the opposite extreme. See, there was a reason two dogs appeared in this story - they were the direct opposite of one another, in attitude, thought process, and mannerisms. But, neither set of complete characteristics is all together more valuable or needed over the other. The first dog and the second dog have their own set of faults, their own set of flaws. As we naturally do, we will desire the opposite characteristic over our own because we think those have better or different results. How wrong and foolish we are to seek our opposite when we ourselves know what we do to be imperfect.

The biggest lesson this story carried upon my heart was my need to balance in my life; I lack it. I fall into one extreme, try to escape it, and only find myself leaning towards the other extreme. When I look at the electric fence, I think boundary; I think confining; I think restricting; I think destroy it. But guess what? That boundary is not there for me to shrink from or for me to cross immediately. The boundary is the place I should aim to stand at.

It is the place where God's standards lie. It is the place where only those who are willing to totally give their lives and pursuits to Him would be willing to stand in the fiery effects of electricity. It is balance because God takes riskiness and cowardliness and combines them to form resolve and wisdom. It is balance because God takes complete openness and complete closed mindedness and combines them to form a sense of loyalty and loving attitude. It is balance because God takes details and dreams and combines them to form faith and trust in Him. It is balance because God takes a positive outlook and a realistic outlook and combines them to form judgement and success.

God is not provoking us to become the opposite of ourselves. Rather, He is moving in our hearts to meet Him in the middle, where His ultimate and all powerful and everlasting truths lie. The fence is not to keep us back or make us run past it; it is there for us to stand in the middle of it. And only One has ever done it, Jesus Christ Himself. Thus, as I conclude this series of thoughts, I invite each and every one of you to dare to stand in the middle with Him, to dare to let Him move you there, to dare to let go of your desire for the opposite side, to dare to love Him so much that you will endure the fiery of the electricity, and to dare to find the perfect balance, only found within His word, His standards, and His promises.