Thursday, February 24, 2011

Cross the Line

You know that mysterious line in the sand that you were ordered to never cross? It mocks you, doesn't it? It frightens and entices you, doesn't it? Right beyond that line of sand stands a ledge of some sort. You can't see over the ledge, no matter how close to the line you lean. That mocks you too doesn't it? You just want to see beyond; you want to see what you are not allowed to see. You want to know what is so dangerous over there, what screams for you but tells you never to go. Conflicting, but nevertheless, amazing. I see the cocked head; the tip toe steps over to that line; the temptation to peer over that ledge, just to see what's beyond it. I can see your eyes meet mine and tell me to get to the point through gritted teeth. Well, the point is. . . run and jump. What in the world are you waiting for, afraid of, backing away from? I mean it is calling your name right? So, jump. Cross the line. Take a flying leap over that ledge. Go!

Now, before some of you panic and say I have gone off the deep end in advocating that we cross lines and go against His word and all of those accusations, let me just set this straight. You are thinking of the wrong line. I am not talking about temptation. In fact, I'm talking about something completely opposite. That line in the sand was not drawn by the Lord, but was drawn by yourself. That ledge and barrier was created by yourself, not the Lord. That cliff was made to take a flying leap off. But, is it not rather amusing how similar that line looks to every other line drawn in the sand? The same reaction to it, yet so different in its purpose. I'm telling you to take a flying leap into the unknown, into a life of chaos and trust, into a life filled with decisions and answers, into a life that He calls us to. See, our mission, as Christians, is to touch the lives of people, to touch nations. We want to carry the message of Christ anywhere and everywhere we can. We want to shout it to the nations and fill the world with its echo. There is no doubt about that.

Yet, so many of us draw lines in the sand when it comes to this calling. We limit what we can do and what we can't do. We put all the uncomfortable or overwhelming situations on the other side of that line. We can see everything we shove over that line and stay away from, but we can't see over the ledge where all the amazing opportunities lie. We are too afraid to cross that line so we can't see what is beyond the possibilities we shove over that line. You can't get over the cliff until you get over the line. And you can't get over the line until you can admit that you are limiting yourself. It is that simple. I don't care who you are or who you think you are. You are limiting yourself. There is not a single person I know, myself included, that has given their all to Jesus. There is still more to give, still more to run with. New opportunities are created every day, new opportunities to give Jesus something you didn't know you previously had. Don't you dare think you are done yet; you have a long way to go.

Of all the lines drawn in the sand around you, this one needs to be crossed, needs to be pushed. You need to go beyond your comfort zone, reaching levels of busyness or serving that you never thought possible. We avoid this line and will at all costs, but we will run across the lines of temptation? If you need a line to run over and feel victorious over, pick this one. You won't want to go back. You will be so lost, yet so found. You will learn that the strength you live with is not yours and never was. It is the Lord's. If you expect to give it all to the Lord or you want to give it all to the Lord, you are going to have to push your endurance in this life. You are going to have to go to depths you never thought possible.

See, I'm what most people would call insane. I have always found joy in building up busyness in my life to a level that I no longer have free time. With over fifteen major projects/organizations I am apart of and two part-time jobs and full time college and my friends and family and my writing endeavors and everything in between, I am anything but sane. I know that. But, ironically, I can handle it. I know I can handle it. If the Lord did not want me to do all of this, I wouldn't have the strength to do it all. If I didn't complete everything in the timely manner I do, the Lord is telling me I need to reset my priorities. To me, I feel incomplete unless I am giving more than I think I can give. I am that way as a person. So, for me, jumping over that cliff or crossing that line seems so extreme to other people. But, He is calling me there. He gives me the rest I need, the refreshment, the strength. I am learning more and more what it means to live a life of a servant; it is giving until you have nothing left and then giving more. You will never run dry when you are running on the Lord's strength.

I realize that some of you may not be called to my life, to the life of doing absolutely everything known to man. Some of you have been called to wait, and in that waiting, it is giving Him your all. That is good; it is absolutely vital that we do not compare lives with others as a measure of how much we are giving the Lord. Our hearts and our consciences direct that and hold us to a higher standard. But, even those of us who are being called to wait, you can give more than what you are. All those days of waiting wear a person out just as much as my busyness can. The attitude in which you wait and what you do while you wait are exactly what determines whether you are crossing the line or not. That line still holds those little opportunities and refinements you refuse to go through while waiting. Waiting is not the lack of doing; it is doing while waiting on His timing.

You have the capability to go far beyond what you are doing now. But you've got to be willing to do it. See, I'm telling you to run and jump. I'm telling you to stop avoiding this. I'm telling you that you want it, no matter how much you try to deny it. I'm telling you that you will love it. There is something about free-falling into the complete unknown with nothing but Him keeping you steady that brings joy and laughter. It is breath-taking. It is tiring. It is genuine. I love simple lives, but I love doing a lot of things. I don't need things to complete my life, but I do need to do things. I want to reach nations. I want to reach hearts. I want to touch lives. And, I know you do too. So, jump. Give up that calm, steady life and take a wild ride. The Lord is waiting for you to give your all to Him, continually and in every way. Your way may not be my way, but the calling is the same.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

How He Loves Us: Moments of Grace

My blog has been getting awfully quiet lately, it seems. The busier I get, the more responsibilities I have, the more opportunities I have, the less I seem to find time to write. I cannot write when my heart is tired and heavy. I cannot write when my mind seems to be spinning in a million different directions. But, there are times when I am in the middle of things, thinking, hoping, creating, dreaming, and all of a sudden, the words of the song I am currently listening to as background music register. They slice through the haze of my to-do list and explode as a canopy over a weary heart. Sure, I could very well flip the switch and tell myself that I have more things to do. I could tell the Lord that I already spent time with Him this morning and just cannot listen now because my time is precious. But, the amazing thing is. . . I don't. I don't flip the switch. I don't shake my head in His direction. I don't deny the work He is attempting to do. I just listen.

In those moments, the most relaxing feeling washes over me. I cannot explain how quickly the reality of life just fades. I cannot explain how real He seems; how I can almost feel His breath in my hair as He hugs me. When God meets you in the middle of your day, in the most routine way possible, and messes up the plans within seconds, it is a grace moment. See, I had heard the song over and over and over again during the last year or so. Yes, it is one of my favorite songs. I know the lyrics by heart, and I love the musicality of it. I know the meaning of the words and live by them. However, if any of you have ever had those favorite songs, unless you are really listening and there is nothing else running through your mind at the moment, the power behind the words only vaguely shines through. It does not impact you the same way. It does not shock your heart into existence all the time or steal your breath away. It is just there; it is there for comfort and familiarity and a reminder.

Yet, I have found that there are times when God choses to make those familiar songs the highlight of our day. He knows when we feel stressed, when we feel responsible for everything in the world. He knows when we are ignoring the signs of needing a recharge. He even knows when we are simply too focused and too tired to be able to get to the point of actually relaxing our mind and letting Him through fully. I believe it is in those moments that God says "Look, my child, you need a rest. So, I'm going to give you one." And folks, those are such powerful moments; they are breath-taking, filling. I can physically relax my mind and try to put away the thoughts of today and tomorrow and yesterday, but honestly, I never get completely to that point at times. But, when God says He's going to give me a rest, He really gives me a rest. If I give into simply listening to what He has to say in those moments (and trust me, you know when one of those moments arrive), I find myself so focused on Him and so wrapped up in Him, no matter how well I know the song or how long I have repeated the memorized Bible verses. When His spirit is truly moving inside those words and carrying them far more than just the simple message of the words, there is power there; there is grace.

My grace moment this week came in the middle of school work. It had been a crazy week to say the least. I ended up being called into work on days that I was not scheduled three days in a row, I simply could not find time to do my college work, my online duties and friends were getting neglected, one of the biggest blizzards in history was about to send white out conditions and feet of snow my way, and I just could not get my head wrapped around all the tasks still to do. As was tradition, I finally sat down Thursday evening, able to breathe for the first time all week and just turned on music. I immediately started tackling the remnants of uncompleted homework, letting the music drown out any other thoughts besides that of the court cases I was currently studying. And I can honestly say I heard not a word to any song until this one song came on. It shattered my concentration like never before, tugged at my heart like I had never heard it before, and completely whipped every other thought from my mind. Believe me, there was a little voice there saying that I need to focus again, but I just couldn't. It brought relief, reminders, love, hope, renewal all in one. It is How He Loves Us by David Crowder Band.

And I replayed that song and replayed it and replayed it. Because, in that moment, I was literally overwhelmed by the love He has for me, the grace I am literally drowning in every day. I am His portion and He is my prize. I am drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes. My Lord is jealous for me; for me! He is beautiful. He is amazing. This is my Lord! The lyrics are so simple, but they are so true. They are the heart of our relationship with our Lord and Savior. And He chose, deliberately chose, to remind me that His love and His grace and His mercy are the very reason I am sitting here; the very reason I am alive; the very reason I am blessed with as much as I am.

I am passing on the message to each and every one of you today. We know, we all know, at the core that we are loved, that we are blessed, that we are held up by His grace. Yet, there are moments that the Lord choses to impress that one to our hearts more than ever before. Our relationships cannot always be based on feelings, but when we feel Him closer than ever before, it is a moment to treasure. It is a moment to hold on and cherish. Its value is far greater than any riches of this world. The fact that He choses to reach down to Earth to personally and deliberately shape our hearts and mold our lives can touch us in ways we not yet know. He is your Lord. He is your Father. He is your best Friend. Our hearts need grace moments; they need to be sensitive to grace moments. It is in those moments that He surprises us and blesses us in the most monumental ways. Don't miss them. Don't ignore them. Don't over think them. Let them happen; let them capture your heart to the very core; let them define your life.