Fierce

I read some powerful words this morning. They are powerful because I identify with them.

For the enemy has pursued my soul;

he has crushed my life to the ground;

he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead.

Therefore my spirit faints within me;

my heart within me is appalled.

Yeesh. I know it’s not pretty. It’s actually quite scary. Like a horror movie you wish you hadn’t seen.

But there is more! I also identify with these words.

I remember the days of old;

I meditate on all that You have done;

I ponder the work of Your hands.

I stretch out my hands to You;

my soul thirsts for You like a parched land.

Ok, I am remembering God. I am remembering He is real, and He has worked, and I daresay I expect Him to continue working hard for His glory and for me. Because that’s who He is, I think. Struggling with unbelief, but I’ll cry out desperately anyway.

Still more.

Answer me quickly…!

Hide not Your face…

Let me hear…

Make me know…

Deliver me…!

Teach me…!

Let Your good Spirit lead me…!

Lots of yelling, it seems. Throat-crackling yelling. True crying.

And a final plea.

For Your name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life!

In Your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble!

Still more finally, this sweet, sweet confidence that King David shares with us, and knowingly or unknowingly invites us to claim, too.

And in Your steadfast love You will cut off my enemies,

and You will destroy all the adversaries of my soul,

for I am Your servant.

This last bit of Psalm 143 is quite scary, too.

For the enemies.

The fight is against sin, within and without. And it is against fear.

I am thankful for God’s fighting, fierce nature. I’ve never had much of one, so I’m glad He’s got us covered. If you don’t know this side of Him, may I suggest you bask in this language until you believe it to be true? That is what I am trying to do right now.

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I Know Him

I care about defending the faith I have in Jesus Christ, both logically and personally. Not in the “Ha! You are wrong and I am right!” way. I don’t want to make anyone feel stupid – no one wants to feel that way, including me. It’s more in the sense that I like Him and want you to like Him, too. There are many logical defenses I can give for the existence of God, the universal need for salvation from sin and death, and that that salvation is found in the God-Man Jesus, from Nazareth, circa year 33. However, I find a different initial response stirring in my heart and eventually coming out of my mouth when anyone asks me (and sadly, people seldom do) or even when I ask myself, “Why do you believe in Jesus? Why do you base your life on Him? How can you be sure there is a God?”

I believe that Jesus is who He says He is – namely, God – because I know Him. That’s my answer. I can tell you what He’s done in my life, about our interactions and our conversations. Let me attempt to explain why this will have to be enough for anyone asking.

When you meet someone, and hang around them a bit, converse with them from time to time, and maybe even become good friends eventually, you can say you know him or her. You may not know everything about that person, but you know him. When people ask, “Do you know so-and-so?” you will say yes (unless you are for some reason ashamed of having met that person and/or you are a liar).

You see, you can’t un-know a person. Not really. Life is not like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (though I’m sure many of us wish it was). Unless you suffer from serious amnesia, you can’t logically deny the existence of a person you have known in the past or know in the present. There is history between the two of you, most likely involving many other witnesses.

32546-600fulleternalsunshineofthespotlessmindscree

eternal-sunshine-of-the-spotless-mind-brain-damage-procedure

Well, technically speaking, the operation is brain damage, but it’s on a par with a night of heavy drinking. Nothing you’ll miss. – Howard, ESOTSM

That is the way it is with Jesus and me. We have history that I can’t erase. Others have witnessed our interaction and how He has helped me grow as a person. If you haven’t met Him, or if you haven’t witnessed me relating to Him, it is easy for you to deny His existence. And I can’t make you pull up a seat as we sit together for coffee and meet Him too. Just like with any other person. Your knowledge of Him will match your desire to meet with Him.

I do believe President Obama and Kim Kardashian and Reba McEntire (very odd grouping, I know, but they were the first three celebrities that popped in my head) exist, even though I’ve only seen their faces in small boxes called TVs and computer screens and pieces of paper called magazines and newspapers. But what right have I to say I know them, to truly make an assessment of their character, if I haven’t spent any time around them, interacting with them? I do have a clue, however, of who they are by their words and their actions which I observe. If you think about it, it actually takes some faith to believe in anyone or anything we haven’t seen with our own eyes and touched with our own hands, but have only heard about and seen from a distance (celebrities and all of history, for instance).

Prompted by a Q&A book she has, my friend Sarah and I were discussing the question, “What is your theme song?”. Like, if your life had a theme song, what would it be? It’s difficult to pick just one, as our lives are pretty complex. But the following is one of mine. It’s called “He’s Always Been Faithful” by Sara Groves.

Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me 

Morning by morning I wake up to find 
The power and comfort of God’s hand in mine 
Season by season I watch Him, amazed 
In awe of the mystery of His perfect ways 
All I have need of, His hand will provide 
He’s always been faithful to me. 

I can’t remember a trial or a pain 
He did not recycle to bring me gain 
I can’t remember one single regret 
In serving God only, and trusting His hand 
All I have need of, His hand will provide 
He’s always been faithful to me. 

This is my anthem, this is my song 
The theme of the stories I’ve heard for so long 
God has been faithful, He will be again 
His loving compassion, it knows no end 
All I have need of, His hand will provide 
He’s always been faithful, He’s always been faithful 
He’s always been faithful to me.

Like Sara has experienced, God has always proved Himself good, true, and faithful to me. Even when I’m kicking and screaming out against Him, wanting my will and my way. Even when I run away from Him. Even when I’m tired of knowing Him (an impossibility, but I talk myself into believing things would be easier on my own…ha!). Relationships are messy, after all. We ain’t robots.

To say I don’t believe in Him anymore or am struggling to believe He is real some days is to deny things that have already happened, conversations and interactions that were real. I can’t tangibly prove to you I had lunch with my friends Michelle and Jessa last week, nor can I prove I have a relationship with Jesus and I talked to Him this morning and am talking to Him now. You have the right to say I am lying or crazy about both situations.

You’ll have to take my word for it. But more importantly, I would invite you to peer into His. He will readily introduce Himself to an open mind and an open heart.

Stresssss

This is an experiment.

Earlier today, I read something from a writer/blogger I very much respect, and his advice to writers was this: don’t worry so much about what you write about, but instead, be concerned about how you sound. When your voice is authentic, when you are being yourself as you write, the content will be meaningful and take care of itself.

So here’s the experiment. I’m not editing this post. I am not backspacing or lingering too long over my next thought. I need to be me. I need to just talk to you.

I want to be cool. I really do. But not the traditional kind of cool anymore. No, I used to want that a lot. I want to be the kind of cool that loves herself yet forgets herself for pure enjoyment of life.

I don’t think I think too much about life, I know I do. That should probably stop. By thinking too much about life I mean over-analyzing and fearing the future and being too concerned about little details I can’t control. And it’s happening. I really do think I’m in the process of becoming cool as a cucumber. Of course, harried days will always exist. It goes with being human. But I think we can all make the choice to be LESS STRESSED OUT. For the sake of your health and your Mom’s and your children’s and your friends’, take a breather (an extended one if necessary) and remind yourself that it is not as big of a deal as you’re making it to be. It’s just not. If it’s not evident, I’m talking to myself here (except for the kids part) but I have a feeling many people feel as I do. Thus, I blog…

Misunderstanding the definition of "cool", in my opinion (but funny, nonetheless).

Misunderstanding the definition of “cool”, in my opinion (but funny, nonetheless). Drawing by A. Schaff.

And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? – Matthew 6:27

I love the logic of Jesus. He asks such searching questions. A lot of them are “duh” questions. I mean, are we ever going to look back and say, “I wish I had worried more” or “I wish I had been more stressed, then all my dreams would have come true!”? When we worry, it can sometimes make us operate/take action out of fear. And when we operate out of fear, life is less than it should be. It’s less beautiful.

So be cool. Try to enjoy whatever is right in front of you, even if you loathe it or can’t handle it or just don’t understand it. It won’t eat you, not forever.

And I did backspace and edit a little, but not much. Thought I should be honest about that.

My name is Claire, and I am an idealist.

Last week, my good friend Sarah and I began to discuss “personality types”. You know, Myers Briggs and “What type of animal are you?” stuff. This week, when we met for coffee, she brought me some materials to look through to possibly determine what type I am (without having to pay to take a test) and she also pointed me to some online resources. This one is great for determining which type you are. I think it’s better than any “yes/no” survey, which isn’t always accurate for me because I feel like I manipulate it (pick answers I want to be rather than what I actually am, or I’m just not sure). With this method, you simply read the lists of each trait and pick the one that sounds most like you. Easy-peasy. This one provides explanation and insight about the sixteen different personality types according to Myers and Briggs (click on the top icons for all the personality types as well as categories like career, relationships, and personal growth).

And with that, I quickly determined I am an INFP: The Idealist.  My friend is, too. Apparently, these tests are pretty much created for INFPs; meaning, we are the personalities that care most about “discovering” our personality, who are always wondering how we can best put our gifts to good use in the world. “Who am I, ideally?” we constantly ask. It’s a curse and a blessing. No wonder we were sitting there with papers sprawled out on our table and pouring over these websites. It’s important, and fun, to us. So the ENFJs and ISTPs are out doing their thing while we are intuitively feeling our lives : ) And, hopefully learning how to best bless others with who we are.

I have to say, while I don’t believe giving myself a four-letter label is the secret to living well, (for people cannot fit perfectly in boxes – they are people), I find personality-typing fascinating. When I read through all of the INFP descriptions, I felt like I was reading my own journal. And it didn’t just tell me what I already know, it pointed out weaknesses that I try to downplay, or tend to hide behind the excuse, “It’s just the way I am…”.

J. R. R. Tolkien

J. R. R. Tolkien

Florence Welch

Florence Welch

Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp

Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh


Also, there is a certain sense of camaraderie in knowing your personality type (supposed famous INFPs pictured above). I like knowing there are others around like Sarah and me, with busy internal lives, a longing for loyalty, a genuine care for people, an aversion to conflict, and difficulty expressing our emotions, among many other good and not-so-great qualities. We can spur each other on in our growth towards maturity of good character, along with the help of the other fifteen unique types who possess the gifts and natural abilities that we don’t.

You know you want to find out…

Which type are you?

 

Because of Men’s Souls

If you love Me, keep My commandments. – John 14:15

My personal life may be crowded with small, petty happenings, altogether insignificant. But if I obey Jesus Christ in the seemingly random circumstances of life, they become pinholes through which I see the face of God. Then, when I stand face to face with God, I will discover that through my obedience thousands were blessed. When God’s redemption brings a human soul to the point of obedience, it always produces. If I obey Jesus Christ, the redemption of God will flow through me to the lives of others, because behind the deed of obedience is the reality of Almighty God.

Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

I so need to believe these words today. I need to believe that loving Jesus most and obeying Him is worth it. It’s worth the suffering that comes along with it. It’s worth other people possibly thinking I’m irresponsible and unsuccessful. It’s worth saying no to things. It’s worth saying yes to things. It’s worth humiliation. It’s worth a little loneliness. And it’s worth uncertainty. Because men’s souls are at stake.

I’m not quite sure what obeying Him looks like for me. Sometimes I do, in the moment. But overall, with the direction of the life He’s given me, I mostly do not know. But then again, maybe only obedience in the little moments count. They pave the way for the “big decisions”.

I do know this: I want to see “the reality of the Almighty God”. Every day. I’ve seen that reality, and I hope to see it daily. I want to see thousands blessed one day, even if I don’t see that now.

Won’t that be exciting? When all the confusion and ambiguity is over and all of the times when we were wondering what in the world we were doing here or there or with these people or this person and why we had that strange conversation and why we never saw them again and what the point of all of it was.

We will see that many of them were touched by God through our simple words or actions. We will see that we either pointed them in the direction of Jesus – to life and true joy – or in the direction of the world – back to the wretchedness.

Be not discouraged, soul. You know not your influence.

That is the beauty of story.

Leads to Life

Well, this is it. My 31 Days of the Fear of the Lord writing challenge ends today. It has been a very interesting month. I met some challenges during the past few weeks that made me see my utter need to always fear my Lord above all else. Writing specifically about this reverence and this belief in God’s good character could not have come at a better time.

I have learned a lot about the Lord. I have studied who He is. I have remembered why I first began to fear Him. I have realized I should fear Him a lot more than I currently do. I have remembered that knowing Him is worth more than all treasures I have seen or could imagine. And I have genuinely enjoyed recording a lot of it here.

I hope anyone who joined in by reading any of it was encouraged in some way, or inspired to know God more.

My topic is one that doesn’t end with a 31 Day challenge. It is meant to be the forefront and the backdrop of our every day and our lives.

Walk on toward Him, and you’ll find Him walking toward you. And you will have life.

The fear of the Lord leads to life,

and whoever has it rests satisfied;

he will not be visited by harm.

Proverbs 19:23

One of my Favorite (Top 5, At Least) Jesus Stories

35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Mark 4:35-41

That’s all.

That’s My King!

Blogging originally and creatively has been a struggle the past several days.

Instead of pushing out some thoughts that really aren’t on my heart right now, I’d like to share a video of great truth and great enthusiasm about our amazing God and King and Dad.

Thank you to S.M. Lockridge  for his fear of the Lord and for sharing it through his lively preaching.

God’s Grace for Jonah and a Miracle Along the Way

A runaway prophet on an angry sea,

A man who says, “I fear the Lord, the God of heaven”

Yet “rose to flee” from His presence.

And worried, terrified sailors with their own impersonal gods

Cry out.

“Arise, call out to your god!” they demand of the prophet

For their gods are failing them.

They refuse to still this storm, perhaps lack the ability altogether.

Perhaps don’t exist?

And the prophet confesses.

It is on his account the mighty tempest has endangered their nautical voyage.

His disobedience called for some action,

For God’s purpose is quite steadfast.

“Hurl me into the sea, then the sea will quiet down for you” the troublemaker proposes.

The sailors ignore him, row harder, believe harder

And the unthinkable happens.

“O Lord” they say.

“O Lord” yet again!

And finally, somewhat shakily and regretfully and peacefully all at once,

They hurl the prophet into the swirling mess

Of what is sure to be a watery grave.

“And the sea ceased from it’s raging.”

Still.

Quiet.

Men left stunned.

And the real miracle:

“Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly,

And they offered a sacrifice to the Lord

And made vows.”

They belong to Him.

He belongs to them.

The dead are brought to life

By whatever means He sees fit.

And the prophet continues to be gracefully pursued

By the One worthy of fear

Until he fears once again

And can truthfully say

“I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”

And thus,

the great fish is at hand.