The Art of New Things

I’m not always good at new things. I love the idea of new things, but many times I can’t quite get behind them enough to follow through. This is why I was a bit nervous when I signed up for the the 31 day blog project again. The concept  of writing something every day is exciting, and even more exciting is the idea that people would come and read my words, but the space between the warm fuzzy of your comments and encouragement and the time it has taken this month to write all these thoughts is wide and there are days when I haven’t wanted to keep working my way across.  But here we are with only a few more days at the end of the month, and I have a plan to keep writing, and a plan to move just a wee little bit from here to my own website, another new thing to learn.

I sometimes think the idea of newness is a bit addictive. New is shiny and flashy and exciting until the time comes to put the work into it deserves.  Then it’s… well, it’s work.  Work isn’t always flashy or exciting so we abandon the old, new thing and move on the the latest, greatest new thing – on and on we go until we have piles of new things all around us but nothing has really changed at all, except for the amount of space our new things require.  And we just keep searching for that next “new thing” fix.

The reality of newness is that it isn’t an concept, a one and done approach to life, but an art.  Each and every new thing is an art and we are one of two people. We’re the people who just keep buying more art, or we are the artist.  The artist sees something beautiful and works to bring it to life.  The medium doesn’t matter, what matters is the true genesis not in acquiring but in creating. Ask any artist and he will tell you that beauty doesn’t just happen.  It’s work. It’s work and sweat and sometimes tears. It’s falling and failing and trying again, sometimes starting over completely from scratch. It’s not walking away when the shine wears off because you know that somewhere, buried deep, is a thing of such immense beauty that the world is less without it.

This is true newness.
We are the artists and the medium is our lives.
We can keep dressing life up, and masking it in all the trappings the world has to offer, or we can get to the real work of peeling away the dross and the excess, bringing to light a beautiful new thing that’s never been seen before, nor will be again.

But we have to decide to stop looking everywhere else and focus on the work at hand: our own unique life.
What we make of it will be our life’s work or our life’s waste.

And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” Rev. 21:5

 

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Seeking God

 

 


seek God

 

Lately, I’ve been seeking God. I’m not having a crisis of faith, but I am having a crisis of presence.  My head knows God is near, but my heart has felt closed and distant.  After being wounded and scared, it has curled up into a tiny, prickly ball afraid to relax or feel too deeply, afraid even of God Himself who never works merely for my pleasure or comfort.  Glory doesn’t just shine, sometimes it burns…

I’m blogging at Middle Places today. You can read the rest of Seeking God by clicking RIGHT HERE.

 

Time Out

You know how you get to the end of the week sometimes and you feel like there just isn’t anything left?  Words pelt you like small bits of gravel. The things you kept meaning to get around to but just couldn’t quite get your hands on seem to taunt you when you round the corner or just at the moment you start to sit down.  That’s me tonight. It’s been a busy week. Not bad busy…good busy, in many ways very  good busy. But good or bad, being an introvert means even the very best company withdraws from my bank of ability to cope with life and its demands. It’s Thursday night, and I’m scraping the bottom of the account.

This is why I am so happy it’s Thursday.
Thursday is my Friday. And tomorrow…
Well, tomorrow is the very best of days.  We call it Sabbath.

I realize Sabbath isn’t a word that makes everyone comfortable. It’s antiquated and odd. It also smacks of extreme orthodoxy, and yet I’ve spoken before about how it’s one of our greatest untapped gifts. When I started 31 Days, I spoke about my family’s unorthodox schedule.  Where ministry is concerned, there is always a need.   We could fill every hour of every day for the rest of our lives working, working for good, valuable, important things.  Thank God we don’t have to. Thank God that He set it up from the beginning for His people to have a time out.  Not a day to run all over town getting things done, not a day to overhaul the closets, the attic and the garage. Time out.

Time to sleep, to read, to sit, think, enjoy…Sometimes we play games and watch movies. Sometimes we lounge about in jammies until well after noon.  Sometimes we go places together, or Hunky and I go out to lunch.  It’s our time out…out of society, out of culture, out of calendars and schedules and to-do lists. Outside of the all the things the world tells us are so very important. Things it cannot manage without us for even one hour.

A foul lie if ever there was one.

We are not nearly so important. We don’t like to hear that very much, but it is true. For thousands or millions of years, depending on your world view, before we came around and for however long time has left when we’ve moved on, the world has been just fine without us. So we, my family and I, don’t have any problem at all checking out for one day a week and simply resting.

Yes, it takes preparation to manage a day away. It takes saying no to things and skillfully managing the other six days.  Time out doesn’t just happen.  It gets easier with practice, more familiar and anticipated. It’s the very thing I need at the end of every week when I’ve expended every bit of my storehouse.

And now…I think I’ll step out for a day or so.
Goodnight.

Uncrisis

Some one asked me the other day if I am having a crisis of faith.

I had to really think about the answer but honestly?  Honestly, the answer is no.  I am not having a crisis of faith. My faith is there, as it has been for a long time now, and it’s solid, as solid as faith in an omniscient, omnipotent, unfathomable God can be. I am not having a crisis of faith.

I think I’ve simply become unacquainted with it for a time. I can see it, waiting patiently over in the corner, slightly glowing and humming with power, but I don’t want to approach it. For awhile, I was angry, I felt faith had let me down or perhaps God was even seeking to cause me pain, but I don’t feel that way anymore. I simply feel…adrift.  My faith is over there, and I am over here. We are tethered together by a strong line of grace, but we are not emotional or expressive or intimate as we once were.

There is a word for this separated state, the mystics call it acedia, more often now it’s referred to as “the desert place.”

While I’ve certainly been in times of crisis before, as well as  times of great spiritual intimacy, this place is altogether new to me. Once I stopped fighting against it, trying to be something different, trying to be someone better, to be the good Christian girl I’m supposed to be, I found there is a peacefulness to it.  It isn’t marked by striving or urgency. There is a simple pattern of obedience, without question, without reason, without expectation or anticipation. It’s ritualistic and very still.

I still pray. I believe intellectually that God, in His omnipotence, hears. I trust in His character that He cares. But I don’t feel close to ear of Abba.   I am here and He is there, and in between us is a lonely desert. Dry, barren and beautiful.  I’m waiting as my spiritual fathers waited, as Jesus Himself waited in the desert, for what I don’t know. I simply know that the desert is the place of great encounters once the waiting is done. I can be at peace knowing deserts do not last forever. Eventually the sands end, the wandering ceases and there before us is the promised land, with its battles, challenges and rewards.  But I am not ready for that yet; I’m not hurrying to arrive.

I’m not having a crisis. I’m simply having a wait.

There are worse ways to spend a season.

Stepping Stones

Some of the things I wrestle with most often are expectations: both my own and those I imagine that other people have imposed on me. I know one of the reasons for my summer long funk was disappointment that life has not met my expectations.  I compounded the funk by deciding that if life wouldn’t meet my expectations, I would stop expecting anything at all. That would CLEARLY show life (and God?) that it couldn’t get the best of me! What I found is that having too many of the wrong expectations and having no expectations at all both end up in the same place: me disgruntled with everyone and everything. I was going nowhere, physically, emotionally and worst of all spiritually.

Now that I have been burned by both ends of the expectation spectrum, I am trying to establish a way to be patiently expectant, but not assume that I know the direction God will lead me. I blogged Monday over at Middle Places about three words I brought home from Florida: slow, small still.  The longer I meditate on them, the more I come to realize that they are the keys to finding this expectant balance. I tend to dream a big dream and then race towards it, clinging tighter and tighter all the while. The problem isn’t dreaming big, it’s the failure to slow down and be present in each smaller part, to open my hands so that they not only hold the dream, but all the other experiences and ideas that happen along the way.  I’ve been waiting for the genie in a bottle answer, but God’s telling me that we’re taking the stepping stone approach to life right now, and sometimes, the steps may not be one right after the other. Sometimes were going to be still awhile before the next small step happens. 

Slow, small, still. Three words that are complete opposite of everything the world teaches, which sadly tells me that I am giving too much audience to the world and not enough to Truth.  I’ve laughed so often at Elijah who pouted in a cave after one of the biggest political coups in history and now I find myself in exactly the same place. But I find comfort in the fact that despite acting like a two year old, Elijah was given what he needed most, food, comfort and a soft small voice to lead him home.

Elijah was told, “Go, stand on the mountain at attention before God. God will pass by.”

A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn’t to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn’t in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper.  I Kings 19: 11-12