Shelter

Story time. I have so many other words to share but I think they are better saved for another day. Just a few stories today.

There was a time in my life where I didn’t have ANY money. I had already scoured my car and house for change. I needed food, gas, and money to do laundry. I was in my car and the song on the radio had the lyrics, “I am counting every blessing… You are good to me.” I looked on the ground and saw a $20 bill. Just sitting there. I felt rich! Everything I needed at that moment.

Another time a few years before that I didn’t have a place to live. I went to a park. I was walking around close to tears. Trying to figure out what to do. All of a sudden I hear my name. A friend “just happened” to be in the park that day and saw me. Somehow the conversation came around to where I was living and she offered for me to come and stay at her house.

Another time I didn’t have a place to live. I was at the library this time. Sitting on a chair. Thinking about what to do and where to stay. And another friend called me as I was sitting there and she said, “I just wanted to ask you if you needed a place to stay?” I was blown away! And her house was the Taj Majal compared to anywhere I had ever stayed. Complete with delicious meals and an entire floor all to myself.

Another time I was going to move to a place where I needed a car and I didn’t have a car. I didn’t know what to do. I was super stressed about the situation. The day before I was supposed to move, a friend approached me at church and said, “It’s been on our hearts to let you use one of our cars.” For free. Indefinitely. I think I used the car for around six months.

Another time I needed to go to a meeting and I wasn’t sure if I had the gas money to get back home. I decided to trust God and just go to the meeting. I arrived and after being there a bit, a friend approached me and said she felt like she was supposed to give me some money. She handed me a $20 bill and then apologized that she didn’t have more money to give me. She had no idea my situation. Nobody did. I hadn’t even hinted at what I was going through. Blew my mind! When was the last time you had someone apologize that they didn’t have more free money to give you?!

God provides. He is my shelter.

Work

Giving up. No, not like that. More like falling IN. Living loved, actually. Done with the hustle. Done with the grind. Done with the harder, better, stronger, faster. If anything is going to get done, it’s going to have to be God.

I put on some music this morning. Was wanting to listen to some old jams. Surprised right away. Song after song. All about, “I’ll try harder, God.” Or, “Look how hard I’m trying, God.” Or, “Everyone else should try as hard as I’m trying.”

In the spirit of exactly what I mean right now, “Forget that!” Only took me how many years?

I need a BIG GOD. Much bigger than me. Much bigger than us. I don’t want to think I am speaking for Him anymore. I want to hear. I need to listen.

I need some new music. Actually, I have a lot. Maybe the better way to put it is I need to remember that there is no division between the secular and the holy huddle, per se. Maybe the most demonic satanic junk is self-deprecating self-improvement anthems masquerading as “spiritual” worship music. Worship of who, exactly? Our effort or GOD’s love and goodness?

I find the heart of God more in the worldwide effort to rescue lost boys in a swollen cave. I find the heart of God more in the child mixing house beats in some dry dusty African community. I find the heart of God more in a group of men scrambling with whatever they can find to free an animal. I find the heart of God in the passion chefs bring to their culinary creations.

I am not angry at the corporate church. My heart breaks. My passion is furious. As much as I long for community, I cannot go back to the lies. I pray. I sing. I dance. I trust this is way bigger than me. That GOD is way bigger than us.

Brighter Day

I had this horrible dream where a girl who was anorexic was in a public restroom and she fell on the ground because she was so sick. I tried to go get her help. She grabbed my leg and basically told me she’d let me go if I promised her I wouldn’t go call help for her. I lied to her and pulled away and lost one of my shoes in her grasp in the process. I knew I had to get out of there and away from her.

I woke up feeling a lot of negativity. Almost an evil feeling about the dream. I used to get those dreams before and they made me feel so scared and powerless. I would be awake for hours. But I learned from someone years ago to play my gospel music as an offensive move if I feel that kind of darkness around me.

So I started singing first. Then I went and played some songs as they came to mind. Some oldies that I used to jam all the time. Hadn’t listened to them in awhile. Lyrics maybe more applicable now than then. Always our good God providing comfort whenever we need Him. It only took a little while for the peace and joy to wipe out the darkness. Some thoughts in the process:

I think the anorexic girl in the dream represents the old me that is dying. The old me that was spiritually starved. Subsisting on a scarcity mentality in regards to God and life. And the new me is not going to sit down and die. The new me is getting stronger than the old me. The new me isn’t striving to prove herself. The new me is confident in God’s love. And the new me was able to do whatever it took to get up and run away from that old way that was trying to keep me down and away from freedom and victory.

Which brings me to the second picture. I was reminded of the man at the pool of Bethesda. My same age. Been sitting in his sickness for all these years. Waiting for deliverance. And Jesus comes by and tells him to get up and walk. I felt like the message for me was: get up and walk. What are you doing here? You are already healed. The healing is already in you because you are in Him and He is in you.

I feel like this man is a picture of all the people waiting for God to do something and He is like, “It’s already done.” Before the cross. Before the cross? Maybe again the cross was just the sign some needed when all along they were free?

Maybe that’s why Jesus tells him to go and sin no more? In other words, if you don’t accept the freedom you have then you are going to find yourself back down on the ground rolling around with the sickness of others like in times past. If you want that life. If you really want to go back there.

If we want to keep going around the desert outside of the Promised Land, then we are welcome to do that. He’ll find us down that road also. Always inviting us back.

The man said he was healed. Maybe the miracle in a sense is that Jesus didn’t do anything to the man. He just told him to get up. Do we need to hear Jesus telling us it’s ok and that we can get up? There isn’t a rule list to keep to make Him happy. He always has and always will love us just the same. He’ll keep inviting us to the party. Will we get up and join Him?

You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.

Turnaround

I was thinking today about how the Israelites went through so many trials as they prepared to leave Egypt and then again as they were approaching The Promised Land. They saw God act on their behalf over and over and over. And yet right as they reached the finished line, in that last mile, they gave up on Him and never were able to enjoy the gift prepared in advance for them.

As easy as it is to talk down on them from a distance, I’m sure we’ve all been there at some point.

My heart goes out to them. Born in captivity. Only knowing captivity. They probably couldn’t imagine a Promised Land. Less suffering, yes. But not full freedom, the all you can eat buffet God prepared for them.

How many of us have sold ourselves short like that? Have so greatly underestimated God and His love for us? Will we run so hard the entire race just to give up on God right before the finish line? Will we forget all He has done for us? All He has carried us through? After everything we’ve seen and experienced of Him, will we decide that He can’t really be that good?

He doesn’t bring us out into the desert to die. Maybe the desert was more of a hard reset that they needed to get the Egypt out of them. To be prepared for their new life. Sometimes an end is just a setup for a new beginning. Sometimes we need things removed from us that we don’t feel like we can let go of. Will we trust God when He asks us to put it all in His hands? Will we trust He wants only the best for all?

Morning follows the darkest nights.

I give up on my own strength, my own understanding, my own faith and belief, my own resources. But I don’t want to give up on Him. Whether and how He will work things out, I don’t know. But I know He can.

Even if there is still more rain. Even if the only other relief is on the other side of this great adventure, His great love for us remains! I’ll understand everything later. But in the meantime, I say choose hope.