Saturday, November 30, 2013

Rip These Tendons. They Hinder My Reach Toward You.

A friend of mine introduced me to this beautiful song, that I really want to share right now.  It's so perfect.  Mostly, it's perfect because it's raw, and broken, and so deep.  The only video of this song that I could find doesn't have the greatest sound quality, but I still get chills when I listen to it.  Don't be scared away by how long it is.  I think it's worth it.

Here are the spoken lyrics from the middle of the song:

If the Titanic was made to sink
Then so was my heart
For I made sure it was impenetrable
Oh, what a wretched man I am
Who will save me from this flesh
Paul whispers in my ear,
“Oh, don’t worry my friend …
You’re in good company”
Poets before me have tried
to measure this love
And if 40,000 brothers cannot
with all of their quantity of love
make up this sum
Then how can my heart contain this mass
It would only burst at the seams into
a million tender pieces
So what then
What good is a broken heart to You
Could you even hear my heart from there
And like a father assuring his son
to come home
“Oh my son, it’s enough, it’s enough”
So who am I to accept this grace
that just falls like rain
‘Cause we all know I chose to lay
my head in this desert
But like a fish out of water
We only know then what it means
to be parched
So if Christ is alive, the love,
and the groom
Then take heed my friends
For chivalry is not dead
For I know no other lover who would
have met me here in this place
So I awake and I rise from my bed
of complacency
Oh, my God I’ve been sleeping
with a corpse
Oh, and these bed sores they still
rest in my bones
Oh, how I’ve made a beautiful dance
with this cadaver but my audience
is appalled
Oh, how strong these tendons
How they desperately need to rip
from this ancient Adam
So light up the sky and
Set me a flame
Burn this bone and tissue
For I no longer want to be
entangled in this sinew
That hinders my reach towards You.

"Oh, my God, I've been sleeping with a corpse, and these bed sores -- they still rest in my bones.  How I've made a beautiful dance with this cadaver, but my audience is appalled."  It's not the normal lyrics to a normal song.  It's the raw, open heart crying out to it's Creator saying "Look at who I am!  I am so blind, so weak, so inadequate.  See my sin and hypocrisy!  How can you possibly still love me?"  And God looks down and whispers "Yes."  Even in our brokenness and despair, in our ugly sin, our blind complacency, God chooses to wrap His strong arms around us and drown us in His impossible love.  

And I am spellbound.   

Friday, November 8, 2013

Faith in the Unbelievable

I was thinking about hope and faith the other day, and wondering what the difference was.  Aren't they both about living without seeing?  I've always thought of hope being the expectation of something that can't be seen yet.   And I've thought that faith means believing in something that can't be known.  Which, pretty much is the same thing.  But then I read through Hebrews 11-12:3.  It's quite long, so I won't copy the whole thing down.  Here is a snippet, though:

1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

32 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, ofDavid and Samuel and the prophets— 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two,[a] they were killed with the sword.They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— 38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

This is the great "Hall of Fame of Faith," the verses commemorating the men and women who gave everything for Jesus.  And that's when it hit me.  Hope is longing for things unseen, but faith is acting on that hope.  God never called us to believe that He exists.  He called us to act radically changed because He exists!  These great Biblical figures spoken about in Hebrews 11 would never have been mentioned if they simply hoped, intellectually, that God was real and that He had a purpose for their lives.  They are cited as examples of people believing in the Unbelievable and DOING something about it.  Because faith is an action.  And love is a verb.  If we truly have our hope in the right place -- in our everlasting, beautiful Father -- then we can have the faith to live radically different lives.  Not just being blind and accepting it, but being blind and walking forward into the darkness.

That's my inspiration for this week.  I keep going over and over this whole chapter, marveling over the faith, the strength and courage, of these men and women.  And I'm challenged to go join them, in an ever-growing cloud of witnesses.

Saturday, November 2, 2013


Beauty.  It is a relatively short word -- only six letters.  Only two syllables.  Yet it is anything but a simple word.  At first glance, it appears simple.  Beauty is in the autumn trees, the painting by Monet, the melody of a song.  But beauty is also what drives us to stand in front of mirrors for an hour or more, staring at our bodies, painting colors on our faces, plucking, primping, fixing.  It compels us to buy so many shoes -- ones that, when we wear them, make us totter on the balls of our feet, pain shooting through us.  It makes girls feel the need to no longer eat, no longer feel loved or needed.  Is it beauty's fault?  Not really.  But our perception of beauty is what kills us.

I'm just a seventeen year old girl, with a loving family, friends, a place to live.  I know Jesus.  I feel content with the way my life is going.  Yet, there is that lurking doubt.  I see the people on tv.  Or the girls who look so put together at the mall or even at youth group.  And they are, to me, perfect.  They have glossy hair and smooth, glowing faces.  They are comfortable with themselves.  They are popular, and have boyfriends, and look so happy.  And sometimes I wonder if I'm doing it wrong.

Like, if I straightened my hair and bought more product to put in it -- or maybe if I went out and bought the new clothing fad.  Or if I could talk with that kind of ease, or smile sweeter.  Maybe then I would look better.  Maybe I would be beautiful.

But even as those doubts slip into my mind, I know that they are lies.  Ugly lies.  Lies that say that I am not good enough, even though I am just the way God intended me to be.  I have no reason to be unhappy -- yet just on those days that I feel the most content, something will step in and make me feel less than enough.  And I know that it isn't right.  Beauty isn't in the false perfection of photoshop-ed models or people masked in layers of makeup and clothing that aren't themselves.  And I know it, but I still feel inadequate sometimes.

I was thinking about this the other day -- thinking of this problem of feeling imperfect and ugly when we are made by the Creator of the morning sunrise and the midnight stars.  And, suddenly it hit me.  I will never feel beautiful if I'm looking at myself.  I cannot wear enough makeup or enough of the right clothes or act enough like the people around me to be "beautiful."

Because when I focus on ME I am not beautiful.  I am selfish.  And selfishness is ugly.  When I am feeling bad for myself, I am ugly.  When I'm comparing myself to someone else, I am ugly.  And that is because, I am not being the way God intended me to be.  But when I forget about this clay vessel that I am, and start to focus on the problems outside of me -- the places I can serve in, the people that I can reach out to -- that is when I'm beautiful.

I realized this when I was reading an amazing post over at God's Gal's blog.  It was a letter to all the girls in the world who didn't have the opportunity to have an education, or choose who'd they marry, or simply have the freedom to step outside by themselves.  She was writing to the girls who have no hope and no freedom.

And suddenly I realized that my hardest decision of the day was which pair of shoes I was going to wear out the door.

Why do I care if I am beautiful?  There are women in Africa who cannot read.  Why do I worry about what people think about my sweater?  There are girls in Asia being pressured to commit suicide because their families didn't give their husbands enough of a dowry, and the husband wants to marry again.  Why does it matter if I am perfectly happy?  There are babies crying out for love and life when they have been abandoned because of deformities.

How can I think about beautiful when I see the suffering and despair around me?  And how can I be anything but beautiful, the way God intended, when I reach out my heart to a lost and hurting world?