Archive for April, 2014

You are lovedToday is Easter. For Christians, we believe today is the day that Jesus rose from the dead three days after he was crucified on a cross. It’s a pretty powerful thing to believe–to take something so incredulous on faith, and just completely run with it.

People who don’t believe it give us a hard time about it. That’s okay. We believe Jesus rose for them too.   But what does it all mean? Why all the brouhaha at Easter?

Even people who don’t believe know the bare bones story about Jesus:   He was born of a virgin birth in a manger near some animals.   He was an amazing kid, upsetting the status quo of the religious elite and calling them out on their hypocrisy, performing a bunch of miracles along the way, and gaining a substantial following long before social media existed. Then he died on the cross as atonement for our sins, and rose on the third day. Why would anyone take such a story from history and make it one of the defining moments of their life?

Some people who don’t want to acknowledge that they are less than perfect (sinless) or most likely, people admit they are flawed, but don’t really need a savior, they can figure things out for themselves. Okay, fine. More than likely, some will hit a wall when something unspeakable, unplanned, unimaginable happens – either catastrophic or miraculous. The miracles we can easily dismiss if we have little or no faith (the ocean keeps rolling in, the sun keeps shining, someone at death’s door suddenly is healed. We either don’t see it for the miracle that it is, or chalk it up to good luck. The catastrophic? Not so much. We want to know why. This is when we really wish we could just believe.

The thing about belief is, that is FAITH in someone, cannot be quantified by mere scientific reasoning alone. Just as you can’t prove you’ll live happily ever after the day you say I do, you’ll waste hours trying to convince others that Jesus is for real, God is for real, heaven is for real, the resurrection for real—all of it, it’s all for real, and it’s all good!

There’s a reason why you can’t prove it: The very anchor of our faith is hope!   It is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1) Faith is simply a choosing to believe in something you can never prove. You cannot prove this to a skeptic, any more than you can prove the solidness of your relationships or the depth of the universe, etc.

So here’s why it defines us, and all the brouhaha that Christians make over Easter: Celebrating Easter means we acknowledge that Christ indeed is risen. He conquered death for us. Not just our physical death, but every death we experience. See there’s more than one way to die.

We die to our earthly life when we leave here to spend face time with Jesus. But while we are still here, we get to choose to die a little every day. We get to choose to die when we surrender a hard habit that enslaves us, surrender a bad relationship that entangles us, lay down a grudge that confounds us, or take risks that astonish even us when taken for the right reasons. We die to arrogance and awaken to wisdom. We die to tragedy and awaken to acceptance and hope. We die to poverty in our own life, and awaken to sharing with others. We die to despair and depression and awaken to joy because we choose to live.

We are a risen people. It’s not always easy. It’s a moment-by-moment, thought-by-thought, circumstance-by-circumstance choice. It is the prism thru which we filter every event of our life and reflect light and color and beauty.  We are far from perfect. We know we never will master everything we wish we could. But we strive for the same goal: To cross the finish line with our soul intact, dignity, and a hope that doesn’t waver.

We are not granted this peace, this grace, this hope or even that which we most wish for by a magic fairy that simply waves her wand. We choose to believe it.

It is in Christ and faith in God; we truly do move and have our being. We experience. We hope. We grieve. We move forward. And we love.   With this love, we find meaning and purpose in our lives. We love because He first loved us. And in so doing, we live. Both here and for eternity.

That is the reason we celebrate Easter. Because He first loved us, we are given grace to love more fully. Because He died for us, we have the strength to die to the things we need to. Because He lived before us and now lives with in us, we are free to live.

Rise up. Be the change you wish to see in the world!

 

One day you will look…back
And you’ll see…where
You were held…how
By this love…while
You could stand…there
You could move on this moment
Follow this feeling

U2 “Mysterious Ways”

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ALMA antennas under the Milky Way

  • Have you ever wondered if God is real?
  • Have you ever wondered if your prayers are heard?
  • Have you ever wondered if your dreams, your hopes, your deepest longings really will come true?
  • Have you ever begged to be spared from a certain suffering, but then you weren’t?
  • Did you ever have moments or days or seasons in your life that were totally beyond your control?

Chances are, if you’re human, you can most likely answer YES to the above questions.

Life can be so beautiful. It’s full of amazing moments: The birth of our children. The day we made eternal promises and said “I do” and “Forever”. The day we accomplished something so amazing, we surprised even ourselves. The day we looked out to the horizon and cried because what we saw was simply beyond words; it was indescribably beautiful. You wanted to just freeze time and stay in this place forever. And that’s always when the first stab of pain hits you. Because you know you simply can’t. Nothing here lasts forever.

When I was a child, I thought like a child. Kind of like Margaret of “Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret”. I had the same prepubescent worries as she did. Will I ever even need a bra? Will I eventually become a woman in every way? Will a boy even like me….ever?  Does God exist or care about me?   Like Margaret, I wondered where is God more likely to hang? A synagogue? A cathedral?  A mountain top? At the beach?

But those thoughts passed, as did those days. As a child, you can’t even see yourself as a grown up, when you don’t have to feel so awkward or get your feelings hurt so much. We were young. We were naive. We didn’t yet know what we do now: Those were the best days.

Life would get more complicated, time would march forward whether we were ready or not, for what was headed our way. We were still at the beginning of our journey. We still had more hurt to go.

Sometimes parents divorced. Sometimes they died.   Friends moved away.   We outlived our favorite pets. First boyfriends or girlfriends finally arrived on the scene. But they quickly departed too, taking the first of many bites to come out of our vulnerable hearts. Sometimes we moved away or our friends did. Some friends died inexplicably young. In less than a decade we transitioned from girls and boys to women and men. By the time we turned our tassel, we realized some truths:

  • Life isn’t always fair.
  • The hard work of our lives isn’t over just because we graduated, it was merely beginning.
  • I’m not sure if I’m ready to be who I’m supposed to be.

We continued to learn more. We worked. We said I do and we had babies—babies who grew from toddlers to little kids to teenagers to adults almost as fast as one of those rotating doors in a hotel lobby.   From band-aids on boo- boos to full blown medical emergencies where lives are on the line, the days passed. From seeing many dreams realized and some crashed—all these things happened too.

We went to countless weddings, family barbecues and gatherings, and funerals. Two thirds of them were fun and full of promise. The other third, the funerals, many of which were beautiful, never got easier. They only got more frequent. That too made our hearts heavy. We knew where this is all headed.

Which brings me to the point we all ponder in life, especially in times of crisis? Are you there God? It’s me. It’s you. It’s all of us as humanity, but it’s each of us individually and we want to know are you there? Are you aware of me, in this moment?

It’s the question people struggle with at their core, until they finally decide to choose. Even if you make no choice as to what or whom you believe in, you have made a choice, if only to stay grounded in ambiguity, unsureness, maybe even anxiety and insecurity.

Don’t get me wrong. Believers struggle too. But deep down they know. It’s the essence of faith. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the being certain of that which we do not see.

Faith is truly a tightrope walk. It’s just like life—trying to find balance and not lose your head, especially when you are way out there, fairly far from the gravity of comfort zone, security, familiarity, easy street.   And yet you know, there is a safety net below. Should you fall, you’ll be caught before hitting bottom. It just doesn’t look like it. Or feel like it. You have to get your head and heart in alignment with a thing called trust.

God is like that. He is real. He is here. He is there. He is everywhere.   He sent his Son Jesus to catch us like a safety net, even when we’re way up(or out) there!

Each of us are so precious to him. He knows when we hurt, or fall, are sick, are weak, or when we lose, or succumb, or waver, or any other weakness as defined by us. But He knows differently; something we often can’t wrap our head around: His love is perfected in our weakness. We just have to be the willing Captain of the vessel called Self that will allow him to travel with us, in us, and pass through us in order to change our destination, and thus destiny by simply saying, not my will, but yours.

Jesus said in this world, we’re going to have some troubles and he was by no means exaggerating! But he also said to take heart, for he has overcome the world.   Every time I hear that, I rejoice a little more inside. I reclaim the parts of my heart that which is unfair or unbearable or unexplainable tries to conquer. The truth gets etched a little deeper each time. Because it frees me:

  • From having to have all the answers.
  • From being responsible for fixing that which I don’t have the power to do.
  • From focusing on why (the unfair/hard/unexplainable) of pain, and instead focus on the who I can trust with all this (God/Jesus).

We are not invisible to God. And although the universe is a fairly big place (science can’t even agree on where/if it ends and how long it’s been around), we are by no means small. We are not insignificant in God’s eyes.

We can look from the most powerful telescope billions of light years away and all we see are dots. But God can look across space and time and see us, every bit of us—our tears and our dreams-and all He can see are stars. We are His star, the crown jewel, the masterpiece of His creation.   Whether we are searching outward as far as our eye can see, or inward, as deep as our heart can bare, our heart beats strongest when we choose to simply be still and know He is there.

 

God is so big, He is real, and is involved in the details of our lives.   Verses (promises) that inspired this story:  Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:5, 2 Corinthians 12:9, Hebrews 11:1, 1 Corinthians 13:11 John 16:33, Ephesians 2:10, Psalm 46:10

Books I’d recommend to anyone who is searching:Purpose Driven Life

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