‘Why are you hiding?’

My first response?  I’m not hiding, I’m right here!

Yes, right here in the busyness. Right here in the scheduled activity, the planning, the cleanup from yesterday, the forecasting and arranging of tomorrow.  And next month.  And next year… And retirement…  I’m right here, doing life.  It takes a lot out of me, you understand?

Breathe.hiding-behind-a-tree1

Where are you?

OK, you got me.  I’m here… I’ll put this down for a moment.

But soon, I’m feeling itchy.  Maybe I can get on with the list.  I’ll just get it out of my mind and then I can focus.  Then.   Wait a moment, let’s put some background noise on… it’ll help bring my racing mind into the present.  Oh… now I’ve got some space, I wonder how so-and-so are getting on?  I’ll just check… Facebook…  Oh, and I wonder whatever happened about… [that thing]…

Hey… why are you hiding?

Why are you hiding in all this noise?

I told you. I’m not hiding.  It’s the noise.  I can’t turn it off.  I can’t hear you.  Heck, I can’t even hear myself.  OK, I’ll lean in… just a bit.  I’m trying.  Really.  I’ll just put this down.  I see it.  I’m the one fixated on my phone, my screen, the distractions.  I know I judge all those others in the coffee shops, having no-dates with each other behind their devices.  But that’s me too.  Me with You.

Breathe.

God. This is hard.  Actually, it’s awkward.  I don’t know what to say, or do.  Are you really OK with this?  If I’m honest, I’m actually squirming under your scrutiny.  I don’t want to see it.  I don’t want to see what you see.  I don’t actually want to admit this addiction. This chronic self-avoidance. And God-avoidance.

I don’t want to deal with it. Maybe, actually, if I let the truth surface, I’m terrified, and I’m terrified to see it, afraid to name it.  I don’t want you to see me scared.  I don’t want to admit to you that I’ve messed up our relationship in the middle of all…. this…

Could it possibly be my fault?

Hey.  Where are you?

Why are you hiding?  Really?  Don’t you know I’m not judging you?  Don’t you know I’m not going to leave? Don’t you know that Love don’t run and I can take it?  I can take whatever you’ve got to say to me, whatever you feel, whatever you accuse?  I can take your pain and fears?  I can take it?  I won’t turn away, no matter what you bring?

Why are you hiding?  Don’t you know that I’m the one that can help?  That wants to help?  Don’t you know that I’m right here? Don’t you realise that my heart is aching for you, watching you crumble under the weight of ‘all… this…’?

Why are you hiding?

Love Don’t Run by Steve Holy
This is gonna hurt, this is gonna hurt like hell
This is gonna damn near kill me, sometimes the truth ain’t easy
I know that you’re scared of telling me something
I don’t wanna hear, but baby believe that
I’m not leaving, you couldn’t give me one good reason
Love don’t run, love don’t hide
It won’t turn away or back down from a fight
Baby I’m right here and I ain’t going anywhere
Love’s too tough it won’t give up no not on us
Baby Love don’t run…
Let’s lay it on the line, I don’t care if it takes all night ’cause
This is gonna makes us stronger, it’s gonna make forever longer
I know it’d be easier walking away but what we got is real
And I wanna save us, baby we can do it, Baby we’ll get through it…
Full lyrics on Google Play Music
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And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.  Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of Thee in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” – Genesis 3:8-11
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“Success is measured… by the intimacy of our relationship with Jesus Christ.”
– Edmond Sanganyado, The Good Shepherd

Five Minute Friday: FORGET

What does it take to remember really well? I’m surprised at what I forget – so here’s how I hold on to the good moments.

With apologies for the hiatus… life has been busy for a while, but I’ve found a window of opportunity today to join the #fmfparty and write unedited for 5 mins on a theme sent out by Kate Motaung.  The word-prompt today is FORGET. (You can join in too – here’s how.)

GO

I know a lot of us are going through the events of our lives trying to capture them on a mobile phone camera.  ‘Kodak moments’ might well be captured on a phone, but if we’re honest, we don’t usually go back through them after the event much.  Even then, the picture that was captured doesn’t do the glory of the moment much justice.

Family watching slides projected

Hmmm… we did something like this as a family in the ’70s, but I don’t recall looking quite so 1950s!!!

There is value, of course, in keeping photos to prompt the memory.  In fact, I have a whole decade where there are next to no photos of me… I have very little recollection of that season, partly because I must have been too ill, or too depressed to want to remember it.  A colleague (and someone I happened to have been at Uni with) recently brought a photo from that season in for me to see.  I hadn’t seen a picture of myself from that season – ever – and it was shocking to see me staring back at me.  Yes, I had lived through that season.  Yes, look at me, surrounded by happy friends, smiling myself, sharing a laugh.  It wasn’t all bad. For some reason the negative of that tough season of life had swamped out the joy that had been there all along.

I am now keeping a little notebook and write a couple of sentences in it every day: what went well today?  What was happy or beautiful?  What grace and good didn’t I deserve?  What joy surprised me?  There’s always something to note.  And I deliberately choose not to note all the things I’d rather hadn’t happened.  It’s a way of ‘holding onto the good‘, and choosing what I want to remember in future.

But there’s one more thing.  Sometimes we forget that our own souls are like old-skool camera film.  The experiences of joy and sorrow do impress themselves forever on our hearts, just like photos were captured on the film negative.  If we are truly living vulnerably, with a childlike openness to the joys and pains of life, our hearts and souls are living with a wide aperture, capturing and remembering the full picture.

Who needs a phone full of skew-wiff photos, when our hearts are so good at remembering the beauty and intense sorrows of life so vividly?  It’s all beautiful, the good and the bad… and maybe we’ll sit through the eternal slide-show when we get to heaven, seeing and celebrating our lives with a rounded, and joyful, and heavenly perspective.

 

STOP

 

 

 

#fmfparty
Five Minute Friday
Five Minute Friday: SEASON

Five Minute Friday: SEASON

How long is this season of suffering going to last? In one sense, we do know.

Once again I’m taking five minutes with the Five Minute Friday #fmfparty gang to write unedited on a theme sent out by Kate Motaung.  The word-prompt today is SEASON. (You can join in too – here’s how.)

GO

Sundial in Sand‘How long, O Lord?’  My whining heart makes the minutes turn to hours, simply through my impatience.  I try to impose my will on the Creator of the Universe, and when he doesn’t work to my timetable, I criticise him and his judgment.  ‘Hurry UP!’, my heart complains.

While I wish everything around me would straighten up according to my pain-evasive wishes, I fail to see that there’s something else going on in the wait.  A quiet, revolutionising transformation.

In much the same way that rocks deep in the earth, under immense pressures and unique strains, change carbon to diamond, my own character is in the throes of a stress-induced transformation.  God’s primary purpose isn’t to make my life easy, but to make me shine sparklier… with the glory of His Son.

Why would I object to this?  Why would I cry at the pain of the tribulation, the troubles which seem so fickle, random and meaningless?  The miracle is that though these seasons of trial do seem come to us randomly, God is at work through each one.  We share the troubles that every other person on earth is afflicted with.  Perhaps not in the detail, but in the reality.  ‘You will have trouble in this life.’

For sure, some seasons drag on.  In some ways, through better and worse days, this season of trouble lasts a lifetime.  There’s no point at which we graduate from trouble in life.  But it is just a season.  Just the next few hours, days or decades… and our season on earth is done.

And then comes an experience beyond ‘seasons’.  It’s an encounter that we’ll never complain about.  A place where the tears are gone, and the uncontainable joy has come.  And that’s a season that will never end.  Eternity is impossible for us to comprehend, but that’s where we’re bound.

From that perspective, we’ll be looking back at the troubles which passed in the blink of an eye, our pains and frustrations, our broken dreams and disappointments, our triumphs and failures, all swallowed up in God’s glory, and his eternal love.  At least, by God’s grace that’s where I’ll be.  I know some are still thinking about whether they want to go there on his terms.

STOP

 

 

 

#fmfparty
Five Minute Friday

The art of small faith

I cut my teeth on stories from the heroes of the faith. I always wanted to be like that… a superhero Christian. But life gives the gift of humility (or dented pride, whichever way you look at it), and I’ve lived through a few challenges along the way. It has been the experience of struggling to trust God through adversity that has caused me to conclude I’m no ‘hero’, not someone with great faith.

Turns out, that’s OK.  Jesus says he can use ‘small faith’ to move mountains.  So here’s a series to help us use the little we have – which often seems very, very small, and very, very feeble.  Let’s see what happens when small faith falls into the hands of a big God.

mustard-seed20 “You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” Matthew 17:20

#smallfaith #biggod

Five Minute Friday: HIDE

On facing the harsh realities of life with my teary-eyed face hidden in the Father’s embrace…

Joining with www.katemotaung.com for five minutes of unedited community writing!

GO

I’ll own it. I hide from life.

When what I see sorrows my heart so much I can’t bear it, I hide.

My Christian brothers and sisters overseas, facing persecution. How can this world be so cruel?

When I see senseless vandalism. Beauty destroyed. Youths in my neighbourhood with no hope, seemingly no conscience. Acting out bravado and shame. How can this be, on my doorstep?

When I fear all sorts of uncertainties in the future. When I know my life is vulnerable. I fear. I hide.

But this world does not benefit from my cowardice. As I turn and bury my face, hidden in my heavenly Father’s chest, clinging to his glory like I used to, as a child, cling to the warm smell of woollen pullover of my earthly father’s embrace… I hide, but I find His love a fortress and a strength.

My tears subside. My trembling stills. My eyes clear… And I see these suffering souls around me not with despair or fear, but a hope that comes from heaven.

The hiding turns to hope, and the hope turns to healing. My weak heart turns outward again, to build beauty – an indestructible beauty that cannot be hidden.

STOP

Joy to the world

Yes, the Lord is come.  Let earth receive her king!

In your presence is fullness of joyAnd as the angels appeared in the night, blazing with glory, I join their song.  Joy to you – yes you – who are in darkness.  Joy to you who are overwhelmed with fears for your health, and fears for the future.  Joy to you who don’t know how you’re going to pay the bills in January, and Joy to you who don’t know how you’re going to get through this Christmas day in one piece without culinary disaster or family breakdowns.

Just remember the turkey didn’t survive, but it gave its life to ‘fulfill it’s Christmas destiny’ (famous quote about the tree from Phoebe in Friends).

Joy.  Joy, joy joy.  And the joy starts not with feelings, which waver and get swamped by fears and sickness and anxieties.  Joy comes with a remembrance of certain goodness, the goodness and promise that comes from a place beyond our selves, and beyond our limited perspective.  Joy comes, because God is good.  Joy comes, because his promise is sure.  Joy comes because Jesus came through for us.  He was foretold, and then the moment came when he fulfilled everything that God had promised us years before.

Joy comes, as faithfully and as surely as the sunrise after night time.  Joy comes in the morning.

Joy comes, even when life – and holiday celebrations – aren’t perfect.  Joy comes when we are not perfect.  Joy comes when we bow in our weakness and failure and guilt and sin, and find freedom and forgiveness at the Cross of this baby born to the world at Christmas time.  Joy comes as we kneel, and receive it.

Joy comes today because there on the cross he bore our sorrows, and carried our griefs.  I know joy now because he cried my tears and came close to all of us in our human condition.  Joy comes because he accepts us and doesn’t abandon us. He is the reason for our song, and so we sing.

Joy to the world!

1 Chronicles 16:27
Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his dwelling place.

A letter to Grief

Linking up with Kate Motaung here.

Kate, I’m sorry to cry off, but it’s not going to happen tonight. I know I said I’d join the linkup with some thoughts and words on grief, but I’m shattered, overwhelmed and – it seems – going down with a migraine.

I was all up for it this morning, til… well, something happened, and it all came back.  Then today’s been a day of ‘making it through’, being strong again carrying a heavy weight on my heart.  Trying to find that light heart and unusual joy I had yesterday.

Maybe the joy’s still there somewhere, but it’s buried deep.  Today it’s under a blanket of exhaustion, and bound tight in anger and resentment.  I’m just fed up that the sorrow and anxiety is back.  It came, again, unexpected and unbidden.  Just when we were getting ready to party.  Soul-sucking joy-stealer.  I hate it, this Grief, and I’m just angry, angry, angry it gatecrashed my Christmas again.

And I’m exhausted.

And need to go to bed, after a bite to eat if I can stomach it.

So… crying off, sort of.

Thanks for inviting me to join you, anyway…