Tozer, Mullins, & Choices

A.W. Tozer. The Pursuit of God. Page 103.

…the world of fallen men does not honor God. Millions call themselves by His Name, it is true, and pay some token respect to Him, but a simple test will show how little He is really honored among them. Let the average man be put to the proof on the question of who is above, and his true position will be exposed. Let him be forced into making a choice between God and money, between God and men, between God and personal ambition, God and self, God and human love, and God will take second place every time. Those other things will be exalted above. However the man may protest, the proof is in the choices he makes day after day throughout his life.

Rich W. Mullins. My One Thing.

Every night and every day

You hold on tight or you drift away

And you’re left to live with the choices you make

Character doesn’t happen by chance; it is created by our choices.

 

 

Black Rocks & God’s Voice

Stolen from a letter.

(Not stolen so much as copied, which is totally allowable, since it’s a letter I wrote.)

I went to Black Rocks yesterday. I walked and walked, back and forth, and farther than I typically go (something about stepping over the uneven rocks wigs me out and makes me dizzy, so I usually don’t explore very far). After about twenty or thirty minutes of mindlessly wandering in and out of the shoreline, I found myself tucked down below one of the big rocks right at the edge of the water.

I sat there, back against rock, feet upon rock, hands on rock, and I just listened. Though She looked relatively calm, I realized that here, at the base of the rocks, Superior was churning. She thrashed and gulped, slapping the rocks (and me) and sending Her spray higher than the big rock that was hiding me. I didn’t think, didn’t talk, didn’t feel, didn’t pray or sing; I just sat and listened. It’s the first time in a very long while that I’ve been truly silent in both mind and spirit. I listened, and after I-don’t-know-how-long, I heard myself sing a line from the Psalms that I’d put to music years ago: The voice of the Lord is on the waters.

And then my mind caught up and wanted words. What was “the voice of the Lord” saying? I grew angry for a moment, because the crashing waves sounded majestic…maybe even joyful; and how could God be rejoicing?

And…then…my heart crumbled in shame, because the churning sounded like sorrow…like turmoil.

But then my spirit made sense of it. It is right that God’s voice should sound both victorious and grieved. These are, after all, the very contradictions of our faith: that Christ commands even the waves, and yet He walks through our sorrows–He carries them for us…because He knows we cannot.

Blessed are we who mourn; we shall be comforted.

Missions: Will You Be the One?

There’s a voice that keeps calling out

For someone who’s not afraid

To be a beacon in the night

To a world that’s lost its way.

Will you be the one to answer to his call?

Will you stand when those around you fall?

Will you be the one to take his light into a darkened world?

Tell me, will you be the one?

 

This is an old lyric from Al Denson. I don’t recall when I first heard it, but it was one of the songs I carried with me throughout my years in Hancock, Michigan. I was in a constant state of seeking God’s purpose for my life, it seemed–a constant state of surrendering and asking God to use me somehow, someway.

My senior year, our chapter of New Kids performed this song. I remember secretly wanting to get the solo, but in the end, I was far more blessed; Rachel and I alternated the solo on another song (a Smitty song, remember, Rach? Uhm…”we’re passengers aboard the train, silent little lambs amidst the pain”…?), and Mark Plichta asked me to play piano for Be the One. It was all the better, as I could never control my emotions when I tried to sing it, anyway!

This song has been on my heart again the last few weeks. My niece and nephew, Mikayla and Clayton, are going on  missions trip to Brazil in a few short weeks. Mikayla sent me a letter a few weeks ago and asked me if I’ve ever been on a missions trip. I haven’t responded to her. Honestly, sometimes I feel like a major screw up. How can I encourage my niece and nephew to do missions when I haven’t?

But I have to be honest. There have been many moments in my life thus far when I’ve felt a stirring, a desire to hop a plane to some third world country where I can serve, build, sing, and sweat for others, for Christ. Missions have always been so close to my heart. Heck–my best friend growing up was an MK. Don’t tell her, but I used to be jealous of her for that reason. I wanted to be an MK, too!

Still, I think there’s a growing phenomenon in our Christian culture. There’s this idea that the real on-fire Christians do missions, and the mediocre Christians just stay here in America doing whatever they want. And maybe that’s true in some cases. But always?

I think I was willing. I think if God had opened the door wide and provided, I would have gone. But every time I grew restless and asked God for a mission field, it seems, He sent me someplace far more awkward–the public school system. Some day, I will write about it. Today, it will suffice to say that I wanted God to send me, and He did; and I still hope that the opportunity will arise for me to go on a missions trip. I’m not that old, after all. And I’m not obligated with a husband or children. Why not?

Whatever God speaks to our hearts, whatever He asks of us, whatever missions He brings us to, I hope we’ll continue to ask ourselves the questions. Will you be the one to answer to his call? Will you stand when those around you fall? Will you be the one to take his light into a darkened world?

May He grant us all the grace and courage to reply, “I will be the one.”

Who You Are

I’m always asking (of myself and others) the question: Who are you? I’ve realized that it’s a very deceptive topic.

I was speaking with a friend recently who is questioning her identity to some degree (and has been for some time, I think), and in trying to find a great wisdom to share with her, to help her see that her life has purpose, I defaulted to that wonderful question: If you could do anything with your life and not have to worry about finances or anything like that, what would you do? What would make you happiest?

It’s a fair question in one regard. Having an idea of what we desire and what would give us pleasure helps to clarify the puzzle of our identity. It is only a piece, though. And unfortunately, it also has the mischievous manner of confusing who we are with what we do. They are not the same.

You are not merely a sum of all the choices you make. You are not simply what you do with your life. What you do, your life decisions (even daily decisions), reflect aspects of your character–but they are not who you are. They are not what makes you a valuable person.

Who you are is another matter. Who can answer such a question? I think the only hope of being anyone–or anything–is to find our identity in Christ, to understand that we are created in His image, to accept that tragic and beautiful mystery–that He gave His life to be reconciled to us.

A wise man once told me that love isn’t nearly as much about being “worthy of love” as it is about someone placing worth in us. That is what Christ has done. Not one of us deserves His love, yet He lavishes it freely upon us.

Find your identity in Him. And please…

…remind me to do the same.

What Does Christ Look Like?

The question I turned over last night was this: What does a practical Christianity look like in the world around us?

I mulled over it for quite awhile, wondering how I could urge conversation that would go deeper than our speak-easy Christianese. Be honest, was your first reaction to give me some word like “loving,” or “forgiving”? I don’t at all diminish those as answers; I merely think they are unspecific, and therefore, impractical in terms of guiding our lives by it.

Can we marry an idea with an example?  We all know that Christ is merciful; but when we put it into an example, with context, and speak about a woman–broken, surrounded by accusers, bent to the ground in shame–and how Christ silenced the voices (within and without), granting her grace and the opportunity to change, then we see an example of His mercy in a real way. It becomes more than a theory. It becomes the person of Christ Himself.

But we are not living in 1st century Palestine. We seldom (to be read “never”) see a woman about to be stoned for her sexual exploits. So what does Christ’s mercy look like in a society of texting, facebook, twitter, dvr, oil spills, political unrest?

What does Christ look like in America today? When have you seen Him last? What was He doing?

Luke 2:11

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

What more can we say?

Rejoice, friends. Our Savior has come. May your heart be filled with the wonder of his coming.

Merry Christmas!