On storms, and not being shaken

I read the story in Mark this morning, of Jesus calming the storm. I’m sometimes a little cynical when this story gets brought up… the same hesitation that comes up in me whenever people quote Jeremiah 29:11. I think we are often not careful with this scripture. I read and wrote and talked with God this morning, and hoped to see something clearly; I don’t want to get it wrong.

The disciples were afraid; real waves were about to capsize their boat. So they yelled at Jesus, at which point he rises up, shows his power as God to calm the storm, challenges his disciples’ fear and lack of faith – and, how do we usually end this story, in our minds? People talk about the storm being calmed, usually describe a scene of tranquility… but after Jesus rises and acts and speaks, look at the text: the disciples are terrified.

But now, it’s not fear of the storm. They no longer have reason to fear physical death, drowning in the angry sea. They stood in right, holy fear of Jesus. They were “afraid,” but after Jesus “calmed” things, they were terrified. Leaving them terrified of himself, Jesus asked, “why were you afraid of _________ [this earthly thing]?”  He doesn’t just bring peace; he’s also reorienting their fear.

Why is this a good thing? Why, we wonder, would God have us fear him? I’m sitting this morning in the reality that as humans, we are going to fear… it’s going to happen. We are going to face situations that genuinely seem to merit our terror and despair and fear; real storms will come. My heart is feeling the weight and burden of how our lives are touched by death… Yet in that reality, the best news ever is that the God who loves us is the greatest thing we have reason to fear.

As his disciples face very real earthly danger, danger that could actually cost them their lives, I hear these words from Jesus’ heart… “You’re with the son of God. You may drown – yet what do you have to fear? You claim I don’t care if you drown… that’s the wrong thing to accuse me of. My Father doesn’t let a sparrow fall to the ground outside his care… do you think your life could end without Him caring? Without me caring? Why do you not have faith? Right there – how do you not trust my care for you? Why are you afraid? Even if the storm did not change, I want to reorient your fear and your faith. Only with me may you look death in the face… and you don’t have to be afraid. Do not fear, that I would ever possibly let your life slip away without the fullness of my care for you. Have faith in me; it will change how you face the storm. I who am powerful to calm the storm you fear, am the only one who you ought to stand trembling before… yet I will always whisper to you, do not be afraid.


Father, I praise you for being unquestionably powerful over the storm. But I know that the point isn’t that you’ll quiet them all. We don’t put our faith in you never letting us be subject to a real storm. Oh God, I praise you that sometimes, as waves crash over the sides, as the sky is dark and the ship is capsizing – as perhaps we imagine you must be asleep somewhere, or worse, not caring if we drown – I praise you that we can know who you are. That faith in you, not in what we think you should do, changes how we face the storm.

If we understand this story to mean we should have faith that God will quiet every storm just in time, that disregards every situation when – when he doesn’t. If we think this story shows that things will seem bad, seem hopeless even, but that God will step in just before we are ever actually harmed – that’s not real life. That Jesus seems to still be sleeping somewhere, if he’s the one who’s supposed to be calming all the storms in this world.

What if the faith he calls us to in Mark really is faith entirely in Him? What if we believe that Jesus’ words, calling us to faith, actually interact with the disciples’ words: “Don’t you care if we drown?”

We affirm that God can calm every storm. He can protect us from every evil, every bit of pain, every heartbreak… we believe that because he says one day, life will be like that. We hold on to real hope that we will live that way with him, without the storms.

But… not yet. Jesus stepped onto earth and into a boat that was subject to real storms of the Galilee; real waves began to capsize a real boat, and the disciples were gripped with real fear of real death. That is the world we live in.. Our hope is that our God is at work, right now, in this world. That yes, he is calming storms, redeeming this broken world from terror and pain and death, advancing his kingdom with power.

But he’s not done… and that’s not all we hope in right now. Our greatest hope in every storm is not just that God will quiet it, right now. We groan, and waste away in earthly bodies, holding onto hope in him. There is no way for us to drown outside his care for us… He is not asleep, and he can never “not care.”

Knowing he can stop the wind and the waves – having seen his power in our world – that should leave us trembling before him, and him alone. Because that storm-calming power is oriented in love towards his people. We tremble in storms, not at the storms but through them, that Jesus can be sovereign over the storm and never fail in his love and care for us… that, even in losing our earthly lives, he is relentless in leading us to Life with him. We ought to tremble at the prospect that death is not to be feared as much as the One who holds power over death. We follow this Jesus through the storm, quieted or not, affirming that in this life,

“We always carry in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body…” (2 Corinthians 4:10-11)

The disciples were afraid; it seemed like Jesus might let them die, and not care. Jesus left them terrified; they realized, storm or no storm, life or death, they could make no claim that the God of the universe faltered for a moment in his care for them. Neither his love nor his sovereignty could be challenged by a stormy sea.


“Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Now we know that if the earthly tent that we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile, we groan, longing to be clothed by our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, then we will not be found naked…

For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we don’t wish to be unclothed by to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling – so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose, and has given us the spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

Therefore we are always confident, and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord… We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.”   (2 Corinthians 4:16-5:8)

 

Even as we face death itself, may we fear only the One who swallows up what is mortal by Life… may we only ever tremble before the One who whispers, “do not be afraid… I am with you.”

 

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Life’s not fair (and why that’s good news)

I recently had a conversation with a student that basically revolved around the idea of why bad things happen to good people. Amidst some of the wrestling he was doing with those ideas, he articulated that for every bad thing that happens to us, we are able to also count the good things that God does for us too. Basically, overall, we live life and hope that things end up decently balanced, or, fair.

The conversation had to progress. We follow a God of justice, to be sure, but it seems like a common way of understanding his justice is hoping that for whatever bad things God lets us go through, he will also bless us in a way that seems reasonable. That’s not the gospel.

Think about how immensely unfair the gospel is! From the moment Adam and Eve sinned, they were immediately deserving of death and eternal separation from the God who created and loved them. Every second after their sin was grace! Unmerited favor, that favor being life, being saved from doom and pain and suffering in any moment that they did not experience it! Look at the sheer grace of even the curse: “Adam, you’ll fight the land to eat and survive.” But he’s going to eat and survive! “Eve, it’s going to be very painful for you to give birth.” But she’s going to reproduce and bring MORE LIFE to the earth! It is utterly unfair of God to give the second, third and ten thousandth chance at life with him to every sinful human that has walked the earth.

Yet here we are today. I am so desperately sinful. My heart, mind and strength are so broken by sin, even though for several years now God has been drawing me daily closer towards himself. Every single day, I fall, and immediately I deserve death on a cross and no further opportunity to follow God… that’s what’s fair. Starting to sort through our understanding of what’s “fair” will be flawed unless we start there.

But what’s this? This God of justice, the one we cry out to when we are burdened under the discord and trials that seem so wrongfully placed in our lives – this God would have us accept better than we deserve. This God would know us honestly, judge us “guilty” and worthy of death – and his verdict is: to place it on another. So we end up with the only one judged “holy” being tortured and dying on a cross, so that when God looks at us he sees the exact opposite of what we have earned. He sees holiness in our lives, where we heaped on sin. He sees infinite new chances at life, when we get up each day and live in such a way as to earn ourselves death. He sees “son” or “daughter,” when we have lived as “rebel” and “infidel.” That’s not fair.

It is immensely good news that life is not fair. It is with unspeakable joy that I try to comprehend just how unfair the gospel is. It is with humility, as I survey my sin, that I repent of it, because it is unfair that I am allowed to, time and time again. If life were fair, I would be in a horrible, hopeless, helpless place.

It is within this context that we make claims that “life is not fair” as we experience trials. We call out that which is not right, what seems contrary to our understanding of what ought to be, the earth and its people and their God in broken relationship with one another… but we put it under the category of “not fair.” Hear me: I am not discounting the full reality of suffering in this world! Truly terrible things happen to people who devote their lives to faithfully following God and loving others, and that pain is real. The tragedy that strikes, the loss that is suffered, the confusion of tribulation under the reign of a sovereign God… we read that these things grieve his heart, as he longs to cast out evil, to heal wounds and redeem the world.

It strikes me, though… the very things we so often call “unfair” are some of the best reminders of what “fair” is. These terrible things that afflict our lives, even making it nearly impossible at times to endure in following God – we remember the death we deserve, and that we have better. We are forced to sit in the reality of our yet-not-fully-redeemed world that so deeply bears the wounds and scars of the death we don’t deserve to escape. In this life, we sometimes feel the heat of the hell we should get; yet, praise be to the God who, so unfairly, gives us better.

In him we endure, in the hope that one day we will experience the scandalously unfair moment of leaving the brokenness behind, slipping from life in a wounded world into the fullness of LIFE in intimacy with Jesus, who knows what “unfair” means…

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The moment of conviction that prompted me to share these thoughts went something like this. I was reflecting on all this while I washed dishes, and especially the wondrous practical implications of devoting our lives to the Jesus of such an unfair gospel as ours. It frees us to love and serve people without keeping track of what’s “fair.” It frees us from treating people only as well as we think they “deserve.” Loving and actively caring for people beyond what we decide is “fair” is exactly what God does for us, and it’s the only reason we wake up each morning with the breath in our lungs to face a new day… so we should live awesome lives to build each other up without keeping score.

The right side of the kitchen sink has been full of dishes – like, for a week. They belonged to one roommate in particular. We had agreed long ago to take care of our own dishes, unless we really had to run somewhere, in which case we’d come back to do them ASAP… this wasn’t the case recently, and I had watched the mounting pile of dishes (and lack of clean silverware) with mild frustration for days.

I was doing my own dishes, recounting in my mind the awesome ways that God had given me other people who have cared me far beyond what they “owe me:” friends who have been present, physically or in prayer, through the last couple tumultuous years… families who have taken me in, treating me with love and radical hospitality, though I’m not a relative… even random people at my valet job, who don’t even know my name, who will think of me and bring me food or leave a big tip just to show kindness. I have been a recipient of love and kindness beyond what is “fair” or what I deserve. How amazing that we get to live like that!

And suddenly, I finish doing my dishes and stare at the pile of my roommate’s dishes next to me… Oh. Dang it. “It’s not fair for him not to do his dishes,” my mind had been saying. “It wouldn’t be fair for you to have to do them,” my heart claimed, as my hands abstained from doing a small, simple chore that would have been beneficial to everyone. All of that came to a grinding halt as I realized that, during reflection and praise for how “unfair” the gospel is and how “unfair” it was that I got better than I deserved, my life didn’t reflect that reality, in that moment.

So I washed the dishes. And praised God. And committed to kicking to the curb each ongoing temptation to measure up what people deserve and treat them only that well. Because that might be “fair;” but God refuses to leave us with what’s fair. In love, he offers us so much more.

I want to live that way too.

On singleness, soccer and Sochi

Today was my day off. To celebrate, I – did chores. Nothing wrong with that. I was at Hume Lake with my high school students all weekend, and I spent yesterday in solitude on Mt. Baldy. Had to get stuff done today.

What, specifically, though? Visit the DMV. Oh joy. So, visit I did – for over three hours. I had all the paperwork, everything went smoothly, no frustration… just, waiting. Alone in a group of people.

It struck me how there were very few people there alone. Parents with kids, adults with adult parents, couples, whole families. While I stood quietly, in a place very few people wanted to be, I saw that most people were at least together.

I usually do pretty well alone. I’m definitely primarily an introvert; I prefer quiet, avoiding the crowd, and if I’m around others, I enjoy greater attention or intimacy between a smaller number of people. Yet I also know I was made to share life with others. I long for community, for closeness, deep relationship, trust, being known. I want to be invested in others’ lives, have those people who I pursue and love fully. I want to be wanted, too. Tough thing for an adult male to admit in our culture, even in the Church.

So as I stood, alone with my thoughts and with God, I pulled out my phone to listen to a podcast… maybe take my mind off my current state of alone-ness before going too far with that. God had other plans. The first podcast I had queued was Matt Jenson on singleness. Awesome.

I’m glad for the past several years of singleness in my life. I mean that. I think few people say that, and less people are being honest. Being single throughout Biola, and into these crazy post-college years, has been an incredible blessing. I don’t think I could have sustained any kind of healthy dating relationship with one person during the incredibly intense 7 semesters at Biola. I’ve been open to it, but found myself semester after semester, single… and incredibly content. What a blessing it has been, to be content in singleness, sensing a freedom from the (sometimes crippling) longings I saw in many around me to lock down a significant other before graduating. “God forbid one not have a ‘ring by spring;’ might as well give up and resolve yourself to celibacy forever,” it seems like the unspoken message goes.

And I’m still waiting. Wondering what’s going on in me, if I’m not feeling the same stress and pressure to date, to commit, to figure that all out as fast as possible. Wondering what to do, also, with desires to be a part of a family, to be a husband, to be a father… What do I do at 22, already longing to adopt? What do I do, with a crazy full schedule, crazy student debt, crazy life of high school ministry and working nights and escaping on a motorcycle for the day just because I can? Because as of yet, I haven’t found the lady that God would have occupy the other seat on that motorcycle.

I’m glad for Matt Jenson’s wisdom, for the love and truth I got to take in. I’m glad that, in Christ, we find a Lover who looks to fulfill our deepest longings, and who even grants us tastes of such fulfillment in our earthly relationships. I’m glad that our God would waste no day of celibacy in the life of any believer – for we are all celibate, for some time. I’m glad that God would grant some of us such an incredible taste of intimacy as that which can be found in marriage, too. I certainly hope for that.

But we pray for daily bread, for what he would give us today. Today, I am single. And I am glad for what God gives me today. With singleness has come incredible opportunities to throw myself into ministry, to intertwine my life with the lives of others in awesome ways. It lets me serve and live and love unhindered by the commitment of placing one particular person’s needs above my own in such a consistent way. Paul said it was a pretty solid way to live, and one he would wish upon others, especially for the purpose of ministry (I’m paraphrasing and not citing verses, sorry, it’s late and I’m tired and this isn’t a paper for Biola).

I still have moments of loneliness and purposelessness that catch me off guard. I mention both those because I find them both at work. I sometimes come home to an empty apartment and simply don’t have people to be with when I want to. People are busy, my schedule’s weird, it’s hard sometimes to maintain meaningful relationships. But it’s not just about being with someone physically; I sense the purposelessness. I sense, when I come home to an empty apartment, that it’s not simply that I wish I had someone there to entertain me, to serve me, to fulfill me… but that I want to bring something to the table. I don’t want to sit at home alone when I could be pouring into the life of another. Sometimes I don’t want silence, when I could sit and talk for hours about life with someone I love, and maybe we could grow together. I enjoy some time alone, but maybe not as much when it’s for lack of people to be with.

Dr. Jenson claims that the Church doesn’t have any business pushing the gospel on single people if it isn’t willing to be a family to single people. I have been blessed by the Church, by God’s great big messy group of believers around the world who are trying to figure out life being redeemed on a broken planet. For every night I spend home alone, wondering if I’m doing something wrong, wondering if I only had a girlfriend or a wife or kids, if I would be relationally fulfilled… for every night like that, I also get to spend a weekend at camp with incredible young people, learning about Jesus. For every lonely day, I also spend time with great friends, talking about life over coffee or a good porter. For every time I sit and feel something missing and wonder if I’m doing something wrong, I also sit in the DMV and listen to a podcast, and remember that God grants me great love and the fulfillment of my longings for family through the people he placed in my life.

I listened to that chapel message on how God works through singleness, and I think I was theoretically encouraged. I recognized that what Dr. Jenson was true, and that God had done pretty cool things in my life through people who Paul would call my brothers and sisters. I recognized that being adopted by God comes with being surrounded by family, and I’ve seen that play out in my life. I’m thankful for that.

But you know what? I had still spent my day off at the DMV, and I was heading home to an empty apartment. Theoretically encouraged, realistically, still alone.

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Then I got a text from a family I’ve spent lots of time with. Come to our kid’s soccer game, they said. And I smiled because God’s ridiculous like that, timing and all.

After the soccer game, an invitation to dinner, and even to come watch the Olympics at their home. I tried to sort through the pressure I was feeling: “I’m an adult, I should decline, I don’t want to be a burden, I should be heading to my own home and my own family for the evening.” Except, this was the family God was giving me – for the evening. Daily bread.

I’m torn. Generally speaking. Have been since God started reaching out to me through the love of the people of his church when I was a teenager. I don’t want to be needy. Yet I am; I long for community and family. “Daily bread” doesn’t look like a nuclear family in my apartment today. Is God in that? What do I do with an empty apartment, no one on the back seat of my old motorcycle? What do I do when my heart protests loneliness and purposelessness? What do I hope in when I long for family, even the possibility of which seems so distant?

Today I was blessed with singleness, and cheering for a young man I love at his soccer game, and watching the Sochi Olympics with a family from church. That was “daily bread” for today.   I trust and praise the God who knows me and loves me.

 

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** Thanks to Audrey Dill, who has encouraged me to write when I feel led, worrying less about producing a perfect end product and more with how God might be glorified by testifying to what He’s teaching me… because it’s usually all messy anyway.

Breathing, sleeping [ecc 4:9-12]

I’m lying in bed, listening to my roommate breathing.

It’s 1 am. I just got home from work and I’m ready to sleep, but my body and mind aren’t cooperating. So here I am, in the dark of my bedroom, and all I can hear is the hushed flow of breath from the good friend who is asleep three feet to my right.

The sound of his breath is meaningful to me. That sound of someone breathing, sleeping near me, has prompted reflection and praise for years. I grew up with my own room, and it was very rare that I ever slept in the same room with someone else for most of my life. I lived much of the rest of my life similarly; I had a pretty tough time sharing my days with people in any sort of meaningful relationship. There are a lot of things that went into that, but regardless, that was the case.

Senior year, I grew close with a guy I love deeply deeply to this day. His family showed me an incredible amount of hospitality, including having me stay the night often at their house. I remember lying awake after the lights were out, waiting to fall asleep on a bed or couch that was not my own, and marveling about how incredibly blessed I was to find myself welcome in this friend’s family and in his life. I remember listening to him breathe as he slept, and being so humbled and blessed by friendship and relationship to the point where he would grant me to spend countless nights with him instead of at my own home, which was not somewhere I much wanted to be.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work.” (ecc 4:9)

The next year I moved to Biola, and though I had to leave my friend, I gained roommates. Through those years, God continued to surround me with people who supported me, shared life with me deeply, and pointed me to Jesus consistently. Whether it was the person I actually shared a room with, or the men of Haven (my dorm hall) who quickly became family, or the many other people who I learned with, studied with, worked with, laughed and cried and fought and prayed with… I would end each day climbing into bed, in a room I shared with a friend, and I could hear him breathe. And I would praise God for the day, and the people he’s put in my life, because I don’t deserve the gift of grace that each one is… Yet I wake up each day and can count on their friendship to help me live and grow and follow Christ.

“If one falls down, his friend can help him up; but pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” (ecc 4:10)

I think of the specific roommates, who put up with actually cohabiting in a small dorm room with me: Tyler, Cameron, Roddy, Stefan, and Ethan at Biola, and now Sean and Levi. Different relationships, all of them, but several graciously ignored my early mornings, prayed with me, bore my burdens and heard confession and ministered grace. They lived with a messed-up guy with a messy life and were flesh-and-blood pictures of the way God has reached out to me through his Church.

I think, too, of being welcomed into the homes of families from my church, invited to spend time with fathers and mothers and kids, and the way I’m so deeply touched by being included. I think of the high school ministry, the young men especially, who have let me know them profoundly and granted me access to their hearts, so that I might try to point them to Jesus as they mature. I think of lying in a tent on our annual December mission trip to Mexico, freezing cold but next to my guys, hearing Jacob or Josh or whoever breathe as they sleep inches away, and I’m amazed anew at the life God has granted us… To share it with others, to live and sleep and breathe so close to one another.

“For if two lie down together, they can keep warm…
But how can one keep warm alone?” (ecc 4:11)

I’m not much, but I’d be a whole lot less without Jesus reaching out to me. And how has he done so? In a major way, through his followers. That’s how he set this thing up. Thousands of years ago he left the earth, saying he was sending his spirit and, by his own power, tasking his followers with the work of the advancing of the Kingdom of Heaven on the earth. Jesus taught his friends to live out God’s law and love and commanded them to spread it everywhere. And as a result, I live today with my sin paid for by blood, being sanctified by a righteousness and power that comes from outside me, covered day after day by a grace that enables me to keep stumbling toward the God of the universe who calls me son.

“Though one may be overpowered, two can overcome. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.” (ecc 4:12)

So here I am tonight. I’m (hopefully) going to fall asleep, next to one of the many people God has placed in my life in a way that edifies me and ushers me constantly to Him. This is no small thing; it’s changed everything.

Tonight I listen to my roommate breathing next to me. Some people want their privacy, to be alone and never impacted by the life of another. True, they don’t ever have to give a second thought to the sound of someone else breathing. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’ve been alone; doesn’t get me very far. I praise the God who has granted me to share this life. I praise him for every breath in my lungs, and also for the lives of those who are by my side.

Home-makers

Spiritual Friendship

One of the unfortunate realities of life is that the best time to really think about something is often when you no longer have access to it, the oddly formed hole it leaves behind an easier way to understand its shape.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about friendship recently.

I wasn’t so naïve as to imagine that I would arrive in Los Angeles, step out of my car and magically be surrounded by a glorious cabal of soul-mates. (Well, ok, wasn’t so naïve as to seriously believe that would happen.) But I think I’ve been a little bit surprised at how intimidated I am by the whole process of making new friends, of weaving together the fabrics of our existence in profoundly life-giving ways.

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When the Spirit breaks through [benediction]

The other day I was in desperate need of fellowship. I needed to be with someone, to talk about and confess where I was at. But instead I sat at work with my thoughts and didn’t ask for it. I knew God would grant me grace through another person if I sought what he was offering – I know I have those people in my life. All it would take is a text to someone, a quick request for their time in the near future. But I sat alone.

A few minutes into this ridiculousness, a dear brother sent me a text. We hadn’t talked recently; he didn’t know anything going on or what was on my mind. In his message, these Spirit-led words pierced through the darkness and reminded me of the God who knows me and offers grace and the fullness of life. This is what he said:

“I thank God for your life. May He give you conviction to live in obedience and His presence to guard you from the consequences of stupid decisions you will make and from any attack on you. May you see continually His Fatherly love as well as heed His instructions. Lay up treasure in heaven and thank God for every circumstance that is being used by His Spirit to build you up to minister His name, to forgive, to ask for forgiveness, to seek after those who give up on the church, to love those who do not know God, to care for other brothers and sisters, to support your authorities… I look forward to seeing the good works that God has prepared for you that we and many others might give thanks many times, not just in a year.”

I am undeserving of such words. Who am I, that God would have his spirit give such words to my brother in the first place? Who am I that my brother would bring such words before the God of the universe, before Jesus, my high priest… who am I that God would hear those words, or do anything about them?

Exactly. I’m nothing. I’m a rebellious child. I’ve tasted of the grace of God – I’ve thrown myself into the boundless ocean that it is and been submerged. I’ve been overwhelmed in a way that enables, leaving me strengthened and striving for his glory. His grace. For his glory.

Who am I? No one. Who is he? He is the lavish God of grace and glory.

I don’t write enough

It’s been awhile since I’ve written here. It’s not been awhile, though, since I’ve felt convicted to write.

I started blogging while studying through the Psalms. One thing I saw that really grabbed my attention was that as God showed up in David’s life, he was led to testify: to share with others what God was doing, what David was learning, the ways God was revealing himself and walking with David through the tumultuous highs and lows of living. I was led to try doing the same. My goal was simply to offer glimpses into the ways I’m seeing God show up.

There are several different mediums of processing life with Jesus that I hold in high regard. I try to journal daily, starting with just the last 24 hours and whatever I’m reading in Scripture that day. I enjoy beginning the day engaging my heart and mind in conversation with God on paper. I also really appreciate conversation with another person, perhaps a little more filtered and orderly than journaling, and with the benefit of another’s perspective.

Blogging is different. I start with an idea that I’ve been mulling over for a bit, or sometimes one that hits me quickly that I want to explore in an organized way. So I open the Bible, and I begin to hash through my thoughts. As I begin to write it’s often not hard to fill a few pages, but then I start to feel pressure. I want to be honest and real, to pour out my heart and thoughts if it will be edifying to others and glorifying to God… but by the time I hit “publish,” I sense the need for my post to be a well-edited, articulate blend of personal perspective and Biblical insight. I want it to be polished and profound and worth the time it takes to produce.

Only problem is, my life doesn’t usually look like that. “Polished and profound” wouldn’t be the words I would use to describe much of what I encounter in my walk with Jesus, and especially not how I tend to respond.

I have several blog drafts that are little more than titles and a few brief words meant to remind me what I meant to write about. All of them are based on great things God has been teaching me, but – they’re messy. They’re not all resolved. Perhaps I’m not doing a great job of learning what I should be. So as I see the things God is up to in my life, I feel convicted to process them through writing and share them with people, but honestly? I don’t know if I will like where I’m at in the journey if I have to confront those words on a screen.

Some of the holding back is right and good. I’m grateful for the people in my life who are near to me, who I can walk through things personally with transparency build on the foundation of trust. I don’t feel any pressure to spill my whole life on the internet. But I’ve still had this conviction to testify to be faithful in testifying to what God’s up to in my life.

God has been active and challenged me in many ways recently.

In July and August I was encouraged to apply for a job that would require moving, and God walked me through Proverbs and asked me where I was placing my hope and security… asked me what I was holding on to, and if I was actually willing to give things up and follow Jesus if he would lead me elsewhere. I didn’t do well with that; I saw the state of my heart, but came to believe that if God is really the Lord he says he is, he’s worth following.

Recently, being with a friend through things has led me to fall on my face in fear and reverence of God… led me to realize our desperate dependence on him to sustain us and grant us the grace of any and all flourishing. In not being able to understand or control things, I was led before Him who is good, who loves us, knows what’s best and can do something about it.

The more I look to Scripture and look at life around me, I believe more and more fully that God is the one he claims to be. I want nothing more than to follow, to know and be near to him, and he makes it clear that he would have the same for his people. As this happens, I want to be faithful in not keeping this God to myself. I want his grace and love to spill over from my messy life and to point you to him. You, who read this, whoever you are. Oh, that you would know this Jesus who demonstrates his love for you through his life, and death, and life again, for you.

I’ve found God unwilling to sit quietly and not be known. Even to his unfaithful people, Isaiah says “the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion” (Is 30:18). May we honor his longing, his rising; may we respond to God taking the initiative to engage his people.

So I’ll try to write, about important things, as they come up. Because I want to be active in knowing him more, and I want you to know him too.