5

On brokenness and gifts

I finally understand what brokenness is. Brokenness is having no plan B, having no way out, realizing the limits of your humanity, being down and out, giving up on your own ability and strength. It sounds nasty, but it’s a great blessing, because, guess what…that’s the only time God gets to fully work and show His strength, and it is amazingly mind blowing!

I’ve written about small faith and little faith before (or haven’t I?) In summary, small faith is complete and whole faith, but it is small in size (which God approves of…small as a mustard seed), while little faith is insufficient and inadequate; it’s having plan B’s, believing in God halfway or quarter-way (very displeasing to God).

Brokenness has no room for little faith. It breeds complete faith because when you realize your own strength is sorely inadequate, you turn to The Powerful One, and He is only so pleased to make His awesomeness known (and He is probably thinking, what took you so long? I told you you were weak, duh!)

This is when you realize that God does freely give all things. If it’s peace you want, you only have to ask and you will receive. The reason why we don’t receive these things is because we don’t believe. Simple. When I was broken, I had no other choice but to believe that God is there and that He is the only one who can come through for me. My prayers became pleas. My requests were desperate because I simply had no.other.way.out. What’s amazing to me is that these truths always eluded me, as simple as they seem now.

It is amazing that I can get joy just by asking. Really? Is it just me or do we as humans feel that we have to work for everything? Do you feel like something is not worth receiving if it’s free; if you didn’t work for it?

The beauty of all the gifts God gives is that they are free; that’s why they are called gifts. Why have I been living such a hard life? Why have I been striving for things that God has already freely given? It hardly makes sense. Why would I seek to buy a car to make me happy (by avoiding unscrupulous bus conductors and jostling) when I could just ask God to give me joy and contentment? It’s so much easier! Like seriously, why are we struggling? If you need peace, you just ask God and He gives it to you, FOR FREE! Love, faith, self-control, etc etc.

I don’t even think the awesomeness of all this is really making any sense to you or if I am just rambling. If the sense of this eludes you, I charge you, just try it yourself. Just ask God for what you need. Then stand back and be amazed.

It may not come in the way you expect it, but just keep seeking Him and be amazed at how He works things out in even more perfect ways than we would ever anticipate or dream.

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4

The greatest things

Image

photo credit

How did I get over my first love? Somewhere between truth and lies, between seeing him for who he was then and seeing him for who he is now; I faced reality. All my hopes and dreams were wrapped up in history – the past. I was in love with a memory long gone…and the day I came to terms with that was the day my heart finally walked away.

How am I getting over this other guy today? This other guy who I had hoped in and it just didn’t work out? Somewhere between illusion and logic; somewhere between high hopes and reality. I’m not there yet, but something changed today. I don’t know what it was – maybe it was when I woke up and realized the sun will still smile through my window, maybe it was when I heard the empty silence where his words used to be or maybe it was when I thought I’d cry again but no tears came this time. Or maybe it was nothing. All I know is today I felt different; I felt peaceful. I felt alive and I felt that dreaded thing again, that thing I try to kill every time but it always springs eternal: hope.

These three things remain:

Faith – belief in what I can’t see. This is that stubborn belief that it’s going to get better, even when everything around me is telling me otherwise. There are so many voices out here telling me so many different things, showing me all the ways I could try and fail, giving me all these rules to live by without which I’ll be doomed to fail. Marriages are not celebrated anymore. Marriage these days is pain. Relationships are always ending in heartache all around me; it’s enough to make me throw in the towel once and for all and choose to believe that this reality is a universal truth. Faith states otherwise; it calls me to believe in what I cannot see. I cannot see a happy marriage, I cannot see a good relationship…but to have faith I have to believe that it’s possible. For me.

Hope – this is what keeps me believing. I have always dismissed hope as the weakest of the three, but it could very well be the strongest, the most resilient. I don’t know what keeps hope going even when everything is telling it to die. Hope renews faith when it falters. Hope keeps love alive. Hope keeps fighting and forces me to keep believing that something is going to work out this time, all the time.

Love – there are so many explanations for this one. Love is the greatest of them all. Love never fails. Love endures all things, believes all things. Love is patient and kind and all those other things. Love is God. God teaches us how to love: Him, ourselves, and others. Love takes me as I am and says that I am good enough. Love also produces the other two: hope and faith. We have faith in what we love and we have hope for what we love.

Where was I going with this?

This post was about discouragement. When our faith falters, our hope is dying and love is burning seriously low, we need some help. There are too many situations around us that cause us to die inside. There is so much evil happening in our world and it’s hard to believe in beauty and truth and love at all. We are called, however, to listen to Truth and tune out all the other voices out here.

The sheep know and recognize their shepherd’s voice. They know it so well because they are attuned to it. They are used to hearing the shepherd call for them and speak to them. They can recognize his voice anywhere.

Likewise, the Lord is our Good Shepherd and we are His sheep (John 10:1-7). We are tuned to His voice if we are used to hearing it. We are familiar with the words He uses if we have heard them over and over again. We know his voice from hearing Him speak to us.

If we could tune out all the noise that is around us and focus on that one voice, we would hear different news. We would hear a Shepherd who lovingly calls us His own. We would hear good news about our lives, about our health and wealth and great plans He has for us. We would hear about love and hope and faith. He knows us so well, because He even knows when one of His sheep goes missing. So we trust that He knows the deepest longings of our hearts, and longs to fulfill them. We listen to depressing statistics and terrible stories, not with the fear that it will happen to us. We listen to radio shows where married people tell of woe and choose to believe that we could have something different. He says so. His Love speaks and tells us not to fear because there is no fear in love.

The Shepherd’s voice is familiar to those who hear it constantly, so I’m going to tune my ears to hear from Him more often so I can always tell when He is speaking, because in this world that we are living in, we need Someone to hold on to. We need Someone to revive us. We need Someone to keep us alive. We need Someone to heal us…and He is healing me even as I write this. I hope that  He heals you too.

4

Predestination and other mind-boggling truths

And just when I thought I was beginning to figure Him out and all He is about, He eluded me again. I know, I know; I can never truly fathom God. Yet, somehow I thought I could. I thought knowing God meant understanding Him. Figuring Him out.

*Sigh!!!* [Very, very loud sigh]

So I’ve been on a high just feeling like God and I are really connecting and that I can now predict His actions and feelings towards me because we have this deep relationship – and we do, don’t get me wrong – but I unknowingly lost the plot. I was, once again, humbled by how great He is.

I read some deep doctrinal articles about predestination and grace, and let’s just say, I have never been very good at understanding doctrine. Philosophical arguments entirely lose me. So when I hear sanctification, predestination and all these other big, doctrinal, theological words, my brain just goes “tururu! Mteja wa nambari hapatikani kwa sasa”. But a friend of mine had read about this predestination and was asking me some mind-boggling questions and I was just thinking. “Mind sufficiently boggled! I have no idea how to answer that!”

So I went ahead and looked up the article and started reading it. I don’t quite get it, and I would rather not go into it coz I may misinterpret it (you can read it here), and then I read the article on grace from the same website, and I also don’t quite get it (you may be wondering what grades I got in school at this rate), but one thing is clear – God is far greater, bigger, more mysterious and deeper than I could ever think, imagine or conceive. This realization kinda frustrated me, because I felt He was being elusive; giving me a glimpse of who He is then vanishing or cloaking himself with an opaque garment.

I don’t know if that’s how He works. However, I have come to realize that I can’t figure Him out, neither should I seek to. I am still supposed to seek a relationship with Him, accept His love, love Him and know Him; but this knowledge isn’t necessarily figuring Him out. What, then, is it? you ask. I wish I knew the answer, dear reader. I wish I knew.

The excerpt below really says it eloquently:

We look at God obliquely because we can’t look at God directly. In talking about what God is like, we feel we are groping in the dark, when really it is that we are made blind as bats by the blazing light that God is – Truth far greater than any human mind can grasp, Love more profound than any human heart can fathom.

The mystery of God isn’t something too complicated, a puzzle with too many pieces, for people to work it out. On the contrary, God eludes us by his beautiful simplicity, by his being beyond our human attempts to break him into pieces that we can understand and then put back together again.

Excerpted from here

So I’m trying to get my head around that…not try to figure Him out, trust Him and love Him in simplicity and just follow His promptings. I guess that’s why they call it faith.

6

I Still Believe (Jeremy Camp)

The song above actually falls under my “old school” rock collection. Yeah, it’s not really old school, just that Jeremy Camp was one of the first rock artistes I listened to, loved and became a fan of.

The song I Still Believe is one of my personal favorites because of the message and the reason behind it.

Jeremy camp lost his first wife after a few years of marriage after she succumbed to cancer [sad, sad, sad]

This is a song he wrote after her death, chronicling his pain, vulnerability and unwavering faith.

After all this time, this song still gets me. I mean, how do you sing I still believe in your faithfulness when your young wife is dead and you are in so much pain you can hardly move, talk or think?

I guess every time I hear this song, I am humbled by Jeremy Camp’s faith. That’s the kind of faith I long for. I want to believe in God NO MATTER WHAT.

Heart-wrenching, grief-striking, hope-killing, depressing things aside…just to have that unwavering unshaken faith. Wow.

I so wanna be him when I grow up 🙂

Scattered words and empty thoughts
seem to pour from my heart
I’ve never felt so torn before
seems I don’t know where to start
but it’s now that I feel Your grace falls like rain
from every fingertip, washing away my pain

[Chorus:]
I still believe in Your faithfulness
I still believe in Your truth
I still believe in Your holy word
even when I don’t see, I still believe

Though the questions still fog up my mind
with promises I still seem to bear
even when answers slowly unwind
it’s my heart I see You prepare
but its now that I feel Your grace fall like rain
from every finger tip, washing away my pain

The only place I can go is into your arms
where I throw to you my feeble prayers
in brokenness I can see that this was your will for me
Help me to know You are near

– Jeremy Camp

4

I Can’t Do This (Plumb)

It’s that time of the month again.

No, not that time! The time when life seems to be getting to be too  much for me. I think it happens every month at least once. This has got to change! 😦

Everything isn’t going well. I won’t say everything is wrong because that wouldn’t be true (for one, I’ve been able to hack into Wordpress which is blocked at my office *evil laugh*)

I am getting overwhelmed….difficult workmates, roommates, new responsibilities…am pretty terrified right now. I think that’s the word, terrified.

I heard once that courage isn’t lack of fear, it’s doing what you are afraid of doing DESPITE the fear.

I have to teach a class in church and am scared. Having these people’s lives and spiritual growth largely determined by how I’ll lead them. Making sure they make it to class on time and listen and gain something. making sure no need goes ignored. Looking out for them and loving them and caring for them for ten weeks. Speaking in front of them and leading them, most of whom are going to be older than me. Praying for them constantly. I’m getting the shivers just thinking about it.

Clearly I can’t do this.

Only God can. Through me. All I have to be is willing and not give way to fear, but to power and love and a sound mind.

Wish me luck. no, better yet, pray for me. Please.

 I can’t do this
I can’t do this
I can’t do this by myself
I can’t do this
I can’t do this
Oh God, I need Your help

– Plumb

3

Have Your Way (Britt Nicole)

This was my theme song for 2009. I guess it should be consoling that everyone seems to be admitting that 2009 was the hardest year for them yet. Me too.

I don’t even want to get into it but let’s just say my faith took quite a beating. Yet on the outside I seemed to be so on point when it came to spiritual matters. I grew in my Christian walk, in my ministry/service, closer to God…but my faith continued to falter and I only noticed on the last day of the year.

I was with my girls and we were recapping on the year and it’s only then I realised I was speaking like someone who has no faith and that’s because I had none. Or only trace amounts.

To say that it was disturbing is putting it mildly.

I wanted to be the one who had had a hard year but had only positive things to say and look forward to. I wanted to be the one embracing change and looking forward to the challenges and new things. But I wasn’t.

I now understand why. But wouldn’t we all want to be the coffee beans? You know, that story where they say there are three kinds of people: eggs, carrots and coffee beans.

In hot water they all react differently: the eggs become hardened, the carrots turn to mush but the coffee beans produce a beautiful aroma – in other words, they excel in crises.

Well, I wasn’t a coffee bean, that’s for sure. Can’t decide whether I was a carrot or an egg.

Anyway,things didn’t go so well this year. There were good and great things that happened, but I focused on the bad towards the end…for various reasons.

So this year I’m going to learn, or re-learn, faith.

And I’ll be reading the book of Job a lot.

I think he would understand.

Happy New Year bloggers!

Feels like I’ve been here forever,
Why can’t you just intervene,
Do you see the tears keep falling?
And I’m falling apart at the seams,
But you never said the road would be easy,
But you said that you would never leave.
And you never promised that this life wasn’t hard,
But you promised you’d take care of me,
So I’ll stop searching for the answers,
I’ll stop praying for an escape,
I’ll trust you God with where I am,
And believe you will have your way,
Just have your way,
Just have your way.

When my friends and my family have left me
And I feel so ashamed and so cold,
Remind you take broken things and turn them into beautiful
So I’ll stop searching for the answers,
I’ll stop praying for an escape,
I’ll trust you God with where I am,
And believe that you will have your way,
Just have your way,
Just have your way.

Even if my dreams have died,
Even if I don’t survive,
I’ll still worship you with all my life,
And I’ll stop searching for the answers,
I’ll stop praying for an escape,
And I’ll trust you God with where I am,
And believe you will have your way,
Just have your way,
Just have your way, yeah
I know you will,
You won’t forget,
Whoa, oh, oh
You love me,
Have your way.

– Britt Nicole