I Can’t Breathe

Worship is one my favorite experiences in Christianity.  We have an awesome worship team at our church, excellent musicians, hearts that love Jesus with all they have, lights, big screens.

But lately, I can’t breathe.

I sing but I’m afraid to pour it out, to let go.

I am going through a season where I don’t have enough.  We pay the bills.  We even get McDonalds or Chick-fil-A sometimes.  But we are just surviving, no money to dream, no extra to give when we see a need.

And it’s all my fault.

I thought…

I thought.  I thought.  I thought.

But things didn’t turn out the way I planned.  Dreams I hoped for died.  And it feels like everyone has turned away from me as I lay wallowing in the ashes of those fires.

It changes worship.

“You’re a good, good Father.”  Why Lord?

“Oh the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.”  Where are you, my God and King?

Our big, fancy mega-churches with comfy chairs and temperature controlled sanctuaries can’t take away the pain of what seems like abandonment.

I think about churches around the world.  Some hiding, many so small that the world will never know they existed.  Churches where believers die at the hands of government or suicide bombers, or apathy.

I think the beauty of the bride, the church of Jesus Christ, shines from a queen, not a princess.  A princess has everything perfected for her, protected for her.  A queen stands with her King, fights beside Him, rules with Him, dares with Him, suffers and dies with Him.

Our churches can give the illusion that we are all princesses, that we are safe and comfortable as we lift our hands in praise.

But that isn’t what is real.  What is true is that many that walk through the doors can’t breathe.  Life has kicked at beaten every bit of joy and peace out of us and we can’t see a way out.

That is where our life is found.

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself take up his cross daily and follow me.” Matthew 16:24

Blessing will come, through the cross.  Peace and joy will come, through the cross.  Life, real life will come only through the cross.

I can breathe, through the cross.

The Open Wound

She was my favorite mare. A tall, beautiful, good-natured bay that did nothing but throw beautiful foals. And there she stood, trembling in agony, staring, blindly at the wall in front of her. Everyone could see the problem but no one knew the cause. Her left shoulder had a grapefruit sized swelling but there was no visible wound.

At last, we decided to lance the wound. We weren’t sure how she would respond since this would only increase her pain, but we had to try. Carefully, we cleansed the area, her head sinking lower despite our gentle efforts. The scalpel was poised and the drawn over the center of the swelling. Her head came up sharply and then relief spread over her whole body as a fountain of foul smelling infection poured from the wound.

From what we could determine, she had received a small puncture wound that remained undetected. The bacteria had invaded and a little wound turned into a life-threatening problem.

We deal with this so much in the westernized church. Sin, addiction, a spiritual wound remain hidden. Good Christians don’t act that way or have problems like that. Don’t talk about it. Don’t ask for help.

Do you want healing? Do you want freedom? Do you want peace? Find someone you trust. Find some group or a friend who will stand by you and bring your problems out where they can be seen.

As my good friend says, Satan works in the dark, not Jesus. Let his light shine on you, in you. As the infection leaves, there will be pain. But, the relief, the peace, the joy that replaces it is beyond imagining.

Bipolar

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness characterized by episodes of an elevated mood known as mania, usually alternating with episodes of depression.

Worship leaders, worshipers in general, tend toward a spiritual bipolar disorder.  We seek the high of the presence of the Lord, the rush of His power as we lift up His name, the joy that overwhelms us as the congregation is broken and healed, hands lifted, tears flowing.

And then, we walk out the doors.  We climb in our cars and go home.  We fight with our spouses and isolate ourselves from our children. We turn to our instruments for comfort, for solace.  We look at our bank accounts, our jobs, our bills and do the math.  We go through the motions of quiet time and study.  And never, never feel fulfilled.

So we seek the next high.  Concerts, CDs, Youtube, a new job, a new high.

Life can be so difficult.  And, the medical world would seek to level those moods, shorten the swings from mania to depression.

I would question, within myself, in everything I do, I would question myself as to what is causing those swings.  What is the scaffolding that holds up the pendulum?

Do I feel a rush as I see myself praised for skills, for passion, for service?  Do I hear the words of affirmation and pin them on me?  Do I look to salve my wounds, my bruises, my hurts?  Do I wish them removed, uncleansed, untreated, unhealed?  Do I want my life more comfortable, more at ease?

Or do I simply need more Jesus?

The crash of waves that surround the holy moments of worship, in prayer, in song, are a normal result of our encounters with God.  Can you imagine meeting with the King of the Universe and being unmoved?  Can we hope to rest on the pinnacle of His touch on our lives with no opportunity to need Him again?  That would not be natural, not living.

The former leads only to hurt, for the structures that uphold it disintegrate beneath the weight of Him.  But if He holds it up, being the trussing, the lights and the sound within us, the fall will come, the waves will crash…

and we will stand.

New Birth

I was there for the birth of each of my children.  I cut the cord on three of them, the miracle of my second son being the only one the doctor took a hand in.  To this day, when I watch a birth in classes that I took, read about it in a book, see it faked in a movie, I am moved to tears.  I can’t explain it.

The heroism of the mother as she endures the pain, the amazing anatomy that God created that affords such safety and environmental control that then changes so drastically, the structures of the umbilicus and placenta, and the beauty of the closed eyes, the shocked reaction to this world, the struggling, grasping little hands, all play on my heart and mind.

Scientifically, it is strong enough evidence to refute evolution completely.

Emotionally, I can’t get over the promise, the amazement, LIFE!

As I have previously stated, I’m struggling with forgiveness.  I am weighing the pros and cons of letting go of what I can’t control, the hurts done to me, the hurts I have done to others.  And it strikes me that it is has many similarities with giving birth.

Hear me out ladies.

The pain involved (you definitely get honors on the physical level girls), the contrasts of relaxing and pushing, the mess, the despair, the fear, the hope, the strength, the courage, and all to bring new life.

To abort this process, to keep this life inside, to deny the pain and difficulties, is to walk hand in hand with our enemy.

In life, in birth, in forgiveness, we all have a choice.

CHOOSE LIFE!

Busy, Busy, Busy

Once again, life has gotten crazy, money is tight, my little world is turned on its ear.  I haven’t been able to write.  Haven’t been able to think.  Haven’t been able to breathe.

All this feels so wrong.  I keep thinking of the song by the Indigo Girls (they were popular for a short time in the late 80’s, early 90’s).

“My place is of the sun and this place is of the dark.  I do not feel the romance.  I do not catch the spark.  And I will not be a pawn for the prince of darkness any longer.”

Yeah, the emotional rollercoaster artsy people ride every day.

That’s the trouble with being busy.  We get caught in the whirlwind of activity and everything spins out of control.  We snatch and grab, trying to find some purchase, some toehold where we can gain some sense of control, some sense that life will not always be so difficult.

And being busy can medicate us too.  It can numb the pain of damaged relationships, latent wounds that lie festering in our hearts.  But it’s like taking tylenol for an aneurism.  We realize that we can’t pull it down, it won’t come under our control.  It isn’t, our life IS NOT ours to own, to rule.

So on my knees, I come to You, Lord.  I’m Yours.  You rule.  I rest. 

New price on my book “Daybreak”
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He Held My Hand

My friend.

We had walked together for what seemed like so short a time, and now he was dying.  Cancer had come back with a vengence and he was hurting so bad.

I had an accident the day before and my hand was broken.  I was in pain myself but nothing compared to what he was going through.

So, as he was dying, he asked to take my hand, to hold on to his friend for a little while and ease the pain a bit.  With each wave of agony he faced, he would squeeze so hard.  Then he would release as the fury of that silent monster would abate.

And I took the pain.  Not because I’m a hero, not brave, not strong.  I took it because he was my friend.

I look at my hand from time to time, seeing the flaws in the healing, knowing my hand was never the same again.  And I realize that’s why God put us together, all of us.  When we hurt, we often cause pain to others, we create deformities, broken places.  But it is our honor, our priviledge to share in these sufferings.  It is not the time to isolate, to reject, to protect yourself – barring the abusive relationship to be sure.  As we are hurting, we share in the pain, allowing ourselves to be hurt.  Yes, laying down our lives.

It is how we see Jesus.