Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Sinner

I walk around the corner, eyes tracing the grooves in the paved stones. Brow bent down, tears stain the cheek: I've done it again.

I glance up at the massive wooden door in front of me, closed. A tremor of fear runs through me. So often have I seen this door, closed, and yet run through in expectant joy. So many other times I've come through it in shrinking, only to find that once again, I'm welcome. Forgiven.

But what about this time?

Hand reaches for the knob, shaking. Fingers touch brass and the automatic reflex is to jerk away. Will I truly be welcomed and forgiven one more time? Suppose I'm sent out; rejected; abandoned? After all, it was deliberate.

A moment's silence, heart pounding in the stillness. Anguish wrenches the soul, but still it's impossible to resist. The hand reaches for the door knob again while the legs grow weaker still. Will He forgive more time?

The door creaks on its hinges and then flies open. Knees hit the plush red carpet leading to the throne and face buries in stained hands. Sobs rend the air inside the throne room, and only the heart's whisper can be heard. Please forgive me... Oh, please forgive me. 

A rustle of garments, the soft tread of sandalled feet on the carpet... and then a strong hand on the bowed sinner's shoulder, my shoulder. The other hand reaches under my chin and lifts my face up to His. And I see that smile, that same, beautiful smile. "Wherefore dost thou fear, O thou of little faith?"

More tears, which drip down the strong lines of the scarred hand which holds my face. "It was deliberate... I ignored Your call to me. I..."

"If you confess your sins, I am faithful and just to forgive... and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness." The smile is still there.

"Even though I chose...?"

"If thou canst believe..."

I believe. Help Thou mine unbelief.

The shaking sinner falls into the arms of love. Forgiveness again...and again. Even in the face of deliberate transgression. The throne room is nothing to fear--for my Father loves me.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

God's Spotlight

Last week was insane. And that's all there is to it.

I've been a staff member at YD camp this year, loving it and struggling at the same time. A swollen hand, an accidental ibuprofen overdose, a camper taken in to see a doctor at the hospital (no, nothing serious: just a check)... All has combined to make a wonderful, but trying, experience.

I think I know why, too. This year, before coming to YD, I really saw the amount of good I could do here, if the Lord was working in me. I felt the weight of that responsibility... and I prayed earnestly before coming that I would be a light.

Obviously, someone wasn't happy with that.

But Someone else was. And He's been carrying me through, one step at a time.

There's days when I faint and fall at His feet in tears. I can't do this anymore! 

But those are the days when He smiles. Oh yes: through Me, you can. On your feet, brave soldier... 

I love my God.

And He loves me.

I know He loves me because there are times when He speaks to me in the midst of trials. Times when His voice is light a patch of sunlight in a darkened forest. Times when my deepest distress... becomes His greatest lesson.


It was one of those nights when everything weighs on you. Perhaps you've lived through a few of those. The kind when even the fresh air seems suffocating and relieving at the same time. 

No, there wasn't a whole lot wrong. I was healthy (finally), working for God... But discouraged in many ways. I scribbled in my journal that night, detailing my feelings and thoughts in a frustrated way. When I laid down the pen and placed head on pillow, that feeling of silent, unblinking despair still hung about the corners of my cabin.

The next morning dawned brighter, as mornings always do. I showered and pulled out my new EGW devotional book, From the Heart. I opened to the date's thought. I blinked at the title and then bowed my head to pray first.

Lord, I want You to speak to me. From what I can see, this entry is about reverencing You, and I think I'm fairly reverent already. No, I'm no perfect--but I don't see how this could apply to me. Nevertheless, bless me in a special way...

I read. I closed the book. I thought. 

It was about Moses, more specifically about giving true reverence to God. It was a good thought... But I felt like it was incomplete. Something at my shoulder was urging me to reach out and pick up my beloved little pocket Bible and search for something.

I failed to bring a concordance this year. So I flipped to the meager one at the back of my Bible and began looking for words that were parallel to reverence. 

The only one similar I found was respect. And only one verse in the 4 given talked about respecting God. So, I looked it up.

It was in Isaiah 17, a good verse, but still nothing had bitten my nose. I squinted at the cross-references and began to flip to them. Each one, good... 

That's when I came to the last cross-reference of the only verse I could find referenced that talked about respecting or reverencing God. That was the one: the beam of light.

"Therefore I will look unto the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me" (Micah 7:7, italics supplied).

I wrote this in my journal:

It seems that part of respecting God--reverence--is trust Him implicitly. Knowing that He will accomplish everything on time and in time; knowing that He will hear my prayers and answer in the best way possible. Apparently, waiting is a part of reverence.

I want to reverence God. By reverencing Him, I show Him I love Him. And by waiting, I reverence Him. Therefore, by waiting and trusting, I am showing God I love Him.... If I want to love God, to reverence Him, I must trust His plan and wait for that plan to unfold.

Needless to say, it flew in the face of the previous night's despair. Light filled the forest and shone brightly upon sweet truth I'd failed to see in my despair. 

I'm swallowed by this feeling of littleness...

That He can take a shadow and turn it to a song...
That He rewrites the melody when all the tunes go wrong...
That He can take a flightless bird and teach it how to fly...
That He can put a rainbow center-stage in stormy sky.

I'm convinced. God has a huge spotlight up in Heaven somewhere. And it's on mornings when we need it most that He shines it on exactly what we need to hear.

Praise God.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Colors of God's Heart

It’s hard to believe that we’re only one day out from Inchelium, as I write.

The reality of it is that I’m reeling. From a load of information learned, from a piece of God’s heart revealed, from a treasure trove of beauty observed.

I’ve said it more than once in the last few days: This is the craziest trip I have ever been on in my two decades of life.

But I also add: I’ve never learned so much in such a short amount of time before. Ever.

Perhaps that’s what humans need more: These moments of intense, power-packed, overwhelming learning. I know I needed it.

You’re never done learning.

I’ve got a whirlwind ahead of me. Summer camp in a week, then fundraising for Thailand, then going to Thailand, and all the busyness that will entail. God’s got me booked until next March.

what next?

I shrug. Smile.

As long as I learn…
As long as I’m working…
As long as He’s with me…

But wait.

Do I know that He’ll be with me?

Yes. I do.

How do I know?

A promise.


I huddled in the bus, next to the window, sweatshirt hood pulled down over my eyes. I traced the passing landscape in weariness. No place to stay so far—and we’d tried three places. No one wanted us to stay there.

I stared at the sky. Lord, if only I could know You’re still there. That I’m not as alone as I feel. That You’re interested in what’s happening. That You’re with me…

I smiled, a little sadly. I saw a rainbow earlier. It was so beautiful. If only I could see a rainbow again. It is a promise, after all…

I blinked. Within seconds of my inaudible wish, a small rainbow appeared right where I was looking. Small, but bright, it defied my loneliness and spoke volumes. Ask, and it shall be given thee…

Tears filled my eyes and spilled down my cheeks as I watched that small rainbow grow bigger, brighter, glorious and still more glorious—and then it faded from view and I was staring at an empty, cloudy sky again.

“If we ask anything, according to His will, He heareth us.”

He heard me.

And He answered.

“I promise I’m here.
I promise I’m watching over you.
I promise I’m working—in you and for you.
I promise you’re never alone.
I promise…”

“I love you.”

Heart lifts.

My God loves me.

Enough to tell me so…

Through a rainbow in a stormy sky.

I've seen glimpses of God's heart before...

But I guess I never knew it had an array of colors quite like that.

“Oh yes, He cares, I know He cares… His heart is touched with my grief…When the days are weary, the long nights dreary, I know my Savior cares…”