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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

I Am Alive, But She Isn't







The Rebuild family has entered into a season of heartbreak, one of our dearest friends has overdosed.  The heartache is still so fresh that the words just won't come, but there are some things that I have been pouring over that I want to talk about today.  Writing these things helps me to think through them, I don't like to sensor my thoughts here, so I will pour them out for you here and hope that you accept them with grace and understanding.   

In the past few days, I have been pouring over old messages that we had together and there is an overwhelming theme, my friend loved Jesus with all her heart.  She also loved encouraging me.  The photo above is one of those messages.  I had hit a really dark time, and we were talking about it.  We often talked about my darkness.  We talked about mine and we talked about hers.  We also talked about the light. She was my friend, so I didn't have to hold back.  She understood and she delivered words of wisdom to me.  In our messages like these, a common theme was that we were alive.  At one point she said "we are clean, we are sober, and we are alive".  She told me that this all has to mean something.  We repeatedly took the gift of life that we were given and we threw it back into God's face, but He left us here.  He wasn't ready for us yet, despite our best efforts.  Why? What are supposed to do with that? 

This past week, God was ready for Kayla.  She knew Him.  She is still moving mountains.  She is a perfectly flawed daughter of God. Nothing less.  Her soul is not meant for eternal damnation! Praise the Lord for that! 

He was ready for her this time, and that has to mean something.  

He left me here, and that has to mean something too. 

I don't know what to do with that.   

I am clean, I am sober, and I am alive.  That has to mean something.  It does mean something.  There is a reason that I am still here.  I am alive.  

When Kayla was here, she lived fully alive.  Anyone who knew her can tell you that.  She lived her life to the fullest.  She lived alive, and I want to live alive too.  Her death will not be in vain. 

We are all alive, and that has to mean something....

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Evidence Of Grace

"Here is what we believe to be some very good news: If you’re reading this, if there’s air in your lungs on this November day, then there is still hope for you. Your story is still going. And maybe some things are true for all of us. Perhaps we all relate to pain. Perhaps we all relate to fear and loss and questions. And perhaps we all deserve to be honest, we all deserve whatever help we need. Our stories are all so many things: Heavy and light. Beautiful and difficult. Hopeful and uncertain. But our stories aren’t finished yet. There is still time, for things to heal, change, and grow. There is still time to be surprised. We are stories still going, you and I. We are stories still going."

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As I was sitting in counseling a few weeks ago we were talking about the kingdom value of sharing your story. People these days love to talk about stories, how we are all living them.  People talk about how there are chapters to your story.  As a culture we love a good story.  Even if you look at marketing you can tell we are a society driven by stories.  However, I think when it comes to kingdom value, our stories are so very important. Back in my youth group days, it used to be called a testimony.  The story of how you came to Jesus, or how Jesus saved you.  The problem is, is that for so often, so many of us simply saw our testimony as a stand alone event.  As in, I came to Jesus, He saved me, now I'm good.  

The problem is, is that so often rescue and recovery is not a single, once-then-done, event. 

The sacrifice that provided our eternal rescue, that was one sacrifice for all for eternity. But our everyday growth, it's just that, every day.  

It's an often used phrase, but it's true, "we are stories still going".  We require much grace and rescue every single day.  

So this leads me to the original thought behind this post.  I, for so often, believed that I couldn't tell my story, or my story wasn't even worth telling, until it was perfect.  Until it was finished.  I thought that a story of rescue wasn't rescue if it wasn't complete.  But that isn't true is it.  Christ, in his infinite mercy and grace, is saving me and redeeming my story every second of every day.  I may still struggle.  My story may still royally blow some days  most days.  However, one look at my story and the evidence of grace is written all over it.  Look at the story of anyone who is in Christ, and you will find the same thing.  The message of rescue is present in everyone who has been rescued, and we have all been rescued haven't we.  

I am doing a bible study right now from IF that is about telling your story of redemption, and I struggle with it.  Not because I don't believe it, but because I know it's true.  Hiding my story of rescue comes naturally to me.  I love this perfectly crafted image I have built of myself.  I don't want to be broken.  I don't want to show my weakness, but that is what I have felt convicted to do.  It is so easy to keep living behind this image of who I appear to be.  I like that person. People like her, people think she is great, people admire her.  Who wouldn't want that, right? I guess what I am saying is, is that I don't, or rather can't, be that person anymore.  God has rescued me, and if telling people about that brings them to Him, or even gives them a glimpse of His infinite grace and mercy, then how can I keep that to myself? 

My story is still messy, but today is a different chapter.  

The evidence of His grace is the fact that I am still not where I used to be.  

The evidence of His grace is the fact that I am still here.  

I've made progress, that is proof of the rescue.  I may still get depressed, but I don't think about dying anymore.  I may still cut every once in awhile, but it is so much significantly less often than it was.  I am still anxious, goodness I am still anxious, but it's better.  I still go to counseling and do the work, but I have to go less often than I did when I first admitted I needed it.  I am more open and vulnerable, still need to work on that more for sure though. My obsessive need to do things, it's practically gone.  My life is completely changed.  I am still here for crying out loud, how great is His mercy and grace!

I haven't moved into the next chapter yet, but this is definitely not the chapter I was living before.

How can I keep that victory to myself.  It would be an injustice to the people around me.  Perhaps more importantly, in doing so, I am not giving glory to Him.  My goal should always be to give the glory back to Him in everything that I do.  He demands glory.  

So, I will speak.

I will tell my story. 

I don't quite know how this will work.  I mean it isn't the most natural to just go up to someone and talk about how you used to want to die is it? So for now, if someone asks, I will share my chapter.  I will point to rescue, I will point to the evidence of His grace.  I'll give Him the glory.  

Friday, April 21, 2017

Feel Too Much

So here I am, lying in bed at 2 in the morning, thinking those deep thoughts once again. I don't know that many of my thoughts make much sense at all, and my eyes are getting continually more heavy, so bear with me while I spew out my random musings tonight.

I just finished the book If You Feel Too Much by Jamie Tworkowski, and tonight I was reading in another book and admiring the way both authors sees things. Similar to myself really. To sometimes feel like weight of all the things at once. To see a sunset and at once be filled with joy and worship, while simultaneously pondering things like the complexity of life. I feel like in my mind, nothing is simple. Everything feels deep and complex and too much.

Part of me wonders if my brain is just wired differently. Does everyone feel these things? I honestly don't have the answer to that question, but it's one of those things that pop into your head when you are trying to sleep.

Sometimes it is a nightmare to feel too much, but so many times it is also a beautiful gift.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Cross Has The Final Word

I am lying here in bed, trying to get some sleep, but I can't stop running over the details of this blessed day. This Lenten season, some of us from Rebuild have been participating in Holy Week services at different churches in our community, and tonight was no different. It was a beautiful service full of reminders of His mercy. We observed foot washing and communion.  It was a beautiful and blessed night. It was different than what I am used to, but I think that that made it all the more stunning to me. I couldn't 'phone it in', I listened, and boy did my heart listen tonight.

It hasn't just been this evening. This entire Lenten season has been beautiful. Part of me wishes that it didn't have to end. I suppose it doesn't have to really. I think that I love the intentionality of it.  It peels back the layers of our busy lives and allows us to remember who has been at the center of it all along. It's a quiet meditation.  This week has been full of beautiful reminders, and I can't recall a time that I have enjoyed Easter with this much passion and love for Jesus flowing out of me.

Tonight, I was in the stillness, listening to songs about the cross. I listened to songs that kept repeating over and over the same message, and suddenly it hit me right in the heart. That moment, the it is finished moment, what a stunning sacrifice. I was overwhelmed with the love. I wanted the throw my hands in the air right then and there, the love of our savior for me, I can't even fathom it. I just love Jesus so much. One song lyric that really stuck with me was "evil may put up the strongest fight, but the Cross has the final word." Talk about a victory people! I mean come on! When He proclaimed with His dying breath, it is finished, the gravity of what that really means, I can't even begin to fathom it. The love and the mercy that He has for us. He paid it all!

 I heard someone say that the only reason we can call it Good Friday is because we look at it through the lens of Sunday...but I think that sometimes we forget the weight of Friday. It was bloody and filled with grief. He took the weight of our sins upon Himself and was separated from the Father. I am in awe of His mercy tonight. It's Friday, but Sunday is coming!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Thank God For Grace



"I'll never understand why He takes people who are so much better
 than me and He leaves me here" 


Tonight at Rebuild Church, I heard someone say these words, and instantly, I felt the weight of them.  My heart broke for the woman that said this.  My heart didn't break because she was such a worse sinner than I was, my heart broke because I am her, we are all her. Every single one of us in this world has thought these things, and that is why I have to write this today. I have to write them for you, dear reader, and I have to write them for myself.  Not a day goes by that I don't sin, and while my sin might look different than my friends, it is not worse. Not a single one of us is perfect, and every single one of us deserves death, that is where the beauty of His sacrifice, His mercy, and His grace come pouring in and flooding every corner of our brokenness.  My heart broke for her because she cannot fathom the love that the Father has for her and for every single one of his children. We cannot sin our way out of the scope of His love.  

She got part of it right, because of our sin, we all deserve death.  However, not a single one of us is any more deserving of life than anyone else, and the same goes for grace, love, mercy.  We cannot out sin grace.  We can out sin holiness, but never grace.  It is never ending.  So she was right in this regard, we all deserve death.  We all deserve consequences for our sin.  After all, the wages of sin is death. Thank God for the precious gift of forgiveness and eternal life.  Now, I can not speak to whether or not this friend of mine actually knows Jesus, but I pray she will.  There are plenty of people out there who also share this same broken spirit about their sin, and I hope that they can discover His grace as well.  

These words also called my mind the unspoken hierarchy of sins in the collective church today.  According to this false set of standards, sure, some of us have pretty bad sins.  Some of us have terrible sins.  Maybe your sin is one of those church sanctioned sins.  The ones that are not really alright, but we let it slip by because, hey, everyone sins a little right.  While I cannot speak to the heart of the person who said these words tonight, I can imagine that she has heard about our false hierarchy of sins.  I can imagine that some of her sins are not on the church sanctioned list.  I know that some of my sins are not on the church sanctioned list.  I also know that this list is a load of nonsense.  How dare we categorize each other, just to ease our own conscience.  The severity of someone else's sin doesn't redeem your 'little' sin.  How dare we put the grace and sacrifice of Jesus into a box.  He is enough for her sins.  He is enough for all sins.  His sacrifice is enough for addiction, gossip, theft, doubt, attempted suicide, laziness, murder, hate, and any other sin that you can think of.  He hates all of it.  He is enough to cover it.  In the eyes of God, these are all the same.  So when my friend says that she is more deserving of death than someone else, it breaks my heart.  We are all born broken, every last one of us.

Just keep pouring out grace today.  Just keep pointing your neighbors to Jesus today.  His grace is enough.  His love is deep enough for you.