Less-Wild Lovers

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I picked up my book (The Sacred Romance) again last night in hopes of calming my thoughts so I could sleep. The chapter was titled “Less-Wild Lovers.” My curiosity was immediately awakened and I ended up reading long past my bedtime.

Ever feel like the author is zeroing in on you? I felt that way about this chapter-it was written for me and not only that, it was written for me to read last night.

In the chapter, we go back to the Romance. Our relationship with the God of the universe and the most wild lover of all. This romance that is set inside of us-a longing, not just for things past, but for things to come. It is perhaps something of a haunting, as the book refers to it, leaving us longing for deep, intimate fellowship and communication. It calls us to pilgrimage. Isaiah 45:2-3 speak of God going before us. Alluding to a journey, an image not foreign to the Christian life, but perhaps what is foreign is a deep look into the kind of journey we are called to take. A journey of the heart. Yet we stand at the crossroads and are faced with two paths. One rocky, windy, with little instruction given in advance. We cannot see past the first turn and are simply called to trust. The other, wide, narrow, complete with a guidebook and first nights lodging. As a planner, I would personally like to take the path with the guidebook. It takes the risk out of it, but it also takes the heart out of it. When we traverse the wide path, we resign to discipline and rules and lose the passion stored in our hearts. When it rears back up, we just re-focus and re-amp our discipline efforts to attempt to push it back into its neat little box. “We find ourselves doing more and more to quiet the heart voice that tells us we have given up what is most important to us.”

This road, while straight and quiet, gives us no hints or tips on what to do with the depth of desire God has placed in each of us. I struggled with this for a long time. It was in Africa I realized for the first time the longing and desire in my heart. The passion that had been shoved down for so long. But I had no guidelines for what to do with that passion, so I, like most, re-doubled my efforts at being a “good” Christian. But “there comes a place on our spiritual journey where renewed religious activity is of no use whatsoever.” Here we find God reaching out his hand and asking us to give up the “less-wild lovers” in exchange for a life lived in personal, intimate relationship with Him. These “less-wild lovers” may be idols in our heart, people. actions, even good things like Christian service, but they distract us from the ultimate pursuit. And as I am coming to find, are unfulfilling and unsatisfying. They are nothing like the adventure that comes from being pursued by God and in turn, pursuing Him back.

The question then is.. am I willing to give up the “less-wild lovers” in my heart? Am I willing to step out and take a journey on a path that tells me nothing but that the ending is the ultimate satisfaction? Can my heart give up the temporary for the eternal?

Yes. It is the only choice left in my heart. 

Message of the Arrows

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I have been reading The Sacred Romance and I have to say, this book, more than any I have read in a long time, has really helped me see some things more clearly.  One of the things the author talks a lot about in the book is the “Message of the Arrows.” That is the lies we believe about ourselves..the arrows that have been shot at us and that Satan uses to render us ineffective in service to our King. Satan keeps us trapped in our small stories through the message of the arrows. And he doesn’t have to do much because we believe them and we often think it is our own inner voice whispering these lies to us. I like how the author put it.

“We simply live where busyness, or apathy, or struggle with circumstances that won’t change occupies most of our energy. And the enemy it perfectly happy to leave us is such a place practicing our religion. We are already defeated. The lion, if he roars at us at all, only does so internally about certain things we need to get under control or keep hidden in regard to the smaller stories we are counting on for life.”

We come to believe that the things people say of us are true, the small story we are living is the only story we will ever live. We count on them for meaning and for identity. We struggle to keep them in order and perfect, all the while becoming exhausted and empty. We feel a deep longing for more inside, but we push it back down to the inner places of our hearts because it is dangerous and uncertain to explore this longing. The first step to rediscovering our passion and addressing that longing is to recognize those arrows.  What is the smaller story you have been living out? What lie has Satan trapped you in to believe this is it?

The smaller story that has been playing out in my life: mediocrity. I have come to believe I am average. That I not good enough or smart enough or pretty enough or athletic enough or compelling enough to reach for my dreams. And the thing about the arrows are, they get reinforced. I was always almost on homecoming court. I always almost had the top grade. I never tried out for a play because  I thought I wasn’t good enough. So I filled my life with whatever I could find to seek some sort of separation. One area where I felt above average. Unfortunately, I still carried around the identity of being average. Even if I may have excelled, in my eyes, I never saw it. I just kept buying into this story that my life was just average. But I couldn’t shake this passion. This longing that life wasn’t supposed to be like this. I just never know what it was that I was looking for or missing. I figured this just part of life. But what I have to learn is that my identity does not lie in the message of the arrows. My identity lies in the sacred romance God is inviting me on. Its scary and risky and will be a journey that is anything but average. See, in His eyes, I am anything but average. In His eyes, I am worth pursuing, worth loving, and worth risking His Son’s life for. I don’t want an average life. I never have. But Satan whispers in my ears the lies that say, “You are just average, you have nothing special to offer.” I am unpacking those arrows. Digging them out of their lodging place. It’s surely not easy. They have been there so long its a painful process.  Yet, until you address the message of the arrows head on, they will always have a hold on you. Until you recognize where the message is coming from and that the message is false, you will continue to believe it. I refuse to believe it any longer. I will not allow Satan to keep me trapped in the small story I have been living when God has a grand plan for my life. I have no idea what that will look like, but today it starts with learning to identify who I am in Christ and with living out that identity with gusto, life, love, and enthusiasm.

Is God good?

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War. Poverty. Sex trafficking. Child soldiers. Homelessness. Failing economy. Unemployment. Sickness. AIDs. Global Warming. And the list could go on. As I read the news and follow the stories, as I look at my own life and my own struggles, I am often brought to this struggle… Is God good?  In fact, I think it is probably something most people struggle with. Whether we admit it or not, deep in our hearts lingers this question. Is this God I trust in good? 

I have never read the Chronicles of Narnia series, but I know one scene from The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe like the back of my hand because it so often comes up in discussions of whether God is good or not. The children are getting ready to meet Aslan and Susan asks if He is safe. Seems like a logical question when one is preparing to meet a lion and the answer “yes” is of course the one you would like to hear. Yet the response given is this, “‘Course He isn’t safe. But He’s good. He’s the King, I tell ya.”

As I have delved deeper into the heart of God, I have learned something. Following God isn’t going to be safe. In fact, perhaps the Christian life should come with a warning. Hardship up ahead. And if we ever doubt that, we just have to take one glance back at Job to know that perhaps today might be the day that everything goes amiss. Pretty depressing take on it. But that isn’t the end. See the thing is, following God may not be safe, but it is secure. We can trust that God’s heart is good. We can trust that He is pursuing us. He loves us. He wants to be intimately acquainted with us. And He wants our lives to bring Him glory no matter what on earth happens.  I have found that the more I pursue God, the more I fall madly in love with Him. The less I question what He is doing and the more I question what I am doing. If God is good, then I can trust His heart. I, then, just need to align my heart with His. I want to weep over what He weeps over. I want to rejoice over what He rejoices over. I want to love those He loves. And I want to continue drinking in His presence, even when I can barely find it in the midst of life.

So, I finally came to the conclusion that God is good. And everything in my life went crazy. I had a real decision to make then. Was I going to continue to trust that God is good? Or was I going to blame Him for the hurt and the pain and the confusion and the lack of direction?  I decided that I was simply going to trust. I wasn’t going to question His heart. In that, I found a peace I have never felt. I found love. I found acceptance. And I found that life falling apart was the necessary step for God to rebuild it the way He wanted. It was the push I needed to truly let my heart become one with His and to respond to His leading. I still have no idea where His leading will take me, but I am confident that He will lead me on each and every step and this journey we take will be one of adventure, love, and of course at times, intense hardship that once again requires a serious look back into the heart of God. Thankfully, He continues to prove that He is good. And I will continue to have faith in His heart.

(Thoughts from The Sacred Romance. An excellent read!)

"Other-world" focused

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I’m currently reading The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer. It’s a really good book, but I read something today that struck me.

“But we must avoid the common fault of pushing the “other world” into the future. It is not future, but present.”

The “other world” is heaven and he was talking about how if we truly want to seek God we much be other worldly. But so many times in my life, I view this life and the next as two different things. I don’t take a lot of time to consider that the decisions I make in this life carry over. Heaven is not only in the future, it is also in the present. As a Christian, my decisions and actions should be based on a heaven-focused outlook, but so many times they are not. So many times I have a here-and-now focus. I plan for right now, not for eternity. How different would life be if we changed our focus? How many more people would be in the kingdom of heaven if each of us viewed everyone with an eternity focus. How harder would we work? How much more would we study and pray? I know I would do more..

Just a thought..

Amanda

The Divine Dance

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I got a new book tonight..I love getting new books! This one however, I simply picked up off the shelf-read the title and purchased it, not knowing much about it. The title-The Divine Dance-caught my eye. I used to be a ballerina and still harbor a dream of someday getting back into it. I started reading, and got to the introduction. I normally don’t even read the introductions, but I did..and I had to put the book down because I was so convicted. The author talked about how so often we perform for others, and forget the one we are truly performing for. We put on masks and different identities to try and please the audiences we’re supposedly performing for. What we forget is that there is One who has never left..He has sat through all our performances. But He likes us best when we aren’t performing. He likes us when we are broken before Him, and truly worshipping him. I put the book down and pondered it for a bit. I realized how often I perform for the people in my life..trying to get them to pick me and to like me. But so often I forget the real person I am supposed to be performing for. My heavenly father..who loves me and thinks I’m special no matter what. I’m thankful for that and thankful that even when it seems like everyone has has rejected my performance..God still loves me and still thinks I’m special.