Posted in Teachable Heart

The King is Coming

Advent- coming

I was taught that advent was the anticipation of the coming of the Messiah, the coming of Jesus into the world. The waiting for Jesus to be born and laid in a manger, God made flesh.

Now, I am a little older and a little wiser. I now ask the question: Why do we celebrate the coming of Jesus when He has already come?

This world doesn’t want to see Jesus as who He is today. They would much rather see Him as the sweet little baby sleeping on the hay. They would rather see Him tiny and helpless, needing His mother’s nourishment and His father’s protection. They don’t want Him to be the man preaching in the Synagogues, proclaiming the truth, the man who confronted people and revealed their sins. They don’t want Him to be the man driving the money lenders out of the temple with a whip, furious in His holy wrath that His house was being used in such a way. No, they don’t like this Jesus. This is the Jesus that calls men to repent, to turn from their sinful ways and sin no more. This is the Jesus who now sits on the heavenly throne in all glory, and this is the Jesus who is coming again, not as a little babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, but as King.

“Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied.

“But I say to all of you: In the future you will the Son of Man

sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One

and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Matthew 27:64

This Jesus is mighty and powerful, this is the Jesus that will judge the hearts of men, who will separate the sheep from the goats (Matthew 25:31-33). Yes, this is no helpless baby, this is Jesus. This is the Jesus we should be celebrating.

Advent is not just Jesus coming to live in our hearts either, no, Advent is about Christ coming again with Power and Might. Advent, the coming of Christ! He will rule forever, and every knee shall bow, every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

This is the Jesus we have, not a babe, but a man.

So come, come one and all. Come before the Throne of God, come before the Mercy Seat, and bow down before him.

God is not dead, nor doth He sleep. Praise and honor and glory be unto His name forever! He is coming, yes He is coming!

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
Who orderest all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory over the grave.

O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.

O come, O come, great Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times once gave the law
In cloud and majesty and awe.

O come, Thou Root of Jesse’s tree,
An ensign of Thy people be;
Before Thee rulers silent fall;
All peoples on Thy mercy call.

O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.

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Posted in Teachable Heart

Caged No More

 

The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill for the caged bird
sings of freedom

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

-Maya Angelou 

I often feel like that caged bird. Broken wing, tied down feet, locked up, and just singing about my dreams but never able to fulfill them.

I know that the last time you heard from me, when I bared my soul and told you my story, I ended on a happy note, all full of cheer and happy endings. I still believe in that Happily Ever After, but that doesn’t stop me from pouting and dreaming and moping about some days.

I feel just like that bird, caged in behind bars of rage, ranting and raving at God that I am stuck in this particular place and time.

It’s so easy to mope about. I hate saying this, but it is starkly true. I would much rather walk about with my mask on. The mask that says that I’m a good little Christian that never doubts or questions God. The one who is always well behaved, who never yells at her mother or fights with her older sister, who is never selfish or…..you get the picture, but then I wouldn’t be human. God made me human, He choose me as I am, and he doesn’t mind my rants. After all, those are the very things that draw me close to him. For in my cries of pain and anguish, I drag myself to the alter of grace, anger may boil inside me, but he never shrinks away, he listens, patiently with love, and when I am through, He calls me hither and holds me, and lets me know that He is always there for me.

I’m not really caged, for with God’s grace I soar. I am free in Christ, free to be human, free to doubt, free to wail, to cry out to Him even in my rage and anguish. I am free because Jesus has made me so. He will never push me away, and allows me to be human and honest before Him. Allows me even to be angry in His presence for then He soothes that anger, rebukes when needed, but always loves. Jesus pulls me up, wipes the tears from my eyes, and then gives me His perfect peace.

Before God we must unmask. We are unmasked, even if we won’t admit it. To be bare and naked before Him, to let Him know when we don’t feel like being good, when we feel only the pain within our hearts for this is when He heals.

The caged bird can’t see outside his bars of rage, but thanks be to God that He broke into our cages and let us free.

I may feel that there is no way out, that I will never fly over the heavens, but one is only caged if we believe ourselves to be.

We don’t have to be caged and sing with fearful trill of the things unknown, yet longed for still.

God broke those chains long ago, and all we have to do is soar.

Posted in Straight from the Heart, Teachable Heart

Blessed Valley

Image

“One sees great things from the valley, only small things from the peak.”  ~G. K. Chesterton

It’s not always a bad thing living in the valley, mountains surround you, and even though you may feel trapped, those mountains protect you from all the ugly, nasty things and wild beasts that would devour your flesh. It is hard living in the valley though. At times you might feel lonely, locked out from the “real world”. As you gaze up at the towering mountains, your eyes following the path winding up and twisting around, some places along sheer cliffs with hardly a foothold, your head might start to swim, and your legs might become like putty when you think what it would be like to fall from such great a height. You start to doubt if you will ever reach such immense heights.

So you wonder around aimlessly, tired and worn with your own attempts to try to climb the mountain. You fall off, thirsty and hungry, but not having the strength to search for nourishment. You might be held down with guilt, sickness, or maybe the weight of your own disabilities. You desperately want to reach the top, but you are trapped in with your failures and shortcomings. Dark, billowing and menacing clouds may gather, pouring down wrath upon you as you try to survive the gale. You cry out to heaven for help, but seem to not be heard.

Such is the state I often find myself. However, when I look around at all the other things people are going through, I scoff at myself, wondering why I am even bothering to moan about it. Yet I struggle all the same. The doubts crowd my head, make me almost unmovable, and then I cry and wail at my seemly lack of courage, my lack of zeal to overcome my troubles, small though they be.

Nonetheless, God still speaks in the valley. He causes us to look up and remember that when we are small, He is bigger, and He is glorified in our weakness. He calls us to preserver, to never give up, to keep fighting, keep running the good race of faith, and He promises that He will be with us every step of the way. He promises that He will bring to completion the good work He began in us.

When we see a storm from a distance, we think it a beautiful thing. We smile as we see the ragged slashes of bright lights, hear the booming thunder like so many cannon balls, and we watch in awe as the trees bend and twist in the rush of the roaring wind. When, however, we find ourselves in the eye of the storm, when we are in grave danger of lighting striking us, thunder roaring over our heads, the rain and wind slashing at us, causing us to swirl and reel, our lives in grave danger, it is a whole other matter. All at once, our joy turns into anger; we turn bitter, blaming God and others for the mess that we are in.  But Scripture tells us,” To be thankful in all circumstances.”

What if, instead of being bitter, we start thanking God for the storm? What if we started dancing, singing, lifting our hands up and swirling around, praising Jesus as loud and boisterous as we possibly could? What if we actually praised Jesus in all circumstances, no matter the cost?

“I can’t, I don’t feel thankful at all!, “our inner beings cry out.

Thankfulness is not a feeling, it is an action, and we are to be thankful regardless of how we “feel”. Feelings passes away, flesh fades, and one day neither the flesh nor the things of the flesh will matter at all.  Thankfulness is a practice, not a feeling.

While reading Mere Christianity, by C. S. Lewes, I was struck with the thought that if we pretend something long enough, it just might become reality. By saying “I forgive you” (even when you do not feel that way) you might actually learn how to forgive.

In other words, thanksgiving is a practice. If you choose to be thankful, you will eventually reach a state of complete and absolute thankfulness, a thankfulness that can only come from God. But you have to start with the words,” Thank you.”

So, will you practice with me? You don’t have to get it right the first time…I myself is just learning the art, it will takes years and years, my whole life in fact before I reach the perfection I am aiming for, but at least I (and you) can have a start. To begin,

  • I am thankful for my learning disabilities in math. For it makes me stronger, and because I have to spend more time in a day working out problems to understand it, I will know how to do it better. And so that I might be a testimony for others of overcoming a difficulty.
  • I am thankful for my auditory processing problems, for it causes me to work on my relationships harder, to be more patient, and to listen more.
  • I am thankful that I have Sensory Processing Disorder, and Vision problems. If I had not, I would not be able to have long car rides with my mom to therapies and I would not be able to meet new people, to encourage them and to be encouraged.
  • I am thankful that I am a down right filthy and dirty sinner, for without sin, I would not need Jesus, and He would have never come down to earth and to walk with us.

I challenge you to write down and make a list of the struggles that you have, be it physical, addiction, temptation, or otherwise.  Then work down the list, thanking God for each and every one of your problems. At first, you may only be able to say “thank you” but as you travel along, you might even be able to write down why you are thankful for it and how it really helped you to draw closer to Jesus.

Someday, we will be able to dance, and sing at the top of our lungs, willing the storm to strike us as hard as it can, because our faith is built on the Rock of Jesus Christ, and it will never be shaken.

This is our hope.

We will still grumble at times, and complain, and ask God why He would allow such horrible things to happen to us, but that is why it is called a journey; you won’t stop walking and working until you have reached your journey’s end.

In the meantime, stay strong; cling to Jesus during the darkest and hardest times, abide in His word, keep your eyes fully on Him, do not look back.

Yes, we do see very great things while in the valley, many indeed.