Your Feet

You came into this thirsty land and trod upon the sun-baked earth. In your wake you left–not dust, but healing; joy, gladness, song, and hope. God on the move, constantly seeking the one who strayed, running to meet me while I was still far away. You go forward when others turn back.

So tell me: where can I go, that you will not dare go find me? How far is too far for your feet to tread in this crazy–yes, crazy–pursuit of my soul?

I do not know the answer to it. Only this I have found, only until we nailed your feet on that cross you never ceased walking and moving on behalf of the sinner. ‘Til you were pierced for me your feet never stumbled or turned away from me. Yet though you hung bleeding and dying for me, your purpose was still accomplished. and you won back my soul.

*  *  *

I’m so tired of waiting for love to come reach me. I’ve grown weary of seeing life simply pass by. So I’m making some changes and I’ll follow your lead knowing that if I step where you step my footing is surer and my way is made smoother. So teach me to run–not to walk–and meet life with arms open. To dance and to leap and to skip if I want to. To boldly go forward and seek those in need even if it means going against a rushing current. To be on the move; stride with purpose to meet you. And for once not to run–but to fly to your arms.

Yes. Toward the light.

God's name is in the very breath you take

Your Name

Ancient rabbis believed that the letters [that made up God’s name] were kind of breathing sounds and that ultimately the name is simply unpronounceable because the letters together are essentially the sound of breathing. Yod, Heh, Vah, He. –Rob Bell, Breathe

In the morning, still drowsy from all that gentle dreaming, I wake up and sigh your name as I stir under my warm covers and rise to greet the day.

Yahweh.

Your name–so overwhelmingly holy and mysterious that it’s become  unutterable–becomes something that is alive and full of meaning when I breathe and think of you. Did you know, Father, that thinking of you first thing in the morning is beginning to come as naturally as breathing? Is it you who is making it so that praying to you is starting to become second nature?

I am breathing, and with it I am saying your name. I am conscious enough to know that life is a miracle, and I am reminded to worship you. My worship rises up in the form of a prayer; an act as simple as thinking, and as necessary as breathing. I squint my eyes and smile when the sun hits my face.

Another beautiful day.

Father, may every word that comes from my mouth today be true to the nature of the Holy Spirit who dwells in me. Because if it is true that that your name is in every breath I take… It would be akin to blasphemy to waste it in speaking idle, hurtful, or profane words. 

And it is when I think this, that the flowing river of worshipful prayer suddenly stops…

You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. -Exodus 20:7

Can it be?

Can it be that I have spent most of my life, misusing your name simply by not considering every life-giving breath I take as holy? Can it be that misusing even the air I breathe–misusing the life you’ve given me–is actually taking your name in vain?

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

In.

Out.

I am, without a doubt, guilty. And still my heart beats steady. And still my lungs draw air. And yet… and yet…

How could I have thought that I was fulfilling this commandment simply by using some stupid euphemisms whenever I was angry or surprised? How could I have thought that this was one of the easiest–that’s right–EASIEST commandments to keep?

Because now I see, God, that it is the one commandment that holds me accountable for living my life right, without wasting a single word, a single moment, or a single breath. It calls me to make good use of this life, this air, this name that I breathe.

YOUR Holy name.

Perfection - the ultimate example is God - The example our Lord gives us is not that of a good man, or even a good Christian, but of God himself. “Be ye therefore perfect”…

Perfect

“…love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matt 5:44-48 NIV)

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Getting Ready

I got up very early Saturday morning to find that it was raining.

No matter. Off I went to the restroom. I brushed my teeth, ran a brush through my hair and jumped in the shower. Once I’d washed my hair I reached for the soap—there was none.

Dripping wet as I was I stepped out and looked for a bar soap behind the mirror—there was none. Not even hand soap. Oh, well. Shampoo is just another liquid soap, right? I stepped back into the shower and yelped as I slipped and landed on the tile floor with a painful smack.

Sh—Ow!!

I stayed on the shower floor a few seconds with rivulets of water running down my body. There, in the heel of my foot, was stuck the thin remnant of a bar of soap. The nasty little culprit had camouflaged against the white tile. I peeled it from my foot and threw it in the toilet bowl before making a gigantic effort to get back on my feet. Somehow I felt much heavier than my full 250 pounds, and it felt like my knee had sustained some serious strain. But I could not blame anyone but myself for this blunder—this was my restroom and my shower. No one else but me would have dropped that tiny little piece of soap that made me slip and fall.

Once I was done showering I carefully stepped out, dried myself, and went to my room to change. I didn’t bother with the hair except blow-drying it and pulling it up in its habitual pony tail. No makeup either. I knew the rules.

As I pulled on my boots, a thought came into my head, and I hurried to pull out my coat. Phone, phone, phone…

I tried to go down the stairs quickly but my knee protested. Just as well. Had it not ached so, I would have laughed at Mara’s face when she saw me come down dressed and ready. I swear, she almost fell from sheer amazement.

“Ready?” she asked, recovering quickly enough

“Just a phone call,”

She arched a brow. Obviously she wanted to know who I was gonna call, but decided against asking. She turned and got the car keys, “There’s toast and jam out. Drink some milk too. I’ll see you in the car. Hurry.”

“Thanks,” I answered as I dialed a number into the phone keypad.

The phone rang three times before he answered it, “Hello?”

“Uh. Hi. Tony?”

“Yeah.”

“This is Tanya.”

“I know. What’s up, kiddo?”

“Um…” I fidgeted with the phone cord, “You’re coming, right? Just wanted to check…”

“Yeah. I’m still getting ready.” His voice sounded a tad deeper than usual, and I wondered at what stage of “ready” he was at. Had I just woken him up? The thought made me crazy anxious.

“Ok. You got the address, right?”

“Uh-huh. Hey,” He paused, “You ok?”

“Yeah. Just…I’m a little nervous.”

“Nervous?”

“I told you, right? I haven’t been there for at least two years…”

“I know. But you want to go this time around, don’t you?”

“Yeah. No…I mean, I wish I could be heading to Zuri’s instead…But it’s all the same, right? Zuri said it’s the same God…”

He chuckled, “I know, you told me.”

I felt stupid. Why was I babbling? “So I’ll see you then?”

“Yep.”

“Ok.”

“Alright, bye,”

“Bye—Oh! And Tony?”

“Yeah?”

I looked at the phone cord in my hand. I had looped and twisted it round my hand in an impossible number of coils, “Thanks”

I heard the smile in his voice, “No problem, kiddo”

I hung up and ran out to the car as fast as my aching knee let me.

I was going to church.

 

Part 19 of If You Only Knew

For That ONE Person

If you could sacrifice yourself, give every drop of your life’s blood, and every ounce of your flesh in the fire for the sake of saving all your family–would you?

How about for that one member of your family who is rebellious, who has decided to cut all ties with mum and dad, who curses at you when you approach them, and just wants to be on their own doing their own thing–even if it means that they are rushing headlong to an early and violent death? Would you?

If your answer is yes, then you are a better person than most. There’s a bunch of people out there who claim they would, but if I (and you) think about that person who I’m still struggling to forgive because of all the hurt they have caused back in my childhood– sometimes the answer is an uncertain “yes” at best.

The universal family includes all of us here on earth, the angelic beings in heaven, and the other beings we don’t really know about from other worlds God has created. Of the untold billions of members in that family, our little world is but a mere speck. A black speck. A smudge in the perfection of God’s kingdom.

Jesus could have been asked the same question by wonder-filled cherubim who couldn’t understand his choice.

“Are you willing to die for that black speck? By the people who run away from you when you approach them, and who will curse you, torture you, tear you apart, and nail you on a cross? Will you continue to love them knowing they might not love you back?”

We know the answer.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16, NKJV)

By his life and His death, Christ has achieved even more than recovery from the ruin wrought through sin. It was Satan’s purpose to bring about an eternal separation between God and man; but in Christ we become more closely united to God than if we had never fallen….Through the eternal ages He is linked with us….By love’s self-sacrifice, the inhabitants of earth and heaven are bound to their Creator in bonds of indissoluble union….The earth itself, the very field that Satan claims as his, is to be not only ransomed but exalted. Our little world, under the curse of sin the one dark blot in His glorious creation, will be honored above all other worlds in the universe of God. Here, when he shall make all things new, the tabernacle of God shall be with men, “and he will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God.” – E. G. White, Desire of Ages “God With Us”

If we are Christians, we follow and do and say what Christ would do and say too.

Would I be willing to seek others? Willing to sacrifice the comfortable habits of my life for the sake of ONE person who needs to be reached?

Or has the miracle of self-sacrificing love not become a reality in my life?

While Reading the Bible, Discard the Brain (But Keep the Heart)

Most cultures in antiquity designated the heart not only as the seat of emotion, but also the seat of thought.[i] That’s why the Egyptians, for example, extracted and discarded the “useless” gray matter (i.e. brain) prior to the mummification of the dead (“Who cares what this mushy stuff is?It’s just gross… Hurry up and get it out”).

The heart, however, was jealously and carefully stored, because it was responsible for life, desires, and thoughts.

This same attribution occurred in the Jewish culture, which is why in the Bible the meaning of so many passages in which the heart is mentioned should be re-considered—there is additional depth to the heart than we can suppose upon a cursory reading. It is, therefore, convenient to re-define the meaning of heart as used in the Bible. Better yet, discard the notion/function of the brain as the seat of thought and keep the heart instead.

According to some sources, the heart was the “seat of all morality and of all moral and spiritual functions.”[1] This encompassed the conscience, and the thinking self.

In short, what came from the heart was much more than emotion. It was thought of as “the authority within.”[2] In other words, the will.

* * *

 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. (Deuteronomy 6:5)

By the fact that “heart” is mentioned in this passage, it describes this love as being much more than a love based on emotions; it is based on a total surrender of the will and the self. A love coming from what makes you you—a conscious love, not a heedless, reckless thing.

This begs the question—how does one love God like that?  How can we, people who have so distorted the definition of love to include everything from affection, to fleeting infatuation (even erotic passion), properly respond? Is God simply asking for the impossible?

* * *

I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God. (Ezekiel 11:19-20)

God’s promise is to give you a new heart—and with it a new way of thinking, a new way of making decisions, a new way of being your own self. That is what makes the promise in Ezekiel so much more meaningful than before. God wants to give you a new set of values by which you are able to live by. Obedience of his law comes natural to the new heart he gives you, because it has transformed the “authority within” you. It is no longer you, but Christ who lives, thinks, and is in you.


[i] It wasn’t until Herophilos in Alexandria (Egypt) did many studies in human anatomy by means of dissections, that the center of thought was relocated from the heart to the brain, and the mechanical connection between the heart, the pulse, and the flowing of blood in the veins was first grasped.

The Warning

“Son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not join them in their rebellion…”(Ezekiel 2:8)

Ezekiel’s calling is quite interesting to me.

After his vision of God, he was given precise instructions as to what he had to do. He was entrusted with a mission: to be a prophet for the people, a light-bearer in times of spiritual darkness. Next, he was empowered to do his work, as the people he would speak to were hard-hearted and would not easily accept him or the message he had. Then, he was warned not to give in to the people and join them into their rebellion. Finally, he was given the word of God to eat.

* * *

It was interesting to me to note that God warned Ezekiel not to join the rebellion. Is that even possible for someone who saw a Vision of God? If so. . .  then maybe there is more to this rebellion business than I thought at first glance.

There existed the danger that, in the face of such a terrible outlook, Ezekiel would shirk his responsibility. If he let fear get the best of him, then he would become identified with the same rebellion that the Israelites were guilty of—the same rebellion he was responsible for speaking up against. There was always that danger that he would be influenced by the apostasy around him and that he would lose notion of the real gravity of sin. There is a subtle poison in the atmosphere of a sinful society. It is difficult that a person hold on to his faith when he is among people who have no faith, especially when those same people pretend to have the same hopes and aspirations which he holds. For that same reason, the church’s greatest danger comes from within, not from without. If those who are called to be leaders are themselves “rebellious”, just as the “rebellious people”, What else can be expected but widespread godlessness? The history of the apostasy of Israel reveals the terrible result of what happens when human beings look to other human beings, and place their trust in impious leaders. [1]

* * *

There are two things to note.

  1. The rebellion was not so much an open attitude against God—a worshipping of idols, or other such outright refusals to worship him. Instead it consisted of a lifestyle that on the outside had the semblance of goodness but without making the necessary changes that consisted in total surrender to God.
  2. The spiritual leaders were in large part responsible for this. Ezekiel’s calling and the warning contained within is for us today as well. No matter what you do in life–what your vocation or job you have, you are a light for others—hence, you are a leader.

Have you accepted the call to serve God? Consider the message found in Ezekiel 2.


[1] Comentario Biblico Adventista del Septimo Día. Vol 4. (Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1985) p.612 Translated from Spanish by Paula