Mysterious Eminence

My Photo
Location: Huaraz, Ancash, Peru

Having mastered the University of Montana's IYFD program, I journeyed to Peru with the US Peace Corps. Currently, I'm discovering Peru while living in the gorgeous Andes mountains in beautiful Ancash. Come visit!

Monday, February 28, 2005

An Active Listener

Psalm 4

Answer me when I call, O God of my right!
You gave me room when I was in distress.
Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer.

How long, you people, shall my honor suffer shame?
How long will you love vain words, and seek after lies? Selah
But know that the Lord has set apart the faithful for himself;
the Lord Hears when I call to him.

When you are disturbed, do not sin;
ponder it on your beds, and be silent. Selah
Offer right sacrifices,
and put your trust in the Lord.

There are many who say, "O that we might see some good!"
Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord!"
You have put gladness in my heart
more than when their grain and wine abound.

I will both lie down and sleep in peace;
for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety.

What an active God we serve? Look at all this descriptions of his doing...
- gave me room
- set apart the faithful
- hears when I call
- his light shines on us
- puts gladness in our hearts
- keeps us safe
I know sometimes that God can seem distant. I've experienced many seasons in my life in which I wondered where God was and what he was doing. And Psalm 4 says that God gives us room in our distress, but he's also gracious to us and hears our prayers. Nothing we do is in vain when we do it with awareness of God. All we need to do is "offer right sacrifices and put our trust in the Lord" (vs 5). He "puts gladness in our hearts more than when grain and wine abound" (vs 7). So when I'm feeling "yucky" without reason, or tired, or I can't see God working in my life and the lives of those around me, I must trust in him who is trustworthy. For "he hears me when I call to him" (vs 3).

Friday, February 25, 2005

Humbling Experiences

I had an incredibly humbling experience today: I had to retake the driving test. It was humbling on several levels. First, I was humbled because I lost my Oregon license which meant that I would have to retake the test in order to get my Montana license. It was also humbling to know that I had been driving for just short of ten years, and I didn't remember anything from the written test section. I was also humbled as I sat in my car taking the driving portion knowing that the test monitor was watching every move I made, and this is a person with a lifetime experience of seeing drivers good and bad. The driving test monitor KNOWS driving.

There was a famous man from a few centuries ago that also had a humbling experience, except this time he wasn't taking a driver's test. He was taking the ultimate vocational test. His name was Isaiah. Isaiah, one might recall, was an Old Testament prophet circa the eighth century before Christ. God was mad at his people for their idolatry and rotten behavior. So he chose one man, Isaiah, to reveal His mighty judgment and destruction. In the midst of all of the drama, Isaiah actually encounters the living God. We read about the encounter in the book of Isaiah.

Can you imagine what it would be like to stand in the presence of the almighty? He is the greatest of the great, the best of the best, and the ultimate of all. He KNOWS everything. He KNOWS all of the sin and messiness that consumes our lives. He KNOWS our driving records better than any driving test monitor. Think about it: he knows when we speed (even when we're not caught), he knows when we don't stop exactly at the stop sign, and he knows when we forget to use our turn signal. To stand in his presence would be to know true humility. And Isaiah did (6:5), "Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts!" But Isaiah knows much more than we do about humility. Here's a man that must be pretty special because he's been chosen by God to speak to the people of Israel, and yet, he says that he is lost. He is aware, not only of his sins, but the sins of the people he lives with. That is true humility. And he embraces it and confesses it before the All-Knowing. But God doesn't leave him there, God picks Isaiah up, dusts him off, has a seraphim touch his lips with a piece of coal (who hasn't had that happen to them - really) and says, "Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out" (6:7). How great that an omnipotent, omniscient, all-powerful being would forgive us when we come humbly before him and just ask for it.

I did pass the test by the way. I am now a licensed Montana Driver. But I still feel humbled by the whole interaction. And sometimes it's hard to lift up your eyes to look at the Great Mysterious and see your imperfections in the midst of his perfectness. Yet, what an amazing God we have that will walk with us and forgive us when we come before him in humility like Isaiah did.

"And remember I am with you always, to the end of the age." Matthew 28:20b

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Wanting what exactly?

"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want."

An interesting statement. Of course this is the first line of the famous Psalm 23. You know, the Psalm we all associate with death, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death..." The Lord as a shepherd, one who walks, feeds, protects, guides. Therefore, I shall not want. But for some reason that doesn't make any sense to me. I'm an American. I work hard, and are we not taught that "The American Dream" is all we really should want. You know, the perfect spouse, the perfect 2.5 children, a dog or cat, a nice job and a lot of good, ol' American comfortableness. I don't even know if that's a word, but I know we desire it. There is a huge tension raging inside of me that has a hard time saying, "I shall not want." Deep down inside of me, my rights scream out, "I have plenty of wants!!! What's wrong with that?!" As I laid in bed last night trying to repeat this phrase over in my head as a form of meditation, I kept thinking about all that I truly did want. I want a loving and wonderful spouse. I want adventure - to live and experience other cultures. I want to get my new Driver's Liscense with no hassles. And then I realize my greatest want is the desire to not be wrong about my wants. I want to be able to want without guilt.

I moved again recently, for what must be the 8th time since I left my parents' home. This time my new apartment is much smaller than my previous two apartments, plus I inherited my Granny's queen bed. I discovered that for my age and circumstances - I have way to much stuff. Moving from a big apartment to a much smaller apartment, now complete with roommate, I knew I didn't have enough room for all that stuff. So as I sorted through it (ala Clean Sweep) I realized that I was really just filling those moving boxes with years and years of wants. But what really struck me was that the more I put in the "sell" pile, the better I felt. I felt better letting go of all those wants. And I started to think about the other things that I wanted, and I realized that I have plenty of great things already, that maybe I don't need to add anything else to the wants pile.

Max Lucado says, "What you have in your Shepherd is greater than what you don't have in life." How true? So often we write off Jesus as just another great teacher, even if we do call ourselves Christian. Yet, Jesus was the smartest man to ever live, he could manipulate the chemical structure of water to turn it into wine and he could change the DNA structure of a human being to heal them or bring them back from the dead (thanks Dallas Willard). The Good Shepherd truly is greater than my wants. I imagine if I really need it, He'll provide it, in His time. And let's face it, "God might not work on my schedule, but He is never late." So, when I lie in bed tonight, I'm going to try and pray as the Puritans did, "All this and Jesus too?"

Wednesday, February 23, 2005


Another day, another post. Maybe there is more to this commitment thing than meets the eye...

It is currently the liturgical season of Lent, which in my opinion is by far the most celebrated. I'm not Catholic nor am I Anglican or any other religion that actually thinks about what to give up for Lent, but for some reason, this year, I decided to do it, and to do it big time. At first I thought I'd give up something like coffee or sugary foods, and yet, I kept feeling like God was calling me to something greater, to a greater responsibility.

My family jumped around to a lot of different churches growing up. My dad said he could never find a church that matched his doctrine exactly, but he could find good churches with good people who care about community and the world. So we went to a Presbyterian church, a Baptist church, an Episcopal church, and a Church of God before I graduated high school. I remember my first Lent. My family was attending St. Thomas Episcopal Church and my Sunday School teacher told us this was a time to sacrifice something for the Lord, because Jesus fasted in the desert for 40-days...there I was, 8-years old and doing it too. I'm not sure how seriously I took it. I remember giving up heavy metal music (which I never listened to), beef (my family ate venison), and chips (we rarely ever had junk food around the house). And in all likelihood, I probably ate chips, and beef, and listend to heavy metal music (if I could find any that I enjoyed). Shortly after, my family moved to Oregon and we started attending Reedsport Church of God. And the season of Lent never even crossed my mind during those busy high school years.

It was in college when I resumed the Lenten celebration. A couple of my friends were Catholic and were working through what they'd give up for Lent. In order to be a good friend, I gave up soda/pop, which actually was somewhat of a sacrifice. I barely remember that time, but I still don't think I understood why I was going through all the motions. I mostly thought I was encouraging some friends in their religious devotions. But as my knowledge of God grows so does my strange desire to try new and crazy things. In a life spent partnering with Christ one is called out of the normal and in to the radical. I've met people along the road who have challenged me and encouraged me to step out on a limb. Two such people have done the Daniel Fast for Lent. When I first heard what it was, I thought it was crazy, and I thought I would never, ever try it. Funny, how God gets involved and suddenly you can't help but do crazy things.

The Daniel Fast is one of eating only natural foods, grown from the ground. There is no meat, cheese, junk food, fast food, caffeine, one can't even eat anything made with white flour or refined sugars. It is such an extensive fast, I can't believe I said I would do it. But the day of Lent rolled around, and here I sat expectant before God to see what he wanted me to do with this crazy thing. And He said, give it up, let go and I will meet you in the midst. So not only did I give up sugar, but I gave up coffee as well and many other products that have tempted me for the past 14 days. And He sustains me, even when I'm not spending time in Quiet Time or Prayer (but I do feel better when I do those things). I've been amazed and challenged during this time, and I'm really excited to see where the next 26 days will lead.

And God is able to shower all kinds of blessings on you. In all things and at all times you will have everything you need. You will do more and more good works. 2 Corinthians 8:9 (NIRV)

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

New Day New Adventure

I'm a commitment-phobe. If you know me very well, this might not be a new revelation. I've certainly never committed to the same brand of shampoo, nor have I committed to staying in one location longer than my current job contract. And I've struggled for years to last longer in a dating relationship than, oh, say, three weeks. Imagine how difficult it was for me to get the nerve up to commit to writing in a blog on a regular basis. I almost signed up twice before I effectively did. Here I am. Writing about goodness knows what to goodness knows who. Even now as I type this, I worry about my availability and what my work schedule will look like, which is silly, this is my blog - I'll write in it when I want. Who cares when. A brand new day with a brand new adventure. I'm up for just about anything. Maybe today I'll choose forever Pert Plus or Pantene Pro-V. And then again...maybe not.