Mud

I wake up
I can’t breathe
It’s dark
Move?
Yeah right
I feel dirty
I’m wet
And I smell something earthy

I make a lot of effort
Rolling over I see a man
Blue sky behind, face hidden
I still feel dirty, and wet
I realize I smell too

I manage to sit up
From blue sky
And a shadow of a man
My eyes drift down
All I see is dark brown

My hope of getting out
It’s gone
I flop back down exhausted
I’m dirty anyway
I don’t want to be clean

Something catches my eye
Part of my sleeve
It’s a little lighter
My robes were lighter
Not this smelly earthy color

As I sit I think
Why is this man here?
I’m smelling awful
Stains permeate me
Mud cleaves to my soul

His eyes look through me
No, I suppose into me
It’s unsettling
But also a relief
He sees my dirt

Eyes kind and firm
Hands rough and strong
An expression of passion
Who is this man?
Why is he here?

He tells me to take it
To take his hand
I’m worried
Worried I’ll pull him in
He has white robes

He says not to worry
He was made dirty
Already smelled earthy
He did it for me
He loves me

I swallow
And take his hand
Such strength
The air smells clean
It feels good to be upright

Something surprises me
He hands me a robe
Tells me I’m clean
I’m in wonder
I just took his hand

Gift

There are days when I wish everything was different
Time was better spent and other choices were made
What to say and what not to say at their right opportunities
Just so that this pain surging between us wasn’t there

Of time and regret I’m aware
Space and seconds can’t heal
In all of this only forgiveness
And I give it to you as a gift

You think back on days gone by with their memories
Pictures scroll by softly bringing a smile
It’s hard not to think of the present as bitter
A reality that betrays the past and what was there

Of time and regret I’m aware
Space and seconds can’t heal
In all of this only forgiveness
And I give it to you as a gift

There are times I think of the pain I’ve been through
And more often I think of the pain you’ve suffered
My hands are bloody from the wounds I’ve caused you
I say I’m sorry I hope one day you’ll meet me there

Of time and regret I’m aware
Space and seconds can’t heal
In all of this only forgiveness
And I give it to you as a gift
No strings attached with this
Love and loyalty I bring
Along with deep hoping
Again we can laugh at the skies
Realize what this gift implies

Purity

I don’t care if my future wife is a virgin before I marry her.

Quite the inflammatory opening statement wrought with questions isn’t it? Let me clear out what I’m not saying before I move into what I am. I’m not saying I don’t care about her character. I’m not saying I will get cheeky under the sheets before our day. I’m not saying I’m indifferent and she can be as promiscuous as she pleases… Etc.

What I am saying is I am marrying her for who she is now, and not who she was in her past. It is behind her, so it is behind me. Haven’t we all had our fair share of mistakes and things we regret? When we get into any sort of relationship we need to be mature enough to understand this. We also know that we are in process. What I care about is who she is now. God has forgiven her, washed her of her sins just as much as God has done for me. He’s done the same for you too. Purity is my concern. Again, taking out the past, it’s about her current attitude and lifestyle. It’s about her dreams of growing in Christ and serving God. That is what purity is, it’s a lifestyle and a set of choices that set us apart. Here is an article that was good that someone posted this week: theresponsechurch.com/i-kept-my-virginity-but-not-my-purity

I’ve heard often enough about the shame people feel about their past, especially when it comes to messing up sexually. Most of us (including me) have borne a lot of shame, and in the Christian world a good amount of judgment as well. What I want to get across is the past is in the past and we can’t keep living in it based on shame for something we’ve been forgiven for. It doesn’t give us the excuse to keep making the same mistakes. It gives us the freedom to grow and move on, seeing our future and ourselves through the lens of what Christ has done for us. If I see anyone (not just a future mate) through the lens of Christ as a brother or sister I see them as forgiven. There are so many examples of Christ loving people as they were, why shouldn’t we be the same?

This post is in a different context of relationships, but the same principle can be carried into other aspects of life. Don’t be quick to judge someone on their past. Don’t be too quick to judge them for who they are now either. See them for what they can be and encourage them to be the best person they can be. Sometimes they won’t see it, but don’t let that deter you. Remind them they are made in the image of God and have intrinsic value, even if they feel their mistakes invalidate God finding worth in them.

We are all humans in need of a Savior, and yes we will make mistakes from time to time but we can’t be judged on our past just to be written off because of it. I suppose this judgement is something that set me off in anger, seeing so many people’s lives and emotions torn apart because of it. I saw some friends turned away from Christ. People assume many Christians’ identity comes from their past and current failure rather than their continuing sanctification as a child of Christ.

They were worth blood on the cross, and the death of a King. He died so they could live, and live their life to the fullest extent. Tell them to achieve their dreams, and tell them to never give up… Never to give into the lies that they will end up a failure and alone.

Life is so full, it’s an incredible thing. Why waste it drowning in the past and suffocating on the future?

This brings me to some music, and some songs by NeedtoBreathe off their new album that were influential in my writing. Check out these songs to gather more of where my mind was at when I was writing this. Rise again – coming through the other side of our past and our hearts changing for the good in the wake of a bitter end. Wasteland – there is a little light to be seen, and that is the hope we need. Difference Maker, Brother, More heart less attack were also very influential.

Part of “No Turning Back” — For King and Country

I’m marching out of the doubt into trust
Out of the me into us
No turning back, no turning back
No turning back
I’m falling head over heels into love
Leaving regret in the dust
No turning back, no turning back
No turning

No turning back, no

And If I’m caught in the crossfire
I will stand my ground
And even if I were to lose my life
Your arms are where I’ll be found

 

Thankful

Things I’m thankful for in no order:
Family and friends who’ve loved me and stuck with me through everything. I’m thankful they can spend Thanksgiving with family. The blessed life I’ve been given. A roof over my head, and warmth away from the snow. A great company to work for and great people to work with. Having all 5 senses present to be able to fully experience the world around me, and a whole body to move in. I will not always have this, and I don’t want to take it for granted. I am thankful for a clear mind to write.

I am thankful for the ease of which I have to get a meal to eat. I am thankful that I have a job where I can work on paying off college debt. I am thankful for the chance to learn outside of school something completely new. I am thankful for the opportunity to grow in every season should I choose to.

I’m thankful that even though I am away, I can still communicate with those I love on a day like today. I am thankful for three adorable neices, loving brothers, their awesome wives, wonderful parents, and caring family everywhere I’ve been.

I am  thankful for redemption and a chance at new life. I am thankful for a Savior who loves me. I am thankful for His sacrifice so that I can have life, and live it to the full no matter the circumstance because I have a greater hope. I am thankful for grace. I am thankful for love, and all who have shown it to me. I’m thankful for those who haven’t, so that I might have chance to show love to them.

I’m thankful for snow, cold, and all its beauty. I’m thankful that it reminds me there are other seasons, each with their own beauty. I’m thankful for good shows, movies, books, and people who share good stories.

I’m thankful for all my friends and family God has protected, worked through, and the chance to see Him change their lives. I’m thankful He has changed mine. I’m thankful for all the freedoms I enjoy in the US and in Canada and for the men and women have sacrificed everything for it.

I am thankful to those brave enough to read to the end of my long-windedness, I know I’ll think of more later.

I am thankful for the chance to reflect on what I am thankful for 🙂

Sometimes the person we need to forgive most is ourselves

I’m the hardest person on me, because I expect perfection out of myself. When I don’t perform the way I think I should I rip myself apart and replay events over and over in my head as to how I could have done different. That cycles into remorse because I didn’t do what I need to, and in some cases deep overwhelming sadness depending on what it is. I don’t usually have issues forgiving others because I can’t control what they do. I have a hard time with myself because I am the one who does those actions.

What I’ve learned is God’s forgiveness extends beyond my own judgement and harshness. His grace and mercy don’t run out. If he has already forgiven me, when He KNEW I was going to do all these things… How can I not learn to forgive myself like he had forgiven me? His love is beyond our imagining and that is directed towards us, who are in the center of the bullseye of our judgement

Laundry

Life isn’t simple, it’s a complicated mess that is still beautiful. That was illustrated to me tonight in the simple act of doing laundry in a hotel.

To start off, I returned from work early. I saw another person had their laundry in the washer that was done. I had time to spare, so I moseyed around for a couple of hours and came back. Seeing no change, I decided to drop a couple loonies(dollars for my American friends) and get their laundry dry while mine washed. I come back an hour later, still no change and my laundry was washed.

The dryer was quite bad, and I was running out of time waiting for them. I dried my laundry the first time, to no avail. Dried a second time, thinking when it was done (checking quite often now as it was late) I would dry their laundry again. I had just went down and checked, my thick warm sweater was still really damp. I decided to give it more time (another episode of the legend of korra).

I came back to check thinking it might be done, and the clothes were switched. My immediate reaction was anger. I had waited patiently, paid for their laundry, waited more, and I got returned with wet clothes. All this staying up an extra hour so I have warm clothes for work.

I proceeded to think of the best note I could write to leave with two looneys to tell them thank you for what they had done (super passive aggressive right?). As I was raging about a thought came to me that the person stomping around and upset about wet clothes isn’t who I’m supposed to be. Basically, that’s not me.

So I went down to see if the hotel had another dryer. They didn’t, but the older reception lady was really nice. She gave me a refund and offered to finish off the clothes for me while I sleep so I can pick them up in the morning.

But that’s not the ending to the story. Nor will this be the ending you expect. It’s not about being vindicated because I was nice and I got it paid back to me in some way or another. It’s not about having dry clothes either.

The best thing about the whole situation was I got to interact with someone genuinely. I was able to talk to her and genuinely care why she was working late hours. We even got to talk about her fear of bears (I work where there are those creatures). Nothing momentous, but an insight into someone’s life, seeing a little picture of who they are and their story. She lost her job three weeks ago, and found what was available.

I want to ask a favor of whoever reads this, because I think this is an opportunity to pray for someone God loves… Even if I might not see her again. Can we pray for her?

We are given opportunities to change lives for the Kingdom, and let us make the most of them no matter how small or how they come to us. Sometimes, it’s clearly in front of you. At other times, we have to get over ourselves (and things) and see what is truly there.

Grace

A mark of a mature believer is their perspective of God’s grace and love. This is the lens through which they see the world in which they interact, as well as the lens through which they see their own humanity.

I can confidently say I’m not there yet, as my failures have shown me my immaturity in this area. I have a skewed view of God, defaulting to performance to earn His grace when I fail. I am learning to see these things in light of His great love as a father. I am also learning that mercy doesn’t involve performance, just as grace doesn’t either. Both are freely given based on the choice of the one who wants to share those gifts – out of love.

Failure

Our mistakes shouldn’t shrowd our entire perspective of grace. When they do, grace becomes earned and not given. We have bigger things to hope for, all of which lie in God’s promises and His character. Part of that is sanctification as we move on from failures and mistakes. All give you the chance to grow instead of stagnate in a pool of guilt, shame, and worthlessness.

In processing failure, we have a chance to recall God and His character. Only through Him can we become like Him. And only someone like Him can be so loving and patient as we continue our process of becoming like Him. Word for today, leave your focus on your mistakes behind and put your focus on the One who can renew you and cause you to grow.

Focus

We are all trying not to sin. There is always something we are working on, trying to better ourselves. It’s most likely the thing that is our kryptonite and our downfall in times of weakness, whatever that may be. This thing also tends to be where we beat ourselves up the most, causing insecurities and doubting God. At times, it consumes us. At all times, we just want to be better. We don’t want to sin, or in other words we just keep trying our hardest not to mess up.

The thing is, what separates us from an unbeliever in this? Aren’t they doing the same exact thing? It might not be to God, but I know there are loving husbands out there trying to clean up their life for their wife. There are the children who want to make their parents proud. Young adults want to appear professional and turn from the party life for a good job. The list goes on.

What separates the believer from the unbeliever is our position (redeemed) and our focus (on Christ). Many of us fall into the notion that we have to get rid of our sin to be in relation with God. How wrong of us to think that when God wanted relationship with us before we knew grace! It makes me think of Paul telling the church they are still drinking milk rather than eating the food of the Word of God. Being freed from sin is foundational, this happened when we believed in Christ. From that point we grow beyond worrying about our sinful state and begin to focus on the God who gave us life, trusting that as we get to know Him He will sanctify us.

Yes, there will be conviction of our sin. We will be utterly aware of it in the light of His glory. However, we will not be worried about it separating us from the love of Christ. That love of Christ has become our focus and that others know it our goal. We aren’t perfect. We won’t be until we are with Him. We can still turn our focus off of what is wrong with us and onto what is right with Christ. When we take captive our thoughts and fill them with things of Christ instead of negative things we begin to change. Focus on heavenly things (things of God) and not earthly things (our sin for example). This isn’t advocating some aloof person with their eyes in the stars, rather someone connected with God and living that out in the real world.