Forget Me Not

Faith and trust are often overlooked.

We assume that because we believe in a supreme being, we’ve covered all of our bases. God, faith, hope, trust…all of it, nailed. But we’ve missed the point.

He wants a relationship. He wants intimacy. And He wants the moments when you don’t trust Him.

He wants you to call out and say, “I don’t believe you, but I want to. Help me. Have mercy on me.” (Mark 9:24).

He wants you to acknowledge the icky parts of your life that would threaten to disarm, discourage you, dismantle you. The things you’re thinking about right now… The ones that keep your lips sealed shut in the presence of friends and your heart mindlessly numbed in your loneliness. He wants all of that.

For me, those moments took the form of overarching statements – things I proclaimed to be true, simply because investigating the foundations of my claims would be too painful.

  1. “God has left me in a season of wanting for too long. I suppose this is the life He has chosen for me. I think He wants me to remain in a place where I do not receive my deepest desires.”
  2. “Okay, I know He is good. He can rescue me from X and Y, but I really don’t see how He can do Z. I’m not in any circumstance where that could be possible right now.”

Readers, understand that these are lies and that they do not reflect the character of my God. Here was His answer:

Last night, I caught up on long-overdue readings by starting in my favorite book: Psalms. I flipped to the center and began with Psalm 77. Imagine my surprise when I learned that I was not alone in my frail trust!

When I was in deep trouble, I searched for the Lord. All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven, but my soul was not comforted… You don’t let me sleep. I am too distressed even to pray! I think of the good old days…when my nights were filled with joyful songs. I search my soul and ponder the difference now. Has the Lord rejected me forever? And I said, “This is my fate; the Most High has turned his hand against me.”

Wow. I can’t count the amount of times I have prayed almost the exact words expressed in this Psalm. All of the hurt and waiting and longing leads to one very human conclusion: this is my life now. Sadness and dejection are what God is pleased to see me live.

No. No, friends, if you have ever said these words – as I have – I beg you to continue reading this passage.

BUT THEN I recall all you have done, O Lord. I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works…

And the writer goes on to describe God’s extraordinary intervention. My favorite is verse 19: “Your road led through the sea, your pathway through the mighty waters – a pathway no one knew was there!”

Hmph. Isn’t that an answer to my unbelief which stemmed from not being able to see how He would do something? I don’t need to see the details; I just need to know and trust that they are there. The plan is there. More importantly, He is there.

And in response to only trusting “half” of God’s power (which isn’t possible, by the way. He’s an all-or-nothing kind of God), Psalm 78 described Israel’s relationship with Him as they were led through the desert.

They stubbornly tested God in their hearts… “God can’t give us food in the wilderness. yes, he can strike a rock so water gushes out, but he can’t give his people bread and meat.”

And that grieved Him. It must grieve Him when I do it, too. I’ll acknowledge some of His greatness and wonder, but undermine the grand implications of such an undeserved gift by saying, “but He didn’t do this for me, so He probably can’t.”

Ouch.

God did give Israel the things they needed, by the way. He even gave them the things they wanted, causing birds to fall from the sky and into their camps so they could have the meat they so desired. But they forgot Him again, and He corrected them.

Forgive me, Abba. Forgive me for all the times I have forgotten you, or have been too lazy to learn who You are.

And for you, friends, I deeply hope that you will learn His character today. He is not one to abandon you or throw you into misery. Follow Him and take His hand, dear friends. He knows the way.

The Great Underwhelming

The following is gross synopsis of a conversation had with one Mr. Reeves and his extremely inquisitive mind. I encourage you to view this message not as a “How To” or a “Wake Up Call for Christians,” but instead as the honesty of two individuals who are whole-heartedly invested in their love for one common God. Think on it as you’d like and ponder whatever tangents you’d like…but in everything,
“…lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.”
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He started by suggesting that we rip apart the Bible. Nothing out-lawish, so I suppose I should rephrase.

He wanted to unbind the books. He wanted us to read every one of those “chapters” (as I called them), fully and with complete weight of sanctity, but for us not to believe that we were any lesser than John, or that he Holy Spirit couldn’t move today as greatly as he did in Acts.

“We teach Christianity as if it was history,” said Reeves.

My mind jumped to the sight of a collegiate classroom, the fifty or two hundred students sitting in a lecture hall, their arms crossed over dingy textbooks that had been revised twelve times over since their first publication. The topic of study would be Christian history, Jewish roots, the early church…and this would most probably be an introductory class. Perhaps modern thought would be mentioned, but to be conducted as a class of its own? To have an entire curriculum devoted to the complex assortment of Christian ideologies in an era where “freedom” and “intolerance” are the primary cries —

I didn’t have further time to mature the thought. It would have breached the flow of conversation.

“That’s different,” I argued.

“Why?” he pressed.

Why? “Because. It just is.”

“Why?”

“Those disciples lived with Him, walked with Him. Those books were written by people who met Him.”

“Not all of them did.”

“But He spoke to them personally!”

“Does He not speak to us?”

“N – ” Of course, I see. My entire faith rests on the belief that His resurrection was for the purpose of eternal relationship. Personal relationship. Not audible conversation, but… 

“We look at the past,” hecontinued, “and keep living off of that. We look to examples in the Bible, but why don’t we also ask each other? Learn about God based on examples in our lives today? We don’t see signs and miracles anymore because we’re too busy looking at the ones that happened years ago. It’s like He’s saying, ‘I want to show you things, but since you’re too busy looking at the past, okay. Keep looking at those.’”

And I sat.

He wasn’t finished.

“We ask Jesus to be with us and he says, ‘Alright, here’s my friend [the Holy Spirit].’ But then we say, ‘No, Jesus, I want You.’ And He says, ‘Okay. Here is my Friend who is me.’ But we take the Holy Spirit and say, ‘Kay, thanks, for the gift, but it’s alright…we’ve got it from here. And we spend our lives trying to figure out the best way to do things…we study scriptures trying to see how God would handle things in other people’s situations… and all the while He has given us the Holy Spirit to interpret things here and now, and teach us for our lives.

It’s like a math problem. Your textbook shows you a bunch of examples and teaches you how to do the problem, but when it’s time for a test, are the actual problems in the book?”

“No…” I felt like a child.

“No, there are different problems and different numbers based on what you learned in your homework. The Holy Spirit is what helps you pass the test…He interprets things and helps you remember how to apply the principles (the Bible) to everyday life. And everyday life is your test.”

.

I’m going to leave these words here. My friend, the provoker, did not by any means claim that his perspectives and opinions were right. He didn’t say they were wrong. He didn’t say I should live by them, and He didn’t claim to be righteous or unoffensive.

But in that conversation built on the foundation of his musings and genuine concerns, I wondered…

what if we are living only 10% of the life that Christ intended once giving us the Holy Spirit?

Such a mistake would be great, and such an existence would be largely underwhelming.

Joy Comes in the Morning…

I’m writing to you right now because I can, and that’s a blessing in and of itself.

I’m writing to you because Abba is a healer and the restorer of all things.

This morning I woke with pain, confusion, anger, sadness,

feelings of lack, feelings of incompetence, feelings of hopelessness.

I sat up, (breathe), contemplated the day ahead:

“You have to go to class. You have to go to class.”

“No, you don’t. Lie down here. Rest.”

Five times the battle, then I did as I was told. I “rested…”

Except this was no rest; this was talking, dissuading, feeling all things wrong…

There was no joy this morning.

(Freeze). I froze. 

and then I knew I needed help.

But Abba already knew…

To sleep He put me. Then rest I did, and dream I did, and I woke with a motivation to move –

one I did not prompt of my own accord.

>> That voice threatened to claim my accord. It would’ve had me  lie there forever, curtains closed, stomach growling, mind dreaming of things it claimed I’d never be able to have. The voice would’ve liked me to waste away, aiming to spite those who’d hurt me. This, then, was the battle for my accord.

But Abba has all might.

He intervened, and today He brought me friends. He taught me to dial their numbers, to reach out for help, to give up my pride, and to let Him guide me.

So thank you to Alexis, who flew by my side and sat with me once Abba had told me to rise. Thank you to Martha, whose sweet words were as near to my heart as our friendship has become. Thank you to Anna, who spoke truth and life into me with consistency, power, and tenderness. Thank you to my friends for obeying my Father’s voice.

Now through my veins courses the Spirit of redemption; the Spirit of the Helper, who snatches me from the pits without my consent…who grabs my hand like a parent does a child’s, and leads me from the strangers who promise fulfillment and a smile.

It is as if He is the cure, and His immediate exposure – though I never specifically asked – caused a joy and peace (neither being my own) to become part of my existence and part of today’s events. I walked, I smiled, I ate, I felt the things good; and I have no explanation other than the presence and all-pervading power of Jesus Christ.

I’ll take my moments one day at a time. As of right now I am happy, because He has never left me nor forsaken me. He is with me here, still, hearing me and creating me. He has a plan and a purpose, and regardless of my occasional discomfort with His timing, I know beyond all doubt that “no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11). And I seek to follow Him; therefore, I assume that my posture is one that mirrors His.

So I cling to my verse – the one that is the anthem through my darkness – and recite it over and over again (in my head and spirit, where the battle is fought) when I cannot think of words of my own to speak to Him:

I could ask the darkness to hide me
and the light around me to become night—
but even in darkness I cannot hide from you…

-Psalm 139:11-12

Complacency, the Beast

Complacency is not my friend.

She’s quite unassuming. She appears with a nonthreatening demeanor; her face is blank and her eyes piercing. Curious thing. She wants no harm: no good, no evil. She just wants to impact your life, like any person would. She wants a grip on your soul. I’ve learned that Complacency is not my friend.

But here she is, once again, knocking meekly on my door like a stranger standing out on the cold. “Let me in,” she says. “Keep me warm. I won’t harm you.” Bah. I really shouldn’t. But it’s so easy… So easy to embrace defeat and begin the slow sinking into the murkiness of compassion-less living. Forgiveless living. Actionless living. No leaning to the right; no edging to the left. Carelessness.

Man, how did it get to this?

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Meet My Friends: Mitchell Capps

Here’s a continuation of the “Meet My Friends” series!  You’re about to read about someone who has positively influenced my life over the past year. These are friendships for which I am very grateful, and I would trade them for nothing in the world. Today, please meet Mitchell Capps. 

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I met Mitchell Capps on February 19, 2012 during an academics fair at Lee University. I was visiting the school as a prospective student, and the weekend-long taste of campus was coming to a close. I wasn’t sure if I would end up attending, but I was still interested in the possibilities that it had to offer. Jaded, I circulated the room looking for two things: programs in creative writing and acting. After speaking with a woman at a booth, I grabbed some pamphlets and cradled them as I walked away, retreating with a friend of mine to an awkward spot smack in the middle of the room. Here is where I met Mitchell.

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What Does Worship Look Like?

I’ve not written in a while; I apologize for that 🙂

I’ve been living, breathing, enjoying, seeing… Autumn is my favorite season of the year, so I’ve tried to indulge in all of its colorful whims as often as possible. I must say, I am not disappointed. Since my college campus is nestled into the rolling hills and lush foliage of northern Georgia, it is especially beautiful during the chilling months. I have plenty of stories to tell, and yet not nearly as ample of a vocabulary as is necessary to describe them. Very well, I’ll move on.

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Meet My Friends: Matt Reeves

I mentioned in the first post of this series, “Meet My Friends,” that I wanted to give you a glimpse into the lives of the men and women who have impacted my life over the past year or so.  Today, I want you to meet Matt Reeves. 

And if you’re wondering about the Sweet Tea in the featured photo, it serves no symbolic purpose. He just really likes sweet tea 🙂

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Matt Reeves is one of the most shockingly uncomplicated people on this earth.

Why? Because he makes it that way.

But for some reason, I’ve spent my life learning new ways to make the present time a blended smoothie of the past, the future, and the highly improbable. It has been exceedingly difficult for me to slow down, take a breath, and enjoy the moment at hand without planning what my next step will be.

However, on the second day of classes in January, I met Matt for the first time and didn’t realize that my point of view was about to change.

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I Have a Love Poem for You

Sometimes I watch you all,

and I am filled with love –

His love.

He lends it to me, graciously,

and without the full burden of grief over our sin,

(but enough for a taste of it).

I see you,

an old, long-haired man with a scraggly beard and likewise clothes,

and I love you.

I love that you’re sitting there staring aimlessly into the coffee-tinted Starbucks atmosphere, doing absolutely nothing.

I love that, and for it, I wish you to be welcomed into the paradise

promised by my King.

I see you,

a cute inter-ethnic couple, aged 45 or 50, cuddling in the corner

of a small-town Chinese shop,

on worn, tacky green stools,

laughing about something that would mean nothing to someone else.

But it means everything because you are in love, you are in respect.

And for that, I love you, and I want nothing more

than to sit down and share the gospel with you for hours on end…

not because I’m right or I’m wrong,

but because I have nothing greater to offer you,

and you deserve my Greatest.

And I want to hear your words, your thoughts,

your hurts, your pains, your smiles, your joys, your confusions, your convictions…

because I love you.

And you who fight with me,

sometimes I love you and my heart breaks,

because someone told you wrong about my King and who He is and what He stands for.

Because someone told you wrong or acted wrong or believed wrong,

you’ve assumed wrong, and you hate us. But more painfully, you hate Him.

And for no other reason than to just show you the beauty of the Truth – 

not legalism, not judgment, not moralism and not anything standard-based –

I wish to sit with you and explain

why I smile today,

why I’ll smile tomorrow,

and why my deepest losses can be so overwhelmingly

out-weighted by my

Special Love.

And even if you curse me and reject my sentiments, His truths,

I will still love you.

Not to win you over to any side,

but because you are a marvelous creation, example, perfection,

picture of everything

that is He,

and the reasons that

I can love you.

How NOT to Love: The Ache of Waiting

This weekend I had the overwhelming desire to love someone. I’m not talking all the warm and fuzzy feelings or the roses and candlelight; I’m talking about the nitty-gritty and the routine. The commitment. I wanted to brush away tears and hug the pain away, or cuddle on the couch while watching TV simply because we like being close to one another. There are a lot of “if”s, “then”s, “but”s, and “how”s that I’m sure you could come up with, but just hear me out.

I handled this desire the stupid way: I let it all build up. And finally, somewhere between studying solvency ratios and decreasing trends of fertility (bleh, I have a Consumer Economics test tomorrow), I broke. I overflowed with all the hopes, desires, facts, probabilities… it was a lot. But my “brother” D.J. mentioned something that stopped me in my tracks:

“Sometimes, it’s better to not love someone.”

Woah, woah, woah, what?! You must be totally taken aback right now, seeing as how everything about Christ supports love as the greatest commandment (I Corinthians 13:13). But that’s not what DJ was talking about.

At times, I am tempted to pour all of my emotions and hopes into a relationship without the other person’s commitment. And then, when reality slaps me across my face with a crisp “Good morning, sunshine,” I am thrown off guard. I am stunned. I am confused.

So I guess the moral of my story  is to learn when to have self-control over my feelings and desires. I fully believe that loving someone as a friend and bearing their burdens is fully acceptable and even required of us as siblings in Christ. Just look at Galatians 6:2: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” However, when attraction and a possible romantic relationship are introduced into the equation, it’s probably best to keep a safe distance.

Our emotions, our desire to commit ourselves to another person, and our willingness to glorify Christ within a lifetime marriage are all gifts. I don’t think they should be taken lightly, and I don’t want to give my heart away a thousand times before I offer it to my husband.

Personally, I won’t allow myself to seriously consider entering a like-minded relationship with someone unless he pursues me first.  (Want to know more of what “pursuing” looks like? Click here). I’d like him to value me enough to consider the fragility of my heart and not expect me to take the leadership role in a relationship.

Granted, not every “Will you…?” will be answered with a “Yes.” But I’d like to think that God has an eye on those things. He has His eye on all of my other needs (Matthew 6:26), and He knows how to give good gifts (Matthew 7:11), so I trust Him. This is a fact. He is God, He knows all, and so there is no better place for my hopes to rest.

In Psalm 139: 17-18, the king and psalmist David wrote,

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them,
Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I am awake, I am still with you.

If my Abba (Hebrew for “Father”) can have  beautiful, innumerable thoughts about me, I have no doubt that He can give my earthly spiritual partner, my husband, the same thoughts. He can show this man what He sees in me and, likewise, put a special vision in my soul to see and call out the beautiful qualities in my husband.

So, romantically speaking, I’m going to try to have the courage not to love right now. I will wait until the timing is right, and until Abba gives me those “sandy thoughts” for the right guy. And though I may feel ready to work at love, all of the pieces of the puzzle haven’t fallen into place yet…

But even the amazing-ness of that yearned-for picture will not compare to the constant glory of Christ. And He is with me, now.

So I lack nothing.

Check Out These Other Posts on Relationships!!

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Give Me Love

marshall

Here’s another guest blog from an awesome bro! Marshall Pickard is so full of energy and seems to carry laughter with him wherever he goes. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him through another good friend of mine, and it’s so exciting to see breathing evidence of a man living to follow Christ.

Marshall likes to pretend he lives in Chattanooga, even though he is a PR major at Lee University in Cleveland, TN. Although one day he hopes to work for an incredible nonprofit organization, his passion has always been writing— especially about his Savior—and he blogs at The Train of His Robe. Marshall’s other favorite things include oceans, The Chronicles of Narnia, European travel, NCIS, tigers, and the Smoky Mountains. Writing bios, admittedly, isn’t his forte. 

Are you ready? Let’s jump into it.

Give. Me. Love.

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She will chase after her lovers but not catch them; she will look for them but not find them. (Hosea 2:7 NIV)

Since Heart in Bloom has a large focus on purity, especially in relationships, I have felt compelled for a long time to write about a subject that I think plagues my generation’s relationships: How far is too far (emotionally, physically, spiritually)? This question doesn’t just apply to romantic relationships; we wonder what distance we are supposed to maintain in almost all our friendships. This definitely seems like an area of question that trips up many young people and leads to physical immorality or emotional over-dependence.

However, as much as I wanted to talk about this, the words never came. I discovered that I certainly don’t know the answer to the question, and after a short time in my life where I seemed to not be loving anyone in my life correctly, I became convinced of the importance of a deeper question we must ask ourselves: am I giving and receiving love in a healthy, Christ-centered manner?

So many of our problems and sins result from the fact that we are all broken lovers. We want to love people well, but so often we react to them with aggression, lust, jealousy, covetousness, and apathy. Conversely, when we don’t fully embrace the love of Father, we have to work for our own worth and often treasure the acceptance of others idolatrously.

 

The song “Give Me Love” by Ed Sheeran really sold me on this point. In this song, a lonely guy is crying out to a woman with whom he is encountering conflict. In one part of the song, he releases a guttural scream for her to love him. It’s amazing how similarly our hearts scream like this for love and belonging. I’ve always rolled my eyes at the cliché analogy of there being a “God-shaped hole” in our lives, but it is honestly very true. There is a place of satisfaction—a deep unfulfilled place within our hearts—that groans for love and attention. Unless we find fulfillment in Christ, we won’t be able to quit adulterously running after other lovers.

I believe there are four fundamental ways we’ve gotten this love thing wrong:

  1. We overvalue “stuff” in our lives. We might be able to help the poor if we could give up a Starbucks drink or an hour of work once a week. We could actually have time to spend with people we love if we didn’t care more about the new iOS update or the series finale of Breaking Bad. In materialistic America, we spend so much time-consuming media and building up physical treasure for ourselves on Earth that sometimes we completely miss genuine connection.
  2. We undervalue people in our lives. While it is very possible to have idolatrous relationships, more often than not, the way we love someone is the problem, not our choice to love them in itself. Ironically, Christians many times lock our hearts behind vaults that no one can penetrate. We fail to love people because there are no guarantees they will love us back. Vulnerability is viewed as weakness, and because we all feel insecure, we don’t allow ourselves to be truly known by anyone. As C.S. Lewis said, “To love at all is to be vulnerable.”
  3. We hate ourselves. It’s no wonder we don’t love others: too often our hearts are closed off to loving one of the most important people in our lives—ourselves. Encased in shame, we don’t let the light of Christ penetrate our darkest mission field—preaching the Gospel to ourselves. We ignore Jesus’ command: “Love your neighbor AS yourself.” When I’m not allowing Father’s love to penetrate my heart, it hardens, and I treat everyone around me as harshly as I’m treating myself.
  4. We don’t know how to love God. The only way to love God is to recognize that He loved us first. However, Christians today put so much emphasis on our actions, and much like the Pharisees of Jesus’ time, we build walls between our hearts and the heart of God by reducing our love walk with Him to a set of rules and regulations. Our code of ethics should instead be this: is the choice I’m making a loving action towards my Savior or not?

“In that day,” declares the LORD, “you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master.’” (Hosea 2:16 NIV)

 

Lord, let us love this world, the people you’ve placed in our lives, ourselves, and You correctly. Let us not scorn the place deep within us that You have left unsatisfied, but may we chase after You. We know You will satisfy like no other lover can. Stir up love to guide our decisions and our lives.