Four Months Later

The past four months have been what everyone’s past four months have been: busy, calm, stressful, fun. All by turn. I’ve experienced highs and lows, and in retrospect it’s typically my perception of the “lows” that really sucks. I’ve been working on projects (not exactly tirelessly, but with boughs of inextinguishable enthusiasm popping up when I need them most.) I’ve been learning and growing, redefining the idea that love is my standard, trying to figure out what that looks like. Often failing, often leaning into God’s grace.  That’s how life goes these days. I’m much less moved by time but rather see that time ushers me along without asking me whether or not I would like to pause or stop to rest. But that’s okay, because as I’m running this race I find my breath catching more and more at the sight of God’s hand in my life and the lives of those I love.

Even in the normality, there have been moments where I am left utterly breathless and felt the hope I thought I had a handle on shriveling up and flickering out.

Among other things that have been trials for my family and myself, my Grandfather passed away this March.

I think the strangest part about grieving is that it effects you silently. While you’re washing the dishes or surrounded by people.You wake up in the morning and for everyone else it’s just Thursday, and they’re going about their lives totally unaware that it’s almost been a month and you don’t understand anything. The man at the grocery store who pretends not to see the tears leaking from the corners of your eyes doesn’t know. The woman who opened the door for you at the office couldn’t possibly understand that your personal history has been altered and that now you have to walk forward, even as there is an unbridgeable gap forming in your life. The irrational side of me wants to tell everyone that I’m angry, that I don’t care if they don’t know me. It’s unfair. It’s sad. It hurts. It’s a tugging at your throat and it’s a lingering shadow in your mind.

They ought to know. They ought to know that while their just trying to fix a cup of coffee to make it through Thursday, my insides are a train that has been derailed.

But the rational side of me knows that it’s not fair to behave that way. And part of me thinks that this turmoil that seizes me some nights isn’t just a reaction to human loss, but every sort of loss that has built up over the years surfacing in a rebellious effort to throw off my grip on the reality of God’s grace.

The question comes up, the one that our logic debunks but our hearts cling to. “If God is a good, loving God, why does He allow these things to happen?”

And I think that at the core, we like to think our motives in asking are pure. If He really cares, why isn’t He fixing this ache in my heart? Why can’t the ghosts of anxiety give up and go home? Why do the feelings of loss have to be felt so deeply? What is good about this goodness if it constantly leads me to my knees, at my breaking point? But I think we keep asking because we hope that that God of the Universe is all of a sudden going to owe us an apology for the cards that life dealt us. I know for myself at least, I secretly want Him to take a chair at my pity party, to stroke my hair and agree that it was never really fair.

But if that is the posture of my heart, then am I really trusting that God is doing His job? Think of it this way. God isn’t unintentional with us. He is not up their spinning His wheels thinking, “how can I emotionally damage Sydney today?” Know. He is so much more brilliant than we give Him credit for.

No. I truly believe that God’s plan for my life is a process of drawing closer to Him, because the closer we are to our life source, the higher quality of life we have (in every capacity.)

My family and I don’t have much, in a physical sense. We live in and RV. We shop at thrift stores (and not because we’re trying to be ironic) and the types of hurdles we encounter aren’t easily explained to most people. The conversations we have, the personal struggles, the amount of team work that it takes to sustain life in the way we sustain life is entirely grace covered because if it were not for the Holy Spirit, it wouldn’t be working.  Our income covers our needs and God takes our loaves and fishes and miraculously He makes what we bring enough.  I know that it may not sound like much in earthly terms.

But I feel as though in the midst of the chaos, the grappling, the questioning whether being different is worth it, the struggle of hope and hopelessness…all of it-my life is a beautiful picture of grace. I find the purest joy in the darkest hours and the emptiness envelops me when I invest in the things of this world. I know that my precious Savior is up there saying, “your entire life can point towards me if you allow me to take your once empty vessel and fill it with my Spirit.” And when you say yes, when you submit, you begin this insane adventure. A different sort of struggle takes hold of you. It’s the type of struggle that makes you wonder why it was you. It’s the type of struggle that makes decisions according to the scriptures even when it makes absolutely no sense and it’s the kind of struggle that makes you say, “no,” even when every fiber of your flesh wants to say yes. Not out of strict morality, but out of a sense of purpose that doesn’t leave room for the things of this world.

It’s freaking hard some days. So where does the quality of life improve? It’s in your purpose. It’s hidden in the moments that we take for granted. It’s when I pour my soul out up on that stage and leave it there. It’s the dusty kitchens where we gather our strength. It’s when you meet another believer in parking lot of a truck stop who prays for you right when you need it. It’s the knowledge that all we know will be swallowed up by His glory, and that knowing Him, loving Him…it’s all that matters. It’s all that satisfies.

Am I frustrated by the conflict between redeemed soul and flesh? Every day. But you know what? It leads me back to the cross. It reminds me of my desperation for my Jesus. It helps me realize where my identity is. It’s not here. It’s not in the smallness where I find myself. And nothing, not the deepest pain, not the most desperate of situations can surprise, overtake or win over my God.

The beautiful thing is I would never ever trade this. I am living, I am breathing, I am grateful.

And that’s my life update. My heart update. There is so so much more I could say, but I’ll leave it there for now.

 

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
    the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age?Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?  For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom,  but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called,both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.  But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are,  so that no one may boast before him.  It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness,holiness and redemption.  Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”  1 Corinthians 1:18-31

 

 

On Fresh Resolve, Callings and Loving One Another.

I think fresh resolve is beautiful. But I’ve found that mine doesn’t come every January when the year resets but when I wake up in the morning and I feel cool morning air on my skin like some silent introduction to a new opportunity for servant-hood.

I believe with my whole heart that believers often use fear of the unknown as a shield to avoid the will of God. Consciously acknowledging that we have more to fear in the Lord than anything we encounter on this earth extinguishes our excuse to not step out in faith, but somehow we still cling to fear.

I recognize this in myself daily.  But the beautiful thing is that when we do the things that scare us, fear loses it’s grip in the power of God being displayed in our inability. I feel like I say that all the time, but the divine paradox that I see so constantly in this strange human to God relationship never ever ceases to make me breathless when I look at my Savior.

I’m currently 16. I graduated in 2012. I graduated early because I wanted out of school as soon as humanly possible and working hard for several years afforded me the freedom I’ve always clung to. I’m not particularly ‘quick,’ nor am I studious (unless I’m genuinely interested in what I’m learning.)

Highschool taught me I didn’t want to go to college and although I don’t believe it’s completely out of the question down the road, it’s currently not in the cards for me. I get asked a lot what I do with my time and what my plans are for the future. If you’re 16 and not studying, you obviously spend your time playing video games and surfing the internet, right?

One of my greatest fears is that the people who allude to me being lazy or unaccomplished are right. That because my story is doesn’t conform to social standards, I will fail. And everyone who ever doubted the actions I’ve taken will say, “I told you so.”

But the reality of the situation is brought before my eyes by a God who cares about my future more than I. He reminds me who I am and why I’ve made the choices that I’ve made.

He reminds me that He wants me in the untapped mission field of independent music. He reminds me that I’m not legally an adult and I’m working on a national tour that will give indie artists a much needed platform to share the gospel while we raise funds that will in turn feed children, starving in body and spirit all over the WORLD. The world is a big place.  He reminds me that He sees the sacrifices that I’ve made and the hits I’ve taken, and He is always there when I need a dose of perspective to see how small I am.

He reminds me that He who is in me is bigger than He who is in the World, and the He uses the weak to shame the strong.

Most of all, He reminds me that His plan for my life is so much better than the plans I have.

And my selfish fears for how people see me and whether my life will matter in the end shrink in light of a God worthy of our obedience.

My motives in writing this are two-fold.

1. Don’t belittle anyone for living a different lifestyle than you. Even if you think they’re irresponsible hippies. 😉 Chances are, they don’t understand you either. But God uses all His kids that are willing to step into the dynamic role of vessel-hood. Note the word dynamic. You’re not in charge of God’s will for them. We are not all capable of reaching the same people. Not to mention, it’s downright discouraging. Love each other, and trust God with the lives of those around you. It’s better that way.

2. Just do it. You know what I’m talking about. Step out in faith. If you believe in God, and God is asking you to do something, do it. Our lives here aren’t about being safe and comfortable. If they were, I wouldn’t be living in and RV right now, trust me. When you exemplify God’s faithfulness in your life by allowing Him to take the wheel, you’ll be invigorated as well as impact everyone who is watching you. Let this new year make you a new person that has the God-given courage to do insane things. The souls of humans you love dearly are on the line.

I hate that this sounds like a rant, but I can’t help but feel we all (myself included) could use some perspective as we start a new year. Heck, as we start a new day.

 

 “Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.

God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin.  Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.”

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

 

Happy New Year.

 

Happy New Year

It’s the New Year.

I woke up this morning in the Central Valley with warmth pouring through the windows. I sat up and I rubbed my blurry eyes awake and looked around at the chaos that is RV Living.

I hear the sound of  resolutions resetting all around me, and often times on January first I find myself being skeptical of all the aspirations formulating in ambitious hearts. Perhaps that’s harsh, but I believe we all have a very good reason to doubt when a bunch of fallen humans decide they will undergo some very specific changes in a course of time. I tend to have more faith in all the circumstances beyond their control than the mere aspirations that aren’t yet strong enough to drive them forward. I’ve made resolutions before. Some were a booming success and some fell off the map even before I got through the typical two weeks of New Years momentum.  This year I made no resolutions but that of continual submission to the vessel-hood to which all believers are called. This is a process that we undergo till He calls us home. It’s not a new resolve but rather the recognition of a very old one.

I believe that the reason most people remain the same, feeling trapped in old habits and patterns is that we try to base the changes in our life on ourselves. We spin our wheels trying to conjure up our own goodness when we have none to offer. The Bible says in Matthew 6 that the eyes are the lamp of the body, and if the eyes are good, your whole body, your whole being will be filled with light.  Jesus didn’t say this to sound profound or overly Spiritual. I think He’s too practical for that. He said this because we do not create our own source of light, rather when our eyes our fixed on Him, our Savior and the light of the world, we undergo a transformation. We allow light to penetrate our perpetual darkness and we are changed.  When the first action we take when we wake up in the morning is this one of response to a God that is already there, who already loves us, we are submitting to Him. We are allowing Him to change us from the inside out. That’s the message here. Perhaps if we made this the center of our resolve we would accomplish more that strings of noble thoughts.

I don’t gather these thoughts to frown upon anyone who has made resolutions, or to belittle the reflections that have been riddling your mind for the past few days, but rather to bring to the table a new perspective on growth. I believe that the best sort of growth is the sort that comes about naturally. Just as trees have a natural progression of maturity, so God is intentional towards us in each season of life, building on what we’ve learned in the last. This might feel  sporadic from our point of view, but submission never makes complete sense to us, does it?

 I hope you lean fully on the hope that we have as an anchor to our soul, holding it to where it really belongs in all things.  

Happy New Year! Here’s to many more.