Learning to live

As I come to grips that this place I am in is going to be home for some time still, I realize I need to learn how to live. As it stands now my days are a toxic recipe of pain, fear, anxiety, hopelessness, and uncertainty. It is clear to me that I am a foreign place and the rules of engagement are not what I am used to. No more “business as usual”, it’s survival mode. I surely don’t want to claim this place as my long term home, but while I am passing through I’ve got to learn how to live here.
As time passes it seems much slower here. Each second seems like hours. Also, I find night time much more inviting than day since I can sleep and get a short escape. Thoughts here are not my own, they are directed by bouts of pain. Pain seems to have a great influence here much like a dictator. Hope, peace, joy, and contentment all bow to pain. Pain has an evil grin which is barely seen through the darkness surrounding its elusive presence.

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Escapes

What to do when you aren’t satisfied in God. In fact God seems like more of a concept than a reality. That is a pressing place to be in. The desire to escape becomes at times overwhelming. Is there a place of refuge? If so, why is it so elusive? Are there arms to hold me and not let go. Is there a healing balm to apply to my pain. It seems I wander, much like a man with no mission. On my back I carry these questions wherever I go. They are heavy for sure and slow down my travels at times to just a crawl. I would love to exchange the questions for answers. Answers weigh far less and provide comfort rather than misery. Is there a deep contentment to experience? What color would it be? It seems my world is colored in grey. It all looks the same. The hues are gone. It is a one dimensional, flat canvas on which I walk. The air around me is stale and cold. I look across the way before me and as far as my eyes can see is emptiness. I look down and see a picture on which I stand. The picture seems interesting but fake and distant. If I could just climb into the picture, perhaps I could go deeper and find some treasure. Who painted the canvas below my feet? It certainly tells a story and piques my curiosity. It is maddening though to observe from the outside. I stoop down to touch. I run my fingers across the canvas. I feel nothing. I look closer and there is beauty. Smile begins to stroke my face and hope whispers so faintly. I stare. My eyes are drawn into the canvas. For but a moment I begin to feel warmth and a bit of color emerges. Contours take shape and I hear a comforting sound. I am ripped from the place and thrust upwards into the air. I float ever so high and the canvas is unrecognizable from up so high. I try to hold on to something, find anything to grip, but there is nothing. My moment of freedom was but a taste which now only lingers and reminds me of what is not. Nothing under my feet, I am suspended in a void. What moves me? I feel that I am drifting somewhere unknown. What fills the air around me? Haunting echoes of bygone visions which tease my hopes and leave only a residue of pain. My eyes grow heavy and I feel it would be easier to drift off to sleep. Perhaps a dream would rescue me. I become limp as I allow a new frontier to open up before me.

Canvas

What to do when you aren’t satisfied in God.  In fact God seems like more of a concept than a reality.  That is a pressing place to be in.  The desire to escape becomes at times overwhelming.  Is there a place of refuge?  If so, why is it so elusive?  Are there arms to hold me and not let go.  Is there a healing balm to apply to my pain.  It seems I wander, much like a man with no mission.  On my back I carry these questions wherever I go.  They are heavy for sure and slow down my travels at times to just a crawl.  I would love to exchange the questions for answers.  Answers weigh far less and provide comfort rather than misery.  Is there a deep contentment to experience?  What color would it be?  It seems my world is colored in grey.  It all looks the same.  The hues are gone.  It is a one dimensional, flat canvas on which I walk.  The air around me is stale and cold.  I look across the way before me and as far as my eyes can see is emptiness.  I look down and see a picture on which I stand.  The picture seems interesting but fake and distant.  If I could just climb into the picture, perhaps I could go deeper and find some treasure.  Who painted the canvas below my feet?  It certainly tells a story and piques my curiosity.  It is maddening though to observe from the outside.  I stoop down to touch.  I run my fingers across the canvas.  I feel nothing.  I look closer and there is beauty.   Smile begins to stroke my face and hope whispers so faintly.  I stare.  My eyes are drawn into the canvas.  For but a moment I begin to feel warmth and a bit of color emerges.  Contours take shape and I hear a comforting sound.  I am ripped from the place and thrust upwards into the air.  I float ever so high and the canvas is unrecognizable from up so high.  I try to hold on to something, find anything to grip, but there is nothing.  My moment of freedom was but a taste which now only lingers and reminds me of what is not.  Nothing under my feet, I am suspended in a void.  What moves me?  I feel that I am drifting somewhere unknown.  What fills the air around me?  Haunting echoes of bygone visions which tease my hopes and leave only a residue of pain.  My eyes grow heavy and I feel it would be easier to drift off to sleep.  Perhaps a dream would rescue me.  I become limp as I allow a new frontier to open up before me.

Walking on water.

Today as I was struggling against some issues, a picture came to mind.  I saw my head just above water.  This is how I felt.  At times, when the cares of this life are too much, I find myself being pulled under the water and gasping for air.  Then once again I rise and get my head just above the water and breath in deeply for but a moment until once again I am swallowed up by the waters.  There seems to be this cycle where I life in two distinct states – my head just above and below the waters.  I am tossed back and forth with no predictability.  Never underneath the water long enough such that I drown and remain lifeless.  Never above the water long enough that I am restored totally and experience freedom.  Then it occured to me that this pattern is a natural progression dictated by circumstances, feelings, attitude etc.  Hence the unpredictability of it.  Each day brings a new set of victories, challenges, issues and obstacles.  These forces either pull us under the water or keep our heads just barely above the surface.  Then I considered what it would be like to rise above the water and walk on top of it.  Of course this isn’t naturally possible.  But isn’t that the point?  It is beyond the natural and has an element of faith involved.  My mind questions how this is possible, yet something inside me longs to walk in freedom.

Our Toolbox

This morning I was pondering faith. I instantly saw in my mind’s eye a flat tire. I saw a person staring at the flat tire and hoping that it would become repaired. They were sincere in their hope and really wanted the tire to be repaired. God showed me that often this is how we approach things. We have something in our life which is broken down. Maybe it’s a sickness. Maybe it’s someone who is antagonizing us. We really want God to fix the situation. We pray to him and ask repeatably for him to intervene. We believe. Now flash back to the flat tire. I saw the person get into the trunk of the car and pull out a jack, tire iron and spare tire. They proceeded to jack up the car, take off the flat tire and replace it with the new tire. God showed me that when we have broken situations in our lives, He has given us the tools we need to make repairs. Here are just a few of the tools at our disposal:

II Corithians 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.

1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Ephesians 6:13-17 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

God tells us that life and death is in the power of our tongue. The words we speak have power to transform (repair) our situation. God also tells us that faith without works is dead. God has given us the tools we need, now it’s up to us to use them. The tools God has given us (His Word) are designed for every situation we will ever face in this life.- II Peter 1:3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

Dead End

How many have come to that place. Where the road ends and the cliff begins. Where a dense fog clouds your path forward. A place where forward progress comes to a screeching halt and the moment is pregnant with uncertainty. It is a dead end. It is a desparate place. There is no turning back, no turning to the left or right, no retreat. There is no escape except for divine intervention…..
Moses faced a dead end. Before him was the Red Sea, behind him was the Egyptian army. No escape. No options. The Egyptians were closing in and the Israelites cried out to God. There was a pressing on one side from a deadly force and on the other side was an obstacle. Moses told the people to “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord”. When facing a dead end, fear will surely come and be an unwelcome companion. The longer we entertain fear, we will sink into hopelessness. But Moses knew there was an option. That the Lord was going to deliver. There was no other way. As Moses raised his staff, the dead end became a new beginning and victory was accomplished that day.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego faced a dead end. The execution furnace in front of them, no way around, no way out. Nebuchadnezzar called for the heat to be raised by seven times hotter than usual. Fear would raise its head and whisper through the flames of impending doom, yet the three Hebrews held in bondage were unwavering in their devotion to God. As they were thrown into the furnace, their dead end became a testimony of God’s power and His ability to deliver out of impossible situations.
Jesus faced a dead end. Hanging from a cross, beaten, bloodied, dismembered, His final words “It is finished”. For those faithful who were observing, death had claimed their King and the path forward seemed unclear. As Jesus lay hidden in the tomb, wrapped in grave cloths, it would seem as though hope had been lost. But when the tomb stone was rolled away and Jesus emerged victorious, His dead end is the reason that our dead ends are opportunities to move forward. He faced a dead end once so that He could provide the way for us out of our dead end. Our greatest obstacle was sin and it’s penalty on our lives. That prison had no hope, no release, no life. Now that we are free, there is no dead end that we come to that is impossible. Jesus made all of the dead ends we will face in life as open doors. Know for certain that you will travel roads which come to an abrupt end. When you come to that place where there is no path forward, do not fear! Remember Jesus has already passed through and made a way where there was no way.