Friday, March 27, 2009

A spiritual soap box...should I apologize beforehand?

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?" The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.' " Genesis 3:1-3 (NIV)

The dialog between the serpent and Eve once again struck a spiritual nerve of mine, rooted in conviction from the Spirit. Many of us have heard one of the important messages drawn from this story of Scripture, that being of not engaging in conversation with the enemy. By listening to the enemy in conversation, we may already be giving him power, for his words are death, not life.

I do not propose the following as the main exegetical idea of Genesis 3, but God has mercifully struck me to the core with it: Talking to and with God is imperative to our abiding in relationship with Him, rather than talking about God.

I wonder what the 'Fall' story would have looked like had Eve done a couple of things differently. Her response is painfully void of the relationship she actually has with her LORD God. First, just as the serpent deliberately avoids using God's personal name Yahweh (LORD) when he addresses Eve, she responds in exact fashion. Though brought to life by His very hands, she does not use the more intimate name of her Creator. Secondly, Eve talks about what God said (though the words are marred by her human modifications) rather than turning towards God and discussing with Him the previously uttered words. Sad day...

I do pray that we are demolishing arguments and pretensions that set themselves up against the knowledge of God (2 Cor. 10:5) through the use of Scripture and prayer. His Word is our offensive weapon against the enemy. But sisters, I hope we are not skimping over the very relationship in which we know God! We can attempt to stand our ground against the enemy all day long, but if we are not standing our ground in the Holy of Holies to start with I don't think we're going to last very long!

It is frighteningly easy to behave as Eve did in her response to the enemy's deception. We can respond immediately back to that liar, foregoing dropping to our knees in spirit, calling on the LORD by name, and allowing Him to bring back to mind the truth of what He has said in His Word. Perhaps what has been more disturbing to my spirit, in a most holy of discomforts, has been the propensity for this type of action in my own spiritual world. I love getting to talk about my Jesus with you siestas, with my girlfriends over the phone, and with my man. If anybody has the capacity to listen to me, it is one of my unspeakable joys to boast in Him through verbal or written word. He has just been so good to me; I need others to fall in love with Him. It's that simple. But, my blogging about Him does not equate itself to my being in unveiled constant communication with Him.

It is our blessed position as a child of God to 'cry out to God Most High, who fulfills His purposes for us.' (Psalm 57:2) We can draw near to the throne of grace, for we have a Great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16). Oh sisters, I plead with you to remain bowed down before Him, speaking to Him, before we run off speaking to others about Him.

In continuity with this privilege of speaking to our Jesus, might I add our need to listen to Him before going to hear of Him from another?! Y'all, you know that I am the biggest fan of learning from others, be they teachers, pastors, theologians, your very own child, writers, or those your elder. For crying out loud, I went to seminary for nearly two years, and could not write notes fast enough of the professors whose classes I had the privilege of attending; they are spiritual heroes in the faith to me, their lives sacrificed and dedicated to learning and teaching.

But for a plethora of reasons, my generation in particular falls into the hole of dashing off to the next conference, bible study session, or iTunes teaching for their spiritual health as opposed to the living and God-breathed words of the Bible sitting before their laps. We are 'fans' of Mr. So-and-So, or Mrs. So-and-So. My heart beats for us to be 'fans' of Jesus instead. Just as we are given the privilege to talk to God, we are given possibly the even greater privilege to hear Him. Ours is a God who speaks. His chosen possession, the Israelites, were marked time and time again by their ability to 'Hear oh Israel...' Girlfriends, He wants to reveal Himself to you. I pray we seek His voice before another's. And I pray we learn to talk to Him as well before we find ourselves only talking about Him. I fear if we don't, we place ourselves at risk of paraphrasing His truth in an impersonal way, tainting it in our fallen fleshly state, and naively believing that we are powerfully defending the enemy.

Dear sister, take your rightful inheritance as the child of God that you are. Call on His name. Hear His voice that created the very heavens and the earth, and then speak humbly back in response. He disrobed Himself of His glory to give you such access. Those of us in Christ have the miraculous privilege to dialogue with the One whose Words never fail.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Domesticity ... or something like it

Hey my lovely siestas!

I have returned to siestaville, after I myself could not even handle the bombardment of thoughts in my head. I have been thinking about y'all a lot lately. [Pause] Actually, I think I have actually been talking to some of you in my head and to myself. Does that make me crazy???? Yes, I do believe so...

Nate and I got back to Nashville about 2 weeks ago. He hit the ground running with work. I hit the bed in sleep, trying to overcome a brutal cold I got when we had returned from our honeymoon. Four days later, I drove my new husband to get on a tour bus that would take him away from me for a total of about 3 weeks. I don't like that tour bus...don't like it one bit. I would go so far as to call it ugly, but it's carrying precious cargo inside, so I'll refrain.

And thus began my newlywed life in Nashville. And thus began some loneliness. And thus began my short conversations about Scripture with some of you in my head. And thus began my realization that I needed to get a life! Bless my dear Nashvillian friend Abby Lane for her sweet presence. She was in town long enough to take me to church with her last Sunday. I stood beside her, torn between joining in the incredible worship and wanting to sit right down on that cushioned pew with her and talk one another's girly hearts slap out. Rest assured; I behaved. Thank goodness the God I get to serve is bigger than a woman's need for girlfriend time. Grin.

Let me add somewhat intermittently here that I wholeheartedly support my man, which means I support his being gone for this moment as well. This tour was a last minute opportunity of provision that arose for us, and thus he took it. We are both downright miserable apart from one another. Those ahead of us in years of marriage tell me that I will get used to his being gone when he has to travel. Part of me knows that I will come to appreciate those moments of solitude b/c I love nothing more than to hide with my Jesus and some books. But most of me prays, not in disrespect towards my elders, that I don't get used to his absence. If God can sustain and renew my love and excitement for Him through each season, then He can sustain and renew my love for Nate enough so that I will delight in his returning home the 200th time as much as I will this time!

[Insert: Y'all might want to skip this part of you have an insanely weak stomach]. In light of no longer eating in a school dining hall, and wanting to serve my man, Miss turkey sandwich herself has entered the domain of the kitchen. Y'all, I was really coming to enjoy finding recipes and attempting to bring them into fruition. I hadn't burned something in two full days. And I think that's why it happened, b/c y'all know pride comes before a fall. I had just set out what I needed for dinner, and then I did it. I received my merit badge for newlywed domestic activity. I cut the index finger on my right hand with a gigantic knife of ours. (cringing still). Yes, yes, I did. After I caught my breathe from the pain and shock, I ran into the bathroom to run cold water over it. Apparently, in my unconscious, to have just stayed put at the sink I was at and run cold water over it would have been a most harmful decision, since there was a profuse amount of blood. And we mustn't contaminate the kitchen sink, right???

In my 'fight' or 'flight' response, I resumed my 'fight' position as always. In awkward left-handed fashion, I grabbed a ziploc bag, added ice, and made some type of compression over it with a rag so that I could try and get myself to the ER. Oh wait! But not before I ran over to my laptop, pulled up my theology syllabus, and checked to see which book I would need to bring with me to read while I wait. (Oh yes I did, even in the midst of all that pain....y'all know one should not leave home to sit in an ER waiting room for 4 hours without one's most recent theology book. I am highly embarrassed with myself). I actually only read a few chapters of it; I got to have a long-awaited phone date with my Mandy Lu while there. A few stitches later, I returned home, drained and famished. I'll end my story with letting you know that I have eaten a lot of cereal lately and have had nothing but bad hair days since the damage was done. I would pay someone to come brush my hair and fix it, b/c I can't do it with my incapable left hand.

As for these most recent days, I'm mainly job searching and working on my theology class. I can't figure out why there aren't any job openings for someone who loves the Word, lives in Nashville, loves to write, is fairly young and inexperienced, and hasn't yet fully completed her master's degree. It must be my hair y'all....I do so believe it is.

Love y'all. Miss y'all! And will write soon with something the Spirit has been working out in my heart.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Saying mahola to Kauai

My top 16 favorite Kauai memories upon mine and Nate's 16 days of marriage. Grin.

1) Seeing double rainbows right from the view of our cottage porch. Neither of us had ever seen anything like this particular set, for they landed right smack in the depths of the ocean. Nate stood behind me, arms wrapped around me, and we remained silent except for the name of Jesus coming from our lips a few times. It was breathtaking. He is breathtaking.
2) Not wearing make-up during my time here. I never even broke out my set of curlers y'all. Praise Jesus Nate still thinks I'm beautiful without the beauty products. Bless him...
3) Waking up beside my husband. I love it if I manage to wake up before him so I can see him still asleep; this is a rare occasion however :)
4) Sitting inside our cottage, doors open, reading my book. I allow my focus to be easily interrupted to take in two things: the amazing ocean view Jesus gave us, and watching my man paint. I love the look he gets on his face when he is so wrapped up in it. I can only imagine the look of delight on the Heavenly Father's face so wrapped up in Nate praising Him one paint stroke at a time.
5) Getting mad for a brief moment at Nate during our kayak'ing trip. And then laughing at myself for how stupid I was acting (he did nothing wrong...) And then, he and I cracking up over another couple who was yelling at each other; you could hear them even when we passed them. Nate and I decided that if we ever did marriage training, we were going to make couples take a similar kayak'ing trip. The trip is worth a post in itself, and I haven't made the time for such yet, so I'll get back to it once we return to Nashville and I can attach pictures.
6) Piddling in a number of towns here. Our favorites: Hanalei, Koloa, and Ka'paa. With that, visiting numerous art galleries and watching Nate become mesmerized. I too became mesmerized, just in a different gallery. Well, more like a display of delights. Well, not a gallery at all really. But our discovery of Lapparts - an amazing coffee and dessert place - was quite the beautiful display to me. Hehe
7) Sleeping in, and waking up with absolutely nothing to do, except that which we wanted to do.
8) Cell phones turned off!
9) Reading our Bibles separately, but often in the same space...I felt the Spirit just invade our room with His Presence. I could weep over this one, so I'm moving on...
10) Continuously cracking up when out-of-the-blue I would realize I'm married, and married to Nate at that! We'd grin at each other, shake our heads, and remind the other we were husband and wife. I'm still very much in transition. I asked Nate if it felt so weird (in a good way) and unusual to him as well. His response: "Well....kinda. (Pause) I mean...yea. (Pause) But not really. It feels so natural. Like the way it's supposed to be. The way it's always been." Oh! Be still my heart...
11) Deciding to walk like roosters when we were out walking one day. There are so many of them here, and I jokingly and rhetorically asked Nate, 'What if we walked like that?!' So he did. And so I did....Neither of us caring about any passerby.
12) Discovering that the strawberry pancake I had ordered for breakfast one morning was really more like strawberry shortcake in disguise. Delicious....
13) Taking in the landscape of Kauai: ocean, mountain, and lush tropical foliage. We paused along one of our walks today and I tried to wrap my finite mind around the fact that God 'spoke, and it was so...' (Gen. 3). By His very Word, the Universe was formed. How on Earth (no pun intended) could you and I not believe with every part of our being that His written Word is that true and that bound for fulfillment through Him...It is ours girlfriends. How I long that we walk in obedience to His Truth.
14) Being able to celebrate Nate's birthday here in Kauai, four days after we got married.
15) The praise Jesus hand flings we did in the Jacksonville, FL and Dallas, TX airports on our way here. We realized the day before we were supposed to leave that my tickets were booked as Shelly Griffin, but that we had no copy of our marriage certificate as they were to mail it. And I had no other form of ID that showed Griffin. Y'all, one of the guys got distracted talking to us at 7 in the morning, and dropped my ticket. He picked it back up and just passed us on. I just flashed the other security guard in the following airport the best smile I could manage, and God granted us favor on that round too. You better believe we knew God's favor was on us.
16) How well Nate loves me, even in our inexperienced marriage days totaling only sixteen. That imperfect man loves me so so well...I am thrilled with the privilege to learn how to do life with him as we return to Nashville.
Mahola. Grin.