Archive - April, 2011

Freedom

To be honest, this week has been a rough one for me. I’ve found myself in tears a few times.  Again, I’m not sad or depressed or upset…. I just feel a little caged. Like a bird staring through iron bars, I have this desire to fly, but cannot seem to figure out how to open the latch so that I can go free.

Not sure whose tattoo this is, but I love it.

As I was pondering the open skies, I came across a Desiring God post regarding types freedom, and this reflection stuck with me.

And if you have the desire to do something, and the ability to do it, and the opportunity to do it, but it destroys you in the end, you are not fully free—not free indeed.

This insight is part of John Piper’s reflection on John 8:36: “If the Son sets you free, you’ll be free indeed.” What does it mean to be free indeed? I know that the Son set me free, but I still don’t feel like I have freedom.

If your idea of freedom is slowly destroying you, it isn’t freedom no matter how much you would love to believe that it is. True freedom never pulls you further from who God created you to be , but rather gives you the liberty to fly into His arms.  Freedom is about walking in the will of the Father, through the grace of the Son and by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

I long for that type of freedom. Freedom beyond the desires of my heart, my ability to succeed, and the opportunities before me… freedom to simply be who I am in Christ.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.  - Maya Angelou

Praying that God will guide me beyond the restrictions that confine me and into a place where I am truly free to be myself and to be in His presence and to invite others to do the same.

Why are you crying?

It’s Easter. I’ve heard the story dozens of times, but today there is a verse of scripture haunting me like it never has before.

 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” - John 20:15

 Today was a fantastic day. I have an amazing friend visiting from overseas, I have amazing roommates, we had an amazing time feeding forty college students dinner… and most importantly, we celebrated the amazing resurrection of an awesome God. Perfect day.

Except… today has involved a bit of crying. I cried this morning at church, I cried after talking to my family, I cried listening to my roommate sing a song about today, and I just cried after everyone went to bed. They aren’t tears of sadness or tears of joy; they’re just tears.

And, all day, I believe that God has been asking me “woman, why are you crying? who is it you are looking for?”.  Good question. One that I could not sufficiently answer.

As I pondered that question, I was reminded of how Mary responded. She was looking for her Lord. He seemed dead and distant from her. He had both relationally and physically disappeared from her life. Not only was Jesus dead, but his body wasn’t even in sight. If she knew where he was, she would have went after Him, but the situation seemed hopeless because she had no direction.

Here was Jesus, posing the question. “Why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”. He was right in front of her, yet she did not recognize Him until He called her name. It is interesting to note that He didn’t call her name until she stated why she was downcast and expressed a desire to find Him.

The Lord is asking, “Woman, why are you crying?”. And, I am reminded who it is that I am looking for and who it is that I serve. If He is Risen, and He has Risen indeed, why am I crying?

Often times, I think we live life perpetually through the eyes of Mary at the beginning of the day. I find myself weeping because my Lord is not here, weeping because they persecuted Him, weeping because I don’t understand how God will be glorified through dismal circumstances, weeping because I know that Jesus died with me in mind. and I have no idea of where to find Him.  We have a tendency to leave Jesus crucified and buried and seemingly missing from our present circumstances.

The Good News is that Jesus isn’t in the tomb. He isn’t missing. He is risen! He rose from the grave, He ascended into heaven, and He will come again. The Good News is that He is the first fruits of new life, and that the Spirit that rose Christ from the dead lives in each who believe in Him. He is alive and everything is possible through Him; we do not have to weep because He is here with us, gently calling our name like He called Mary’s on that morning.

Which brings me back to the question: “Why am I crying?” I have tunnel vision. I’m too focused on the cross and  consequently I’m missing Jesus standing right in front of me. I leave Christ buried while sobbing to find Him.  The truth is that even in the most dismal and confusing of circumstances, He is Risen and is right here.  He is already speaking even in moments when I do not recognize His voice, and if I continue to look for Him with intention, He will continue to call my name. 

He is risen. He is Risen indeed. Alleluia.

It’s not about me.

I hate manuscripts. I don’t speak well from them. They make me nervous. They draw out my speech impediments and my accent, and they hinder my ability to recall information because of my semi-photographic memory. I would much rather speak on the fly or from a brief outline than write out all of my thoughts. In fact, I am generally very adamant that I cannot and will not speak if I have to script out my words.

With that in mind, last night I spoke at our worship service. My message was on Romans 7, and as I shared my thoughts on why our attempt at perfectionism is a futile endeavor, the stand in front of me held both my standard outline and script of a thirty minute message. I would love to tell you that I spoke mainly from the outline, extemporaneously, animated, and in typical Kera fashion.

The truth is I didn’t. I didn’t read it verbatim, but I used the manuscript. I stumbled at places, my accent was thicker than normal, and quite frankly, it wasn’t up to par with my public speaking capabilities because I didn’t speak in Kera style…. 

However, I do think I shared what I was supposed to say, used the examples I was supposed to use, and asked the questions I was supposed to ask. I have a peace about last night which is more than I can say about the last time I spoke. After hours upon hours of tackling a difficult passage in study and prayer, I knew I had to script it out more like an essay of understanding and revelation than a verbal sharing of insight and teaching from experience. 

I can easily become prideful when it comes to my communication ability, but last night I was humbled. Not because I failed to stay true to my style, but because I finally realized that my life has little to do with me. It’s all about sharing the message given to me and alive within me. Sometimes that will mean praying about how to articulate it and writing it out, sometimes it will mean speaking on the fly as the words come to mind…. regardless, it isn’t about me or my style or my message. It’s all about God and what He wants to say through me. 

I must confess that I normally am a bit judgmental of those who speak or preach from a manuscript. I have always seen it as a lesser form of public speaking, and because I can throw together an impromptu speech with confidence, I have always seen myself a bit above those who cannot do so. Last night, I gained some respect for those who use manuscripts and was reminded that the style isn’t as important as the willingness to share. 

I don’t think that manuscripts will be making regular appearances in my life, simply because I am a better speaker semi-extemporaneously than I am scripted.  Even so, I know that I will think twice before making generalizations about what I will or will not do and before judging those who are stylistically different then me. It isn’t about what we do or how we do it; it’s about why we do it and who we do it for…

I’m grateful that God uses me, whether in my element or not, whether at my best or at my worst… if I’m willing, He’ll use me somehow for His glory. And, I’m continually reminded that this life I live has very little to do with me.