Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Must be a heart condidtion.

 Recently it feels like I don't give mission updates to talk about life in Japan so much as I talk about anime or books I have been reading and reflecting on...

And in keeping with such trends...

There's a story re-visited lately.  (it's on going, so I don't know how it ends yet.)  It's the story of a girl.  She grew up with out a father, and with a mother who didn't love her.  There was no meaning to her existence if she wasn't perfect.  And of course, since no child is perfect, she often failed to meet her mothers demands.  She spent much of her childhood crying, or stressing over how to make her mother love her.  Eventually she gave up.  The only solace she found was at the place of her childhood friend.  Eventually, she innocently fell in love with her friend.  Everything she did was either to please her mother, please her friend, or please her friends parents, who often looked after her.  She put her whole heart into working for them.  Eventually, her friend, who rebels against his parents, asks her to run away to Tokyo with him so he can seek his fortune as a star.  She of course replies without hesitation.  She would follow him anywhere.

So she works for the sake of her friend, who she believes is her prince.  He quickly becomes a star, while she is working several jobs to support him.  Then one day she is faced with the reality of her situation.  He does not love her at all.  He is only using her as a maid and a servant.  Her pure heart was shattered.  The unselfish love and devotion she had poured out on him was scorned.  And in an instant her love became hate.  She swore revenge on him, and set out to enter the entertainment industry so she could  put him in his place.

She is now faced with a heart that is closed off to love.  Hate becomes her strength and her motivation.  But she catches the eye of the company president, who is a self-proclaimed warrior of love.  He makes it his mission to help her heart find love again.  She joins his company with the statement "Please help me regain a needed human emotion."

I like this series a lot.  It gives me a lot to think about.  It's cute and funny, but dark at the same time.  The main characters all have this big gaping holes in their hearts, and they try so hard to fill them.  The main character has many set back, but the losses help her find her true talent and help her to shine.

I'm reminded of myself so often.  I choose small, petty idols who will disappoint me and throw me away after using me and then after pouring out my love, time and energy uselessly, I become afraid and  lock up my heart so I can't be hurt again.  And I allow my life to be ruled by fear and hate.

I feel like the more I lock up my heart, the more it becomes filled with trash.

It's crazy when you look at the mountain of trash.  And I want to give up.  How can I possibly do anything with all this junk?  Where do I start?  Will there ever be an end?  And what exactly is that smell?

I get discouraged, and try to hide the trash behind closed doors.

But God is looking out for me.  God, who wants me to learn how to love - the needed human emotion - has planned things out for me.  Yes, it hurts if He takes away my idols and exposes them for what they are.  But, would I really have been happy in that false place, a place that was so small and weak compared to real life?  If the girl in the story looks back, can she really say she would have been happier living in the shadow of her false prince all her life, and never knowing that she herself could also shine?  Wasn't it the loss of that "happiness" that helped her find the path to her true calling?

And so isn't this how God leads me as well.  I can look back and see where things didn't go my way, and I was frustrated and thought I had lost my "happiness."  But if I had settled for those things, I wouldn't be living in Japan, I wouldn't have met the people important to me now, and I wouldn't be writing this insightful blog.
And looking back it's easy to see.

The problem is that it's so hard for us to see when we are in the middle of it.  When we don't get what we want, or when we are struggling.

We close off our hearts, cry, and blame God for our heartaches.

When really, my heart hurts because I locked it away.  Because I won't allow myself to love anymore.  Because I'm afraid I've chosen yet another idol who will betray me.

But one day...

I will rise up.

And I will move past these times, with a heart stronger and wiser that will open to the sky and truly love.

Psalm 37:4
Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires.

Delight in the Lord.  Not scorn.  Not distrust.  Not doubt.  Delight.

First, to open my heart...  I must delight in the Lord.

Recently, "Love Song for a Savior" by Jars of Clay has been on repeat on my music player.

Because this is what I know I'm missing.  And what I want to be able to do...

I want to fall in love with You.
I want to fall in love with You.
I want to fall in love with You.

It's not just on repeat on the music player.

It's on repeat in the depths of my heart.

I have a heart problem.

And it can only be solved by falling in love.  Not with an idol.  But with the Love of my Life.

Oh yes.

I want to fall in love with You.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Searching for my Dream and Truth.

Last week my friend read me a passage from Haggai 1 -
This is what the Lord Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house. ’”
Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin? ”
Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”
This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored, ” says the Lord. “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house. 10 Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. 11 I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the olive oil and everything else the ground produces, on people and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands. ”

 I have been pondering this verse often this past week and a half, trying to apply it to my life.  Because you see, it hit me hard the way so many of the warnings applied...  You have planted much, but harvested little.  You eat, but never have enough.  You drink but never have your fill.  You earn wages only to put them in a purse with holes in it.

Ouch.  (that last one hit especially hard)

And it feels like the past few years of my life have been summed up neatly.

So out of the crevices of my mind where half remembered memory verses float around waiting for a chance to be useful comes the ever famous "Seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven and all these things shall be added onto you" verse (and no I don't remember where it's from...)

Put all these together and I've been trying to figure out how to seek God, build up His Temple first, and love Him with all my heart while at the same time continuing to try to panel my own house because I can't seem to figure out how to stop.

Then this was in my devotion today from the book Captivating by John and Staci Eldridge:

"One of the deepest ways a woman bears the image of God is in her mystery. By mystery we don't mean "forever beyond your knowing," but "something to be explored." "It is the glory of God to conceal a matter," says the book of Proverbs, "to search out a matter is the glory of kings" (25:2). God yearns to be known. But he wants to be sought after by those who would know him. He says, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart" (Jer. 29:13). There is dignity here; God does not throw himself at any passerby. He is no harlot. If you would know him you must love him; you must seek him with your whole heart. This is crucial to any woman's soul, not to mention her sexuality. "You cannot simply have me. You must seek me, pursue me. I won't let you in unless I know you love me."

Is not the Trinity a great mystery? Not something to be solved, but to be known with ever-deepening pleasure and awe, something to be enjoyed. Just like God, a woman is not a problem to be solved, but a vast wonder to be enjoyed. "

Yes!  This is one of the pieces I have been missing.   The picture is a little clearer now.

God is not something to be solved.  God wants to be known, but yet He is not a harlot throwing herself at any passerby.  He wants to be sought out, He wants to be loved, and he wants to be enjoyed. 

My discontent with my life, the problems that plague me, the things that tie me down and keep me preoccupied... That's all me trying to build my own paneled house.  I'm trying to get all my affairs in order, before trying to move on to the kingdom of heaven.

And in a similar manner that I do when I watch a child trying to go about doing a problem in the completely wrong way, He tries to get my attention, and when that doesn't work, He allows my path to be thwarted.

"You're going about it the wrong way silly.  Come over here and I'll show you."  He says gently.

But like many young children, I refuse to hear.  (seriously, trying to make a child listen to you sometimes is HARD.  Even when the answer is so simple, they are too wrapped up in their own thoughts to hear you trying to help them.)

Thankfully God is patient.

Now I feel a little freer, with a different angle on things.

So the questions for this week are now:

How does a woman chase after her lover in a way that is feminine and yet whole hearted?  (since I have never chased after a lover whole heartedly, I'm a little stumped to know what this looks like just yet...)

How do I go about seeking after God in a way that will enable me to fall deeper and deeper in love with Him?

For now I ponder...

with my hands outstreached...

grasping for the ever elusive love affair born from faith and hope.

I'm certain, someday I'll be still and finally listen.

My friend wrote a song that feels appropriate here...

My dream, I never catched that yet.  My dream, I never touched that yet.
Every night, I'm reaching my hand to the sky...

My Truth, I never catched that yet.  My Truth, I never touched that yet.
Every night, I'm reaching my hand to the sky...

Looking for my Dream and Truth.

(He is not Christian, nor a native English speaker, which is why you have the word catched instead of caught...)

But this is what my heart feels like sometimes (no, make that most times).  If you imagine that my dream and my truth are in fact My God, then this is what I am searching for in all I do.  And so often it feels like I can never quite grasp Him.  But I am compelled to reach my hand to the sky...  searching for my Dream and Truth.