Unsatisfied By Average

The Musings of a Stubborn Believer

Category: liberty (page 1 of 2)

Strong to Save [When God Goes to War] Part II

You know the story isn’t over.
It could be. I mean, wouldn’t it be enough if He swooped in as the Hero of every rescue mission, and picked up broken pieces again, and took them home to heal?
That’s already more than we deserve.

But that’s not the end of the story. Or the chapter.

He is the Hero of every rescue mission. And there’s a reason His exploits come first…

But keep reading till the end of the tale.

He saves the afflicted, simultaneously putting the adversary in his place.
And then!–

He lights a candle. A little flame of light atop a stick of wax strung out.
Fresh home from the smoke and dust of battle, He shares His life.
He puts in the soul a fire, out of Himself, a part of Himself, and with that fire comes all the power that is His. Power to live. Power to overcome. The same power that just sent hills and hoodlums scurrying.

And watch the servant. Watch the flame suddenly catch on, as if he was all oil inside. Watch him fly into the darkness, like an arrow himself. Burning as he goes, consumed, but . . . not consumed.

Watch him run right through the midst of the garrison of darkness, setting the place ablaze. Watch his enemies come to their senses, pick themselves up to follow hard in the trail of smoke. Watch him get to the end– the dead end. And just when the pursuers think they’ll have vengeance at last, watch him leap. Watch him sail over what should have been his death sentence. While his enemies remain, confined by their own fortifications.

Watch him stop on the far side, catch his breath, raise one hand to heaven and say:

“As for God, His way is perfect:
the word of the Lord is tried:
He is a buckler to all those that trust in Him.
For who is God, save the Lord?. . .

It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.
He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet. . .
He teacheth my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms. . .

Thy right hand hath holden me up,
And thy gentleness hath made me great.
Thou has enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip.

I have pursued mine enemies, and overtaken them:. . .
I have wounded them that they were not able to rise:
they are fallen under my feet.

For Thou has girded me with strength unto the battle. . .”

(Ps. 18:30-39, emphasis mine.)


How can it logically be said that even with unlimited access to unlimited power, we must accept the prospect of limited progress, and perpetual setbacks?

I don’t get that.

What I do get, is that when I am His, then I am strong.
And under no other circumstances.

Bound to the Altar

See how his hand trembles, this giant of a man. 

See how it fumbles with soft leather strap, almost inept.
Hear broken sobs, from the given heart.
Watch him blink away tears so he can see what he’s doing–
See to bind his son. His promised son.

By some reflex my head turns in real life, eyes squinted shut. As if to say “I don’t want to watch this happen.”

Amazing love.
But you know what I find almost more amazing?
See how his hand takes those straps, steady and strong.
See how he binds himself, soothes the broken, himself blinking away tears.
This strong son. The promised one.

Amazing love.

–  –  –  –  –

I pull out a second card. Because sometimes on sister’s birthday one card won’t say it all.

Four words– This morning I pondered with tears what it must take to stand like a rock, on a breaker out in the tide while the waves crash over. Like lighthouses do… 

Because you, I, we… We’re out there, and the sandy shore from whence we’ve come is washing out, getting ever more distant. Carried away by churning foam while the water around gets deeper. 

I mean, there’s the clinging, the scratching, the white-kunckled hold. But anemones and starfish have many more hands than we do. And none of them are permanent fixtures. 

So it must be, that to stand rock-like, we need nothing less than to be bound to that rock by a power outside of our own. Greater than our own. Bound so firmly that neither fear nor fatigue can ever make us ask for release of reprieve.  

Because it’s in the midst of the worst storms that the world most needs lighthouses…
Prisoner on the rock. to the Rock. 

Bind yourself there. 

               Love you forever.

This is No Mystery [Born to Fly Free]

What if I told you that every time I’ve ever found myself spinning my mental wheels in spiritual mud;
every time I’ve found myself wondering where my happiness disappeared to;
every time I’ve flown in my dreams only to wake up in the morning and find myself once again mercilessly tied to reality;
every time I’ve found myself confused;
every time I’ve been afraid to try, because I knew I’d fail;
every time I’ve gone ahead and tried, and, sure enough, failed;
and every time my confidence has been replaced with questions

Every. time.–
It’s always been for the same, simple reason.

What if I told you that?
Would you believe me?

And what if I followed that sweeping statement up with this one:

One, single, highly uncomplicated little word has always brought me back to joy.

Would you, could you believe?

Well, [giggles]
guess what?

–  –  –  –  –

I’m more than a bit ashamed to tell you this. But it’s the truth, and I’m going to tell you because every time dreams come true and I fly again (even while I’m awake) I find myself gripped with this desire to pass the gift of free flight to you. And this is the only way I know how…

So, I walk. Duck under and around, pick through muddy patches on the forest floor just undressed from it’s cloak of fluffy whiteness. I stop by one secret sacred spot, then turn to visit another. I’d rather walk than sit today, restless as I am. 
I tussle with this emptiness. This emptiness I hate, especially since I know what it is to be full. And the gnawing drives me soon beyond words, and rather than ask, I simply listen. And quieter than a whisper on the wind, this God Whose voice I’m learning to recognize better and better, He marshals silent words and they press into my mind one at a time–
“There is. no. substitute. for obedience.”
Uh. What to do when God “quotes” you?
I sigh. He speaks only truth. 
I don’t argue. But I am silent for a long, long time. 
“But…
but it cross-grains my personality, 
and my values, 
and my family culture, 
and my preferences, 
and my conventions.” 

“And your convictions?”

Silence again.
“Can’t I just…just…”

“Few things in the world are more dangerous than a soldier with a mind of his own.
And I know it crosses you. But I still ask it of you.”
How petty are the things we cling to, when compared with the joy of flying free.

I stop my pacing, straighten up to my full 5 feet 6, look steady at the open sky and with a twinge of fierceness born of resolution re-born, and answer:

“Yes. Yes.”

And I feel myself take flight again…

–  –  –  –  –

This is not rocket science. There is no mystery.

I spent the latter half of my prayer walk plotting against my enemies.
Namely, the three that are one, that make my dreams impossible. That limit my reach to that which is earthly. That confuse, confound, and cause to fear and to fail…

They are simply, Conditional Yes, Deferred Yes, & Incomplete Yes.

And all three of them are just fancy names for no.

I have learned that to negotiate, (that is, to plead for a compromise or conditions) to hesitate, (that is, to wait even three seconds before actuating obedience) or just plain letting the discussion trail off, robs me of life and joy.
It robs me of communion, and confidence.
It robs me of my wings.

And failing to answer yes to the seemingly insignificant blinds me to the realities of the significant…
And vice versa.

One word. Would you believe? It always takes me back to joy; makes God’s dreams come true.
One word.

“Yes.”

Love With Your Eyes [Glorious Fast – Part VII]

“…and that thou bring the poor that are [afflicted] to thy house?
When thou seest the naked, that thou cover him, 
and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?”


There are times, many times, when answers are not enough.
When the most eloquently chosen words are still a mockery…

Because what are words when I am dying of leprosy, and you are not?
What are words when I am naked, and you are warmly clothed?
What are words when we could have been siblings, when our fates could have been reversed, but you turn away because you’d rather not see my open sores?

I’ll tell you exactly what words are then. Even, at times, the well meaning ones…

Shame. Shame and mockery…

Ok, whatever. So I won’t talk.
Oh, but what is silence!?

–  –  –  –  –

Many feel as though they don’t have the words anyway.
I’m here to go on record saying that that is no limitation.
You can still “bring,” you can still “cover…”

You can still open your arms and wrap them around the neck of a dying, reeking, sick child the Highest, and hold them to your heart, unguarded.
You can look steady and strong into the eyes of the naked and afraid, and prove to them that love can see past their lack.

Oh, and you might get the stench of death all over you.
But you might also release a soul from the grip of shame.

Dirty work? You might call it that. I don’t.
You know Jesus touched the leprous skin to make it whole.

Oh, love with your hands, your arms, your eyes…
And if your hands get covered in grime, no matter.

Have you ever, have you ever watched darkened eyes light up?



To Finish the Job [Glorious Fast – Part V]

“… and that ye break every yoke?…”

This is no halfway freedom we’re talking about.

This is undeniably the most audacious face of the conflict–
It’s grace, returning to finish the job.

Because “if the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”

So it is that the trembling (but oh, so happy) child of God (only recently in chains) awakens one morning to a flurry of activity, and while yet rubbing sleep from the eyes an angel brushes by and says the Commander is waiting…

“For what– 
        For me??”

Yes. Because just getting clear of the door of that prison is’t enough for this General.
Today they’re going back to crush the fortress to a thousand pieces.

And He wants to take me with Him.

So we set out. Me with my little coil of rope, and Him, strong as ten thousand times ten thousand bulldozers. And I look up in awe while we trek– still thinking this is a dream. The One, the Invincible Soldier. The other, the admiring little boy, still in his pajamas…
And He looks down and smiles.

He doesn’t need me.

But He glories in making the weak, strong.
            –in setting them over their enemies.

And after all, don’t I know where the pillars in that place rest, better than most?


Chained by Fear [Glorious Fast – Part IV]

…and to let the oppressed to free…

There is nothing in the world to fear, but fear itself.
–words to a trusted friend those.

Fear substantiates the false claims of every captor.

Because when I fail, this jail I find myself in is horrible…
But even more horrible is the fear.

Fear keeps thousands in prison, when the door is wide open.
Because worse than jail itself is fearing “how God will treat me” when I get out

But to say that God is anything like fear describes is as wrong as calling the devil a savior.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

The truth is, God loves.
only. loves.

But the fearing can scarcely be blamed for disbelieving that at times…

We’ve taught them to.

Yes. You and me.
We teach the weak to fear.
By our actions. When we’re supposed to be representing Jesus Himself…

And that keeps them in prison even when the doors are open.

“…and to let the oppressed to free…”

Not just by getting the door open.
By helping them believe they’ll always find open arms on the other side of the threshold.

Always.


Trophies of His Mercy [Glorious Fast – Part III]

“…to undo the heavy burdens…”

Undo.
I love that word.

I love that word.

Schoolmaster holds up a bony finger and rants of paradises lost. Of opportunities wasted. Of moments, talents, thrown to the wind. Or worse.
Of the train of mistakes so long it takes an army of engines to pull them.
And that army of engines is me.
(And so, we get nowhere.)

Of the crushing weight of another failure.
Another moment I regret the second it is gone.
Of the shame that no one can understand because they know nothing of its source…

Schoolmaster’s voice shrieks this madness,
this madness that is real,
and I cover. cower. cry.

And then in the midst of this shower of burning brimstone a hand is raised.
And teacher’s tirade ceases on a goldfish-gulp of air, for sheer shock that someone might want to speak…
And the voice is quiet, but it is as solid as a rock.

“Is there no way to undo?”

“Un-DO?!”

–  –  –  –  –

Grace.
I love that word too…

And it does undo.
The Hebrew word means more than just to untie one’s shoelaces.

It means to utterly confound, baffle, unravel…

I know.
I know, in the present-progressive.
Because I pace too, lion-like. Fists doubled up. Star-studded blackness outside french doors to bookshelf, and back.
And I dry my eyes, drop exhausted. Only to cry some more.
And I whisper–

“He restoreth my soul… He restoreth my soul…”

I have heard it said that “There is more mercy in Christ than sin in us.”*

I believe it.
Yes, there is a way to undo.

Oh, but schoolmaster shrieks again that the scars will always remain.

Yes. And even scars are trophies of His mercy–
A scar is infinitely better than an eternally open wound.

Thank you Jesus.

–  –  –  –  –

And so the soldier gets up from his face forgiven. Again.
Pure. again.

But only as he remembers what he himself has learned on his face will he be qualified to help undo burdens himself.

This is why we must never forget…

Be thou merciful. 

*Richard Sibbes

The Blind Cannot Lead The Blind [Glorious Fast – Part II]

“…to loose the bands of wickedness…”

If hacking chains is exhilarating work, it is also gut-wrenching. Tear jerking.
Soul taxing–

And full-filling.

It is neither for the faint-hearted, nor for the half-committed…

But it is brilliantly, brilliantly rewarding.

Little wonder then that many an eager recruit has taken to the field with clumsy grip and misfit armor to seek fame in such brave exploits. Only, without first counting (or even knowing) the cost.

These first six words betray one of the best-kept secrets of the dark side.

As regards [im]morality*:

License is bondage.

Lust is an iron chain.
And many, many beautiful people are wearing such fetters.

But these, my friends,
These are the first chains to go.

Only, they will never fall helpless before the faith (or the fervent fuming) of the faint-hearted,
or the half-committed.

From these same six words rings out to every soldier sharpening his sword for such a battle, this thundered imperative- a charge commanding every anguished drop of a soldier’s undying commitment:

Be. thou. pure.

Be thou pure.

Because only purity is stronger than vice.


*Strongs: [“wickedness” from 7561; a wrong (especially moral)…]

Chosen Hunger [Glorious Fast – Part I]

“Is not this the fast that I have chosen?”

I know what it is to be hungry.

A little bit.
You know, where every sensation is heightened, (stub your toe and see.) and you carry with you an ache that won’t. go. away…
Hunger is both a gift, and a tragedy.
And normally, we go to great lengths to avoid it…
But to choose to be hungry… 
We call that fasting. 
To choose to carry the ache everywhere
To embrace the heightened sensitivity to seemingly unrelated woe,
Could this be what it means to have fellowship with Christ in His sufferings?
And could it be that personal vulnerability, and brokenness, and weakness born of raw hunger are prerequisite to being a channel for life and liberty?
Could it be?

Sign Here Please

“By signing, I would have been giving away comprehensive and exclusive rights to all of my music, everywhere in the universe, for perpetuity! No!”

We still laugh every time we remember it.
Our incredulous friend-since-childhood, turned celebrity and world traveler. And us.

We’d just finished sharing a stage. And now under discussion was the paperwork so often required for such appearances…

– – –

Comprehensive, exclusive, universal… For perpetuity.
My rights.
Sign here please.

I bristle. Don’t you?
The last thing I want to do is give up my rights.

But do I really have any?
Oh yes, “We hold these truths to be self evident…”

But on the cosmic stage…

On the cosmic stage, I’m a criminal. And I already gave my rights away.
But I still claim them. My right to myself. My right to my powers. My right to pleasures…
It’s all death. And they’re not even really mine…
I don’t even have the right to life.

Unless Jesus Himself gives me His.
The right to His power, His pleasures, His life… Himself.

It’s crazy. But He offers it anyway.
And so we trade.

That’s when I sign away my claims to myself.

Sign here please.

You bet.
My rights, comprehensive, exclusive, universal, for perpetuity.
I release my claims to myself.

Christ claims my powers, my gifts, my breath,

I claim Christ.

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