Laid Bare

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All that we are
All that we hide
All that we run from
All that we are afraid to confront,
We are laid bare before You.

All that breaks our fragile hearts
All that threatens our life
All that threatens our joy
All that will one day fade away,
We are laid bare before You.

All that brings chaos and confusion
All that breads the anxiety that cripples
All that are heavy in heart
All that feel lost and alone,
We are laid bare before You.

All that we walk away from
All that we walk toward
All that we wrestle with
All that makes us insecure ,
We are laid bare before You.

All that has become our strengths
All that is seen as weaknesses
All that we have to let go
All that we hold onto,
We are laid bare before You.

All that we are
becomes all that we have

All that we are
becomes pieces of the testimony that You are writing in us,
Jesus,
We are laid bare before You.


“Laid bare.”
Two months after the moment when this photo was taken, I’m reminded of the two words which came to my mind in that moment…

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
– David, Psalm 139: 23-24

Psalm 139 also comes to my mind now as I write the words that you are reading.
Currently, I am sitting overlooking the Canadian border divided by Lake St. Clair and I can’t help but notice the sky that hangs over the moving waters.
I can’t help but notice that this sky is darkening by the second, as the sun sets yet again marking the end of another day…
Yet even as the time of day changes, nothing can take away the reality of those two words application in this moment;
We are laid bare before You Jesus.

As I sit here as the light of day fades even quicker… I can’t help but reflect on the many moments that have led me to where I am as I write this… and I can’t help but think about you who is reading this now…
I wonder what all of the moments that have led you here… in this moment… are as you read these words that my fingers are currently typing on this laptop in my lap;

Yet, even as I write these words as the sun sets around me…
We are laid bare before You Jesus.

What is your story?
You… who read this now.

Oh how your story matters…

Goodness… it’s amazing how temperatures can drop so suddenly!
Even as I type these words, the wind is starting to pick up…
Yet every chilling wind that hits my skin as I sit here, is no surprise to You as I decide to take refuge in my car that is now surrounded by the complete darkness of night,
even though moments ago it was still illuminated by the dusk.

It blows my mind that even though we change…

and even though seasons change…
and the temperature may change around us so quickly…
You do not.
And through it all?
We are still laid bare before You.

All of our confusion,
our grief,
our worry,
our doubt,
our questions,
our hurt
All that we are
in this moment
All that we are is so present to us, and is so real to us now,

and still,
all that we are is not foreign to You Lord;

We are laid bare before You.

Jesus,
My heart, our hearts are laid bare before you now, just as it was in the forest where the picture above was taken on that cold February day.
Lord,
You know our anxious thoughts and you know the heavy hearts of every soul of every person in the sea of faces that is all around us!

Even though I am laid bare before You…
 I so often numb myself to Your presence and ignore You day by day.

All that my hands produce, all that our hands produces, is meaningless apart from You… this I know; but just like a child ignoring the fact that they are clearly seen by their parents, 
we so willingly choose to ignore that we are laid bare before you.
The good,
The bad,
The ugly…
All that we are is Yours.
Forgive me for hiding.
Forgive us Father.

“Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”

 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,

    for darkness is as light to you…”
– David, Psalm 139: 7, 11-12

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
– David, Psalm 139: 23-24

 “… even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day…”
“… even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day…”

Remind me that You are here… now.
Remind us that You are here… now.
You are faithful…
Oh how our stories matter to You!
We matter to You so much…
and You will never leave us where You find us.

Remind us that You will never leave us, even for a moment,
Help us surrender all we hold… to all You are.
Remind us that You. are. here.
You are here now…
We are laid bare before You.

-J

 

Breaking Up, Breaking Down, & The Healing In Between

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As I watch the vapor of my breath leave my body, I am amazed by the Michigan marsh that surrounds me.
I can’t help but be thankful that the sun that is out;
However, as I think about the new year that has come so suddenly,
a word comes to my mind:
Chainless.
Daily I’m reminded that I feel chained to past hurt and the heartbreak they brings,
and I can’t help but feel that I am not alone with these chains.

Let’s get one thing clear…
We all know or will know heartbreak.
Whether it is heartbreak and hurt from the loss of a friend,
heartbreak and hurt from the breakup and loss of a relationship,
heartbreak and hurt from the loss of a marriage,
or heartbreak and hurt over past decisions & actions or present decisions & actions of yourself and others,
We all know or will know heartbreak.

One thing that is important to note about heartbreak though…?
Heartbreak comes in different shades, and comes with different intensity.
And regardless of the heartbreak that you currently are experiencing or will experience,
we MUST not forget:
Behind every broken heart lies a living, breathing, person…
And every person has a story.

Through the years, I’ve been very transparent about my story and the heartbreak that finds me at different times and in different ways. I have been transparent about my testimony of how I came to know my Savior.
(Which if you have not done so, you can do so by clicking or tapping this sentence.)

Even though it was hard to write, in 2016 I wrote in detail about some of this heartbreak in a post entitled, Broken Heart (click or tap here to read); However, I have found that even though over a year has passed from the time that specific post was written, there is still healing that is taken place…

Even as I write this opening under the glow of a lamp there is healing that is taking place…
And even as you are reading this, there is a healing that is taking place.
And sometimes…?
Even a new year doesn’t always take away the heartbreak and hurts of the years prior.

I have been thinking of what I should write about this month, the topic of heartbreak kept coming to my mind, over… and over again, to the point that I even stayed up late one night just to try to find resources to help wrap my head around the process of healing.
Unfortunately, I didn’t find much :/

However, as I stopped to take the picture that you saw at the beginning of this post, I felt led to start writing some of the things that I have noticed that have helped me during my time of grief and healing and my prayer is that what is shared brings you closer to the healing that your aching heart is longing for. 

For me?
Music has not only has been very important to my growth as a person, but it has also been very important in my healing moving forward from past wounds; therefore, I will not only be looking at Scripture, but also lyrics from some songs that have shown me some important truths concerning healing from heartbreak.
(If there is a song you would like to listen to that is listed, simply click or tap the name of the song and you will be redirected to that particular song.)

By no means am I an “expert” on healing…

not even close.

I am just someone who is not afraid to be transparent & honest with myself, others,

and point to the One who is…

Here are some observations that I have noticed on my journey of healing so far:


Lift up your hands often. 

“Above my head, they’ll fly
With their lives that are more than mine.
Reach out my hands to the Light
And feel life that is more.”

This is one of my favorite lyrics from any song I’ve ever heard. Even though simplistic in its nature, this lyric reflects John 10:10 & Psalm 143: 5-6 and comes from the song “In The Woodshop” by the band Falling Up. The song is even more powerful when listening to it in the context of the album in which it comes from. Since it is found on a concept album, the album tells the story of a woman who from childhood has running from the Lord up until this point she encounters Him in her brokenness. In her breaking down, she lifts her hands in humility and surrender admitting that “life that is more” is not found in herself. Likewise, in our brokenness and pain, we must not forget that a broken heart and humility goes together like a laugh and a smile. Jesus promises a life that is abundant and that means that NO heartbreak, NO breakup, NO breakdown can rob us from that. We must not neglect surrendering often… admitting defeat and acknowledging our need for the Savior often… and through lifting our hands in surrender may we better discover what Paul means in Philippians 4:7 when he states the following:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

This also reminded me of the song “Pieces” by the band Red, in which the singer Michael Barnes cries out in a similar way with a prayer of surrender:

“I’m here again
A thousand miles away from You.
A broken mess, just scattered pieces of who I am.
I tried so hard,
thought I could do this on my own.
I’ve lost so much along the way.

Then I’ll see Your face
I know I’m finally Yours
I find everything that I thought I lost before.
You call my name,
I come to You in pieces;
So You can make me whole.”

♦ Take time to access the wounds.

“… And you cannot imagine all the places you’ll see Jesus
But you’ll find Him everywhere you thought He wasn’t supposed to go.”
– Nichole Nordeman, “Dear Me

Don’t keep plowing full speed ahead acting like nothing happened …
It’s okay to hurt.

It’s okay to be angry.
It’s okay to weep.

It’s okay to feel… even if what you feel makes no sense.
It’s normal to wake up from recurring nightmares.

It’s important to take time and assess the damage that this breakup, breakdown, decision, grief, or hurt has caused.
Even Jesus took time just to weep and mourn… many times!
For example, He wept over Israel in Luke 19:41-44 and He wept as He visited the grave of His friend Lazarus in John 11:35.  No hurt is too great for Him. We can always bring our hurt to our Creator, Savior, and Sustainer who knows wounds, who knows heartbreak, who knows betrayal and hurt… who was wounded for our transgressions as Isaiah 53:5, Romans 4:25, 1 Corinthians 15:3, Hebrews 9:28, and even 1 Peter 2:24 reminds us.
We have a Creator, Savior, and Sustainer who KNOWS wounds.
He knows.
O how He knows!

♦ Make things right.

“You’re tearing out my heart
Burning a memory in time
I know that it’s my fault
Trading out trouble with pride…”

In my healing, I am constantly brought back to this song and the beautiful picture of honesty with oneself and another, the forsaking of pride, and embracing the Grace that will always follow. In the song “Balconies” by the band Paper Route, I’ve been reminded that it’s okay to be honest in our hurt; however, we have to be honest of our shortcomings and confusion. It’s comforting to me that in honesty and humility, we don’t have to hide our hurt in the process and likewise the singer in this song doesn’t hide his hurt and questions to himself, the Lord, and the other individual involved in the hurt either…

“It’s the simple things that I can’t get right
It’s the hunting heart trying to survive
And for every wound there’s a hill to climb
Can we reach that high?”

The interesting thing to me, is that this song does not show the response of the other person in the breakup… it doesn’t have to. 
JT Daly only sings from the perspective of himself in this situation acknowledging that Grace is not dependent on the other individual admitting wrongdoing but is given from the Lord Himself. Through this, there is a picture of the Lord’s Grace even in the midst of the heartbreak of breakup or divorce. Even though they both are not strong enough to overcome their wounds, they recognize Who is strong enough:

“… Raise your arms and hold what you can’t replace.
Raise your arms and hold balconies of Grace…

There is loneliness in the things we need
But inside your eyes I am reflecting
There is Grace to hold over you and me
There are balconies, balconies.”

Jesus models how we can Love even in pain and wrongdoing when He was on the Cross. Despite our sin, Jesus willfully put Himself on the cross to suffer the punishment of our sin, rebellion, and our brokenness while despite not deserving any bit of suffering… He still cried out begging for our forgiveness in our ignorance of what we have done and what we would do  (Luke 23:34). Jesus shows an absolute Grace that no human love can ever show; however… so often we hold onto grudges that we have toward another individual and keep our hurts close forgetting what He has done for us.

Release yourself and release the other person from slavery to regret by admitting your mishaps if there are any. Even in the hurt, may we seek to live out Philippians 2:3-4 in which Paul urges us to, Do nothing out of selfish ambition or empty pride, but in humility consider others more important than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others”.
Bottom line: As hard as it is, acknowledge that You’ve been forgiven of much… take the hand of who hurt you and place it in the Hand of the Reckless Redeemer. Make things right with the individual. Release them. Take ownership over where you may have dropped the ball and heal.
This is difficult, but there truly is balconies of Grace above our inability available.
May we take steps toward healing.

It is important to not neglect finding a joy in your work. 

As I walk through the peacefully swaying marsh that is all around me, I can’t help but have the desire to just do whatever I can to run away and escape the realities, expectations, and responsibilities that each day brings;
However, even with this heartbreak that is within me right now…
I am reminded that I am called to use my hands that write these words,
use these eyes that gaze upon the beauty all around me,
use this breath that I can see as a result of the frosty winter air,
and use my mind that currently is processing everything that my hand is writing,
to use everything that I am to declare EVERYTHING that You are Father (Colossians 3:23).

I am reminded that I have such a greater purpose than ANY of these current circumstances and deceptive emotions that time and time again, through the many years, You have given me a JOY doing that which I was created for Lord! You have given us all a niche for something and each and every one of us has gifting and abilities that we can use for such a greater purpose then serving ourselves. Every ability that we have has been given, has been lavished for us to use with ALL of our might for the Glory of the One who has entrusted us with the ability! Regardless if you are a cook, waiter, cleaner, plumber, pastor, politician, dentist, builder, writer, mom, dad, photographer, electrician… we all have a gift that has been given where we can glorify the Giver.
I am reminded of lyrics from the song “Polaris” by the band Remedy Drive:

“You use your gift when you don’t have a sword;
You’ve got your fingertips on the keyboard.
You’ve got the spear of your influence,
nobody else has got your fingerprints.
It’s the steel that’s pushed,
it’s the weight that bends,
it’s the light that’s bleeding out through your camera lens.
You’ve got your voice, so sing it out my friend…”

Even though these lyrics were apart of a call to action concerning fighting sex trafficking, there is a principle here that is key: Despite your heartbreak, you have gifts and abilities that this world so desperately needs for you to surrender to your Creator, Savior, and Sustainer to use those gifts and abilities for His purpose. He alone can reverse this brokenness.

Allowing heartbreak to tie our hands behind our back in willful slavery is meaningless and will do nothing but sink us deeper into the pit of brokenness and despair.

♦ Do not cope. Remember, the “shadow” of heartbreak proves the sunshine.

“For this world is not our permanent home;
we are looking forward to a home yet to come.” – Hebrews 13:14 (NLT)

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”
– C.S. Lewis

It is so easy to replace an individual or what was lost with something apart from Christ in attempt to fill the void we feel. Some turn to the bottle, some turn to pornography, some turn to a rebounded relationship, some turn to an unhealthy work schedule, whatever it is… we are masters at coping with loss but not addressing the root of our void and longings. We desire intimacy, but so often we settle for a counterfeit intimacy of other person or thing and hold nothing back from that…

Doesn’t this heartbreak often feel like a shadow that blocks life from the core of your being? It does to me often; however, through heartbreak I recognize that I have overwhelming longings… and at the end of the day this world can not fulfill them! What are we really longing for? Why do we want a love that will not leave? If all we have ever felt was inconstant love from the beginning, where does these longings for unconditional love come from??

We can search high and wide on this planet for a love that is truly unconditional and we will be let down every time… unless… the shadows of inconsistent and unconditional love PROVES the source of unconditional love can not come from creation but from the Creator (1 John 4:8, John 3:16-17). In our healing, may we look to the cross of Jesus for the picture of Love instead of coping for lesser loves that surround us and yell daily.
Bottom Line: We will never be satisfied until we are resting in Christ alone. May we recognize that only Jesus can satisfy that the void that our of heartbreak leaves.

♦ You are not alone. Jesus is close to the brokenhearted. 

“You’ve been let down, it’s true
Your pain is so easy to see
You’re haunted by your history
And it feels like you’ve got no escape

Your life left you high and dry
You used to be sure of yourself
But then your whole world went to hell
And tomorrow looks just like today

So, you lie on your bed, you won’t let the morning come in
And you hide in your room, feeding that fear and it’s killing you
Don’t you know
That it’s killing me too, cause your heartbreak is breaking you…

… And you lost your fire
And your flame’s gone out
And your down on your knees
Cause your life is not what you thought it would be…”

Heartbreak often feels like this… doesn’t it? Audrey Assad in the song, “Breaking You“, sings of the hurt and isolation that heartbreak can bring;

However, let this sink in:

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
– Jesus, Matthew 5:4

“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”
Psalm 34:18

You are not alone. It’s difficult, but in our healing it is possible to renew our thoughts that can often be crippling and by remembering verses such as these, we are reminded of the Truth. Bottom Line: You are not alone. Remind yourself that.

I love the way that Audrey Assad also reflects this truth at the end of the song:

“… Lift up your head
Help is on the way
And it won’t pass you by
You just gotta reach out your hand

Lift up your eyes
Love is on the way
And it won’t pass you by
You just gotta reach out your hand

Go on and lift up your head
Because Love is on His way
And He won’t pass you by
You’ve just gotta reach out your hand.”

♦ Seek the Big Picture to life and pursue it with everything.

“Come now, you who say,
“Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business, and make a profit.”
You do not even know what will happen tomorrow!
What is your life?
You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
Instead, you ought to say,
“If the Lord is willing, we will live and do this or that”.

– James, James 4: 13-15

Life is a vapor, yet out of all creation you reading this is worth dying for.
Your worth can not be found is anything that this world offers.
You are worth more than all this…
Our worth can only be found in our Creator.
And apart from Him?
We are missing it…

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
– Jesus, John 15:5

You are not what has happened.
You are not what your heart says you are (Jeremiah 17:9).
We know who we are when we know our Creator .
The big picture of life is living it fully surrendered to Jesus for His plan and purpose admitting that apart from Him we have nothing.

“Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.
You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
‘I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD…”

Jeremiah 29: 12-14

♦ You are a work in progress. Don’t let regrets have the final word!

“… Thank You for the hardest parts
And the beauty of these scars
Even though it broke my heart
Thank You
Thank You
Thank You.”

This song has been very important in my healing.
Throughout this album, the singer Jason Gray is recounting the journey that his divorce has taken him, comparing it to a “Death Without a Funeral” (click the name to go listen to the song and story); however, he closes the album with the track “Thank You For Everything” in which he declares the lyrics above. Despite his heart from divorce… he says thank you. Let that sink in.

May our hearts reflect these lyrics as well, despite out grief and hurt:

I can’t sing that song the same way anymore
’cause I start laughing at the parts where I could only weep before.
And it sounds sweeter not because the notes can’t ring,
until they echo through each wasted year that You restored to me.

I’ve been thinking of how You wept for Lazarus. Tears on Your cheeks,
Resurrection on Your lips. Sometimes mercy can feel like abandonment,
but You know all about it.

I used to think I had to write these songs
just so for heaven’s sake and for my own, I put myself through hell.
But I quit striving for perfection, surrendered up to it instead
and now the songs keep pouring out and I cannot contain myself…

You let my heart die, but left Yours beating in my chest.
Broken will, find your rest!
Broken voice, you sing best!
At 30, 000 feet above, the earth was small enough to think of everyone I love.
And then imagine them, a thousand mirrors all reflecting back at once
and any light would multiply and then remind me:
That Your love is more than the sum.”
– My Epic, “Lazarus

Even though we have already mentioned this passage of Scripture at the beginning of this post, may we also reflect on what Paul wrote in Philippians 4: 6-8 :

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—
think on these things.”

Joy that surpass all understanding.
I have felt a joy that surpasses my heartbreak…
And at times?
Like waves, I also experience pain and grieving;

however, verses every day reminds me that there is still work
that You are doing within me Jesus.

At the end of the day?
I want to look more like You and less like myself.

Ellie Holcomb also reflects this acknowledgment in the song, “Find You Here“, in which she sings through her heartbreak:

“It’s not the news that any of us hoped that we would hear,
It’s not the road we would have chosen, no.
The only thing that we can see is darkness up ahead –
but You’re asking us to lay our worry down and sing a song instead…

You say that I should come to You with everything I need.
You’re asking me to thank You even when the pain is deep.
You promise that You’ll come and meet us on the road ahead.
And no matter what the fear says, You give me a reason to be glad.

And I didn’t know I’d find You here, in the middle of my deepest fear,
but You were drawing near me, You were overwhelming me with peace.
So I lift my voice and sing: “You’re gonna carry me through everything.”
You were drawing near, You’re overwhelming all my fear.

Here in the middle of the lonely night, here in the middle of the losing fight,
You’re here in the middle of the deep regret, here when the healing hasn’t happened yet.
Here in the middle of the desert place, here in the middle when I cannot see Your face,
Here in the middle with Your outstretched arms,
You can see my pain and it breaks Your heart…

Rejoice, rejoice! Don’t have to worry about a single thing,
‘Cause you were overwhelming me with peace.
Don’t have to worry about a single thing!
You’re gonna carry us through everything.

Overwhelming peace.”

So where do we go from here?
May we begin by taking steps toward surrender and trust in the right place.
May we surround ourselves with the Truth and forsake coping with the pain…
One way that we can do this is by seeking the Lord in the Word and discovering more of Who He is and who we are.

If you don’t know where to start, maybe this post can help you by re-reading it and looking up the Scripture passages mentioned.

It’s okay to not have all the answers.
It’s okay to say
“Lord, I don’t know what you are doing…”

I recently came across old recordings of me and a former relationship…
and goodness, I was a piece of work who had many rough edges;
But that’s okay. May we learn and grow from the hurt and pain.

You are not a lost cause.
You are not alone!

… Through it all, may we always be confident of this,
“That He who began a good work in you
will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus return.”
(Philippians 1:6)

I’ve heard it said, that what you preach the loudest you need the most…
Goodness, this is so true in my life.
I need You Jesus.
And I know enough to know that healing is found in You…
… May we reach for You in our healing, together.

We all know or will know heartbreak…

Yet, with every breath,

with each second we have left,

may we point others to the Healer through our wounds

May we bring our chains and broken hearts to You Jesus
and not be afraid to share our stories…

… Knowing that our wounds are were Your Light gets in.
Jesus, You’re the One that really matters.

– J

Shadows & Seasons

Walking for miles without a soul in sight,
I turn off the music to acknowledge the beautiful colors that I see with my eyes,
while acknowledging the shadows I feel being exposed in the darkest parts of me…

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The heart of a traveler
is a daily reminder that no matter the season;
This
is is not our home.


Seasons come, and seasons go…
… And as I write this, it is fall in southeast Michigan.

For me?

Fall seems to always bring with it a tendency for solemn reflection over the year which is winding down… winding down just like the lives of the fallen leaves that fall brings;
however,
every year also reminds me of the beauty that dying things can make.

Fall reminds us that summer has faded and the cold that brushes upon our faces is a reminder that the cruel season of winter is fast approaching.

Stopping to take a picture,
I turn off the music in my ears in order to acknowledge the beautiful colors that I see all around me;

However, with every step,
I can’t ignore that there is a tension and restlessness within me that demands attention.

Swallowing the spit that has gathered in my mouth,
I acknowledge that the tension that I feel springs up from the parts of me that I try so hard to hide

hide far, far away

far away from acknowledgement

in darkness.

I hide the tension that I feel in a darkness of refusal
refusing to bring my “shadows” to the Light.

And with every step, with no one else around, I am face to face with that which is heavy on my heart and mind… (John 8:12, Psalm 139: 23-24)

… with every step?
I can’t help but realize,
that the only reason why I feel tension?
is because the same Light that I hide from what is heavy on my heart and mind ,
is the same Light that is renewing me

day
by
day
by 
day
even here
even now.
With each step, I’m reminded how I am ashamed of my “shadows”.
With every step,
I’m reminded how desperately I need
Jesus.

“We know that the Spirit who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to Himself.
All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”
– 2 Corinthians 4:14-16

My “shadows“?
I struggle with the changing of the seasons of life.


I struggle with the past.
I wrestle with where I am in the present.
And I am anxious of what the future seasons will bring…


… and with every step?
I feel like I am flipping pages from the yearbook of my life so far:

Rivers remind me of the many days sitting and watching the water roll by and falling asleep by the calming waters …
Rolling hills which pass me by remind me of my South Carolina upbringing …
Lush woods that are around me remind me of childhood adventuring with my brothers and the imagination & wonder which the woods bring to me…
Dirt roads bring back memories of a warm head laying my shoulder and the eyes that reflect the summer sun…

… and like the fallen leaves of the autumn forests,
I know that the season of life that I currently am in
will too, in time, pass;

however,
no matter what the seasons brings…
I am reminded that we have a Creator, Savior, and Sustainer
that makes no mistakes.
I am reminded that we have a Creator, Savior, and Sustainer
that is I AM when I am not.
(Exodus 3:14)

“I AM the Alpha and the Omega–the beginning and the end,”
says the Lord God.
“I AM the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come–the Almighty One.”
– Revelation 1:8

With every step I take…
I am reminded that NO MATTER the toil of that changing seasons of fall and winter brings,
NOTHING takes away the upcoming season 
– of spring and summer –
and their commitment to restore what the former season leaves behind;

“…being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you

WILL carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 1:6

We all have shadows
… the hurts,

… fears,
… regrets,
… insecurities,
… memories,

and brokenness that each season of life brings and leaves with us. 

Likewise,
the “shadows” of our toils
which we feel now
DOES NOT effect the Grace and commitment that our Creator, Savior, and Sustainer
has to FINISH the good work that He has begun in us!

 

REGARDLESS of your current circumstances,
REGARDLESS of your current struggles,
REGARDLESS of the present hurt,
We have a Creator, Savior, and Sustainer that PROMISES to renew us
and is faithful to do so.

“Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden,
and I WILL give you rest.
Take my yoke on you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest to your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
– Matthew 11: 28- 30

With every step,
I am reminded that this world is not our home
 

and the changing seasons remind me that there truly is a color in the chaos. 

 

So what are your shadows?
May we not be ashamed to cast our burdens on the one who cares for us.
May we not be scared
to bring our shadows,
our worries,
our performances,
our anxious thoughts,
our doubt,
our fear,
our confusions
to the shadow that the finished cross of Jesus casts over our lives. (John 19:30)

Every fallen leaf that we see around us
declares an absence of life in their current circumstance;

however,

just as every falling leaf reminds us of the beauty that dying things can make,
may we see the beauty in the shadows fading as we grow and bring our broken hearts,
our shadows,
to the Light:
Jesus.

There is NO fall,
there is NO winter,
that is exempt from eventually succumbing to spring.
And ironically,
the most destructive seasons of them all,

– fall and winter –
lays the foundation for the most developmental seasons…

And in months?

Every fallen leaf that our eyes see that the season of fall and winter brings
will stand in stark contrast

to the green leaves that sway with in the spring sun.

 

May we not be afraid to pray
in every season:

“As seasons change,
change me.”

-J

Lyrics: Here

Like An Avalanche

People often ask me:
“How did you feel called to be a Pastor?”
Here is how He did just that…

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“Now to Him who is able to do infinitely more than all we ask or imagine,
according to His power that is at work within us,
to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.
Amen”
– Ephesians 3:20-21

It’s so crazy how the Lord can use the smallest things to lead to such powerful moments.
He uses even the smallest things to show us who He is in such unforgettable ways.

Driving just to drive, I’m surprised how many memories flood my mind…

For some?
Driving is a chore… but for me? It’s one of my favorite things to do.
Armed with my backpack and a yellow camping chair, my mind is reflecting on all that my eyes see as I drive into places that those same eyes have never seen before…
As I drive?
My heart meditates on the many roads that brought me to where I am driving now.
I find myself speaking to and thinking of the Creator as I sing to the music that is currently playing in my car that You’ve provided…

Lord… I am in awe that You’ve placed me where I am.
It seems like yesterday the year was 2011 and I was broken on the floor of my room surrendering every shattered piece of the man I am to You.
It BLOWS my mind that regardless of the seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, or years that go by, I still feel You growing me!
Honestly Lord, even during this simple drive into the unknown after work…
even nowI feel that I am not the same person that I was 30 minutes ago.

Lord, You are in the business of changing hearts
and I am no exception to what You do.

As I drive?

One of the memories that come to my mind,

is a moment that I will never forget…

a moment where You met me broken, taught me what ministry was, and called me to do just that even unto death.

July 2011… it was July 2011.

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That little 17 year old “boy in the middle”?
Is me.
This photo is funny to me
because this was taken only a month after surrendering my life to Jesus
And before then?
I hardly ever smiled in photos.
Goodness Lord, You really do change hearts…



“Cheeeessseeee!”

I remember thinking of a witty comment to make as the photographer tried to get us to smile, but like most things in my life… I was a little late and it never happened (lol).

But seriously, I appreciate this photo so much! I appreciate this photo because it is a reminder of Isaiah 55:8 where JUST after God promised to “abundantly pardon” the wicked, He follows up His promise with the following statement:

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
– Isaiah 55:8 (NLT)

This photo reminds me of this verse because it reminds me of the events that allowed the “boy in the middle” to go on the trip that this photo shows us getting ready to leave for.

The events?

  • The Pastor’s daughter started liking him a few weeks earlier and invited him to come to her church (which a few weeks before this photo he had NO idea existed).
  • That same girl introduced him to the Youth Pastor (who is kneeling in red) a few weeks prior to this trip (which to this day is one of my best friends and such an incredible mentor in my life)
  • That same Youth Pastor, a few days before this photo, thought of the “boy in the middle” when an “empty seat” became available on the bus due to another individual randomly canceling.

This photo reminds me that there is no such thing as coincidence…
This photo reminds me that the Lord knows what He’s doing
EVEN in the “last-minute changes” of our lives.

I had no idea that around 12 hours after this photo was taken,
the direction of my life would forever change…
Fast forward 12 hours later.

I remember walking back to the dormitory for the night and thinking about a prayer that I prayed earlier to God a few hours earlier, where I basically said:
“Jesus, do whatever You want to do in and through me… and make it clear.
Show me more of Who You are”
.

I was only a “month old” since surrendering my life to Jesus (click here to read more about this moment) and it blew my mind that I was at a retreat with other believers my age from across the WHOLE state of South Carolina! It also blew my mind that a Pastor’s daughter was interested in me (lol). I remember walking back that night next to her, feeling so much excitement and wonder with NO IDEA what was to happen next.

It’s so crazy how the Lord can use the smallest things to lead to such powerful moments.
He uses even the smallest things to show us who He is in such unforgettable ways.

I remember that we were almost to the dormitory when I heard the first whispers and laughs from the girls that were walking with me…
I remember that they were laughing at a girl in front of me (that I had never met until that day) who they were talking about and laughing at.
Honestly? I don’t remember exactly what was said, or how what was said was said (if that makes sense), but I clearly remember being puzzled at what was happening…

Since I never grew up “in the church”, and I never was a part of a “youth group”, my expectations of “church kids” was really high.
Like… really high.

I remember that I always envied “church kids” as I was growing up and even as a 17-year-old boy, I was watching everything “they” did like a hawk…
I was hoping to learn from the “MVP’s” in the faith.

Looking back? I had improper and unrealistic expectations of other people…
however; the Lord used those unrealistic expectations I had for others
to show me His plan and purpose for my life

As they were laughing at the other girl, I remember wondering why something that months ago that would not even in the slightest amount strike me as being “wrong”,
was somehow grieving me now!
As we approached the dormitory, I remember seeing the girl who was being laughed at run ahead clearly distraught…

Jonah…” they said to me in between laughs, “you just don’t know her”.

Something was wrong… I remember being so confused what was happening and even more confused why I was feeling so grieved at what happened. As the group ran ahead, I remember feeling led to hang back and find the girl who ran into the building crying.
As I looked for her in the halls of the dormitory, I remember finally finding her in a room sitting with her hands covering her face and the Youth Pastor who was sitting next to her. As I opened the door, I heard the sobbing.

I remember sitting across from the Youth Pastor… and next to the broken girl thinking,
“Lord forgive us!! We REALLY don’t know what we do!!”
As I listened to the Youth Pastor try to comfort her and remind her of the truth and her worth, I remember expecting one of them to ask why I was there… however, I remember that instead of asking me to leave, or questioning why I was there when they barely knew me, they encouraged me to stay! The Youth Pastor even allowed me an opportunity to comfort her as well. I had no idea that what was happening was a holy moment in my life and for the first time in my life, I laid a hand on someone who was broken and prayed over them that the Lord will heal what was broken. Not only did I feel an empathy for someone else on such a genuine & deep level, I felt a bond between not only the Youth Pastor sitting across from me, but the girl who was crying next to me…
the same people who hours ago were “new” to me?
Now felt like I’ve known them for years!!
I cried when she cried, I laughed when she laughed, and both the Youth Pastor and I was silent when we needed to listen. The Holy Spirit was present and the Holy Spirit was moving through us and in us… it truly was a moment that makes no sense outside of God Himself being present among us… healing, directing, comforting.

I remember leaving that moment almost an hour after entering that room feeling a burden on my heart to talk to the girls who unknowingly caused the girl’s pain and encourage them to make things right with her.
As I walked to the girls dorm room… I remember thinking,
“Goodness… Lord this is so weird! Why am I doing this?!”
I had no idea the Lord was using me at that moment.

 

(I breath in… and I breath out…)
“KNOCK-KNOCK-KNOCK”

I remember being so nervous as I knocked on their door. Inside I was wrestling with the thought of ignoring what just happened and keeping my mouth shut… but I KNEW what I needed to do.

“Hey Jonah!said the girls in the room with excitement to see me,
“What’s up?! Is everything okay???”

I remember that they said something else laughing and I think they invited me to come in and spend time with the others who were talking to each other in there;
however, I remember my nerves muffling what they were saying…
I knew what I needed to do and I had to do it…

“Ummm… can I talk to you all for a moment??” 

I remember that I proceeded to try to calmly explain what happened and ask them to make things right; however, for some reason they thought I was joking…

“HAHA Jonah, are you serious??!” 

I remember them replying to me laughing and confused why I was so bothered. I remember being confused myself why they would even wonder if I was serious…
(I honestly wish someone would have recorded that conversation. I’m pretty sure I looked like someone who took too much cold medicine as I was awkwardly sweating and stuttering over my words. Thinking about it now, it makes sense why they asked if I was serious… I probably was a nervous mess!)

At that time though, I remember being caught off guard by their response which caused me to get passionate in my request as I urged them that what happened was messed up and wrong. Long story short… the conversation ended with them laughing, upset at me, and shutting the door in my face. I was shocked.

I remember going to my room that night absolutely dumbfounded at what just happened…
I remember for hours crying alone in that room broken and crying out to God saying:
“Why does this hurt so much! God, I felt YOU leading me to do that!
Why does it hurt so bad when I TRIED to just obey You and do what was right!? God this makes NO sense!!” 

As I cried in my bed, I remember I was listening to an album that had just recently came out by a band called Hillsong United. I remember feeling SO out-of-place and for one of the first times in my life I remember understanding the reality this world could NOT be my home! I remember crying out to God for understanding and peace…

I was broken, but I knew He was there.
I was broken, but I knew there had to be something I was missing.
I was broken, but the restlessness I was feeling made me desire Him even more!

All I remember, is the third track of the cd hitting my eardrums and causing my questions start to fade as I felt a peace that truly goes beyond understanding.
(AS I type this, I remember so clearly this moment and to this day it is JUST as real now as it was then… even as I am typing this, this song came on shuffle on my iPad which is playing in the background!! Goodness Jesus, YOU ARE SO REAL!!)

Even though I was still crying, I remember lifting my hands and getting on my knees in the small one bedroom dorm at Coastal Carolina as the song “Like An Avalanche” started playing on my iPod. I remember sobbing as my tears were un-relentlessly falling on the sheets underneath me as I was on my knees. I remember crying HARDER and HARDER as these lyrics penetrated my heart:

“… And I find myself here on my knees again
Caught up in grace like an avalanche
Nothing compares to this love love love
Burning in my heart..”

EVEN as I type this, tears come to my eyes!! I remember SO clearly as I was on the knees on my bed knowing with all of my heart that it was by no coincidence that I was here… on my knees on my bed… crying out for His love and grace…. and BEGGING for Him to meet me where I was broken. It was by NO coincidence the lyrics just happened to perfectly describe where I was at precisely when it did, and it was by NO coincidence that the next lyrics that came did the same thing… Lord, You will use ANYTHING to meet us where we are… I remember not caring about anything else as I cried out:

“JESUS!! I’M YOURS!!”

and as I said this in my heart, these lyrics came to my ears:

“… Take my life
Take all that I am
With all that I am I will love You
Take my heart
Take all that I have
Jesus how I adore You!
TAKE MY LIFE
TAKE ALL THAT I AM
WITH ALL THAT I AM I WILL LOVE YOU!
TAKE MY LIFE
TAKE ALL THAT I HAVE
Jesus how I adore You”

Jesus, I can never forget how you spoke to me at that moment through this song…
Lord, You know what You said and I know that NO words can fully capture what You reminded me in that moment… I have no idea how to articulate what You told me in that moment but I BEG for Grace as I attempt to put into words what You put on my heart that night. I remember feeling you say to me in the pit of my soul the following Truth:

“Jonah I KNOW THIS HURTING YOU FEEL!
I’M HERE JONAH, I KNOW!!

You are not alone, Jonah they are doing to you the same thing that they did to me!
For the rest of your life this is what you are to do:
Go to the broken.
Stand with the broken.
Tell the broken that I HAVE OVERCOME!
I will use you.
I will lead through you.

I will move through you.
I will never leave you.
MY CHILD, I LOVE YOU.
JONAH, I LOVE YOU!”

Goodness God,
FORGIVE ME, FORGIVE US for ever doubting You.
YOU ARE SO, SO, SO REAL AND YOU LOVE US SO, SO, SO MUCH!
YOU KNOW US AND NOTHING SURPRISES YOU!!
Every tear… Every hurt… Every broken heart is so sacred to You!!

At the end of the retreat…
It never worked out with the Pastor’s daughter,
but as I drive through the unknown around me God?
You are the same yesterday at Coastal Carolina University, You are the same now as I sit here and type out these letters, and YOU ARE THE SAME IN OUR TOMORROWS! (Hebrews 13:8)

This post is not about me…
It’s about You Jesus.
and I beg for You to meet the reader where they are right now Father..

Meet them in their brokenness.
Meet them in their shame.
Meet them in their questions.
Meet them in their doubts.
Meet them in their peace.
Meet them in their fear.
Meet them in their tears.
Meet them in their depression.
Meet them in their addictions.
Meet them in their suicidal thoughts.
Meet them in their anxiety.
Meet them…
O GOD MEET US!!

May the person who You’ve brought to this post believe with all their hearts: 
Lord, You are in the business of changing hearts
and I am no exception to what You do…

… Change me.

Lord, You call us all to know you tell others…
You want us to know You and to be known by You.
There truly is no such things as coincidences,
Draw us closer to You Jesus!!
We are Yours!!

May we see the bigger picture in every moment.
Our purpose… our identity is found in You alone.
May each reader see You for who You are…
May we each fall into such real relationship with You that changes us,
just like an avalanche forever changes a mountain.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
– Isaiah 55:8

-J

“And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”
– Colossians 1:17

“Now to Him who is able to do infinitely more than all we ask or imagine,
according to His power that is at work within us,
to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.
Amen”
– Ephesians 3:20-21

 

 

 

… In Restless Longing.

There’s a pain in this chest that’s oh so real,
real to me now.
In this brokenness there’s a Grace that’s real as well,
oh may that Grace truly surround and abound.
Inside us all there’s a loneliness and need for approval;
We’re all just restless kids with hearts that are fragile,
as every falling tear symphonically cries out loud:
“Give us rest”.

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All the toil of man is for his mouth, yet his appetite is never satisfied.”

– Ecclesiastes 6:7 

As I sit here, a familiar feeling of restless longing surrounds me as a haunting reminder that this world is not my home.

You know us even when we don’t know ourselves…

God I’m puzzled at Your love and Grace for us… I can, we can NEVER can repay You! Surrender is literally ALL You ask of us… and it’s embarrassing that this restless heart can hardly do that… but through it all You don’t push us away! You meet us where we are, and You see us for who we are, even in between the arrogant pomp on the outside and the chaotic distress signals that are raging inside! You relentlessly pursue us like a black bear and You Love us too much to leave us in our death!

Only You know us… only You Jesus.

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”
– Clive Staples Lewis

I remember sitting in my room, at my desk as a kid, looking out my window oblivious to the fact that the beauty that would draw my eyes off my homework and into the great wonder of the outdoors was from You! Lord, You were with me and working on me when I could care less… goodness God You are so real!! You were there when I was clueless of who You really were, You were there when I would cry myself to sleep then… and You are here when I cry to You through the night now!

We are fully known by You…

fully.

(Psalm 139)

Sitting here observing what passes me by and reading Ecclesiastes 6:7…
This heart, this mind is overwhelmed!
O how there HAS to be MORE than all this temporariness around us that we settle for! There HAS to be MORE then our comfort, our security, our safety, our pleasure, our desires, ourselves!! There HAS to be MORE then a pretty picture or our petty emotions! If we look at this world long enough… it is SO easy to see clearly that there truly is a crack in everything and we are stuck in an endless loop of nothingness apart from You! ALL of this is meaningless apart from You Lord!

God why do we settle for this!?

We are so, so, so scared of Your quite voice that calls our name with every single breath… O God YOU CALL TO US SO MUCH! Even in the mundane, and even in the vanity of daily life we numb ourselves from the reality that there is so many glimpses of utter hell all around us that DEMAND our immediate death to the slavery of self! God break my heart for what breaks Yours! Help me be broken from my lack… from our lack of urgency toward surrendering to You alone!

We numb ourselves with so, so, so many things to prevent us from seeing this world for what it is, ALL BECAUSE we are scared of what we will find if we open ourselves up to the possibility that You are the One that our whole being CRIES and CRAVES FOR! JESUS! May our heavy hearts surrender and fall in surrender to ALL You are!

Starting with me, I’m so tired…
I’m so SICK of forgetting so easily, that one day ALL of this life will be no more…
NO more!
All the anxiety, confusion, doubt, hurt, terror, tears, questions, loneliness, hunger, pain, abandonment, regrets, shame, guilt, sin, death, rebellion, apathy, selfishness, arrogance, laziness, grief, pride, pomp, envy, jealousy, lies, it ALL… all of it… will be no more!!
I’m so tired… I’m so tired of the endless wandering around self!

Why do we, why do I waste SO much on SO little?!
And despite being reminded of the hope of knowing that one day all of this will be no more…?
We STILL are MASTERS at focusing on that which really doesn’t matter in light of eternity! Starting with me, and it breaks my heart!

I waste SO much time loosing my eyes and heart on the temporary casually forgetting that one day ALL of this will be no more! We ALL have been given such short time to rise and surrender ALL we have, to ALL that He is, to be used for ALL that we can be, ALL FOR HIS GLORY and HIS PURPOSE not our own!
Jesus, YOU ALONE are our Deliverer!

And at the end of it all?
How can we so often forget that EVERY knee will bow and EVERY tongue will confess the Name of Jesus and that ALL my often reckless tongue, all that OUR often reckless tongues will be able to say at that moment will be “HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is the Lord God almighty” as we sing a NEW SONG around the throne of our Creator and Savior! (Revelation 4:8, 14:1, 19:1-10, Philippians 2:10-11)

When we have nothing, you give us EVERYTHING!
We were made for SO much more than what we settle for…
Jesus, please use us…

WE ARE YOURS and apart from YOU we can do NOTHING! (John 15:5)

Forgive us, may we live new through Your blood that You shed for us.

Goodness… we are such sheep.
So helpless without You, Shepherd.
Forgive us Lord.

Help us choose You and serve You with everything.
I’m so done with this endless chase that this world throws in my face every day!
May we truly wake up and realize that we will spend eternity right where our hearts spent our time here and now:

surrendered to ourselves and in proud rebellion toward the One who alone gives us life,

or

surrendered to You Jesus… in awe of the Grace freely given on the cross which You endured for us to KNOW and BE KNOWN by You:

our Creator, Savior, and Sustainer.

Lord, in this restless longing… help us, help me keep it clear
You are all that matters
You are our Hope
You are our Leader
You are our Wisdom
You are our Truth
You are our Savior
You are our Love
You are our Strength
You are our Life
You are our Joy
You are our Forgiveness
You are our Confidence
YOU…
It’s all about You.
Jesus please use me, I’m Yours.
WE are Yours. ☝️

May our hearts stop this tug-of-war with trying to make this world our home…

Make us SO dependent on You Lord, take everything that we have until You are all we have! Make us SO dependent on You that in EVERY moment, even now, we thirst and hunger for You and You alone!

May our restless, and longing, hearts cry out:

Take away all the things I hold so near.

God, these shattered dreams are hard to bear,

when they are falling at Your feet right here.”

If this restless longing keeps me dependent on You alone Lord?

May I never find rest here.

Pore me out like an offering for the Glory of Your Name until we are together face to face.

May we never call this world home.

Come hell or high waters,

take our restless hearts to the ends of the earth declaring Your Name, that alone saves.

For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling…”
-Paul, 1 Corinthians 2:2-3 

“What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short…”
-Paul, 1 Corinthians 7:29

-J

Lyrics: Here

Imagine…

… Are you willing to stop, and consider?

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Can we imagine together for a moment…?

Let’s imagine that regardless of where we stand with our beliefs concerning the existence of a Creator (or the absence of a Creator), that we happened to believe that there was one.

Let’s imagine that we happened to place a faith in the existance of a Creator, instead of placing a faith in there not being one… and choose to see faith as a complete trust or confidence in someone or something

Let’s imagine that we know that a personal belief that does not have someone’s full personal trust, is a faulty belief that demands attention… even if it is our own.

Let’s imagine that we choose to believe that there is a real, active, Creator, Who created all that we know of through the mere power of the Creator speaking everything into existence.

Let’s imagine that since there is now a Creator, this Creator is now the Source of all that we know of as “Life”. And just like a human creator, there is a purpose for that which the Creator creates. Likewise, this Creator created Life with a purpose. Since there is a purpose, the purpose for life would be of utmost importance for all of creation, including you, me, and us all.

Let’s imagine that just like an able & passionate human creator… the Creator of all that we know of as “Life” reveals this Purpose for the gift of Life in a direct way. This direct revelation of Purpose demands attention and comes in contact with us all.

Let’s imagine that this Creator of all that we know of as Life, created us with the capability to “choose” our Creator and embrace fully our Creator. Creation can either embrace their title and position of being “creation”… or… creation could choose to rebel against the purpose of their Creator and embrace a false title and position of “the creator”.

Let’s imagine that we as creation chose the latter option. We choose to rebel even from the beginning of our existence. This choice is one that we still choose daily. We choose to rebel from the Creator and Author of Life and in Whom alone we can find our purpose and identity.

Lets’s imagine that instead of the Creator completely destroying us and starting over, the Creator decides to use the rebellion… and reveal Himself through our failure. As the Creator pursues us relentlessly, we as creation continue to rebel and ignore the need to see the Creator for who the Creator is.

Let’s imagine that instead of just allowing and abandoning the creation in their downward spiral of choosing a false sense of “life” & “purpose”… this Creator (who also created what creation knows of as “Love”), chose to relay the Truth that creation has neglected and rebelled against… in words. These words from the Creator would come both directly from the Creator and through people who embrace the Creator. Even nature would reflect the Creator and declare who the Creator is and give honor to the Creator in its beauty… only if creation chooses to stop… look… and think.

Let’s imagine that this Creator also decides that instead of relaying Truth through the word of creation alone (which despite creation being used to write this Truth from the Creator… creation continues to ignore Him), the Creator will go through any length to bring creation back to Himself.

Let’s imagine that through passionate love for creation, the Creator desires to reveal themself in such a personal way to creation, that creation would have every opportunity to recognize their ignorance and rebellion and return to our Creator.

Let’s imagine that this Creator was also the Creator of Justice, not justice that is corrupt, but justice that is pure and without any hint of perversion. Since perversion of Justice does not reflect the Creator, but instead reflects creation’s choice of choosing to reject Truth, creation has no possibility of being pardoned for their rebellion on their own merit or talent since pure Justice is unbiased and fair. It would not be fair to pardon someone for the choice that they freely, that we freely, have made and make still; therefore, any pardon for creation’s choice to rebel, would come not from ourselves… but would have to come from the Creator alone. Even the smallest rebellion is still rebellion and deserves the full penalty from the law… death.

Let’s imagine that as we already stated, in order for Judgement to be pure, that unless an equal representative of the guilty party, which is creation, stepped up then there can be no pardon for the crime of rebellion. This Representative must take full responsibility for the punishment even though this Representative is not guilty; Only then could justice still be served and creation have an opportunity to be pardoned. This Representative must take our place and this Representative would have to be without our rebellion.

Let’s imagine that the Creator, in passionate pursuit for creation, embraces this challenge on our behalf. Since mankind could not represent themselves blamelessly, the Creator would have to somehow 100% be as we are… to be born, breathe, suffer and die like we do; however, instead of choosing rebellion, the Creator must choose Life and Truth completely without ANY hint of rebellion. Since death comes from the rejection of life, the Creator MUST NOT reject life, even in the slightest,despite being 100% as creation is.

Let’s imagine that the way that the Creator chooses to reflect 100% of creation, would be accomplished by the Creator’s same Word that was used to create everything in the beginning… this same Word must bring flesh to the Creator and becomes one of us.

Let’s imagine that the Creator does this.
Dwelling with us fully.
Jesus is His Name.

Let’s imagine that this act would reflect a crucial aspect of the Creator often overlooked and misunderstood due to none of us being without rebellion…

… in steps into the narrative, Grace.

Let’s imagine that you believe Truth is absolute… which declares that Truth is not defined by our individual opinion. For example, lets look at gravity. We agree that there is something that is refered to as gravity… well, most of us agree. Does the “truth” of what causes gravity to you, and the “truth” of what causes gravity to me, make what truly causes gravity change? Our differing beliefs concerning the “truth” of gravity doesn’t change the truth.

Gravity is caused by what it is caused by… this is absoluteregardless of what we say or what we argue. Gravity operates on a Truth that goes beyond our understanding or explanations of it. Absolute Truth states that Truth is not relative to my personal views, or to your personal views, but that Truth exists independently and on its own. Therefore, since the Bible claims to be the written Truth of our Creator, and claims to have authority (2 Timothy 16-17), it either is… or isn’t. If it is? Then it can stand on its own if we are willing to come to it without preconceived conclusions. We must be willing to give it a chance.

Let’s imaginethat we allow the Bible to be the source of absolute truth concerning our Creator… and we see the Bible as the Creator’s revealed Truth that is absolute. Therefore, any purpose for our lives that is found outside of the Bible holds no authority over us. This is due to us choosing to be surrendered to the Truth that is found in our Creator’s Word alone, instead of being found in what we as creation says about our Creator.

Let’s imagine that we truly are made in the image of this Creator, as stated in the Bible found in Genesis 1:27, and our Creator is who the Creator is (as it is written).
ThisTruth is absolute.

Let’s imaginethat the Truth can stand on its own… and we fully embrace John 14:6, where Jesus claimed to be the Truth…

Let’s imagine we believe John 1:1-5, 14 where John claims that Jesus is Life and the Word of God in flesh… 100% God and 100% man.

Let’s imagine that we understand that Jesus walked this earth… and He is not a “fairy-tale”.

Let’s imaginethat our hearts are broken from our rebellion to our Creator which we all are guilty of (Romans 3:23).

Let’s imagine that we surrender to the Truth of our need for a Savior…. and that Jesus… becomes not just a man who once lived… but becomes our Savior, and whom our lives find meaning.

Let’s imaginethat we believed Jesus when He said “apart from Me, you can do nothing”, and we stop living life with us on the throne (John 15:5).

Let’s imagine that we admit our rebellion, and surrender our lives… our talents… our breath… our hearts… to the Living Creator, Savior, and Sustainer who is passionate for us. Who alone defeated death. Who alone can represent us sinless. Who is our Creator and even though we rejected Him, He will never reject us when we surrender to Jesus… Who, as Isaiah 53:5 prophesied,  “through His wounds we are healed”.
(Hebrews 7:19, 24-25, Acts 3:14-21)

Let’s imagine that our identities is not found in the things of this world, but on Jesus alone (Colossians 3:2-3).

Let’s imagine that we commit our lives to knowing Him greater and loving others as He loved us and embracing the “life abundantly” that Jesus offers us (John 10:10).

Let’s imagine that we commit our lives to knowing Him through His Word and refusing to settle for less (Jeremiah 29:13, Matthew 22:37-40).

Let’s imaginethat we did not keep the good news of Jesus to ourselves, but in love, went into the darkness… into the dying word… sharing the good news… the Truth… of our Creator…. EVEN unto death. (Matthew 28:16-20)

Let’s imagine that we no longer have to imagine…

… what are we waiting for?

May we wake up brothers and sisters…

there is so much more than what we are settling for…

… May we not settle.

May we repent, renew, and stand.
:”)
-J

“Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said:
“People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious.
For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god.
So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship-and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.
“The God who made the world and everything in it is the LORD of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.
And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything.

Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.
From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.
God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.
‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’

As some of your own poets have said,
‘We are his offspring.’
“Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone-an image made by human design and skill.
In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”

When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.
So Paul went out from their midst.
But some men joined him and believed…

Acts 17:22-34

Lyrics: Here

The Diary of A Missionary

It is important to say that the purpose of this post or this blog truly is not found in myself, but the purpose of this post and blog is to draw attention to someone so, so, so much greater than all that I am…

My hope is that the following words speaks
and finds You

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May we not fear vulnerability …
Wherever we are,

Near or far,
May dark eyes look to You
May heavy hearts rest easy.

… This world cannot be our home
… This world cannot be our home.


A couple of nights ago I found myself doing what I often find myself doing since moving from South Carolina to Michigan a year ago…
I find myself walking miles alongside sidewalks with no knowledge of where I am walking or for how long I will walk.

I know that it might sound kinda weird, but hear me out!
I truly don’t think I’m the only one who sometimes walks aimlessly down sidewalks…
Well, then again stranger things have happened  😉

But anyways,
when I do walk..?
… I find myself listening to music, praying, and meditating on different things that has occurred or is occurring in my life so far.
I find that this world can truly be as big or as small as we make it…

It’s truly crazy thinking back to this month last year.
This month last year the blog that you are now reading was reopened after four years of inactivity!
Goodness Lord, no imagination could have imagined where I would be 12 months later.

I have been thinking a lot about recently:

  • How much things can change in a year
  • How many memories that is made in a year
  • How many people one will meet in a year…

And I am truly overwhelmed and in awe!
If I had to sum up the greatest thing that You’ve been teaching me in a year..?
I would hands down say, I am learning:

Our Creator, Sustainer, and Savior
truly knows us better
than we will ever
or can ever
know ourselves.

Whether I am aimlessly driving through Canada and staying at a random bed and breakfast for the night, or walking over interstates and through random neighborhoods, You truly do know me regardless if I know me!

I truly find my heart being overwhelmed throughout this year and I am discovering so much about the worry, fears, dreams, hurts, longings, and anxieties of not only myself, but countless others as well!

We all sometimes feel as if we are aimlessly walking through life…
From strangers, to friends,
And from family, to my reflection in the mirror,
I am discovering that we ALL have worries and longings and questions. We all at one time or another feel heavy longings for something… more.
Lord, I feel as if You made our hearts and minds disproportional to what You show us on a daily basis!

Only You truly know my heart, and You are daily reminding me more and more how You truly are “sufficient in our weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9), how Your “steadfast love never ceases”, Your “mercies never come to an end”, Your mercies “are new every morning”, and just howgreat is Your faithfulness”
(Lamentations 3:22-23).

I don’t have everything figured out,
nor do I have all the answers to every question,
but Father You do!
And You have given me hope when I’ve had none, given joy when there was nothing but sorrow, and lavished laughter even when I feel out-of-place walking down the random sidewalks near the passing cars of souls under the blanket of dim street lamps …
You are all that matters.
Jesus, You really are all that matters.

Goodness, it’s so easy to get so wrapped in the unknown sidewalks, haunting questions, heavy longings, and real fears around us that we forget that all is known to You!
ALL is known!
You know it all!!
All of our worries, fears, scars, hurts, longings, confessions, questions, desires, growing pains, insecurities, broken dreams, inefficiencies, quirks,
You know it all!!
.. and You know us (Psalm 139).

O Lord, You have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    You discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
You hem me in behind and before,
and You lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
 too lofty for me to attain!
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?”

– Psalm 139: 5-7


Why does my soul hurt when I walk by dark houses Father?
Why does it hurt when I see myself or others miss the point of all this life?

What are we searching for here?
What am I searching for when I walk or drive aimlessly?

I feel like an alien trapped in the shell of a normal 23-year-old man …

… And this world cannot be my home…. This world cannot be my home!

 

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”

– Colossians 3:2

Goodness Lord, You are so right…

 

Forgive us when we care about everything else on this earth and forget that this is not our home, In You alone we find rest!
Our wandering souls find our home in YOU

Jesus, I’m truly nothing without You!
You see us all so differently than how this world sees things,
Earthly status or titles truly don’t mean a thing to You!
You don’t see a missionary, a sinner, a young man, or a brokenhearted wanderer walking aimlessly down random sidewalks when You see me …
You see an adopted son surrendered to You!
Jesus, You see Your Spirit when You see me.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.
The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God,
who loved me and gave himself for me.”

-Galatians 2:20 

We are all missionaries…

… Every single one of us.

We either proclaim freedom that You bring Jesus,

Or we declare that freedom is found in self…

and I’m truly in awe of what depths we are capable of when we rely on ourselves.

 

… Father, help us not miss it.

 

Help us not miss the fact that we exist to know You and be known by You.

Help us not miss the fact that we exist to show others just how much You desire to know us and desire for us to be known by You!

 

Standing in awe, may we hear what You say

For we are at peace, we are Your people, we are Your saints

Help our hearts not turn back to lesser loves

Your Salvation thrives when to Your cross we run

Come Lord Jesus

Come.

May we not be afraid to give up our timings, expectations, fears, questions, and hurts to the only One that our souls find rest in.
Through known or unknown?
May we learn to embrace all that we are while leaning into Who makes us whole.

May we not fear vulnerability…
Wherever we are,
Near or far,
May dark eyes look to You
May heavy hearts rest easy in You,
Jesus.

– J 

“Hello maker of the moon
Your creation has inspired my every move…”

Lyrics: Here

This Little Park, This Side of Heaven 

No matter what Lord,

You are worthy to be praised…

When You first started calling me up here years ago, I had no idea this little park existed… but You did.

Sitting here just putting these thoughts into words Lord, what do you see in me…? It’s hard to try and not think back to the events that not only led me to being able to sit here now, feeling the gentle breeze & overlooking the calming water in front of me, but daily it never fails… I am always reminded of the events that led me to You…

Even then, you knew me… even when I was just another 17 year old boy sobbing in defeat and surrender to You in his room… You not only saw me then, but You saw THEN what I see NOW as write to You and feel Your gentle breeze while overlooking the calming water in front of me.

Lord, even now, you truly are SO much more then these gentle breezes and calming waters. You are SO much more than a beautiful night sky or the peaceful lights that are reflective on the water. You truly are wild and BEYOND passionate for me… for us… SO much more then any pursuit this world has or will ever see. You are Jesus on the cross gasping for just a sliver of breath (Matthew 27:46). You are Your powerful Spirit hovering over the waters and bringing life from none (Genesis 1:2). You are the great and powerful I AM that spoke to Moses through that which You created (Exodus 3:14). You are so much more then anything we can imagine or any bit of knowledge that we have of You in Your Word.

And still… you are crazy about us and You invite us to know you intimately.

You are crazy about me.
Sitting here tonight Father, I truly am so thankful for this little park… honestly it’s one of the smallest parks I’ve ever seen; however, You know how special this park is to me and how there is no other place on this planet that I rather be right now then here. It blows my mind that I’ve seen the same water in front of me during winter carry thick amounts of ice blocks down the it and that same river is peacefully hitting the bank with cycles of waves where I sit now. Thinking of You as I sit here now, it’s so easy to get lost in the peace and calmness; however, the patrolling border patrol boats and biting mosquitoes remind me that You truly are so much more then ALL the beauty that this world can offer.

That’s IT, I give up!!! Back to my car I go… at least here I can reduce the number of mosquitoes that decide to remind me that this world is not my home. Honestly, I can’t help but laugh as I type this. Yet it truly does amaze me that even before my fingers go to write these words that are on my heart and mind, You know them completely (Psalm 139:4). We truly can not run from You… we can not escape You.
What blows my mind as well Lord? Is the sobering reality that You see through the fluff. You know why I came to this “little park” tonight… You know the chaos in my heart as I sit here… You know the flaws in my person… You know what I lack… You know my worries, fears, hurts, and scars Lord… You know my needs Father… You know my dreams and desires… You know… Oh how You truly know.
I can’t say it any other way…

I need You Jesus.

I need You so much more then I could ever express.

I truly am nothing without You.

I was such a fool for the years I refused Your open arms of forgiveness….

And I am such a fool now to choose myself and my will over Your will when YOU open my eyes in the morning and YOU remind me even now to breathe!

I am such a fool when I choose this… this world… this “little park”… this “side of heaven” over You.

YOU are what my soul longs for!

YOU alone are all that can truly satisfy!

YOU are my Hope!

YOU are my Savior!

YOU are my Sustainer!

Why do I settle for lesser loves…?
Jesus, please use me, I’m Yours.

Thank You for these “little parks”… You know how much this park means to me, but Father, help me see this life as YOU see it…

One day this little park will be no more.

One day this world will be no more.

One day my worries, fears, flaws, and scars will be no more.

One day there will be no more mosquito bites.

One day there will be no more fear, no more tears.

One day there will be no more distance between me and You Jesus… no more distance between those who are reading this now and You Jesus.
You truly are more then we could EVER fathom,

But You still care about the “little parks” in our lives and make Yourself accessible for us to truly know You now…

Jesus, thank You that there really is a bigger picture beyond what our tiny eyes can see.
Thank You for the little parks this side of heaven.

Forgive us when we settle for this…

May we point one another, and our wandering heart, to You and You alone as we thank You for the little parks in our lives.
No matter what Lord,

You are worthy to be praised…

“Search me O God and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in Your Way everlasting.”

– Psalm 139: 23-24

Appropriate Utensils

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“Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”
– Psalm 34:8

I know what I’m doing Dad…“,

… the young child says as she slides a chair across the kitchen floor.
She has plotted that the chair would get herself closer to the mysterious pot that has been simmering for what seems like an eternity to her young… but hungry… belly.
Though young, she feels capable of much more than what others give her credit for, and because of this, she can’t help but feel proud as she climbs up the chair that she slid over in order for her to be able to see at eye level that which she so desperately desires.
          She tells herself that this
          this will stop the strange growling in her stomach.
She has been smelling the aroma of the tasty soup that her Father has been making for SO LONG, and time has only made her hunger grow… but NOW… now she has had enough;
she WILL have partake in this forbidden nectar even if she has to do it herself!

“Oh honey…”, said her Father laughing to Himself as He leans down to be eye level with His beautiful daughter,
“… I can tell that you are hungry.
Actually, we are ready to eat now if you would like to join us!
Do you not remember Me calling your name for dinner?”,

asks her Father curiously, yet even though He is now eye to eye with her, His unwavering eye contact and a soothing, gentle voice still feels as if they could calm even the most chaotic water park wave pool that His little daughter has ever seen.

“Here darling, let me give you the utensil you’ll need to get some of this soup into your plate!”, her father exclaims lovingly yet concerned as she reaches impatiently into the utensil cabinet that is near to her. He is concerned because He is holding the ladle in His hand as she begins to dig in the drawer.

I know what I’m doing Dad!“,
she says to Him yet again refusing His helping hand while insisting that she knows what she needs. She can’t help but feel slightly annoyed at her Father, as He seems to be looming over her as she is working hard to get the utensil that will solve the hunger that she feels… a spoon. Searching, and searching, and searching, she looks and digs in the cabinet confused why there doesn’t seem to be a utensil that will solve her problem… until AT LAST!! SHE HAS FOUND THE SPOON SHE NEEDED!

“I told you!! I told you that I KNEW what I was doing!”, she proudly exclaims to Him. She can’t help but feel proud of her hard work to get the spoon that she is now is holding up proudly to make sure that Daddy can see what her hard work has accomplished!

“Honey…”, her dad begins to say concerned, still looking at her with love;
however, before He could finish speaking, she cuts Him off. She begins to think to herself that He isn’t impressed at her ability to do things herself and instead of being proud of her, she concludes instead that He is simply jealous that she didn’t need Him!
Sure of this conclusion, she boldly she says up to Him,
I KNEW WHAT I’M DOING DAD, AND I STILL DO!
CANT YOU SEE?! I GOT A SPOON, AND I CAN DO IT ALL BY MYSELF!” 

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“Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”
– Psalm 34:8

Honestly? That line, “I know what I’m doing…“, I truly can’t look at that line and not chuckle. Seriously! I guess I chuckle not only because it truly is the “famous last words” of every child (or adult) before they realize that they truly did not know what they are doing …

But I chuckle because even though I know Jesus..?
I say this to Him a lot…
…Much more than I like admitting.

What about you??
Do you say this to Him more times than you would like to admit?
Well… welcome to the club. You are safe here.

And while we are on this topic,
I honestly find looking at children’s behavior almost… haunting…
Well… Let me explain:
Even in the story above (which I know that I’ve seen more than once in my life),
the child had many different responses that she could have made to her Dad who clearly knew what she needed…

She could have looked at her situation and said:
“…That’s it… I give up… can You help me Dad…?”
… but instead, she looked at her Father who offered to help her and said:
“NO! I know what I’m doing, leave me alone!”

As a follower of Christ?
Even I find myself saying this to Him in different ways.

For me?
I can go through my days with one or two different approaches to the Lord:

I strive to go through every day submissive to that Voice which says to me,
“Seek Me, Jonah.”
That Voice, could sometimes come to me at the BEST times
(like when I get back home from the office and have the rest of the evening to relax),
Or that Voice could come at the worst times
(such as that moment when I finally kick back and am excited to FINALLY be able to relax after a long day but that small Voice calls me to seek Him instead and surrender for that moment whatever it is that I desire to do)…
That Voice that says to me,
“Seek Me.”
“Seek Me, Jonah.”

It’s truly a crazy feeling, maybe you can relate to this!
It never fails…
Every. single. time. that I refuse to yield to the Voice of the Spirit prompting me to seek Him… every. single. time. that I truly hear Him, but I don’t submit and obey what I hear
Every single time that I refuse Him, I find myself feeling a strange emptiness…
a feeling almost like the one when you are hungry but you just ate!
You know… like after eating chinese food…
and it isn’t long before I find myself yielding to the same things that I did not desire the moments before I heard that Voice calling me to Trust Him and Seek Him…

… but for some of you?
Maybe you don’t hear, “Seek Me”
maybe you hear “Stop running.”

Maybe? You only hear this “Voice” rarely,
or Maybe? You hear this “Voice” SO often that you fight it and you fight it  and you FIGHT IT while insisting that you know how to be satisfied on your own…
You insist that you know how to be loved,
You insist that you know what is best for your life,
but just like a child who lets pride prevent them from tasting the soup that they KNOW they crave… the soup that is available and freely offered to them
you know what you need to do;
but you run and you run and you run
or you try and you try and you try to just get even a tiny drip of not just the soup you crave… but ANY soup!
Just something to satisfy the hunger that you feel!

And just like the child, maybe you try with all that you have to get that soup that will truly satisfy the hunger. You try to somehow get THAT soup out of the pot, and INTO the bowl of your life and soul.
And just like the child, you might be trying with the wrong utensil causing you to start running out of patience when it comes to your hunger to seek for that which you once hungered and thirst so much for!

… Both you and me?
Honestly, we are in the same boat.
We both need to just stop…surrender… and simply cry out:
“That’s it… I give up… Daddy can You help me?”

… The even crazier part of all this??
All we have to do is simple cry out with all that we are for the food that we so desperately search, and search, and search, so long and hard for in everyone and everything..

A heart that says, “That’s it… I give up… Daddy can You help me?” FAR outweighs the actions that says, “I know what I’m doing Dad…”

All that we search for…
Pure faithfulness
Pure Truth
Pure joy
Pure satisfaction
Pure rest
Pure love
Pure correction
Pure direction
Pure guidance
Pure wisdom
Is found in our Creator and in our Creator alone…

Oh heavy hearts, may we truly hear the Father who leans down to say  with unwavering eye contact:

“Come, everyone who thirsts,
    come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without price.

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
    and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to Me, and eat what is good,
    and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
    hear, that your soul may live;
and I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
    my steadfast, sure love for David.
Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples,
    a leader and commander for the peoples.

Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know,
    and a nation that did not know you shall run to you,
because of the Lord your God, and of the Holy One of Israel,
    for he has glorified you.
 

“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
    and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
    and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
    and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
    giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my Word be that goes out from my mouth;

    it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
    and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

“For you shall go out in joy
    and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
    shall break forth into singing,
    and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
    instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall make a name for the Lord,
    an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

– Isaiah 55

 

May we simply learn how to come to You, Jesus, empty
Come with our brokenness
Come with our questions
Come with our praises
Come with our hurts
Come with our doubt
Come with our joy
Come with our regrets
Come with our fears
Come with our hunger
Come with our need
Come.
Just come… 
May we come as we are.
May we lay down our inappropriate utensils
and taste
and see
That His Word, That our Father, That Jesus can be trusted
Only He alone uses appropriate utensils in every moments of our life.

–  Jonah Fair

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
– Jesus,
(Matthew 11:18-3)

Lyrics: Here

 

 

Errors

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There’s a pain in my chest here that’s real,
real to me now.
In my brokenness may Your Grace be real too,
may Your Grace truly surround and abound.

“Lord, what are You doing??”
“Lord, what do You want me to see?!”
Walking to the front deck of the ship that I stand on,
I can’t help but simply be overwhelmed.

As I look ahead in front of me I find myself truly captivated by the absolutely breathtaking sunset…
This dance of beautiful colors in the sky lingers in contrast to the heavy wind that is blowing in my face, the rocking of the ship, and the questions and chaos in my heavy heart.

“Lord, what are You doing??”
“Lord, what do You want me to see?!”
It doesn’t take long for me to realize that there is almost a constant loop playing in my mind as I stand alone in a sea in the middle of nowhere.

“Jesus, what are You doing?!”
“Jesus, what do You want me to see?!”
I continue to cry out as an even greater presence of the beauty around me makes me ever more confident that my questions are not in vain…
…In this moment?
The questions that I have are real… very real to me right now.

I can’t help but think of the life that exists outside of this ship that is currently in the middle of the Caribbean Ocean, and I can’t help but think of the crazy turn of events that led me to where I am standing now.
Two years ago this trip was planned and paid for;
However, that planning two years ago fell by the wayside and never happened.

Two years ago?
This trip was planned as a wedding celebration …
Two months ago?
This trip was a response to an email stating that my credit would expire within the coming months if not redeemed.
At this moment?
I’m somehow on that trip and staring at the most beautiful sunset that I have ever seen.

“…There must be a mistake Lord,
This MUST be an error or something!!
Lord, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!
What am I missing!!?” 

Leaning against the rails in front of me, I can’t help but remember that moment where I spoke those words two years ago as I felt as if my world had just fallen apart.
As I look out unto the sea, I feel myself begin to be dragged back to that moment….
where I was… what I was thinking…. what I was doing;
However,
at the same time
I can’t help but become overwhelmed by the beautiful sunset in front of me more than my recollections of the moments that brought me here.

“No eye has seen, and no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things which God has prepared for those who love him.”
– 1 Corinthians 2:9

I softly begin to sing aloud a refrain of a song that was somehow awoken in my mind here as I stand alone on the front deck
where the wind blows even harder against my skin:
“Jesus, Jesus,
All I want is to be like You…”

I begin to allow this lyric to become a prayer
as I repeat and sing it over and over and over:
“Jesus Jesus
All I want is to be like You…”

beginning to sing louder now, I start to tremble as I think again of the blessed life that I left behind,
and every moment, every step, that brought me to where I am now:
“Jesus, Jesus!
All I want is to be like You!”

Overwhelmed I begin to cry, not from a hurt or a pain,
but from a deep appreciation and awe deep within
of the Pursuer that I feel pursuing me with everything in this holy moment:
“Jesus! Jesus!
All I want is to be like You!”

As tears hit the front deck where I currently am standing,
I close my eyes in surrender and acknowledgement that despite my many mistakes,
despite my many errors,
The Pursuer that my heart cries out and longs for..
The Pursuer who is pursuing me even here in my breaking…
The Pursuer who was with me two years ago…
The Pursuer who helped place one foot after another in recovery…
The Pursuer who painted the skies in front of me is bringing me to my knees now!
THIS PURSUER MAKES NO MISTAKES!! THERE IS NO ERRORS IN HIS WAYS!!

“JESUS!! JESUS!!
ALL I WANT IS TO BE LIKE YOU!!”

EVERY TEAR
EVERY HURT
EVERY QUESTION
EVERY ANXIOUS PRAYER
EVERY FALLING TEAR
EVERY CONFUSION
EVERY STEP!
EVERY SINGLE STEP HAS LED ME TO THIS MOMENT!
And here in this moment?
I would have it no other way…

Jesus,
My heart breaks for the one reading this right now,
who like me,
is crying out to You with an ENDLESS loop of questions that flow from a breaking heart
that is SO real to them right now.
Meet them in their breaking and overwhelm their heart as You so often do to me!
Show them where You were and where you are in their falling tears and heavy hearts,
Jesus give them a peace in their breaking!
I pray that they feel Your presence overwhelmingly right now that they no longer let their questions overwhelm Your peace that comes in our surrender…
Help us be vulnerable with You.

There’s a pain in my chest here that’s real,
real to me now.
In my brokenness may Your Grace be real too,
may Your Grace truly surround and abound.

Lord,
Like a boxer,

You put me into spurring matches
these matches are to prepare me for the matches to come.
Jesus, 
I am in training
I am in training
WE are in training.

Lord, may we rest in the fact,
That You make no mistakes,
There are no errors in Your ways.
May we rest in a heart of surrender and say with every piece of our breaking heart:
“Jesus,
Jesus,
All I want is to be like You…”

May all we want, is to be like You.

-J

Lyrics: Here

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.

– Isaiah 55:8 8

“No eye has seen, and no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things which God has prepared for those who love him.”

Paul1 Corinthians 2:9

“Three times I PLEADED with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

– Paul, 2 Corinthians 12:8-9