Spirit wrestler

jacob-with-the-angelThis is me taking a risk. I doubt that I am alone but it sure feels like it right now.

Thing is, I recognized yesterday that I am wrestling with something fundamental and HUGE. I admit my biggest struggle is what I will do with Jesus, The Christ. Jesus, the centre, the hinge of Christendom, and I am wrestling with what it means to say yes to the entirety of the Trinity – The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit, three-in-one.

My heart has been troubled with this question for some time. Oh, I want to believe. I do believe, many days. Still my guts churn over what I perceive as the exclusivity of Jesus, his life, his death, his atoning sacrifice that right sides me with God, the Father. Because saying yes to Jesus means you can also say no. And saying no means…well, you probably already know where I’m going with this. And this empath with a social justice heart is deeply perplexed by the thought of that.

I hide my perplexity, mostly, because it feels embarrassing. My life indicates my clear Yes! to God, and Yes! to the Spirit, but when I unpack the theology around Jesus, The Christ, I get stuck. I resist. I say “BUT.” But what about those who don’t believe or don’t get it right? But what about those who have a strong belief system of their own? But is hell really real? But what is the limit of God’s grace? But, but, but…

I wrestle with God like I’m the gatekeeper for the eternal well being of all souls. I wrestle on in doubt and then belief and then I attempt to stand under the tiny bit of assurance I can muster up. I am conflicted. I wonder what this makes me?

A wise friend shared a story with me.

There was once a sacred gathering of people who came together to seek spiritual wisdom. Among them was a young man who had a spirit of negativity, of questioning, of smouldering resentment. This man carried that spirit into the holy place of gathering, and began to share his discontent with others. One elder considered him with great love, listened to what he had to say for a little while, and then offered this;

Go outside. Dig a deep hole. Place your head and shoulders down into the hole. Shout your complaints to the earth. Then, when you are done, come back and join us.  

I have been carrying my complaints for several years…too long. I have made them heavy with meaning and power. My complaints stand between me and the freedom of The Way.

Truth is I WANT, but do not NEED, answers from God. Who am I to demand, to arrogantly suggest that God explain himself to me? I am one human, being. Who do I think that I am?

Perhaps here is where I must dig my deep hole?

Part of me resists…LORD, have mercy on me.

The road to Easter…

The road to Easter…

Over 2012 years ago you rode into the city that would be the death of you, Jesus.  You rode on a donkey, and people flocked to see you, laying down palm leaves and their clothes on the road before you.  They called out to you with shouts of excitement for who they, in their somewhat narrow minds, thought you were — deliverer from the oppression of the Roman rule, catalyst for a new power, a new age, a warrior prophet – one whose words promised a better way.

“Hosannah in the highest,” they cried out in a euphoria that passed in waves throughout the crowd.   Did they wonder why their future King rode on a donkey? Did they question your lack of weapons or armour?  Did they wonder what action you would take in the capital, who you would see, what you would say?  Or were they merely curious about this one who raised the dead?

And your closest followers – what were they thinking?  You had given them fair warning on several occasions but did they really fully understand that your journey to Jerusalem would be a one way trip?  As the crowds screamed, did the disciples glance at one another in disbelief?  Or did they get caught up in the party atmosphere and miss the look of intent on your holy face?

What gripped Peter’s heart that day?  A warriors heart, was he preparing for a fight?  And Judas, where was his heart as he walked beside his comrades?  Was Satan working evil in his heart even then?  Did he feel discomfort, embarrassment at the spectacle his teacher was creating?  Did he lag just slightly behind the rest, distancing himself from direct eye contact with you?

Who was in that cheering crowd?  How many of those whom you had touched with your healing hands, had received your words of life-change were there watching, celebrating, feeling a renewed overwhelming thankfulness mixed with disbelief at what you had done for them?

Did the man with the once withered hand lay his coat on the road in front of you?  Did the bleeding woman, fully healed, weep for joy?  Did the demon-possessed, now spirit filled one, sing songs of freedom that day?

And then, you passed by, and they watched your figure grow smaller in the distance, the sounds of rejoicing fading with you.  What happened to them then?  As they returned to their homes, their vocations, their families, what occurred in the hearts of so many who, only a few days later, would be part of another crowd of screaming people yelling out, “Crucify him, crucify him!”?

And I see in that fickle crowd a snapshot of myself.  My heart full of adoration one day then lukewarm the next.  My intentions for service, love, relationship grand and strong, and then slowly becoming complacent.  Allowing circumstances to dictate my feelings and overrule my heart for you.  And I , like Judas perhaps, avert my eyes in embarrassment and shame for who I am, for my lack, for my defeat and I drift even further from you as I look inward rather than into your eyes.

I see me in that crowd – euphoric in worship and lofty intentions on Sunday, then discouraged in my real-life by Tuesday.  How many of us experience our faith like that?  Striving, trying, desiring, hoping, but with no staying power?

Fall on God’s grace, some say!  Let go and let God!  Surrender!  Yield!  And my heart cries, “Yes”, while my head asks, “How often”?  How often must I revisit this place of surrender, of repentance, of crying out to God to rescue me from myself?  

Still, in spite of all my limitations I choose to stay close to you, to do my best, to listen for your voice and obey, love my husband and my children, learn to love my enemies, and serve you with the gifts you have given me.

And when I fall and grow tired, when I am complacent and ashamed, I will come to you again and again and again – hungry for  a fresh look into your understanding eyes – and your grace in my life.

I will, in all my humanity, call out, “Hosannah to my King!!!”

Mid-week random ramble 007

Mission Hill Winery - Terrace Restaurant

Image via Wikipedia

1. As September is a time of ‘starts’, I’ve been thinking about how and what I’ll give myself to this fall and into the year. This process means setting priorities, considering how I can come alongside family related and church related opportunities. This is also about listening to what God would have me put my hand to based on who I am, how he made me.

I’ve been thinking on a couple of big ‘yes’ components, and as I came to a place of deciding on them, I began to sweat about having to say ‘no’ to other things. But, I know from experience that I can’t say ‘yes’ without ‘no’ as well… can’t do everything, right? I prayed that God would help me be strong and do things with right motives. Then I made my choices. Next day I was on the phone having a ‘no’ talk with my pastor, and she said she understood completely. Then she told me that two people had come forward the day before requesting to take on what I had considered doing. She was waiting for my answer before getting back to them. My ‘no’ became their opportunity for ‘yes’. How God is that!!!! Bible says He goes before us… I say yes, and He often waits for me to catch up!

2. I took my visiting parents wine tasting, and out for a lovely lunch on their last day with us. The rain stopped. The sun came out for a couple of hours. We stood in the courtyard of the Mission Hill Winery and experienced the bells ringing at 12 noon… brought a surge of emotions to the surface as I closed my eyes and listened to the clear resonating sound of the bells chiming out their song from the tower. I could have imagined myself anywhere in the world during those few moments.

We stopped for lunch at the Old Vines Restaurant at Quails Gate Winery… just down the road. Did some wine paring with our delicious food selections, and then indulged in dessert and coffee. Two hours flew by, and suddenly it was time to pick up the kids from school. It was a mini-vacation to remember.

3. I had an opportunity to talk to my Dad about something he did for me once… many years ago. It was during a tough time in our relationship, and I had run away from home over some conflict we’d had. He showed up at my summer job early one morning, and asked me (begged me with tears in his eyes) to come home. Looking back now I see that he was rescuing me from what could have been a bad trajectory in my life. He came for me. I thanked him for that and he just smiled and gave me a huge hug.

I think we all long to be rescued at many times in our lives. I experienced a rescue again early this spring after having the difficult responsibility of putting my beloved dog Buddy to sleep. I went alone… by my own choice. Laid on the ground with my big dog while the injection was given and he slipped away. It broke part of me. When I could pull myself together enough to leave the room and make my way outside, my husband Bob was there. Standing beside my car with open arms waiting to comfort me.  He came for me. And I thanked him over and over again.

I’ve been rescued in another way. Because once I was in dire danger of being lost… not because of a broken heart, nor because of a teenage life of rebellious independence, but I almost lost my life to sin and forever separation from God. But Jesus rescued me… He came for me. It says in the Bible, “But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children.” (Gal. 4:4-5 NLT) And he’s come for me me over and over again, over the years when I wandered, gave up, got distracted by what I thought was good and exciting, and finally realized that his way was better, the only way to run my life. He’s always coming after me. Reminding me that he has more for me than anything I could imagine for myself.

So, I’ve been thanking him more and more lately, trying to line my life up with the way that he’d have me live it. It’s not easy… as a matter of fact it challenges me to the core… every day. I’m imperfect still, still stumbling about like a blind beggar. But I’m going to keep on keeping on.

4. You ever wonder about how things can be going on in the world… in this high tech, global, interconnected, news saturated society we live in… and how could we NOT know about big issues? I realize I choose to not watch the news on a regular basis. And I don’t necessarily devour the paper either. But still, you’d think that there would be some talk about things like Darfur and Dolphin slaughter and the like, that we might discuss in general conversation. Which makes me wonder what I talk about when I’m with my friends?

The other night we were searching our PPV on Shaw Cable to see what we might watch together as a family… something G or PG rated that we could all enjoy. We had trouble finding something. We came across this movie called, The Cove (click to watch official trailer) and because it was appropriately rated, and because it had won some awards, and because it had 4-1/2 stars, we watched it.

Have you watched it? Are you familiar with what’s going on with the Dolphins in Japan? Watch the trailer. Then, watch the movie. I felt sickened. I felt very out of touch. And I found it ironic that here in Canada we are so very careful to buy tuna that is labeled ‘Dolphin Friendly’ while things like this are going on.

And while we watch and judge (you know we all do ’cause it helps us feel better about ourselves), one has to ask why human beings have such a predisposition to cruelty? What other atrocities are committed in our own country in the name of food production and so forth. Is it better to remain naive? And once you know, what do you do with it?

5. Reading Remembering the Forgotten God, by Francis Chan. Challenging, good, God stuff. But, will I be brave enough to change? Check it out.

Food for thought, sorry to bug you… am I bugging you?


It was personal, and it still is.

John 19 (NIV)

Jesus Sentenced to be Crucified

1Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. 2The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe 3and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they struck him in the face.

4Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” 5When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”

6As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!”
But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.”

7The Jews insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.”

8When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, 9and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10“Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”

11Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”

12From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jews kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.”

13When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). 14It was the day of Preparation of Passover Week, about the sixth hour.
“Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews.

15But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”
“Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked.
“We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.

16Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.

The Crucifixion

So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. 17Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). 18Here they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.

19Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read:|sc JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 20Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. 21The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.”

22Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”

23When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.

24“Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.”
This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said,
“They divided my garments among them
and cast lots for my clothing.”[a] So this is what the soldiers did.

25Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” 27and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

The Death of Jesus

28Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

31Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. 32The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. 33But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. 35The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. 36These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,”[b] 37and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.”[c]