A surrendered life


Seems I’m a master of melancholy and melodrama and start ups, but not necessarily finishes. At least that’s what the voice in my head says as I sit at my laptop and consider putting into words what may or may not be 100% true for me, 100% of the time.

I’m often tormented in my thought life around how I live vs how I should live. While I hunger for real relationships and depth and breadth of conversations,  I withdraw from my close friends and let the phone ring and texts go unanswered. I hide. Sometimes I don’t check my phone at all. For hours, for days.

Oh, I want to do good. I want to be good. I’m just not very good at being good. I want to love. And I don’t know how to do that in a sustained way. Sometimes I am absolutely unloving. I shared some thoughts on this place of living in the tension of wanting one thing and doing another HERE. But there is more…

Thankfully, this Sunday’s talk (at the church with walls and a roof at Springfield and Spall) is about a way of finding release from living in torment/angst/tension/legalism and living in the freedom of non-performance and  without condemnation (you know, those voices in your head saying awful things about you).

Romans 8 is all about living in the gracious, wide open spaces of spirit focus, spirit life, where I can stop should-ing and could-ing on myself, stop questioning my every move and every pause, and simply walk ahead into whatever God has for me. Believing God will go before me. Believing there is a way to walk somewhat blindly into something you know nothing of, yet do because… it’s intriguing, drawing, compelling, offering more than what simply is the mundane superficiality of life, most days.

This way involves SURRENDER, and I don’t entirely understand what that means in a practical, rubber hits the road, type of way. I want to know. I want to live a SURRENDERED life.

On Sunday morning, after the talk part, we are each given a piece of red paper (blood red, valentine red), and invited to write down something we feel we might leave, deal with, acknowledge before God, something standing between us and the simple and profound way of spirit surrendered living.  And I know what it is, right away. I scribble down not good enough, and take my red paper up to the communion table, to the shredder provided, and push that paper in, and listen while the machine pulls apart the words I’ve been living. I surrender these words to the shredder… and at that moment, surrender to God…

Not good enoughnot good enough… not good enough.

And then I gently take a small piece of bread and a tiny cup of wine in my hand, and go back to my seat, and silently pray to, in the words of John Terpstra, “the one who won us over,” who says with his last breath, I am enough. His life for my freedom. His life for my spirit surrendered life. Jesus, who turns it all upside down and asks me to stop keeping score for myself and everyone else. Jesus who wants me to empty myself of me so he can fill me with something better. I say these words without knowing what they truly mean. What this really looks like in my real life.

Boy with cross

Boy with cross (Photo credit: Eileen Delhi)

I will be thinking on this for a while. I want to live this simple yet profound truth. Not to be great. Not even to be good. But to take the focus off me entirely, and put it back on the one who won me over. I wonder if I can really do it? Can anyone really do it?

Can I capture the wonder of a simple crumb of bread and wash of wine, surrender what hinders, carry significance into Lent, find sustenance enough for a new way of living?

Are you with me… is it possible?

SDG, Lesley-Anne

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p.s.


Corn Snow

Corn Snow (Photo credit: ronsipherd)

Are you seeking God? I am. And I don’t think the seeking ever stops. God, to me, is kind of like a taste of something so good you want more, but when you have more, it’s still not enough. And then there are the times you can’t find God at all. And people might say, well, that’s because you moved, not God. Even so, you can’t hear or see him. Like the way the clouds put a lid over the Okanagan Valley, and you begin to wonder if the sun is really there, or ever was there, even though it was here just last summer for an extended stay. And then, the sun comes out! My relationship with God is like that. Is yours?

I went to church (a building at Spall and Springfield) yesterday for the first time in several weeks. I’ve struggled getting there, wanting to be there, making excuses why I couldn’t go and even did some digging beneath that to the real reasons why. They weren’t pretty or even rational, but they were a place to start. Last Sunday I spent some time at the church at Sarsons beach (a concrete table with a lake view) and there I worked through my excuses and some tearful asks of God, starting with asking him to forgive me for the ugly stuff in my head and heart.

I’m not saying going to church need be a marker for you, but for me it somehow is. To not go, means something. And to go, means something. Usually, if I ask God, and if I go listening and looking, I come away with some plain truth. Or something. A word. Or a sentence. Or just a feeling that my heart is a little more tender towards God and his kids that I am with day in and day out, beginning with God’s kids in this house.

So, yesterday I came home from church recognizing what…? Well, I guess recognizing that the message from the text in Romans 7 is applicable to me. That my struggle is like every man’s struggle with wanting to do the right thing, but doing the wrong thing instead. That being a christian is not like taking a magic pill and having a wonderful life. It’s just not. That life is hard and bad things happen and christians like me do not have all the answers. And recognizing that setting time aside to sing and worship and listen and learn and thank and press the restart button is a good thing. Always a good thing, for me.

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7, 24-25

How ironic that just a couple of hours later I was so angry at one of God’s kids living under this roof that I stomped upstairs to my room, slammed the door, cussed and stomped some more, and then returned to the kitchen to emphasize my mood with clanging of pots and banging of dishes. Amazing how noisy cooking can get when your mood is involved! Another one of God’s kids reminded me that I should maybe calm down. All this over my inability to pause, to consider, to put down my way and allow a suggestion of another way, just as valid and workable and better than mine.

Why do I tell you all this? I guess because I never, never, ever, want to give the impression of being anything I’m not. Maybe I might come across as having answers or even having the answer to a specific situation. That’s so not true. I have an opinion, I have a suggestion, I have lessons I have learned. That is all.

I know I’m repeating what I shared a few posts back, but I just want to make sure you hear me say the only hope here is God variety hope. God hope. Jesus hope. That’s it. I don’t offer anything else lasting.

So, does my position on giving ‘answers’ mean there are no absolutes? Absolutely not. But I will not sacrifice relationships for “being right” any more. I will present what I believe is true, and I will try to do so with kindness, with love. If you ask me hard questions, chances are I will not have a prepared shiny answer for you. I’m not gifted in apologetics. I’m not a critic. I might suggest you read something. I might suggest you talk with someone. If God would use my life and this blog to say something, then I am humbled by that. Greatly humbled.

God is what matters. God is interested in you. God wants to answer your questions, so, seek God out in the myriad of ways you can find him. It may be in the fullness of the natural world. It may be in music, or in the arts, or in a church, or in people. In serving, or giving, or learning, or solitude and silence.

Saturday I sat outside as the sun pulled back the clouds and shone it’s warmth on my face. I picked up a handful of snow, somewhat melting and compacted into little snow balls turning into ice balls… corn snow, I believe it’s called. And I held it there, sun glinting off the surfaces like little mirrors and I thought of those little balls of snow ice, how cold the melting in my warm hand, and what a sensual God, God is. How we can find him with our ears, our eyes, our fingers and our tongues… how everything is a miracle.

How the fullness of God, God glory, is waiting to be found in everything.

Tell me, where have you found God?

SDG, Lesley-Anne

First light


Sleep eludes me.
My spirit engulfed by guilt, grief and loss,
I rise before dawn
and walk to the garden alone,
seeking solace,
seeking peace.

The garden is cool, and the sweet scent of jasmine hangs in the air.
I seek out a quiet place,
and lose myself in thoughts of you.
Your words, your touch, your eyes.
I don’t know if I can carry on alone.

The events of the past week play out in my mind.
From joyous celebration to sudden death.
And I,
weak willed bystander,
fair weather friend,
watched from the sidelines, powerless to help you.

I fall to my knees and pray for absolution.

I feel a presence before I hear a sound.
A stranger is here, standing close beside me.
“Who are you?  What do you want?”, I ask through my tears.

A long moment’s silence and then he speaks.
He speaks my name.

I look up in confusion.
Is this someone’s cruel trick, or a ghost?
He should be dead in the grave,
but there is no denying the voice;
His sweet voice.

I rise to my feet, and look
into the eyes of my beloved.
He touches my cheek with warm fingers,
forgiveness in his smile.

Grace restored, I enter his embrace.
And then, with the lightness of burdens lifted
I turn, laughing with delight, and run to tell the others.

photo from ‘Along the Narrow Path’.

John 20

The Empty Tomb

1Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

3So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. 8Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9(They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

10Then the disciples went back to their homes, 11but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

13They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

15“Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

16Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).

17Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’

18Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

Jesus Appears to His Disciples

19On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

21Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

Jesus Appears to Thomas

24Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”

26A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

28Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

29Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

30Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31But these are written that you may[a] believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Empty tomb photo source