Thursday, September 29, 2011

That Litte Red Ink Mark

I cannot remember a time in my life I have not battled it out with perfectionism. From the way I look, to the clubs I join, to the sports I play, to the friend I am, to the grades I earn--anything less then the best is simply failure.

I have experienced the rule of perfectionism over my every move and I have also walked through seasons of it merely uttering whispers in my ear. Either way, it is always there--taunting, blaming, daring, controlling, lingering.

I am so tired of continually falling short of this one I have so innocently befriended over the years.

I haven’t written much lately--life has been crazy. School has ruled over my life above all else the past several weeks. Then add discipleship program, bible studies, roommate time, international ministry, card-making, cooking, cleaning, entertaining, and a bit of sleep--blogging simply hasn't made the cut. Along with working out and lazy afternoons of reading of course. Why is it I so instinctively cut out the very things that aide in my ability to remain sane on the given day--the very things that create a pathway to knowing Christ more and making Him known? Is that not the core of my creation?

Oh Lord, forgive me once again for making an idol of a red ink mark on a piece of paper--or I guess more like a number typed on a spreadsheet on the computer screen, to my generation. The only red ink marks that should take priority in my life are the ones you uttered so long ago. Despite the time that has passed, regardless of the transformation of words in a book to text on a cell-phone screen, your WORD is unchanging and life-breathing to me.

Over the past several weeks in which I have found myself a slave to academics, I have consistently bombed test after test---Oh YES, the Lord does have a sense of humor sometimes. But don't worry, now that my oozing wounds and straight-up failures are open for all to see, let me just say--I am DONE befriending perfectionism.

Not because I failed. Not because I am worn out. Not because I am desperate to try anything else to obtain the grades my friend tells me I need.

I am done befriending perfectionism because the red mark at the top of the page does not tell me who I am or what I am worth. That red ink is not Jesus.

As I have learned this week with tests getting moved around and a new one added, there is always going to be another test to study for, another opportunity to be defined by the red mark, to drop everything else and live enslaved. I refuse to continue to be a slave to a number on a piece of paper when I know who my Master is. An all consuming fire, jealous for ME and desiring my affections--all of them.

Perhaps, sometimes, life is not just red ink.

I cannot live in the black and white world academia, but I must learn to be comfortable in the grays of living my life unto Christ and knowing Him more then anything else, while glorifying Him in that process--in relationships, in school, in cleaning and cooking, in scrapbooking, in working out.

Thank you Lord for speaking to me through precious sisters in Christ. Thank you for fighting for my affections. Oh, yes, you are worthy of them all. Forgive me for ever thinking otherwise.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

In the Blink of an Eye

Today I was sitting in class listening to my teacher lecture in his deep Nigerian accent, chuckling often as he fought to articulate his thoughts in English. Truth be told--I don't think I will ever tire of hearing him speak. Anyhow, he was lecturing about forecasting, when suddenly he stops. For a moment I thought perhaps he just lost his English, as this happens every once in a while.

But as the pause grew in time…5 seconds...10 seconds...15 seconds...I see him begin to navigate up the steps to the back of the room, a steadfastness across his face. As I turn to see the source of his distraction for myself, I am met with an image that continues to plague my mind, turning over and over as I try to understand.

There is a girl that always sit in the back—she is actually in three of my classes. Instead of sitting in her seat taking notes like the rest of us, she has fallen out of her chair and is laying on the ground. The rest is a blur now. Her friend calls 911 and tells them she has a heart condition—they need to hurry. As someone tries to explain exactly where we are located—in the basement of the Agriculture building, she attempts to rise to her feet.

She begins down the steps with a friend supporting her on each side. She is right in front of my desk now, in the front of room. She whimpers, much like a dog in great pain. She collapses right in front of me. The collision of her feeble body against the cold, hard ground continues to echo in my ears, even as I write this many hours later.

I sit and stare, unable to process that this is real life—and not some nightmare. Like a broken record, she cries out—its my heart, my heart. She curls into the fetal position and begins to quiet. Her silence is abnormal and concerning. It was like her body became jello. What do I do? I can’t just sit here—and stare, like everyone else in the room.

My Nigerian professor is pacing back and forth, deep in thought—and prayer. Suddenly the boy next to me—a solid man deep his twenties—jumps out of his seat and walks to her seemingly lifeless body. He tells her that he is going to pick her up to carry her to meet the help. No response. She fits into his arms and he quickly glides out the door, like a daddy holding his hurting little girl.

After several minutes, the professor attempts to resume teaching, but the sirens begin to plague all of our ears. Suddenly, his beautiful language lacks it’s usual comfort in my ears. Instead, all I hear between the sirens are my thoughts. Each of us probably wondering the same thing—will we see her again? Will they be able to help her? Did we do enough? What were supposed to do? If she doesn’t make it—well—how could we live with ourselves? I wish I could have helped—I wish I knew what to do in such a crisis.

In my next class, some of her close friends suggested is was a heart attack, brought on by some acute blockage. Others seemed to have lost their speech all together. And the rest, still quite shook up.

Today, reality collided with the preciousness of life on earth. A deep ache continues to linger in my soul—did she know you, Lord? Was her life different because of your name? That first day of class, the day she plopped down in the seat beside me and smiled—why didn’t I care more about her need to know Christ then I did my own insecurity of opening my lips to return the warm welcome altogether? Why do I hesitate, so often, to obey the leading of the Holy Spirit moving inside of me? Perspective says that a moment of feeling insecure is meaningless in the grand scheme of heaven and hell. My flesh says otherwise.  

We don’t know how long we have on this earth. I often cry out to the Lord to send His Son to return for us, His Bride sooner rather then later. And yet the struggle of it all is this exactly—will I be found glorifying Him in that hour and who is coming with me? Today, I am reminded to speak with an urgency and purpose in sharing the gospel. To surrender my fears and insecurities because it could all be over today…tomorrow…this year. And when I finally get to meet Him face to face, what will He say about my life—about my time here purposed to bring Him all the glory, honor and praise?

Will He say, “Well done daughter, well done my good and faithful servant”? I must remember that what He says about my life on that day matters more then what any girl in my class, guy checking me out at Walmart, or non-believing friend of mine might have to say about a seemingly radical faith in Jesus Christ and a life that obeys His commands.

You know, this life is like the blink of an eye compared to eternity. The blink of an eye.

Today alone, you will blink at least 17,000 times. And yet, in comparison to eternity with Christ, our life here in this world is simply a single blink. Oh friends, let us not forget the urgency with which we must live out our blink.

Today, I blinked and the preciousness of a young woman’s life flashed before me—a young woman who I didn’t pursue out of selfish ambition and vain conceit. Her blink could be over—or not. Either way, I pray that today, this week, this year—I would remember with each blink of my eye how meaningless and fleeting this life on earth really is, apart from knowing Him and making Him known. Oh Lord, engrave it more deeply upon this ever-wondering, ever-distracted, deceitfully wicked heart of mine.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

On Bleeding Red

It’s Saturday morning, the first in September to be precise. I walk out the front door, colliding with the aroma of anticipation in the air. I couldn’t help but convince myself—I could actually smell it. As I stumble into Walmart in the early hours of daylight, I am greeted by a sea of red—and white. Yes, it is game day.

Oh how I love living in the South for these very moments—can you say Southern Pride? The entire town changes on this glorious day, as if it were a calendar holiday every other weekend. Life just stops. By 9am, the fans are already pouring in from who knows where—everywhere I suppose.

I breathe deep, sucking up this last stretch of hot summer air—you know, the kind that melts the makeup right off your face and sends droplets of water streaming down your back. It is going to be a hot one. But these fans stop at nothing—a little sweat might even amplify the razorback fever that spreads across this city as the hour grows closer to reaching the six.

The tents are up days before, the moms busy cooking early in the week. Hundreds and thousands begin pouring onto campus—an eruption of red unlike anything I have seen before. It is the one day where eating beyond your capacity and drinking before noon is not only normal—but part of the experience. More and more begin to pile in. The gates finally open and the mad rush commences.

Me and my Sweet roomie and friend, Ashley

We begin to pack in. Within minutes I really can’t tell if the sweat dripping down my arm belongs to me or the guy sitting beside me. But nobody is thinking about it, so I try to stop thinking too. No one cares about bodily fluids—they only bleed red. These fans are CRAZY about their hogs—and calling them—often, might I add.

After nine months of sweating in anticipation, the arrival of new life hits the field running. The shouts and screams echo from the east to the west—a new season has begun. Watching the wide eyes and mysterious grins in the new faces brought laughter to my heart, remembering all too well my own initiation just one year prior. Oh the joy of catching the fever for the very first time.

As I was standing in that moment, with the thousands upon thousands of fans, drenched in sweat, exhausted from a long day, linking arms with strangers as we sent hymns of years past into the air in unison, raising holy hands to praise this holy game and all it entails, it hit me—

Razorback football is not merely a game with a ball and boys to chase it—it is a lifestyle, a big family who gather together regularly in these short months each year to sweat and freeze, to shout words passed down from generation to generation, to feel the inexpressible joy of hugging the random guy behind you in celebration of that little brown ball sliding gently through those two coveted poles.

To wear a red shirt and put a big ole flower in your curls—to come to a place where suddenly differences seem so far and unity under the red blood comforts the soul. How ironic—that game day involves raising holy hands in worship of this little brown ball in all of its significance, clothing ourselves in red and white, placing hands on one-another’s shoulders as we sway to the echoes of thousands of tongues crying out in unison, and the meaning of it all—finding our comfort and unity as a family through the tinge of bleeding red.

Tonight I saw thousands of fans sold out for this game, covered by a red shirt but completely missing the joy of experiencing coverage of the only red that purifies the heart and soul. So many eyes blinded by the comforting aroma of it all—mine included. Oh Lord, forgive me. May nothing smell sweeter to me then You. Teach me to love well, to live in the moment, to absorb these sweet moments of life in the South—but never allow me to forget, not even for a second, whose red blood covers my life—and from whom my joy and comfort come, both in and out of season. Oh, Lord show me to seek refuge in your grace, that I may boast not in y own doing but simply in your Holy name.

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”   -Hebrews 19-23

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Have you ever thought about---your feet?

I mean, you couldn’t get anywhere without them. Think about all of the places your feet go…all of the shoes that contain them…all of the stuff they come in contact with. Once in a while you might even paint your toes to give them some character.

Despite the practicality of my feet for getting me from here to there, I don’t pay them much attention—not compared to my makeup, hair, or clothing. If someone were to ask my what my greatest trait was, I probably wouldn’t respond by saying my feet. I mean, I don’t know about you, but it’s not everyday someone just raves over how incredible they are or how good they look in those shoes. 

And yet, scripture references our feet by saying, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Romans 10:15

Beautiful? MY feet? Let’s just say that’s not exactly how I would phrase it. Not to mention, when I think about it—this verse reads the same for the woman in Ethiopia walking miles on bare feet to get a bucket of water for her family, or the child running from his enslavement as a child soldier whose feet are blackened by frost bite after he trudged through the snow last winter. What about the soldier who lost his foot in battle? Surely, these feet could not be beautiful?

What is Jesus really talking about here? What could make the Ethiopian traveler, young boy, soldier and me all behold such beauty—in our feet?

Beautiful Feet Are:

1.) Missional Feet—are your feet moving with a purpose aside from meeting an immediate need? Are your feet prepared to fulfill the call each day? Are you continually strengthening and refining your walk, that you may have endurance to sprint for days? Your feet are beautiful when they walk past your own needs straight unto another’s.

2.) Gospel-Saturated Feet—with the message of Christ, these are extraordinary feet. Are your feet soaking in the water of Life each day? Are the wrinkles multiplying? Your feet must trudge through some desert lands here and there—are you soaking them enough?

3.) Washed Feet—we have all read scripture depicting Jesus’ washing of His disciples feet. This was an act of utter humility. Just by knowing Him intimately we get to experience the perfect washing—by the blood of the Lamb given that we might be presented clean and pure, washed white as snow. Enslavement to sin has been loosed forever…oh what beautiful feet!

4.) Willing Feet—your feet do NOT go where you do not want them to go…your feet go where you tell them to go! What is in your heart? Are you willing to go where the Lord leads—will you follow His will for your feet today? Will you share the gospel with the woman smoking outside Walmart? Will you invite the kid that everyone ignores in your class to join your discussion? Will you bring dinner to the new mom that lives next door? Will you walk into battle ready to fight—will you know Him more?

5.) Feet that Belong to Another—Is Christ more beautiful to you then anything else in this world? This is why your feet are beautiful. We are completely incapable of keeping God’s law! Do we understand our need for a savior? Feet are beautiful because they represent a redeemed and transformed life because of Jesus Christ. MY feet ARE beautiful—because they belong to Him, not by anything that I can boast of, but solely by grace through faith—what a Savior, what a God.

Where will your beautiful feet go later today? Tomorrow? Next week?

Do others behold the beauty as your feet approach?

Oh what beautiful feet we have—saturated like the woman wondering through the Ethiopian desert, Missional like the little boy who trekked through the snow to escape capivity, willing like the soldier who lost a limb in saving a comrade, washed by the blood like mine, the sinner in desperate need of this humbling bathing daily.
All of these feet belong to another—so yes, all of these feet are beautiful.