This Terminal Existence

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(Photo by Matt Winkleft on Unsplash)

 

This terminal existence is not the true life. It is not the pursuit of happiness but the pursuit of Jesus that is the true life of profound and living Joy.

The true life is not the riskless life of the nest. Although there are seasons of the nest. The true life is found in the footsteps of Jesus as he sprints into the messiness of a life full of the future.

There are two lives we live. One in the boat, one on the water. Joy comes in the pursuit of the footsteps – that disappear rather quickly – on the footpath across the sea that leads to the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. (yes, footprints in the water disappear fast. This requires one to be very close to the person making the footprints…obviously)

Which one are you pursuing?

Are you desperately rowing for all you’re worth? Are you wondering why Jesus isn’t helping you row? Or, are you placing your feet in those footprints in the sea?

Faith is a muscle, you need to exercise it. Rowing as hard as you can in the boat will get you there…eventually. But, you will be exhausted, and will most likely miss the party on the other shore. Exercise the muscle. Get out of the boat, get out of the nest.

How can you tell if you are in the boat or the nest or standing on the sea? I think that might be a pretty simple question. Ask yourself. Are you living for your comforts? Are you living to build your nest? When you read John 14:12;

12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father.”

do you wonder why those things never happen in your nest? Or, if you do think about them are they just to be entertained or amazed? Seeking the gift and not the giver? (I have found myself in this one.) 

Miracles, signs, and wonders are a “Mythical Beast” in the riskless nest. But, when risk is removed there is no need for miracles, signs, and wonders. These are reserved for those living on the edge of the Kingdom – the boundary between Heaven and Earth – for the risk-takers, faith wielders, dragon slayers, soul savers, and water walkers.

Miracles, signs, and wonders are not circus tricks performed for the entertainment of the audiences of the world. They are the by-product of the risk-filled life. A life lived in the proximity of Jesus Christ, whose feet are firmly planted on the surface of the sea.

 

 

 

If Your Presence . . .

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As a writer I have found inspiration just about everywhere. As I walk through life, events, incidents, people, places, dreams, all spark the creative urge to write. I don’t write to chronicle events, rather I write stories. I find them more satisfying and — it seems to me — stories written well have more of an impact upon the reader to convey feelings and complex interactions between people. Probably, the one most crucial factor that catalyzed my desire to write was my Mother. My Mother was the one that instilled a passion for reading. This in turn birthed the urge to write. A publisher’s representative once made a comment to me that I seemed to be well read and that it was reflected in my writing. I would have to agree with that. All writers that work at their craft — like musicians — are influenced by the writers that came before us and that we enjoyed reading.

This is not, however, about writing in general. But, about the one source of inspiration that guides my writing. The Holy Spirit, and a particular encounter with Him in the wee hours of the morning.

As I mentioned at the start of this article, lots of things in life trigger ideas for stories. I think if I tried hard enough, I could imagine a story out of just about anything, regardless of how mundane. At times I make a game out of imagining — postulating — a story line from something completely ordinary. Building a world around a complete stranger standing in line at the supermarket, just because they look unique. Sometimes I get myself in trouble doing that, as I tend to get lost in those thoughts and my wife often has to nudge me to get me to come back to the world my feet are actually planted in.

The stories The Holy Spirit brings are much better and definitely not mundane. His imagination dwarfs mine. So when I am half awake in the mornings — the time He likes to share His ideas the most — I have learned to pay attention and write down what He gives me. So I have learned to depend upon Him for ideas. Most of what I have blogged recently has come from Him. I am not afraid to admit that I am in some ways taking dictation, rather than creating something completely new. I don’t consider it plagiarism as He is giving it freely to me. In fact, I think He would be disappointed if I didn’t write down what He was sharing with me. Of course much of what He gives me, He expects that I will use my own imagination to illustrate and amplify what He is showing me so that others will be inspired. It’s how He has gifted me.

But, sometimes the morning visits are not about the writing. Sometimes it’s just about His Presence.

Monday May 6th 2013 dusk, I was talking with a friend about writing. She felt as though The Lord was calling her to write down the things He was giving her. So I told her to talk to Him before going to sleep and give Him permission to wake her in the night to talk. Since, this is often when The Lord wakes me to talk, I thought it might be a time He could connect with her.

So it was natural later that night, as I prepared to go to sleep, to do the same. So I told The Lord — I invited Him — to wake me if He wanted. And, I added; “I won’t complain”. This part was important to me, because in the past when God has awakened me, I would complain about missing my sleep. “Seriously!?! Can’t we do this in the morning Lord!?!” I would whine. So it was important to me to make sure He understood that I wouldn’t complain this time.

Tuesday Morning May 7th 2:57AM; I felt the familiar nudge to wake up. So I woke up and asked Him what He wanted to talk about? Did He have something for me to write? Was there something important that He wanted me to understand?

Silence.

“Okay Lord, then I’ll just pray”. So I took a few minutes to pray and tell HIm how much I Love Him. I was fully awake. So I sat on the edge of my bed and continued to pray for a couple of minutes and eventually ended up standing next to my bed with my arms reaching to the ceiling in worship.

That was when The Holy Spirit overshadowed me. It is not easy to describe the feeling of being overshadowed. The emotions are fully engaged and aware of every physical sensation. I know what it is like to be filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit. Being baptized in The Spirit is a joyous thing. But, this was different. The Power of the Holy Spirit was not so much emphasized as was His Presence.

I had not turned on the lights in the room and the moon was not up. So it was very dark and quite cold. I was standing there in the middle of my room in my underwear, but I was not uncomfortable. I only felt a warm and comforting peace that lifted the weight off of my feet. Almost as if I were not standing on the floor. The Peace was profoundly intimate and passionate, but not in a physical sense. It was a basic primal familiarity that comes between A Creator and His Creation. It was as basic as that.

He did not say anything. I didn’t see visions or images of any kind. I just stood there and was enthralled, captivated, overshadowed, breathless, between laughing and crying at the same time. It seemed to be the essence of falling in love for the first time exponentially magnified.

When I lowered my arms the glowing arms of the clock said 3:47 AM.

I sat back down on the bed and basked in His Presence. I was wrapped up in Him.

Eventually, I went back to sleep. I got up to prepare for work, remembering what had happened just a few hours before. I wondered, “Do I write this one down”. What did it mean?

I know what it meant. It meant that He was with me. Simple, uncomplicated and unpretentious. The only important thing about that morning was His Presence. He just wanted to be with me. No other purpose. Just to be together.

It reminded me of the following verse in Exodus chapter 33.

14 The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

15 Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”

To set this in the proper perspective, I want you the reader to understand what I have come to understand. There is no heavy theological explanation for this. From what I can tell, God just wanted to be with me. His Presence was profoundly alive in my room. I am not anything special because of this. The sense I received is that this was something He desires for all of His Children. And, in discussing this with my pastor and friend Larry Lane, we agreed that the key to all of this was the willingness — the invitation — for God to interrupt my sleep. To inject Himself into my life.

I had a very clear thought related to Exodus 33: 14 & 15. I could understand why Moses said that. Once you stand overshadowed by His Presence, everything else seems to dim. The cares of life no longer matter. If He is with you all else in life gains it’s proper perspective. No matter what you are going through in life. When He comes and fills you, overwhelms your being, touches the most central part of your heart with His Presence, life in this world trapped in the bubble of time, is revealed for what it is — transitory. He is the reality of life. His Presence sets all things in order. It is no wonder that Moses, favored by The Presence of The Almighty, would understand that life without His Presence is dicey at best, but amazingly victorious with it. It made no sense to Moses to proceed unless The Presence went with him.

Again, the key to this was the willingness to be interrupted. To allow Him to step in to the room whenever and wherever so that He can just be there with us. Are we willing to set aside our plans, our daily routines, our friendships, our wounding’s, our needs, to make time for Him? I will never be the same after Tuesday morning. I realize I am now spoiled. It would be great to spend all my day standing in His Presence filled with that Peace. But, I know my job is to paint this picture. To describe His eagerness to desire my presence. That is the other side of this coin. In the midst of all of this, I realized that as much as I wanted to be overshadowed by Him. His desire for me was far greater.

Oh what an incredible gift we have in Him.

I exhort you. Evaluate your day. Find time to invite Him to surprise you. Invite Him to interrupt you no matter where that might be. Maybe He will share a funny story with you, or illuminate His Word from the Bible with His unique perspective, or maybe He will just sit there and be with you.

The CliffHanger

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The CliffHanger

I like to read . . . alot. My mother would take me to the Shasta County Library in Redding at a very young age. Some of my oldest memories are of these times when she would take me to the library and read to me. Or, I would sit and listen as volunteers would read to a group of us. Because of this environment I learned to read at a very early age. And, mom made sure that I had a library card and taught me how to use it. I never read any of the Hardy Boys stuff though. Really the very first books that I can actually remember was a series by Joseph Altsheler. He was a prolific writer of young adult historical fiction. My favorite was the Young Trailers series and the French and Indian War series. Don’t ask me to remember the names of the characters though, because I can’t. I just remember how exciting the books were.

As I got older, I read science fiction. One of my favorite things, however was the Doc Savage series. Yep, plain old pulp. Doc and his gang would get into all kinds of trouble solving mysteries and right down to the end you would be kept in suspense until Doc saved the day. Just great fun reading where Doc would always win. But, the fun was in how the writer kept you in suspense all the way until the end.

There is a strategy here that can best be explained by a question. Would you read the book if you knew how it would end before you started reading? I know; some of you are saying, “Well, if Doc always wins? How much fun would that be? You in essence already know how it will end. Doc Wins!” There is some truth to that matter. But, it’s not all about the ending. It’s about Heroes and the adventure. It’s about vicariously living an adventure — as fantastic as it was written — that you will never practically be capable of living. It’s just fun to imagine that someone like Doc could do the things he does. It’s about the journey through that imaginary world. Even if it only exists for the 3 or 4 hours it would take me to read one of those pulp novels.

Living with Christ is much the same way. Life is — or should be — an Epic Adventure with Jesus and The Holy Spirit! And, there will be all kinds of “CliffHanger” moments as you travel through life with Them.

Yes, I know. We know how it all turns out. Jesus comes back and kicks booty and takes His Kingdom. And those that Love Him will be with Him where He is. The Resurrection is an amazing thing to look forward to. But, that is not what life is all about.

Life is a journey, an adventure, set before you as a challenge. Jesus as The Word, spoke Creation into existence. Some say He SANG it into existence. It was a Love Song! The Creation is so glorious, immense and endless and — quite frankly — beyond our capabilities as finite beings to understand. And, there is a purpose to it. God wants to share this with us. God is into adventure, boundless joy, huge belly laughs, infinite compassion, and in contrast to that, an amazing peaceful love that rules everything else. He is extending an incredible invitation to explore all that with HIM. That is, after all what we were created for.

So God is the ultimate author. He is writing countless stories in the lives of His Creation. He wants to write an amazing roller-coaster ride of a story in your life. One filled with passion, and adventure. One where He will be right there beside you the entire way. Leading you through the obstacle course of life. You just have to trust that He knows the way through. After all, we know how the story ends, right? So why not enjoy the CliffHangers of Life?

I have heard that Faith can be best described by the word RISK.

Are we willing to risk this life in the bubble of time to gain what Faith and The Word tell us is the true reality? Are we going to live in that prayer, Thy Kingdom Come Thy Will be done, On Earth as it is in Heaven?

Yes, many of our lives today resemble tragedies. At times there seems to be no way out. We are tied up and on the tracks of life and the locomotive of disaster — whatever that looks like for you — is bearing down on you. If you know The Heart of Jesus, you know He is way better than Dudley-Do-Right at saving people. And, satan has less power over you than that animated character Snidely Whiplash.

So let Jesus rewrite your story. The next time the Holy Spirit whispers something over the top in your ear, that can only be accomplished by Him. Take Him up on it. Step out and take the risk. He won’t disappoint you.

Trust me comfort is not all it cracks up to be.