Experience

What I like about experience is that it is such an honest thing. You may have any number of wrong turnings; but keep your eyes open and you will not be allowed to go very far before the warning signs appear. You may have deceived yourself, but the experience is not trying to deceive you. The universe rings true wherever you fairly test it.

 

~C. S. Lewis

For reflection on Jeremiah 2:19

The Weight of Our Decisions

Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such importance. The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of. An apparently trivial indulgence in lust or anger today is the loss of a ridge or railway line or bridgehead from which the enemy may launch an attack otherwise impossible.

 

~C.S. Lewis

For reflection on Isaiah 33:15-16

Habit Of Faith

Just as the Christian has his moments when the clamor of this visible and audible world is so persistent and the whisper of the spiritual world is so faint that faith and reason can hardly stick to their guns, so, as I well remember, the atheist too has his moments of shuddering misgiving, of an all but irresistible suspicion that old tales may after all be true, that something or someone from the outside may at any moment break into his neat, explicable, mechanical universe. Believe in God and you will have to face hours when it seems obvious that this material world is the only reality: disbelieve in Him and you must face hours when this material world seems to shout at you that it is not at all. No conviction, religious or irreligious, will, of itself, end once and for all this fifth-columnist in the soul. Only the practice of Faith resulting in the habit of Faith will gradually do that.

 

~C.S. Lewis

For reflection on Acts 28:11-27

Stages

Having just applied some tangerine lip balm, and wearing a super soft tank top misted with Bath & Body Work’s “Sweet Pea”, I am feeling pretty darn girly. Which makes me happy.

This is a big change for me from, oh, 5ish years ago (age 12-15, roughly). I used to flee from all things I deemed “too girly” unless my friends, which I idolized, or a boy I liked thought I should wear or do otherwise. Beyond having bad influences at that age, I was very concerned with appearing weak. I saw dressing up, doing anything besides a pony tail with my hair or anything of that sort as weakness. I wore jeans and a baggy t-shirt to hide the extra pounds I had, and kept my hair out of the way. I acted strong, confident, and blunt most of the time. I never let guys be gentlemen. I could open the door myself, darn it! I could carry my own suitcase!

I’m not entirely sure when I realized that embracing who I am as a woman was something I needed to do. When I decided that being feminine wasn’t a weakness, but actually a strength! A gentler strength than the one that you find in masculinity. A softer strength. I think it was after I lost weight, and started liking my body. I begun to spend more–but not too much–time on my appearance. Giving my hair some style, even if it’s just layered and wavy. Dressing in such a way that shows off my curves a bit, and has a feminine flair.

I didn’t realize until recently that all the years when I was younger, from about 11-14, that I think of as my “outgoing years”, where actually years of hiding myself. Hiding behind the pretense of strength and false confidence. I didn’t really feel confident, which is why I clung to tightly to the expectations of my “friends”. I looked to them to define me. What should I wear? How should I act? I may have been friendly and outgoing, but inside I was searching for someone who could tell me who I was.

And after they all failed me, I switched to a different form of hiding. A hiding within myself. I looked for my identity in books and in being a loner. Praise God I was lead to some very Godly books that re-awakened a passion for Jesus in my heart, and helped me reevaluate my method for making and keeping friends.

Now, I can’t help but wonder… What “stage” am I in now, and what comes after this? Right now I am pretty happy with myself. I like how I look, I’m healthy, I’m beginning to regain my social life with some really great, Godly people. And God is slowly but surely teaching me how to find my worth and value in Him alone. But I still have this deep desire, this longing for a partner. A spouse. Biblically speaking, from what I have found in my own personal study of Scripture, that is normal, and okay, and there’s nothing wrong with having that desire.

But I gotta say, it’s driving me kinda mad. Every where I go I see couples holding hands and walking around together and it’s like “Ohh…. I’d like that..” and I have several female friends who are 19-27, just as single as they can be, feeling exactly the same way. And I’m pretty sure we’re all wondering… Where the heck are all the Godly men looking for wives?! Every time I meet one, they always introduce me to their girlfriends while we’re talking. Maybe I should meet for lunch with one of these girlfriends and ask them, “Where can I find a single one of those?”

I have a couple of very sweet encouraging friends who are always telling me, “Don’t worry, God will bring the right man into your life.” and I can’t help but think of my mid-to-late twenties friends and reply “While I’m still young?”

So, I guess perhaps that is the stage I’m in. The “I’m happy with who I am, now can I please have a husband?” stage.

Ugh… I’m ready for it to pass already.

 

~TQG

Ps. To those of you who have the whole “You have to be happy with just Christ before you’ll be happy in a relationship” motto. I am content with Christ. However, just like Adam in the garden before the Fall was in need of a partner, so am I. I was created as Adams ezer kenegdo (I recommend reading “Captivating” by John & Stasi Eldridge to get full understanding of what that means, google isn’t very insightful) and though I don’t need a man, God has given me a great desire for one. And I do not believe that such desires that are Biblical and pure are ones that He will leave unfulfilled.

Soul Passion

It’s 12am, and I just worked nearly 9 hours, but I have to write this because:

I AM SO EXCITED!!!

I have a female coworker who started working on the same day that I did. She’s witty, and fun, and I enjoy her a lot.

As I’ve been at Lowe’s, many times I’ve felt strongly to share just the fact that I am a Christian with my coworkers, discuss it lightly with them, but never with her. Once I almost did, and it was as if God pulled me back and said “No, not yet. Wait. Now is not the right time.”

Today, I felt strongly that I should invite her to my college and career group, which is basically a church service for young people. I didn’t tell her the part about the church. I told her about live music and pool tables and snacks and fun people. She said she wanted to come. My thought was, If I get her there, I may be able to convince her to stay. “Waste” just two short hours of her life. After I got home and texted her the address, she asks “So what is it you guys do/talk about there?” and God said “Go for it.” So I told her all about it. She replied, “Ohhh. Sorry, I’m not into that. I was forced to go to Church as a kid, it’s not my thing. I’m actually a strong atheist now. Not knocking it if you like it, but I don’t want to go there.”

I replied “Well, the invitation is open, if you ever change your mind. I’ll remind you about it now and then. Yes, in the hopes that maybe you’ll come one day just to shut me up. ;)”

Then she said something I was totally not expecting.

“If you’re open to it, I’d like to talk about religion with you sometime, show you why getting me into a church is pretty hopeless.” and we proceeded to talk for a bit on text about how we both really love science, and that both of us enjoy having discussions with people with differing views, because if you’re too ignorant in your faith/belief to defend it, why bother believing it? She’s agreed to read a book I have called “I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist” and is going to meet me for coffee sometime just to talk about our differing views.

I AM SO EXCITED! 

There is nothing like sharing your faith with someone to really fire up your passion for God, for people, and for Heaven.

Am I scared? Yes. I don’t have all the answers, I can’t prove to her that I’m right. And I’m not going to. I’m going to listen. I’m going to learn. I’m going to answer the questions I can, and promise to find the answers for the ones I can’t. I’m going to show her that I love her, that I care about her soul, that I have a new life in me that is indescribable.

Even if she leaves merely thinking “Well there is a very nice but confused person.” I have planted the seed. God will eventually water it. Maybe not while I still know her, but He will.

Will she be saved? Maybe. And maybe not. But she will have heard the truth, and been told she is loved by her Creator.

As my Bible study leader has said:

You may be scared you’re gunna ‘push someone farther from God’ because you can’t answer their questions or you don’t know what words to say. Who do you think you are? Look, they’re already lost. They’re on the road to Hell. What, you so powerful you’re gunna send them to double Hell?”

So, my dear readers. I’m not sure yet when she and I will meet, but keep us in your prayers. Pray that God softens her heart and prepares it to hear what I have to say. Pray that I am a good listener. That I’m open to hear what she has to say, and open enough to allow God to speak through me. Pray that I can break through the shell she’s put around her heart and show her what it means to be loved with a Christlike love.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

~TQG

The Problem of Pain

My own experience is something like this. I am progressing along the path of my life in my ordinary contentedly fallen godless condition, absorbed in a merry meeting with my friends for the morrow or a bit of work that tickles my vanity today, a holiday or a new book, when suddenly a stab of abdominal pain that threatens serious disease, or a headline in the newspapers that threatens us all with destruction, sends this whole pack of cards tumbling down. At first I am overwhelmed, and all my little happinesses look like broken toys. Then, slowly and reluctantly, bit by bit, I try to bring myself into the frame of mind that I should be in at all times. I remind myself that all these toys were never intended to possess my heart, that my true good is in another world and my only real treasure is Christ. And perhaps, by God’s grace, I succeed, and for a day or two become a creature consciously dependent on God and drawing its strength from the right sources. But the moment the threat us withdrawn, my whole nature leaps back to the toys: I am even anxious, God forgive me, to banish from my mind the only thing that supported me under the threat because it is now associated with the misery of those days. Thus the terrible necessity of tribulation is only too clear. God has had me for but forty-eight hours and then only by dint of taking everything else away from me. Let Him but sheathe that sword for a moment and I behave like a puppy when the hated bath is over–I shake myself as dry as I can and race off to reacquire my comfortable dirtiness, if not in the nearest manure heap, at least the nearest flower bed. And that is why tribulations cannot cease until God either sees us remade or sees that our remaking is now hopeless.

~C.S. Lewis–for reflection on 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Every Good Thing

The commonest question is whether I really “believe in the Devil.” Now if by “the Devil” you mean a power opposite to God and, like God, self-existent from all eternity, the answer is certainly “No.” There is no uncreated being except God. God has no opposite. No being could attain a “perfect badness” opposite to the perfect goodness of God; for when you have taken away every kind of good thing (intelligence, will, memory, energy, and existence itself) there would be none of him [Satan] left.

~C.S. Lewis — for reflection on Job 1:6-12

Temptations

I know all about the despair of overcoming chronic temptations. It is not serious provided self-offended petulance, annoyance at breaking records, impatience, etc doesn’t get the upper hand. No amount of fails will really undo us if we keep on picking ourselves up each time. We shall of course be very muddy and tattered children by the time we reach home. But the bathrooms are all ready, the towels put out, & the clean clothes are in the airing cupboard. The only fatal thing is to lose one’s temper and give up. It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present to us: it is the very sign of His presence.

~C.S. Lewis –for reflection on Psalm 40:1-3

Can’t Buy Me Love

Everyone’s heard the phrase “money can’t buy happiness”, and you can see the proof through all the unhappy rich people splattered across the tabloids and on TV. They have not a care in the world when it comes to money, but they’re bouncing from one relationship to another, some are in and out of rehab, even the drastic and freaky styles are a more subtle form of unhappiness showing through. But why? Why can’t financial security create happiness? What is it that causes the chaos in these peoples lives? What keeps them from settling down with one spouse and just relaxing in the luxury, happy with what they’ve got? I think I know the answer.

In Erwin Raphael McManus‘ book, “Soul Cravings” he talks about the undeniable cravings we all carry deep inside ourselves. Not just in our hearts and minds, but in our very souls. Some may try to deny the existence of our soul, claiming that we’re all just cosmic mishaps formed from billions of years of smaller cosmic mishaps. But our souls scream for our attention, they refuse to stay forgotten and neglected.

Have you ever been standing in a room filled with people, and felt more alone than you’ve ever been? Have you ever spent weeks, months, years saving up for some great reward only to realize after you’ve gotten it that you’re not any happier?  Your life still feels meaningless, even with your new iPhone complete with “Face Time” or your brand new car. Soon your phone sits at the bottom of your purse or in the pocket of your jeans, forgotten. Why? Why can’t you be happy with what you’ve got? I know why. Because your soul is missing a key piece. It can’t work properly without it, it wasn’t designed to. Love. No, no, not reality TV love, not steamy romance novel love, those aren’t love anyway. That’s something called lust, starts with the same letter, but it’s completely different.  No, the love I’m talking about is eternal, unconditional love, and it only comes from one source. Your Creator. God created us- women are particularly sensitive to it- to crave tender, gentle, undying love. Notice, girls, how when you see a movie or read a book where the Knight in shining armor does anything and everything to earn the love of the girl we get the warm fuzzies and just long for the same treatment. He remembers everything about her, knows her like the back of his hand, would die for her in a heartbeat, wants the very very best for her, no matter what that means for him. Not only that, but if you really dig deep, it’s the Knights who respect the girls bodies and hearts, not using them sexually but waiting for marriage, aka, committing to them wholly are the ones we really love. Why is that? It’s because that is a horribly lacking version of the love your Creator has for you, and an image of what God wants you to look for in your future spouse.

Deep inside each of us is an empty space perfectly formed to fit only one matching piece, and you won’t be happy until it’s filled. You can try to stuff that space with things, but they won’t fit. You can try to squish sexual love (aka, lust) into it, but it festers and starts to rot you from the inside, like poison. You can even ignore the space and pretend it’s not there, but it screams and wails to be filled, and eventually it will make you listen. Some conclude after trying every puzzle piece on earth that the space can only be filled with death, so they end it all. No solution is more pleasing to Satan. Once you’ve tried that one, you can never go back. The space remains forever empty and you never taste the intoxicating love of the one who knows you best. Some think they’ve found that piece in religion, but what they’ve really done is douse the empty space in anesthetic. It still aches and moans, but they’ve dulled it enough with their rituals and rules that they can ignore it as long as they keep busily working their way to paradise. But trust me, no matter what they say, when they’re alone with no distractions, it grows louder. It burns, it throbs, it cries out for help. So they conclude that they’re not doing “it” right and dive into more rules and regulations, pouring an extra dose over the empty hole and dulling the screams a little longer.

You’ll never be right inside until the space is filled with God’s forgiveness and love.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him…”

Revelation 3:20

God is ready and waiting for you to open the door to your soul so he may fill it with himself and remake you into the person you were always meant to be. He’s the only one who can complete you, the only one who can make you whole inside. He calls gently to you, begging you to let him in so he can guide you into your specially made place in this world and prepare you for all that you’ll come to face. With God by your side, though life won’t be easy, you wont have to face it alone and you’ll never have to worry. He’s got the whole world in his hands, and he’s not going to drop it.

  • Notes: Another from school, January of 2011!