We’re Never Really Lost

{this post is part of Five-Minute Friday at Lisa-Jo Baker}

Five Minute Friday

How it works: Write on one word for five minutes. No editing. Then link up your post with the rest of the brave writers on Five-Minute Friday and encourage them by reading and commenting on what they’ve shared. {All the details for how to play along are here.}

Today’s word: Lost…

{Go}

Somewhere along the way, I’d taken a wrong turn and I had no idea where I was. I’ve always been directionally challenged, and so this turn of events was not all that surprising to me. But it was definitely frustrating. Driving without a map and only handwritten directions and in a time before cell phones where commonplace, somehow I’d missed a landmark or a turn somewhere.

I was lost.

photo by Patrick Hajzler

photo by Patrick Hajzler

When I spotted a UPS truck, I figured I’d simply follow him because eventually he’d lead me back to the downtown area. Logical, right? You’re right, it wasn’t logical. And it didn’t work. The UPS truck was heading back to his starting point and his route didn’t help me in the least.

So, I paused. I pulled over and took a deep breath. I was late and I was lost and I was annoyed and angry tears spilled onto my cheeks. After a few moments of quiet and some deep breaths and some much needed prayer, a sense of calm enveloped me and I began driving again. I headed back to my starting point.

I backtracked until I saw familiar landmarks and could regain my sense of direction and I began again.

Faith is like that sometimes, too, isn’t it?

You start moving in a direction that you are confident about and that you believe is leading you to the place God wants you, and, then, you take a wrong turn. You get lost along the way. And instead of stopping and checking in with the One who knows the Way, you start following someone else. Someone who looks like they know where they’re going.

And they do, they know where they’re going. But that isn’t where you’re supposed to be going.

Following someone else, hopping on someone else’s journey, comparing where you are with someone else. All these tend to do is lead your further away from where you are supposed to be going. They lead you further along the wrong path.

Sometimes, we need to stop. Just stop and wait. Just stop and breathe.

Just stop and pray. And then listen. Listen to the One who knows where we are and where we’re going.

Because we’re never really lost even though it feels like that sometimes. We’re never really lost when we’re with God, even if we have to pull over for a spell.

{end}

Time Is of the Essence

Writing Wednesdays

Because I’m a writer & storyteller and enjoy weaving words together into tapestries of stories both real and imagined, I’ve dedicated Wednesdays to my novel writing. I am currently working through the revision of a story about a young man named Daniel who embarked on an incredible quest based on a series of dreams he had involving people he’s never met.

serving God & others through writing

serving God & others through writing

The Dream Quest – Chapter 2: Time Is of the Essence

Daniel wakes with a start to the sound of a phone ringing. Wake up call, he thinks through the haze of sleep. He lifts the receiver and puts it back down. He is still wearing the clothes he had on yesterday but he’s in his hotel room. His mind is groggy as he tries to recall everything that happened after he got out of Peter’s car last night.

Jonas, he thinks. The guy’s name was Jonas. We talked about some sort of trip, he recalls vaguely, a trip having to do with my dreams and a charter plane. He shakes his head, trying to clear away the thick cobwebs that are muddling his thoughts. I’m not making any sense.

He looks around. Everything looks the same as it did when he woke up yesterday. “None of this makes any sense,” he announces to the empty room.

Briefly he wonders if he dreamed it all, Jonas, the plane, the trip to search for people he doesn’t know. He’s been having some pretty crazy dreams lately. Vivid, too. Most of them involving people he doesn’t know, but in his dreams he is intimately familiar with them, and with their lives. And many of them show up more than once. In some cases he knows their names. In others, he doesn’t.

Sort of like Jonas, he muses as he pushes himself up out of the bed. The room spins slightly and he braces a hand against the nightstand, bending over so his head is closer to his knees and breathing deeply until the sensation passes. The blue glow of the clock next to his hand reads 5:13. He has a flight scheduled for later in the day and he is supposed to meet Peter for breakfast. Of course those plans were made before last night’s turn of events. Before he told some guy he just met on the streets of Boston that sure he’d take off on a trip with almost no information or details. He takes a long, deep breath and stares at himself in the mirror over the hotel room’s desk. He looks like himself, but he doesn’t feel much like himself at the moment.

Whatever he decides, he wants to be packed and gone before Peter gets to the hotel. He wonders if he should leave a note for Peter at the front desk and decides against it. It’s not like Peter would understand his change of plans. No, instead it would be more fodder for the family rumor mill. As if Lucy hasn’t given them enough to talk about over the years. No, this is about him and his choices. He doesn’t need their blessing. Daniel collects his things, glances around to make sure he hasn’t missed anything and heads out to find a cab.

______________________________________

Out on the street the traffic is just starting to pick up. The dawn is pushing back the darkness and Daniel decides to walk a bit to clear his head. He needs to think and walking always helps him think more clearly. As he stands there, the passenger window of one of the cabs rolls down.

“Can I give you a lift?” the cabbie calls.

“Uh, no, thanks. I’m good.” Daniel is looking down the street.

“You’ve got a lot to carry there,” the cabbie says and his voice seems familiar now.

Daniel stoops over and peers in the window. He squints a moment more. “Jonas?” Daniels mind turns this over. Did he tell Jonas where he was staying? He can’t remember. “What- what are you doing here?”

The cabbie grins, his face alight with the same smiling glow he had last night. “Hop in. I’ll give you a lift.”

Okay, so it definitely wasn’t one of my dreams, Daniel thinks. With only a slight hesitation, he opens the door, tosses in his overnight and messenger bags and climbs into the back seat. “Where are we going?” Daniel asks.

Jonas laughs his deep rich laugh. “You tell me, Daniel. I’m just the cabbie.” He laughs again, that inside joke laugh.

“This little game of riddles and inside jokes is getting old,” Daniel tells him.

“What do you want to know?” Jonas responds. “I’m an open book.”

“Why me?” Daniel asks, meeting Jonas’ eyes in the rearview mirror.

“Well, now, that I cannot answer, my friend.”

“Open book like hell!” Daniel seethes, teeth and fists clenched. Enough is enough, he thinks, and reaches for the door handle. Jonas reaches over the seat and grasps his shoulder.

“I meant I’m an open book about where you’re going and what you’re about to undertake. At least to get you pointed in the right direction.” He stares at Daniel until Daniel looks away. “You can keep trying to avoid all this, but it doesn’t work that way, friend.”

“How about I decide how it works,” Daniel says unwaveringly to his feet. He musters up his will and his strength and wrenches out of Jonas’ grasp and gets out of the cab.

“Daniel,” Jonas calls behind him. “Daniel!” Jonas gets out and stands by his cab. “It doesn’t work this way, friend.”

“It does now, friend,” Daniel says over his shoulder as he walks away.

He crosses the street without looking back and disappears down a side street, zig zagging through a series of alleyways until he gets to a subway entrance. He glances over his shoulder to see if Jonas is following him but sees only a few briefcase carrying suits on the street. He ducks into the subway station.

______________________________________

Charlie’s Coffee Shop is buzzing with early morning commuters as Daniel stakes out an oversized chair in the corner. From here he has a good view of the door and he can formulate a plan. He pulls out his laptop and connects to the shop’s wifi, wondering when Charlie finally jumped on the wifi wagon. With a slight pang, Daniel remembers how many times he and Peter sat around in Charlie’s and talked about life, their parents, their plans and their dreams. He misses the closeness he shared with his brother. Of course he doesn’t miss the bullshit and the family drama. Family drama that too often revolved around their sister, Lucy and seemed to get worse when Peter left for college.

He hasn’t thought about all of that in several weeks, since Peter called  hoping he and Daniel could connect while Daniel was in the city to work out the details a possible show of some of his photographs. He pushes the memories out of his mind and logs into his email. His phone buzzes with a text message and he hopes it’s not from Peter. He really wants to be on his way out of the city before Peter can track him down.

It’s from his girlfriend, Isabel. “Can’t wait until you get home. I miss you {even if it’s only been 2 days 🙂 } <3”

Oh, Isabel, he thinks. He’ll have to email her with what’s going on at some point, but not until he can explain things clearly, to himself as well as to her. For now, he replies by text, “I miss you, too. I’ll be home soon.” His finger hovers over the send button. He considers deleting the “I’ll be home soon” part, but tells himself that soon is a vague enough term and he hopes to be home sometime soon. Doesn’t he? Before he can answer that question, he hits send and goes back to his email. Most of it’s junk. There are a couple of emails from guys he plays ball with about setting up the winter league. He skips over those for now.

His phone buzzes again. Isabel, he thinks. But it’s from an unknown number: “Check your email.” That’s all it says. Must be a wrong number, he tells himself, but he looks over at his email anyway. There’s a message from someone he doesn’t know. Well, actually, it’s from a phone number. One he doesn’t recognize, but not the same one that texted him. He looks around the coffee shop to see if anyone is watching him, looking for Jonas, half expecting to see him sitting in the far corner from where he is. But there’s no Jonas. He opens the email.

“It’s time to get serious about this. You’re either all in or you’re not. But time is of the essence –”

What am I doing? he mutters and slams down the cover of his laptop, causing the few patrons around him to cast glances his way. Daniel clears his throat. “Bad news,” he says with a shrug. A couple of people nod sympathetically and return to their coffees, pastries and morning conversations. Daniel turns his attention back to his own coffee, rubbing a hand over the smooth laptop cover.

I’ve got a life, he thinks. A job. Isabel. The winter basketball league. Like I’m just supposed to leave all of that and what? Take off for who knows where because of some crazy dreams. Go off on some ridiculous quest like Indiana Jones searching for the holy grail or whatever the fuck he was he was looking for. For a moment he wonders if these aren’t the kinds of things that Lucy does. After all, she’s the screw up, not him. He’s always been responsible. Predictable even. Well, except for skipping out on college to pursue his photography, but that’s beside the point. This is not something he does, take off and leave everything behind.

He breathes out a long sigh and lifts the cover of his laptop. He can still change his mind. Go back to his life. He doesn’t have to do this. He has a choice. Doesn’t he? His eyes take in the email screen.

“It’s time to get serious about this. You’re either all in or you’re not. But time is of the essence and lives are at stake. The boat to the airport leaves from behind the Boston Harbor Hotel promptly at 8:30. If you miss that, you might still be able to make the charter plane that is scheduled for take off at 10:21. The final destination will be revealed to you after take off, along with all other relevant information. Obviously, you still have a chance to change your mind. This is you choice, Daniel. It has to be your choice.

“So, there you have it. All the details I can provide you for the moment. A good faith effort, you can call it. And a bit of assurance, I guess, in case you don’t remember everything we talked about last night. Clearly, it’s a lot to absorb.”

Daniel scoffs. Nothing is clear about any of this. He can almost hear that rich, hearty laugh of Jonas’ as if he and Jonas share some inside joke that Daniel hasn’t quite figured out yet.

“Hope to see you on the docks, but I’ll settle for seeing you on the plane. As you know, I am — Jonas.”

On the table his phone buzzes again. This guy is relentless, Daniel thinks to himself as he picks up his phone and checks the most recent text. Except that this time it’s not from Jonas, or some strange phone number. It’s from Isabel. As he clicks to read it, the phone buzzes with a second text. This time from Peter.

“Crap,” Daniel mutters under his breath. He checks the time on his phone: 8:07. “Crap.”

He’s at least a 20 minute walk to the Boston Harbor Hotel and that’s probably his fastest option. He’d have to change trains if he hopped the subway. Quickly he collects his things and stuffs them into his messenger bag, then gulps down the rest of his coffee, cold now, but he needs the caffeine jolt. He wishes he had time to grab one to go but hopes that the charter plane will have something.

Foot traffic has picked up quite a bit since he got to Charlie’s so Daniel weaves his way around people sporting various office attire, breaking into an easy jog toward the Public Gardens from his Boylston Street starting point. With the experience of an on the go texter, Daniel opens the most recent message from Isabel. As he suspected, it’s pretty much just a repeat of her first text, telling him that she will probably get to the airport way too early because she cannot wait to see him. He ignores the guilty feelings that rise up as he stores the text and moves on to the one from Peter.

Much to his surprise and relief, Peter’s message begs off their breakfast plans, saying that maybe they can do it the next time Daniel is in town. Maybe circumstances will be different, blah, blah, blah. Daniel doesn’t bother reading beyond the cancellation; he’s heard a lot of this kind of thing from his brother before. Especially when his brother has acted like a jackass like he did last night. He’s a pretty good blame shifter and an even better coward, never owning up to his mistakes or choices. All that matters to Daniel is he’s off the hook and Peter is one less thing for him to worry about. With a newfound energy, he picks up the pace as he crosses the swan boat bridge in the Public Gardens. He zips around a group of three women dressed to the professional nines and breathes a quick thanks that he dropped the idea of law school and college. He may struggle financially sometimes, but what he lacks in money he has in creativity and passion in his photography. He knows it will pan out eventually, especially if he can line up this show in Boston.

With Park Street Church in his sights, Daniel slows to a fast paced walk and checks his phone’s clock; it’s 8:19. He’s making pretty good time. It helps that he knows the streets and the cut throughs. Finally, he sees the Boston Harbor Hotel and slows his pace even more. He doesn’t want Jonas to think he’s been rushing to get here. Watching the traffic for a break, he thinks about Peter’s text and how energized, how free he feels knowing he won’t have to make excuses to Peter about breakfast. Is his reluctance to take off on this, what should he even call it, he wonders, this adventure, is his reluctance to take off on a whim for some crazy adventure quest tied to Peter? Traffic breaks and he dismisses the question. He is just about there and wonders if Jonas is there already. Or will even show up at all. Even more, he wonders not for the first time what exactly this quest involves.

He’s made it with one minute to spare, at least according to his phone’s clock. But even so, the boat is already making preparations to pull away from the dock and Daniel is still several feet away from the launch. The captain looking guy tosses the last rope onto the dock and returns to his cabin. All this effort and he’s going to miss the boat anyway? No way, Daniel thinks and breaks into a sprint, shifting his messenger bag to his back and hoisting his overnight duffle bag onto his shoulder. The boat is just pulling away from the dock when he leaps across the widening gap of water separating the boat from the launch.

He lands with a loud thud on the deck, losing his balance and tumbling onto the floor under the weight of his bags. But, at least I’m here, he thinks. That’s all that matters, right?

“Daniel?” A soft whisper of a woman’s voice speaks his name from just inside the small passenger area behind him.

No, he thinks. It can’t be. It just can’t be.

 

Which Way Do I Go?

{this post is part of Five-Minute Friday at Lisa-Jo Baker}

Five Minute Friday

How it works: Write on one word for five minutes. No editing. Then link up your post with the rest of the brave writers on Five-Minute Friday and encourage them by reading and commenting on what they’ve shared. {All the details for how to play along are here.}

Today’s word: Release

{Go}

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
    “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so my ways are higher than your ways
    and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.  Isaiah 55:8-9

I am but a sojourner in this world.

I am in the world, but I am not of the world.

I am of the great I Am.

I belong to Christ, bought by his blood, redeemed by his sacrifice, loved unconditionally, and now, because of that, this world is an opportunity to let go of me and take hold of Jesus.

butterfly

The world tells me that I must make my own way.

But Jesus says that He is the Way.

The world defines success in self-serving terms.

But Jesus says that living successfully is about this self serving others.

The world is noisy, busy, based on doing and getting done and To Dos.

But Jesus invites me to be: to be still, to be a servant, to be forgiving, to be a city on a hill, to be a light in a dark world, to be hope in a hopeless, hurting world.

Jesus invites me to release the conventional wisdom of this world and to embrace his ways.

This is a choice I have to make every day because the world beckons with its version of wisdom.

But the world’s ways make me weary. The world’s ways make demands that are impossible to meet daily. The world’s ways too often lay claim to my hope and my joy and my peace. Life becomes a race to something undefined. Life becomes about doing and pursuing the temporary. Life becomes exhausting.

flower bud

This is not what Jesus called me to. This is not what Jesus offers me. He offers peace and hope and delight. He gives me the desires of my heart and invites me to change the world.

How amazing is that? Your Kingdom come, Jesus, in small ways through me, through my living out my life with you.

Because I am but a sojourner in this world.

{stop}

Finishing What I Started

Writing Wednesdays

Because I’m a writer & storyteller and enjoy weaving words together into tapestries of stories both real and imagined, I’ve dedicated Wednesdays to my novel writing, either exploring new ideas through writing prompts or posting something I’m considering resurrecting and revising.

And I’ve decided that it’s time for me to finish something I started. You see, I have a pattern I need to break, a pattern of starting a novel-length story and then not following it through to its end. In November, during National Novel Writing Month {NaNo}, I started writing a story about a young man named Daniel who embarked on an incredible quest, but I didn’t finish his story. That’s about to change; I will finish it here, on Writing Wednesdays, and I hope you’ll join me on this creative journey to uncover Daniel’s story. Because that’s what writing is for me, uncovering a character’s story according to the character.

serving God & others through writing

serving God & others through writing

The Dream Quest – Chapter 1

“You realize that was a red light you just blew through,” Daniel says through clenched teeth. His hands instinctively brace against the dashboard.

“I wish you would come up with me to see him,” Peter replies, glancing over at Daniel. He pauses then adds, “For me.”

“You know you almost hit him,” Daniel continues. Even though he is the younger brother, he inevitably feels forced into being the older brother whenever he’s with Peter.

“What are you talking about?”

“That guy on the sidewalk,” Daniel gestures back toward the intersection, deliberately keeping his voice calm as Peter’s rises a pitch or two. “He was just about to cross the street when you blew through the light.”

“You’re not even listening to me.” says Peter.

“See. you don’t even care.”

“What is your problem?”

Daniel inhales deeply, quietly. “The light was red. That’s all,” he states matter-of-factly.

“Is it asking that much of you to just run upstairs with me? We don’t have to stay very long–”

“I really wish you’d slow down.”

“Fine. Sit in the car. See if I care.”

“Fine.”

“Fine.” Peter cracks each knuckle on his left hand and then starts on his right.

“Pull over,” Daniel says, breaking the impasse.

“What?”

“Stop the car,” Daniel tells him and motions to the side of the road.

“Right here. You want me to stop the car? Right here?” Peter asks incredulously, taking in the Roxbury neighborhood. “Do you have any idea where we are?” he says, assuming a big brotherly tone. “Stop the car–”

Without hesitating and with a sense of authority Peter has never mustered, Daniel interrupts him. “Yes. Stop the car. I’m going back to my hotel.” He pauses, looking directly at his brother now. “And I’d rather walk.”

Peter looks at Daniel, then scoffs. “I’m not going to stop the car.” He shakes his head. “You always have to overreact.” In his mind, Peter recalls half a dozen similar moments he’s had with his brother. “I said we don’t have to stay very long. Why are you making such a big deal out of this?”

“Because I don’t like the way you drive,” Daniel says. “The light was red. That’s why. It was red and you were wrong. Do you get it?” Daniel’s exasperation is pretty clear. “You can’t just do whatever you want to do. When you see a red light it means stop. It’s not open to interpretation or discussion. Now stop. The. Car.”

“Fine.” Peter pulls over.

“Fine.”

Peter stops the car on the dark, deserted street and Daniel gets out. Behind him looms a large church with wide double doors and a tall, stone steeple.

“You’re taking your life into your own hands walking through this neighborhood,” Peter tells him.

“As opposed to your version of a drunken Daytona 500. I’ll take my chances.” Daniel stands on the curb, arms crossed.

“Look. Would you just get back in the car? You can drive.”

“Thanks anyway.” Daniel turns and starts to walk away.

“Seriously. How are you going to get back to your hotel? Daniel. Daniel!”

Daniel stops and turns around. “Oh, and drive safely.” He then turns away and disappears into the shadows.

And with that, Peter squeals away from the curb leaving Daniel standing alone on the dark street. Daniel glances around and begins walking toward the front of the church. Toward the wide double doors.

A man who looks to be in his 40s steps out of the shadows. “I’ve been waiting for you,” he says to Daniel.

“I know.”


 

Daniel sits in the shadow of the steeple wondering what he’s doing here. He takes in the somewhat disheveled man sitting a few feet away from him and for one fleeting moment he considers leaving. As if sensing his uncertainty, the man turns and looks at him. Daniel shifts, straightening his slumped position and hoping to exude a confidence he does not entirely feel.

“So, what now?” the man says in his quiet voice.

His voice matches the darkness around them, Daniel thinks, the way it wraps itself around them. It is powerful despite its quietness.

“How about names,” Daniel replies.

Without missing a beat the man responds. “Well we both know that you’re Daniel. So I guess what you really want to know is who I am?” A knowing smile touches his lips as he lets out a laugh, as if he is sharing an inside joke. Except that Daniel is not in on the joke. He keeps his eyes on the man, who suddenly pushes himself up from the stairs so that he is looming over Daniel.

“Walk with me,” he says.

Daniel sits a moment longer than he thinks he should, wanting to maintain at least a modicum of control over his own choices. This man doesn’t make my decisions for me, Daniel thinks, staring up at the guy. Standing on the bottom step, the guy appears to be bathed in a spotlight, the full moon bright above them. In the moonlight, Daniel can see that his hair, which seems to stick out in every direction, as if it has a mind of its own, is mostly an unnatural shade of blond except for one streak of blue in the front.

Odd choice, Daniel thinks. And not what he expected, if he expected anything. Now that he’s sitting here, he can’t really remember what he expected. He wonders again what he’s doing here.

The guy turns and hops off the bottom step and begins walking.

“I know. I know. You don’t know my name,” he says over his shoulder. “But you will.” There’s that smile again. His eyes seem to pierce Daniel’s facade, as if the man can see inside him. Read his thoughts. Read his uncertainty.

Before he can change his mind, Daniel rises and follows, taken aback slightly by the sense of familiarity and comfort this guy radiates. He reminds himself to keep his guard up and falls into step next to the guy, who claps him on the shoulder animatedly.

“It’s going to be a wild ride, Daniel,” he says, his laugh ringing heartily through the darkness.

 

Marriage Matters

Sometimes we share our stories for no other reason than to encourage others. Our day-to-day lives tell those who see us only a part of who we are, unless we are willing to reveal even the darker, more vulnerable parts of our story.

For those who may need to be encouraged today, here are a few thoughts about love and marriage based on my story.

I am not one who planned out a wedding or thought about getting married when I was younger, like teens or even college. But I did want to get married as I got older. For me, this came after a good chunk of time on my own – I lived in Connecticut on my own and then moved to Boston. I was fiercely independent always {from childhood} and interestingly, many guys found that intimidating. Surprising, right?

I dated here and there, and even so, none of those men ever made me think, “I wonder what it would be like to be married to this man.”

Long and short, I met my now-husband when I was 33 and we were married when I was 34. Marriage was definitely an adjustment, but we had spent time in good pre-marital counseling and we spent a lot of our courtship in conversations over the telephone and email because we met in Alabama, he was moving to Kentucky and I lived in Boston.

Our relationship was what I call a God thing. David is the person for whom God prepared me and who God prepared for me; I firmly believe that. It was a long journey that included a refining and transforming of me and especially my heart before I met him.

Marriage is not easy. Marriage takes work, sometimes a whole lot of it. Marriage is not 50/50. Marriage is 100/100 at the very minimum. It involves a lot of communication and a lot of vulnerability and a lot of risk because my husband and I are both flawed and we are in need of grace, forgiveness and God every day.

Love, once you’re past the dating & romantic, movie love stuff, is work. I believe it’s also a choice. One that we get to make every day. I started blogging a few years back and the focus of the blog was writing about one reason each day that I loved my husband. I’d heard so many husbands and wives lamenting the shortcomings of their spouses, and I didn’t want to fall into that trap. So, I decided to focus on why I love my husband. It included big and small things, but mostly a lot of small moments. Because that’s what it’s really all about for me.

life is good

My husband and I are in a difficult season. If you’ve read Rhinestone Jesus, we are in a similar situation: my husband has battled pornography in his past and it resurfaced not long ago. This time it manifested itself in an online relationship that initially crushed my heart and tore apart trust. But I am still here and I am in this for the long term. It’s not easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is.

Love is what happens in the trenches and in the trying times. It’s what you get to choose when the world says you should simply jump ship and move on. It’s not easy, but God is in the middle of it and so I let him take it all, including my husband and his choices and his need for redemption. That’s not mine to withhold from him.

All I can do is choose to love him. And forgive him. And sometimes that has to happen daily. But that’s a part of staying committed to another person.

My actions do not depend on his. It’s not, if he does what he’s *supposed* to do, then I’ll do what I’m supposed to do. It’s, I’m going to do what God calls me to do no matter what. Because that’s what love does.

What Are People Catching from You?

{this post is part of Five-Minute Friday at Lisa-Jo Baker}

Five Minute Friday

How it works: Write on one word for five minutes. No editing. Then link up your post with the rest of the brave writers on Five-Minute Friday and encourage them by reading and commenting on what they’ve shared. {All the details for how to play along are here.}

Today’s word: Messenger

{Go}

Image

I don’t remember the first time I heard the phrase, faith is not taught, it’s caught, but it has stuck with me. I’m pretty sure it had to do with introducing children to Jesus and to faith, helping them to find their own faith, to have faith in him.

And it makes sense, doesn’t it? Faith is definitely something that has to be caught, to be discovered in our life in ways that best speak to our heart. Because faith is not logical. It’s not a head thing; it’s a heart thing.

And the idea that things like faith, love, hope, are not taught but caught remains steadfast in my mind and in my heart. And this applies to children, but it also applies to everyone with whom we come in contact.

We are all messengers. You are a messenger and I am a messenger. Our lives speak what we believe through our words, through our choices, through our actions.

Everything we do conveys what we believe, about ourselves, about others, about God.

We can convey love, joy, faith, boldness, courage, peace that passes understanding or we can pass on worry, fear, doubt, helplessness, hopelessness. It’s our choice what people catch from us.

Have you ever stopped and considered what message you are speaking with your life?

Have you ever stopped and considered that how you are living out this story of your life says volumes to others? What message are people catching from you today? What message do you want them to hear?

You are a messenger.

I am a messenger.

May we speak love, faith, hope, encouragement into the lives of those we meet today. Because it’s our choice, isn’t it? We cannot choose whether we are a messenger in this world, but we can choose what message we share with this world.

{Stop}

Baring the Scars We Bear

In my heart a battle rages. The Enemy’s lies clash with the Creator’s Truth; pain, hurt and struggle clash with the peace and joy Jesus offers; loneliness and isolation clash with any search for community. Each side seeks control of me, seeks control of my heart.

Fear, loneliness, doubt, lies, hurt, envy. These mark my circumstances and I am defined in this moment by my pain and my raging emotions.

Help me, Jesus.

It’s all I can pray.

waves on the shore

Waves of memories and lies crash against the shores of my mind as I roil beneath the surface of my pain, pulled under by the riptide of my emotions.

Am I good enough?

Does anyone see me?

Am I destined to loneliness?

Do I matter?

Somewhere in the distance, I can hear a whisper of Truth, I can see a pinhole of Light. But it feels so far away. Too far away.

Speak to me, Jesus. Hold me through my tears, quiet my mind as I try to see you, to think you, to hear you. Oh, Jesus, help me to hear your voice.

Even as I pray, the Enemy ratchets up his attack of lies, lies that are subtle enough to sound true in my broken state, in my overwhelming circumstances. The Enemy coats his lies in my past, wraps them in experiences and memories, so that at their core, their essence sounds true.

You are not enough.

You are a cast off in communities where others connect.

You are not worthy of friendship and so you are alone.

You do not matter.

But I sense that whisper of Truth still. Still too far from me, still trying to reach me. But still there. I squint through tears, fix my eyes at the Light.

The battle continues to rage within me and I struggle with words, struggle to speak against the barrage of lies.

Jesus, hear my words. Hear my heart. Help me cling to you right now.

Flaming arrows seek my heart, seek to sink me in this ocean of lies. I hide behind the only words that come. Help me, Jesus. Defend me from this attack, from this Enemy you defeated so long ago.

My whispered prayers mingle with the whisper of Truth and the Light grows closer to me, enveloping me in it like a cocoon. From this safe haven I can sense the battle subsiding.

Without, nothing has changed; the circumstances that influenced this storm of emotion and lies remain. But within, my heart is changed. Though it be scarred by some of the Enemy’s arrows, it bears more the character of Christ. It bears more the strength of Christ. It bears more the Truth of Christ.

It radiates the Light that never leaves.

To me, sometimes the Light seems distant, faint, but really it is always there, always close. The Enemy encroaches with his lies and with his darkness, but he can never really separate me from the Light. And when I call out the name of Jesus, that darkness begins to fade.

My comfort is knowing that Jesus knows what I need and that the Holy Spirit can intercede with groanings that carry my deepest needs to God’s throne of grace. My comfort is knowing that if all I can say is Help me, that is enough. God does the rest, like he did with the small offering of bread in the wilderness that fed 5,000. God can take the least of me and create miracles.

And that is the Truth that I will choose to cling to right now: God will use me to further his Kingdom, to love the least in this world, to reach those who are struggling or lonely or hurting. He will use me because he can take this least of me that I offer him and transform it to create miracles of difference in a hurting world.

My scars of hurting and struggle become the character others need to see in the world. And so I bear them and bare them in the confidence of Christ.