Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Big Things Start Small

In the past couple of months, I've been deeply thinking about missions.

I've been cooped up in my own world for 20 years now and it's not going to change until I really start obeying the One above. I read this quote by Don Miller saying, "I am the problem... Nothing is going to change in the Congo until you and I figure out what's wrong with the person in the mirror."
He couldn't have put it better. I've asked God many times to change my chaotic and selfish heart and looking back over the years, I don't think much has changed. In fact, it will never fully change because we've been born with it. So I went back to Miller's quote thinking how am I suppose to go out there if it's practically impossible to change myself? I'm still a painful sinner... I really am the problem! But behold a new answer has come: Jesus Christ.

God's love is unconditional to His children. His love is pure, drives out fear, and covers a multitude of sins. So even though my heart is still selfishly chaotic and will most likely be until I die, I now have one thing that I haven't had before: the peace of knowing that God will still use me and wants to use me.

Now that it's taken how many years to figure that out?.. I feel like I'm ready for my next step.

My soul is craving and yearning. Lately, I've been immersing myself in the bible, novels, business leadership, Third World issues and the like. I feel like a huge "dry sponge" as my friend refers me to because I want to soak up as much as I can. It's odd though because I would have never been like this before. Sometimes I don't feel like myself, which is scary.. I mean, could it really be that I'm beginning to finally lose myself in Him? It's trippy art- the art of losing yourself.

So as I constantly hunger, I realize that the instant stuff (and by 'instant' I mean 'temporal' and by 'temporal' I mean 'this world') just doesn't suffice. I need the better food. This time I'm reaching out beyond my grasp for something heavenly and love-binding. Hence now is the start of my calling for missionary support in my home, city, or far away country. Missions isn't only about serving others and the "lost-and-found", it is also needed to reinforce ourselves with God.
It is quite evident that a reason why many of us fail to acknowledge missions is because we don't see the long-term inclination it has. We have let the world fool us into thinking that it has control over us when really we have complete control over it. We take in too many lies, which hinders our faith in God. Thus, missions is a banner that is to be noticed by the ones who decidedly look up, to declare that God is God, the controller and purpose to everything.

Monday, February 23, 2009

I need a Decipher

You know when people say that the dream they just had felt so real?
Here is Dream entry # 100928098147126197 ..

I was on the phone with my mentor and she was trying to tell me that sometimes people come to a fork in the road in having to decide between two very different people. The choice is obvious but we tend to go for the ladder. The first person is the one we fall for hard without any explanation, red flags sailing high, and arrows trying to guide us back the other way. But we don't care because we've become blindly seduced by their presence and we just stand there with butterflies. The second figure is the one with everything to offer, you can list the reasons why you love them, they challenge you, and you have this odd envy or desire to be like them. One is mystery and the other is an open book. One is asking to jump off the bandwagon and the other is asking for marriage.

So as she was explaining this to me, two of my friends popped up into my head that fit these two characters. It's a very hard and confusing decision- but only if you don't know what you want. My mentor continued to speak and say how that is a decision I must make.. and after our whole conversation (or rather me just listening to her speak), she concluded by saying, "Christine.. there is something else. I know we have been confiding in each other for the past while now, but we are going to have to stop now. We cannot talk or be friends anymore."

I was really shocked and at first I responded by saying, "Ok, I understand." But as I kept thinking about it, I didn't understand. We have been building up such a close friendship and I've been trusting her with so many of my secrets.. how? why? She explained very blunt in tone that it wasn't healthy for her. Really, it made no sense at all. So I said, holding back my tears, "Alright, I guess I'll catch you later then..." She hung up.

So it was a day before my exam and I was with my best friend. She wanted me to drop her off at this community centre because they had a free drop-in health and body class. It actually seemed a bit odd and off and I kept looking at the flyer she received and it made more sense to me as a rehab session. But my friend kept insisting that it wasn't and it would be a cool experience. So I dropped her off and of course she dragged me into it (even though at the back of my mind I was thinking about my next day's exam). We entered into a door that only opens from the inside to prevent unwanted outsiders from coming in.

We walked down the winding stairs and I looked at all the people coming in and it just seemed so off. These were people with serious mental issues! What were we doing there? We didn't belong.. Anyway, we kept following and then I looked at another flyer and realized this wasn't what my friend thought it was. A person beside us, held down by people, was scrambling to get away and screaming out that she didn't want it again. The pictures on the flyer were actually really disturbing as I analyzed it closer. There was a 'ringleader' and we were all going to be brainwashed to be his slaves.. In this world, he was the only man we were suppose to and allowed to love.

This wasn't some wellness class, it was a cult.

As soon as I realized this, I grabbed my friend's arm and we started running back up all the flights of stairs. I looked down and realized one of the guys of the program saw us and he started running up, chasing us. So I quickly took us to a classroom and we tried hiding in the closet. But the man found us since the classroom door was still open and so I ran forward shutting the door on him and locking it. But of course, the lock didn't work and we were both forcing the door to go our way. I knew I was losing the fight so I somehow grabbed a wooden stick and as he came barging through the door I used as much force as I could and hit him 3 times- on the shoulders, head, and finally his neck. That put him out and he fell to the ground.

We started running again to the top floor where the exit was and just before we jumped out the door I wrote on the wall "H E L P"..

I woke up.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A dream within a dream

Last night's sleep was pretty restless.
Here goes my dream:

As Young (my pastor) was driving me home, we started this great conversation on life and God and then decided to go grab a coffee to continue it. We took the first exit off the highway and pulled into a secluded restaurant area. But as we were driving into the parking lot we felt some eerie presence and noticed something terribly wrong. To my left there was a man laying across his right side on the ground with a rifle a few metres ahead. There were police men and a crowd of people. Then to my right, there was a woman and a man lying on the ground as well. The area was being taped off and there was broken glass from the convenient store all over the ground. By the looks of it, it was a robbery gone completely out of hand. So the store owner (the first man) was actually dead and I remember seeing a lot of blood and guts around him. Also the woman was dead but the other man beside her was going to survive. I was so freaked out. This was the first time I've ever seen a dead person before and it just seemed so surreal.

This next part is even more odd.

Behind the taped off area was a group of onlookers and witnesses to the situation. However, they seemed to be either crying, praying, or worshipping. It didn't really make any sense at all what they were doing. First, it wasn't their business and second.. some of them were bowing down and raising their hands. It was like a worship session out of context and maybe not even for God. Were they mourning the two deaths? Were they asking for mercy and redemption? Noo idea. I was so confused. Then the next thing I knew, I was down there with them too crying and praying and all that. I was bowing down and lifting my hands. It was such an emotional atmosphere... then I realized these onlookers were Joyful people!! So somehow I ended up with my congregation members. How completely and utterly bizarre.
What were we doing? I don't quite understand...yet.

Anyway, I woke up from that dream and rushed to go talk to my pastor. I told him all about that dream and I don't even remember what he concluded.. something about me needing to trust God more and to know that not all dreams come from God. I told him how scary and REAL it felt to see a dead man and the feelings that came with that. Even though it was a dream it felt so disturbingly real. So this dream kept going on, switching scenes from a formal dinner party with Joyful to moving into a house in 4th year with my Schulich crew.... all the while, thinking that I had the most surreal dream ever!

And then.. I woke up this morning to realize that ALL of the above was a dream. I had a dream that I dreamt about a dead man. So technically I never told my pastor any of this...and I'm contemplating whether or not I should call him up right now and tell him about it.
Actually, what would be the point of that? I don't even understand the point of this dream. Or maybe that is the point... that there is no point.

Sigh.. dreams within a dream. Kinda throws off your day.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Ad augusta per angusta

Through trial to triumph.
To high places by narrow roads.

I really like this Latin phrase. I came across it after looking up the word "Imago Dei" which is Latin for "God's image". Anyway, to high places by narrow roads. This phrase pertains to Mathew 7:14, "But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." I feel that we get too caught up in ideas, formulas, and maps that we lose sight of what really is the right path to success, to the answer, and to our destination. Then coming back to our roots we find that in order to get to high places is through an important concept called the 'narrow road'.

I can definitely testify to this: the world won't give you what you're looking for. I think we try so hard searching outwardly for anything to satisfy and provide.. but the only good that it ever does is polish our outward skin. But skin is constantly shedding and peeling, which means constant re-polishing. Plus, isn't polish just a glaze over the surface.. something to make you sparkle for a little while only to become dull again? What I'm implying is that this endless cycle will wear out as we get tired of dumping the old and trying the new. I don't know about you but I get tired of always searching, doing, performing.. because surely there's a limit to this world and a limit to our economical reaches. I guess this means the road just got way way narrower. So what next, where to?

This brings us to the inward self.. the shed-proof soul that will be there now and forever more.
It wants that everlasting treatment that doesn't just polish but penetrates deep into the skin (I sound like a face wash commercial)... or more simply put, unconditional fulfillment. Personally, I want a feeding that will never let me go hungry for more or anything other. And I know that dainty objects, philosophical reasoning, and scientific experiments won't come close to that. So I have come to know Jesus Christ, a man that I call Saviour, Father, friend, and Bridegroom. He is my narrow road because it is only through him and because of him that I will reach my high place, grasp triumph, and be abundantly filled. Jesus Christ offers something completely out of this world (literally!) and that is great and exactly what I need because like I mentioned before, nothing of this world satisfies anyway.

Although this topic is for another night reflection, I'll mention it only briefly.. Jesus is not offering me a religion. He is giving me him, someone who I can walk with along this life long journey.. sowing with tears and love and reaping benefits beyond my imagination. And in the end, by walking with Jesus (the narrow road), I will be one of those few that find the gates that open to Life. It's what my soul craves for.. the high place and the narrow road.

Friday, February 6, 2009

To My Dearest

There are about a million things running through my mind right now but as I was reading your entry, everything just stopped.

First off, there's no need to be 'sorry' about your behavior (because then I would have to be sorry for my lack of behavior and the next thing we know we're just apologizing in circles and never getting to the point). Everyone's first instinct of survival is protecting themselves and I completely understand you in that. People fail to love themselves and love each other and that's why it's so hard to trust.

I really wish I could say that I've been in your shoes and know how you feel... but I haven't and I can't begin to know how you're feeling. And honestly, that's where people and friendships fall short. It's the fact that I can't fully understand you and you can't fully know me, which leaves a huge gap hanging there. BUT, what I do know for certain is that our God is. Our God is the fill-in-the-gap between you and me (y'know, that gap that you find with your non christian friends). He is the way, the truth and the life... and in one simple word, He is love.

That's why you always hear in the back of your mind "I should go to God first." Your subconscious is right. It's God, not me or her or him, who fully understands and knows your feelings. And God knows it so well because He felt it in the flesh.
I hope you're prepared to hear me preach about Jesus because what kind of loving sister would I be if I didn't? :)

1 Peter 5:7 says, "Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." Remember that it's Satan who constantly deceives you and tells you otherwise.

I also want to tell you something that touched my heart so much: how the Lord reminded me day after day that PERFECT love drives out fear. Through all of our pain and struggles comes fear. Fear of trusting, fear of trying, fear of letting your pride go... And it's a scary thought of what fear makes us do. We end up believing that we're incapable and we lose complete direction. I mentioned that Satan deceives us.. which means that he uses fear to trick us. And so the whirlwind begins. We struggle, we fall, we CRY, we fear... and then we HATE, build walls, stir up anger, and we hate even more.

But you and I, as children of God, aren't meant for this kind of anguish.

The world is not fair and not perfect because people will fail each other everyday. But God won't fail you. His purpose is too majestic for it to fall through just because you're stuck. He has made a promise to us.. and that is his perfect love. This is our tool for fixing. This is our shoulder to cry on.

So now comes the question of how to seek this love and comfort the Lord claims to provide.
I read this quote by Charles Spurgeon who said that "sorrow is the cloud which brings the shower of supplication." He is talking about prayer. Faith produces prayer and prayer produces faith, which ultimately gives us perseverance. We must never underestimate and doubt God's power because in Ephesians 3:20 it says: "Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us..."

In all, we need to invite Him into our hearts so that his power and love can drive out our fears and sorrows and bless us to heights that we can't even fathom. There is a promise and purpose to everything we go through. That is the truth and we're just kidding ourselves thinking otherwise. So let's have hope for better days and keep pushing closer to God. He is the perfect being to have a relationship with since "vain is the help of man" (Psalm 108:12).

And maybe we just need to reverse our thinking like Thane Pittman when he says, "I'll see it when I believe it."

Starfield - Shripwreck

I built a fortress
With a hundred thousand faces
I'll keep it safe
With a hundred thousand more
But these masks are wearing thin
As You draw me in

I spent my time
On the empty and the fleeting
I spent my life
On much less than I'd dreamed
But I'm reaching out to you
To make me new

'Cause I am just a beggar here at Your door
I am just a shipwreck here on Your shore
I come empty handed
Ready to see
Your life in me changing who I've been
To who I need to be