Mystery of the Invisible

One of my favorite songs is from a band called Verida and goes as follows:

I can feel, but I can’t touch
The atmosphere of your love
Surrounded by something I know is there
For reasons that I can’t see
What exists is far beyond me
But I will have faith in the unseen

‘Cause I’ve heard the sound of the ancient hymns
I’ve felt the chills of the cool, cool wind
I’ve tasted the sweet before
Been lost in the beautiful
The powerful mystery of the invisible

We’re all living an epic tale
Restoring of those who fell
A breathing cathedral of your heart
And it draws me with every breath
Puts path beneath my step
And I’m haunted by how I’m comfortable

‘Cause I’ve heard the sound of the ancient hymns
I’ve felt the chills of the cool, cool wind
I’ve tasted the sweet before
Been lost in the beautiful
The powerful mystery of the invisible

Have faith, have faith, have faith, my dear
Have faith, have faith, have faith, my dear

I’ve heard the sound of the ancient hymns
I’ve felt the chills of the cool, cool wind
I’ve tasted the sweet before
Been lost in the beautiful
The powerful mystery of the invisible
The powerful mystery of the invisible

To be honest, these lyrics are where I want to be. On my best days I see the beauty in the mystery of the invisible. But unfortunately, most days are not my best days, and I spend an inordinate amount of time living in fear of the unknown.


About a month ago I went on my first backpacking trip in the Mount Hood National Forest to a peak with a lookout, and a supposedly stunning view. And I’m sure the view was stunning, but due to wet and windy weather conditions, this is what we saw instead:

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Beautiful in its own right, but not exactly the vista we were hoping for.

And yet, as I sat perched on the ridge, buffeted by water from the sky and unable to see farther than a few hundred feet, I was struck by the realization that, so often in life, the fog is all we can see.

But here’s the crazy part. Just because we couldn’t see the mountain views that this particular lookout is known for doesn’t mean the mountains weren’t out there, beautiful and majestic as always. Which then led me to recognize anew that my inability to see God’s plans for my future doesn’t negate their existence or beauty.

So today I’m making a renewed effort to have faith in the unseen, and take confidence in a God who is faithful, even in the fog.

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Mary

She was an ordinary young woman, following the life she was supposed to live to a T. Grow up learning how to be a wife and mother – check! Get engaged to a righteous man – check! The only thing left was to marry this man and secure her future. But then something happened that broke her life from its prescribed mold.

annunciation                             The Annunciation by Henry Tanner

God stepped in to Mary’s world and changed the nature of life, not just for her, but for every person who would ever walk the earth. In her youthfulness and normalcy, God chose her to give birth to His son.

So often the focus is placed on what the angel revealed to Mary, and that is not to be minimized. To bear the Son of God, Mary would have to endure the shame and ridicule of unmarried pregnancy. To bring him into the world, she would have to travel to a distant city and give birth to him in a stable.

Even this though, was just the beginning.

On that silent night in Bethlehem, as Mary tenderly held her firstborn son, she could have never known what lay ahead.

Raising the Son of God would often be frustrating (Luke 2:41-50) and sometimes downright dangerous (Matthew 2:13-16). Mary and Joseph were commonplace people, but Jesus was anything but your average boy. Parenting him would have been unlike any other parenting experience. And the worst part of Mary’s reality was that, unbeknownst to her, she was preparing a sheep for the slaughter. At the end of her son’s earthly life, she would have to watch him suffer and die for the sins of the world.

Throughout her life, Mary’s trust, compassion, love, and courage would be tested and tried, pushed to the breaking point.

And yet, when asked to bear God’s son, Mary said yes. Through the fear and apprehension she said, “I am the Lord’s servant,” and with those words, an ordinary woman became the mother of God.

What does God want to do with your ordinary life?

Will you say yes when He calls you to do the impossible?

You never know what significance your obedience could have to future generations.

2014

New Year

Passing from one year to the next always feels significant. I don’t have any “New Years Routines,” but I usually find myself taking some time to reflect. My refections on the year that has passed, and the year that is to come have led me to discover two themes that will give me direction in 2014.

Theme One: Have mustard seed faith.

Mustard Tree

My first theme comes from something God spoke over me the night before my 19th birthday back in November. I was reading Matthew 13, and although I’ve read that passage many times, the parable of the mustard seed took hold me in a new way. V. 31-32 says, “He told them another parable: The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.” As I thought about that imagery, God whispered to me, “19 will be the year of mustard seed faith.”

Theme Two: Pursue fulfillment that isn’t contingent on my relationship status.

His Plan Not Mine

My second theme comes from a quote by Carl Wilson that I read on my favorite blog. (http://thelipstickgospel.com) To share this theme is not entirely comfortable for me, but I know the writing that impacts me most comes from the heart, and is vulnerable and honest, so here we go. As a 19 year old college student, the opposite gender is often on my mind. In the past few months I have had many friends both begin new relationships and get engaged. I know I am still very young, and not yet ready for marriage, but I often become disheartened, wondering if it will ever be my turn to begin my journey towards marriage. My flaw lies in my perception of the beginning of that journey. In truth, that journey has already begun. I cannot know another until I know myself. I’m building my character, discovering my interests, and pursuing my passions. As much as I dream of getting married, there is so much more to my life than my relationship status. In 2014 I may enter a romantic relationship… or I may not. “The future is an undiscovered country,” (Shakespeare) which is why I’m choosing to find fulfillment in other things.

A few blog posts ago, I mentioned an upcoming trip I will be taking to Romania and Moldova. This trip is such a beautiful culmination of my two themes for this year.

RomaniaMoldova

First, going to Romania and Moldova is a leap of faith. It will be my first time out of the country without another member of my family, I will have limited contact with the people I love, and I will be farther away from home than anyone in my family has ever traveled. To top it off, I have to raise $3600 in order to take this trip, and yet, I am so excited! I know this is part of God’s plan for my growth. It’s an incredible opportunity to increase my faith in his protection and provision.

Secondly, going to Romania is “fulfillment that isn’t contingent on my relationship status.” The two largest passions in my heart are getting married and raising a family, and traveling the world. Three and a half years ago I went on a mission trip to Honduras. While I was in Honduras, God awakened a passion in me for travel and culture. Although I do enjoy seeing new places when I travel, it’s the people I meet that truly captivate me. I love stepping into their worlds and hearing their stories.

The Miles Between Don't Matter

Sometimes my passion for travel and my passion for a marriage and family feel at odds with each other. While I know God will somehow work them out together, right now he’s allowing me to wholeheartedly pursue my passion for travel. What a blessing! So I’m running into 2014 with confidence, strengthening my faith and pursuing my passions!

 

Ice Skating

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Ice skating is not my thing. Give me roller blades over ice skate any day. Maybe I don’t like ice skating because I’ve only been three times, and consequently don’t know how to, but whatever the reason is, I simply don’t like ice skating.

Yesterday, my family decided we were going to go ice skating. It was a glorious day! Sunny, and cold enough to freeze the ice without freezing us. We hiked to the pond, laced up our skates, put on the Little Women soundtrack, and were ready to go. Or should I say they were ready to go.

For the first twenty minutes they zoomed around the pond while I stood firmly in the middle with my hockey stick, aka the only thing keeping me upright. I was trying to stay positive, but to be frank, I was failing miserable. I alternated between being frustrated with my family for dragging me out there, and being frustrated with myself for not just going for it.

Let Go

You see, I’m a very awkward ice skater. While I don’t sit on the sidelines and refuse to even try, I also never truly embrace the experience. I shuffle my feet, and move just enough to not be accused of standing still. I know I would greatly improve if I just went for it, but the truth is, I’m afraid. What if I make a fool of myself, what if I fall and break my wrist, what if, what if, what if? The fears play in my head like a broken record.

Yesterday, however, I got tired of being miserable and afraid, and I made the bold decision to let go and truly try to ice skate. So I put down the hockey stick and started skating in little circles, that grew and grew until I was actually enjoying myself. It was still scary, but so worth it.

Looking back, I can see that my inability to ice skate didn’t come from a lack of experience, but from an unwillingness to just go for it. How often do I respond in the same way to situations in my life? How much life am I missing because of my fears? When I am presented with welcoming a foster girl with my family, finding a job for the spring, liking a boy, picking the right classes, knowing which friendships to pour into, or going to Romania, am I letting fear or faith guide my decisions? I’m done with the awkward ice skating. It’s time to find my mustard seed faith!

Unknown Future Known God

Mountains


MountaintopMy family is in the midst of a process, and we’ve hit a point where the entire situation is out of our control. There are monumental decisions to be made, yet we don’t have the authority to make a single one. We’ve come to a place where all we can do is pray, but the prayers don’t come easily. They come with wrestling. In order to move forward with peace in my heart, there are two things I must come to terms with.

First, I must have faith that God is capable of moving mountains. In this situation, there are some mighty mountains blocking our way. They seem pretty darn immoveable, but God is in the business of working miracles. On many occasions I have seen him overcome insurmountable obstacles. But although my head knows that God moves mountains, my heart struggles to believe it. Jesus give me faith! “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24 New Living Translation)

Reflection

Secondly, I must trust God’s plan. Although it is important to believe that God has the power to move mountains, I also need to trust that his plan is best, even if the mountains remain firmly in place. This is almost more challenging than believing he will overcome obstacles. It demands a complete surrender of my plans and preconceived notions. By nature, I’m a planner, and letting go is incredibly difficult for me. But his plans are always better than mine.

Earlier I mentioned needing to believe these things to move forward in peace. Philippians 4:7 says, “and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (New King James Version) I used to view peace that surpasses understanding as peace that is better than anything we know. While I still think that’s true, I have a new perspective on peace that surpasses understanding. It’s having peace, even when I don’t understand. My family needs peace, even though we don’t understand.

Mountain Beauty