Five Minute Friday: Question

Gentle Reader,

June in North Idaho is a strange month. Monday the temperature reached into the upper 80s. Today it’s been clouds and rain.

Kate says: question.

Go.

“You want to be a pastor?”

Want might be too strong a word. I identify strongly with the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel, neither of whom were initially thrilled to receive the call. In fact, I just finished reading Ezekiel recently, and this verse had me laughing aloud:

The Spirit lifted me up and took me away. I left in bitterness and in an angry spirit, and the LORD’s hand was on me powerfully.

– 3:14 (CSB)

Commentators are split as to whether his anger and bitterness was in response to the sins of his people or in response to being commissioned to do a thankless job. I suspect it was probably a bit of both. When God, in His kindness, confronts us with our sin, we rightly feel a rush of emotion. When God, in His wisdom (and honestly, sometimes with His sense of humor), guides us toward the path He wants us to travel, we wrongly get mad and stubborn.

At least I have.

I don’t like getting up in front of people and talking. A lip sync battle, sure, because that’s funny. A part in a play, fine, because that’s not me; it’s a character. Just myself, Marie, behind a music stand, daring to declare that God has given me something to say…wow. That’s a lot.

But like I said, God has a sense of humor. I think He gets a kick out of using unexpected people in unexpected ways, because it brings Him glory and creates goodness in our lives.

Do I want to be a pastor? Truthfully, I’m not quite there in the wanting department. Still a lot of fear to overcome. The better question is this: Do I have to be a pastor? Yes, I really do. Absolutely no idea what that’s going to wind up looking like. All I know for right now is that I’m meant to keep showing up for our youth and I’m supposed to go to seminary. (Yeah, I just signed away at least four years of my life).

The real question, the one that circles ’round and ’round my mind, the one spoken in the quiet yet authoritative voice of the Holy Spirit: “Will you obey Me?”

Even though I don’t know where this path is going.

Even though it scares me to the point of tears.

Yes. I’ll obey. Not because I’m awesome, but because my God is. Because when I stand up there, longing for nothing more than to run away or to disappear, a greater longing overtakes me. I want these precious and wild young people to know just how deeply they are loved. I want them to understand the glorious Gospel that sets them free. I want them to meet Jesus. I want them to grow in relationship with Him. I want to see them grab hold of transcendent truth, to be enraptured with their Creator – and then to go out and set the world ablaze as they live in grace.

Stop.

Side note: Super weird to have people start referring to me as “Pastor Marie.” Pretty sure I’m not ever going to get used to that.

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Five Minute (Someday I’ll Do This On Time Again): Goal

 

Gentle Reader,

Spent my Thursday night with a friend at church, trying to sleep on just-this-side of uncomfortable hospital mattresses. We watched a silly television show, ate chocolate, partook of a face mask that made us look like swamp monsters, and chatted into the wee hours. Most importantly, we served three families who are looking to improve their lives. We had the honor of sitting with them during dinner, then cleaning the kitchen while they rested and prepared for the next day.

Loving like Jesus does is a beautiful thing.

Kate says: goal.

Go.

This might surprise you, but I’m not particularly goal-oriented when it comes to my writing.

Not in the traditional sense.

I used to want a multi-book contract. To see my name on the New York Times bestseller list. To write posts that go viral. To develop a big following on social media.

Now…none of that matters.

Of course I wouldn’t turn down a book contract. Of course I’d be delighted to see my name alongside major authors. Of course I’d feel honored if something I wrote spread far and wide. (As to the big following, it’s too scary). I’m just not chasing that stuff anymore. I may not know a lot, and I may have had to learn the things I do know the very hard way, but I can say with confidence that none of the above is fulfilling. None of the above meets the deepest need of my life.

That deepest need? To be loved. To be seen. To be accepted. To have purpose.

Only Jesus does that. Only He reaches down into my heart and draws the broken pieces together. Anything good this world has to offer, it’s just bonus. Extra. Nice and all, but not necessary.

I’m not a super-spiritual saint. Chances are good that as soon as I hit “publish,” I’ll be distracted by something false and shiny. But I know, in that place of knowing in the center of my being that cannot be shaken, that Jesus is the real treasure. Him – not what He provides, but Himself.

My goal, then, is to glorify Him in every word, whether they are read by the many or the few.

Stop.

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Five Minute (Monday): Well

Gentle Reader,

Did attend the chat last week, but neglected to go and see what the prompt was, thus this belated entry.

Completely unconnected thought: I have never dyed my hair. Well, I guess that’s technically not true; one summer, several years ago, I had some low lights put in that were about two shades darker than my natural color. Wild, I know. But yesterday, I found myself thinking, “I should go blonde.” Utterly random and it 99.9% won’t happen because I am lazy and/or a hippie when it comes to my hair – obviously, or I’d be straightening these locks every morning – but you never know. I might show up looking like a completely different person one of these days.

Kate says: well.

Go.

LORD, you have treated your servant well,
just as You promised.
Teach me good judgment and discernment,
for I rely on Your commands.

– Psalm 119:65-66 (CSB)

If you’re ever feeling down, turn to the psalms.

The whole range of human emotion is expressed in these poems. We are given permission, by their inclusion in holy writ, to be the fragile, frail people that we are. We are given space to cry out to God. To doubt, question, and wrestle. To express the desire to call down fire on someone’s head. (Don’t tell me you’ve never felt urge). The psalms are the sinner’s songbook, full of fear, passion, and rage.

And yet the stanzas are so much more. Time and again we watch as the author shifts from complaint to praise, from worry to wonder. The pen stills as the heart drops into a steadier rhythm. Despite the brokenness, despite the pain, despite the suffering, God is good. Like the true Father He is, He guides His children into places of peace and wholeness. When we are done fighting and fussing, He draws us into His lap and whispers words of love.

Yes, Lord. You treat Your servants well. We raise our hands in praise to You not because of the perfection of our existence, because it is not perfect, but because of the perfection of Your presence. You enable us to walk the path You have set before us, sometimes sure and swift, sometimes halting and hushed. This path, it leads straight to the heart of the better country, the place for which we are made and for which we ache.

Yes, Lord. Teach us good judgment. Teach us discernment. We rely on You.

Stop.

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Five Minute Friday: Name

Along the Way Graphic Template

Gentle Reader,

It’s storming outside. I don’t mind. There’s something soothing in the rain, the wind, and the strange grayish light. Suits my current mood.

Kate says: name.

Go.

Marie: bitter.

Louise: renowned warrior.

The middle names of my grandmothers, given to me the day I was born.

I’ve been bitter. Unprocessed anger and cherished grudges revealed in sarcasm that’s just fury with a smile painted on. Replaying old conflicts in my mind like favorite movies. Miserable in the feeling, but accustomed to it.

Jesus changes the meaning of my name. He changes me. He holds my clenched fists in His hands and gently guides me to pry my fingers off of the rage. I am not bitter, but free. I carry with me the fragrance of His presence. I can love, because He loves. I can forgive, because He forgives.

Renowned warrior, I don’t know about that. I’d much rather be known as a gentle lover, someone with a warm smile, a listening ear, and open arms. And yet, there is a core of steel that runs through my middle. Whether it’s refusing to let illness define my life, or working to improve things in my community, or praying for a long (and growing) list of teenagers, or encouraging someone to do something brave and scary, or daring to declare that there is truth and His Name is Jesus…

There are things I will fight for. Never with a weapon. Rarely with a raised voice. But I will fight.

The difference is that what I fight for now no longer leads to bitterness. Jesus worked that change in me, too. It’s all about the hope, the joy, the love.

Stop.

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