Bated breath… syncopated exhale. Trying to find rest in the midst of the whirling dervish called life. Trying to cling to the power of the cross while repelling the redundant distractions of eaching waking hour. Trying to resist ministering to others before actually ministering to the Lord. Trying to extinguish any threat of burnout by cultivating brimming oil in the place of encounter and intimacy with Jesus. Trying to drink in the beauty and glory of God, not through fragmented reflections found in creation but from the source of Living Water Himself. Trying to prioritize my schedule in a way that will maximize my opportunity to stand in awesome wonder of the transcendant God.

God, my prayer is for a selah. And may I catch my breath with praises on my lips!

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the LORD! ~Psalm 150:6

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Immersed in a community of like-minded FaLoGs here at IHOP, I sometimes forget how many of my closest friends before I came here were, well, heathens. (And I say that affectionately, not that I endorse godless lifestyles. I’m just saying that the heathen are heathen. Anyway, enough with the disclaimer; it’s not getting me anywhere.)

Recently I’ve been finding myself reminiscing about certain conversations and experiences with friends from my life pre-IHOP. The people that I think about the most, for whatever reason, are those who have overtly impugned me for my faith in God. Several come to mind, but one friend in particular takes the cake for the tenacity she demonstrated in afflicting me for my beliefs in God. For anonymity sake, I won’t divulge her name but she is, bar-none, my most brilliant friend from Harvard. For convenience sake, I’ll call her Sophie (for all her sophistry). And for goodness sake, I won’t go into the extent to which she used me to manifest her hatred towards God.

Anyway, before she became devilishly crazy, Sophie in her deviously charming way unabashedly persecuted me about my faith in God, my love relationship with Jesus, and my constant invocation of the Holy Spirit. She was–and still is as far as I know–a devout atheist, and together we had spirited discussions over the existence of God and the idea that He so desires a personal, intimate relationship with each of us through His only begotten Son Jesus.

During our time in school, Sophie and I had a very special relationship–one marked by solemn admiration of each other’s mental faculties and a visceral appreciation of how we could mutually disarm one another with our silly humor. We both impudently ribbed each other for the other’s quirks and idiosyncracies. At the same time, we empathically commiserated with one another over the injustices we witnessed in the world (although that mainly entailed the unfair, insurmountable amount of work our professors indifferently assigned us 😉 ). In any case, to each other we were the other’s narrative foil in life, Pauline thorn in the other’s side, and Socratic gadfly buzzing around and stinging one another. And we were only able to have this kind of relationship because we were such great friends. As we jokingly disparaged one another, we were always sure to derogate ourselves more than the other in a twisted expression of humility. Nonetheless, I could never help but to boast in my identity as a child of God, once forsaken but now forgiven by the all-redeeming sacrifice of none other than Jesus. Whenever I would unapologetically refer to myself as God’s heir and coheir with Christ to the majestic throne of heaven, Sophie would always mock me for my lack of modesty.

Nonetheless, I have her to thank for the following quote, so eloquently and affectively articulated by Nelson Mandela:

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not in just some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Empowered by this identity, how can we not be inspired to sacrifice even more of ourselves for God’s ultimate glory? It is not our radiance that shines forth from our achievements. Rather, it is God’s light that illuminates His majesty and penetrates to the deep and dark reaches of the human heart. So, I share Paul’s declaration by stating:

I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord… but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say. To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. ~2 Corinthians 12:1, 12:5b-10

I’m lazy, and “intercessory missionary” is a mouthful.

Yes, but actually no. Only a counterfeit mimicry of love would maintain a ledger or scale to measure the cost of one’s sacrifice. This notion of love amounts to nothing more than mercantile sentimentality. Love scorns the notion of sacrifice for love finds its ultimate expression and fulfillment not in how much it can outgive but in how much it can increase and intensify the desires of the beloved.

Song of Songs 8:6-7
Set me as a seal upon your heart,
As a seal upon your arm;
For love is as strong as death,
Jealously as cruel as the grave;
Its flames are flames of fire,
A most vehement flame.

Many waters cannot quench love,
Nor can the floods drown it.
If a man would give for love
All the wealth of his house,
It would be utterly despised.