Friday, November 8, 2013

The Pianist

As we were leaving the Great Hall, we passed by the beautiful grand, and she said, “Do you wanna hear that song I was telling you about really quick? This melody has been stuck in my head for a few days.” So she graced down at the seat, the piano ready to receive her and ready to broadcast this beauty that had been enveloping her for so long.

I didn’t realize how transformed I would be after listening.

It was saturated in beauty, but there also seemed to be a sadness in it, which perfectly describes how I’ve been feeling the past month. I have witnessed so much suffering, so much sorrow. But in the midst of the ashes, there is peace that goes beyond all understanding. There is hope. There is grace. There is beauty. There is joy.

I don’t know whether all this was the meat behind the song or not. Either way, it was a huge gift to me this morning. Blessing those ivories with her hands is how she loves. How she serves. How she worships.

She is an example of making beautiful art. The melody of your life you never knew how to say – she can play it. The sorrow weighing you down – she can lift it. The joy that is almost bursting within your soul – she can proclaim it. Through her art, she tells the truth. And that, I think, is what real beauty is.

I’m grateful. I’m grateful that God’s Spirit not only moves through missionaries and pastors, but through chefs and psych majors and pianists. All the things I said above that she can do, of course can only be done through the common grace of God. He is the one to be praised. He is the Master Artist, and she is a student in His class. I am grateful for His incredible instruction, so that His students can release just a glimpse of His glory to the rest of the world.

Listen to some music today. No, not “We Can’t Stop” or Eminem’s newest album. Listen to some classical music, even if it’s not really your thing. Give it a try. You never know, maybe there’s been a message stirring in your heart that you’ve never been able to describe until now. Let this time be your release. To listen. To absorb. To enjoy the beauty. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

God is Bigger

“Are you in the midst of a situation where, as you pray, you find yourself putting the problem first? If so, you’re starting where you should end. You’re rehearsing the problem, making it seem larger than it is, when what you need to do is rehearse God’s greatness and bigness. Then the problem shrinks to its right portions. Oh, by the way…

As a Sabbath Liturgy, I recommend practicing the sovereignty of God. Today when you pray, start with God. Survey what He has made. Recite what He has done. Proclaim who He is.

And after you have been with Jesus long enough, and feel your courage brimming, and He looks bigger, see if there’s still an Oh, by the way…” –Mark Buchanan in “The Rest of God”

Everyone has a story. Everyone has a past. Everyone hurts. My eyes have been opened to that concept more than they ever had before. College is not all fun and games…I think everyone knows that. Relationships are formed, hearts are changed, and stories are shared…stories, that maybe are just now starting to rise out of the woodwork. While I have told some stories of my own, for the past month or so, I have mostly been the receiver of others’ stories. I am not the same person as when I first walked through the halls of my college…listening to stories will change you.

It has been almost three years since I have picked up Mark Buchanan’s “The Rest of God”, and I am glad I did. That is what I have so desperately desired recently: rest. The rest that goes beyond all comprehension. The rest that stands the test of time even in the midst of a maelstrom of chaos. The rest that only Jesus can provide. That’s what I want.

And I think I might have gotten it.

But there is still a part of me that wishes I had more power. Power to heal the wounds in my friend’s heart who has been through hell on earth. Power to give my friend have hope and joy when she has recently been contemplating suicide. Power to make my friend truly believe that she is beautiful, despite the fact that she feels dirty and violated. Power…to change. To heal. To restore. To make everyone’s problems go away.

But I don’t have that power. Apart from Christ, I am nothing. Apart from Him, I can do nothing.
But that does not mean there is no hope. In The Twin Towers, when King Theoden’s small army is shaking in their boots as they are about to fight the 10,000 soldiers of their enemy, they feel hopeless. But Aragorn encourages a young boy by saying, “There is always hope.”

So I’ve been praying…a lot. But I have focused too much on the problem and not enough of what God can do, who He is. By focusing on the problem, it makes me feel as though I am drowning in it and that it is inconceivable for me to fathom. I think, “Is this a problem that is just too big? Is this hurt just too great?”

But nothing is too big for God. Corrie Ten Boom said, “There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.”

So for those of you who are hurting, feeling as though you are drowning in a tsunami of suffering with no escape: do not lose hope. You are not only in the pit – Jesus is sitting next to you in the pit, even if no one else here has climbed in the pit with you. Pray for someone to come who will leap into the pit, sit next to you, and sit in the mud with you. Who will pray for you. Who, when not knowing what else to say, will say, “Gee…it really sucks down here.” Someone who will cry when you cry, and will make you laugh when you really feel like giving up. You are never alone…never forget that.

“Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His face continually.” –Psalm 105:4

And for those of you who are that other person in the pit, feeling powerless in not being able to take the pain away from your friend: don’t lose hope either. Pray for Jesus to give you His eyes, His heart. Be OK with not having the right words to say, because maybe you were supposed to be silent anyway. Listen. Sometimes listening is more of a remedy than words. Turn to Jesus for strength first. Pray for wisdom; God will give it to you if you ask for it. Pray over your friend and read them Scripture. Instead of trying to figure out things you can do for them on your own, ask them, “What can I do that will help? What can I do to make this just a little bit more bearable?”

“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” –James 1:5

Whether you are the one with the burden or you are the one next to them bearing it, keep praying. But pray in a way that reminds you that God is bigger. God is bigger than all this crap in the world. All the hurting, the suffering, the persecution, the lies, the betrayals, the human trafficking, the rape, the murder, the adultery, the divorce, the war – God is bigger than all of it. Praise God for that. Remember who He is. He is loving, He is healing. He is compassion. He is almighty. He is the strongest of strong, the mightiest of warriors, and He lives in you