There are moments that give me pause, during which I question my breadth of understanding about all things this side of Heaven. These moments, these pauses, oftentimes involve my cat. For instance, I laid out a new pair of pants that I ordered for my husband’s birthday, complete with receipt. Don’t want to lose that! I left them there for him to discover, try on and decide. The kitchen called, or more specifically - a snack of the sweet variety came to mind - so off I went. When I returned later, for whatever reason now forgotten, there he was:
That receipt couldn’t be comfortable, but he could hardly be bothered to lift his eyes as I asked him what the heck he thought he was doing. And then there I am. I don’t understand. I frustrate myself with questions like, is he messing with me? Marking the pants? Keeping them warm? Is it a sign of love? Dominance? I’ll never know. Best to leave it at that, because Kitty Meow confounds and amuses me often. If it’s new or in a new place, he’s on it. He’s either a huge flirt or a real life pillow pet. I’m undecided. But man, he stole my heart some 10 years ago.
Have you ever had one of those moments? You know, a real one, when for the life of you, you can’t wrap your mind around what is going on? Literally can't grasp a single thought of understanding? Life catches you off guard with a crisis, a tragedy? Or someone behaves so awfully that despite hours of contemplation, you’re left with nothing but the certainty that you’ll never understand, never know, not this side of Heaven?
This happens to me a lot. This world confounds me much more than handsome Kitty Meow. I feel like an alien. I trust nothing here. Not wholly. What a relief to understand why. I’m telling you, the only solace I can find here is in the Word. It answers my unanswerable questions. It soothes my agitated heart. Even the case of Kitty Meow and the pants.
Jesus, while praying for us, confirmed that we are not of this world any more than He is of this world (John 17:6), and He’s pretty clear about His Kingdom, that it is not of this world, but of another place (John 18:36). And Peter reiterates this truth when he urges us as “aliens and strangers in this world” to “keep away from worldly desires that wage war against our very souls” (1 Peter 2:11). I wonder if wanting to know is a worldly desire. Because I really desire to know...everything. Not knowing bothers me. There’s something so comforting about knowing why I feel the way I feel. Though it might sound odd, it’s such a comfort to know a name for my pain, whether it be fibromyalgia or epilepsy or heartache. Understanding the "why" lightens the burden, if only a little.
But knowing why I've felt like an outsider all of my life has been world-changing, because it’s not just the "why" I feel the way I feel, it’s the remedy. I don’t belong here, but I do belong. I belong to Him, and so I’ll keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith (Hebrews 12:2). Of Him I am certain. He is the only certain thing I know.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it” (John 1:1-5).
Have you ever read, heard or seen something and just had to write a blog post about it? No? Just me? Well, it happened. Acts. Still reading it, but took a time out to share my thoughts.
Acts may be my favorite book of the Bible. Or maybe it's my favorite because I've been studying it most recently, but If you haven't read it through, do it. Even if you're not a believer or "religious" (eye roll), it's seriously the most wild and awesome account of the world-changing power of God building His church here on Earth. There are abundant miracles, the first Christian martyr, a crazy demon attack on some phony priests, a boy falling asleep in a window during a sermon and falling three stories to his death (don't worry - another miracle), and incomparable and unfathomable boldness in faith that our church today could use a large sip of. It has set a high and worthy standard for those of us who walk in Christ.
These men who walked with Jesus here on Earth are tasked with spreading the Good News throughout Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). And let's not forget Saul-Paul, about whom Jesus said, "This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel" (Acts 9:15). You get to know these men and understand that they are fallible. And that is where the Holy Spirit really blows my mind and gives me hope. He turns murderous Saul into Paul, the greatest evangelist the world has every seen (I told you it's my favorite right now :). Peter the denier becomes The Rock Jesus said he would be. Stephen, a disciple, boldly shares the gospel and sees Jesus stand for him while he's stoned as the first Christian martyr. They all learn what it means to be one in Christ, setting aside ancient traditions and social status to embrace the promises of the One True King. I'm telling you, it's a life changer.
If I haven't convinced you to give it a try, I'll end where I began. The title of this blog is part of a verse that has lingered on me for the month since I've read it. Saul-Paul is speaking in Athens, to a group that has an idol named "an unknown god". He's explaining the God they should be worshipping - the God who made the world and everything in it. Ok, so this is what has been covering me in that unfathomable love that comes only from Him. Here it goes. Paul explains this God we worship and how He feels about us:
"From one man He has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live. He did this so they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us" (Acts 17:26-27).
Did you catch that? He chose when and where every one of us would live. You and me. 2016. Valencia. Them 2000 years ago. Athens. Wherever and whenever you are. He chose that beforehand. And did you see why? That we might seek Him and perhaps we might reach out and find Him. Wow. Chills every time. Why would He do that? Because He loves us. Unfathomable love. To the point of death on the cross love.
I'll leave you with this quote from one of my favorite teachers, Beth Moore, from her Personal Reflection Series, Paul.
"God wants to be found. He does not will for any to miss Him, and He is so gracious to show up right where we are looking..."
So reach out. Perhaps you might find Him.
Through a Straw Hole
Why the name Through a Straw Hole? I'll tell you.
I reached a point in my life - an otherwise unremarkable afternoon in my early twenties - when I admitted to myself that all of my best ideas had brought me to my knees - scared to death, desperate for change, with no idea how to find it. It was probably the greatest moment in my life.
I say greatest because very soon afterward my life changed forever. I'm pretty sure it was the first time I told God I couldn't do it anymore, and not in a melodramatic ugh-this-sucks kind of way; like really, I can't do it anymore. Help me.
Maybe a few weeks later, on an atypical Friday night, I heard a speaker share something that gave me perspective - hope even. It was something along the lines of how we only see life through a straw hole. That's it. A straw hole. That's our entire field of vision. Yet I charged through life making major life decisions based on dangerously limited and questionable information. Gosh, maybe that's how I got myself to a place where I was questioning my sanity.
I soon came to believe that my particular brand of straw was more like a coffee straw - you know, infinitesimal and split down the middle - not very useful for more than stirring things up.
It might seem odd to say this brought me peace. Honestly. Peace. But it did. Because the end of that message was this: There is Someone bigger than me with the whole picture. And He's actually quite fond of me.
Below is a bendy, blue and white striped straw hole view of my kitchen. (that's a flower on the table)
Ok, I have to tell you what happened...