God, Grant me the Complacency?

Sereinty

By: Jana Greene

At the end of the day, bad things are going to happen and there’s nothing any of us can do about it. That’s the truth.

If Jesus wasn’t spared suffering, we aren’t getting out of it either. I’m not here to feed you a line about everything happening for a reason, and God opening a window when you could really use an actual open DOOR, etc. etc.

A lot of bad things happen this side of the Kingdom that I don’t understand.

Nothing irks me more than Christians who talk of God as if he easily figured out. As if he is Russian gymnast coach, watching your every stance to make sure you stay perfectly aligned on the balance beam, or a lottery god who increases the odds of your winning the jackpot if you buy more prayer tickets.

Stop glossing over the sovereignty of the Almighty God in order to try to understand why the world isn’t a fair place. Of what use is a god your mind can figure out?

It would be much simpler if he were that god, easier to understand. I can grasp the concept of statistics and unattainable perfection. Those are human ideals. The odds are not in our favor.

But God is. In our favor, I mean. No matter what the extenuating circumstances dictate.

God Jehovah, grant me serenity!

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

I struggle at times. I have a void, maybe you do, too. I was born with mine, like a birth defect – a life defect. A character defect, as they say in The Rooms. The void is a greedy and cavernous hole. Sometimes it is lined with depression or anxiety, sometimes frustrations and disappointments. I have, at various times, tried to pour alcohol in the hole, over eating, self-pity, various forms of people-pleasing … you name it. It eats the lining away for about five minutes (or until I finish the 12th brownie) and then just ends up being a bigger hole.

God heals it up every time. He tells me it isn’t a defect. He tells me the scar is beautiful. But sometimes I pick at it until it bleeds again.

I worry too much for the past, try to figure out the future, and totally forget to live TODAY in the meanwhile.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;

I want the world around me to be a calm place, steeped in a lavender vibe, full of shalom.

I want to fall asleep easily at the end of each day, to feel the sweet cream of drowsiness anoint my spastic mind and soak into my every fiber until I can really finally, you know, rest.

I want people to be excellent to each other. And if not excellent, just shoot for not being a total jerk, for crying out loud.

Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;

I want the void filled. I have faith in the sense that I know God is not a merciless taskmaster and that all things will work to the good of those who love him. But I still get frustrated with the status quo.

And I just wish more people loved him. Oh that they KNEW him, they couldn’t help but adore him.

I think maybe the void is supposed to be there. Like perhaps always having it with me keeps me desperate for Christ in a way that facilitates my very intimate relationship with him. If so, it is a defect I am glad to carry.

Taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;

Not as I would have it. Not as I would have it. Not all lavender sweet cream and shalom. Not when the GOP and the Democrats align views and sing Kumbaya together. Not when people stop cutting me off in traffic. Not when I lose 20 pounds, become a legit writer, balance perfectly on the beam. Or win the lottery.


Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will;


I surrender all. God grant me the serenity – not the complacency – to surrender all.

That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely 
happy with Him forever in the next.

Bad things will happen and this world is a mess. We don’t have to understand why it isn’t a fair place, we just have to carry a message of love to the broken world.

Maybe we should agree with the world that YES, terrible things that make no sense happen and there is no denying it. But there is a Force of Life called Divine Love, and in the end, LOVE always wins. That’s all I know.

But that’s a tall order. It’s a really hurting world.

God, grant me the serenity. At the end of the day, help me to trust your sovereignty in this world…this messed-up world that you SO loved that you sent your only begotten son. Take the space in my void and fill it with Holy Spirit so that some of that sweet insatiable unconditional love spills out of me and into the world. And keep pouring. 

Amen

(The Serenity Prayer)

Save

St. Peter the Flaky and other Water-Walkers

“Save Me – The Hand of God” by artist, Yongsung Kim

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By: Jana Greene

A popular Christian culture adage is: “If you want to walk on water, you have to get out of the boat.”

I’m not sure the un-churched among us get the reference. So I’m writing this post for anyone who…

(A) Knows about the biblical Peter and chuckles a little at the phrase, or

(B) Is convinced that walking on water is impossible because SCIENCE, and considers stepping out of a perfectly seaworthy vessel to walk on the surface of water just another of the nutty things Christians like to think Jesus did back in the day.

But Jesus isn’t the only one who walked on the water – Peter did as well.

Of all the disciples that Jesus called his crew, Peter is my favorite by a landslide. Peter is my homeboy.

He was all emotion, all of the time. I GET that. If any disciple made Jesus want to face-palm, it was probably Peter.

Peter was a Flaky-Fervent paradox.

A story in Matthew 14 describes Peter’s bravery, faith and faint-hardheartedness thus:

“…With the crowd dispersed, Jesus climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night. While Jesus was praying alone, some of his followers – including Peter – were out fishing.

……Meanwhile, the boat was far out to sea when the wind came up against them and they were battered by the waves. At about four o’clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the water. They were scared out of their wits. ‘A ghost!’ they said, crying out in terror.

But Jesus was quick to comfort them.Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid.”

Peter, suddenly bold, said, ‘Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.’ And Jesus said “come ahead…

Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, ‘Master, save me!’

(I’m certain that Peter’s thoughts are legion – How deep IS this water? What is Jesus THINKING? Are there sharks in here, perhaps even giant squid? What about jellyfish? And getting struck by lightning?  I can’t believe I am going to die this way….and I’M SINKING!!!)

EYES ON ME, PETER…EYES ON ME…. Jesus reminds the sinking disciple.

Although Jesus slapped his forehead in frustration (okay, that part is my translation…) “(He) didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed Peter’s hand. Then he said, ‘Faint-heart, what got into you?’

…The two of them climbed into the boat, and the wind died down. The disciples in the boat, having watched the whole thing, worshiped Jesus, saying, ‘This is it! You are God’s Son for sure’!”
– Matthew 14:24-36 (MSG)

Ya reckon?

Peter was your passion guy. Even though he doubted, he JUMPED. He often didn’t let a thought cross his mind before it was out of his mouth. He was all-out, sold-out, 100% loyal to Christ, until that one time when he wasn’t…..and it was a biggie. He denied that he even knew Christ THREE  times during the night of Jesus’ trial. Jesus had predicted the denial earlier in the day, but Peter implored his master that he would NEVER deny him, no way ever, and how could you even THINK such a thing, Jesus?

I think Peter made Jesus face-palm, but I KNOW Peter broke Jesus’s heart. Still, his love for his follower was so great that it eclipsed Peter’s foibles. Even after walking on water, he denied Christ. Jesus could have washed his hands of Peter, but He didn’t.

Having changes his name from “Simon” to “Peter” – which means “rock” – Jesus assured his capricious, water-walking brethren “And on that rock, I will build my church.”

Jesus, who had his pick of any of the Holy Rollers of his day, didn’t choose the well-schooled priests and rabbis. The Torah memorizers. The judges. The Men who knew all the rules.

But he bypassed the most religious men of his time to build a church on the back of Flaky Pete. And it’s still standing thousands of years later.

After his resurrection, Jesus even took special care to rehabilitate Peter and assure him he was forgiven. He loved him, and that love was enough to spark a mission to redeem the whole world. Love is THE most powerful force. Stronger than gravity, or science, or giant squid. Jesus kept Peter above the waves, and He does no less for us.

God calls us to do impossible things at times. Are you a paradox? Welcome to the fold.

Do you find yourself called to believe what your eyes are telling you are not true?

Do you jump out of the boat and take a few steps, only to let your mind assess the reasons you will fail to float?

Your spirit may feel as heavy as a huge pack of rocks. But no matter….

EYES ON ME, Jesus is saying. EYES ON ME. You only start to sink when you take your eyes off of Me and consider all the dangers below.

If the Rock didn’t sink to the bottom of the ocean with Jesus guiding him, neither will you. Neither will I.

Courage, fellow paradoxical friends, and boldness.

God is calling you to do the impossible, Faint-Heart. Step out of the boat with the assurance that this is IT. He is God’s Son for sure.

And all things are possible with him!

I love, love, love this video (CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW). The music is stirring, the visuals stunning, and the message precious beyond all measure. I pray it blesses you today, water-walkers.

God bless us, every one.

OCEANS – By For a Season (www.ForASeason.com)

The Value of Struggle

Unanswered prayer
This sunset, brought to you by God, was preceded by some of the crappiest weather phenomenon or area has experienced in years. Just weeks of sloppy rain, gray skies, and gratuitous yuck. Though sorrows may last through the night, His joy comes with the morning. And all God’s children say “Amen.”

 

By: Jana Greene

You have value to God and to the world He made. There is no question about it. You may not feel very valuable (I don’t either sometimes) but your worth cannot even be measured.

I get lazy with prayer, and there are times (honesty alert!) I don’t pray for a thing like I should because I am secretly afraid of being disappointed in the outcome. In my own wisdom, which is exceedingly limited, I just don’t see a way for the thing to work out, so I don’t even bother asking.

But God says ask anyway, and keep asking.

Why would He encourage that? Clearly everyone’s prayers don’t always get answered or else we’d have a populace of lottery winners and a complete deficit of sickness and suffering in the world.

Sounds wonderful on the surface, but you’ve got to wonder how our spirits would fare; what our character would look like.

This morning, I heard from Him about it. While I am already in bed trying to figure out how to fix the whole damn world (or at least my little corner of it) and then asking God for help in fixing it.

But it’s not mine to fix, He reminded me.

We live in a world that rewards our expectations. It is a vending machine, instant gratification society and we get upset when even the smallest things don’t go our way.

But we’ve got to stop asking God to jump, and expecting Him to ask us “how high?” We do that, or at least I do.

I want to orchestrate the outcome of my prayer petitions to Abba in order to see something or someone I care about ‘turn out’ a certain way.

That expectation – that He somehow needs our direction in the matter we bring to Him –  takes His sovereignty out of the equation. And His sovereignty is everything.

God doesn’t get our orders wrong.

He says to pray unceasingly, but I don’t think His command to do so is to get everything we want. I think maybe we are to pray unceasingly until God changes our hearts about what we want.

Maybe the thing that is haunting your spirit and demanding Holy resolution has value.

Maybe the experience – and your victory over it – will be used to help someone desperate in the future. I’ve seen that play out thousands of times in my own life. In looking back, God wasn’t ignoring my plea, but had a purpose in that struggle to benefit someone else.

‘Cause it’s not all about me.

Maybe your acceptance of a heavy situation has finally caused you to lay it down and God is working with your spirit on the skill of NOT picking it back up.

Maybe an answer to prayer looks NOTHING like you imagined, but it’s an answer nonetheless.

Have faith that the Father who loves and values you is trustworthy in every area, seen and unseen. Have faith that He is still listening and is working all things to the good for those who love Him. Even when all rational thought and preconceived notion tells you otherwise.

(I’m preaching to myself here, too.)

Our battles are fought and won in the Heavenly realms and we don’t always get to take home the tangible souvenirs.

Ask Him for a faith big enough to believe He knows how high to jump. Be honest in telling him you are afraid to be disappointed.

Bother to ask. And keep asking.

But consider the value in the prayers that FEEL unanswered. We see through a glass darkly here, this side of the Kingdom.

God wastes no hurt. And always answers prayers. In His time, and to His perfect and pleasing will.

He’s got this. He’s got YOU.

 

“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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9

“If you don’t Understand” – A ballad from the hurting ones

God moves all obstacles between Himself and His children

By: Jana Greene

Every once in a while I come across a post on one of the many recovery boards I follow that just blows my socks off. A piece that is more than words, but a declaration and plea – a raw and personal effort to help normal folk who do not suffer addiction or mental illness to understand what it’s like to walk around in the skin of an addict or person struggling.

When I find that post (and get over wishing I’d written it myself!) I get excited about sharing it.

This is that post. And with the author’s permission, I am sharing it here.

I hope this post, with its’ chewy center of wisdom, goes viral. I hope Ashleigh Campora’s words echo in the minds and hearts of those who ‘don’t understand,’ and gives comfort to those who woefully DO understand, and need encouragement.

“If you don’t understand mental illness, good. Good for you. You shouldn’t have to understand. If you don’t understand why some people can’t get out of bed in the morning, good. I hope you jump out of bed every day, ready to take the world by storm. If you don’t understand how someone could drag a blade across their skin, good. I hope you’re never that desperate to feel something. If you don’t understand what drives someone to continually starve themselves despite everything they’ve lost in the process, good. I hope you stay heavy and present and real. If you cant understand why that woman avoids mirrors; why she just stares blankly, in anger. I hope you never look at yourself with such disgust. That you always see yourself for what you really are: which is beautiful. If you don’t understand why he won’t just go to church or rehab or find someone who can help him, good. I hope you always have somewhere to turn. If you don’t understand how someone can keep swallowing bottles of pills; tying knots in ropes; or standing at the tops of bridges, good. I hope you are never that desperate for relief. If you don’t understand, good. You’re not supposed to. It’s all f#cking sick.” – Ashleigh Campora.

The very definition of ‘stigma’ is “A set of negative and often unfair beliefs that a society or group of people have about something.” Those of us who suffer addiction and mental illness? We ARE that ‘something.’ And we know that we make no sense to those of you who do not walk in our shoes.

The only way to make stigma get up off it’s ass and move far away is by spreading these stigma-killing messages:

You are not alone.

You are worthy to be free of the oppression that binds you.

People can (and DO) recover.

God bless you, Ms. Campora.

God bless us, every one.