Saturday, February 10, 2007

In Christ Alone

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
'Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost it's grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Brought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
'Til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand

This is probably one of my favorite modern hymns. I don't know who sang it originally, who wrote it, or anything like that, so if the copyright police find me - I'm guilty! If anyone knows, please tell me so I can give credit where credit is due.

The first time I heard this, we sang it in worship. I didn't know it, of course, but I liked it. This was when I had first moved back in with my parents, and I wasn't sure that I really wanted God to be that much a part of my life. Sure, I was a Christian, but I figured only the really special people got to have the relationship with Him that I could only dream of. I hated that I wasn't good at it, or that I wasn't living up to my parents' expectations of who I was supposed to be in God. I wasn't living up to my own.

See, everything seemed easy to me, or it seemed easy for everyone else. For me, it was hard. So hard that I just...gave up. No, I didn't deny God, I just refused to believe He wanted anything to do with me. I mean, why did I matter? It was just easier to get on with my life and not worry about whether or not I was going to mess up.

But I did mess up. Again and again. I fell into a depression that I didn't think I'd ever get out of. I cut myself off from everyone except for one or two people. For those people I had to associate with, like at work, I kept it short. I didn't like myself, and I didn't think anyone else should like me, because I was a horrible person. I wasn't worth knowing. The sad thing, though, was that I was desperate for companionship. So in spite of all that I did, I felt like I was the one abandoned.

The thing that struck me in this song is in the fourth verse. When we sing it in worship, everyone else gets excited about the part in the third verse that says, "Then bursting forth in glorious Day/Up from the grave He rose again." They clap and cheer, some just wave their hands in the know how it is. But for
me, the part that gets to me is this in the fourth verse: "No power of hell, no scheme of man/Can ever pluck me from His hand."

Not only will He never abandon me, but He will hold on to me so tightly that nothing or no one, even me, will be able to separate me from Him. It took me a long time to realize this truth. It's taken me a long time to know it in my heart that it is truth.

It's still hard for me. Some days I just feel that there is a huge granite wall with a moat that holds crocodiles and piranhas between God and me. Some days it just feels like a picket fence. I know that barrier is me. My pride, mostly. But He's on the other side, waiting for me to step through. I can feel Him.

He's also on my side, holding my hand with His, and giving me the grace and strength the make that step. I can feel Him.

I wouldn't be able to feel Him if He had decided that I wasn't worth it.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

I'm Such a Romantic

Every once in a while, I go through a period where I just don't want to be single anymore.

WARNING: Yes, I am going to talk about my love life...or lack thereof. Feel free to mosey on to someone else's blog if you don't want to read any further. I don't mind. There's probably a lot of entries far more worth reading than this one.

When I was growing up, I had this dream guy. He was tall, well-built, and had an incredible smile. It's funny, but I could never see the rest of his face. I couldn't see his eyes, or what color hair he had, or anything else - just that smile. I still have a dream man. Certain things have changed in what I see as someone I could spend my life with, however.

The thing is, I'm almost 30 years old. Yeah, it's hard for me to believe, too. It's also hard when family and well-meaning friends ask me if there's a special someone in my life - and they don't mean Christ. Certain holidays come and go, friends marry, then they have babies. Time is rushing by.

I've always been a traditionalist when it comes to guy/girl stuff. My older sister and other girls I've known have told me that it just isn't like that anymore. No one so much as blinks when a girl asks a guy out. I prefer to wait for the guy to make the first move. My sister tells me that I could wait forever if I handled it that way.

Well, I tried it. I scared him off. He's now married with kids, and I hope he's very happy.

The next time, I made it obvious I liked him without outright telling him. He figured it out real quick, but was nice enough to ignore my foolishness. When we finally did talk about it, we parted as friends who would never be anything more to each other. He's also married now. I hope he's happy, too.

I'm afraid of doing that again. I'm also afraid of just being a good friend, a "buddy", and nothing more.

My mother recently talked about a Purity conference she and my brother went to last year. The speaker pointed out that in Proverbs 31, it says that the woman did her husband good all the days of her life. That means even before she met him, she was doing him good by preparing her heart and her life to be his. That really struck me. Here I was focusing on my dream man and all the he was supposed to be for me when instead I should be focusing on myself and all that I'm supposed to be for him.

Wait for it.

Here it is.

You ready?

*smacks self on forehead* "DUH!"

I shouldn't be worried about it. God's got it covered. He's shaping me even as I write this. There's someone out there for me, but God is the one to bring us together, not me.

I still have my moments, like now. I really want someone to hold and to hold me. One day I will, but until then there's my teddy bear, Tufty.

We've been through a lot together, Tufty and I.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

You Never Let Go

This is another past blog post, originally posted in May of this year. Oops, I mean last year!

"V.1-Even though I walk through the valley
Of the shadow of death
Your perfect love is casting out fear
And even when I'm caught in the middle
Of the storms of this life
I won't turn back I know You are near

PreChorus-And I will fear no evil
For my God is with me
And if my God is with me
Whom then shall I fear?
Whom then shall I fear?

Chorus-Oh no, You never let go
Through the calm and through the storm
Oh no, You never let go
In every high and every low
Oh no, You never let go
Lord, You never let go of me.

V.2-I can see a light that is coming
For the heart that holds on
A glorious light beyond all compare
And there will be an end to these troubles
But until that day comes
We'll live to know You here on the earth

Bridge-Yes, I can see a light that is coming
For the heart that holds on
And there will be an end to these troubles
But until that day comes
Still I will praise You
Still I will praise You"

~Words and Music by Matt and Beth Redman

I have been reading the book of Job this last week or so. What struck me first, and this is really just a side note, was that even when God Himself is impressed by your righteousness, it's still not enough. You still need a Redeemer.

However, what has really rung true for me is that even in the midst of Job's pain, his sorrow, his suffering-- both physical and mental (his friends didn't really help), and his discouragement, he still knew that God was there and that He would deliver Job from his torment.

Some of us can relate. Man, I know I can. For several years I went through a period that I now call The Dark Times. Seriously, if you were given a chance to compare me now to me then, you just might not see much similarity.

I was depressed, yes. There were times I was even in despair. I lost nearly everything, eventually living in a motel, trying to make ends meet from week to week. There were nights that, if it hadn't been for the kindness of friends, I would have had to sleep in my car.

It wasn't because Satan wanted to test my righteousness. No. God was refining me. And it hurt.

I blamed Him, of course, along with my parents (my mother in particular), my jobs, my living situations, my landlords, name it, I blamed it. Except myself.

In all this time, God was working me, shaping me. I railed at Him. I'd shake my fist at Him, telling Him that since He obviously didn't care for me, then I'd forget about Him. Yet, I knew deep inside, where Truth doesn't hide, that He did love me, and that no matter what I said or did to Him, He had a tight hold and He wasn't going to let me go no matter how much I hurt Him. And, believe it or not, even in the midst of my anger at Him, it still comforted me.

When God finally revealed who He was in my life, I was at the end of my rope. Maybe I was just too tired to fight Him anymore. Maybe He had me right where He wanted me, right where I'd listen.

He used my mother, of all people. The one person I fought just as hard as I'd fought Him. This time, there was no fight. I didn't go down swinging. This time I allowed myself to really examine my life and I knew that something had to change.

Long and short: I chose God.

So much power in those three words! I chose God. You know why? Because He chose me. Little me, yet He knew, through the blood of His Son, that I was worth it. He wouldn't let me go, and I can't think of a better end than to love and serve Him for eternity.