Thursday, June 25, 2015

not who i once was...

I stepped… slowly at first, then intentionally letting go… releasing myself into the cool water, allowing it to rush over me until I was fully submerged. I rested there for a moment, covered completely by the water, my senses fully aware of this covering.

Slowly coming to the surface,
I chose freedom.
I left the bondage below the water, drowned beneath.

I swam forward with new vigor. I took each step up from the water with growing joy and adrenaline. A burden that had once seemed part of me—accompanied by a hopelessness that I would never shake free from it—was no longer mine.  With His help, I had emerged from the water without it…

I had emerged from the water free.

It’s not that this freedom wasn’t already mine. But I had been living as if it weren’t.  Why would I, one offered freedom, walk in bondage? But I had been. It had been surreptitiously suffocating me. I was drowning by my own choosing. The tragic irony of a free slave… living as one I was not.
            But no longer! For today I claimed His promise over me, a promise that was already mine, but that I needed to receive once again:

“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean…and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statues and be careful to obey my rules….And you shall be my people, and I will be your God” (Ezek. 36:25-28).

My idols… fashioned by unbelief. Unbelief that He was enough—enough to hold me through the devastating grief of death, enough to love me through the crushing heartbreak of rejection, enough to fill the void of the crippling oppression of isolation, enough to be my identity. That unbelief drove me into the arms of others, seeking something I could see, touch, cling to, believe in… But my search for satisfaction left me in shambles.

It left me in shame.
And today I left that shame under the water.

“Remember that I’ve been forgiven for this sin so I’m not consigned to commit it over and over again” (Elyse Fitzpatrick, Because He Loves Me). 

“No sin can be crucified in either life or heart, unless it first be pardoned in conscience, because there will be want of faith to receive the strength of Jesus, by whom alone it can be crucified. If it be not mortified in its guilt, it cannot be subdued in its power” (William Romaine, The Life, Walk and Triumph of Faith).

So I let go. I let myself sink under that water and break out again into freedom. I let myself feel and accept the cleansing that was already mine. I released the shame, the guilt, the identity that I had accepted as my own. By the grace of God, I let them go under that water… and by the grace of God, I will leave them there.

                        I am free.
By His blood.

I am clean.
Through His Son.
I am shameless.
                        In His purity.

I am not who I once was.



Monday, May 4, 2015

A happy little...

"Let's paint a happy little tree over here... and maybe add a happy little cloud up in our sky... I think I'd like a happy little cabin in my woods..."

If you grew up, like me, hearing the calming voice of Bob Ross periodically emanating from your television, then you know exactly what I'm talking about. He always made painting look so effortlessly simple, as his soothing voice talked his audience through every brush stroke he performed. These graceful strokes gradually turned a once-blank canvas into, literally, a work of art--creating stunningly beautiful depictions of scenes, whether in the towering mountains, by a sparkling river, or in the wintry woods. He was inspiring, to say the least, making even me--the most artistically challenged individual you may ever meet--wonder if I could replicate the simple strokes being demonstrated before my very eyes. I loved each "happy little" character he added to his scene and took in the beauty of the process he shared with his audience--a process of translating the vision in his mind onto the canvas set before him. It was surprisingly enrapturing, even to me as the on-the-go little one that I was at that age. But beyond all these little details that I remember, there was one that stood out to me above all the rest.

The detail from all of Bob's shows that captured my memory the most arrived during the moments I believed he was almost done with his beautiful artwork. The scene had unfolded before me in less than 30 minutes, while he had masterfully added each happy new component to his painting. Things seemed almost complete in each tranquil place to which he had teleported his audience. But right at this moment of "near completion," Bob would strike his scene with some seemingly-unwelcome new paint. Each time, I would be slightly dumbstruck, wondering why he had just ruined his inspiring creation with this intruder of misplaced paint. It had been so beautiful, so serene, so perfect. But now it was so irreversibly marred with the artist's rash mistake. And on public television, no less. What would he do to fix his blunder...?

I quickly learned, however, that nobody had "blundered" except for me in my distrust of the artist's work. What I had witnessed as a rash mistake had all along been a planned decision. What I had interpreted as a ruined piece of art was really the next step in a yet-unfinished journey of the final product. What had looked before, to me, nearly complete, was sorely lacking some key pieces from the artist's dream for his finished painting. But thankfully, Bob didn't stop where I always thought he should have. Thankfully, my worried groans and "what are you doing?!"s never reached Bob's ears or affected his purposes. Thankfully, he kept right on painting. Each of those blunders, as identified by me, was really the beginning of yet another beautiful, happy little component of Bob's dream for that canvas. A breathtaking wintry woods scene was, without my knowledge, completely incomplete without the cozy, warm cabin pouring wintry-smelling smoke from its chimney to warm the cold woods. If Bob had stopped before painting that cabin, *I* would have thought it a masterpiece. But Bob would have seen it for what it really was--a cold scene missing the warmth of a final, crucial, happy little cabin. I'm so glad the artist didn't stop short of his vision, regardless of the dreadful mistake I believed he was making. I'm so glad Bob the artist knew exactly what he was doing and exactly where he wanted to take his blank, white canvas--not stopping one brush stroke too soon, lest he miss one part of the masterpiece traveling from his mind, through his paintbrush, onto that canvas.

As I watched Bob Ross paint, I never thought much further than that obvious, visible canvas on which he was creating. However, a few months ago, as I drove through some breathtaking Irish scenes that were beyond worthy of being painted themselves... God used memories of a simple Bob Ross program to translate some beautiful truths into my own heart. During that drive across Ireland, my heart was almost unbearably heavy with the reality of the last few months' events. For some painful reasons I won't go into, I was taking one last road trip before departing from that beautiful country. I was leaving the place my heart had come to call home. I was going back to more questions than I knew how to answer. And let me tell you, there were a lot of worried groans and "what are you doing?!"s going on in my heart. It felt as if God were taking a gorgeous scene of my life--a picture I saw as nearly complete, with my newfound home, a place I felt I had *fit* more than anywhere in the 27 years of my life--and striking it with a big blob of ugly, unwelcome, misplaced, irremovable paint. It hurt more than I know how to tell you. It felt as though the Artist, without warning, had dropped that paint in my life, and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. The painting was ruined. It was too late to fix the blunder.

But as I sat in that car weighed down by the ruined painting, strangely enough, I thought of Bob Ross. I thought of that first painful stroke of what I didn't yet know would be that cozy, warm cabin. I thought of the even more beautiful creation that always followed. I thought of the trust I had developed that Bob would always paint a scene outside the limits of my imagination--because he knew from the very beginning of his paintings the beautiful places he wanted to take them. And I realized in my heavy heart that God is an Artist much greater, much more worthy of my trust, much more beyond anything my imagination could even begin to dream of than any Bob Ross could ever be. So why would I not trust that He hadn't blundered... that the painting wasn't ruined... that my life wasn't once beautiful and now beyond repair...? Why would I not trust even that, as painful as this was, He had seen it from the very start and that it was the beginning stroke of the next cozy, warm cabin in my life? God is the ultimate Artist. He is the Artist which every other artist tries to replicate. He created, with Words alone, the beautiful scenes each artist tries to imitate. He had a vision of creation, from day one, that would only be complete once He had finished every brush stroke. He had a vision of my life, before I was even born, that would only be complete after He painted more happy little characters than I could ever dream of. So I sit here today believing that the next brushstroke of my life, painful or not, will be to add to the beauty of the masterpiece my Artist is painting on my life canvas. I sit here--still confused by the paint that doesn't yet make sense--but clinging to the truth that the Artist's thoughts are higher than my thoughts... and His ways higher than my ways... I am so thankful that my anxious groans and "what are you doings?!" don't change my Artist's beautiful plans for the finished product He already sees in His picture of my life. I'm so grateful that although, His brushstrokes don't always make sense or feel good, I know they are not blunders...

...they are the beginning of beautiful.

I love thinking of the before and after scenes of Bob Ross's paintings for each show... He always started with that white canvas; and he always finished with something I could have never dreamed up on my own.

Aren't you excited to see what the Master Artist transforms our white canvases into with so many 'beyond our imagination' brushstrokes?

I know I am... and that hope makes some of the confusing seasons of my painting so much more bearable.

Saturday, January 19, 2013


So driving home tonight, I had some of the sweetest time with God, and He brought some huge revelations to me, making a few things really ‘click’ for the first time since being back from China. The whole time it was happening, I just wished I had a recording device in my brain, so I could play it back for others to hear, because I just knew I wouldn’t be able to put into words what happened in that car. I’ve already tried to share it with a friend once, and pretty much faced what I figured I would… there was just no way I could figure out how to explain in words what I experienced. I doubt I’ll be able to do it justice here either, but every now and then I can communicate better through writing, so we’ll give it a try.

So recently I’ve been pursuing a few different job opportunities. I’ve been interviewing with a church for a children’s ministry position, and I talked today with someone about an internship opportunity with a ministry in Ireland. Earlier this week, I was stressed beyond all get out about this church position—wanting to be open to whatever God wanted but struggling with fear that I would make the wrong decision and I guess, ultimately, with some distrust of God about His plans being the best. I wasn’t myself for quite some time… But yesterday, after meeting again with the pastor, I was overwhelmed with peace that God was going to lead me in whichever way He wanted. I had been so anxious that I would make a decision out of selfishness and mess things up… but I knew in that moment, that as I was seeking God, He would really lead me, and I would know what to do. Then today I met with the gentleman I refer to as ‘the Ireland man’—discussing that opportunity. It sounds like an incredible ministry, and I was excited about the possibilities there. I talked to my brother on the way home tonight, telling him about the different opportunities and just catching him up on the things going on. And for some reason, when I got off the phone with him, I just felt this surge of gratitude… I realized that I was so excited for whatever God has next for me—no matter what that is. I was reminded again of the adventure of life and how beautiful that adventure is… including the not knowing part. I just felt this excitement about life that I haven’t felt in a while. And during these grateful moments, I realized something else. I am not the girl I was before I went to China. Before going to China, if you were with me at all or were reading this blog at the beginning… you know that I was absolutely terrified about going. I was basically a nervous wreck for the months leading up to it, as well as for a significant amount of my time there. In fact, it wasn’t just China that scared me. Life was just scary to me. Carmen did an awesome job of challenging me, bringing me out of my comfort zone, and helping me get past that fear a little bit… but I was still pretty scared… insecure… and many other different not-so-wonderful things. Now I won’t pretend that I have none of that left. But as I thought back even just on the past week, I was rather intrigued… Thinking over this church ministry interview process and possibilities and this Ireland potential, I realized how much less scary life is to me. In fact, the Ireland opportunity was one of the most exciting things I could think of, and I was rather hoping that would be the door I was supposed to go through… yes… I *wanted* God to open the door of me going to another foreign country… to be involved in a ministry with which I’ve never had any experience… working with people I don’t know from Adam… That was exciting to me… not scary, not something that invoked the, ‘Oh no, I hope God doesn’t want me to do that one’ emotion… but exciting and wonderful. I then thought about the desire I’ve had at times even to go back to China and go to language school there… or to go to South Africa to work with a ministry I heard about there… and even just the different way that I interact with strangers and the more freedom I feel to be myself and let people know me… life has such a lighter feel to it… like I’m not so tense and uptight… like I can enjoy it. All of these realizations may seem insignificant to you, and maybe this is part of the reason I feel like I can’t explain what I experienced in that car tonight… but they are huge for me. It just hit me that God allowed me to go through the pain and struggles of China—not only to somehow use the broken, messed up, struggling individual that I was there to somehow touch the lives around me because He is so gracious—but also to grow me and to bring me over a massive obstacle of fear in my life. I don’t know if you read my blog post about the lotus flower, but it talks about how the lotus flower grows up through the mud and mire in the water, towards the sunlight, until it rises above the water as a stunning, beautiful, pure flower. The lotus flower can’t skip the murky, muddy stage… it would never make it to the top of the water if it didn’t push through the mud. Likewise, God takes us through the mud in life in order to bring us up above the water. In the middle of my time in China, I didn’t know why I was there or why I had to struggle so much. But looking back, I see the way that He shaped me and brought me through the mud of fear in my life. I never could have done that shaping on my own. Yes, I realize that I have much shaping left… but I am so grateful that God allowed me tonight to see some of the shaping that He did through my pain and struggles this past year. The freedom of living without the kind of fear I used to live with… it’s a beautiful thing. Life has a sort of freeing joy that I may have never known without my China adventure.

I can only begin to imagine and be excited about the growth He wants to bring through His next adventure.

He is so good.

So ultimately, as I read over what I just wrote… I know that I have failed yet again to really express the incredibly bright light, radiant joy, overwhelming peace, and beautiful gratitude that God gave me tonight. But know that He blows my mind… I know there are both mountaintop and valley experiences, and I won’t always ‘feel’ as shaped, renewed, refreshed and free as I do right now. But it seems that with every mountain God brings me to the top of, it gets easier to start climbing the next one… maybe it’s because He has shown Himself so faithful to bring us to the top of the mountains before—no matter how hard the climb and how long the journey… maybe it’s because each mountain gives us conditioning and training that make us a little bit stronger for the next climb… maybe it’s a combination of those two and more… but whatever the reason, it’s a beautiful thing! So let’s keep climbing the mountains… and maybe we’ll even reach the point where we get enough perspective to enjoy the climb and not just the tops. ;) 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Promise of Adventures...

“Adventures are funny things. They always begin with the unexpected, but  always end with the promise of adventures yet to come.”

I want to apologize—first of all to my Lord, and secondly to anybody reading—for the way that I doubted, wavered, questioned, and despaired… I looked at the waves around me, instead of at Jesus standing in the waves with me. I looked at the armies instead of at my victorious Leader. I got caught up in the hopelessness of the battle from my blinded human viewpoint… I forgot the truth of the battle we are fighting and Who is fighting for us… Today I finished the last book of a trilogy I’ve been reading called The Door Within. One of the commanders speaks about this battle… and about his King Eliam (who represents Christ)…

“Now is our time!” Kaliam exclaimed. “Our armies are outnumbered by the enemy! Our odds are grim at best.”Kaliam’s eyes were ablaze, and he stared from knight to knight before he continued.

“But we do not put our faith in odds or in numbers—nor even in the prowess of our weapons. We put our faith in the might of King Eliam, who alone defeated death! We serve a King who gave everything for this kingdom—not sparing even his life! And now… it is our turn. Draw your weapons and do not hide them again until victory is assured. Nothing can be spared. When the sun rises between the Mountains of Glory, let there be glory given to the King. Glory and a free Alleble—whether we all live or not!”

The battle is not easy… in fact, the battles in these books show devastation and tragedy—with the enemy showing himself seemingly stronger for most of the trilogy. Battles are lost, evil is rampant, and hope oftentimes shows itself dim… And yet the warriors of King Eliam constantly remind each other that they are never alone… even when they are facing the most hopeless of battles or dire despair, they are never alone. And not only that, but also that the battle is worth fighting. Win or lose, live or die, they were ready to fight that battle. Their King had given His life for them; and they were ready to give their lives for their King. 

I am a warrior for my King. I don’t feel like a warrior. I don’t think I often act much like a warrior. But He has made me His… and I am never alone in this battle. I have felt so alone for so long now, but those feelings are a lie from the enemy. He wants me to feel alone. But feelings are not truth. And I… am neveralone

So my Jesus again brings me back to His hope. I doubted His plans for me… doubted His goodness in those plans… But He is always good. And life is an adventure… He wants me to enjoy the ride, rather than questioning the Creator of the ride. I think I’ve been questioning much of the time since being back from China. I don’t know what I’m doing with my life. And I’m so tired of being back at that place of not knowing. And even when doors are starting to open, I’m questioning them—questioning the goodness of those doors and of the One who opens them. I read this devotional recently, and was reminded of it again this morning:

The Perfect Ending

“Then Jesus said, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?"
John 11:40 (NIV)
Ever watch one of those feel good movies? You know the kind with the predictable ending where everything works out great!  The hero wins, the problem is solved and yes, the bad guys lose.   We knew it from the very beginning, but we still clung to the edge of our seat waiting for goodness to spill out everywhere.  Wonder if we view life that way?  After all, we are assured of an amazing ending – God triumphs over evil and everything works out beyond our imagination.    We’ve read Revelation and even though we don’t understand all of it – we do know we have an incredible future.  But it’s that space of time between now and then that often derails us.  Instead of trusting and resting in our Mighty God, we find ourselves locked into today and minimizing His power.  Hope fades when justice is blown out the window, and we forget God lifted Joseph out of prison to save a nation.  Joy evaporates when people don’t measure up to our expectations, so we forget that Christ built His church upon Peter, the one who denied His very existence.  Faith is challenged in the midst of overwhelming problems, and we forget at the sound of His voice the storm ceased.  Evil appears to deal us a bad hand, and we forget the grave could not hold Him.  Despite our doubts, God divinely intervenes in our lives longing to exceed our predictability and surprise us with the miraculous.  For those who choose to look beyond today and believe the rest of the story, they will find that our God is faithful and true. 
“Father, Your goodness spills all around us – You are our Hope, and our future is secured in your promises.” 

That devotional speaks to my heart as I have been derailed lately… locked into today… minimizing my God’s power.

He wants me to remember… that “despite our doubts, God divinely intervenes in our lives longing to exceed our predictability and surprise us with the miraculous. For those who choose to look beyond today and believe the rest of the story, they will find that our God is faithful and true.”

So yesterday, I was quite fearful about the next adventure God has for me. There is a job possibility that I have been fighting in my heart, not wanting it to come about. But I am reminded today that God’s adventures are the best ones. I cannot see what He has in store. Whether or not this job is the next adventure, He wants to exceed my predictability… He wants to surprise me with the miraculous. There are also others aspects of life I have been questioning, and He simply keeps telling me over and over again, “Katherine, just abide in Me…” I need not question the King.

Life since China has been strange, and I’ve felt a bit like a floundering fish. I question why 4 ½ months after coming back, I’m still feeling so directionless. But I’m excited… because…

Adventures are funny things. They always begin with the unexpected, but  always end with the promise of adventures yet to come.”

And one last devotional I just received this morning: 

Jesus assures you that as you follow Him–
you will never meet a fear He cannot conquer;
you will never face an enemy He cannot defeat;
you will never enter a battle He cannot win;
you will never have a need He cannot meet;
you will never face a temptation He cannot overcome;
you will never have a burden He cannot lift;
you will never face a problem He cannot solve;
you will never have a bondage He cannot break;
you will never have a moment when He does not care;
you will never have a time when He is not there.
I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ's sufficiency].  Philippians 4:13 AMP

Monday, January 14, 2013

Break me...

Why do I feel like I'm dying inside?

How can life so quickly feel so scary... so painful... so hopeless...?

What do I do with these feelings?

I know they are just that... they are feelings. Yet I feel my feelings so strongly... it seems like I feel them more deeply than others. I am so *real* that when I feel these things, I don't know how to live above them... how to disregard them as the insignificant feelings that they are.

I feel like I'm drowning in them.

How can my heart change so quickly?

How can I so quickly lose sight of what I know to be true, real hope and replace it with drowning despair?

I long to be understood. And yet I know I am not. Except by One... but I feel I have lost connection with Him. I am faking it with the only One who understands me... the only One who knows me inside and out and yet still loves me. I long to be in love with Him again.

I need to be broken. But I don't know how. I'm becoming numb and don't want to be broken. So I live on the surface, unwilling to go deeper... unwilling to experience brokenness.

Break me... please, break me, Jesus...

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Lion

"I do think,” said Shasta, “that I must be the most unfortunate boy that ever lived in the whole world. Everything goes right for everyone except me. Those Narnian Lords and ladies got safe away from Tashbaan; I was left behind. Aravis and Bree and Hwin are all as snug as anything with that old Hermit; of course I was the one who was sent on. King Lune and his people must have got safely into the castle and shut the gates long before Rabadash arrived, but I get left out.”

And being very tired and having nothing inside him, he felt so sorry for himself that the tears rolled down his cheeks.

What put a stop to all this was a sudden fright. Shasta discovered that someone or somebody was walking beside him. It was pitch dark and he could see nothing. And the Thing (or Person) was going so quietly that he could hardly hear any footfalls. What he could hear was breathing. His invisible companion seemed to breathe on a very large scale, and Shasta got the impression that it was a very large creature. And he had come to notice this breathing so gradually that he had really no idea how long it had been there. It was a horrible shock.

The Thing (unless it was a Person) went on beside him so very quietly that Shasta began to hope he had only imagined it. But just as he was becoming quite sure of it, there suddenly came a deep, rich sigh out the the darkness beside him. That couldn’t be imagination! Anyway, he had felt the hot breath of that sigh on his chilly left hand.

If the horse had been any good—or if he had known how to get any good out of the horse— he would have risked everything on a breakaway and a wild gallop. But he knew he couldn’t make that horse gallop. So he went on at a walking pace. And the unseen companion walked and breathed beside him. At last he could bear it no longer.

“Who are you?” he said, scarcely above a whisper.

“One who has waited long for you to speak,” said the thing. Its voice was not loud, but very large and deep.

“Are you, are you a giant?” asked Shasta.

“You might call me a giant,” said the large voice, “but I am not like the creatures you call giants.”

“I can’t see you at all,” said Shasta, after staring very hard. Then—for an even more terrible idea had come into his head—he said, almost in a scream, you’re not, not… something dead, are you? Oh, please, please do go away? What harm have I ever done you? Oh, I am the unluckiest person in the whole world!”

Once more he felt the warm breath of the Thing on his hand and face. “There,” it said, “that is not the breath of a ghost. Tell me your sorrows.”

Shasta was a little reassured by the breath: so he told how he had never known his real father or mother and had been brought up sternly by the fisherman. And then he told the story of his escape and how they were chased by lions and forced to swim for their lives; and of all their dangers in Tashbaan and about his night among the tombs and how the beasts howled at him out of the desert. And he told about the heat and thirst of their desert journey and how they were almost at their goal when another lion chased them and wounded Aravis. And also, how very long it was since he had had anything to eat.

“I do not call you unfortunate,” said the Large Voice.

“Don’t you think it was bad luck to meet so many lions?” said Shasta.

“There was only one lion,” said the Voice.

“What on earth do you mean? I’ve just told you there were at least two the first night, and–“

“There was only one: but he was swift of foot.”

“How do you know?”

“I was the Lion.” And as Shasta gaped with open mouth and said nothing, the Voice continued. “I was the Lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the Cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the Lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the Lion who gave the horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the Lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.”

“Then it was you who wounded Aravis?”

“It was I.”

“But what for?”

“Child,” said the Voice, “I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.”

“Who are you?” asked Shasta.

“Myself,” said the voice, very deep and low so that the earth shook: and again, “Myself,” loud and clear and gay: and then the third time “Myself,” whispered so softly you could hardly hear it, and yet it seemed to come from all round you as if the leaves rustled with it.

Shasta was no longer afraid that the voice belonged to something that would eat him, nor that it was the voice of a ghost. But a new and different sort of trembling came over him, yet he felt glad too…
…He turned and saw, pacing beside him, taller than the horse, a Lion. The horse did not seem to be afraid of it or else could not see it. It was from the Lion that the light came. No one ever saw anything more terrible or beautiful.
Luckily Shasta had lived all his life too far south in Calormen to have heard the tales that were whispered in Tashbaan about a dreadful Narnian demon that appeared in the form of a lion. And of course, he knew none of the true stories about Aslan, the great Lion, the son of the Emperor-over-the-sea, the King above all High Kings in Narnia. But after one glance at the Lion’s face, he slipped out of the saddle and fell at its feet. He couldn’t say anything but then he didn’t want to say anything, and he knew he needn’t say anything.
The High King above all kings stooped toward him. Its mane, and some strange and solemn perfume that hung about the mane, was all around him. It touched his forehead with its tongue. He lifted his face and their eyes met. Then instantly, the pale brightness of the mist and the fiery brightness of the Lion rolled themselves together into a swirling glory, and gathered themselves up… and disappeared. He was alone with the horse on a grassy hillside under a blue sky. And there were birds singing. 
I have always loved the picture Lewis paints of Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia, and listening again to these books on cd has been no different. I think it paints a remarkable picture of His involvement in our lives--one that isn't so clearly seen when I look at my own life. Last night, I was listening before going to sleep, and this passage brought a great deal of peace back to my mind. I thought back over the story and how Aslan, completely unbeknownst to them, had guided them through every step of their journey. His guidance had been quite a fearful one, as they had thought themselves fleeing from deadly danger. And yet, He was lovingly guiding them all along. His midnight chase at the beginning to drive Aravis and Shasta and the horses to meet each other... His protection of Shasta from the wild animals as he lay by the tombs... His last chase to spur the horses on in order to get them there in time to bring the news... And all of these clear appearances of the Lion were accompanied by the directing of every other detail (although the Lion's presence wasn't clearly seen as with the others)--Shasta being seen by King Edmund on the streets in order to hear the Narnian's plans, learn the way across the desert, and meet Prince Corin; Aravis beeing seen by her cousin who was able to safely get her and the horses the rest of the way through the city, but not before hearing the crucial plans of Rabadash against Narnia... each seemingly tragic turn in the story was all orchestrated so perfectly that, had one detail been different, the happy ending would not have been quite so happy. 

It's so beautiful to read about, and so easy for me to see how they could have trusted the Lion all along, knowing He was leading their every step. But it's not so easy to think the same in my own life. I'm in China for less than one more month. After that, I'll go back to America to who knows what. I don't know what comes next. I wasn't too anxious about this before, but having been offered some new options, and the possibility to return to China, I have recently started fretting more. In addition to that, I have been anxious over my remaining time here... What am I doing with my time? How can I most influence these people I love so, sharing God's love with them somehow before I leave them? On and on and on my mind goes with anxious questions as I try to sleep. But again, last night I felt peace. The 'Lion' will lead me--even if He has to chase me to rivers or spur me on with fear, even if he has to 'injure' me in the process or spoil every plan I have made for myself... He will lead me. I am safe, in the sense that He will not let me go astray from His plans. "The mind of a man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps." I can plan as diligently as possible, yet He will still be the one directing my steps, guiding me just as Aslan guided the children and horses even without them knowing...

Shasta, late in the story, finally begins to pick up on his 'safety' in the Lion's care...
…The hillside path which they were following became narrower all the time, and the drop on their right hand became steeper. At last they were going in single file along the edge of the precipice. And Shasta shuddered to think that he had done the same last night without knowing it. “But of course,” he thought, “I was quite safe. That is why the Lion kept on my left. He was between me and the edge all the time…”
We have no need to fear. The 'Lion' will keep on our left when we are walking next to the edge... 

And yet another realization of Shasta's: 
 But of course that was the same boat that Aslan—he seems to be at the back of all the stories—pushed to shore at the right place for Arsheesh to pick me up.
Not only did Shasta recognize the Lion's guidance and protection, but he finally came to know that Aslan was at "the back of all the stories..." Every one of their stories--as different as each was--had Aslan behind it, orchestrating every tiny, and not so tiny, detail to weave all of the stories together for His beautiful plans. Not once was any story out of His control. 

There's a beautiful sort of peace in knowing that I am not writing my own story. There's even peace in knowing that having to fearfully flee, being chased by a terrifying lion, and even injured and put through pain because of that lion, can be God's way of pushing us right where He needs us--for His glory and our good.

Finally, I remember a quote from one of the other Narnia books that relates beautifully to all of this: 
"Is he—quite safe?"
"Safe?" said Mr. Beaver... "Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you."
Our King is the same. He isn't 'safe'... following Him isn't 'safe'... life with and for Him isn't 'safe.' But He is good. And He is the King. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012


So I turned on the song that my friend sent for me to listen to… turned it up, so I could hear it alright, and proceeded to listen, as I simultaneously did some other things. I was enjoying the music—a Christmas song, so of course I loved it—and didn’t even notice anything lacking or different in the song. I continued to listen for some time, until I decided I wanted it a bit louder. I tried to turn it up, only to realize that it was as loud as it would go. But clearly, it was not at full volume. Finally, my eyes shifted down to the white wire coming from the headphone jack in my computer, and I realized that I was listening to this song full blast—but through the tiny headphones, which were not so loud when nowhere close to my ears. I picked up those two little white ear buds, put them in my ears, and was introduced to an incredibly more full and beautiful sound. The ‘oh, this song is kind of nice,’ turned into, ‘wow, this is actually an incredibly beautiful song,’ and it grabbed my full attention more and more--pulling my thoughts away from the other things I was doing. The fullness of the different instruments coming together in the clarity that the ear buds now offered my ears was incredible compared to the distant, muffled sound I had thought I was enjoying before. Then I thought about life and my relationship with God. Of course, I have a relationship with Him… I have for some time now. And I would even go so far as to say my relationship with Him is okay. But I wonder if I’m quite often just being content with a relationship through a distant headphone wire when He would love to offer me the full, complete beauty of the clear, distinct, yet combined sounds of so many instruments directly into my ears.

After experiencing the latter option regarding my music, I definitely wouldn’t want to go back to the distant, dreadfully lacking sound I had settled for previously…