Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Growing Down

Sometimes, people grow up too fast.

It's not their fault, it's no one's really, but circumstances force them to become adults before their time.

I love Levi and Evan. I love being their big sister. But something happens to you when you are often responsible for two young children with special needs. You grow up. You have to.

Since coming to Asbury, I've grown up in many ways. I've learned to lean more on the Lord instead of on my own strength. I can't get through my day without prayer and Bible study. I can feel myself growing closer to God and inclining my ear to hear His voice.

But in many ways, I've grown down.  My natural dreaminess that I possessed as a child, where I would stare into space and imagine things, think about things. Where I would spend whole hours thinking about one impossible idea, and wonder about wonderfully unbelievable things. It's coming back. My dreaminess is coming back.

My anxiety has diminished greatly, and I reach the end of every day excited and happy about what a great day it was. I'm surrounded, in the prayer group, by older girls. More mature girls. Girls who are farther along in their walks of faith.

And for the first time in my life, I am taking on the role of little sister. Little sister instead of big sister. It is such a relief not to have to lead. No one's looking to me to make decisions or to take care of anyone else or to protect anyone else. I'm not in charge. I'm not the leader.

I'm the little one. The one who has much to learn. The one who's job is to learn and not to lead.

And I couldn't be more excited about growing down.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Pipe Organ Prayer

This morning started out like any other morning.

Get up before the sun, shower, swallow medicine, heave my backpack over my shoulders and set out into the chill morning to go to prayer.

There were only four girls today. Almost all of us are sick in some form or fashion. Some more sick than others, but all of us struggling.

Our prayers of late have seemed heavy. What with revival last week and sickness rampant for almost a month, our prayer has been serious and solemn (as it should be).

We bowed our heads to the altar this morning, lifting our hands and hearts to God before our day started.

I heard some movement on the stage, but ignored it. It's not like the chapel is off-limits when we're praying in there.

But suddenly the loudest, most high-pitched noise sounded from the organ. It took all my willpower not to shoot up and see what was going on. I dutifully kept my head bowed, though, and tried to refocus my thoughts. Suddenly a plethora of scales exploded into the chapel. They didn't stop for the next fifteen minutes.

Someone was tuning the organ. During our morning prayer.

A smile played at the corners of my lips; I tried not to laugh. My shoulders were shaking, and finally I burst out laughing. I looked at the other girls, and they were laughing as well.

We stood and went to breakfast, finally remembering that there was supposed to be an organ concert today.

And I was reminded that God has a sense of humor.

In the midst of our deep, heavy prayer, God gave us something to laugh about. It was as if he was saying, "I hear you. I see you. I know your heart, and how it longs to follow Me. Now laugh. Be happy. Have joy!"

No, it was not my deepest, most emotional prayer ever, but it is one that I'll remember for quite a while.

The pipe organ prayer.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Out of the Grave: A Redemption Story

It started with a faint scratching sound, then her senses were flooded. She felt the moist earth packed against her skin and the bile rising in her throat as the smell of decay overwhelmed her. She gasped for breath only to choke on the dirt that surrounded her. Fear seized her as she found she couldn't move, and her body writhed and thrashed in the oppressive soil. A whiff of sweet air brushed past her and she grabbed frantically at it, but it escaped her. Just when she had struggled for one last breath, she felt a hand brush up against her face. The hand quickly shoved the dirt away from her mouth and eyes and she gulped in great lungfuls of clean air. She blinked rapidly in the harsh light, and moved to sit as the hand scooped away the earth that had held her down. A wave of nausea swept over her and bits of soil and waste came spewing out of her stomach. The hand held her hair back from her sweaty, grimy face and wiped her mouth. The girl looked around and saw walls of earth. She turned to get a better look at the hand and followed it up to the face. It was an unremarkable face, and yet to the girl it seemed infinitely familiar, though she could not say where she had seen it before.

"Who are you?" she ventured.

"Jesus," he replied, brushing the last of the dirt off of her.

She looked again ant his hands and noticed how dirty they were, caked with mud and brown under the fingernails. "What happened to me?" she asked, still balking at the sunlight.

"You buried yourself."

"Did you dig me out?" she said, searching his eyes.

He nodded.


"I love you," he said simply.

"I don't love me," she whispered, turning her face away.

"But I do," he urged.

He stood, and the girl was mortified at his muddy, vomit-stained clothes. "Jesus, I'm sorry," she said timidly, her cheeks burning.

"It doesn't matter," he replied. "You were worth it." With that, Jesus lifted his hands to press on the outside of the hole and hoisted himself out. "Come on!" he beckoned.

The girl stayed firmly seated. "Where are we going?"

"My father's house," he explained. "Everything's prepared - he's been waiting so long for you to come home."

The girl tried in vain to move. "I can't do it," she finally admitted. "I can't get up."

"That's alright," he assured her, reaching down his hands. "I'll lift you."

The girl looked at Jesus's outstretched hands, then looked at the sides of the hole. She craned her neck, but no matter how hard she tried, she couldn't see what was outside. "Thanks, Jesus," she said, "but I think I'll just stay here."

"I'll help you," he pleaded. "You don't have to be afraid. It's so much better out here."

The girl shook her head.

"Well, I'm not leaving unless you're with me," Jesus insisted.

"Just go home without me," she offered. "Tell your father I didn't want to come."

A profoundly sad look crossed his eyes and for a sliver of a moment his countenance fell. "It would break his heart," he said quietly. "I will wait a thousand years if I must, but I am not leavin ghere without you."

The girl threw up her hands in exasperation, and leaned her back against the dirt wall. Days passed and nights too. Months, years. The girl lost count. She grew lonely and tired and confused. Maybe she should have gone with Jesus. Surely, he had left by now?

Her voice was hoarse from disuse, and it took a moment for the words to croak out. "Jesus? Are you there?"

For a brief moment, the girl was terrified. He had left her, and she would be stuck in this rancid hole forever! Slowly, though, two dirty hands reached down toward her, and a pair of heavy-lidded eyes peeped over the ledge. "Are you ready now?" he asked, expectant.

"I think so," she said shakily.

He put his strong arms under hers, and lifted her out of the pit. She had been sitting still for so long that the sudden movement sent a rush of pain through her body. She let out a scream and squeezed her eyes shut.

When she opened them, she saw stalks of sweet green grass with yellow dandelions poking their heads up every so often. Jesus helped her to her feet. She leaned heavily on him, her legs shaking. "I hope your father's house isn't far," she said. "I don't think I can walk."

"It is far," Jesus admitted, "but I will carry you."

"Where is it?" she asked.

He pointed toward a distant line of blue-gray mountains, their tips brushing the clouds. "Beyond the horizon."

Her heart dropped. "I'll never make it."

"Do not fear," he said, squeezing her hand. "For I know the way."

And with that, he lifted her in his arms and started sprinting into the purple dusk toward the mountains and his father's house. He lifted his head to the sky and shouted, "We're coming home, Father! We're coming home!"

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Approval of God

This week marks the end of my first month at Asbury.

It's amazing to think that I am not the same person I was a month ago.

A month ago, I wouldn't have dreamed of getting up at 6:00 to pray every morning.

I would never have asked someone I'd just met how I could pray for them.

I would never have found myself yearning for the end of the day so that I could crawl into bed and talk to God. Just talk with Him.

I'd like to say that its the environment or the people, but its not. It's the Lord.

For the first time in my life I'm finding myself longing for God. Wanting to want Him. Desiring to desire Him.

At my new church in Wilmore, we're studying the book of John. We read these verses on Sunday:

"Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God."
      - John 12:42-43

I'd like to think that I'm not like those rulers. That I am far more concerned about what God thinks that about what men think, but it's just not true.

Even here at school, I find myself obsessed with what other people think of me. Peers, friends, teachers, even the girls in my prayer group. Sometimes when we pray I think more about what they think of my prayer than about what God does.

I am sickened by my own desire for the approval of others.

It's disgusting to me. And I've realized that God is making me more and more aware of how dirty I am. How much I need Him. How weak and empty and helplessly sinful I am without Him.

But that's just where I should be. Because His power is perfected in my weakness.

I can only hope that one day I will love the approval of God rather than the approval of men.