Throne

As children we play pretend princess, sending younger siblings to serve us juice and crackers, fanning us as we sit on a throne of pillows and blankets in our make believe castles.  Twirling in our dresses, making the neighbor kids into our subjects, and ruling our empires of the backyard with delight and imagination. It quickly dissolves once one kid questions our authority, but for a moment, we get the taste of the power and the throne.

No one has to tell us that this type of position is better. No one has to teach a child to order other people around.  No one has to tell us that a tantrum in a middle of a store is going to get us what we want.

william-krause-741173-unsplash

The idea of a throne, ruling, and reigning is entrenched into our DNA.  We are born with a desire for power or control, but also with the need for worship, the need to be lead by someone or something.  

We often question how people get themselves into bad relationships, pyramid schemes, a terrible job or even cults.  It’s because, unchecked, we are looking for something to lead us somewhere. We are looking for someone to tell us who we are and where we belong.It’s in us.  And maybe not everyone gets sucked into a cult, but it could be way less extreme than that.

There is a throne of our heart, and we are constantly trying out all kinds of things to put in that place. There is a place of control, reign, ideals, values, that drives us to act and live out as we do.

And this isn’t surprising, humanity has been this way for a long time. Throughout the old testament, you see the rejection of God as the true ruler, King over their hearts.

After God led his people out of Egypt, slavery and through the wilderness.  He gave them the promised land. But they weren’t happy, the strayed away, they followed after other gods.  He provided them Judges and Priests to try to bring them back, but when the Judges and Priests either died or didn’t follow after God.  They cried for a King, like all the other nations. They were warned what an earthly king would do.

But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the LORD. And the LORD said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.” -1 Samuel 8:6–9

Friends, let’s be honest.  We aren’t more evolved or better than those in the Old Testament world.  We are quick to run from idol to idol. We can even church those idols up and lie to ourselves that they really aren’t idols or all that bad.  We may not have altars with foreign bronze or gold statues in our houses.  We don’t go to a temple and offer burnt sacrifices.

s-o-c-i-a-l-c-u-t-1300639-unsplash

But we lay ourselves out on the altar of social media presence and notoriety.  We put up white fences and shiplap. We sacrifice time for financial security, entertainment and independence.  We step up onto the throne worshiping self-empowerment and heroism. When set up our lives to celebrate things and experiences like festivals and feasting driving us to live for the present moment more than anything else.  We chase after relationships and false loves, giving our hearts to things that will crumble under the pressure of the crown.

We reject God’s authority when it gets too uncomfortable, or means that we are vulnerable to lose everything we worked hard to attain.  We reject God’s reign of our lives when it means having a hard conversation. We reject God as King when get that ring on our finger, worshipping the gift instead of the giver.

Friends, may I even plead that we struggle with God as king, because it literally means that we are more lost than we thought.  We are more helpless and inadequate than we want to admit. No one wants to feel weak. And when God rules and reigns in our life as the true King, we have to face the facts.  We are in desperate need.

But it really is good news.  

Such good news.

ashton-mullins-138190-unsplashI need to hear that it’s not up to me.  The crown is too heavy. The pressure is too much. I can barely handle keeping my kitchen clean, let alone being sovereign over my days.  

In our current day, so many more people are struggling with anxiety, depression, unhappiness, than statistics will ever show.  We can’t keep up. But we don’t have to. No, our Father in heaven, sent Jesus as the true and better King, to establish his reign and rule here on earth as it is in heaven.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdomto establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.”  -Isaiah 9:6–7

It’s on his shoulder and he will uphold it.  We don’t have to.  We can live in peace and rest because He is on the throne.  He came, bore a crown of thorns, not just to sit on a golden throne here on earth, the throne of our hearts forever.

 

Photo by William Krause on Unsplash

Photo by S O C I A L . C U T on Unsplash

Photo by Ashton Mullins on Unsplash

Advertisements

Expectancy

Last year at this time, I unknowingly penned some of the same words I fully intended to process out today.  Today’s sermon actually covered this verse this morning as I sat in the pew, teary eyed trying not to let my sniffles be audibly heard by my friends besides me.

Colossians 1:17- “And in him all things hold together.”

Leaning hard into that verse, it almost hurts to think about all that 2017 was and did in my heart.  In many ways it was joyous and full of wonderful memories of fun, friends and family.  Good, wonderful moments.  Places visited, people met, and times of rejoicing.  But also….times of suffering and heartache.

2017 might as well have been the year of silence in many ways, I couldn’t write or share in the same ways I have done in the past, because the words from the Lord felt much closer and personally deeper that I am not sure if I am ready to share or able to.  It is much easier to share when the lesson has been learned and behind you….but in many ways the lessons and sufferings aren’t over yet.

I am in the midst.  I am standing in the muck, the grime of life. I speak from the trenches.  Maybe my trenches look a little different than yours, but it is still the struggle.

37248647532_8f3ce3b321

Friends, this is it, right.  This is what living really is.  It isn’t the Instagram pictures, the funny stories shared on Snapchat.  It is the pain behind the eyes.  The screams and curse words no one hears or even the ones closest bear the brunt of.  The silent tears in the car.

  • The breakdown standing in front of a laundry pile.
  • It is being surrounded by people but still feeling the ache of loneliness.
  • It’s those moments in the grocery store when you are trying to decide whether to drown your sorrows in frozen pizza or ice cream.
  • Real life is when someone’s bags are packed ready to leave….and yet still wanting to fight to stay.
  • Or when you have to get up and do it all over again, even though your legs and heart feel like lead.

No one wants to share these moments online, we want to be distracted from them.We want to pretend these are just the moments we skip over to get to the shots of pretty lattes and shoes surrounded by leaves. (Totally saying this as my #bestnineof2017 included several of those shots!)

*******

This Holiday season, much like the ones before it have left me wanting. I always have expectations, ideas about what this time of year should hold. It should feel like all those Hallmark movies I have been watching.  Snow always flurrying, lights on every house, cookies available at all times.

38527410235_279ae35f8e

Even if it is a little like this, it won’t ever be enough.  It will always leave us wanting more.  Because what we expect from a supposedly happy, joyous season, is actually a satisfaction for deeper longing.  One that is broken open by living in this world. A longing that actually doesn’t have an answer that sounds as good as “Family, Love, and gratitude.”

I was frustrated that I was too busy this year to enjoy all my regular holiday things, like cookie backing, and crafting.  I didn’t drive around to look at lights and have yet to enjoy some hot chocolate.  But someone reminded me that all of those things are great, but it is good that this also be a season of expectancy and longing not just of met expectations.

As someone who is afraid to have expectations to be disappointed in or even crushed hopes for the year to come, expectancy looks much different.

Instead of holding tight to a list of goals, a word, or even some sort of resolution, being expectant means opening your hands, arms, and even heart to an anticipation of seeing what God will do with this blank slate of a year.

“For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angle departed from her.” -Luke 1:37-38

Oooh, that feels too vulnerable, right?  Right now instead of writing this, I should be deciding on my 2018 word, creating some sort of Instagramable image to share with everyone. Something to give others hope and inspiration.

For me, proclaiming things over my year, makes me think that I am the one steering this thing, it implants this idea in my head that I am the captain of my soul.

Maybe that I have to pick the just right WORD to hold my life together.  A lie that I cling to…..to easily point blame or reason with, when things go wrong or the disappointment is just too real. Or even a word to just forget after January or misplace in the rough terrain for February.

So we our own scapegoat when we don’t meet goals or life fails us in some way.  Or its an ego boost when things are going right.  For our glory or downfall. Holding ourselves responsible for everything. Worshipping our own abilities, talents and gifts.

Right there it is….when we place ourselves in the captain seat of our lives, we are essentially trying to be our own savior, superhero and more.

Isn’t the truth is so, so much better….because Jesus is better. 

“and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” – Heb. 12:24

He has spoken the better word not only over 2018 but our lives.

The truth that says that we don’t have to be the one steering the ship.  We have someone that has already put themselves in the captain seat, the throne of our hearts and souls.  He came to take over the ship and steer us into eternity.  He holds the responsibility, he took on all the blame so we didn’t have to.  He is the captain that we could never be.

Mary knew that as she said those words “Let it be according to your word.”  She modeled an expectant heart for God to work.  And work he did.

So friends, as you enter into 2018, may your coffee and expectancy to be strong.  And may you see God work in impossible and mighty ways, not just in your lives but more importantly your hearts. 

**************************

photo credit: Tuomo Lindfors Iisalmi via photopin(license)
photo credit: NathalieSt Festive Street via photopin(license)

I Didn’t Know

Last Thursday, the buses pulled away and we waved, then cheered when the last one slipped out of the lot.  I was close to tears, but at the same time felt relief and elation.

3 years ago today, I couldn’t have told you where I would be teaching or whether I would be teaching at all.  I had only one interview.  I was searching for a summer job, I was scraping by one day at a time.  I had no idea what my future held.  I didn’t know about these kids or this place.  I was hoping and praying for something.  I just wanted someone to give me a chance.

Sometimes, when I sit and reflect over my 3 years of teaching, I shake my head in disbelief that I haven’t crumbled or jumped out a window.  There are moments when I just don’t know if I can come back and do it all over ago, and I don’t just mean after the year is over, but daily.

However, as I look through pictures of my students, I think about those moments when they make me laugh hysterically, it makes the fight worth it.

…..those moments when they share their heartbreak and I want to weep but hold to together to be strong for them.   …..those hugs that they awkwardly gave me when they left.  …..those Valentine’s they wrote me. “Don’t worry Ms. Spare, you aren’t alone, you have us!”

Those are the moments that make my job the best job.  My students make my job worth it.  I told them just that.

They asked if I was going to give them a sappy speech on the last day, “Of course, I will have the last word!”

Even though I know it might go in one ear and out the other, I still them that I care about them.  I tell them that they make my job better.  I tell them that they have so much potential and I am excited to see what they do with their future.  I tell them I am going to miss them.  I tell them that as frustrated I can get with them and their behavior, they will always have me in their corner.


On that last day, tears weren’t a threat, until one of my students who I am closer to, walks up with flowers.  “I told you that you were my favorite teacher,” she says as she hands the flowers to me.

Tears threaten to spill out, but I hold it together and walk into class as the bell rings.  And for the last time, I raise my hand and wait for them to get quiet and work on their bellwork.

There are days and events that make me question my profession, but I think everyone has those.  If you didn’t question what you did and why you do it, I think you can get too comfortable.

Looking back 3 years ago, I don’t think I could have predicted that my heart would get so attached to these students and this place.  Even if they don’t ever fully realize how much I care, it will still be worth it.