alabaster

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Do not silently accuse the man who sits while everyone stands, his head bowed in his lap while others gaze into the sky, his worship a solemn prayer while joyful shouts echo around him. Do not judge his silence, or criticize his tears that contrast with the smiles around him.

Do not cast glances at the woman who dances in the back of the sitting church, her body moving in the rhythms of worship while others sit in reverent awe. Do not judge her raised hands, or her voice that creates her own melody over the soft words of the chorus.

 You do not know the cost of the deep love that he cannot put to words even while others raise their voices in song. You do not know the price that was paid for the freedom to sets her free to worship His name.

You do not know the cost of the oil in the alabaster jar. 

knowing the contradiction of Him

My love for You has taken the form of striving, working to gain Your affection, running to catch Your love, pleading to hear Your voice.

My heart needs to be in the place of abiding, delighting in Your affection, resting in Your love, listening for Your voice.

 I serve and strive to the point of exhaustion. When I begin to feel Your love, I rationalize it away. But without Your steady arms, I would fall. Without intimacy, my life becomes a religious game rather than a genuine relationship with You.

 You are the God who is jealous for me.

You redeemed Israel and saved me.

You thundered to the prophets and whispered to me.

You are just and yet so kind.

 My intimacy with You does not diminish Your righteousness. Your eyes that watch the universe also know my inner being. I’ve struggled to reconcile my own experience of knowing You with Your judgements and authority that can sometimes make You feel distant and unknownable. But I can’t explain in logical human terms what it is like to be loved by the God of the ages. I can’t explain the comfort in the Name of Jesus. 

 My heart is filled to its very depths with a desperation to know this Holy One. I see glimpses of myself in the woman weeping at His feet, the man dropping his nets at the sound of His voice. I hear my cry in Moses’ plea to “show me Your glory.” I want what they had, what they knew. I want His friendship.

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Exodus 33: 15-23

“Then Moses said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here…show me Your glory.”

And the LORD said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim My Name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But you cannot see My Face, for no one may see Me and live.”

Then the LORD said, “There is a place near Me where you may stand on a rock. When My glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by.”

The Struggle Against Comfort

I believe in a fountain that will never dry
Though I’ve thirsted and didn’t have enough
Thirst is no measure of His faithfulness
He withholds no good thing from us

-Sara Groves

Perhaps one of the greatest ironies that I’ve discovered during these last ten months of living and working at a Christian ministry is that it is entirely possible to serve God and lack affection for Him. I am surrounded by reminders of Him, I have learned what answers work and what phrases sound best in prayer, I find it incredibly easy to deceive myself.

So many of these women cling to a beautified idea of God or Christianity because it provides them with a glimmer of hope—someday, things might change, someday, their lives might be better. Often, Jesus becomes another way out of the pit of addiction and despair. Except that Jesus doesn’t necessarily make circumstances better or consequences disappear.

I want so desperately for these women to see that Jesus is not a band-aid, a replacement, a new addiction, or a lifestyle. He is a Person! This God-Man asks His friends to follow Him, to lay down everything, to carry a cross. He wants friendship and intimacy. He wants love that burns like fire because His love for us burns like fire. But how can I help these women see this Man when I don’t always see Him? It is so tempting to allow Jesus to become comfortable to me. It is easy to see Him as a colorless mannequin instead of a living, breathing, Person. My own apathy scares me.

The Holy Spirit indwells me. He is jealous for me so that I can be jealous for Him. He loves me so that I can love Him.My heart cry is for a deeper love for Him. I want my service for Him to be an outflow of worship.

And in the meantime, He gently reminds me that even while I emotionlessly follow, He is still good. He still loves me. He is still faithful. He withholds no good thing from me.