Sunflower Song

5099691_origUsually I like running, but today was not that day. I squeaked out the miles in new shoes that were no bueno for my feet. But this sight stopped me in my tracks.

We’ve had drizzling grey weather the past week, unusual for Colorado especially this time of year.  The stark contrast of the grey horizon and the bold sunflower reminded me of my own story.

It was a long process of awakening from a world of grey, and I was and will always be so thankful for the sunflowers in my life that beckoned me to more.  Those sunflowers have names and faces.  My amazing mom who listened to me with profound patience and endlessly spoke life and vision into a weary soul, Joanie who sat on the floor before me in a little prayer room and held my feet to ground me while she prayed over me, even a favorite author, who at the time I hadn’t met before, whose writings spoke to me at a new and deep level.  God reached me through each of these people in ways unique and beautiful.

I’m thankful for these people.  I’m even thankful for the grey.  For where there was no awareness of grey, there would have been no sight to see the color of freedom.  I am forever thankful for you, my sunflowers, my heroes.

A drop of color in a world of tasteless grey
A burst of light to chase desperate gloom away

In your honor, you beseech me
And draw me toward worlds anew

Poison creeps in and suffocates the soul
But a power awaits beyond all control

I draw strength from your great beauty
Courage from wonder once lost

Poised to defeat by strength of light
Reckless in every act of love’s bold might

Little sunflower formed of gold
You were not made to fight alone

Your sense of self sways with every gust
With your face to sun you know to trust

Unpretentious little flower
What secrets you must know

Gentle petals of valiant hue
Seeps all that is good, wonderful and true

To the sun and wind, you may bend
Yet grow bright in tender strength

A poetic bloom of mystery
Captivating in raw honesty

A little hope of color
Most gracious dash of life

A priceless beauty to be sure
A warrior of freedom’s great valor

Striking passion in field of earth’s hot breath
You sing a different song

For you stand your ground
In a world tragically grey bound

A song of hallelujahs
Some broken but made whole

So simple and so true
You stand firm as true you

So stand your ground and sing your song
Driving twisted grey away

Pink Mountains

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I took this picture and wrote this on a long early morning run.  Turns out 8 miles is rough on the knees,
but easy on the heart.

Pink light bathes granite mountain top
Towering in strength
Beckoning with its intensity

A gentle call washed in early morning light
Come and live fully
A hard heart turned flesh
A song of true home

One step then another
Always climbing
Always seeking
Will I reach the top?

My name whispered in the breeze
Hope mingles with peace in a perfect pirouette
Chasing shadows to find smiling light
And tangle my fingers in its grateful glimmer

Gentleness splayed across strength in playful pink
Weightless in its wonder
I feel the impact full force
Stillness seeps deep into my soul

An inspired climb higher still
To touch the painted peak
And breathe in kiss of heaven so sweet

Caesar Augustus

4245741I had it all.  Power, connection, posterity, an entire kingdom… mine.  The first emperor of Rome.  A tribune for life.

True, I was one of the people, a countryman.  Born Gaius Octavius in Rome 63 BC.  However, sheer defiance would rule out the ordinary.   My destiny was authority.  Born to greatness; leadership in my blood.  I was adopted by Julius Caesar.  Adopted into power and might.  I was crushed by my uncle’s assassination, but only for a moment, for then I held the power of the empire in my hand.  A power I respected and transformed into a monarchy.  A power I exploited.  I worshiped the Roman gods, yet insisted on my people worshiping me as a god.  My face on coins, my image on statues across the land.

I hungered for power.  So thirsty for it, I would have cut opened my very veins to drink it in.  Glory was mine.  Rome; famed and great because of me.  From the military to the arts, I had a hand in crafting Roman culture.  I led with innovation and tradition.  My reign was marked by a season of peace and prosperity for my people.   I knew no limit to my apparent success.

Nonetheless, there was a wrinkle in my plan.  A glitch in the cosmos of time.  One little thing, which would become my greatest downfall.  A baby.   An infant boy that would be king.  A child born in an unknown corner of my grand kingdom.

I never met this child, nor did I meet the man he grew to be.  While I built the Roman Forum he and his motley band carried the gospel on the roads I commissioned.  For thirty three years, He built his kingdom and I built mine.  His power rivaled my own, but I did not know it.

A baby in a manger.  A man on a cross.  Me.  A man caught at a crossroad.  I answered to power and spoke the language of might, when I should have fallen on my knees and succumbed to the vernacular of grace.

I had it all.  Power, connection, posterity, an entire kingdom… mine.  A tribune for life.  The greatest Roman Emperor.  Yet I had nothing.  Nothing that mattered outside the domain of my kingdom.  There was another kingdom that I refused to acknowledge.  Blinded by power, choking on success.  A kingdom that surpassed my own.

A cry in the wind from an obscure manger.  A cry from the cross that rang out across the land that all is finished.

And me?  I am finished too.  Finished by a power I could only grasp at.  Run in by a love so pure I ran from it.  Torn apart by a kingdom I could not see with my eyes.

Yes, it is finished indeed.

 

PS – I wrote this monologue for my church, which then turned into this:

From the Depths of the Unknown

5964074Those who have ears to hear, listen to this.  Your Heavenly Father created you for a life of intimacy, joy and freedom.  He created you to live life to the fullest.  You were adopted into a powerful kingdom.  Greatness and love await.  Will you come?

Take a moment to be still and listen.  Are you being called forward from the edge? The past holds only the power you give it.  Lies speak louder when listened to.  Security, power and comfort will eventually suffocate.  Will you jump?

Lean in and listen.  Are you being beckoned to go higher and deeper?  Do you hear your name and a familiar voice calling you from the depths of the unknown?

Will you risk everything?  Will you risk what people think of you?  What you think of you?  Will you let go of your control?  Will you move from a place of playing it safe to a place of risk?  Will you let go of the past that drags you down, the present, which overwhelms and the future that worries you?

No, there are few feelings of magic in the freefall, but there is life.  Great life.  Deep life.

So come with me to a place where you can take deep draughts of unadulterated life.

The free fall can be scary and painful, yes.  Like being thrown into a deep ocean, tossed around, you don’t know which way is up or down.

But once you drink in this ocean, currents of grace flow through your veins and love becomes a never-ending tidal force pulling you deeper and deeper.

Come to this place where you are seen and known on the inside and out.  Where love summons and grace knows your name.

This is where you discover you are His beloved.  Will you come?

Dare to Dream

3161448Born into an epic.  Created to play an irreplaceable role in the greatest story ever told.  Crafted with unique gifts to live, love and share in the adventure and romance.

What will you do with your precious time in this world?

The world is a noisy place.  Will you listen and be silent in the chaos?  In a caffeinated, distracted, addicted-to-busy domain, will you rest?

“The stakes are high,” as Bill Hybels says.  So lead.  The world is rushed.  Rest.  The world is dark.  Love.

We search for God, for freedom, for love, and peace.  Why do we think these things have gone missing?  Perhaps they’re hiding right under our noses.  We catch glimpses in nature, in beauty, in song, in literature, in conversation with a friend.

Laughter ringing on a breeze brings to us the familiar feeling of hope.  Will we risk embracing full-hearted desires and whole-hearted longings?  Will we dare to believe, to dream, to want?

What do you want your life to look like ten years down the road?  Create this future now.  If in twenty years, you could accomplish just one thing, what would you want it to be?  Chase after this now.  What makes you feel most alive?  Cultivate this now.

Identify your life purpose.  Don’t let the gremlins that try to nag you and whisper messages of self-doubt hold you back.   Chase your dreams now so when you look back at your life, you don’t wonder where your life went and why you never risked, failed or succeeded.  It is a tragedy when we attempt to live without desire or live paralyzed by fear of failure.  Perhaps it is this exact fear or risk that would make you come alive.  What if we let fear become our catalyst to freedom?  Are you willing to leave your places of comfort to experience the power of God’s whimsy and delight in you?

Freefall

7041497You are standing on a cliff.  Not just any cliff, but your cliff.  The cliff you know more intimately than you know yourself.  The cliff made of things that keep you feeling safe, secure, comfortable, and in control.  It is a world of grey, but it’s known-ness keeps you paralyzed in hazy contentment.  You wonder, “Can I leave this all behind?”

You walk to the edge of this cliff.  You hesitate not knowing if it’s worth the risk.  A voice softly calls out your name.  You strain to hear it as you lean into empty space.  You hear your name again and again and again.  You are being called.  Summoned by love into a greater depth.  Beckoned by risk to awaken to a world of freedom.  You shiver in anticipation.  You wonder, “Do I believe enough?”

Freefalling won’t be pretty, but the choice to leap is yours.  You step closer.  Your heart lured by the thought of embracing a truth so real; a freedom so wonderful you must abandon comfort to find it.  You gaze into an unknown land, familiar only by the promises echoing in your heart.  You hear distant laughter.  You sense joy.  You hear Love calling your name.  A daring, relentless freefall awaits.  You step forward and embrace risk.  You wonder, “How much will this hurt?”

You plummet through that place in the sky that lies between your cliff and the abyss somewhere below your downward spiraling body.  Wind everywhere.  You can’t catch your breath.  You’re falling or maybe you’re flying.  You don’t think.  You can’t think.  You hear only the sound of your beating heart.   You are freefalling.

Suddenly you feel it.  Love.  Love in its purest form.  Unadulterated by the world.  You dive deeper and deeper.  It invades every cell in your body.  A warm weightless blanket.  You feel as if you might explode by the depth of His love and pleasure.  Fears do not enslave.  Chains do not bind.  Doubts do not haunt.  You float, fly and fall in a whimsical world of love.  It feels like eternity.  It feels like seconds.  It doesn’t matter.  You have been swallowed up in the chasm of His love.  You wonder, “Can I freefall forever?”

Strong arms effortlessly catch you out of the air and hold you so close.  His tender strength envelops your soul as you lean into His embrace.  Your roaring heart pulses near His steady heartbeat.  The tremors in your hands and legs still.  You realize who is holding you and tremble once again.  You look up into warm eyes; endless pools of love and delight.  You wonder, “How long have you been waiting for me?”

Then, in a moment of sweet silence, He writes His freedom on your heart.  He smiles at you, and in His smile is the pride and affection of a good and gentle Father.  He laughs and in his laughter is the contagious joy of a child.  You feel like you could run and dance and play forever.  You laugh because you know He wants to do the same. Whimsy is your companion.  Freedom is your song.  Over and over your soul cries out, “Jesus is enough.”

To the Rich Young Ruler in You and Me

2091512Picture this.  A young man walks through the dusty streets of a small town.  He stands a little taller than the rest.  His stride is calm and confident as he makes his way through the bustling crowds of people.  He has everything he could ever want.  Power, wealth, position, and good health are his.  He has followed all the rules since boyhood and has done many good things of which he is proud.  There is nothing that can stop him.  Except maybe a conversation with the Teacher.

You see, he wanted eternal life.  This is good.  However, he wanted this on his own terms.  This is where it gets difficult.  To enter the Kingdom of Heaven, you must do what the Father tells you to do.  The man understands this and is willing.

The Teacher speaks.  You must not murder, steal, or lie.  You must love others.  The man thought this all was very good.

Then the Teacher told the man that he must give away everything.  Those words had the effect of ice cold water poured down his spine.  He must give away all his possessions to the poor, so that his wealth would be in heaven.  If he could let go of those things, then he could lay hold of the Kingdom of Heaven.  The young man was deflated.  It was as if all the air just left his body, leaving him depleted and unmoving.  This was the one thing he did not want to hear.  So he left and did not come back.

How often do we hold onto things that keep us from fully living and fully trusting?  It could be good things that are dear to us like family, friends and ministry.  It could be things like money, power, and position.  It could be something simple like eating, reading, or dating. But whether it’s a relationship or an addiction, you must let go of that which has become your captor, things you are holding onto and keep you from embracing the Kingdom. What keeps you stuck, trapped, immobile, fearful, angry or depressed?  This is your mud puddle.  What keeps you from fully trusting because it makes you feel comfortable, safe and secure?   What are you trusting and holding onto more than you are trusting and holding onto Jesus.  This is what keeps you from true freedom.  This is your cliff.  Until Jesus is enough, you will be forced to set up camp here.  This is a dangerous place to dwell.

God is calling you to step forward.  God is saying to you, precious daughter and precious son, to trust Him.  Be brave.  Jump.  Leap off your cliff in belief.  There is only one requirement and that is desperation.  Are you fed up with your mud puddle?  Are you in urgent need of freedom from your cliff?  How much do you need Jesus?  Is He enough for you?  Is your faith reckless enough to dive into the depths of His love?

Then do it.  Believe.  This is your moment.  Today is your day to believe.  Leave behind the chains that hold you captive, the bonds of comfort, the barricade of fear.  Leap for freedom.  He has already set you free.  Embrace your freedom.  Jump for love.  It’s all about love.  That is what the abyss is below the cliff.  It is love.  So free-fall through His chasm of love.

In the exhilaration of free-fall, there is peace, there is wonder, and there is relief.  There is great joy when you leap and find your True Love waiting with outstretched arms.  When you free-fall into your Father’s arms you will land hard in undeniable freedom and uncontained whimsy.   You will find that He is enough.  He will laugh with you, He will cry with you, He will take you by the hand and show you His Kingdom.  You will fall deeply in love and just maybe you will want to free-fall again.

Into the Wardrobe

5324540“It is all a dream,” said the Witch, always thrumming. . .  “There is no Narnia, no Overworld, no sky, no sun, no Aslan.”

“One word, Ma’am,” [Puddleglum] said. . . “Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things. . . Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. . . That’s why I’m going to stand by the play-world.  I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it.  I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia.”

C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair

Like a fog that silently creeps over the hills and settles over the town resting on its hillside, so does evil’s long wispy fingers of sleep and death reach out to grasp its prey.  The haze closes in on you until you can’t find your way out.

But there is hope, for just before Puddleglum made this bold statement, he put his hand in the fire.  The searing pain jolted him awake from the Witch’s deceptive lullaby.

Surrounding every one of Aslan’s Warriors, is such a battle.  To contest this, requires a boldness and an alertness that must be fought for.  Every man, woman and child that fights is a Warrior of Aslan’s.

Oh to be a true Narnian.  To enter the Wardrobe and never have to leave.  To run where talking creatures run and fly.  Where time stands still, and greatness is the true test of time.  Where romance and adventure take flight.  But with the adventure comes a great and terrible battle; a cause that all true Narnians must defend.  There will be blood, there will be tears, but in the end there will be sweet victory.

For every hand burnt in the fire, there is a hero.  For often, to see past the “skin of this world,” and to walk into the Wardrobe is a course marked with the sweetness of pain.  Where does life’s journey take you next?  I dare say, I hope it is into the Wardrobe.