Friday, April 25, 2014

Come Alive in Me

Those three minutes of waiting seemed the longest of my life.  There had to have been a hundred "Mississippi's" echoed between each second of each minute.  Or so it seemed.  Tick-Tock.  Tick-Tock.  Tick-Tock.  My heart raced.  My stomach flopped.  My palms sweat.  Oh, the eager anticipation.  The longing.  The dreaming, wishing, praying, waiting....all that bottled up hope was just desperate to burst open in fulfillment and celebration.

I flipped the test over and carefully looked to see if that second pink line would appear in the window.  Even if that little pink line was faint, it confirmed so many marvelous things.  Answered prayers.  New life growing inside.  Motherhood.  Oh, how I wanted it so.  Oh, how I believed it to be.  Oh, how I envisioned our future.  All I had to do was stand sideways in the bathroom mirror, gazing at my profile, and before I knew it I had convinced myself that I could indeed see signs of an abdomen swollen with new life.

But, that second line didn't appear.

Perhaps I was too hasty, I thought.  So, I waited another minute.  And another.  And another.  Holding on to hope in the wait.  Still, that second window remained completely empty and bare.  As did my heart at the time.

Disappointment.
Unfulfilled dreams.
Unanswered prayers.
Answers of "no" or "not yet."
Waiting.

What do we do with it all?

This whole Easter celebration and this season in life has had me contemplating many things. Perhaps disappointment is much too mild a word to describe what some of Jesus' followers must have felt on that day He died on the cross.  But, they had to have felt it too.  Disappointment that He didn't appear to be the King they had been anticipating.  The Messiah and Savior He had claimed to be.  The One they had longed and prayed for eagerly.

Life around them looked different than they had imagined it to be.  I bet they felt a bit dead inside.  Without even understanding the reality and fullness of truth in their thoughts, I bet they felt that part of themselves had died right up there with Him on that cross.  If they only knew.  If we only knew.
While Jesus was living among them, I can imagine the passion, joy, and excitement that came alive in their hearts daily.  Hope that rose up in a balloon of eager anticipation, reaching higher and higher with each miracle, teaching, and day He was in their midst.  Only to be popped in mid-air on that dreadful day of His crucifixion.  Leaving His followers feeling deflated.  Stuck.  Doubtful.  As empty and bare as that tomb looked three days later.  I can only imagine.

This life is going to be riddled with chapters of waiting and paragraphs of disappointment.
Disappointment in how life is turning out.
Disappointment in others.
And even disappointment in ourselves.

-Perhaps the home pregnancy test won't reveal the two pink lines you are hoping to see.

-Or the scale won't budge (even tilts in the wrong direction) after all of the sweat and self-control you fought hard for the week before.

-Or the mailman fails to deliver that acceptance letter, and hands you, yet, another denial.

-Or the test results point to "fail" even after weeks and months of preparation.

-Or the job/promotion passes you by and lands on someone else despite your effort and loyal work ethic.

-Or the doctor calls with more bad news.

-Or your eyes scan over that list posted outside the principal's office to see if you made the team and you can't seem to find your name anywhere on it; you didn't make the cut.  (We don't have to be a teenager outside a principal's office to understand this.  Even as an adult, I know what it feels like to "not make the cut.")

-Or the relationship you are pouring into fails to bloom and you are suddenly told, "It's over."

-Or this journey of motherhood means you have to put your own personal dreams on hold for a little bit, and you struggle finding passion and joy in the mundane.

-Or that change of heart you were praying would occur in that person you love so much just doesn't. seem. to. ever. happen.

And you find yourself disappointed again.  The waiting continues.  For life isn't turning out the way you had expected.  And those dreams and plans seem to float farther and farther away from you unfulfilled.

Yes, I've been thinking a lot about this"hope" thing and what it means to come alive.  To be alive.  To stay alive when life is stuck in a chapter of waiting and "not yet."   It's the Easter season afterall...a time to reflect on hope and risen life.  We know what it means in terms of the Resurrection Bible story, but what does it mean in our own personal lives?  How do we live this out daily?

How do we come alive and stay alive in the barren dry seasons?  How do we find life in the "not yets?"

It seems that when we are on the brink of an answered prayer, an opportunity, a possibility, a goal achieved, a dream fulfilled, our hearts come alive with hope, passion, excitement, and joy.  There is a newness and an energy that propels us forward and upward.  We envision our future and see things working out as we had planned, and we feel like our hearts are that balloon of hope rising and being carried higher by dream, prayer, and divine favor.

But what happens when this is not the case?  All it takes is an unbudging plateau, a setback, or the delivery of unwelcome news and we can find our hope has been popped out of space in an instant.  Our passion has sizzled.  Our hope springs a small leak, and over time gradually deflates, no longer able to stay afloat.  But rather rests on the floor struggling to keep the little air it already holds.

Oh, I've often felt like that slowly leaking balloon.  Barely breathing and wrestling to stay afloat.   In a place where the air keeps getting sucked right out of me.  I know what it's like to fiercely pedal the wheels of life but feel like I am getting nowhere except a slow descent downward.   Or backward.  I understand that perpetual feeling of being stuck, unchanged, stagnant in a a place where the olive crop fails and the fields produce no fruit...even when I am trying my hardest to plant, sow and water in these lifeless areas.

It's hard to come alive (and stay alive) in those moments.

As I have been contemplating this "risen life" and all it means, it's had me take a closer look at my own heart.  Sunday was filled with hope and joy.  But what happens the following days of the week once the elation of Easter is behind us and we settle back into life and all its glory and wreckage?

Circumstances and dreams can't control our hope, passion, and life.  These things are constantly changing and no amount of hope in them will keep us full of air and afloat.  Even the elation of a dream fulfilled or an answered prayer will soon lose it's air and leave us looking to come alive in something else.
I've been asking myself,
"What is it that elates me and makes me really come alive?"  

If I am feeling stagnant, deadened, or dry inside,
"Is it possible that I am I putting too much stock into worthless things?  
Things that can't hold hope for the long haul?"

-I was elated and came alive when I received my acceptance letter into the University of Michigan's graduate program.  But in the thick of workload, crashing computers, and pressing deadlines, I suddenly didn't feel so elated anymore.

-I was elated and came alive when the man of my dreams chose me to be his forever girl.  But after the vows and the rings were exchanged, the honeymoon phase ended, and that first heated blowout occurred as husband and wife, I suddenly didn't feel so elated anymore.

-I was elated and (literally) came alive when I finally became pregnant, but after that baby boy arrived and I could no longer take a shower or car ride without him screaming to be held, and those sleepless nights and the 6:30pm colic set in, I suddenly didn't feel so elated anymore.

Elation is fleeting.  Joy and passion can't be kept and contained by anything this world offers.  When we look to the world, circumstances, possessions, positions, goals, and dreams as the source of our hope and the way to keep that joy, passion, and life thriving inside of us, we will always end up dead and deflated.  We can keep chasing after these things, looking for that next thrill to lift us up, but it will be an endless search.  A hopeless balloon that will never be able to hold its air, but will eventually succumb to the laws of gravity.

For what comes up, must come down.

But there is One who defies such laws.  One who sustains life and brings new meaning to "coming alive" and "staying alive."    For as much as we are alive, in the sense that our lungs breathe fresh air and our hearts efficiently pump blood through our veins, we don't always feel so alive.  We can still feel very much dead on the inside.

Deadened of joy.
Dried up of passion.
A flatlining of the soul.

I've examined all of these things and it has challenged me.  See, I know that my hope is in Jesus.  I know that to rise above and stay afloat when the winds pick up and threaten to blow me over to "the other side of the tracks," in the neighborhood of doubt and discouragement, I need to be firmly rooted in Christ.

In all honesty,  I don't always live like I believe this.  
I don't always live like one who is fully alive in Christ.
And I want that to change.

A regular prayer of mine is that God will fill me (and my family) with a burning passion for Him and His Word.  That our hope and desire will be in God above all other things.  But for this to happen I need to let Him be the one to put the air in my hope balloon.

I know God wants us to have hopes and dreams.  He desires that we offer our hearts and prayers to Him.  But He wants to be the one who makes us come alive.

Alive with hope.
Passion.
Joy.
Excitement.
Anticipation.

He is and needs to remain the source of all of these things.

Hope keeps us afloat.  It's the seal that keeps the air in our balloons.

Hope found in this world, will become a deflating hope.  But hope found in Christ will remain a dauntless hope.

One that is fearless and determined.  One that won't float away on a cloud of circumstance or disappointment.

Yeah, that's the kind of hope I want to fill and come alive within me.  To keep that airway open to receive and sustain such hope and life, I think it all starts with me:

1)  Admitting my shortcomings and weaknesses.
2)  Acknowledging my need for Him.
3)  Accepting each chapter, paragraph, sentence and word He writes over me.
4)  Allowing Him access into the fruit-filled and fruitless areas of my life.
5)  Agreeing with His truth and promises.
6)  Aligning my heart and my will with His.
7)  Amplifying a heart of gratitude (more to come on this one).

Habakkuk 3:17-18 gives us wise words to live by.  Words that carry hope and sustain life through our "not yets" and desert days.
"Yet, I will rejoice in the Lord.  I will be joyful in God my Savior."

Those precious words cut and convict.  For even though I've committed this scripture to heart, I know I've exhaled the opposite in thought and attitude.  In Bible study this morning, we listened to a well-known Bible teacher share a deeper truth in regards to this.  Priscilla Shirer mentioned that when our thoughts and attitudes don't align with our actions, it's a form of "impersonated obedience."  And that's a sure way to deflate hope, stunt growth, and flatline the spirit.

I'm learning that when I let gratitude rain down in the desert, it refreshes and reproduces an endless supply of hope.  Hope that rises vibrant with abundant life.  Even after Sunday.

I want this fullness of life.
I know where to find it.
It's available for you too.
Today and every day, Jesus, come alive in me.

2 comments:

  1. You have a lot of powerful truths in this post. I esp like this statement: "This life is going to be riddled with chapters of waiting and paragraphs of disappointment."

    Besides being very true, it is also very poetic, written so that a powerful truth can be etched in the memory.

    One of the things that make disappointments so tough to bear is that we don't expect them, we think they are unfair, and we imagine how much better life would be if we didn't have them. Those thoughts then lead to self-pity, anger, and bitterness. How much better to always remember that disappointments are the warp and woof of life. We can't avoid them. Even Jesus couldn't.

    And then, the resurrection. That holds the same hope for us it did for Jesus.

    Great post.

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    Replies
    1. Amen Warren. Everything you have written resonates with me and speaks truth. Thank you for your ongoing encouragement...it keeps spurring me on!

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