Monday, February 27, 2012

Further Up, Further In

When I was younger my family used to picnic in the mountains at Chimney Tops picnic area and occasionally hiked to the peaks it was named for and rested in the shadow of. I loved it there, I still do. I don't go much anymore because its far away and I think I'm busy.

The river there is powerful and littered with giant boulders. It's wild. Just sitting at a table in at place with a bucket of chicken felt like adventure. As a kid I explored every inch of the river there. Jumped from boulder to boulder, warmed myself in the sun on rocks large enough to build a house on, swam in pools deep and clear, and I hid. I hid behind rocks and under fallen trees. I found places that were mine. I was a great adventurer conquering worlds previously unseen. I laid claim to them and them to me.

Years later, after my dad died, I found myself there again. When I felt alone or afraid in the noise and pressure of life filled with loss and pain I would retreat to the one place I knew was mine. Unchanged and wild. It wasn't adventure I was seeking, it was rest. The things that fill our bellies with adventure often fill our hearts with peace.

I've said I don't go there often. Its not the first place you get to in the mountains. We usually go to Townsend or Cade's Cove, they're closer. On the edge of the mountains. Kind of far, kind of wild. They are quiet and safe. The "Tops" are further up and further in. Less accessible and harder to find. They are difficult and loud. They are rugged and fewer go there.

Today my heart aches for that place. I want to live with a faith and explore with a God that is wild and unsafe. To be further up and further in. I want peace and rest. Not the fake crap I create for myself with apathy and distance. I don't want isolation. I want adventure. The kind of adventure that pours you out and leaves you open and exposed. I want to run and jump and bask and hide in the untamed places of grace. I want to be lost in the call - swept up in the river. I want to forget myself to become small and powerless in a place of God's overwhelming love. I will continue to search every inch of grace until I find a place of truth. A place of rest. A place to hide and be known. I want to lay claim to it the way it has to me.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:State Highway 336,Maryville,United States

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lent: Like a cheater on autopilot

I'm terrible at lent. I've rarely done it and when I have it seems that the lack of Coke makes me irritable and gives me headaches until I just drink Dr. Pepper as a substitute and then feel defeated like a cheater. This giving up of a specific comfort seems so small in a life filled with so much abundance. So small, and yet impossible for me. I'm not doing that again. I may be able to do it at some point. I need a heart change that leads to a desire to give up these things. I'm not convinced it can work the other way, at least not in my life. Even if I did succeed in giving up something I'd probably get all proud and make it all about what I accomplished. No, I need something simpler - something more powerful.

I think I've come up with a decent solution. It comes from A.W. Tozer's Pursuit of God. The idea is to live a life were God's glory is paramount. Where His glory matters above all else. I think Tozer's description of such a life is among the most powerful and promising things I have ever read.

"“Be Thou Exalted” is the language of victorious spiritual experience. It is a little key to unlock the door of great treasures of grace. It is central in the life of God in the soul. Let the seeking man reach a place where life and lips join to say continually “Be Thou exalted,” and a thousand minor problems will be solved at once. His Christian life ceases to be the complicated thing it has been before and becomes the very essence of simplicity. By the exercise of his will he has set his course, and on that course he will stay as if guided by an automatic pilot. If blown of course for a moment by some adverse wind he will surely return again as by a secret bent of the soul. The hidden motions of the Spirit are working in his favor, and “the stars in their course” fight for him. He has met his life problem at its center, and everything else must follow along."

Wow. That's the guy I want to be. I love flying on autopilot. So, for lent I'm going to try and set that course. Tozer ends the chapter containing the above quote with a call to pray a very powerful prayer. I've changed some of the language to make it easier for me to memorize, but the idea and the most moving and beautiful of the language in it comes straight from Tozer. I'm going to pray the following everyday until God, in all his grace, grants it. I'm going to pray it until life and lips line up.

Lord, be exalted over my possessions. Nothing of earth's treasures will seem of value to me so long as You are glorified in my life. Lord, be exalted over my friendships. I am determined that You be above all, even if I must stand deserted and alone in the darkest valleys. Lord, be exalted over my comforts. Even if it means the loss of abundance and the carrying of heavy crosses I will keep this promise I make to you today. Lord, be exalted over my reputation. Make pleasing you my only ambition. If I must sink into obscurity and have my name forgotten in order for you to be exalted then, Lord, let it be. Rise into Your proper place of honor in my life, above my dreams and preferences, above my family, my health and even my life itself. Let me decrease that You may increase, let me sink that You may rise above. Use me as a vehicle for Your glory, Lord, that I may hear the world cry out to you, "Hosanna in the highest."


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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Voice

Even with good intentions and great talent we will completely destroy ourselves, everything and everyone around us if we are not intentionally and consistently seeking to be in the presence of and in step with the will of God. If we are submissive to the voice of God in our lives we will be powerful, unique and world changing. Even great talent and extraordinary motivation are loss when separated from from the creative voice that brought all things into existence. If we look away for a moment we can, like Peter, succumb to the storm around us and be lost to the waves.

This has been a challenging week. A week where I'm completely off balance. I've felt like a baby deer trying to stand on a frozen pool. No traction. No footing. Nothing to hold on to. I've found some solid ground in Psalms 139 and in The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer.

God is everywhere. We can be nowhere that he is not near. He knows us and loves us. Our problem is often that we choose to be blind to His presence and deaf to his voice. I took the above picture last week on a short flight down to Atlanta. It's one of the most breathtaking things I have ever seen. The picture in no way does it justice. There can be no doubt that there is a God and that he his powerful and creative and loving and beautiful. This picture is the natural out flowing of his nature. The creator expresses himself in and through his creation. With a simple and powerful, "Let there be..." God spoke all things into existence. John says that in the beginning was the word and that same word is still present, still speaking life and beauty - adventure and love into the lives and hearts of those who will quiet themselves and listen. Allow yourself to hear his voice and submit to his will as he leads you in the way everlasting.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:State Highway 336,Maryville,United States