Monthly Archives: April 2013

Stuck

Stuck : Caught or held in a position so you cannot move.

We get stuck all the time. We get stuck in rush hour traffic.  We get stuck in dresses in dressing rooms. We get stuck with the check. We get stuck with crazy roommates. We get stuck at lame parties. We get stuck in commitments we wished we never made. We get stuck in bad relationships and bad habits.  We get stuck in never should have been fashion trends. We get stuck on airplanes next to people with nasty body odor, obnoxious cackles and incessant bladder problems. We get stuck on blind dates with creepy people who drool and wanna makeout.

A few years ago….it was a rainy summer day in Bellingham, shocking, I know. And in an effort to keep my kids off street sold rydalin or from me locking them up in solitary confinement, I took them to the Fun Zone. The Fun Zone is this big warehouse full of bouncy houses and kids just run around and scream, sweat and jump while the parents sip coffee and surf the web. I went there with a good friend and we chatted for a few hours while our kids played. The place was a packed house that day because it was a rainy summer day. When we decided it was time to leave, I ran to the bathroom before gathering my kids. Now you have to understand as a mom that anytime you have to leave a place that is fun- getting your kids out the door seems as challenging as getting your grandma to do a marathon. So I was standing there facing the bouncy houses yelling for my kids.  Behind me were all the tables and chairs of dads and moms watching their kids. I was yelling “Bella, Aidan… it’s time to go! Bella… Aidan…” They responded, “One more time mom! Just one more time down!”  I agreed and then yelled “Ok one more time…..Now we need to go!!! Get down here!” Right then, I felt this tap on my shoulder, so I turned around. I deduced in seconds because I am that smart, that this girl worked there because she was wearing a Fun Zone shirt. Still waiting for my obedient children, this chic says to me
Mam”…. I have learned that if anyone calls you mam, something is wrong! “Mam, ummm….Mam, your skirt is stuck in your underwear.” Pause. “mam, your skirt is stuck…” It hit me- oh my gosh, my worst nightmare!  My knee length skirt was all the way tucked into my not so glamorous underwear and I had been standing for everyone to see all my goods for way too long. And when I say goods, I really mean my bads- the one area of my body that I would least like people to see. “Mam” – I  turned around and hugged her and maybe held on too long- while I reached one hand behind myself and unstuck my underwear from my skirt. I crazily started laughing out of control because it was  either that or cry. Let me tell you people-skirts are not meant to be stuck inside underwear! Sometimes in life we need someone to tap us on the shoulder and let us know our skirt is stuck inside our underwear and we see a story in the Bible in John 5 where just that happens….

Only it’s not a skirt and it’s not underwear…..

The story starts out that Jesus shows up at a pool party. There are these pools near a Sheep Gate- bahhhhh and people apparently hang out there. There aren’t beach balls, floatie toys, bikinis or mai tais. There are sick people, people without hope, people who have given up, people who are desperate:

3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. 4 and they waited for the moving of the waters. From time to time an angel of the LORD would come down and stir up the waters. The first one into the pool after each such disturbance would be cured of whatever disease he had. 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.

And Jesus walks into this sick people pool party!  Jesus would because Jesus hangs with people no one else would. This place was called Bethesda which means house of mercy but the word in Hebrew and Aramaic can also mean shame or disgrace. This double meaning is interesting considering what takes place there. This place promised luck, hope or a chance at healing. So the broken and sick lined up like Bieber’s Beliebers waiting in line for a backstage pass.

This superstitious belief is nowhere to be found in the Bible, but is more of a local tradition people clung to. Most likely Jewish religious leaders would have had real issues with this belief.  And I get that on many levels. I mean it seems like a cruel joke. What is this- the survival of healing the fittest? It’s like –hey everybody show up to a pool where the pro athletes runny noses are being healed, meanwhile people with gout and gonorrhea are writhing in pain. It is a place that promises the healthiest person is the one who most likely gets well. What a limited offer of help!  And look who was about to stir the waters with some drive by healing…..

6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”

This word want is the word thélō, meaning to not only will something, but to also press on to action  When you thelo, you more than want to get well, you purpose getting well. Jesus asks a piercing question.  Do you want to get well?  It is a question that asks a whole lot more questions. If you want to get well -are you acting like it? If you want to get well, why are you always focused on being sick? If you want to get well, why are you being so unhealthy?

7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

This guy actually doesn’t answer Jesus’ question.  What is going on here? This man does not thelo to get well. He has given up trying. You can hear how defeated he is. You can hear how much he has thrown in the towel. You can hear his assumption to fail.

This guy was so stuck and like him, we also get stuck. We get stuck hyper focused on the one thing that will make us better. We get stuck thinking there is nothing we can do. We get stuck in the past. We get stuck blaming others. We get stuck in our own negativity. We get stuck comparing and that lands us in a major pity party. We get stuck in “someday”. We get stuck in the impossible.

We get stuck spiritually – thinking God won’t do anything about this because He hasn’t yet. We get stuck needing help and never asking. This guy needed help. In fact he had been waiting for it for 38 years and instead of utilizing the help standing in front of him- he chose to complain.

It’s one thing to get stuck in an elevator for a few minutes or with a horrible professor for a quarter, but it’s another thing to get stuck and stay there because of our own doing and see it ruining our lives. And that’s where many of us find ourselves. In order to see change in our lives we have to take risks and risk requires faith. This guy was stuck mostly because he was surviving. And God knew that so He ran into this man’s life and asked him “do you want to get well?” He does the same for you and I. Look at what Jesus does next…

8 … “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”

I imagine the guy saying, “Uh….did you get the memo Jesus? I am sick. I don’t move. i am the guy that sits here. Pick up something and go somewhere. I don’t do that.” Jesus is letting him know: You will have to take a risk to get well. This man hadn’t moved in a lifetime- he could have stayed right there. In order to see change this guy had to move. Our minds say “No- don’t do it! This is a bad idea. This could end badly. You could fumble and trip. Just stay here. Here is safe. Here is what you know.”  Jesus commands risk and risk commands faith. Trust me- Jesus says- Risk because you know I am here with you while you walk toward health.

9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.

It is like Jesus says not someday, but right now! Yes, you have experienced things not going your way …don’t let that continue to inform what could be. What could be- is right now! Jesus healed him! Jesus did what this guy hoped the stirring waters would do for decades in an unexpected instant. Some say this man had no faith- I will argue this took faith. This man risked. He had to thelo. He had to do more than want- he had to move.  He risked hoping. He risked leaving what he knew. He risked finding a new identity
outside of who he had been. He risked trusting in Jesus.

Stuck now unstuck.

God is a God who doesn’t want us to be a hamster on a wheel! He is a God who wants our hope to be bigger than our hopelessness! He is a God who wants us to see the possibilities rather than the impossibilities! He is a God who wants us to thrive not just survive! He is a God who wants us to walk out of ruts not sit in them! Sometimes it is like Jesus taps us on the shoulder and says– “hey your skirt is stuck in your underwear.” And boy I am glad He does!

Profoundly Different: Lina West

Listen to Lina tell her story of colliding with Jesus. I love how she talks about being profoundly different without anything being profoundly different- all because of God’s consistent whisper!
– Willow

Profoundly Different by Lina West

“My collision with Jesus didn’t come with a loud crash. It wasn’t some earth-shattering revelation, or a moment when suddenly everything was better. It was slow and gradual. It was a process that snuck up on me and before I knew it everything was different, and because I couldn’t point to anything specific in my life that had changed, I knew it was God.

Having grown up Christian, I found a college ministry right away my freshman year. College brought a deepening of my faith, grounding and rooting me. I was sure of God, but not sure of myself. When I started learning about Wounded Collisions with my small group, it was already familiar in a way. I had thought about my wounds a lot, but not really fully put words to them before. My wounds ran deep, put there years ago through several friendships that had ended without explanation, reinforced and held down by the deep, unshakable belief that at the core of myself, I just wasn’t worthy of love.

On the surface, I was happy and cheerful most of the time. But I entered each new relationship with fear, insecurity, and the belief that this person would also get tired of me and move on to more interesting friends.

I knew about these wounds and tried hard to get past them, but they were embedded deep within my heart and sense of self, and I didn’t really know how to get rid of them. I came to see them as scars that had changed the very nature of who I was, something I would always have and that I needed to just force myself past as best I could.

These beliefs slowly permeated my life and sucked me down into a period of darkness. My time of sadness was not profoundly different than others’. Many people suffer depression and this was not that, but still I went everywhere with a deep sadness that I couldn’t shake. My world post-college had become progressively smaller as friends moved away, and it became smaller still as
friends who were still around backed off, unsure how to be there for me.

Looking back on that time, I can see how God slowly brought me back from the depths of my sadness and loneliness. I sat and cried with friends over coffee. I sat and cried in a counselor’s office. I played with young children. I talked with friends and family who were willing to listen. I went on a mission trip to Cambodia. I read books about God and went to church and did all of the things I thought should help me.

And then I started sitting down and actually listening to God, and I began to hear His voice. What He said to me, over and over and over again, was “I love you.” Over and over and over. “I love you. I love you. I love you.” I began to hear it and see it everywhere around me, and I realized that this wasn’t new. God had been telling me this my whole life. I just hadn’t been paying attention. My own messages of unworthiness kept getting in the way, shouting loudly over His whispers. But His whispers are powerful, and they can cut through even the shouting, hateful messages the heart plays on repeat, the messages our head knows aren’t true but our hearts keep repeating anyway. The messages that change our beliefs about ourselves before we even realize they’re there.

God had to tell me He loves me a lot before I actually believed it with my whole heart. He just kept repeating it. Over and over and over. I still have to remind myself to listen for it, but He’s always saying it, because He wants me to believe it with every part of my being. He wanted me to know that those wounds in my heart are not scars I have to live with forever. He can take them away and make me new. And suddenly one day I knew that He had pulled me out of the darkness. Things were profoundly different without being profoundly different. He brought me into light and to joy. He completely changed my life and healed my soul with just a quiet, persistent whisper. “I love you. I love you. I love you.”

I Will Come to You

Many of us- we get Mumford and Sons when they belt with passion about the boy on the porch longing for the dad that wasn’t there. Many of us- we get Everclear when they say “you gave me a name and then walked away.”  We get Kelly Clarkson when she says “Because of you I find it hard to trust Not only me, but everyone around me.” And we get one of the saddest songs of all time- Cats in the cradle, whose lyrics sing of a father and son who just can’t seem to make time for each other “My son turned ten just the other day. He said, “Thanks for the ball, Dad, come on let’s play. Can you teach me to throw”, I said “Not today I got a lot to do”, he said, “That’s ok”.  We get Adele and Tupac and even Lindsay Lohan’s Confessions of a Broken Heart– we get them even if they scream in death metal or twang in country. Their put voice to our experience or the experience of so many of our friends. Even if your story doesn’t resonate with these lyrics, these songs should grab your heart….because….

We are living in what is being called the fatherless generation. Tonight, 25 million young people will go to sleep with no father in their house. One third of those children will never see their fathers.

I think about some of my close friends. One was kidnapped by her own dad.  Another one of my friend’s dad committed fraud using his own son’s name to get credit cards and racked up huge debt for my friend’s family to deal with. I have a friend whose dad slept with his sister and impregnated her in highschool. One of my friends calls her dad her “sperm donor”. Yet alot of my friends had great fathers who were just too busy paying the bills, chasing their dreams and climbing the corporate ladder to be present. I sat with a young college student recently and as she cried, she said something I will never forget. She said, “I had a father and he was around and you know the worst part about it? He sat in the same room as me but it was like he wasn’t there because he never talked to me.”  A dad there physically, but absent emotionally. Many of us have been raised by dads who were busy, self soothing, apathetic, addicted or were just MIA.

This absence has often whispered to us: You were a mistake. You were never wanted in the first place. You aren’t a priority. You aren’t good enough. You remind me of your mother. You aren’t who I wanted you to be. You aren’t worth getting act together.

We were born into imperfection…it’s what I call a wounded collision.  We came out the birth canal and collided with wounded people.  We came out and entered more than the Cleavers, a Volvo, an address with a white picket fence and casseroles. We were born into parents who were wounded by their parents who were wounded by their parents and so forth. We collided with people  who had their own pain and numbed it in destructive ways, their own rebellion and sin and it ran right into us. So here we are-humanity- a bunch of kids bleeding all over the place. And in part because we yearn for a father. We yearn for his presence. We yearn to make him proud. We yearn to mimic him in his bigness. We yearn for his protection. We yearn to turn to him to be
there when we need him.  But we can’t so we turn to other things to be there. We hope others will protect us. We hope we can make other people proud. We don’t know who to mimic and we find ourselves imitating the wrong people.  We will take what we can get to be affectionate because we long for that affection. We settle for a voice, any voice, to say “I love you”. We have major trust issues because when we hear “I will be there”…those words didn’t ring true. We turn to folly when we need wisdom because he is too busy for advice. And so this imperfection we were born into keeps wounding us again and again.

We grieve like those in Lamentations who cry:  We have become fatherless, our mothers are widows.

When I was 20, there was this book that had been sitting on my shelf for like 6 months. It was black and it said “Holy Bible”.  At some point in that apartment in college, I opened up that book and I started reading page 1… “In the beginning…” It seemed like in the beginning things were awesome and then they got so messed up. It seemed like things were perfect and then Adam, the first Father blew it and his sons were ruined and they ruined their sons and everything was a bloody wounded war zone with orphans and anger and widows and hatred. Then I put the book back on the shelf….

Months later, my brokenness kept following me…  I ended up opening this darn book again. And It’s words will pierce any open heart…and my heart was as open as needing a new heart would be- for surgery. These words that we are told are His words, this God of the Universe, the One who made everything, the One who sculpted me in my mother’s womb and connected me to her with a life cord … these were His words -this God who planned my life! What would he say to me about this mess everyone has all over them? What would He say about my pain? What could he possibly use as an explanation for all of this? Who was He anyway? As I read, these words spoke of broken fathers and dysfunction junction all throughout history, but they also kept telling of a Father.  They point to this God who calls himself Father. He wants to be seen as such and beckoned as so. This story tells of a God who is as the Psalmist  in 68:5 says: A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. 

Jesus talked about this Father all the time. He said we could look at Him and see the Father because they are one. He called this Father a Father of Heaven and who is Himself perfect. He is a dad who knows what we need.  This Father forgives and has more than spankings and disappointment but mercy that overflows. Jesus says we can rely on Him because this Father takes care of the birds so how much more will He take care of his kids? Jesus says this Father is the best gift giver ever because He knows you so well. Jesus was sure this Father would do the craziest things for his kids- He would even give up His very self for them! Jesus always talked about this Father and said with certainty- the Father loves you. I love what Jesus says in John 14:18 – describing the love of this God:

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

Jesus told stories all the time about this Father. Instead of a story where the son
looks down the dusty road and longs for his father like Mumford and Sons sing, Jesus tells of a
Father who waits on that road longing for his kids. A Father who will
run to his kids! A Father who says I will come to you! I read about this
Father and it changed my whole life. Will it change yours?