Saturday, September 29, 2012

Fairy Tales, Love Stories...and Perfection.

Fairy tales. I'm not going to claim anything about my male readers (although I have my suspicions...), but if you're a girl, at least a small part of you loves them. Admit it. Beautiful dresses, handsome princes, and an assured happy ending. What could be better?

Fairy godmother comes, waves her wand, and Cinderella is perfect. Her hair is perfect. Her skin is perfect. Her weight is perfect. Her shoes are perfect. Her dress is perfect. Her dancing and singing are perfect. Everything about her is perfect. And then the prince sees her, and he can't help but fall for her. After all, she's perfect.

Every little girl dreams about the moment when someone will see her as perfect -not a single thing to be improved. It becomes one of our highest goals, even if we're not conscious of it. 

When we're very little girls, we truly believe that we're beautiful, perfect princesses, because our parents tell us so. We run around with our hair in messy pigtails, jam on our faces, in our mother's high heels, all the while believing that we're the most beautiful, gracious, elegant creatures to grace the earth. But then...things happen. Mistakes are made. Even just little things. And we realize...we aren't at all like those Disney princesses. That is, we're not perfect. And that means there must be something terribly wrong with us, because perfection is what we see (or think we see) around us. Why can't we measure up?  We're not pretty enough. We're not smart in the ways that everyone else says we should be smart. We weigh to much -or too little. Not enough makeup -or too much. And we also discover that the men around us are often not even a little like the prince in Cinderella. They don't cherish us as he cherished her. And it must be our fault, because we're not perfect. 

And so we girls strive, every moment of every day, to be what our society calls 'perfect'. We wear the right clothes, and listen to the right music, and try, and try, and try...

And never make it.

This  is the devastating fact in many lives. And it was the truth in mine for many years -thirteen, to be exact. It ruined me. But then... I met Someone who really is Perfect. Not the 'perfect' that I had always believed to be perfect; nowhere near that. I mean really Perfect. This was the Prince that I'd been waiting for, ever since four-year-old Haley sat on the couch in her sparkly pink princess dress, watching wide-eyed as Disney's Cinderella played on our old TV. And this Perfect One...He truly did cherish me. He truly did want me. All of me. All of my time, all of my love, all of my life. 

 And do you know, even after I saw what True Perfection looks like, I still didn't think that He could love me. Why? because I still wasn't good enough. And guess what? That is, and always will be, true. I can never, ever, ever be good enough to deserve the Love that only Perfection can deserve. 

So I collapse in a heap beside my Perfect Prince, and sob into trembling hands, "I see Your perfection. I see how good You are, and how right, and holy, and lovely, and pure. Your perfection isn't only an outer sort of perfect, but also an inner one. You're perfect through and through. But I am none of those things. I am poor, and weak, and ugly, and soiled. Perfection can't love me. I try and try and try, to be perfect enough to be loved by You, because I see You, and I want You...but I just cannot do it. It's hard." 

The Prince sits silently beside me for a moment. Then, His voice gentle, He says, "Yes, it is hard. I know exactly how hard. And yes, you are right, that Perfection cannot love imperfection in the way that you seek to be loved. But, beloved, there is a way." 

I raise my tear-filled eyes to His soft, gentle ones. "A way?" 

His smile breaks my heart, because it is a smile filled with such pain. "A way for you to be perfect." 

I cling to his hand. "Oh, my Lord, tell me. I'll do anything you ask, anything."

"That's just it, beloved.... you must do nothing. Here, let me show you." And then He places one scarred hand over my eyes. I had always wondered about those scars...I knew the story of how He'd gotten them, but what did they really mean? 

Suddenly, I saw a hill. A terrible place, with clouds as black as evil, and cruel, hate-filled voices clamoring. There was hate and misery everywhere, choking me. And upon a cross, lifted up above the rest, was the target of all the hate and malice that the world could muster. My Prince, my Beloved, with nails through His hands and feet, and skin hanging off in strips. 

A drop of red blood falls to the ground, and brilliant white light flashes, and then I am back, sitting beside my Prince -Jesus is His name. He places a finger under my chin and raises my head to look Him in the eye. "Now do you see, beloved? You are perfect, because I am perfect for you. You are beautiful, because I am beautiful for you. And I love you." 

Each of us is born knowing that perfection is what we should be able to achieve. Did you know that the definition of 'righteous' is "man as he ought to be"? And each of us knows that we are not 'as we ought to be'. We're not righteous, we're not perfect. So, in a futile effort to bridge this chasm of depravity, we think that making other people think we're perfect is the same as being  perfect. Let me tell you, it isn't. It's not even close. So you see, my friends... there is something terribly wrong, terribly imperfect about us. It's true. And nothing we can do, or wear, or say, or think, can change that. But there is One who is perfect for us. He is exactly as He ought to be. He is beautiful, and strong, and steadfast, and pure, and lively, and humble, and...perfect. And He invites us to be partakers of His perfection, of His completion, of His love. I have made my choice. What will you choose to see?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Prodigal God

Prodigal God. I used this title for God in an earlier post "Bible School and Ballet Shoes", and promised you, the reader, a post to explain this rather unconventional appellation. Well, here it is.

I was first introduced to this sobriquet by my favoritest (it's a word...honest!) worship dance teacher in the world, Tiffany. She shared with us a devotional her family had been doing on Luke 15 and the prodigal son.  Here is what she taught me, along with a few extras God has added.

Those of us who have grown up in Sunday school have surely heard the parable told by Jesus in Luke 15 about the prodigal son. Here is a short summary: The rich kid leaves and spends all of his inheritance on 'riotous living', ends up penniless, eating with pigs. He then decides to see if his Dad, who has every right to disown him, will take him back as a lowly servant in his household. When the newly humbled son returns, his father races out to meet him and receives him back into his home with open arms and grace-filled love. Because of this story, most of us feel that prodigal is a nasty adjective.

"Don't be the prodigal", we're told. By the way, I fully advocate avoiding at all cost the path the prodigal son took. But that's not the point of this post. That parable really has nothing to do with it, I only typed that paragraph to give a bit of background on why 'prodigal' is such an unpleasant term in Christian circles. When someone is referred to as a 'prodigal', we all grimace, nod sadly, and say we'll be praying for them. Well, I would like to present to you today that, when God created the English language, and the word 'prodigal', He was not intending that it should be used only in a negative connotation. Like every single inch of creation, this word is meant to point us towards the glory of God, and of His cross.

Prod-i-gal: Rashly or wastefully extravagant, as in disposing of goods or money; giving or given in abundance; lavish or profuse; a person who spends lavishly or squanders money; unstinting, open-handed, liberal, free.

It was the Son of the Almighty that took His inheritance, and spent it lavishly on the most depraved creatures in existence. It was the Son of the Almighty that left His palace, His Father's glorious home with all its heavenly servants, His riches, His power over every thing, and came down to the lowest level. Our level. He took on our form, breathed in the same air we breathed, walked on the same ground, ate the same food. It was the Son of the Almighty who took heaven's most precious treasure -Himself- and spent it upon the most unworthy beings that could be imagined. Jesus prodigally spent an inheritance of light, of perfect love, of worship, of absolute power, of eternal life, of holiness, of purity, of grace, of uninterrupted communion with His Father, of peace, of glory; an inheritance absolutely forsaken...for us. For me. For you.

God has called  us to be transformed into the express likeness of his Son.  What I am referencing here has been referred to as "the poured-out life," "the given life", etc. Now, a new way of explaining it -"The prodigal life". Jesus Christ spent all that His Father gave Him on those without strength, on the undeserving, on the wretchedly helpless...and wretchedly arrogant. He spilled every drop of blood in His body with our names upon His lips. And we are called to do the same. To spend every resource we have -physical, emotional, and spiritual- upon those around us. We are the hands and feet of Christ Jesus, who is living His life through our bodies. We cannot fool ourselves into thinking that He will live His life in us any differently than He did when He first came to earth. Our bodies are the instruments of the ultimate giver -we mustn't let ourselves believe that God will let us spare what He did not allow Himself to withhold from the dying.

I am fully aware that the life described above is not easy. No one ever said it is. But it is simple. God spent all for me, and I owe a debt that I can never hope to pay. But because He loves me, and because I am learning to love Him, I surrender my whole self, and all that I have, for His pleasure. And I realize that I can't even do that on my own. What a wondrous King, who spends all, and still continues to give.

My friends...we have a Prodigal God. And may we ever praise Him for it. Because the day we cease to see this part of Jesus Christ is the day our Christianity will become useless; self-centered rather than Christ-centered, vain instead of humble, and fruitless rather than fruitful. God forbid that we should ever forget the cross, and the cost.

"I’ve tasted Your glory, and I left it there. You poured out Your Spirit, and I didn’t care. Still You loved me. I’ve lived for myself with nobody to blame; I took what You gave me and squandered Your grace. Still You loved me. Nothing compares to what You’ve done for me. I could live for the broken and share in their pain; I could die like a martyr or live like a saint... just to love You. I could sing like the angels and gather Your praise: be blessed beyond measure and give it away just to love You. Still nothing compares to what You’ve done for me. My heart has been broken; I’ve laid out my shame. Because of Your mercy, all I can say is I love You. So I’ll tell of Your story, I’ll carry Your name, I’ll live for Your glory Lord, I’ll share in Your pain...just to love You. Nothing compares to what You’ve done for me."
~Michael Gungor

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Political Correctness?... Or Hypocrisy?

 It was mid May of 2010. The blisteringly hot Utah sun glared down upon us, and Moab's red dust coated everything. Literally. Our hands, our clothes, our cars. If we turned on the air conditioning, that red dust would blow in with it. I found it irritating. 

(I shouldn't make it sound barren and ugly; the rock formations were unparalleled in their beauty. The red dust was lovely when it wasn't blowing in your eyes and mouth. And the heat wasn't bad when you were sitting in the hotel swimming pool. Alright, alright! I'm sorry. I really did enjoy it; I'm just a cold-weather-and-lots-of-big-mountains-and-trees sort of person. Anyways. As I was saying...)

It was our family vacation, and we were right in the center of Arches National Park, getting ready for a three-mile hike up to Delicate Arch and back. At the base of one of the rock formations, one of the rangers was speaking to a group of about ten people -adults and children- about how the arches were formed. It was your typical evolutionary viewpoint. She was a very sweet girl with a very sweet voice, and hands-on displays that the kiddos were all over. She talked about plate tectonics, and all the various layers with all the various made-up fossils drawn to look part bird and part lizard. Of course, the words "million" and "billion" were used excessively. 

And all who stood in the crowd smiled and nodded. They paid a respectful amount of attention, encouraging their little ones to go up and touch her flour-and-water replica of water erosion and earth quakes. 

All but one, that is. There was one woman near the front who suddenly raised her hand and asked, "Could I say something?"  The ranger smiled and said that of course she could. The woman took a deep breath and started. "I believe that the earth is around 6,000 years old. I believe that around 4,400 years ago, there was a world wide flood that covered the face of our planet, creating these rock formations that we're standing in front of. I believe that the fossil record supports this theory, and not only the fossil record, but the stronger record of God's spoken word -the Bible." 

To be honest, I don't really remember much about that trip to Moab, Utah, two years ago. But that scene, which had begun and ended within five minutes, is imprinted vividly in my mind. I distinctly remember what the park ranger looked like, and exactly what was said. I distinctly remember that one woman, who probably expected to be completely alone in her declaration. She must have thought that she was going to be totally roasted for speaking that out loud. Because, only uneducated hicks and fanatics believe that, right? I mean, you never go into a National Park with educated professionals and tell them that theory. You'd be laughed off the premises, or asked to leave the group. I mean, who does that? Well, I'll tell you who does that. My Mom does that.

There was that awkward sort of pause that comes when something very politically incorrect has been said, and no one really knows what to say. After that tense moment, someone spoke. "I'd like to hear more of that." There were nods all around, and more people said things like, 

"That's the truth." 

And then the biggest shock of all. The park ranger who had been doing the talk pulled a cross necklace out of her shirt so everyone could see it. "I believe that too," She said. 

 Now, two years later, when I think back on that situation, I am so very ashamed. Every single person there professed some degree of Christianity, and a belief in young-earth creationism -even the woman giving the presentation. But do you realize that no one would have known that if it weren't for my mom? 

The woman giving the presentation decided that Jesus Christ and His Truth took second place to her pay check. If evolutionists were paying her wages, well then she would teach evolution. But don't worry, she wore a cross necklace!...carefully hidden under her shirt. The adults who stood around her placed politically correct smiles on their faces, and decided that being socially approved of was more important than teaching their children to stand up for the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. His glory as the Creator was not worth enough to defend. And so, their children will grow up believing that Christianity is what you believe at home, but evolution, save-the-planet, and humanism is what you believe everywhere else. 

But the Bible says God's eyes pierce to the heart of men. Nothing is hidden from His gaze. He saw the heart of everyone standing there. He saw that His life's blood was not worth defending. In what I'm sure humans would perceive as a harmless, tolerant discussion, God saw cowardice and damnable apathy. Can you see the horrible hypocrisy that filled every single individual there? Not a single one actually believed the rot they were hearing, but they all smiled and nodded, because it was the acceptable thing to do. Oh, how Jesus' heart must have ached. How my heart aches now.

As young people, we're often told to stand up for what we believe. Speak truth. Be the light. Always be ready to give an answer for the hope within you. Outwardly, we look up at our parents and teachers and smile confidently. 

"Nothing will shake me." 
"I will die for what I believe in."
"I will never be silent." 
"All for Jesus."

Ironically, few of us seem to remember that when we stare into uncomprehending adult eyes and try to squeak out, "I believe Jesus is God," or when we're surrounded by other teens, knowing that if we open our mouths and say the fateful words, "I'm a virgin, and I don't believe in sex outside of marriage," laughter, wolf whistles, and catcalls will fill the air. 

Our mentors try to tell us those fears of ridicule are unfounded. Perhaps, in some circumstances, this may be true. But what if it isn't? What about the time when we actually do get cussed out? When girls are verbally or physically assaulted? When guys are beaten up? I would like to submit to you that those fears are not at all unfounded.  I have had people laugh in my face when I tell them that I don't date -with all that that includes- and say things that don't deserve to be reproduced in print. So please, let's not fool ourselves into what seems like a less apathetic position by saying that "none of those things will actually happen". 

I'm not trying to make Christianity sound miserable. I'm trying to make it sound like something worth dying for. We've so totally forgotten Calvary that the blood of God now seems cliche. Tolerance is held higher than Truth, and cowardice higher than courage. 

"Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear." ~ Redmoon

God often asks me, "Is what you have more important than fear?" And, to my eternal shame, sometimes I say no. God forgive me. Sometimes, I don't consider His name to be worth the loss of my reputation. But oh, God be praised when He enables me to say yes! Brothers and sisters, Christianity is meant to be seen! But not for our glory. Never for our glory. The cross that park ranger hid ought to be lifted up, praised, and counted worthy of every drop of blood in our bodies. His name alone should be counted above my entire existence. How can I justify sitting idly by as His name is spat upon and trampled? See, people's response should never, ever, dictate our actions. If everything we do is really for Christ's sake, let the opinion of others be damned (I'm not cursing. I mean it in the most severe, honest, biblical sense of the word).

Jesus Himself tells us that this world will hate us. That's not "be mildly irritated with," or "awkwardly avoid", but hate. Hate. At the moment, the world doesn't hate us. Christians might be annoying to the world, but we're so nonthreatening, so inconsistent, that Hell and her children no longer cower when we pray.  Again, God forgive us. 

God has created us to war on behalf of the souls around us. He has commanded us to be seen, so that He may be seen. But we all have a question to answer.

"Is what you have more important than fear?" 

The choice is yours. The name, blood, and banner of Jesus Christ, your savior, the Man who died for you, lies trampled in the mud at your feet. What are you going to do about it?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

More, please?

"More, please?"

Those two words have changed my life. No joke. My heart probably whispers those words more often than any other sentence. (Oddly enough, those two words always remind me of Dickens' 'Oliver Twist'. But that's totally beside the point.)

I shall try to explain what these words have done in my life, or rather, what happened to cause me to say this. But I can't promise it will make any sense; I'm not at all certain that I understand it myself.

It all started Sunday, May 17th, 2009, at 12:45 PM (Yes, I have it right down to the minute!). That moment in time changed my entire future. A friend introduced me to the man who would become the love of my life. And I haven't been able to stop thinking about Him since. Not a single day goes by when we don’t talk. Every morning there is a letter sitting on my nightstand full of encouragement and love. Long conversations in the middle of the night that no one knows about, love letters that are pages and pages and pages long, secret gifts that no one else would recognize…

Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had our bumps in the road. I’ve failed him so many times –hanging out with those who hate him, with those who want to steal me from him; just being plain selfish and refusing to care about what he cares about. There have been times when I scorned his letters, disregarded his love, and turned my back on all that he’s wanted to give me. But no matter how many times that I -in weakness, or bitterness, or anger- have tried to forget that I ever met him, and that I love him... I just haven't been able to. In fact, every time I give up trying to forget he exists, I just find myself loving him even more than I did before. It's a perplexing cycle, at times. Some would call it obsession.

As any of you who know me even a little have guessed, this man’s name is Jesus. Jesus Christ; Son of God; the same yesterday, today, forever; King of kings, Lord of lords; Prince of life; my one and only Beloved. I am beyond lucky that He found me.

In many ways, the past two months have felt like years. He has gently asked me to submit to His wisdom in so many areas where I was simply terrified to walk any further away from my comfort zone. There were times when I wasn’t even sure He existed; times when I was just plain mad –at Him, for giving me these circumstances, at people, at myself…times when I was certain that I couldn’t keep living for even one more moment unless things changed. Everything I touched crumbled to dust.

And finally, He brought me to a place where I just didn’t have anyone else to rely on. I didn’t have my parents’ advice, I couldn’t talk with my brothers, I didn’t have my best friend to cry to. I was totally and completely cut off from all that had kept me from falling totally helpless on the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ. I literally had no one else to turn to, no other strength to rely on.

And that is when He filled me with Himself in such a way that I still cannot even begin to explain what has happened. The only word that comes even close, I think, is ‘security’. All the circumstances that would have thrown me into emotional turmoil and physical trauma I now seem to view at a distance. It’s as if there is some wall, some protection, between me and these difficulties. That protection is the loving hands of God. My perception of reality has changed. It’s not as if I am ignoring my issues, or these trials which are still so very present. Rather, it’s that I am secure in Christ’s love. I see and feel what is going on in the tangible world around me, but what my soul knows, what I really stand upon, is the person of Jesus Christ, and His love for me. Nothing else touches me.

Really, the driving force in my life, my heart's desire, is more of Jesus. More, more, more! Jesus has changed my life in such a way that I can no longer imagine my days having any meaning or stability without His presence. I want more. More truth, more love, more faith, more courage. More Jesus. As Christians, He is the center of our existence, the only thing that matters, the reason why we're on earth. Every moment that has ever and will ever exist has been purposed for His glory. It's no small thing. If all else is stripped away from us, Jesus promises that, even then, we will be complete in Him. Does that make anyone else want to lie prostrate on the floor in worship?

It is knowing this about my Jesus, my Beloved, that makes me bury a tear-stained face in trembling hands and beg for, “More, please? More of You?” 

In my spirit, I feel Him testing me. He’s warning me that with His presence comes dark trials, miserable testing. Cold, dark, crawly places. Facing all that I fear and loath is what, at times, will be required for me to receive what I request.

I take a slow, steady breath. “More, please? Whatever the cost, could I please have more of You? More of You is all I care about, it's all I need. More, please?” 

There’s nothing even remotely remarkable about me. I just really, really love Jesus, and I want to love Him even more...ever more. I have the ultimate –and undeserved –claim upon His strength.

It doesn’t really make sense. How can that which is not seen so absolutely overrule that which is seen? This, like most things in Christianity, cannot be explained, it must be experienced. And no matter how much I think I love Him, He loves me more. and *that* is what enables me to trust Him with my life; the "put together" parts along with the sticky, nasty, disgusting, bloody messes.

Jesus, as long as you are within me, I believe there is nothing I cannot face. But without you, I am less than nothing. Thank You for your always-love, and always-presence. May our desperate cry become, “More, please!” 

"Here in the arms of my Father
only grace can be found, so I lay my fears down.
Nothing is the same anymore,
You've changed me from the inside out.
Now my heart is beating and it's singing...
Even through the good and the bad times
You stay the same. So my song will remain, Lord...

Hold me
Pull me just a little bit closer
I don't want to lose this moment
Your love has covered me
And now I can't get over You."
~ Anthem Lights

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wonder of the Cross

In Hebrews 12, there is one phrase that always  paralyzes me. "For consider Him".  I believe that, contained within those three words, is the entirety of Christianity.

"Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: 
for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created."
"God is light, and in him is no darkness at all."
"Great things doeth he, which we cannot comprehend."
"Touching the Almighty, we cannot find him out: he is excellent in power, 
and in judgment, and in plenty of justice, he will not afflict."
"Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? 
who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?"
"Stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God."

That is what Jesus is worthy of, and the cross is what he chose. I have sought words to describe what takes place when I see the cross. God takes my hand and leads me up a dusty path, to the hill called Golgotha. Blood, blood, more blood. My ransom. I fall to my knees, mouth agape, tears streaming, not wanting to look, but not being able to turn away. What a price. What a mystery, that God should give His blood for me! But nothing my frail hand could pen quite equals the song by Vickie Beeching, 'Wonder of the Cross'.

 "O precious sight, my Savior stands,
Dying for me with outstretched hands.
O precious sight, I love to gaze,
Remembering salvation’s day.

Though my eyes linger on this scene,
May passing time and years not steal
The power with which it impacts me,
The freshness of its mystery.

May I never lose the wonder,

The wonder of the cross.
May I see it like the first time
Standing as a sinner lost,
Undone by mercy and left speechless,
Watching wide eyed at the cost.
May I never lose the wonder,
The wonder of the cross."

I have realized how imperative it is that I never -ever- take my eyes from that cross. Christ is the beginning, the center, the end. There simply isn't anything else that is important. And we cannot consider Christ without considering the cross -for upon that one piece of wood hangs the fate of all humanity. The most earth-shaking event in all of history. Words are not sufficient to describe the power with which this sight should captivate us.

Gypsy Smith, a great evangelist in the early 20th Century, was once asked what was the secret of his long ministry.  He replied, "I never lost the wonder of it all."

So. When you truly behold the wonder of His cross, your fate is sealed. You'll never be the same again. You are forever changed by the blood running down those nails and wood. You can no longer live your life as if it were yours. You can't pretend that it never happened, that it's just a myth; at least not for long. Your entire existence will be about magnifying that cross and all that it represents. So, I say again.
"May I never lose the wonder,
The wonder of the cross.
May I see it like the first time

Standing as a sinner lost,
Undone by mercy and left speechless,
Watching wide eyed at the cost.
May I never lose the wonder,
The wonder of the cross."

Thursday, January 19, 2012

So Great Salvation

 A clip from Paris Reidhead's "So Great Salvation", which I was privileged enough to hear for the first time during Bible School in one of our discussion groups. Remember, and never forget. He bought you to *set you free.*

"Oh, you bought me to set me free! You paid more than has ever been paid before just to set me free." And then she looked up through her tears and said, "Oh sir. All I want in life is to be your slave. You bought set me free."

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Bible School and Ballet Shoes

Have you ever loved something so much that you desperately wanted to waste time, body, and blood on it to the fullest degree humanly possible? I have. Twice.

At age four, Haley enters her first dance class. Fumbling, still-baby coordination. Learning beginner plies and jetes. Not even ballet really, just a lyrical worship dance. Basic ballet began at seven -"Point your toes. Good. Now bend your knees like this. See Haley? That's a plie. Heel forward on that tendu. Watch my feet! This is a chasse. No no, turn out on that grand jete! Spot your  head faster for that double pirouette, Haley, or you'll never get around. Strong port de bras! Long fingers...better...keep trying." At age eleven, classical training began. Age fourteen, pointe shoes (say hello to blisters). At fifteen, I began dancing every day of the week (say hello to chronic tendonitis), as well as teaching a class full of 6-11 year olds. And now, at sixteen, I begin Adagio (partnering).

Beginning last year, I was certain ballet was going to be my career. My life. Something I would live and breathe and bleed for. No matter what it took, or how much it hurt, I was going to succeed, and nothing would stop me. (hehe...It cracks me up -in a grim, ironic sort of fashion- when I hear myself make absolute statements like that now.) As a Christian, I had plans to study with professional Christian companies, and eventually join one, after which I would spend the remainder of my career (possibly into my early forties) traveling the world with that company.

Splendid! I thought. So many other teens were struggling over what to do with their lives, struggling to find their place in society, struggling to see God's will -but guess what?! I was leaps and bounds ahead! I already knew! I was going to make this future happen -for God- because I couldn't imagine anything more wonderful.

Please understand. I'm not saying this path isn't a possibility in my life. But I'm saying I found something so undeniably greater that all that only barely sounds appealing.

That something is a He. 

His name is Jesus Christ. Prince of Life. Merciful Savior. Morning Star. Man of Sorrows. Messiah. Lamb that was slain. Son of man. Son of God. Wonderful. Counselor. Mighty God. Prince of peace. King of kings. Creator of it all. Prodigal God (look for a later post explaining that name). Heavenly Priest. The Branch. The Dayspring. 


And coming face to face with the Son of God is a bit like being run over by a semi. A million times. Except that a semi is nowhere near as impacting.

This has happened in little baby steps over the last year especially. I couldn't even begin to list all of the ways He has constantly been inviting me to look at more of who He is. He gives the gift of sight, and once you've seen Him, He's all you want to look at. And all  this seemed to culminate, at least in the area of ballet, at the week long bible school held at my church January 1-7. What a way to kick-start one's year.

That week was seven days of weeping in intercession, of specific prayers answered specifically, of strong conviction, of seeing Christ for who He is, of glorifying God simply because He's God, of humbling yourself in front of your peers because God hates your pride, of seeing others break through walls of bitterness and fear. On the first day, I felt that if God answered another prayer, or showed His love and grace even a drop more, I would physically just break. I would curl up in a corner and cry, because I don't deserve any of it. Any of Him. During that week, I, and many others, came face to face with the person of Jesus Christ. I echo Job when, after God came and spoke to him in the whirlwind, he cried,  
"I  have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." 
That's what it felt like. I'd never seen God as I was seeing Him then. I had heard, but never seen for myself...and that's when I began to realize that I am naught but dust. My life is a vapor that appears for a time, then passes away. A flower that lasts a season, and then falls withered to the ground. And Christ is all that I'm here for. 

I began to realize that, very literally, nothing but the Cross mattered. My dreams for the future were like a grain of sand compared with Buckingham Palace. Forget Buckingham, the Taj Mahal! No, that's not great enough...a grain of sand compared with the whole universe! (For those who have watched Louie Giglio's "How Great is our God", you can grasp what I am trying to communicate.)

So ballet...just isn't important anymore. It's not that I don't enjoy it. It's not that I couldn't join a company. It's just that my relationship with Jesus is so much more precious than anything I can imagine; and a life filled with ballet no longer sounds like the ultimate existence.

By the grace and for the glory of God, I hope to continue in what I learned at bible school. And not just to continue, but to increase. I know that I have only barely tasted Christ, I have only barely tasted prayer, I have only barely tasted knowing Him. Without Him, I have absolutely no hope. Zero. I cannot accomplish any of the things I have spoken of that took place during bible school -I speak more with longing than with the understanding that comes with experience- except Christ change my life. I want Him to change me so radically that I seek a deeper relationship with Him purely for the sake of knowing Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His suffering -not because I want people to think I'm spiritual. Let it be said of me that I always stood for Christ, when the world mocked.  

Because once you've seen Him, you can never forget Him, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.