always believing

We can be all kinds of emotional. All kinds – nervous, joyful, sad, fearful – all kinds. It seems like mine have run the gamut here in NYC. I can sink in sadness and in the very next moment be heaped in hope. They are all mixed up here in NYC; maybe emotions are mixed up everywhere.

But in every kind of emotion we must be always believing.

I think this is taking deep root in the soil of my soul these days and certainly as I read the lectionary reading this morning from Psalm 119.

I have chosen the way of faithfulness;
I set your rules before me.
I cling to your testimonies, O Lord;
let me not be put to shame!
I will run in the way of your commandments
when you enlarge my heart! (Psalm 119:30-32, ESV)

I love to read the conviction in David’s declarations, because I know he was an emotional guy and he had every right to be emotional. Chased by death and failing kingdoms and family matters and desert armies, David lived the kind of life that seemed to warrant fist shaking at the sky.

But inside his mixed up emotions, David chose the way of faithfulness. Because he was not helpless against the affections of his heart. David set the Lord’s rules before him and clung to the Lord’s testimonies.

In choosing and doing these things, David is actively believing that this is the best way to move forward with mixed emotions.

Sunk in sadness or heaped in hope, David chose to run in the way of the Lord’s commandments. I can almost hear the pulse of his feet pounding the desert path in the direction of the Lord’s commandments. It sounds strange, even as a word picture. Why would he run in the direction of commandments – in the direction of something that appears to fix his feet in one place? Why would David love the Lord’s rules that seem to restrict instead of set free?

Running is freedom, at least it seems so to me. It means throwing off hindrances and making steady progress in a particular direction. And David is running in the direction of the Lord’s commands because freedom gives birth to freedom. The Lord enlarged the heart that powered his running feet and with his freedom he ran in the direction of faithfulness. David believe that the Lord would keep His promises and that being near to the Lord was the best destination, the best lifestyle, the best routine – that meant being near to His commands.

David knew inside his heart of mixed emotions that the Lord’s commands were not a straight jacket but a mysterious wardrobe where marvelous things were hidden. David believed the Lord’s commands would grant him more freedom than anything the world could promise him.

The Lord granted David freedom to run and with that freedom, David ran in the direction of most delight – the way of pleasing the Freedom Giver.

I can’t imagine experiencing all the range of emotions tangled up inside David’s heart while he was hidden in caves or castles or closets. But I do know where he found strength when he was sunk with sadness or heaped with hope. He found strength as the Lord grew his heart and he ran in the way of faithfulness.

He chose to chase the mysteries of the Lord’s commands because He wanted to please the Freedom Giver… and because (I think) he knew that the most joy in this life would be found running toward and not away from God’s gracious constraints.

In every kind of emotion, God grants the grace that we can be always believing.

all kinds of emotional

I just walked off the treadmill a few minutes ago because I thought my waterworks wouldn’t pass for sweat any longer. I was sweating a storm when the song, “Love, Love, Love” by Tristan Prettyman hit my iPod. I happen to have the version where she explains the song is about growing up surfing and barbecuing with her family every day of summer. She has since left that routine to travel as a musician, but this song is a reminder that these people and memories will always be love to her. I started to think of all the ways this place and these people have become “love” to me.

I thought of the slurred broadcast voice speeding through a list of vegetables available on the back of the truck driving through my neighborhood at 7 am.

I thought of the cow that almost hit us on the way up the mountain last night.

I thought of the little note a student left for me today, asking me to pray for her test (and our joyful celebration afterwards when she was happy with the results!).

I thought of all the times I’ve been part of a crowded kitchen and the delicious results.

I thought of countless conversations that played out better than the most riveting film – conversations where I couldn’t wait to see what the student would say next or how they would surprise me with insight/joy/wisdom.

I thought of students popping into my office in every spare moment, whether I was busy or available, just to say hello.

I thought of nudging Louis’s battered nose out into traffic, confident that we would pull through whatever peril we were entering.

I thought of my house without electricity at the moment and all the opportunities I’ve had to be still in candlelight.

I thought of the delight at watching people enjoy something I’ve baked up in my kitchen.

I thought of student meetings, crowded in my little office, where we shared our testimonies and fears and joys.

I thought of the blessings of friendship – the deep, deep kind I never expected to find when I came here “on mission,” but the kind that will be part of my story forever.

I thought about the lessons I’ve learned at the foot of my Savior, when I’m willing and when I’m not, and His infinite patience with me as I try to figure out how to best support His kingdom work in this place.

I thought of all the crazy ways God has paraded His glory in front of my face in these past three years and I thought it was dangerous to try to beat the treadmill at its game.

It’s strange that heavy emotions really sap your strength. I can do an hour on the treadmill normally and still be ready for a crazy night of randomness afterwards. But, these days I am dragging myself out of bed every morning and having a rough time even pounding out 30 minutes at night and I can only point to these silly emotions as the culprit. I guess it’s even more proof that God interwove every part of us. You can’t separate your energy from your emotion anymore than you can separate darkness from night.

And I’ll say that’s why I am tired. I have a running list of “Things I want to do before June 23…” and it’s growing but my time is shrinking. Today, without warning, as the last students were rushing out of the hallways to get to the bus, I let the tears roll. People were asking when it would start hitting me… well, it’s now I guess.

Here’s Tristan’s song:

Here’s another song that has been such an encouragement to me lately. Honestly, this is my prayer right now – for me and for my students and for our desperate generation. This cry comes right out of Deuteronomy 6 and it is timeless. I want this to be my story. I want to remember my Lord and Savior in this way. I want His love and mercy and kingdom to be tied around my wrists and written on my doorposts and displayed in my life like I want nothing else. And I want this desperate love to be what holds my students together. I want them to remember who the Lord is and how He is reigning over all things.

no matter what kind of emotional you are

let LOVE fly like cRazY
tonight, okay?