Tapas with Jesus (Part One)
Hey Friends! Part One is a life update. If you want some spiritual meat, skip to Part Two! 🙂 I won’t be offended.
Crickets on the Jordan River
In just a few short hours I will get to celebrate Easter and Jesus’ resurrection with my families: church and biological. Tonight I’m up to something different and I might make it a tradition on Easter Eve. I’m hanging out with a silent Jesus over tapas and a Spotify playlist of nighttime crickets and a crackling bonfire.
How did I end up there? Well, before Lent, it was abundantly clear to me that I needed to press pause on my Roku and not resume watching shows for a long while. I use TV as my escape from things I don’t want to deal with.
Every evening, I normally settle in at dinner with a show. I don’t turn it off until I can’t keep my eyes open. This way I don’t have to deal with anxiety over something happening the next day or rehearse conversations that I had or will have, or deal with any overwhelming emotions I stuffed earlier in the day. TV numbs everything, but only while I’m watching. Those big feels are all right there waiting to pounce if I don’t slide into an immediate sleepy oblivion.
For the past six weeks it’s been a nice change to do different things with my time in the evening. I guess, though, I love stories and character development too much, so I spend most nights reading or listening to audio books. I started whittling again, so that’s fun. Strangely, I haven’t missed watching TV much. In fact I’ve considered seeing how long I can go without it.
That’s why tonight I’m sitting on my couch with my campfire soundtrack and pretending to be sitting on the water’s edge of the Jordan eating a fish dinner by the fire with Jesus.
I tried really hard to enjoy companionable silence. It lasted two minutes before I started peppering him with questions. My questions ranged from serious to curious, just like in any conversation with a friend.
What do you think of me? Am I doing the right thing? Do you like cheese? Would you like a french fry, wait, did they have potatoes in Israel when you were there? Isn’t the moon sparkling on the water really pretty?
Silence. (Well except for the crickets from my phone – which I’m not sure is even geographically correct since I’ve never been to Israel.)
One of the questions I really want to know the answer to is, why do I have blogs in my head that I can’t seem to write…or share?
He didn’t say anything, but sitting in silence with Jesus reminded me that he is my Audience of One. I am called to write first for Him, out of obedience.
Stage Fright (AKA Fear of Man)
I often write blogs and ideas and scriptures on my phone to share with others later, but when I come to think about who is going to read those thoughts and then wonder what they will think of what I shared, then I get stage fright. There should be a writing version of that, like Media Feed Fright.
What will my parents, friends, pastors, or family think of this personal thought or that tidbit? Will they be judging my spiritual, emotional, or physical progress? Will they want to talk about what they think I should do?
Oof, it’s the worst. I am stymied before I even begin. Stuck before I can write, publish, or send.
In the past year, I’ve been on a roller coaster ride of healing and growing while also fighting trauma and the enemy. It’s tiring and I don’t have a lot to show for my efforts in the natural world. Many people have opinions of what I should be doing with my time. But I’m fairly certain that I’m doing what I was instructed to do–for now. All though, I haven’t heard a lot from my mostly silent companion.
The Spirit has lots to say and instruct when it comes to my time spent reading scripture and Christian non-fiction books or listening to sermons and podcasts. I’ve got plenty to work on. Renewing my mind and pressing onward in hope are two predominant themes. But when it comes to what to do next?…crickets.
I say all that to tell you, if you are one of the people who have reached out and I haven’t reached back, it’s because I have no idea what to say. No idea how to explain what I’m doing beyond trying to follow Jesus as best I can in this very strange season of life. Thanks for your grace and love and patience.
Healing in Community
I was talking with a friend last month…feeling overwhelmed as we entered Spring. Normally it’s one of my favorite times of year. This year though, it started to bring up the horrible memories of last year’s trauma. Real, tangible, ugly memories and fears. Which then resulted in my counselor asking me to work on some challenging homework…facing those memories and fears head on. Anyway, in the midst of that despair I asked my friend, “What do I have to show for the year?!” And she answered, “Community.”
Community is no small thing. For anyone who has been betrayed by their community or found themselves on the outside–especially if you’ve been given the left boot of church fellowship, then you will know how valuable it is to be seen and accepted for who you are, not who someone wanted you to be.
In addition to the friends and family who never left me, I found a church community who has loved me well. Even when I couldn’t look people in the eye for weeks at a time as I was struggling through the healing process and my fears of vulnerability and betrayal – they still stuck with me.
Today on a walk in the woods, I was reminded of the walks I took last spring when it felt like I was trying to outrun the anxiety and darkness nipping at my heels. I was reminded how cornered and alone I felt last year.
Praise God for his redemption and mercy. I am in a much better place. God raised up an army of people to carry me through the pain into healing. They have been Jesus’ hands and feet and shoulders to cry on.
It turns out that I wasn’t too messy to love after all. (In case you are wondering – neither are you!)
Since this post was all about me, I have no idea if you will find it encouraging. And I would worry about it, and not publish it or send it normally, but tonight as I sit with my silent companion, I am writing this just to break free of my worries over everyone’s expectations.
I don’t know what or how often I’ll write, but I am hoping that I can get back to a more regular frequency. I’d love to share with you the backlog of things I think God has been teaching me about his grace and love and kindness.
The Simplicity of Salvation (Part Two)
Here’s one thought about Easter I want to share (it was going to be a blog that I didn’t end up writing! So here’s the gist.)
The other day I was comparing all the Gospel accounts of the crucifixion, and I came to Luke 23:39-43 where one of the two robbers asks for Jesus to remember him when Jesus comes into His kingdom.
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
I’ve always been amazed at this passage. I don’t know if you’ve ever struggled with trying to earn your salvation, but it’s something I have gone to war on in my own life. It’s possible to spend so much time worrying over whether we are living rightly and doing enough to earn favor and forgiveness that we forget it’s by grace through faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection that we are saved!
This passage struck me again how simple the Good News is. If we believe with our whole heart that Jesus is our king who died for our sins, then we get to join him in heaven! Done and done. No need to purify ourselves, prove our worthiness/unworthiness, or do penance for our past mistakes.
Do you love him? Do you call Him king of your life and believe that by grace you have been saved through your faith in Jesus? Then guess what…You are at peace with God, just like the robber on the cross who did absolutely nothing else after professing belief in Christ before his death.
Here’s scriptural evidence:
Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast." Romans 5:1-2 “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.”
So rejoice! Be free and at rest in the knowledge that Jesus’ burden on us is light.
Believe, be forgiven, be set free!
Happy Easter, my friends!
P.S. Now go on and have yourself a tapas meal with Jesus on the Jordan. You’ll be glad you took the time, space, and silence just to be with him…even if you never do find out the answers to all your questions, like whether he likes cheese. 😉
P.P.S I created a little Easter playlist for you with songs you hopefully haven’t heard yet. Just hoping to spice up your Easter worship!
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