Tag Archives: Lord

26 to 26: I need Jesus.

credit: pasotrepaso

credit: pasotrepaso

It hit me in the shower this morning—steam rising, mist splashing in the tiny stall—trying to scrub off feelings of sin and failure.

This is the gospel: me falling on my face.

That’s it.

I can’t get up tomorrow and hope to be stronger or wiser or less filled with sin. It is in me. It stitches me together and pulls me tight.

And yet, this is grace: unbinding the stitches—one by one—and piecing me back into wholeness.

This is mercy: that in my tripping and falling, I am lifted to my feet.

This is love: that in my darkest darkness, my most grotesque sin, Christ died for me.

It is timeless Truth to be repeated with ceaseless thanks:

I need Jesus.

 

May I learn it and feel it and deepen in this understanding each day. The gospel is for me today and tomorrow, at 26 and at 96.

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Prayers & Promises

I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know what to do but the words formed at my lips, pressed from my mouth before I could grab hold of them:

Can I pray for you?

But…I don’t…I can’t…I…

I am empty of jargon and oft-quoted phrases and trite expressions.

I am silenced. I’ve offered prayers that I cannot utter.

This moment of collision—my empty faith, my thankless heart, this broken world, His hurting people.

My mouth is dry, my throat is tight. I choke out His name.

Father.

One who spoke stars and filled seas and sculpted Adam and fashioned Eve and forsook True Son. Maker of worlds and heaven and these clammy hands and this brain knocking about for words. One who cradles close and promises peace.

Abba.

My voice is quiet and slow. Each word drags heavy and pulls tight.

I’m clawing at Your goodness and struggling to pull it close, to make it real, find it tangible. I’m drawing near, this time not just to Your promises, but because of them.

Come closer.

I’m asking and seeking and knocking. I’m drawing near. I’m offering up these bumbling words and broken heart as an invitation, as a desperate plea.

And another collision— the Giver of good and perfect gifts, my restless heart, His peace.

“The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” –Psalm 51:17

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A Call, A Promise, & Peace

There are days when I feel like I can’t approach the throne of God.

Today is one of those days.

I feel distant, I feel alone. I feel away.

These are the days when I deny myself grace, deny myself the promise of forgiveness because denial is the path to God, is it not?

I feel like if I’m quiet long enough, if I don’t ask for anything today, if I keep my shoulders hunched and my eyes down in a posture of shame, God will beckon me to come.

I know, I know that I am wrong. I am wrong a thousand times over.

The very essence of God is a beckon to come, a call to communion. The very Spirit of God, alive inside my wretched frame, a seal of relationship. The only Son, by his voice, invites me to Come.

The hand of God, extended always, not to push away but to bring near.

His Grace is crying out into my darkness and it is saying I am here.

Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. –Ephesians 2:12-16, ESV

It is finished. It is done. I have won.

And this is his banner over me: peace. A flag of nearness and promise.

It flies high today, just as it does every day.

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Enough with the Enoughs

Today is a big day.

Today is the first time that something I’ve written gets published not just on my blog.

Here’s an excerpt from my post, Enough with the Enoughs. The rest of it can be found on Quarterlife Woman.

“I’ve been teaching myself bad theology, that the only thing that matters is what people think of me and feel towards me- if men find me attractive, if women find me friend-worthy, if my coworkers find me dependable, if my family finds me faithful.

And I’m just now realizing that I am full to the hilt of fear.

I’ve read 1 John 4 just about every day this week, clinging to all of the truth that I can find.

Perfect love casts out all fear.

My fear is not just a lack of faith. It is a rejection of truth. It is the bold-faced belief of a lie: that God is not good, that He is not trustworthy, that He is not enough.

I never feel like enough. I never feel success though I chase it all day long.”

Read the rest of it here!

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Senses in the Morning

Breathe.

Slow down. Sip your coffee. Give thanks.

Breathe deeper.

Listen to the quiet. Hear the house creak. Hear the heater roar. Hear the refrigerator hum. Hear the coffee pot click. Hear your heart beat.

Be still just a while longer.

Do not hurry into life. This is a moment that you can never have back, as simple as it may be.

The simplest moments are often the sweetest.

Drink it in. Taste the coffee. Taste the cinnamon and ginger and nutmeg. Taste the cream. Taste the warmth.

Feel the mug between your hands. Feel the comfort in this home. Feel the fullness of this life.

Pour another cup.

Close your eyes. Breathe.

Be content. Be satisfied. Smile.

This. This is a day that the Lord has made, has gifted. To you. To me.

Rejoice and be glad in it.

© Alyssa Bell; February 5, 2013.

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You are there.

I don’t like to be alone much. It makes me think. It makes me feel.

I don’t like the quiet because it makes me feel alone.

It’s quiet and I’m alone but only in a metaphorical sense. It’s midnight but Miranda is reading just a few yards away, the fluorescent glow of her iPhone reflecting off our yellow walls.

I just finished reading in the Gospel of Matthew. I closed the Book, shut the light off for the night.

I can’t shut off my mind.

I’m thinking about the white washed tombs that Jesus talked about.

I’m thinking about all of the dead things inside of me. It feels like they’re living a lot of times.

How can something be dead and yet feel so alive?

Possess some sort of life? Maintain some measure of power?

I want to make a list of everyone that I know who is a Pharisee. I want to succumb to the idea that they are the problem with the church in America. I want to write their name on a list of those to blame for the defamation of Jesus’ name. But I can’t put the pen to the paper of my mind.

I am plagued by this idea, haunted by this thought:

It is me.

I’ve spent the last year casting blame in each direction, blaming the gossip and the liar and the Pastor and the parishioner. I’ve spent the last year with my eyes wide-open to the hypocrisy of those around me and yet completely blind to my own.

I have a beam in my eye. I can’t see clearly.

I’ve spent the last year leading, limping along and hoping that no one would notice. That no one would find me out. That no one would run and tell. That no one would banish me to the fringes, to be alone with myself.

Anything but that.

I don’t think I’m alone in my distain for solidarity. It’s a fear of many. Fear that their loved ones will leave them- physically, emotionally. Fear of rejection. I live in fear of alone.

They say that it is in that aloneness that God speaks. That it is in that quiet where the groanings of our souls are realized.

But I am afraid of quiet because it is rarely there that I hear God. The quiet is where my sins whisper and my desires chafe against my heart, rubbing it raw. The still night is when my doubts come creeping closer and my fear comes to rattle my bedposts.

But late on this night, as my veins pump fear, my soul cries Truth:

“Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,’ even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.” –Psalm 139:7-11

His perfect love casting out my fear. His peace guarding my heart. His light casting out my darkness. His love covering my sin. His hand hemming me in, behind and before.

Even there. Even here. You are there- holding me, leading me.

{You are there.}

© January 29, 2013, Alyssa Bell.

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Cast them on Jesus.

I hadn’t even asked the question and He had already answered it.

I didn’t need to part my lips because He already knew it all together.

“God, I don’t even know what to do with all this sin.” That was the thought that popped into my head and that was it. That was all it took- just a thought.

Cast it on Jesus, He said. Cast it on Jesus.

There are moments in my life that are so thick, so raw, and they terrify me. These moments when my sin has just completely consumed me, when I feel so far from Eden. Like it was never even there.

But that’s the answer He gives in those moments:

Cast them on Jesus.

Because that is all we need to hear. That is the only answer we need. Jesus.

There are times where I want to gently place my sin on Jesus. Or to seal it up in a nice envelope and leave it on Jesus’ doorstep, thinking “I don’t want to disturb him.” But instead God says cast your sins upon Jesus.

Cast is not a gentle word. It is a word of force, of violence. To cast stones. To cast off chains. Not to roll them gently but to throw them. To throw your sins as far as you can get them away from yourself and where they land is on Jesus.

And they more than land there, they are absolved there. They are paid for there. They are forgotten there.

That is the amazing thing about grace. That is the thing that I can’t understand. That is the reason why the gospel does not make sense to me all too often.

That is why grace is so radical. That is why grace is so different. Because God did not say, “cast your sins away from you; keep your distance, groveling on your hands and knees, distraught, unable to show your face.” He does not say that.

Shame is solely a game of the world.

Instead, He was hung on a tree, put there by people like me, who were me. Not by the outlaws, but by the ones who live their lives by the law. He was shamed so that we could be shameless; bruised so that we could be blessed; forsaken so that we could be forgiven.

So, when sin tempts you to despair, when the darkness in you is paralyzing, look to your Wounded Healer- not to your sin.

Cast them on Jesus.

 

© January 13, 2013. Alyssa Bell.

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