Christmas Eve – 2009

So technically it’s Christmas day, but in my world it’s not tomorrow until I wake up 🙂

Currently I am sitting at the counter in Shawn & Angel Anton’s kitchen eating stale popcorn and drinking a coke with a creepy image of a bearded man on the can. I’m sure that I’ve eaten something else at some point today, I just can’t remember right now what it was. I am listening to the set that I sang earlier today, happy to have been able to sing this week, and laughing at the Media team.  Most of the crazy kids in the department love me, and love the chance to get me on camera. Today they celebrated this by an abundance of close up face shots. Thanks guys.

Outside it’s snowing, blizzard like actually, and we may get the most snow that I’ve seen in KC.

This year has not turned out in anyway that I had planned. In fact, most of my plans fell through in the last 12 months, but somehow I’m not discouraged. There have been quite a few disappointments, many situations I wished that I would not have found myself in, months lived day in and day out in pain, both physical and emotional, and somewhere in the middle of all of it I found myself living in the arms of my Father. Learning to breathe again, learning to laugh heartily, finding joy in the struggle and freedom in tears before the Lord of all creation.

And already my beginning plans for 2010 have fallen through, and it’s ok. After the Onething conference I have no job, and no paycheck, and it’s ok. In January my brother, the man who I have leaned on more than any other in my life will be moving with his bride to Virginia, and it’s ok. 2010 will probably see another wedding in the Styles family, and I’ll have to release my sister from being my closest companion.

Today we sang through Psalm 45, which is my twin favorite Psalm to 84. It reminds me that we are living for another age, another kingdom, a totally different King. Oh Lord, let us truly celebrate You on this day. All of Your ways in our lives are perfect Jesus, and we trust You.

“Life is a moment fading fast, but it will be remembered like a dream in the night. We will remember Love”

Alligators

Writing this post I had to seriously refrain from putting about 4 empty lines between each paragraph. I wanted to somehow make you read it the way I wrote it; slowly and with long thoughtful pauses.

Growing up in Omaha I was spoiled when it came to the zoo. The Henry Doorly Zoo is the place where dreams make noises, startling you with unbelievable reality. Each year we bought a family pass and even as we grew none of us lost our love for it. For a season I worked mornings downtown and many afternoons called me to the wonder of the zoo.  After wandering through the jungle, the dessert, the arctic and a myriad of caves I’d park myself on some bench with a book hoping a peacock would wander past, or spend a bagillion quarters feeding the monster goldfish in the lake.

When I heard about the Kansas City Zoo I made zero attempt to go and about two years went by before I found myself with a few friends exploring it’s long trails.  Drifting slowly through Africa I managed to lose them and wandered into the Alligator house. I use the word “house” loosely. It’s a cement shed and one wall is a large tank of water with 2 large lizards in it. The tank is hardly big enough for the two of them to be in, let alone turn around or swim or do anything for that matter, and they just floated there, sometimes blinking, not swimming, not moving at all.

I stood there for a moment, slightly uneasy at how close I was to them, how big they are and easy it would be for them to climb over that low glass window and eat me, but the longer I watched  the longer they lay there lifeless and that feeling was slowly exchanged with compassion. Those huge glorious beasts were never meant to be in that tiny glass tank. *insert strangeness* Watching them I began to realize, they know it. They know they were not made to be there, hatched and raised in a cage SOMETHING in them still KNOWS they are wild, they were MEANT to be wild and do wild and scary large lizard things. They know that something is wrong, and somewhere inside of their large scaly hearts they LONG for someone to fix it. And they know that someone will.

Right there in that tiny room I began to cry, soul aching, heart breaking, gut wrenching tears for the return of Jesus, maybe like I never had before that moment. Staring at those creatures all I could think was that all of creation was groaning in it’s knowing that everything is drastically, desperately wrong and all of creation knows that someone has to fix it. But I don’t. 99.9% of the time I am not desperate for Jesus to come with Justice in His hands and right all of the wrongs, creation itself is in a state of living understanding that my eternal soul is not and I wept in raw longing “Oh Jesus You have to come back, You have to come back”

Tonight we talked about Hebrews 11. 13-16. We live as refugees bound to the laws of a homeland we’ve never even seen. Joshua spoke of the longing in the hearts of the Patriarchs and of the 1st century church ” They knew beyond everything in this earth that they were not home, Eden was not so far removed from them that they had forgotten it.”

Have you ever felt like you just didn’t belong? It’s funny how in a room full of strangers one can feel naked, and hardly more comforted in a room full of familiar faces. There is a thing, an overwhelming sensation that rises up in our hearts in the most inconvenient moments. A literal cry, a longing that comes from somewhere, it feels like deep inside and it rises, washing over and taking over every thought that had been in your mind. You know if you’ve felt it. Many times I’ve confused it in insecurity, shortcomings or brokenness and run to a lonely place where I feed on the pain and nurse the ache, believing lies about the heart that the Lord of all Creation so dearly loves. But it’s not that, it’s something much much more deeper than not feeling comfortable in a room full of people, feeling exposed or insecure. We’ve lost our home.

But we don’t stay lost. Hallelujah, we don’t stay lost! Listen listen, Amazing Grace: how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like ME, I once was LOST. But now I’m found. I have been found. No longer hopelessly, desperately lost, I have been found. Jonathan David Helser sings a song about a friends baby who died in the womb. While playing his piano one day God allowed him to hear into heaven the song that this child was singing.

“Momma can you hear me? Daddy can you feel me? I’m made whole, I’m at home…Don’t stop holding on”

This is the longing that overwhelms, drives to tears, removes our appetites and consumes our minds; Jerusalem. The City of David where we will live forever, where we will be whole, where we will be home. Josh wrapped up tonight talking of the pain in the journey, the lonely life of a pilgrim but brought us to hope “after He rids us of the desire for all other lovers, all other lust, all other hungers He brings us into the promise.”

The room was silent for just one second before someone quietly said “We’re going home.”

This is good news. We’re going home.

Ps 84 – Found my home

Psalm 84 is always faithful to realign my thoughts and my heart with perspective on what I am doing and where I am going.

This morning was rough. My good friend Annie moved away, I woke to an awesome rainstorm and a terrible migraine, and when I checked my email looking for a response that I’ve been looking for for several weeks now, and still hadn’t received it, I was a little discouraged.

After getting ready for work, making some comida to take with me and losing about half of the things that I needed to have as I walked out the door my flesh began to rise up, MUCH louder than my spirit. As my irritation increased I suddenly stopped and realized that I didn’t want to go to work and the list of things that were waiting for me in that attitude. So laying everything down right by the door, I walked back to my room, shut the door, and picked up my bible and guitar.

Plopping down on the bed my bible literally FELL open to….Ps. 84. I strummed and strummed and began to sing the familiar passage. My home is in Your presence.

Peace washed over me as the Lord reminded me that all those things that matter so much during the day will probably not mean anything in a few weeks, but what will matter forever and what gives me strength to stand today, is that I have been adopted into the Family of God, and my home is where He is. No matter my confusion over my emotions or decisions, no matter who rejects and abandons me, no matter how many things  fall apart and which dreams disappear over the horizon, my hope is in a city where I will live, LIVE, REAL LIFE forever, and the Man who is the King of it all.

And all day long, as things went wrong and I STILL didn’t get on top of my to-do list, or the pile of things waiting on my desk OR the sticky notes calling for my attention OR my inbox OR the voice messages that are STILL blinking at me, I sang in my soul “My home is in Your presence”.

And I was glad that if I can say nothing else about my life, what I am accomplishing or conquering, or who thinks WHAT about me, I can sing to the Lord that I am a sparrow who has found a home, right up next to His alter. And THAT is some real identity, and it’s good enough for me.

Christmas Eve 2008

I’m having a moment.

Alone in my office, on Christmas eve, actually I think I’m the only one on this side of the missions base.  Wrapping up details for Onething and listening to Grace Kim’s worship with the word set from yesterday afternoon. It was when she began to sing “Oh Lord You’re Beautiful”, a classic by Keith Green, that it happened.

In all honesty it’s been a long time since I’ve had a moment. During the 2 1/2 months in San Diego there were many, when suddenly the Lord would reach out and grab onto my heart and in a breath He was nearer than my skin; world with it’s woe’s forgotten with one glance into eyes that consume me.  Coming back to Kansas City brought a season of in depth soul searching; what do I believe about God and man, what do I believe about myself, and it’s been quite awhile since a moment has occurred between me and the man whom I love.

January 13th will mark the one year anniversary of switching off the Nightwatch. On January 12th i stayed late in the prayer room listening to Grace actually, and weeping in my favorite place in the world, the back of a small room, in a little corner that I’d marked my own 2 years before, grieving because I was leaving the most real community I’d know in my life, and afraid of the unknown.

But my Father He is God, and He knows just how to lead me.  The journey of this little soul is a simple testimony of the faithfulness of the Lord when we cling to His hand, and even when we don’t.  It’s true my relationships all changed and many good friends became acquaintances due to life and business, and I’m realizing what really matters and which friendships are worth the struggle. Treasures came in the form of new friendships in perfect timing when my soul felt the most estranged. Guidance came in moments when my eyes were the most darkened, my mind the most confused, and comfort came in the Spirit of God breathing on my cold heart and drawing me near when I was far.

Through consistant change, revolving relationships, and storms from within and without, there is one thought that has become clear, one goal that has revealed itself solid in my heart;

Even the sparrow has found a home, a place near Your alter. My soul yearns, and even faints for the courts of the Lord. Happy are those who dwell in Your house, happy are those who’s strength is revealed in weakness, whose strength is the Lord. Their hearts are set on a pilgramage (Ps.84)

Through 2009 and every year to come, draw my eyes away from this world that is crumbling in it’s place. Lift my eyes to a city that is come, to a Man who is returning. You will finish what You started.