Tag Archives: blogging

On Waiting, the Incarnation, and 27 Drafts

Guys, there are 27 drafts sitting in my posts box. Most of them are just titles, placeholders for profound thoughts that I’ve had, spanning all the way back to the beginning of this year.

Clearly, I’m never really at a loss of thought. It’s just the following through with the blog post that I have a problem with. I don’t mean it, it just happens.

I was going to do a post with pictures from when my sister came to visit me for Thanksgiving, but they were all taken with my phone and I just can’t bring myself to put them up next to the likes of my Canon 60D photos. I’m having a hard time accepting the fact that I haven’t been able to capture college memories with anything but my pixelated phone camera.  It’s not Canon’s fault that my 60D weighs a gazillion pounds and I just can’t carry it in my back pocket.

Anyways.

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I leave for home in 16 days. Yes, there is a countdown on my dorm room door. I can’t wait to have coffee with my mom, hug my dad, laugh with my siblings, eat real food, use plush toilet paper, take a bath, smell a candle, worship at my church, drive my car. . .I just have to make it through finals first. Although, I’m going to miss Wheaton while I’m away. I guess this is what bittersweet feels like.

It is kind of a bummer that the end of the semester falls during Advent. The time we should be focused on others is forcibly spent focusing on our sanity and sleeping habits. When we should be celebrating the birth of our Savior, we are mumblings complaints about the alleged unfairness of our study guides. In high school, finals were always after Christmas, so centering myself on the meaning of Advent in the midst of the craziest three weeks of the semester is a new thing for me.

Sort of. But not really.

Because the things I learn during Advent aren’t really anything specific to December, the cold, or my Christmas Pandora station. Or the fact that I have finals that I probably should be studying for right now.

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Two things the Lord has been teaching me this Advent season can be summed up in two words: waiting and incarnation.

First – we are all waiting. For something, anything. I’m waiting for finals to be over, bible study tonight, deeper friendships, mentors, Christmas break, my birthday, revival on campus, next semester, graduation, my future, roulette on Sunday, class tomorrow, more of the Holy Spirit. . .

Life is a series of waiting. There is never anything we aren’t waiting for. But what is so beautiful is that is exactly the thing Advent reminds us of – and glorifies within the person of Christ. It’s the tension of waiting for Christ and celebrating that He is already here.

But that’s where the incarnation comes in. Because Advent doesn’t stop with the waiting for the celebration of the birth of Christ and expectancy of His return, but Advent reminds us of the importance of living in the waiting.

It’s important that the Son of God chose not just to come to earth but to come as a human being. Jesus lived. I don’t think we’d go around calling ourselves gnostics, but we are kidding ourselves, and frankly missing out on a whole lot of Biblical living, if we don’t recognize modern Christian tendencies towards denying the bodily in favor of the “spiritual.”

One of the books for my Bible and Theology class last Quad had this thought-provoking quote:

“Indeed, the growing struggle among many students with pornography, masturbation, cutting, and body image may simply be an attempt by the human organism to get back in touch with its disembodied self as a means of verifying or proving one’s physical existence.” Read Mercer Schuchardt, Liberal Arts for the Christian Life, 250-251

While I think the aforementioned sins include spiritual tensions, Schuchardt raises an interesting point: we were Biblically created for dominion, relationship, self-denial. . .in a sense, living. Living implies the act of being alive. Incarnation is “God’s Word made flesh,” which means living at a whole deeper level. Living hidden in Christ, living with beautiful feet, living for eternity, but living none the less.

For me, part of living includes doing things that make me feel alive or hold some significance for me- like reading, writing, taking pictures, watching good movies, listening to music, laughing, and dancing. It’s easy for me to brush these things aside when life gets busy, but I need them. That is, I need them within my relationship with Christ. Because while Jesus is the only thing and person who will ever satisfy my soul and fill me with His Holy Spirit, I am also a body and mind, living in a physical, tangible world. And you know why that is so important? So was Jesus. The physical baby, Son of God, born in a manger, crying, bloodied, chose to live as one of us, to save us.

Here are some of my favorite, often missed, passages the Lord chose to include in His Holy Word:

“So Jesus, being wearied from His journey, was sitting thus by the well” John 4:6

“The Child continued to grow and become strong. . .” Luke 2:40

“and the crowds were searching for Him, and came to Him and tried to keep Him from going away from them.” Luke 4:42

“The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’” Matthew 11:19

“At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples became hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat.” Matthew 12:1

“Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” Luke 15:2

And don’t get me started on the other people in Scripture. For goodness sake, John included that he reached the tomb before Peter because he was faster. They were humans, living by the power of the Holy Spirit, but in a very real world; waiting and living at the same time.

I’ve realized recently that I’m living with a working, physical brain that literally never stops thinking. Reading helps give me deep, insightful things to think of, besides myself. Writing helps me get those thoughts out of my head. Pictures, drawings, dancing, talking, watching TV, laughing – all of those are outlets to remind me that I’m living, my mind is working, and it doesn’t have to be focused on over-thinking every situation I am or will be engaged in. I think we miss out on a lot of the joy that Christ has for us because we struggle to remember that our quiet time with Jesus or our corporate worship and our studying for finals or laughing with friends aren’t mutually exclusive.

Do we remember that He came, a purpose of His Christmas birth, was to bring abundant life.

“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10

In addition to Dallas Willard’s The Divine Conspiracy, I’ve been reading Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest recently. He writes:

“The pietistic movements of today have none of the rugged reality of the New Testament about them; there is nothing about them that needs the Death of Jesus Christ; all that is required is a pious atmosphere, and prayer and devotion.” Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

We think the more we spiritualize everything, protect ourselves from sin, conjure up feelings of happiness the closer we will be to Jesus, and consequently the holier He seem to us. But the irony, and beauty of it is that His holiness is magnified in His incarnation. His love for us is demonstrated in His intervention in our daily living. His glory is magnified in the waiting. Abundant life is found through His Spirit, as we actually live life on earth. . .with the hope of eternal living in our sights.

And this, friends, is what the waiting of Advent and incarnation on Christmas means for us (in addition to a whole lot more, said by a whole lot more eloquent speakers and authors. . .and Scripture itself).

I pray that the Lord would show you what abundant, incarnational living means for you. I pray that He would give you His grace to hold living and waiting in a tension that magnifies Christ. And that you would have a very blessed Advent season.

“Thou art worthy of an adoration greater than my dull heart can yield; invigorate my love that it may rise worthily to Thee, tightly entwine itself round thee, be allured by thee. Then shall my walk be endless praise.” Valley of Vision

The Blogging Hiatus.

Do you even know what a hiatus is?

I didn’t. Or at least, I didn’t when I wrote the title.

It means a pause or gap in a sequence, series, or process. Synonyms include the words interval, intermission, interlude, lull, respite, suspension. I always have this idea when I get back from big events that I will have a renewed vigor to post on my blog because I will have a new set of experiences to dish out. Getting back from Asia and then more recently from the End of the Year Gathering in PA should have resulted in newfound inspiration, not a hiatus.

I think I like the word “hiatus” best out of all the synonyms. Everything else seems to imply that the break was conscious, unwarranted, or undesirable. I unconsciously made the personal decision to ignore blogging for two months because everything has been great. Have I mentioned the Lord is so very good and so very jealous for both me and His glory?

It’s not that I don’t want to write about Asia – I can’t. Part of me can’t because practically what I’m allowed to say on the internet is limited because of the potential hostility that could come to the people we worked alongside. But an even bigger part of me can’t because I don’t know what to say. First, so much of what happened is personal. Some of it couldn’t be explained unless you’d been exactly where we were, doing exactly what we were doing. And some of it I don’t want to explain because it is precious to me, moments between me and the Lord or me and someone else that I cherish to much to just repeat for the world to lend a careless eye to. Second, so much actually happened. Two weeks and one camp later I have more than one evening’s worth of stories circling through my head. I don’t know where I’d even begin.

So I came back with a fresh overflowing of the Holy Spirit. For the first time in a long time, joy and peace saturated my heart and spilled over into every area of my life. God has been healthy convicting, molding, and teaching me. He cuts away at my flesh but it feels so good and free. How can you express what God is doing and has done in your heart in jumbled letters on a page?

And as I began to wade the new waters of sufficient grace and love, I finished finals and packed up the car for the gathering in PA. Thinking back to the insecurity, fear, and disappointment that hindered my heart during the last EOTYG, I began to let the work God had solidified overseas, but began long before that, penetrate my timid heart. Confidence and identity. I got to hug all my friends. I laughed at their jokes and we told stories. We danced and I listened to their singing. Finally, smiling and misty-eyed, I was handed a high-school diploma. I couldn’t say which was better, India or Lancaster because they were so different. But they were both two of the best and most memorable times in my life. I’m smiling as I type this, to give you an indication…

How do you write a blog post to sum up the culmination of a lifetime of emotions, when you know the culmination is just the beginning of a lifetime’s more?

How can you conclude the last chapter of your life when it is still being written and spilling over into the next?

I don’t think I can.

Which is why I’ve sat in front of a blog post more than once since being back, thoughtlessly tapping on the keys. Words won’t come. How can they? I can’t sum up or explain what God has done in me while I was away. I can’t write out all that the Lord has been doing in me and through me these past few weeks. I can’t put a value to my feelings. I can’t put to words the change in both my heart and my life.

But I feel like I can’t go ahead and post the movie reviews, my bucket list, photos, and stories without attempting some closure. For Asia. For graduation. For the gathering. For a new post on my blog.

I don’t know what the next few months or years have in store for me. I don’t pretend to know the plans of the Lord. I don’t know how much I’ll be able to put into words, what stories I’ll end up telling, or how many photos I’ll remember to capture. But I do know the Lord loves me passionately, His grace is utterly sufficient for me, His Holy Spirit is in me, and He is good. And contrary to what the past two months would have you believe, I do love this blog.

I have one life and looking back (see the video below), it has been more abundantly blessed and full than I’ve ever realized before. I’ve been to Europe and Asia. I’ve met and built relationships with some of the most incredible, influential people, and best friends. I’ve learned more than I could’ve ever anticipated about the Lord. I’ve learned more than I ever thought I could in school and I grew to love learning. Looking back fills me with sentiment, yes. But it also fills me with immense hope. The faithful God who had His hand on the baby Maddie who wanted to shave like her dad, dance in the rain, and eat all the birthday cake is the same trustworthy God who will go on with me to return my Redbox movie today (btw, I sort of loved Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher), travel with me to Wheaton, and guide me for the rest of my life. I just hope I remember to blog some of it.

A Good Friday Welcome

If there is ever a day to re-launch a new blog because the old blog’s database somehow got deleted, I’d say Good Friday is the day to do it. Why, you ask? Why on earth would the day we solemnly remember Jesus’s horrific death on a cross be the day to start posting again? Because it’s everything to me.

Without that day I’m still reveling in my human depravity, groping around for identity in something. Without that day all my tentative plans for the future, that are really just my attempts to put into works the worship I feel in my heart, are nothing. Without that day they can’t even exist because my regenerate heart can’t exist. It’s as A.W. Tozer writes in The Purpose of Man:

“‘I have glorified Thee on earth,’ said Jesus, ‘I have finished the work Thou gavest me to do,’ and there God glorified Himself in His son, and that Son went out to die, and all that glory was marred more than any man, and His features more than the son of man. They pulled out His beard, bruised His face, tore out His hair and made lumps on His forehead. Then they nailed Him on that cross where for six hours He sweated, twisted and groaned and finally gave up the ghost. The bells rang in heaven because man had been redeemed now. . .worship is man’s full reason for existence. Worship is why we are born and why we are born again.”

Do you see it now? If so, you catch on quicker than me.

For the past few weeks, months even, I’ve been in something of slump. I was always hesitant to call it “depression,” since that carries different connotations in culture today, but at the core it probably looked very similar. I used words like unemotional, limbo, un-experiental, it just is, etc. to describe what I found so hard to put into words. I just couldn’t seem to get the truth of the Gospel from my head back into my heart.

I don’t know what shifted. I didn’t have some glorious road-to-Damascus encounter. But driving down the highway yesterday, I turned to my friend in the passenger seat and just smiled. I came home and literally poured myself into readings of the Bible, Let Me Be a Woman, gods of War, and Purpose of Man. I wrote in my journal and turned on worship music. These are things I couldn’t force myself to do a few days ago. I can’t adequately describe it. My spirit just feels more alive. It’s like nothing could stop my heart from worshiping and loving Jesus.

I’m not living in emotionalism; I think I’ve just truly realized the point of Good Friday and Easter. All the Lord wants is my worship. My love. I’m free to be nothing spectacular because He is, and was, and will forever be. Everything else I’m overwhelmed by, worried about, trying to achieve, etc. – it’s all vanity (Ecc. 1:2). I’ve been complicating the most simple, beautiful, and profound reality of my soul. I’m literally speechless.

This is me. This is my blog. And it is nothing but an extension of worship to The Great I Am.

A.W. Tozer also said that, “what I believe about God is the most important thing about me.” Let the same be said of me. And now you know.

Welcome to the new Sweet Tea and Me (although, it wasn’t an intentional overhaul).

Have an incredibly blessed Good Friday. May your worship today be sweet and deep.

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