On building castles in the sand

US12_SUN0991.jpgI’ve always had a good imagination. Not that cool, creative dragons and unicorns kind of imagination, that could help me to be some kind of literary genius, but the sort of tragic kind. The kind that found me sitting on the floor of my room as a kid and suddenly realizing I was crying my eyes out because I’d imagined my parents had just died in a car accident and I was all alone.

As I’ve become older I’ve realized that my imagination combined with my slight control-freakish nature finds me lapsing regularly into fantasy. Imagining future scenarios and how I would act and what I would say and what-would-I-do-if-this-happened-and-they-said-this etc. etc.

God spoke to me about this recently. I’d worked myself into a bit of a state over something that was almost entirely in my head and all of a sudden God showed me what I was doing:

You’re building a castle in the sand, Sarah, and you’re planning on living in it.

That’s exactly (metaphorically) what I was doing. The scenarios in my head had little grounding in reality. I was constructing a falsified world, one that would be swept away with the next tide… and I’d been planning on living in it.

Following the apostle Paul’s instructions to think only on ‘whatever is true’ is something I find insanely hard, but I know it’s something I need to work on.

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The moment God can’t wait to show me

Do you ever daydream about what it will be like to meet Jesus face to face? About what he’ll look like, and how you’ll react, and how you’ll feel?

Sometimes I do.

Do you think God does? I mean, does he imagine what it will be like to meet me?

I found myself pondering this question the other day, and what I got out of it is gold. Full of creative license, yes, but I still think true to God’s character, and therefore gold.happy-boy-1434104

See, God doesn’t have to imagine it. He’s outside time, so he can see it. He can visit that moment whenever he wants, and you know what? I bet he absolutely cannot wait to show it to me.

I mean, God knows me. He knows me inside out, but I bet he’s just chafing at the bit for me to know him. I reckon he’s like a parent, who just bought the most epic present for their kid, and who can’t wait to see their face on Christmas morning.

I think it fills him with the most bubbling joy. Just even the thought of how, in that moment, all my pain and sadness and the weight of this life will suddenly be blown away and that I, with one look into his face, will be consumed with the deepest fulfillment and most tremendous joy just because I’m meeting him… I think he gets the biggest kick out of that.

I bet he can’t wait to show it to me.

I’ve got 99 problems…

IMG_603953887545918Unfortunately this meme is too often reminiscent of my life. In fact lately, I’ve come face-to-face with the fact that when my life feels like it’s spinning out of control, it’s usually mostly in my head.

Now my head is a very real and complex place, so it’s not like that realization suddenly solves all my problems, but it does help to put some things in perspective. It also helps to find my solution.

See I might have 99 problems, but I have one solution.

When I don’t understand myself or I’m anxious about other people or I can’t seem to control my circumstances, there is one place that is my quiet eye in the storm. There is one place where I’m the most real version of me; a place where the crazy woman with her 99 made up problems fades away.

When I’m alone, on my floor, with my Bible.

When I’m reading the words of my Anchor within the veil and remembering that I was not made, primarily, for here.

It’s a comforting thought to know that the wild, heady confusion has a resting place.

Thoughts on Hell from the Hottest Place on Earth

1186903_28200330Today I’m apparently living in the hottest place on earth. With temperatures predicted to soar to 46 degrees Celsius it’s definitely a scorcher.

But you know what? Although it’s definitely hot, sitting in an air-conditioned house I’m hardly feeling it; I’m not being hit with the reality of 46 degrees.

This reminded me of a sobering passage from Jonathan Edwards’ famous 1741 sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God:”

 

‘There is the dreadful Pit of the glowing Flames of the Wrath of God; there is Hell’s wide gaping Mouth open; and you have nothing to stand upon, not any Thing to take hold of: there is nothing between you and Hell but the Air; ‘tis only the Power and mere Pleasure of God that holds you up.

You probably are not sensible of this; you find you are kept out of Hell, but don’t see the Hand of God in it, but look at other Things, as the good State of your bodily Constitution, your Care of your own Life, and the Means you use for your own Preservation. But indeed these Things are nothing; if God should withdraw his Hand, they would avail no more to keep you from falling, than the thin Air to hold up a Person that is suspended in it.”

How great is the grace of God that holds us out of hell! And how fearful the day that He removes His hold from those who, by their own will, have rejected it.

Instagram my Life (how we’ve all become airbrushed models)

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The magazine industry has long been slammed for its propagation of perfect air-brushed images.

And so it should be.

The criticism does not stem from society’s inability to appreciate art, but rather from the fact that we understand that what we (and teenage girls in particular) see in magazines, helps to define our sense of ‘normal.’

I’d like to propose that we can no longer point the finger exclusively at Hollywood and the magazine industry for giving us a distorted sense of normal. While we may not be reshaping our appearance to the same extent that these industries do, social media, and, in particular Instagram, has enabled each of us to put forward our own perfectly ‘altered’ version of our lives.

Instead of seeing each other for who we really are, we are assailed daily by images that have been composed, cropped, filtered, adjusted and selected from dozens more that didn’t make the cut.

We’ve Instagrammed our lives and in the process we’re re-defining normal. We’re building a discrepancy between ‘real me’ and ‘media me’ and we’re finding it hard to live up not only to the images of others, but even the images of ourselves.

I’m concerned that this ‘masked’ version of ourselves not only conceals an insecure and broken reality, but provokes envy and feelings of inadequacy in others.

So, before we post that perfect picture, maybe it’s worth asking: what message am I trying to send the world about myself and my reality?

Is there a Greater Reality?

dreaming-in-the-grey-reality-1136764-mThis is a question that has changed my life. I think most of us go through life defining our reality by what we can see and touch. We assign levels of reality. Tangible objects are the most real, followed by feelings and then ideas. That which is spiritual is often designated a position in the outskirts of what we deem true reality.

The Christian is called, however, through the renewing of their mind, to alter their perception of reality. We must perceive that which is spiritual, as described by the Scriptures, to be equally as much of a reality, if not even more so, as that which we see and feel.  We are called to live not by sight, but by faith.

This changed my life when I realized that the truth of the Scriptures must override my earthly perception of reality.

When my feelings tell me I’m afraid, they are intense. They claw for a prime position in defining my reality, but as a Christian, fear does not need to be my reality. When I read the scriptures I learn that the Spirit within me does not fear, and therefore, fear does not have to have a hold on me. Acknowledging this as a greater truth and ‘even more real’ than my feelings brings liberation.

Our reality must no longer be defined by what we see, but what we know by faith. It’s radical. To the unbeliever it’s absurd, but as they say, truth is often stranger than fiction.

Give Me the Truth that Hurts, Over a Lie that Makes Me Feel Good.

916513_28615130I’ve always had a passion for truth, but I know that sometimes it hurts. Sometimes facing the truth is like getting out of bed on a cold morning. You really don’t want to, but you know you’re not going anywhere until you do.

It bothers me how many people are willing to hide from the truth behind weakly spun webs of emotional reasoning and self-gratifying feelings.

Sometimes the truth tastes bad, but like medicine, it gives strength and healing in the end.

I think that’s one of the reasons I love the Bible. That book can pack a punch. It doesn’t bend to feelings or indulge human egos. It stands before us like a mirror and shows us our reflection: the good, the bad and the ugly. It is the best piece of human anthropology ever written.

So many people reject the Bible because it doesn’t feel good; because it doesn’t ‘sit well’ with their human reasoning. I encourage you to be open to the fact that the truth might hurt, but that its value is beyond measure.