an odyssey: year 5, day 364.

One of my favourite past times while sitting up in my cot was playing with the early morning light on my hands that snuck through the slats of my blind. I played and cast shadows as my mind wandered. My roommate gave a cough. She was another friend on the mend who’d recently arrived and been mended after a nasty relationship left gaping claw marks in her chest. She resettled and I went back to playing with the light, my mind wandering to thoughts of You and how far my journey had unfolded since I’d arrived.

After years now, I’d had the chance to observe You in various harrowing scenarios. I’d had the chance also to build my own history with You.

Oh in those days how I didn’t know what to make of You. I was always keen on having people figured out, but You I just couldn’t unpuzzle. I scoff at my skepticism of Your intentions now. Not for a moment in all these years – never once – has Your character faltered.

No matter the amount of times I tried to catch You

trip You up

screamed at and became combative with You when I was in a state of pain and despair and delusion..

No matter the amount of times I watched You warily as You approached my bed side with a treatment

No matter how many times You found me wandering down the middle of city streets at 4 in the morning..

You stayed gentle, spoke the truth of my conditions softly with me. When I hurt You, You were quick to forgive me when I apologized. You spoke kindly to me, and didn’t hold my relapses against me.

Another cough from my roommate, this time wet and crackly. I snapped out of my memories and swung my feet out of bed and into my slippers on the floor by the side of my cot. I made haste to her bedside where now she had started to choke in her sleep. I ripped back the covers and could see a deep crimson stain spreading across the front of her night gown in the faint morning light. I bolted across the room to the blind and flung it wide to let the sun in.

“LORD, Come quick!!”

You were already by her side by the time I turned back around from the window. After some minutes of Your working over her, she quietly resettled and resumed her sleep as if never perturbed. You pulled her blankets back over her after reassessing Your work, tucking them in around her. Looking up and catching my gaze, You offered Your hand to me and I took it. We stepped out into the hall and You linked my arm through Yours as You pulled the door closed behind us with a soft click. We proceeded silently down the sun lit corridor to the examination rooms.

There was not a soul that sought Your sanctuary that You would turn away. You would take every wounded that managed to clamber or get carried to Your front door. Sometimes, You would go out and come back in carrying someone.

Regardless of who that someone was, all the people here would respond to You differently at first. Each had been badly wounded by different life circumstances, and it was fascinating and sometimes quite sad to see how the patients would treat each other. But still, You’d mend them and watch over them. I think about a year into recovery I realized the way You watched over them wasn’t just to mind they’re progress, but You genuinely loved each one. It was mind boggling. Especially since always at some point in the relationship that patient had to choose to fully trust that You were who You said You were. That part was always difficult to observe as a bystander. I wanted to shake the people who didn’t know You like I did when they would turn Your care that they desperately needed away. But You would never force them to stay. A sanctuary was a place of peace and protection for those who desired to stay, but I realized over time that if people were not here by their own accord it would be more like a prison. So strange that a place of such beauty like this could be considered a prison. But then I remembered how terrified I was when I was in fits of pain and delusion.

I’d learned over the years that there’s some mysterious aspects to Your nature, but it’s people who throw me into confusion about who You are. I’ve had to learn to be careful.

I used to know about You from others, but what my heart really longed for was to know You. Personally. Intimately. You are the best authority on Your own character after all.

[patient log status; completed.]

[archived.]

[impending log – 03/25/2017]

 

 

Hold On to Hope. // The Thing About Time.

“Any fool can survive a crisis. It’s the day to day living that wears you out. ” – Anton Checkov

This quote has always stuck in my head, but I’m really starting to feel it this year. For the past half of a year, nothing really substantial has occurred that is apart from the daily.

But this is one of those few times that I’ve struggled so hard to not be resentful of my present circumstance. Constantly biting at the bit, this dreamer is ravenous for adventure and to be anywhere but locked up in a room alone with stacks of homework to do but instead staring blankly at a wall or computer screen. I’m craving forests, mountains, the outdoors. I’m longing for loved ones, quality conversation and time.

And I could feel tension slowly grating away on my sanity.

 

Time. I once used to think of myself as a patient person. When I was going through this desert of a time, I knew that the trial would end eventually. I knew that I should take heart, for each season ends and brings to life a new one.

“My God, why? Why can’t we skip all these extraordinarily dull days so I can actually be out accomplishing things? I think I understand where you’re trying to take me (very, very vaguely) but why take so much time?”

Time.

Finally, a break. And I come to hear, like a small whisper in the wind, a voice say to my heart, “Life will move along regardless of you.” And then peace. If you’re reading this and going through “a time”, I really need you to listen. There are two things.

This time you’re going through will end, and bring forth a new time.

There is nothing you can do to make this time end any faster or slower.

And here I pull in a verse that people use all the time. Seriously all the time. They could have a shop full of merchandise with this verse plastered all over their stuff because that’s how much it gets used. I digress.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Look carefully. Who knows the plans for your life? The LORD. So, now a question for you. Do you see your name in that verse beside the Lord? Does it say that you and the Lord know the Lord’s plans for you? Nope.

If God know the plans He has for you, and He is sovereign, does that mean that you have to be on the in for it to be a good plan or to bring about executing that plan by the best possible way necessary? No.

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:9

God holds the reins. There arises issues and conflict when we get control-hungry and try to take those reins away. We start to veer everywhere but “on course” it seems. This is either really good news or really bad. Really bad if it makes you overthink, “Well Delynn, I’m trying to do my best and do what God wills in this moment so He can do the most with me, but I just feel like I’m not where I’m supposed to be.” To which I have to say (and God please help me because I so desperately need to remind myself of this), “You are never in a place where God doesn’t need you to be in or can’t use you.” (Creds to my Love for this quote).

Time. It moves faster or slower for no man. There are no exceptions. We don’t have the full picture and sometimes are really prone to believe that God doesn’t know where the heck He’s driving. Please, He’s the best driver there is and He has the most comprehensive view than every man that has lived, is living, and will live combined. The only thing that makes for crazy driving is your rebellion of the action plan He’s trying to carry out.. And despite the maneuvers He’s doing or the actions you take that weren’t according to plan, He has the incredible knack for bringing the good out of any and every situation. How? Because He knows how all the roads and paths work out – He made them after all.

It would be like asking a total random stranger who has never been to a location before to workout an elaborate route through networks of roads and hi ways and byways they’ve never seen before in their lives. Are you going to ask the guy who made the roads and their systems to drive, or are you, the total stranger to such path ways going to try to make the best of it? Did I mention that your life is the cost if you don’t get to the end destination? But the guy who made the roads happens to love you more than you can fathom and has offered to drive for you. Don’t know about you, but I’m definitely going to take up His offer.

If you feel like your life is one move away from a 5 car pile up or that you’re already in the scrap yard, He has the ability to make even the most unquestionable of lost causes newer and better than the original form they came in.

“There is a time for everything, and a time for every matter under heaven.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1

This season will end. Hold on to the hope that is yours in Christ with unrelenting hands, because this world will try everything to try and steal it from you and make all your days insignificant. They aren’t, so don’t fall for the lie that they are.

Be Fearless.

I really don’t know where to start with this one. But I would like to initially state that there’s a good reason it’s in my blog title.

It’s a reminder to myself.

People define fear usually along the same line of thought with one pretty consistent pattern, but there are fears and phobias for just about anything you can shake your finger at or imagine. Some fears seem silly or evoke a burst of embarrassed, shaky laughter. Some fears bring about night terrors, anxiety, depression, insomnia, nightmares while awake, paranoia, and other acute or chronic symptoms.

Fear is something that I have at times in my life struggled against desperately. As I’ve grown up and been through more than one round in the ring, the Light has poured in and I’ve seen daylight at the end of my once seemingly endless tunnel of night.

Which is basically a super uber overly abstract way of saying that when I became a Christian and met Jesus and He became my Lord and Saviour, fear was conquered for me. These days, I only need to remind myself of His love, and bam. That fear that I had gets afraid and gets lost. If you’re wondering more about how that works, here’s a link to another one of my posts: https://takeheartbefearless.wordpress.com/2014/11/23/fear/

So how does this all relate back to this blog?

So glad you asked.

Blog writing freaks me out. Plain and simple.

And let me be a living testament that life stories breathe life into peers. On a grander scale, it’s incredible the things that I’ve seen God do with a person’s life story. I’m begging you, please, never see what you’ve been through as for nothing. He uses stories to bring people to life, to bring hope and encouragement, and to bring people who were once alone into community together.

Where there is Love, there can be no fear. Where there is no fear, people are set free. Don’t let fear inhibit your ability to love on others who need it.

There is no fear in love, for perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:18-19).

Fear.

It’s pretty late at night, or early in the morning however you decide to look at it, and I’m pretty exhausted after a very emotionally, mentally, and spiritually trying day yesterday.

I don’t know if any of you can relate, but I’m feeling beyond compelled to write what I’m about to.

This is for those of you who have ever been scared. And I mean, nightmares when you’re awake, that sense of dread you can’t shake, feeling like something is out to get you kind of scared.

I just want to pray that this post really take hold of you and set you free from that.

So I went through some pretty sketchy stuff yesterday. I won’t get into details, the details aren’t necessary. I met some people in a very broken part of town, and they had a lot of behind the scenes issues and a lot of really dark things had taken root in their lives. God protected my friend and I through the whole encounter (thank You Jesus for always remaining faithful), but it was brought to our attention afterwards that we had just both walked through a pretty bloody war zone.

After talking it out, having some prayer and community, we were pretty zapped of energy the rest of the day.

When it got to bed time I knew I wasn’t going to sleep. I felt like I was still rattled by the days events and there was something about the things that happened that just really stuck with me. I was afraid to turn out the lights.

I turned to some scripture, and a verse stuck in my head, and I repeated it until I fell asleep after praying on the phone with two people. It was this one.

“This God – His way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; He is a shield for all those who take refuge in Him.” (Psalm 18:30)

I did get some shut eye around 12-2 a.m.

But then I woke up, and still felt like I was battling down the dread that I was about to get attacked by something. After about forty-five minutes more of saying this verse to myself and really meditating on it, I really felt compelled to understand it more. This verse was not a stand alone, it was one that summed up the truths of others. Praying that God would show me what I needed to know to shake this fear I was feeling, and verse after verse, I was set free and my understanding made more complete.

Listen really close and know this. Bind it to your heart.

Fear will always submit to Love.

The two cannot coincide in the same place. And the kind of Love I’m talking about is Jesus going to a cross and laying down His life so we may be set free if we accept Him as Lord and Saviour. The Gospel. It’s good news because it INVADES DARK PLACES. It claims and is relentless and will not stop growing until it has your whole heart. I’ll let these next verses I found speak for themselves. And if you are one who struggles with fear and dread, let these be your sword verses.

“This God – His way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; He is a shield for all those who take refuge in Him. (Psalm 18:30) For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does. (1 Peter 4:6). For God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7). There is no fear in love, for perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:18-19).”

There’s a lot of important details I could probably pull out of this and show you, but I think perhaps it’s best if you just marinate in it yourself and let the words wash over you. If you are interested to know what stood out to me, shoot me a comment and I’d be happy to oblige you.

But as for right now, if you’re awake and haven’t slept and are feeling exhausted because it’s almost 5 in the morning, my prayer is that you rest in this Love that bought you at the highest price so that you might be set free from the things that keep you awake at night.

Thank You Jesus.

Growing Pains.

You know those days that feel like they were made as a gift specially tailored for you? I’m talking about that day that finally comes after a long stint of hardship, doubt, depression, mind-numbing mediocrity, sorrow, frustration. That day when it feels like you’re feeling the sun for the first time, and the breeze is brushing through your hair instead of stealing your school and work papers out of your hands. That was today for me.

People are constantly telling me that suffering is just a part of life. I will go through things I don’t fully understand or fully know how to deal and cope with. Some things, I just haven’t been able to cope with at all, and so I know that control is an illusion. Whether I remember that is a diffeent story. And as much as I’d like to say I know I’m not in control and can’t prevent troubling times in my life from happening, my tendency to try and white- nuckle steer myself away or out of certain situations suggests otherwise.

I have a love hate relationship with growth. I’d grown up in a Christian family, but just thought all along that God was just some creator dude who made things and was ruler of all, but didn’t really have anything to do with me personally. I thought Christianity was a decent concept, but it didn’t go much further than that. If you’re wondering, how I found Jesus was by praying what I call the dangerous prayer. I prayed this prayer, because I remember being frustrated when reading the Bible the very few times I did read it. It seemed God was always doing crazy things through all these people; classic example: Moses parting the Red Sea.

Like actually, what even.

So I was at my first ever youth conference, and I got this wild idea in my head,

“God, I don’t care what you have to do with me: whatever crap you need to bring up in my life for me to deal with, whatever thing you put me through – even if it breaks me in two – I want faith like Moses. I want you to do insane things through me. And You can do whatever You want to me, so long as afterwards I have an intimate relationship with you.”

I was in grade 10. And I definitely didn’t understand the full gravity of what I had just prayed to a God that I thought didn’t want anything personal to do with me.

Plenty of life has gone on since then. In that same year, I lost my first mentor, small group leader, and beloved friend Tina Jabbour to cancer that she had been fighting for seven years. That did indeed broke me into more than just two pieces. I’ve gone through the flux and flow of every day life and the hardships that come with it. Other issues have risen in opposition, and have now faded into the past to be incredibly vague memories. Still today there are trials that I’m working through.

And it seems quite strange, but I’ve always resented my struggling. You see, there’s somethings that we go through again and again and it seems that the only thing that changes is the specifics. Or there’s those other things that we should be able to physically work out ways out of and overcome. Or perhaps something seems so petty and we feel shame that we struggle with it at all.

Through all these years, I’ve resented struggle. When venting or trying to work things out with others, I beat myself up for it, arguing that it should have “never happened in the first place” or “how could I be so stupid to not see that coming”. I would try and hide my struggling from even my closest loved ones because guess what?

Growth is not a pretty process. Not even a bit. As a matter of fact, it’s quite ungraceful, and painful, and ugly. And the worst part is that other people totally get to witness it no matter how hard we try to keep it under wraps and say everything is A-Okay. Because it’s not.

But now I finally get it. My brother told me once that, “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, then it’s not the end.” And he couldn’t have been more spot on. Growth is a continual process. And here’s where I go all artsy-fartsy with my analogies on you, so hold on to your hats.

Today has been such a beautiful day. For the past couple of months I’ve been struggling with identity, purpose, and “what the heck am I actually doing here when I could be elsewhere.” One of the reasons I wanted to attend school where I do, is because of the huge trees they seem almost nonexistent everywhere else in Southern Ontario. I’ve always really loved trees, and they’ve always really fascinated me but I have one that’s a favourite. It’s a massive oak tree in the centre of a courtyard that you have to be standing at least 75 feet back from to get it all in the frame. It’s pretty hard not to notice because of its impressive size and presence.

And then it hits me.

IMG_2920

After studying this photo, maybe a few of you saw me sitting in the shade of this tree that is many times taller than myself (I’m just a couple inches off of 6′).

But I bet none of you noticed the small tree in the background of this photo.

It’s a small, young tree off to the right, and it stands just on the fringes of the shadow of the big oak. There’s nothing really extraordinary it seems about it because it has only been living a fraction of the time that the oak has been alive. It doesn’t stand very tall, and doesn’t require you to tilt your head all the way back when you stand under it to try to see the uppermost point. When I look at the oak, it makes me look so far up that it makes me wonder why I don’t look up more often, but for the young tree, the story is not the same. Its roots are still trying to grow to find a place to hold fast to so that it can grow taller. Its trying to obtain enough nutrients to help it grow. It has not endured as many storms as the oak, and is relatively new to the feeling of harsh weather beating down on it. When an exceptionally intense storm comes, the oak knows that it will endure, but the young tree fears for its thin branches and delicate leaves or to be ripped up by the roots. A tree, is just a tree. Life and weather don’t have anything personal against this young tree, they are equally relentless and cruel to all trees all around.

And then a realization.

I’m that young tree. I don’t point up and inspire others around me as much as I would love to. When I endure scary seasons in life, I shudder and shake and am terrified that it’ll try and rip me to pieces. My roots are deeper now, deeper than they’ve ever been, but I still have much growing to do. But just because a storm comes does not mean I have to start growing all over again, it’s just part of the process. Some people will ask me questions that I don’t have the answers to because I just simply haven’t lived enough of life yet. It’s okay I don’t know. It’s okay that growing is scary and sometimes very painful. I shouldn’t be ashamed that I struggle with growing pains. I’ll continue to endure through seasons that are beautiful and hopeful and others that are dark cold and scary. And with each and every passing day, I’ll grow more strong and more beautiful and more inspiring than the last. And one day,

One day.

I will be as big as that oak.

The Death of a Criminal.

We are by far our own worst depreciators. And so we need someone who will appreciate us. We need someone to believe in us. Someone who will love on us. Someone who will remind us of who we are and what we’re meant for. Someone who will hold us accountable to our acts, thoughts, and deeds. Someone who will give us hope when all is lost. Someone who will put us on our feet again and dust us off, and then continue on walking with us. Someone who will be honest with and tell us the truth. Someone who will be the way out when there isn’t one. Someone who will tell us we are beautiful creations when we can barely meet our own eyes in the mirror morning after morning. Someone who will destroy our demons, not just put them in cages and give us advice on how to train them so they behave better. Someone who will break into the deepest parts of our self defenses, just to prove that it’s actually a prison and prison is no place to live. Someone who will free us from our chains that we put on ourselves and have had others put on us, not pass us a gun and say, “it’s like roulette. I hope you get lucky and make the right choice.” But the answer is not in us. It never was. We do not live for ourselves Sometimes we find it hard enough to live with our selves. Is that why we celebrate like we’re going to die tomorrow? But I don’t want to die tomorrow. Or today. I want to live today, tomorrow, and for all eternity. I want to party like everyday is new, because everyday will be, and because it’s a new day of my life that I get to live to the fullest. But I can’t have any of that without love to first set me free. A love that would meet me in whatever place I’m at, and then not leave me there. A love that wouldn’t be afraid or disgusted by my disfigured heart that couldn’t stand the very thought of its own self beating. A love that would take on the crushing weight of the consequences and accountability I had been running from but knowingly never escaping. I knew because whenever I was out of breath from running and slowed down enough to think about my life, the weight of dread would come and try to suffocate the rest of the life out of me. A love that would find me and give me hope, because I was lost and chained, and exhausted, and alone. Because alone with only all my demons for company was not a good place to be. And so love came. And when I was covered in my own shame and filth and blood, He took the chains off me so I could rise from having my face in the dust, and wore them around himself. He lifted my weary head so He could study every detail on this face of mine and keep it in crystal- clear resolution in the forefront of His mind as He died in my place. My death. The death of a criminal. Why me? I am not worth dying for, I thought. But that thought holds no weight anymore, and now it holds no truth either because I live for someone else, and He is truth. And I abide by His truth because He tells me that He endured that wretched death because I was His reward. I do not have to own what I have done anymore, because He owns me and paid for me in full. The highest price – He paid for me while others shamed Him, when He took on their filth, and when they screamed for His blood. He knows who I am. He knew what I did, and what I would do. And He reached into my lonely darkness, craddling my wretched and failing heart in His pierced hands, and whispered, “Mine.” And before my eyes He became all that I had ever wanted but knew I never deserved. He became my faith that I was meant for more, because it is He who grants faith. He gave me hope, because that is what He is to me. And when all failed, He did not, because love cannot, and He is love. “Love never fails…So these three things remain: faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of these is love.” -From 1 Corinthians 13 ESV

For the love of God, listen.

Alright. It’s high time and the pot’s boiling over. I’ve tried to keep a lid on it, heck I’ve even tried to change my identity, but enough is enough. I can’t tell you how many sleepless nights I’ve seen. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stayed up long enough to greet the sun. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve nearly become nocturnal because my insomnia has gone into overdrive for days, sometimes weeks.

You need to know. All of you do. Every single last one of you reading this.

God loves you. Yep. You. With the face. I probably haven’t met you before – doesn’t matter, you’re not off the hook. Probably you were just roaming the internet, probably you clicked this open because you were a facebook friend and thought I was stamping foot mad. No. Seriously, that’s what I’ve got to say. And I have had to say it for a long, way long time.

I love sleep. Really, I do. I think it’s a fantastic gift. One of the reasons I tried with every part of my being to be someone I wasn’t would be so that I don’t have to lie awake days on end thinking through every social situation I’ve had. There have been some night where I lie awake -very awake- only to rewind to the earliest I can remember and play my life all the way through. I used to resent being “forced” to stay awake only to think of just about everything and everyone at once. My attitude has since changed now that I understand why. Some people have stood out in my mind more starkly than others over the years, but regardless, the message stays the same across the board. Each person that I’ve met, individually, of themselves, matters. Like, really matters. Just ask God. I dare you.

A small illustration. This night is like many others I’ve had. Lying in bed, staring wide eyed at the ceiling, knowing that sleep is not going to come. Sometimes I try and play it naive, and it totally doesn’t even work. I’m not mad, but I’m not stupid. I could try every thing in the book, I know I’m being kept awake. See, there’s so few people that listen to God about what He thinks and says about them, and even fewer still that actually believe what He’s saying. So when I started realizing my draw to people when I was quite young (still in grade school) I asked God to show me how much He loves others. To help me see people as He saw them. I thought I was opening a tap, and a freaking colossal, rip- roaring waterfall flooded my kitchen sending me a drift.

Or at least that’s what it feels like today. Back then, God was an inviting stream. But He knows how much I love Him now, so when I am stuck awake and want to listen, it just all comes out. All of it. Craziness. Literally in the last hour, 20 different people have been stuck in my head, and I am burning with the desire to tell them how much God loves them, to the point of considering restraints. But why restrain that kind of Love?

Seriously. If you know that kind of love that is so beyond powerful it could break the strongest dams you have to offer, why are you trying?

Why.

And another thing. I was hit so hard today by a talk by Todd White. To paraphrase what I got out of things he touched on:

– You know when you’re about to go talk to someone, and you get all nervous about how they’re going to react to what you’re about to say to them? [I’m talking about telling others about the love Jesus has for them] Why are you nervous? It’s not about you. It’s God loving on them. You do not have enough love in yourself to satiate whatever thirst they have. You were meant to be a light – God is your conduit.

– You are just a *sower or a waterer. It is God who makes the plants grow. (1 Corinthian 3:6) Your duty is to love others, and be a light to them. That means that you don’t have to make every person you share the gospel with (via your testimony or some other means) say “the prayer”. You do have to credit Jesus for the gospel and you can’t cut him out of your testimony – or that’s not the gospel or your testimony and then that person won’t see Jesus.

– You can’t “love someone to Christ”. Continuously doing good works or being supportive or encouraging someone but never saying or daring to talk about the reason you are loving is because Christ loved you first makes all your works meaningless. If you have works without the person who embodies love as your reason (and the person you’re loving on cannot read your mind that you know and love Christ), you’re not sharing the gospel. You’re just a really nice person who likes to do a lot of nice things because you believe nice is the best policy. Take a deep breath, don’t be afraid. Saying you love Jesus and the reason you’re able to love is because He loved you first may elicit various reactions. But Love is always the best policy.

– Love is always the best policy. Real love. Love that died on a cross and took our place and pursues us day after day. And some of us while we’re trying to sleep. But trust me, sleep is worth missing out on.

– and for the love of God, do yourself a favour and listen to your Father. Because we could all use more loving.

* a possible article about sowing to come.