Once Again

One of the many sights here on campus during finals week

Well, it’s time to move out. Just finished my third year of college. Wow.

In the face of the stress of finals, we students need a creative release

It’s time for summer once again, and once again I find myself dreading the uncertainty of where I’ll find my next rent payment and food. I’m really trying to not rest in the security of my plans and instead rest in the provision of God, but with the limited experience I have in trusting God, the experiences I am going through right now are taking all of the faith I have.

Finals are over, choir tour is over, and now I’m sitting in an apartment and finding myself filled with wonder at how God has walked with me through all of the things that have happened in the last year, two years, and five years. So much has changed in my life and the thought struck me recently that I’m not really sure how I got where I am. It just sort of happened. Of course I made choices about routines and pursuits but I never would have imagined that I’d be living on my own and not know how to provide for myself. I thought I was more responsible than this. Maybe it’s not about responsibility at all. Maybe sometimes life throws you curve balls and you just have to wait on God.

Hunger

Closeness with God can be a difficult, ever changing thing. It’s never because He changes, but always because we change. Change. I hate it and love it at the same time. It’s what happens as we renew our minds and bring our lives into alignment with the reality of our new natures in Christ. We are already seated in heavenly places with Christ, but we have to learn how that looks as we live on earth and it can be a difficult, painful process. Sometimes there is great joy in the process too. Sometimes we celebrate the process with other people. Sometimes we journey alone for a time, a phenomenon I know as the desert.

I think that we go through many deserts in life—times when the landscape (circumstances, relationships, etc) are barren and ever-shifting. No matter how well you prepare for it, you will eventually run out of supplies, and you must rely on God to provide manna in the morning and quail in the evening. You must rely on God to provide water from rocks and make the bitter waters sweet. It is often a time of loneliness.

With each desert that we go through, the only thing we can do to experience it differently is to change our perspective of it. This time through, I’m realizing how much joy there is in letting go of everything. I’m releasing friendships, grades, dreams, and plans, and finding that in my human loneliness I find spiritual closeness to my God—One who is not present physically, yet Who is more real to me than any other person I’ve ever met. I find myself hungry for the manna of His presence which, oddly enough, I cannot find in the company of others. I need the desert in order to draw close to Jesus. The desert has become for me no longer something I dread. I love the wide open spaces. I love the utter dependence. I love the closeness. I know that when I have reached the end of my desert season I will be ready for whatever comes; but for now, I am resting. Jesus, I am resting. Thank You.

I'll have nothing except for Him

Spring Break

Yes, this is a blog post about spring break. Honestly, I wasn’t going to write about anything I’ve been doing, but then I saw all of my blogging friends posting about their breaks and I got a little jealous. (Silly, right? I thought so too.) Nevertheless, here I am. (Ta-da!)

Usually, when I post something here, it’s about something that I’ve been thinking about or wrestling with and pertains to mental/emotional/spiritual growth. Today, I just need to write so bear with me and I’m sure something profound will come up. (No seriously, it just might happen.)

So far, my spring break has consisted of two things: reading and practicing. Yes.

Reading
Practicing

Ah! Here’s the profound truth. Neither of these things are what I naturally want to do. I find them both rather tedious actually—at least in my current context. However, I’m reminded of a lesson that I learned a while ago about being faithful in the little things. As a writer/thinker, it’s needful for me to be filled and inspired by other writers/thinkers. As a musician, it’s very much needful for me to practice and rehearse scales, techniques, and compositions.

I’m sure many of you have heard the idea that if you are faithful in the little things that you will be entrusted with big things later. I heard it as a child and it sounds kind of silly stated in the abstract, but it’s so true. You have to keep the end result in mind. What do you want to do? Where do you want to eventually be? How are you working toward those goals?

A goal doesn’t have to be some hugely specific entity. It can be general—that’s ok. As you progress toward it, it will become more specific and refined. This is the process of life and it’s ok: take your time.

I’m not where I want to be. I know I want to be someone who is so filled with wisdom and encouragement that it naturally flows out of me to others in speaking, blogging, and poetry. I know I want to be a musician who exposes people to grace and the eternal qualities of God through high-quality musicianship. Both of these things mean that I will have to spend loads of time investing into activities that will equip me to live this way.

As a junior, soon to be senior, in university, I easily lose sight of these goals as I go about the daily grind. Spring break has been a chance to step back and refocus, reenergize, and rededicate myself to the dreams I’ve entertained for so long. I’ve found that my passion is not dead, my God is still faithful, and life is not my enemy.

Everywhere

I had a thought this morning: what if everywhere I went held a special meaning to me because I had memories of God’s presence there? What if I made it a point to acknowledge Jesus’ presence with me in every place that I set foot? What if I could look back on my activities throughout the day and remember each moment fondly because I experienced God everywhere I went? The fullness of His presence is the ultimate gift, and memories are the ultimate memorial. I think I understand partly what he means when the psalmist cries out in Psalm 103:2, “Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits.” (NASB)

All day today, I’ve had the words of a song playing through my head, “What does it sound like when you sing heaven’s song? What does it feel like when heaven comes down? What does it look like when God is all around? Let it come.” I feel my heart consumed with longing to realize each moment as an opportunity to acknowledge that Jesus is with me and thereby redeem the time. There will come a day when we get to enjoy God’s manifest presence without ceasing night and day—I want that to begin today. I can enjoy His presence right here and now to the degree that I set my love on Him. The only reason that I am not constantly overwhelmed by His love may be due to the fact that I am not completely consistent at setting my mind on things above and not on things on the earth.

What does it feel like when heaven comes down?

Memorials

So this is perhaps one of the coolest things I’ve come across in the last year!

Pocket-sized notebook...

But this isn’t just any pocket-sized notebook… open it up and you find…

Pocket staff paper!

Five-line staff paper!!!!! This is a musical notation heaven! A friend at school had this notebook and offered it to me knowing that I might appreciate it as a music major. I do, in fact, appreciate it. Actually, I adore it. Now, whenever inspiration strikes me with an awesome melody, I can jot it down quickly to notate on my computer later! This is probably the best thing since apple pie.

There’s something deeper though that I would like to point out: it has to do with remembering. I love notating music because not only do I not have the money to immediately invest in all of the equipment I need to record at my leisure, but because notation offers a way to memorialize music and gives others the freedom to explore someone else’s musical idea and build upon it. Ah, there it is: memorials.

Notation is a type of memorial. It helps us to recall a melody. In the same way, writing helps us to recall thought processes and experiences. I think that God likes memorials. When He shows Himself faithful to keep His promises to us, we should make memorials to remember His faithfulness. Memorials of God’s faithfulness help us to not only remember what He’s done, but also to share that experience with others so that they can then have the boldness to seek out their own experiences with God in relation to His promises.

With that in mind, let me share with you a recent memorial that I have made. It’s about surrendering to God’s authority over every part of our lives. I recently came to the realization that I was addicted to the feeling of sorrow. I actually subconsciously enjoyed the sensation of feeling bad. It didn’t make sense. In one breath I would be claiming the joy of the Lord as my strength and in the next I would continue to wallow in my past hurt. Of course, as a believer, it is most certainly true that the joy of the Lord is my strength, but if I refuse to give Him my hurt and sorrow, then I prevent the power of God from working in my life. I don’t want to be the one standing in the way of God’s miracles.

So, after coming to this realization, I wrote a song about it. A song expressing my soul cry to recognize Jesus Christ as the God of my sorrow (as in “God over” or “in authority, in charge over”). He is not just the God of my joy, He is the God of my sorrow too. He is Lord over the entirety of my life, but since sorrow is an area I’m learning to let go of, it is particularly meaningful for me to recognize Him as God of my sorrow. I have since notated the melody as a memorial—a memorial to remember the song, but more importantly to remember what He has done in my life. This is the power of memorials.

P.S. If you play piano, here’s the fully notated score for you to enjoy. 🙂
God Of My Sorrow

Knowledge

How limited is my view of God!

As of late, I’ve been wrestling with questions about direction in life and letting go of my conceptions of what God’s blessing on my life should look like, and it’s only now that I’m realizing that I have such little experience of God’s power or His glory or His love. I’m only now realizing that I struggle to trust Him with every part of me because I haven’t come into the knowledge of His love for every part of me. I find myself right back where I started when I began questioning in the first place: “Fill me with the knowledge of You, God, with the knowledge of the holy!”

Recall

clouds

It all started with waking up. The threads of consciousness, woven and spun into the glory fall, worked their way into me, seeping into the dreams lingering in my mind yet being steadily dispelled by the constancy of activity in the physical domain. Stillness.

I had a thought upon waking up, profound and personally meaningful. Yet the wording and phrasing of the thought escaped the frail grasp of my groggy brain leaving nothing but the impression of a feeling—one of longing and hope but forever more ineffably gone. What’s worse: I was at my laptop with a blank page ready to scribe these musings, yet the words had left.

So here I am, writing what remains of the experience: can I piece together the thoughts leading up to the particular idea? Can I trace my feelings back to their origin?

No; it’s hopeless.

Why does the subconscious taunt me so? Is there a greater good to be realized from the loss of this thought?

Perhaps. The feeling of hope that lingered: this is worth treasuring. This feeling is worth storing up in my heart. The more hope I store in my heart, the more I will speak and act out of hope. The more I speak and act out of hope, the more others around me will be encouraged to do the same. So then, if I change my approach to life based on this positive feeling, then I have been affected by the original idea, even though I cannot understand it, nor express it to another person. I have felt the idea and that’s all I need in order for me to act on it. Maybe soon I will find again the words to phrase it to another, but for now, it remains alive and un-cheapened by the confines of verbal expression. I recall the substance of my idea, unfettered in my spirit. Though I cannot explain the thing that gives me hope, I know that I have it. I hold this hope as in a jar of clay, and the darkness of my mind has not understood it. Thank God that I am being renewed inwardly day by day.

Perhaps my encounter this morning was not with an idea at all, but with the very Spirit of God. Perhaps I awoke not to my own thought, but to the Hope of Glory living in me, strengthening my spirit. Praise the LORD, O my soul!

clouds
The clouds are symbols of hope to me. One day, they will be parted as a scroll to reveal Jesus coming again.

Looking On

Looking on, keep looking on,
Expectantly await the dawn,
You who cling to hope may wait,
May yet your heart now satiate,
Oh do not cease from looking on!
Continue pressing on in hope
And its related isotope:
In joy, that is; may yours be full,
This is the substance of the tulle,
The fabric of the wedding veil,
Fastened quick with thankfulness,
The bride of Christ is thus arrayed,
The love of Christ therefore displayed
In one for whom He bled and died,
Whom Satan shall fore’er deride
Yet powerless fore’er remain,
The righteousness of God implied
That He should hold us in disdain,
We, in our Advocate, confide,
Sin, where is thy gruesome stain?

© 2011 David Andrew

The Other Side

Today has been a respite, a respose from the inanity of semester’s end. After a late breakfast, I decided to go outside and enjoy the glory-fall. I walked out past the parking lot and sat on a big rock and gazed across the field in front of the school. It was a beautiful moment—gazing and reflecting and praying. I couldn’t help but take it all in, and I was so thankful that my eyes are truly open. When your eyes are really open, you never want to miss a single moment, but take it all in because you become aware of the beauty surrounding you. Each moment is invaluable because it will never come back, and you may never have another one quite like it. It causes you to be thankful even for the hard moments because you can look back and see how it has shaped who you are in the present. So you really can be thankful in all things. Wow.

At some length of sitting and gazing, I decided to go for a walk on a nearby trail. Eventually, I came to this sight:

Art in the wilderness

Look familiar? It should if you remember this post at the beginning summer. The one difference is that it’s facing the opposite direction. At some point since I took the last picture, the pole has been turned around so that the text is facing the other way. It’s symbolic. It points to the fact that I am now on the other side of summer—on the other side of those particular hardships and circumstances. It points to the fact that God has covered me through difficulty and oppression and uncertainty and has sustained, strengthened, and empowered me to live abundantly. It demonstrates the outworking of God’s glory in my life. It fills me with purpose for the present and hope for the future. Wow.

To conclude this post, here’s a new poem:

Patterns

Here and there, occasionally,
I have a thought begin to spread
And germinate through what I’ve said,
The event seems random at best.

Here and there, occasionally,
I have a word to kindly share,
And sharing, I myself do bare
My heart and everything I have.

Here and there, occasionally,
I open what is firmly shut,
Exposing the infected cut
Of solitude’s egregious blade.

Here and there, occasionally,
I realize amid my pain,
The omni-present God would deign
To be near to my broken heart.

Here and there, occasionally,
I bow under a heavy load,
I find that I despise the road
I have unswervingly chosen.

Here and there, occasionally,
I falter for a wise critique,
The very wisdom that I seek
Would sooner be my undoing.

Here and there, occasionally,
I find offense at every turn,
The power of what I would learn
Is robbed of all efficacy.

Here and there, occasionally,
I pause to hear all heaven shout—
This is what life is all about—
And hope springs within me once more.

© 2011 David Andrew