Deep gratitude and bad diagnoses


I never thought I’d hear myself say, “thank you, God, for my bad catalytic converter!” And actually mean it. With my whole heart.

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t groan when the “check engine” light comes on in their car. “Oh, no, baby, you’re fine,” we all croon, hoping it was just a fluke. Did I brake too fast? It must be an error. There’s nothing wrong. PLEASE. NOTHING WRONG.

I was starting to feel like if my mechanic had punch cards I’d be my way to a free repair. But that’s not really the way car repairs work.

No, even though my mechanic is honest and wonderful, whenever I go in for a repair I always leave trying to catch my breath. We had to do it. It’s good. That’s only like what I make in 20 hours of work this time. It could have been worse. Just breathe.

I was prepared to do that song and dance again today. He’d told me that the light was telling us something was up with the catalytic system (do I sound like I know what I’m talking about? I don’t), and if we were lucky, it’d be the oxygen sensor, maybe a couple hundred to replace. We hope it’s that because the catalytic converter would be way more buckeroos.

I decided to go with the best-case scenario. It would be the cheap thing that would be wrong, and it would not feel cheap but would be worth it to not have to replace the catalytic converter.

So I went in today on my afternoon off, ready to sit while they replaced my oxygen sensor. I lose a couple hours and a couple hundred dollars. Breathe. It could be worse.

But then he came out and said, “Ashley, I have bad news.”

I could see myself opening a window and pouring out my hard-earned dollars onto the streets below. “Here, who wants some? It’s just money. Have a handful. My car is making me go broke anyway.”

God works in mysterious ways. Oh wait, no, let’s rephrase that. God does freaking weird things that often look like a bad situation but totally flips them on their head so it’s the best. Says the same thing but sounds less dreamy. This is weird stuff.

“I’m not going to recommend we fix it now. You might have a year before it goes out completely, and you’ll know when that happens.”

Wait, so… no repairs?

“And I’m not going to charge you for a full hour. That was only twenty minutes.”

He basically told me that my car is worth more to me than anyone else, so I should drive it until it dies and not put big bucks into it at this point.

So, sort of harrowing news, but it means I have margin. I can save. I can plan! I can look forward to buying a car sort of on my own timetable instead of pouring money into this one… and still having to buy one in a year or two.

In the oddest circumstances, a reason for deep gratitude. I’ve had a few moments like that in the past month, where just a little bit got shaved off a total or ended up being right what I could spend. And there have been moments of extreme peace where I knew I didn’t need to buy that thing that really seemed like I might need it… or I didn’t need it right then.

Here’s the testimony: God takes care of me. Here’s just another example in a line-up of many. I have a bad catalytic converter. And an honest mechanic. That’s a reason for joy.

On overflowing cups.


cup

Last year on this day, I wrote about Shakespeare’s sonnet 73, because every time I see a yellow leaf I think of it.

That time of year thou mayst in me behold

when yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang

upon those boughs which shake against the cold…

It’s so poignant. I wrote about how fall is a time of refining for me, how I find that often when I get to this time of year, I find God shaking away pretense and false security in my life til I have a few leaves left and am ready to settle into a winter of waiting to see what will grow from it, what the fruit of the lesson is.

And I think that’s still true, that I find my spiritual life reflected in the season.

It was about 34 degrees in Minneapolis this morning when I set out to go for a run. I ran down the street closest to the Mississippi, hoping to find a trail that gave me a view. The trail I found turned to dirt at one point, but it gave me the skyline and river view I was hoping for, so I stuck to it. I ran across a little footbridge to Nicollet Island, past the high school and inn there, and back to the mainland before routing back to the Farmers’ Market, where I bought rhubarb and peppers and zucchini and came home with a single dollar in my pocket. Later I will make bread and cake and eat dinner with friends.

I walked back to my little apartment. And I thought to myself, this is my life. How can it be?

I find myself living pieces of my dream life these days. And along with sonnet 73, Psalm 23 keeps coming into my mind.

The Lord is my Shepherd.

I have all that I need.

He make me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside still waters.

He restores my soul.

Not that the yellow leaves aren’t still shaking in the cold, not that I don’t worry and feel scarcity creeping up on me and stealing my joy, but Psalm 23 has been the balm to my heart in those moments. This good Shepherd is mine, and his promises are peace and restoration.

Which reminds me that there will be moments of breaking and cracking — because otherwise, there is no need to restore. It’s not about a charmed life but about having a refuge.

Even though I walk through the valley

of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil, for you are with me.

Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me, in the presence of my enemies.

You anoint my head with oil.

Up until this point, I find myself nodding along, feeling the comfort in the promise of the presence of a good Shepherd. There’s guidance, no fear with God. He is my safety. 

And then we get to this part, and something pipes up in my heart that says this is as true as it gets.

My cup overflows.

Runs over. Spills out. The cup cannot contain what is being poured into it. And I find that when I look back, the cup has always been overflowing – even in dark valleys I’ve had the light of the presence of God, often shown in the faithful friendship of his people.

The cup overflowing isn’t the prosperity gospel, a hefty paycheck, a well-stocked kitchen, a bump-free ride, every desire satisfied. It’s the certainty that

Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life.

It’s the promise of the presence of a good God, which means more than the presence of any single person or thing.

And I will dwell in the house of God forever.

*If you want the best musical rendition of Psalm 23, here it is.

Showing up


I sat on my barstool at the kitchen counter this morning, finishing up my coffee, eggs, and toast and staring out the window. My Bible was open on my left, and I’d read the chapter for the day. Titus something. But I couldn’t tell you what it was about for sure by this point in the day.

It’s a good discipline, to read your Bible every morning. Perhaps it would be more effective if you were the type of person who could remember what you read as well and think about it throughout the day. I do believe that is the intent for those of us who do morning devotions, or at any time of day. I do not remember what I read.

But I do remember what I saw out the window. It was 6:10, usually the time that I would be leaving the house if it was Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, but it was Friday. And I drive to work on Fridays, so I was planning to leave about ten minutes later than normal. I lead such an exciting and varied life.

I stared down the curving street, the one that I know points south because when as a young girl I told my sister I was running away to Grandma’s house and needed directions, she told me Grandma lived in Texas, which was south. And she pointed down the street, telling me that’s the direction I should head in. There was a woman there, running south this morning – maybe to my grandma’s house. She wasn’t the Lulu Lemon model or the poster child for Lifetime. She was just running. Not a sprinter’s clip nor a plodding pace. Fighting inertia, keeping on.

Good for you, I thought, because I am not a runner in the least.

I looked back at my Bible as if trying to remember if there was something more for me there. Thank you, God, for today, for my job and my…

See the time on the clock, glance out the window again, eat another bite of eggs. Strategize about how late I can leave and still get there on time.

Right, I was praying. Thank you for today. Just thank you, really. I can’t remember what else you say when you’re prayingHelp me to show your love to the people I work with today. There, that was something coherent and applicable.

Out the window, the woman is still going down the street. She turns and is soon out of my sight. She wasn’t that jogger you see on the sidewalk who is just barely making it, the one you desperately want to pull over and give a lift to because their faces say they’re dying and their bodies are barely moving though appearing to be attempting to run. Those people are admirable, too, and I say this as one who does not run and hates it. They’re trying, and it’s near impossible. Odds are, it’s not going to be their lifelong passion. This happens for some, but they most likely won’t be runners. Maybe they’ll walk or find that they are passionate about yoga or body pump.

But this lady is a runner. She’s got her route and her pace and her running clothes. She may not run far or go fast or impress the onlookers. But she’s still going.

I tried to go back to prayer. My mind was scattered among the things in my kitchen, out the window, on my calendar, on my (literal) plate. My discipline to at least open my Bible was there, but I wasn’t making grand strides or hearing great words from the Lord. I was just practicing for the next day, when I may show up a little better and listen a little closer.

Paying attention and not paying attention


I strive to pay attention in church. I thought it was hard when I was younger, when I didn’t really understand a lot of what the pastor would drone on and on about teach about. I liked the singing part because I liked singing and enjoyed hearing the people around me sing. But the sitting still and listening part was a little difficult. I drew pictures on the bulletins, sat next to friends and wrote notes back and forth, daydreamed, and thought about lunch.

I remember one time trying to bring Super Fudge by Judy Blume to church, probably because I’d seen a younger child reading a book during the service, and I thought that would be okay. It’d keep me quiet and entertained. My parents weren’t having it. I felt bad for trying to pull something like that at the age of ten, when I was completely capable of siting still. My mom made my leave it in the car, and to this day I can’t think of Judy Blume without feeling a small modicum of guilt. I knew better.

The songs were my favorite part. Even before we went to our church, where music is important and done well and given lots of attention, I knew the words to the songs and liked singing along. We went to a hymn sing at our church one night, and I desperately wanted to suggest “Shine, Jesus, Shine” when they started taking requests, but I couldn’t get up the courage to suggest it. I whispered it to my mom, kind of just so someone else would know what I wanted to sing, and she said (OUT LOUD), “Ashley wants to sing ‘Shine, Jesus, Shine’.” Thus, I was outed, but then we sang that song.

Shine, Jesus, Shine. 

Fill this land with the Father’s glory.

Blaze, Spirit, blaze. 

Set our hearts on fire.

Flow, river, flow. 

Flood the nations with grace and mercy.

Send forth your word, Lord

And let there be light.

See? It’s a good one.

The songs we sing in church are still meaningful to me. And I can now sit perfectly still during the sermon, look like I’m paying attention, and on a regular basis actually be paying attention. If I think of something I need to do later, I write it down and put it out of my mind. I try not to think about lunch or how badly I want to take a nap that afternoon or work the next day or anything.

But when the final song of the service comes, I’m pretty much done with paying attention. At my church, it’s typically a pretty short song, a chorus you sing through twice before you are dismissed. They’ve never been the songs that are most meaningful to me, mostly because I’m already mentally gone.

This week I had a stressful day, which bled into a stressful evening, for a number of reasons. I did some things this week that stretched me in numerous ways and stressed me in numerous ways, so when I went to work one day, my stomach was tied up in knots, and despair was near at hand. Not real despair but the thought that you have too much and feel too much and have too little time and ability to deal.

Out of the blue, one of those short songs we sing at the end of the service came into my mind and kept playing itself over and over. It was one I’ve never particularly liked much, maybe for lack of paying attention to what it said. The tune isn’t anything special, and I’m pretty sure we’ve never sung it in the middle of a service. I’m surprised I even knew the words.

It just kept singing to me.

Oh, let the Son of God enfold you with His Spirit and His love.

Let Him fill your heart and satisfy your soul.

Oh, let Him have the things that hold you,

And His Spirit like a dove will descend upon your heart and make you whole.

How did I miss this before? The meaning became quite clear to me as I kept hearing it in my mind on repeat. The things that hold you… not the things I’m holding but the things that keep me captive. Oh, how true that is! His Spirit like a dove will descend upon your heart and make you wholeYeah, because I feel partial when I’m stressed, partially there, partially capable. This is GOLD.

I had texted a friend earlier and told her how I was feeling. True to her record of faithful friendship, she texted me a prayer for peace that surpasses all understanding.

Somehow this short song I had never paid attention to was bringing me that peace, reminding me that God comes in the middle of stress and anxiety and burden-bearing.

It reminded me that the words of the songs we sing in church can have more to them than we think, that paying attention even when it’s rote or almost lunchtime makes all the difference and on the flip side of that I also realized that God can instill truth into my heart even when I’m not paying attention… and bring it back when I’m ready to.

Grace and the unrepentant rapist


I know it’s probably not in good form to only blog once or twice a month then come out of nowhere with a post about what grace might look like in the case of the Stanford student who raped an unconscious woman, but it’s just been weighing on me all day.

It weighs on me for a numbers of reasons:

  1. The rapist does not acknowledge his crime of rape, rather is sorrowful that he got drunk and was “promiscuous.”
  2. The survivor of the assault’s statement shows how serious his action was. To say she has suffered would be to put it lightly (follow the link and read the statement).
  3. He got six months in jail and probation when a jury found him guilty on three counts of sexual assault. The judge was concerned that a harsher sentence would ruin his life.

The Stanford student doesn’t own up to the fact that he raped a woman.

And I can’t tell you how mad it makes me that in 2016 a judge is more concerned with the future of a kid who raped an unconscious woman while drunk than with the victim of the rape, in part because he was a star swimmer with a bright future.

In a case where justice should have been clear, where punishment should have been swift and heavy, where there should have been real remorse for his crime – he gets six months and does not apologize.

This is what the victim says about that, at the end of her statement:

“You do not get to shrug your shoulders and be confused anymore. You do not get to pretend that there were no red flags. You have been convicted of violating me, intentionally, forcibly, sexually, with malicious intent, and all you can admit to is consuming alcohol. Do not talk about the sad way your life was upturned because alcohol made you do bad things. Figure out how to take responsibility for your own conduct.”

I’m sure my rage pales in comparison to what she has felt over the past year. Really, it would be good for us all to read her letter. I think that to read her speak about what she experienced honors her courage to speak out, honors her voice in this situation where so many are voiceless.

This stupid question has been burning in the back of my mind today though, because I’ve been learning about grace in the past year and figuring out how to receive it and give it.

Oh, it’s such a stupid, dumb, irrelevant question! How do you show grace to an unrepentant rapist? You don’t, okay? You punish him hard.

I’m not asking because I’m gracious. I’m asking because I really need to know.

The question isn’t even how do you show grace to a repentant rapist, but instead one who won’t even say he did it.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

I WOULD USE STRONGER WORDS.

He should have gotten a harsher sentence.

Oh, he really should have.

Grace doesn’t let us off easy. We do actually have to learn from our mistakes and grow from them. A long prison sentence might do that. I don’t know what else would.

Oh, but there’s Jesus. As cliché as it might seem, I just keep seeing Jesus on the cross, taking the sins of the world and saying, “Yep, for him, too.”

God isn’t the one who pats us on the back after we horrifically offend the dignity of another person. That isn’t the moment where he gently says, “Not like that. Try again.”

I’m grateful for those moments. But when I or anyone else dehumanize another person, God convicts us. He prods us and tells us what we did was wrong and that we need to make it right.

But he also opens a door and tells us there’s a way to live differently, not perfectly but walking alongside the One who loves so well that it rubs off on us and makes us more truly loving.

That’s grace, I think. It’s the smack that tells us we’ve got to stop what we’ve been doing and waits for us to sober up before it offers another way.

I am still so mad at that student. I’m mad at that judge. I’m mad that the justice system I live under produced such unjust results, so I’m praying through my teeth that he’ll know that what he did was wrong and that the weight of it will sink in.

And then that God will show him another way.

Cinco de Mayo bookmark


Every year, Cinco de Mayo creeps up on me. It never feels like it should be quite so far in the year – May 5th, already? The day wouldn’t be much more to me than someone else’s celebration if it weren’t also the day I was baptized, 14 years ago. Granted, if the day I was baptized wasn’t also Cinco de Mayo, I probably wouldn’t remember that either.

But because the two coincide, I do remember both. Most years I reach this day and am only reminded that I’m getting older.

I’ve spent some time this year thinking back to what it means that I’ve been baptized.(Marilynne Robinson had a good deal to do with it) One of my pastors used to say–every time someone got baptized–that baptism is an outward expression of an inward change. And it was. But a lot of the time, I saw people getting baptized from whom I’d already seen that outward expression of inward change, a shift from old to new, a surrender. Their lives were already speaking to the Spirit at work in them.

I got baptized in second grade. And I don’t remember what made me think I wanted to be baptized. It could have been a number of things:

  1. Brooke had done it already.
  2. I’d heard people talk about it a lot.
  3. I really did love Jesus and knew that was something people did when they’d decided to follow Him.

But whatever the reason, I told my parents I wanted to get baptized. My dad made a worksheet for me, questions to answer about why I wanted to get baptized. I guess he wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing, that I wasn’t making the decision impulsively.

We picked a Sunday night, and I invited some friends.

I don’t remember much about the actual baptism. I don’t remember climbing up the stairs to the baptistry or the temperature of the water or professing my faith in God. I don’t remember being dunked or coming up out of the water. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t wearing my glasses at the time. I have a vague and fuzzy memory of seeing the first few rows of the church full of people from my vantage point in the baptistry.

I do remember that afterwards my mom braided my short, wet hair into two French braids that were tied together in the back, and I wore a lavender and navy striped polo shirtdress. We went down to the basement kitchen of the church where we were going to have cake, and my mom took my picture beside it. In the picture I’m smiling behind my pink wire glasses, a recent addition to my face. The cake said, “Congratulations, Ashley!” and it was store-bought, which was rare. There was a gold cross on it made entirely out of sugar. When it came off the cake, I was allowed to lick it and was disappointed that it didn’t taste very good.

I knew I had done something good that day. I remember announcing it to my class at school the next day.

Over the years, as I’ve watched people in my church get baptized and profess that Jesus is the Lord of their life, I’ve wanted to get rebaptized. Did I know what I was doing the first time? I really do mean it now. I don’t think I knew what I was getting into then.

But, as my parents have reminded me, this misses the point. Baptism is a one-time sacrament, a landmark moment. It’s not about whether you’ve got it all together at the time. It marks a step in a life of faithfulness.

There’s something especially holy about the moment where someone chooses to be baptized as a representation of their faith in front of their church family. Every time, something in me calls out, Me too. I choose this, too. 

Not just baptism, although I’d choose that again, too, but the body of believers who profess faith and remind me of mine. I’d choose the church again, the relationship with Jesus again, because it has given me life abundantly.

It really is a gift that Cinco de Mayo bookmarks today for me, that I have a readymade reminder that I’ve chosen to follow the God who loves me and calls me to life.

Retreating


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I went on a retreat this weekend with this group of women. And knowing me, you’ll know what I want to do with this topic. I’ll want to ask: What does it mean to retreat? Why did we retreat?

And I’ll tell you that it’s stepping back when we know we need reinforcements and can’t handle the battle on our own. And I’ll support it with Webster’s Online Dictionary.

And then I’ll say something about why it’s important to be still and rest because our world is too hectic, and we don’t do that enough.

And that will all be true.

But I figure since that’s predictable, I won’t say that. Because this weekend was anything but predictable. First off, I wasn’t planning to go. It was one of those things that was announced, and I saw it and thought huh, that’s the kind of thing I would like to do.

I don’t normally need a personal invitation to join in on all that life has to offer, but this time I didn’t really get around to deciding until Dena came up on me on Easter and asked me if I wanted to go.

Apathy sometimes keeps us from doing something that might bring great blessing. Do I need a getaway? Probably not that badly. Nothing’s going wrong in my life. Not really.

But she asked, and I said yes.

Then, during my week I started thinking about it and found that I was quite looking forward to Friday afternoon when we’d drive up north. A whole weekend without responsibility with some really lovely women who go to my church, where someone else cooks great food, where the whole point is to connect on a deeper level with each other, and in a log cabin.

I didn’t know I needed the break until I took it. A break from the hecticness, from bring connected to everyone online all the time, from being task-oriented and productive.

Instead we talked and laughed and took a walk to hold bunnies (BUNNIES! My mom can attest to my deep love for them) and played the world’s longest game of Uno. We laughed some more and settled down to share passages of scripture that are meaningful to us. Inevitably, our stories came out piecemeal, and each challenge and joy shared was met with empathy.

We’re more connected than we know.

There’s more to say about it, but I think even if I keep saying more I won’t fully encompass the connections that were made, the fun that was had, and the Spirit that was felt.

Plus, I’m looking forward to sleeping in my own bed again. Don’t get me wrong, I’d sleep on that thin mattress again for such a wholly fulfilling weekend, but my pillow is calling.

When spring stays


It snowed today. We’ve had such a mild winter that we thought we might be in the clear after those last few inches in February. Then it warmed up and the sun came out and melted the huge piles of gray slush in the parking lots, so we really thought it was gone.

Winter’s still hanging on for dear life. It’s singing its sad, desperate ballads about unrequited love, and we are thrusting it away with angry shovels that we thought we could put away for good a month ago.

Let me just say, the shovels are never put far away in Minnesota.

How do you know when it’s spring? When it comes and stays? Or could it really be spring now, only winter is just paying a short visit but will be leaving soon (if only we could boot it out the door).

That’s something I’m wondering. The arbitrary season change dates never seem to mark the real event of any new season, so I don’t know when to call it spring.

For longer than we’ve had winter weather in Minnesota (much longer, if anything could be longer than Minnesota winters) I’ve been on a journey of forgiveness, and I say journey because some days it still snows anger or frustration and I have to get out the shovel and figure out what’s underneath that.

How do you now when you’ve forgiven someone? Is it when you speak of them and realize you feel whole and holy when you do? Is it when you can look forward to a future where they are present? I’m not sure. There are some markers on the path, like the first time I realized I needed to forgive and each subsequent time after that when I’ve felt prodded to continue forgiving.

How do you know when you’re in the free and clear? I imagine it looks different in every situation. Each season and type of hurt requires different healing and reconciliation, so perhaps there are no indicators across all scenarios.

But I do think of those days when I really know winter has gone, when the ground is dry and feels warmer and the sun shines and there’s a breeze instead of a wind. And I imagine there are similar days when you’ve forgiven someone.

I’m looking for warmth in a couple ways. Come soon, spring, and stay.

Waiting to testify and balloons


Yesterday I came home from the senior philosophy thesis defenses to find my bed full of balloons. You just never know what’s going to happen around here. I needed a nap, though, and balloons weren’t going to make that easy, so I put them in the crib with all of Mia’s little stuffed animals that have been there for when you’re stressed and just need to hug a small stuffed guinea pig (Webkinz, if you’re familiar with those). It’s a happy crib.

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My housemates were celebrating with balloons because that was it for me. I defended my thesis that morning, turned in my last paper, and boom, undergrad done. One minute you’re having a controlled panic (maintaining an only half terrified look on your face while your stomach and brain dance around in a frenzy) about this hour-long defense of your work, and the next you’re done with all of your college work.

By some miracle, all of my housemates were free last night. So we went out for pizza (naturally). And then after that Kristin came downstairs, “Oh, we forgot something! This is the second half of your surprise.” Then she hung four Mardi Gras necklaces on me. “We’re so proud of you.”

I’m done.

So today I’m unanchored. Nothing is due today. Nothing will ever be due again, not here. The only thing on my schedule is graduation rehearsal this evening, and picking up my regalia. I have to pack, but nothing else is going on.

These are the strangest days, the transitional ones. There’s a new reality to wrap my mind around. Going homeGetting a job (someday soon).

Maybe no transition in my life has quite compared to this. I’ve been a student since I was 5. The last 16.5 years of my life have been progressing from one step of education to another. I know everyone has a moment when their education is “over” (but it’s never over when you can read), but is it always this strange?

I’ve introduced myself for the past three and a half years as “Ashley: English and Philosophy major, student, North Park, intern, writing advisor…” Now I’m “Ashley: person.”

It’s not quite an identity crisis, but I wonder when I stop telling people what I majored in. When does that stop being relevant? Probably a few years into career work.

I’ve been sort of dreading this transition for a while now, thinking about the uncertainty and having to answer all the questions. People ask because they’re curious and because they care, not because they want to pressure me into having a plan, but I’ll still have to say that I’m not sure what’s next.

This is the part where I tell you that I know God has something good in store. But it’s also the part where I tell you that I don’t know what and I don’t know when and I don’t know when I’ll know anything for sure.

This is the part where I start to testify. I remind myself (and you) of all the strange ways I’ve gotten employment and been called to things in the past:

  • through a freelancing website
  • through my mom’s friend who had all the connections
  • by asking on a whim if someone needed me to work for them
  • when I friend asked on a whim if I’d work for her
  • through a random job posting that sounded cool
  • when someone approached me and asked me to replace them
  • through an ex-boyfriend’s mom
  • by having someone refer me to all the people they know

It’s always through people, and it’s always not exactly what I expected. And it’s ALWAYS been good (though in different ways and doesn’t always feel like it right away) and right on time.

So this is the part where I remind myself (and you, if you’re here, too) that something good is on the way, and it’s worth being faithful for. It’s worth telling people that I’m hopeful and confident that God is going to provide the right opportunity, and until then I’m just applying and making connections. Then, when he does, we’ll all see that it was worth it.

When the world tells me that I need to be stressed and worried about this, and when my own body and mind tell me I need to be anxious and fret over this, I remember how little that has ever done for me. I acknowledge the legitimacy of the feeling and remind myself that God is for me. And for you.

More and more


We sang a true song at church yesterday. Most philosophers won’t accept this phrasing that “it just felt true” as legitimate reason to believe something. The particular one I’m reading right now definitely wouldn’t.

All we want and all we need
is found in Jesus.
All we ask is more of You.

I go to a church where we sing repetitive worship songs. We sing the verses and choruses over and over again. And if you don’t really want to worship, that can get old pretty quickly. Or if you’re bitter about repeats. I’ve had days like that. I think I need repeats though. Because the first time through I don’t always realize that the truth in the song is truth for my life.

Nothing else can satisfy our hearts’ desire.
All we want is more of You.

That didn’t feel like all I wanted yesterday. I wanted more time to do my homework because I’d chosen to make a music video with my housemates in costume instead of work on my paper the day before. I wanted more time in general.

All we want and all we need
is found in Jesus.
All we ask is more of You.

I want a secure future. I want to not feel anxious about my future (and about everything else). But a life of worship isn’t about what I want. Really, all I want isn’t found in Jesus.

Nothing else can satisfy our hearts’ desire.
All we want is more of You.

Or is it? I haven’t figured out human desires on a philosophical level yet. Do we actually want things that are bad for us or bad in general at the core of our being? My experience says, sometimes. And that really means the answer is yes. The Bible says, sometimes, always, or more often than we breathe, depending on how you read it.

For the Lord is good
And His love endures.
Yes, the Lord is good forever.

I haven’t figured out how to consistently line my wants up with Good. Or maybe the answer is the same as it is for everything else.

And I’ll shout it out
from the mountaintops.
Yes, the Lord is good forever.

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God…” That’s been a recurring theme in learning to set my life straight in the past couple years. If the sometimes that I find that it’s true that I want God more than anything else are to be explained, that passage might say why.

We want you more and more.

It matters, what we look to. In a culture of fillers–filler words, time fillers, fillers in food, end tables just to fill the space–we can fill easily with the extras. Those things that are supposed to be side dishes become our main entrée. We want the peripheral when the Kingdom of God could be manifested in us.

We want you more and more.

I know I’m like this. I want the easily digestible. I don’t want Jesus to come challenge my way of life or my thinking or the way I treat people.

We want you more and more.

But I do. The more I sing that refrain or live it, the more I want God. So maybe it is the number of times I sing it, sing it and mean it. Or know what I’m singing. Maybe I will continue to want God more and more the more I live revolving around this.

More and more.