Earthly experiences | Dallas Willard

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 “We are spiritual beings having an earthly experience.” 

Years ago, to a crowd of people in a large auditorium, Dallas Willard spoke these words and they pierced my heart, changing my perspective on life and death. His words took root in the soil of truth that was buried deep inside of me and every time I returned to remember these words, they grew…

Dallas Willard’s earthly experience is now complete. I found this out when opening my inbox this morning and now I sit here with a lump in my throat and tears on my cheeks. I truly loved this man and am grateful for how his words continue to tutor my heart.

While many will write eloquent words of eulogy for a life well lived, I merely want to offer up a small thank you to this man and how his words have carved hope into my life:

  • Challenging my legalistic view of the disciplines, calling me to come home to God’s heart
  • Comforting my father on his death bed, calling him to trust as he journeyed home, returning to God’s heart
  • In seeing my father comforted by your words, I was invited me to stay present in death to God’s heart
  • Crafting your language to reveal intimate truth in Scripture, familiar words now caress my heart by God.

Yes Dallas, your spiritual journey goes on and though your physical experience is now complete.

The words you spoke in love, the ones we heard and let penetrate, they are still very much alive, moving among us and will continue to do so for generations to come.

And now, even in your death, dear friend, you tutor me. I feel deeply aware that much of what I am planting right now in my physical experience will live beyond me…

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, Oh Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.”

I will continue to meet you at the heart of God.

With gratitude,

Becky

Prayers for Boston

It came across an update

Bombing at Boston Marathon.

Men and women who had been anticipating and training to cross this finish line with exhaustion and complete exhilaration are now crossing the line scarred and full of fear.

 

  • How does this happen?
  • Who would do this?
  • Why? Why? Why??

 

As I was out this afternoon, I heard a little girl ask her Daddy, “does this cancel our life?” Oh the innocent question that is marked with great wisdom.

 

To the runners, the friends and family, the volunteers, the eager on-lookers and everyone in between – may you feel hope and comfort. I pray also for all of us that we would stand face to face with our own fears and its claws of temptation to retaliate. Only love can heal fear.

 

There is no reason for something like this to happen. As a dear friend of mine said in response to these horrible explosions, “I know we can do better than this”.

 

Me too.

 

#prayingforboston

 

~ becky

Meet my tutor, Desire.

desire my tutor

The parental NO.

I remember as a kid wanting to attend a weekend away with a group of friends and my parents proclaimed “NO!”

The details are sketchy to me now, but what I experienced deep within was this strong scheming desire to

  • go behind their back
  • to trick them
  • push against being under their authority
  • even plotting how I would “eliminate” them in my life (scary but true and I do not think I am the only kid who has plotted revenge in this way).

Desire was calling, wooing me to make all my own decisions, go where I wanted, do what I wanted to do, with out anyone limiting my “freedom.”

Does desire exist to lead me into a trap?

Like Cain, “…sin is crouching at my door” always, but it’s my desire that unearths the choices set before me. What will I choose? How will I see and engage with my desires?

Often I hear people talk about how God feels far away and absent when this “sin” knocks. But in Cain’s story, we see God walking with Cain in the midst of the “sin” that is at his door. This is not a place of God’s absence, but rather it’s a place that God seems highly engaged with us!

Could desire be the place where my darkest shadows get unearthed? Might what is unearthed be a tilling of my heart to reveal roots of desire?

Years later, as I looked into my daughter’s eyes, this time I was the one issuing the “NO!” Now it was my turn to stand on the other side and face her desire.

What I noticed inside myself was a deep and fierce love for her. This love was so strong that I was more than willing to stand face to face with her desires. I wanted to protect her, from herself, from the world, from the decisions that could cause her harm. My desire stood toe to toe with her desire and, since I was the parent, I won – for the moment.

 “Tame your demons and turn them into angels.” – Richard Rohr

How often do I make God far away from anything that I would qualify as a “sinful desire?” To often my thinking is that God is absent, waiting on the “right” side of my decision. But I am coming to see, taste, smell, hear and touch this presence of God with me in the choice.

The simple but profound moment is when I pause and notice that this Presence wants to be with my desires – not to destroy them, but to transform them and me.

My demons are many: pride – gluttony – lust – greed – self-centeredness (I could go on, but you get the idea…)

So today, in this state of having to rest, I am being still and listening to some of my desires:

  • to see marriages healed from the ravages of lust…
  • to kick some sexual sense into the groins of some men I know and love…
  • to experience being free from the shame of not loving some people well…
  • to shake a mother I know and demand she seek help for her addiction…
  • to protect the innocent children hurt by their parent’s choices…
  • to quit casual swearing…
  • to be reconciled to someone I love…
  • to quit having to engage with people who hurt me…
  • to run…

It’s precisely within these desires that God wants to meet me. It’s here that I am invited to “look up” and into my Creator’s face and not rely on my own perceptions. It’s here that is holy ground. Not always pretty, but it is holy…and only from this place will my demons begin to be tamed…

 

~ becky

 

Photo credit.

Yesterday marathon training, today crutches.

For the last few weeks, I’ve been training for my very first half marathon.

I have this love/hate relationship with training. But the discipline has been good for me to notice and name a few things.

Running – I am learning to gauge speed, terrain and patterns, how healthy equipment equips one for a better run. i.e. do not use shoes that have been buried in the closet for years and are worn out.

Recovery – cooling down after a run and caring for my body requires good food, plenty of water and a shower. This time invites me to be grateful for what I have completed. Also while sweat is a friendly detox program, no friend really wants to share this intimacy with you.

Resting –days where I am not suppose to run, instead let the muscles be without strain, which seems counter-intuitive – I mean I am suppose to be running, training and some how this has become the hardest part of the training for me.

These three prongs of training go hand-in-hand. Now four weeks in, I’m becoming familiar with this training rhythm.

broken ankle Then something went wrong.

I wish I knew what it was exactly, but I don’t. All I know is that, yesterday on my run, something went wildly wrong.

One minute I was trotting along (at a pretty decent pace, might I add) without any pain, and then the very next minute my ankle began to scream the worst kind of pain at me. But of course, what did I do? I did my best to silence my shouting ankle, pressing on to finish my mileage.

But once I hit my desired mile marker, I quickly realized that I could barely walk.

What?! Why could I run, but I could not walk??

I ignored the pain in the middle of the run because that is what I have so often learned to do in life – push it aside, deal with it later, maybe it will disappear.

Swallowing my pride.

Now, here I sit with a nice, fleshy, swollen ankle that properly refuses to even bare the pressure of my weight (no joke). You know the worst of it? Now I have to sit and ask for help, which pricks my pride and stirs my desires…

“I do not want to be needy.”

“Buck up and press through—don’t be a baby.”

Every ounce of the “resting” part of my training is being tested right now. Will I hear my body’s need in the presence of the whining voice of my pride? I look that pride in the face and not-too-kindly ask it to be quiet. But as it continues to whine, I realize that pride is a desire I have fed and responded to without any thought of what God might have to teach through asking for help.

“Oh God, let me listen and help me tame this demon so that it even may become an angel in my life.”

Until then, you can find me right here, icing and resting.

~ becky

The Desire To Win, Go Fish.

playing go fish

Go Fish.

The other day, I played a highly sophisticated round of “Go Fish” with a four year old. This game involved a pretend pole that we used to “fish” for a new card, my how this game has changed!

Since I’d never played this version of the game, and no rule sheet could be found, the 4-year-old took the lead to teach me the rules. I was soon informed that when “fishing” for a card, I was looking for the number “3” to “fill my boat.” It didn’t take long for this game of Go Fish to become less about the rules and more about the desire to win… (shocking, right??)

Riiiigght….

It’s hard to believe, I know but my four-year-old Go Fish competition, really wanted to win. And she was willing to bend, change and expand the rules to make sure that happened.

My own desire to win.

As we fished, I couldn’t help but notice my similarity to this 4-year-old and my own dance with desire. How often do I want to change God’s rules to accommodate my desire for certainty? My desire for a needed outcome?

Time and time again, I return to Scripture and I am challenged to trust these Words meant to guide me towards abundant life. And truth be told, I do not always like what I read, and I want to bend the rules that seem to be preventing me from getting what I want. Do I trust that God knows and sees more than what is in front of me?

How often does my Creator graciously play Go Fish with me? Observing how conveniently I shift and change rules to fit my wants and desires?

My desire came toe-to-toe today with a Go-Fishing four-year-old’s desire today, yet at the core, I have to believe it’s similar. Deep down, I believe that just like I wanted this little girl to win, God wants me to win. Am I teachable, willing to be in the struggle to be honest with myself about what really “goes in my boat” and risk laying down that which does not belong?

Simple but true, desire is a part of how we are designed. Maybe learning to notice how we are playing the game of life has something to teach us…

~ becky

Is desire evil or simply an invitation to notice?

desire

Desire for me has been a word that I have often associated with evil, something that I need to suppress, control or (dare I say) even kill all in the pursuit of “being spiritual.” I can’t help but wonder, is desire really evil?

When I think about my day-to-day emotions, two seemingly different “desires” can emerge in the exact same moment.

  • “I crave B.B.Q potato chips!” (Which I do, almost daily.)
  • “I long to make sure my husband knows he was wrong!”

Is the answer to suppress these desires? To destroy them?

Webster’s describes desire as “a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen.”

Could desire be the invitation to begin a conversation that is true?

Seeing desire as an invitation.

Genesis 4:7 uses the word “desire” in the form of longing. Here God is walking with Cain (who is comparing himself to his brother and is no longer looking at God as his source) and talking with him about the desire of sin to overtake his heart. God doesn’t say, kill it, destroy it, maim or deny that this desire exists, but rather God names IT, speaks about the power IT has and ultimately invites Cain to engage with IT in order to “master it.”

The desire was evidence of Cain being alive to something other than God. IT revealed a pull into a deeper struggle. IT revealed an invitation to see into a deeper existence of living fully alive with God, not away from God.

And there it is — the invitation.

From watching Cain’s story, I can see the sacred potential that rests in recognizing my own desires – big and small – and how they have something to teach me about who I am, who God is and where I am headed.

Allowing desire to tutor me.

“Master it” seems a rather ominous term here, but if desire is not named and seen, it becomes the master manipulator of my actions. In the past two years, I have been intentionally looking at desire in my own life:

  • engage with it
  • push it away
  • struggle against
  • struggle for
  • acknowledging
  • denying
  • giving in and giving up
  • testing
  • naming

Here is what “mastering it” is teaching me – and wow, this is hard work. Untangling the core of my desires is about seeing the small and large ways that I have turned from the invitation of desire. So instead of ignoring IT, I’m trying to notice my desire and then to let it teach me to live present, fully alive to the moment before me — with God present with me.

I admit that it is easy to want to return to my old pattern of thinking:

DESIRE = EVIL – IT is the enemy! 

The truth is, desire is my tutor. IT has something to teach me about how being made in the image of God is “…good, very good!”

My desire in writing this, is to invite you into some of the joys and struggles of desire – the tension filled moments of choosing. Will I separate myself and turn away from God or will I place my desires with God, the one who understands what it is that I am moving towards, communion or consumption?

Desire is rising in me right now in the form of, run, don’t be that honest about this, but instead I am going to stay in the tension and see what writing about desire has to teach me.

~ becky

PS In case you missed it last week, I guest blogged about desire on my dear friend Steve Wien’s blog, The Actual Pastor.

Photo credit.

Lingering on Happy

When was the last time you lingered with a happy thought?

 60 of the happiest facts in the world

Cleaning through some old emails, I found this great site a friend had sent to me: 60 of the World’s Happiest Facts. As I scrolled through this fabulously wonderful list of happy facts, I began to wonder if too often we are gathering information for the sheer purpose of finding solutions to problems, information to strengthen our position or proof that the world can’t be trusted. How often might we miss the simple hidden within the complexity of creation?

Who knew that if you fake laugh (#2) long enough you will begin to laugh naturally? I decided to try it right then and there at my desk. Guess what? It actually works.

Did you know that spinner dolphins and otters have intentional sleeping partners for comfort and protection (#45 & #15)? I fall asleep in my own cocoon of pillows, ear-plugs and comforter, maybe tonight I’ll hold my husband’s hand, just to make sure he doesn’t drift away during the night.

dolfins

Those pesky squirrels in my backyard are actually doing their part in repopulating the earth with oak trees at the rate of millions every year (#6). Dear backyard squirrels, thank you for forgetting where you bury your nuts, but please quit chewing through my siding. Thanks.

squirrels forget where they bury acorns

Scripture says that if we keep quiet about who God, our Creator is, “…the stones will cry out…”

While that would certainly be a site  to see, I would hate to think that it happened because we had become blind to the wonder of creation all around us. Don’t you agree?

So today I invite you to notice something that makes you happy, that causes you to smile and IF you are having trouble finding something, then take the time to look at this list – something has to grab your attention and trigger a smile – (#57). Worms communicate by snuggling?!

 

~ becky

For those of you who need to be the center of the universe, even just for a moment, (#46) might be just want you need.

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