Sunday, November 15, 2009


For much of my spiritual life I have struggled to find the "personal God". I would concentrate incessantly on visualizing this presence of some sort in my mind, thinking that the Lord was discovered only when the mind gave uncompromised focus on His being.
While I was a student at Liberty University I gave blood each season when the blood mobile came to campus. One evening while waiting for my blood to be drawn, I was approached by a Indian man named Haniel. He was literally surrounded by the presence of the Holy Spirit. Every word he offered was saturated with the fragrance of God; a single thought wasn't uttered that didn't pertain to the spiritual realm. He prophesied many things over me that day, but in the midst of my great turmoil and quest to find intimacy with God, Haniel told me to stop trying so hard. I was eternally grateful to this man for speaking deeply into my life by affirming my need to break focus and simply accept the living God as my Savior and personal Lord.
I can't say that was the solution in itself, but that was one moment that has brought about redemption in my walk. I still struggle to find a pure intimacy in which I feel I'm completely experiencing the presence of God, but I can now remind myself to be free in the Spirit and run from all the painful concentration that leads only to piousness and frustration. In trying to find God so much in my own head I forgot the entire mystery of Him--Christ lives in US. Looking around at the body of believers is where I find my Lord. He teaches us more about Himself through His creation than we sometimes care to look for.
God is personal but He is also relational. Just as Haniel was used to usher in a truth for the Lord, so is each person useful that God has set aside for His purpose. In communion with each other God lives, speaks, and encounters us intimately. The personal God discovered through interpersonal relations.

Friday, November 13, 2009

we are them to others

Like most things, the coffee in Chiang Mai had a distinctly other-than-American taste. This disappointed me when I was in need of a pick me up or a common comfort in the espresso. It was such peculiarities that set my mind in constant turmoil, struggling to find resolution from something of familiarity. I seldom found this solace. Chocolate chips were mere pieces of wax with a tinge of cocoa. Ice cream had a stale, burnt taste. Salt was dense in most dishes, and the streets were flooded with scents of rotting carcasses and oil--all soon to be ingested in the sweaty buyers who strolled the alleyways. Being a foreigner, I came embedded with a distinctly American outlook.
Now at comfort in my home land, away from the silence of the Thai hills that resonated louder than most city streets, and in the fresh air, free of humidity and foul odor, I now see why living abroad was such a struggle. It went against my grain in many ways, and though I know that there was a perpetual spiritual war waging around us, more than all of this, my focus on the negative kept me from truly enjoying my summer in a foreign home.
Much of our lives we spend critiquing every aspect in any given situation. We analyze and condemn people and traditions that are different. We complain that, "this isn't the way I would ever do it...", thinking we've been given a just entitlement to voice such superior views. But in the end, we're merely defeating ourselves, not the opposition.
I've held onto the idea that I was up against many spiritual odds while in Chiang Mai, but I can now see that the evil surrounding me was most manifest in my very own mind. Had I enjoyed the difficulties, embraced the changes, and resolved to wake up with a smile of determination daily, perhaps I wouldn't have become so numb to such a beautiful land. We're often our own worst enemies.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

elephant unite

A strange wind has swept my life these past few weeks. It's been a delight to watch new faces emerge in my everyday routine, encouraging me and beckoning me closer to the Kingdom. I've been enthralled in new relationships that challenge freshness and readiness of faith, allowing me to dig deeper into my flourishing communion with Christ. But I've also discredited the Lord's hand as being the Provider of this new fate.
Earnestly I have sought a community of friends, alive with the power of the Holy Spirit. I can't say I have actively searched for such a community, but I have laid it before the Lord rather regularly since I've taken the move to Florida. However, I have not stood up, walked out my front door, and boldly embraced the vast body of peers who surround me daily. I have merely been content with prayer--not action.
What has stricken me recently is that this is how we choose to live out our faiths. We are all too content with lavish prayers that we deem to be dripping with the fragrance of "faith", yet don't challenge ourselves to test the Lord's faithfulness. We think that by sitting in wait all will be given to us, never acknowledging the power we have been given through the Spirit to take up our crosses and further our futures. We are co-heirs of the throne, with Christ. This means all power that was given to Him as been imputed to us as well, allowing us to courageously approach the world with confidence and determination.
This week, instead of "waiting" on the Lord--really only cowering at the thought of His faithfulness--I stepped out of my comfort zone and embraced a new community, one that I had long been hoping for. By stepping out in faith the Lord met me where I was, not where I only prayed to be sometime in the distant future. By challenging myself the Lord was able to bless me with His riches. In this I have not only gained a new community of support and love, but I've gained unity with my Father, the Possessor of all goodness.
In taking a step forward we're able to draw nearer to the throne. In this we see more of Christ, and less of our own self-saturated desires. In this we gain all the views of a new horizon.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Walking back from the gym this morning I could sense something rather tangible in the air. The cooing of birds above the palms and the gentle whistle of the air floating about me, startling me for the first time this year. One of the most lovely time's of year has finally come to Florida--Autumn. Being a newbie to Floridian seasons, I'll admit I douse my room in Autumn Spice and Crisp Febreze and burn pumpkin spice candles at all hours of the day, probably to my roommate's dismay, just to evoke the specialness of the season. It's simply because I love this season, especially since it's such a rare commodity here in the southern most state. I love the season of thanksgiving and community, ushered in by chilly weather and Chai teas. There's this enigmatic element to this particular season that leaves you wanting more, daring to push the limits and celebrate the holidays long before Christmas lights don the sidewalks and radio stations begin playing the blithesome melodies.
For me, this is a season of nostalgia. Traditions run thick throughout the coming months, and each year evolves into something new--more traditions for later years. It's the delicate preservation of what once was that keeps us anxious for what is to come. I enjoy remembering just as I enjoy living new days. It's the embodiment of who I am, what territory I once marked, and where the Lord once destined my footsteps to fall.
I have been reminded lately of the leaves falling back home in Maryland, and the chill that accompanies these coming days--but I don't feel I've completely lost the season I love. What I've lost in past enjoyments I have gained in new adventures, further adding to my lot of nostalgia. This is a new adventure, one marked by trials and errors, but as different as life may be from what it once was, the scents still smell the same.