Tag Archives: craving

The Flipside

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This past fall I posted a blog entitled, “The Truth About Fairy-tales” in which I wrote about the Fairy-tale Heart of God.  I mentioned the wonderful way that He created men and women to find relationship (friendship, romance, etc.) with each other.  This is really a continuation of those ideas.  Through some recent goings-on in my life, the Lord has been showing me, very gently, my own inherent need for relationship – and the needs of others for the same thing.

When I use the term “relationship,” I am talking about all kinds of relationship.  We need romance as well as friendship.  We need to care for others and also be cared for.  We need light-hearted fun as well as wise counsel.  As human beings who bear the image of our Creator, part of our design is that we both need and crave relationships, for they are the sweet intimacy in which we share our hearts and lives with the people we are closest to.  And do you know that both the needing and the craving for relationship are good and healthy?  It is only how we choose to meet those inherent longings that can lead us to dark places and down paths we never intended to walk.

Do you feel fragile, ready to shatter at the slightest pressure?

Do you feel fragile, ready to shatter at the slightest pressure?

Just like everything else in creation, relationships have been tainted by the ugliness of sin.  Relationships often show signs of sin’s brokenness because they are the product of imperfect people.  Abuse, manipulation, deceit, neglect, betrayal of trust – these are most hurtful when they are perpetrated by the people we love, the people who should take care of us.  When we are hurt in relationships, we begin to shield ourselves, walking wounded.  Left to our own devices, we often become angry, bitter, or jaded.  We welcome self-pity and despair into our lives.  And then, most dreadful of all, we allow that brokenness to seep into our spirits and eat away at our God-given identity.  “Unloved, unwanted, broken, hopeless, useless, used, filthy, ashamed, guilty, dissatisfied – never whole” – these are some of the malicious lies that stain our lives when we let brokenness define us.

We then put up intangible walls to protect ourselves from greater hurt, not realizing that we are simply permitting our wounds to fester as we dwell in unholy, unnecessary agony.

Do you feel hollow, strong on the outside but empty and dead on the inside?

Do you feel hollow, strong on the outside but empty and dead on the inside?

Or perhaps your life has been fine and you’ve been surrounded by decent people.  You keep telling yourself that you should be content, that so many other people have faced deep hurts that you never had to experience.  Yet even as you tell yourself this, you feel hollow – something is missing, but you aren’t quite sure that is okay.  In spite of every relationship you have, nothing feels like it is truly enough – nothing feels quite satisfying.  You may think that Shakespeare was right: “Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all” – that it is better to be wounded than simply to live and love shallowly.  Then, of course, you might feel bad for thinking such a thing, as though you were wishing pain upon yourself.  My question is, why should you have to be hurt deeply to love deeply?  Must others crush us in order for us to experience the fullness of love?  Where is the balance?

In truth, I think we all carry both a bit of brokenness and a bit of emptiness.  We find the flipside of fairy-tales in this paradox of longing and self-preservation.  When we feel broken or empty, we make desperate choices, seeking to meet our needs for relationship through unhealthy means.  Oftentimes this involves looking to people – or to one person – to meet all of our needs.  We create false visions, hoping that we can attain the wholeness we seem to be lacking: “If only I had a [mother, a husband, a best friend…], then I would be fine.”

We reject that which is lovely and right about fairy-tales, and we cling to that deceiving notion, that fairy-tale discontent that whispers, “If I just had…I would be whole.”  We forget about the endless Love Story written for us by the Fairy-Tale Heart of our Lord and look to people to be the source of our wholeness.  The problem with this mode of thought is that it is both selfish and, ultimately, self-destructive.  Still, our hearts yearn for the intimacy of relationship, and the desire to know and be known is so overwhelming that we are compelled to sate it.

Surely there must be a better way.

Be courageous and allow yourself to find healing in relationship, first with the One whose love is limitless and then with the beautiful, imperfect people around you.

Be courageous and allow yourself to find healing in relationship — first with the One whose love is limitless and then with the beautiful, imperfect people around you.

Whether you are wounded or simply feel hollow, the only thing that can bring restoration is our loving Savior, Jesus Christ, who bore every sin to ransom us from an empty, shattered existence.  We still need and long for relationship, but we cannot meet it through people alone.  No one person could ever love us enough or give us enough or care for us enough to make us whole.  No person, regardless of how much that person tries or wants to do so, can fully satisfy us.  And no matter how many people you gather around yourself, they can never give you all that you need.  The truth is that we cannot adequately love or be loved until we know the love of the One who first loved us and gave His life for us (Romans 5:8).  Because of sin’s curse, we need to first be healed – made whole – by Jesus in the area of relationship so that we can enjoy the happy human interaction that we so desire.  We cannot have the healthy relationships that we were created for until we find our wholeness in Jesus, who will never fail us and whose presence will never leave us.

Jesus is calling you into His Fairy-tale.  Will you let Him romance you today?

Crave

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Is there anything that you cannot live without?  Something that, were you to lose it or not have it, your life would feel hollow?  Something that, once you have experienced it and lived with it, you simply cannot give up?  What is so intrinsic to who you are that you absolutely need it in order to live your life?

Selflessness – now that I have tasted it, I can’t forget it; I crave it.  The longing to be selfless, to serve, and to minister to others is what drives me.  I desire to live for something lasting, something bigger than myself, bringing the culture of heaven to the earth and revealing the kindness of the Father’s heart.  I have learned it, lived it, and loved it.  Wherever I can go, whatever I can do – I want to take every opportunity to serve.  Compelled by love – it feels as natural as breathing (2 Cor. 5:14-19).  It is not easy; sometimes passion hurts.  But through it all the craving remains.  Living in Africa, being a missionary kid and a pastor’s daughter, being head-over-heels in love with Jesus – I am ruined for life and so ready for the here-and-now of eternity, the fullness of heaven invading the earth.  Nothing else will satisfy.  Crave.

Merely existing cannot satisfy; our souls crave MORE.

Merely existing cannot satisfy; our souls crave MORE. What is your MORE?

Caught in the Westernized idea of Christianity that often (though perhaps unintentionally) advocates a go-big-or-go-home lifestyle, I used to believe that ministry and service had to create sweeping change.  I used to believe that I had to do something “big” and that only something big could be worthwhile in God’s kingdom.  It wasn’t that I consciously believed it; it was more like a disquiet deep within my spirit about the value and nature of ministry – but no more.  Now I am content to be the one who makes “little” change, one person at a time – and each of those lives will touch another life, and each of those yet another – until a cycle of change becomes sustainable at the deepest levels.  Crave.  Every person who is blessed by my writing, who hears the voice of God and feels His presence through my words and actions – it is both more than enough and only the beginning.  Crave.

Every moment there are possibilities, choices, and opportunities, and I long to live a life that takes full advantage of all of those moments.  I desire to live a life of selfless service. Crave.  I want my passion for God and for people to be part of my legacy – and legacies begin in the quiet, “little” moments.  Legacies aren’t something that simply happen after you die; legacies are built as you take the day-to-day opportunities to make the right choice.  Crave.  I want to seek out and eagerly embrace opportunities to serve, whether they are menial, prestigious, or just plain difficult.  Why?  Because I don’t know how to live any other way.  I can’t resist the craving for a life that is more than myself, more than the comfort of the moment.  Life is most beautiful when it is lived selflessly.  Crave.

I’d like to say I take every opportunity to serve – I don’t always do that, but I’d like to.  As I mentioned in “Open My Eyes,” ministry is seeing needs and meeting them.  It is a way of viewing life that allows you to see ministry opportunities to bring Truth of the Gospel and the love of Christ into any and every situation.  I know that not every will agree with my simple definition of ministry; I know all the arguments about definitions, duties, and ministry as a vocation.  I know that it is important to consider the specific gifts and dreams that God has placed within me.  But when I look at the life of Jesus Christ, I see a Man who poured out the relentless love of our Heavenly Father by noticing and meeting needs, whether physical, spiritual, or emotional. The ministry of Jesus sparked that cycle of sustainable, soul-deep change that we often strive to begin on our own.  The truth is that we don’t need to create change; we need to spread change by serving selflessly, leaving the rest to God’s Holy Spirit, who dwells within us and leads us to repentance.  Crave.  

Service is not about “doing more,” earning grace or recognition, or completing a duty.  It is about living wholeheartedly. Selflessness is not something you merely “do,” like reading a book or taking a shower.  Rather, it is a way you live your life that becomes a part of who you are.  That’s when the craving happens.  As the selfless love of Christ is indelibly etched into your soul, you come to the point where you can’t imagine living your life in any other way.  Crave.  I throw myself fully into everything I do because I only know how to live whole-heartedly.  To live as Christ lived is to live selflessly:

crossLet each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” — Philip. 2:4-8 ESV

Over the holidays I spent lots of time hanging out with good friends.  As we gathered after ice skating one night, we found that one of our group was missing.  When someone questioned where he was, my brother pointed and said, “Oh, he’s over there praying for someone.  That’s just how he is – he’s cool like that.”  When the craving runs deep, the loving and serving come naturally. Crave.  Is that “just how we are”?  Is that the lifestyle we pursue?  Are those the people we choose to build relationships with, people who crave nothing more than to live whole-heartedly, fully abandoned in the love of Christ?  That is the kind of woman I want to be, and those are the kind of friends I want to have around me.  Crave.

To give freely, serve joyfully, obey willingly, and love fully – I crave to live out the culture of heaven on the earth.  I admit, I am addicted.  The craving is what gets me up in the mornings with a song in my heart.  It’s what makes me want to spend hours listening to and laughing with the girls in my dorm.  It’s what gets me up in the night to tend to sick friends or care for my little sister.  It’s why I carried someone else’s luggage in addition to my own the entire length of a train when I saw she was weary.  It’s why I weep with longing for Africa, my heart breaking with desire to go back to the place my heart loves.  It’s what makes me eagerly seek out opportunities to serve and do ministry – to meet any need I can.  It’s why I’m sitting here late at night, writing when my heart is overflowing with words that I don’t want to lose.  I want every part of my life to reflect the nature of my God.  In the craving are depths of passion and the love of the Father’s heart that I have only just begun to discover.  Crave.  This is why I do what I do and why I am who I am.  When the craving becomes part of who you are, other ways of living become hollow until, eventually, they fade into nothingness.  When we allow the culture of heaven to define our lifestyle, the selfishness of our sin nature that once bound us no longer has any authority to control us.  Through the precious blood of Christ we are empowered to live selflessly – but more than that, we are empowered to live selflessly with joy.

And so, my dear friends, what do you crave?  Are you ready to respond to His call to live whole-heartedly?  Are you ready for Him to wreck your life with the craving for the kingdom-culture of heaven?

“For though I am free from men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more…I have become all things to all men, that by all means I might save some.  Now this I do for the gospel’s sake….” — 1 Cor. 9:19, 23 NKJV

Embrace the craving -- run wild in the precious freedom of a life lived selflessly.

Embrace the craving — run wild in the precious freedom of a life lived selflessly.

Live Wild

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Leopard's Leap at Oribi Gorge, South Africa - 2010

Leopard’s Leap at Oribi Gorge, South Africa – 2010

Fear is a peculiar thing.  It compels us to avoid “risk” and idolize so-called safety.  I had never thought of myself as a fearful person until I realized that I was allowing my life to be completely ruled by fear.  It was not a fear of heights or darkness or strangers; rather, it was a fear of not being in control.  Until my family moved to Africa in 2009, I had no idea that, in the quiet steadiness of my young life, I had never really had to give God complete control.  I was so un-free in my carefully controlled life that it pains me to think of it.  Yet, at the same time, I look at where God has brought me now, and I smile for all He has done in me.

Despite being someone who has moved twenty or so times, lived in multiple countries, and done all sorts of fascinating things, I never really liked adventure.  To my mind, “adventure” was synonymous with “uncertainty” – and that was something I couldn’t bear.  Adventure meant risking trust because I can’t be in control.  Adventure meant that things might be different than I’d hoped or planned.  Adventure meant adaptability.  And if I was one thing, I was unadaptable.  Was.

Now I can confidently and joyfully say that I love adventure.  It is still scary sometimes in that it holds the possibility for so many unknowns, but I am safe in the hands of the One who knows all.  Adaptability and flexibility are things I have been learning relentlessly over the past few years, and many of these moments have been exhausting and difficult for this list-loving, plan-making girl.

Lion kisses at the Lion and Rhino Park in South Africa

Lion kisses at the Lion and Rhino Park in South Africa

I still have those moments where I think I just can’t cope with not knowing precisely where this adventure will lead me – I even had some moments earlier this week!  But now that I have had a taste of this freedom, there is no going back.  I will live out this adventure with passion, my eyes fixed on my Lord, or I will not do it at all.  I can’t do it alone; I need the joy of the Lord to be my strength, and I need Him to be strong where I am weak.

A few weeks ago I told God, “I feel like I jumped off a cliff, and I can’t see the bottom.  Please catch me!”  And God in His gentle way replied, “Sweetheart, you never left my Hand.”

“The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms…” – Deuteronomy 33:27 NKJV

I am discovering more each day that adventure is never a risk with God because He is both wholly sovereign and wholly good.  A life of adventure is not a life of ease – it is not a place for clinging to false security but rather for recognizing the trustworthiness of my God.  God alone is my safe place, and in Him I am free to live wild and love well.  He has freed me to fearlessly embrace the fullness of the adventure He has called me to.

In Christ, our freedom is given all at once but lived in over time.  It is the way of every great victory that the victors must learn to live in the fullness of what they have attained.  All too often we act like we are still captive to the fears that we were in before Jesus.  But that is the key: before Jesus.  Once we have received Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are set free by the redeeming power of His blood.  This freedom is not merely a release from our sin nature; rather, it is an invitation to live in the fullness of the victory He has already won.

Ready for some fun on the ropes course with my cousins!

Ready for some fun on the ropes course with my cousins!

I went on my first zip line recently, but it didn’t seem very zippy – or very high.  It definitely needed more adventure.  I am laughing to myself as I contemplate this – I, the girl who was once unable to cope with unplanned situations, have become a lover of adventure with a desire to seek new things.  I still have much to learn about walking in this kind of freedom, but I am enjoying noting the outward manifestation of true heart-transformation.  The victory of Jesus at the Cross was total; fear and cowering no longer have a place in my life.  I am learning to be a thrill-seeker in the best sense, because, deep within my spirit, I know the truth is that there is only One who is wild enough to satisfy my craving for adventure.  Imbedded in the very core of who we are is an unquenchable longing for adventure because we are made in the image of our God, and our God is a God of adventure.  So no matter how diligently we try to squelch it or how wrongly we try to satiate it, our longing can only be satisfied in the One who is adventurous by nature.

Rich Mullins said, “God is a wild man.”  He went on to say that most of us would prefer a tame God who would always do the expected. But then again, that would be terribly dull – and terribly unlike the amazing nature of our God.  There is a difference between “wild” and “crazy.”  God is wild because He is untamable – utterly unconquerable.  Living adventurously is about living wild as our God is wild – not about doing crazy (i.e. dumb, thoughtless, insane) things.  Our God is a God of adventure, and He is calling us into a Great Adventure with Him.  Adventure is about a process – it is about the doing and the going.  To be fixated simply on “getting there” is to miss out on the beauty of what God is doing now.  We are called to live lives that are as wild and limitless as our God.

May His kindness release you to live wild and love well.  Be free, my friends!

If there is anything that has taught me to be flexible, it is being in the Teacher Education program. Thanks to Rachelle, my amazing professor for two years, who showed me every day how to embrace all the lovely, random moments.

If there is anything that has taught me to be flexible, it is being in the Teacher Education program. Thanks to Rachelle, my amazing professor for two years, who showed me every day how to embrace all the lovely, random moments.