Tag Archives: god

The (Real) Breaking of The Fellowship

10 Dec

Don’t be alarmed. This is not the end of EEB! This is a post about life, not a warning. We’ll be around for a while longer, God willing 🙂
Over the past few months, I have found surprising strength in God. Radically. Throughout the whole time, however, something hadn’t been quite right yet. I felt like I was taking awkward baby steps against high tide and didn’t quite have a heading. I was confused, but kept going. And even though I’m still growing, obviously, I think a lot of this confusion just culminated into answers while I was praying and reading my Bible a couple of days ago. I was praying about something in particular, which I will explain to you in a few minutes, and I opened up the Bible, looking for help. God pointed me to a scripture I had no idea existed in the context I was thinking, but it perfectly fit what I needed. Tears streamed down my face as all the pieces suddenly flew into place…it was amazing and broke my heart all at the same time.
It all started back in the summer. I had just learned that some people I knew didn’t think the same way I did about religious matters, which troubled me. They were Christians in the sense that they believed in Jesus Christ and God made the world, but we differed on a lot of other issues. And for some reason, I have the weird tendency to assume people think the way I do and to assume they’re perfect. When I realize this is not case (as it obviously never is), I tend to say, “Oh, that person needs help. He/she is broken and needs Jesus.” What hypocrisy! I always forget what I mess I am in. None of us are perfect.
The problem was, I didn’t know how to take disappointment. I kept trying to either defend the people in my mind and actions, or completely rejecting them. I prayed about it, and honestly I thought that both actions didn’t seem quite right: it seemed a bit extreme to avoid these people like I was a perfect saint since the only Real Perfect Holy Person died for them, but at the same time it was a really stupid idea to try to copy their mistakes! Anyway, I kept praying about it, but feeling confused. And then fear crept in, which only added to my confusion. What if I had to say goodbye? What if God was trying to tell me to go? And then what if He wasn’t? What if He put these people in my life so that we could grow in faith together and I was supposed to be His hand in guiding them? I couldn’t decide which one was worse because either way it would require more strength than I thought I had.
I decided, at least for the time being, that the best idea was to serve God in all I could and try to keep my spiritual ears open, but honestly it’s hard to be unbiased when you want Someone to say something.
For the next few months, I went through some terrible times. Some days, I became almost embittered, becoming scornful in an attempt to let go of these people. I tried to tell myself that I do without them; I tried to convince myself that I was strong and had the strength to “defy gravity,” so to speak. I had the Lord, so why did I need people anyway? These days didn’t last very long. After all, who has ever heard of a “wicked” Christian, pun intended? It became very clear that this was not the way of the Lord.
The other days were just as bad, if not worse. If I wasn’t copying these other peoples’ mistakes, I was living in fear of losing them, or perhaps doing both at the same time. Needless to say, it was a terrible, terrifying place to be.
Yesterday and today peace finally began to fall upon me. I was still worried, but I had decided that I was going to follow God no matter what. I was thinking about some friendships, almost dead, which had been hanging in the shadows for some time, and was nearly sick with worry. What if the same thing happened to my other friends and family who I had already been worrying about for months? The friendships I had already lost stung badly…I was still not healed from some broken relationships which had spiraled a long time ago. It would nearly break me if something like that happened with anyone I really knew well and loved. Once again, I prayed. I needed comfort, and answers. I didn’t know how to deal with not knowing the future. I didn’t know how to deal with disappointment. I didn’t know how to deal with tough times, or troubled relationships, or goodbyes, now or later. And then a miracle happened. I opened the Bible and found myself in Ezekiel. I flipped back a few pages, trying to find something to read and feeling literally lost because I didn’t think Ezekiel was almost in the New Testament (I don’t know the exact order of the books of the Bible like I should…) Then I “stumbled” upon Kings and found the passage where Elijah is taken up into heaven. As it turns out, this was God’s direction, not me simply browsing through the pages.
I had read about Elijah being taken up into heaven before, probably in a kids’ illustrated Bible, but I had never noticed his apprentice, Elisha. If you can picture Elijah as Frodo Baggins and Elisha as Sam, then you get a good idea of their relationship. As I continued reading, “The Breaking of The Fellowship” even started playing in the back of my mind, which certainly didn’t help the flood of feels I was going through by this point, nor did hearing my brother playing a moving rendition of “Auld Lang Syne” on a CD player down the hall. In the Lord of The Rings trilogy, Sam follows Frodo from the beginning of their journey through the end, and then to the final moments of Frodo’s life on Middle Earth, when he sails to the Grey Havens, which is basically a heaven for elves in the book. The story of Elijah and Elisha reads the same way. Over and over again, Elijah tells Elisha to leave him, but each time Elisha replies, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you” (2 Kings 2:2). Time travels on, and other prophets ask Elisha if he knows that the Lord is about to take Elijah away from him and up into heaven. He responds, “‘Yes, I know,’ Elisha replied, ‘but do not speak of it'” (2 Kings 2:3).
And then the climax of my emotional battle came when I read what Elijah asks Elisha just before his departure for heaven. 2 Kings 2:9 says, “When they had crossed [the Jordan River], Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?’” (2 Kings 2:9). Several things hit me all at once, and I began to cry. Then the most amazing thing happened. The Holy Spirit began to communicate with me clearer than ever before; it was actually like God was right there holding me. I broke down.
I realized that Elijah’s words needed to become my attitude towards everyone because I would have to tell them all goodbye one day. Everyone. Friends, family, everyone… not just fleeting friends who visit for a season and then move on. I had already been thinking about one person in particular through all of this turmoil over the past few months….in fact, throughout this post I have been saying I was concerned about “people,” but in reality I was mostly concerned about one person who I love, and whose position in my life seems most uncertain and unpredictable. Well, when all of these thoughts began to unfurl, this person immediately came to mind, and then Sarah. I didn’t know why she came to mind, unless I was thinking of the relationship between Elijah and Elisha because over the years she has definitely been an Elijah and a Sam to me. She has guided me through many a Mordor! However, at the moment, I still wasn’t sure why I was thinking about her in particular; I did figure this out the next day, however, and I will explain in a moment. But while I was thinking about Elijah’s attitude and inevitable goodbyes, I suddenly had a shadowy mental image of a light in a dark tunnel, and stairs. I suddenly believed in God and in heaven more than ever before; it was like I was catching just a glimmer of things to come. I felt just a drop of God’s presence deep in my heart, and it was enough to totally make me believe like never before. While all of this was going on, God seemed to be whispering in my head, “Can’t you trust me with these people? I have them safely under my wing and we are all going to be together in heaven one day. Because of this, there is nothing in this world that can truly separate you from them. You might be apart from them for a little while, but I’m not trying to separate all of you in the long run. So why would you try to blame me when goodbyes come, and why are you worrying about when you are going to have to tell them goodbye? Can’t you trust me?” This was the first time I had felt so much confidence about all of the believers I know (and the ones I don’t know) being together forever someday; it was amazing! It also showed me that my focus had been in the wrong place. I had been too concerned about “forever” in the earthly sense of the word, forgetting that “forever” literally means eternally in the spiritual sense and is much more important than anything which “matters” down here on earth. The good news is that, while earthly forever is somewhat of a myth, spiritual forever is a truth and it was the one God was giving me confidence in!
I realized that since goodbyes are inevitably coming, we must each be warriors. We must be strong enough in our own faith to stand and lift others up when they fall, and we must have enough faith to keep fighting after life or death has taken our fellow warriors away from us for a time. However, all the while we must be gentle enough to receive help and to give as well as receive love. We’ve got to have special people in our lives without becoming overwhelmed by the fear of goodbye. Essentially, we’ve got to be fearless warriors. For years I had read Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength,” but honestly I didn’t, and probably still don’t, fully comprehend it. To me, it seemed like one of those pious sayings which mean well, but, well, don’t mean a whole lot, like “Bless your little heart.” But really, it means that we draw all our strength from the Lord.
I did discover why Sarah was in that vision, and it does have something to do with finding strength in the Lord. The next day I talked to her, and discovered she wasn’t as perfect as I had always imagined. She was going through hard times, too, which I somehow didn’t believe was possible for her to do and probably why I hadn’t opened up to her so much about some of the problems I was facing. While I was talking to her, though, it hit me: our strength does come from the Lord and everything we do is supposed to be modeled after Him. In our lives there are many “idols,” but once we are past the stage of “monkey see, monkey do,” I strongly believe that there are no more “role models,” just “role virtues.” This is because we all stumble, and if you think people are perfect, you will be sorely disappointed. And this is going to sound very hypocritical, but when I hear other people aren’t perfect, I tend to label them as “a mess,” quite forgetting that I am in the same boat! Some days, I am not even in the boat, metaphorically speaking; I’m holding onto a lifesaver outside of the boat, fighting waves of doubt. Point being, we do have spiritual leaders in the Christian community, yes, but I really don’t care if you are a new Christian, devout Christian, pastor, etc. If you are breathing in this world right now, you and I have equal chances of letting doubt and the world overtake us without God’s help. If you are in doubt right now, I urge you to keep going. God is with you, even if you can’t see Him, and I promise He will speak to you, as He spoke to me after months of waiting. And I will live by Elijah’s standard: I want to do what I can for you before I am taken from you or before you are taken from me. If you are a Christian, you are my family and we are supposed to lift each other up and pray for each other because no one in this world is free from doubt and we are all in the same boat. If you are not a Christian, then I wish you would talk to me all the more because there is hope in Jesus Christ!
So as the world rages and falls into the dark shadow of Mordor, stay strong, my friends. Keep fighting the good fight in Christ’s name, as He gives you as much strength as you need for your calling. Love your friends, family, and everyone you come into contact with, no matter how long or short you may know them. Don’t worry about how much time you have on this earth, or how much time you have with people, but trust that God, who has them all safely in His hand, will give you just the right amount of time needed. And then use that time wisely. Pull the lost around you into our boat so that more people will be a part of the Lord’s promise of bringing all of the believers together again in heaven. I can hardly wait until we are all together with God in a true “Fellowship of the King.” 🙂

Best hopes for your journey! We’re here for you all.
If you are still here, thank you for reading this super-long post! I hope it was a help to you. And just so you know, there will be more posts in the near future. 🙂

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Because These Are Literally Two of the Best Pieces of Advice Ever

15 Mar

All the academic advice I ever give summed up in one picture (click for the bigger picture):

All the dating advice I ever give summed up in one picture:

The Outcasts

3 Sep

*An assignment for school. I do not have a cover yet, but I am hoping to post one on here soon.*

The cruel, cold wind beats my red face relentlessly, but I keep on going, leaning on my walking stick for support. The snow stings and my feet feel as if they cannot take another step, but I grimace and continue my walk. Even though it is only four o’clock, it is already darker than dusk. Deep, gray clouds hover over my path, dumping more snow on my light blonde hair. The pine trees look ominous against the dark skies and shadows creep up behind me. I shiver involuntarily; there is something I do not like about the woods at dark, but it can not be helped. I had to get out of the house, away from my father. My mother died five years ago. I was only eleven years old. She and my father were some of the first Puritan settlers to come to Massachusetts Bay Colony. She was a pure, pious soul and my father was as well as long as she was alive. However, her death seemed to have destroyed his very soul. Ever since then we have lived as outcasts of the colony; our reputation forever crumpled by my father’s drunkenness. I know my mother would have been heart-broken and I hated to leave the church. It was about the only place I felt that I truly belonged. Even though my father no longer cares about Scripture, I come by myself every Sabbath to sit outside the church doors. They will not let me in, being an outcast, but I can still hear Reverend Wilson’s messages. Sometimes, his sermons on Jesus’ love moves me to tears. The beautiful, yet simple Puritan hymns make my heart soar. I want to sing with them so badly, but hold it in for my solitary walk back home. I do not want their pompous, condescending mixture of sympathy and scorn. I feel that it is better for them to not know I am there at all.

I am close to the town now, but the outlines of buildings are as dark as the woods. All lights are extinguished in the homes. I know this is because everyone is in the church house. My walk becomes a little easier because I can vaguely make out a path now. I round one more corner and I have to squint at the sudden burst of light. The whole church is a large beacon of golden light. Its fingers stretch forward across the nearby cemetery, seeming to warm the freezing corpses that have been asleep for so long. The light breaks off a few feet away from my feet, as if to make a point. I can imagine the light as the reverend, shaking his solemn head at me, condemning me to a life apart from the rest of the congregation. I pass my mother’s grave and stare at it for a moment in reverence. Every time I pass it, my heart stops for a moment, almost as if it went with her. I smile with nostalgic memories, but tear myself away. I hasten to the church, not wanting to be late to hear the message.

I can see everyone inside the building clearly. Puritans are against stained glass windows, as they are relics of the Catholic Church. I move to my spot directly in front of the church and prop my walking stick up on the wall. I press my ear to the door and try to listen through the wailing wind. The sermon today is on forgiveness. It seems a little ironic to me and maybe even a bit hypocritical. There they are inside, enjoying the flickering, dancing warmth from the coal stove while I am outside freezing. Could they find it possible within their strict rules to let the daughter of a drunkard inside? I breath on my stiff, bare fingers and hope I will not freeze. The cold hurts, but I have learned to deal with it. The wind begins to beat harder. I take it as a temptation from the devil and continue to listen.

Bump! The wind throws my walking stick against the hollow wooden door, creating a loud knock. My heart catches in my throat and I stand there for a moment in fright. Could anyone have heard that? Before I can react, the door creaks open. The light from inside rushes out to meet me and I try in vain to shield my face. I want to melt in the snow, hide myself away from the world. I sink to my knees, knowing that the church’s response to me might be angry. Instead, I feel the warm light disappear and the door shuts.

“Get up, my sister,” a voice says. I look up to see a young man standing outside the door. His green eyes are soft and gentle, yet I can perceive hurt inside them.

“I am sorry, sir, I know I am not welcome,” I say humbly, looking down again. “I do not ask for your sympathy and wish not to hear your rebuke. If you will let me be, I would be grateful.”

“You are quaking from the cold,” the youth says. “Warm up before you go.”

“No!” I cry impulsively, standing up. “My father is a drunkard. We have been evicted from the church. Do not get yourself in trouble for welcoming me inside the church.”

“Well, then, if you refuse, at least take my gloves.” The young man yanks his mittens off his fingers and hands them to me. My cold fingers meet his, but mine are so numb that I can hardly tell a difference.

“Thank you,” I say. “I do not know why you would be kind to me. Everyone else treats me like I am the Anti-Christ.”

“You are welcome. It is not fair that you are kept in hiding for your father’s sin. You seem like a young woman of virtue and deserve better. I am sorry that I cannot do more for you,” he says.

“You have done more than most venture. What is your name?” I ask.

“Tyler Ast. What is your name?” Tyler asks.

“Charlotte,” I answer.

“Nice to meet you, Charlotte. Maybe I will see you again,” Tyler smiles.

“I hope you do not have that misfortune,” I groan. “Most people lose their status when they are around my family. Go back inside! They will look for you.”

“God will judge me in the end, not the church leaders,” Tyler said gently. “One day, I hope to help you more, but for now, just know that you and your father are welcome in my home at any time. It is next to the governor’s house.”

“Thank you. I really must be going. Get back inside before they find you,” I implore.

“As you wish,” Tyler nods and retreats back inside. I scurry away into the woods, running away like an animal that is scared from a hunt. Breathing heavily, I look through the trees at the church. The building is silent from where I stand and no one pursues me. With a thoughtful heart, I walk back home. What could Tyler mean for my future? One day, could I be brave enough to hope,- would I be able to return to church? For the first time since my mother’s death, I feel hope.

Got Spam?

26 Jul

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New short article by Brooke Norris.