Saturday, October 6, 2012

Living in the Journey while Seeing the Destination.

Today I went on the most beautiful run I've ever taken. There is nothing quite like a warm, fall day in New England. The backroads mostly taken over by fallen leaves. The scent of wet leaves & roads drying filled my senses with hope and comfort.

Admist the tugging by the dog and the stitches in my side, God once again chose to use this most beautiful morning to talk with me.

As I was running and praying (and just plain trying to breathe) I was expressing my frustration about a situation in my life and ever so gently He said, "Shauna: I just want you to be you. Stop trying to be who you want to become and be you."

Recent conversations with people in my life have been reminding me that life is lived in the present on the journey, while looking forward to the promise of the destination. Sometimes, however, I really struggle with this.

We as believers always need that push to become more like Christ and to pray for "peace, patience, gentleness, etc.", but we also need the reminder that we can only live in the present. I remember some years ago, for several years actually, I was trapped in insecurities and fears, and one of them being, the fear of never being married because I wasn't that "gentle and quiet spirit" that the Apostle Paul talked about in 1 Peter 3. For years I prayed to become more gentle and quiet.... and to a certain extent I did: but it nearly choked me.

Through God's amazingness and His people, I became more confident in who God made me. (Note: this was not a one night life-change: this took months and this journey isn't over yet.) I remember the first time when I had a real crush on a guy a few years back and coming out of this, and me telling my best friend how "he probably just thinks I'm an idiot seeing as I'm always making a fool out of myself." My best friend's response? "Shauna, you know what I love about you and this situation right now? That you are making a fool out of yourself! You are finally being yourself and not worrying in the moment what he thinks of you."

What had happened to me is I became so wrapped up in trying to become who I thought I should become that I supressing the person that I was. The scariness of us believers in doing this is that we ever so slowly become fake. We become alike. The reality is that God created individuals to express His creativity and His love and to be anything less (or more) than what we are is to pretend, or believe even, that God doesn't know what He's doing.

Do not misunderstand me: I am not giving people license to sin, go against Scripture or to not practice and pray what God has called us to practice and pray in Scripture. What I challenge you with is: Are you trying to become someone different in your own strength? or are you allowing God to use you how you, where you are, while He does the work through you?

"...being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." -Philippians 1:6

Thursday, October 4, 2012


You know it's funny.

One moment we can be mad at the world & all of humanity and in a split second, a friend makes you laugh and life is suddently beautiful.

Or, how about those moments that you lay in bed wide awake... dreaming of.... I don't know: what should be? What life could be? And you long for a place where you feel you've been... yet you've never really been there. Or you see yourself how you wish you could be: braver, stronger, beautiful, fearless.... and then you fall asleep: dream of being that warrior or princess and then wake up to your raging alarm clock and realize what was just so vivid and tangible no longer exists. In fact, it isn't real.

I know what you all are thinking, "Shauna: come on... a bit 'Eldridge-esque', don't you think? In fact: I would completely agree with you. However, every fiber of my being screams out: "We weren't created for this world!"

And today: Today I caught a glimpse of what we were created for. Intimacy. Love. Freedom. Worship.

It's funny how I walked through the first few hours at church with my emotions of "Crap! I hate being single today!" "Crap! I have to go to work today!" Yet at the same time knowing... mmm, no, aware? mmm... nope: sensing that Jesus was there. So was His Father. And so was the Spirit. Something was going to happen. The feeling of inadaquacy can be a beautiful freedom when you know that the Three Most Beautiful Persons in all (and out) of, well, existence is there watching you. More than that in fact: They are longing for you to just...just be.

It's alarming and frightening and relaxing and beautiful, all at the same time.

As I look back on this morning, I remembered that the Scripture that was read aloud wasn't Scripture about us humans--but HIM. I guess I've just begun to realize so often that we put ourselves in Scripture. "He loves you" (yes! He loves mmeee!) "He died for you" (yes! He died for meeee!). Do not misunderstand me: He did (and does) each of those actions. But what about remembering that, well, it's all about Him? He is the one (that loves us)... He is the one (that died...) He is the one who is literally holding our bodies together at this precise moment as we read this note... He is the one spoke creation out of N-O-T-H-I-N-G. He is the One whom we will cast down our crowns at His feet..

So as you walk through today and find yourself longing for what (or who) you do not have: just remember: You truly were made for Someone and for a place you have yet to call "Home".

"Even so, Come..."

Monday, October 1, 2012

Are You Afraid to Live Because You're Afraid to Die?

Are you afraid to live because you're afraid to die?

I never thought that this statement, well, question would've or could've ever been said of me, but I believe it can describe me.

Let me back up. This past weekend I had an Encounter with God while doing one of the most random activities ever: Jeeping. I know, right? So, jeeping (for those non-hicks out there) is just that: Jeeping. On Saturday morning, about 20 of us left around 7:30 in the morning, drove 2 hours to a town in Western Massachusetts, unloaded the jeeps off the their trailers and started, well... driving. I mean, like, barely driving, really, on these trails with rocks and boulders five to six feet high .... a swamp or two... random fallen trees and branches... Obstacles that normal vehicles can't drive over and what make Jeeps look just plain awesome.

It it only takes a few feet heading into this path that the Jeeps all have to stop (we all get out except the driver and perhaps one passenger) and one Jeep at a time, try to drive over a huge boulder. And of course, sometimes the Jeeps need a little help. Maybe it was one or a few of us throwing rocks down for the tires to grip on or it was another Jeep having to pull another Jeep over and/or out of it. Whatever it was: Each Jeep made it (mmm, that's a lie: one Jeep didn't make it through.) out of the few mile trek. Maybe with even having to be pulled along: but each Jeep made it.

And there was a point that I remember just standing and watching the guys working on a Jeep and looking around at nature and all of the random people put together for this trip and I heard a whisper: "You are still that little girl with an adventurous and curious spirit that I love..."

It was at that point that I asked myself, "What have I been afraid of then?" The answer? There are a few.... dying... failing... missing out on what I wasn't living.

Let me back up for a minute. All growing up I was a daydreamer. I remember locking myself in my parents room and pretending I was a singer recording a music video... and I would play outside until I could hear my parents yelling for me to come in. I also remember though, being terrified to drive long distances and/or be away from my parents for any long amount of time. I even remember having to come home for a night from my camp that was just 20 minutes away--just because I was homesick. Then at 14 years old I began going to a camp that was an hour away and I was scared: but I did it. (That camp, Living Waters Bible Conference in Danforth, ME is now the place I call "home", just as a shameless plug.) I remember as a Freshmen at New Brunswick Bible Institute being terrified to do just a two-week tour to Quebec and Ontario in 15 passenger vans. And I truly had to come to grips with the fact that if the Lord wanted me to die: I was going to die. Whether it was on tour or my crossing the street across from my house. That summer (2002) I spent a summer at a camp in NH: 6 hours away from home. And guess what: I loved it. The summer after that: I spent just outside of NYC and the Fall after that? I travelled about 9000 miles: from the East to West Coast and Back to New Zealand and Fiji as well. I've travelled to about 35 States, most of the Eastern Side and Islands of Canada, a few days in Mexico and the big jump: I moved to Southern California without knowing a soul.

I came to crave and love adventure.
My fears of dying while traveling were always there: but I never let them take precedent.

So what happened to me?

Well, on a big-scale: I let my lack of proximity to friends and finances (and sleep) rule my life. I became so obsessed with just merely surviving day to day that I forgot my God is a pretty big God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10) and feeds the birds of the air (Matthew 6:26). Also, God is my Father, Who loves me and has plans to prosper me (Jeremiah 29:11) and Who wants to give me life abundantly (John 10:10). And oh yes, lest I forget:  My God is the God who can (and does) do "exceedingly, abundantly above all that [I] can ask or think." (Ephesians 3:20)

My pastor recently challenged us to change things up in our lives: "Do the opposite of what you would normally do. If you normally read a book, watch a movie. If you're wanting to just stay home: go out... Get out of your comfort zones. Know yourself: but change it up."

Back to Jeeping... now see... what I almost wanted to do more than Jeeping that Saturday was sleep in, drink a lot of coffee, job hunt, clean the house and watch movies. What I didn't want to do was worry about getting up 5 hours after getting home, having to go potty in the woods or embarassing myself with my social-awkwardness in front of 15 people I had never met before. But you know what? I changed it up and went out of my comfort zone.

It changed my life.

My prayer for you is that it will do the same. And that we will continue to be a people committed to living and not merely surviving.

Praise be to the Father for His love and for Jesus ever-interceding for us. (Romans 8:34)