remind me

Jesus, king of angels, heaven’s light
shine your face upon this house tonight
let no evil come into my dreams
light of heaven keep me in your peace

remind me how you made dark spirits flee
and spoke your power to the raging sea
and spoke your mercy to a sinful man
remind me Jesus, this is what i am

the universe is vast beyond the stars
but you are mindful when the sparrow falls
and mindful of the anxious thoughts
that find me, surround me and bind me

with all my heart i love you, sovereign Lord
tomorrow let me love you even more
and rise to speak the goodness of your name
until i close my eyes and sleep again

the universe is vast beyond the stars
but you are mindful when the sparrow falls
and mindful of the anxious thoughts
that find me, surround me and bind me

Jesus, king of angels, heaven’s light
hold my hand and keep me through this night

– fernando ortega

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surrender

i hate letting go. despite a pretty pathetic record of success with regards to following MY way, i am reluctant to give up leadership.

where does Jesus want to take me? i don’t know the details (which kills me) but i know it is promised that he leads me toward LIFE.

here’s a compelling argument for giving control to Jesus, given musical expression by an incredible group who makes art as beautiful and chaotic as the constant crescendo in my head…

truth

i’m gonna blame the ocd.

truth, specifically as pertains to religion, can be a slippery thing. tough to identify before even trying to grasp it.

add to this elusivity the mind that spins endlessly, pondering unrealistic angles of things that don’t exist. trying to understand truth gets even more complicated.

there are a lot of things i have always known. i had good parents who taught me very clearly right from wrong. they taught me about Jesus. they taught me about good, healthy living, about telling the truth, and about keeping the Sabbath. they modeled for me a life of service to God and to mankind. they demonstrated sacrificial giving. they smiled through suffering. they lived without — without complaining. i don’t remember NOT knowing… that is, cerebrally… an awful lot about God, the Bible, and our religion.

my mind being such as it is (and anyone that lives in the throes of ocd understands exactly how descriptive that non-description is) has had lots of material from which to assimilate my view of religion and, therefore, of God. i would say there are two theories in there, just as there are (hopefully) two lobes. on one hand, i know God to be loving, i know forgiveness to be freely available, and i know a relationship with Jesus to be the pathway to eternal life. on the other hand, i know it’s all in my head. literally.

so whether or not my mental disorder is truly the cause, God and i have been on shaky, intellectual soil for a really long time. operative word: intellectual.

i am getting old past my twenties finally (we will discuss honesty tomorrow) and just now… truly, just NOW… learning that it’s not a brain thing. knowledge is important, but it doesn’t build a bridge to heaven. it can’t save me.

it. can’t. save. me.

but it’s all i have. sword-drill champion, multiple years in elementary school. a wicked ability to quote proof texts regarding the state of the dead, the biblical day of worship, etc… timelines. prophecies. theories. names. dates. blah, blah, blah.

enter: mask removal. painful open-soul surgery. discovery that any good in me was just part of pretending there was good in me.

where does one go when one needs a Savior — not a God-of-the-brain but a Holder-of-the-broken-heart?

there was a cross on a hill, quite some time ago. it bore the weight of a man. not a myth, but a man. could it be that he felt? that he dreamed? that he lost? could it be that in the 33 years he spent on this planet he knew love? pain? difficult choices? what it meant to feel alone?

could it be that he knows me?

a loved one suggested a book to me that has forever changed my perspective on Jesus: Beautiful Outlawit introduced me to the man destined for that hilltop cross. and… wow. just, wow.

no more watered-down, simplified Jesus. not for me. he is radical. he is way too honest sometimes. he is humorous — beautifully and intentionally so. he is complicated… layered. he is interesting. he is intense. he is utterly dissatisfied with the status quo.

he is someone i am actually falling in love with.

and that… well, that’s the truth.

my mask

i used to take a lot for granted.

as a child i assumed adults knew what they were talking about. i took their word as truth. if they seemed confident, it was because they were right.

as a young Christian i believed those who took the name of Christ were as they seemed. i trusted they were real. i knew my own struggles, my inner turmoil, my conflicts, my mistakes… and i was fairly sure that others – appearing, as they did, perfect – either didn’t share in those with me or were far more successful in gaining victory.

to me, victory was a sparklingly glorious place, full of joy, arrived at by those with fortitude, self-control, and the ability to participate eagerly and joyfully in hours of prayer and penitence through which they reveled in clear and audible two-way conversations with the Most High.

victory as such eluded me. but i knew from years of exposure how to act. i knew how to appear. if there were thespian awards given to church members for best actress in a drama, i would have been the longest-running winner.

truth is, i’m pretty ugly on the inside. always have been. my mind is a battleground made bloody by years of conflict with my own brain chemistry, countless poor choices, and the plague of guilt. victory has never been mine. not even close.

my mask… my carefully crafted image… well, i’m told it was impeccable. it felt natural. after all, it was something i wore daily for decades.

it was removed against my will. and it hurt.

the real me – the unmasked me – i was not even comfortable with myself, and certainly wasn’t ready for the world to see. and they weren’t ready either. believing me to be who i appeared was a costly mistake.

yet the first lesson the unmasked me learned shook me to the core:

the rest of the world (yes, even the remnant!) was masked too.

i had believed i was alone, wearing what was expected in order to match those who naturally were who i was pretending to be. i thought my church was full of good people who were truly as unscarred and unbroken as they appeared.

i was wrong.

it turns out that the mercy and grace that found me, bruised and bleeding at the foot of the cross, had touched many beautifully-masked Christians in their own moments of truth. and, thanks be to God, these broken recipients of love loved me. the exposed, sinful, aching me.

under the mask is tender, new self – not always beautiful. it still hurts to see the light of day. but i pray i never grow calloused or choose to hide again. i will disappoint those who want perfection. i will defy those that want convention. i will certainly argue with those who say masks belong.

but i will make my bold, unconventional, beautiful Jesus smile.

and if you want to take your mask off,  i will hold your hand.

they are just words

but i love them. different combinations of letters that form a code, bringing a laugh or a torrent of tears. spoken words can be beautiful… they can be art. but they echo away. write it down, and it’s there to look at, to study, to admire or regret forever.

they are just words. but they are mighty.