Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What's In A Name?

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."

"Stories are able to help us to become more whole, to become Named.
And Naming is one of the impulses behind all art;
to give a name to the cosmos we see despite all the chaos."
Madeleine L'Engle, Walking On Water 

What does it mean to be Named?  Have you ever thought about what your Name is?  I don't necessarily mean the one your parents gave you, but the Name that is you?

I've been thinking about it a lot.

God loves names.  He has always set great importance on names, from teaching us how to revere His Name, to the curious way He has of changing a name to reflect His transformation of the person who wears it.  We are told that at the Name of Jesus Christ, one day, every knee will bow to His authority--that's a powerful Name!  God graciously reveals His personality and character through the Names He tells us are His, each one a story, each one a promise.

What Name is written on the real you?
What story does it tell?
What promise does it hold?

Just over a year ago, with this L'Engle quote somewhere in the corner of my mind, I wrote, "I hope to become more real, more named . . . more His."  I wrote it . . . and meant it . . . not even knowing really what that would look like, how to get there, except to keep showing up for the story God was writing in me.

That line has been on continuous echo ever since the day I wrote it.  The more I think about it, those three things I said I wanted, are all really the same thing--
  • More real -- more purely the person God intended when He knit me together in the secret place . . .
  • More named -- more identified with Him today than ever before, and not as much as I will be tomorrow. . .
  • More His -- more surrendered to His Lordship, minute by minute until He comes to take me home.
John the Baptist said it this way, "He must increase and I must decrease."  Contrary to how that sounds to our Western, 21st century sensibilities, it's not that God wants me to disappear.  What He wants is to release the real me from myself into the glory of wearing His Name!  I am not meant to just be Shaunie, but HIS-Shaunie!  Uniquely me, but HIS-me!

Oh that the words and pictures here would call out His Name, framing cosmos in the midst of chaos!  Oh that in Naming thoughts and images, the Name being revealed in me and my work and my art would be "His!"

It is the essence of the rose that tells us its real Name, rose is just what we call it.

How is your work an act of Naming?
What does your Name mean to you? 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Door God Always Opens

"Waiting impatiently for entrance, the boy glanced up at the arch.
Words were chiseled in the old, moss covered stones:  

 . . .
And so the boy escaped from the perilous Enchanted City because
he was a hunter at heart and hunters always find more than they know."

I wish I'd written that last line.

"he was a hunter at heart and hunters always find more than they know."

It rings a beautiful, crystal clear bell in my heart.  Like a tuning fork sounding the note you should tune to, a note you recognize, this resonates with the ring of truth.  So where have I heard that before . . . 

Ah yes, I remember, it was my Jesus who said,

"For everyone who asks receives;
he who seeks finds;
and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."

Was Jesus saying that every door we knock on will be opened?  I think that would be answered with a resounding "NO!"  Not every door we knock on is a door that would be good for us, and having experienced my share of closed doors, I know that God doesn't just open a door because I knock, even if I knock repeatedly.

Wait . . . what did He say?

"and to him who knocks, THE door will be opened." [emphasis mine]

What door?  What door is it that I can knock on in complete confidence, knowing that it will be opened?

Jesus said this to His disciples as part of His response to their desire to learn from Him about how to pray.  The asking, seeking and knocking He spoke of was in reference to prayer--
     . . . asking GOD
     . . . seeking GOD
     . . . knocking on GOD's door.
So I can confidently knock on His door, the door to where I can go to talk to Him and hear from Him, the door to His very heart.  This is the door He will always open to those who come knocking!  This is the door He will always open to me when I come with a seeking heart.

Does He say 'yes' to everything I ask Him for?  Does He always say 'yes' to my timing?  Does He spare me from everything I want to avoid?  No, no, and no.

But does He always have time for me?  Does He always hear me when I call?  Does He always pour Himself into my lack?  Does He always open the door to His heart when I knock?  Yes, yes, yes, and YES!!

God always says, "Yes!" when what I want is HIM!!

"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."

Are you becoming increasingly a "hunter" who seeks God with all your heart?
What changes when all you want is Him?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Brick by Brick


Brick by painstaking brick . . . that is how a brick building is built.  With great care and precision, following the exact design of the architect, the mason lays each brick, one at a time, to form the interlocking strength of the wall.

Character is built like that.
     Experience by experience,
     trial by trial,
     triumph by triumph,
     challenge met by challenge met!

Our strength of character is built one brick at a time, under the skilled handiwork of an Artist Builder.  He is both Architect and Bricklayer, Designer and Laborer, Owner . . . and Resident . . . and Cornerstone of the character edifice He builds in us.  He is a Master Craftsman who takes great joy in creating lasting beauty out of mere bricks and mortar, the stuff of this earth-y life.  His is a labor of love, and He has chosen us to be His life's work, His monument, His glory.

I write of the God in Whose image we exist . . .
              the God who wore our skin . . .
              the God who won our freedom . . .
              the God who wants our hearts.

Like character, faith grows a little at a time too.
     Red Sea by Red Sea,
     Fiery furnace by fiery furnace,
     Impossible victory by impossible victory,
     Miracle by miracle.

With each successive escape through deep water on dry ground, or coming through the fire unharmed, our faith expands and becomes increasingly convinced of God's very real love and mercy toward us, not to mention His almighty protection and all-sufficient provision.

Character and faith are being built through all kinds of experiences, good and bad, right now.  All over this country and throughout the world, people are going through times that challenge and change them, sometimes in very difficult ways.  Maybe your character-bricks look like lost jobs and uncertain futures, sick loved ones or broken relationships.  Maybe your faith-bricks are paid bills and healed children, restored marriages and soldiers returning safe.

If you are among those people experiencing the unpredictable mix of trial and testing, waiting expectantly for your victorious miracles, don't worry!  Just know that bricks are being laid and Red Seas are opening as God takes the things life throws at you and builds your character and faith.  Be encouraged!!

"Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial,
because when he has stood the test,
he will receive the crown of life
that God has promised to those who love him."
James 1:12 NIV

How is God building your character?
How do you see your faith growing?

FaithBaristaLLogo2  Delighted to be joining Bonnie Gray for her Thursday Faith Jam!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Ek Kaleo

I find myself feeling rusty at the keyboard, out of practice, unsure if I still know how . . . wondering many things I don't want to give words to for fear of sounding pathetic.  But the truth I am wrestling with will not let me leave it at that!  I am made for more than self-doubt and fear of failure--both are born of pride and neither is at home in the heart of anyone who is both image-bearer and daughter of the one true God.

Esther and Isaiah are on my mind as I write.  Esther, an ordinary Jewish girl suddenly found herself in the palace of a foreign king, about to be his new queen.  She believed Mordecai when he told her she was made "for such a time as this." (Esther 4:14 NIV) She risked everything to save her people, and DID.  Isaiah the prophet found himself face to face with the pre-incarnate Christ, and said "Here am I, send me." (Isaiah 6:8 NIV)  The mind-blower is that Isaiah didn't even know what the mission was when he committed himself to take it on!!

I too am called to greatness in my own time.  There is a call on my life, right here, right now.  While I may never know the specific nature and duties of my call before they are required, I do know that I am called to be God's girl in my place and time in history.  I, like Esther, am made "for such a time as this."   

So are you!  

That truth puts each of us squarely in a position of great responsibility!

I must
believe that
in order
to act
like that!

I need to get it really and truly into my head, my heart, my whole being, that I am "ek kaleo," that is, CALLED OUT.  In God's design and enablement, I am CALLED to be a powerhouse of dynamic impact, and that is what I CAN be if I will abandon my own thoughts and stumbling blocks.  I don't have to know all the details of where God is taking me, I just need to put one obedient foot in front of the other, taking the steps He directs me to take, one at a time.

The most loving thing I can do for God, for my family, for my world and for myself is to 


"Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
         I have called you by name; you are Mine!" 

What do you think it means to LIVE CALLED?
What characterizes a life of CALL-ED-NESS?
What are some practical ways to get knowledge of the CALL into our everyday thinking?


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