What’s Your Story

What’s Your Story

“I had always felt life first as a story and if there is a story, there is a storyteller.”

G.K. Chesterton

From the beginning of time, we have told stories, whether it has been the exploits of the day’s hunt, reciting a sonnet to the object of one’s affection, or my favourite, reading bedtime stories while snuggling with my children. Stories are powerful and are far more effective than dry narration when expressing the heartbeat of life. In the Gospels, we see that Jesus taught and expressed the beauty of heaven, not through well-planned lessons in theology; Instead, He used the language of stories.

In a simple greeting, we ask one another. “how are you?” When what we’re really trying to understand is, “what’s going on around here?” In other words, tell me a story. Stories can bring clarity and understanding, where previously none existed. They are the stuff that unites us, be that a group of people, friends or an entire culture, stories have a power, that in some ways, define us and provide us with purpose. Yet many of us may echo the sentiments of Samwise Gamgee as he asks a very simple and yet profound question.

“I wonder what sort of story we’ve fallen into?

An excellent question and one deserving of an answer, for life, occasionally appear like something that we’ve fallen into and is completely outside of our own control. But just for a moment and take a deep look into this theatre, we call life. Your story holds all the makings of one of the all-time greatest legends ever told. The Storyteller is creating your story as it has always been intended to be, an epic drama, and we play a crucial role on this stage that is unfolding before us. The Storyteller of this tale has held nothing back, nothing has escaped from the production of this wondrous story, your life. Sadly, unlike the fairy tales of old, the performance that we have fallen into, rarely ends ‘happily ever after.’ Yet life is no longer a fairytale that has been recited many times. No, this adventure that we are part of, is being written as we live it and don’t try peeking at the last chapter to see how it end, as I said before, it’s still being written. Your life is a story of epic proportions. So go, live your story, your part is crucial to the entire plot, and without you, well, there’s just no story to be shared.

Vulnerability – A Prison or Freedom?

Vulnerability – A Prison or Freedom?

Webster’s  dictionary defines vulnerability as “the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.”
 
By its very definition, vulnerability is something to shun or to avoid at all costs.
 
Why?
 
Why is that?
 
Because if I do, I will open myself up to the opinion of others and willfully leave myself exposed.
 
Will my ideas, life, will I be accepted. Does it, do I really matter?
 
I don’t know, so what do you do when you’re left exposed or naked?
 
You cover up!
 
You put on one layer or facade after another, till even you don’t recognize yourself anymore.
 
So what is the danger the danger of being vulnerable?
 
Isolation, misunderstanding – alone – all alone.
 
So we put on just one more layer of armor, armor that was never meant to fit because it’s not mine to wear in the first place. But wear it I do and I continue to stumble through life, weighed down as I wear this false self, a fake me, hoping beyond hope that this “me” will be accepted and perhaps even loved.
 
Vulnerability is a prison.
 
It keeps you locked up and the guards of this prison are shame, guilt, self-loathing and fear.
 
But, there is one thing…
 
This prison that you’re locked in, that you have locked yourself in…
 
You hold the key.
 
Did you hear me, YOU HOLD THE KEY!!!
 
So how does any key work?
 
You have to turn it.
 
So, turn the key that locks you in and embrace the truth.
 
Truth is hard, very hard. As I write this, it is very hard, but truth must and it will triumph over the lies that have kept you imprisoned far to long, telling you that if you reach out to others that you are weak, you should be able to handle this yourself.
 
As I tell myself this one little truth, can I tell it to you as well?
 
You can’t do it, this life on your own. You were never meant too.
 
I need other people, we all need other people.
 
It’s ok to feel the things that you do, to think the things that you do.
 
It’s ok to be you.
 
For if we were all a bit more honest – a bit more vulnerable, we would see that we’re not so alone after all.
 
Others think, feel and in secret, do what you do as well.
 
Vulnerability doesn’t have to be so limiting.
 
Yes, you may open yourself to harm, but you may also open yourself to the healing we all so desperately need.
 
And as you open yourself to receive the gift of help, you in turn, allow yourself to give the help that you have received.
 
Victor Hugo, a poet, playwright, and novelist once said, “The greatest happiness in life is the conviction that we are loved, loved for ourselves or rather loved in spite of ourselves.”
 
Know that you, yes YOU are loved, and if you are the only one who knows this incredible truth, then love yourself and look into the face of God.
 
To love another person is to see the face of God.” Victor Hugo
 
P.S. That prison I spoke of earlier, well vulnerability is a big part of what sets you free.
A Spark Within

A Spark Within

Alone

Darkness is all around

Darkness is everything

Can’t even move

Can’t even see

And yet there’s a spark, deep within

The spark ignites a fire

It’s a raging fire and it refuses to give up

But the spark

Barely visible

And yet visible

The spark remains

Giving light to the eyes

And with the light there comes vision

And the vision comprehends that the darkness is a veil

Alone

…or are you

Pull back the veil, PULL IT BACK

First, there’s one

And another

And more still

Previously alone

All of them

But no more

Their eyes seem vacant

Empty

Void of life

Darkness

But look deep

Very deep within

Allow those eyes to pierce your own

And you will discover a …

SPARK

Breathe

Breathe

Going down

Can’t breathe

HELP

Suddenly, there’s a hand

AIR

I can breathe

Don’t go down

Breathe

Breathe that sweet air

Don’t go down

There’s another hand

And another and another

Six hands together

Together, pulling me up

Breathe

Breathe in …

LIFE

The Highway of Brokenness

The Highway of Brokenness

A Highway shall be there, and a road and it shall be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean shall not pass over it, But it shall be for others, Whoever walks the road, although a fool, shall not go astray. Isaiah 35:8 NKJV

The oppressive sun was relentless as it beat down upon the barren landscape, and the sky was it’s co-conspirator with not even a wisp of cloud to soften the harsh rays. A lizard took shelter in the shadows of a rock where the lizard took refuge from the blistering sun, yet there was no shade wide enough for the weary traveller. The cracks that grew deep on his face matched those of the parched soil that was baked hard from the seemingly never ceasing sun. It had been far too long since the rains mercifully soaked the desolate terrain, thus denying all who ventured across the desert of the streams of life. Desperately the parched voice of the traveller cried out for mercy from the relentless sun. “Where are the streams that crossed this once fertile plain. I’m dying out here as my soul like this once bountiful land is now completely dried up.” The only water to be found was the tears that streaked across his weather-beaten face.

As the traveller cried out in his desperation, suddenly he was bathed in a wonderfully radiant light. Although the traveller had no idea what the light or its source was, he mysteriously found himself drawn to its beautiful light. As he drew closer to the light, he began to see a figure yet still indiscernible within the dazzling brightness. As he drew closer yet, he could make out the figure, it’s that of a cross. The traveller curiously yet tentatively approached the cross. To his wonder, at the foot of the cross, he saw a door and above the door he saw a sign. Taking a moment to adjust his eyes to the bright light he saw an inscription that read, “Enter only he who is broken and cleansed by the blood.” Stooping low in order to enter, the traveller couldn’t make it through, for the pack that he carried, was far too heavy and large to make it through the small doorway.

He tried many times over to enter through the door, but to no avail, for he was not yet broken, nor had he yet known the taste of the cleansing blood. The traveller once again gazed upward to the sign, but the sign was no longer there but had been replaced by a man nailed to the cross. His eyes were drawn to the hands and the feet of the man. They were bleeding and were pierced as they were held firm to the cross by large ugly nails. As he looked closer, he saw that face of love now beaten beyond recognition that was bleeding profusely from the awful crown of thorns that he wore upon his head. The traveller was overcome with grief as he witnessed the brokenness of the One who said, “not My will be done, but Yours be done,” as he drank the bitter cup of sinful sorrows to its dregs. The traveller looked back upon the blood soaked face of the Saviour and then to his own pack that he carried upon his back far too long now. As he looked back to the face of the Saviour, it was at that moment that he knew that it was his own pack that nailed the Saviour to the cross. Falling to his knees he removed the burdensome pack from his weary shoulders. Grateful to finally remove the pack, he laid it at the foot of the cross.

As he laid the heavy pack down, the traveller was startled by the sound of the doorway of brokenness opening to him. Although open, the way was narrow, so the traveller had to get down on his knee’s to pass through the doorway. Once on the other side, the traveller took a moment to gain his bearings. As he adjusted himself to his new surroundings, he looked around and saw a highway stretched out before him. It meandered upwards to greater heights that the traveller had ever known. The banks of the highway were shrouded in darkness, obscuring the many twisted nettles and sharp boulders strewn along the banks of the highway, but the highway itself was bathed in a glorious light as it traversed upwards towards to the heavenly places.

Behind him, the traveller could see his pack, now being fought over by the imps of the darkness for the worthless objects the traveller once deemed to be of immense value.  As the traveller looks upward, he no longer saw Jesus stretched across the cruel cross, instead he now walks before him on the highway, overflowing with resurrection life. As the once weary traveller now restored by the power of the resurrection life drew closer to the Saviour, he saw that within his hands, he carried a pitcher. Seeing the traveller, He ran to him and asked him to hold out his heart to the Him. Just as if he was holding out a cup, the traveller held his empty heart out to Jesus. As Jesus looked inside the traveller became uncomfortable, wanting to hide as Jesus looked deep within, it was a painful scrutiny as his heart was laid bare before the sinless Saviour. To his relief, Jesus didn’t look at him with rejection but instead with complete love and acceptance as his heart had been cleansed by the life-giving blood. Jesus then took His pitcher and filled the travellers heart to overflowing with the new wine. With the power of the new wine and the triumphant Saviour before him, the traveller began his journey now with great rejoicing as he celebrated the freedom he now received without cost. When the traveller looked away from Jesus, he saw once again the imps from the realms of darkness holding out to him many temptations and accusations of the past.  The traveller tried to ignore the imps and their offers as he walked upwards, but since his eyes were now no longer on Jesus but gazing into the darkness, he stumbled and fell into the nettles and the sharp boulders causing great pain and unnecessary suffering. He cried out to Jesus. Jesus, please rescue me. Jesus, with His strong hands, pulled him back onto the highway and he once again found himself at the foot of the cross. He found himself unable to continue along the highway as he was now snared to the edges of the highway by the sharp nettles. Crying to himself he knew that he was trapped by the snares of self-pity and condemnation. Again he looked at his former pack that lay beside him. He knew to pick it up again would mean death and darkness. He then heard the words of his Saviour call out to him, “there is therefore now no condemnation in Me. Follow Me.” The traveller took his pack and once again laid it at the foot of the cross.

Immediately he found himself on the highway of Holiness. This time, he saw that there were others on the highway as well. As they travelled together in unity the journey was a joy, for together they were able to encourage one another along the way. However, that joy was soon overshadowed with bitterness as the traveller looked at his fellow travellers with eyes of judgement. He wondered why some of his fellow travellers were on the highway as well. He tried to reason with others who would listen, questioning why these so called followers, shared the highway with them. Thinking himself to be far superior to the others, he lost sight of their Saviour and walked off the highway into utter darkness. He soon realised that he couldn’t see where he was going, as the darkness of his own pride surrounded him blocking his way. He tried with all his might to get back on the highway but the climb was too high and his strength was too weak for the task. Others on the highway reached down to him to help him back up, but he was too stubborn to accept their help, after all he needed no one, for in his estimation, they only got in his way. Defeated by his own pride, he sat down in the filth of his sins. It wasn’t too long before the pain of loneliness began to overwhelm him. Surrounded by the filth of his own creation, he once again cried out to Jesus to rescue him. To his dismay, the Saviour didn’t come. Instead, his former travellers called out, encouraging him to come back with them. They reached out to him, but the gap was too wide. It wasn’t until the traveller looked around and saw that his pride would continue to hold him down unless he rejected pride and accepted the offer of help from his fellow travellers. As he stood up, the former gap was broken as his heart was once again broken. Easily the hands of his fellow travellers reached his own and soon, with their help, he found himself at the foot of the cross.

This time, he was sure that his sin was far too great to rejoin Jesus and his fellow travellers. As he gave up all hope, he knew he had nothing to offer. To his astonishment, the doorway of brokenness swung open to him again. He again crawled onto the highway, but he was far too weary to take another step. This journey thus far had taken every last bit of strength. His body beaten by his own guilt, he called out with his last bit of strength, “Lord it was at Your cross that I first found life, but now I am weak and near death. I want to follow You, but I have nothing left to go any further.” Exhausted, the traveller collapsed to the highway. As he silently lay on the highway, a beam of light entered his weary body. The light carried in it life and the sweet renewal of fellowship with his Lord and friends. Jesus came to him once again with the offer of new wine. The traveller took the cup and drank deeply refreshing his weary soul. Jesus, filled with compassion, looked down to the traveller and offered his hand. This time without reservation, the traveller took His hand in his own and allowed himself to be lifted to his feet. Jesus embraced him and said, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, for in Me you will find rest for your soul. For My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

a new day

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