Saturday, February 28, 2009


There I was - sitting outside, feeling like the world was about to end. My curly hair was doing a strange frizz job on top of my head; my brain felt like it had been run over by a very large semi-truck; my stomach had a queasy feeling due to containing only coffee; my eyes were welling up with big, bad, angry, stressed, just-want-to-sleep tears. If I ever need a reminder of my desperate need to depend on God’s grace, I just have to transport myself to mid-terms. It seems that every semester, during these days, God paints for me a canvas of contrasts: my helplessness and His grace, my worry and His peace, and my lack of trust and His faithful control.

My Tuesday and Wednesday of this past week felt like two totally opposite days. On Tuesday I had a midterm (which I didn’t feel very confident about) and a test. I also had a paper to finish writing for the next day and I got back a paper on which I did not think I received a very good grade. Now, most people might be able to handle this stuff pretty well (which in all honesty, is hardly anything compared to what some people actually had), but if there are a couple things I have learned about myself they are that a) I deal very poorly with stress, and b) I cannot function on less than 6 hours of sleep. Hence the frizzing and crying scene.

Notice all of my excuses. I often think my life is one big excuse, comprised of all the reasons why it is ok for me to complain. God, however, is constantly reminding me that this does not sit well with Him. Wednesday, He reminded me again, sprinkling my life with completely undeserved blessings. Hair that worked, an enjoyable first class, a time of singing in the chapel, canceled afternoon classes, a refreshing nap, an encouraging professor, and friends that never cease to make me smile. Finally, I reached the dreaded moment – the poetry field trip I had completely forgotten about until it was painted into the picture on that terrible Tuesday. And trust me, it had caused me to mope and complain (excuse: who wants to listen to poetry on their last night before Spring Break?).

The first stop my English professor, Dr. Belz, insisted on making during our field trip was at Laguna Beach to watch the sun set. In all honesty, I don’t know if I can say I had ever seen a sunset on the beach. But take it from me now, it was amazing. And as I was meandering along the beach back to the car, I recalled the Psalm I had read that morning. Psalm 57 says “I am in the midst of lions…Be exalted, O God,” and “They spread a net for my feet…My heart is steadfast, O God.” At the time I read that, I was really struck by the fact that such contrasting thoughts were juxtaposed next to each other. Dire situations, but praise and trust.

D. Martyn Lloyd Jones reminded me that God often uses small trials in our lives to prepare us for large ones. You would think that knowing this, I would hit midterms and just be ready to jump for joy. Instead, God has my history professor tell me that stress is a part of life and I can’t let my life collapse because I’m not in the best mood or I don’t like the way things are working out. College is just the precursor to the rest of life. Then God sends me off on a night of beach walking, Mexican food eating, and poetry listening in order to get me asking myself, “Why are you so willing to praise God only on the good days?”

So here I am telling you that college is crazy. And life is crazy. And I will probably spend many more mornings as a sobbing mess giving myself motivational pep talks. And I have a very strong feeling that I will not be jumping for joy once finals roll around. But thank goodness for professors who are willing to tell you things like they are, for stiff necks from sleeping on patio furniture, and for beach sunsets. May I someday learn to “take refuge in the shadow of [God’s] wings until the disaster has passed (Ps. 57:1).

Saturday, February 14, 2009


I suppose I just can’t help it. It’s Valentines Day, so my thoughts have turned to love. Sitting here in my dorm room, I can see the potted tulips and bouquet of roses placed precariously on my roommate’s desk – gifts from her boyfriend. A sparkly purple card adorns my other roommate’s desk; it came from her mom in the mail yesterday. As glad as I am for the expressions of love they have received, my thoughts have taken a somewhat different turn.

I attended a funeral this morning. The first funeral I have ever attended for anyone under the age of seventy. It was one of the most heart-wrenching things I’ve probably ever experienced. Jennifer Uwarow was my Resident Director last semester, until tests showed that a ravaging cancer had reappeared in her body and she was physically, emotionally, and spiritually broken. This morning I was reminded once again of the testimony she left behind – a testimony of a great, faithful, and loving Savior. Even as Jen was brought daily closer to that moment of death, this was the hope she clung to. And at this moment, my greatest desire is to do nothing but bask in the sweetness of the love of Christ.

These words have remained a presence in the back of mind since the day I read them: “On the whole, God's love for us is a much safer subject to think about than our love for Him” (C.S. Lewis). I am easily discouraged when I consider the love I have for my God. Over Christmas break, I prayed asking Him, “Why do I love you so little?” When I consider that Yahweh himself marked out His plan of redemption, boldly drawing in the crucifixion of His only Son, that His love might drench wretched sinners such as myself, I cannot answer this question. The answer reverberates through my being, but it is so terrible and wonderful a truth it pierces me to the core. I am, and always have been, devastated by sin – dead – and I have, in and of myself, absolutely no ability to love my God.

We are told to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37), but our weak attempts to love God as He should be loved are like shooting balloons into the sky and hoping they will reach Neptune: they cover only a few feet of that endless stretch and fall deflated to the ground, failures. In the face of such circumstances I believe we have only two choices: we can despair or we can fix our eyes on that infinitely safer subject.

“Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might perhaps dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” The truth of these verses is impossible to wrap my mind around. Try as I might to love God as I should, I lie pitifully at His feet, woefully aware of my ungratefulness and ability to be easily wooed by poor, scrawny lovers. Yet even still, my God poured Himself out for me and continues to unwaveringly love me. He loved me when I did not love Him and He loves me now, though I do not love Him as I should. His love for me at this moment is as free, as full, and as passionate as it was as Christ hung on that cross – gasping for breath, suffering for my sin.

C.S. Lewis says, “[God] will give us feelings of love if He pleases. We cannot create them for ourselves, and we must not demand them as a right. But the great thing to remember is that, though our feelings come and go, His love for us does not. It is not wearied by our sins, or our indifference; and, therefore, it is quite relentless in its determination that we shall be cured of those sins, at whatever cost to us, at whatever cost to Him.” How beautiful, how precious is this thought!

Let us treasure the love of God. May it quench our thirsting and satisfy our hunger. But may we never cease to wonder that the Creator of this universe – our holy, magnificent, and glorious God – deigns to call us His beloved. He is ours and we are His. May His love be the only love we ever need.

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:17-19).

by George Herbert
Love bade me welcome, yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.But quick-ey'd Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning If I lack'd anything.
"A guest," I answer'd, "worthy to be here";
Love said, "You shall be he."
"I, the unkind, the ungrateful? ah my dear, I cannot look on thee.
"Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
"Who made the eyes but I?"
"Truth, Lord, but I have marr'd them; let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.""And know you not," says Love, "who bore the blame?"
"My dear, then I will serve."
"You must sit down," says Love, "and taste my meat."
So I did sit and eat.