Friday, August 28, 2009

The Turtle and Me

I, Megan Coe, am a turtle. I have the capacity to stretch my neck far enough to get my head out of my shell into the world. But one little discomfort or threat causes me to thrust my head right back into the safe, dark, familiar home of my little shell. I am an introvert. I thrive on alone time. This does not mean that I was designed to be alone. Why would God make introverts if He designed us all for relationships and community? I doesn’t seem fair in this social holiness theology. Is it just to stretch my neck a little longer, to drag me out of the comfort of my nice, warm, secure home, out of my stable, orderly, book-filled dorm room?

Some people thrive in social settings. Their energy is restored through interaction with others. They meet more people, and are more dateable. They can invest more in the lives of others. I wince at the thought of groups greater than three. I either shrink back in crowds, or I act like an awkward fool. My poor friends try to draw me out, and it is truly torturous for all of us. It is like pulling permanent teeth. I say no, and then we bargain, and then I say, “yes, but I will drive my own car,” or “yes, but I will only stay an hour,” or “yes, but I have to go to bed early.” That early bed time excuse is always a lie. I go back home and bury myself in a book, or open up my journal , or dive into some academic endeavor, or do my nails, or pluck my eyebrows….ANYTHING rather than being at a social gathering.
I don’t have great and profound things to say in this entry. I am just confused. If I was made to be relational, why is my inclination to be alone? I was this way as a child. My mother always jokingly said how independent I was as an 18-month-old. I would stay in my room for hours, happy as a little clam (ahahah, I just totally stumbled on that analogy, though it is incredibly appropriate). Does this just mean that life is going to be even harder for me, to pry my shell open and drag myself into the world, awkward and wary? Is it wrong that I find more delight in sitting and reading? I like long walks in the woods by myself. I like writing for hours without distractions. I like spending a day, reading an entire 600-page novel. Maybe this is pure selfishness. Jesus retreated from people to go pray, but He never failed to minister and spend time with people. Neither did He limit His party size to three people at a time. He was good with one-on-one or entertaining 5,000 over dinner.

Maybe I am jus t playing the “it’s not fair” card. But here it is: IT’S NOT FAIR. I want to be a peacock, not a turtle. But I am a turtle. I like my shell. If my shell breaks, I die. What is just my natural bent toward introversion, and what is my responsibility towards koinonia and fellowship? Is it just a matter of still daily dying to the flesh and stepping out into the crowds? I tend to think that there is something valid and perfectly ok about my inclination, but I feel a sense of caution as I seek to find the balance. I hear over and over again that “isolation” is a red flag, and I know that red flags are signs of necessary change. But when is solitude ok? I think I just want some black and white answers, and I know that they do not always exist. It is not formulaic. I just need some little nudges out into the world of community. In community there is support, love, accountability, and more Jesus. Jesus is there, ministering in solitude. I am pretty partial to that ministry. I just need to stretch out my neck and risk being known and experiencing Jesus’ ministry within relationships.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Difference is Night and Day

The first two and a half decades of my life were riddled with fear, darkness, and death. As a child, the night was the time of evil, oppression, and turmoil. Bed time was terrifying, because I was left alone in the dark with the demons that flooded my waking and sleeping hours. Night after night I faced with terror and dread. I stretched out the evening. I did not want to stay up late for normal childhood reasons. I wanted to stay up late, because I knew that as soon as the lights went out, the phantoms of night would rise. It was not a normal “kid fear the dark.” It was a “I can’t move a muscle in my bed, sobbing silently into my pillow praying for God to make the demons leave” kind of fear. I ask myself if it was primarily mental illness or primarily spiritual warfare, and I know that it was both. I felt trapped in the darkness of oppression and death.

I faced this history on Tuesday night, and I poured out my past and heart before the Lord. Because writing is my vehicle of healing, I wrote and I wrote and I wrote for what seemed like forever, reliving memories of the night that I had never wanted to replay. I went to bed that night asking, “Lord, where were you? How could you allow your daughter such torment and anguish in the night hours of her entire childhood?” I asked the Lord, “Is your power enough to redeem this life and cast out shame?” At four in the morning, I fell into bed, exhausted and heart broken for the child of my memories, the child that was curled up in a ball in her bed, wanting to escape the terror of night, praying for morning to arrive sooner or praying for death to take her away from the world of night.

I awoke Wednesday morning determined to seek the Lord until He provided some sort of healing revelation. That was when I opened my Bible. My intention was not to play “bible roulette”, but God threw a verse in my face with my first flip. That verse was Isaiah 60:1, which states:

“Arise (from the depression and prostration in which circumstances have kept you—rise to a new life)! Shine (be radiant with the glory of the Lord), for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.”

At moments like this, I cannot doubt the existence of the Lord. How could He have picked a better verse or a better translation in which to reveal it? He is raising me to a new life from the depression and prostration in which I found myself through circumstances of childhood beyond my control. As I studied the word “arise” in the Hebrew language, I found that it refers specifically to daylight, coming forth at daybreak. How appropriate is that? God revealed that He is bringing daylight into my world of horrific night times. He is bringing the rising of the sun, the glorious sun, to illuminate my life. Even in the terrible memory of my history, He was irradiating and showing forth beams of light into the deepest, darkest corners of my most shameful childhood secrets.

This revelation would be fully sufficient except that God took it to the next level. He calls me to arise to a new life. I am the one who is to shine forth beams of light into the world. He is illuminating my life, and He is calling me to illuminate the darkest places of the world, cloaked with the enemy’s shadows of lingering lies. He is calling me to reflect His sun rise. As I bask in the glory of the rising Son in my life, I have the opportunity to reflect His rays onto a world of perpetual night and darkness.

I conclude, stating, “Rejoice not against me, oh mine enemy. When I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me.” Micah 7:8.

In retrospect, I recall the nightlights that were always plugged into the wall in my room at night. I could never sleep without the presence of one of those muted bulbs, exposing the shadows to be what they truly were: merely absence of light, and taking the edge off of the darkness of an otherwise pitch black room. “The Lord shall be a light unto me.” Where was God during those dark nights of terror? He was there. He was the nightlight. He was my nightlight when I walked through the valley of the shadow of death. He is my rising sun as I step up to this new life. I walk in the light, and He has always been the light, even in the darkest night.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Where is God?

Where is God?
Where is He to be found?
Only in the churches, clothed in holy robes?
Where is God?
Let us look around,
He is walking the streets, garbed in tattered clothes.

Where is God?
Woven through our being,
We reflect His true visage, formed by His own hand.
Where is God?
Are we blind, not seeing,
His own divine shadows, now cloaking this land?

Where is God?
Cooped up in the temple?
He will not be contained, but breathes through blades of grass.
Where is God?
Is He quite so simple,
As do our fleshly minds, want to hold in our grasp?

Embedded in our genes,
Is the precious life divine.
Perplexing though it seems,
He is not so hard to find.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Mind of Christ

Who has known or understood the mind (the counsels and purposes) of the Lord so as to guide and instruct Him and give Him knowledge? But we have the mind of Christ (the Messiah) and do hold the thoughts (feelings and purposes) of His heart.
1 Corinthians 2:16

What does it mean that I have the mind of Christ? This is a verse that I have mindlessly quoted, but I have not fully absorbed what this gift of the mind of the Messiah means. The mind is the seat of reflective consciousness, comprising faculties of understanding, perception, feeling, judging, and determining. It encompasses much more than just mere reason. It is not so much of the “brain” as it is the personhood. The mind of Christ is the testimony of Christ in His Godhood. What does this mean for me today? I have the mind of Christ. Paul asserts that this is the case.

What is the context of this statement? Paul is talking to the church at Corinth, stating that he has not come under a false pretense of intellectualism or lofty words. He has come humbly, asserting that He wanted to know nothing but Jesus Christ the Messiah. He claims that his language and speech was not persuasive or meant to be performed in a great eloquent monologue. It was greater than that. It had the power of the Holy Spirit behind it. We see here the beginning of the development of the mind that Paul is portraying. This mind is not the same as the wisdom of men. It is more power-based than persuasion-rooted. The persuasion will pass away. There is a mind here that is interminable. This mind was once unavailable. It was top secret within the Godhead. It has always been in existence, but it has not always been accessible. Now it is.

This is a mind that eye has not seen and ear has not heard. It has never even been able to enter into the hearts of man. How, then, do we access this mind? This mind that is so obscure, evasive, and inaccessible? There is an inside link. The Holy Spirit that dwelt in Christ rests in us as believers, giving us the same mind that existed in the Son of God. This constant indwelling companion has unlimited access to the profound and bottomless riches of God’s wisdom and divine counsels. These are buried far beyond the fleshly man’s scrutiny.

Man is made in the image of God, and no one can access a man’s thoughts except his own mind. No one can access God’s thoughts unless they have direct contact with His mind. The amazing thing is this: We have this thing called the Spirit that is connected with the mind of God at all times. The Lord gave His Spirit so that we can realize and comprehend the mind of the Father. Only from the mind of the Lord God can come certain truths that are directly from His heart, His deepest, most profound secrets. The mind of Christ sometimes doesn’t speak our language. It is the language of the Spirit, sometimes unutterable.

The mind of Christ is not appreciated by the natural man. The thoughts of Christ make no sense to a man rooted in human reason. The knowing that the Spirit brings is progressive recognizing and discernment. It is a process. With the mind of Christ, the believer can examine all things in order to see the truth from the lie.

I have the mind of Christ, the messiah, and I hold the thoughts, feelings, and purposes of His heart.

What does this mean today for me? I don’t have to figure out this life thing out on
my own. I cannot figure life out alone. But I have access to the source of truth and light. The only way to discern the mind of Christ is to stay plugged in to the source. This new nature is bestowed to the believer at salvation. It is a mind of readiness, peace, wisdom, and truth. It is a mind that stood against temptation and won. It is a mind that bore the emotions of the cross and all of its passion. It is a mind that has overcome death and trampled it on the ground, making a public spectacle of it. It is the mind that will live eternally. That same mind lives in me. The Spirit of truth lives in me. I have the inside connection to the heart of God. The same power lives in me.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

You Hold Everything Together

“ And He [Jesus] existed before all things, and in Him all things consist, cohere, and are held together.”

I found myself caught up in the rat race of striving and straining in class. I got a B+ on the first test of my graduate school career, and I was furious. I worked so hard. I thought I was smarter than that. It was easy. It is so simple, really. So how did I get it wrong? (Oh wait, there is the shame-based perfectionism thing again!) But the Lord has called me to greater things than “making the grade.” He has called me to actively participate in this process of learning. My wonderful roommate tonight sat in her chair and confidently said to me in her rich, beautiful accent, “you can enjoy this process. You don’t have to constantly strive to get the grade.” I can participate in the Lord’s wisdom, and learn on deeper levels than multiple choice and true/false. Granted, a certain GPA is required to maintain scholarships, ect. The Lord will guide me, however, and He will reward me as I faithfully pursue Him, His wisdom, and do an appropriate amount of work and study. I love to learn. I take delight in reading and writing and dialoging with professors and students. I also love to have fun, watch 30 Rock re-runs, take walks around campus, go to the mall, goof off, and participate in life. I have the privilege of making mistakes and learning from them. I have the grace to not do everything perfect or to always get an A. The Lord has covered me with His grace and His favor, and I can actively rest, knowing that He is the greatest wisdom and truth. He holds this together. He existed before the grading scale.

This learning process is part of the journey. This graduate school experience is taking me to a place of greater effectiveness for caring for hurting souls and ministering to a lost world, more specifically, to desperately broken young girls and women. My heart is for them, and I will continue to remember them before I give into pride and perfectionism.

I started to get haughty. I started to place too much confidence in the flesh, in my own mental capacities, and in my own power and study skills. I had to be humbled in order to recognize that the Lord is my wisdom. He can orchestrate a test with questions to stump me just so I can get knocked off of my high horse of academic overconfidence. He holds all things together. I am a steward of this mind and of this gift of education. Therefore, I will be diligent to do the studying and preparation appropriate for my classes. I will not, however, neglect the higher callings for the sake of a superficial number on a sheet of paper, even if it is in red. These red letters are not the words of Christ. They are letters of a human measuring stick, flawed at best, that does not see into my heart or even into my mind. What is the deal with me and numbers? Weights, grades, finances….too bad for measurements!

I surrender my worship of the “almighty grade” unto the Lord, so that I can exalt Him as the ruler of my life. Once again, for the millionth time, He reminds me, “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn of me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” In the sweet knowledge that this is all created for His service, that He holds tomorrow’s test in His hand, and that He holds this world together, I can lay my head on my pillow, recognize Him as the center, and rest.

Saturday, August 1, 2009


Burning orange blaze,
Cascading like a torrent
Through the sky.
My eyes can now
Receive its passion.

Little yellow lily,
Face lifted radiantly,
Blushing in the glow.
My heart at last
Absorbs its glory.

Stabbing pain of loss,
Piercing like a dart
Through my wounded soul,
My sobs forming within
Cannot be silenced.

Fears once held at bay,
Bubble forth beyond
Their well-kept banks.
My once forceful strength
No longer bears its weight.

Precious friendship arms,
Open wide with love
In my brokenness,
My rigidity now can relax
Into their embrace.