28 Sep 2014

Can "what is it that you really want?" be the most important Q of all?

Maybe it's all because of my growing years. We were poor. No one asked me, "what would you like?". We took, sometimes, grabbed what was available. We didn't complain for my mother had an incredible gift of making life feel full even when our stomachs were not always.

But I have been wondering of late.

Even though I am prone to introspection and sometimes melancholy; I have learnt to trust the Spirit's leading. He has taught me to look back in order to look ahead.

Our future is more sabotaged by our past than we realise.

It is true. I rarely ever fought for anything I wanted. Indeed, I seldom want anything much. Some of it is the contentment I have learnt. But there is definitely a lack somewhere. I fight for justice. I fight for others too. But for myself I find I often let others decide.

This first came to light years ago in the university when my score for assertiveness was actually lower than most in the group. Nobody believed it. I was either honest or have misread all the questions.

But I realise it isn't just me.

I see it in many souls. This uncertainty. What am I about? What do I want? Where am I headed? Can I make it there?

So instead of praying and marking a trail and hacking away to stay on it; we meander.

So, what is it that you really want?

It's far easier to answer that when it is:
O, I want the red one over the green.
I want Starhub and not Mio
I want rice, not noodles
I want ....

But, what is it you really want in your life?

What is it that you really want your life to be about?

These kinds of questions seem boring, general, too idealistic.
But these are very things that we made Imago Dei is distinct from the rest of creation! We are creatures of ideals and ideas; and to let them go is to become less than who we were made to be.

So pause and ask yourelf:

What is it that you really want in your life?
Ok. Do you have it? Why not? What needs to change? Who can help you?

What is it that you really want your life to be about?
Are you on track? What distracts or discourages you? What can you do to stay on-track?

I grew up asking other kinds of Qs -
What did others want?
What does the God/Bible/church leaders want?
What do boys/men/gals/others want?

These were introductory lessons to asking the real Qs in life.

People often change their minds about what they want.
You cannot deliver what they want.
You realise that what you think God wanted isn't quite correct because you have confused God with some fear/experience/expectation.

I am not out to invent/re-invent myself.

No, I ask myself these Questions because I know I have a Teacher of Truth who will guide me and tutor me and safeguard me. When I find myself sinking under the daily needs and feeling the frustration level rise; I return to my answers and re-anchor myself in The Source.

Often I have had to apologise for messing up - to God, to my kids, to myself {ok, I am weak in the spouse department for this, my pride!}... But asking these questions has helped me clarify what is truly important, what I will sacrifice for, what I want my life to shine forth.

Why don't you try these questions? In fact, I would suggest you write them down someplace and look at them once in a while. You will be surprised what Truth will emerge and grab you.

Jenni really wants:
 a deep sense of Love in her life that flows out from her; 
her epitaph is going to read: 
Lover of God and others.

23 Sep 2014

more dust with the prophet Jeremiah...and how to really deal with rejection

Things can be both funny and un-funny at the same time.

Like being called a weeping prophet. It sounds funny; the image of this grown man going around like a his tear ducts need healing, and you don't know if mid-sentence he may just began to bawl. Most of us would stay away from someone so seemingly volatile. This is when it gets un-funny. Tears are like spontaneous combustion - get the right mix, and they come brimming over your lids.

In our wonderful Gospel of God-loves-us; it is very hard to imagine, much less embrace that we may be called to a ministry of rejection and tears.

Yes, we love those verses that light up our esteem where Jeremiah was told
"before I formed you in the womb i knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations." ~ 1v5
But, read on and we won't be as enthusiastic when we find out his job description and his working conditions!

No wonder at one point the prophet got so fed-up, he was so bummed out, so near expiry, he moaned and groaned his lot
"Woe is me, my mother, that you have borne me,
a man of strife and contention to the whole world!
... I sat alone because of Your hand,
for you have filled me with indignation.
why is my pain perpetual and my wound which refuses to be healed?
Will you be to me an unreliable stream, as waters that fail?"
 ~ 15v10,18f

He is lonely and rejected.
His efforts are futile.
It all seems pointless.

In his pain, he staggers and everything seems a blur and it feels he cannot find God anywhere.

Jeremiah by Rembrandt

You and I know these feelings.

We live in a world where we are just naturally skilled at hurting others and being hurt (most of it unintended!). Rejection, loneliness, and doubts assail us. What is the point of trying, obeying, sacrificing?

God's response is not the molly-coddle we hope for. He stands his man up and refocuses him on his mission -

"If you return, then I will bring you back,  you shall stand before me; if you take out the precious from the vile, you shall  be as my mouth." ~ 15v19

Return? Where did Jeremiah go? He veered off course down the ravine of self-absorption and was having a one-soul picnic: the pity party. I used to throw these parties often, especially when PMS hit. The spread is simple - take out from the basket every memory of hurt and break it apart to look for something to soothe your feelings. You will find nothing.

God didn't scold the prophet for his feelings; but He calls him to pack up the picnic. One more thing: God said there it is a mix of precious and vile. 

Extracting gold, refining silver, creating a pearl of great price takes effort. Jeremiah, you and I need to know where to direct our energies: separate the precious from the vile. See the hand of God in your situation. Find the gift and grace in your pain. Focus on the goodness and kindness that can be found in the midst of the craziness.

Picnic basket packed, we move on to a place more suited for serious reflection and prayer.

God says, "you shall stand before me".

God doesn't intend for us to lose our place with and before Him. Standing before God is the place of seeking Him, communing with Him, and being commissioned by Him.

There's more -
"..they will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you;
for I am with you to save you
and deliver you..
" ~ v20

Jeremiah, you and I will eat dust and, more than live:

*Scriptures taken from the New King James Version

22 Sep 2014

iphone 6, what we do everyday, jeremiah the prophet and leaving a legacy

Yes, I am going to attempt to link all these disparate pieces of the universe!

I have never ever queued for any tech gadget or collectible toy in my life before and for the most part, sorry, I think it's pretty foolish to spend precious life-time waiting for something that simply, won't last, even if it was a limited-edition-thingamajig and may earn you some good bucks later over ebay.

Meanwhile, over in my cave-woman existence, the fiery exchange between a hounded prophet and his God is raising the spiritual temperature for me as God sounds to me like He is yelling -

"My people have committed two sins: they have forsaken me the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water." ~ 2v13 
"I have planted you like a choice vine, of sound and reliable stock. How then did you turn against me into a corrupt, wild vine?" ~ 2v21 
"..these people have stubborn and rebellious hearts; they have turned aside and gone away. They do not say to themselves 'let us fear the LORD our God..' Should I not punish them for this?"  ~5v21 
"Are they not rather harming themselves..?" ~ 7v19 
"Why does Jerusalem always turn away?" ~8v5

God is the heartbroken parent, the spurned lover, the usurped monarch - and - He both warns his people of impending doom and pleads with them to repent. In the mix, he also promises a wholly different future! It is a 'mixed message' because that's what it's like when we open our heart: the truth is multi-layered and it tumbles out like this complex puzzle; not a neat algorithm.

There are exchanges, deals, and transactions that go on each day. But they do not inhabit the same worlds. The question is, which world is more real? Which world is the one to put our heart and hardwork into so that it becomes our legacy?

Make no mistake. We all leave legacies.

legacy: something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past

Some of us leave legacies of hope. Or perhaps perseverance. My mother left us an incredible legacy of resourcefulness; she always found enough to feed us (barely) and ensured we went to school. In this way she also left us a legacy of living by values and not by means.

Alas, some would leave a legacy of neglect, avoidance, and fear.

My girlfriend grappled for three years as her home felt overtaken by a critical air and mistrust built up. It was a combination of many factors; including a grieving mother-in-law who would not let go her hurt and resentment. Living under the same roof also surfaced the unresolved issues between her and her son. It was indeed painful to watch my friend struggle as she sought to love but felt constantly rebuffed. Thankfully, she found strength to resist the drag into the daily emotional tussle and over time, shifted gears from her frustration to her vision.

Our legacies are generational ties that are meant to bond the generations. If we focus on that which is fleeting, we communicate and eventually leave a legacy that does not give strength to our children and their children to come.

Yet we will discover, as my friend did, that our visions are gifts from God to lead us down the paths of righteousness and as we do the small things right, God sets into motion the larger changes of the heart that we simply could not achieve.

A few months ago, this mother-in-law agreed to move out; and she apologised and thanked my friend for her stay.

Only so much can occupy our attention at a time. Multi-taskers beware! You can turn your precious attention away from the fluff and fritter each day to the deeper, eternal quest. The exchange between Jeremiah/God/Israel is not some ancient historical relic for the exercise of our minds. The strong words found there are like tinder that can set our souls ablaze and set us on a trajectory that creates a blazing legacy.


"..be my people for my renown and praise and honor" ~13v11

'..blessed is the man who trsusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. he will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. it has no worries in a year of drought, and never fails to bear fruit." ~17v7f
Here is a call to live for something larger than ourselves. I am grappling afresh with this. After many years of being zealous, suffering burns and facing setbacks; it is not the easiest thing to believe, to stand and to fight. But you get this: nothing, absolutely nothing compares with this.

And the beautiful picture of this tree that doesn't fear!

This is legacy, setting our hearts on a huge vision, each day living for the Dream, and finding our hearts not overcome by fear.

No new phone for me; but God, a renewed heart please.