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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Only Answer Big Enough (part 2)

Chapter Three

Wilderness questions do not have tame answers. “Because I love you” is not tame or tidy. “Because I love you” is a tough-as-leather answer that sort of takes me by the seat of the pants, brushes me off, and sets me back in the saddle where I was before life bucked me off and I cried out "Why-y."

Maybe all the occasions to ask the question "why," are meant for that very reason because no other answer will challenge my heart the way love answers while at the same time hefting me right back on the same wild horse. 

"Why can't You just give me a tamer horse-tamer circumstances?" I've asked it before, then listened hard to hear an answer like, "because I said so," or some variant just as long as it doesn't challenge too hard.

Maybe every wilderness why that jostles out through rattling teeth, true and crumpled and breathless, is a chance to enter His gates and courts with thanksgiving. A crumpled why can become a thank You.

Maybe every why is answered, “Because I love you,” and every why is chance to say, “Thank You.”

Girl on Horse

And maybe that's when I learn how to stay in the saddle while life gallops wild, and it starts to feel more like a crazy dance across the wilderness and I start to feel I can surrender to God's wild love.

What if I trusted like that? Trusted His “Because I love you” answer? Trusted my racing heart to His answer?

I want to find out the answer to that. And then I want to answer "Because I love You" with "How," and see where that gets me.

Do I dare trust His love when love doesn't look the way I thought it would? It feels risky to trust when it doesn't feel like a dance, yet. 

It hurts to have trust issues, and hurts scary to wonder if God is trustworthy. 

It's a wild, out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere feeling to wonder like that. I know because I've wondered before, "Are You trustworthy?" and been afraid He'd say, "Yes," because that gives no indication that He's going to trade in the wild horse called life that I'm wanting relief from. 

It also means that I'm going to find out the right question to be asking, "Am I trustworthy;" and the answer to that question is like trading the wild horse up for a bull ride. 

I am not trustworthy, and that's the honest truth about me. I don't trust myself any further than the tip of my tongue behind closed lips, because it can cluck just fine even when my teeth are clenched. Oh, I'll do what I say I'm going to do, as long as it's possible. I'll follow through, unless there's a bend on the trail I didn't see coming. I'll even tell the truth. But none of these things make me trustworthy to relinquish in surrender to "Because I love you."

"Because I love you," He says, "I have given you My name." 

Yeah, that challenges my heart. That's a big answer to "Why am I still in this saddle?" and "How does that look like You love me?"

It doesn’t happen overnight, trust. 

I'm prone to answer, “I’ll be there in a minute!” when He bids, “Come to Me.” Prone to trust my own timing. 

I'm prone to say, “Hold on; I’ve almost got this figured out!” when He says, “Learn from Me.” Prone to trust my ways.

I'm prone to say, “I’m almost done with this,” when He says, “Let’s do this together.” Prone to trust my own works.

Trust; it doesn’t happen because of everything I’ve read and studied or doctrines I’ve followed. 

And when I crumple, His gentle heart catches mine. 

His fingers tune the taut strings in my heart and strum the tension, “Hum, hum, hum, hum, this I know.” It starts down low—the hum, my theme song, my duet with God.

Girl Dancing

“Dance with Me,” He says because He’s already dancing to His own love. He takes me in His arms and dances me across the floor of His heart.

“Today you have this assurance: ‘I love you,’ and this purpose: ‘Love Me.’”

I'm still in the saddle on a wild horse called life, but it's becoming a dance. It really is.

Your Love Feels Like Heaven
Lord, You’ve searched me and known me.
You know when I rise up,
Ev’ry step that I’m taking,
Ev’ry word that’s on my tongue.
If I take the wings of the morning,
If I fly away,
Even there You shall lead me
To You, and the night shines as day.
Marvelous are Your works, God.
You gave my heart the rhythm it beats.
How great are Your thoughts to me.
Your love feels like heaven to me.
Falling in love with You, Lord,
You’ve gotten under my soul.
Ten thousand words aren’t enough to say
Your love feels like heaven to me.
Breathe on me, banner of breath.
Strum my heart with Your words.
I will lift up my soul to bless You.
I’m falling in love with You more.

—Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Only Answer Big Enough (part one)

Jesus loves me; this I know! 

This song is the theme song of my life.

It’s everything I need to know. 

And I’m certain He sang it to me in the womb when I was yet unformed, curled up tight in warm darkness.


Did His fingers gently strum the strings of my heart, just “I love you.” Strum. 

“I love you.” Strum. 

“I love you.” Strum. “And that’s all you need to know.”

Did He thrum life into me while my mother’s heart beat steadily just above me? 

Did my mother’s and the Savior’s heartbeats drum and strum till I knew this song by heart before I was born because I would need to know and find this love later—to know it deep down before my feet touched the floor and I learned to walk?

It seems to me I still walk better when first I curl over and bow on my knees. 

I walk better when I crawl out of bed and kneel rather than jump out and run. 

When my heart pounds after Jesus before my feet pound after anything else, I hear Him coax me as a father to his little girl, “Come to Me.”

I learn how to walk, just like this, by spending time on my knees.

Oh, I've wobbled and toddled and fallen; and He's always there. Always with open arms. 

Seems to me that walking into His arms has a lot to do with kneeling at His feet. 

Maybe my soul walks best when my flesh is still. It's true, my heart and my flesh fail, but God is the strength of my heart. He says so in Psalm 73:26.

How many wilderness miles have I pounded out on foot before heaving out breathless, “Where are You?” and crumpling? Then gasping out, “Why?”

Why is a little word that carries weight too big. It’s a little one’s favorite word, and the only big-enough answer is “Because I love you.”

Little One
When trouble is afoot, questions follow on the heel. God must hear the question, “Why?” more often than any other. In the wild we question wildly, and it seems I’ve bit the word out defiantly there, before the crumple.

But the why, the true why that asks bent over and true, comes on the knees.

What if I heard “Because I love you” when anything else is more than I can understand? I suspect He says it more often than I hear it.

What if I answered, “Because Jesus loves me,” whenever asked, “How are you managing so well right now?” 

I know what would happen because I was asked just yesterday. 

“Because Jesus loves me” earned me a look as if I were a little simple-minded and off my rocker. It was a look that said, “Yeah, everybody knows that little children’s song.”

It’s an unsatisfying answer to many, and I get it. It used to be unsatisfying to me, too; until I searched the One who says it with complete satisfaction, "I love you."

His love is real answer to my “Why-y-y-y?”questions. That’s what it sounds like; an infant’s cry when she wants to be held, a cry from a one-year-old in a high chair who wants to be fed, a cry from the toddler who has skinned up hands and knees from a fall on the pavement, and a cry from a two-year-old who wants now but doesn’t get till later or never.

It’s a legitimate cry-just why?

Why aren’t you picking me up? 

Why are you feeding me mashed peas when I want ice cream? 

Why am I hurting? 

Why can’t I have what I want, need, now?” 

But if the why turns into why-y-y-y and carries out the long I sound, then the question becomes a demand, and the answer can’t be heard or accepted over the I wail. 

Because I love you isn’t heard when I wails loud why questions. 

Because I love you can’t be heard until I sits down and quiets—until the “I’m making it through this because, hey, I'm doing it; I'm following the letter of the law" kind of talk falls flat on its face and becomes “I’m making it through this pretty much in the fetal position because, yeah, I’m crawling to Him and His wide-open arms are closed tight around me and Jesus loves me.” 


It's the only answer big enough for every why question, to me.

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig
(adapted from my book, Pisteuo! Connecting with God's Heart)

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

When You Just Need a Cartload of Joy

I'm Packing Pisteuo
Chapter Two-continued from last week

He’s already said what He’s doing about me. He’s leading me in to enemy territory where I am to serve and bow down to Him. 
It’s His battle plan. 
It’s how I will completely overthrow the enemies. 
He’s tougher than leather. 
I’d rather stay home and bake biscuits.
“You’re going to cut off the enemies, right?” I ask Him.
“Yep, and you’re not going to be baking biscuits.” He knows my thoughts. “Saddle up, sweetheart. We’re gonna fetch you a cartload of joy!

 My breath catches, because I've read what He's saying.  I've read how He endured the cross for the joy that was waiting; and I've read that there's joy waiting for me, too. 
Run the race; fight the fight and beware of Him.
Isn’t beware short for be aware? I think so.
Isn't this how battles are won, by being aware of the One who leads me? By looking unto Jesus and not the enemies?
I turn from Exodus 23:21-22, "Beware of Him and obey His voice," and "I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries;" and turn to Hebrews 12:1-2 which begins "Therefore we also," and continues, "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Joy? Yeah, I'd say that's a cartload of joy.
Be aware of His voice. Wary in battle. Alert in danger. But aware of Jesus and the commands He's giving because what He’s saying is more earth-shattering than the -ite roar. My enemies have different names than Amorite, Hittite, Perizzite, Canaanite, Hivite, and Jebusite-but Fear, Disease, Coveting, Self-righteousness and Self-pity roar just as loud.
"The battles are won by knowing My name over any other name," He reminds me. He tips His hat at me, penetrates my soul with eyes as full as the sky, "Yep, that and summing up the enemies till you're counting joy."
It’s a choice not to bow, not to serve, not to do. 
"I choose to beware of You, of Your words." I chose  long ago, but I still choose every day. "I choose to look unto You."
He knows fear has thrown me down and seized me till I shook, unconscious; and He reminds me that thrown down is not bowing down.
I find the more I know His name, the deeper I bow to Him and the less I care about being thrown down. Thing is, I'm also thrown down less, because that's what happens when I do what He says. 
"Look at Me," He says, "and "I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you" (Exodus 23:27).
"Listen to Me," He says, and then He begins to tell that He will set my bounds from sea to sea and from desert to the River Euphrates.
I'm practicing awareness of His voice, and obedience to it because I really like this part about new boundaries. Really, this is some joy He's setting before me. No more enemies. That's a cartload of joy, too.
Maybe I don't always know it, but the kind of joy-the real joy-that made suffering the cross worth it to Jesus; isn't that the joy I’ve been praying for since before my knees begged for the yellow life preserver stored under my bed to pray upon because, yeah, my enemies can make me cry till I'm swallowing the salt of my tears, but that just makes me thirsty for the sweet water. 
Euphrates means “sweet water.” 
It's set before me. 
God has some skin in this. 
He clothed His Son in the same kind of skin I’m wearing-epidermis. 
Why isn’t it just dermis? Dermis means skin. What is the epi part of the skin I wear, that the very Son of God Himself wore? 
I google epidermis. says that it's “the outer nonvascular, non-sensitive layer of skin, covering the true skin." It’s skin on skin.
Jesus wore the same epi skin that breathes in and sweats out and covers the porous, thin dermis that feels and bleeds out blood and pours out water. 
The holy poured through holey pores.
The holy poured.
The “It is finished!” shook the earth to its core and the -ites to death, and the battle won the war.
Still, there are battles. 
They have to be fought, but I’m not fighting for victory but from victory. 
And I fight covered in holy skin on skin-His skin changes everything.

Combat Boots
I’ve laced up my combat boots, and I'm packing a pistol loaded with pisteuo. 
Kaboom! Pisteuo declares God’s faithfulness. 
Kaboom! Pisteuo declares trust, belief, and hope in Him. 
Kaboom! Boom! Bang!
I’m learning what this pistol feels like in my hand, how to aim it, and how to not shoot myself in the foot. I am thankful for this pisteuo notion of obedience. 
And guess what? I’m not waving it around like a madwoman!
Yeah, I’m fighting like a girl. My camo is pink, and I don’t like broken fingernails. But I’m fighting all epidermis and episoul, which has to be a word because I’ve felt my soul sweat with chills and hot fear and because I’m in this and not just skin-deep.
I’m in this, believing the holy is the true when the -ites fake it.
In this because I’m not a deserter and don’t own a surrender flag.
In it because I’m kept in by this crazy Exodus angel sent by the one whose name is in Him and who isn’t afraid of anything and who says, “If you’re going to beware of anything here, beware of Me, and if you’re going to listen to anything here, listen to Me.”
I’m in this because I can be at peace, not in pieces.
I can be whole, not shot full of holes.
I can be at ease, not uneasy. 
I can drink Euphrates sweet, not swallow salty.
And I will be, and I am, because “I’ll cut them -ites off, ma’am.” I can’t help but smile at this crazy, tough angel.
“I’ll send My fear before you. And them ol’ hornets the size of Texas? Yep. Hon’, they won’t know what hit ’em when they hightail and run scared cross the border of Mexico.” Yeah, this angel wears it right.
“And one more thing," those eyes blaze like the sun and crinkle at the corners like the map He's telling me about. "I’ll draw up the lines from this here sea to that sea there, and from the desert to the Rio Euphrates.” 
I laugh, raise my pistol overhead and fire off three freedom shots like fireworks on the Fourth of July.
“Pull!” Truth shoots up, red flare bursting open.
“Pull!” Faith shoots up in a pure-white glare.
“Pull!” Hope breaks the sky open wide in blue.

God is faithful, and this angel is awesome!

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig
-adapted from my book, PISTEUO! Connecting with God's Heart