The Story that is My Life

My life as it has been and as it continues to unfold is a story. One story made up of many stories. One complex, yet simple story. One sometimes messy, but so beautiful story. One story that I wonder if it might be interesting to be told.

This blog is my attempt to put part, or parts, of that story into words, pictures, or whatever form my mind can wrap itself around or create from within myself to express what it is like to be the one inside Cindy's Story. This is an exploration on my part and on yours in reading, and seeing, and maybe even hearing. It is not necessarily chronological. It might not always make sense, but it is my expression. It is me.

You are invited to see how my story unfolds.....

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Lamb in His Arms - My Image of Christ

Jesus Christ.

Who is he to me?

God, man, the Messiah, my Savior.  Yes, but how do I see him?  When I close my eyes, what images come to my mind before my brain has a chance to formulate them into what Christians or other people expect to hear?  Let me close my eyes and see...

...Jesus.  (Deep breath)

Time stands still when I see him.  There is utter silence as if the whole creation is holding its breath.  It is like that one time or two in your life when you were in a moment that you knew you would remember forever.  Do you remember how in that moment there was a pause?  And, how in that pause everything seemed to fade into the background except that which made the moment?  All sounds became silent and waited.  All movement froze and waited.  All thoughts were suspended and waited in the moment.  Somehow you were conscious that the rest of the world still continued outside this moment, but it was as if for just that second all creation shifted its attention from its normal revolution to this one breath in time, this one perfect breath in time.

When I say perfect, I don't necessarily mean perfect in the sense that it is the best thing that ever happened to you, but perfect in the sense that something is exactly as it is meant to be with no distractions or subtractions.  This could be the moment where an unimaginable dream is fulfilled, but it could also be that intense, uninhibited, real sense of "perfect" sadness, or "perfect" anger, or "perfect" wonder, or love, or joy, etc...   Do you remember that moment?

Now, imagine that in that moment, that which has caused it is Jesus Christ himself.  As I think of this image now, all my attentions are focussed on one feature, his eyes.  Eyes which seem to look past me into the very depth of my heart and soul.  Eyes which nothing is hidden from.  Eyes that see all the filth and grime in my life and look at me as if I am sparkling clean.  Eyes like an ocean of such beauty and intrigue that I could look into their depth forever and never tire.  Eyes that hold my longing gaze.

In my image of Christ, I have never been able to distinguish clearly any other aspect of Jesus face clearly, except for his eyes.  I have had the sense that his looks are nothing spectacular and maybe not even beautiful or quite what I might have expected.  His is the face of an ordinary man, not necessarily even attractive, but for me the one face in the entire world that I long to see.  Sometimes I get the sense that he has a slight silent smile as he looks at me, but usually my sense is that his countenance is serious and peaceful, as if his is the joy that goes deeper than a simple smile could ever convey.

With my eyes fixed on the eyes of Christ, my "image" of Christ is also derived from the sense of touch and feel.  I know Jesus arms are strong because they are wrapped around me in an incredible embrace.  If I struggled, I could not break loose or even move his arms a fraction.  But I do not struggle, and he does not resist my movement.  His strength and power is withheld as he holds me with tenderness and sensitivity to my every need.

In these arms, my body finds complete relaxation.  In this face, my heart knows it has found its forever love.  In these eyes, my soul finds perfect peace.  In this moment,  I belong and my spirit longs to remain.

This "image" that I have of Christ began its formation when I was a very young child.  Every time I was scared at night, my parents would tell me to sing the song "Jesus Loves Me" in my mind, until I wasn't scared any longer.  As I sang, I would think about the motions we made to the song in Sunday school, when we sang "Jesus Loves Me."

We sang, "Jesus loves me.  This I know, for the Bible tells me so..."

As we sang those lines, the motion was to wrap your own arms around ourselves as in a hug.   It was as if Jesus was the one giving that hug of love.

Then we continued, "...Little ones, to him belong.  They are weak, but he is strong...."

The motion then was to hang our arms limp, and then bring them up and flex them like a strong man.  It showed our weakness in relationship to Jesus' strength.

Then we nodded our heads up and down with hugging arms, as we finished singing, "...Yes, Jesus loves me.  Yes, Jesus loves me.  Yes, Jesus loves me.  The Bible tells me so."

On those nights when I was afraid and I sang that song over and over again in my head, the motions to the song went through my mind as well.  In this way the notion of Jesus' love through my growing up years until now has brought with it the sense of arms around me and the feeling and reminder of Jesus' strength in my weakness.

My "image" of Christ also seems to have drawn itself in a big part from a small picture that I received as a gift when I was maybe five or six years old.  The picture couldn't have been any bigger than my hand, and it was printed on cheap paper, but it was important to me and I looked at it often.  On it was the scene of a small valley in the midst of hills.  The valley that was filled with sheep.  In the middle of all the sheep stood a man, Jesus.  What he looked like was not important, but what he was doing caused me to look again and again.

Jesus was holding a lame sheep safely in his arms and looking down upon it with a loving gaze. As I looked at the picture, I liked to imaging that I was that sheep in Jesus' strong and gentle arms.  I liked to imagine myself as the one that could gaze back up into Jesus' eyes and know that I was safe from all harm.  Time and time again, I looked at that picture of one moment in time: that moment in time when the struggling sheep saw Jesus and was at peace.



Jesus loves me.  He takes care of me.  I am at rest.

AMEN
Yes
AMEN

~ Cindy

Note: This paper was written August 25, 1999,  as a writing assignment at Bible college.  It was in response to an author's curiosity about what various student's "image" of Jesus Christ was, and how it came about.  This was my response.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

My Psalm - When I Needed Faith

This is one of my first attempts to write a psalm of my own, following the example of the psalms written in the Bible.  This personal psalm of mine is declaring praise to God through the testimony of a time of need in my life.  The set up of this "declarative praise testimony," I learned in a class I took at the church I attended in the late 2000s, on the book of Psalms in the Bible.  The following order of writing a psalm was used by David to write many of his Psalms.  I have included the headings of each section to give you an idea so you too can write your own psalm of praise to God.

(Proclamation of Praise)

Hallelujah!  Yahweh is the one who is true.
There in nothing false in God.
He created us and gave us life.
He is the source of all good things.

(Introductory Summary)

There was a time when all I believed fell out from under me.
I could no longer produce faith on my own.
I needed someone else to do it for me.
My world was rocked to its core.

(Looking Back to the Time of Need)

When I was just a child I knew that Jesus loved me.
I wanted to go to heaven to be with him.
I asked Jesus to forgive my sins and come into my heart.
He did.

As I grew I heard the Bible stories
I learned more about God.
I learned all the reasons that the way of Jesus was true.
It all made sense to me.

I went to Bible college where I learned more about God.
In classes I learned the information given to me.
And then repeated it back on the tests.
I was confident that God was true.

Then I went to Northern Ireland as an exchange student.
At that Bible college I was taught in a different way.
Instead of being taught specific information,
Many questions were asked about the Bible and our beliefs.

For the first time I began to question God.
My philosophy of religion class studied the proofs of God.
We followed each to its end.
It showed that God could not be proved without any room for doubt.

I felt confused.
Why did I believe in God?
Maybe God wasn't the truth.
Maybe Jesus didn't save me from my sins.

How could I believe if I didn't have proof?
I knew that simple faith was the only answer.
I tried hard to create faith within myself.
But I couldn't even do that.

I locked myself in my room.
I cried and cried.
I didn't have any hope.
I couldn't find God.

(Report of Deliverance)

As I was collapsed on the floor of my room at the end of myself,
I cried out to God, if he was there.
I told him everything.
I told him that I could not make myself have faith in him.

With my eyes closed I waited for an answer.
Then, I heard a voice speak to me.
Jesus said gently, "I will do it."
He was saying that he understood my weakness.

I didn't have to create faith in God, myself.
Jesus would give me the faith the I needed.
I breathed a sigh of relief.
Peace spread over me, and I rested in him.

(Vow of Praise)

I will praise God forever
Because of his love for me.
Because of his greatness
My lips will rejoice.

(Praise of God's Acts)

Jesus is everything to me.
He gives me the strength I need for all I do.
Whatever God asks me to believe or do,
He will work in me to bring it about.

I thank God that he gives me answers when I seek.
God helps me not drown in the midst of a doubting see
He gives me the faith that I need.
I come out the other side stronger.

God's work is great in me.
I will let faith produce praise for God.
Praise him forever.
Yes, forever amen.
                              Amen.
~Cindy