The AMEN!

“In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

I took this picture last fall, but spring is a'coming! The trees are blossoming, and there are enough shades of green outside right now they could fill a crayon box.

I’ve never thought much about that one word: Amen. It means “so be it,” and that makes sense at the end of prayer, especially prayers of praise—which is where “Amen” is most often found in Scripture. But this week I read two verses that made me want to study it more. The first is Revelation 3:14, which calls Christ THE Amen and also refers to Him as the faithful and true witness.

The second is II Corinthians 1:19-20, which says that Christ “…is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.”

So Christ is the “Yes” of God, the “So be it” of all His promises.

I get that, at least on an elemental level, knowing that there is far more to it, far more to study. Christ said, “So be it” to the entire will of God. He said, “I seek not my own will, but the will of Him who sent me.” He continually turned people’s attention to the Heavenly Father. He did not seek self glory. And in the garden and on the cross, He uttered the hardest “so be it” of all, the willingness to endure incredible agony so the Father’s will, his eternal, all-encompassing will, would “be”:

-So it would “be” here on earth like it is in heaven—that’s the prayer He taught US to pray.

-So we, too, can utter the Amen, the taking on of God’s will and the letting go of our own. II Cor. 1:20 says we can do that, that through Christ “we utter our Amen to God for his glory.”

That’s an amazing thought: we can contribute to the Father’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven simply by saying “so be it” with our tongues and our lives to HIS glory and not our own.

I write “simply by saying,” though I know there is nothing simple about it. I wrestle with laying down my desire for self-glory every day. I’ve been thinking about it for years and writing about it for months, and I will continue to do so. It’s not a “one and done,” “got that one licked” kind of sin issue. (Are any?) The desire for self glory and self control twists itself into every area of our lives and morphs into a different monster as soon as we recognize it in one form.

But there is great hope in that verse: through Christ we CAN utter the Amen. We can accept, even embrace, ALL as the will of a good God. What was impossible has become possible “through Christ who gives (us) strength.”

I got so excited about this I wrote a poem—okay, I wrote a poem because I was coaxing my sophomores to write poetry, and it seemed only fair that I should, too, but, still, this was the idea I wanted to write one about. It is an idea full of glory and worth the efforts of someone who truly is a poet (which I am not). Still, here is my scribbling on the subject:

The “Amen” chorus of

The Angels and Elders,

All of heaven

Was—oh, how glorious—

First sung by the Son.

His life of

“Thy will be done”

And death of “It is finished”

Accomplishing redemption,

Freeing fallen humans

To speak the “So be it” themselves,

To live the “Amen.”

And though mine may falter,

Hiccup,

Sometimes cease altogether,

Oh God, please

Kindle the Christ-placed urge burning deep

In my oxygen-starved cells,

Blow the Spirit breath strong

Till my lungs inflate and

Gather air for

The words,

And the life,

That speaks the truth:

So be it,

Thy will be done,

Amen.

 

I want your thoughts

A couple weeks ago Dave went to hear Donald Miller (author of Blue Like Jazz and several other books that Dave and I have each really enjoyed) speak at Wheaton College. A few days after that Dave read aloud to me a blog post written by one of his former soccer players who had also gone to hear Donald Miller speak. The former soccer player’s post focused on the advice Miller gave to a crowd of mostly college-age kids (I’m at the age I can say that now) who are also, mostly, wondering what “God’s WILL” is for their lives. Miller told these kids to do whatever they want to do, whatever their hearts desire. His premise is that God created us and gives us passions, so we should follow those passions until God makes it clear otherwise.

Former Soccer Player was fascinated with Miller’s reply, but he had a few questions in response. What if we follow our dreams and they don’t work out? What if our passions are frustrated, and, though there are other options, those don’t excite us? What then? Do we give up on our dreams? Do we “settle”? Is the problem, then, with our dreams, with us?

Those are questions I’ve certainly thought a lot about, since writing has always been a passion, and my pursuit of it has prompted guilt (am I going after this simply because I want it? It seems so selfish.) and despair (will anything ever come of this?) as well as great joy (I simply love to write). I have my own ideas about these questions, but I’d also like to hear from others. I’m going to check back on Former Soccer Player’s blog and read the comments his readers leave, but my suspicion is that many of his readers are also 20-somethings and will have the perspective of 20-somethings. Most of you who read mine, however, are, well, we’ll say, “more experienced.” What has your “experience” taught you about frustrated dreams–or dreams that are not quickly realized–or perhaps, NEVER realized? Would you mind leaving a comment?

Thanks,

Jen

From the left, Em, Jane, and Em's long-time friend, Bekah

House Hunt

I took this picture in N. Carolina at my family's Thanksgiving gathering. This beautiful sunset was a gift, as was the entire trip.

We’re in full house hunt mode right now—and I’m becoming consumed by it in my own particular “weird” way. I get obsessed with the “spiritual” aspect of these kinds of decisions. “Which house does God want us to have?” “Is this house a better action of our stewardship?” “What if He doesn’t want us to spend that much money?” “What if we pick the wrong house?” “What if He doesn’t want us to buy at all?”

I slip back into seeing God as someone other than what my studies and experience have shown me He actually is.
I worry over the house hunt as if it is a test with poor directions and He is some vague, distant teacher who will slash red all over it if I mess up.

I pray over our choice nervously, like he is a game show host presenting me with three doors that all look the same. “Which one are you going to pick? Only ONE is the right choice. The others are all wrong, wrong, WRONG!”

This morning I was doing more obsessive praying/answer-seeking when He turned the tables on me—and asked ME a question.

It was right out of the catechism I memorized in my childhood.

“What is the chief end of man?”

Answer: “To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”

Ah!

In my quest to learn the seemingly illusive “will of God” regarding a house, I’ve lost sight of God Himself.

So it’s back to the basics I have to learn again and again. The question “How are You guiding us in regards to housing?” is not best answered by continually praying about THAT, but by spending time focusing on HIM, praising Him, ENJOYING Him. When my view of HIM becomes clearer, so do the answers to other questions.

Or, maybe, I can stop seeing the questions and see Him, my guide; I can stop seeking little answers and be satisfied with the biggest answer of all.

*Oh, Lord, help me to see YOU more clearly, may THAT be my aim—so that I may love You more dearly and, as a natural progression, follow You more nearly in all I do—including—ha!—decisions about housing that are not nearly as big as I make them out to be. Help me to make the Big decision each day, over and over: to seek You.

*St. Richard Chichester, a saint from the 13th century, wrote the original form of this prayer; it was also used in “Day by Day,” a song in the 70s musical Godspell. This is the original form:
Dearest Lord Jesus,
Savior and Friend,
Three things I pray: to
See thee more clearly, to
Love thee more dearly, to
Follow thee more nearly,
Day by Day.
Amen.