Becoming Truth

I’m not sure exactly where this writing will take me or even to whom my audience will be; to be frank I feel as though I don’t remember much of how to write. The keys feel foreign to my fingertips and my mind seems to stretch as someone who has just woken from a deep night’s sleep – still quite rigid and not as limber as before.

Over a year has passed since my last writing – either a year or an eternity, I’m not quite sure; but it seems like a lifetime has come and gone in the past 12 months. A better way to describe it might be as a phoenix (so poetic, I know). The fact that the story of my life a year ago is somehow the prelude to the story being written now is cumbersome for me to think over. So much growth, so unexpected, so beautiful with God so undeniably by my side. That’s it– wrapped up, pretty and topped with a bow.

But no one benefits from a pristinely wrapped package. At least not if it’s left that way. No, the value of the package is not found in it’s beautiful or perfect edges. The true joy is found after the wrapping has been torn off and tossed aside, everything beautiful we’ve tried to dress it with has vanished and the box laid bare. Then goes the box, cut with a knife and ripped from it’s seams, just another example of a flimsy protective shell that unless done away with is just a barrier to the joy hidden inside.
Ah, there it is, the true treasure of the Gift, exposed finally to the One to whom it was intended for. Void of all barriers, Delight takes the room by storm. The Recipient rejoices and the Gift finds it purpose.

Vulnerable. Exposed. Bare. Naked. Uncertain. — In the arms of my Lord transformed into Joy, Strength, Truth, Dignity and Trust.
How shallow of me to think the Gift of my heart to the Lord would be received politely and simply admired for its intricate wrappings. Rather the Lord received my Gift with sincerity and with a wild love in His heart unwrapped the treasure inside.

Becoming Truth. That’s what I like to call this process.

It’s the process of our God given identity transforming the broken condition of our soul. Weeks have I spent greiving my brokeness when so sweetly my Lord whispered “you are more beautiful broken in the Resurection than you ever could be perfect in your flesh.” My brokeness — our brokeness — met and mended by the mercy and love of God as we lay down all our disappointed efforts at perfection give forth a beauty and wholeness that our humanity alone could never fulfill. Jesus is not afraid of the graves of our flesh, for He knows all too well the power of His resurection.

I’ve experienced an undoing of my soul similar to the relentless unwrapping of a long anticipated gift. To be honest, I wasn’t sure myself what He would find inside and I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to know. The uninhibited vulnerability that He requested from me in the process left me tip-toeing to edge and with one last exhale of uncertainty teetering clumsily into the Ocean of His Heart for me.

This process isn’t over, I certainly hope not at least. But as I dive (trip, fall, whatever it looks like on any given day) into His Heart, I beckon and call after all of you to venture with me.
The Lord, unafraid to ask of us all that we are, has so much more to offer than we could ever think or possibly imagine. So no matter what your unwrapping looks or feels like, I encourage to let the Lord have His process and you, too, will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Of this I am confident.

Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be Strong and Courageous, do not be dismayed for the Lord your God is with you where ever you go.”

With a Raw Heart…
McKenna

Like Lightning

This post was written roughtly 3 weeks before returning to the states and was somehow forgotten in the turning tides. However; I believe it’s relevance couldn’t be ignored…

23 days until I leave country and wave goodbye to the sun loved island I’ve called home for the last six months. With my last days in the Philippines knocking at the door, I’ve prayed and thought hard about how to quantify what I’ve learned and accomplished during my internship.

On arriving here I expected much of my time would be as Moses on the mountain top. In reality I’ve been Joshua waiting on the mountain side. These six months have been an intense season of discipleship, which I now know were an irreplaceable part of my role in the body of Christ. Discipled by both my leadership here and the Spirit Himself.

I’ve faced new challenges, battled old temptations and had victory in dark places. All of this fulfilling exactly what God had promised He would do here. Early on in my internship God gave me a dream that my mentors were taking me to undergo a surgical procedure that would “clean my bones.” All the fragmented pieces of my bones would be restored, the cracks would be sealed and my bones would be cleaned. All I had to do was cooperate.
There’s much I could say about this process, a lot that has happened, times I’ve failed, and victory I’ve seen. But what I want to share the most about in this blog is the surrendered life God has called us to live.

In one day, like lightning, everything can change; but for weeks (even months) it won’t. In one day everything can be added to you and in one day everything can be removed from you, but for weeks at a time everything will remain the same. This is the struggle of many if not all Christians in their life time: to remain in a surrendered state when the skies don’t change. This surrender I’m speaking of isn’t limited to your processions, your Sunday mornings or 10% of your paycheck, but encompasses the actual path of your life on Earth.

In one day God can speak a word that will whiplash your life into a new direction and quickly wave goodbye to your old ambitions and desires. This wouldn’t be so bad if we knew when these sharp turns were coming, but we don’t, only God does.
Only in these moments is the surrendered state of our heart, or lack of, seen clearly and truthfully by our owns eyes.

The question I ask myself now is: “Am I surrendered to which ever direction God sends my life today?” And tomorrow I will ask the same question.

Setting out in a new direction means abandoning the old direction, your momentum has been shifted. Reading this I can see how someone could feel depressed at what I am writing, but I assure you that all the seasons of God are beautiful. This being said because they’re beautiful sometimes they’re hard to let go of, but maturity comes when we appreciate the beauty of the season we’re in, and treasure the seasons we’ve had.

My prayer for us today is that we would live a mature, surrendered life, and that we would love and live in each season freely with the faith that the next one will be beautiful in it’s own way, unique to the work God will do.
“God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with Him.” –J. Elliot

more to come….
– McKenna

Pain in the Process

This post is a blog of “firsts.” The first time I’ve written in roughly six months. The first time I’ve blogged since being back in the states. And the first time I’ve been genuinely frustrated with God. Not because I feel He’s unjust or wrong in His leading but because He’s doing exactly what is necessary in my heart to bear more fruit. He’s testing. And He’s pruning. I’m frustrated because He knows the end result is worth the pain I’m walking through now. And because of that, I know asking Him to remove His hand would yield more grief than enduring. Even worse, He knows it too.

I’m reminded of the waters of Marah in Exodus 15:22-26. The Israelites had been traveling through the desert for 3 days when they had come to a body of water. Longing for the refreshing splashes of water on their tongue. But when they got to the water it was found to be bitter and undrinkable; or, at least, undesirable. Outraged they complained against their leadership demanding their thirst be quenched.

This. This imaginary above is the setting of my heart. Feeling I’ve been brought to a “stream in the desert” only to find that it’s too bitter, too painful to drink from. Upset at the council that was given to guide my heart, but ultimately upset because I know God strategically lead me to this place so He could strategically lead me through this season. But that’s what gives me hope.

Hope that there is a plan. There is a purpose. Even more so, that this was all part of the plan.

And that’s my hope for anyone reading this blog– that even though your feelings are frustrated, your spirit would find understanding. At dinner tonight I was talking with a friend and while her kitchen floor was a pool of her 3 year old’s tears (reason being his dad had gone to the neighbors’ to return something), she said something that offered so much perspective.

First looking to her son she asked, “When has daddy ever not come back for you?” then turning to me she said, “This is such a picture of us and the Father. When has He ever not come for us? Yet here we are like toddlers.”

Here I am…. Like a toddler… With a red face and hot tears, tired and sobbing. Caught up in the pain and feeling like relief will never find its way. But when has the Father ever not come for me?

The passage in Exodus continues. The Israelites complain and Moses cries out to God. The Lord shows Moses a log to throw in the water and the water is sweetened. Verse 25 reads, “There the Lord made for them a statute and a rule, and there he tested them.” Here at this bitter water is where God tested His people. Here is where God is testing, refining, and purifying my faith and yours. He ends verse 26 with “…I am the Lord, your healer.”

These seasons are painful, stretching, uncomfortable and testing. But they’re also necessary, rewarding, fruitful and worth it. I am reminded of a phrase that lovers say to one another that says “No matter what happens I know it will never be that bad, as long as I have you.” It’s this idea that no matter how terrible something gets it will always be bearable and it was always be worth it because of the person next to you. The person next to you and me is the Holy Spirit, our comforter.

David writes in Psalm 139:11-12
“If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,’ even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.”

With God even the darkness is light, nothing will ever be that bad because He is with us.

Somewhere around this bitter pond is a log God will sweeten the water with like He did for the Israelites. But I’m just not there yet. I’m still recoiling from the bitter taste. Still wiping my tongue in irritation. But while my feelings are frustrated, my spirit understands. Someone said to me today that I am in the “pain of the process.” And the process is worth it.

With an unfinished heart,
McKenna

Day 23: From the Outside Looking In

 

Today marks one of those most controversial “civil rights” decisions in American history. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of mandating all 50 United States to acknowledge civil union (marriage) between same sex couples. Though there are many angles to write from (one being the question of constitutional grounds for the Supreme Court to make such a decision), I don’t really want to speak from any of those. Being a Christian and being an American it would make the most sense for me to kick down the doors of social media and parade my opinions around on my virtual “high-horse” waving my belief system high and attempt to convince all of those who read my post that “I am right.” But I don’t think that’s even the slightest bit necessary.

Any of you who know me might be a little disappointed since I’m usually one to speak up with “boldness,” but I encourage you to read on.

I spent a solid 5 minutes deciding whether or not to click “post” after writing a short paragraph about the recent events. In the end I realized that I honestly don’t have a lot of emotion regarding same-sex marriage from a political stand point. Let me remind you that I whole heartedly believe and trust the words of God written in Bible, so no, I do not agree that homosexuality is right. However, what I find shocking is the uproar from the Christian community. Am I saying that we slacken out beliefs? Of course not (again, anyone who knows me should know that I am the last person to ever suggest something so compromising). But the reason it is shocking is because our uproar implies that somehow we thought this wouldn’t happen. Something I have come to realize and am constantly reminded of is that we live in a fallen world. A world that is increasingly moving in the opposite direction of God, and I am sorry to say, but that’s not going to change.

From the outside looking in I fear that so many well meaning Christians may weaken their witness because of initial frustration. I share that same frustration; but I encourage you to empty your heart before the Lord because He is still on the Throne and still illuminating His truth regardless of whatever laws are passed. I encourage you to tear your heart before the Lord and cry out into His ear, rather than the ear of social media.

I ask of you, do not be “bold” for the sake of being bold or because you feel a compulsion that it’s your “Christian duty” to yell Christ’s name from the rooftops. Boldness and proclaiming the gospel are both invaluable things, but Leviticus 10:1 says,

” Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, which he had not commanded them.”

I encourage you to be bold, but be bold when the Holy Spirit anoints that boldness. I encourage you, proclaim the gospel, but proclaim the gospel when the Holy Spirit appoints you to. And I ask lovingly of you not to make unauthorized fire before the Lord.

When King Saul sought out David’s life, David had two opportunities to overtake Saul, but he did not take either of those. “Why not?” I asked myself. It’s because David trusted God as his sword and shield and trusted the Throne and Authority of God above his own hands. I encourage you, trust Jesus on the throne and be weary of taking matters into our own hands.

With deep love,
McKenna

Day 16: Rocks Don’t Turn Themselves Over

My first full week in country left me feeling inadequate in more ways than one. I don’t know the culture, the language, the humor, or even how to buy fruit from a market here, let alone how to use the public transportation (I got lost for an hour the first morning I attempted it on my own). But none of that mattered. I couldn’t stand myself because for some reason I had such a poverty of spirit. I felt flat broke when it came to spiritual zeal. And God seemed like the furthest person from me with no means of effective communication between us.

“This wasn’t how it was supposed to be,” I thought, “I am supposed to be overflowing with the Spirit of Christ…but I feel like He’s forgotten all about me..”

Those thoughts continued for days until I was so hopeless on the inside that I would trade air in my lungs just to feel His presence. His hand was on me, though; the first week was full of evening prayer meetings at my church here. On the last night of the prayer meetings I remember crying out to the empty air; weeping to God that I would trade food in my stomach, sleep at night and even air in my lungs for His everlasting love and presence.

At that moment something broke in the atmosphere.

Things had changed and it was like the walls of the stone room around me just fell off. My world opened up, it felt like the spiritual grip on my throat released and breath could fill me body again. I could look to Heaven and my body felt light – the wind could have blown me away.
Psalm 63:1,3 came to mind…

“O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
in a dry and weary land where there is no water…
Because your steadfast love is better than life my lips will praise you.”

I had never known such desperation for the heart of God before. Through His divine wisdom He withdrew Himself from me, exposing the vanity of life apart from Him. Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes 1:14

“I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after the wind.”

In such a broken state I could see the priceless worth of our God and the deep value of His love. His love gives us purpose, and His love makes life worth living. For this reason He stamped my heart with purpose to expose the light of Christ in the darkness of the world.

We have a purpose.

Jesus says in Mathew 5:13-16

“You are the salt of the Earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.
You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a candle and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in Heaven.”

If you profess Christ as your God and Savior then you have a purpose to be fulfilled. Take a moment and let these words of Jesus sink deep into what this means for you personally. Life is miserable without the presence of God, it’s no wonder why the world turns to the things it does for meaning, value and purpose. Thankfully the Spirit is already opening hearts and eyes towards the things of God; we just have to turn over enough rocks to find them…

Are you willing?

Please, Holy Spirit make our hearts sensitive to Yours.

From my heart to yours,
McKenna

Day 1: “Grace in a Bind”

My initial blog post was written while waiting for my plane in Tokyo, but I figured this one might be a little more entertaining.

 

After a year and nine months of planning, preparing and waiting the day was finally here. Even though it has been in my mind for such a long time and I am now laying in bed at my new home in the Philippines everything is still floating on the surface and nothing has quite sunk in yet. My original post highlighted the faith and trust Joshua had when marching into battle and how I longed for a dependence on God like his. Little did I know I would have such an opportunity upon arrival.

Getting off the plane in Manila felt like stepping in to a water bubble, it was not incredibly hot (given it was almost midnight) but the humidity went without saying. Thankfully, though, there was a helpful face who guided me through customs and immigration. Being one of the last people in line I was anxious to get through and meet with my contact on the other side. Passing through was simple and I continued to the baggage claim when I heard a small group of flight attendants calling my name. Forgetting my bag on the luggage carousel I hurried over to where they were standing.

The only words that came from their mouths were, “Your friend is not coming, bad weather.”

They could not speak english well but they made up for it with their kindness. One of the women let me use her cell phone to call my host family while the man tracked down my luggage and brought it to where I was. Once on the phone, Amy (Trent and Amy and their children being the ones opening their home to me) explained to me that there were terrible flash floods in Davao and despite all her efforts (and her efforts were great) she was unable to make it to the airport for her flight to meet me in Manila.

Terror gripped me as I thought of the fact that I would have to spend the night alone in an unknown city in a foreign country. Originally Amy was going to meet me in Manila, we would stay the night in a hotel and catch our flights to Davao the next morning. But now I was by myself. Amy stayed on the phone with me and walked me through getting a temporary SIM card for my phone; she also arranged for a driver to pick me up and take me to the airport hotel where she had booked a room for us but had now transferred it into my name.

The fear I had about being alone for the night as a young girl (though the airport and hotel were completely safe) was almost paralyzing. Then I remembered my thoughts on Joshua earlier that day and the mighty hand of God over him as he walked fearlessly. I prayed quietly and asked the Holy Spirit for peace and courage; once my foot stepped out the door of the airport it was like the raging storm inside me had been calmed, for nothing can stand up to or resist the command of God, which in this case was “Peace, be still.”

Once in the hotel room I cried for a moment and released left over emotion, but the Holy Spirit was my companion that night (as He always is) and His comfort overflowed to confidence. I found myself asleep around 3 a.m. Filipino time and slept peacefully until 5 a.m. Amy had also arranged breakfast for me and after eating I was picked up by my transit and dropped off at my terminal for my flight to Davao.
That morning the newspaper left on the doorstep of my hotel room read “Grace in a Bind.”

It was yet again another reassurance of the Father that He was with me from the beginning. I presume that the next six months will be nothing short of an adventure, but the first lesson the Lord had me learn was that He is always with me.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever yo go.”  –Joshua 1:9

When God’s Timing Hurts

It’s been a while since my last post; these last months have been crammed full of goodness, faithfulness and unforgettable lessons from the Lord. All good things (despite my immediate understanding). All God things. And God willing all to be told at another time.

Progress on my Call has been encouraging and all the more evident of His faithfulness. But if my writing seems drab or somehow uninspired, well it’s because I am in a rather hard transition—one I wasn’t prepared for. I think most of us are unprepared for transitions in our life. Sometimes we long for them if our circumstances are undesirable, but a lot of the time we fear them if our time has been precious. I find myself relating best to the latter.

The past few months I have been mentored by a couple I have become very close with through divine, and I mean God-sent, circumstances. Over the past few months they have been a sort of anchor preparing me for my time overseas, teaching me, supplying me with ample resources and taking the time to delve into my confusing (almost) twenty-something questions and emotions. I think we all have or will have times and relationships like these at some point, if not many points, of our lives. And I fully believe that God’s timing was perfect each time our lives intersected.

But what happens when God transitions them out of our lives?

The truth is, God’s timing is still perfect. If He was faithful to bring them into our lives then He is just as faithful even when He transitions them out (whether temporary or permanent).

Tonight was the last night I met with my mentors face to face before I leave, and honestly, I wasn’t ready. I still don’t feel ready. As much as I wish I could pause time and linger in those precious moments; that’s just not how it works. God’s plan is a river not a stagnant pond, and so we continue. I’m not sure what advice I can give to you on “How to Prepare Yourself for Hard Transitions” but I will tell you the hope I have: and that is God. I was confident of His faithfulness when He brought them into my life, so my hope will rest in His faithful now, too.

I think it always good to test these sort of things (all things, really) against the scripture. I am reminded of Jesus speaking to His disciples saying, Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.(John 16:7). Who could argue that God’s timing was not perfect when Jesus left His disciples and ascended into Heaven, so that the Holy Spirit might be sent to us. But if you remember the Holy Spirit didn’t come immediately. There was a time of waiting.

So this is where we find ourselves, something so precious being lifted from our lives and we sit waiting, trusting God at His word. The early disciples devoted themselves to prayer in their waiting (Acts 1:14) and I believe it would suit us well to follow their example and turn our hearts unceasingly to the Lord.

So that’s it.  Sometimes there is no 5 step plan our 3 point solution. Just God and anchoring your faith and trust in Him; for He knows the beginning from the end (Isaiah 46:9-10).

 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

 Acts 1:6-8

More to Come…

– McKenna