Megan Lebo

"Just be. Its what the world denies you" – Brandon Heath

Month: March, 2012

It was never supposed to take this long…

The Journey

I would have to say that I have recently journeyed down the most desolate road of my Christian walk to date. Our journey with God, much like Frodo’s journey through Middle Earth, (You’ll have to forgive my frequent LOTR references as I have recently returned from the great country of New Zealand.) or like Dorothy traveling through the land of OZ, is an ever-changing road that looks different with every fork and every turn.

In youth everything is illuminated.

The trees on that road are green and thin as the sun beams through the branches lighting your way.  You have travelling with a group of companions, all walking together heading toward that first fork in the road, college.

Things are good.

There is a bitter sweetness that comes over you with a hint of anxiety as the group splits at the fork.  While you still have the fellowship of some of your companions there is a change that comes over you as the crowd thins and the trees get thicker.  More companions begin separating from the group as they choose that path that leads to marriage and family.

As you walk the road you begin to find trinkets that others have left behind along their journey.  As you pick them up and stuff them in your bag you notice how dark it seems to be getting.  As you approach the next fork in the road the last of your companions splits from your company.  You turn your head to gaze down the road that has been laid out for you, and discover that you can only see a few feet ahead.  It has become dark and the load you carry, the one that holds the treasures of this world that others have left behind, has become very heavy.  That bag will be your only comfort for you now walk alone in the darkness.

Darkness, if not overcome, will corrupt the mind.

You know you should have left those things lying in the road.  They were left for a reason right?  There is something inside of you that knows you should have never picked them up and yet you have now become dependant upon their presence because you cannot find anything else to comfort in.  The voice that guided you through childhood and throughout your youth, that instructed you on which turn to take at each fork, has now been almost entirely absorbed by the canopy that hovers above your head.  Almost.  You know that the voice is still speaking instructions but those trinkets you have gained offer a pleasing distraction in the midst of the consuming darkness.  You can no longer hear the voice that offered guidance.  You have abandoned Him in the precise moment you needed Him most for the temporal idols that now offer you a false sense of security.

The Reality

This has indeed been my reality.

The Israelites, when brought out ofEgypt, abandoned God, who was showing them the way to the land He had promised to give them, for idolatry and disobedience.  As a result, what should have been an eleven day journey across the wilderness ended up lasting forty years.

Forty years.

My life has, in every way, reflected that of the Israelites.  These past four years, after graduating from college, have been some of the darkest years of my life.  In this darkness I have picked up so many things that, in my lack of discernment, I have placed upon the altar of my worship and called them god.  As a result I had forgotten what God’s voice really sounded like.  And in my desperation I began grasping at whatever was in my bag of idols to give me purpose and comfort.

This is the life lesson that I am now grappling with.  In my madness I was somehow able to catch a faint whisper of God’s voice that had been carried, for a brief moment, by a breeze that brushed past me.

It was enough to stop me in my tracks.

I had been so distracted by the idols that I was carrying that I completely lost sight of the light, although faint, that was still dimly lighting the path.

And so now begins the shedding of weight that has so slowed my journey.  The light has become slightly brighter and that voice has turned from a whisper into hum.  While the canopy above me is still thick I am now back on the path instead of wandering aimlessly through the forest.  I now possess hope, for I’m beginning to see the faint shimmer of sunlight peering through the brush ahead.

Its not that I chose the wrong turn…It was just never supposed to take this long.

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Adjusting my eyes…

Ok, so I know that I said that I would not be blogging or anything for a while but to be honest, I have to write.  It is how I deal with the things around me that I cannot comprehend.  It is how I cope.  Now I still will not be accessing Facebook or Twitter but this blog is linked to both so as I write these entries they will continue to show up. 

 

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My life, it seems, is a never ending quagmire of uncertainties and blind spots.  Just when it looks as though the ground around me is leveling out and the path ahead seems clear I step into another soft spot and lose the traction that had given me stability and hope.  Yet I find that my resolve gets stronger in the face confusion, frustration, and (more often than not) anger.  I sometimes feel like Frodo trudging through each difficult pass knowing I’ve been charged with a great task but yet not fully comprehending its purpose or weight. 

 

And I, like Frodo, find myself in lament wishing this task had never fallen upon me.

 

I have no illusions of grandeur.  Or maybe I do.  Don’t we all wish to be used and purposed for something greater than ourselves? 

 

Everyone’s relationship and walk with God is very different.  It is so easy to look at someone else’s life and then indict God for what we consider withholding or judgment.  Why God, does this person get the job, or the husband, or the social life, etc.  The list could go on and on and quite frankly does in my case.  Every single door it seems gets slammed in face with no real answer as to why, when to me its seemed so perfect and so calculated. 

 

It is like I’m walking around in a room that’s pitch black, full of locked doors except for one.  That one door is the one that I simply cannot seem to find.  I have circled that room a thousand times knowing that I have tried to open what I feel is every door and yet I know there is an exit.  I know its there.  I just have to get there.

 

And maybe this is all just part of the journey.  Maybe this is all part of Him teaching me to listen closely.  To adjust my eyes to the dim lighting so that I can see clearly in the dark.  Its easy not to stumble over something when its clearly illuminated by the light.  And to be frank there are many who will still stumble even when things are illuminated.  But the only way to avoid stumbling in the darkness is to be immersed in it until your eyes adjust.  Until the blackness begins to take shape and become shadows, until the shadows morph into shape, and the shapes become clearly formed objects. 

 

Isn’t this what I asked God for so many years ago?  To be molded and shaped into a tool that he can use for His glory?  Why then do I envy world around me?  I have not been called to chase after my dreams.  And for some reason God has not allowed me the freedom to make my own choices as he has many other people.  Maybe that’s because he knows me better than I know myself. 

 

I have been called to obedience and that obedience will look different every day.  I am learning (and these life lessons have been very hard) to let go.  I’m learning to let go of everything.  I cannot assume that I know what God’s plan for my life is.  I cannot assume that I know what is best for myself.  He is calling me to lay down everything I had planned because my plans had become my idol. 

 

And God will not share worship and glory with anything or anyone.

Addressing my idols…

One of my greatest fears is being forgotten.

I have become the type of person who is so dependent upon the approval of others that there are times where I am almost crippled by the idea that people don’t really care about what is going on with me.  I know that’s a strong statement and I know that its not true but it is in fact a great fear of my life that I deal with every day.  As a result of that fear I have been sucked in to the current of the mighty river that is social media.  I have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, WordPress, and now Instagram.  All of these are ways in which this generation has chosen to stay connected with each other.  You can know everything about someone (even down to what they had for dinner last night) without ever having a conversation with them.  You can keep up with the growth of families, engagements, weddings, life stages, everything!

But the grave truth is that we have now bred a culture with absolutely no social skills, and no REAL friendships.  It is a false reality and is breeding a generation of depression and isolation.  This is the reality that I myself am now facing.  I feel increasingly hollow and I fear that I have lost the ability to really build relationships.

A few years ago I was a part of a co-ed small group that met once a week in someone’s home.  I remember looking around the room at the circle that we had formed one evening and almost every single person, about 20 or so people, was looking down at their phones.  Not one person was having a face to face conversation with anyone.

The relationships that are present in my life I have recently discovered have very little weight.

And this makes me very sad.

But this entry is not really even about the problems with social media.  Its more personal than that.  As I stated at the beginning, I have become so dependent upon these outlets that I now panic over them.  I keep up with how many people visit my blog.  I’m constantly checking to see if new people are following me on Twitter and then get upset when I realize that certain people still haven’t started following me.

Its madness!  Its idolatry.

As I have mentioned in previous posts I have been reading through the Bible chronologically this year.  In reading about the children ofIsraeland their relationship with God I have come to realize how much my life reflects that of the Israelites.  God commanded them again and again to purge the idols out of their midst.  Through reading about the idolatry of the Israelites in the Old Testament I have become acutely aware of the idols in my own life.

In response to these truths I feel it necessary to address this idolatry.  I need to spend my time not dwelling on the lives and cares and opinions of others out of fear of being forgotten and looked over.  No, my time needs to be spent discovering what God thinks of me, and what God is up to, and what God cares about.

I am suspending, for a time, all of my social media accounts.  I am fasting from what seems to matter most in my life in order to gain what should matter most in my life.  I will however still be available by phone, email, texting, and of course face to face.

I challenge everyone to try and recapture the act of building TRUE relationships.  Meet up with someone for lunch, coffee, or even dinner.  Make an effort to reconnect with people.  Ask about their lives.  Be involved.  We are not intended to go through live alone.

We were created for fellowship.

Day #1 of Being Grateful: About Myself…

As I begin reflecting on the great and many blessings that God has bestowed upon me i am finding that coming up with 1,000 things is a difficult task.  We as a society have bred a culture of discontentedness, ungratefulness, and entitlement and retraining my brain to think differently about life and the provisions that God has given is proving to be difficult.  One of the areas of my life where it is hardest to find things to be grateful about is myself.  I am certain that we all can relate to each other on the topic of self worth and insecurities.  Society and culture has fed us the lie that self worth should be measured by the standards of the world and the Hollywood types.  But we know from Scripture that we are not to find our worth in the things of this world, but to set our minds and hearts on the things of God.  He si the one whose opinion we should care about.

For the next 21 days I will be choosing a topic for each day and coming up with 48 things under that topic to be grateful for.  At the end of the 21 days I will have come up with a little over 1,000 things that I have to thank God for in my life.  I encourage everyone to do this with me and lets remember all of the blessing God has given us throughout the course of our lives.

So for day #1 of this great list i will thank God for the things about myself that he has blessed me with:

  1. I love that I am an artist and that I perceive the world through beauty and expression.
  2. I love children and I get them.
  3. The blue-green color of my eyes.
  4. I can play guitar.
  5. I can play piano and play everything by ear.
  6. I can sing.
  7. I haave recently discovered that I can act.
  8. I read people well.  Or at least I think I do.  🙂
  9. I’m objective.
  10. I’m compliant.
  11. I have a tender heart.
  12. I am sensitive.
  13. I am quite philosophical.
  14. I am patient with children.
  15. I get poetry.
  16. I care about people.
  17. I have a heart for ministry.
  18. I ahve a mind for truth.
  19. I’m willing to admit when I am wrong.
  20. While I may be slightly heavier than I want to be, I do have a small frame.
  21. I can see.
  22. I can hear.
  23. I am mentally stable.
  24. I am in good health.
  25. I am not physically limited.
  26. I am an American.
  27. I am secure and unwavering in my faith.
  28. I have heightened senses so I experience EVERYTHING.  Sound, smell, texture…
  29. I sleep well at night.
  30. I sympathize with others.
  31. I have a good sense of humor.
  32. I can walk.
  33. I have a job.
  34. I like to read and that keeps my mind sharp.
  35. I have never been really sick.
  36. I have never broken a bone.
  37. I am a very passionate person.
  38. I like my blond hair.
  39. I’m grateful that I have straight teeth.
  40. I can write well.
  41. I like my fair skin.
  42. I have just the right amount of freckles.
  43. My body is proportionate.
  44. I enjoy my creativity.
  45. I have the ability to forgive.
  46. I ahve an eye for photography.
  47. I am incredibly self aware.
  48. I am sensitive to God’s Spirit.

21 Day Challenge…

Back in January I began the Iva May chronological bible study reading with some of the ladies in my church.  I have never actually read through the Bible from cover to cover so I was (and still am) excited about reading God’s Word in its historical context and in its entirety.  We meet corporately each week and receive teaching and engage with the text through discussion.

While I myself am a bit behind and trying to catch up, the group has now finished Deuteronomy and is entering into the book of Joshua.  Through my studying I have been so incredibly humbled by how similar my own life is compared with that of the Israelites.  It can often be so easy to judge them and wonder how they could continue complain and worship other idols when God Himself dwelt among their midst in a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.

At last nights session I became incredibly aware of just how much I complain and just how many idols are present in my own life.  I, like the Israelites, have wandered in confusion in a state of wilderness and have, more times than I care to admit, become angry and blamed God for my own disobedience.

One of the things that God continued to ask of His people was to remember.  Remember when I brought you out ofEgypt.  Remember when I parted theRed Sea.  In our distress and our confusion He calls us to remember the great things that He has done for us.  Remember the blessings He has bestowed upon us over and over and over.

At the end of the evening we were issued a challenge.  She asked us to write down, over the next 21 days, 1,000 things that we are grateful for.  If you have never tried to come up with things to be thankful for you will find that it becomes somewhat difficult after the mention of God, The Bible, my family, and my job.  We live in a day and time where we simply do not slow down long enough to really take into account the great and many blessings that God has given us every single day.

So I have decided to take on this challenge and every day, for the next 21 days I will have pick a theme for the day and list 48 things for that day that I am thankful for.  I am excited about this and I hope that you will join me in just taking time during the course of your day to thank God for everything He has done for us.

Why I love Israel…

I read an article this morning on msnbc.com that was discussing how the evangelical community is tightening its embrace on Israel.  The author introduces to us an American Christian family who currently resides in Jerusalem and plays host every Friday night to “lone soldiers” as they are called.  These are young men and women who travel from foreign countries to serve in the Israeli army.  Every Shabbat they join with these young people for the traditional Shabbat meal and wine.

I just returned a few weeks ago from New Zealand where I met and fellowshipped with another such family who plays host to Israeli travelers on the weekends, providing Shabbat dinner and a place to sleep.

So many people including the author this article attempt to try and explain this connection, this love that Christians (and more specifically evangelicals) have for the people of Israel.  This particular author proceeds in giving her own evaluation of the reasons behind the desire for Christians to connect with Israelis; and not just Israelis but the Jewish population as a whole.  In one statement she says:

“The broad backing for Israelis in part grounded in a widely held evangelical belief that the existence of a Jewish state is a prerequisite for the second coming of Jesus.”

That statement at its core is essentially true. The Scriptures clearly establish the existence of Israel as a complete entity prior to the second coming of Messiah but what the author seems to miss, as do others who evaluate the Christian faith from the other side of the wall, is that scriptures merely show us what WILL happen, not what needs to be done IN ORDER for certain events to happen.

One of the great joys that I have found in my personal walk with God is the understanding that God’s will is going to come about whether I choose to be involved or not. But he does ask me (as He does the rest of us) to become active participants in the work he has already begun.

She also draws in the widespread belief that part of the love that Christians have forIsraelstems from a widespread fear and hatred of Islam.  Munther Isaac, an instructor at Bethlehem Bible College states:

“We definitely believe that they (U.S.evangelical leaders) are Islamaphobic and that is hindering them from having the right approach toward Islam.”

He continues:

“The more we demonize Islam in our talks, in our books, in our sermons, the more we polarize them…it’s like feeding the enemy and empowering the more radical voice, and we shouldn’t do that.”

Once again this is a sad and very small view of how the majority of Christians look at the world.  It is true that there are small sectors of those who claim the name of Jesus (Yeshua) who in no way represent what the Bible calls righteousness.  And unfortunately these are the ones that the world loves to focus on.  (Which I find ironic seeing that most of the world would so quickly step in and stand up for Islam saying that most Muslims are not radicals, most of them are peaceful and good.  Yet when addressing Christians the same courtesy is never extended.  But that is another entry entirely.)

If you visit the website of the International Mission Board, which is one of the largest evangelical mission organizations, you will find that so much of their outreach is in countries that are considered Muslim countries.  I have listened to the hearts of many a missionary who express a deep rooted love for the Muslim people.  These are individuals who grieve over the darkness that consumes a people who do not posses the joy and light that Yeshua, the Jewish Messiah, brings.  I have heard so many accounts of Muslims coming to faith through dreams and visions.  My point is that God desires and longs for the hearts of ALL men and therefore asks those who believe to go out and be witnesses even to the remotest parts of the earth.  (Acts 1:8)

So to claim that Christians or evangelicals as a whole possess a hatred and phobia of those who practice Islam is tunnel visioned and inaccurate.  I ask those who have listened to the false claims of the world and the media to seek out the truth and discover instead the deep love that Christians have for the people of the world.

Well that sums up my introduction.

So what about this strange connection, or bond if you will, that Christians experience with the Jewish people?

Is it to hasten the coming of the Messiah?  Is it so God will bless us because we blessIsrael?  Are we simply trying to “convert” people like so many throughout history have done?

I love Israel.  I love the Israeli people.

The only way I can answer this question about why Christians feel drawn to the people of Israelis to express and share with you the understanding that I have gained from the Word of God and to share with you His own heart for Israel as is revealed in the Scriptures.

God’s Salvation began with Israel.  He called them out to be His people.  He separated them from the rest of the world and called them peculiar, set apart for His Glory.  They were called out to be the sole witness to the world of the One True God.  Throughout the whole of Scripture the world has been described as having two different peoples: the Jews and the Gentiles.  Those of us, all of us, who are not born Jewish are considered Gentiles.  Jesus (as the western world calls Him.  Yeshua to the those speaking Hebrew.) was born a Jew.  He was a descendant from the line of Judah, just as the Old Testament prophesies said that the Messiah would be.  He came to Israel, to the Jewish people and it was the Jewish believers, the ones he had revealed Himself as Messiah to, who were the first ones to spread the good news of His salvation to the rest of the world.  We, the Gentiles, are the wild olive branch that has been grafted into the vine; and while the corporate rejection of God’s ultimate plan for atonement (Yeshua; Jesus) was something that grieved the very heart of God, it was the only way to bring salvation to the rest of the world.  It was God’s divine plan all a long.

As Gentiles we now have the great responsibility to carry the message of salvation until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.  Romans 11:25 says:

“For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery– so that you will not be wise in your own estimation– that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.”

A partial hardening.  God is not finished with Israel!  Though the hearts of the people of Israel have been hardened for a time, and a veil has been placed over their eyes, there will come a day when every Gentile who would believe will believe and that great harvest that begun 2,000 years ago will end.  On that day God will once again open the hearts of His people!  (Isaiah 11-12)

Why do I love Israel?  Because God loves Israel!  We are brothers in the same family.  Gentiles and Jews, while different in identity, are purposed to ultimately one day be united again in our Father’s house.  And in the end, when Israel once again carries the banner of salvation through Yeshua the Messiah we will gather together as one body in pure unadulterated worship to the Lord who is sovereign over all!  For He does not forget his promises and he does not break His covenants.

So for all of the believers out there I encourage you to continue sharing Messiah with the world!  Share with the Muslims, the Atheists, the Hindus, and the Buddhists; for the fullness of the Gentiles has yet to come.  We possess the message of eternal life so out of love share it!  But don’t forget our brother,Israel, whom God still loves and will one day draw back into the fellowship of His family!