Monthly Archives: February 2011

Rapunzel

What a chore.  Day after day, I drag this hair around.  Why do I bother?  Hair this long is burdensome and gets in the way.  Constantly having to step over my hair, brushing and binding it up into a manageable bundle, and the constant washing is, well, a chore.  Yet, there is something about this hair that I just can’t let go.  Maybe it’s the way the sunlight glints off of it with hints of gold.  Maybe it’s the way the slightest rustle releases the scent of lilac.  A blessing and curse, my hair is to me.

The other day, I thought I heard a voice.  I thought I heard someone call my name “Rapunzel”.  The voice was soft and alluring.  Perhaps it was just a dream.  My captor came again to visit me here in my tower.  She had put me here a while ago when I stumbled and lost my way in the woods.  My hair was shorter then, just to my waist.  After my captor had put me in the tower, she tried to cut my hair to make it more manageable.  But, it always grew back.  Eventually she just gave up, and it grew and grew.  Now, I struggle day in and day out with this hair.  But, back to the voice.

The voice came calling again today. Confident and strong, “Rapunzel” it said.  This time I felt compelled to take a look outside.  After I had stumbled  my way over to the window, tripping on my hair (yet again) I peeked over the sill to the ground below.  And there he was, a prince.  He looked especially dashing in his emerald blue tunic reflecting gently off of his blonde hair. “Rapunzel”, he said with a smile on his face.  With that smile a memory comes rushing in from the dark corners of  my mind.  Years ago a man, with this same smile, came to me in my days before the tower.  He told me that my strength would be tested in days to come and that I feel alone.  He also told me that I would not be alone, his spirit would be with me.  His spirit would give me strength to get through the dark time, but there was a requirement.  When the dark time came, I needed to let my hair grow no matter how long it got.

And now, here he was at the foot of my captivity with a smile on his face, calling my name.  “Rapunzel” he said, “Let down your hair”.  Now, how in the world was I going to do that?  The hair was everywhere!  “Rapunzel, Rapunzel.  Let down your hair”.  I looked over the side of my tower, hesitating.  And there he stood with a kind smile on his face.  “Rapunzel, sweet Rapunzel.  Let down your hair.”  With a sigh, I begin the onerous task of gathering my hair to throw it over the side, down to the prince.  After a moment, the prince took a solid grip on hair and started to climb.  Hand over hand, step by step, he made his way slowly to the top until he reached my window.

I looked at him for a moment, wondering what this was all about.  “Why are you here?”, I asked the prince.  “To rescue you, of course.”, said he.  His answer caused me some concern since there was no way out of here.  No locked door that could be broken, or stairs that came after to lead the way out.  How would he accomplish such a task?  From somewhere in his cloak the prince produced a sharp blade.  With a slight twinkle in his eyes, he reached around to the nape of my neck and sliced my hair clean from my head.  Needless to say, I was more than a little shocked and bewildered.  So many questions ran through my head.  He had asked me to grow my hair so long ago, and now he cuts it off?  And how is this going to help me get out of this place?

The prince set about braiding the hair into a rope.  He then tied it around a study pole and threw the hair-rope over the side.  He proceeded to climb down.  Dumbfounded, I couldn’t move.  It was that easy.  Throw the hair over the side like a rope, and climb down.  Then I would be free from my captivity.  “Rapunzel”, said the prince, “Don’t just stand there.  Climb down with me.”  Happy to comply, I ran over and grabbed a hold of that hair that I had hated so much, blessing it as I climbed down.

This little fable I have spun off of the real story of Rapunzel, bring into focus the need for obedience, even when we don’t understand.  At the beginning of my walk with the Lord, He asked me to grow my hair long.  I really didn’t understand the need for this.  Over time the Lord revealed to me that the length of my hair would serve as a symbol to me of my need for obedience, much like Samson.  Surely, there have been times when I wished to be free of this burden and wanted to rebel.  Perversely, this caused me to want to cut off all of my hair.  Thankfully I have not.  Obedience is difficult in the face other people’s opinions, circumstances, our own pain and lack of understanding.  Yet, obedience to God’s plan brings life, fruit, and rescue in our dark times.  The bible is full of scriptures about obedience such as:

Genesis 22:18
and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.

Deuteronomy 5:33
Walk in obedience to all that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.

1 Kings 2:3
and observe what the LORD your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go.

1 Peter 1:22
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.

2 John 1:6
And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.

Has there ever been a time when  you were called to obedience, even when you didn’t understand why?

Down in the valley so low. Up on the mountain so high. And tighten up that brain, why don’chya’?

Moments of clarity can be blindingly brilliant.  Bringing light into the dark places, reveals the what’s been hiding in the dark.  Which makes these moments of clarity something to fear.  When there is no light, no one can see the mayhem that the darkness brings.  Who wants to see the mess they have made of themselves, right?

I feel so low right now.  All I know right now is feelings of defeat, despair, self-loathing, and anger at my stupidity.  And, I really have no idea why.

Paradoxically, I feel like Noah’s dove bringing back the olive branch that I found on tree that is high up on a mountain top, free of the floodwaters.  Free to go off and do what I was meant to do in the places I am meant to do them.

Such a strange place to be, both high and low altogether.

As I was sitting and pondering all of this my brain was listening to the movie playing in the living room, Spy Kids.  This is not a deep or profound movie.  But the moment that I tuned into the dialogue the father spy, Gregorio, was explaining some research he had been involved in to his wife spy in a flashback.  The research was for developing artificial intelligence and was called the Third Brain.  While the various researchers are busily working on their versions of the “Third Brain”, the spy in charge of the project walks by one of the researchers, pats him on the back and says something like, “Why don’t you tighten up that brain.”

Hearing this gave me pause.  It’s as if God is challenging me to “tighten up” my brain.  God, in His grace and wisdom, teaches us in our infancy how to live our lives according to His rules.  The bible says that He doesn’t give us more than we can handle.  I take that to mean that God expects me to be able to stand on my own two feet and walk out this salvation of mine.  Especially since His strength is flowing through my veins.  Which means that I have the power to speak His light into the dark places in my soul.  When I get to the realization that I need to tighten up my brain I usually go here:

Psalm 42

As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?

My tears have been my food
day and night, while people say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”

These things I remember
as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
under the protection of the Mighty One
with shouts of joy and praise
among the festive throng.

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

My soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.

Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.

By day the LORD directs his love,
at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.

I say to God my Rock,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?”

My bones suffer mortal agony
as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

Which generally leads me to repentance of my attitude.

Repentance is a funny thing.  Imagine that you are standing in the darkest of caves.  The master of the  light has given you a torch and a match, of which you light.  And there you are, crouching amongst the bones and debris of your sin, filthy and in tattered rags, hair matted against your head.  You are both crouching in fear of the light, and the light-bearer.  You need to coax yourself out of the corner and gently reveal the need to say to the source of the light, “I am sorry I fled from your light.  I don’t want this cave of darkness anymore.”  Repentance seems so simple, but it is so hard to do.  Yet, the reward is worth the price.  As soon as you turn to the light-giver, He breathes life into the dark place and blows away the filth and yuck from every corner and every crevice so that the cave has no remnant of the sin it bore.  And you look as if you have been undergoing the year-long beauty treatments that Esther underwent so she would look her best when she met the king.

Lord, please forgive my unbelieving attitude.

It is now time to tighten up my brain and say to myself “Why are you downcast, oh  my soul?  Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”  Amen.

Do you have anything to repent of today?

Play (paint, write, draw, dance, sing, speak) the Sunset

“What is it that you like most about yourself?”, Mr. Holland asks the young red-headed girl next to him, clutching nervously to her clarinet.  “Well, my dad says he loves my hair.  He says it reminds him of the sunset.”, she says with a little nod to  her head as if to affirm the belief that her hair does indeed resemble the sunset.   “Then play the sunset.”, Mr. Holland says to her (paraphrased from my memory of this little exchange in Mr. Holland’s Opus).  After hours and hours of practice, the girl finally was able to play her clarinet beautifully and with confidence.  Sometimes, we just have to get out of our own way.

Do we believe God when He tells us something about ourselves?  Does this knowledge inspire you to greater heights or leave you cowering in the corner?

The Creator of the Universe believes in  you because He created you.  He put the color of the sunrise on your head, the depths of the ocean in your eyes, the sprinkling of cinnamon on your skin.  He believes in the shape, the size, the loudness, the quietness that is you.

You only need to believe it yourself.

Believing in the creation that is you empowers  you in an infinite measure to move beyond the moment, to climb higher than you have ever been.

So, go! Paint, write, draw, dance, play, sing, or whatever it is that you do, the Sunset.

Chrysalis

Formed from my own skin, wrapped in my own desire.

What was me, is not me, anymore.

Me is different.

Wrapped tightly in my own desire.

I put myself in this darkness,

Wrapped myself in this pain.

I long to be free.

Pushing, shoving, hoping.

Looking for the light,

That must be there.

Chrysalis, set me free.

A scent, a sight, a sound.

Can it be?

The urge of freedom,

Stronger than my desire.

Pushing, shoving, straining to be free.

At last.

I can fly.