“His Mosaic”

I fancy myself a mosaic,

a mosaic constructed by God.

Intricately made, passionately displayed,

beautifully humble, yet odd.

 

For I once was I clean sheet of glass,

free from blemish or flaw.

I was polished and buffed, fragile but tough,

pure and simple, yet raw.

 

What you must understand, is a clean pane of glass

reflects light with splendor and awe.

But it lacks dimension, lacks retention

and only shines on an area, small.

 

But God took notice of my flawless pane

and saw potential for greatness and use.

He knew it would sting, He knew I would scream,

but He knew I could withstand abuse.

 

So He sat down, alone, on His sturdy workbench

and slid my heart into a darkened sack.

Though it hurt Him to do, He knew what was True,

so He swung a hammer and felt me crack.

 

The first blow of the hammer, I lost control

and was broken by an evil disease.

It consumed my thoughts, consumed my body,

but His hand still held me with ease.

 

The next blow of the hammer, my father was gone

and the pain split through to my core.

My breaks turned to shatters, my heart was left tattered,

but He knew I could withstand more.

 

The final swing of the hammer and everything stopped,

I stared death in its formidable eyes.

My body was broken, the pain left a token,

but my spirit was ever alive.

 

The King then sat back, with the sack in His hand,

filled with my broken self.

He then gently restored me, gently He poured me

onto a magnificent, heavenly shelf.

 

With much care and patience, God pulled on His gloves

and began to sift through my remains.

He took His sweet time with a vision, divine,

and pulled pieces of virtue and pain.

 

One-by-one He gently placed the fractures He pulled

into an empty and pure frame.

While I struggled and grew, a battle ensued,

and He humbly took all the blame.

 

But He never stopped working, rebuilding my heart,

He toiled throughout many years.

He so often showed grace, loved me through my disgrace,

and in time, He banished my fears.

 

An artist of power and an artist of Truth,

He carefully re-sculpted my heart.

With much concentration and much designation,

the beauty shone through from the start.

 

When His work was complete, He welcomed me back

and led my soul to His humble workbench.

With the pride of a Father in love with His daughter,

He held tight to my hands as they clenched.

 

He pulled back the canvas that shielded His art

and revealed to me His masterpiece.

I was blinded by beauty, in awe of it truly,

and humbly, I fell to His feet.

 

You see His light that shined, through my restructured heart,

shone with glory and refracted abound.

It danced to the ceiling, sparkled with feeling,

and touched all that rested around.

 

Before my adversity, before all the trials,

I was a pane of unweathered glass.

His light could shine through me, but though there was beauty,

it had no opportunity to refract.

 

In breaking me down and building me up,

He had very clever intent.

For now when His light shone with delight,

it was scattered, refracted, and bent.

 

It could reach every corner and touch every heart

that came within its new bounds.

I could now shine His light, with power and might,

to all who yearned to be found.

 

I was humbled in thought that He cared for my heart

with such personal, attentive grace.

It was then that I learned, it was simply my turn,

and that others filled infinite space.

 

You see He works on us all, every single heart,

for we are all His children anew.

He loves us so deeply, and spends time with us neatly,

rebuilding even YOU.

 

I fancy our hearts as mosaics,

mosaics constructed by God.

Intricately made, passionately displayed

Beautifully humble, yet odd.

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My Story (part 16)

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Recognizing such a heavy calling on my heart was not easy, by any means.  I was confused as to why God was asking me to step out of such a healthy relationship. Confused as to whether or not I was making the right decision.  But we serve a faithful King, and though I knew I may not see the reason immediately, I trusted that His plan would be revealed to me in time.  I trusted in Christ and walked away in November.

If you are confused as to what I mean when I refer to “having a calling placed on my heart” or “being challenged by Christ”, let me break from the story for a moment to explain.  Everyone who pursues a relationship with Christ communicates with Him differently. There is no easy explanation. My prayer life is an open, running dialog with our King. He’s my best friend, so I am talking to Him and praying throughout the entire day, every day. Though I don’t hear some booming voice speaking back to me, I know that He is listening. I can feel Him, deeply. I can recognize when God is “calling me” to do something because, generally, it is an idea or a thought that comes into my mind that I would have never conjured up on my own.  A feeling or a motivation to do something that is so far outside of what our society deems “normal”, that it would be so easy to dismiss and ignore.  It takes a good deal of discernment to recognize what is True, but the more I have grown in my relationship with Him, and the more I have made sacrifices that He asks of me, the more I have been rewarded and seen the fruits of His grace. So now-a-days, I listen. (Again, however, that is something I will go into much more detail about later in the year).

Around the beginning of the new year in 2011, I suddenly found this radical thought popping into my mind. Immediately, I dismissed it, laughed it off as an impossibility, and went along my way. But this calling hung around. It continued to present itself and I continued to shoot it down.  It presented itself in different forms and fashions, different moments and phases. This challenge was chasing me and, as many of teammates know, I’m not the fastest runner (haha). Try to share not even a kiss with anyone for a year. Try to share not even a kiss with anyone for a year. Try to share not even a kiss with anyone for a year…

Are you kidding me, God? Is this some type of practical joke? I know you’re a funny guy, but I’m not really laughing at this one. I’m a 21-year old entering my senior year of college. Get real. What if I meet someone? A WHOLE YEAR? It’s an impossibility and I’m not in the mood…place that calling on someone else, but not me. What’s the point? How is that going to help me grow in my faith?

I came up with every excuse in the book. I grappled back and forth with the thought and kept trying to shake it. I refused to take it to prayer with Him, because I was convinced that if I just didn’t acknowledge it, it would go away.  But God knew who He was working with. He knew I’m as stubborn as a mule and He knew I needed that extra push. So, as I was loading up my car to head back to Baton Rouge for Spring term, He slapped me across the face with a clear sign…

As I walked upstairs into the kitchen to say goodbye to my mom, I noticed a sermon she had playing on TV. The minister was preaching on the practice of fasting.  Spiritual fasting? I didn’t know that was something that Christians practiced.  I had never heard much about it and had never come across it in my readings; it certainly wasn’t something that my family ever actively practiced.  I was captivated by this man’s words and I started asking my mom question after question about this concept. What was a spiritual fast? Where does it talk about it in the Bible? Why is it done? Is it just done with food? How long do people generally fast? My mom tried her best to answer all of my questions, but I could feel a flame of curiosity igniting inside my mind and I was hungry for more knowledge. Hungry to know what this man was talking about and how it pertained to me. I was oblivious to the fact that God was shoving a sign so clearly in my face, but I imagine He was sitting in heaven watching the whole scene with a bit of a grin on His face…simply waiting for me to come to Him with my questions.

Little did I know at that moment, that 8 hour drive back to the bayou was going to host the longest, most amazing conversation that I have ever had with my King…

(to be continued)

My Story (part 3)

“Because of my chains…[I] have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.” Philippians 1:14

Looking back on the winter break of 2009, my memories form a collage of  imagery. A collage of simple moments that have been frozen in form. Some of beauty, some of the deepest anguish.  But all of purpose.  Those individuals that are familiar with the details of this portion of my story are only those closest to myself and my family–those whose lives were shattered along with ours, those who have continued to pick up the pieces these last few years.   However, 1 Peter 3:15 instructs, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have…”   Therefore, I am fearless in sharing this darkest moment, for I recognize the greater purpose that it serves.

Returning to Georgia, I was still riding high from the successes of the season.  I was happy to be surrounded by the nostalgia of home and, in my blissful ignorance, unaware of any changes or tensions that existed outside of my own sense of norm.  I remember my dad calling me into his room a few days after I had returned. As I crawled up into his bed, I noticed a hint of fatigue in his eyes. A dimming of the twinkle that was so familiar.  Nevertheless, that sparkle was quickly renewed in his excitement to show me the reason for which he had called me in, so I thought nothing of my initial observation.  On his bedside table stereo, he played the radio broadcast that was recorded during my 90-yard goal and beamed with joy. For what must have been 10 straight minutes, we laughed together, replayed the sound clip, and bounced on his bed–seemingly drunken with pride and excitement. I will never forget the joy of that moment…nor will I forget the single tear I saw him wipe from his cheek when he thought I wasn’t looking.

In the days that followed, life was every bit as normal as it had been in my youth.  Our family exchanged stories, visited friends, shared laughs.  Christmas was just like every other Isom Christmas–emotional, chaotic, dizzying. But comfortable.  Throughout that time, my dad began opening up to me about deep, personal things that we had never discussed before. Thoughts of his childhood, details of his relationships. Looking back, my daddy was different. He made himself so vulnerable, yet so inaccessible at the same time. He seemed weakened, humbled by a greater force. Tired.  But I attributed this new-found vulnerability to circumstance. We had missed each other, we were both growing older, we were both growing closer.  I cherished these moments…

New Years came and went in a matter of four, riveting quarters.  My family shared fantastic memories at the Peach Bowl where LSU (my team) pommelled Georgia Tech (my sister’s team) in the Georgia Dome.  With unbelievable seats and friends in town to entertain, I was oblivious to the drastic shift in emotions that took place that day.  I recognized that my mom seemed out of character–discontent, terrified, resentful. However, the energy of the evening prevented me from asking questions. I dismissed the situation and figured it was none of my business. My rational convinced me that God would care for our family.  Whatever the problem was, God would sort it out. I was faithful to Him, so He would in turn be faithful to us. That’s how it worked, right?

January 2 was the day that everything came to a crashing halt.  I remember, so vividly, standing at work that morning when my cell phone rang. My dad and I talked on the phone an average of 15 times a day, so when I looked at the caller ID and saw his name, I couldn’t help but smile. He knew I was at work, he knew I couldn’t talk. But best friends have no problem breaking the rules, and we were most certainly the best of friends.  Our conversation was every bit as normal as usual.  He asked me how my day was going, what I was up to at work, when I would be home. We made small talk for about 10 minutes until a wave of customers came in and I finally convinced him that I had to go.

The next thing that happened is so burnt into my memory, that the scars spell out the etchings of his words. Per usual before hanging up the phone, I casually said “Love ya!” and lowered the phone from my ear. But this time I heard his voice call out on the other end of the line.  I quickly lifted the receiver back to my ear and heard, what seemed like, the voice of a different man. In a tone so eerily calm, so genuine, so saddened, my daddy said, “I love you so much, Morlan.” I stood for a moment, curious and unsettled, then replied in as stoic and truthful a tone as he, “I love you too, Dad. More than anything.” Click.

Little did I know, that was the last time I would ever speak to my father…

My Story (part 2)

“…For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more…” Luke 12:48

With the control placed back in God’s hands, I entered college a semester early and began to adjust to a very new life.  Eager to explore all that my new home had to offer, I was consumed by the excitement and intensity of change.  I stumbled, as many young freshmen do, in finding my identity and learning the ins and outs of my new routine, but I eventually found my footing and focused on my passion–soccer.

That first spring was a time of adjustment and discipline.  Isaiah 40:29 says that “He gives power to the weak. He increases the strength of he who has no might.” And that was most certainly what our King did.  He invigorated my spirit and inspired my heart. By giving Him control, I was able to not only grow in my faith, but physically as well, in a healthy manner.  I worked, relentlessly, taking no shortcuts in my development and, come fall, I was entirely prepared to step onto the field and help lead my team to greatness.

There were many astounding events that defined my first fall season as a Tiger–many overwhelming blessings God placed in my lap almost as to say, “Here. I am rewarding you for pursuing My truth. In turn, remember where to give the glory.” Little did I know, he was building me a very large platform from which to proclaim His name.  A platform that was almost overwhelming.  You see, in my second true game as a collegiate goalkeeper, I lined up to take a routine free-kick right outside of my box, and ending up scoring a goal! A 90 yard goal that took one bounce over the other goalkeepers head and made its way into the back of the net! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3E-dgyo_jw) A feat never achieved before. A feat I most certainly could not have accomplished with my own power and strength.  A feat that most clearly was designed by our King.  Next thing I knew, the goal was splashed across the television, magazines, and the internet.  Appearing as a #3 play on SportsCenter Top10 plays (an extreme rarity for women’s college soccer), strewn across the pages of Sports Illustrated, and linked onto YouTube, Break.com and countless other sites,  the energy of that play took on a life of its own. LSU Soccer was put on the map in a matter of moments, and the recognition and attention seemed to come to our team effortlessly.  However, the thing I was most proud of was something that nobody else saw that day….

I remembered, as I lined up to take that kick, looking up into the stands and seeing my daddy sitting right beneath the press box.  Now before I tell you of my most vivid memory from that evening, there are some things you should understand about my father. There are few other men as proud of their families as my daddy was of his.  Few other men that have sacrificed more to see their children succeed, and few others that have supported their children’s endeavors more passionately. My dad was my biggest fan, my cheerleader, my coach, my jury, my confidant, my disciplinarian, and everything in between.  He was a stoic man, a thoughtful man. A child at heart and an observer. A comedian with the most magnificent smile, but a private man often drowned in his inner-dialogue and thoughts. Though our relationship had experienced its share of strains and tensions (primarily due to the fact that were both as stubborn as a couple of mules), he loved passionately. And no matter where I traveled to play, my daddy was always in the stands.

But to digress, I saw my daddy beneath the press box as I lined up to take that kick. After watching the ball bounce into the net, the crowd erupted. The team came sprinting towards me, the fans shook the stadium with cheers and applause, and the announcer’s voice boomed over the loud-speaker.  However, in the midst of that explosion, I could only hear one voice in the stands.  A voice yelling with the echoes of a pride that is born so deep within our hearts, it cannot be imitated–only felt.  A pride and excitement so organic, so true, that you feel it’s vibrations in the fibers of your being.  My dad was yelling so loudly, I thought he was going to explode.  Looking up, I saw a smile strung wider than any I have ever seen before (I swear his teeth were touching his ears).  I saw a joy beaming so fantastically from him, he took on a glow. And as the game continued and the play progressed, that man was still screaming. Still cheering so loudly, I doubt the men in the press box could even hear themselves think.  Ten minutes later…still cheering. Oozing with a passion that seemed to be waiting to overflow.  A passion that a man, so disciplined in his demeanor, could not control.  A passion, I would later learn, I was fortunate to witness. For that is the moment of which I was most proud.

Throughout the rest of that season, my daddy was always there.  A relationship blossomed between he and I that was so beautiful and pure, I am humbled to have been a part of it.  The season was record-breaking–quite literally.  In my pursuit of the King, I broke every record ever set by a goalkeeper at LSU and began to contend for conference prestige.  I helped lead my team to new heights and was able to experience, firsthand, the power that athletics play in so many people’s lives.  There is no doubt in my mind that God constructed my platform for a much bigger purpose than I could even understand at that time.  A purpose I am fulfilling now, 3 years later.  There is no doubt in my mind that God fostered the improvement in my and my father’s relationship when he did for a very specific reason, as well.

At the end of my fall semester, I was on top of the world. Named All-American, Louisiana Freshman of the Year, Freshman All-SEC…I was invincible.  In a passionate pursuit of Christ, I felt I had the world figured out.

That was until I returned to Georgia for Christmas break and, on January 2, 2009, my daddy didn’t come home…