Dusting for Fingerprints

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“The thing about fingerprints is that they are subtle. What we would like is a finger pointing the way we should go. What we get, sometimes, is a tangible clue that wherever we go, He is with us. We would like to see God face-to-face. But in this life, where we walk by faith, we may occasionally catch traces of Him in our peripheral vision, so to speak. And when that happens, though it is only a foretaste of what is to come, it takes our breath away.”

– Garry Friesen, Decision Making and the Will of God, page 284-285


In law enforcement television dramas or movies, finding fingerprints during an investigation is always great news. Now a criminal or witness can be identified. It could mean a break in the  case!

What about our daily dramas? What about our real life moments when we just can’t tell if God is with us? We can’t see Him. We can’t touch Him.

Is He even here?

Put on your gloves, girls. It’s time to dust for fingerprints.

As a child, I did what a lot of little girls do. I played with dolls, I dug in the sandbox, I made cookies with Mom. It was the life! (Except for the time as a five-year-old that I loved the cookies so much that I decided to give them a kiss….right on the 350 degree cookie sheet!)

As I grew up, things changed, as they always do.

We moved from a nearby church to one over an hour away, looking for a place to get solid Biblical teaching. I began to teach piano, as a high schooler. I read, studied, played music, taught. It was a time of learning–but for what?

Circumstances, my parents’ choices, our understanding of the Bible, my personality and preferences–all these have shaped my life in ways that I can’t begin to understand.

Sometimes, I stop and look around. Life seems normal enough. But then I look back. 

How on earth did I get here? I know this is where I’m supposed to be–but what was I thinking when I chose this direction?

With my limited perspective, I catch a tiny glimpse of God. He’s there, in my history. I can see the traces of His movements, the places where, though invisible, He is somehow easy to see.

I see His hand in the friend that broke my heart. I remember the encouragement of a teacher that affirmed my gifts, leading me into just the right place. That was Him too. I recognize His imprint when my family learned that a traditional college was not my only option. Looking back, I see unsought protection when I was just a naive girl. He was there. It really did all work for my good, even when I couldn’t see it.

Smiling, I see a mysterious thread of continuity in the things I’ve pursued from the time I was a child. When I was two, I’d pull out a box, stand on it, and perform one of a handful of songs I knew at the top of my lungs. Now, I forgo the box, but I still sit down at the piano and sing. As a little girl, I wrote a highly-inspired piece of poetry called “Swings,” which went into great detail about the repetitive pendulum motion of playground equipment. Now, I write blog posts for you. Growing up, I read so many books that my mom had to limit how long I spent reading each day. Now, all the words I’ve stockpiled keep flooding back out, usually faster than I can write them down.

It’s not like I sat down as a three-year-old and said, “Well, my personality obviously leans toward musical and language arts, so I’m going to start singing and reading every day to develop my skills.”  Are you kidding? Growing up, reading was playtime and music was just another part of school. But my education and my recreation both instilled in me tools that I use today.

After high-school, my life has turned again. I’ve gained a degree in accounting (of all things.) I’ve written a (so-far unpublished) novel. I’ve started a blog. I’ve moved from an area with 6 million residents to an end-of-a-dirt-road farm in the mountains. We now go to a church almost two hours away.

And it’s great.

Life is different now from what I ever imaged. Some days are wonderful. Some days, it’s not easy. I don’t think it’s supposed to be.

“O Lord, let me remember that I see You everywhere…

And oh, I long to see Your face, invisible, invisible God
All the works that You have made
Are clearly seen and plain as day…

O Lord, let me remember
Your power eternal, Your nature divine
All creation tell the tale that love is real and so alive…”

– Andrew Peterson, “Invisible God”

I’m dusting for fingerprints. It’s not something you can do in advance. But, as you walk in faith and act on what God has laid out for you to do in His Word–obey, rejoice, give thanks, trust Him–you can look over your shoulder and see the shining glow of God’s touch.

Girls, you are part of God’s fingerprints in my life. He has used many of you in ways that have delighted my heart and driven me back to Him to say thank you.

“Have you felt His merciful touch, like the caress of a cool shadow on a long hot day?…Have you felt the pressure of His fingers shaping you into someone who will reflect His glory for all eternity?

“What you have received, my friend, you can also give. So offer yourself to others….When you do, you become His touch. His touch shelters. His touch honors. His touch guides. And His touch restores. It may be within the hour. It may be in the middle of the night. It may be in a way you never anticipated, expected, or even considered.

“But yours is the skin He chooses, and yours will be the life He uses.”

– Jennifer Rothschild, Fingerprints of God, page 154 –


How have you seen God’s hand on your past?

Comment below and share the fingerprints He’s left on your life.


Hope on the Dark Side

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“So you think that you’re the only one to cry yourself to sleep? That you’re the only one who’s scared they’ll all forget you when you leave? So you think that you’re the only one whose heart is black and blue? Listen, I’ve got news for you….

So you feel so wrecked and dirty He could never make you new? Man, have I got news for you, for you. I’m so compelled to tell you that it’s true….I’ve got good news for you.”

– Andrew Peterson, “I’ve Got News” –


Suffering. We’ve learned to run away from it, ever since we bumped our heads as babies. Ever since our childhood pet got hit by a passing car. Ever since our young hearts broke over the first person we knew that died. Ever since our adolescent souls were scarred by one-time friends that turned into Judases, Brutuses, Benedict Arnolds, betraying who they claim to love. It all seemed so unnatural, a blip in the happiness of childhood.

As adults, we see more of the pain. Our early immunity to the harshness of the world beyond has worn off. We see it all: the death mixed in with life, the tears that come as often as laughter, the hate that turns so much love sour.

Suffering. We recoil from it. We take medication for it. We know, instinctively, that pain means that all is NOT right with the world. Pain means something has gone wrong…crazily wrong.

Atheists say that the world has always been this way, that nature’s desperate struggle for dominance. We’re swept up in the unending pain, only to have it stop at death. We just have to survive till then.

Transcendentalists say that life is suffering–and only suffering. The only way to escape is to disconnect from the material, stop wanting anything, and join up with the cosmos. Let it swallow you. And hopefully you’ll come back as a being better than the one you are now–just don’t mess up the karma.

I have good news.

Jesus says that a better kind of life is possible. Unlike the meaningless suffering that other beliefs offer, Jesus says there is hope beyond the pain. Others can only hope for oblivion, a cessation of the bad. But the loved ones of God hold to a greater dream–the Biblical portrait of a Day when all is made new and clean and pure and empty of pain.

When Jesus came to earth as a man, grew up partaking in our pain, and died at the hands of His own creatures, His death lent value to suffering.

The cross said: Suffering isn’t pointless.

But, in three days, the rest of the message came clearly. If Jesus’ death gave meaning to pain, then His resurrection gave hope . Hope–the promise that one day this pain will be over. Our “three days” of languishing have the possibility of ending with the same kind of triumph–a rock-quaking, life-raising, never-dying kind of resurrection can be ours too.

Without Jesus, the world languishes. Suffering is pointless, pain leads to nowhere but a grave that levels all things to dust. But WITH Jesus, the difference is too great for words. Imagine a dark room, with the windows covered in heavy black cloth. Sun is excluded. The darkness is almost thick and the air is stifling with the absence of color or light or breeze. Then imagine someone came in and threw open the curtains. Imagine someone came and knocked out the walls. Imagine that the ceiling crumbled away and the sun’s full-noon glory pierced down.  It was dark, and now it is light.

But those words, simple and short, cannot convey the power of the change. The hope of God is not just a prick of light at the end of a tunnel. God’s hope is a total smashing of our room of darkness. We still stand in the same place, but now we see it differently. Before we saw only interminable darkness. Now, what do we see? Light flowing over, around, through us. Told another way, the blind cannot see the end of the pain. Only the opened eyes can perceive the reason to hope that stood as a crossroad of history and even now is rising again on the horizon.

“The good news breaks into a world where the news has been so bad for so long that when it is good nobody hears it much except for a few. And who are the few that hear it? They are the ones who labor and are heavy-laden like everybody else, but who, unlike everybody else, know that they labor and are heavy-laden….Rich or poor, successes or failures as the world counts it, they are the ones who are willing to believe in miracles because they know it will take a miracle to fill the empty place inside them where grace and peace belong….Maybe the truth of it is that [the good news is] too good not to be true.”

– Frederick Buechner, Telling the Truth, page 70-71 –

Do you see it? Christ, in you, the hope–the HOPE!–of  glory (Colossians 1:27). Hope of glory? Yes, hope of a glory beyond this world of pain. Hope of a life beyond what we know here. Hope that this present world is not how it was nor how it will always be. Hope hinges on what we believe (Hebrews 1:1). First, what we believe about Jesus. And, as a result, what we believe about suffering.

Our view of pain depends on our faith. Do we believe that all that goes wrong here will be–soon and gloriously–put to right? Do we believe in a God with an incomprehensible blend of grace and justice, a God who will make us, his rebellious creation, into His perfect creation again? Paul perfectly captured the hopeless view of most of our world:

“If the dead do not rise, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!'” (1 Corinthians 15:32b, NKJV)

If this life–this hard, often-agonizing life–is all there is to look forward to, we are right to despair. But Paul himself had another perspective on pain:

“….that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:10-11, NKJV).

In his commentary on this passage, 17th century theologian Matthew Henry explains:

“Knowing him here is believing in him: it is an experimental knowledge of the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, or feeling the transforming efficacy and virtue of them….We are then made conformable to his death when we die to sin, as Christ died for sin, when we are crucified with Christ, the flesh and affections of it mortified, and the world is crucified to us, and we to the world, by virtue of the cross of Christ. This is our conformity to his death…..This joyful resurrection the apostle pressed towards. He was willing to do any thing, or suffer any thing, that he might attain that resurrection. The hope and prospect of it carried him with so much courage and constancy through all the difficulties he met with in his work….Observe, His care to be found in Christ was in order to his attaining the resurrection of the dead. Paul himself did not hope to attain it through his own merit and righteousness, but through the merit and righteousness of Jesus Christ. “Let me be found in Christ, that I may attain the resurrection of the dead, be found a believer in him, and interested in him by faith….”

Here, we see that pain can be a tool for our good. No, pain is not good itself, just like every other product of fallen humanity. But our powerful God can work even these present hard things into glory to come.

This is my message to you today, sisters: We live in a dying world. Have hope! We live daily with the painful consequences of sin. Have hope! We live among people who see no answer, no end, no solution, to this suffering. But have hope!

Many of us have heard this tale until our ears are full of it and we cease to wonder at its beauty. But the cross is not just for the unsaved. The cross–and the resurrection–is for me and you, every day, just as it was for the apostle Paul. The cross proclaims that our horrible sinfulness has a potent cure. The resurrection announces that we have a good reason to laugh today, because this momentary sorrow is dying away. Yes, our world is crying out, like a woman almost ready to deliver her child (Romans 8:22). But soon the baby will be born. Do not fear. The pain is almost over. New life is on its way. Spread the hope to those who see no end to the pain.

This earth is being birthed into new life. Good news: Our God never miscarries.


“Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”

And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.”

– Revelation 21:1-7, NKJV –

Already Shining

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“The darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining!”

– 1 John 2:8b, ESV –


Life can dawn on us gloriously, sun rays pushing back the night like an invading host of light.

Or it can come upon us like a thief, like a morning that dawns cloudy, rumbling, and pregnant with rain.

This sister has days of light and days of dark, and mostly days that are a mix of each. Today, instead of reminding you of a principle or telling you a tale, I am just going to pray.

This, my sisters, is for you and me, because we need Jesus every hour.


My Father,

Today I pray for my sisters, my fellow-laborers in Your work.

I pray that they will stand before you holy and blameless in your sight, radiant in your joy and peace, while still mindful of the places from which You have brought them. What glory, for You to take notice of us!

I pray that I will stand confident as a new creation while never forgetting the need of those who have not yet been made new. A girl resurrected, may I never think that it was I who raised myself, or that my own power keeps me alive even now. May You alone receive that praise.

I pray that we will bless the parents who have shielded us from the storm beyond and all around, filtering the hard drops so that we would not be deluged. May we always bless them, who have taught us and led us in light so that we may, as we too grow up, face darkness with the Light shed abroad in our hearts.

Help us remember. Give us hearts to embrace the lost rather than run from them. Give us enough memory of our own past slavery to be able to go back and lead others to freedom. They do not deserve it—but neither did we. What love is this, my Savior, to awaken new hearts and then send us out to bring more twisted, broken hearts to Your side to be made whole as well! What a God You are, to delight to bring life again and again to the dead.

Give us pure hearts. Please, grace us with power to be open and real, confessing our sins to one another. Only then can we see that the sin in us is just as bad as the sin outside. Let us first see the beam before turning to the speck.

And oh, give us encouragement. We’re fighting in a battle that wearies us. Sometimes the darkness seems to snuff out all the light.

Break forth, O Light. Flood our eyes. Flood our hearts. With Your brightness, cover our faces with Your joy. In a darkening place, let our hearts be full of the approaching morning, the glory of journeying toward the Coming Day with You as our truest, never-betraying Friend.

Let us walk in the light, as You are the Light.

I joy in this: You, the Light, shall never be quenched, but will rise as Morning Star until the dawn breaks and Your Light makes all this darkness flee for the last time.

Until then, give us the strength to keep pushing back the Dark, taking Your Light to thousands of lamps that have yet been lit.

And thank you, thank you, dear Father, for letting us be vessels of this Secret Fire that fills and warms and lights our way.

In the name of our Savior, the Light of the World, the Son that will shine on us forever, Jesus,

AMEN

Hungry and Lost

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“Aren’t two sparrows sold for a small coin? But not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father knowing about it already. Even the hairs of your head are all counted. Don’t be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.”

– Matthew 10:29-31, CEB –


She was lost.

Standing right in front of me, searching everywhere to be filled, but finding nothing to satisfy her thirst.

She cried, begging for help. “Someone! Anyone!”

I stood right there, holding out everything she needed.

But she walked around me, into me–would have walked through me if she could have–scouring the area for nourishment.

All along, I was there. She just couldn’t see me.

This drama played out last week in the goat pen. Our smallest baby goat wobbled around in the straw and nudged my knees, desperate for a drink. She cried hungrily. But she refused to drink out of the bottle I held out to her. It was full of milk, heated to just the right temperature so it would warm her belly without burning her. I had done everything necessary. But she wouldn’t drink.

I held the bottle closer to her face. She ignored it.

I brushed the red-and-yellow nipple against her lips. She shook her head and ran away.

Watching her run, I grew frustrated. “Just drink!” I told her. “That’s all you have to do.”

Tinier than her brother and cousin, the kid didn’t seem to be growing much. I was concerned that she wasn’t getting enough food.

After several ineffective efforts to get her to drink, I settled on a solution. I grabbed her head in one hand, the bottle in the other, and held her mouth to the nipple. She struggled and tried to back out of my grip, but I held her. It was drink or drown, as the milk slid out of the bottle into her throat.

She drank.

Struggling every so often, she drank the milk I forced her to take. It didn’t kill her. She didn’t like it much, but it gave her the strength she needed to keep going.

As I crouched in the pen with a bottle and a very stubborn baby, I realized that God does this to me.

Suffering, so often, is God holding my head to the nourishment I need. Hard things are often His way of making me get close to Him, when left to myself I’d just walk away. I’m like that little lost kid, wandering around her pen looking for food when the source of it was right there all along.

When God puts me in a headlock, I kick and struggle like that little goat. I squirm and bawl and cry. “Why are you doing this to me? I thought you loved me? Why are you making me go through this?”

And all along, as I throw my tantrum, His truth and strength and love flow into my unwilling body and fill me.

This is how trials make us stronger. They aren’t mistakes. They aren’t blips on the radar that God somehow missed.

Sometimes, when we pray for health or safety or prosperity or a good day, God says no.

Most of the time, we’re no smarter than that baby goat. We don’t know what we really need. We just know that it doesn’t feel nice to have big hands clamp down on you and hold your head still.

But these hands holding us are steady and strong, and the God of these hands sees our true need. He is willing to do what it takes to fill us up, even when we don’t know yet that the pain will turn into a good thing.

She’s learning. When I go to the pen now, she’s already at the fence, crying for milk. She knows. She finally knows that I’m bringing blessing.

Friends, life can be hard. But let’s stop struggling in God’s hands.

He knows exactly what we need.

“But God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn’t come through.”
―Francis Chan, Crazy Love―