The Mist

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“A light wind swept over the corn, and all nature laughed in the sunshine.”

 – Anne Bronte –

Orange and gold, the fireball

Arrested my attention with light millions of miles from home.

The gold trail sneaked over the heads of the trees and fell across the lake,

Still, silent, all-brightening.

The mists started climbing the warming air,

Air convected by a distant, near, all-present flame.

Over the skin of the water, sometimes blue, gray, green,

The mists rose in columns and drifted in untraceable, rolling threads of vapor.

Sun lit across the rising, blowing cirrus wisps, and the air itself shone with glory,

Wisps that will disappear in the later heat of day.

I sat on the dock in the mist and watched the sun golden itself on the visible currents,

And I thought how life is a vapor, and my God like the sun.

Soon, my mist will blow away and shimmer free in the heat of life,

But now, while it is morning,

I will rise up and catch the Sun’s rays.

A mist with a message, I will glow in the gold of a distant, near, all-present Flame.


Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

 – John 8:12, NKJV –


When God Doesn’t Show Up

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“Our sorrows are all, like ourselves, mortal. There are no immortal sorrows for immortal souls. They come, but blessed be God, they also go. Like birds of the air, they fly over our heads. But they cannot make their abode in our souls. We suffer today, but we shall rejoice tomorrow.”
– Charles Spurgeon –

She didn’t have John 11 in her Bible.

And she didn’t understand.

Maybe, as the quiet, cold countryside air drifted through the house, she leaned against the wall and held her breath, waiting for her sick brother to inhale one more time.

A slow breath just beyond the thin wall.

She exhales, waiting for the next sound of air in fragile lungs.

It doesn’t come.

Her throat tightens. Hands go still where they’ve been digging a thin place in the hem of her skirt. Oh God, let him breathe.

It still doesn’t come.

A thin, reedy wail bubbles up from her chest, rising into deep sobs.

It didn’t come.

And neither had Jesus.

Other cries begin–her sister’s weary, husky choking, the softer wails of watching friends, a baby stirring on her cousin’s hip.

She closes her eyes and tastes the hot salt wetting her lips. “Why didn’t you come?” she whispers in the dark. “You could have stopped this.”


Have you seen a night that dark?

A death that tore out your heart. A friendship that melted away in the forge instead of being tempered by the flames. A dream that withered again and again.

We all ask this question, don’t we? “Why weren’t You there, Lord, when that happened? Where were You when I needed you?”

There’s the theological voice in our heads, telling us that God is omnipresent, that Jesus promised to never leave us, that He sent us the Holy Spirit to dwell within us and be our Comforter.

But…honestly? You can’t always feel truth. That theological voice can tell me all it wants, but there’s no doubt that sometimes we cry and it seems like there is no reply. No comfort. No easing of the pain. Just silence.

I think that’s how Mary felt.

She sat, perhaps, in the dark and wept for her lost brother Lazarus, and wondered why, why on earth, did Jesus fail them.

He could have stopped this. He’d done it before–healed so many. Healed those that didn’t even follow Him, healed beggars on roadsides, healed servants of Gentiles long-distance.

But the man he loved, whose sisters he loved? He didn’t show up for him.

Don’t you know that Mary cried in the dark and couldn’t wrap her mind around the lostness. It was bad enough that her brother was dead.

But the ache of Jesus failing them…that must have been a thousand times worse.

She’d sat at his feet (Luke 10:39). She thrown her soul into following Him. She’d tossed everything aside as unimportant, secondary to knowing Him.

And yet He hadn’t come.

So Mary buried her brother, perhaps helping her sister Martha wrap him in spice-soaked cloths. So Mary cried until her eyes were red-rimmed and swollen, until her heart felt drained of tears, and then she kept crying.

It was another four days, four days after the tombstone was shoved across the cave’s mouth, when Jesus finally showed up.

Late. Too late to heal. Too late, even, for the funeral. Just too late.

The Bible records Jesus’ reaction to Lazarus’ illness this way:

” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was” (John 11:5-6, NKJV).

Wait…what? This seems like a bad joke.

He hears about Lazarus…and stays away?

So, when he comes four days after the funeral (John 11:17), I wonder if Mary had stopped looking for Him? The passage doesn’t say. It only records,

“Now Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house” (John 11:20). 

Did Mary hear? Why did she stay at the house? Perhaps she she was too swallowed by her grief. Maybe she didn’t know Jesus had arrived. Or maybe she had given up on Jesus, because He hadn’t been there when she needed Him most.

But Martha–strong, capable, warm–went running in her tears and met Jesus as He approached:

“Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21).

But then, as Matthew Henry suggests in his commentary on the passage, she seems to regret her hasty, grieved words. Thought probably still asking “why” inside, she corrects herself:

“But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You” (John 11:22).

This is a grief-stricken, somewhat-shaken faith. “Lord, I don’t understand,” she seems to be saying. “I still believe in you. I still know you have power. But I don’t understand.”

Under Jesus’ gentle questioning, she affirms her conviction that He is the Messiah, even the Son of God.

Then he sends for Mary.

Remember, Mary hadn’t read John 11. She didn’t know what would happen. We who have the whole Bible, who have grown up with the narratives, become numb to it.

But this wasn’t a flannel graph, two-dimensional story for Mary. This was real.

Her brother was dead. Her Savior had abandoned her.

Then He called for her and she hurries to meet him.

“Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:32).

The same words as her sister–this same theme that resounds in our own hearts when God doesn’t show up in our pain.

“If you had been here, God…If only You had been here.”

And what does Jesus do? He had given Martha the theological answers. For Mary?

For Mary, He cries.

With Mary, He cries. Yes, God in flesh sees her tears, the tears of her sister, and He openly weeps (John 11:35).

What comes next?

A glorious rising. A heart-stopping, mind-blowing resurrection right on the fringes of Jerusalem. The world was shaken up that day.

Because Lazarus rose and walked out of that tomb!

But if we walk away from Mary’s story with the idea that Jesus will immediately come along and undo all our griefs, set it all right, make it not hurt anymore–then we’ve not learned our lesson.

You see, Mary didn’t know what Jesus was going to do. 

But, behind Mary’s grieving, Martha’s questioning, Lazarus’ dying–behind all this was a much larger Story at work:

The Story of God glorifying His Son in the world (John 17).

In fact, in the very next chapter, we see the results of Lazarus rising:

“Now a great many of the Jews knew that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead. 10 But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also, 11 because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus” (John 12:9-11).

The Bible never tells the end of Lazarus, Mary, and Martha’s story.

But that passage–rather than scaring me, or making me worry about Lazarus’ safety–reassures me.

See what God did?

The whole mess of grief and then wonder, death and then life–all of it was a master-design to point the world to Jesus. Lazarus was such a testimony to His God that the Jews wanted him dead just to get people to stop believing!

God doesn’t always ride in and fix our problems. He doesn’t always come and heal our loved ones, raise our dead dreams, or mend our broken relationships. (One day, yes, He will! He will make all things new!)

But Mary’s story teaches me to hope.

Because whatever God is doing in the pain–however silent He seems to be–I know two things.

I know He knows my sorrows and is moved by my pain.

And I know that He is up to something glorious.

Grief is hard.

Pain hurts terribly.

Prayers don’t always feel like they’re going through.

But whether my Lazarus rises or not, I know that “God’s absence”–when He decides not to intervene in my hurt–is part of plan that makes God look amazing.

When He doesn’t show up, I will cling to the knowledge of His love and presence. He won’t always tell me why I have to hurt. He doesn’t owe me an explanation.

But I will believe.

And then I will watch His beauty be put on display.


 “And He’s kneeling in the garden, as silent as a Stone

All His friends are sleeping and He’s weeping all alone

And the man of all sorrows, he never forgot
What sorrow is carried by the hearts that he bought
So when the questions dissolve into the silence of God
The aching may remain but the breaking does not
The aching may remain but the breaking does not
In the holy, lonesome echo of the silence of God.”

– Andrew Peterson, “The Silence of God”  –

* All Scripture verses come from the New King James Version

 

An Ode to the One Who is Not a Wave

little-cliffs


Oh rock! immovable by the surf, immutable in the froth of change,

As I, ocean inconstant, wavering, digressing, mulling again and again, chase up and down the shore.

You glisten and glow in the dawn, undaunted by my surf, a range

Of immaculate, solid goodness, refuge to wind-tossed kites, lonely gulls’ moor,

While I, restless surface, marred goodness, toss and strain in an endless race for the sand.

 

Oh moon! drawer of my unseen depths, quickener of all my hidden things,

Wresting me in whirling tides out of stagnation–serene, wild, terrible pull.

Grace irresistible, hold unbreakable, patient hounding of all my vagrant ways,

Bring me at last to the haven, to rest, to sand-sodden home, to artful

Reflection of your dear, down-cast face, clearest copy of your beam.

 

Deepest one! a floor to my rushings, undergirder of all my stablished ways,

Erupter of steam, holder of secrets, haven to creation’s abyssal dark, conceiving the trapped-up glow

Of fire-mountains beneath my tracks; in you, my surest foundation, yawning mysteries stay

Forever deep and holy in the uncharted, unfathomed places of your beauty. I know

My own depths are upheld by your strength; your unbounded chasm is my rest.

 

Dear one! you who are not a wave, this ode proclaims your unwavering traits:

Rock to my vacillating, moon to my torpor, floor to my flood–

You my border, my crown, my surrounding. Yet, you also fill me, permeate

My every atom, warm my waters with the heat of joy; what is this wonder?

That on every side you are greater, higher, deeper: yet still you love.


 

“How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.
When I awake, I am still with You.”

– Psalm 139:17-18, NASB –

The Making of a Lion Heart

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“The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.”

– Proverbs 28:1, NKJV –


Perhaps C.S. Lewis’ Aslan is the most beloved lion in all literature, the great king of a mysterious place extending beyond the borders of Narnia.  And, as his subjects declared, he is not a tame lion…but he is good.

Symbolic of power and royalty, the lion is also one of the names of Christ, “Lion of Judah” (Revelation 5:5).

Interesting, then, that this majestic beast would be used to describe the righteous.

Me, a lion?

It sounds so strange and foreign to my ears.

But the idea is compelling and hauntingly reminiscent of childhood longings to be the kind of girl who could set her face to the rising sun and have no fear of the day ahead.  Courage to set out to sea and hear the wind scudding on foamy crests and whipping in the sail, ready for whatever God has in store just over the next wave.

What does it take for me to have this unnatural boldness?

I recently heard the story of John Paton, a man who left his comfortable life to take the gospel to an unreached area of South Pacific islands inhabited by cannibals. Before his departure, people confronted him, trying to persuade him to turn back:

“Amongst many who sought to deter me was one dear old Christian gentleman, whose crowning argument always was, ‘The cannibals! You will be eaten by cannibals!’ At last I replied, ‘Mr. Dickson, you are advanced in years now and your own prospect is soon to be laid in the grave, there to be eaten by worms; I confess to you, that if I can but live and die serving and honoring the Lord Jesus, it will make no difference to me whether I am eaten by cannibals or by worms.’”

Oh, to have that spirit in me! This is the victory-march of the Apostle Paul, when he wrote:

“…according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:20-21)

This is the face of a lion, the mindset of a ransomed child who walks with upheld head, clear eyes, and a song. This is the face of a woman who has been with Jesus, who “is clothed with strength and dignity;she can laugh at the days to come” (Proverbs 31:25, NIV). This is the face alight with glory and joy, because it has seen the Lord.

Seeing Him, even a tiny shadow of his power and holiness and overwhelming love, I ask you one question:

“What can mere mortals do to me?” (Psalm 56:4b, NIV)

Today, you and I are not physically setting sail, or scaling a mountain, or going to face a host of cannibals.

More likely, we’re headed to work or class, to prepare meals, to deal with conflicts, to make decisions, to play with siblings.

Not cannibals in the least–but fear still penetrates our days, doesn’t it? It seeps like an icy current into every crack of living.

How do we find peace in this Wasteland haunted by terror?

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, NKJV).

Fear comes from what I expect, what I believe. If I anticipate that each difficulty or tragedy that rolls my way will toss me out of commission, then I will be paralyzed. Although Jesus never promised us that troubles would go away, He did give a solution–peace in the middle of the battle, because the war has already been won.

How can I be Lion-faced today?

My Lion-King has already broken the floodgates and here comes the joy, spiraling in like a golden sea.

John Paton learned this–what can anyone really do to a blood-washed son of God? Worst case scenario, we get to see our Savior’s face. To me–well, to me that sounds awfully like my best case scenario. In a recent sermon I heard, the story was told of a man commanded to renounce the name of Jesus or face death. With a smile, he lifted his head and asked, “Are you going to threaten me with heaven?”

In the Bible, Satan also is described as a prowling lion, a devourer–but this lion has been wounded to the head with the heel of a King and his last desperate staggers proclaim his certain doom. Always aspiring to be as God, he puts on illusions–light, truth, beauty, even the royal nature of a lion, a hollow, fragile imitation of the True Lion. This head-crushed impostor roars against the might of his conqueror (1 Peter 5:8).

Again, the Apostle Paul testifies:

“At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!” (2 Timothy 4:16-18, NKJV, emphasis mine).

And so, this is my prayer:

God, give me the heart of a lion, the passion and love to serve fearlessly, with all that is in me.

Give me the face of a lion, to turn like flint toward trouble and plant my feet in Your strength, trusting You that I will not be moved.

Give me the confidence of a lion, that boldness will flow from my absolute belief in Your love.

Give me the song of a lion, that I may roar with undefeatable joy and toss my mane in the golden glow of Your glory.

Great God of the heavens–and Lord of my soul–make me bold as a lion in Your righteousness.


What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written:

“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

– Romans 8:31-39, NKJV, emphasis mine –


 

Thank you, Petr Kratochvil and Public Domain pictures, for our lion photo today.

Charting Paths and Planting Trees

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“To be born is to be exposed to delights and miseries greater than imagination could have anticipated; that the choice of ways at any cross-road may be more important than we think; and that short cuts may lead us to very nasty places.”

– C.S. Lewis, emphasis mine –

You could say that I was raised to be a gardener, to plant little round specks of seeds that would grow comfortable and familiar in my dusty palm before I really understood. Young as I was, I didn’t know enough to wonder what they would sprout up to become.

With equal truth, you could say that I was born to chart paths. Taught to read enough signposts, though, a girl can become numb to the meaning of the places etched on the wood. Adventurous lands erode into formless names. What was meant to thrill can fade into the rut of habit.

True– to be born in a place where planting seeds and navigating cross-roads is commonplace, must be a privilege. I’m conscious of the voices, the onlookers that wish that they’d been born in my place. Yet I still find the sacred ebbing into merely commonplace.

I, born to a call, wake up one day to find that “There” has grown to be a dull place to be.

And I wonder why opening up pages of God-words doesn’t knock me over with glory.

It bothers me that in the morning I can blink open my eyes to the orange-gold sun and not be flooded with speechless wonder.

When the people I meet are…just normal. Something I accept, without an accelerating flutter of my heart.

When my view of family disintegrates into “those people who live here with me.” When dear people’s embraces are expected, usual.

When I accept a day’s pattern with no more excitement than a shrug and a nod.

It’s not that love–life, the glory–is dead. I feel it, deep inside. But muddy, work-hardened fingers have gotten so stiffly mechanical that dropping the seeds into the soil no longer stirs dreams of what will sprout. “This is just what I do. I plant.”

Rattling off the proper turn to make on the journey has become patently logical. “I ought to go this way. It’s the correct way.” Never mind that I used to lie awake nights smiling to myself about the uncharted geography over the next rise. The crinkles in the old maps, the tracks of ridges and beloved valleys and heart-welling childhood glens hidden with faded-ink X’s on old cartographs–these used to quicken my pulse. Imaginings of the sweet, new-land air, the orange-and-spice thrill of mountains and falling waters and trees that stretch on and on to the sun. But now my feet simply go forward. I’ve forgotten how to stop and wonder.

Wake up!

“Awake, my soul!
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.” – Psalm 57:8

I shake the shoulders of my slumbering soul. “Wake up!” Tears start to my eyes.My skin bristles with a chill. I’m fearing vision eternally fogged with dream-sleep. Oh, that the charted paths would clear of dust and glow gold again. That the seed would slip again through tender hands, smooth of callouses. I ache to see the glory.

Frantic, wild attempts at self-stirring finally spiral into a gliding calm, a prayer to the only Heart-Awakener.

“Return the joy of your salvation to me
and sustain me with a willing spirit.” – Psalm 51:12, CEB –

Sleep fading from long-still muscles leaves a tingling numbness. But I am–so slowly–beginning to see the dawn.

A compass atop a faded map, waiting at the doorstop, beckon. An adventure waits for my feet to follow. A Friend lingers to walk at my side. He’s already pointing the way to the next rise. I can see He’s come this way before.

The Gardener calls and I realize, as if for the first time, what can spring from the seeds He holds out. Tiny in my palm, yet they may be trees.

Deeds, planted–today. Journeys, started in faith–yes, today I can step through the door.

Tucking potential deep into loamy furrows, I close my eyes and He lets me see the glorious things that may be.

At the beginning of my trek, He leads me to a mountain’s crest and I can see, in dawn swirling on low clouds, dim shapes of the wonders that await in the miles ahead.

“Restore to me this joy.” This time the words are full and breathless. He is so marvelously good to call back this life.

Storyteller Andrew Peterson paints it all in bright words, what this planting, this stepping out, is for us:

“We chose the spot, we dug the hole
We laid the maples in the ground to have and hold
As Autumn falls to Winters sleep
We pray that somehow in the Spring
The roots grow deep

And many years from now
Long after we are gone
These trees will spread their branches out
And bless the dawn…

…So sit down and write that letter
Sign up and join the fight
Sink in to all that matters
Step out into the light
Let go of all that’s passing
Lift up the least of these
Lean into something lasting
Planting trees…

So many years from now
Long after we are gone
These trees will spread their branches out
And bless the dawn
These trees will spread their branches out
And bless someone”

lyrics from “Planting Trees,” by Andrew Peterson

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –  – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

“Awake, my soul!
    Awake, harp and lyre!
        I will awaken the dawn

I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
    I will sing of you among the peoples.
For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
    your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
    let your glory be over all the earth.”

– Psalm 57:8-11, NIV –

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –  – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Thank you, Public Domain Pictures and Larisa Koshkina, for today’s image.

Unsurpassed

ce-caves-of-orion-spacescape

Trying to figure out God is like trying to catch a fish in the Pacific Ocean with an inch of dental floss

– Matt Chandler –

I’m staggered by this.

That God is the Center, the only One worthy of glory.

And for Him to seek this glory is not arrogant–because what is arrogance but viewing yourself as higher than you are? That’s not a problem for God–there isn’t anyone higher!

What glorious kingliness, to be perfectly Love, Light, Truth, Beauty, Justice, Power!

Nothing surpasses Him.

“Lord, I come before You
To honor and adore You,
For who You are and all that You have done.
Lord, I am not worthy,
My heart is dark and dirty.
Still somehow You bid for me to come.

So clothe me in humility,
Remind me, that I come before a King,

And there is nothing,
There is nothing,
More precious, more worthy.
May I gaze deeper,
May I stand longer,
May I press onward to know You, Lord.”

– “There Is Nothing,” by Laura Story –

So then, no wonder He cannot give this glory away.

“I am the Lord; that is my name;
 I don’t hand out my glory to others
or my praise to idols.”

– Isaiah 42:8, CEB, emphasis mine –

One distant speck of a planet, less than a fleck of dust in a galaxy, a breath, next to nothing in the midst of a horde of starry swirls, monstrous asteroids, and revolving planets.

And in this miniscule dot of a planet, there are tiny fists that dare shake at the cosmos.

People. A filmy shudder of vapor, a breath of passing wind. Yet we humans somehow dare to lift our chins in defiance. Somehow, we dare to declare ourselves as gods, as the deciding force of the universe.

“You have always been because what it is that you are is God, or Divine Intelligence, but God takes on individual forms, droplets, reducing its power to small particles of individual consciousness.”

– Gary Zukav –

God in heaven laughs.

How could He not?

The sheer absurdity of His created creatures, who to Him must be like the tiniest insects in strength, lifting our powerless fists in uprising.

And meanwhile, His power makes all things hold together. It is not possible–but what if God were to allow another to have His glory? Would not the very foundations of the universe crumble? Would not this fabric of existence unravel in an instant?

In the face of our pitiful, obstinate mutiny, how easy it would be for Him to lightly press down His finger and smudge away that microscopic creation from the page of His story.

Yet He doesn’t. Instead, He steps down and takes on the frame of one of these dust specks.

The God of galaxies, Lord of stars spangled like diamonds across heaven’s velvet. The Controller of planetary spins and brilliant fireball-suns and crashing tsunamis and quaking subterranean plates.

Be still, speechless, breathless at this:

This God came to us.

To us.

Does this crumble your ego? It should. What He chose to do should make us quake.

Because the Alpha, without beginning, was born out of a teenage womb into a pile of manured straw.

Because the Omega, endless One, died, bearing the brunt of the Father’s justice.

God in skin–raw, ripped, bloody skin.

Becoming a human, He used that moment to atone for the vileness of those He created.

With the same breathing-out that filled the lungs of the first man, the first to raise a fist against Him

With that breath, He cried out, having bared His pure heart to the dagger of His Father’s fury. He breathed out, one last exhalation.

A shout of cosmic victory. “It is finished!”

He warned that praiseless lips would make the rocks cry out. The stones and mountains did–shaking and roaring and cracking with the darkness that fell, vibrated to pieces by his cry of triumph.

God with us died for us, because of us. Right there, on a man-hewn plank of wood.

Who else was pure enough to be the sacrifice?

Who else was man enough to suffer with us and for us? To intimately know us?

Who else was God enough to overcome even death?

Because, this God is so beyond our strength that Death itself was no match for Him. He rose.

He rose!

I really can’t comprehend this.

I can’t grasp how high He is, how clean and glorious and marvelous He is in comparison to us. I don’t think my human eyes can hold that much light or fathom that depth of spectrum. My human heart can’t seem to grasp how much of His atoning pain was because of my rebellion. My ears can’t hear all of Love’s harmonies, though I hope the music will grow stronger as I journey. My mind can’t expand enough to allow God’s thoughts to enter.

I can only bow.

Mr. Chandler’s right. I feel strikingly like I’m holding an inch of dental floss.

Maybe less than an inch.

“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?”

– Psalm 8:3-4, NKJV, emphasis mine –

Thank you to Gale Titus and Public Domain Pictures for today’s spacescape!

Makairos and Corrie’s Pit

Makairos.

Blessed. Happy.

It was a Greek word reserved for demigods, elite, the ones “who lived above the normal cares, problems, and worries of normal people.” Then Jesus came and shattered the old conception with a line of astounding phrases. Maybe the lowest…were actually the highest.

I am beginning to see the blessedness.

It is frightening. And glorious beyond my imagination.

I read the “Blesseds,” hear them proclaimed in my ear, softly beckoning and comforting as my CD repeats and I heard the round of eight verses followed by the breathed awe. “Rejoice! And be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven.”

How does the soul-emptiness, the mourning, the readiness to accept the wrongs and hatred and persecution, the starving, the unrequited outpouring of myself turn into the blessedness? At what point do I realize the rejoicing instead of the dread that I might be wronged?

Jesus does not phrase this conditionally. This is reality, who I am in the kingdom. This is how this world will recognize me.

But what price must I pay to realize the fullness, the comfort, the abundance of Christ? What corners of my heart am I clutching so tightly that my fingers throb and I can’t imagine the searing pain of being pried loose from my autonomy. That scares me.

Until the light started to come. I don’t know what it was, but I started to see.

That the break in the clouds, when the sun pierces through with glory, would not still our souls with thrills without the clouds.

The turn for the better in the hospital when your heart has wrung dry and bitter and then the eyes flutter and the one you love is going to live. Could we feel the soaring without the wringing?

When my pillow is wet every night because she’s still running from God and I can’t understand but I’m still clinging to Him because He’s all I have left, I am stilled and find the sweetness at the dead core of the hurt. A sweetness I would never have found without this pain.

I start awake in the night. There’s fear I can’t be sure of and longings that I can’t fill and I can’t find any rest until I’m laying in His arms again. In that quietness, I bless the ache that drove me back to Him again.

I start to grasp the unutterable and He’s here. I see the “Blesseds” and know that they’re not just promises or bewildering spiritual paradoxes or a shortcut to happiness.

These radical blessings are where Jesus can take me. They are reality when I bring my soul poverty and unquenched thirst and He brings His love that knows no blight and His strength that conquers all. They are the proofs of His power, because now I can live impossibly and love impossibly and die impossibly. What limitless power!

Fallen at His feet, I let Him strip away the brokenness. He gives me His abundance.

I recently watched the film “The Hiding Place,” as Corrie ten Boom clutched her dying sister close and tried to block the inevitable from her mind. Betsie whispered in the dimness, words that became a victory cry long after the Ravensbruck ovens had cooled from their ghastly work. “…(We) must tell them what we have learned here. We must tell them that there is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still. They will listen to us, Corrie, because we have been here.”

And maybe the only way people can see His glory today is for me to be crushed and still sing.

I’m on the altar again, sisters.

Will you join me? It’s glorious, because He’s here and I am truly blessed.

Abundance, a Song Big Enough

“I came so that they could have life—indeed, so that they could live life to the fullest.”

~ John 10:10b, emphasis mine ~

Abundance-3

“That He came to us is the most stunning event, most astounding fact in history.

That we can’t get to the cross…so the Cross came to us.”

– Dr. Jeff Meyers, emphasis mine

In a culture and world so desperately sin-sick, I so often lose sight of the “bookends” of God’s story. When I lose the creation context, I forget that God is the Planner, the “Blessed Controller.” The fall sweeps me into the hope-vacuum and it becomes focused on me and my constant failures, my own desperation.

But as a storyteller myself, I finally came back to the Redemption and my personal world rocks with the glory. My heart, my head, can’t quite wrap around the starkness, the blinding, universe-shaking moment that the dragging, imploding darkness flees with the explosion of glorious light. And my heart quiets, somehow wishing for a song big enough to encompass my redemption.

In the world, it seems my personal failures are only mirrored, compounded, and spreading like a virus. What can solve this sin-death, but the One who took on flesh?

And oh, the breathless beauty that He did!

By Jesus taking on humanity, He abundantly sanctified all our normalcy.

“How is such a spiritual, “out-there” thing so earthy? So, here and now?

So Redemption is what we live in, the light that floods us with life.”

– Dr. Jeff Myers, emphasis mine –

There is a life out there that many of us have only begun to taste. An abiding, abundant, peace-radiant, joy-bubbling, Christ-longing life.

Our Father knows what we need before we ask Him (Matthew 6:8).

He knows we need this abundant life. He knows there is a song-gap in every heart, a longing for music with a swell big enough to carry us through a life and into an eternity.

Not only does he know about this song-hunger–He made it. He made souls that serve a Master. But what Master will we follow?

Only one song will quench us. Only One Life will fill us.

My dear teacher Dr. Jeff Myers taught his students about the principle of abundance. That is, we are not to be content with mediocrity. We are not to be content with merely a well-run race of our own.

An abundant life is a life that spreads. It is light that reaches out. It is a singer that teaches the Greatest Song to every longing soul she finds.

And this abundance–it isn’t something you have to find. It is already yours.

It’s why He came.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”

– Matthew 7:7-8, NKJV, emphasis mine –

Sisters, just ask. Today, ask. Enter the abundance that the Cross unleashed.

“If God has given you life abundantly, why aren’t you using it?”

~ Luci Swindoll ~

“To the one who is able to protect you from falling, and to present you blameless and rejoicing before his glorious presence,to the only God our savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, belong glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time, now and forever. Amen.”

– Jude 24-25, CEB, emphasis mine-

Special thanks to Atalie Bale at ataliebalephotography.com for her beautiful photo of abundance!