Oct 11, 2017

It's Okay

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It is from the depths of brokenness that you start to truly be able to see. How could the blind man worship the Lord for receiving his sight if he had not first been born blind and struggled through a world of darkness? I must ponder this a moment--or an eternity. The question is often posed--how could a good God allow bad things to happen? I toyed with answers when I was a little younger and a little more hot-headed--less tempered by life happening to me. I have shoved all of those answers aside however to focus on something else--something perhaps less "theological", but more keyed in on the actual point of the Gospel, which is the perspective-altering person of Christ Himself. I can argue myself hoarse and still not prove my point, yet Christ came and He did not argue--He was. His whole life was a demonstration of His character--of love, of holiness, of sacrifice, of lovingkindness, of mercy, of justice... And all of His life was aimed toward one thing--death. He stepped in time with brokenness, was one who knew darkness well, and became the Man of All Sorrows, weeping for the loss of Lazarus, weeping in the garden for the pain (yet setting His eyes on the joy) set before Him. 

Why does God allow it? A murdered Son? An innocent Lamb led to the slaughter? Perfection met with reproach? 

Can we, for once, be stunned to silence? Not to deny the pain that we experience--for we know it deeply, and scars etch our hearts and engrave our souls. But perhaps the brokenness causes us to finally see like the once-blind man--not men as trees, walking, but Christ Himself, broken beyond belief upon the cross--for what? Because He so loved. In the breaking of His body He gave thanks and gave it to His disciples. He did not begrudge them for taking of it because He freely gave it. So if we could only look beyond that shattered soul of ours--to see more than broken pieces; to see the way that they glitter in the light of the Son because He is making all things new. What if we took our bodies--because we are, after all, one Body, and that is Christ's--and broke them and gave thanks, and then gave. The human tendency is to respond to brokenness by pouring inward, by nursing our wounds, by waiting until we're "whole" again before we reach outward. Yet Christ, even upon the Cross, dying, looked out and said to John, "Behold your mother," and to Mary, "Behold your son." John, beloved disciple, take care of my mother. Mary, take care of my friend. 

So. What if God allows brokenness not because He's powerless to disallow it, not because He's cruel, not because He doesn't care--what if He allows it because it helps us to know better the depth of love--true love, sacrificial love, the greatest love which is to lay down your life? What if He is simply breaking our shell so that He may enter in and renew all of the decaying soul that we are afraid of? What if the rain makes the trees grow deep roots? And if that is the case, then every broken heart has more meaning than a seed, planted in the soil. 

I will wait and I will watch for the Spring. 

Jul 24, 2017

I'm Not Afraid (Except I Am)

Nothing has changed. No miracle has shifted my life from the normalcy of the daily grind, no Word from the Lord has rattled through a dream to change my vision. Yet, all the same, my vision is renewed. Though it still feels as though I am crawling through the daily grind, laundry and cleaning and health issues being my mantras, though I see the same things as I have for a while now--I see them clearer. I see them for what they are: And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:23-24) 

For some time now, I have been pondering and wrestling with the idea of life. After a grueling year of heartache, loss, and grieving, I gripped firmly to Paul's words to the Philippians--to die is gain. Yet I think that in the midst of the unbearable yearning to see my Lord face-to-face, I forgot that that was only half of the sentence--firstly, to live is Christ. True, I know that one day I shall die or Jesus will come back and I shall live forever united with Him. But at this moment, He has not called me Home. He has called me here--so thus, I must learn to live. And to learn to live, I must learn who Christ is. What His life on earth looked like. I must embrace the raw truth of the Bible--that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son...oh, if only I could know that keener every day! Oh that I would grip onto the love of God, being content in the discontentment--for yes, I am a pilgrim, I am a wanderer, but I do not wander as one lost, rather as one found. I know where I am going, and though the journey is long, I must learn to see the hand of the Lord in each moment, in each pile of laundry, in each hard question a child asks, in each offering of my most prized possession to someone who needs it more than me, in each time I stop to pump gas into my car, in each moment of failure where I provoke my dearest friends to tears, in each novel read, in each word carved from my soul and planted onto paper, in each--in each breath, inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, my Jesus, He loves me, and it is enough.

Then, there is fear. Fear is a constant, it seems. It haunts my dreams--dreams of little girls torn from their homes, dreams of vicious animals, dreams of loss--and it haunts my thoughts, as I plant my feet and pray for courage, for patience, for humility. For what else will the Lord take? What will I lose? What greater beating can my heart take--I am already weak! And it is true, I fear the normalcy, because I fear that it will never end. How often I wrestle with these plaguing thoughts, how often I stumble as they grow louder and larger--yet there stands Christ, risen from the tomb, brushing off His hands because it is finished?  And this, this is why Paul urges the Galatians to not grow weary of doing good. To not grow weary of the daily grind, for in due season, we shall reap, if we do not lose heart.

No losing heart. Stand firm, whether God has called you, today, to saving souls or saving your bedroom from the massive piles of laundry. He is enough, and He will help you wield your sword.

Jun 27, 2017

June is fading into July once more. There is some small amount of grieving at the passage of time as I look back and realize that I am no longer the child that I thought that I would always remain. Things change, people grow up, relationships shift, and Junes always fade into Julys. Yet Christ, Christ, Christ--Christ remains the same, and it is enough.

I think that His steadiness has been the only anchor in my soul lately as surrender calls me to sever my ties and draw further up and further in--pushing forward, ever forward, towards Christ. I know that He is always going to be enough, but I fear the cut. I fear the moment when all that I have set up as idols in my life fall to the ground in ashes--because I always forget what it is like to look up and see Christ standing there, in all of His awesome wonder, in all of His glory. I tend to remember pain really well--I can feel the cut of losing someone, but I so often forget the miracle of finding them again and knowing them better than before.

I know that it is worth it, though. It always has been. And faith is not about forgetting that it hurts and jumping blindly into nothingness. Faith is gritting your teeth against the pain, pushing forward through the doubt, not allowing the voices in your head to rule your life. It's an action. It is gripping onto the spoken truth that Christ will walk every step with you, even when He feels so far away.

And what joy! I am beginning to understand what it means to rejoice in all trials, for every trial continually draws me closer to the One who gives joy. Honestly? I didn't understand the love of God so well until I received the sharpness of a broken heart to leave me gaping and vulnerable enough to know that love is unconditional. I didn't understand that God would never leave until everyone seemed to leave and I was left in the darkness groping around for His hand. I didn't understand that He was the Man of All Sorrows until sorrow was heavy on my shoulders like a black cloud about to rain.

And so, I see, joy is birthed out of sorrow. Joy is birthed out of pain and trial. It is like when you light a candle in a bright room--it doesn't mean much. But if you shut out the lights and close the curtains until it is pitch black, that candle is shown for what it is--a sword to slice the darkness in two.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined. --Isaiah 9:2
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