Chasing Joy

"I am guiding you on the way of wisdom and I am leading you on the right path." Proverbs 4:11

Category: prayer (page 1 of 5)

hope for the hopeless

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about an hours drive from here there is a place that offers hope and healing for those facing homelessness and addiction.  their newsletters remind me of the possibility, remind me that Jesus Saves.  i need to be reminded….often.

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in the morning light the sky is grey and cloudy, my little city full of contrasts.  the deep red of the train car and the yellow lights of the mini school bus stand against the snow that has become grey and black.  the colors of the houses seem muted with the grey empty trees that tower above them.  but as i drive further out towards my son’s middle school i get a glimpse of the mountains.  those mountains have ministered to my heavy heart before and today is no different.  the entire mountain is shadowed and deep blue…but the snow-capped peaks are glowing.  somehow the sun is breaking through the clouds just enough to shine on those peaks.  my son’s school is only 2 miles from our house which sits right in the middle of town,  yet from that vantage point 2 miles out i can see those sun kissed peaks.

my heart is heavy today over someone i have grown to love caught in the web of addiction and homelessness.  the small hope from last night has been crushed under the weight of the phone call this morning.  getting a glimpse of those peaks as my son and i wait our turn in the drop off line causes me to catch my breath and  i quickly call out ‘l love you, have a good day’ as the tears begin their release.  half of me has been listening and engaged as i make the pb&j and get my kids out the door, the other half has been in the depths of prayers reminding myself and my God of His sole Ability and Power.

but truth be told, my heart is full of doubts and hopelessness.  i begin to listen to the wondering if Jesus is able to save, if He is able to rescue, if hope is even possible?  as i drive back home, those peaks begin to be hidden behind the tall ancient trees,  i catch glimpses of them only because i now know to look.  but by the time i reach home, they are completely hidden from my view.  This world is grey and dark, shadows of addiction and sin and a myriad of problems we all know so well hover.  but somewhere the Sun is shining on the mountain peaks.  whether i can see it or not.

Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one,
and calls them each by name.

Because of His great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.


 

to draw further in:  Isaiah 40:26; Romans 7:21-8:39; 2 Peter 3:9; Revelation 12:10-11; all the ‘To Him who is Able…” verses.

 

for when you are waiting for health

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A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices…..

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The drive has been long in the night.  She pulls in tired and weary, she glances back at the slow and peaceful breathing of her sleeping ones.  resting her head on the steering wheel she breathes deep.   “Oh Lord, please make something out of this mess, somehow redeem these years, restore these hearts.”  she rests her eyes but is unable to rest her thoughts.

they tumble out of the car, the kids running free after being cooped up for the hours of driving it took to get there.  the family pile out the door with smiles painted on and arms out wide.  the expectations linger thick in the air as she braces herself at the trunk, breathing deep and praying for strength to endure.  one last breath and she gathers up the presents and bags and faces the music.  everyone else has already made their way inside, she enters, sets things down and joins the others around the dinner table.  the conversation stays where it always does, all the elephants packed neatly on the shelf and smiles all around.  “fine, fine fine”  echoes like the seagulls on finding nemo.  she smiles to herself at the picture as everyone shares all the ways they are ‘fine.’ 

she tries to play along, it’s only a short visit after all.  but when she looks in the eyes of the sulking teen and the toddler pulling for the hundredth time on his mama’s sleeve, she sees deep into the un-fineness of it all and something breaks.  the tears start slowly, and she tries to hold them in and look away.  it’s awkward and uncomfortable, first one set of eyes catch hers, than another.  the dam breaks and before she can excuse herself discretely, the room grows silent as all eyes rest on her.  broken under the weight of all the brokenness sitting around this table, she lets the grief flow.

she receives a pat on the shoulder with; “now dear it can’t be so bad” and someone breaks the tension with a request for potatoes.  the room fills up again with conversations about great aunt myrtle’s oysters and that time it snowed so hard no one could come for Christmas.

she looks up and glances over again at the teen and toddler.  the toddler happily plays with his cranberry sauce, the teen moves her food around.  she stares around this table of brokenness.  she wonders about hope.  

This is what the sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says:

“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.”

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the above words are a work of fiction, my attempt to paint a picture.  the realities are stories too close, too painful to share.  the levels of dis-function and unhealthy patterns of relating that we have been walking alongside this month seem to have reached epic proportions. it is magnified on all sides i think because these holiday seasons are the times when time with extended families increases.  i have been battling against despair,  against loosing hope.  as far as the eyes can see health is not appearing.  repentance continues to be rejected and all the striving and excuses and “fine, fine, fine” remains the norm.  my heart grieves.

Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you;
He rises to show you compassion.
For the LORD is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!

The reality is that the Only One who can bear the weight of my hope is Jesus Himself.  The Holy One of Israel who longs to be gracious, who rises to show compassion, who is a God of justice; it’s His light which shines in the darkness.  it’s just the darkness has not understood it.  a hope that thrills is this:  yonder lays a new and glorious morn.

For today in the town of David, a Saviour has been born to you, He is Christ the Lord.

He is a Wonder of a Counselor, a Mighty God, the owner and ruler of Peace.  we are all weakness, yes, us who want to love well, who want to bring the light of LIFE that is real living, but God….our God who is able to do immeasurably more than we can even fathom, He is the strength of our heart and our portion forever.

in the waiting, i remember ^^.

in remembering, hope appears.

when hope appears, peace descends and along with it a release of the outcomes into the capable hands of a Father who is good.

with release, i can show up again….from a place of health.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in HIm,
so that you may overflow with hope
by the power of the Holy Spirit.


to draw further in:  Isaiah 30, quoted above vs. 15 and 17, John 1, Isaiah 9, Psalm 73:26,  Romans 15:13, O Holy Night.

for when you are waiting for relief

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are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?

a year ago i prayed with an intensity that can only be explained as a movement of the Spirit.  i prayed for a “hope that wouldn’t mock, but pull you up even just a little out of the pit you are currently in.  oh, it is so despairing, dear Lord, please grant Your Beloved some relief.”

i shared this prayer of hope with the ones it was for and all day long i carried around faith of a child; expectant and excited to see how their Ever Present One would succor their weary hearts that day.

turns out it was one of their most hopeless days ever.

blessed is he who is not offended in Me

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the logical fallacies that seem so, well, logical, fall like rain and gather in pools in my mind.  doubt becomes a dog at my heals that refuses to leave.  i’m walking with the limp of one whose boot is engulfed in mud.  this is how prayer feels now, heavy and weighted down.

But we know our Father. We know His character.  Somehow, somewhere, the wrong must be put right; how we do not know, only we know that, because He is what He is, anything else is inconceivable.

For the word sent to the man whose soul was among lions and who was soon to be done to death, unsuccoured, though the Lord of Daniel was so near, is fathomless:  “And blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in Me.”

-Amy Carmichael Rose from Brier, emphasis mine

one of the errors in reasoning is that the more i fumble in prayer/doubt the quicker i’m tempted to quit.  ‘your prayers cause more harm than help’ the dog growls, they reveal to you a God who is cruel.

the argument is rendered invalid because i know that God is not cruel.  Mysterious, yes.  Wild and Big and completely Other, yes.  i do know His character.

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There is only one place where we can receive, not an answer to our question, but peace–that place is Calvary.  An hour at the foot of the Cross steadies the soul as nothing else can.  “O Christ beloved, Thy Calvary stills all our questions.”  Love that loves like that can be trusted about this.
-Amy Carmichael

tho in my limp i lack courage to share my prayers with these dear ones still suffering; i’m still praying.  praying for moments of laughter, the kind that takes their breath away and does the work that only laughter can do for a soul.  prayers hoping in Stephen’s God to ease their suffering with a tangible glimpse of His nearness.  and when the words get stuck in my throat, i lift up these:

O Lord, we bring Thee him for whom we pray,
Be Thou his strength, his courage, and his stay,
And should his faith flag as he runs the race,
Show him again the vision of Thy face.

Be Thou his vision, Lord of Calvary,
Hold him to follow, hold him fast by Thee,
O Thou who art more near to us than air,
Let him not miss Thee, ever, everywhere.

LORD, Thou hast suffered, Thou dost know
The thrust of pain, the piercing dart,
How wearily the wind can blow
Upon the tired heart.

He whom Thou lovest, Lord, is ill.
O come, Thou mighty Vanquisher
Of wind and wave, say, Peace, be still,
Eternal Comforter.

-Amy Carmichael

but even if You do not, oh Eternal Comforter,  You Who sang of John’s greatness; doubting, imprisoned John longing for relief–  steady us at the foot of Your love poured out, remember us with an overshadowing of Your still small voice;

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   I am your Abba, and you belong to Me.

to draw further in:  Matthew 11, Daniel 3:16-18, Amy Carmichael’s book Rose from Brier

those pictures of the green leaves and pink flowers growing out of the largest thorns i have ever seen were taken at the San Diego zoo.  i think we stopped and marveled at this fascinating plant just as long as we did the pandas.

*logical fallacy= a flaw in the structure of a deductive argument which renders the argument invalid/an error in reasoning that renders an argument invalid.  when your kids enter high school they use phrases that you are supposed to know, having gone to high school once yourself.  i had to look it up too.

waiting through the dark night of the soul

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…in the early days of spiritual life, the soul often finds delight in devotional activities:  We love to read the Bible, we hunger for worship we long to pray.”

-John Ortberg, Soul Keeping

i sit with my Bible, Daily Light and my journal, and stare off into space.  i have experienced the life found in saturating my soul with His words, and yet, here i sit and there is nothing.  i attempt to read and it all just goes right out into space and i can’t take hold of anything.  i, the one who has been writing words since i learned to write, cannot form a sentence, cannot find words to pray.

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“But there will come a time when God will bid them to grow deeper.  He will remove the previous consolation of the soul in order to teach it….” In the dark night, my prayers feel like they reach no higher than the ceiling. In the dark night, the Bible I read turns to ashes.  In the dark night, words and books and songs that once spoke to my soul now leave me cold.”

-John Orgberg, Soul Keeping (quoting The Dark Night of the Soul by Saint John of the Cross. This Saint John of the Cross describes the dark night of the soul as not just the experience of suffering, but the suffering in what feels like the silence of God.)

my Rock has been silent.  for quite a long time.  He’s not a tame lion you see, as CS Lewis would say.  and yet, He hasn’t been altogether silent.  there have been the middle of the night awakenings, where His word pinpoints and brings comfort and conviction.  The moments of standing at the sink of dishes and being overcome with prayers that bring me straight to my knees.  He’s just been uncontrollable.  and i’ve been thirsty.

O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly;
My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You,
In a dry and weary land where there is no water.

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all summer long i’ve been sitting with Psalm 19

pondering what it means that nothing is hidden from the heat of the sun and the correlation between that and “the law of the LORD, the statues of the LORD, the precepts of the LORD, the commands, the fear, the ordinances of the LORD.

pondering that and wholeheartedly declaring as if it was my own pen which penned the words; Who can discern his errors?  Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins, may they not rule over me. and oh, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD my Rock and my Redeemer.

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When the soul begins to enjoy the benefits of the spiritual life and then has them taken away, it becomes embittered and angry.  There are some who become angry at themselves at this point, thinking that their loss of joy is a result of something they have done or have neglected to do.  They will fuss and fret and do all they can to recover this consolation….Their problem is that they lack the patience that waits for whatever God would give them and when God chooses to give.

-John Ortberg Soul Keeping

as i’ve wrestled with this silence and distance, and then sudden nearness and loudness of my God-i’ve longed to tame Him.  i’ve longed to figure out what caused this riff and distance between us, i’ve longed to capture His nearness that i could control it and bring it forth when i need it.

because i need Thee every hour.

because He is my strength, i cannot make it without Him.

as if His silence means His absence.

except that it doesn’t.

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Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”
Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.

and so, as i wait on Him in the darkness, i continue to show up with my Bible and Journal and pen, knowing that He is present whether i feel Him or not, whether i hear from Him or not.  and when my deep longings and deepest fears wake me in the middle of the night and He meets me there with balm and communion and connection-i drink as if a child in Uganda at a freshly drilled well.  i join my fellow sojourners on Sunday morning and close my eyes and breath in His word as it is spoken by them.  i receive His living water when He gives it, and flip over from psalm 19 to psalm 37, where He quiets me with; “Trust – Commit – Rest – do not fret”

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and i say to my soul; “Surely the darkness cannot overwhelm me, for my God is near.”


The Life series will continue-just as those thoughts come, not necessarily in series.  i know i’ve been quiet here, a by-product of this season i’m in.  thank you for grace.

to draw further in Psalm 37, 139, Isaiah 40, especially vs. 26-31

life | running

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the alarm goes off in the dark of summer.  the inability to quit on my girl is stronger than the mighty ability to quit on myself, so i get up and rouse her out of her slumber.  we push it to the very edge, she and i, giving ourselves first 20, then 10, and then 5 minutes to get ready. yes, 5 minutes will be enough, our sleep hungry bodies think.  this is the logic of one whose natural body rhythm does not include mornings.  so we run late and we don’t comb our hair, but we show up.  she has a swimming class.  and i will run.

my health is not where i want it to be.  and i am a simple minded person, not one to cook complicated food or start complicated plans.  i know two things that need addressing, an addiction to sugar and a lack of exercise.  there are more, but two things are enough to focus on for the time being.  so for the sugar addiction I’ve replaced my daily chai tea lattes with just tea and for the exercise, i’m running.

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i want to quit.  i really do.  mightily when the alarm goes off yes, but even still after my girl has sauntered off to class. i rationalize other things to do during this hour, maybe stay in the car and read, or go sit next to the other moms by the pool and get to know them-that would be neighborly and right wouldn’t it?  no, that still small voice replies,

run.

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I’m Brennan.  I’m an alcoholic.
How I got there, why I left there, why I went back, is the story of my life.
But it is not the whole story.

I’m Brennan.  I was a priest, but am no longer a priest.  I was a married man but am no longer a married man.
How I got to those places, why I left those places, is the story of my life too.
But it is not the whole story.

I’m Brennan.  I’m a sinner saved by grace.
That is the larger and more important story.
Only God, in His fury, knows the whole of it.

-Brennan Manning from The Furious Longing of God

there is a storm swirling around inside, dark clouds looming thick and strong.

and when i run it rises up from those deep places within and spills forth into view and i see it.  like Brennan, this is not my whole story, only one part of many other parts that make up the whole of me.  but it is an important part to look at and sit with.  today, however, i resisted for 30 minutes.  i just sat in the car and kept the storm just below the surface, glancing at it a little, forming words around it a little, only a little.  but the One who always wins had His way.  knowing the invitation for what it was, i opened the door and got out of the car.

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too often i think satan is winning.  too often it feels like he is winning.

he is not winning.

he does not win.

O LORD, the king rejoices in Your strength.
How great is his joy in the victories You give.

-psalm 21

i am no king, but i too rejoice in the victories He gives.

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today as my feet hit the pavement the tears flowed freely.  out here on these public streets we wrestle, He and i, deep calling to deep, mining for the treasures He’s promised in the dark places.

personal words with real and deep laments brought before me to hold in my hands and look at from all directions. invited to know that He is the Lord, the God of Israel who summons me by name.

i have no hope for change or remedy or relief.  these are the places the fight has gone, He knows this.

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but i am still running.

and there is hope in that.

a series exploring the concept of life- what it is and what it means to have it.

a series exploring the concept of life- what it is and what it means to have it.


to draw further in:  Psalm 21:1 and Isaiah 45:3

 

life | when you’ve really screwed up

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he took something that didn’t belong to him.  when caught he lied.  when sent to the principle’s office he got scared and confused and went back to class instead.  i discover this last bit on the way home and turn the car around and walk beside him as he reluctantly faces things.

this 12 year old is having a very bad day.

this mother of a 12 year old is having a very bad day too.

the problem is that the thing he took is lost.  somewhere in his room.  so he’s tasked with cleaning, looking as he goes.  after dinner i decide to join the hunt, only to discover how my boys have been cleaning their room.  you know, grab a handful of stuff and shove it under or behind or i know, these dirty socks and odds and ends will disappear nicely into this empty Lego box.

now there are 2 boys having a very bad day and one mom who needs a time out.

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while the boys clean their room like they’ve never cleaned before, i pray the prayer that never fails.

Jesus, i need help.

He leads me beside still waters and i sit with His words and let them soak and settle in.

gathering the boys to my side we kneel to pray- the thing we should’ve done in the first place-regarding the lost toy.

the first offender begins, and i hear the words he’s been telling himself all day.

he wants to be a better person.  he wants to be responsible.  he wants to think before he acts.  he wants to want to return to school instead of dread it.

underneath those words i hear the self-loathing that i know full well.

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i move toward him, i cup his head in my hands and look straight into his red puffy eyes. he tries to look away.

“son, look at me.”

our eyes lock

“you are my son and I love you.  this does not change that.”

he melts into a puddle of sobs

i rub his back and speak the words that give life.

words of Jesus seeing over the span of time to that day last week when this all began.

words of His deep love.

words of the cross.

words of a standing that is secure.

“you are His son and He loves you.  this does not change that.”

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 yes, the wages of sin is death.  oh don’t we all know it?  haven’t we all felt it?  especially when we’ve screwed up?  screw-ups of the 12 year old sort and screw-ups of the beenwalkingwithJesusalongtimeandknowbetter sort.  the weight of the death feels heavy on the chest.

and we want to be better, more responsible, think before we act.

and it’s easy to slip from real sorrow and repentance down down down into the self-loathing.

that’s a sorrow that leads to more death.

there is another way.  a locking of red-puffy eyes with the eyes of a Father who knows it all.

and breathing in His words….

you are my child and I love you.  this failure cannot change that.

….His words that bring the dead to life.

a series exploring the concept of life- what it is and what it means to have it.

a series exploring the concept of life- what it is and what it means to have it.


to draw further in, Isaiah 53, Psalm 32, Romans 6-8

 

 

life | retrieved

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He surrounds himself with words.  fine sounding arguments to deal with the broken places.  i stand alone in his space and i read them and grieve over how far away from truth and real healing he is.  i lose hope.

but i do remain in that place of acceptance.  acceptance for where he is at and what he is able to give and receive.  another kind of death assigned to me is this relationship.  great glory goes to the Father of the fatherless for the way He enables me to love this man who is limited in his ability to love in return, to love in a way i desire to be loved.  and there is still great weakness and fear that remains in how i’m relating.  i am fully aware of the trembling inside when conversations begin to shift in uncomfortable directions.  i find my own self coping through diversions and distractions, keeping things safe.  i lose myself in the presence of others here, but when it is quiet, the One who gives sight to the blind helps me to see.

Finding the Love that Retrieves at www.everybitterthingissweet.com

in the dark of the night we stand debating over another one far gone and a false prophet among us.  the scene shifts and i find myself in an arena full of those held captive by Balaam and his deceptions.  searching through my belongings, they grab hold of my blue bound book, the one with my name inscribed on the front.  they empty it of the treasures i’ve tucked inside, passing them out to bystanders and mocking me in the process.  i don’t care, i snatch it back-letting the little things go, knowing that the real treasure is the pages and words contained within.  taking my seat, i’m discovered by the other truth bearers who’ve infiltrated these ranks and we band together standing united against the fray.  it’s invigorating and delightful to find i’m not standing alone.

and then i wake up.  it was only a dream.

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i look over at his chair and i remember sara’s words.  i remember how far the Mighty Warrior Jesus went to retrieve me.  the dream brings into focus the truth of the battle, the truth of what i stand on and cling to, the truth that there are fellow soldiers who have infiltrated the enemy’s territory.  i rise and retrieve that blue bound book with my name engraved on the front.  The Spirit brings to mind words and i turn page after page searching them out.  and then i breathe them in.  my Hope Bearer fills me with renewed hope all the while reminding me of my source of worth and joy, lest i misunderstand and stumble into expectations and seeking where worth and joy cannot be found.

Oh Lord, You are my God!  i will exalt You and praise Your name-
for in Perfect Faithfulness
You have done marvelous things…

This is what the Lord says;
I have seen his ways, BUT i will heal him;
I will guide him and restore comfort to him,
creating praise on the lips of the mourners in Israel.

Can plunder be taken from warriors?
or captives rescued from the fierce?
But this is what the Lord says;
Yes
captives will be taken
and plunder retrieved.

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life begins when the Source of life retrieves.  i know this.

i forgot this.

i have renewed hope for this one who surrounds himself with fine sounding arguments.  he is seeking life where it cannot be found, but i do recognize that it is life that he is seeking.  i also recognize that the current god he’s bowing to is successfully tricking him into thinking he’s found it and there is no hope in that.  rather, my hope is in the Mighty One who is Mightier, the Powerful One who is more Powerful.  that greater is He in me than he that is in the world. i hope because Life Himself retrieves captives from the fierce.

See now that I Myself am He!
there is no god besides Me.
I put to death and I bring to life,
I have wounded and I will heal,
and no one can deliver out of My hand.

life

a series exploring the concept of life- what it is and what it means to have it.


to draw further in;  Colossians 2:1-8; Romans 16:17-18;  2 Peter 3:3-9; Isaiah 25; 57:18; 49:25; Psalm 119:72

 

overshadowed

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while driving, i glance over and the perspective i see of those massive white peaks above massive blue ones is stunning.  it is such a contrast as i can almost see the entire bustling city at its base.

they stand there-so strong, so constant, so unmovable, so still.  i know that if i were to turn the car towards them and drive closer closer in, i’d lose that picture and see the hustle and bustle happening in their midst too, but here-this view- and they are saying something else.

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arrows fly at lightning speed, aimed straight at those sore and weak spots of my heart.  they fly from words without, but mostly from words within. they beckon me back into the courtroom before the prosecutor who always comes to steal and kill and destroy.  the attack is always strategic, wolves tearing at flesh striving to snatch joy away. always striving to snatch joy away.  and they come in all sorts of clothing.

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those massive peaks remind me of what is true.   like the city nestled at the base of those Rocky Mountains, i am small, resting in the Shadow of a Mighty Warrior.  He stands behind me and the wolves scatter.

“But was you not afraid, good sir, when you see him come with his club?”
“It is my duty,” said he, “to distrust mine own ability, that I may have reliance on him that is stronger than all”.”
John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress    

this Stronger One has adjourned the court-the verdict is in.  why do i persist in returning?  my identity has been determined by the only One who knows everything, the One who calls me beloved even tho He knows everything.  He is majestic, He is massive, He is formidable, He is mighty, and He is kind.  The Lord Almighty is His name.


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 in my moments of clarity and hope, i entertain longings, desires, dreams;  i look at my laundry/everything/dumping room and form a picture in my head and the steps to take to get it there.  i look at my front yard full of hundreds of years of neglect and the weeds that love to grow and i imagine a new picture and all the ways to get there.  i imagine the hospitality that i will offer and the enjoyment we will all share with the new space i will create.  i look at my 40 year old figure and see the form of my days and how exercise fits just right-right there. i can visualize the enjoyment and joy of all 5 of us getting our heart rates up and the energy and whole body health that will come as a result….. just to name a few.

hope deferred makes the heart sick.

but then i get a call and bring 3 extra little boys home and it’s everything i can do to come up with enough dinner for all of us and a bit extra to send home with them to their sick mom.

but then i’m rinsing out a throw-up bowl one more time and making honey toast for another one who can now keep food down.  i’m washing sheets and learning how to sanitize silverware and cups with no dishwasher.

a couple of days to recover, the desires and hopes flood in only to be hit with another round of illness or something else.  and the only thing constant is my need for strength from the only One who can give it.

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just three days ago i began to formulate a plan of execution for that laundry room.  today as i’m walking though to bring medicine to another sick one it stands there mockingly.  i let myself sob at all the ways it’s a representative of even deeper things, crying out to the One who delights to show Mercy to me.  and together we go to all of the places of deferred hopes.  i breath deep and remember that even if my children flunk out of school, even if we are not able to get well, even if i never tackle that laundry room, even if my husband’s travel schedule never ends, even if on this green earth all the people who want answers to our questions will never get them and will go on assuming how if we only did this or this we could be happy and healthy and wise.  even if, even if, even if….those mountains crumble and fall into the heart of the sea…

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…our standing, my standing, before the King of Kings will not be shaken loose.  His delight in me will not be effected by failing grades or messy spaces, or sick bodies, or cancelled responsibilities.

i think back on those mountains,  i can’t see them from where i stand, but i know they are still there.  and i think of how sure and strong and steadfast my Mighty God is, how He is present in all His grandeur and glory, overshadowing the ins and outs of what feels like a crazy life.  deep within i am filled with joy and awe at the constancy of my Everlasting Father.

i will rejoice in the LORD,
i will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
He enables me to go on the heights.

 


 

 

to draw further in:  chapter 4 of Pilgrim’s Progress; The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness by Timothy Keller, Romans 8, Psalm 46, Habakkuk 3

 

 

 

Restoring Wonder | considering the sky

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These days have found me praying with my children over lost stuffed animals and substitute teachers and help with end of semester tests; while in my own prayer closet i’m beating my breast over broken marriages, sudden deaths, mysterious illnesses, and that despite all the wickedness in the world my love would not grow cold. (matt 24)  I tell my children that the One who placed each star in its place and set the earth to spinning knows the hairs on their heads and cares about the big and little things.  the words spill out of my mouth and my doubting heart listens.

sometimes you need to preach to your heart rather than listen to it.

-Jeremy Weinland   

and so as i’m preaching truth to myself these days and keeping my eyes pealed for Wonder at this One who names those stars, words spoken long ago slip into the recesses of my mind and begin to do their work….

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Look at the sky, can you grasp its height?  Can you fathom its depth?  its length? its width?  That is how much your Father loves you.

-Amy Carmichael*

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For this reason I bow my knees to the Father….
That He would grant us, according to the riches of His glory

To be strengthened, with might through His Spirit
In the inner man….

That we,
Being rooted and grounded
In love,

May be able to comprehend
With all the Saints
what is the

Width
Length
Depth
Height
of our Star Maker’s Love

and to know
this love of Christ
which
passes
knowledge.
in the depths of our very souls


To draw further in:  Matthew 24; Ephesians 3

 *not an exact quote, i think i loaned my book out so this is from memory.

Restoring Wonder | Lament

i’ve sat on these words for a few days now, wondering; who am i to write on suffering and lament?  there are many wiser and more qualified folk who have covered this subject well- C.S. Lewis’ A Greif Observed and Amy Carmichael’s Rose from Briar are long time favorites of mine on the subject.   The God of all Comfort-He is a Mysterious One.   but this is where i am-battling yet again for Hope and Wonder amidst deep pain and suffering and so much i don’t understand. the only thing i know to do is wrestle with the Angel-because there is no other Rock; I know not one.

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Job’s Second Test

So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head.  Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.   -p.492 of my Bible

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my God, my God, why have You forsaken me?  Why are You so far from saving me?  -Jesus

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Dishonesty allows my false self, the imposter who is the slick, sick, and subtle impersonator of true self, to engage in life on a fraudulent basis…..The denial, displacement, or repression of feelings is blatant dishonesty and leads to a loss of integrity.

-Brennan Manning, in his introduction to Fil Anderson’s book Running on Empty (p.xiii)

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there was this battle for hope… (so many battles for hope)

the pray-er approaching the Throne room with loud cries and supplications-that she believed with all her heart came directly from her King in the first place.  it was a real battle on another’s behalf for hope to be supernaturally supplied and a real battle to believe that her prayers were not in vain.

the appearance of things from that day are that hope mockingly laughed at the foolishness of this pray-er to believe that God prompted or heard, and even worse, hope mockingly laughed at the one prayed for-the one suffering terribly already-that she would trust this pray-er’s words and believe that God would respond with comfort and a glimpse of Himself.

Sometimes our Faithful One says yes to the sifting and no to the cry for release.

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i don’t know if Job ever sinned in his suffering.  i do know that Jesus never sinned in His.

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with toddlers underfoot my days were often spent chuckling whilst wrestling one into time-out because of their wailing and kicking over not getting their way.

if not for the honest lament, i would not have been able to address the selfishness.

those days also found me wrestling with one wailing and kicking because his broken nervous system could not process the air touching his skin-these were cries for relief from horrible pain.  again, if not for the honest lament, i would not have known to seek help for his suffering.

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like my children, some of my laments are shallow and immature-stemming from a root sin of selfishness and pride. and some of my laments are deep and mature, stemming from a root of utter fear of the One whose love i’ve trusted will not fail.

either way…..

I want to see miracles, to see the world change
I’ve wrestled the angel, for more than a name
For more than a feeling
For more than a cause
I’m singing Spirit take me up in arms with You
and I’m not copping out, not copping out…..
Cause You’re raising the dead in me

-Switchfoot-Twenty-Four

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The Lord delights in those who fear Him; who put their hope in His unfailing love…..

sometimes i think Hope looks a little like Lament…..

Awake, O Lord! Why do you sleep?
We are brought down to the dust; our bodies cling to the ground.

Rise up and help us;
redeem us because of
Your Unfailing Love.

 

To draw further in…. Psalm 22; 40; 42:7-11; 44:23-26; 103; Lamentations 3

 

 

 

 

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