Saturday, May 31, 2014

Yes, Jesus

We enter through faith into what 
God has always wanted for us. 
We throw open our doors to God and 
discover at the same moment that He 
has already thrown open His door to us. 
Romans 5

Back to basics, back to simplicity.
We are saved through faith alone,
simply a complete trust in Jesus.
When we falter, when we fail,
when we are proud, when we are frail,
when we doubt, when we don't understand--
we utter a cry, a wail, a whisper:
I trust You Jesus.
The longer we have known Him,
the more challenging it can be
to continually say that.
Because sometimes we come 
face to face with a seeming contradiction
in our well formulated theology.
So, we push our theology aside, again,
and place our trust in Him.
It is not fraught with emotion,
nor is it dependent on performance.
It is a complete trust in Him.

Day after day, if we can learn to say,
"Yes, Jesus," from the moment we wake up
to the time we close our eyes at night,
we loose the power of His resurrection
into our dying lives.
Some days I want Him to prove my theology,
to have Him give me evidence that shows 
my theory about Him "right."
God will allow our experience with Him
to challenge our theory about Him.
Because in the end, it is about 
our relationship with Him.
He will allow a storm to come, 
right after we think we know something
about living in peace--
and sometimes we can't quote
another Scripture or fall back on
something we received in the past.
Because His peace and our turmoil
are currently at odds with one another.
But, we can fix our gaze on Him and say,
Jesus, I trust You.
Today, in this moment, I trust You.
By faith, which is me placing 
my trust in You, I say,
Yes, Jesus.

That's all the theology I need right now.

PC: Picture taken by my friend, Jewel Somers,
from her front window in Australia.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

In Between Seasons

"To everything there is a season."

Sometimes you find yourself out of season--
the time in between when things must shift.
There is a big difference between
keeping and letting go,
searching and counting losses,
embracing and parting.
And when that shift comes,
it feels like something is wrong.
The shift can be a painful process.

It feels like everything around me
can be placed in a box called “shifting.”
The box is bulging.
And I think if one more thing
comes flying at me well, maybe,
the tears won’t stop.

I know I am not alone in this season,
but that doesn’t make it easier.
Because pain is personal.
The prescription is universal and
it is called grace.
He is moving us forward 
and the root of the word "forward"
involves the concept of turning.
To move forward we have to turn
our back on the things behind us.
Some of those things were very good.
Some of those things we wish we
had done differently.
Some of those things we could not
have done any other way.
We just wish some of it turned out differently.

We can’t help having some regret in life—
a certain sadness for things
that didn’t go like we had hoped.
That is called normal.
But to move forward,
we have to let go of those.
We have to recognize that there were times
we could have done nothing differently.
Most of the time, we did the best we could.
Even years later, when we think
we could have done better,
we are judging with a different set of eyes
and insight we didn’t have then.
We have to look back and
take the lesson forward.
Because forward is the only direction
that has any life in it.
Every day is a gift with the words
“second chance” written all over it.
We can do things differently,
because we can take our redeemed
experiences forward.
It becomes less about doing things differently
and more about being different--
in our being.

To be different, I am praying that 
I am better able to live in grace.
To see it, trust it and allow it
to run through my veins.
I want to live in the reality that includes
both regret over what did not go as hoped
and passion for what lies in this moment.
And the understanding that in this moment,
I may feel neither regret nor passion.
I may actually feel the ordinary.
But if I can learn to see the grace in it all,
then I can see this day as opportunity
to be different, to be alive,
to be loved, to love others.
The tears can come or not come.
He is in it all.
His grace is sufficient for everything.
I am moving forward.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Perhaps Today...

The Pharisees wanted to prove His authority
by asking for a miraculous sign from heaven. 
Jesus groaned and said, 
“Why are you always looking for a sign? 
I promise that you will not be given one!” 
Mark 8

Jesus had just cast out a demon, 
healed a deaf man, and fed 4000.
But when the Pharisees asked for a sign, 
Jesus told them they would not be given one.
The Pharisees weren't looking to believe in Him;
they were looking to test Him.
He quoted from Isaiah when He said,
"Their hearts are far from Me.
Their worship is a farce." 

The disciples, on the other hand, didn't get 
much of what Jesus was doing.
He rebuked them for not understanding 
the whole fishes and loaves thing.
But He kept the miracles coming.
When He asked, "Who do you say I am?"
Peter replied, "You are the Messiah.
They weren't testing Him;
they were just trying to understand.
And because their hearts were with Him,
Jesus kept trying to help them.

And it is still true today.
If our hearts are with Him, 
He is always trying to help us see.
I am certain that Jesus has asked me 
many times over:
Don’t you understand yet?
 Mark 8:21
But He never leaves me or gives up on me.
Who do you say I am?
You are Christ, the Messiah, my Savior, 
and daily I am in need of You.
Perhaps today, by grace, 
You won't have to ask me why I don't get it.
Perhaps today, by grace, my heart 
will be drawn closer to You.
And perhaps today, by grace, You will say,
I think she understood just a little 
the miraculous things I had for her to see.
I so desire to see You more clearly
through all the circumstances I am facing.
Perhaps today...

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Theology of Hope

"During the eclipse of God
the man of faith formulates
a theology of hope;
and he is able to wait creatively...
The presence which conceals itself
Is NOT an absence."
Samuel Terrein
The Elusive Presence

There are times we sense that there 
has been a "total eclipse of our God."
We have walked through seasons where
we have definitely felt the presence of God.
Even through times of challenge,
we could go to the secret place
and find Him there waiting.
But now, we can’t seem to find Him
in that same way--the way of presence.

And so we formulate a theology of hope
which allows us to wait while He works.
Because the presence which is
concealing itself is not an absence.
It is a presence which is going deep below
our suffering and our pain and our death
that He might buoy us up again.

"When you go through deep waters, 
I will be with you...
Do not be afraid, for I am with you.
You have been chosen to know me,
believe in me and understand
that I alone am God.
I will make a pathway
through the wilderness."
Isaiah 43
In deep waters, we are disoriented, 
overwhelmed, barely breathing.
He says to us, 
“Know this one thing: I am with you.
Understand that I am God and
I WILL make a way for you.”

Oh, the great torrents of amazing grace
that come from beneath the deep waters.
He is creating the balm that will heal
the deep wounds of our soul 
so that we may know Him,
not only as the One who walks with us,
but as the One who knows us, 
and will heal our every wound.

When we read that “Jesus wept,”
can we believe that He still weeps?
When Mary wept over her brother Lazarus,
Jesus wept with her.
He must have known that He would raise him,
but Mary was in pain and her pain became His.
“Don’t worry. Every little thing’s gonna
be alright” was not His answer to her.
Jesus wept.
And in our pain, He weeps with us.
Even though He knows that
He is making a way for us.

Jesus does not hide from us.
He hides in us and hides with us.
At times, we are in deep waters.
He is in even deeper still.
He is orchestrating torrents of grace 
 below us that He may lift us above and
place us on the pathway in our wilderness.
“Do not be afraid.
I am making a way for you.”
He is my theology of hope.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Letting Go

Real womanhood isn’t a function 
of becoming a great mother, 
but of being loved by your Great Father. 
Someone write that on a card with 
a bouquet of flowers. 
We all need that.
Ann Voscamp

One of the challenges with images--
snapshots of "everyday life"--
is that our everyday life does not often
look like the image that we believe
is the everyday life of others.
We know our faults, and 
we know them to a fault.

I read the Mother's Day post 
by Ann Voscamp with gratitude.
She was "truth-tellin'."
She said that labor and delivery 
never ends and you never stop having 
to remember to breathe.
I often said that the birthing class
was more about learning to do life
than learning how to have a baby.
Some days, if I was still breathing 
at the end of the day,
I counted it as a victory.
Parenting is a series of adjustments to
the changing needs of a growing family--
which really translates to the 
ever-pressing need
to grow in grace along the way.

My favorite line was at the end
when she said that in the midst of it all,
"we will grab someone 
and just hold on and let go."
I am learning the delicate balance of 
holding on and letting go.
The letting go part reminds me again
of the birthing class.
Keep breathing.
Because the letting go part of parenting
is right up there with mounds of diapers 
and dishes and dirty laundry.
It all takes grace.
And perhaps that is the greatest
reminder on this Mother's Day,
whether we are mothers or not,
You are loved by your Father.
Hold on and let go.
Hold on and let God.
His message to us, through Jesus, 
is that it is all grace.

Every one of us needs to know that
at the deepest levels of our being.
His unmerited gift of grace, 
accompanied by His unfailing love,
is available to us all.
That's the kind of "sentiment"
we need to hear over and over again.