08 March 2015

Length of Time

This is not what we were told.

That the world is spiraling, down and out.

I have been silent far too long, and feel that I must reintroduce

Myself, the world, myself to the world.

I am a recovering cynic, cynic more than recovering

A frustrated optimist, embracing truth and settling for realism.

This is not what we were told.

That the world is a storm, of light and love and fear.

Yet were not made for silence, having learned

that dragons can be slain. And having done all,

we stand.

I am an optimist, frustrated

by the length of time between cynicism and love.

"Promise me
you will not spend
so much time
treading water
and trying to keep your 
head above the waves
that you forget, 
truly forget, 
how much you have always 
to swim" - T. K. Gregson

08 March 2013

Even Oranges

Even oranges have a growing season. Clementines are ripe in the US in December and January, but it takes the tree blooming, dropping several sets of flowers, selectively allowing the best fruit to grow, and then a period of a few months before the fruit can be eaten. I imagine it can be a beautiful process, walking an orchard every day, tending to the trees, coaxing the fruit along, praying for rain and no surprise frost.

Did Moses know that the journey would take more than 40 years in the desert? That he wouldn't really experience his people's land? Think about that. Forty years ago, it was 1973. If you started walking in 1973 to find a home, you might be starting to think about settling down now. (Yes, the people over a certain age died, for their rebellion, but that is a different part of the account.) The Bible describes Moses as a man to whom God spoke, face to face, unlike the prophets to whom God spoke in visions and dreams. And yes, Moses was leading a people, and yes, that is a pretty big deal, but 40 years is enough time to find monotony in nearly everything. (Even the signs and wonders that God had done in Egypt, and since.)

I imagine that tending an orchard would be hard, with the sun weathering your skin, the branches scraping your arms and hands, the bugs ruining the crop. But you do it for the fruit, the end result. Did Moses get anxious? Saying, "Lord, how long? Why do we wander without ceasing?" It would seem to me, that Moses would have been tempted to sit down on a rock in the middle of the wilderness and say, "Lord. I am stopping. These people are grumbling, they are worshiping idols and they don't deserve this. We aren't getting anywhere."

And then, Moses hit the rock instead of speaking to it, and he was told he would not enter the land. At that point, what was his goal? It wasn't really him being able to settle down in a good land...or was it? He sought the Lord's face, saying at one point that he would not go up from a place unless the Lord was with him. He obeyed in the desert, and his goal was God Himself. So, in a sense, there is often a tangible goal. The fruit will ripen and the orchard will produce...a land may be found. But often, the harvest is thin, the climate unfavorable, and all you have to show for your work are some scars, a tan, and well-toned arms.

Brothers, He is not slow in keeping his promises. Maybe we are His orchard, and he is pruning us, readying us to be presented to His Son in glory, as a bride. Maybe those scars, tan, and well-toned arms are what He is seeking in us. ;)

11 February 2013

Let me go, for the day has broken

There is a song called, "Hold Me Jesus."It goes something like this:

"Sometimes my life just don't make sense, at all. When the mountains look so big, and my faith just seems so small. So hold me Jesus. I'm shakin' like a leaf. You have been King of my glory, won't you be my Prince of Peace?"

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. "Dust thou art and to dust thou returnest was not said of the soul" (Longfellow).

Is there always a wall you hit, a floor you drip tears on, a bed you are afraid to leave? A world's dark night, a desperate plea for the blessing.

“Let me go, for the day has broken.” 

But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
I'm not sure the day has broken, yet. But I know my heart has. And I will not let you go; I will call to you from the end of the earth, when my heart is faint. I will call to you when I am weary and heavy laden. I will knock, I will seek, I will ask for wisdom that it may be given. Do not go up from here without me. 

A couple years ago, a friend told me there was faith in eating. Eating when I'm not hungry, eating when I know I need nourishment, and trusting that God who made the food can keep it in me to minister. There is faith in eating, but there is faith in much, much more. There is faith in the eating, there is faith in the waking, there is faith in the getting out of bed. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for. Faith isn't a determination that my life will fall into my plan. It is the understanding that even when (for it does) it seems to go haywire, God is good. He is good always. He is good, always. Faith means, even if it isn't 'safe', it is, and HE is, good. I don't get out of bed knowing the day will not have pain, I get out of bed knowing that if it has pain, God knows and calls it good, for my good. 

This day has held pain. Floors with tears and a bed I didn't want to leave. His mercies are new every morning. That is true. And that I will cling to.  

07 October 2012

Far, far better things ahead

I read that quote today, by C.S. Lewis. The one that reads, "There are far far better things ahead than any we leave behind."

It is as if we have knocked out a part of the living room wall, (don't mind the mess), and there is light again. I think he says what Paul the apostle has said, about pushing forward toward the prize, and leaving behind the sin that so easily entangles. It does, doesn't it? Sin, that is. A soldier is not to be caught up in civilian pursuits...let's remember that there are far far better things ahead. It is one of the reasons we cry "Maranatha, come Lord". 

04 October 2012

Humility in the E.R.

Admittedly, I am an impatient, prideful person. I like to accomplish a list of goals, and maybe one or two bonus goals, every day. If those self-set goals are not attained, I feel like a failure. I see only my inability to excel and begin berating myself and imagining the criticism of others. When others step in and mention, "perhaps those goals were not wise/reasonable/attainable/important," I allow my pride to roar. Not only have I failed to obtain my goals, but these people are now questioning the goals themselves!

I bet the Pharisees had this inward fight. A fight not worth the blood and sweat and tears. It is a fight between sin nature and sin nature. A fight between pride and self-conceit and...the conviction of Gospel humility.

I was in the Emergency Room today. After two days of dizziness, loss of concentration and coordination, and the sporadic numbing of my arm, a friend brought me to the E.R. I felt sick, but I also felt stupid. Because I thought I could overcome the physical symptoms my body was experiencing. I thought I could fight through it, get on with my life, and be none the worse for wear, as they say. But I could not get through it. I was at the mercy of the doctors, the lab tests, the needles, and the grace of God.

Tonight I lay reading a book of letters written by Fenelon, a believer in the 1600s, to one of his friends. This is an excerpt (The Seeking Heart):

"I hear that you are sick. I suffer with you for I dearly love you. Still, I cannot help but kiss the hand that allows this illness. I pray that you will lovingly kiss it with me. You have abused your good health and this is the result.

God will not only show you how physically weak you are, but how spiritually weak you are without Him. How strong you will be when you see that you are completely weak. Then you will always be able to believe that you are mistaken. Open yourself to the insight of others. Do not be dogmatic. Speak the truth simply."

I read those words, and though not Scripture, they convict me. I praise the Lord that the CT scan and EKG, not to mention the other lab results, came back clear. And I kiss the hand of the One who has tonight, once again, revealed the pride in my own heart. May he continue to show me that I am completely weak...and may I rejoice in his strength that saves to the uttermost those who are perishing. He has saved me from my sin; may he continue to chisel out the ruts sin left in my heart.

25 September 2012


Is it irony or grief that makes me grimace? I am reading a book whose stated intent is to help me "live life nearly free of fear". The author says we know violent acts by the subtle signals preceding, and we know the subtle signals because we, too, are human. In other words, we understand violence because, deep down, we are capable of it. I am not saying that the knowledge to be gained from observing human behavior will not have practical implications for daily living. But will I really live a life nearly free of fear simply because I know a little more of the depths of human depravity?

-- --

A man sat in the chair across from me,
speaking of a pain that leaves you
on your knees,
on the ground in public places, even.
It leaves your chest constricted, and you
no longer wonder if you'll make it.

This man, older than my grandfather,
looked at me.
This man with three times my life's years looked and said,
you have to help me.

I look him in the eye and wonder at my own mortality.
I am not free of fear, but I know whom I have believed,
and am persuaded that as deep as darkness goes, grace is there to meet it.

Maybe tomorrow, I can meet the next person's plea with a bit more courage.
And the day after that.  

17 September 2012

Spaghetti and Coffee

Transitioning to graduate school is not necessarily the glorious hop skip and jump that it was thought to be back in high school. (Graduate school--for the nerds--was the holy grail of higher education, an endeavor rarely spoken of, and from which few ever returned.) As I went from a traditional undergraduate degree program to a graduate program, I found myself easing into the life of a college student turned....college student. This was highlighted by my first purchases for a"nother" new apartment--coffee and spaghetti. On a budget, these seemed the essentials. Two months later, I still think great wisdom went into that buy.

A professor spoke, "it only gets better." A man in Kroger could say the same six syllables, and I would catch his cynicism by the third. The professor reawakened in me a hope of which I was once convinced. It only gets better.

I told you a story, once. Maybe twice I've repeated it. There was a man and a woman in a garden. There was no 'organic this' or 'organic that'. Labels do not matter where the FDA and pesticides are not involved. The crops grew easily and the animals did not fight the work.
The man and woman had no communication issues--stereotypes had not formed barriers between the two, and it was never an issue as to who would take the trash out at night. The maker of the garden and of the creatures walked with humanity, guiding and teaching and speaking and loving. The fruit of Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was not to be eaten.

A serpent came, a servant of darkness who had once been light. He spoke to the woman, questioning the words of the maker. Did he really say not to eat, the serpent questioned the woman. And pride grew as belief vanished.

The day you eat of it, you shall surely die.

The man was with her, and she ate. He ate. The earth shuddered into a bondage not yet felt. With crops, weeds. With communication, conflict. With God and man, separation.

A seed will come to crush the serpent's head.

Years passed. The earth grew dark and men's thoughts were only evil continually.

I will send hope, Abraham.

I will send hope, Isaac.

I will send hope, Jacob.

The son of David will save his people from their sins.

A son was born of the line of David, in a town called Bethlehem. A carpenter's son, a virgin's son, the son of God. Without sin, without rebellion in his heart, this image of the invisible God was hated by the leaders of the day, the religious leaders.

The light has come into the world, but men loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil.

He reflected the sin in men's hearts, and it seems one can only do one of two things--fall to one's face in light of one's deadness and filth, or rise in pride and deny one's fault. This God-man was judged and killed by men--only to rise from the dead, crush the serpent, and return to heaven until the day when all will be made right.

This summer, my vegetables were choked by weeds, and I struggle to be in fellowship with God. But what I have seen and heard gives testimony to the hope that is in me. He is coming quickly, and it only gets better.