Monday, September 29, 2014

a broken nest of faith

The day after a thunder storm I took a walk and found a nest in the middle of the sidewalk. Skillfully made with twigs and covered in a downy fuzz, I stopped and stared at it. Emily Dickinson's poem fluttered down from the branches above my head:
"Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all"

Fragility and life rested there on the hard concrete. My soul was strangely stirred. My own ancient heartache welled up from my chest. I tasted the pain of my overwhelming need for hope.

Like a tiny bird my soul opened its mouth and squawked for me to fill it with light. I wasn't so certain I had any extra to spare.

But this cold chunk of cement is where I will choose to believe differently than I have in the past. It is the test of all who believe, the walk of all who lay their pride down and carry crosses of great weight. What will we say on the day the safe nests of life fall from secure places? What will we cling to when the storms have uprooted our dreams and block our view of God?

Mountain, move! Tree, be uprooted

How soon, will The Lord come? I don't know, but my eyes will not rest until my help rains down from heaven; until the blank wall before us blazes with the greatness of The Lord; until a chariot descends in glory.

Those who endure in faith, though they hold broken hope, will see the Lord right in the place of their great need.

This is faith: Turning our disappointed and weary faces toward the source of Light before the darkness lifts, and calling what is not as though it were. 
We build new nests beneath His wings of grace by believing even when God seems to have forgotten our prayers or misplaced His plans to rescue us. The difficult road is how He purifies our hearts, so that we can see Him more clearly.

Lord, thank you for fallen nests that make room for new faith. Thank you for holding our hope skillfully and our broken hearts so tenderly. Fill this week with Your presence, salt our days with your truth, and cause us to lie down in green pastures with You. We turn our faces toward the hills, and we wait for You to come rescue us from every distress, to heal every sickness, to sing songs of deliverance over our frustrations, our anger, and our pain. Thank you for purifying our hearts so that we can see You more clearly. Give us eyes to see and hearts to know Your ways. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

late wine

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” 
“Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” 
His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 
Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing,each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. 
Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. 
Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” 
They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside  and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” 
What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. 
-John 2:1-11

Late bloomers have a hard time for a long time.

For years, we don’t quite fit in; don’t quite measure up; don’t quite know what we should do. We bear jars full of water while the world around us raises glasses full of wine and celebration.

If we somehow miss the message that our ability to make sense of ourselves is less important than making sense of the love God has for us, we can become stranded in the darkness.

But there has never been a useless person. Some of us are simply waiting for a miracle, for the seemingly ordinary contents of our souls to be made into something extraordinary.

There is a place in the world for the flash of brilliance of a prodigy. The path has ample space for the strong, steady step of a champion. There are places saved at the table for the prodigals who are still off in other lands.

And some of us were created to hold late wine, later-in-life, past-your-prime, better wine- maybe even the best wine. The kind of wine that inspires poets to write sonnets; that causes lovers to swoon; the kind of wine that only a Holy God can pour properly, full of ripeness and glory.

Our lives are meant to be a sign so that many will believe. Don’t lose heart. Don’t despise the simple holy water of your days that is awaiting the touch of our miraculous Lord. He is coming. When He does, He will reveal His glory in ways we can’t imagine yet.

Jesus has saved the best for last in your life. He's worth the wait.

Monday, September 22, 2014

young souls know the kingdom ways

My daughter looks up at me and her eyes positively sparkle like the night sky on Independence Day. She smiles big and tells me she wants to be just like me when she grows up.

Then she laughs because she has told me the most wonderful secret she knows and sharing happy secrets is delightful.

"Well, I want to be just like you when I'm little again," I say. I am smiling with gratitude to the God who gave me such a gem of a child.

"You won't be little again!" she laughs at me. She can't understand her grown up mama at all. But that's okay. I really do mean what I say.

My body is growing up, growing old, the years gray my flesh and I am aware it will become ashes and dust someday. Of course, I fight the gravity and work to be strong and healthy, to draw out the days of vigor as long as I can.

But my soul is fighting for something else; I am fighting to be five years old again in the deep places of my heart.

The years will wizen us if we let them, and their lessons also bring the knowledge that the spark of childlike faith burning in our hearts is the flame we must kindle afresh again and again.

For we are the children of God. May we never lose sight of the blessing of our smallness and weakness in His sight, or forget the miracle that is our adoption into the family of God.

"Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith...." -Galatians 3:23-26

A youthful soul is a grace like no other. What can compare in beauty to the heart that opens wide to the world, leaping with faith into complete trust in the God who lavishes His beauty with such generous joy?

I have a happy secret, and if you lean in close I will whisper it to you.

I want to be just like Him when I grow up. I want to trust and obey until it hurts and not question my motives or my circumstances. I want to sleep through storms and forgive sins with simple prayers of thanksgiving. I want to sit on mountaintops and hear my Father's voice clearly. I want to give words of truth and grace that turn hearts away from selfishness and toward the God who made them. I want to die with one long exhale that becomes the seed of faith in the lives of all who know me.

I am far from that today. But we have time, now don't we? Yes, surely God and I, we have just enough time and grace and love to make it all the way there.

This day leads us all one step closer to eternity. Let's make it count.